The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) on Tuesday said it had resumed direct deliveries of emergency food aid to South Sudan through the Kenyan border point of Nadapal, as the number of hungry people in the country surged.
"For the first time since 2018, WFP has managed to send a humanitarian convoy from Kenya directly into South Sudan via the Nadapal border crossing just as hunger is peaking in the country," WFP said in a statement issued in Juba.
It said that the nine-truck convoy, carrying some 280 tons of food, will be enough to feed 20,000 people for a month.
The emergency food was loaded in Kenya's port city of Mombasa and took three days to reach Kapoeta, located east of the capital Juba.
TONS OF RELIEF FOOD
WFP said it had delivered millions of tons of relief food through the route before a suspension linked to the poor road network and insecurity.
"Our backs are against the wall and time is of the essence," said Matthew Hollingworth, WFP country director in South Sudan.
"The effectiveness of our response will very much depend on how soon we get supplies into the country and move them to where they are needed the most," he added.
More than 6.5 million people, about half of South Sudan's population are expected to face food insecurity in the near future.
WFP said that the Covid-19 pandemic, desert locust invasions and renewed violence in parts of the country will worsen hunger, adding that an additional 1.5 million people are expected to require food assistance.
WFP said it is also working with health and transport authorities by establishing Covid-19 testing facilities at the border post to screen for the disease among truck drivers and other workers.