U.S. donates extra $83mn to S. Sudan's displaced
By Okech Francis, Tuesday, March 25, 2014
JUBA – The U.S. announced on Tuesday an additional donation of $83 million to assist South Sudan's internally displaced people.
"We have come to visit South Sudan to have a better understanding of the escalating humanitarian situation," Nancy Lindbore, assistant administrator of USAID's Bureau of Democracy, Conflict and Humanitarian Assistance, told a press conference in Juba.
"I'm happy to announce that the United States is announcing an additional $83 million, particular to the people who are affected in the crisis," she added.
Lindbore said the additional funding was meant to assist in the "very critical period" faced by displaced people, especially during South Sudan's rainy season.
"The funding will help provide urgently needed food, medical supplies, hygiene kits, shelter – the kind of assistance to help people survive in this very critical period," she explained.
South Sudan has been shaken by violence since last December, when President Salva Kiir accused sacked Machar of standing behind a failed coup attempt.
The violence has already claimed more than 10,000 lives.
The U.N. estimates that some 3.7 million South Sudanese are now "severely food insecure," while more than 867,000 have been displaced by the violence.
Following weeks of talks in the Ethiopian capital, the two sides signed a cessation of hostilities agreement in January.
The visiting USAID official noted that displaced people tended to suffer the most during the rainy reason.
"We're really facing two looming crises: one is some 70,000 people huddled in UNMISS compounds seeking safety, many of whom are in very overcrowded conditions – especially as the compounds are in swampy areas," she said.
When the rains came, she added, these compounds would become unhealthy and largely unable to accommodate large numbers of displaced.
"Secondly, there's a looming crisis of food insecurity, with over a million people in need of food [and] rapid rises in malnutrition, particularly in children under five," Lindbore asserted.
"We need to reach these people, and that requires humanitarian access through all means possible," she added.
"It's also imperative to use all means to allow humanitarian aid workers to reach these people by roads and rivers; to reach these people without harassment by any side," the USAID official stressed.
"It's also imperative that they [aid workers] are supported in their movements, or there will be huge impacts on the people of South Sudan," Lindbore said.
She went on to warn that "there is a possibility of 3.5 million reaching severe food insecurity if we're not able to plan."
Lindbore was accompanied at the conference by Catherine Wiesner, U.S. deputy assistant secretary of state for the Bureau of Population, Refugees and Migration.
Wiesner, for her part, expressed concern over the massive influx of South Sudanese refugees into neighboring states.
"People are entering the neighboring countries of Kenya, Uganda and Ethiopia in an overwhelming number," said Wiesner. "It's alarming to see the conditions in which they arrive."
"In Kakoma camp in Ethiopia, there are over 15,000 refugees, mainly women and children who have been severed from their parents, some whose parents died," she added.
"Some refugees have also died on the way of fatigue and hunger," Weisner noted.
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