Hoyer, Lee Lead Letter to Secretary Kerry on Developments in South Sudan

For Immediate Release:

July 18, 2014

Contact:

Mariel Saez, 202-225-3130

WASHINGTON, DC – House Democratic Whip Steny H. Hoyer (MD-5) and Rep. Barbara Lee (CA-13) led a letter sent to Secretary Kerry today, signed by seven other House Democrats, thanking him for his efforts to achieve a peaceful settlement between South Sudanese President Kiir and Vice President Machar and updating him on their recent meeting with diplomats from the region.  

The letter was signed by Whip Hoyer and Reps. Barbara Lee, Karen Bass (CA-37), Eddie Bernice Johnson (TX-30), Sheila Jackson-Lee (TX-18), Gregory Meeks (NY-5), Jim Moran (VA-8), Donald Payne Jr. (NJ-10), and Chris Van Hollen (MD-8). 

“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 letter states. “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.”

The letter continues: “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.”

The full text of the letter appears below. 

July 18, 2014

The Honorable John Kerry
Secretary of State
U.S. Department of State
2201 C Street NW
Washington, DC 20515

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.

Sincerely,

STENY H. HOYER
BARBARA LEE
KAREN BASS
EDDIE BERNICE JOHNSON
SHEILA JACKSON-LEE
GREGORY MEEKS
JIM MORAN
DONALD PAYNE JR.
CHRIS VAN HOLLEN

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