The United States is considering how to pressure South Sudan’s President Salva Kiir into peace, but withdrawing aid may not work US envoy to the United Nations Nikki Haley said ahead of a visit to South Sudanese refugees in Ethiopia.
Haley plans to visit Gambella in western Ethiopia, where nearly 350,000 refugees have flooded across the border from South Sudan since the country spiralled into civil war in 2013, two years after it gained independence from Sudan.
“You really think hard before you pull US aid because President Kiir doesn’t care,” Haley said. “He doesn’t care if his people suffer and that’s the concern we have as we don’t know that will make a difference.”
“That’s a conversation we will have and we will try and see exactly what will move President Kiir so that he does … start to really look at creating a safe position for his people,” she told reporters in Addis Ababa.
Haley will this week be the most senior member of US President Donald Trump’s administration to visit South Sudan, where she is due to meet with Kiir. But first, she will see how the conflict threatened to spill over through cross-border raids into Gambella, Ethiopia by gunmen from South Sudan.
Trump’s new aid administrator, Mark Green, visited South Sudan last month, telling Kiir Washington was reviewing its policy toward his government. He called on Kiir to end violence and implement a “real” ceasefire.
The war in South Sudan was sparked by a feud between Kiir and his former deputy Riek Machar. It has plunged parts of the world’s youngest nation into famine and forced a third of the population – some four million people – to flee.
Machar fled and is in South Africa to stop him stirring up trouble, sources told Reuters in December.
A fragile peace deal broke down last year amid gun battles between soldiers and rebels in Juba. International efforts to bring warring sides to new talks have not succeeded.
“We can’t see any more deaths, we can’t see any more famine, we’ve got to start seeing the situation getting better and I think the pressure is going to continue until President Kiir makes a difference,” Haley said.
The Trump administration last month imposed sanctions on two senior South Sudanese officials and the former army chief for their role in the conflict, atrocities against civilians and attacks against international missions in South Sudan.