South Sudan hikes entry fees for aid workers - as thousands face starvation in famine

Officials in war-ravaged South Sudan have hiked the the cost of work permits for aid staff to $10,000 (£8,200) per person even as tens of thousands in the country face starvation.

The shock increase - one hundred times the previous cost - comes as officials warn that 100,000 people in the country face famine and 1 million others are at risk.

It is a man-made crisis caused by years of civil war in the world's youngest country, which split from Sudan in 2011.

Last month, the United Nations declared that parts of the country are experiencing famine, the first time the world has faced such a catastrophe in six years.

Despite the catastrophe, officials will now charge $10,000 for foreigners working in a "professional" capacity, $2,000 for "blue collar" employees and $1,000 for "casual workers" from March 1, the labour ministry said in a decree.

A helicopter arriving with supplies of food and oil. Credit: AP

Aid groups say they often face restrictions in South Sudan.

In December, officials in the capital Juba expelled the country director of the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC) after security agents held him without charge for more than 24 hours.

The UNdefines famine as when at least a fifth of the households in a region face extreme food shortages, acute malnutrition rates exceed 30 percent, and two or more people in every 10,000 are dying each day.

The fighting has uprooted more than 3 million people.

Continuing displacement presents "heightened risks of prolonged (food) underproduction into 2018," the United Nations said in a report last month.