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Yesterday the House of Representatives passed House Resolution 187: Relating to efforts to respond to the famine in South Sudan. The resolution calls upon the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) to increase emergency funding to respond to the famine and food insecurity situation in South Sudan. South Sudan has plagued by a brutal civil war since December 2013. Due to many years of fighting and forced displacement, limiting the people’s ability to farm, famine has now been declared in the country. According to the United Nations, over half the population of South Sudan (7.5 million people) are in need of humanitarian assistance and protection. Food insecurity has gotten so bad, famine has been declared in parts of South Sudan.
It is crucial that the United States and the wider international community help prevent the deaths of millions, but it is also imperative that the conflict is brought to an end.
Earlier this year I was in DC with a delegation of South Sudanese meeting with members of Congress, the State Department, and the National Security Council advocating for peace in South Sudan. One of the members of Congress we met with was Rep. Tom Rooney (R-FL) who has been a staunch South Sudan advocate.
Rep. Rooney released this statement yesterday on the situation in South Sudan and the passage of H. Res. 187:
“I was in South Sudan just two weeks ago, and while I was there I saw firsthand the heartbreaking effects of this country’s ongoing civil war, which has devastated the lives of the South Sudanese people. I want to be absolutely clear in stating that South Sudan’s famine is man-made. This famine is a direct result of the actions of the Government of South Sudan, which has been waging an ethnically-motivated military campaign against its own people since December 2013 and exploiting its country’s natural resources to pad the pockets of corrupt leaders and sustain the flow of weapons used carry out mass atrocities.
Given these grim realities, I am more convinced than ever of the need for continued funding for the UN Mission in South Sudan and for the unimpeded operationalization of the Regional Protection Force to help secure the capital city of Juba. If we’re to demonstrate with any degree of seriousness to President Salva Kiir that we will not tolerate his actions any longer, we must enact an arms embargo on South Sudan. While an arms embargo will not alone end the violence in a country awash with weapons, it will back up our warnings with action and provide for conditions more conducive to reaching a political solution to end this senseless, devastating violence. I am proud to stand with my colleagues to call attention to this unfolding humanitarian disaster and advocate for lifesaving aid for the people of South Sudan.”
As Rep. Rooney said, the conflict in South Sudan must be brought to an end. The conflict is causing the fastest growing refugee situation in the world, is placing millions of lives at risk, and has already caused the deaths of an untold number of South Sudanese. At a time when President Trump is pushing for deep cuts to the international affairs budget and an “America first” strategy, we need to make sure we are raising our voice in opposition to these disastrous policies.
Take action now and send a message to Congress that there cannot be any cuts to the international affairs budget.
There is strong bipartisan support to end atrocities in South Sudan and elsewhere, we just need to keep the pressure up and make our voices heard!
We cannot stand idly by. We must continue to take action — it works!