South Sudan: Oxfam Calls on UN Security Council to Save Lives Not Pennies

By llucas

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New York—Inadequate numbers of peacekeepers for the next mission in South Sudan risk endangering thousands of lives and future stability, international agency Oxfam said today. As the Security Council this week debates the future of the mission, Oxfam warned that failure to fully fund and resource it – including by slashing troop or civilian staffing numbers due to cost concerns – would undermine the progress that has been made over the past six years.

“If there was ever a time for the Security Council and countries that contribute to peace keeping to support the people of Sudan, it is now. Violence is rising and this isn’t the time to go cheap by cutting on the budget of the future UN mission, on the number of boots on the ground or the number of civilian staff. They must walk the talk and provide their strong backing in a time of optimism but also extreme tension for the people of South Sudan,” said Kirsten Hagon, Head of Oxfam’s New York Office.

Oxfam said that decisions on the future UN mission should reflect the real needs on the ground, not short term budget concerns. More people in South Sudan have been killed in the first months of 2011 (over 1800) than in the whole of 2010 (less than 1000), the agency said. Violence in recent weeks in Abyei, Southern Kordofan, and across southern Sudan has also forced over 180,000 people to flee their homes, according to UN reports. As well as the violence in the North-South border areas, deadly cattle raids, inter-communal violence and clashes between southern rebels and army have killed hundreds and displaced tens of thousands of people this year.

Despite the government’s laudable public commitments to protecting its people from violence, South Sudan still needs support from the international community to keep civilians safe and promote law and order, Oxfam said. The decision on troop numbers and civilian components should put the people of South Sudan first and certainly not go below the modest recommendations made by the Secretary-General in his report.

“Hundreds of billions of dollars has been spent in Afghanistan and more recently over 1 billion was spent in three months in Libya. That is the cost of the current UN mission in Sudan for a whole year. Southern Sudanese deserve to get the full backing of the UN Security Council,” said Hagon.