The UN emergency food agency said Tuesday the number of hungry people in southern Sudan has quadrupled since last August to some 4.3 million because of conflict and drought.
Across the country some 11 million people will need food aid this year, the Rome-based World Food Programme said in a statement, adding that it has a shortfall of 485 million dollars (350 million euros) in its programme there.
"This spike in the number of hungry people in southern Sudan comes just ahead of the rainy season when roads become blocked and communities are cut off from food assistance," said Leo van der Velden, WFP's coordinator in southern Sudan.
The food agency wants to "ensure that families have access to sufficient food before the next harvest is due in October and November," it said.
"Internal conflict and incursions from the (Ugandan) Lord?s Resistance Army together with drought have made almost half the population of the south short of food," the statement quotes Southern Sudan Agriculture and Forestry Minister Samson Kwaje as saying.
Conflict last year killed 2,500 people and displaced 350,000 people from their homes in southern Sudan, while drought slashed harvests, WFP said.
Violence in Jonglei state in recent weeks left at least 24 dead.
Clashes between rival ethnic groups in the region erupt frequently, often sparked by disputes over livestock and natural resources.