The Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC) made a plea for donors to come forward and dig deep, ahead of a United Nations pledging conference for South Sudan to be held in Oslo on Tuesday. NRC Secretary General Jan Egeland warned if the United Nation’s USD 1.3 billion target isn’t met, South Sudan will face one of the worst famines in decades.
The pledging conference was organized in cooperation with the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, after only 39 percent of the USD 1.3 billion pledge for humanitarian assistance in South Sudan was raised. In a press release, Egeland said the wet season had begun in the war-torn country, and urgent pre-stocking of food was needed before the rains isolated villages. If the money was not raised quickly, 7.3 million people faced famine by August.
“We have so far failed the most vulnerable in South Sudan,” said Egeland. “The question is how many will die of hunger, violence and disease. Time is running out and we all have to step up. If the international community does not ramp up operations immediately South Sudan could be facing one of the worst hunger disasters in recent decades. Donors that meet in Oslo should pledge the needed 1.2 billion dollars.”
The NRC said 1.3 million people have been displaced since fighting broke out in South Sudan in December. While 80,000 have made it to UN refugee camps, the rest remain in remote parts of the country which are very difficult for humanitarian workers to access. Egeland said it was critical for groups working in South Sudan like the NRC to reach areas outside the capital of Juba and the UN camps, but that depended on the outcome of Tuesday’s pledging conference.
Foreign Minister Børge Brende and the UN Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator, Valerie Amos were announced to co-chair the conference, while Egeland will be leading a panel discussion on the humanitarian crisis.