Members of U.S. Congress traveled to South Sudan as the first delegation to visit the new nation since hostilities erupted in 2013. Representative Michael Capuano (MA-7), Chair of the Congressional Caucus on Sudan and South Sudan; Rep. Brian Higgins(NY-26), a member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee; and Rep. Lois Capps (CA-24) a member of the Caucus on Sudan and South Sudan, traveled with the United Nations Foundation, a nonprofit which educates policymakers and the American public about the work of the United Nations around the world.
In an unprecedented effort, the United Nations is sheltering nearly 200,000 civilians in six peacekeeping bases, while UN agencies work to provide lifesaving emergency assistance to 3.9 million people—more than a third of the country’s population—and more than 2 million who have been displaced from their homes.
Following the trip, the Members found that the warring parties there, who signed an August deal providing for a permanent ceasefire and power sharing, have done little to implement the deal, as millions of their citizens pay the price. They have called upon South Sudan’s leaders to make a series of decisions in the next few weeks that will determine whether the hope embodied in the August peace agreement will be realized, or whether South Sudan remains the latest of the world’s failed states.
“The suffering and death of innocents in South Sudan continues despite the signing of the peace agreement,” said Rep. Capuano. “Although I saw too much on my visit that saddened and discouraged me, I also saw heroic efforts from UN personnel and humanitarian workers. I was inspired too by the courage of the South Sudanese people I spoke with who had not given up hope of one day being truly free and safe. Overall, I got a clearer picture of what needs to be done. All parties must come together to end the suffering and put the world’s newest democracy on the path to peace.”
“In the midst of the chaotic power struggle which has gripped South Sudan, the UN Peacekeeping mission has worked to protect civilians from violence and provide vital humanitarian assistance,” said Rep Higgins. “Going forward, it is critical that each side faithfully implements the peace agreement, so that more needless bloodshed can be avoided.”
“At a time when the plight of refugees dominate the world’s headlines, it was incredibly moving to witness the humanitarian challenges facing South Sudan firsthand,” said Rep. Capps. “Now, more than ever, we need to ensure that the United Nations has the resources and support that it needs to continue to provide safety and emergency assistance for refugees while we continue to work toward a lasting and enforceable peace agreement.”
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About the United Nations Foundation:
The United Nations Foundation builds public-private partnerships to address the world’s most pressing problems, and broadens support for the United Nations through advocacy and public outreach. Through innovative campaigns and initiatives, the Foundation connects people, ideas, and resources to help the UN solve global problems. The Foundation was created in 1998 as a U.S. public charity by entrepreneur and philanthropist Ted Turner and now is supported by global corporations, foundations, governments, and individuals. For more information, visit http://www.unfoundation.org.