Press Statement: As South Sudan’s people suffer, their leaders must step up
“South Sudan’s political leadership needs to support its own citizens, who are in desperate need across the country and cease hostilities,” the United Nations Special Representative to the Secretary-General for South Sudan, David Shearer, said today.
United Nations humanitarian agencies declared a famine situation affecting around 100,000 people in parts of the former Unity State on 20 February.
Yet since then, humanitarian agencies and non-governmental organizations were told to evacuate the town of Mayendit in the heart of the famine-afflicted area because of the risk of fighting resuming.
In other towns of Yuai and Motot in the eastern parts of the country, humanitarian organizations were forced to leave due to fighting between the Sudan Peoples’ Liberation Army (SPLA) and the SPLA in Opposition. Their compounds and supplies were subsequently looted.
In the first two months this year, UNHCR reported that 140,000 people had fled into neighboring countries, displaced by the ongoing conflict.
In addition, humanitarian agencies and the United Nations in South Sudan, who want to reach these people in need, are repeatedly refused access by local authorities.
“It is the most vulnerable in society who are most affected by this shocking situation,” said David Shearer. “They are the women and children who have fled their homes and livelihoods in terror and taken shelter outside of South Sudan or, in the case of many, in the swamps and forests, where their coping mechanisms are rapidly being exhausted.”
“I have only just arrived as the head of the UN Mission in South Sudan, yet I am alarmed at how little a response to the plight of these people has been heard from their leaders. “
“A complete cessation of hostilities is urgently needed to end the suffering of the South Sudanese people. Those affected by the humanitarian crisis are still citizens of this young country, and they deserve protection. But the constant fighting shows they are getting none. Instead, they are bearing the brunt,” David Shearer said.