Washington, DC — Following news reports of the potential for a humanitarian catastrophe in South Sudan, Rep. Frank Wolf (R-10th), long recognized in Congress as one of the strongest advocates for South Sudan, today released a letter he sent earlier this month to former President George W. Bush asking the Bush Institute to help resolve the crisis.
Wolf, who first reached out to the Bush Library last year, said he has been hesitant to publicly involve the former president but felt the article in yesterday's Washington Post, reporting that 50,000 children could die of malnourishment by the end of the year, forced his hand.
"I know President Bush has tried to keep a low profile, but South Sudan is unique," Wolf said. "He helped give birth to the nation and is probably the only person who can get the two sides to come together.
"I didn't want to make the letter public, but I felt I had to," Wolf continued. "I just couldn't be silent anymore. Unless something dramatic happens, thousands are going to die. I urge the Obama Administration to enlist the help of President Bush. There is no downside."
Dear President Bush:
On the July 9, South Sudan celebrated its third birthday. Instead of fireworks, the day was marked with gunfire, the threat of famine and widespread disease. The people of South Sudan are no better off than they were three years ago, and with the warring leaders showing no sign of letting up, the situation worsens each day.
During your administration, Senator John Danforth, the Sudan Special Envoy, had a clear charge and platform to pursue lasting peace. After negotiating for two-and-a-half years, the Comprehensive Peace Agreement was secured, ending a decade's worth of conflict between the North and South. We had hoped that, with their new-found freedom and the fresh memories of hardship and bloodshed, a new democratic nation marked by rule of law and lasting peace would emerge. Sadly, that has not been the case.
Last year I was in contact with your team from the George W. Bush Institute to engage with the factions in South Sudan and to work with them on reunification. Since that time, the situation on the ground has grown more dire. UNICEF and the World Food Program have said that 3.9 million people in South Sudan face "dangerous levels of food insecurity." With political unrest and the lack of individuals to cultivate the land and manage herds, South Sudan is destined to be hardest hit with the current cyclical drought period with no surplus food stored. UNICEF estimates 50,000 could die from malnutrition and a million children will require treatment for malnutrition.
I write to you today, to once again ask if you and the Bush Institute would engage before all hope for a reconciled South Sudan is lost. You and your staff have the background and relationship with all the important players and stakeholders in the South Sudan regime. South Sudan is on the brink of joining the likes of Somalia and Zimbabwe as failed states. Without your intervention, the independent, democratic, three-year-old South Sudan may be nothing more than an asterisk in the history books.
It is clear that there is a lot to be done to make this country live up to their potential. The George W. Bush Institute is in a unique position to not only restore peace in the country, but more importantly, the institute's assistance in providing experts to help the country reestablish their agriculture and ranching to allow them to feed their people. Lastly, the institute can be instrumental in helping the South Sudanese get a system in place to manage the revenues from their oil, gas, and other natural resources that will allow them to grow and sustain their economy. Strengthening all of these parts will allow South Sudan to live up to the potential you and the entire world saw when their independence was negotiated.
I hope that you will consider this request. Your standing up for those in South Sudan who have no voice would be like Esther in the Bible whose faith helped save her people.
Frank R. Wolf
Member of Congress