South Sudan: U.S. Blames Leaders For Famine

Regina Aluel holds her grandson Agop Manut, 11-months-old, who suffers acute malnutrition and respiratory distress at the clinic run by Doctors Without Borders in Aweil, northern Bahr al-Ghazal, South Sudan in 2016 (AFP Photo/ALBERT GONZALEZ FARRAN)

By Oladapo Okeowo with agency report

The U.S. Department of State has blamed the leadership of South Sudan for the famine currently plaguing the conflict-torn country.

The department’s Spokesperson, Mr Mark Toner, in a statement obtained by the Correspondent of the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), described the famine as “man-made”.

The UN World Food Programme and non-governmental organisations had earlier declared famine in parts of South Sudan.

The organisations have projected a large number of deaths from starvation and malnutrition which would mostly affect the children.

According to Toner, the crisis is man-made and a direct consequence of the unwillingness of the conflicting sides to put aside their political ambitions and differences for the good of the majority.

“We call on President (Salva) Kiir to expeditiously make good on his promise that humanitarian and developmental organisations will have unimpeded access to populations in need across the country.

“An estimated 5.5 million people – nearly half of South Sudan’s population, will face life-threatening hunger this year,” he said.

According to him, humanitarian actors are working tirelessly to reach those in need.

He urged the conflicting parties to enable relief efforts and let food and essential assistance to get to those who have been adversely affected by the long-term war.

He said: “The United States remains the single largest donor of humanitarian assistance to South Sudan, having provided more than 2.1 billion dollars since 2014.

“Our assistance, including more than 600,000 metric tonnes of urgently needed food assistance, has saved lives and helped avert famine for three consecutive years,” he said.

The U.S. called 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.

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