By Teddy Chenya
JUBA, 23 October 2012 [Gurtong]- During a visit to the UN’s Jusuf Batil refugee camp in the Upper Nile State of South Sudan, the Minister saw firsthand how thousands of families are now being provided with shelter, food, clean water and urgent medical care.
“It is impossible not to be shocked by what I have seen today and I am very concerned how more fighting in the days and months to come will increase the refugee crisis,” she said.
“I have seen the care and commitment from the agencies on the ground to helping those who have lost everything. But the suffering I have seen only reinforces the urgent need for all parties to commit to finding a peaceful resolution to the conflict through face-to-face negotiation,” she added.
She said that only through committing to a peaceful solution will people be able to return home and live in peace and dignity.
During the Minister’s visit to South Sudan, she will also discuss with senior UN, donor and government figures the ways in which co-ordination could be further improved and how funding can be assured for aid agencies responding to this growing crisis.
This will include making sure the response to the humanitarian situation is increasingly coordinated to ensure aid is provided in a sustainable and well-planned way.
More than 170,000 refugees have fled into South Sudan from the fighting in Southern Kordofan and Blue Nile states and are now based in two camps in the Upper Nile and Unity states.
The UK is the third largest humanitarian donor in South Sudan providing support through the Common Humanitarian Fund and the World Food Programme Emergency Operation.
As well as providing assistance to the refugee camps in South Sudan, the UK is supporting efforts to bring the Government of Sudan and the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-North together to negotiate a peaceful resolution to the conflict and to agree a cessation of hostilities.
This would then allow for full humanitarian access to those people remaining in Southern Kordofan and Blue Nile
Britain is currently providing support to the populations in South Kordofan and Blue Nile through the limited agencies that are allowed by the Government of Sudan to access these areas. This is through the Sudan Common Humanitarian Fund and the International Committee of the Red Cross.
Britain has been lobbying for full and impartial access to both government-held and SPLM North-held areas of Southern Kordofan and Blue Nile, to allow for the unconstrained delivery of humanitarian assistance.
The UK supports the country’s ongoing development as it pulls itself out of poverty, through projects that support a wide range of issues including primary health services in six of the ten states of South Sudan.
Other investments are in agribusiness to diversify the economy and break out of the cycles of hand-outs and imported food.
The UK has also helped in strengthening of the South Sudan Police Service and supports the government to strengthen its core systems, including the customs service, in order to improve revenue collection and strengthen accountability and transparency.