by Stephanie Parker
UNITED NATIONS, Sept. 22 (Xinhua) -- As the world zeros in on Syria, South Sudan, the world's youngest country, continues to face a "multifaceted crisis" composed of "very serious" political, security and development problems, a senior UN official said in a recent interview.
"I would say about the situation in South Sudan is that it is a multifaceted crisis," said Toby Lanzer, who serves as the deputy special representative in the United Nations Mission in the Republic of South Sudan (UNMISS), in a phone interview with Xinhua.
"There are political elements to it, there are security elements, there are massive amounts of elements," said Lanzer, who is also the United Nations resident coordinator, humanitarian coordinator and resident representative of the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) in South Sudan.
"Basically, this is one of the most poor countries on earth and destitution certainly is a driver of humanitarian need," he said.
More than two years after the establishment of South Sudan, huge challenges still stand in the way of South Sudanese to realize their aspirations for a better country.
Tribal conflicts, lack of economic resources, inter-ethnic disputes, and the slow pace of development and rehabilitation of infrastructures constitute major difficulties facing South Sudan, which was officially declared independent in July 2011.
Lanzer said he has received more than 600 million U.S. dollars this year to fund the ground projects, which accounts for just 60 percent of his funding request for this year.
"I would have liked by now to have it 70 percent funded," he said.
Although the UN official spoke highly of the gracious contributions, he stressed the need for more money to assist the South Sudanese people in need.
"However, the scale of the needs and work of what we are doing here, providing food aid to 1.25 million people incurs massive costs," he said.
"I am really counting on donors to stand with us," he added.
THREE-ANGLE PROTECTION PLAN
The three-angle protection plan, which means the efforts to make a better South Sudan from political, security and capacity- building perspectives, is also among the projects which need to be financed by the United Nations and the international community, he said.
The protection plan will include a political aspect where the UN senior official will work with NGOs, other UN agencies and directly with the state government to create a safe environment.
For example, "one is the political tier, what do we do by working with different parties and what are we doing when working with the state to create, to advocate for the rights or protection of people here," he said.
Narrowing in on another aspect, "there is another angle to protection and that is helping to create an environment in which people are safe and I think the third angle is certainly that of building the capacity of the state's to care for and ensure the wellbeing of its own citizens," he said, citing an example of Pibor county, an area located in the southern part of Jongeli state.
Recently, the county has received extensive attention because of inter-communal fighting it has experienced since July.
The revived fighting in this region comes two years after a peace deal between Sudan and South Sudan has been put in place and the new country is in the process of getting its footing.
During these formative years, the UNMISS has played a critical role.
"So what we do is we first seek refuge (for the people in need), we provide a shelter for them, food, clean water but very quickly, as soon as people are able, we work with people so they can take charge," Lanzer said.
"We have refugees that used to be teachers, for example, we have them start working in makeshift schools and getting kids back into learning centers and having life I would say regain a sense of normality and get away from a sense of crisis," he said.
"Once things settle down and crisis has been overcome, people engage with the local community. As I said the government of South Sudan has been very welcoming and generally the refugee population gets along pretty well with the local community," he said.
Through the UN programs, "they have resources, learning opportunities, clinics, and access to clean water, those types of needs are taken care of and they have access to land," he said.
Consequently, the implementation of programs is a key element to the future of South Sudan, he added.