From The Toronto Star, writer Olivia Ward recorded the aid coalition's statement on Sudan.
"It is not yet too late to avert disaster but the next 12 months are a crossroads," said Maya Mailer, a policy adviser for Oxfam, one of 10 agencies that banded together to sound the alarm in a report published Thursday.
"Last year saw a surge in violence in southern Sudan. This could escalate even further and become one of the biggest emergencies in Africa in 2010," said Mailer, a co-author of the report.
In 2009, some 2,500 people were killed and 350,000 forced to flee their homes, in spite of the 2005 comprehensive peace agreement that integrated the main southern rebel group into a government of national unity.
The isolated area – with only 50 kilometres of paved road in a territory the size of France – is out of the world spotlight, it has suffered a higher toll of death and destruction than Darfur in the past year.
"Government authorities and the UN peacekeeping mission need to act urgently to protect civilians from violence," the report says. Diminished security has disrupted livelihoods, stalled development and cut off thousands from much needed aid.
It urges UN countries, as well as the governments of Sudan and southern Sudan, to work together to beef up security, protect civilians and boost resources for emergency aid and development. A formidable task in a country headed by an accused war criminal who last year expelled some of the largest aid agencies from Darfur.