CASS representatives Kwaje Lasu, Joseph Agolory, Mayom Achuk and Bill Andress were very well received during a two-day visit to the U.S. capital. They met with a co-chair of the Congressional Caucus; Ambassador Donald E. Booth and former Ambassador Susan D. Page and their staff; the head and staff of the Africa section of the U.S. Institute for Peace; the head and staff of the Sudan and South Sudan section of the U. S. Agency for International Development; and church leaders of various denominations. CASS was able to make all its intended points and estimated the visit an unqualified success.
All with whom they met were well informed, agreed with them regarding the need, urgency and current opportunity available, and impressed the CASS representatives with their desire to help. They also let CASS know that they worked within limitations and asked for CASS’s help in unifying a South Sudanese/Diaspora voice on behalf of peace.
Positive outcry needed. CASS was informed by the leaders they met that there will be no peace for South Sudan until there is a consistent, positive outcry from the people and the Church on behalf of peace. Without such an outcry, the parties to the conflict will see no reason to change the path they are on. Thus, CASS was requested to help in two areas in particular: (1) uniting the diaspora for peace, since the diaspora seems to be a net contributor to the conflict; and (2) uniting the people and Church of South Sudan into one powerful voice in prayer for peace. Progress in these areas, all agreed, can initiate a change the mindset among the conflict parties.
Recommendations. Based on the Washington, DC meetings, CASS recommends:
~ Continuing to work on bringing together the diaspora
~ Continuing to work on getting support for a major diaspora gathering
~ Publishing articles and papers encouraging the people of South Sudan and the diaspora to demand a change of conflict leadership to pave the way toward cessation of fighting
~ Developing a compelling vision statement for a post-conflict South Sudan
~ Following up with U.S. churches on increasing their advocacy efforts on behalf of peace and a vibrant post-conflict South Sudan
~ Maintaining a positive relationship with the Special Envoy’s office, the Sudan/South Sudan USAID desk and the USIP.
March 12, 2015 meetings. The first meeting was with a faith-based group representing the Presbyterian Church (USA), World Relief, the Mennonite Central Committee, and the United Church of Christ. CASS’s goal with this group was to encourage more forceful advocacy by them with the President, as had happened earlier with the Comprehensive Peace Agreement of 2005 and the 2011 referendum. Future meetings on this topic are a possibility.
The second meeting was with USAID, including the staff of the Faith Based Initiatives Office and the entire Sudan/South Sudan desk at the agency. CASS requested that the agency focus totally on the humanitarian aspects of their work until the overwhelming needs had been met. CASS further asked that education and transportation be top priorities. Though they agreed about the priorities, they noted that transportation was a very expensive undertaking.
State Department meeting (March 13). The first of the day’s three meetings was at the Department of State with Donald E. Booth, Special Envoy to Sudan and South Sudan; Susan D. Page, former Ambassador to South Sudan and currently Booth’s principal deputy; Lucy Tamlin, Andy Burnett and others from the team; as well as Mark Kodi, who seeks to join CASS. All understood and agreed with CASS’s assessment regarding need, urgency and current opportunity with respect to peace in a post-conflict South Sudan.
The Special Envoy sought to enlist CASS’s support in creating a demand for peace and made the following suggestions:
~ Help develop a vision for the future among the South Sudanese people
~ Help transform the diaspora into a force for peace
~ Provide a voice supporting a more active role for the United States and the Troika
~ Educate the people of South Sudan that any impending economic ruin would be due to the war consuming the entirety of the government’s assets rather than actions taken by the U.S. or other countries; inform the people that the United States and other countries provide over $1 billion in humanitarian aid per year in the absence of any such assistance to the people by the government of South Sudan.
While CASS’s points were well made concerning the need for the U.S. and Troika to take a larger role in settling the conflict, it became clear to everyone that this would not happen absent widespread support from the South Sudanese people and American people.
U.S. Institute for Peace meeting. The purpose of this meeting was to garner support for a major diaspora gathering; however, the request fell on skeptical ears, though the possibility was not entirely ruled out. ISIP, among other things, is focused on (1) getting information from IGAD to the people; (2) diaspora matters; and (3) gender issues.
Meeting with U.S. Representative Barbara Lee. Representative Lee is co-chair of the Congressional Caucus. CASS requested her support for scheduling hearings on the U.S.’s role regarding the situation in South Sudan. She agreed to discuss possible hearings with her counterparts in Congress.
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