US to begin review of assistance to South Sudan
WASHINGTON (AP) — The Trump administration threatened Tuesday to cut aid to South Sudan unless the country’s civil war ends and peace is restored.
White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said the U.S. will begin reviewing its assistance to the East African nation to ensure the money does not contribute to or prolong the conflict, or enable predatory or corrupt behavior.
The U.S. is South Sudan’s largest donor, giving over $3.2 billion in humanitarian assistance since civil war broke out in December 2013, according to the U.S. Embassy.
Sanders’ announcement means $110 million in aid planned for South Sudan in 2018 could be in jeopardy.
“The United States Government will not continue in a partnership with leaders who are only interested in perpetuating an endless war characterized by ethnically motivated atrocities,” Sanders said.
The loss of U.S. humanitarian assistance would deal a severe blow to a country where millions are malnourished and famine threatens to make a return.
Tuesday’s announcement came amid rising international frustration over the civil war, which has killed tens of thousands and created Africa’s largest refugee crisis in years. More than 2 million people have fled South Sudan in what amounts to Africa’s largest refugee crisis since the Rwandan genocide of 1994.
The most recent attempt at a cease-fire took effect in December but was violated within hours. Human rights groups have long accused officials in the government of President Salva Kiir of profiting off the conflict and blocking the path to peace.
Another round of peace talks, to be mediated by a regional bloc in neighboring Ethiopia, is scheduled to start May 17.
The U.S. in recent months imposed a unilateral and largely symbolic arms embargo on South Sudan and sanctioned the oil-rich country’s state-run oil company and oil ministry.
Associated Press writer Cara Anna in Johannesburg contributed to this report.