JUBA, FEBRUARY 10, 2015(CISA) – United Nations humanitarian chief Valerie Amos has warned that continued conflict in South Sudan risks depriving the country of a generation of “lost” children.
She added that the continued economic stagnation would hold back development and prevent support for essential sectors like health and education.
“People need peace, stability and security. It is heartrending to see the suffering of the people,” Amos said in a plea to those engaged in the conflict during a press statement.
Amos made her comments at the end of a three-day tour of South Sudan with UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) Special Envoy Forest Whitaker actor and Goodwill Ambassador for Peace and Reconciliation, during which the two saw the impact of the crisis on people caught in the middle of fighting in Ayod County in Jonglei state.
She further stressed that 2.5 million people urgently need help.
“People are desperate for peace. They are tired of living in fear. Many have had to flee several times. They are exhausted. They lack water. They are extremely worried for their children, who are not in school and at risk of being recruited into armed groups. Sexual violence is rife. All people want to live in safety, security and stability.”
The security situation in South Sudan has steadily deteriorated since political in-fighting between President Kiir and his former Vice-President, Riek Machar, started in mid-December 2013. The hostilities subsequently turned into a full-fledged conflict that has sent nearly 100,000 civilians fleeing to UN bases around the country.
A cease-fire was recently agreed between the two leaders and their respective factions, but without a broader agreement on running the world’s youngest nation.
Paying tribute to the civilian protection efforts made by the UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS), Ms Amos said that she and Mr Whitaker had discussed the humanitarian, economic and political situation with President Salva Kiir and his Ministers, agreeing on the need to stop violence and immediately secure a sustainable peace.
After the press conference in Juba, Ms Amos and Mr Whitaker flew to Nairobi, where they addressed the joint UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA)-Intergovernmental Authority for Development (IGAD) High-Level Event on the Humanitarian Crisis in South Sudan, where States pledged some $618 million to support the humanitarian response.
On February 9, donors at the Nairobi pledging conference promised $529 million in new money for that country’s humanitarian needs – a far cry from the $1.8 billion the UN says it needs for South Sudan this year alone.