South Sudan: ICRC president emphasizes humanitarian needs and urges stronger commitment from donors
GENEVA, Switzerland, January 8, 2014/African Press Organization (APO)/ -- The president of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), Peter Maurer, has completed a three-day visit to South Sudan. In addition to holding official meetings, he met with internally displaced people, volunteers from the South Sudan Red Cross, and ICRC staff working in many parts of the country.
"South Sudan is facing a serious crisis that comes on top of a situation that was already difficult," said the ICRC president. "It is unquestionable that the needs are dire, but their full scope is unknown."
Mr Maurer reaffirmed the ICRC's commitment to addressing humanitarian needs in South Sudan. "Despite the challenging environment, we are exploring every possible option to bring aid to the people who need it," he said. "The ICRC will press ahead with its work in South Sudan and step up its activities as necessary." After meeting with internally displaced people in Awerial, Mr Maurer said that he was "particularly struck by one woman who had to flee her home with no belongings, and now her family needs substantial support across the spectrum, including food, water, shelter and medical care."
While in Juba, Mr Maurer met with Lt Gen Kuol Manyang Juuk, the minister of defence, Awut Deng Achuil, the minister of gender, child, social welfare, humanitarian and disaster management, and senior officials of the South Sudan Red Cross. Mr Maurer also visited the town of Bentiu and met with the director and staff of the hospital, and the ICRC surgical team that has been providing emergency care. The ICRC president discussed the many challenges facing humanitarian organizations in their efforts to reach people who urgently need help. He also emphasized the obligation of all parties to the conflict to protect civilians. "I am reiterating my urgent call for all parties to the conflict to cease their attacks on civilians, and to facilitate safe access for humanitarian agencies," he said.
Mr Maurer commended the South Sudan Red Cross and its cooperation with the ICRC. "I have been deeply impressed by the dedication and hard work of South Sudan Red Cross volunteers," he said. "In a difficult context, and in such a sensitive environment, the support and the cooperation of the South Sudan Red Cross has been fundamental to all that the ICRC has been able to accomplish." The ICRC has been providing urgently needed supplies for medical facilities, treating wounded people, and distributing food and other essential items.
Mr Maurer also announced that the ICRC will appeal for more funding for its work in South Sudan. "The ICRC has already had to use a significant portion of the resources allocated for all of 2014. To continue to meet people's needs, we are calling on the international community to boost its financial support for humanitarian activities."