The U.S. State Department on Friday condemned actions by South Sudan’s government to prevent civilians from leaving the country after recent fighting and voiced concern about the beating and detention of some politicians.
State Department spokeswoman Elizabeth Trudeau said the situation in the capital Juba remained “fluid” but the United States still believed it was possible the country’s longtime political adversaries could come together to restore order.
Forces loyal to South Sudan’s President Salva Kiir and Vice President Riek Machar engaged in five days of street battles with anti-aircraft guns, attack helicopters and tanks until a ceasefire was reached on Monday.
The fighting prompted the United Nations and some countries to withdraw non-essential personnel. The United States sent 47 additional troops to protect U.S. citizens and the U.S. Embassy.
“We continue to press the leaders of South Sudan to end the fighting,” Trudeau told reporters. “We call on all parties to allow civilian freedom of movement and provide unfettered humanitarian access to all people in need.”
“Destruction and damage to humanitarian facilities and violence against aid workers is unacceptable and must stop immediately,” she added.
200 US troops deployed to Juba
President Barack Obama on Friday said he would deploy up to 200 U.S. troops equipped with combat equipment to South Sudan to protect U.S. citizens and the embassy in Juba amid an outbreak of violence between rival troops in the nation.
The U.S. troops will be initially stationed in neighboring Uganda, Obama said in a notice to the U.S. Congress. They will include 47 troops announced earlier this week, and 130 troops currently in Djibouti.
“It is not possible to know at this time the precise scope or the duration of the deployments of U.S. Armed Forces necessary to support the security of U.S. citizens and property in South Sudan,” Obama said in his letter to Congress.