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crisis in south sudan

U.S. blasts South Sudan government over reaction to famine

In South Sudan, about 5.5 million people — almost half the population — face food shortages, and the U.S. is casting blame on the government.

"The famine is not a result of drought, it is the result of leaders more interested in political power and personal gain than in stopping violence and allowing humanitarian access," Deputy U.S. Ambassador Michele Sison told the U.N. Security Council on Thursday. "The government's continued unconscionable impediments to humanitarians seeking access to famine-stricken populations may amount to deliberate starvation tactics." Recently, South Sudan increased the price of work permit fees for foreign aid workers to $10,000.

Joseph Mourn Majak Ngor Malok, South Sudan's deputy ambassador, said his government is not to blame for the famine and called on the "international community to assist in addressing this urgent matter." In 2013, two years after South Sudan gained independence from Sudan, civil ware broke out, following the firing of President Salva Kiir's deputy, Riek Machar; Kiir is an ethnic Dinka and Machar a Nuer. Over the past four years, the U.N. says at least one-quarter of the population has been displaced.