Secretary-General's remarks to the press prior to his meeting with Kristalina Georgieva, EU Commissioner Responsible for International Cooperation, Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Response
New York, 16 April 2014
I am pleased to welcome Commissioner Kristalina Georgieva to the United Nations.
Through her, I thank the European Union for our strong partnership and its committed support for our work around the world, including in Syria, the Central African Republic and South Sudan.
Today, we will focus in particular on life and death issues facing the people of South Sudan.
The world’s youngest nation is confronting some of the world’s oldest – and most preventable -- threats: fighting, malnutrition, and dire humanitarian conditions.
Without immediate action, up to a million people could face famine in a matter of months.
Millions are going hungry today – and we are seeing evidence of extremely high levels of malnutrition among hundreds of thousands of people displaced by the conflict – especially women and children.
The European Union, the United States and the United Nations have joined together in a Call for Action on South Sudan.
Our message is clear: we need an end to the fighting and a political solution to a conflict which has already taken a heavy toll on civilians; we need the resources to continue providing life-saving assistance and livelihood support; and all parties to the conflict must respect the rights of the people of South Sudan and abide by International Humanitarian Law.
Resources are particularly critical now to pre-position life-saving supplies before the peak of the rainy season when most of South Sudan’s roads will become impassable.
I thank the Government of Norway for its decision to host a donor conference for South Sudan in the coming days.
Despite competing demands, we cannot let the people of South Sudan down.
The United Nations has taken exceptional measures – including opening the gates of our peacekeeping mission to those fleeing for their lives. At times, we have been hosting 85,000 people in UN camps that were never built to accommodate such large numbers for long periods.
Conditions are far from ideal, but we are working hard to improve the situation for the many thousands of people whose lives were saved as a result of the UN Mission’s “open gates” policy.
We will continue to do all that we can.
Now is the time stand with the people of the United Nations newest Member State – and that is what we pledge to do.
Off-the-Cuff on 16 April 2014