Sunday 1 February 2015

Charity calls on President Higgins to visit victims of South Sudan conflict

Published 05/05/2014 | 07:58

A boy sits at the edge of open sewer at the UN base in Juba, South Sudan.
Pic:Mark Condren
A boy sits at the edge of open sewer at the UN base in Juba, South Sudan. Photo: Mark Condren

THE head of the aid agency, GOAL, has called on Irish President Michael D Higgins to visit victims of the conflict in South Sudan.

Barry Andrews believes such a visit would draw world attention to the humanitarian catastrophe unfolding in the country.

Recalling the positive impact of a visit by former Irish president Mary Robinson to Somalia in 1992, Mr Andrews said: “It has been shown in the past that an Irish presidential visit can have a powerful, positive impact on a situation such as that which now exists in South Sudan.

"When President Mary Robinson went to Mogadishu in 1992 it resonated around the world, and her presence drew much-needed and enduring attention to the plight of the people there. I believe that a visit by President Higgins to victims of the conflict in South Sudan could have a similar positive effect.”

Mr Andrews issued his call to President Higgins after separate warnings of imminent famine and genocide threats to South Sudan from, respectively, the United Nations and the US Secretary of State, John Kerry.

The GOAL CEO continued: “The people of South Sudan have suffered terribly since tribal violence began in December of last year. Tens of thousands have been killed, one million have been forced from their homes, and 250,000 have taken refuge in neighbouring countries.

“The United Nations is now warning that famine is imminent, and the US Secretary of State, John Kerry, has expressed his fears that a genocide situation is developing. The humanitarian crisis in South Sudan is going to seriously escalate, unless it receives the necessary attention and resources from the international community. If we are serious about prevention, then now is the time to draw attention to this imminent humanitarian catastrophe.”

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