For Immediate Release
Washington, D.C. - The U.S. must immediately work with the Government of Southern Sudan (GoSS) to secure an emergency financial rescue package in order to avoid a breakdown of law and order, Refugees International (RI) urged in a new field report today. The U.S. must also help the GoSS build basic social services, create jobs and expand agricultural opportunities for the millions of people who have returned to south Sudan and the communities that have received them.
Approximately two million people have returned to extreme poverty, with few ways to earn a living, access health care or send their children to school. RI warned that a lack of basic services and infrastructure combined with the recent drop in oil prices and the subsequent economic crisis threatens to destabilize south Sudan. The GoSS has been unable to pay salaries for months, including army salaries, and it has a cash flow shortage of $100 million per month.
"South Sudan is facing real threats to its fledgling peace. If these threats are not addressed soon, the implosion of the south will shatter any realistic prospect for peace in Sudan as a whole, including Darfur," said Senior Advocate Andrea Lari. "The current financial crisis in southern Sudan must be taken seriously by the U.S. government and European policy makers, who worked so hard to bring peace to Sudan through the Comprehensive Peace Agreement. South Sudan needs an emergency financial package to address its current crisis and to keep the Agreement from failing."
Refugees International also expressed concern over increasing localized conflict and instances of insecurity. Communities voiced concerns to RI about the lack of police patrols and lack of protection by the Government of Southern Sudan and the UN peacekeeping mission in southern Sudan (UNMIS). According to UN statistics, from January to November 2008, 187,000 people were forcibly displaced by tribal and armed conflict in south Sudan. RI is concerned that UNMIS, the UN and non-governmental organizations have yet to develop clear contingency planning and protection strategies in the case of large outbreaks of violence.
Refugees International is a Washington, D.C.-based organization that advocates to end refugee crises. In February, Refugees International staff and members of the Board of Directors conducted a mission to Sudan where they interviewed non-governmental organizations, government officials, returnees to south Sudan, UN agencies and displaced Sudanese to assess the humanitarian conditions. The organization has been calling for more support to the Comprehensive Peace Agreement that ended the 21-year-war between the north and the south since its signature in January 2005.
Vanessa Parra; +1-202-540-7025