Concluding a three-day mission to South Sudan, a senior United Nations relief official has called on all parties to the conflict there to respect their ceasefire commitments, while urging the international community to continue providing support to enable humanitarians to scale up and expand critical aid operations.
In a press release issued today by the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), Assistant Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs, Kyung-wha Kang, noted that while the humanitarian community has reached more than 3.5 million people with assistance this year, the situation in South Sudan remains “bleak” and the number of people who are severely food insecure is projected to increase to 2.5 million in early 2015.
“The level of violence experienced by civilians in South Sudan has been devastating,” Ms. Kang said. “I was here a year ago and I am heartbroken to see that the promising young country that I saw is suffering so greatly. The scale of the needs is great,” she added.
Emphasizing that the year-long conflict has been “brutal,” she recounted that more than 1.9 million people have fled their homes and more than 100,000 have sought refuge in UN bases. In addition, civilians have been killed, raped and beaten; homes have been torched; and fighting has destroyed communities and separated families, Ms. Kang said.
“However much we scale up our operations, we will never be able to do enough if the conflict continues to destroy lives and livelihoods. All parties to the conflict must show leadership and bring peace to this country,” Ms. Kang stressed.
Meanwhile, aid agencies are planning for next year, and are urgently calling for $600 million by February, the humanitarian official said.
“In the dry season, we need to pre-position life-saving and livelihood supplies to reach all people in need, and carry out key repairs to roads and airstrips so that we can scale up and expand the aid operation,” she noted.
During her trip to South Sudan, Ms. Kang said she visited communities affected by the crisis in Juba and Jonglei State. She also met with Government representatives and humanitarian partners to discuss ways of improving access and strengthening protection of civilians.
In addition, Ms. Kang noted that she had urged parties to respect international humanitarian and human rights laws that call for the protection of civilians and unhindered humanitarian access to people in need.
Political in-fighting between South Sudan President Salva Kiir and his former deputy, Riek Machar, started in mid-December 2013 and subsequently turned into a full-fledged conflict that has sent nearly 100,000 civilians fleeing to UNMISS bases around the country. The crisis has uprooted some 1.5 million people and placed more than 7 million at risk of hunger and disease.