WASHINGTON, Aug. 12 (UPI) -- The U.S. will provide South Sudan with approximately $180 million in humanitarian aid, the White House announced Tuesday.
"The people of South Sudan are suffering because of the inability of South Sudan's leaders to put their people's interests above their own. President Salva Kiir and Riek Machar must immediately assume their responsibilities to the South Sudanese to prevent further needless suffering. It is more critical than ever that both sides end the violence and ensure the safety of humanitarian aid workers so that they can reach those most in need across South Sudan. The United States will continue to work for the peaceful resolution of the conflict."
The United Nations' Food and Agriculture Organization warned in late July that South Sudan is on the precipice of famine due to the ongoing conflict. "The best means to prevent famine in South Sudan is for the guns to fall silent ... Continued violence is the single most important factor in transforming a risk of famine into a reality."
On Tuesday, U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Samantha Power arrived in South Sudan as the head of a U.N. Security Council delegation. The purpose of the visit, she wrote on Twitter, is "to engage with President [Salva] Kiir, civil society and opposition to end the devastating violence," tweeting that "Three years after independence, South Sudan's leaders have pushed country to brink of becoming failed state. World can't stand by and let this happen."
The U.N. Security Council delegation's arrival in Juba, Power observed, coincided with the arrival of humanitarian aid flights. Famine will continue to threaten South Sudan, she wrote, until there is an end to the ongoing conflict.
Violence broke out in South Sudan on December 15, 2013, when President Salva Kiir accused his fired deputy, Riek Machar, of attempting a coup. Fighting between forces loyal to the two men has continued since December, with the political dispute devolving into an ethnic conflict. Thousands have died and an estimated one million have been displaced.