The World Food Program has labelled the suffering caused by South Sudan’s famine “deplorable”, also calling it man-made.
Executive Director of the U.N. World Food Programme David Beasley is reported by AP news agency to say, “Seeing innocent children and families suffer because of this man-made conflict is absolutely deplorable.”
“We want to feed the hungry children and the innocent civilians,” Beasley said on Tuesday before departing for the affected area. “If you let us do our job, we’ll get it done.”
South Sudan’s civil war erupted in December 2013 after President Salva Kiir accused his then-deputy Riek Machar of plotting a coup against his government. Machar denied the accusations but then went on to mobilize a rebel force to fight the government.
Beasley’s visit comes just a day after President Kiir announced a unilateral ceasefire that requires all soldiers to stop attacking the rebels. Kiir also promised to release political prisoners, though no deal has been reported to have been struck with the rebels.
The United Nations welcomed the prospect of a ceasefire and release of prisoners but stressed the importance of better access for peacekeepers and humanitarian workers.
“The long-term peace and stability in South Sudan can only be achieved through an inclusive political process which is deemed credible by the people of South Sudan,” said Daniel Dickinson, spokesman for the U.N. mission there.
Beasley said humanitarian funding could run out by October if aid workers can’t reach those in need. He called that prospect catastrophic.