World Video | Defence | Foreign Affairs | Natural Events | Trade | NZ in World News | NZ National News Video | NZ Regional News | Search

 


Interview:UN Urges Action to Help South Sudan Avoid Collapse

Interview: UN Humanitarian Official Urges Action to Help South Sudan Avoid Collapse

New York, Mar 5 2014 - The top United Nations humanitarian official in South Sudan is sounding the alarm about the dire situation in the country, warning that the world’s youngest nation could collapse by year’s end if urgent action is not taken to help see its people through the current crisis.

“People are crying out for help,” Humanitarian Coordinator Toby Lanzer said in an interview with the UN News Centre. “We’re at a really desperate moment in South Sudan.”

Less than three years after South Sudan gained independence from Sudan, the fledgling nation has been wracked by a conflict that has left thousands dead and some 870,000 displaced since it first erupted in mid-December. Some 77,000 people have sought protection at UN bases around the country.

“When this crisis erupted in mid-December, I think many of us thought this would be a temporary situation – where people would be inside the United Nations bases. But now we’re into the third month and it’s very clear to us that people can’t go home. They’re too scared. They have nowhere to go,” said Mr. Lanzer.

A veteran UN official with development, humanitarian and peacekeeping experience in Timor-Leste, Central African Republic and Sudan, among others, Mr. Lanzer stressed the need for the peace talks in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa, to bear fruit.

“We need a ceasefire that works, that works for civilians on the ground; that enables them to move, to go back to their homes, to look after their livestock, to plant and to cultivate,” he said.

If this happens, it will go a long way to enabling the South Sudanese to get through the current crisis, he added. “But if they can’t move, if they cannot cultivate, I really fear that by the end of the year, South Sudan will have collapsed and gone into an even more desperate situation.”

There are fears that tens of thousands will be newly displaced amid fresh fighting in Upper Nile state, following heavy clashes and reports of people being killed recently in churches and hospitals in the state capital, Malakal.

Mr. Lanzer, who visited Malakal last week, described it as a ghost town. “The drive from the airport into town takes about 20 minutes. We didn’t see a single bicycle, pedestrian, car, not a dog, not a chicken, nothing.”


South Sudan: Bringing Aid to Malakal (11 February '14). Credit: UNHCR

As he and his team got closer to the centre of the town, he said, it became very clear that many atrocities had been committed there, as they saw the remains of people scattered along the roads.

“Particularly troubling was when we’d reached the hospital and saw vultures flying overhead. And we went into the hospital and saw things that really beggar belief. The types of crimes that were committed there need to be investigated and our teams of course will be looking into these things and reporting on it.”

As horrible as the situation was in Malakal, Mr. Lanzer said what he saw there was not unique. “I wish I could say that the situation in Malakal is the worst. but I think it’s very descriptive of the situation in other parts of the country. So many towns that I have visited in Upper Nile state, in Unity state, in Jonglei, have been destroyed, are deserted.

“Having worked in Darfur, one of the things that I never, ever thought I would see is people fleeing into Darfur. Well now we’re seeing that. I mean that’s how bad the situation has got on the ground in South Sudan.”

Mr. Lanzer, who is meeting with donors and others in New York and Washington D.C. this week, said the situation in South Sudan is a call to action for the international community to stand with the world’s youngest nation and not let it fail.

“We do have the chance to stand with the people, to work with people during this time and to help them get through it. But we also have the chance of standing by and watching a situation unfold where there will be unprecedented loss of life,” he stated.

“All of us now, whether we’re a party to the conflict, whether we’re a donor with resources or whether we’re a UN agency or an NGO, we need to step up and really stand with the people of South Sudan in their greatest hour of need.”

For more details go to UN News Centre at http://www.un.org/news

ENDS

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
 
 
World Headlines

 

Gordon Campbell: On How Obama’s Supreme Court Choice Says Everything (Bad) About His Presidency

Nothing has epitomised the presidency of Barack Obama quite like his Supreme Court nominees. Time and again, Republican presidents will blithely nominate right wing ideological extremists (Antonin Scalia, Samuel Alito, Clarence Thomas) who only sometimes misfire and turn out to be liberals in disguise (David Souter). Yet Obama has consistently skipped over the judicially qualified liberals and gone for a succession of centrists... More>>

ALSO:

Turkey: UN Secretary-General On The Terrorist Bombing In Ankara

The Secretary-General condemns the terrorist attack in Ankara earlier today. According to the latest reports, the explosion in the Kizilay district killed and wounded dozens of people. More>>

ALSO:

Five Years On: Fukushima And New Zealand

Science Media Centre: It was the worst nuclear event since Chernobyl. In the wake of the 2011 Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami, a crippled Japanese nuclear powerplant went into meltdown, and the world watched as emergency workers scrambled to shut down and contain the reactors. More>>

ALSO:

UNICEF: 1 In 3 Syrian Children Has Grown Up Knowing Only Crisis

An estimated 3.7 million Syrian children – 1 in 3 of all Syrian children - have been born since the conflict began five years ago, their lives shaped by violence, fear and displacement, according to a UNICEF report. This figure includes more than 151,000 children born as refugees since 2011. More>>

ALSO:

Franklin Lamb: Syria’s Truce Bodes Well For Salvaging Our Cultural Heritage

The tentative cessation of hostilities in Syria, which came into effect on 2/28/2016, brokered by Washington and Moscow, is only in its second week... It is well documented that there have been daily incidents of artillery shelling, airstrikes and clashes. Yet, for the nearly 12 million displaced civilians, half of Syria’s population, it’s a much welcomed respite. More>>

Gordon Campbell: On Rubio’s Last Stand (And Sleater-Kinney)

Well, it certainly was entertaining to watch Rubio succeed in getting under Donald Trump’s skin the other day, in the last debate before tomorrow’s Super Tuesday multi-state sweepstakes... The real killer for Rubio was that the most recent poll from Florida which shows him losing his home state to Trump by a huge margin in the primary due on March 15. More>>

ALSO:

Get More From Scoop

 
 
 
 
 
World
Search Scoop  
 
 
Powered by Vodafone
NZ independent news