The people of South Sudan are in trouble. More than two decades of north-south conflict followed by over two years of factional fighting have further weakened an already fragile nation. The insecurity has limited farmers’ access to plant their fields and devastated livestock, resulting in inadequate food production.
Today, South Sudan has the world’s highest inflation rates. “South Sudan’s economy is collapsing, its people struggle to find enough to eat, and human rights violations and abuses continue with impunity,” said Bob Leavitt, USAID Deputy Assistant Administrator for Democracy, Conflict, and Humanitarian Assistance.
To date, some 2.5 million South Sudanese have fled their homes, in search of food and safe haven from violence. This year, half the country’s population, over 6 million people, need humanitarian assistance.
The United States is South Sudan’s largest donor. Working through the U.S. Agency for International Development, or USAID, and in collaboration with various partners, the U.S. government has so far provided nearly $1.6 billion in humanitarian assistance for conflict-affected people in South Sudan and South Sudanese refugees.
But the going has been tough, partly because it is so difficult to reach many of the communities most in need of aid. One of the reasons is because although the parties to the conflict “are obligated under the peace agreement to allow humanitarian aid to flow without interference, aid workers continue to deal with lengthy negotiations, numerous checkpoints along major supply routes, and other obstacles,” such as informal taxation and harassment, said Deputy Assistant Administrator Leavitt.
“While we have been able to reach communities trapped in the crossfire through ad-hoc negotiations, parties to the conflict have not yet demonstrated the political will to grant full and unfettered access nationwide.”
The United States is committed to helping the people of South Sudan get through this crisis and get back on their feet.
“We urge the government to prioritize humanitarian access so that we can reach those who most need our help,” said Deputy Assistant Administrator Leavitt.
“Our assistance to people in desperate need in South Sudan is saving lives. We will continue to invest in the people of South Sudan and their efforts to build a more prosperous, peaceful future.”