Federal Minister Müller to visit South Sudan and Mali

Federal Minister Müller at the airport in Juba, Republic of South Sudan

26.03.2014 |

Berlin/Juba: Minister Gerd Müller is scheduled to take off at 7:30 a.m. today on his third trip to Africa. The main focus of his visit to Mali and South Sudan will be the plight of the refugees and the food situ­a­tion.

In South Sudan, which has been independent of Sudan since 2011, the long-standing power struggle between President Salva Kiir and his deposed deputy, Riek Machar, came to a violent head in the middle of December last year. It is reported that thousands of people were killed, and that nearly a million of the eight million people living in South Sudan have fled the violence. Hundreds of thousands have found shelter in refugee camps. Aid organisations are warning that the situ­a­tion could worsen further when the rainy season sets in, which is due to start soon. The cease-fire agreed in January this year has been broken repeatedly.

Minister Müller said, "The people living in the world's youngest coun­try are suffering because a long-standing conflict is being carried out with armed force. Even though we have had to suspend our long-term de­vel­op­ment projects in South Sudan because of the violence there, we are not leaving the refugees to fend for themselves. The aim of our de­vel­op­ment co­op­er­a­tion is to give these people, who are in desperate need, some hope for the future."

South Sudan is one of the world's poorest coun­tries. A large part of the country's arable land is currently being left uncultivated, or is being farmed using only the simplest of methods. That is why one of the priority areas of Germany's de­vel­op­ment co­op­er­a­tion is rural de­vel­op­ment and food security.

Minister Müller and his delegation will meet the UN Secretary-General's special envoy, Hilde Johnson, and visit a refugee camp. They are also scheduled to have talks with local, German and in­ter­national non-governmental organisations, and to meet with German police officers and soldiers serving as part of a UN mission in the region. There are also plans for talks with President Salva Kiir and the ministers responsible for ag­ri­cul­ture and water resources.

On Thursday, Minister Müller is expected to travel on to Mali. The main focus of his visit there will be on food security and on how Germany can help strengthen local administration, for example at municipal level, in order to help bring long-lasting stability to the coun­try. Müller will also visit an institute for applied ag­ri­cul­tur­al research and education, where he will ceremonially open the first 'green centre', which is to show the entire value chain involved in ag­ri­cul­tur­al production.

Minister Müller said, "In Mali, we are seeking to provide better prospects for the future in the field of ag­ri­cul­ture. These improved prospects will be key to providing a peaceful future for the coun­try. That is why today's opening of the first of ten green centres planned for Mali marks an im­por­tant step in this direction."

Mali is one of the poorest coun­tries in the world. After the end of the conflict in 2012, a new gov­ern­ment under President Keita worked to achieve stability, peace and democracy, with the in­ter­national com­mu­ni­ty providing strong support.

Despite Mali's position in the Sahel region, the coun­try still has great potential for successful irrigated ag­ri­cul­ture along the Niger River and in southern districts. In the long term, irrigated ag­ri­cul­ture would enable Mali to feed its entire popu­la­tion. Germany's support in this field is helping seventy thousand smallholders with farms within the inland delta of the Niger to produce some 130,000 tonnes of rice. This amount would feed 400,000 people in the region. And Germany's contribution to improving Mali's water supply means that half a million people now have access to drinking water.

Besides visiting various projects, Minister Müller will also meet German troops serving with the UN and EU missions there. While in Mali, he is also scheduled to meet for talks with Prime Minister Oumar Tatam Ly and the ministers responsible for ag­ri­cul­ture and territorial administration.

Minister Müller will be accompanied on his trip by the president of the German NGO Welthungerhilfe, Bärbel Dieckmann; the director of the German branch of the charity One, Beate Wedekind; the chairman of the Association of German De­vel­op­ment NGOs VENRO, Bernd Bornhorst; and the German Chancellor's G8 Personal Representative for Africa, Günter Nooke.

This visit will be Minister Müller's third trip to Africa, following his first official visit to the African Union's head office in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, and a trip to the Central African Republic.

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