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International Response to Famine in South Sudan
By admin March 22, 2017

Photo by Madi Robson

 

On Febuary 20, 2017, Famine was formally declared in certain regions of South Sudan, notably Leer and Mayendit. This was a first since the country gained independence in 2011. When a formal declaration of famine is issued, people have already died of hunger. Because quantitative data measuring the precise advancement of famine in the region are hard to gather, the declaration was based on the available data and professional judgment of the Global Integrated Food Security Phase Classification (IPC) Emergency Review Committee and South Sudan IPC Technical Working Group (SS IPC TWG) members. Nearly one million people are at risk of starvation in the year if the situation remains in its current state.

 

There are multiple causes to this crisis. The primary cause of this crisis is the political tensions that erupted on December 15, 2013 in Juba, the capital city that led to a nation-wide civil war. The conflict that opposes the Army loyal to President Salva Kiir, to the army backing First Vice-President Riek Machar killed thousands of people within the first weeks and over 2 million people are internally displaced, which means that they remain in the country, and over 1.6 million have fled South Sudan. The current government has no control over its territory and its inability to provide basic security, public services, or administer justice to its citizens has caused South Sudan to become a failed State, says Katherine Almquist Knopf, Director of Africa Center for Strategic Studies, National Defense University since 2014. It is also important to understand how climate change has played a role in today’s crisis. Prolonged periods of abnormally low rainfall across East Africa, exacerbated by El Niño, have considerably affected the region by increasing food insecurity and malnutrition.

 

International Response

In its recent press release, the EU Commission stated that “the EU is among the biggest donors of humanitarian aid in South Sudan. In 2016, it provided more than 40 percent of all humanitarian financing to support life-saving programmes.” The day after famine had been declared in certain regions of South Sudan, the European Commission had announced an emergency aid package worth €82 million to address the country’s most urgent needs and “help neighbouring countries cope with the massive influx of refugees.” On March 17, 2017, Neven Mimica, the Commissioner for International Cooperation and Development announced that another €165 million would go in support of the famine and drought affected countries in the Horn of Africa.

 

The World Food Program (WFP) plans to provide assistance to 4.1 million people through the hunger season and countries such as the UK and Canada have pledged to provide assistance to the country as well.led for all parties of the South Sudanese conflict to ensure humanitarian assistance “immediate, safe and unhindered access across the country.” And the heads of three UN agencies (FAO/UNICEF/WFP) issued a joint call for urgent action to allow aid to reach people facing starvation in famine-hit areas of South Sudan.

Earlier this month, the UN Office of the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) called for all parties of the South Sudanese conflict to ensure humanitarian assistance “immediate, safe and unhindered access across the country.” And the heads of three UN agencies (FAO/UNICEF/WFP) issued a joint call for urgent action to allow aid to reach people facing starvation in famine-hit areas of South Sudan.

Latest developments

As the situation worsens in the country, and with the government’s inability to respond to the crisis, the head of United Nations peacekeeping operations, Hervé Ladsous, held a press conference earlier this week stressing the importance of implementing the peace agreements signed in 2015 by President Salva Kiir and opposition groups. He said, “you cannot hope that a solution will come by the use of weapons,” and that it had to be political. He continued by explaining that the situation was man-made as conflict had forced farmers to seek refuge in neighbouring countries and were therefore missing the crop-planting season.

The UN Security Council-mandated Regional Protection Force should be deployed to Juba “in the next few weeks”. But in the meantime, the primary issue is to guaranty safe access to humanitarian intervention.

Read More:

UN Peacekeeping chief press conference

UN: A multimedia journey though South Sudan

CFR: Ending South Sudan’s Civil War

OCHA: El Nino in East Africa

EU Commission announced an emergency aid package worth €82 million for South Sudan

EU Commission 165 million Euros for drought and famine affected countries

WFP providing assistance to South Sudan

Call for urgent access to population in need of assistance


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