Dear Mr. Secretary:
We are writing to apprise you of a meeting we recently hosted with diplomats from Kenya, Ethiopia, Uganda, and South Sudan on the crisis in South Sudan. The purpose of the gathering was to gain the insights of regional players on the ongoing conflict and to affirm specific actions these countries can take to encourage both sides to stop fighting, such as freezing the assets of those providing material support to combatants.
One message was clear from the meeting: the role of the United States is critical in bringing the parties together and reaching any peace deal. Several ambassadors singled out your contribution in maintaining pressure on President Kiir and former Vice President Machar to stay at the negotiating table and implement agreements to which they have committed.
We wholeheartedly agree with their praise and urge you to continue your efforts to facilitate the parties committing to a long-term agreement that will end the current hostilities. We also commend the Department on its July 10th announcement regarding $22 million in additional humanitarian assistance for refugees and internally displaced persons in South Sudan and the region. The crisis in South Sudan continues to spiral downwards. Just last month we heard reports of patients being executed in hospitals, among other atrocities. More than one million people have been displaced from their homes since December, and the current rainy season will further exacerbate the misery inflicted upon South Sudan's civilian population. This misery may likely include famine in parts of South Sudan. The role of the United States has never been more critical, and we look forward to working with you to bring the full weight of the United States to bear in re-establishing South Sudan on a path toward stability and prosperity for its people and the region.
Recently, Assistant Secretary Anne C. Richard announced nearly $22 million in additional humanitarian assistance for refugees and internally displaced persons (IDPs) in South Sudan and South Sudanese refugees in Ethiopia, Kenya, and Uganda. With this latest funding, the United States is providing more than $456 million in humanitarian assistance in fiscal year 2014 to refugees, IDPs, and other conflict-affected populations impacted by the crisis in South Sudan. Since the outbreak of the current crisis, more than 400,000 refugees have fled from South Sudan, seeking refuge in Ethiopia, Uganda, Kenya, and Sudan. Hundreds continue to flee the country daily, and more than one million South Sudanese remain internally displaced.
This latest U.S. contribution will allow both international and non-governmental organizations to provide refugees and IDPs with basic life support such as access to clean water; food, health care, and essential household items; employment training; gender-based violence prevention; and programs for child protection, including efforts to restore family links severed as a result of displacement.
The United States strongly supports the efforts of humanitarian organizations to meet needs in South Sudan. This aid can only be effective if the Government of South Sudan, opposition forces, and all other parties to the conflict stop fighting and remove obstacles to the delivery of life-saving assistance. It is crucial that President Salva Kiir and former Vice President Riek Machar implement their May 9 agreement to end the violence and allow immediate, full and unconditional access for the United Nations Mission in South Sudan and humanitarian organizations to reach those in need.
STENY H. HOYER
EDDIE BERNICE JOHNSON
DONALD PAYNE JR.
CHRIS VAN HOLLEN