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 "hungriest place on earth". (File)
    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

    Former US Envoys Urge Obama to Delay Troop Cuts in Afghanistan

    Keeping troop levels up during conflict with both Taliban and Islamic State is necessary to support Kabul government, they say

    First Lady to Visit Africa to Promote Girls' Education

    Michele Obama will be joined by daughters and actresses Meryl Streep and Freida Pinto

    Video NYSE Analyst: Brexit Will Continue to Place Pressure on Markets

    Despite orderly pricing and execution strategy at the New York Stock Exchange, analyst explains added pressure on world financial markets is likely

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

    By the Numbers

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Brexit Vote Plunges Global Markets Into Uncharted Territoryi
    X
    June 24, 2016 9:38 PM
    British voters plunged global markets into unknown territory after they voted Thursday to leave the European Union. The results of the Brexit vote, the term coined to describe the referendum, caught many off guard. Analysts say the resulting volatility could last for weeks, perhaps longer. Mil Arcega reports.
    Video

    Video Brexit Vote Plunges Global Markets Into Uncharted Territory

    British voters plunged global markets into unknown territory after they voted Thursday to leave the European Union. The results of the Brexit vote, the term coined to describe the referendum, caught many off guard. Analysts say the resulting volatility could last for weeks, perhaps longer. Mil Arcega reports.
    Video

    Video Orlando Shooting Changes Debate on Gun Control

    It’s been nearly two weeks since the largest mass shooting ever in the United States. Despite public calls for tighter gun control laws, Congress is at an impasse. Democratic lawmakers resorted to a 1960s civil rights tactic to portray their frustration. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti explains how the Orlando, Florida shooting is changing the debate.
    Video

    Video Tunisian Fishing Town Searches for Jobs, Local Development Solutions

    As the European Union tries to come to grips with its migrant crisis, some newcomers are leaving voluntarily. But those returning to their home countries face an uncertain future.  Five years after Tunisia's revolution, the tiny North African country is struggling with unrest, soaring unemployment and plummeting growth. From the southern Tunisian fishing town of Zarzis, Lisa Bryant takes a look for VOA at a search for local solutions.
    Video

    Video 'American Troops' in Russia Despite Tensions

    Historic battle re-enactment is a niche hobby with a fair number of adherents in Russia where past military victories are played-up by the Kremlin as a show of national strength. But, one group of World War II re-enactors in Moscow has the rare distinction of choosing to play western ally troops. VOA's Daniel Schearf explains.
    Video

    Video Experts: Very Few Killed in US Gun Violence Are Victims of Mass Shootings

    The deadly shooting at a Florida nightclub has reignited the debate in the U.S. over gun control. Although Congress doesn't provide government health agencies funds to study gun violence, public health experts say private research has helped them learn some things about the issue. VOA's Carol Pearson reports.
    Video

    Video Trump Unleashes Broadside Against Clinton to Try to Ease GOP Doubts

    Recent public opinion polls show Republican Donald Trump slipping behind Democrat Hillary Clinton in the presidential election matchup for November. Trump trails her both in fundraising and campaign organization, but he's intensifying his attacks on the former secretary of state. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone reports.
    Video

    Video Muslim American Mayor Calls for Tolerance

    Syrian-born Mohamed Khairullah describes himself as "an American mayor who happens to be Muslim." As the three-term mayor of Prospect Park, New Jersey, he believes his town of 6,000 is an example of how ethnicity and religious beliefs should not determine a community's leadership. Ramon Taylor has this report from Prospect Park.
    Video

    Video Internal Rifts Over Syria Policy Could Be Headache for Next US President

    With the Obama administration showing little outward enthusiasm for adopting a more robust Syria policy, there is a strong likelihood that the internal discontent expressed by State Department employees will roll over to the next administration. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins reports.
    Video

    Video Senegal to Park Colorful ‘Cars Rapide’ Permanently

    Brightly painted cars rapide are a hallmark of Dakar, offering residents a cheap way to get around the capital city since 1976. But the privately owned minibuses are scheduled to be parked for good in late 2018, as Ricci Shryock reports for VOA.
    Video

    Video Florida Gets $1 Million in Emergency Government Funding for Orlando

    The U.S. government has granted $1 million in emergency funding to the state of Florida to cover the costs linked to the June 12 massacre in Orlando. U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch announced the grant Tuesday in Orlando, where she met with survivors of the shooting attack that killed 49 people. Zlatica Hoke reports.
    Video

    Video How to Print Impossible Shapes with Metal

    3-D printing with metals is rapidly becoming more advanced. As printers become more affordable, the industry is partnering with universities to refine processes for manufacturing previously impossible things. A new 3-D printing lab aims to bring the new technology closer to everyday use. VOA's George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Big Somali Community in Minnesota Observes Muslim Religious Feast

    Ramadan is widely observed in the north central US state of Minnesota, which a large Muslim community calls home. VOA Somali service reporter Mohmud Masadde files this report from Minneapolis, the state's biggest city.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora