JUBA, The United Ntions World Food Programme (WFP) has hailed China’s food assistance to vulnerable South Sudanese.

Valerie Guarnieri, the WFP Assistant Executive Director for Operations Services, says more than seven million people are currently food insecure in South Sudan and China’s recent food aid will rescue thousands of hungry people from starving.

Guarnieri says the joint relief assistance project undertaken by the governments of South Sudan, China and the WFP is critical to end food insecurity in this Horn of Africa nation which is reeling from years of civil war.

She was speaking in the capital, Juba, during a handover ceremony of 2,048 tonnes of China-donated rice to the UN food agency. The donation is part of 8,800 tonnes of rice which Beijing pledged to South Sudan in 2017 to fight severe food shortage.

“This kind of collaboration is one that provides essential support in a smart and engaging way for the people of South Sudan,” said Guarnieri.

Adnan Khan, the WFP Country Director and Representative in South Sudan, said the Chinese rice would help WFP provide emergency food aid to some 136,000 people for one month.

He Xiangdong, China’s Ambassador to South Sudan, said the contribution is part of China’s efforts to support the world’s youngest nation to overcome the ongoing humanitarian crisis in the country. “If we can do things together, we can save lives and we can be changing lives,” said He.

Manase Lomole, the Chairperson of South Sudan’s relief agency, the Relief and Rehabilitation Commission (RRC), said co-operation between Juba and Beijing had been fruitful and should be strengthened to benefit the people of both countries.

“We are going to do everything at our capacity to ensure that this relationship is consolidated, strengthened and maintained,” Lomole said.