By Bianca Larissa Taberna

Bianca’s blog post from last week discussed international foreign aid to South Sudan. Today, Bianca discusses Canadian aid to the region and where it now plays in the Canadian government’s priorities.

Canada has a history of established diplomatic ties to South Sudan. It has been quite involved in South Sudan’s path to sustaining a viable democracy. However, just before the violence in Juba commenced Canada decided to decommission its only task force in Sudan. A spokesperson from the Department of Foreign Affairs, Trade, and Development stated that situations with Sudan and South Sudan will be handled by officials at the regional level. With the advent of the recent conflict, Canada has yet to re-institute the task force, but has provided support to external groups currently working in South Sudan. In late January, Canadian Red Cross members arrived in South Sudan to lend a hand to the International Committee of the Red Cross in highly affected areas. Similar to the actions of the United States, Canada has indicated plans to scale back their involvement in the  country.

CBC reports that the Canadian government has authorized the suspension of operations at its Foreign Affairs office located in Juba and advised Canadians to leave South Sudan. Furthermore, there has been discussion in Ottawa to reduce the provision of foreign aid to South Sudan, amidst the continuous increase of violence. There is an arguable trend of cutting back aid in the region, as the Globe and Mail has acquired a document in which the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) suggested discontinuing the aid in the Republic of the Sudan. The report states, “Sudan is not of strategic importance to Canada. It is recommended that Canada consider downgrading its development program, or exiting entirely All the while the same report also advises that aid should in fact continue. The CIDA’s report claims that the support for South Sudan must continue to avoid “future, more costly interventions”. This is problematic and puts into question Canada’s true diplomatic intent in the region. The report seems to propose that foreign aid only be provided at the benefit of the contributor, rather than the nation that needs support.

It is evident that the international community is very aware of South Sudan’s current circumstance. The possibility that the current violence could escalate into a civil war has been repeatedly acknowledged by the United Nations, the United States, and Canada. However, the hesitancy of countries such as Canada and the United States to continue providing foreign aid is the issue up for dispute. There would be severe consequences if aid was completely cut off at this point in time; the present situation remains highly unstable and removing resources in the country could set the conflict down a detrimental path. The foreign aid provided thus far has helped countless civilians affected by the conflict and support therefore must continue. The efforts of mainstream Western media to keep the public informed about the events in South Sudan, and the surrounding region, should also be commended. It is very important to ensure that the world is conscious of what is presently happening, and what could happen if a peaceful agreement is not established. History has surely taught the international community that indifference causes the greatest destruction.