JUBA, (Xinhua) -- Nine
athletes from Ethiopia and Kenya have teamed up to launch the Great Run South
Sudan marathon in a bid to raise funds to fight famine and poverty in the
war-torn East African country where 100,000 people are facing starvation.
The event led
by retired Ethiopian long-distance track and road running athlete, Haile
Gabrselassie is slated to take place in the South Sudan capital Juba on
said the 10km race would be graced by six and three professional athletes from
Ethiopia and Kenya respectively, and is expected to attract about 500 local
Salva Kiir said the event would enhance peace, unity and cultural harmony in the
“I appeal to
every South Sudanese citizen to show the rest of the world our concern, our
local effort and commitment to help famine affected children, mothers and the
elderly by making financial contributions,” Kiir said.
called on his opponents to denounce violence and join peace initiatives to allow
resumption of development in South Sudan.
“I also take
this opportunity to renew my call to those who are still in the bush to
denounce, give peace priority and allow us to join hands with our development
partners to secure and maintain peace amongst our people,” he said.
neighbors have made tremendous contributions and now it is time for us to show
that we love our people and country,” the South Sudanese leader said.
has been devastated by civil war that broke out in December 2013 after President
Kiir accused his former deputy Riek Machar of plotting a coup. Machar denied the
accusation but then mobilized a rebel force.
A peace deal
signed in August 2015 led to the formation of a transitional unity government in
April, but was again shattered by fresh violence in July, 2016.
thousands of South Sudanese have been killed, with over 2 million displaced and
another 4.6 million left severely food insecure since December 2013.
the UN declared localized famine in parts of South Sudan, warning that some
100,000 people are already starving and another 7.5 million people, nearly half
of the population need humanitarian assistance and protection.