U.S. Orders Review of South Sudan Aid Program Amid Civil War

(Bloomberg) -- The White House ordered a review of aid programs to South Sudan, accusing the government of fostering “one of Africa’s worst humanitarian disasters” and displaying an unwillingness to live up to a 2017 ceasefire that sought to end the nation’s four-year civil war.

“The government of South Sudan has lost credibility, and the United States is losing patience," White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said in a statement. "The United States Government will not continue in a partnership with leaders who are only interested in perpetuating an endless war characterized by ethnically-motivated atrocities.”

Sanders said the U.S. was "deeply frustrated with the lack of progress" toward an effective peace agreement, and that the White House believed South Sudan’s only path to peace was through a negotiated agreement for a transitional government.

The U.S. was a strong supporter of South Sudan seceding from the north in 2011, following a referendum in which about 99 percent of voters favored independence.

‘Life Threatening Hunger’

The oil-rich nation descended into civil war in 2013 after a political disagreement that has divided warring factions largely along ethnic lines. The fighting has killed tens of thousands of people and uprooted another 4 million from their homes.

South Sudan is facing a food crisis with a famine looming across various parts of the country, according to the White House. More than 7 million people face “life threatening hunger” in the coming months, according to the White House.

A slump in oil production and lower global prices has caused economic chaos for the country, which depends on crude for almost all its revenue and ranks as one of the world’s poorest nations.

In its latest outlook for the country, the International Monetary Fund said South Sudan is in a “deep economic crisis” with annual inflation peaking at 550 percent in 2016 and a “precipitous” currency depreciation.

The U.S. review of its aid programs will include support for the Joint Monitoring and Evaluation Mechanism, a group charged with monitoring peace that includes members of the South Sudan opposition, European Union, China, African Union and United Nations.

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