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June 3, 2015

Urging Immediate Confirmation of Ambassadorial nominee for South Sudan

Today, Humanity United joined 10 organizations in signing a letter urging Senator Mitch McConnell and Senator Harry Reid to promptly schedule a vote to confirm the pending Ambassador to South Sudan.

Dear Majority Leader McConnell and Minority Leader Reid: 

The U.S. government has been without a confirmed Ambassador to South Sudan since August 2014. The lack of a permanent top diplomat in a country in the throes of one of the world’s most deadly, costly and geopolitically destabilizing civil wars has hindered the U.S.’ sustained engagement with the parties to the conflict to end the crisis or increased the challenges faced by the U.S. Mission in South Sudan. We urge you to schedule a vote to confirm the pending Ambassador to South Sudan as soon as possible.

The United States played a leading role in supporting South Sudan’s independence in 2011. President George W. Bush helped broker a north-south peace agreement in 2005 to end a civil war with Sudan that claimed nearly 2 million lives. President Obama built on these efforts, ensuring that Sudan and South Sudan separated peacefully. A continuation of the current conflict puts at risk the hard-won fruits of these efforts – along with U.S. legitimacy and influence in the East African region. The immediate confirmation of the nominated ambassador is critical to enabling the U.S. to help broker peace.

The United Nations has put forth credible evidence that all sides of the conflict have committed grave violations against civilians over the course of the 18-month-long crisis. Children have been recruited into militaries on both sides of the conflict. UN peacekeeping helicopters and nongovernmental humanitarian organizations have been intentionally targeted. Now, over two million South Sudanese have been displaced; approximately 40 percent of the country is estimated to be facing hunger, and analysts estimate that at least 50,000 civilians have died.

South Sudan now also faces a potential economic collapse as sources of public revenue dry up as a result of conflict and mismanagement. Rates of inflation are increasing at a breakneck pace, weakening families’ purchasing power, undermining traders’ ability to deliver essential supplies to markets, and exponentially increasingly the costs of the humanitarian aid effort.

Data suggests that without an immediate end to the conflict, the number of people facing severe food insecurity will rise from 2.5 million people in January – March 2015 to around 4.6 million people during the lean period of May – July 2015. Conflict analysts further warn that many more civilians could be dead by December 2015 – due to starvation, malnutrition or violence. At such a moment of crisis, with ongoing repeated outbreaks of violence and increasing food insecurity, the U.S. Mission to South Sudan needs the strongest possible leadership to help press for a sustainable political solution and manage the programming challenges inevitable in such a situation.

Mary Catherine Phee, a career Foreign Service Officer, was first nominated in September 2014. As far as we are aware, there are not any objections to her confirmation, and the Senate Foreign Relations Committee unanimously voted her out of Committee on May 21, 2015. We urge that you arrange a confirmation vote as soon as possible during the June 2015 work session.

Enhanced U.S. leadership in South Sudan – and the region – is desperately needed to alter the course of the peace process before the crisis spirals further out of control and more lives are lost as a result.


Better World Campaign

The Enough Project

Humanity United

Jewish World Watch

International Rescue Committee

Mercy Corps

Oxfam America

Relief International

Save the Children

United to End Genocide

Water for South Sudan

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