20110708-south-sudan-independence-fbThree years ago today, I was in South Sudan to celebrate the birth of the world’s newest nation. Now, its very existence is in question.

Torn apart by fighting that broke out in December and with millions at risk of the worst famine in the country’s history, a fragile peace agreement is barely holding South Sudan together.

The United States was critical in helping South Sudan gain independence. Now we are needed again to help it from falling apart. Let President Obama and Secretary of State Kerry know that you demand the full support of the United States to keep the peace in South Sudan.

The situation in South Sudan is dire. At least 10,000 civilians have been killed and 1.5 million have fled their homes. More than half of the country — 7 million people — are at risk of food insecurity and the rainy season has just began, making delivery of humanitarian aid even more challenging.

This was not the future South Sudanese imagined three years ago.

Last month saw a breakthrough when South Sudanese President Salva Kiir and rebel leader Riek Machar agreed to form a transitional government within 60 days. Now half way to the deadline just days ago, representatives of South Sudan’s opposition walked out of peace talks and negotiations have been put on hold.

Time is of the essence to bring both sides back to the negotiating table. Please tell President Obama and Secretary Kerry our help in South Sudan is desperately needed.

When clashes began between rebels and the government, the U.S. spoke out.

The Unites States provided needed leadership at the UN and supported neighboring countries leading peacekeeping efforts and negotiations. Officials at the highest levels — including Secretary of State Kerry — visited to broker peace talks and President Obama issued an executive order placing economic sanctions on those responsible for the violence in South Sudan.

Now, the U.S. can make a difference again by helping both sides live up to their promises. Raise your voice and let our political leaders know we care about the people of South Sudan and that we demand immediate action to bring a lasting peace.

This may not be an anniversary worth celebrating. But with our actions, it can be one that marks a new path for South Sudan.

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