Mzungu wants to give GWS good headaches

He’s one of the oldest rookie list recruits going around and Tendai Mzungu plans on giving the GWS Giants match committee yet another selection headache.

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The Giants threw the former Fremantle midfielder an AFL lifeline after he was delisted by the Dockers following 102 games in six seasons.

During that time he played in nine finals, including a grand final, but made just five appearances in Freo’s miserable 2016 campaign.

Turning 31 next Monday, Mzungu hasn’t come east to settle for being a rookie-list player and a regular for the Giants reserves in the NEAFL.

He was among their best last weekend in his first hit-out for the club, a pre-season win over West Coast, where he tallied 22 touches.

However, Mzungu, not a stranger to deep rosters after vying for a spot with Fremantle guns Nat Fyfe, Michael Barlow and David Mundy in recent years, recognises it won’t be easy to earn a senior spot in a side considered competition favourites by many pundits.

‘It’s a competitive group of players and it’s going to be really tight for spots,” Mzungu told AAP.

“I want to create some headaches for Leon (Cameron) and the coaching committee.

“I’ve played a number of years on the wing and that’s a position that I’ve played the majority of my football at, but also halfback I’ve played a lot of footy.”

“I went forward on the weekend, so I like to think I can play a number of positions if needed.”

Mzungu, fellow former Docker Matt de Boer and ex Richmond star Brett Deledio have all moved across to the Giants, between them adding over 480 games of AFL experience.

“You try and bring as much experience where you can, but from what I’ve seen the group is moving in the right direction and we haven’t had to do too much,” he said.

De Boer and he are good friends and Mzungu believes it made th cross-country move easier.

“Our partners as well are very good friends and for them settling in, it makes it a lot easier for us as well,” he said.

De Boer who like Mzungu played just a handful of senior games last season, will be sidelined for four to six weeks after suffering a hamstring injury at training on Monday.

Hastings relieved to leave Horrie’s shadow

Jackson Hastings says he’s relieved to finally move out of his legendary dad’s shadow and create his own legacy at his new NRL home in Manly.

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After rising through the ranks to start last season in the No.7 jumper his dad Kevin “Horrie” Hastings made famous at the Roosters, Jackson fell out of favour by July and his contract wasn’t renewed.

It was a stunning fall from grace for the son of a club icon, however Hastings insists there is a silver lining in the move out of the eastern suburbs and across the Spit Bridge.

“Finally, I can brush that off and be my own man. No one can revert back to him now that I’m wearing maroon. I was always my own man, I was always trying to be my own man,” he said.

“With the monkey off the back, I can start being Jackson now.”

It hasn’t been an easy off-season for Hastings, who was without a home until Sea Eagles head honcho Bob Fulton came enquiring about his services late last year.

Until then, he had spent the first half of the summer training with Wyong.

“I done the whole pre-season before Christmas with Wyong and then obviously got the call just before Christmas and signed the deal just after,” Hastings said.

“It was a bit hard to cop at the start, but I admire a lot of people up there and got a lot of respect for people up there, the way they train after they have to work all day.

“(Manly) just wanted to give a young bloke an opportunity. They thought it was too young for me to head overseas, which I never really wanted to do.

“They thought it was a good opportunity for me here. I was stoked when he gave me the call and showed a lot of interest in me. I think Manly cared about me, about my wellbeing.

“That was a big thing for me and my family. I’m stoked I’m here.”

Ankle surgery prevented Hastings from going to the Auckland Nines earlier this month, however he rejoined full training for the first time on Tuesday.

With Blake Green and Daly Cherry-Evans pencilled in as the starting halves, and Api Koroisau at hooker, Hastings said he is unsure how big a role he’s going to play this season.

His best shot could be as the bench utility.

“At the moment I’m comfortable playing wherever and trying to get good at all positions. If I’m that utility, I’m that utility. If they need me here, they need me there,” he said.

“I’m happy with anything. As long as I’m in that 17 and playing good footy for the club.”

Dees’ Hibberd, Melksham up for AFL reunion

Former Essendon defender Michael Hibberd is in line to play for Melbourne for the first time after serving a doping ban last year.

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The 27-year-old has recovered well from a minor knee complaint and will be considered by the Demons for selection in Saturday’s AFL pre-season clash against Carlton.

Hibberd is likely to line up alongside close mate Jake Melksham, who had his first run for the Demons during their pre-season opener against the Western Bulldogs.

The pair were among 34 past and present Bombers players banned for all of last season over the club’s supplements saga.

Defensive lynchpin Tom McDonald says the pair will add versatility and an X-factor to the Demons’ back six.

“They’re both really good competitors,” McDonald said.

“They’re both strong in the air and strong on ground level. They’re both very athletic and gifted players in that regard, both quick and powerful.

“I think their ability to go tall and small will really help us for the way we want to play. We want to be really versatile so if I need to play on a small player, I can do it, and if ‘Hibbo’ needs to play on a key forward, he can do it as well.

“I think they’re both pretty important in that regard.”

The younger of the pair at 25, Melksham will nonetheless have to fight for a spot in an increasingly deep Melbourne side.

The 114-game midfielder, who was traded to Melbourne at the end of 2015, is confident he’ll be able to fight his way into Melbourne’s side despite their wealth of young talent.

He and Hibberd have been reunited with new Melbourne coach Simon Goodwin, who previously served as an assistant at Essendon.

The Demons will start their season proper against St Kilda on March 25.

Victorian Supreme Court approves $70 million Manus Island settlement

Victorian Supreme Court Justice Cameron Macaulay on Wednesday approved the settlement reached with the Australian government and operators of the Manus Island Regional Processing Centre.

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Some detainees had objected to the $70 million in compensation being too low, but Justice Macaulay concluded it was a fair and reasonable amount.

“I am comfortably satisfied that a figure of $70 million to be distributed without deduction of costs amongst participating group members is a fair and reasonable sum,” he said.

“My degree of satisfaction is not merely marginal but is reached with a strong degree of conviction.”

Justice Macaulay noted the urgency of the settlement given that the centre is due to be closed by October 31.

“I accept that the need for urgency is well founded,” he said.

Related reading

By Monday 1383 of the 1923 group members in the class action had registered to get their share of the compensation.

More than 160 of the almost 800 men who remain on Manus ahead of the offshore immigration detention centre’s closure next month raised objections with the court.

The independent counsel appointed to assist the court, Michael Rush, on Monday said 145 of the 164 objectors have registered to participate in the settlement should it be approved.

Mr Rush said the objections included that the overall sum of $70 million is too low and the settlement does not resolve the ongoing plight of the group members who remain on Manus Island or whose claims for refugee status are still to be determined.

No money can be paid until the end of a 28-day appeal period, which begins now that Justice Macaulay has approved the settlement.

During that period, further attempts would also be made to reach the 215 group members who have not been able to be contacted about the settlement, with the deadline for registrations pushed back by a couple of weeks to October 13.

Foreign tourists splashing the cash in Oz

Record numbers of Chinese and American visitors are fuelling a tourist spending boom in Australia.

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Nearly eight million foreign travellers flocked to Australia in the past financial year, splashing a record $40 billion on everything from accommodation and food to package tours, the latest International Visitor survey shows.

Chinese visitors swelled to 1.16 million and spent nearly $10 billion, while nearly $4 billion came from the wallets of a record 706,000 US travellers.

Rod Battye of Tourism Research Australia says the trend is expected to continue, with visitors from China tipped to hit about four million in the next decade while American visitor numbers could climb to 1.3 million.

Most of the Chinese and Americans who visited last year were holidaymakers.

However the number of Chinese visitors who came to study posted its biggest-ever gain of 28 per cent to hit 181,000, while another 73,000 were here for business.

“For China the numbers are continuing to grow across the board”, Mr Battye said.

Visitors from the US have steadily increased during past three years and are now nearly double what they were a decade ago.

Mr Battye said a drop in the Australian dollar, improved economic conditions in the US and targeted tourism marketing campaigns all helped entice more visitors from the US to our shores.

While here, Americans are more likely to explore outside the main tourist hubs.

“They visit areas like Western Australia, the Northern Territory and tropical far North Queensland,” Mr Battye said.

But while Chinese and American travellers are increasing, New Zealand remains our main source of foreign visitors.

Just over 1.23 million Kiwis came across the Tasman last year, but their spending flattened out and their trips were shorter compared with the previous year.

Chinese tourists stayed the longest, followed by visitors from the United Kingdom. But both the number of British visitors and how much they spent dropped.

NSW soaked up $10 billion of the overall spending by foreign visitors, thanks largely to the 3.75 million travellers who descended on Sydney and parted with $9 billion during their stay.

Spending by Chinese travellers in NSW exceeded $3 billion for the first time, with double-digit growth recorded by visitors from the US, Korea, Japan, India and Indonesia.

Holidaymakers accounted for half of all international visitors last year, yet education was the reason 550,000 people visited Australia.

Backpacker numbers also rose five per cent to 645,000, with their spending hitting $4.5 billion.

The survey was based on interviews with 40,000 international travellers who had stayed in Australia for less than a year and were surveyed in airport departure lounges before boarding their flights home.

FOREIGN TOURISM SPENDING STATE BY STATE

* NSW, up 11pct to $10b

* Victoria, up 11pct to $7.5b

* Queensland, up 3.0pct to $5.2b

* South Australia, up 12pct to $1b

* Western Australia, up 8.0pct to $2.5b

* Tasmania, up 24pct to $457m

* Northern Territory, up 16pct to $485m

* ACT, up 27pct to $535m

Nissan revamps Leaf electric car

Nissan’s new Leaf electric car goes further on a charge, is equipped with autonomous drive technology and single-pedal driving, but it remains to be seen if it will catch on with anyone other than the most zealously green-minded.

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The zero-emissions vehicle – unveiled by the Japanese automaker in the US on Tuesday and in a Tokyo suburb on Wednesday – promises a range of about 400 kilometres in Japanese driving conditions or 240 kilometres in the US before needing to be recharged.

That’s up from up to 280 kilometres for current Leaf models.

The distances depend on driving conditions and how much other items in the car such as heating are used. Gas-engine cars generally get as much as 800km to 960km per tank.

Analysts say the biggest obstacle for electric cars becoming more widespread is their limited range per charge. Several breakthroughs in battery technology are likely needed before they become affordable and practical for regular consumers.

Koichi Sugimoto, analyst at Mitsubishi UFJ Morgan Stanley Securities Co. in Tokyo, says many automakers are selling green models because of tightening emissions regulations, especially in Europe and California, rather than because of what he called “natural sales growth.”

“There really is no outstanding attractive quality about an electric vehicle,” he said, noting drawbacks such as finding charging stations, as well as the time needed to charge, which in the case of the new Leaf is 40 minutes.

“It’s more about an effort to make a better society, so we are looking at a decade or two decades ahead,” said Sugimoto.

The Leaf comes with a pedal that accelerates and slows the vehicle, depending on how much the driver pushes it, eliminating the need for a separate brake pedal.

It’s a feature made possible by the switching on-and-off feature of electric gadgetry, unlike the more standard internal combustion engine, and it’s already available on other electric vehicles like those from US maker Tesla.

The Leaf also offers a technology not directly related to its being electric – an autonomous drive feature that Nissan calls ProPilot can be switched on during single-lane highway driving. It also parks itself, taking control of the steering, accelerating and braking, sliding into a parking spot or parallel parking.

The Leaf’s restyled look is not that different from its past design, billed as sleek and aerodynamic to maximise range.

Crows boss relishes shot at AFL greatness

Deadpan Don Pyke insists he’s excited.

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“I might not show it outwardly,” the guarded Adelaide Crows coach told reporters on Wednesday.

“But this is why we do what we do.

“Running laps in November and doing time trials and other things, it’s all based around getting to this point.

“This month is what creates great players. Great teams come out of this month. And that is the opportunity that presents.”

On the eve of Thursday night’s home qualifying final against Greater Western Sydney, Pyke said his Crows were better-placed to grasp that opportunity than last year when they were beaten semi-finalists.

“We go into it with a high degree of confidence because the previous 22 weeks have earnt us top spot, it has earnt us a home final, and now it’s about taking that opportunity,” he said.

“Compared to last season when we had some easier games , the last eight weeks have been really solid in what has been a super-even year … our preparation sets us up for what is coming.

“They (his players) have matured. That is what happens as players … there’s almost a point where you go ‘I want a bit more’.

“And that more is to actually have some success in finals.

“And that is the point we find ourselves at. And that is why it’s exciting.”

The second-year head coach believed Adelaide’s finals failure last year was a priceless lesson for his players.

“What it exposed them to is the level, the expectation around what finals requires,” he said.

“And it’s not fundamentally different to the home-and-away (season), it just just goes to a slightly higher intensity and the premium on scoring drops away.

“And that is why, importantly for us, in some of the games we have played later in the season we have been able to win in different ways and not necessarily rely on the scoreboard ticking over.

“You can’t hand people experience, they have actually got to earn it.”

Indigenous walker has tense PM meeting

It took nearly a year and roughly seven million steps for Clinton Pryor to reach the prime minister’s courtyard at Parliament House.

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However there was little time to celebrate the indigenous activist’s pilgrimage from Perth when a meeting with Malcolm Turnbull soon turned tense on Wednesday.

The 27-year-old, joined by indigenous elders, presented a list of demands that included plotting a path to a treaty, an investigation into family and child services, disbanding the Aboriginal Advisory Council and abolishing cashless welfare management cards.

Mr Turnbull listened to the demands but defended some of his government’s policies, including the welfare cards, saying indigenous leaders in Kalgoorlie had spoken strongly in favour of them.

“They are all about protecting children and families,” the prime minister said.

That remark prompted an angry response from the group who said those Mr Turnbull had spoken with did not reflect the views of the entire community.

“You cannot get one token spokesperson for the community and punish the entire community,” Roxley Foley said.

Mr Pryor did not think the prime minister had absorbed the group’s concerns.

“Everything we said seemed to fall on deaf ears,” he said after the meeting.

Mr Pryor set off from Perth last September for a near-6000km journey by foot to Canberra to promote indigenous rights.

After arriving in the nation’s capital on Saturday he presented his list of demands to Opposition Leader Bill Shorten and Governor-General Peter Cosgrove on Tuesday.

Mr Shorten indicated he did not support all the proposals, but mentioned markers of indigenous disadvantage, including incarceration rates and the number of children being taken from their parents.

Caltex to plug hole left by Woolies: Segal

Fuel refiner and retailer Caltex Australia says recent acquisitions of petrol stations in Melbourne and New Zealand will help fill the earnings gap left by the end of its fuel alliance with Woolworths.

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Caltex’s takeover bid for Woolworths petrol stations failed after oil and gas multinational BP struck a $1.79 billion deal with the supermarket giant in December.

The fuel alliance that has been running for 13 years is expected to end early next year, when BP plans to complete an acquisition that is still subject to regulatory approval.

In the meantime, Caltex will continue to supply fuel to the 525 Woolworths-operated service stations.

Caltex chief executive Julian Segal said the company, which controls 1,442 service stations across Australia, will have no problems plugging the $52 million to $142 million earnings gap that the Woolworths alliance is expected to leave.

He said the group’s soon-to-be completed acquisitions of Victorian service station network Milemakers and Kiwi sites Gull New Zealand will help plug some of that shortfall.

“I feel confident that by the end of 2017 we will be making up for the shortfall,” Mr Segal said.

He said Caltex decided against buying Woolworths’ fuel business because it was not “going to deliver” due to declining supermarket redemption volumes, restrictive commercial terms to continue fuel discounts and the fact the sites were leased rather than owned by Woolworths.

Caltex’s net profit rose 17 per cent to $610 million in the year to December 31, with its retail business partly offsetting lower refinery margins from its Lytton plant in Brisbane.

Its more closely watched replacement cost operating profit (RCOP), which strips out the impact of crude oil price fluctuations, dropped 17 per cent to $524 million, with revenue down 10 per cent at $17.9 billion.

The group’s RCOP was modestly better than its guidance of $500 million to $520 million.

Caltex has also sought to reassure the market on its franchise model following recent allegations that some franchisees were severely underpaying staff.

The company said the findings of its review of its franchise model showed that it allows franchisees to “make a profit, draw a wage, and pay employees in accordance with lawful wage rates”.

“Wage underpayment or mistreatment of staff is unacceptable to Caltex, and we will continue to remove franchisees who do the wrong thing,” Mr Segal said.

Caltex launched earlier this month its pilot service station and convenience store rebadged The Foodary, which offers fresh food on the go, offers barista-made coffee, and includes laundry and parcel pick-up services.

It has also formed partnerships with Boost Juice, Sumo Salad and Guzman Y Gomez that have outlets inside the store in Sydney’s inner west suburb of Concord.

Shares in Caltex were up 33 cents, or 1.11 per cent, to $29.98 at 1418 AEDT.

CALTEX FULL-YEAR RESULTS:

* Net profit up 17pct to $610m

* Revenue down 10pct to $17.9b

* Fully franked final dividend down 18 cents to 52 cents

PM defends One Nation WA preference deal

Malcolm Turnbull has reassured an international audience a preference deal with One Nation doesn’t mean the Liberal Party supports the minor party’s policies.

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The prime minister’s comments came as a new poll showed 38 per cent of voters disapproved of the Liberal deal with One Nation in the West Australian upper house, including one in four Liberal supporters.

The agreement reached for the March 11 WA state election received 29 per cent approval from voters.

In exchange, One Nation will distribute how-to-vote cards for lower house seats advising its supporters to put the Liberals up high.

The prime minister, who was on the campaign trail in Perth on Monday, insisted Australia’s compulsory preferential voting systems meant deals had to be negotiated.

“Just because preferences are directed to a party doesn’t mean that you support them – quite the contrary,” Mr Turnbull told Bloomberg TV on Tuesday.

How parties allocate preferences on the how-to-vote card was a political calculation.

“But it’s always designed to maximise our vote, just as other people’s how-to-vote cards are too,” he said.

Senior federal ministers have argued the One Nation of today is a more sophisticated party than when Senator Hanson emerged on the political scene two decades ago.

Labor’s Anthony Albanese says the preference deal is unprincipled and risks damage to Australia’s overseas reputation, as it did when Pauline Hanson warned about being “swamped by Asians” in the 1990s.

The government has been heavily relying on One Nation’s senators to pass its legislation.

Betting markets give Mark McGowan’s Labor team a 70 per cent chance of unseating Colin Barnett’s conservative government in WA.

The latest Essential poll gives federal Labor a 52-48 per cent two-party preferred lead over the coalition, with One Nation holding 10 per cent of the primary vote.

It comes amid a renewed debate triggered by the government over renewable energy and the place of coal-fired power.

Mr Turnbull met with his energy committee of cabinet in Sydney on Tuesday and was briefed on a new South Australian pumped hydro project backed by electricity giant Energy Australia.

The prime minister is also considering asking the Clean Energy Finance Corporation to invest in “clean coal” power using carbon capture and storage technology, but will require a change in the corporation’s legislation to do so.

However, voters are likely to take a dim view, with 45 per cent telling Essential researchers they opposed new coal-fired power, with 31 per cent in favour.

Almost two-thirds of voters said renewable energy was a “solution” to Australia’s energy needs, not a threat, and 71 per cent said the government is not doing enough to provide “clean and reliable” power.

WA Labor leader Mark McGowan said the Liberal-One Nation preference deal was a “test for the whole country”.

“If it works for the Liberal Party I suppose it will be template that they follow elsewhere around Australia, so West Australians have to decide whether or not that is the future they want,” he told Sky News on Tuesday.

“We haven’t done any deals with One Nation and we won’t.”

Exports to be significant growth prop:RBA

The Reserve Bank believes increased exports of iron ore will make a significant contribution to economic growth, as the price hit a two-and-a-half-year high.

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It also potentially adds billions of dollars to the budget bottom line through increased tax revenue.

The iron ore price has risen above $US92 a tonne, well above what Treasury had been predicting at the time of the mid-year budget review in December.

But Malcolm Turnbull isn’t prepared to say whether this is sustainable.

“I didn’t make habit of predicting commodity prices when I was actually in business let alone as prime minister,” the prime minister told Bloomberg Television on Tuesday.

“But obviously the rise is welcome, we are big exporter.”

Treasury had assumed the iron ore price would drop from an average $US68 through the March and June quarters of 2017 to $US55 in the September quarter.

The Reserve Bank, in the minutes of its February 7 board meeting, reiterated it does not expect the economic weakness seen during the September quarter last year will be repeated when the national accounts for the December quarter are released on March 1.

It would mean a recession has again been avoided, an event Australia has not suffered for more than a quarter of a century.

The 0.5 per cent growth contraction in the September quarter was the result of some temporary factors, including coal supply disruptions and bad weather.

A large trade surplus, aided by resource exports, was subsequently recorded in the following three months.

“Australia’s low-cost producers of iron ore were expected to increase output further and the ramp-up in liquefied natural gas production was expected to make a significant contribution to output growth,” the central bank said.

The drag from falling mining investment was also expected to diminish.

However, it warned subdued growth in household income was likely to constrain consumption growth.

December quarter wages figures are released on Wednesday, which economists expect will continue to show annual growth sub-two per cent and the lowest in at least two decades.

Consumer confidence, a pointer to future spending plans, also declined for a third straight week.

The ANZ-Roy Morgan confidence index dropped by a further 2.3 per cent in the past week to its lowest level since December.

Notably, views about household’s finances tumbled 7.5 per cent to a two-and-a-half-year low, which ANZ’s head of Australian economics David Plank said was a concern as this sub-index is closely correlated with consumer spending.

“Signs of renewed weakness in full-time employment may have weighed on consumers views’ of their personal finances,” he said.

Cool cat likes being netball underdog

Sam Wallace, the cool cat of the new Super Netball competition, is intent on disproving the unwanted underdog tag of her NSW Swifts team.

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Trinidadian shooter Wallace made an instant impact in the first round of the new competition, nailing 34 of her 37 attempts.

Swifts, who lost six players to the three new clubs, were widely tipped to struggle, but suffered a tight five-goal defeat at the hands of intrastate rival Giants Netball.

“We are going to build together as a team and I love when people tend to think that we are the underdogs,” Wallace told AAP.

“We are going to prove them wrong, just like Saturday we proved them wrong.”

Asked for her reaction to being labelled a cool cat by Swifts coach Rob Wright, Wallace said: “I’m just me.

“My teammates feed off my energy so, if I’m quiet, they tend to be like ‘Sam, what’s wrong?’.

“And I’ll be like ‘nothing – I’m just in my zone.”

She quickly established a strong combination with England international Helen Housby.

“We are going to get better – it’s coming along,” Wallace said.

“She hasn’t been here due to the Quad Series; she’s been back home to play.

“We’ve just got to keep building that connection. It worked so smooth last Saturday.”

Although a newcomer to club competition in Australia, Wallace had already established world-class credentials.

She scored 280 goals at 86 per cent for Trinidad and Tobago at the 2015 World Cup.

She won the Sky Sports British Superleague player of the season award in 2016 after making 438 of her 491 shots – a success rate of 89 per cent.

Trinidad and Tobago are ranked ninth in the world, but the sport struggles for recognition.

This is despite the fact they are the only team outside Australia and New Zealand to have won a World Cup, back in 1979, when they finished equal first with those two nations.

“They don’t focus on netball,” Wallace said.

“We feel so unappreciated – they focus on track and field, cricket and football.”

Wallace’s deeds overseas inspire the youngsters back home who do take an interest in the game.

“All of them look up to me; all of them share my Facebook,” Wallace said.

“They are always texting ‘good luck, Sam’, ‘hard luck, Sam’.

“It’s a big honour to be the first Trinidadian to be playing in this league.”

First famine declared in six years, in South Sudan

It is the first famine announced in any part of the world in six years.

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The South Sudanese government and three United Nations agencies have declared nearly 100,000 people are facing starvation in two counties of the country.

One million more are on the brink of famine.

The chairman of South Sudan’s National Bureau of Statistics, Isaiah Chol Aruai, explains the situation.

“The convergence of evidence shows that the long-term effects of the conflict, coupled with high food prices, economic crisis, low agricultural production and depleted livelihood options, are all contributing to the deterioration of the food security situation, resulting in 4.9 million people – which is about 42 per cent of the population – estimated to be severely food insecure.”

He says nearly half of the population will be affected by midyear.

“This is projected to increase to 5.5 million people, roughly 47 per cent of the national population, at the height of the 2017 lean season in July. The magnitude of these food insecure populations is unprecedented across all periods.”

The executive director of the aid group UNICEF UK, Mike Penrose, says the declaration of a famine is more distressing than what most people could imagine.

“Famines are extremely rare. There’s been less than a handful over the last 60 years that have actually been declared, mostly in East Africa. And a famine is when 30 per cent of the population is suffering from acute malnutrition, where 20 per cent has really strained food supplies and where more than two per 10,000 per day of the population are dying. So a famine is only declared when it’s become so bad that people are actually dying from hunger.”

World Food Program spokeswoman Challiss McDonough says the counties of Leer and Mayendit are devastated by famine.

“Everybody knows that, if we say there’s a famine, it’s because there really is the most serious kind of humanitarian crisis that we can imagine, and that’s exactly what we’re seeing in those two areas of South Sudan right now. So, it’s not a word that we use lightly, and it’s one that I had hoped that I wasn’t going to have to use to describe the situation in South Sudan, but, unfortunately, we’ve reached the position where that’s actually what’s happening, and so we have to call it what it is, and that’s a famine.”

A debilitating civil war that ignited in South Sudan in 2013 and a subsequent economic collapse have been blamed for the disaster.

United Nations humanitarian coordinator Eugene Owuso says that has posed many challenges for aid workers.

“The food insecurity crisis today is largely because of the conflict, is largely because of insecurity, is largely because of the access challenges that humanitarians have periodically had. It’s also because of attacks on humanitarian workers and also the looting of humanitarian assets.”

The civil war has increasingly split South Sudan along ethnic lines, leading the United Nations to warn of a potential genocide.

Ms McDonough has pleaded for greater access to the affected areas to provide food to starving people.

“People don’t have to die of hunger. We can help them. In this case, specifically, humanitarian agencies have been struggling to access those two parts of South Sudan for years in order to be able to get, to reliably get, food and other kinds of humanitarian assistance to people. And if we had access to those areas, we could have kept this from happening.”

UNICEF says it believes Somalia and war-torn Yemen are also on the brink of famine.