Though it faces a food security crisis that threatens more than four million of its people, the Government of South Sudan took the extraordinary and regrettable step of expelling the top United Nations official working there to help address the emergency.
The Government of South Sudan indicated that the decision to expel U.N. Humanitarian Coordinator Toby Lanzer came after remarks Lanzer made in a television interview regarding the gravity of the humanitarian crisis facing the country. The humanitarian crisis is the direct result of ongoing fighting between the government and opposition forces that began in December 2013, when a political split between President Salva Kiir and his former vice president Riek Machar erupted in violence.
The United States condemns the decision to expel the Mr. Lanzer. The action is an affront to the international community working to bring peace and stability to South Sudan. It also demonstrates a callous disregard for the suffering of the South Sudanese people. The government’s priority should be bringing an end to the violence that has already displaced more than 2 million of its citizens – half a million of whom are now refugees in neighboring countries – and left 4.6 million facing extreme, life-threatening hunger.
The United States has contributed more than $1.1 billion in emergency aid to house, feed, and provide medical services for the people of South Sudan, as well as improve water, sanitation, and hygiene services. We strongly support the work of the UN Mission in South Sudan and that of Mr. Lanzer who has been instrumental in addressing the dire humanitarian needs of conflict-affected communities and has been a strong partner and advocate for vulnerable populations in South Sudan.
We join UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and other governments in calling on the Government of South Sudan to reverse its decision and to cooperate fully with all United Nations entities present in South Sudan, as well as other international organizations working on behalf of the South Sudanese people.