South Sudan

Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator, Valerie Amos opening remarks to high-level event on the South Sudan humanitarian crisis and its regional impact

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Nairobi, Kenya, 9 February 2015
As delivered

Your Excellency Ambassador Mahboub M. Maalim,
Excellencies,
Ministers,
Colleagues,
Ladies and gentlemen,
Mr. Whitaker, the UNESCO Special Envoy for Peace and Reconciliation, and I have just completed a three-day visit to South Sudan.

Thank you for being here at such short notice. My remarks are a way of introduction to what we have seen during our visit.

We saw firsthand the continuing widespread devastation and destruction caused by the conflict. Yesterday, we were in Wai [Jonglei State]. People are exhausted, emotionally and physically. Many have had to move several times and had walked for days to reach an area of relative safety. They were in desperate need of food, water, healthcare, education for their children. We were able to see the life-saving work of humanitarian organizations which, in the last few days, have been providing those basic services.

There is a human face to this tragedy, which we all need to remember. The humanitarian situation has worsened dramatically in the year since my last visit. Nearly 2.5 million people are suffering from severe undernourishment.

There are ongoing and credible reports of serious violations of international humanitarian and human rights law: women raped on their way to collect water; children recruited to fight instead of going to school.

Humanitarian aid reached 3.6 million South Sudanese last year. Humanitarian partners contained a cholera epidemic and vaccinated nearly 1 million children against measles and polio. The United Nations peacekeeping mission continues to shelter over 100,000 displaced people in its Protection of Civilians sites.

All this was possible thanks to the generous support of the international community, including IGAD Member States.

Almost half a million South Sudanese have sought refuge in neighbouring countries, most living in border areas with limited access to food and basic services. And my thanks to these countries for keeping their borders open. This is a conflict which has had a devastating impact on the people of South Sudan. But if peace doesn’t come quickly, it will also have a significant regional impact.

Colleagues and friends,

We all know how important it is to stand with the people of South Sudan. Every day we speak of their strength, their courage, their resilience. They have had to endure an untenable level of suffering. Circumstances in which they should not have to be resilient.

So what can be done?

We need the fighting to stop and peace restored. IGAD and the international community must continue to put pressure on the parties to end the violence. The people of South Sudan need to be put first. They must be protected.

The Government of South Sudan needs, as a matter of urgency, to tackle the economic crisis facing the country. With the reduction in oil production and the fall in the oil price, there is a drop in the resources available to invest in essential sectors like health and education.

And we again turn to our donors to support our Appeal. Last year, we raised US$ 1.4 billion, 78% of what we asked for. The highest amount of any global appeal last year. This year we need US$ 1.8 billion: $600 million of it by the end of February to pre-position supplies before the rain starts.

And we need a further US$809 million this year to help South Sudanese refugees and host communities in Ethiopia, Kenya, Sudan and Uganda.

But nothing is more important than peace.

South Sudan’s leaders need to show their people and the world that they are committed to securing that peace. South Sudan is a country rich in talent and resources. We do not want to lose a generation of South Sudanese children. Help us to help them achieve a bright and secure future. Thank you.

UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
To learn more about OCHA's activities, please visit https://www.unocha.org/.