A South Sudanese minister has called for unity to combat famine, saying the calamity resulted from political differences in the country.
“In this country, we urgently need unity, peace and reconciliation of our people. So let come together as people of South Sudan. If we do that, we will overcome these challenges”, the country’s foreign affairs minister, Deng Alor Kuol said on Saturday.
The minister said his ministry, his group and the unity government are determined to reconcile, unite the country in order to move forward.
“For us at the ministry foreign affairs, in transitional government of national unity, as political leaders and parties to peace agreement, we are determined to reconcile, unite ourselves, and unite our ranks so that we move this country forward from the situation it is in now”, he said.
In February, three United Nations agencies declared an outbreak of famine in parts of the country, while an additional one million others, it said, were at the verge of facing starvation in the young nation.
According to the minister, it remains the responsibility of every South Sudanese to contribute and help people struck by famine.
He was speaking at a fund raising drive organized by athletes.
The exercise dubbed the Great South Sudan Run was an initiative by an Ethiopian, Ayesheshim Teka, to help people who have been affected by famine in South Sudan.
The statistics of the people who participated in the exercise was not made public by the organizing committee, though it initially said about 3,000 people were expected to participate in the 10 kilometer fund-raising marathon.
Ethiopian athlete Haile Gabreselasie and three Kenya athletes took take part in the event. Several high level government officials, including President Salva Kiir, attended and made comments appreciating the efforts to contribute money to fight famine.
President Kiir, whose speech was interrupted by technical glitch from microphone on Friday called on citizens to contribute whatever they could, citing an English adage advocating own contributions before others.
“As the English say ‘Charity begins at home’, I appeal to every South Sudanese citizen to show the rest of the world our concern, our local effort and commitment to help famine affected children, mothers and the elderly by making financial contributions and to come out on Saturday the 8th April, in large numbers and participate in the ‘The Great South Sudan Run’, which is being held for the first time in the short history of our country,” the South Sudanese leader.