Un Condemns Looting Of South Sudan Aid Facilities
BBC News, Juba
The UN has strongly condemned violence and looting in South Sudan’s oil-producing Unity State in the northern part of the country.
An incident in Leer county is said to have led to the injury and death of civilians, destruction of assets and looting of humanitarian commodities.
One humanitarian aid worker from a non-governmental organisation supporting the community with nutrition services was killed during the violence.
Attacks against civilians, looting of aid intended to support the most vulnerable is unacceptable. This behaviour must stop, UN’s acting Humanitarian Coordinator in South Sudan, Matthew Hollingworth, said in a press release.
Health and nutrition facilities in Gandor, Guat, Luol and Padeah were reportedly looted.
Mr Hollingworth says more than 3,600 children supported by these facilities will not receive timely access to nutrition services because of the violence.
He said an estimated $80,000 worth of supplies were looted from two facilities in Gandor and Luol, which he said would have provided three months of health and nutrition supplies to some 14,000 people in need in the area.
Since March, there has been an increase in such incidents across South Sudan – with young men attacking and killing a number of aid workers and looting assets.
Right To Life: Unlawful Killings
The exact number of people killed by the parties to the conflict that erupted in December 2013 is unknown, but it is estimated to run into the hundreds of thousands. All parties to the conflict deliberately killed civilians, including women, children, older people, and people with disabilities. Deliberate attacks on civilians constitute war crimes. Targeting of civilians continues in the southern Equatoria region where a non-international armed conflict persists between the R-TGoNU, SPLA-IO and rebel group National Salvation Front , a non-signatory to the peace deal. The most recent fighting took place between June and October 2021 in Tambura, Western Equatoria between competing local groups aligned with forces affiliated with the SSPDF on the one hand and the SPLA-IO on the other. According to local government figures, around 300 people were killed.
The July 2018 arms embargo imposed by the UN on South Sudan has curtailed to some extent the flow of weapons and use of heavy weapons such as the helicopter gunships against civilians. However, the UN Panel of Experts on South Sudan in 2020 found that South Sudanese and neighbors have continued to violate the arms embargo. The experts found evidence that Sudan delivered weapons three times between March and June 2019 that Ugandan troops entered the country without notifying the UN and that regional states, as in previous years, failed to report required cargo inspections.
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South Sudan: Un Must Renew Arms Embargo Amid Persistent Impunity And Ongoing Sexual Violence
The United Nations Security Council must renew its arms embargo on the territory of South Sudan amid the states failure to ensure accountability for conflict-related sexual violence and to protect survivors, witnesses and judicial actors, Amnesty International said today in a new report.
Amnesty International has documented over a dozen cases of conflict-related sexual violence from recent years, including women who were raped at gunpoint. The UN Security Council must therefore renew its arms embargo on the territory of South Sudan
Deprose Muchena, Amnesty International’s Director for East and Southern Africa
The report, If you dont cooperate, Ill gun you down: conflict-related sexual violence and impunity in South Sudan, reveals how CRSV is ongoing in the country, and how guns can be used to facilitate sexual violence. It also reveals how two sections of an action plan that was drafted to address CRSV in the country, adopted by the government in January 2021, are yet to be fully implemented.
On 28 May 2021, the UN Security Council renewed its arms embargo on the territory of South Sudan, which it first imposed in 2018, and identified the implementation of the 2021 action plan as one of five benchmarks against which renewal of the arms embargo would be reviewed in May 2022.
Angelina* told Amnesty International that, in February 2022, government soldiers came to her house at night and demanded she come outside. When she did, they raped her.
Raped at gunpoint
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Support Wanes And Frustration Grows
Civil society leaders, religious leaders, and the international community are becoming exasperated at the listless peace deal and the increase in violence.
These agreements have been deliberately undermined, and the way theyre being implemented particularly the current one not taking the country anywhere and is just setting up for more crisis and suffering, said Rajab Mohandis, a founding member of the Peoples Coalition for Civil Action , a local umbrella group of activists. Members of his group were detained by the government last year after calling for peaceful countrywide protests to force the government to step down over failed leadership. Mohandis and others fled the country in fear of their safety.
Patience for the government is also waning from supporters abroad. In December, a group of American and British church leaders wrote an open letter to President Kiir, saying the government was leading the country to tyranny.
We are extremely distressed about the ways in which your government is taking a wrong road, a road that is taking South Sudan in a different direction from that of democracy, they said in the letter.
But while everyone has a lot to say about the peace deals failings, few alternatives or attempts at solutions are being articulated.
Building Of South Sudan Palace Begins Amid Food Crisis
BBC News, Juba
The construction of a new presidential palace has begun in South Sudan’s capital, Juba – with President Salva Kiir attending a ceremony to mark the start earlier this week.
The project is funded by the government and will take about two years to be completed, according to James Deng Wal, the executive director in the Office of the President.
It is unclear how much it will cost, but the country is facing a worsening humanitarian crisis that the UN says has left half of the population food insecure this year.
The new building will house the presidents office and will be a venuefor other government activities.
Mr Deng said its construction would provide work forSouth Sudanese citizens including engineers, architects, artisans and administrative staff.
He said once completed, the building would rival other modern State Houses in East Africa.
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Right To Education Including Adhering To The Safe Schools Declaration
Access to education is painfully restricted and unequal. According to a report by the United Nations Children Fund , more than two million children are out of school due to Covid-19 and other challenges accessing education including financial barriers and flooding. Most of these children are girls. Poverty, child marriage, teenage pregnancies, abductions, war, and restrictive cultural and religious beliefs on the value of educating girls have all contributed to these high numbers of children out of school. A significant number of the children out of school are children with disabilities. The government has persistently underinvested in education. For instance, only nine per cent of the 2019 national budget was allocated to education well below the Education 2030 Framework of Action target of at least 15-20 per cent.
In June 2015, South Sudan endorsed the Safe Schools Declaration, an inter-governmental political agreement dedicated to protecting education in armed conflict, and thereby committed to using the Guidelines for Protecting Schools and Universities from Military Use during Armed Conflict as a practical tool to guide their behaviours during military operations.
Un Rep In South Sudan Urges Authorities To Prepare For Polls
JUBA, South Sudan The head of the United Nations mission in South Sudan urged the East African countrys transitional government Thursday to set a date for elections as time passes.
Nicholas Haysom told journalists in the capital, Juba that with barely eight months remaining in the transitional period agreed by political parties, I am urging south Sudanese leaders to do everything necessary to move the country out of transition and conduct free, fair, creditable and peaceful elections.
A 2018 peace deal that binds President Salva Kiir and his deputy Riek Machar in a unity government encourages authorities to hold elections before February 2023.
The international community has long hoped a vote would usher in a democratically elected government in the worlds youngest country.
A timetable for the polls must be availed in advance for the international community to support the process well, Haysom said, adding that without a date nobody will really commit to supporting the elections and the South Sudanese will not get into the frame of mind which is necessary for elections.
The government has yet to reconstitute an electoral commission and implement key judicial reforms and Kiir and Machar are known to have different opinions on the matter.
Kiir, South Sudans president since independence from Sudan in 2011, says general elections will take place as planned in 2023 despite delays in implementing the roadmap.
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The Community Is Crying
Cautious optimism followed the signing of the peace deal over three and a half years ago the latest attempt to pull South Sudan out of five years of fighting that displaced millions and plunged parts of the country into famine. A previous agreement signed in 2015 failed when renewed clashes erupted in the capital, Juba, forcing opposition leader Riek Machar to flee the country on foot.
Machar returned to the capital to form a coalition government with President Salva Kiir in February 2020, yet there were problems from the outset, including a shortage of funds and accusations that the ruling party lacked the political will to implement the agreement.
We never trusted the agreement from day one.
One of the key components, a unified national army composed of 42,000 soldiers from both the government and the opposition has not been established. Distrust with the deal was so high that both the government and opposition armies chose not to send most of their soldiers to the government-created cantonment sites, where soldiers could start the process of unifying into a national army. Instead, they sent low-level fighters or civilians who had never fought before. Of those in the training centres, the majority never participated in the war, Lam Paul Gabriel, opposition spokesperson for the army, told The New Humanitarian.
Reporting Under Attack In South Sudan Sudan
Journalists in both Sudan and South Sudan say threats, intimidation and arbitrary arrests are part of everyday life, limiting their ability to inform the public.
South Sudan ranks 128th and Sudan ranks 151st out of 180 countries in Reporters Without Borders annual World Press Freedom Index, released Tuesday to coincide with the United Nations annual recognition of World Press Freedom Day. The bigger the number, the worse the environment for news media.
Irene Ayaa of the Association for Media Development in South Sudan says government censorship in her country is widespread.
“Last month, we registered four articles removed from newspapers,” she said.
Between January and March alone, security personnel removed dozens of articles from the Juba Monitor, Anna Namiriano, editor-in-chief of an English-language daily, told South Sudan in Focus. “They removed stories and we left the space blank. They say why we are not listening to them, so on 17th of March, they suspended the newspaper.”
In February, a handful of journalists were briefly detained for covering a press conference by opposition lawmakers in parliament. A Juba Monitor newspaper article about the incident was removed by security agents at the printing plant.
“We dont have freedom of the press in the country,” Namiriano said. “The solution is let us do our work as media houses. We have the code of conduct, we have the media law to guide us, and removal of stories is really very bad.”
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Un Condemns Deadly South Sudan Cattle Raids
BBC News, Juba
The UN has condemned the killing of civilians in cattle raids at Jonglei state in eastern South Sudan.
The UNs peacekeeping Mission in South Sudan says armed youth from Murle community carried out attacks and cattle raids in Dungrut and Machined villages, killing 32 people from the Dinka Bor community.
A number of children were reported to have drowned in theriver while fleeing from the attackers.
Unmiss is concerned that the attacks have led to people fleeing their homes.
Jonglei state was recently affected by flooding and has in the past seen inter-ethnic conflict.
UN OchaCopyright: UN Ocha
Thousands of people who were displaced by flash floods in South Sudan find it almost impossible to find safe drinking water, the charity Médecins Sans Frontières has said.
The majority of those affected are in the northern oil producing UnityState, MSF’s press release said.
Eight months since flooding began, people in Unity State and other surrounding areas are stuck in poor livingconditions and are at risk of outbreaks of infectious and waterborne diseases.
“When you walk through the camps, you can see malnourished children, people collecting dirty flood water to drink, cattle collapsing and their carcasses everywhere. Such poor conditions are harming peoples health,” MSF’s Reza Eshaghian said.
The number of people reported to have been affected byfloods since May last year was 835,000.
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Un Aims To Limit Potential South Sudan Election Violence
The UNs peacekeeping mission in South Sudan says it is prepared to contain any possibility of violence related to electionsscheduled to take place in 2023.
South Sudan has never conducted elections since becomingindependent 10 years ago. A vote scheduled for 2015 could not take placedue to the conflict that erupted in December 2013.
Last month, President Salva Kiir announced that electionswould take place at the end of the transitional period in 2023.
But last week, First Vice-President Riek Machar warnedagainst holding elections before a unified national army is formed.
President Kiir and Mr Machar formed a unity governmentin February last year to end conflict between their rival forces and agreed toform a unified army of 83,000 troops, a key part of the 2018 peace agreementthey are yet to fulfil.
We want to limit the possibility of violence before theelections, during the elections and after the elections if the parties choosenot to accept the results,” Unmiss head Nicholas Haysom told reporters in the capital, Juba, on Wednesday.
“I dont think there is a golden script for theelections. It is really a decision for South Sudanese to decide under whatconditions they want to conduct the elections, Mr Haysom continued.
In March this year, the UN Security Council determined thatthe situation in South Sudan continued to constitute a threat to internationalpeace and security in the region, and extended the mandate of Unmiss until 15 March 2022.
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Humanitarian Access And The Rights To Food And To Water
More than 7 million people in South Sudan lack reliable access to a sufficient quantity of affordable and nutritious food to satisfy their basic needs. The latest food security assessment projected that 2.5 million people were severely food insecure. Food production has been crippled by the conflict and by the ongoing fighting in the Equatorias and insecurity, including violence and cattle raids, in parts of the country. Government forces and armed opposition groups have severely restricted civilians access to food in the Equatorias, Western Bar el Ghazal and Unity states, cutting supplies, looting from markets and homes, burning produce and targeting civilians, even while cultivating in their fields, for their perceived allegiances or ethnicity. More than two million people have fled their homes and sought refuge in other countries.
Only 40 percent of the population has access to safe water and only 10 percent to adequate sanitation which, as well as being distinct rights themselves, are also interconnected to and constituent elements of the rights to an adequate standard of living and health and essential to the realization of all other rights. Most of the country is forced to drink contaminated water which leads to water-borne diseases, a major cause of child mortality. The lack of adequate access to clean water affects the ability of people to take measures to prevent infections and the spread of diseases including Covid-19.
As Elections Loom South Sudans Sluggish Peace Deal Fuels Further Instability And Violence
If not the peace deal, then what? Reopen negotiations over a way forward? What does that look like?
- 16 February 2022 16 Feb 2022
- Sam Mednick
South Sudans transitional government is due to wrap up in less than 10 months. Yet the countrys future looks as bleak as it did in 2018 when rival parties signed a deal to end a crippling civil war that killed nearly 400,000 people.
The peace agreement was supposed to end the conflict, but progress continues to drag and UN experts now say the deal is actually driving violence. Clashes between the ruling party and the opposition have increased in recent months and could get worse ahead of elections tentatively being arranged but not yet scheduled for next year.
Meanwhile, humanitarian needs have spiked: Some 75 percent of the population are in need of assistance, hunger is the worst it has been since the country gained independence in 2011, and years of unprecedented floods have forced nearly one million people from their homes, according to the UN.
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Epic Human Rights Crisis
Also reporting to the Human Rights Council in Geneva, the chairperson of the Commission of Human Rights in South Sudan, Ms. Yasmin Sooka, underlined that since last March, the human rights situation in the country had deteriorated considerably and that a human rights crisis of “epic” proportions is unfolding in a dramatic way.
She noted that there has been an increase in extrajudicial killings and enforced disappearances and torture as well as rape and conflict-related sexual violence.
The Government’s intolerance of criticism has also led to a brutal attack on fundamental freedoms and the suppression of dissent, using excessive force against civilians, she said.
According to Ms. Sooka, between June and August of this year, more than 100 civilians were killed in an ethnic conflict of Tambura in Western Equatoria. Between 80,000 and 120,000 people have reportedly been displaced by the conflict, with thousands fleeing to neighbouring Bahr el Ghazal state and Ezo County.