South Sudan, on Tuesday, directed companies and nonprofits to fire certain foreign nationals and fill the vacancies with “competent South Sudanese nationals” by mid-October, according to media reports.

Companies and agencies operating out of South Sudan will have to justify to the labor ministry their decision to hire foreign staff, a government notice issued Tuesday reportedly said. Until now, companies in South Sudan, many of them foreign aid agencies, have faced no such limitations on employment and have had the freedom to hire foreigners without notifying the authorities. The new rules, when they come into effect, will have a huge impact on the functioning of these aid agencies, BBC reported.

The government circular reportedly lists nine roles -- executive directors, personnel managers, secretaries, human relations officers, public relation officers, procurement officers, front desk officers, protocol officers and receptionists -- that have to be filled by South Sudanese citizens by Oct. 15.

The new rules bring South Sudan in line with other East African nations that require employers to explain why a foreigner needs to be hired before applying for a work permit.

Helen Achiro Lotara, under secretary at the labor ministry, told BBC that the move was aimed at ensuring that 80 percent of managerial-level positions were held by locals.

The announcement comes at a time when the conflict-ridden nation is on the verge of what the United Nations termed a “catastrophic food insecurity.”

More than 1.5 million South Sudanese civilians have reportedly been internally displaced since last December as a result of the protracted conflict between government and rebel forces, and nearly 50,000 children are currently at risk of death from malnutrition.