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South Sudan Humanitarian Appeal

Posted by African Press International on November 19, 2013

South Sudan Humanitarian Appeal Sets New Direction for International Aid

JUBA, South Sudan, November 14, 2013/African Press Organization (APO)/– Press release from Government of South Sudan and OCHA

The Government of South Sudan and aid agencies launched the humanitarian appeal for 2014-2016 today, unveiling an innovative new direction for humanitarian action in South Sudan.

The three-year appeal seeks US$1.1 billion to meet the needs of the most vulnerable 3.1 million people across the country in 2014. This comes to some $355 per person targeted to receive assistance, including emergency health, food and nutrition support.

While the core of humanitarian action remains to save lives in emergencies, two new pillars of action will enhance the impact of emergency relief in the next three years: building community resilience and strengthening national capacity to deliver basic services.

Building resilience will help prevent suffering and enable families to manage disasters when crises hit. Strengthening national capacity will enable state institutions to become the main provider of frontline services such as clean water and basic healthcare, and lessen reliance on international aid over time.

“This Consolidated Appeal takes a bold new approach to delivering humanitarian assistance,” said Awut Deng Acuil, Minister of Gender, Child, Social Welfare, Humanitarian Affairs and Disaster Management, speaking about the launch of the appeal. “Placing resilience and national institutions at the forefront of aid work will help create a South Sudan which is better able to care for its citizens in times of crisis.”

Though South Sudan remains one of the poorest countries in the world, with one of the largest humanitarian operations globally, the 2014-2016 Consolidated Appeal highlights improvements on several fronts in 2013. Overall needs reduced for the first time since 2011. The arrival of Sudanese refugees slowed, and returns of South Sudanese from Sudan continued to decrease. Food security improved for many South Sudanese, although the number of people severely food insecure remained worryingly high.

In a move to ensure international aid to South Sudan is effective, the appeal links humanitarian action to the broader framework of the New Deal for Engagement in Fragile States, a global initiative aimed to move fragile countries towards resilience.

“The New Deal is founded on the idea of national ownership, and a relationship between fragile countries and their donors based on trust and mutually agreed goals,” said Toby Lanzer, the Humanitarian Coordinator for South Sudan. “While our appeal focuses largely on principled humanitarian action to save lives, including a link to the New Deal is especially important to speed up South Sudan’s journey to recovery, and to ensure that every aid dollar spent here has a lasting impact.”

The Relief and Rehabilitation Commission highlighted the importance of early funding for the new appeal. “We call on donors to contribute to the new appeal as early as possible, so that we use this window of opportunity in the dry season to pre-position supplies ahead of the rains,” stated Peter Lam Both, the Commission’s Chairperson.





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South Sudan: Food fears in Jonglei

Posted by African Press International on July 26, 2013

JUBA/BOR,  – Tens of thousands of people face severe food insecurity as they hide in the bush in South Sudan‘s Jonglei State following another wave of violence that ha s cut off aid to them.

“We believe these people need food now and cannot wait for much longer after hiding in the bush for weeks,” said Chris Nikoi, the UN World Food Programme’s (WFP) South Sudan country director, in a statement on 23 July. “We need more food supplies in the country and more helicopters to take this food to those who most need it.”

More than 100,000 people are out of reach of humanitarian support following violence that broke out in July between the Lou Nuer and Murle communities and following clashes between the government and a rebel movement led by David Yau Yau. Over the past six months, around 120,000 people have fled to the bush as insecurity gathered pace.

Insecurity, rains and a lack of roads or useable airstrips make it very difficult to reach the neediest, especially with heavy foodstuffs.

“The delivery of food aid poses extra logistical challenges as trucks are unable to move along water-logged roads, and we do not have enough helicopters to fly sufficient food to the swamp-like areas,” Toby Lanzer, the humanitarian coordinator in South Sudan, said in an 18 July statement.

WFP said it was providing food assistance to the displaced in areas it could access, but required US$20 million to purchase food and hire helicopters for an operation to feed 60,000 people until December. Humanitarian agencies in South Sudan are facing an overall funding shortfall of $472 million.

Extreme coping strategies

Murle communities have already resorted to extreme coping strategies, with some eating wild fruits and leaves; following cattle raids, thought to be in the tens of thousands, the population is slaughtering female cattle for meat, even if this means they cannot replenish stocks.

Women who have been hiding in the bush with children for days or weeks have walked into towns to collect food, but those IRIN spoke to said they would return to the swamps, where they have no shelter, healthcare or clean water, as they feared security forces more than disease or hunger.

“Even prior to the start of armed conflict, the UN and the Famine Early Warning System Network (FEWSNET) reported [Jonglei’s] Pibor County was experiencing chronic levels of food insecurity and predicted that 39,000 people would be severely food insecure in early 2013, with food insecurity potentially reaching emergency thresholds by July-August,” said a statement by InterAction, an alliance of US-based NGOs.

“These people need food now and cannot wait for much longer after hiding in the bush for weeks”

According to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), in 2012, “pre-harvest malnutrition rates between January and July were already approaching emergency thresholds”, while as of March 2013, 12 percent of Jonglei’s population was severely food insecure and 24 percent moderately food insecure.

Access to populations in need

On 14 July, after protracted negotiations with state and non-state armed groups, charities were allowed access to around 25,000 people in parts of the state.

Vincent Lelei, head of OCHA in South Sudan, said aid agencies had only accessed “a very, very small part [of Pibor county] both for logistical and security reasons,” although thousands had been suffering for six months.

“Going forward into the lean season, it is very likely that they will get into difficulty,” he said, adding that flying in food would be more difficult than flying in other commodities such as plastic sheeting, water purification tablets and medicines, as limited air assets meant the UN had “very limited weight to carry”.

Lelei said some of the populations they had accessed showed signs of serious illness, while Lanzer noted that “some children show signs of measles, a fatal disease in such conditions”.

Some of those affected do not want to come in to towns to seek help. “They are afraid to seek medical care in towns, so it is essential for us to intervene where they are so that all those in need can access treatment,” said John Tzanos, head of the Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) team in Pibor.

MSF is running the only healthcare facility in the village of Gumuruk after its hospital in Pibor was destroyed during clashes in May.

hm/kr/rz source

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South Sudan’s humanitarian needs remain enormous

Posted by African Press International on May 29, 2013

South Sudan’s humanitarian needs remain enormous

JUBA,  – A 2005 deal to end decades of civil war in southern Sudan led many to hope that conflict-related humanitarian relief would gradually give way to the peace dividend of development aid and economic growth. Eight years later, emergency needs in the now-independent South Sudan remain overwhelming, with aid agencies calling for more than a billion dollars to tackle them in 2013.

“One key question,” Humanitarian Coordinator Toby Lanzer wrote in the May edition of Humanitarian Exchange magazine, is “how we can continue to respond to emergencies without losing sight of longer-term development needs”.

It is a difficult balance to strike, said Jok Madut Jok, South Sudan’s undersecretary for culture and heritage. He joined Lanzer on a panel organized last week by the Overseas Development Institute (ODI). “The need for humanitarian action has become the face of the whole country” and draws the majority of the donor funding, Jok said.

That is largely because, after less than two years of independence, South Sudan’s humanitarian needs remain enormous.

The 2013 Consolidated Appeal (CAP) for the country, which combines requests from 114 different NGOs and UN agencies, predicts at least 4.6 million people – out of the estimated population of 11.8 million – will require assistance this year. That includes more than 4.1 million people who need food assistance and 350,000 refugees from places like Sudan, the Democratic Republic of Congo and the Central African Republic, according to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA). It will cost $1.16 billion to assist 3.3 million of those people this year, the organizations estimate.

But government officials and aid agencies say they want to do more with the money than just meet immediate needs. They are calling for a shift towards concurrently promoting long-term development, like improving infrastructure and building the capacity of local communities, so the country will eventually be able to escape the cycle of humanitarian crises.

Balancing humanitarian response and development

Kuol Manyang Juuk, the governor of Jonglei State, has been at the forefront of one of the country’s major humanitarian crises; for more than a year, Jonglei-based rebel leader David Yau Yau has been attempting to overthrow the government. As many as 190,000 people in the state required humanitarian assistance in 2012, according to the UN.

“In supporting the world’s newest country, we need to help South Sudanese avert crises, not merely respond to them.”

Still, Juuk told IRIN, he does not want to see aid agencies restricted to delivering emergency health and nutrition services. He wants them to help his government build roads. “We need to connect counties and communities,” he said at the ODI panel.

By linking communities and encouraging trade, these projects would provide jobs and ease tensions as people – especially youth – become more invested in maintaining stability. “That’s the main thing. If we don’t do it, hostilities will continue,” he said.

This emphasis, Lanzer wrote, must be adopted across all of South Sudan.

By focusing too exclusively on humanitarian responses, actors “fail to address the underlying causes that undermine sustainable livelihoods, agricultural production and economic growth, and perpetuate the pattern of emergency. In supporting the world’s newest country, we need to help South Sudanese avert crises, not merely respond to them.”

Lanzer said the UN is promoting concurrent humanitarian and development responses. As aid agencies distribute food, for example, they are encouraged to link up with other groups to develop school feeding programmes, which keep children in school, or to use food assistance as a stimulus to get communities to build roads. While the main focus is delivering food to the millions of food-insecure South Sudanese, these programmes can be “a springboard to address some of the underlying challenges,” Lanzer said.

Shrinking funding

It is easier to obtain money to respond to crises than funding for long-term development work, Lanzer noted. More than half of all official development assistance South Sudan receives is slated for humanitarian projects, he said.

And even that money might be drying up, according to Nick Helton, the coordinator for the South Sudan NGO Forum Secretariat.

South Sudan’s size and lack of physical infrastructure make it difficult for aid workers to reach some of the most remote communities. This contributes to the size of the country’s CAP, which is the second highest in the world behind Somalia’s. Helton says South Sudan is “seeing some fatigue in the donor community because of high operating costs.” So far, only 45 percent of this year’s CAP has been funded.

All of which makes the need for concurrent development work even more pressing: In their 2013 Humanitarian Implementation Plan, the European Commission’s humanitarian aid department (ECHO) said the cost of providing assistance is unlikely to shrink without long-term development projects to reduce the scale of the country’s humanitarian need.

The concurrent humanitarian-development approach jibes with what South Sudanese want, Jok said. While international reports about South Sudan focus on food shortages and ethnic conflict, local and national governments, working with aid agencies, are actually making progress towards improving road networks and cell phone coverage. School enrolment has grown from 300,000 in 2005 to 1.8 million last year. People are working to improve their situations and begin rebuilding, Jok said. “We are a society that can weather these crises.”

These concurrent programmes must be implemented more broadly, according to Lanzer. “No one is suggesting” the country’s humanitarian needs will end within the next year or two, he said. “But it has to be on our radar screen.”

ag/rz/am source


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George Malual Deng, 24, has spent two years in a transit site waiting to return to his home in Jonglei State

Posted by African Press International on May 8, 2013

The long road home to South Sudan

George Malual Deng, 24, has spent two years in a transit site waiting to return to his home in Jonglei State

RENK, UPPER NILE STATE, – George Malual Deng, 24, has spent two years stuck in a transit site waiting to return to his home in South Sudan’s Jonglei state. He is among 20,000 people who have made a home of sorts in the river port of Renk, waiting for a barge to take them further south.

When he began his journey from Khartoum, Sudan was a single state, albeit one still bitterly divided between north and south in the wake of decades of civil war, despite the signing of a major peace accord in 2005.

Since then, almost two million people have left the north for their homelands in what became the independent Republic of South Sudan in July 2011.

Many, like Deng, say they left amid increasing discrimination and reduced access to education.

The period following secession was tumultuous, marked by sporadic conflict between the neighbours’ armed forces and a row over how much Sudan could charge for piping and exporting South Sudan’s oil – a dispute that led to the shutdown of oil production, cutting off 98 percent of South Sudan’s revenue. Amid the furore, Sudan closed its common border, thereby halting the movement of both people and goods.

“Nobody anticipated on independence that the border with Sudan would be shut… that the barges would stop moving up and down the River Nile,” said Toby Lanzer, the UN’s Humanitarian Coordinator for South Sudan and Deputy Representative for the UN Secretary-General.

Peter Lam Both, chairman of the state-run Relief and Rehabilitation Commission, says helping South Sudanese come home is one of the government’s priorities, but without funds little can be done.


Those living in and returning to the world’s newest country, which is among the least developed and most import-dependent in the world, have to put up with exorbitant prices for basic goods and household items. For this reason – and to avoid carrying large amounts of cash that might prove attractive to officials – many returnees head south laden with large quantities of furniture and other household items, in effect, their entire life savings.

In the four camps in Renk, piles of such belongings sit beside makeshift shelters.

“The main problem, really, for the returnees in Renk is the issue of luggage. When they were brought from Khartoum or Kosti [a Sudanese river port a little north of Renk], at that time, the government had the resources to bring them with a lot of luggage,” Both said.

 Mary Venerato Laki, South Sudan returnee: “We want to go to our own homeland”

Years ago, Mary Venerato Laki fled conflict in South Sudan, moving north to Sudan, where she worked as a teacher for 42 years. full report

The South Sudan government says plans to transport both luggage and people back were hampered by a lack of funds following the January 2011 secession referendum. In its first year of statehood, Both says the government earmarked around US$16 million to finance returns, but these plans were scotched by austerity measures necessitated by the oil shutdown.

When their turn comes to travel by barge from Renk to Juba, many returnees discover that they have more luggage than can be carried on the barges, so some family members tend to stay behind to watch over the excess cargo.

According to the International Organization for Migration, which assists the returnees, each reaches Renk with an average of one ton in luggage.

People are unwilling to leave their valuables behind, said Deng, the 24 year old. “They say if they sell their luggage… they won’t find [the items they need] again, and it will be difficult to buy them again, and you’re not guaranteed a job, so it’s difficult,” he said.

He says selling off his family’s only assets is unthinkable.

“I want to go, [but] there’s no way. Why would I leave my things and go alone? I would sleep where? I need to take my things to Juba [South Sudan’s capital]. There’s no money. I cannot sell my things,” he said.

Poor conditions

Grace Nasona, 38, has been in a Renk transit camp for eight months.

It is a “very, very dirty place. No food, no water [that’s] good, no anything I want to use”, she said.

Renk County does not have a lot of facilities, and when you have 20,000 people that have arrived here, some two years ago, it puts a lot of constraints on the local population,” said Both.

Local officials complain that school class sizes for both morning and afternoon sessions have swollen to up to 150 pupils. They say healthcare is also overstretched and crime is rising.

At a clinic in the Mina transit settlement, nurses say malaria is common, caused by proximity to the Nile, lack of shelter and lack of food, which weakens people’s immune systems.

“We don’t want to settle here, but we are waiting here until we can all go down with our possessions, and my father’s [pension] dues have not been received,” said Nanu Chuol, 17, while she had her four-month-old baby tested for malaria.

“The difference is that in the north, many things were available and my father was working so we could get food. But now, he’s not working, and his pension hasn’t come, so we can’t eat much,” she said.

“Your chair or your wife”

Renk became even more of a bottleneck after the oil shutdown as the government looked for other sources of revenue.

“In Upper Nile State, the authorities decided to impose some taxes on the aid agencies. That problem has been sorted out now, but of course, it did delay things,” said Lanzer.

The IOM says these tax issues resulted in the closure of Renk Port for three months at the start of 2013.

Two barges packed high with luggage were docked in the port in late April.

A barge laden with the luggage of stranded South Sudanese returnees

Lanzer says that it costs around $1,000 per person to travel downstream to Juba, and is telling people that now it is time to choose between “your chair or your wife”.

“To my mind, keeping families together is a very important consideration, as opposed to having some family members stay with luggage in the middle of nowhere,” he said.

“People have been stuck in this situation now, some of them for two years, and I think it’s the moment for hard choices to be made. Do people want to stay here and integrate into the community? If they do, then let’s help them with that. Let’s work with the government to get them a plot of land. If they do want to continue on to their destination, I think the reality is that they will have to do that without their luggage,” he said.

“Our job is really to help people who have no resources to return,” said Both.

After a prolonged stay in Renk, and days of transportation under rain and blistering sun, he says that much of the luggage is ruined by the time it gets unloaded.

More to come

The recent resumption of oil production should refill South Sudan’s coffers in the coming year, but the austerity budget will be in place until 2014.

Meanwhile, Both says around 250,000 more South Sudanese are thought to be in Sudan, and 40,000 are living in poor conditions at transit camps in Khartoum who need to come to South Sudan soon.

And while both countries have agreed in principle to honour one another’s “four freedoms” of citizenship, property ownership, jobs and basic rights, this deal has not yet been finalized.

hm/am/rz source


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