Today the Senate Foreign Relations Committee is holding a hearing on the urgent crisis unfolding in South Sudan. There are a number of specific things the U.S. can do to make a real difference in supporting peace.
Despite the peaceful independence of South Sudan in July 2011, the past year has seen tensions mount, borders close, and oil turn off. Sudan and South Sudan can now turn their attention to their economies and the needs for better governance, development and resolution of internal conflicts.
Many Sudanese people are trapped in the conflict zone, with little access to food, water, shelter, or medical care. However, the government continues to deny international humanitarian organizations full and unfettered access to affected areas.
Though South Sudan is 7,000 miles away from the U.S., we still share the same desire to live in peace and freedom. We both share the same dreams for our children, that they can grow up safe, go to school, and maybe someday become president.
If war breaks out between South Sudan and the Republic of Sudan, fewer resources will be available to make the necessary investments that will allow the South Sudanese people to lead fruitful, rewarding lives -- above the poverty line and food secure -- in the new Republic of South Sudan.
If we continue to stand now for peace in South Sudan, then their first chapter as a nation could read of new schools and children living past their 5th birthdays, instead of burned marketplaces and displaced refugees.
South Sudan is the world's newest nation, and while we celebrate the first International Women's Day in independent South Sudan, we must look at how we can address the great challenges faced by women and girls in one of the world's least developed countries.
Say that your province or region suddenly becomes an independent country -- with recognition from the United Nations and all. After the celebrations end, and the celebrities leave, the real decision-making begins.
They fought for dignity. They also fought for new shoes -- a better life in impoverished South Sudan after decades of devastating warfare. But explosive border conflicts threaten the stability of the world's newest nation.