WFP Director-General David Beasley, a Republican whose appointment in March was supported by the Trump administration, spoke to reporters Monday after his organization and the United Nations refugee agency updated an appeal for $1.4 billion to help refugees fleeing South Sudan.
The UNHCR refugee agency and the WFP presented an updated response plan to the crisis in appealing for almost double the $781 million they had previously said they needed.
A previous joint humanitarian appeal for South Sudanese refugees sought US$ 1.2 billion, but was only 14 per cent funded.
"Bitter conflict and deteriorating humanitarian conditions in South Sudan are driving people from their homes in record numbers", said UN High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi. The U.N. says the situation continues to worsen "with a combination of conflict, drought and starvation". "Many are dying from hunger and disease, many more have fled their homeland for safety overseas", Beasley said.
Ethiopia is hosting the same number, while the situation in Uganda is even more dire, with almost 900,000 refugees from South Sudan in that country.
Humanitarian organizations in the region are facing the tough decision to cut food rations anywhere between 20 percent and 75 percent at refugee camps, resulting in a rise of malnutrition rates. For example, the number of people fleeing to Sudan in March surpassed the expected figure for the entire year.
"Weapons continue to flow into South Sudan from diverse sources, often with the coordination of neighboring countries", said the report by a panel of experts. "I find that unacceptable, and I hope you do too".
WFP provides food and cash assistance to more than 1.8 million refugees in the neighbouring countries.
South Sudan, the world's youngest nation which split from the north in 2011, has declared famine in some areas, warning that one million people are on the brink of starvation. Sudan and Ethiopia are next, with each hosting around 375,000 refugees.
"When we speak with families who have been forced to flee because of the conflict in South Sudan, they tell us they just want to be able to live in peace, to farm their lands and to raise their children", Mahla said.
Aid agencies are struggling to secure the funds they need to help the refugees, making it hard to provide food, water, shelter and health services.
WFP is the world's largest humanitarian agency fighting hunger worldwide, delivering food assistance in emergencies and working with communities to improve nutrition and build resilience.