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In this photo taken Wednesday, Oct. 19, 2016 and released by UNICEF, a young girl who fled fighting in nearby Leer in recent months, queues for food aid at a food distribution made by the World Food Programme in Bentiu, South Sudan. Famine has been declared Monday, Feb. 20, 2017 in two counties of South Sudan, according to an announcement by the South Sudan government and three U.N. agencies, which says the calamity is the result of prolonged civil war and an entrenched economic crisis that has devastated the war-torn East African nation. (Kate Holt/UNICEF via AP)

A famine in South Sudan has left 100,000 people facing starvation

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War and a collapsing economy have led to famine in parts of South Sudan, where 100,000 people are facing starvation, the country's government and the United Nations announced Monday.

The U.N. noted that 1 million more are on the brink of starvation and about 5.5 million, or nearly half of the country's population will face food shortages by July if nothing is done to curb the food crisis. 

A formal famine declaration means people have already begun dying from hunger. 

"Our worst fears have been realized,"  said Serge Tissot, of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. "Many families have exhausted every means they have to survive."

Three years of widespread fighting has devastated crop and food production, leaving people to scavenge for food. 

"For months there has been a total reliance on whatever plants they can find and fish they can catch," Tissot added. 

The U.N. said more humanitarian aid is needed to prevent the famine from spreading.

World Food Programme Country Director Joyce Luma called this a "man-made" famine and called for an end to the fighting so humanitarian groups can offer more assistance.

"There is only so much that humanitarian assistance can achieve in the absence of meaningful peace and security, both for relief workers and the crisis-affected people they serve,” Luma said. “We will continue doing everything we possibly can to hold off and reverse the spread of famine.”

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