South Sudan continues to endure an ongoing crisis, in large part the consequence of civil war. Since the most recent outbreak of conflict in 2015, over 50,000 people have been killed and more than 7 million people are in need of humanitarian assistance. The effects of the conflict on civilians has been exacerbated by drought, leading to severe food insecurity and the threat of famine and, in turn, massive population displacement.
On 12 September last, the President of South Sudan, Salva Kiir, signed a peace agreement with rebel factions, opening the possibility for change. While this peace agreement has the potential to mark a new departure, it is critical that South Sudan’s leaders implement it without delay. The full cessation of violence and the facilitation of unimpeded humanitarian access would be important confidence building measures, but achieving lasting peace will require sustained effort and commitment as well as a genuinely inclusive approach to building the future South Sudan.
Ireland strongly supports efforts to build peace in South Sudan. Last November, during his visit to Addis Ababa, the Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade met representatives of IGAD (the Intergovernmental Authority on Development) and the African Union to discuss the situation in South Sudan. Ireland provides financial support to facilitate the IGAD-led High Level Revitalisation Forum for peace negotiations.
Departmental officials, in particular the Embassy in Addis Ababa, which has responsibility for South Sudan, continue to monitor the situation closely and engage with local, regional and international parties to encourage progress. The Irish Ambassador in Addis Ababa has visited Juba on a number of occasions, including most recently last month, where she met with key government, UN, NGO, Red Cross and diplomatic partners. Two Departmental officials have been seconded to the European External Action Service mission in Juba.
In addition, Ireland is responding to the continuing humanitarian need in South Sudan, with over €61 million in humanitarian assistance provided since 2012. Over €10 million in Irish funding has been provided so far this year, most recently to the South Sudan Humanitarian Fund and to UNICEF to assist their responses to a worsening humanitarian situation. Irish funding supports those in need inside South Sudan and South Sudanese refugees in neighbouring countries.