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Humanitarian Situation (South Sudan)

Volume 585: debated on Wednesday 3 September 2014

I returned from South Sudan early this morning and have seen that the humanitarian situation there remains precarious: 1.8 million people have been displaced by the conflict, 1.3 million of them within the country. Although aid has helped to ameliorate the food security situation in some areas, there is still a high risk of famine in early 2015.

I am grateful to my right hon. Friend for updating the House on her recent visit to Juba. The House wants reassurance from her that the international community has got a grip on the deteriorating humanitarian situation in South Sudan and will, as far as possible, be able to abate what looks as though it could turn into a humanitarian disaster.

My right hon. Friend is right to be worried about the food security situation. There are 3.9 million people facing alarming levels of food insecurity, and the UN estimates that up to 50,000 children could die this year from malnutrition. Humanitarian access is impeded, but I can assure the House that the international community is together on this issue, and I press Ministers in South Sudan most strongly to allow humanitarian access. It will depress the House, however, to learn that there is a lack of will from the leaders of South Sudan to care about the people of the country rather than themselves.

The Minister said that 1.3 million people have been internally displaced in South Sudan. What steps is she taking to ensure that whatever assistance we can make available there is being specifically targeted at helping that very large number of at-risk people?

I flew up to Ganyiel myself to see the internally displaced people. They are being accommodated although there is an issue between the host community and the IDPs. We have given £12.5 million to those refugees who have gone to the region, and we work with international partners to ensure that food and assistance reach them.

11. Twenty-three Members of Parliament in South Sudan have recently been removed. What can the Government do to help to support the parliamentary process in South Sudan?

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I met Ministers, and it is quite clear that the Government of South Sudan is not functioning in a manner that we would recognise. They are closing down radio stations and inhibiting access to humanitarian agencies. As I said, the case is extremely depressing, but we urge them to observe the new 45-day deadline that they have to put in place a transitional Government because only peace can help the people of South Sudan.