South Sudan hikes foreign aid work permits to $14k despite famine

South Sudan has moved to increase the cost of foreign aid work permits from US$100 to US$10,000 (NZ$14,400) - despite officially declaring a famine only days before.

Minister of Information Michael Makuei told The Associated Press the change is intended to increase government revenue.

South Sudan has been gripped by a civil war since 2013, after President Salva Kiir fired his deputy, Riek Machar. This started an ethnic conflict which has destroyed the country and prevented food harvests.

At least 100,000 South Sudanese face death by starvation, and about 5.5 million people are expected to lack a reliable food sources by July.

Despite the humanitarian crisis, the labour ministry has announced they will charge foreigners US$10,000 for working in a "professional" capacity, US$2000 for "blue collar" employees and US$1000 for "casual workers".

The government's plan is "absolutely unheard of globally," said Julien Schopp, director for Humanitarian Practice at non-governmental organization (NGO) alliance group InterAction.

"No organisation can afford this, and if NGOs go to their institutional donors to request that extra money, I'm pretty sure that [the donors] will be reluctant to pay this because they will see this to some extent as ransom," he told The Guardian.

However Mr Makuei said the NGO's reports are fake news, according to local media outlets.

"There is no looming genocide in South Sudan. Nevertheless, the media houses, the reporters and everybody are still repeating the same thing," he is reported as saying at a press conference in Juba on Thursday.

"You find NGOs, humanitarian organisations talking about obstruction of their movement, [but] they are not being obstructed," he continued.

"They are being regulated, and if you don't want to be regulated, then you are a no-system person, because you must be regulated by the laws of our country."