Statement by Spokesperson Heather Nauert
February 2, 2018
The Department of State today announces that it is implementing restrictions on the export of defense articles and defense services into South Sudan.
The United States is appalled by the continuing violence in South Sudan that has created one of Africa’s worst humanitarian crises. The government and armed opposition, despite signing the December 21 Agreement on the Cessation of Hostilities and ongoing efforts by the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) to advance peace – and despite the suffering of their own people – have continued the use of military force to seek political advantage.
As a result of the conflict, 1.5 million people are now on the brink of famine, despite enormous efforts by the United States and other donors since the conflict began in 2013 to stave off famine and save lives. Approximately 2.4 million South Sudanese have fled as refugees to neighboring countries and 1.9 million South Sudanese are internally displaced. The government and armed opposition have continued offensive military actions, and the government obstructs the UN peacekeeping mission from fulfilling its mandate. Aid workers – at least 95 since the current conflict started in December 2013 – continue to be killed trying to help the victims of the warring parties’ actions. In response to this continued violence and brutality against civilians and humanitarian workers, the United States is enacting restrictions on arms transfers with South Sudan.
Specifically, the Department of State will amend the International Traffic in Arms Regulations to update the defense trade policy toward South Sudan by application of a policy of denial, with limited exceptions, on the export of defense articles and defense services to South Sudan, including all parties involved in the conflict.
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. We encourage IGAD and the African Union to consider sanctions measures against those who undermine the peace process.
Additionally, the United States is seeking support for a UN Security Council embargo on all arms flows into South Sudan and we urge all UNSC members to join us in supporting this action. 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.