May 27, 2014 (JUBA) – There are calls from the South Sudanese diaspora for US intervention to end ongoing conflict in the country and for sanctions to be imposed on the country’s rival leaders.
- US secretary of state (L) is greeted by South Sudan’s foreign minister, Barnaba Marial Benjamin, on his arrival in the capital, Juba, on 2 May 2014 (AP)
The group, comprising largely of activists from different ethnic groups and regions, have launched an online petition urging the US to act, saying South Sudanese people are “sick and tired of senseless violence”.
“We, the undersigned South Sudanese Americans, are deeply concerned with the devastating crisis in South Sudan,” the petition says.
“We are sick and tired of all the violence going on in our motherland. Our unity in diversity and our civic commitments compel us to speak now in one voice regardless of how this conflict has developed ethnic hatred,” the petition adds.
It calls for high level US involvement in the conflict in order to end suffering and avert famine caused by the widespread displacement in war-affected areas.
The group has also called for widening of sanctions on officials responsible for human rights abuses.
The US has already introduced targeted sanctions banning travel to the US and a freeze on assets, but the group describes the current measures as too “inadequate to make an impression”.
“There are key officials on both sides of the conflict who have assets and properties in the United States, Kenya, Uganda, Ethiopia, South Africa, Australia, and Europe,” the group said.
The diaspora community has demanded an immediate suspension of any direct funding to the government and for it to be instead diverted to support emergency humanitarian efforts.
“Strong action by the United States is needed to bring the peace that we have yearned for in so many years. We urge you to become personally involved again and take further tough actions to meet this challenge,” the group said, calling for US secretary of state John Kerry to be again dispatched to the region to help negotiate the formation of an inclusive transitional government.
South Sudan has been locked in a devastating conflict since mid-December last year after a political split in the ruling SPLM party turned violent.
The conflict has pitted government loyalists against rebels aligned with former vice-president Riek Machar, reigniting tribal tensions across the country.
It’s estimated that 10,000 have died, while more than 1.3 million have been displaced, with ongoing peace talks and a negotiated ceasefire deal so far failing to halt hostilities on the ground.
The group has appealed to US president Barack Obama to personally intervene to end violence in the country, saying diplomatic pressure is key to ensuring both parties observed the terms of the ceasefire.
“To move from a ceasefire to lasting peace, we believe that you, President Obama, must be more directly involved,” the group said.
CALLS FOR ACTION
Meanwhile, in a separate statement on Tuesday, South Sudanese religious leaders called on the international community to press the country’s warring parties to continue to resolve their differences through peaceful dialogue.
“The most important thing right now is to end hostilities so that the civil population could return to their homes. Our people now need peace and stability [more] than any other thing in the country, because they are always the victims of the political differences,” the statement said in part.
“It is time for action. The time for talking and preaching theories about this conflict is over. It is time to save lives and restore shattered hopes and mistrust created by this conflict between our people,” it adds.
The leaders also thanked the international community, particularly, the European Union the governments of Norway the US and the United Kingdom, for providing support and bringing attention to the conflict and the plight of South Sudanese.
In earlier comments on Monday the archbishop of Juba diocese, Paulino Lokudu Loro, appealed for tolerance and respect.
“May we respect and love one another as brothers and sisters,” Loro said on an occasion marking 50 years of pastoral service for retired Roman Catholic bishop Paride Taban.
“May no-one abuse any position of authority to advance personal interest? It is time for our leaders to work together to bring peace and harmony in our country. It is time to cultivate seeds of love and trust,” he added.