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US diplomat urges S.Sudanese to focus on development

Author: Emmanuel Akile | Published: Tuesday, July 30, 2019

Ambassador Kip Tom at The Digital Agriculture Transformation Seminar at FAO headquarters on June 13, 2019, Rome, Italy PHOTO: FAO/Pier Paolo Cito

A US diplomat says those obstructing peace in South Sudan should be held accountable.

The revitalized peace agreement stipulates that there shall be a hybrid court in South Sudan – a key part of the peace deal aimed at holding war criminals accountable in the conflict which has killed nearly 400,000 people and forced 4 million South Sudanese to flee their homes.

The peace agreement stipulates that the hybrid court should be established by the African Union to investigate and try individuals responsible for violations of during the conflict and throughout the transitional period.

It also gives the hybrid court the jurisdiction on genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes and any other serious crimes under international law and any other relevant laws of South Sudan.

But in April, the government of South Sudan, according to multiple media reports, hired an American lobby group to improve its relations with the US government, delay and ultimately block the establishment of the hybrid court, among others.

The government often dismisses reports of rights violations, saying they are “clearly orchestrated to tarnish the image of the government.”

Kip Tom, the U.S. Ambassador to the UN Agencies in Rome said continuous instability means the country will continue to rely on aid to support itself and the civil population.

He visited South Sudan last week to assess the work of aid agencies in building resilience and self-reliance in the country.

“First and foremost, the donors need to put pressure on the government and the people here to say ‘stop your fighting now, we need peace,’ because if we don’t get peace, we will continue to just have to feed people forever, and we don’t always have money to do that,” said Ambassador Tom.

Ambassador Kip Tom lend a hand helping unload critical food aid in Ganyiel & Katdolok On July 24, 2019. PHOTO: Twitter @USUNRomeAmb

Recently, the USAID said almost 7 million South Sudanese are in dire need of food assistance in the country.

It airlifted 400 metric tons of Ready to Use Therapeutic Food to feed children with severe acute malnutrition.

Since South Sudan’s independence in 2011, the USAID has invested billions of dollars in long-term assistance helping the South Sudanese people in areas such as education, health, democracy and governance, agriculture and conflict mitigation.

After the war broke out in 2013, the US government channelled most of the funds to emergency aid such as; food, water and basic medicines.

Ambassador Tom said the huge sums of money being spent on emergencies could be used to develop infrastructure and strengthen the economy of South Sudan in the absence of violence.

“We would rather put our money into development, to create resilience and capacity because that is our only true pathway to peace and security,” he said.

The Ambassador added that those bend on using conflict for their gains and subjecting South Sudanese to untold sufferings should be brought to book.

“We got to hold people accountable, we need to hold the people accountable that are not making this place safe and peaceful.”

He said South Sudan is endowed with riches that can benefit all its citizens and the continent if prudently managed.

“As we fly over South Sudan here, I see such rich resources, we just don’t have the infrastructure, we don’t have the knowledge, the education and we need access to the capital market to help these people start to grow a business, to grow a farm so they can feed themselves,” Ambassador Tom said “I think you can almost feed the continent of Africa with the good land that I saw flying across South Sudan.”.

He urged the young people in South Sudan to embrace peace and “learn to feed themselves” with the resources, soil and the abundant water in the country.

“Let’s do what we can to help them learn to feed themselves, create the economy, create jobs, improve the education for their children, the house they live in and their healthcare,” Tom told the government.

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