JUBA, SOUTH SUDAN - The U.S. Government, through the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), has announced it will provide emergency relief to assist conflict-affected and food-insecure people in South Sudan. The $30 million contribution will be delivered through the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP). The assistance is in response to the deteriorating humanitarian situation in South Sudan, where an estimated one million people are severely food-insecure due to a cereal deficit, high food prices and intercommunal conflict.
“This generous contribution from the U.S. Government comes at a critical time when WFP is expanding its operation to respond to growing humanitarian needs,” said Chris Nikoi, WFP’s country director for South Sudan. “At the same time, we are preparing for the rapidly approaching rainy season, so we are extremely grateful to receive this crucial support.”
Due to South Sudan’s poor road network, about 60 percent of the country will become inaccessible during the rainy season. This contribution helps WFP complete prepositioning of much-needed commodities across South Sudan, where roads will soon become impassable.
“This contribution from the American people is part of the U.S. Government’s continuing support for the most vulnerable people in South Sudan, who are some of the most in need of food assistance to sustain them as they work to rebuild their lives,” said USAID/South Sudan Mission Director Kevin Mullally.
The U.S. Government is the largest supporter of WFP’s operation in South Sudan, and including this donation, has contributed more than $110 million in 2012 to WFP’s emergency operation in the country.
WFP is the world’s largest humanitarian agency fighting hunger worldwide. Each year, on average WFP feeds more than 90 million people in more than 70 countries. WFP now provides RSS feeds to help journalists keep up with the latest press releases, videos and photos as they are published on WFP.org. For more details see http://www.wfp.org/rss
I will, in my capacity of President of the Council, give you a readout of the two sessions we had this morning. The first related to Sudan and South Sudan. The second related to Myanmar.
Beginning with the Sudans. This morning we heard from Assistant Secretary-General Edmund Mulet on Abyei and the volatile situation on the border between Sudan and South Sudan. Juba has confirmed it that it has seized Heglig. This is a very serious development, which comes in the context of repeated violations over the last several weeks of the sovereignty and territorial integrity of both countries. Council members stressed that the SPLA must withdraw immediately. And Sudan must stop aerial bombardments and incursions into South Sudan. Both sides must return to talks and cease all hostilities.
The Secretary-General, it was reported, has spoken to President Salva Kiir of South Sudan and encouraged South Sudan to withdraw. President Kiir has responded that South Sudan is taking these actions in self-defense. The Secretary-General is also seeking to engage senior authorities in Khartoum. Council members expressed very serious concern about the situation and are working on a statement and additional actions reflecting that concern.
With respect to Myanmar, the Council discussed the April 1st parliamentary by-election. Special Advisor Nambiar explained that the election proceeded in a transparent, credible, and peaceful manner. While some minor irregularities were reported, Mr. Nambiar said there were no indications that these had affected the outcome. He told Council members that the election of opposition National League for Democracy (NLD) candidates—including Nobel laureate Aung San Suu Kyi—to Parliament offers a historic opportunity for more inclusive political dialogue in the country.
Special Advisor Nambiar said the United Nations would continue to promote democratic reform, encourage national reconciliation, and support Myanmar’s economic development. He explained the Secretary-General plans to visit the country later this month.
Council members welcomed the successful by-election as a historic and critical step on the path to consolidating and strengthening Myanmar’s democratic reforms. They praised the government and the opposition for their conduct of the by-election and for their commitment to moving the country forward.
Council members emphasized that Myanmar’s reforms were still fragile and nascent and in need of the international community’s support. Additionally, a number of members voiced concern about ongoing fighting in some ethnic minority areas and the continued detention of hundreds of political prisoners.
With that, let me take a few questions please.