The recent allocation of $180 million in new U.S. food aid to South Sudan, accompanied by a strong statement of impatience from Secretary of State John Kerry, should be the final warning to warring elements there to make peace.
Nearly four million of South Sudan’s people are said to be facing imminent famine. In response to that appeal, the United States responded on humanitarian grounds.
South Sudan’s principal leaders, President Salva Kiir and former Vice President Riek Machar, refuse to settle their differences and create a national unity government, even though they have promised negotiators they would do so. They are the leaders of two of the country’s major tribal groups.
Talks between the leaders have been under way for six months, but have gone nowhere. Their militias continue to fight and millions of South Sudanese have been displaced, disrupting food production and creating the famine threat.
The United States and other donors are feeding the South Sudanese people while their leaders spend the country’s revenues on fighting each other. It is hard to turn away from suffering, but negotiators must tell the South Sudanese to settle quickly or all aid will be cut off.