Eight aid workers were providing food to hundreds suffering from government-made crisis.

Humanitarian aid organization Samaritan’s Purse is “hopeful” that eight local staff members kidnapped by rebels will be released soon.

“Samaritan's Purse confirms that some of our South Sudanese staff in the Mayendit area of South Sudan have been detained by armed personnel,” stated the organization run by Franklin Graham. “We have been in contact with them, and they have not been harmed. No ransom request has been made, and we are hopeful that they will be released soon and safely.”

A military spokesperson told Reuters today that humanitarian aid was demanded in exchange for the staff members.

It’s a claim that’s easy to believe in a country crippled by famine.

“The situation in Mayendit, South Sudan, is a level 4 famine,” Samaritan’s Purse stated. “We call on all the parties involved to immediately provide complete and unfettered humanitarian access in order to meet the needs of a starving population in order to save lives.”

The famine—officially recognized as such by the United Nations in February—is an especially frustrating one because it hasn’t been caused by the weather or a natural disaster.

"The main tragedy … is that the problem is man-made," said Eugene Owusu, the United Nation's humanitarian coordinator for South Sudan. “The underlining drivers have been there for some time, and we have all known that we have a major food crisis.”

The world’s youngest country, South Sudan gained independence from Sudan in 2011 and fell into civil war two years later. The ethnic war between the Dinka supporters of the president and the Nuer supporters of his rival has raged ever since. Mirroring …

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