OpEd, Politics




The friendship between the Troika countries (Norway, the United Kingdom, and the United States) and the people of South Sudan stretches back decades, long before independence. From early development programs, through Operation Lifeline Sudan and the Comprehensive Peace Agreement negotiations, to the ongoing support across all sectors – including humanitarian, health, education, agriculture, livelihoods, and governance – our three countries have remained true friends of the South Sudanese. The relationship is mutual. In return, we have been inspired by your unbreakable spirit; your yearning for freedom, sovereignty, and self-governance; and your resilience in the face of extreme hardship.

What we do to help

We are heartbroken by the combined tragedies of conflict, economic mismanagement, and climate change that have struck the people of South Sudan. It has forced us to focus more of our assistance on life-saving activities. This has been the right priority. Thousands of lives have been saved, millions have had their suffering alleviated. But we have also provided significant support for long-term development goals, such as strengthening the health and education sector. Since independence, the combined development and humanitarian assistance from the Troika countries to South Sudan totals billions of US dollars.

How Russia’s invasion of Ukraine hurts South Sudan

When Russia invaded mainland Ukraine in February 2022, South Sudan was already facing a dire humanitarian crisis. Over 8 million South Sudanese were facing food insecurity. Russia’s war made the situation worse: Food prices immediately increased after the invasion, with global wheat prices jumping more than 45 % in a few days. The reason: Ukraine was one of the world’s largest exporters of grain before the war. Higher prices meant that self-reliant South Sudanese had to pay more for their food, while those relying on assistance would receive less to eat for the same amount of support.

A grain deal was reached in July 2022 to let Ukraine export grain and lower food prices all over the world. This was good news for South Sudan. Global food prices fell by almost a quarter. More than half of all grain exports from Ukraine, and 65 % of the wheat, went to developing countries. The World Food Programme (WFP) plans to assist 5.4 million South Sudanese in 2023. It gets 80 % of its grain from Ukraine.

This month, Russia decided to stop the grain deal. Instead of allowing Ukrainian grain to reach developing countries such as South Sudan, Russia has bombed ports and grain facilities and mined the sea. Sadly, this will once again make life harder for the South Sudanese. Tragically, it is completely avoidable.

Why we support Ukraine

Like the South Sudanese, the people of Ukraine also want freedom, sovereignty, and self-governance. These values have been under threat since Russia occupied Crimea in 2014, and especially since the large-scale invasion in February 2022. The Ukrainian people are not only defending these values for themselves, but for all of us. If Russia is allowed to gain from an illegal invasion, all countries – especially smaller ones like South Sudan or Norway – become less safe. All countries should call for Russia to immediately withdraw its forces from Ukraine and end its aggression. That would benefit us all, not least our friends here in South Sudan.


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