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Nations double South Sudan refugee aid to $1.2 bln

Tuesday - 5/20/2014, 2:51pm  ET

MARK LEWIS
Associated Press

STAVANGER, Norway (AP) -- Wealthy nations attending a fund-raising conference for South Sudan have doubled their aid commitment to $1.2 billion for the world's youngest country, but the United Nations says more is needed to supply hundreds of thousands of refugees with food and shelter.

Norwegian Foreign Minister Boerge Brende, whose country hosted the 50-nation conference alongside the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, said he is pleased with Tuesday's announcement of $606 million in additional aid.

The United States committed $290 million, Britain $101 million, the European Union $76 million, Norway $63 million and Qatar $10 million. A total of 22 nations pledged cash.

But Brende said too many countries failed to contribute. The UN has set a fund-raising target of $1.8 billion.

"We would like to have seen more of a contribution from the Gulf countries and some of the other emerging nations," Brende told the AP by phone, and warned the aid risked getting snarled up in the capital Juba if South Sudan's opposing forces did not free up transport routes into the countryside.

He called on rival South Sudanese forces to respect a May 9 ceasefire, halt the recruitment of child soldiers and move to end the "unparalleled level of sexual violence," in the country.

Jan Egeland, head of the Norwegian Refugee Council, said donor countries were reluctant to recommit to South Sudan.

"They thought this was fixed. And now there is a feeling that they might not want to give to a country whose people are burning down their own homes," Egeland said. "But the women and children are innocent. This is the worst hunger catastrophe since Ethiopia in 1984."

Aid agencies say more than 300,000 South Sudan refugees have crossed into Ethiopia, Kenya, Sudan and Uganda, and there are displaced people in south Sudan too.


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