President Obama pledges another “century of friendship” with Ethiopia…
President Barack Hussein Obama, on the first-ever visit by a US President to Ethiopia, looked back at the century-old diplomatic ties between the two countries and charted the way forward to restructure an already existing and close cooperative partnership into a meaningful approach to deal with the challenges of the fight against poverty, food insecurity, and other emerging threats in the future. The President’s visit, exploring the surest ways to sustainable peace, development and democratization in the region, put the long-standing ties between the US and Ethiopia on a concrete foundation to ensure progress in areas ranging from combating climate change, to fighting insecurity, conflicts and terrorism and providing for opportunities to take lessons from the US’s development path in science, technology and education. President Obama’s visit, according to Prime Minister Hailemariam, “represents a new height in our bilateral relations” allowing for both sides to trade more, encourage the flourishing of people-to-people ties, and work together on capacity building for greater progress.
Prime Minister Hailemariam and President Barack Obama, heading their respective delegations, held bilateral discussions on various issues of common interest at the National Palace on Monday (July 27). The talks covered ways to deepen the quality and comprehensive nature of cooperation in trade and investment; to take advantage of President Obama’s signature Power Africa initiative; to expedite the strategic partnership in security and peace-building as well as fighting terrorism in the region; and to step up cooperation to make President Obama’s Flagship Alliance for Food Security program a complete success. The talks allowed the two leaders to exchange views on how the US can champion the Addis Ababa Action Agenda at the upcoming negotiations at the Sustainable Development Goals Summit in New York in September. They also dwelt on how best to coordinate efforts to combat climate change; work together on global health epidemics; and co-operate closely to make the COP21 negotiations a success. In addition, these bilateral talks offered an opportunity to discuss how the US might extend support to Ethiopia’s democratization process; enhance efforts to strengthen its institutions and build capacity in various areas; as well as strengthen intelligence cooperation bilaterally and regionally.
Prime Minister Hailemariam, underlining that the U.S. is Ethiopia’s strategic partner in many fields, explored ways to encourage U.S. investors to come to Ethiopia in large numbers, with a view to benefitting from the competitive and comparative advantages available here. In relation to security and peace building, both sides acknowledged the US’s pivotal role in regional peace and security. They agreed to work closely on South Sudan to bring lasting peace there as well as build peace in Somalia by helping to create stable institutions and strengthening the Somali security forces to provide for them to take charge of the peace of their own country. The two sides appreciated the progress made by AMISOM forces and the Somali National Army in the fight against Al-Shabaab with the support of the U.S. and other partners. They agreed to intensify the campaign against terrorism in the region, and agreed to deepen cooperation in intelligence both bilaterally as well as regionally.
Prime Minister Hailemariam and President Obama spoke to the press following the bilateral talks. Prime Minister Hailemariam, who noted that given Ethiopia is the cradle of mankind, a beacon for African independence, an inspiration for the struggle of all people across the globe, the political capital of Africa and a pacemaker in registering impressive economic growth, described President Obama’s visit to this country as “fitting and appropriate” as well as a “well-deserved one.” The Prime Minister, who said that the Government of Ethiopia was committed to deepening the democratic process, emphasized that Ethiopia’s commitment to democracy was “real, not skin-deep.” The Government of Ethiopia, the Prime Minister added, welcomed U.S. support in this regard to make the system robust and effective. He reiterated the Government’s commitment to deepening the democratic process already underway in the country and to working towards respect of human rights and improving governance.
President Obama, indicating that his visit was a reflection of the cardinal importance the USA attaches to its relationship with Ethiopia and to Africa, noted that Ethiopia and the USA share a longstanding friendship. The President said the connection of the two peoples was “deep and enduring”. President Obama noted that Ethiopia was one of the fastest growing economies in the world and had changed its image from that of a drought-stricken and impoverished state into a leading country battling poverty and lifting many out of poverty. The US, he said, was keen to sustain that momentum, step up cooperation to eradicate extreme poverty and work in concert to combat food insecurity. The President underlined this point when on the final day of his visit he toured the Faffa Food Factory in Addis Ababa and discussed his Feed the Future initiative aimed at increasing the productivity of small farms throughout Africa.
The President also focused on the importance of continuing to build resilience in the sphere of climate change, expand private sector engagement through the renewal of AGOA, help the Government increase electricity across Ethiopia through the Power Africa Initiative, and keep moving forward with the progress made so far. The renewal of AGOA, in particular, the President said, opened the window of opportunity for both countries to increase trade to provide more for better results. The President, appreciating the Prime Minister’s role in the global consensus produced at the recent International Conference on Financing for Development, reiterated that “Ethiopia is now helping to shape a new set of sustainable development goals for the world.”
On security cooperation, the President pointed out that their partnership was helping to roll back violent extremism. He said Ethiopia’s role had enabled AMISOM, the African Union Mission in Somalia, to liberate wide areas from Al-Shabaab control. The President, stressing the need to do even more in this regard, underlined the urgency “to now keep the pressure on.” He went on to note that Ethiopia was also a major contributor to U.N. peacekeeping efforts and “contributes more troops than any other country in Africa.” He added, “and we’re working together to improve the ability of Ethiopian peacekeepers to respond rapidly to emerging crises, before they spiral into widespread violence.” He said that Ethiopia had “also been a key partner as we seek to resolve the on-going crisis in South Sudan.” He was appreciative of Ethiopia for the sanctuary it is providing for the “hundreds of thousands of refugees who have fled South Sudan and conflicts throughout the region.”
The President also noted that he and the Prime Minister had discussed steps that Ethiopia might take to show progress on promoting good governance, protecting human rights, fundamental freedoms, and strengthening democracy. He said: “The governing party has significant breadth and popularity and, as a consequence, making sure to open additional space for journalists or media or opposition voices will strengthen rather than inhibit the agenda that the Prime Minister and the ruling party have put forward.” Prime Minister Hailemariam said Ethiopia needed “ethical journalism,” not reporters that “pass the line” and work with “terrorist groups.” President Obama disclosed that both sides had agreed to hold further conversations and consultation because, he said, “we strongly believe in Ethiopia’s promise and its people.” He said that “Ethiopia is a strong partner with the United States and a leader on so many vital issues in the region”, adding that “it has the opportunity now to extend its leadership in ways that benefit all of Ethiopia’s people and that sets a positive example for the region.”
On Monday, the President and his delegation attended a State Dinner hosted by Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn after the bilateral meeting and joint press conference. Speaking at the State Dinner, the Prime Minister, recollecting that the historic ties between the two countries began in 1903, said that the US had offered powerful inspiration for the promotion of science and technology in Ethiopia as well as democracy and good governance. In a similar fashion, the Prime Minister said, Ethiopia, being “the only surviving vessel of freedom and independence in Africa, had offered inspiration to many in America including such great African American thinkers as the philosopher, Du Bois, and Dr Martin Luther King, Jr. The Prime Minister went on to say that the spirit of Ethiopia had lifted the hearts of many by “courageous struggle as the symbol of the struggle of the whole community of Africans across the world for civil liberty, equality, and freedom.” He recalled that Ethio-American ties were built on concrete foundations of mutual understanding, respect and dignity and these had flourished during the fight against fascism. He applauded the role of the people of the US as “historic” when the US had denounced Italy’s invasion of Ethiopia, with its people mobilizing funds and sending medical supplies, as well as expressing their willingness to a point of enlisting themselves to fight for Ethiopia.
The Prime Minister, who noted that many more had come to Ethiopia to extend their support for post-war reconstruction, following the Second World War, particularly remembered Colonel John Robinson, otherwise known as the “Brown Condor of Ethiopia”. An exemplary model of Americans in Ethiopia’s fight against fascism, he was responsible for setting up the Ethiopian Air Force during the Italian invasion and subsequently served as the first commander of the Ethiopian air force. The Prime Minister also expressed his gratitude to the US administration and to the members of the US Congress for the recent renewal of the African Growth and Opportunity Act for another decade. He underlined that “this bipartisan action by Congress was an impressive example of the way the United States is prepared to assist in development and growth in Africa.” This was also a demonstration that reflected the US interest to work closely and harmoniously with Ethiopia and Africa for mutual progress, he said. The Prime Minister stressed that the time was ready for both sides to take these links to a higher stage and cement their long-standing, time-tested and exceptional relationship.
President Obama visited the 3.2-million year-old bones of ‘Lucy’ and in his reply at the dinner, he highlighted that “Ethiopians are an ancient people in an ancient land. We honor Ethiopia as the birthplace of humankind.” The President quoted Poet Laureate Tsegaye Gebre Medhin: “Here is the land where the first harmony in the rainbow was born…Here is the root of the Genesis of Life; the human family was first planted here.” He said that visiting the 3.2 million year-old remains of Lucy, the earliest ancestor of the human race, was a reminder of the fact that “Ethiopians, Americans, all the people of the world are part of the same human family, the same chain.” The President recalled that Ethiopia, a symbolic example of freedom and a living expression of the right of self-determination, had played an important role in igniting the imagination of Americans and inspiring African Americans before they won their civil rights. He reminded his listeners that Ethiopia uplifted the imagination of American poets like Paul Laurence Dunbar and Langston Hughes by showing a dignity “to be celebrated and emulated.” President Obama, indicating that the deep connections of the two peoples were set on a solid footing of shared values, pledged “another century of friendship, to our one human family.”
President Obama’s visit to Ethiopia sent a clear message that the US would continue to be supportive of Ethiopia’s march towards development and progress, highlighting that it was a key and lasting sign that the two countries could expect “another century of friendship”. It also underlined that Ethiopia’s vision of joining the list of Middle-Income Countries and of becoming a Carbon Neutral Middle- Income Manufacturing Hub by 2025 surely complemented the U.S. commitment to “expanding economic growth and trade, strengthening democracy on a global scale, and investing in the next generation of African leaders.”
… commends Africa’s progress and development to the African Union ….
While in Addis Ababa, President Obama held talks with AU Commission Chairperson, Dr Dlamini-Zuma, and he also addressed the African Union. It was the first time a sitting American president has addressed the 54-member states of the African continent, and his historic speech marked the end of his five-day tour to Kenya and Ethiopia. Speaking at the Nelson Mandela Hall of the African Union Headquarters on Tuesday (July 28), Barack Obama began his address by thanking Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn and the Ethiopian people for the wonderful hospitality he and his delegation had received and the African Union for hosting such a historic event.
In his keynote address, President Obama said, “I’m grateful for this opportunity to speak to the representatives of more than one billion people of the great African continent,” adding that “I stand before you as a proud American. I also stand before you as the son of an African.”
Reflecting on Africa’s contributions to humanity, President Obama recalled that Africa and its people had helped to shape America and allowed it to become the great nation that it is now. Africa as a cradle of humanity, the President said, was notable for its ancient kingdoms that were home to great libraries and universities. Unfortunately, the President noted, the evils of slavery and the impact of colonialism had robbed the peoples of the continent of their capacity to shape their own destiny. Despite these frightful and tremendous ordeals, the President said Africa in “a great burst of self-determination” had been able to achieve its freedom and had been able to restore its dignity with the resurrection of its national sovereignty and independence.
Touching upon the significant progress that the African continent has made across recent years, Obama noted that Africa was now one of the fastest-growing regions in the world. Africa, with its middle class projected to grow to more than one billion consumers and with hundreds of millions of mobile phones provided ever-growing access to the internet, “is beginning to leapfrog old technologies into new prosperity.” He said: “Africa is on the move, a new Africa is emerging, propelled by this progress, and in partnership with the world.” The President pointed out that Africa had achieved historic gains in health as the rate of new HIV/AIDS infections dropped, African mothers were now more likely to survive childbirth and have healthy babies, malaria deaths had been slashed saving the lives of millions of African children, and millions had been lifted from extreme poverty. Africa, he said, led the world in sending more children to school. Accordingly, the President said, “more and more African men, women and children are living with dignity and with hope.” Reminding his listeners that “Africa doesn’t need strongmen; it needs strong institutions,” President Obama noted that the Africa Union was one of those institutions that could serve as a platform for “a shared commitment to human dignity and development,” adding that “here, your 54 nations pursue a common vision of an “integrated, prosperous and peaceful Africa.”
Given Africa’s successes in setting out its own choices and determining its own future, President Obama called for the rest of the world to take note of the changes that have been taking place on the continent and act accordingly. With regard to aspects of development cooperation between the United States and the African Continent, President Obama noted that “as President, I’ve worked to transform America’s relationship with Africa …. We are truly listening to our African friends and working together, as equal partners.” President Obama also noted that a lot of progress has been made and American exports to the African continent had shown a rise. He said the renewal of the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA), which he recently signed following a display of bipartisan support from Congress, showed America’s strong commitment to a mutual partnership with Africa. In addition, President Obama noted, the US has launched major initiatives to ensure food security, promote public health and access to electricity, and to help prepare the next generation of African leaders and entrepreneurs. All this combined to make up “investments that will help fuel Africa’s rise for decades to come,” he said; and to this end, he had personally welcomed nearly 50 African presidents and prime ministers to Washington last year. This meeting, the President said, set up a forum dedicated to beginning a new chapter of cooperation. He said that “by coming to the African Union today, I’m looking to build on that commitment.” Stressing the fact that Africa’s rise was important, not just for Africa alone but also to the entire world, President Obama noted that the world will not be able to meet today’s challenges “from ensuring a strong global economy to facing down violent extremism, to combating climate change, to ending hunger and extreme poverty – without the voices and contributions of one billion Africans.”
Despite the remarkable growth in Africa, the President noted that much remained to be done in the face of extreme poverty, power inadequacy and water shortages. Given the huge number of the continent’s young population, the President noted that “the most urgent task facing Africa today and for decades ahead is to create opportunity for the next generation,” noting that unleashing economic growth for all remained a necessity. The President reminded his listeners of the critical need to end “the cancer of corruption.” He said this was the key to unlocking Africa’s economic potential, and this was money that could be used to create jobs and build schools and hospitals. He added that if Africa committed itself to ending corruption, the United States would cooperate with the continent to combat illicit financing and ensure transparency. He said the rapid economic growth in Africa was changing “old stereotypes” of a continent hit by war and poverty, but it was important to tackle unemployment urgently on a continent whose one billion people would double in a few decades. The President said: “We need only look to the Middle East and North Africa to see that large numbers of young people with no jobs and stifled voices can fuel instability and disorder.”
President Obama emphasized the critical need to boost Africa’s trade and investment. He said many countries in Africa have made important reforms to attract investment. These had provided the spark for growth although, he added, the prospect of doing business and investing still leaves much to be desired in many parts of Africa. Improvement requires modernizing customs and border crossings, as has been evident from the example of the East African Community and thereby getting the best out of the huge domestic market on the continent. On the issue of expanding America’s efforts across Africa, President Obama said “we’re increasing trade missions to places like Tanzania, Ethiopia and Mozambique; and we’re working to help more Africans get their goods to market.” Moreover, the President noted, the central focus of America’s engagement with Africa is built on “helping you build your own capacity to realize that vision,” which involves helping more than two million farmers to use new techniques to boost their yields, feed more people and reduce hunger, “instead of just shipping food aid to Africa.” Similarly, the US was mobilizing billions of dollars in investment from governments with the Power Africa Initiative “instead of just sending aid to build power plants.” He maintained that America’s engagement with Africa involved delivering new tools and financing to more than 40 African nations to help them prepare and adapt “instead of just telling Africa, you’re on your own.” It also meant dealing with climate change and investing in better treatments and helping Africa prevent and treat diseases “instead of just sending medicine.” President Obama said the US would be hosting a U.S.-Africa Business Forum to mobilize billions of dollars in new trade and investment.
President Obama noted that democracy was taking root in some parts of the continent, but he cautioned on the need to work hard to unleash the wishes and meet the choices of its own peoples. He said the effort of building democracy was a work in progress. American democracy was not perfect, he said, and was not immune from criticism. There was always the need to continuously re-examine the process of making democracy better in Africa. He strongly criticized the refusal of some few leaders in the continent to step aside when their term officially ended. President Obama said: “Sometimes you will hear leaders say “I’m the only person who can hold this nation together. If that’s true, then that leader has failed to truly build their nation.”
The President underlined that Africa’s progress depended on security and peace. He pointed out that countries like Angola, Mozambique, Liberia and Sierra Leone, have seen conflicts come to an end and much work done on rebuilding, but terrorism, he said, still remained a threat in countries like Somalia, Nigeria, Mali and Tunisia. “In the face of these threats,” he said, “Africa, and the African Union, has shown impressive leadership.” Under this, the Somali Government, thanks to the peace and security efforts of the African Union, was getting stronger than ever, the Lord’s Resistance Army was being degraded and forces from several nations, with the backing of the AU, were bent on fighting Boko Haram. In South Sudan, however, President Obama noted that the leaders on both sides had shown no interest in ending the plight of their people and finding a lasting political solution. He said the international community must raise the costs for the leaders if they fail to come to terms on August 17. In all these situations, the President noted, “good governance is one of the best weapons against terrorism and instability.” With reference to terror and conflict, he said, “I want you to know that the United States stands with you.” And mindful of the fact that the fight against terrorism requires global action, the President said he will host a UN Summit in the next few months to secure new commitments to strengthen international support for peacekeeping, including Africa.
President Obama, in conclusion, stressed that African progress would depend on upholding the human rights of all people. In this context, he dealt at length with the critical need to empower women. He noted that it remains a tragedy that more than “80 percent of new HIV cases in the hardest-hit countries are teenage girls.” He emphasized that the world would be better off when women receive equal opportunities, adding that America was forging new partnerships with 10 African countries in order to allow teenage girls to get safe schooling and thus become future leaders and business owners. The President also stressed the need for inclusivity, noting that “for instance, the diversity in Ethiopia represents the diversity in Africa.” Taking note of Lucy as an ancestor of humanity, and reflecting on Africa’s natural and historical attachment to the rest of the world, President Obama concluded: “In this tree of humanity, with all of our branches and diversity, we all go back to the same root. We’re all one family – we’re all one tribe.”
Dr Nkosazana Dlami Zuma, Chairperson of the African Union Commission, extended a warm welcome to the President: “although we welcome you as the President of the United States of America, we also claim you as our own”. She also warmly welcomed the Congressional delegation, recalling their bipartisan unwavering support, and the support of ordinary Americans, to the African struggle against colonialism and apartheid. Dr Zuma stressed the need to cooperate with the United States to combat illicit financing, to deal with climate change, and ensure peace and security on the continent. The Chairperson noted that Africa was in a unique position to chart a path for development and industrialization through renewable energy and climate-smart agriculture. Equally, Dr Zuma said, “we do require the cooperation of our partners and of the USA, through technology transfer, and investment in infrastructure development, renewable energy and our blue and green economies so that we develop without destroying the planet.” Taking note of the need for reform in the United Nations, Dr Zuma noted that the world has the responsibility to correct the historical injustice of Africa being the only continent without permanent membership of the UN Security Council. Dr Zuma said 2015 marks the African Year of Women’s empowerment for the realization of Agenda 2063, and investing in women remained critical to “shared prosperity and to Africa becoming a prosperous, integrated, peaceful, people-centered continent, playing a dynamic role in the world.”
… and stresses reconciliation and anti-corruption in Kenya
President Obama’s visit to Ethiopia was preceded by a visit to Kenya to attend the first Global Entrepreneurship Summit to be held in sub-Saharan Africa. This highlighted a key theme of the President’s engagement in Africa, the importance of the tremendous business and economic opportunities now available in Africa. Kenya is one of the major driving forces in the East African Community, and is on the frontline facing Somalia and the threat of al-Shabaab and plays a key role in the African Union’s Mission in Somalia (AMISOM). All these are reasons why President Obama visited Kenya in addition, of course, to the fact that his father was Kenyan.
Speaking at the Global Entrepreneurship Summit, President Obama said holding the Summit in Nairobi underlined that Africa was on the move; one of the fastest-growing regions of the world: “People are being lifted out of poverty. Incomes are up. The middle class is growing.” He added: “Kenya is leading the way.” Entrepreneurship created new jobs and new businesses, new ways to deliver basic services, new ways of seeing the world. It helped citizens stand up for their rights and push back against corruption. It offered a positive alternative to the ideologies of violence and division. It meant ownership and self-determination, and brought down barriers between communities and cultures and built bridges. But it wasn’t easy to get started and that was why he had made encouraging the spirit of entrepreneurship a key part of America’s engagement in the world. The President pledged over a billion dollars in investments from the U.S. government along with U.S.-based banks, foundations and donors. He emphasized that 50 percent of the investments would go to women and young people, who faced obstacles when trying to start businesses. Referring to women who face gender oppression in Kenya he told the conference that “If half of your team is not playing, you’ve got a problem.” He said three women’s entrepreneurial centers were being set up, one in Zambia, one in Nairobi, and one in Mali. 20 members of Congress and 200 American investors to promote U.S.-African trade, technological innovation and the President’s Power Africa initiative, which aims to double access to electricity in Africa over five years, attended the Summit.
President Obama’s visit to his father’s native Kenya was the first by a sitting US President to Kenya. It was both personal and political, with both family and political commitments. He described himself as a “Kenyan-American” President and met with members of his family, but equally he was prepared to speak of major issues in Kenya.
In discussions with President Kenyatta, President Obama committed the United States to an intensified fight against terrorists in East Africa, announcing that the US would expand support for counter-terrorism operations in Kenya and Somalia, including increased training and funding for Kenya’s security forces. In 2015, Kenya received $100 million in U.S. counterterrorism assistance, more than doubling the previous year, and the US administration pledged to work with Congress to provide additional counterterrorism aid to Kenya. President Obama also met with survivors and families of victims of the bombing of the U.S. Embassy in 1998, and laid a wreath at the memorial to the victims. He noted that the Kenyan people had shown “incredible resolve and remarkable resilience…in the face of despicable violence, such as the attack on Garissa University College and the Westgate Mall.” He said: “On security, the United States and Kenya are already strong partners, and today we reaffirm that we stand united in the face of terrorism.”
At the joint press conference he held with President Kenyatta, he encouraged the Kenyan Government to engage all segments of the community and to work with it as partners in confronting Al-Shabaab. He saluted the Kenyan people for their hard-won progress in strengthening democracy and noted the new constitution was one of the most progressive in Africa, “with its strong protections for freedom of expression, assembly and the press, and its emphasis on equality and against discrimination.” He said “a free press helps make a nation stronger and more successful, and it makes us leaders more effective because it demands greater accountability.” He praised Kenya’s vibrant civil society, something which he said “is essential for any democracy”.
Both at the joint press conference he held with President Kenyatta and when he addressed the nation at the stadium on Sunday, President Obama spoke of the need to fight corruption, empower women, get rid of outdated practices such as female genital mutilation and respect gay rights. He commended President Kenyatta for his announced commitment to root out corruption, which he said might well be the biggest impediment to Kenya growing even faster and preventing more people having more opportunity. He said the US would offer advice and technical assistance to support increased transparency and accountability, and strengthen institutions that fight corruption. He also said the entire nation needed to commit itself to do away with corruption. President Obama also spoke of women’s equality, girls’ right to an education, and female genital mutilation.
President Obama said it was important to avoid restricting legitimate organizations as that could have the effect of actually increasing the pool of recruits for terrorism and resentment in communities. He said the experience of the US was that the rule of law and respecting, embracing civil [rights], particularly in communities that might be targeted for recruitment by organizations like Al-Shabaab, becomes more important with the significance of the threat. He said he believed in the principle of treating people equally under the law, and that all were deserving of equal protection under the law. The state, he said, should not discriminate against people on the basis of their sexual orientation.
President Kenyatta said he and President Obama had held “very frank and, indeed, very fruitful discussions” on a variety of issues of mutual interest. They had also signed a number of agreements covering security, visa reciprocity, and development and cooperation, amongst other things. President Kenyatta said their discussions had underlined the fact that Kenya and the United States shared deep values in many areas, and their peoples and governments spoke the same language in many areas. Kenya, he said, was an open, democratic society, and it was deepening that democracy while fighting global terrorists. It shared many values with the US including a common love for democracy, entrepreneurship and value for families. However, he added, there were some things they did not share. It was, he said, very difficult to impose on people something they themselves do not accept. For Kenyans today, he said, the issue of gay rights is really a non-issue and people wanted to focus on health issues; ensuring inclusivity of women in the mainstream of economic development; infrastructure; education; roads; giving people power; and encouraging entrepreneurship. Once these had been dealt with, new issues could be looked at.
President Obama reaffirmed the partnership of Kenya and the US against terrorism. Earlier, he had met with survivors and families of victims of the bombing of the U.S. embassy in 1998. He paid [tribute] to the sacrifices of Kenyan forces in AMISOM. He said the two governments had signed an action plan under which the US would support Kenya’s effort to strengthen its judiciary, police and border security. They had also discussed broader efforts to counter violent extremism, both in Kenya and elsewhere, as well as talked about “the terrible conflict in South Sudan” where the situation is “dire”.