Wednesday Focus: South Sudan Crisis Worsens As US Threatens Sanctions – Again

On Monday Garang Diing Akuong presented his credentials as South Sudan’s new ambassador to the United States to president Barack Obama at the White House and acknowledged the “difficult” times his nation was enduring.

A day later, the U.S. submitted a draft proposal to the United Nations’ Sanctions Committee and said an arms embargo would be possible if the peace accord was not enforced. However, the proposal would not actually impose sanctions, but would only establish guidelines for doing so.

The same day, the Security Council received a briefing on the deteriorating humanitarian situation present on the ground as neither side has demonstrated the political will to hold to the cease fire. South Sudan gained independence three years ago after decades of fighting, but the last year has seen increasing violence and political in-fighting between South Sudan’s President Salva Kiir and his former Vice-President, Riek Machar and their respective factions.

“The volatile security environment is a direct illustration of the parties’ continued lack of political will,” UN Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations Hervé Ladsous told the Security Council in a briefing. “The Government and opposition do not seem to take the political negotiations seriously and appear unwilling to make the necessary compromises.”

According to the UN, an estimated 1.9 million people have been displaced and more than 7 million are at risk of hunger and disease.

Just how dire the situation has become was reflected in the comments made by Toby Lanzer, the top U.N. aid official in South Sudan, who told Foreign Policy magazine reporter Ty McCorkick in August.

Noting that the humanitarian crisis is on the level of Syria, Iraq, and the Central African Republic, Lanzer said, “I never thought I’d see the day when people would be fleeing to Darfur. But that’s the situation we’re in.”

McCormick’s latest article traces the path from independence to crisis that South Sudan has taken in the past three years and how the U.S. strategy has failed.

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