The outgoing chairperson of the African Union (AU) Commission, Dr. Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, has expressed deep concern over the deterioration of the security situation in the Republic of South Sudan in recent weeks.
Dlamini-Zuma, who will be replaced by Chadian diplomat Moussa Faki Mahamat, this week said she was alarmed by reports regarding the rising violations of the ceasefire and heightened hostilities in the Greater Upper Nile and Greater Equatoria regions.
The hostilities have caused more refugees to flee into neighbouring states, as well as the increase in internally displaced persons in the country.
Dlamini-Zuma called on the various parties to the Peace Agreement to refrain from further hostile activities.
She also appealed to the parties to uphold the ceasefire to the letter and spirit, in the context of the various agreements they had all signed, and in the framework of the joint African Union (AU), Inter-Governmental Authority on Development (IGAD), United Nations (UN) statement in Addis Ababa on January 29.
The outgoing AU chairperson further reiterated that violence was not the solution to the challenges facing the government and people of South Sudan.
Meanwhile, the US State Department on Tuesday said it was 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.
“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,” the state department said in a press release.
“We call on President [Salva] Kiir to expeditiously make good on his promise that humanitarian and developmental organisations will have unimpeded access to populations in need across the country.”
An estimated 5.5 million people – nearly half of South Sudan’s population – faces life-threatening hunger this year.
Humanitarian actors are working tirelessly to reach those in need.
The state department said 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 US remains the single largest donor of humanitarian assistance to South Sudan, having provided more than $2.1 billion since 2014.
“Our assistance, including more than 600,000 metric tonnes of urgently needed food assistance, has saved lives and helped avert famine for three consecutive years,” said the state department.
South Sudan’s ambassador to South Africa, Philip Jada Netana told the African News Agency (ANA) that the famine was a result of a combination of factors, including the civil war, erratic rainfall which was also effecting neighbouring countries, and a decimated economy which had seen an 800 percent rise in inflation.