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OSLO, Norway (May 20, 2014) – In a disappointing result to the Oslo donor conference, the world’s donors have missed a critical opportunity to help avert disaster in South Sudan. Of the US$1.27 billion needed to meet the immediate needs of those affected by the current conflict and a building food crisis, donors pledged just above US$600 million.
“Even though this is a significant increase in pledged funds, it is still far too little,” said Kjell Stokvik, CARE Norway National Director, who represented CARE International at the conference. “We know from previous disasters that prevention costs far than a full-blown emergency response. If a famine is declared, the funds needed to save hundreds of thousands of people from dying from hunger will skyrocket. And in the meantime, it is the people of South Sudan who will suffer – from hunger, and from the horrific conflict that has wracked the country for five months.”
Representatives of donor countries participated in the donor pledging conference in Oslo, Norway May 19-20 to discuss how best to respond to the conflict and looming food crisis in South Sudan. While some countries such as Norway, USA, and the UK were quick to pledge additional funds, many major donor countries did not, and the target was not even close to being reached.
Since the conflict began in December, 1.3 million people have fled their homes, including 350,000 who have become refugees in neighbouring countries. Four million people need assistance, and the UN predicts that half the population will be displaced by the fighting or suffering from hunger by the end of the year if something is not done now.
“Part of the requested funding was also to help address the alarming increase in rapes and sexual assault, mainly against women and girls, that we’ve seen since the conflict began in December,” said Stokvik. “While donors acknowledged the issue of sexual violence and critical need for improved protection, without the appropriate funding and an end to the conflict, the attacks will continue, and survivors will continue to suffer in silence, without the required medical and psychosocial support to help them recover. This is an affront to the women of South Sudan.”
In the lead-up to the donor conference, CARE had released a report that calls attention to the fact that even before the current conflict South Sudan was one of the world’s harshest environments in which to come of age as a woman, and conditions have only deteriorated since the fighting broke out on December 15 of last year. The report, titled “The Girl Has No Rights”: Gender-based Violence in South Sudan, combines the terrible conditions that have developed in five months of fighting with data from a baseline survey conducted in the last quarter of 2013, just before the conflict started. The full report can be found here: http://www.care-international.org/UploadDocument/files/CARE_The%20Girl%20Has%20No%20Rights_GBV%20in%20South%20Sudan.pdf.
With the onset of the conflict, the situation has deteriorated dangerously: more women and even girls are engaging in transactional sex to gain access to food or water for their families; parents are encouraging their daughters to marry early in order to gain access to bride price, reduce the number of mouths to feed and as a means of protection for their girls in a conflict situation; and rape and sexual assault has become a weapon of war.
CARE is providing food, water and health care to some of those left homeless by the conflict in South Sudan and who have fled across the border to neighbouring Uganda.
“The immediate needs are clear: an end to the conflict and a sustainable peace, and funding to help those affected by the current crisis,” said Stokvik. “But unless the global community steps up to help put South Sudan back on the right track, and to help the people already suffering and dying from hunger and conflict, the situation for the people of South Sudan is only going to get worse.”
Media contact to arrange interviews with staff in South Sudan or at the Oslo conference:
Melanie Brooks (Geneva): firstname.lastname@example.org, +41 79 590 3047
Therese Søgård (Oslo): email@example.com, +47 47 64 46 99
About CARE: Founded in 1945, CARE is a leading humanitarian organization fighting global poverty. CARE has more than six decades of experience helping people prepare for disasters, providing lifesaving assistance when a crisis hits, and helping communities recover after the emergency has passed. CARE places special focus on women and children, who are often disproportionately affected by disasters. To learn more, visit www.care-international.org. CARE has been operating in Southern Sudan since 1993, initially providing humanitarian relief to internally displaced people in Western Equatoria. The signing of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement in 2005 allowed CARE to expand into Jonglei and Upper Nile States to support returnees from the refugee camps, and the organization has since broadened its operations to include development programs.