April 6, 2017 (JUBA) – South Sudan President Salva Kiir has, in a statement issued Thursday, acknowledged for the first time that famine exists in the war-torn country.
- South Sudanese president Salva Kiir (Photo: Reuters)
Three United Nations agencies declared an outbreak of famine in the young nation in February, saying an additional 1 million people were are the brink of starvation.
“On this historical and unique day, I passionately desire to share with each and everyone of you that once more our country has been struck by another national challenge, that of famine and poverty,” the president’s statement read before reporters by country’s information minister, Michael Makuei Lueth partly stated.
100,000 civilians are at risk of starvation and an additional seven million South Sudanese are facing food shortage nationwide due to economic crisis that has been triggered by the three year old civil war and the poor harvest, aid agencies said.
In a speech to lawmakers a few days after famine was declared, the president failed to mention the calamity, but said he felt the suffering people were going through.
He said his government, through the Minister of Finance and South Sudan’s Central Bank governor were working towards alleviating the situation.
President Kiir’s statement was read to the nation on the eve of the Great Run Marathon in Juba, which was organized by athletes from Ethiopia and Kenya.
“I appeal to every South Sudanese citizen to show the rest of the world, our local effort and commitment to help famine-affected children, mothers and the elderly by making financial contributions and to come out on Saturday the 8th of April, 2017,” said the minister, referring to the weekends 10km marathon that took place in Juba.
Makuei did not take any questions after reading the president’s statement.