Washington D.C. [U.S.A.], September 7 (ANI): The United States has imposed sanctions on three close associates of South Sudan's President Salva Kiir Mayardit, saying they had personally profited themselves amid civil war and famine conditions.
At least 100,000 people have been affected by famine, with one million more at immediate risk. More than five million could be affected by the crisis over the next few weeks.
State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said in a statement that the Trump administration will increasingly scrutinize South Sudanese officials, who have benefitted from a climate of corruption in a government that has been called a kleptocracy.
The Treasury Department imposed sanctions on Gen. Malek Reuben Riak Rengu, the army's deputy chief of staff in charge of military procurement; and Michael Makuei Lueth, South Sudan's information minister.
"This is a man-made crisis, and one the Government of South Sudan can stop," she said.
Abiriu, in Bahr el Ghazal, the area in north-western South Sudan that the UN has warned, is likely to be the next place where famine is declared. Last year's lack of rain is one reason for the food shortages, but the descent into armed conflict and chaos is the real cause of the crisis in South Sudan, where it has become too dangerous to farm the fields.
In addition, sanctions were placed on Paul Malong Awan, who was chief of staff of the South Sudan People's Liberation Army until President Salva Kiir fired him in May. Three companies owned or controlled by Riak also were sanctioned, CNN reported.
The sanctions come days after Kiir met with a senior U.S. official in the capital of Juba. U.S. official raised concerns about the violence sweeping South Sudan and the dangers posed to humanitarian workers trying to reach starving people amid a civil war.
The U.S Treasury Department, according to the statement, also issued a notice to banks warning that doing business with these South Sudanese officials and companies who are suspected of laundering money obtained through corruption may bring penalties.
"Treasury will forcefully respond to the atrocities ongoing in South Sudan by targeting those who abuse human rights, seek to derail the peace process, and obstruct reconciliation in South Sudan," it added.(ANI)