BIPARTISAN SENATORS TO SECRETARY OF STATE POMPEO: DIPLOMACY IS CRITICAL IN STOPPING SOUTH SUDAN’S CIVIL WAR

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[Africa News\South Sudan]
Bi-partisan Senators on South Sudan to Pompeo: “We share deep frustration with the lack of progress toward a political settlement and the untold levels of human suffering despite over $4.5 billion in U.S. humanitarian aid since the war began. A Special Envoy is needed to engage the region and help coordinate Western donors in pressing both parties to forge a viable path forward leading up to the November deadline and beyond.”
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U.S. Senators Cory Booker (D-NJ), Johnny Isakson (R-GA), Ed Markey (D-MA), Chris Coons (D-DE), and Marco Rubio (R-FL), members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, along with Senator John Boozman (R-AR) yesterday called on U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to provide urgently-needed U.S. diplomatic leadership to South Sudan, where a civil war has killed as many as 400,000 since it began in 2013.

In a bipartisan letter sent yesterday, the Senators highlighted the pressing need to appoint a high-level Special Envoy for South Sudan on the heels of a 100-day extension of the November 12 deadline to form a transitional government, and with no indication that the country’s warring parties are close to agreement on pivotal areas of dispute. With the deadline looming, there is growing concern about a return to large scale violence.

South Sudan’s civil war has devastated the country, and the U.N Commission on Human Rights in South Sudan suggests that ethnic cleansing has occurred. The civil war has created the largest refugee crisis in Africa with almost two million internally displaced, and over two million having fled the country. This year, the fighting has left more than 20,000 South Sudanese on the brink of starvation and six million people, more than half of the population, severely food insecure. Forces on both sides of the conflict have committed horrific and widespread sexual violence. War in South Sudan also risks exacerbating recent Ebola outbreaks, which have infected over 3,000 in neighboring countries like the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Uganda.

“We share deep frustration with the lack of progress toward a political settlement and the untold levels of human suffering despite over $4.5 billion in U.S. humanitarian aid since the war began,” the Senators wrote. “A Special Envoy is needed to engage the region and help coordinate Western donors in pressing both parties to forge a viable path forward leading up to the November deadline and beyond. […] This Envoy should also be charged with implementing a robust diplomatic strategy in coordination with like-minded international partners to prevent renewed violence, encourage a sustainable political settlement, and facilitate the accountability of human rights abuses and corruption in South Sudan.”

An increased U.S. diplomatic presence is necessary to sustain the country’s ceasefire, aid in negotiations to resolve fundamental issues in the conflict, and support efforts to sanction entities that continue to profit from the conflict, the lawmakers argued. Forming a government without agreement on security arrangements and boundaries would threaten the new government’s viability and risk extending the conflict in perpetuity.

Yesterday’s letter follows a letter Booker sent to Pompeo in June, calling on the State Department to fill key diplomatic positions in South Sudan. Last month, Booker also sent a letter to Trump, urging the President to appoint an Ambassador to South Sudan’s neighbor, Sudan.

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