On February 20th, the United Nations declared a famine in parts of South Sudan. “This crisis is man-made, the direct consequence of a conflict prolonged by South Sudanese leaders who are unwilling to put aside political ambitions for the good of their people,” said State Department Acting Spokesperson Mark Toner.
South Sudan gained its independence from Sudan in early July 2011. Peace lasted less than 18 months. In December 2013, a power struggle between President Salva Kiir and Vice President Riek Machar erupted into civil war. A peace accord signed in 2015 has failed to stop the violence, and the continued fighting led to a collapsing economy and wildly escalating food prices. Food insecurity, hunger, and malnutrition have all grown steadily worse since the conflict began.
Today, some 100,000 South Sudanese are on the verge of starvation and 7.5 million people, more than half the country's population, will require humanitarian assistance this year.
“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,” said Acting Spokesperson Toner. “We call on President Kiir to expeditiously make good on his promise that humanitarian and developmental organizations will have unimpeded access to populations in need across the country,” he said.
“Humanitarian actors are working tirelessly to reach those in need. All parties to the conflict must stop impeding relief efforts and allow food and other essential assistance to reach those who need it the most.
“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 tons of urgently needed food assistance, has saved lives and helped avert famine for three consecutive years.
“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.”