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JUBA, South Sudan (AP) — At least 1.7 million hungry people in South Sudan are losing humanitarian food aid “at the worst possible time” as the United Nations World Food Program suspends the help, blaming critical funding shortages.

South Sudan faces unprecedented hunger amid climate shocks, soaring food prices linked to the war in Ukraine and recovery from civil war. Over 60% of the population of more than 11 million people faces severe food insecurity, according to WFP, which said it had to halve food rations last year.

Among those now losing food aid in the middle of South Sudan’s lean season are 178,000 children who will no longer receive school meals, WFP said.

Food security experts have warned that 1.4 million children will be acutely malnourished during the lean season between June and August.

“Humanitarian needs are far exceeding the funding we have received this year. If this continues, we will face bigger and more costly problems in the future, including increased mortality, malnutrition, stunting, and disease,” WFP acting country director Adeyinka Badejo said in a statement.