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The U.S. announces new aid for Sudan, where civil war broke out a year ago

MICHEL MARTIN, HOST:

It's been a year since an all out civil war erupted in Sudan. And today, the Sudanese people still have no peace. A power struggle between two generals in the East African nation has killed thousands of civilians, displaced 8 million people, according to the U.N., and forced even more to the brink of starvation. It is the largest ongoing humanitarian disaster on the planet, on a scale even greater than the crisis in Gaza. And yet, many say the world has forgotten Sudan. Linda Thomas-Greenfield is the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations. She gave these remarks Thursday during a press briefing on Sudan at the State Department.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

LINDA THOMAS-GREENFIELD: As communities barrel toward famine, as cholera and measles spread, as violence continues to claim countless lives, the world has largely remained silent.

MARTIN: And Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield is with us now. Welcome back, ambassador. Thank you for joining us once again.

THOMAS-GREENFIELD: Thank you for having me, Michel.

MARTIN: So those were powerful remarks. Why do you think the world has, as you say, remained largely silent on the war in Sudan?

THOMAS-GREENFIELD: You know, I don't have an answer to that question. And it really baffles me that the world is silent. And that's why I continue to go to the press with this, hoping that you and others in the press will help break that silence.

MARTIN: Who did you have in mind when you made those remarks?

THOMAS-GREENFIELD: First, it's the press, truly. But secondly, I think it's the international community. Only 5% of the appeal for Sudan has been funded. We're the largest funder. Others are still sitting on their hands.

MARTIN: So I understand that there is humanitarian aid going to the Sudanese people, but is it your understanding that it's not reaching the people it's intended to help?

THOMAS-GREENFIELD: I think it's not reaching enough people. It's getting in, but some of the borders have been closed, and the U.N. has reported that some humanitarian assistance is being obstructed both by the Sudanese armed forces but also by the RSF. They're looting homes and markets and humanitarian assistance warehouses in areas that it controls, as well. So both sides are responsible for blocking assistance getting in, they're harassing humanitarian workers and really hindering the delivery of lifesaving aid.

MARTIN: I understand that other actors have gotten involved in this war. Reuters reported last week that Sudan's army has obtained armed drones made in Iran. Has this war expanded since it began, and are you concerned that it could grow even larger and have even greater regional impact than it's already having?

THOMAS-GREENFIELD: We are worried about the regional impact and the fact that the war is being fueled by outside support. We have raised directly our concerns with a number of countries about reports of UAE supporting the RSF. We've raised the concerns, as well, about Iranian support for the SAF. There's no military solution to this conflict, and the Sudanese people have demanded that their government return into the hands of civilians.

MARTIN: So who, then, is influential in this? You've called on the U.N. Security Council, which includes the United States, to intervene. What should they be doing that they're not now doing?

THOMAS-GREENFIELD: It's not just the U.N. There are a number of countries engaged in trying to push for a diplomatic solution to this. You are aware of the Jeddah process that has brought a number of countries to the table. We are actively engaged. As you saw, I introduced a new special envoy, Tom Perriello, who spent the last month traveling in the region. And so we're eager to move forward on formal peace talks. We are hoping that those talks bring all of the parties to the table.

MARTIN: Five years ago, we were covering the nonviolent revolution there, which led former President Omar al-Bashir to resign. For a while, it just seemed that there was hope that Sudan would transition toward a civilian-led government. The picture looks very different now. Do you think that the future that so many Sudanese work toward is still possible?

THOMAS-GREENFIELD: That future is absolutely still possible. All of those young people who were in the street, those women who were standing up, raising their fists, they are out there. They are supporting their communities. They still have hope. And as long as they have hope, we have to have hope that the Sudanese people will find a path to peace and security in the future.

MARTIN: That's Linda Thomas-Greenfield. She is the United States Ambassador to the United Nations. Ambassador Thomas-Greenfield, thank you so much for speaking with us once again.

THOMAS-GREENFIELD: And thank you so much, Michel, for making sure that the world is kept aware of what is happening in Sudan.

MARTIN: And yesterday, the United States announced an additional $100 million in aid for Sudan. The money will go toward providing new emergency food assistance in the country, where close to 5 million people face potential famine. This latest announcement brings the total U.S. contribution to more than $1 billion since the conflict began. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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