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

    US Leaders Who Served in Vietnam War Look Back and Ahead

    In New York Times opinion piece, Secretary of State John Kerry, Senator John McCain and former Senator Bob Kerrey say as US strengthens relations with Vietnam, it is important to remember lessons learned from war

    Who Are US Allies in Fight Against Islamic State?

    There is little but opportunism keeping coalition together analysts warn — SDFs Arab militias are not united even among themselves, frequently squabble and don’t share Kurds' vision for post-Assad Syria

    Learning Foreign Language Helps US Soldiers Bridge Culture Gap

    Effective interaction with local populations part of everyday curriculum at Monterey, California, Defense Language Institute

    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.
    Vietnamese-American Youth Optimistic About Obama's Visit to Vietnami
    X
    Elizabeth Lee
    May 22, 2016 6:04 AM
    U.S. President Barack Obama's visit to Vietnam later this month comes at a time when Vietnam is seeking stronger ties with the United States. Many Vietnamese Americans, especially the younger generation, are optimistic Obama’s trip will help further reconciliation between the two former foes. Elizabeth Lee has more from the community called "Little Saigon" located south of Los Angeles.
    Video

    Video Vietnamese-American Youth Optimistic About Obama's Visit to Vietnam

    U.S. President Barack Obama's visit to Vietnam later this month comes at a time when Vietnam is seeking stronger ties with the United States. Many Vietnamese Americans, especially the younger generation, are optimistic Obama’s trip will help further reconciliation between the two former foes. Elizabeth Lee has more from the community called "Little Saigon" located south of Los Angeles.
    Video

    Video First-generation, Afghan-American Student Sets Sights on Basketball Glory

    Their parents are immigrants to the United States. They are kids who live between two worlds -- their parents' homeland and the U.S. For many of them, they feel most "American" at school. It can be tricky balancing both worlds. In this report, produced by Beth Mendelson, Arash Arabasadi tells us about one Afghan-American student who seems to be coping -- one shot at a time.
    Video

    Video Newest US Citizens, Writing the Next Great Chapter

    While universities across the United States honor their newest graduates this Friday, many immigrants in downtown Manhattan are celebrating, too. One hundred of them, representing 31 countries across four continents, graduated as U.S. citizens, joining the ranks of 680,000 others every year in New York and cities around the country.
    Video

    Video Vietnam Sees Strong Economic Growth Despite Incomplete Reforms

    Vietnam has transformed its communist economy to become one of the world's fastest-growing nations. While the reforms are incomplete, multinational corporations see a profitable future in Vietnam and have made major investments -- as VOA's Jim Randle reports.
    Video

    Video Qatar Denies World Cup Corruption

    The head of Qatar’s organizing committee for the 2022 World Cup insists his country's bid to host the soccer tournament was completely clean, despite the corruption scandals that have rocked the sport’s governing body, FIFA. Hassan Al-Thawadi also said new laws would offer protection to migrants working on World Cup construction projects. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
    Video

    Video Infrastructure Funding Puts Cambodia on Front Line of International Politics

    When leaders of the world’s seven most developed economies meet in Japan next week, demands for infrastructure investment world wide will be high on the agenda. Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s push for “quality infrastructure investment” throughout Asia has been widely viewed as a counter to the rise of Chinese investment flooding into region.
    Video

    Video Democrats Fear Party Unity a Casualty in Clinton-Sanders Battle

    Democratic presidential front-runner Hillary Clinton claimed a narrow victory in Tuesday's Kentucky primary even as rival Bernie Sanders won in Oregon. Tensions between the two campaigns are rising, prompting fears that the party will have a difficult time unifying to face the presumptive Republican nominee, Donald Trump. VOA national correspondent Jim Malone has more from Washington.
    Video

    Video Portrait of a Transgender Marriage: Husband and Wife Navigate New Roles

    As controversy continues in North Carolina over the use of public bathrooms by transgender individuals, personal struggles with gender identity that were once secret are now coming to light. VOA’s Tina Trinh explored the ramifications for one couple as part of trans.formation, a series of stories on transgender issues.
    Video

    Video Amerikan Hero Flips Stereotype of Middle Eastern Character

    An Iranian American comedian is hoping to connect with American audiences through a film that inverts some of Hollywood's stereotypes about Middle Eastern characters. Sama Dizayee reports.
    Video

    Video Budding Young Inventors Tackle City's Problems with 3-D Printing

    Every city has problems, and local officials and politicians are often frustrated by their inability to solve them. But surprising solutions can come from unexpected places. Students in Baltimore. Maryland, took up the challenge to solve problems they identified in their city, and came up with projects and products to make a difference. VOA's June Soh has more on a digital fabrication competition primarily focused on 3-D design and printing. Carol Pearson narrates.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora