Even in the context of years of obscene crimes against its citizens, the news that South Sudan’s government is threatening to hike the cost of work permits for foreigners a hundredfold, from $100 to as much as $10,000, is horrifying. Without permits, aid workers trying to feed civilians who are starving in a famine caused by three years of vicious conflict cannot operate. What began with a rift between President Salva Kiir and his former deputy, Riek Machar, has fractured the country along ethnic lines. Atrocities have been committed by all parties; civilians and their livelihoods have been deliberately and repeatedly targeted. In December, the chair of the UN commission on civil rights in South Sudan warned that the country stood on the brink of an all-out ethnic civil war. Aid workers already face harassment and attacks and are blocked from areas in desperate need. Now the government is trying to profiteer from efforts to save the lives put in peril through its own self-interest.
The Guardian view on South Sudan: don’t punish the starving