After six months of brutal war in South Sudan, a solution is in sight. Yesterday, South Sudanese President Salva Kiir and rebel leader Riek Machar agreed to form a transitional government within 60 days.
Previous deals to end the violence have been broken by both sides, compounding the worsening humanitarian crisis. The stakes are too high for this agreement to fail.
Since fighting began in late December, at least 10,000 civilians have been killed and over a million have fled their homes. The people of South Sudan face a high risk of genocide and mass atrocities. Compounding the crisis, heavy fighting disrupted the planting season, increasing the risk of widespread famine.
UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, warned last month that if the conflict continued, half of South Sudan’s 12 million people would be either “displaced internally, refugees abroad, starving or dead by the year’s end.”
The agreement between the two sides offers hope for those suffering, but support from the U.S. is essential for it to succeed.
Over the last six months, the U.S. has been a strong voice for peace. We’ve sent high level officials – including Secretary of State Kerry – to help broker talks. President Obama issued an executive order placing economic sanctions on those responsible for the violence in South Sudan
Our leadership has made a difference. Neighboring countries involved in the negotiations have followed the U.S. in threatening sanctions, pledging humanitarian aid and sending their highest-level diplomats.
And now your voice can make a difference. Tell President Obama and Secretary of State Kerry that the time for the U.S. to act for South Sudan is now.
The next 60 days are critical. A transitional government offers hope for peace, but the risk of additional fighting as each side positions for power is high. The U.S. can help both sides live up to their promises by taking three steps:
- Push for Peacekeepers The UN and regional peacekeeping forces should be deployed to their full strength immediately. The protection of civilians must be the highest priority.
- Reinforce diplomatic and aid efforts The United States must increase staff on the ground and continue high-level engagement, including by President Obama.
- Hold the perpetrators accountable Support the AU Commission of Inquiry and establishment of a hybrid tribunal with an international component or referral to the International Criminal Court for those responsible for mass atrocities and war crimes.
Now that a deal has been struck, we must do all that we can to make sure that it succeeds. Time is of the essence — please let President Obama and Secretary Kerry know you stand for peace in South Sudan today by taking action today.