March 24, 2017 (JUBA) – South Sudanese government said on Friday it has no plans to prevent humanitarian access to civilians in the conflict-affected areas where assistances are required, stressing it provides unhindered access.
“There is no policy preventing humanitarian organisations from delivering assistances to where they are needed. The government, through different institutions and authorities, has never stopped any humanitarian organisation. Instead, the government has always demonstrated willingness to facilitate their movement to areas where their operations are needed,” cabinet affairs minister said Friday.
Minister Martin Elia Lomuro was reacting to reports quoting U.S. officials accusing the government of preventing humanitarian aid workers from reaching to the most affected areas of the war-torn nation. The US equates the suffering famine could “amount to deliberate starvation tactics.”
“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 Security Council.
“The government continued unconscionable impediments to humanitarians seeking access to famine-stricken populations may amount to deliberate starvation tactics,” she adds.
Russian Deputy UN Ambassador Petr Illichev reportedly disagreed with the views held by the U.S. diplomat saying the famine was “linked not just to problems with security, but also with extreme weather conditions”.
The Security Council said in a presidential statement that it was “deeply concerned about the actions of all parties to the conflict that are perpetuating the humanitarian crisis.” However, the language was toned down from a draft that said the crisis was “the result of the actions of all parties to the conflict.”
Meanwhile, South Sudan Deputy Ambassador to the UN Joseph Mourn Majak Ngor Malok also rejected accusations that the government was to blame for the famine, claiming “it will spare no efforts to help address the situation and calls upon the international community to assist in addressing this urgent matter.”
Observers are keen to stress that the remarks by officials of the new US administration would give an indication of how President Donald Trump’s administration views the crisis in the young nation.
The past administrations of President George W. Bush and President Barack Obama were heavily involved in the birth of South Sudan, which signed a peace accord with Sudan in 2005 and gained independence in 2011.
It is unclear which steps the Trump administration would take to help the young nation stops war and return to peace, stability to pursue development activities.