UN says 1.25 million South Sudanese are 1 step from famine

UNITED NATIONS (AP) — The U.N. humanitarian chief says 1.25 million people in war-torn South Sudan are one step away from famine — twice as many as the same time last year.

Mark Lowcock told the U.N. Security Council that 7 million people in the world's newest nation — almost two-thirds of the population — need humanitarian aid.

And he warned that in early 2018, half of the country's population will be reliant on emergency food.

"The next lean season beginning in March is likely to see famine conditions in several locations across the country," Lowcock said.

U.N. peacekeeping chief Jean-Pierre Lacroix called the security situation in South Sudan "precarious."

He warned of escalating military conflict as the dry season sets in and urged the council to take action to stop the violence.