NAIROBI – Aid workers in South Sudan should be exempt from a 100-fold hike in work permit fees so they can respond to famine in the country, the United Nations said as humanitarian agencies struggle to reach those in need amid fighting and looting.
The world’s youngest nation, which relies on international aid to feed a third of its people, increased fees for foreign “professionals” to $10,000 on March 1.
“We are deeply concerned,” Guiomar Pau Sole, a spokeswoman for the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said on Monday.
“If applied to humanitarian organisations, (it) could mean that generously donated taxpayer money is diverted from the delivery of aid to people in dire need at a particularly critical time.”
The U.N. is working with the government to request an exemption from the order for aid agencies, she said.
The U.N. declared last month that parts of South Sudan are experiencing famine, the first time the world has faced such a catastrophe in six years.
Some 5.5 million people, nearly half the population, will not have a reliable source of food by July.
The world’s youngest nation has been mired in civil war since 2013, when President Salva Kiir fired his deputy Riek Machar, sparking a conflict that has increasingly split the country along ethnic lines. Continued…