In early February, the United States imposed restrictions on the export of defense articles and defense services into South Sudan. The United States does not directly sell arms to South Sudan, but the ban will prevent any U.S. company or citizen from providing military equipment or defense services to the warring factions.
Exports of weapons and ammunition into South Sudan undercut efforts to protect civilians and prohibiting the sale or transfer of arms pressures the Government of South Sudan and the armed opposition to implement the December 21 Cessation of Hostilities and start to end the trauma and displacement that millions of innocent South Sudanese have suffered.
South Sudan gained its independence from Sudan in 2011. Peace lasted less than 18 months. In December 2013, a power struggle between President Salva Kiir and Vice President Riek Machar erupted into civil war. The warring parties agreed to a peace accord in 2015, and to cease-fires on a number of occasions. All were broken before the ink was dry on the agreement. The continued fighting has cost the lives of thousands of people and led to a cut-back in oil production, a devastated economy, human rights abuses, hunger, and malnutrition.
“The United States is appalled by the continuing violence in South Sudan that has created one of Africa’s worst humanitarian crises,” said State Department Spokesperson Heather Nauert in a written statement. “One and a half million people are now on the brink of famine, despite enormous efforts by the United States and other donors since the conflict began in 2013 to stave off famine and save lives,” she said.
“We urge all countries, including South Sudan’s neighbors, to promote peace and save innocent lives by cutting off the flow of defense articles and defense services to South Sudan and to halt support to actors who are working to destabilize the country. We encourage the Intergovernmental Authority on Development and the African Union to consider sanctions measures against those who undermine the peace process.
“Additionally, the United States is seeking support for a UN Security Council embargo on all arms flows into South Sudan and we urge all UN Security Council members to join us in supporting this action. The message must be clear – the United States, the region, and the international community will not stand idly by as innocent South Sudanese civilians are murdered.