Over 1.2 million people in war-torn South Sudan are one step away from famine and in early 2018 half the country's population will be reliant on emergency food aid, the UN humanitarian chief says.

People register with the World Food Programme (WFP) for food distribution in Old Fangak in Jonglei state, one of the areas in South Sudan badly affected by food insecurity. June 17, 2017.
People register with the World Food Programme (WFP) for food distribution in Old Fangak in Jonglei state, one of the areas in South Sudan badly affected by food insecurity. June 17, 2017. ( AP Archive )

As the conflict in South Sudan enters its fifth year, half of the country's 12 million-strong population needs aid to cope with the effects of war, hunger and economic decline.

The conflict, which erupted two years after the country won independence from Sudan, was sparked by a feud between President Salva Kiir and his former deputy Riek Machar.

Fighting has raged mostly along ethnic lines.

"I was here in 1993 and there was a famine but this one is now bad — we can't cultivate because of the Nile floods and because of the war in the country," said Lony Toang, a resident of Jiech.

Over 1.2 million people in war-torn South Sudan are one step away from famine — twice as many as at the same time last year. And in early 2018, half the country's population will be reliant on emergency food aid, the UN humanitarian chief said early this month.

Rival forces are accused of using food as a weapon of war, a claim rejected by the South Sudan army.

TRT World's Mmalegabe Motsepe reports.

Source: TRTWorld and agencies