News / Africa

IRC: Critical Time for South Sudan

A group of displaced brothers and sisters cautiously disembark from a boat that has just carried them across the Nile to a village in Awerial, which has received tens of thousands of displaced people who crossed the Nile river by boat to flee the recent f
A group of displaced brothers and sisters cautiously disembark from a boat that has just carried them across the Nile to a village in Awerial, which has received tens of thousands of displaced people who crossed the Nile river by boat to flee the recent f

Multimedia

Audio
Joe DeCapua
The International Rescue Committee said it’s not too late to prevent South Sudan from falling into a prolonged conflict. However, the humanitarian group said it will require a lot of international pressure and greater support for the U.N. presence.
 
IRC Country Director Wendy Taeuber said just two-and-a-half-years-ago, South Sudan was a place of hope. Action is needed now, she says, to preserve the gains made since South Sudan gained its independence. She called it an opportunity despite the many horror stories being reported.
 
That said, Taeuber warned conditions of late have deteriorated.
 
“With the increased fighting, further displacement and the onset of the rainy season, it’s sort of a perfect storm, if you will, of complete calamity on the horizon if we don’t act now. So it’s a very important moment to do as much as we can.”
 
Speaking from the capital Juba, Taeuber said the many years of U.S. support have created a lot of good will in South Sudan and give the Obama administration leverage. She’s encouraged by the scheduled visit by Secretary of State John Kerry.
 
“We’re hoping that he can talk to all sides and encourage them to really push forward on some kind of peace agreement. I mean we don’t want to be naïve in thinking that the fighting will stop over night, but certainly there are things we can ask for – a 30-day period of tranquility. It would be wonderful if parties could at least agree to a ceasefire for the month of May, during which time people would be free to move around, plant, reunite with their families,” she said.
 
Taeuber said Kerry could “lend some renewed energy” to the peace process.
 
“The talks in Ethiopia have not been going very well, but we hope that high level engagement of someone of John Kerry’s level could give a jump start to renewed negotiations and some fresh inputs, ideas.”
 
The IRC country director said one of the biggest problems facing South Sudan is food insecurity.
 
“We do have three-point-seven-million people at immediate risk of extreme hunger. And of course the reports have mentioned that if planting season is missed completely and displacement continues over the coming months, we could see seven million people at risk by the end of the year or early next year as crops may fail and people would have nothing to eat. And of course over time that can develop into extreme starvation,” she said.
 
Now is the time,” she said, to pre-position emergency food stocks and distribute farming tools, seeds and fishing nets.
 
“A lot of people are displaced along the Nile River, which is teaming with fish. So there’s a lot that could still be done in the next month or two before the heavy, heavy rains come,” she said.
 
Taeuber recently described South Sudan as a place where” no one feels safe.”
 
“What’s been especially upsetting about the fighting of the last few weeks is that places people would normally seek refuge in any time of conflict -- anywhere in the world -- you might think of running to a hospital or a church or a mosque – and in this particular conflict a lot of people have sought refuge inside the U.N. bases – all of these have been attacked in the last two weeks you could say,” she said.
 
The International Rescue Committee has not been immune to the violence. Two IRC health workers were shot dead during the recent attack on the U.N. compound in Bor.
 
Besides health care, the IRC is also providing fresh drinking water and sanitation, as well as prevention and response programs for gender-based violence.
 
“Women and girls are at particular risk in any conflict as they may be running their own households if their husbands and brothers have gone off to join the fighting,” said Taeuber.
 
The International Rescue Committee said the May 20th donors’ conference on South Sudan in Oslo could be “critical” to avoiding a catastrophe.

You May Like

China May Be Biggest Winner From Ukraine Crisis

Missile sales, oil and gas shipments are among many areas that may drive Beijing and Moscow closer together in coming years More

Obama Faces Chaotic World, Limits of Power

Current foreign policy issues bring into focus challenges for US policymakers who are mindful of Americans' waning appetite for overseas military engagements More

SADC Meeting Lesotho Officials to Resolve Stalemate

Official says regional bloc has been engaged with leaders in Lesotho to resolve political disagreement that led to coup attempt More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
West Africa Ebola Vaccine Trials Possible by Early 2015i
X
Carol Pearson
August 30, 2014 7:14 PM
A U.S. health agency is speeding up clinical trials of a possible vaccine against the deadly Ebola virus that so far has killed more than 1,500 people in West Africa. If successful, the next step would be a larger trial in countries where the outbreak is occurring. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
Video

Video West Africa Ebola Vaccine Trials Possible by Early 2015

A U.S. health agency is speeding up clinical trials of a possible vaccine against the deadly Ebola virus that so far has killed more than 1,500 people in West Africa. If successful, the next step would be a larger trial in countries where the outbreak is occurring. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
Video

Video Survivors Commemorate 70th Anniversary of Nazi Liquidation of Jewish Ghetto

When the German Nazi army occupied the Polish city of Lodz in 1939, it marked the beginning of a long nightmare for the Jewish community that once made up one third of the population. Roughly 200,000 people were forced into the Lodz Ghetto. Less than 7,000 survived. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, some survivors gathered at the Union League Club in Chicago on the 70th anniversary of the liquidation of the Lodz Ghetto to remember those who suffered at the hands of the Nazi regime.
Video

Video Cost to Raise Child in US Continues to Rise

The cost of raising a child in the United States continues to rise. In its latest annual report, the U.S. Department of Agriculture says middle income families with a child born in 2013 can expect to spend more than $240,000 before that child turns 18. And sending that child to college more than doubles that amount. VOA’s Deborah Block visited with a couple with one child in Alexandria, Virginia, to learn if the report reflects their lifestyle.
Video

Video Chaotic Afghan Vote Recount Threatens Nation’s Future

Afghanistan’s troubled presidential election continues to be rocked by turmoil as an audit of the ballots drags on. The U.N. says the recount will not be completed before September 10. Observers say repeated disputes and delays are threatening the orderly transfer of power and could have dangerous consequences. VOA correspondent Meredith Buel reports.
Video

Video Ukraine Battles Pro-Russia Rebel Assault

After NATO concluded an emergency meeting to discuss the crisis in eastern Ukraine, the country is struggling to contain heavy fighting near the strategic port of Mariupol, on the Azov Sea. Separatist rebels are trying to capture the city, allegedly with Russian military help, and Ukraine's defense forces are digging in. VOA's Daniel Schearf spoke with analysts about what lies ahead for Ukraine.
Video

Video Growing Business Offers Paint with a Twist of Wine

Two New Orleans area women started a small business seven years ago with one thing in mind: to help their neighbors relieve the stress of coping with a hurricane's aftermath. Today their business, which pairs painting and a little bit of wine, has become one of the fastest growing franchises across the U.S. VOA’s June Soh met the entrepreneurs at their newest franchise location in the Washington suburbs.
Video

Video Ebola Vaccine Trials To Begin Next Week

The National Institutes of Health says it is launching early stage trials of a vaccine to prevent the Ebola virus, which has infected or killed thousands of people across West Africa. The World Health Organization says Ebola could infect more than 20,000 people across the region by the time the outbreak is over. The epidemic has health experts and governments scrambling to prevent more people from becoming infected. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Asian Bacteria Threatens Florida Orange Trees

Florida's citrus fruit industry is facing a serious threat from a bacteria carried by the Asian insect called psyllid. The widespread infestation again highlights the danger of transferring non-native species to American soil. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Aging Will Reduce Economic Growth Worldwide in Coming Decades

The world is getting older, fast. And as more people retire each year, fewer working-age people will be there to replace them. Bond rating agency Moody’s says that will lead to a decline in household savings; reducing global investments - which in turn, will lead to slower economic growth around the world. But experts say it’s not too late to mitigate the economic impact of the world’s aging populations. Mil Arcega has more.
Video

Video Is West Doing Enough to Tackle Islamic State?

U.S. President Barack Obama has ruled out sending ground troops to Iraq to fight militants of the so-called Islamic State, or ISIS, despite officials in Washington describing the extremist group as the biggest threat the United States has faced in years. Henry Ridgwell reports from London on the growing uncertainty over whether the West’s response to ISIS will be enough to defeat the terrorist threat.
Video

Video Coalition to Fight Islamic State Could Reward Assad

The United States along with European and Mideast allies are considering a broader assault against Islamic State fighters who have spread from Syria into Iraq and risk further destabilizing an already troubled region. But as VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports, confronting those militants could end up helping the embattled Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
Video

Video Made in America Socks Get Toehold in Online Fashion Market

Three young entrepreneurs are hoping to revolutionize the high-end sock industry by introducing all-American creations of their own. And they’re doing most of it the old-fashioned way. VOA’s Julie Taboh recently caught up with them to learn what goes into making their one-of-a-kind socks.
Video

Video Americans, Ex-Pats Send Relief Supplies to West Africa

Health organizations from around the world are sending supplies and specialists to the West African countries that are dealing with the worst Ebola outbreak in history. On a smaller scale, ordinary Americans and African expatriates living in the United States are doing the same. VOA's Carol Pearson reports.

AppleAndroid