South Sudan Braces for Escalating Humanitarian Needs After Referendum

The government of South Sudan has called on the international community to increase its readiness to respond to heightened humanitarian needs in the country after the January 2011 referendum.

“It’s going to be more challenging because there will be excitement and euphoria of being in a new state,” said James Kok, South Sudan’s minister of humanitarian affairs and disaster management, referring to the outcome of a majority “yes” vote to South Sudan’s separation from the North.

“We will be faced [with an influx of] refugees … There are 1.5 million Southern Sudanese living in the northern states. If [the South] becomes a country, what do you think [will happen]?” he said at a meeting in Juba among high-level representatives from United Nations agencies, non-governmental organizations and the South Sudan government. “They are going to rush and they will be coming so there will be an immense [pressure].” 

The South Sudanese government, Kok said, recognizes its responsibility to help its citizens, but the estimated enormity of humanitarian needs will require the support of the international community, IRIN reports.

Lise Grande, the U.N. deputy resident and humanitarian coordinator in South Sudan, said donors have been “uniquely generous” to the country.

‘“For years, they have provided more than a billion dollars of assistance [per year]; in some years it’s been more than two billion dollars of assistance for Sudan,” Grande said. “There is no other country in the world that has benefited from such generous donations.” 

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    Eliza Villarino

    Eliza Villarino currently manages one of today’s leading publications on humanitarian aid, global health and international development, the weekly GDB. At Devex, she has helped grow a global newsroom, with talented journalists from major development hubs such as Washington, D.C, London and Brussels. She regularly writes about innovations in global development.