"We think that by the end of the year, 1.5 million [people] will be internally displaced, 850,000 will be refugees and 4 million on the edge of starvation," said South Sudan's UN humanitarian coordinator Toby Lanzer.
This was told to a meeting of international donors who pledged $600 million to avoid famine in the conflict-ravaged country.
"We are losing time. Farmers should be planting their crops right now," the United Nations' aid chief Valerie Amos explained. "If they don't, and if livestock herders are not able to migrate to grazing areas, people will run out of food."
U.N. officials say they need $1.8 billion to prevent the famine; that is twice the amount currently pledged by donors, including the United States, the United Kingdom and Norway. On Monday, U.S. President Barack Obama promised another $50 million in aid for the refugees.
In addition to the threat of famine, WHO reported that nine people have died of cholera in South Sudan and the disease is continuing to spread.