US Ambassador to the UN, Samantha Power, spoke Wednesday about the consequences of the prolonged crisis in South Sudan, saying four million South Sudanese were at “grave risk” of malnourishment and starvation in the upcoming year.
“Not only are people dying every day in what has deteriorated into an ethnic conflict, but the country now faces a horrible famine,” stated Power. “Four million people are at grave risk of famine. And that includes 50,000 kids, who, if we can’t get this back on track, if we can’t bring peace to the country, are at risk of dying over the course of the next year because of malnourishment.”
“…In a man-made famine,” Power added.
“The fighting continues to go on. Notwithstanding the rebel leader and the president sign the pieces of paper that are put in front of them. Because the fighting continues, it makes it impossible for the humanitarian aid deliveries to go through dangerous areas…”
Power cited recent ethnic killings in South Sudan, commenting that what began as a political conflict has become an ethnic one.
The UN warned earlier this month that tens of thousands of children could die of starvation in South Sudan, adding also that disease was a further concern.
“Cholera has broken out and malaria is rampant and many children are malnourished. Millions of people need emergency health care, food, clean water, proper sanitation and shelter to make it through the year,” said Toby Lanzer, UN Humanitarian Coordinator in South Sudan.
In addition to starvation and disease, the prolonged crisis in South Sudan has given rise to a situation in which terrorists could flourish. The Ambassador stated, “We have seen elements from Darfur make their way into the Central African Republic, where there are reports of Boko Haram and al Shabaab taking root… That is, of course, a risk in Sudan. The connections between the government and some very unsavory terrorist actors, I think, are well-known.”
Nearly US$400 million has already gone to assist the world’s youngest country. The US ambassador commented that the numbers at risk of starvation would be “a lot worse” without this investment, and noted that the US has contributed a lot relative to other countries, despite the many pressing global issues currently taking place.
“We want to focus intrinsically… on the welfare of the population in South Sudan… but also in Darfur and in Sudan, where the killing and the airstrikes and the use of food as a weapon of war are also continued.”
The UN has appealed for more than $1 billion to help South Sudan, and is currently going nation-to-nation to appeal for contributions.
By Day Blakely Donaldson