28 May 2014

South Sudan: Decisive Time for Humanitarian Response in South Sudan

Photo: VOA
A nurse at a Doctors Without Borders cholera treatment center in Gudele.

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Last week donors pledged additionally 600 million USD to the humanitarian response in regard to the crisis in South Sudan. The humanitarian needs are immense and it is very difficult to work in South Sudan. The Danish Refugee Council is also challenged in a very volatile situation but is expanding operations and working hard to have the setup up and running.

There are more than 1 million internally displaced persons in South Sudan and around 350,000 have fled to the neighboring countries. At the Oslo Conference last week, humanitarian donors pledged to another 600 million US dollars in addition to the 600 million previously donated. There is still some way to the 1.8 billion dollars presented in an UN appeal and it is pivotal that the needs are met.

"At a time where the humanitarian actors are stretched to their limits due to crises and massive relief supports places like Syria and the Central African Republic, it is of utmost importance that we keep a focus at South Sudan. It is a prerequisite for our work that the humanitarian donors are delivering on their pledges in terms of funding," says Christian Gad, DRC Global Emergency Coordinator, who has just returned from South Sudan.

The situation in South Sudan is very dire. Food security is one of the biggest problems and at least 50,000 children are at risk of dying from malnutrition and 740,000 children under the age of five are at severe risk of food insecurity. Additionally there are problems in terms of cholera, physical protection and road access both due to security and the rainy season. All help must be delivered by air supply and this also makes it a very complex crisis.

"There is an urgent need for scaling up direct assistance, not least to populations thus far not receiving any protection and assistance. We must be honest and say that it is not going to be an easy ride and hence it is of crucial importance that we act now - before it is too late. We've been in South Sudan for quite some time and are preparing a long term commitment," Christian Gad says.

DRC has the geographical and operative setup in South Sudan that has made it possible for the organization to maintain our presence in the country and prepare the emergency efforts in cooperation with UN, when the fighting broke out. Additionally DRC has expanded operations to Bentiu, Malakal and Melut.

"We are expanding our operations at the moment. We are doing acute relief in the form of Shelters, NFIs, Camp management and protection. But to help the immense needs, additional contributions must be made as soon as possible," says Christian Gad, who points out that DRC is also having responses to the increasing number of refugees arriving in Ethiopia, Kenya and Uganda.

With the outbreak of internal conflict, South Sudan is facing a crisis within the crisis. After decades of civil war, South Sudan obtained independence in 2011. Hundreds of thousands of people fled from Sudan to South Sudan, and the country has been tormented by conflicts with Sudan and internal conflict ever since.

DRC has been operational in South Sudan since 2005. When South Sudan reached independence in 2011, DRC was present in the country. DRC and its demining unit, Danish Demining Group, are active in the following provinces: Upper Nile State, Unity State, Northern Bahr el Ghazal State, Western Bahr Ghazal State, Warrap State, Western Equatoria State, Eastern Equatoria State and Central Equatoria State.

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