UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has condemned the decision to expel Mr Lanzer and called on the Government of South Sudan to reverse its decision immediately and to cooperate fully with all UN entities present in South Sudan.

‘This decision will have a negative impact on the UN’s crucial and extensive humanitarian efforts in South Sudan. We cannot see that anyone will benefit from the expulsion of Mr Lanzer,’ said Mr Brende.

Since the armed conflict in South Sudan broke out in December 2013, more than two million people have been forced to flee their homes, and a great many of them have sought refuge in South Sudan’s neighboring countries.

Renewed hostilities in recent weeks have forced an additional 100,000 people to flee, and there are reports of civilians being killed and of gross violations of human rights.

Some 3.8 million people are dependent on emergency assistance to survive, and this figure is expected to rise during the summer.

‘Toby Lanzer has played a key role in ensuring that lifesaving assistance reaches the civilian population. South Sudan’s decision to expel Mr Lanzer therefore comes as a surprise,’ said Mr Brende.

Mr Lanzer was nearing the end of his term, and his successor, Eugene Owusu from Ghana, had already been appointed by the UN Secretary-General with a view to ensuring continuity in the UN’s humanitarian efforts.