Category Archives: Humanitarian Issues

South Sudan – Museveni urges Kiir to accept regional force

Sudan Tribune

(JUBA) – Ugandan President, Yoweri Museveni, has advised his South Sudanese counterpart, President Salva Kiir, to not reject deployment of additional regional third party force in Juba, but to instead focus on negotiating the level of their mandate as they deploy in the country.

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President Salva Kiir (L) shakes hands with Uganda’s President Yoweri Museveni (R) after signing a peace agreement on August 26, 2015 (Photo AFP /Charles Lomodong)

Museveni said failure to comply with the African Union’s endorsed deployment of the troops to Juba will complicate the matter and result to further tougher measures which can be taken against the country and its leadership, cautioning President Kiir not to fall into “traps of western countries.”

This came in a meeting on Saturday in Kampala between President Kiir and President Museveni.

President Museveni, according to a presidential source who accompanied President Kiir to Kampala, said he made the remarks during their discussions on regional peace and security, particularly the proposed deployment of additional foreign troops in South Sudan.

This week, President Kiir vowed to not allow even a “single foreign soldier” to deploy in South Sudan in his reaction to the AU’s resolution to deploy a third party force to separate rival forces loyal to President Kiir and those loyal to his first deputy, Riek Machar. The government also organized demonstrations in Juba and in some states to reject the deployment of additional foreign forces with senior officials vowing to fight them should they deploy.

The force would also provide protection to the South Sudanese leadership, essential government infrastructures including the Juba airport as well as citizens at risk of violence in the capital.

There were no details of the issues the two leaders have discussed and resolved, as there was no official statement issued by the office of South Sudan president before and after the return from Uganda.

However, the high level presidential source told Sudan Tribune on Sunday that president Kiir travelled to Uganda to seek advice with president Museveni, who remains the only ally in the region.

President Museveni’s influence in the region, he said, has however been overshadowed by an unanimous regional consensus to dispatch additional foreign troops to shore up the fighting and protection capacity of the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) in the country.

Sudan, Ethiopia, Kenya and Rwanda are some among the countries in the region backing up the decision of the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) member countries and African Union (AU), asking countries in the region to contribute and dispatch additional troops with a stronger mandate to protect civilians at risk or exposed to an extreme violence and to act as buffer for rival armed groups in the country.

“President Kiir went to Uganda at the invitation of president Museveni over regional matters. He advised him not to accept provocations and fall into the traps of western countries. The western governments are desperately looking for an excuse to go to the country and that the president should be extra careful,” he quoted the advice President Museveni had given to President Kiir.

“He advised him to negotiate the mandate of the regional force instead of an outright rejection. So president Kiir was basically going to seek audience with president Museveni and to share ideas on the regional intervention force and how this situation could be handled,” he told Sudan Tribune.

Meanwhile, president Museveni in his Facebook page released after the meeting with president Kiir on Saturday confirmed holding talks on regional matters but did not divulge into the details of the discussions.

“I have today held talks with my South Sudan counterpart, His Excellency Salva Kiir, at State House, Entebbe. We focused on regional issues but importantly how to ensure peace and stability returns to South Sudan,” said president Museveni, according to a post on his Facebook page.

The African Union has endorsed the deployment of the forces, saying the troops deployment will take place whether President Kiir liked it or not.

Opposition party led by Riek Machar also supported the deployment of the forces, saying their leader, Machar, will immediately return to Juba from his hiding place once the troops are on the ground to ensure his safety.

Machar fled the capital on 11 July after four days of clashes between his small number of troops and forces loyal to President Salva Kiir. His officials said he is still around Juba and will return any time soon.


Nigeria – UN delivers food to starving IDPs in Borno


UN delivers food to starving IDPs in Borno

The United Nations has made the first food aid delivery to thousands of people displaced by Boko Haram Islamists in the Nigerian town of Banki, where hundreds have starved to death since March, the UN said on Friday.

Officials from the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) delivered 30 tonnes of “various lifesaving food items” transported from neighbouring Cameroon, the OCHA said in a statement.

The convoy reached Banki on Thursday and distributed food to the more than 25,000 people in the town, it said.

“An additional 700 kilograms of supplementary food for malnourished children was airlifted from the state capital Maiduguri to Banki on the same day”.

It was the first aid delivery to the thousands of internally displaced in the northeast region in the last four months following deadly Boko Haram raids.

They have been without food and basic supplies and relied on paltry food handouts from soldiers who have been sharing their rations.

Last month a soldier and a vigilante assisting the military in fighting Boko Haram told AFP at least 10 people were dying from hunger every day, highlighting warnings about a food crisis in the Sahel region.

The vigilante said the cemetery in Banki, some 130 kilometres (80 miles) southeast of the Borno state capital Maiduguri, was dotted with 376 graves of displaced people who died of starvation.

The soldier said people had been reduced to “walking corpses” facing imminent death without food aid.

When Boko Haram intensified attacks on villages in the area, residents fled to Banki where a military detachment has been based since they retook it in September.

– Millions in need of food –

The United Nations said in May that 9.2 million people living around Lake Chad, which forms the border of Nigeria, Chad, Cameroon and Niger, were in desperate need of food.

According to the OCHA aid distribution in Banki and other areas recently liberated by the Nigerian military was “scaling up” but more funds were needed to meet the “lifesaving needs” of people affected by Boko Haram violence in northeast Nigeria.

Only 28 percent of the $279 million required by the UN to help those affected by the violence has been realised, leaving a $200 million shortfall.

The Borno state government and aid agencies have warned about acute food shortages in the Lake Chad region as a result of seven years of violence.

Boko Haram’s insurgency has left at least 20,000 dead in Nigeria and devastated infrastructure in the impoverished northeast. The unrest has also displaced more than 2.6 million.

Nigeria’s government has been encouraging people to return home since the recapture of swathes of territory lost to the Islamist militants in 2014 but most are still largely reliant on food handouts.

There have been concerns about high death rates from severe acute malnutrition in camps for the internally displaced, while it is feared some inaccessible areas could be suffering from famine.

A UN official compared the situation with the crisis in Dafur and South Sudan.


Kenya – President under pressure to investigate killings by police

Star (Kenya)

Lawyers and Civil Society members match past Administration Police officers with a coffin at Uhuru Park castigating the brutal murder of Lawyer Willie Kimani, his client boda boda rider Josephat Mwendwa and taxi driver Joseph Muiruri on July 4, 2016. Photo/Jack Owuor

President Uhuru Kenyatta is under pressure to form a commission of inquiry to investigate increasing cases of extrajudicial killings and enforced disappearances linked to security operations.

Human Rights Watch, an international lobby group, is the latest organisation to pile pressure on the President to form the commission on executions and disappearances.

Government spokesperson Eric Kiraithe said they take great exception in the casual manner in which allegations are being made, reported and broadcast.

“The only defence Kenyans have against terrorism is the security forces and such blanket accusations and the tone of that report is out to bog down their morale,” he said.

This follows the presentation on Wednesday by HRW of an 87-page report documenting extrajudicial killings of 11 people and the disappearance of at least 34 people in the last two years during “abusive” counter terrorism operations in Wajir, Garissa and Mandera counties.

HRW executive director Kenneth Roth said research showed the abductions and killings are sanctioned by top government officials, given the coordination between the Kenya Defence Forces, National Intelligence Service, National Police Service and Kenya Wildlife Service rangers.

“President Uhuru Kenyatta should publicly acknowledge the scope and gravity of the numerous allegations and condemn any such abuses by security forces. He should direct security forces to comply with international human rights law, and end enforced disappearances, extrajudicial killings and torture, and direct the security agencies and prosecutors to take all necessary steps to hold those responsible to account,” the report says.

“He should establish an independent and credible multi-agency commission to investigate and report on the scope of abuses in counterterrorism operations countrywide,” it adds.

Roth said even though complaints have been made about missing persons, authorities have always ignored or deflected attention by blaming the abductions on al Shabaab or other rival gangs, which he said isn’t the case.

Nigerian soldiers missing after clash with Boko Haram

Premium Times

Nigerian soldiers missing after Boko Haram ambush

FILE PHOTO: Recapture of Mubi Town

An unknown number of Nigerian soldiers are yet to be accounted for after an ambush by Boko Haram insurgents in a community in Borno State, the army has said.

The army said it was battling to save the lives of 19 other soldiers injured during the clash on Thursday.
Operatives of the Civilian-JTF, embedded with the military squad, were also badly injured in the deadly encounter in a village called Nguro Gongon.

The spokesman of the Nigeria army, Sani Usman, said the injured soldiers have been evacuated to Maiduguri, the Borno State capital, while a rescue team was deployed to go searching for the missing soldiers.

He did not say how many soldiers were missing.

“Today morning, troops on clearance patrol at Guro Gongon village and environs to rout out remnants of Boko Haram terrorists hibernating therein, destroyed the terrorists’ makeshift camps and recovered quite a number of weapons, equipment and foodstuff in the process,” Mr. Usman, a colonel and acting director of army public relations, said.

“The recovered items include 1 Gun truck mounted with an Anti-Aircraft Gun, a MOWAG Armoured Personnel Carrier (APC), 1 Rocket Propelled Grenade Tube, 1 Light Machine Gun, 3 AK-47 rifles and motorcycles.

“However, the gallant soldiers basking on the recorded success, returning to their defensive locations, ran into an ambush by a group of Boko Haram terrorists who came to reinforce their fleeing comrades. The troops fought back gallantly killing several of the insurgents.

“Sadly however, 19 soldiers and 3 civilian JTF members were wounded in action while a few others were missing in action.

“The wounded have been evacuated and are responding to treatment, while a search and rescue party comprising of Special Forces personnel has since been dispatched to establish contact with the missing in action troops, some of whom, as at the time of filing this report, have started returning to their defensive location.

“It is pertinent to state that, no stone would be left unturned until every person involved in the operation has been accounted for,” he said.

Gambian opposition leader Ousainou Darboe jailed after taking part in protest


Protesters in Banjul, Gambia, following the death of an opposition figure - April 2016AFP Protests were held in Banjul after an opposition politician was allegedly killed in custody in April

The Gambia’s opposition leader Ousainou Darboe and 18 others have been jailed for three years for taking part in an unauthorised demonstration.

In April, they were part of a group protesting about the alleged death in custody of an opposition activist.

Rights group Amnesty International described the sentences as part of the “continuing downward spiral for human rights in Gambia”.

President Yahya Jammeh has in the past dismissed criticism of his record.

Political tensions are rising in the country in the run-up to elections in December, says the BBC World Service Africa editor James Copnall.

Mr Darboe and many of his supporters from the United Democratic Party (UDP) took to the streets in Serrekunda, near the capital, Banjul, on 16 April, demanding the release of their colleague Solo Sandeng “dead or alive”.

He had been arrested, along with other activists, two days earlier, and it was alleged that he had died in custody after being beaten.

Mr Sandeng has not been seen since and Amnesty International says he was killed.

President Yahya Jammeh of Gambia attends the 44th summit of the 15-nation west African bloc ECOWAS at the Felix Houphouet-Boigny Foundation in Yamoussoukro on March 28, 2014.AFP President Jammeh has ruled The Gambia since a coup more than 20 years ago

The judge found that Mr Darboe did not have permission for the demonstration and sentenced him, and the 18 others, on six charges relating to this.

Reports from the court says the convicted activists sang the national anthem after they were sentenced.

In a statement, the UDP called the trial a “farce” and described the verdict as a reflection of “a corrupt and discredited effort to arrest, torture and persecute innocent citizens”.

In an interview in May, President Jammeh said it was “common” for people to die in detention or while under interrogation.

He said UN chief Ban Ki-moon and Amnesty International could “go to hell” for asking for an investigation.

Kenya – dozens dead or missing as a result of crackdown on “militants”


Dozens of people have died or disappeared without a trace after being detained by Kenyan security forces during operations against Islamist militants in the capital and on the border with Somalia, Human Rights Watch said.

Kenya launched a crackdown on jihadist groups last year after Islamist militants, including the Somalia-based al Shabaab, stepped up attacks in the East African country. In one of the worst, gunmen killed 148 people at a university in the north eastern town of Garissa.

New York-based Human Rights Watch (HRW) said in a report late on Tuesday that it had documented 34 cases in which people suspected of having ties to al Shabaab went missing after their homes were raided and they were detained by security forces.

“Months, and in some cases over a year, later, suspects have not been charged with any crimes and families cannot locate them,” HRW said in a statement.

There were also at least 11 cases in the past two years in which the bodies of people previously arrested by state agents had turned up, sometimes far away from the location of their arrest, HRW said.

Mwenda Njoka, the spokesman for Kenya’s interior ministry rejected the allegations and said the report should be forwarded to the country’s Independent Policing Oversight Authority for investigation to determine any culpability.

“These are just claims,” he told Reuters on phone.

HRW said Kenyan security forces should stop carrying out abuse in the communities living in the northeast near the border with Somalia.

“Rounding people up and refusing to disclose their whereabouts is a serious crime and only compounds fears and mistrust in the security forces,” said Ken Roth, the group’s executive director.

(Reporting by Duncan Miriri; Editing by George Obulutsa and Raissa KAsolowsky)


South Sudan – newspaper editor Alfred Taban detained for criticising leaders

East African Standard


Wed, July 20th 2016

South Sudan President Salva Kiir

A South Sudanese newspaper editor has been arrested for writing articles that criticised the country’s leaders over a flare-up in violence earlier this month, a colleague said on Tuesday after meeting security officials.

Alfred Taban, founder and editor of the privately run Juba Monitor, was detained on Saturday, drawing calls from journalists’ and rights groups for his release. “They arrested Alfred because of the two articles of 15th and 16th July in his column,” Oliver Modi, South Sudan Chairperson of the Union of Journalists, told Reuters.

He quoted security officials as saying that “Alfred will be taken to the court, and let the court at the end of the day tell us who is guilty or who is not guilty”. He said it was not clear when the court hearing would take place. In the articles, Taban said President Salva Kiir and his deputy Riek Machar had been unable or unwilling to control their troops in the latest spasm of violence, in which at least 272 people were killed.

The fighting erupted on July 7 in the capital Juba between followers of Kiir and Machar, a former rebel leader who became vice president under a deal to end a two-year civil war.

Journalist rights groups Reporters Without Borders (RSF) and the Committee to Protect Journalists, as well as Amnesty International, have called for Taban’s release. “We urge the South Sudanese authorities to free Alfred Taban without delay and to ensure that his rights are respected and that he has access to a doctor,” RSF said in a statement. “This leading journalist’s arrest constitutes yet another violation of media freedom in a country that has endured extensive violations of civil liberties since the start of the civil war.”

It said another Juba Monitor editor, Anna Nimiriano, had been released after questioning on Saturday. Journalists often complain of persecution by the security services of the African state, which seceded from Sudan in 2011. In 2015, at last seven journalists were killed in South Sudan. In the latest flare-up of fighting, another was killed in Juba.
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