UN refugee camp in Juba - financial needs of over one billion dollars
UN refugee camp in Juba - financial needs of over one billion dollars

Warning by the UN: 50,000 children in South Sudan under threat of starvation

Experts from the UN warn of impending tragedy in Southern Sudan. If the international community does not quickly send emergency supplies, the threatening famine could cost the lives of thousands of children.

Juba – The world is torn apart by a bloody power struggle for South Sudan, thousands of children being acutely threatened by starvation. In the battles in the northeast African country, thousands of people were killed and more than 1.5 million people forced to flee, said on Saturday the United Nations responsible for South Sudan, Toby Lanzer.

“The consequences could be terrible – 50,000 children at risk of dying from starvation if they get no help.” Lanzer called on the world community to help, and estimated the outstanding financial need at about one billion dollars. This sum is necessary to help a total of 3.8 million people in South Sudan, “who are affected by hunger, violence and disease.”

South Sudan is the newest country in the world, gaining its independence only in 2011. In mid-December a power struggle simmering for years  escalated between President Salva Kiir and his rival Riek Machar, resulting in bloody battles. The political rivalry between the two leaders is exacerbated by the fact that Kiir belongs to the ethnic group of the Dinka, whereas Machar belongs to the ethnic group of the Nuer.

For a week, the parties agreed to hold talks in Ethiopia on the formation of a transitional government within 60 days. However, observers are skeptical about an agreement. Previously agreed-to ceasefires were broken within a short time.

In Addis Ababa, the South Sudanese President Salva Kiir and his rival Riek Machar have agreed to end the violence in the East African country. Within 60 days, they intended to set up a transitional government. In addition, organizations were again to get access to the troubled region. This was announced last week on Wednesday with the East African federation of states, IGAD.

Already in May, Kiir and Machar had agreed on an end to the fighting. But the bloody conflict just went on. Kiir and Machar had now taken on the brink of IGAD conference in the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa and decided the peace agreement. “We have agreed to follow the plan that we have signed on May 9,” Riek Machar was quoted by Sudanese media.

Previously, the IGAD countries, including Ethiopia, Kenya and Uganda, mediated. In the event that the battles went on, the IGAD countries had threatened sanctions. The U.S. has already frozen the accounts of some representatives of the conflicting parties, excluding them from trading with U.S. companies.

South Sudan is the world’s newest nation, it is independent only since the split from Sudan in 2011. Last December, a power struggle between the elected President Salva Kiir and Riek Machar, his former deputy, had escalated. Kiir had Machar accused of plotting a coup. Both belong to different ethnic groups. In the ethnically-motivated civil war, thousands have been killed, and about a million southern Sudanese had to flee.