South Sudan

US enraged after Kiir expels UN chief


Deputy Special Representative in the UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) Toby Lanzer. Photo: UNMISS/JC McIlwaine


United States and United Nations have expressed discontent following a decision by South Sudan President, Salva Kiir, to expel UN Humanitarian Coordinator, Toby Lanzer.

Lanzer is accused of making critical statements about the government in a CNN TV interview, according to Presidential Press Secretary, Ateny Wek.

Ateny said Lanzer was no longer wanted in South Sudan.

Lanzer is expected to leave South Sudan towards the end of June.

However, in a statement released by the US embassy in Juba, U.S. Department Of State, Office of the Spokesperson, John Kirby, said United States interpreted the incident as “an affront to the international community working to bring peace and stability to South Sudan, and demonstrates a callous disregard for the suffering of the South Sudanese people”.

“We strongly support the work of the UN Mission in South Sudan and that of Mr. Lanzer who has been instrumental in addressing the dire humanitarian needs of conflict-affected communities and has been a strong partner and advocate for vulnerable populations in South Sudan.”

The US joined UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and other governments in calling on the Government of South Sudan to reverse its decision and to cooperate fully with all United Nations entities present in South Sudan, as well as other international organizations working on behalf of the South Sudanese people.

In his own turn, UN Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon, called on the Government of South Sudan to reverse its decision immediately.

“He further urges the Government to cooperate fully with all United Nations entities present in South Sudan,” said a statement attributable to Mr. Ban’s spokesperson.

Mr. Lanzer, who also is Resident Coordinator and Humanitarian Coordinator for the UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS), has been “instrumental”, read the statement, in “addressing the increasing humanitarian needs of conflict-affected communities in the country,” and “ensuring that life-saving humanitarian assistance reaches the most vulnerable,” according to the statement.

“This has been necessary because of continuing violence by both parties in the absence of a comprehensive peace agreement.”

Mr. Lanzer was coming to the end of his term, and in order to ensure continuity for this critical function, the Secretary-General has already appointed his successor, Eugene Owusu, whose nomination was announced on 29 May.

South Sudan’s ongoing conflict began in December 2013 and has been marked by brutal violence against civilians and deepening suffering across the country.

Some 119,000 people are sheltered in UN compounds there while the Organization estimates that the number of people in need for 2015 will include an anticipated 1.95 million internally displaced persons (IDPs) and a projected 293,000 refugees.


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