On 24th May 2023, the Archbishop of Canterbury asked a question he had tabled on what the government are doing to assist the government of South Sudan to support refugees from the current conflict in Sudan:
The Lord Archbishop of Canterbury: To ask His Majesty’s Government what steps they are taking to assist the government of South Sudan to support refugees from the conflict in Sudan.
Lord Goldsmith of Richmond Park (Con, Foreign Office): My Lords, I thank the most reverend Primate the Archbishop of Canterbury for his Question and for his long-term and outstanding commitment to the people of South Sudan, including on his recent visit to Juba with the Holy Father and the Moderator of the Church of Scotland.
The violence in Sudan has displaced more than 1 million people internally within the region, including approximately 73,600 people fleeing to South Sudan, where the humanitarian situation is already at crisis level. The UK Government allocated an initial £5 million, including £2 million in South Sudan, to meet the urgent needs of refugees and returnees who are fleeing the violence in Sudan. Today, the Minister for Development and Africa has announced £143 million in humanitarian aid for east Africa, including nearly £20 million for South Sudan.
The Lord Archbishop of Canterbury: I am grateful to the Minister for his response. Given that the peace agreement in South Sudan remains extremely fragile and the Government there are at best dysfunctional, incompetent and corrupt, what other measures are the Government taking beyond humanitarian aid in order to address the situation, especially in other countries in east Africa? Will they consider seriously channelling the funds they are making available through civil society groups, especially faith groups, which tend to be more effective in that country in getting money on the ground?
Lord Goldsmith of Richmond Park: The most reverend Primate is right; he should perhaps not mince his words so much in describing the Government there. The UK is pursuing every diplomatic avenue we can to bring about an end to violence, establish humanitarian corridors, which are essential, and pave the way for meaningful talks. The Prime Minister, the Foreign Secretary and the Minister for Africa have engaged on a regular basis with their counterparts in the region, including with partners in neighbouring countries—Kenya, Djibouti, South Sudan and Egypt—with the African Union and with the Intergovernmental Authority on Development. The Foreign Secretary has also engaged directly through various intermediaries with the two military leaders to press further for a cessation of hostilities, and we will continue to work with the international community in every way we can in order to push for a longer-term and more permanent end to the fighting and a return to talks on transitioning to civilian rule.
I apologise that I did not answer the most reverend Primate’s question about funnelling finance through civil society. He is absolutely right: we do not funnel money through Governments in the region; we rely increasingly on established NGOs on the ground, which are often far better placed to direct that money in a useful manner.