February 22, 2017 (JUBA) – The United States expressed “grave concern” over the situation in South Sudan, days after three United Nations agencies declared famine in parts of the war-torn nation.
- A woman carries food items distributed by WFP in Jonglei state (UNMISS/Isaac Gideon)
In a statement, the U.S government urged donors to provide timely humanitarian assistance.
“The United States is gravely concerned by the February 20 declaration of famine in parts of South Sudan and by the significant scale of humanitarian need throughout the country,” partly reads the statement issued Tuesday.
Three U. N agencies and the South Sudanese government declared famine in the oil-rich Unity state, where 100,000 people are said to be at risk of starvation.
Describing the famine in the world’s youngest nation as being a “man-made: crisis, Washington said South Sudanese leaders who were “unwilling to put aside political ambition” are prolonging the suffering of their own people.
“We call on President [Salva Kiir] to expeditiously make good on his promise that humanitarian and developmental organizations will have unimpeded access to populations in need across the country,” the statement added.
Addressing the country’s lawmakers in Tuesday, President said his government would offer unimpeded with humanitarian delivery to the needy people.
But without mentioning the famine declared a day before making his speech to the nation, Kiir said his administration will provide sufficient food to the population.
“The government is aware of the failure of crops last year in the region and so steps are being taken to mitigate a potential famine there,” he stressed.
An estimated 5.5 million people or nearly half of the South Sudanese population will face life-threatening hunger this year, according to humanitarian agencies.
The U.S said both parties to the South Sudanese conflict must allow unimpeded access to all areas of need.
“We call on donors and other members of the international community to provide timely additional humanitarian assistance to save lives and support the people of South Sudan,” the statement added.
The U.S has reportedly contributed over $2.1bn since 2014 to South Sudan humanitarian assistance.