News / Africa

'Last Chance' Donor Conference for South Sudan Opens in Norway

FILE - A displaced South Sudanese woman carries a plastic jerry can with water in the United Nations camp that has become home to thousands of displaced people in Malakal, South Sudan.
FILE - A displaced South Sudanese woman carries a plastic jerry can with water in the United Nations camp that has become home to thousands of displaced people in Malakal, South Sudan.
Philip AleuKarin Zeitvogel
— Delegates from 41 donor nations began gathering in the Norwegian capital Monday for a conference to raise funds to avert famine in South Sudan.

The conference marks the second time in five months that the international community is being asked to give money to address what a U.S. official who is attending the conference said is, "along with Syria, probably the largest, most significant crisis we're facing in the world right now."

Jeremy Konyndyk, director of the Office of Foreign Disaster Assistance at the U.S. Agency for International Developmentsaid the United States will make a "very substantial contribution" at the conference on Tuesday, and will press other donor nations to do the same to close a large funding gap for South Sudan.

Failure to help South Sudan - and failure on the part of the warring sides in the country to allow aid to reach people who need it - will likely lead to famine, Konyndyk said.

"We are absolutely seeing conditions that, if left on their current trajectory, would lead toward famine in the next, let’s say, six months," Konyndyk told South Sudan in Focus before leaving for Oslo.
Along with Syria this is probably the largest crisis, the most significant crisis we’re facing in the world right now.


"We can mitigate this if we are given the cooperation by the fighting forces that humanitarians need in order to avert that crisis." He said if a famine does hit South Sudan, the fault would lie with government and opposition forces who have been at war since mid-December.

"A famine is a rare thing... Apart from the famine in Somalia a few years ago, there hadn’t been a famine declared in Africa in many, many years, and not in Sudan and South Sudan since the '90s," Konyndyk said.

"This is not a common occurrence. It is a really extraordinary and outrageous occurrence and it’s been driven by very irresponsible behavior by both parties to this conflict," he said.


Less than half of UN funding requirement met


Donors have pledged $590 million for humanitarian assistance in South Sudan -- just 45 percent of the $1.3 billion the United Nations said in January was needed for the country.

As the fighting has dragged on it has claimed thousands of lives, displaced more than a million people and left about four million people facing food insecurity. The United Nations recently increased the funding requirement to $1.8 billion. 

Toby Lanzer, the South Sudan coordinator for the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) called the conference a last chance to avert famine in South Sudan.

"Insufficient funding coupled with fighting along the main access routes has severely affected the delivery of aid. Since January, out-patient therapeutic feeding programmes reached some 228 locations; before the onset of the crisis, 336 locations could be reached," OCHA said in a statement.

"If nothing is done, the situation could quickly unravel, bringing the number of displaced to 1.5 million. One out of two South Sudanese could be displaced, sick or starving by December, 2014. To prevent this, humanitarian agencies need adequate funding fast," the OCHA coordinator said.


'Money not enough' to avert disaster


Konyndyk said before he left for the conference that  "money will not be enough to address this crisis."

"It is incumbent on the parties to this conflict, to the government in South Sudan and to the armed opposition, to do everything they possibly can to enable humanitarian aid," Konyndyk said.

"The donor and humanitarian communities...  can give as much money as is needed, we can put in as much humanitarian response capacity as is needed, but if the fighting continues and the obstacles to humanitarian aid that we’ve seen out of both sides, but particularly the government, continue, we will not be able to prevent the massive crisis that will arrive," he said.
 

Konyndyk said while opposition forces have "not been blameless - they have looted, they have targeted humanitarian supplies and actors from time to time - in  general, we’ve seen that the government has put up more obstacles than the opposition has."

Both sides agreed in January to allow aid agencies unimpeded access to people in need around South Sudan, and renewed that commitment early this month.

Konyndyk said South Sudanese Foreign Affairs Minister Barnaba Marial Benjamin, who is leading the government delegation to Oslo, pledged that the government will allow aid agencies "immediate and unconditional access" to people in need in South Sudan.
Marial also said he is hopeful the UN goal of $1.8 billion in funding for South Sudan will be met. 

Hussein Maar Nyuot, who is representing the opposition at the conference, said his side is also committed to ensuring that aid gets through to the people who need it. 

"We want humanitarian services to go to our people without obstruction," he said, adding that people in parts of South Sudan controlled by the opposition should be "saved equally, like people who are in the government-controlled areas.” 

Konyndyk agreed. The government has "an obligation to all of their citizens, not just citizens in areas that they control," he said.
 

Four million face food insecurity



The United Nations says around four million people in South Sudan face food insecurity, and hundreds of thousands of children in the three states hardest hit by the fighting - Jonglei, Unity and Upper Nile - are at imminent risk of death and disease.

Konyndyk said the United States has made clear to both sides that they need to stop  harassing aid workers and looting supplies.
 
Marial assured donors that their money will be used for humanitarian purposes, but also insisted that the government should be involved in its disbursement. 

"The government is not saying, 'Put it into a government account.' No. But... the government must be in the know of how these funds are used,” he said.

Nyuot said that the international community should trust the two sides to disburse the funds, even though they have not yet made a durable peace.

"The government and us, we are partners in this together with the international community," he said.

"There is no way that any party will be left out," he said.
Philip Aleu reported from Oslo, Karin Zeitvogel from Washington, D.C.

You May Like

EU Court Fines Poland for Hosting CIA 'Black Sites'

Ruling is first time a court has acknowledged suspects were held and tortured at the sites, under US program launched following the 9/11 terrorist attacks More

Migrant Issues Close to Home Spur Groups to Take Action

Groups placing water, food in the desert, or aiding detainees after release, have one common goal: no more deaths of migrants crossing illegally into the US More

Video At AIDS Conference, Prevention Pill Stirs Excitement

Truveda shows promise, spurring debate over access and other approaches More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: John
May 20, 2014 6:19 AM
Fascinating. We should give these people money and just 'trust the two sides to disburse the funds.' Plainly one thing the parties to this quarrel, whatever it's all about, can agree upon is robbing us.


by: Gatluke from: South Sudan
May 20, 2014 6:03 AM
had it not been because of the United States of America, this war could have been come to it end four months ago. I do not know why United States of America is jumping up and down as if anything is new!!!!

I am a proud Nuer who knew that we will prevail and U.S and its allies will be ashamed to themselves for letting one man to killed thousand of people for nothing. I will achieve what is best for South Sudan and Africa and yo the world. we are God people and we are the one


by: Ayuen Awan from: Kampala Uganda
May 20, 2014 12:20 AM
We appreciate the world's efforts to avert famine expected to descend on our vulnerable civil population as a result of the five months conflict. It is up to the warring parties to see people starving when they've what to eat.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Israel Targets Gaza Supply Tunnelsi
X
July 24, 2014 4:42 AM
The Israeli military has launched a ground operation in Gaza to destroy the myriad tunnels that may have been used to smuggle weapons to Hamas. VOA's Zlatica Hoke reports that could mean more hardship for the people of Gaza, who obtain some of their essential supplies through these underground passages
Video

Video Israel Targets Gaza Supply Tunnels

The Israeli military has launched a ground operation in Gaza to destroy the myriad tunnels that may have been used to smuggle weapons to Hamas. VOA's Zlatica Hoke reports that could mean more hardship for the people of Gaza, who obtain some of their essential supplies through these underground passages
Video

Video MH17's 'Black Boxes' Could Reveal Crash Details

The government of Malaysia now has custody of the cockpit voice and flight data recorders from Malaysia Airlines Flight 17, which was hit by a missile over Ukraine before crashing last week. As VOA's Carolyn Presutti reports, the so-called black boxes may hold information about the final minutes of the flight.
Video

Video Living in the Shadows Panel Discussion

Following a screening of the new VOA documentary, "AIDS - Living in the Shadows," at the World AIDS conference in Melbourne, a panel discussed the film and how to combat the stigma associated with HIV/AIDS.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Relic of Saint Draws Catholics Worried About Immigration Issue

A Roman Catholic saint who is a figure of devotion for those crossing the border into the United States is attracting believers concerned about the plight of undocumented immigrants. Mike O'Sullivan reports from Los Angeles, where a relic of Saint Toribio has drawn thousands to local churches.
Video

Video US Awards Medal of Honor for Heroics in Bloodiest of Afghan Battles

U.S. combat troops are withdrawing from Afghanistan, on pace to leave the country by the end of this year. But on Monday, U.S. President Barack Obama took time to honor a soldier whose actions while under fire in Afghanistan earned him the Medal of Honor. VOA's Jeff Seldin has more from the Pentagon.
Video

Video Ukraine Rebels Surrender MH17 Black Boxes

After days of negotiations, a senior separatist leader handed over two black boxes from an airliner downed over eastern Ukraine to Malaysian experts early Tuesday. While on Monday, the U.N. Security Council unanimously demanded that armed groups controlling the crash site allow safe and unrestricted access to the wreckage.
Video

Video In Cambodia, HIV Diagnosis Brings Deadly Shame

Although HIV/AIDS is now a treatable condition, a positive diagnosis is still a life altering experience. In Cambodia, people living with HIV are often disowned by friends, family and the community. This humiliation can be unbearable. We bring you one Cambodian woman’s struggle to overcome a life tragedy and her own HIV positive diagnosis.

AppleAndroid