Canada's feminist policy a perfect fit for South Sudan, says UN refugee official

A senior United Nations official says Canada could find a win for its feminist foreign policy in the spiralling famine and refugee crisis gripping South Sudan and neighbouring African countries.

Arnauld Akodjenou, the UN High Commissioner's South Sudan co-ordinator, is in Ottawa today to press the Trudeau government for more Canadian involvement to alleviate one of the world's worst humanitarian disasters.

South Sudan's five-year civil war has killed 400,000 and forced 2.2 million people to flee their country and 80 per cent of them are women and children, he says.

Akodjenou says the South Sudan crisis is the perfect test case for the Canadian foreign-aid policy focused on helping women and girls in developing countries.

Moreover, Canada has strong relations in the half-dozen neighbouring countries that are themselves buckling under the influx of refugees, so Akodjenou says by helping those countries the government could also make any new aid go much further.

Last week, a coalition of East African countries approved a six-month extension to a fragile peace deal that calls for South Sudan's rival factions to form a unity government.