This week, the United Nations issued its starkest warning on South Sudan yet — 50,000 children are at severe risk of starvation. 10,000 innocent people have already died. More than 1.5 million people have fled their homes.
Why are these children — and all those under attack in South Sudan — NOT on the agenda of President Obama’s upcoming US-Africa Leaders Summit?
On the cusp of a return to a full-blown civil war and with widespread famine looming, South Sudan is Africa’s largest and most immediate crisis, affecting 7 million people. Yet, President Obama’s upcoming U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit ignores this crisis.
The situation in South Sudan is dire. At least 10,000 civilians have been killed and 1.5 million people have fled their homes. More than half of the country — 7 million people — are at risk of food insecurity and the rainy season has begun, increasing the difficulty in delivering humanitarian aid.
Solving the humanitarian crisis requires solving the political crisis as well. South Sudanese President Salva Kiir and rebel leader Riek Machar agreed to form a transitional government, but little progress has been made and an August 10th deadline is looming.
The U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit — held just days before the deadline for forming the transitional government — offers a unique opportunity to break the political deadlock and save untold numbers of lives. More than 50 leaders from Africa will be coming to Washington DC, including the chairman of the African Union, leaders of the regional group that brokered the latest agreement, and the President of South Sudan. Many of these countries have been involved in peacekeeping, negotiations and have pledged humanitarian aid.
Now, with these critical leaders together, President Obama must push for a unified plan to stop the killing and avert a famine that could claim the lives of millions.
The Unites States has taken important steps. Administration officials — including Secretary of State Kerry — visited South Sudan this spring to help broker an interim agreement and President Obama issued an executive order authorizing economic sanctions on those responsible for the violence in South Sudan.
But the crisis in South Sudan could take a tragic turn for the worse if a settlement is not reached and if humanitarian aid is not delivered. The moment for decisive leadership is now.
Efforts by the United States and many African nations led to a temporary agreement for a transitional government. Now, the leaders who will gather in Washington can take the next crucial step. Peace is possible, but only if it is made clear to South Sudanese President Kiir and rebel leader Machar that the world will not let their political differences lead to the deaths of millions.
With only two weeks before the U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit, South Sudan needs to be on the agenda. Those fomenting ethnic warfare and brutality need to know that they will be held fully accountable. Those who are suffering must know that the world cares about them and that help is on the way.
Together, we will not only put South Sudan on the agenda of the U.S-Africa Leaders Summit but set the stage to bring an end to the crisis.
South Sudan: 50,000 children may die if something isn’t done
The UN just warned that 50,000 children may die without immediate action. Yet, Obama’s U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit doesn’t even have South Sudan on the agenda.
With the eyes of the world on the United States during the Summit, join us in demanding that President Obama use the Summit to push for a solution in South Sudan.