News / Africa

UN Preparing for Worst Case Scenario in Southern Sudan

Two-year-old Nyagod Kuel attempts to eat on her bed in a hospital ward in Akobo, southeastern Sudan. The U.N. mission dubs the
Two-year-old Nyagod Kuel attempts to eat on her bed in a hospital ward in Akobo, southeastern Sudan. The U.N. mission dubs the "hungriest place on earth". (File)

The United Nations Children's Fund says it is preparing for a worst-case should conflict break out after next month's referendum on independence for Southern Sudan.  UNICEF says it cannot predict what will happen, but it has to be ready to provide emergency care for hundreds of thousands of children who are among the most disadvantaged in the world.  

Southern Sudan has been living in a state of relative stability since it signed a peace agreement with the north five years ago.  This period of relative calm has created some opportunities for development, but not enough.  

UNICEF describes the humanitarian situation there as terrible.  Director of Southern Sudan Area Program, Yasmin Ali Haque, says aid agencies could be facing a humanitarian crisis as a consequence of the independence referendum in January.  

She says the United Nations is working on a contingency plan to be prepared for any emergency.

"It does take into consideration that there is likely to be a resumption of conflict, in which case, there is likely to be population movements, there is going to be displacements, etc.," she said. "So, in terms of the preparedness, it is really looking at how UNICEF and other agencies would be meeting their commitments in a humanitarian crisis."  

Haque says UNICEF's priority is the children of southern Sudan.  She calls their situation desperate, and the statistics bear this out.

UNICEF reports for every 1,000 live births, 102 infants die.  

Data show many children suffer from acute and chronic malnutrition, and southern Sudan has one of the lowest routine immunization rates in the world.  More than 90 percent of the population lives on less than $1 per day.  Most of the population has no access to good drinking water and most children in southern Sudan receive less than five years of primary school education.

As part of its preparations, Haque says UNICEF is putting in place a number of core services for children. 

"How do we address the needs of children who are likely to be separated from their families, making sure that does not happen.  Or, if it does, we have systems in place to trace the families and reunite the children with the families, especially looking at the various threats children do face in conflict situations.  Whether it is recruitment by armed groups or whether the schools and health centers come under attack," she said. "Humanitarian access is another issue that we would be monitoring and advocating on."

Despite the fears, Haque says people are excited about next month's referendum.  She says many people are returning from the north to the south so they can vote.  

Haque says the whole issue is surrounded by a great deal of energy and enthusiasm.  But she says the government, the people, and aid agencies agree they have to be prepared for whatever might happen.

You May Like

US Border Patrol Union Accused of Taking Sides on Immigration

Report alleges agents leaking info to immigration opponents, appearing at their private events; Center for Immigration Studies director defends agents' actions More

Video Blind Somali Journalist Defies Odds in Mogadishu

Reporting from Somali capital for past decade, Abdifatah Hassan Kalgacal has been working at one of Mogadishu's leading radio stations covering parliament More

Video Rights Monitor: Hate Groups' Use of Internet to Inflame, Recruit Growing

Wiesenthal Center's Abraham Cooper says extremists have become skilled at celebrating violence, ideology on Web More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Hate Groups Spread Influence Via Interneti
X
Mike O'Sullivan
June 30, 2015 8:20 PM
Hate groups of various kinds are using the Internet for propaganda and recruitment, and a Jewish human rights organization that monitors these groups, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, says their influence is growing. The messages are different, but the calls to hatred or violence are similar. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video Hate Groups Spread Influence Via Internet

Hate groups of various kinds are using the Internet for propaganda and recruitment, and a Jewish human rights organization that monitors these groups, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, says their influence is growing. The messages are different, but the calls to hatred or violence are similar. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video US Silica Sand Mining Surge Worries Illinois Residents, Businesses

Increased domestic U.S. oil and gas production, thanks to advances known as “fracking,” has created a boom for other industries supporting that extraction. Demand for silica sand, used in fracking, could triple over the next five years. In the Midwest state of Illinois, people living near the mines are worried about how increased silica sand mining will affect their businesses and their health. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh has more in this first of a series of reports.
Video

Video Blind Somali Journalist Defies Odds in Mogadishu

Despite improving security in the last few years, Somalia remains one of the most dangerous countries to be a journalist – even more so for someone who cannot see. Abdulaziz Billow has the story of journalist Abdifatah Hassan Kalgacal, who has been reporting from the Somali capital for the last decade despite being blind.
Video

Video Texas Defies Same-Sex Marriage Ruling

Texas state officials have criticized the US Supreme Court decision giving same-sex couples the right to marry nationwide. The attorney general of Texas says last week's decision did not overrule constitutional "rights of religious liberty," and therefore officials performing wedding services can refuse to perform them for same-sex couples if it is against their religious beliefs. Zlatica Hoke reports on the controversy.
Video

Video Syrians Flee IS Advance in Hasaka

The Syrian government said Monday it has taken back one of several districts in Hasaka overrun by Islamic State militants. But continued fighting elsewhere in the northern city has forced thousands of civilians from their homes. In this report narrated by Bill Rodgers, VOA Kurdish Service reporter Zana Omer describes the scene in Amouda, where some of the displaced are taking refuge.
Video

Video Rabbi Hits Road to Heal Jewish-Muslim Relations in France

France is on high alert after last week's terrorist attack near the city Lyon, just six months after deadly Paris shootings. The attack have added new tensions to relations between French Jews and Muslims. France’s Jewish and Muslim communities also share a common heritage, though, and as far as one French rabbi is concerned, they are destined to be friends. From the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, Lisa Bryant reports about Rabbi Michel Serfaty and his friendship bus.
Video

Video S. Korea Christians Protest Gay Rights Festival

The U.S. Supreme Court decision mandating marriage equality nationwide has energized gay rights supporters around the world. Gay rights remain a highly contentious issue in a key U.S. ally, South Korea, where police did a deft job Sunday of preventing potential clashes between Christian protesters and gay activists. Kurt Achin reports from Seoul.
Video

Video Saudi Leaks Expose ‘Checkbook Diplomacy’ In Battle With Iran

Saudi Arabia’s willingness to wield its oil money on the global diplomatic stage appears to have been laid bare, after the website WikiLeaks published tens of thousands of leaked cables from Riyadh’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Nubians in Kenya Face Land Challenges

East Africa's ethnic Nubians have a rich cultural history that dates back thousands of years, but in Kenya they are facing hardships, including the loss of lands they have lived on for generations. They say the government has reneged on its pledge to award them title deeds for the plots. VOA's Lenny Ruvaga reports.
Video

Video Military Experts Question New Russian Tank Capabilities

Russia has been showing off its new tank design – the Armata T-14. Designers claim it is 20 years ahead of current Western designs - and driving it feels like playing a computer game. But military analysts question those assertions, and warn the cost could be too heavy a burden for Russia’s struggling economy. Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video In Kenya, Police Said to Shoot First, Ask Questions Later

An organization that documents torture and extrajudicial killings says Kenyan police were responsible for 1,252 shooting deaths in five cities, including Nairobi, between 2009 and 2014, representing 67 percent of all gun deaths in the areas reviewed. Gabe Joselow has more from Nairobi.
Video

Video In Syrian Crisis, Social Media Offer Small Comforts

Za’atari, a makeshift city in Jordan, may be the only Syrian refugee camp to tweet its activities, in an effort to keep donors motivated as the war in Syria intensifies and the humanitarian crisis deepens. Inside the camp, families say mobile phone applications help hold together families that are physically torn apart. VOA’s Heather Murdock reports.

VOA Blogs