As Violence and Famine Destroys Country, South Sudanese Call for Action at Trump Tower Protest

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Trump tower protest. Photo: Hakim Mutlaq

Dozens of South Sudanese called on the Trump administration and the International community to help pull their country from descending into the type of genocide that tore Rwanda apart in 1994 as the world watched.

The protesters gathered outside Trump Plaza which serves as a New York power-center for President Donald Trump. U.N. officials have spoken of "looming" genocide in South Sudan but critics of President Salva Kiir say it's already on-going. The conflict ratcheted last year in July after soldiers loyal to Kiir attacked the residence of First Vice President Riek Machar in what critics say was a failed bid to assassinate his partner in a transitional government of national unity.

Machar and loyalists reportedly somehow survived aerial bombardment and a manhunt from government soldiers while trekking through the jungle for 37 days. He was later airlifted from Congo by the United Nations and is now in Sudan. It was the second time Machar survived an assault by Kiir's forces. The first time was in December, 2013 when, backed by Uganda on that occasion, Kiir routed Machar from Juba, causing the first transitional government of national unity to collapse.

In a recent interview Angelina Teny, who is a senior member of the Sudanese People's Liberation Movement in-opposition (SPLM-IO) called on the Trump administration to withdraw recognition from Kiir's regime since the transitional government of national unity collapsed for a second time with the attempt on Machar's life. She's called on the U.S. to rally around the U.N. resolution calling for a jump-start to a new peace process.

Teny, who is the wife of Machar also survived the jungle-trek.

The Trump administration didn't respond to the protest today but earlier, on February 21, issued the following statement:

"The United States is gravely concerned by the February 20 declaration of famine in parts of South Sudan and by the significant scale of humanitarian need throughout the country. This crisis is man-made, the direct consequence of a conflict prolonged by South Sudanese leaders who are unwilling to put aside political ambitions for the good of their people. We call on President Kiir to expeditiously make good on his promise that humanitarian and developmental organizations will have unimpeded access to populations in need across the country.

"An estimated 5.5 million people—nearly half of South Sudan’s population—will face life-threatening hunger this year. Humanitarian actors are working tirelessly to reach those in need. All parties to the conflict must stop impeding relief efforts and allow food and other essential assistance to reach those who need it the most.

"The United States remains the single largest donor of humanitarian assistance to South Sudan, having provided more than $2.1 billion since 2014. Our assistance, including more than 600,000 metric tons of urgently needed food assistance, has saved lives and helped avert famine for three consecutive years. We call on donors and other members of the international community to provide timely additional humanitarian assistance to save lives and support the people of South Sudan."

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