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Britain Sends Another $50 Million in Aid to South Sudan

Children walk through mud in an internally displaced persons camp inside the United Nations base in Malakal, South Sudan, July 23, 2014.

Britain has sent another 30 million Pounds (50 million dollars) to help South Sudanese who are suffering in the young country's conflict, International Development Minister Lynne Featherstone said at the start of a three-day visit to South Sudan.

“I am here really to look at our humanitarian effort, to visit internally displaced people, to see how things are going, to see how challenging the circumstances are that people have to live in," Featherstone told reporters in Juba late Tuesday.

With the new injection of aid, Britain has given 125 million pounds (206.25 million dollars) to help South Sudan since the country plunged into crisis in December.

Featherstone said the newly announced funds will go to international humanitarian organizations such as the U.N. Children's Fund (UNICEF), the World Food Program (WFP) and the U.N. refugee agency to help them to provide food, shelter and clean water to the 400,000 South Sudanese refugees living in camps in Ethiopia, Uganda, Sudan and Kenya.

The money will also be used to provide aid organizations with immunization kits, mosquito nets, kitchen sets and fuel.

British aid not enough

Featherstone stressed that Britain's latest pledge of aid is not enough on its own to relieve the suffering of the people of South Sudan, where more than 1.7 million people have been forced from their homes by the fighting and thousands have died.

The single biggest cause, if there is a famine, is the failure of the political leadership to resolve this crisis.
U.N. Humanitarian Coordinator in South Sudan, Toby Lanzer

Speaking at a news conference last week, the U.N. Humanitarian Coordinator for South Sudan, Toby Lanzer, said the international aid effort for the country is only half funded, and humanitarian organizations are still waiting for $800 million to buy supplies and provide services for the South Sudanese people.

Lanzer said he is not optimistic that the money will arrive in time to avoid famine in the country, where millions already face severe food insecurity and months of fighting have prevented farmers from planting crops.

He warned that famine would hit South Sudan no later than the beginning of next year unless the fighting stops.

"The single biggest cause, if there is a famine, is the failure of the political leadership to resolve this crisis," Lanzer said.

"It is very important that people understand this is not something that a non-governmental organization or a U.N. agency or the generosity of the people in an economically wealthy country such as the United Kingdom, United States or Norway can fix," he said.

Featherstone agreed. "Obviously it's the leaders and the opposition in this country. They have to sort out the political situation, without which nothing can get better," she said.

Featherstone called for an end to nearly nine months of fighting in South Sudan so that South Sudanese can return home and resume their lives, and the country can embark on development.

Featherstone is expected to visit a camp for the displaced and hold talks with local and national leaders during her visit to South Sudan, which is due to end Friday.