The United States will give South Sudan approximately $180 million in emergency food aid to help avert famine, the White House said.
National Security Adviser Susan Rice announced the funding Tuesday, saying South Sudan is facing “the worst food security situation in the world.”
"The people of South Sudan are suffering because of the inability of South Sudan's leaders to put their people's interests above their own," Rice said in a statement announcing the aid.
The young central African country of roughly 11.3 million has been ravaged by civil war since mid-December, when fighting broke out between supporters of President Salva Kiir and his former deputy-turned-rival, Riek Machar. Tens of thousands have died in the conflict and more than 1.5 million have been displaced, according to the aid group CARE. It estimates that “4 million people are at risk of a severe food crisis.”
In July, the United Nations predicted that nearly 1 million children younger than age 5 would need treatment for "acute malnutrition" this year. The U.N. also estimated that nearly a third of the population was "dangerously food insecure."
‘No military solution’
On Tuesday, a U.N. Security Council delegation met with Kiir in the capital, Juba. U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Samantha Power said afterward that there is no "military solution to what ails South Sudan."
She urged the country's leaders to follow through on a pledge to form a transitional government.
The council's visit should "underscore to the leadership here just how important it is to follow through on the commitments made to put together a transitional governing body in a run-up to elections," she said.
Power and Security Council President Mark Lyall Grant said the council is ready to impose sanctions on those who undermine peace efforts and commit human rights violations.
The delegation is expected to meet with Machar, as well.
On Monday, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry also sharply criticized South Sudan's warring factions, after they missed an August 10 deadline to form a transitional government.
In a statement, Kerry called the failure an outrage and said neither the government nor rebels were seriously engaged in peace talks, which have been taking place in Ethiopia.
"The scale of the suffering and humanitarian need there is shocking, and the threat of famine is real," Rice’s statement said, noting it draws on "emergency funding authority for the first time since 2008."
The United States is the leading international benefactor to South Sudan, established in July 2011 after seceding from Sudan. Since the recent crisis began, the U.S. has provided the African country with more than $456 million in humanitarian aid, the White House said.