With no food rations in sight, Ayen Madit, a 40-year- old mother of seven, survives on tree leaves and wild fruits as food insecurity worsen in the Northern Bhar El Ghazal region of South Sudan, reports Anadolu Agency.
UN agencies recently warned that 7.24 million South Sudanese are on the brink of catastrophe as food insecurity worsens because of flooding, conflicts, and the coronavirus.
In addition, the World Food Programme in April cut food rations by 50%, affecting 700,000 displaced South Sudanese and refugees in the world's youngest nation.
Madit, a resident of Araith Payam of Aweil North, said people are eating leaves off trees since they are left with no choice as hunger bites.
She said a group of women go to the forest in the morning from 8 am – 3 pm in search of wild fruits and tree leaves to feed their families.
"We go in groups to look for tree leaves and wild fruits leaving our children to stay home without anything to eat in the morning. They eat only in the evening when we come back from the forest," Madit told Anadolu Agency in a telephone interview.
Northern Bhar El Ghazal is one of the few areas that was spared from the more than the six-year conflict that broke out in December 2013.
"We sacrifice our lives for the children so that they can eat," she said. "There is not enough food to eat. Some of the children have diarrhea after eating the leaves."
Madit disclosed that due to the bitterness of Lalop tree leaves, they often go hungry.
She urged the government and humanitarian agencies to rescue residents from the situation by extending relief support.