— Cutting off United States aid to South Sudan would not have the intended effect of punishing the government and instead would create further hardship for civilians in the civil war-torn country, humanitarians say.
The Trump administration said last week it was undertaking a review of all U.S. assistance to South Sudan to ensure it “does not contribute to or prolong the conflict, or facilitate predatory or corrupt behavior.”
But suspending assistance won’t affect funds available to the government because they are distributed through the United Nations and other international NGOs, saidInternational Rescue Committee South Sudan country director Martin Omukuba.
“There is no direct money that is going to the government for any development projects as far as I’m concerned,” said Omukuba.
“The U.S. is one of the biggest humanitarian aid [donors] in South Sudan and we feel that if they are going to pull out their aid — or threaten to pull out their aid — then this puts more than half of the population into a very precarious position in terms of being able to access basic services.”
And even if the leaders, who are personally profiting from the country’s coffers, were also pilfering aid funding, aid organizations say civilians should not be punished for government corruption and lack of will for peace.
“From the standpoint of humanitarian human rights, I don’t see why a donor would cut aid to a country that is massively underdeveloped and in dire need,” Omukuba said.
“It would be unfair for the aid to be cut to be used as the only tool that would bring peace in South Sudan.”
Multiple peace treaties between factions supporting President Salva Kiir and former Vice President Reik Machar have failed to quell the fighting, and international locutors, led by the regional Intergovernmental Authority on Development, have become frustrated by the two leaders’ inability to stick to ceasefire agreements.