Statement by Marie Harf, Deputy Spokesperson, on the drawdown of diplomatic personnel at the U.S. Embassy in Juba, South Sudan
Due to the deteriorating security situation in South Sudan, today the United States has further drawn down staffing at our Embassy in Juba. We are taking this step out of an abundance of caution to ensure the safety and security of our diplomatic personnel. As a result of this drawdown, the U.S. Embassy in Juba will not be able to provide consular services to U.S. citizens in South Sudan. The U.S. Embassy in Nairobi, Kenya will provide consular services for U.S. citizens in South Sudan until further notice. We continue to strongly recommend that U.S. citizens in South Sudan depart immediately.
Even as we draw down our personnel, the United States remains deeply and actively committed to supporting regional and international efforts to end the violence in South Sudan, including the vital work of the UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS). We are exploring what more we can do to further strengthen UNMISS and support its efforts to protect civilians. At the same time, we are working closely with international partners to help meet the humanitarian needs of internally displaced persons and refugees.
Today the United States announced an additional $49.8 million in assistance to help address the humanitarian crisis. Secretary Kerry and senior U.S. officials have been in touch with President Kiir and have spoken with regional leaders. Special Envoy Booth is in Ethiopia supporting the negotiation efforts led by the regional Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) and urging the parties to reach an immediate cessation of hostilities, ensure full and unfettered humanitarian access, and outline tangible steps toward resolving their differences peacefully that can be implemented immediately. U.S. Ambassador to South Sudan Susan Page remains in Juba where she is in constant communication with South Sudanese officials, UNMISS, and her foreign counterparts. A U.S. Disaster Assistance Response Team (DART) based in Nairobi continues to lead U.S. efforts to support humanitarian operations and meet the needs of the people of South Sudan.
The people of South Sudan deserve a better future - a future that gives them the chance to realize the hopes and dreams they celebrated at independence, not one characterized by the violence, unrest, and instability we see today. As President Obama said, too much blood has been spilled and too many lives have been lost to allow South Sudan's moment of hope and opportunity to slip from its grasp. Now is the time for South Sudan's leaders to show courage and leadership, end the violence, ensure the protection and security of civilians, and reaffirm their commitment to building a more peaceful, unified, democratic state.