Views on the News: South Sudan famine
On Feb. 20, the United Nations officially declared a famine state for two counties in South Sudan, the first since 2012. This is a result of the country's over three-year civil war and government orders to block food aid in certain areas, according to a Feb. 21 Al Jazeera article. To prevent the effects of famine, including the starvation of 5 million, the UN would need to raise 4.4 billion dollars by the end of March. How do you think the UN should approach this issue, and how can it most effectively get involved?
Ryan McCarthy ’18
Unfortunately, the UN is not good at persuasion, especially when it involves money. With the UN Security Council unwilling to do anything more than condemn the atrocities in South Sudan, the UN is reliant on the generosity of its member nations, which is dwindling with each passing day, with Japan now ending its five-year peacekeeping mission in the famished nation. If humanitarian aid is being blocked by the South Sudanese government, then it is not enough to send foreign aid; what is needed is a major peacekeeping presence, and unsurprisingly, no UN member nation appears willing to take the lead on that. If there is one country that has the potential to take leadership in the crisis, it is China, whose companies have a 40% stake in South Sudan’s largest oil fields. So while the Trump administration may want to cut back on foreign aid, it risks its other sacred mission of losing ground to China.
Ryan McCarthy ’18 is a History Undergraduate Departmental Representative. He is also minoring in Economics.
Alex Friedman ’19
While I believe in the power of global governance as an idea, the United Nations has continued to disappoint and trouble me with its stunning ability to do very little, loudly. This crisis is almost entirely man-made. South Sudan is suffering because it is undergoing a civil war. For some time now, the South Sudanese Army, rather than being paid, has turned to taking whatever they can, which often means cattle, the Sudanese people’s source of food and wealth. Aid workers, who are flush with cash and good intentions, have been blocked by the government. The country is dangerous and unnavigable. What can be done? The UN needs to use its influence, and any necessary force (perhaps African Union troops, if not UN ones), to get its aid workers into the country and protect them. This civil war is not going anywhere soon, so the UN needs to begin showing strength to save lives.
Alex Friedman ’19 is a double major in Politics and Business.
Jessica Goldstein ’17
The conflict in South Sudan was caused by its government and so was the famine. South Sudan’s war has been characterized by disproportionate attacks on civilians by both government forces and the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-in-Opposition. Once again, civilians are caught in the middle of a bloody conflict. In fact, this is the first time since 2011 that the United Nations has declared a famine. In order for the UN to alleviate the effects of the famine, it must raise awareness about it. This means it must appeal to those in the international community based off of the ideals of democracy. All the while, the UN must remain cognizant of the government it is working with — a government rife with kleptocrats who never will put the interests of their own people first. In order to break the vicious cycle, leaders must be held accountable for atrocities they commit, and they can no longer profit off of stolen state resources.
Jessica Goldstein ’17 is the president of STAND on campus and a Politics major. She is also an associate editor for the Justice.
Bidushi Adhikari ’17
The UN should definitely work toward mobilizing donors, including institutions and countries, about the issue and raising funds to ameliorate the conditions in South Sudan. Once the rest of the world starts paying attention to the natural disaster, emergency humanitarian aid will begin flowing into such a high-need area of the world. However, without national political stability and countries’ ability to execute aid projects without the corruption of funds, the UN can do little to help the situation. In countries like Haiti and Nepal, where severe natural disasters killed and uprooted thousands of people, institutions such as the World Bank and the IMF poured millions of dollars in disaster relief but have very little to show for it. Research indicates that the reasons include poor governance, corruption and weak social and economic institutions. Therefore, the UN should ensure that local organizations that are not only the first respondents to disaster relief but also are better aware of political, social and economic hurdles for aid are promptly supported by the international community.
Bidushi Adhikari ’17 is double majoring in Economics and Sociology.
—Editor’s Note: This piece has been updated to include the word "that" and remove an "and" in the last sentence of Bidushi Adhikari's response.