International Development Minister Stephen O'Brien [©in2eastafrica]
By Lopu Moses
JUBA, 28th April 2012 [Gurtong]
The British International Minister, Stephen O’Brien warned yesterday after visiting the volatile border of South Sudan with Sudan.
He was speaking at a press conference at the European Union’s office early this week.
O’Brien said that, “escalating violence in the region may force hundreds of thousands of people to flee their homes which will leave half a million women, men and children in desperate need of food, water and health care.”
He has also said that this looming crisis is avoidable but revealed that Britain will provide additional emergency support to help 100,000 people facing severe food shortages in South Sudan.
Despite the offer, O’Brien stressed that life-saving emergency British aid is not the long term solution to what he termed as “avoidable disaster”. He urged the government of Sudan and South Sudan to find a lasting solution which is feasible with leadership and political will on both sides.
The Minister visited Jamam Refugee Camp, where he reported 36,000 people to be stranded after fleeing the fighting in Sudan’s Blue Nile State hence leading to a humanitarian disaster.
“What I saw at Jamam Refugees Camp is a very real human suffering of the ongoing problems between Sudan and South Sudan. A devastating combination of conflicts and food insecurity which we must all do what we can to avert,” he said.
Over 100,000 people are also reported to have been displaced by the fighting between the two countries.
O’Brien has called for an immediate end to the border clashes and urged the two governments to return for negotiations to resolve their remaining differences.
He further reminded the government in Juba of a responsibility to look after its own people. He warned that the British Development Funds would not be used to fill a financial hole of what he said is “the government’s own making by shutting down their oil production”.
Britain expressed commitment to poorest people of the region but said their aid is not a substitute for a lasting settlement.
He called on both sides to demonstrate without any other further delay that they are committed to resolve their differences through negotiations supported by the African Union High Level Implementation Panel, and to deliver their promises to bring a new spirit of cooperation to their talks.