Carved out of Sudan following years of civil war and the Darfur genocide, South Sudan was originally touted as a U.S. foreign policy success story after a vote for independence in 2011, but in the five years since, the country has been overrun by an internal war that has resulted in mass murders, gang rapes and torture.
After speaking to Fox News last year, former government official Joseph Bakosoro was arrested and jailed. He recently escaped to the United States and says America must help -- and soon, or another genocide is imminent.
“There are insecurities all over the country, there are gunmen all over. There is no rule of law in the country now,” he said. “Everybody's above the law. Every individual has a gun and there is total breakdown of law and order.”
There are more than 60 tribes within South Sudan, but the majority Dinka has held rule since the country’s inception. Other tribes claim to have endured mass killings, rapes and worse at the hands of the Dinka. In response, the second largest tribe, the Nuer, formed rebel forces and have gained ground in recent months.
“This is a tribal or ethnic conflict that's been fought in South Sudan for many years, even before independence. The level of brutality has increased. The level of animosity among the tribes has continued high,” said former UN ambassador John Bolton. “We've got more than one million refugees, casualties that can't even be counted and no prospect of it ending, so it's a tragic failure for everyone involved.”
The United Nations has described then-tribal fighting as “catastrophic.” A peace deal brokered by the Obama administration last year has failed to stop the carnage. Jens Laerke at the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs said, “"We estimate that 4.8 million people are food insecure in South Sudan, we don't have access to all of them. It's a very fluid situation with a lot of violence."
Since 2011, the United States has given billions of dollars and even waived the Child Soldier Prevention Act in order to continue the funding.
Bakosoro insisted that while the U.S. has been a friend, it did a poor job of following the money it gave, thus resulting in massive corruption and even weapons purchasing that armed a military now charged with brutal crimes.
"The U.S. gave a lot of money to South Sudan without any accountability and that has made the leaders in South Sudan be unruly and unaccounted for,” he said.
Bolton agreed. "I think there were excellent reasons for the United States to support a partition of the Sudan. I think that where we made a mistake was in believing massive economic assistance and nation building could overcome the long standing tribal divisions."
The United States has evacuated all non-essential staff and added 47 U.S. Marines for internal security. According to Deputy State Department Spokesman Mark Toner, "We're obviously very concerned by the violence. We're calling on all sides to abide by the ceasefire and refrain from anymore of the destabilizing rhetoric."
There are currently 12,000 UN troops on the ground, but very little reportedly has been done by those troops to stop the atrocities. Their mission expires August 12 and there is disagreement between the UN and U.S. about how to proceed. As a result, a planned UN Security Council trip to South Sudan Aug 15-19 was just cancelled.
Bakosoro warned, “If they don't intervene now, I think the situation may grow worse, reaching to the point just like 1994 Rwanda genocide.”