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South Sudanese who fled the recent ethnic violence carry food aid from a World Food Programme (WFP) distribution centre in Pibor, Jonglei State, in this January 12, 2012 file photo. Two years ago, the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) launched a petition to fight hunger with the slogan: "1,000,000,000 people live in chronic hunger and I'm mad as hell. " But outrage over the "horrifying figure" of 1 billion hungry people around the world has turned to embarrassment in some quarters in light of growing doubts about the accuracy of the number. Many researchers say the estimate was simply too high. The controversy led the Committee on World Food Security, to urge the FAO to overhaul its calculations using better data and methodology and to call for a set of internationally agreed food-security indicators. The first fruits are due in October when a new estimate of the number of undernourished people will be published along with revisions for previous years as part of the FAO's annual report on food insecurity. To match Feature HUNGER-METRICS.Credit: REUTERS

Pope appeals for urgent food aid to help famine-stricken South Sudan

By Philip Pullella | February 23 2017

(Reuters) Pope Francis called on Wednesday for urgent humanitarian aid for the starving people of South Sudan, saying millions risked being “condemned to death” by a famine in parts of the war-ravaged country.

“Now more than ever there should be a commitment by everyone to not just talk but contribute food aid and allow it to reach suffering populations,” he told tens of thousands of people in St. Peter’s Square for his weekly audience.

He said millions of people, including many children, were being “condemned to death by hunger”.

Since 2013 South Sudan has been mired in civil war, which the pope called “fratricidal”. President Salva Kiir, whose government declared a famine on Monday, has promised aid agencies safe access to hunger-stricken civilians

The United Nations says it has been unable to reach some of the worst hit areas because of the insecurity.

South Sudan has been hit by the same east African drought that has pushed Somalia back to the brink of famine, six years after 260,000 people starved to death in 2011.

The U.N. children’s agency UNICEF on Tuesday said nearly 1.4 million children were at “imminent” risk of death in famines in South Sudan, Somalia, Yemen and Nigeria.

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