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World needs to do more to help people of Southern Sudan: UN emergency chief

World needs to do more to help people of Southern Sudan: UN emergency chief

John Holmes
The international community must do more to help the people of Southern Sudan, especially the hundreds of thousands of internally displaced persons (IDPs) now returning to their homes following the end of the civil war two years ago, the United Nations humanitarian chief said today in the southern city of Juba, while also highlighting the urgent need for peace in the strife-torn Darfur region.

Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator John Holmes made his remarks on the second day of his two-week, three-country mission to Africa. While in Juba, he met with First Vice President of Sudan and President of the Government of Southern Sudan, Salva Kiir, Vice President of the Government of Southern Sudan, Riek Machar, along with UN and other officials.

“I am very encouraged by what is happening here, but the needs are tremendous. We all – UN, donors and NGOs (non governmental organizations) – need to do much more to support the Government and people in Southern Sudan. Recovery and development activities need to be accelerated, and the benefits of peace to become more apparent,” he said.

While what is largely viewed as the world’s largest humanitarian crisis unfolds in Darfur, securing funding for Southern Sudan remains a significant challenge, noted the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA). In his meetings with the President and Vice President Mr. Holmes stressed the importance of reaching a political solution in that region as being important for the whole of the country.

“If there isn’t a peaceful resolution in Darfur, it is much harder to maintain peace in the rest of Sudan, including in the South. The President of the Government of Southern Sudan seems very willing to engage on this issue, and to bring his considerable experience to the table.”

Mr. Holmes will now travel on to Darfur and visit field locations this Saturday and Sunday in the region, where at least 200,000 people have been killed and more than 2 million forced to flee their homes over the past four years because of fighting between Government forces and allied Janjaweed militias against rebel groups battling for more autonomy.

In a related development, as part of UN efforts to try and re-energize the stalled peace process in Darfur, the Secretary-General’s Special Envoy Jan Eliasson has arrived in Khartoum from Eritrea, where he was scheduled to meet with African Union (AU) Special Envoy Salim Ahmed Salim on a five-day mission to the country.