Africa Center Director J. Peter Pham is quoted by the Associated Press on fears of famine in South Sudan and how the government is dealing with them:

The country faces a downward spiral, warned Peter Pham, the director of the Africa Center at the Washington-based Atlantic Council.

“It is a simple fact: This is planting season before the rains come, but people who have been forced from their homes or who, even if they remain at home for the moment, have a well-grounded fear of either not being there come harvest or having their crops stolen by ravenous bands of fighters, will not plant,” Pham said.

That means a very lean period late this year, and an even more ominous period next year, he said.

Like the use of the word genocide, the use of the word famine is often seen as a measure of last resort. Pham said while there is no doubt that hundreds of thousands — “if not millions” — of South Sudanese will face grave food needs this year, he is also concerned that “sensationalist language aimed at grabbing headlines” could lead to desensitization.

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