WASHINGTON, April 14, 2014/African Press Organization (APO)/ — The heads of the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), and the European Union (EU) Commissioner for International Cooperation, Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Response today called for more support for the people of South Sudan, who have been severely affected by conflict, displacement and food insecurity.
“We are here today to sound the alarm for South Sudan,” said UN Humanitarian Chief Valerie Amos who co-chaired the Humanitarian Ministerial Meeting with USAID’s Administrator, Rajiv Shah and EU Commissioner, Kristalina Georgieva.
“The effects of the conflict are significant– millions of people have been affected, cities have been destroyed, the economy has collapsed and food production has been devastated,” said Amos. “We fear a serious food and nutrition crisis in the next few months if the situation doesn’t improve soon.”
The leaders issued a Call for Action on South Sudan urging immediate action on three critical fronts. They called for an end to the fighting, underscored the need for humanitarian funding over the next three months to help people cope with the crisis, and demanded that all parties to the conflict respect the people of South Sudan and abide by International Humanitarian Law.
“This declaration is a wake-up call to prevent a deeper catastrophe from unfolding in South Sudan,” said Dr. Shah. “Today, indicators tell us that South Sudan is on the brink of famine, and it’s clear that the world must now do more to address this crisis.”
“We all celebrated with the world’s newest nation when South Sudan became independent,” said Ms. Georgieva. “Less than three years later, we are witnessing a humanitarian disaster of appalling proportions. It is innocent civilians who are paying the highest price for what has happened. We need to stand by them, while doing everything we can to get their leaders to put an end to a conflict that is wrecking lives and livelihoods across South Sudan.”
Since the start of the conflict in late2013, more than a million people have been forced from their homes, including 800,000 people who are internally displaced and some 280,000 people who have fled to neighbouring countries like Uganda, Ethiopia, Sudan and Kenya.
Millions more are already at risk of severe food insecurity. Conflict and a funding gap of nearly US$800 million continue to affect emergency aid efforts. As the rainy season looms, UN agencies and humanitarian partners warn that heavy rains and flooding could put a serious strain on their operations and further limit their access to people in need.
The United States is the leading donor of humanitarian assistance to South Sudan and on 25 March announced an additional $83 million in assistance. With this new funding, the U.S. Government is providing more than $411 million in 2013 and 2014 to date to help those affected by the crisis. The European Commission today announced that it will be boosting its life-saving assistance by $62 million (■45 million), making its total contribution for this year $131 million (■95 million).
Other high-level participants at the meeting included African Union Chairperson Dr. Nkosazana Zuma, and ministers from Norway, Denmark, the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, Canada, Australia, Switzerland, Kenya, Sweden, the United Arab Emirates, China, Turkey and Saudi Arabia. Also present were representatives from regional organizations, including the Intergovernmental Authority on Development and the Islamic Development Bank, as well as heads of UN agencies and international humanitarian partners such as the International Committee of the Red Cross, Oxfam, InterAction and Médecins Sans Frontières.