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US Condemns South Sudan's Expulsion of UN Diplomat

FILE - U.N. Humanitarian Coordinator in South Sudan Toby Lanzer, who the South Sudan government says is being expelled from the country.

The United States has condemned South Sudan's decision to expel a United Nations deputy representative to the east African nation.

The State Department called the expulsion of Toby Lanzer, the U.N. humanitarian coordinator in South Sudan, "an affront to the international community working to bring peace and stability to South Sudan."

Lanzer, a British national, was soon to depart the country for a new assignment. He had been known as an outspoken diplomat, frequently criticizing the fledgling South Sudanese government for failing to halt the country's internal violence.

The State Department said the government's priority should be bringing an end to the violence that has displaced more than two million citizens of South Sudan. It said half a million of those are now refugees in neighboring countries, and that 4.6 million South Sudanese are left facing "extreme, life-threatening hunger."

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon called on South Sudan to reverse the decision immediately.

South Sudan has been mired in conflict for more than a year between soldiers backing President Salva Kiir and rebels who support former vice president Riek Machar.