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Aid group urges U.S to halt aid cut to South Sudan

May 9, 2018 (JUBA) – The United States should halt any move the seeks to cut its aid assistance to South Sudan, the International Rescue Committee (IRC) said, a day after the White House announced plans to review of its aid programs.

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President Donald Trump (Photo Getty Images/Tom Pennington)

“For most of its young life, South Sudan and its people have been trapped in a vicious cycle of conflict punctuated by flawed and failed peace attempts, “ said Ciaran Donnelly, senior vice president of international programs at the International Rescue Committee.

“As an operational humanitarian agency working to alleviate the conflict-driven suffering of the South Sudanese people, we share the US government’s frustration at the unwillingness to reach a speedy and peaceful resolution to the conflict and the heartbreaking disregard for human life displayed by all parties to this conflict”, she added.

The Donald Trump administration said Tuesday that it will initiate a comprehensive review of its assistance programs to South Sudan to ensure its aid does not contribute to or prolong the country’s ongoing conflict, or facilitate predatory or corrupt behavior.

Such a review, it said, will involve appraising the U.S. support for the Joint Monitoring and Evaluation Mechanism (JMEC) and other mechanisms intended to support the Agreement on the Resolution of Conflict in South Sudan (ARCSS), which was signed in August 2015.

“We are deeply frustrated with the lack of progress toward an agreement, and we must ensure our shared efforts reflect the urgency of the situation,” the White House statement reads in part.

The IRC, however, said it welcomes US efforts on conflict resolution and inclusive and accountable political process, as both are essential foundations for durable peace and inclusive development.

“And only focused and determined US and international diplomacy can make these long-sought goals a reality,” it stressed.

One of the countries that recognized South Sudan’s independence in 2011, the US played a key role in helping create the 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) that laid the groundwork a referendum, through which the people of South Sudan overwhelmingly voted for independence.

The US is the leading international donor to South Sudan and provides significant humanitarian assistance to the hundreds of thousands of South Sudanese citizens displaced or otherwise affected since the start of the country’s crisis in December 2013.

The IRC said it recognizes the US’s generosity as the largest humanitarian donor to South Sudan, but urged Washington to use this review as an opportunity to recommit to the people of South Sudan by affirming that life-saving humanitarian assistance, delivered by credible international partners, will not be affected by the review.

While frustration and anger with the government of South Sudan is justified, the US and the international community must not give up on the people of South Sudan, the IRC statement further stated.

“Halting or cutting humanitarian aid would only punish innocent civilians, not their leaders who are responsible for the ongoing crisis,” it added, while stressing that by the US cutting humanitarian assistance, it will not hasten an end to war, but only lead to further suffering and certain, yet preventable, death of South Sudan’s most vulnerable.

Founded in 1933, the IRC is at work in over 40 countries and 28 offices across the U.S. helping people to survive, reclaim control of their future, and strengthen their communities.

(ST)