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

New England Bears Brunt of US Blizzard

Boston, surrounding region grapple with as much as 3 feet of snow, coastal flooding; leaders in New York, spared most severe weather, criticized for being overly cautious More

China Lifts Lid on Sale of Fake Goods Online

A recent survey found nearly 60 percent of a random sample of items bought from Taobao were fake More

Upward Aims to Create Old-girls Network in Silicon Valley

Lisa Lambert, an executive with Intel Corp.'s venture-capital unit, responds to the gender-disparity debate by creating a new social organization More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Obama Urges Closer Economic Ties During Historic India Visiti
X
Aru Pande
January 26, 2015 9:33 PM
U.S. President Barack Obama says the United States and India must do better to capitalize on untapped potential in their economic relationship - by removing some of the roadblocks to greater trade and investment. As VOA correspondent Aru Pande reports from New Delhi, Obama spoke after participating in India’s Republic Day celebration.
Video

Video Obama Urges Closer Economic Ties During Historic India Visit

U.S. President Barack Obama says the United States and India must do better to capitalize on untapped potential in their economic relationship - by removing some of the roadblocks to greater trade and investment. As VOA correspondent Aru Pande reports from New Delhi, Obama spoke after participating in India’s Republic Day celebration.
Video

Video US, EU Threaten New Russia Sanctions Over Ukraine

U.S. President Barack Obama has blamed Russia for an attack by Ukrainian separatists that left dozens dead in the port of Mariupol and cast further doubt on the viability of last year’s cease-fire with the Kyiv government. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports from Washington.
Video

Video White House Grapples With Yemen Counterterrorism Strategy

Reports say the U.S. has carried out a drone strike on suspected militants in Yemen, the first after President Barack Obama offered reassurances the U.S. is continuing its counterterrorism operations in the country. The future of those operations has been in question following the collapse last week of Yemen’s government. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Kerry Warns Against Violence in Nigeria Election

US Secretary of State John Kerry visited Nigeria Sunday in a show of the level of concern within the U.S. and the international community over next month’s presidential election. Chris Stein reports.
Video

Video Zoo Animals Show Their Artistic Sides

The pursuit of happiness is so important, America's founding fathers put it in the Declaration of Independence. Any zookeeper will tell you animals need enrichment, just like humans do. So painting, and even music, are part of the Smithsonian National Zoo's program to keep the animals happy. VOA’s June Soh met some animal artists at the zoo in Washington. Faith Lapidus narrates.
Video

Video Worldwide Photo Workshops Empower Youth

Last September, 20 young adults from South Sudan took part in a National Geographic Photo Camp. They are among hundreds of students from around the world who have learned how to use a camera to tell the stories of the people in their communities through the powerful medium of photography. Three camp participants talked about their experiences recently on a visit to Washington. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video Saudi, Yemen Developments Are Sudden Complications for Obama

The death of Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah and the collapse of Yemen’s government have cast further uncertainty on U.S. efforts to fight militants in the Middle East and also contain Iran’s influence in the region. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports on the new complications facing the Obama administration and its Middle East policy.
Video

Video Progress, Some Areas of Disagreement in Cuba Talks

U.S. and Cuban officials are reporting progress from initial talks in Havana on re-establishing diplomatic ties. U.S. Assistant Secretary of State (for Western Hemisphere Affairs) Roberta Jacobson said while there was agreement on a broad range of issues, there also are some “profound disagreements” between Washington and Havana. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins has the story.
Video

Video US, Japan Offer Lessons as Eurozone Launches Huge Stimulus

The Euro currency has fallen sharply after the European Central Bank announced a bigger-than-expected $67 billion-a-month quantitative easing program Thursday - commonly seen as a form of printing new money. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London on whether the move might rescue the eurozone economy -- and what lessons have been learned from similar programs around the world.
Video

Video Nigerian Elections Pose Concern of Potential Conflict in 'Middle Belt'

Nigeria’s north-central state of Kaduna has long been the site of fighting between Muslims and Christians as well as between people of different ethnic groups. As the February elections approach, community and religious leaders are making plans they hope will keep the streets calm after results are announced. Chris Stein reports from the state capital, Kaduna.
Video

Video As Viewership Drops, Obama Puts His Message on YouTube

Ratings reports show President Obama’s State of the Union address this week drew the lowest number of viewers for this annual speech in 15 years. White House officials anticipated this, and the president has decided to take a non-traditional approach to getting his message out. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video S. Korean Businesses Want to End Trade Restrictions With North

Business leaders in South Korea are calling for President Park Geun-hye to ease trade restrictions with North Korea that were put in place in 2010 after the sinking of a South Korean warship.Pro-business groups argue that expanding trade and investment is not only good for business, it is also good for long-term regional peace and security. VOA’s Brian Padden reports.

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More

All About America

AppleAndroid