S. Sudan's dry season means better aid flow: UN official

Approximately 2.5 million people are expected to be severely food insecure between January and March of next year, according to OCHA, while malnutrition threatens the lives of tens of thousands of children in the troubled country.

S. Sudan's dry season means better aid flow: UN official

World Bulletin/News Desk

As the dry season approaches in South Sudan, aid organizations – along with those communities cut off from aid during the rainy season – will breathe a sigh of relief.

Toby Lanzer, the U.N. humanitarian chief in South Sudan, is hopeful that the movement of aid supplies destined for communities affected by the country's months-long political crisis will become easier as the flood season ends.

"We are hopeful that we will be able to repair a few roads and airports and will be in a position to move supplies more easily and reach affected people, especially by road," Lanzer told Anadolu Agency in a phone interview.

"If we are able to move around by road and reach more people, it will definitely mean more help," he added.

According to a September report by the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), around 1.8 million people have been uprooted from their homes, including over 450,000 who have fled to neighboring countries as a result of the conflict.

Approximately 2.5 million people are expected to be severely food insecure between January and March of next year, according to OCHA, while malnutrition threatens the lives of tens of thousands of children in the troubled country.

The OCHA report also said that recent fighting and displacement had increased the humanitarian needs of about 3.8 million people, of which only 2.7 million could be provided with limited assistance.

Speaking to AA, Lanzer decried the challenges that left large numbers of local communities unattended to as a result of insecurity and floods.

"The fighting created insecurity for the people and aid agencies, and this made it difficult to reach people in need," he said.

"The amount of rain was also challenging… Access to parts of the country is difficult during the rainy season; hopefully, during the dry season, we will be able to move supplies and reach more affected people," the aid chief said.

South Sudan, which became the world's newest nation in 2011 after seceding from Sudan, descended into chaos and bloodshed late last year following an alleged coup attempt against President Salva Kiir by his sacked vice-president, Riek Machar.

Thousands of South Sudanese have since lost their lives in the conflict, while more than 1.8 million have been displaced.

In recent months, the warring camps have held on-again, off-again peace talks in Addis Ababa sponsored by the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD), a Djibouti-based East African trade bloc.

New Year

Lanzer noted that fresh initiatives for 2015 were also underway for the people affected, including sustainable development programs.

"In the coming year, we are looking towards supplying more food and facilitating agriculture, supplying seeds for the farming season and medicine kits to the people," he said. "We are also planning on getting children in schools."

In January 2014, aid organizations made a plea for $2.8 billion to assist the people of South Sudan throughout the year – the response to which, Lanzer said, had been substantial.

"This year, we didn't receive all that we requested, but we did receive a considerable amount," he asserted.

He said requests for assistances from donor countries had not yet been made for 2015, but voiced optimism that funding next year would surpass this year's contributions.

"We haven't yet worked on the scheme for next year," he said. "We will be asking the donor community for a considerable amount."

"This year, they met 65 percent [of our needs]," he added, "and we hope next year they will be able to assist a lot more."

Asked how U.N. aid personnel would respond to the challenges they had faced previously, Lanzer said this would require a collective effort.

"This will require the good will of the relevant people, the authorities, the leaders, county commissioners. It is very important to maintain a good relationship with them," he explained.

"We are in close contact with the Ministry of Interior, the Ministry of Defense, the office of the president and the relief and rehabilitation commission," he noted.

"As we continue working with them," Lanzer added, "we're hopeful that we can overcome any challenge."

Last Mod: 24 Ekim 2014, 22:08
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