Fears of looming famine in South Sudan aired at Foreign Affairs Committee

June 12th, 2014 - Pat Breen

The Oireachtas Joint Committee on Foreign Affairs and Trade was told that a concerted international effort was immediately required in order to avoid a catastrophic famine in South Sudan.

Representatives from Concern, Goal and Oxfam were addressing the Committee on the ongoing difficulties being experienced by aid agencies in assisting the population there.

Chairman of the Committee Pat Breen TD says: “The discussions this afternoon have highlighted what has the potential to become the world’s largest humanitarian crisis, if concerted efforts by the international community are not expedited immediately. The stark presentations outlined the way in which violence since South Sudan’s independence has exacerbated the significant challenges the new country is facing. The Committee was told that approximately 1.2 million people have been displaced and an estimated four million people, half the total population, are in dire need of assistance.”

“Even with a peaceful start, the fragile infrastructure in the world’s newest country would have led to considerable developmental challenges. However,

the downward spiral of violence since independence has led to a gravely worrying situation. With the announcement of a cease-fire in Addis Ababa yesterday, a window of opportunity now exists to avert a catastrophic famine. In the longer term, the Committee heard how important it was to nurture the process of nation building and good governance.

“Each of the NGO representatives suggested that Ireland should leverage its high standing in the international community to ensure that the plight of South Sudan is elevated to the top of the international agenda. As a Committee, we will write to Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs Eamon Gilmore TD with a view to him raising the issue at EU and UN level. EU Inter-parliamentary conferences will provide an opportunity for delegates from our Committee to highlight the concerns raised this afternoon, while a number of Committee Members pledged to talk to Irish MEPs within their respective political parties to ensure that the current situation in South Sudan is considered in the European Parliament.”