Since fighting erupted between forces loyal to President Salva Kiir and those loyal to his former Vice President Riek Machar, villages were burned to the ground, towns were deserted, and more than 2 million people have been displaced.
Food prices across the country have doubled or tripled in some locations as the country’s economy struggles amid a currency shortage and rapid inflation.
“This is a time when people have run out of food, prices are going up, the war continues, people are displaced, which makes it very difficult for people to access food,” said Joyce Luma, the country director for the World Food Program.
Perhaps no other region is more at risk than Unity, in the north of the country, which has seen some of the most intense fighting.
In April government forces and allied militias launched an offensive to recapture areas they lost to the opposition. International observers and survivors who fled to neighboring towns described an onslaught of government soldiers and militia into the state.
The campaign displaced more than 100,000 people, according to the United Nations, and led to allegations of forced displacement, war crimes and possible crimes against humanity. Human Rights Watch documented scores of killings, rapes and widespread pillage of civilian property during the attack and said soldiers and militia deliberately destroyed food stores and seeds intended for cultivation. The government has denied the charge.
In Nyal, in southern Unity, much of the town remained deserted weeks after the last battle. The scorched remains of burned huts sat empty. The bodies of what community members described as pro-government fighters remained where they fell on open fields, their bones picked clean by vultures.
Daniel Gai Bath, a former public official who said he left office when the civil war erupted, sat in the shade of a mango tree and recalled the assault on Mayendit, a town about a three-day walk from Nyal.
Families ran in terror. Some who were too weak to carry their children left them behind, he said.
The first night, many slept under the open skies before being chased away by yet another round of fighting. Finally, hundreds of people ended up on a nearby island, where they quickly established a makeshift colony.
Now they survive on coconuts, water lilies and the occasional fish. Bath had with him a list of 3,422 people who he said were in urgent need of additional food, cooking utensils and tarps.
“My people are there in the water,” he said. “They have nothing in their hands, nothing to shelter from the rains, no mosquito net. You can find seven or eight people under one mosquito net.”