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IRC Statement on U.S. Administration’s decision on South Sudan’s Temporary Protected Status

The U.S. Administration announced today it will extend but not redesignate Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for South Sudan. This decision only protects the 84 beneficiaries of this status currently while arbitrarily excluding more recent South Sudanese arrivals who could benefit from these protections at a time when the country is on the brink of famine.

“While the warring parties were able to come to a peace agreement, many people are still being displaced from their homes due to fighting and insecurity and there is substantial work to be done to address the long-time suffering of the South Sudanese people", said Martin Omukuba, South Sudan Country Director at the International Rescue Committee. Omukuba added, "Today, the peace agreement remains fragile and 54 percent of the population is severely food insecure. The new transitional South Sudanese government, which is scheduled to take over in May this year, must work to tackle extreme hunger across the country, end the rampant violence against women and girls, and scale up humanitarian response to get help to where it is needed.”

The U.S. State Department itself advises against any travel to South Sudan due to violence and instability in the country in very strong terms, advising that travelers draft a will and leave DNA samples before leaving. More than half of the population of South Sudan is facing acute food insecurity with 1.6 million in emergency conditions and 30,000 facing catastrophic famine conditions. These are the consequences of the lasting conflict which has disrupted livelihoods and the economy.

The IRC has been one of the largest providers of aid in southern Sudan for 30 years, offering emergency assistance throughout decades of war. The IRC has more than 400 staff in South Sudan responding to the increasingly dire food insecurity crisis through our support for health, nutrition, reproductive health and women’s protection and empowerment, child protection, as well as livelihoods. The IRC is one of the largest providers of aid in South Sudan serving more than 900,000 people.

By extending but failing to re-designate TPS for South Sudan, the Administration is signaling that it recognizes that South Sudan is not safe but is arbitrarily not willing to extend protections for those that arrived after a specific date. This is is the latest in a series of decisions that roll back protections on vulnerable populations in the U.S. which includes numerous terminations of TPS designation for countries which are suffering devastating conditions, drastically decreasing the refugee admissions cap, and forcibly returning people seeking asylum to Mexico.

The U.S. has a longstanding tradition of providing safety to those fleeing persecution and violence and it must not abandon this strong humanitarian record now. Congress must step in to legislate a pathway to permanent status for those who will lose protections under this and prior TPS decisions.

About the IRC

The International Rescue Committee responds to the world’s worst humanitarian crises, helping to restore health, safety, education, economic wellbeing, and power to people devastated by conflict and disaster. Founded in 1933 at the call of Albert Einstein, the IRC is at work in over 40 countries and 28 offices across the U.S. helping people to survive, reclaim control of their future, and strengthen their communities. Learn more at www.rescue.org and follow the IRC on Twitter & Facebook.