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After U.S. visit, South Sudan’s Kiir orders unhindered aid access

UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) – South Sudan’s President Salva Kiir has ordered that humanitarian aid convoys be allowed to move freely, unhindered and unimpeded around the country, two weeks after the United States said it had lost trust in his government and threatened to pull support.

FILE PHOTO: South Sudan’s President Salva Kiir Mayardit reacts upon arrival at Khartoum airport, Sudan November 1,2017. REUTERS/Mohamed Nureldin Abdallah/File Photo

The Nov. 9 order, seen by Reuters, directs that all roadblocks should be removed, all levels of government must assist aid groups, and anyone who obstructs aid or imposes taxes on aid convoys shall be held accountable.

The move came two weeks after U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley met with Kiir in Juba. She was the first member of President Donald Trump’s cabinet to visit South Sudan, which spiraled into civil war in late 2013, two years after gaining independence from Sudan.

Haley said Washington had lost trust in Kiir’s government for fueling the civil war, and demanded that Kiir allow full and consistent humanitarian aid access.

“This is a good sign, but we must see actions – more than words from President Kiir,” Haley said in a statement on Tuesday, referring to the Nov. 9 presidential order.

“The true test will be whether humanitarian assistance is actually allowed to get to the South Sudanese people in a consistent way. We will be watching, and we will continue to encourage President Kiir to do the right thing,” she said.

Haley’s office said Kiir had yet to deliver on further commitments made during a 45-minute, one-on-one meeting with Haley in Juba.

The war in South Sudan, sparked by a feud between Kiir and his former deputy Riek Machar, has plunged parts of the world’s youngest nation into famine. Some 4 million people have fled their homes, a third of the country’s population.

U.N. Humanitarian Coordinator for South Sudan, Alain Noudehou, welcomed Kiir’s Nov. 9 order.

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