Rooney leads congressional call for South Sudanese arms embargo

Thomas Rooney

U.S. Rep. Thomas Rooney (R-FL) led a bipartisan congressional call for an arms embargo against South Sudan to de-escalate ethnic violence and prevent the risk of genocide there.

U.S. Reps. Ed Royce (R-CA) and Dan Donovan (R-NY) were also among the 19 lawmakers who signed letters to all 15 members of the United Nations Security Council requesting that an arms embargo be imposed before the end of the year.

Since the civil war began in 2013, brutal violence against civilians is reported on a regular basis in South Sudan. According to the UN Refugee Agency’s most recent data, more than 3 million people have been displaced, including nearly 1.9 million who are internally displaced and more than 1.3 million fleeing as refugees to neighboring countries, the letter said.

Congress has called for the administration and the Security Council to impose an arms embargo on South Sudan for more than two years.

“What I cannot grasp is why that has not happened yet,” Rooney said. “What I do not understand is why – when we know that the government is spending whatever money it can scrounge up not to feed its starving people – but to purchase attack helicopters, armored vehicles and arms to kill its own people.”

Rooney said the people of South Sudan need the leadership of the international community to help bring peace and stop the violence being carried out by their own government.

The Security Council has emphasized that there could be no military solution to the conflict, the letter said, but the government of South Sudan’s ongoing acquisition and employment of heavy weapons systems has enabled large scale attacks in densely populated areas.

An arms embargo would signal to the government that its actions “do not warrant it equal standing with other sovereign nations” that are able to freely purchase weapons, the lawmakers added.

“The status quo serves only to embolden and endorse the actions of the current government, which will continue committing gross violations of human rights and international humanitarian law with impunity.”