Citing one of Africa’s worst humanitarian crises, the U.S. State Department on Friday announced it would begin restricting U.S. arms shipments to South Sudan.
The move restricts exports of arms and other equipment to anyone in the country who’s involved in the civil war there, which is now going on its fifth year.
The department said it hopes the restrictions will put pressure on South Sudan President Salva Kiir to end the country’s civil war, which began in December 2013.
“The United States is appalled by the continuing violence in South Sudan,” spokeswoman Heather Nauert said in a statement.
Although a cease-fire was agreed to in December, and “despite the suffering of their own people,” the South Sudan government has continued using military force to seek a political advantage, the State Department said.
The humanitarian toll is mounting. Officials say more than a million South Sudanese are on the brink of famine, 2.4 million refugees are fleeing to neighboring countries and nearly 2 million have been internally displaced. Also, at least 95 aid workers have been killed while trying to help the victims.
Friday, the department said it hopes other nations will follow the U.S. policy change.
“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,” Nauert said.
The department also encouraged the Intergovernmental Authority on Development and the African Union to consider sanctions against those who undermine peace.
“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. We will continue to take actions against those who foment violence and obstruct the peace process,” Nauert said.
By Susan McFarland