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BIPARTISAN SENATORS URGE PRESIDENT TO HIGHLIGHT ONGOING VIOLENCE IN SOUTH SUDAN ON UPCOMING VISIT TO AFRICA

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WASHINGTON—A bipartisan group of U.S. Senators today called on President Barack Obama to use his upcoming visit to Africa to highlight the tragic ongoing violence in South Sudan. In a letter led by U.S. Senators Dick Durbin (D-IL) and Ben Cardin (D-MD), the senators underscored the need for the Administration to address the regional divisions responsible for human suffering on a horrific scale.

The letter was signed by U.S. Senators Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Barbara Boxer (D-CA), John Barrasso (R-WY), Marco Rubio (R-FL), Johnny Isakson (R-GA), Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), Chris Murphy (D-CT), Tom Udall (D-NM), Ed Markey (D-MA), Ron Johnson (R-WI), Jim Risch (R-ID), and Mark Warner (D-VA).

South Sudan’s independence brought the hope that the long running and bloody conflict between the Sudanese government in the north and its population in the south would finally come to an end,” the senators wrote. “Yet, a reckless power struggle between the nation’s leaders and nefarious meddling by Sudanese President and wanted international war criminal Omar al-Bashir have inflamed old ethnic tensions, stymied South Sudan’s development potential, and ignited horrific human suffering. Your visit provides a timely moment to bring the region’s focus and American leadership forward for a resolution to the South Sudan civil war and an end to the violence in Darfur and the Nuba Mountain area.”

 

Full text of the senators’ letter:

 

July 16, 2015

 

President Barack Obama

The White House

1600 Pennsylvania Avenue

Washington, DC 20500

 

Dear Mr. President:

 

We write regarding growing concern for the ongoing violence in South Sudan, the world’s newest nation upon which many had placed great hopes.  Tragically, on the fourth anniversary of its independence, the country has devolved into an almost two-year internal conflict in which unspeakable horrors have been imposed on the civilian population.  As New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof recently reported, children are now targets and young boys have faced castration and then been left to bleed to death.  Girls as young as eight have been gang raped and murdered.  Accordingly, we urge you to use your upcoming visit to East Africa to significantly raise the importance of reconciling divisions among regional leaders toward a common agenda for peace.

 

South Sudan’s independence brought the hope that the long running and bloody conflict between the Sudanese government in the north and its population in the south would finally come to an end.  The effort had broad bipartisan and international support.  Many of us visited newly independent South Sudan and have supported US assistance to help with its immediate and long term development needs.  Yet, a reckless power struggle between the nation’s leaders and nefarious meddling by Sudanese President and wanted international war criminal Omar al-Bashir have inflamed old ethnic tensions, stymied South Sudan’s development potential, and ignited horrific human suffering.

 

More than one and a half million people have been displaced and tens of thousands killed as a result of the fighting in South Sudan.  Despite the presence of a sizeable peacekeeping operation, relief efforts are having trouble reaching those in desperate need of humanitarian aid.  And while the United States has been generous in spending more than a billion dollars in assistance to South Sudan, the needs and human suffering will only become larger unless the conflict is brought to an end.

 

The situation in Sudan is no less dire.  In Darfur, violence and rape committed by the Sudanese military continue unabated.  The Sudanese government has also been complicit in ongoing conflict in the Nuba Mountains, where the Sudanese Air Force has been bombing villages in the southern part of the country.  Already wanted for war crimes in Darfur, President Bashir seems determined to wage endless violence against his own people despite decades of international condemnation.  Surely his recent overtures toward Gulf nations present an opportunity for the US to engage with a new set of actors with influence in Khartoum to help bring an end to these attacks.

 

Your visit provides a timely moment to bring the region’s focus and American leadership forward for a resolution to the South Sudan civil war and an end to the violence in Darfur and the Nuba Mountain area.  Countries included in your visit, including Kenya and Ethiopia, but also Uganda, have important leadership roles in this endeavor, particularly the South Sudanese conflict.  South Sudanese President Salva Kiir, former vice president Riek Mahar, and Sudanese President Bashir must understand that key world and regional powers will not tolerate a continuation of this conflict.

 

Sincerely,

 

RICHARD J. DURBIN

United States Senator

 

BENJAMIN L. CARDIN

United States Senator

 

SHERROD BROWN

United States Senator

 

BARBARA BOXER

United States Senator

 

JOHN BARRASSO

United States Senator

 

MARCO RUBIO

United States Senator

 

JOHNNY ISAKSON

United States Senator

 

JEANNE SHAHEEN

United States Senator

 

CHRISTOPHER S. MURPHY

United States Senator

 

TOM UDALL

United States Senator

 

EDWARD J. MARKEY

United States Senator

 

RON JOHNSON

United States Senator

 

JAMES E. RISCH

United States Senator

 

MARK WARNER

United States Senator

 

Ian Schwab
Director of Advocacy and Impact Strategy

Enough | The Project to End Genocide and Crimes Against Humanity

 

Center for American Progress

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