The non-governmental organization Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC) on Tuesday stressed the need for “urgent action” to address the “triple threat” of conflict, flooding and famine in South Sudan.
“What we are seeing is misery on a massive scale threatening to unfold in South Sudan,” said the NGO’s director in South Sudan, Alexander Davey, who stressed that “it’s not just about responding to the current crises, it’s about preventing more crises in the future.”
Around 500,000 people have been displaced by the recent floods, adding to an increase in inter-communal clashes and the threat of famine in several areas of the country, amid restrictions on the delivery of humanitarian aid.
“Displaced people in Bor town in Jonglei state have told us that their biggest fear is the return of conflict,” said Davey. “We have seen families having difficulty planting new crops because the land is still muddy from last year’s floods and there are a few weeks to go before the new rains,” he added.
“Despite this, projections of the poor humanitarian situation are called into question. Food for the hungry has been deliberately looted and kept away from those who need it most. When the situation gets worse, we can’t say we didn’t see it coming,” he said.
In this regard, Davey stressed that “the early warning stage has been passed” and argued that “an increased humanitarian response is needed over the coming months to prevent a new wave of displacement and death.”
“All actors, including the government and the UN, must lead an adequately funded humanitarian response to safely deliver aid to those who need it most,” he said, while recalling that at least four humanitarian workers have been killed in attacks in the country so far this year.
Davey has argued that South Sudan has gone through “several cycles of conflict, displacement, famine and disease” since 2013 in which “millions of vulnerable people have borne the brunt”. “If we do not increase efforts to restore stability and resilience, millions will suffer year after year. The people of South Sudan have suffered enough and deserve better,” he remarked.
The NRC statement came just a day after the governments of the United States, Norway and the United Kingdom, which make up the so-called ‘troika’ for South Sudan, showed their “deep concern” that “the violence is exacerbating an already harsh humanitarian situation, with 7.2 million people facing severe levels of food insecurity and more people in need than any year since South Sudan’s independence.”
They therefore called on the Government to “ensure an immediate reduction of sub-national conflicts and unrestricted humanitarian access,” in reference to the upsurge in inter-communal clashes in recent months, especially in central areas of the African country.
They also called for the “urgent” implementation of the clauses of the 2018 peace agreement in view of the upcoming elections, before stressing that the formation last year of a unity government was “a major step towards restoring peace in South Sudan.”
The South Sudanese Presidency announced in early January that the signatory parties to the peace agreement had agreed to extend the transition period once again, this time until 2023, to allow room for the implementation of the pact’s clauses, which have suffered delays on some of its most important points.