Middle East

South Sudan promises 'unimpeded' aid access amid famine

  • In this photo taken Thursday, Oct. 20, 2016 and released by UNICEF, a woman holds her young son who is suffering from dehydration and unable to walk, at an emergency medical facility supported by UNICEF in Kuach, on the road to Leer, in South Sudan. Famine has been declared Monday, Feb. 20, 2017 in two counties of South Sudan, according to an announcement by the South Sudan government and three U.N. agencies, which says the calamity is the result of prolonged civil war and an entrenched economic crisis that has devastated the war-torn East African nation. (Kate Holt/UNICEF via AP)

    In this photo taken Thursday, Oct. 20, 2016 and released by UNICEF, a woman holds her young son who is suffering from dehydration and unable to walk, at an emergency medical facility supported by UNICEF in Kuach, on the road to Leer, in South Sudan. Famine has been declared Monday, Feb. 20, 2017 in two counties of South Sudan, according to an announcement by the South Sudan government and three U.N. agencies, which says the calamity is the result of prolonged civil war and an entrenched economic crisis that has devastated the war-torn East African nation. (Kate Holt/UNICEF via AP)  (The Associated Press)

  • In this photo taken Wednesday, Oct. 19, 2016 and released by UNICEF, women who fled fighting in nearby Leer in recent months, queue for food aid at a food distribution made by the World Food Programme in Bentiu, South Sudan. Famine has been declared Monday, Feb. 20, 2017 in two counties of South Sudan, according to an announcement by the South Sudan government and three U.N. agencies, which says the calamity is the result of prolonged civil war and an entrenched economic crisis that has devastated the war-torn East African nation. (Kate Holt/UNICEF via AP)

    In this photo taken Wednesday, Oct. 19, 2016 and released by UNICEF, women who fled fighting in nearby Leer in recent months, queue for food aid at a food distribution made by the World Food Programme in Bentiu, South Sudan. Famine has been declared Monday, Feb. 20, 2017 in two counties of South Sudan, according to an announcement by the South Sudan government and three U.N. agencies, which says the calamity is the result of prolonged civil war and an entrenched economic crisis that has devastated the war-torn East African nation. (Kate Holt/UNICEF via AP)  (The Associated Press)

  • In this photo taken Sunday, Oct. 23, 2016 and released by UNICEF, a young child sits on the floor in the therapeutic feeding unit of the Medecins Sans Frontieres (Doctors Without Borders) hospital in the UN Protection of Civilians Camp in Bentiu, South Sudan. Famine has been declared Monday, Feb. 20, 2017 in two counties of South Sudan, according to an announcement by the South Sudan government and three U.N. agencies, which says the calamity is the result of prolonged civil war and an entrenched economic crisis that has devastated the war-torn East African nation. (Kate Holt/UNICEF via AP)

    In this photo taken Sunday, Oct. 23, 2016 and released by UNICEF, a young child sits on the floor in the therapeutic feeding unit of the Medecins Sans Frontieres (Doctors Without Borders) hospital in the UN Protection of Civilians Camp in Bentiu, South Sudan. Famine has been declared Monday, Feb. 20, 2017 in two counties of South Sudan, according to an announcement by the South Sudan government and three U.N. agencies, which says the calamity is the result of prolonged civil war and an entrenched economic crisis that has devastated the war-torn East African nation. (Kate Holt/UNICEF via AP)  (The Associated Press)

South Sudan's president says his government will ensure "unimpeded access" for all aid organizations, a day after famine was declared in part of the country.

The United Nations and others have long accused the government of blocking or restricting aid delivery as the East African country's civil war continues.

President Salva Kiir's remarks to the transitional national assembly on Tuesday come after a famine was declared in parts of oil-rich Unity state. South Sudan's government and U.N. agencies say more than 100,000 people are affected.

South Sudan has repeatedly promised to allow full humanitarian access across the country, but with little effect.

Human Rights Watch researcher Jonathan Pedneault says the famine is a man-made result of "conflict, warring parties blocking access for aid workers and large-scale human rights violations."