June 21 (UPI) -- South Sudan is no longer in a state of famine, although 1.7 million people still face emergency levels of hunger, a United Nations-backed report said.
Tens of thousands of South Sudanese have died and millions displaced in a long-running civil war. The conflict, a series of inadequate harvests and a corresponding rise in the price of food led to the declaration of a famine in February.
A famine is formally declared when at least at least 20 percent of a population doesn't have enough food for an average person to lead a healthy life, acute malnutrition in more than 30 percent of an area's children is observed, or two deaths per 10,000 people, or four child deaths per 10,000 children, occur daily. It is the most serious of five categories used by the United Nations in its Integrated Food Security Phase Classification, or IPC, system.
By those standards, South Sudanese and U.N. officials announced Wednesday that the country is no longer in a state of famine.
South Sudan's IPC warned, though, that the number of those at risk for starvation has increased since May from 5.5 million to 6 million people. They are expected to be "food insecure" at least through July, an IPC report said.
It added that the civil war has placed the country's most fertile counties in the third category of "crisis," and that Upper Nile state is in "emergency," or one step below famine, phase.
A March U.N. report said that nearly 20 million people currently face starvation in South Sudan, Nigeria, Somalia and Yemen. It called the situation the largest humanitarian crisis since the end of World War II.