UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres has accused President Salva Kiir of ignoring the plight of his people suffering from the famine.
Antonio Guterres made the accusation on Thursday saying there are 7.5 million people in need of humanitarian aid and thousands more fleeing the fighting as the government refuses “to even acknowledge the crisis or to fulfill its responsibilities to end it”.
“There is a strong consensus that South Sudanese leaders need to do more to demonstrate their commitment to the well-being of the country’s people, who are among the poorest in the world,” said Guterres.
Deputy US Ambassador Michele Sison shared the same beliefs with the UN chief saying that the government was preventing humanitarian aid workers from reaching parts of the war-torn state. It was also revealed that the country recently hiked work permit fees a hundredfold for foreign aid workers to $10,000.
Sison warned that the South Sudanese government’s actions during this famine could “amount to deliberate starvation tactics.”
Speaking to the Security Council, Deputy US Ambassador Michele Sison said:
“The famine is not a result of drought, it is the result of leaders more interested in political power and personal gain than in stopping violence and allowing humanitarian access.”
“The government’s continued unconscionable impediments to humanitarians seeking access to famine-stricken populations may amount to deliberate starvation tactics.”
In response to the accusations, South Sudan’s deputy ambassador Joseph Malok said the government was not to blame for the famine.
He added that the government “will spare no efforts to help address the situation and calls upon the international community to help address this urgent matter.”
The United Nations have declared a famine in some parts of South Sudan although famine conditions are likely to have existed for up to two years with inadequate access to data preventing a formal declaration.
The main cause of the famine is conflict but Russian Deputy UN Ambassador Petr Illichev disagreed with the notion. He said on Thursday that the famine was “linked not just to problems with security, but also with inclement weather conditions.”
In 2013, a civil war erupted two years after South Sudan gained independence from Sudan following the firing of President Salva Kiir’s deputy, Riek Machar; Kiir is an ethnic Dinka and Machar a Nuer.
Over the past four years, the U.N. says at least one-quarter of the population has been displaced.