South Sudan is experiencing new and escalating armed conflict, devastation from environmental disasters, and an intensifying humanitarian crisis.

Congresswoman Pingree

 

On March 2, Rep. Pingree led a group of 34 Members of Congress in urging President Joe Biden and Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas to extend and redesignate South Sudan for Temporary Protected Status (TPS). Their efforts were successful, and TPS has been  redesignated and extended for 18 months.  TPS status for South Sudan was set to expire on May 2, 2022, but will now be in effect through November 3, 2023.

“The violence, flooding, and widespread food insecurity—all while enduring the ongoing impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic—has created a great humanitarian crisis in South Sudan,” said Pingree. “I thank Secretary Mayorkas for acting swiftly on our call to extend these protections for South Sudanese. This 18-month extension furthers the American commitment to stand up for human rights and to provide safe haven to vulnerable populations.”

The Secretary of Homeland Security may designate a foreign country for TPS due to conditions in the country that temporarily prevent the country’s nationals from returning safely, or in certain circumstances, where the country is unable to handle the return of its nationals adequately.

DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas extended and redesignated South Sudan for TPS for 18 months based on an ongoing armed conflict and extraordinary and temporary conditions that prevent individuals from returning safely. The recent military takeover of Sudan’s government has triggered political instability, violence, and human rights abuses against civilians. A humanitarian crisis linked to unprecedented floods; food and clean water shortages; violence between the communities of Darfur, Blue Nile, and South Kordofan; and internal displacement is ongoing.

Maine has a strong community of people originally from South Sudan. Most live in the greater Portland area, with others living in Lewiston/Auburn. The community starting forming in 1998. The acting leader of the South Sudanese Community of Maine is Bakhita Saabino. The pandemic has been very hard on the community, however in usual times community members enjoys gathering together.

 

Bakhita Saabino

Photos by John Ochira (pre-pandemic)