Members of Congress send letter to Treasury asking then to address war profiteering in South Sudan

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Washington, D.C. – Today, Congresswoman Barbara Lee, joined by her colleagues Chairman Ed Royce, Ranking Member Eliot Engel, Congressmember Karen Bass, Congressman Jim McGovern, Chairman Chris Smith, Congressman Michael Capuano, and Congressman Tom Rooney, sent a bipartisan letter to Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin urging him to target the financial interests of high-level military and political officials in South Sudan. While war in South Sudan continues unabated, politicians and war profiteers have lined their pockets by looting state resources and stymieing lifesaving humanitarian aid efforts.

“In order to support an end to the violence and ongoing humanitarian crisis in South Sudan, the US government needs to take a multifaceted approach that targets the pocketbooks of war criminals in South Sudan,” said Congresswoman Barbara Lee (D-CA). “It’s unconscionable that while the people of South Sudan starve, military and political leaders are profiting off of a man-made humanitarian catastrophe in the region. Secretary Mnuchin should send President Kiir and his associates a clear message: the United States will use our anti-money laundering laws and targeted sanctions to end this gross corruption and bring relief to the people of South Sudan.”

“From starvation to sexual violence, millions of South Sudanese are suffering at the hands of corrupt rulers, including government leaders,” said Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Ed Royce (R-CA). “Urgent action is needed.”

“Nearly six years ago, South Sudan gained its independence amid hopes of finding unity and prosperity. But ever since the civil war broke out in December 2013, the country has continued down a path of violence and division, leaving more than 50,000 dead, driving more than 2.3 million people from their homes, and seeing more than 16,000 recruited as child soldiers, countless human rights abuses, and most recently, widespread famine,” said Foreign Affairs Committee Ranking Member Eliot Engel (D-NY). “This destructive cycle, which lines the pockets of those responsible, must be broken. That’s why I joined my colleagues in urging the Treasury Department to address the structural causes that feed this wide-scale violence. We need to use the full range of financial tools to target the kleptocratic networks driving this conflict. The people of South Sudan deserve leaders who support justice, and their long-awaited peace agreement provides a pathway for them to attain it.”

“We can only end man-made famine if we address the corruption and war crimes that are causing millions to starve,” said Congressmember Karen Bass (D-CA), Ranking Member of the House Subcommittee on Africa, Global Health and Human Rights. “I hope Secretary Mnuchin and the rest of the administration use this letter as a guide to take tangible steps towards ending famine now. Thank you to the leadership of the bipartisan Congressional Caucus on Sudan and South Sudan for leading this letter to mitigate the harrowing effects of famine.”

“The leaders of South Sudan are looting the country’s treasury while their people suffer the horrors of civil war,” said Congressman Jim McGovern (D-MA). “We call on the US Treasury Department to hit them where it hurts – in their pocketbooks and anywhere else they try to hide or stash the funds and resources that rightfully belong to the people of South Sudan.”

Read the full letter here.