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

 

UNHCR: More Than 300 Die In Boat Tragedies On Mediterranean

The past few days have been the deadliest this year for people making irregular crossings on the Mediterranean from North Africa to Europe More>>

UN: Egyptian Crossing Used To Bring Food Aid To Gaza
United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) successfully crossed from Egypt into the Gaza Strip today, carrying enough food to feed around 150,000 people for five days More>>

ALSO:

Extended Cease Fire: Gaza Celebrates!!!!

Images and video from Gaza.Scoop - Julie Webb Pullman in Gaza. Gazans took to the streets tonight to celebrate their victory in achieving the end of hostilities and the lifting of the illegal seven-year siege. Whatever tomorrow may bring, tonight was a time to rejoice! More>>

ALSO:


Iraq: Killing Of Dozens Of Sunni Worshippers In Eastern Iraq

22 August 2014 – Condemning in the strongest terms the reported attack on a mosque in eastern Iraq, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today called on all Iraqi authorities to ensure that the attack is properly investigated and its perpetrators held to account. More>>

ALSO:

  • UN Watch - UN Urgent Session on Iraq, Demands "Concrete Outcomes"
  • UNICEF: Honours Life, Tireless Work Of Richard Attenborough

    Film producer and director Sir Richard Attenborough was introduced as the new Goodwill Ambassador for the UN Children's Fund (UNICEF) on 28 October 1987. UN Photo/Milton Grant More>>

    UN: Flight Restrictions Hamper Ability To Battle Ebola

    UNICEF and partners visit a crowded market in Conakry, Guinea, to explain to vendors how they can protect themselves and their families from Ebola. Photo: UNICEF Guinea More>>

    Get More From Scoop

     
     
     
     
     
    World
    Search Scoop  
     
     
    Powered by Vodafone
    NZ independent news