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By Godfrey Olukya 9-1-2014

The president of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC),
Peter Maurer, has completed a three-day visit to South Sudan. In
addition to holding official meetings, he met with internally
displaced people, volunteers from the South Sudan Red Cross, and ICRC
staff working in many parts of the country.

“South Sudan is facing a serious crisis that comes on top of a
situation that was already difficult,” said the ICRC president. “It is
unquestionable that the needs are dire, but their full scope is
unknown.”

Mr Maurer reaffirmed the ICRC’s commitment to addressing humanitarian
needs in South Sudan. “Despite the challenging environment, we are
exploring every possible option to bring aid to the people who need
it,” he said. “The ICRC will press ahead with its work in South Sudan
and step up its activities as necessary.” After meeting with
internally displaced people in Awerial, Mr Maurer said that he was
“particularly struck by one woman who had to flee her home with no
belongings, and now her family needs substantial support across the
spectrum, including food, water, shelter and medical care.”

While in Juba, Mr Maurer met with Lt Gen Kuol Manyang Juuk, the
minister of defence, Awut Deng Achuil, the minister of gender, child,
social welfare, humanitarian and disaster management, and senior
officials of the South Sudan Red Cross. Mr Maurer also visited the
town of Bentiu and met with the director and staff of the hospital,
and the ICRC surgical team that has been providing emergency care. The
ICRC president discussed the many challenges facing humanitarian
organizations in their efforts to reach people who urgently need help.
He also emphasized the obligation of all parties to the conflict to
protect civilians. “I am reiterating my urgent call for all parties to
the conflict to cease their attacks on civilians, and to facilitate
safe access for humanitarian agencies,” he said.

Mr Maurer commended the South Sudan Red Cross and its cooperation with
the ICRC. “I have been deeply impressed by the dedication and hard
work of South Sudan Red Cross volunteers,” he said. “In a difficult
context, and in such a sensitive environment, the support and the
cooperation of the South Sudan Red Cross has been fundamental to all
that the ICRC has been able to accomplish.” The ICRC has been
providing urgently needed supplies for medical facilities, treating
wounded people, and distributing food and other essential items.

Mr Maurer also announced that the ICRC will appeal for more funding
for its work in South Sudan. “The ICRC has already had to use a
significant portion of the resources allocated for all of 2014. To
continue to meet people’s needs, we are calling on the international
community to boost its financial support for humanitarian activities.”

END

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