Donors pledge $600 million to bolster UN-led aid response to South Sudan crisis
New York – International donors yesterday pledged more than $600 million dollars in aid to South Sudan at a conference hosted by Norway and the United Nations (UN) aimed at preventing famine and upholding human rights in the world’s newest country which has been ravaged by months of fighting.
“These generous pledges will, once paid, translate into life-saving relief to the most vulnerable people in South Sudan and to those who have sought refuge in neighbouring countries,” said Valerie Amos, UN Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator, who co-chaired the conference with Norwegian Foreign Minister Børge Brende.
“The UN and our humanitarian partners must now do our part and deliver,” she urged. Before the conference, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said about $1.26 billion was still needed to meet the total needs of $1.8 billion for this year. The additional funding would allow aid groups to provide food, water and shelter.
South Sudan has been enmeshed in a crisis which began in mid-December 2013 as a political dispute between President Salva Kiir and his former deputy president, Riek Machar, who had been forced from office earlier that year. The in-fighting has since erupted into a deadly conflict forcing more than 800,000 people to flee their homes.
“The conflict will have long-lasting consequences, rolling back years of development achievements and a hard won peace, increasing poverty, as well as long-term insecurity and vulnerability to future shocks. Said Toby Lanzer, UN Humanitarian Coordinator in South Sudan in a recent op-ed in the Huffington Post.
“While the needs of people in South Sudan require urgent attention, and continued funding, we must keep in mind that emergency operations can only assist them in the short-term. Because humanitarian action is a palliative, not a long-term solution, it is never too early to promote reconciliation and recovery.”
As part of the humanitarian response, United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) has agreed to help mitigate the crisis by providing emergency employment to affected and displaced people, helping people move home and address the underlying causes of the conflict by helping communities to mediate and settle disputes peacefully.
Briefing the Security Council earlier this month, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said that by the end of this year, half of South Sudan’s 12 million people will be either in flight, facing starvation, or dead. If nothing is done, the number of displaced could rise to 1.5 million.
A third of the country’s population is severely food insecure. The UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) warned that there is a high likelihood that the situation could worsen during the second half of 2014. Some 50,000 children are at serious risk of dying of malnutrition, especially those who have been displaced, the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) added.
Yesterday’s conference “is the last best chance for donors to help aid agencies,” said Lanzer.
The funding is urgently needed before the situation unravels further, OCHA has warned. In conflict-affected states such as Jonglei, Upper Nile and Unity, the planting season has been disrupted, and people now only have one month left to plant their crops.
In addition, in many areas, people are still recovering from the effects of the 2013 floods making them particularly susceptible to famine and malnutrition.