U.N. to scale up aid and peacekeeping in South Sudan

26 Dec 2013

image Civilians seeking protection at the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) compound adjacent to Juba International Airport (UN Photo/Rolla Hinedi)

Aid agencies are preparing to scale up their work in key locations across South Sudan, as continuing clashes kill hundreds and drive tens of thousands from their homes, while the UN is urging all forces to lay down their arms.

On 24 December, the U.N. Security Council authorized almost doubling the United Nations peacekeeping force in strife-torn South Sudan to nearly 14,000 in the face of a rapidly deteriorating security and humanitarian situation.

Until March 2014, US$166 million will be needed to address the immediate needs of people resulting from the past days’ violence. This includes emergency programmes for some 200,000 refugees from Sudan in Unity and Upper Nile states of South Sudan.

The humanitarian community in South Sudan has re-prioritized its work for the coming months, as set out in the South Sudan Consolidated Appeal 2014-2016. $166 million represents the most urgently required resources from the overall $1.1 billion programme set out by the aid community for 2014.

“This is an extremely difficult time for the people of this new nation, and it is crucial that aid agencies have the resources they need to save lives in the coming months,” said Toby Lanzer, UN Humanitarian Coordinator in South Sudan.

The resources will be used to provide clean water and sanitation, healthcare, shelter, and deliver food and livelihood assistance. It will also ensure that the rights of vulnerable people, including survivors of violence, are better protected.

“Our message is that the United Nations is here to stay,” said Hilde Johnson, the Special Representative of the United Nations Secretary-General in South Sudan. “Our mandate is to remain and support and to be acting on a mandate of protecting civilians also under these circumstances, and maybe not least under these circumstances.”

The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) is managing, with the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA), a US$ 241 million South Sudan Common Humanitarian Fund that supports national and international NGOs and UN agencies providing humanitarian assistance to people in need, in areas such as food security, health, education and shelter.

Promoting stronger and more cohesive institutions and communities in South Sudan is considered key to preventing the recurrence of conflicts and other crises.

“In supporting the world’s newest country, we need to help South Sudanese avert crises, not merely respond to them,” said Toby Lanzer.

UNDP has been present for forty years in South Sudan, which gained its independence in 2011, working to strengthen the government’s ability to deliver basic services while empowering communities to develop and live in peace. 

Over the years, the organization has built water points, roads and police infrastructure, trained civil servants across the country and facilitated access to basic health care, justice and microfinance services for hundreds of thousands of South Sudanese.

“In order to build a viable and sustainable state in which people are able to cope with shocks without large-scale and costly emergency assistance, addressing under-development requires our increased support,” Lanzer added.

In light of the current crisis, UNDP will be reviewing its programmes to ensure the country can resume its path to peace, stability and development.

"UNDP's support to create the foundations of a functioning state based on the rule of law in South Sudan will continue. We very much hope that the situation will stabilize soon, and allow UNDP to continue to work with the people of South Sudan towards long-term peace and development," said Helen Clark, the Administrator of UNDP.

“UNDP is committed to South Sudan’s long-term and sustainable development. In light of the current crisis, we will be reviewing our programmes to ensure South Sudan can resume its path to peace, stability and development and that the people of South Sudan achieve their goals and aspirations in an equitable way”, said Balazs Horvath, Country Director UNDP South Sudan.