The U.S Chargé d’affaires says his country can only resume its support ofr developmental projects in South Sudan if there is total cessation of violence and a durable peace is attained.
According to Ambassador Michael Morrow, the United States is pursuing two priorities that are a prerequisite to the return of investment and development in the country.
Before the eruption of violence in South Sudan in December 2013, the United States spent billions of dollars in funding projects such as the Juba – Nimule highway, electrification of Maridi, Yei and Kapoeta, including attracting investors in the fields of coffee, rice, and the tourism sector in Boma National Park.
In his first exclusive interview to a local radio station in South Sudan, Ambassador Morrow told Eye Radio that without sustainable peace, it is difficult for the U.S government to solicit investors or engage in the projects that will create jobs and boost the economy of South Sudan.
He said the U.S categorizes its participation in the realization of peace and development in South Sudan under three phases:
“Our number one goal is to help bring peace and stability to South Sudan in three ways; one is to first and foremost end the fighting that is currently going on. Secondly, to bring the large number of displaced people back to their homes, send their children back to school, and send the farmers back to the fields,” Ambassador Morrow said.
“Thirdly, our other goal is to allow development assistance to resume and start bringing in investment back to South Sudan.”
Funds for peace
Months after the signing of the Agreement on the Resolution of the Conflict in South Sudan, some senior members of the Transitional Government of National Unity have expressed disappointment in the lack of funding from members of the international community -especially the TROIKA countries [U.S, UK and Norway].
The Strategic Defense and Security Review board -that is responsible for providing a road map for the unification of the army, and security forces, disarmament, demobilization and reintegration and the security sector reform process – has also said the international community has been reluctant to offer financial support.
“In all my engagements with the partners, it has become abundantly clear that the partners [donors] appear to be not in the position to support the Strategic Defense and Security review,” the chairman of board, Lieutenant General Malek Ruben said.
Last year, the United States through a White House Presidential memoranda indicated that South Sudan would benefit from military aid in form of training and education under the Child Soldiers Prevention Act waiver.
The waiver directed the State Department to initiate programs of assistance to South Sudan, despite reports by UNICEF that children in the country were still being forcefully recruited into the armed forces.
The Child Soldiers Prevention Act is supposed to ban provision of military assistance to nations that use child soldiers.
“This waiver was necessary to ensure the U.S. government can continue to provide financial assistance to support implementation of the peace agreement. Without this waiver, the United States would be unable to support ceasefire monitoring, a critical activity given ongoing hostilities,” the statement read.
However, the U.S embassy in Juba clarified that this was a partial waiver granted by President Obama to ensure the U.S. government can continue to provide financial assistance to the Ceasefire and Transitional Security Monitoring Mechanism, which is charged with monitoring ceasefire violations.
However, a U.S based lobby group, the Enough Project has often urged the Trump administration to put financial pressure on South Sudanese leaders and also imposed on “their networks of collaborators, who undermine peace, orchestrate war crimes, repress fundamental rights, and steal the natural resource wealth of their countries.”
No other direct funding to the government by the United States has been made public.
Most developmental partners in South Sudan have channeled their funding to humanitarian activities through the supply of food and other essential items to internally displaced persons and refugees in the neighboring countries.
By October last year, the U.S embassy in Juba announced that the United States has provided nearly 1.9 billion dollars in emergency humanitarian since December 2013.
In a meeting attended by heads of states and foreign ministers from various African countries in September last year, President Donald Trump said the situation in South Sudan is one that has put to risk millions of lives despite the continued provision of humanitarian assistance by the US.
“In South Sudan, among others, millions of lives are at risk, and we continue to provide humanitarian assistance. Real results in halting this catastrophe will require — really sincere commitment of all parties involved,” he said.
The implementation of the Agreement of the Resolution of the Conflict was largely dependent on funding from the international community and friends of South Sudan, including the United States, United Kingdom and Norway.
A few other countries have pledged support to the National Dialogue process initiated by President Salva Kiir last year.
“Why is the international community failing the people of South Sudan? Why? The international community has failed to provide the government here with the necessary funds. So whose mistake is that?” the Minister of Lands, Housing and Urban Development, Alfred Lado Gore lamented.
In July, President Salva Kiir said the lack of funding has made it difficult to implement Chapter II of ARCSS which provides for security arrangements including the formation of cantonment sites and the declaration of ceasefire by all armed groups.
For his part, The First Vice President Taban Deng Gai appealed to the international community to provide financial support that will enable the TGoNU prepare ground for democratic processes, that are free from any form of intimidation or military interference.
The Minister of Finance, Stephen Dhieu told the National Parliament during his presentation of the fiscal year budget 2017/2018 said its been difficult to solicit funding to improve the economy.
The Minister of Cabinet Affairs, Dr. Martin Elia Lomoro in a past media briefings also said the reluctance by South Sudan’s partners to support the TGoNU has slowed down the ability of the government to deliver services to the public.
“All of that inches on the first goal which is to end the fighting. If the fighting parties don’t agree to put down the guns, it becomes very hard to achieve goal two and impossible to achieve goal three –which is to resume development and attract investment. So first and foremost; end the fighting,” Ambassador Morrow said.
Ambassador Michael Morrow added that the United States is still committed to supporting South Sudan, but requires its leaders to devote to actions that will advance the peace process.
Last week, the U.S Ambassador to the UN, Nikki Halley held talks with President Salva Kiir in Juba, in which they discussed the humanitarian situation, permanent ceasefire, and revitalization of the peace agreement.
Ambassador Nikki expressed that the US has lost trust in the government and that the country needs to regain their trust by taking action to stop the war.