US Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley on Wednesday urged both sides in conflict in South Sudan to try to halt the fighting between government forces and rebels since 2013 that has displaced nearly 4 million people in the country.
Haley arrived in war-torn South Sudan on Wednesday for a one-day visit amid continued attempts to find a peaceful resolution to the young nation crisis. She is the highest-level U.S. government official to visit South Sudan since President Donald Trump took office. She is on a three-nation tour of Africa to see the involvement of the U.S. and United Nations in Ethiopia, South Sudan and Congo, where she will be on Thursday.
Haley met with President Salva Kiir, who “emphasized his commitment” to end South Sudan’s conflict through peace talks that took place in the capital, Juba, last week and are expected to resume in December.
“The United States is at a crossroads and we have to decide how we’re going to look at South Sudan going forward,” Haley told President Salva Kiir after two lengthy meetings.
The diplomat hopes her visit will bring hope to South Sudanese who are tired of nearly four years of violence.
Haley also toured the country’s main referral hospital, The Juba Teaching Hospital and U.N protection of civilians’ sites (UN PoCs) in Juba. Her five-day visit to Africa this week is heavily focused on South Sudan and Democratic Republic of Congo.
President Kiir’s special envoy Nhial Deng Nhial said the meeting focused on revitalization of the 2015 peace agreement, permanent ceasefire and cessation of hostilities and unhindered humanitarian access.
“President Kiir took the opportunity to once more emphasize the commitment and the readiness of the government to commit itself fully to the revitalization process,” Nhial said.
Nhial, who is also a presidential adviser, said Kiir also asked the Trump administration to improve South Sudan relations with neighbouring Sudan.
He noted that Haley’s visit to South Sudan opens a new chapter in terms of his government’s engagement with the US administration
South Sudan has been the scene of unrest and civil war since December 2013.
Several truces and efforts to bring warring sides to negotiation table have not succeeded. The United States is considering how to pressure Kiir into peace.
The president Donlad Trumph administration last month imposed targeted 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.
South Sudan was midwifed into existence by US cash and support in 2011 and has faltered badly two years after independence. President Kiir accused his sacked deputy Machar of a coup.
The conflict has left tens of thousands dead and has been marked by widespread atrocities on both sides.