Category Archives: Humanitarian Issues

South Sudan – Kiir wants Machar out of unity government

Sudan Tribune

(JUBA) – The South Sudanese government under the leadership of President Salva Kiir say they wished their peace partner and ex-First Vice President, Riek Machar does not return to Juba and assume his position in the coalition government.

JPEG - 30.1 kb
President Salva kiir(C) FVP; Riek Machar (L), and VP, Marilyn, raise their hands after swearing in ceremony of Machar on April 26, 2016. (Photo Lomayat Moses)

Senior officials allied to President Kiir on Wednesday announced willingness to fully implement the August 2015 peace agreement which the President Kiir signed with the opposition leader, Machar.

Presidential advisor on decentralization and intergovernmental linkages, Tor Deng Mawien, described the implementation of the agreement to be moving at rapid speed with the appointment of Taban Deng Gai as the replacement of Machar after he was unilaterally removed from his capacity as First Vice President by Kiir due to his absence.

“Anybody who has been following the turns of events and the level of movement would appreciate the speed at which the president has demonstrated his commitment to implementing the peace agreement because he has now found a partner. General Taban Deng Gai has demonstrated willingness to working collaboratively with the president to implement the peace agreement so that to move the country forward. This is what is very important. It is not who occupies which position,” Mawien, a relative and a strong political ally of President Kiir, said during an exclusive interview with Sudan Tribune.

Mawien said it was now time for the region and the international community at large to extend a helping hand and work together with the current transitional government of national unity as recommended by the outcome of the communique of the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD).

“With such changes taking place within the presidency, where there is now a better working relationship, the region and the international community should take advantage of this new spirit and the working environment of cooperation to come out and extend support to implement the agreement,” he said.

Meanwhile, Gordon Buay, one of the senior representatives at South Sudanese embassy in the United States, claimed that the world was now accepting the appointment of Gai because they have realised that it was not easy for president Kiir to work together with Machar.

“The entire world is convinced that Riek Machar cannot work together with President Kiir given the incident of July, 8, this year coupled with December, 15, 2013. Therefore, the world accepted Taban Deng Gai to implement the peace [agreement] with President Kiir simply because bringing back Riek Machar to Juba to the Presidential Palace is like lightening a match near kerosene or benzene. The result is fire, fire, fire, fire, fire and fire,” Buay told Sudan Tribune on Wednesday from Washington DC.

He claimed further that the world leaders have reached a logical conclusion that Riek Machar has no place in the transitional government of national unity because he is purportedly “a combustible product that can easily explode and kill people.”

Gai, on the other hand, he described, is like “an air condition that cools the room. He is the right person to work with President Kiir to cool South Sudan.

However, both IGAD communiqué and United Nations Security Council’s resolutions criticized the replacement of Machar as “inconsistent” with the peace agreement and called for reinstatement of Machar to his position as First Vice President.

Observers are keen to underline that the speed at which the assembly reconstitution and after the replacement of Machar suggests there was an underground conspiracy to remove him from office and replace him with someone who would not stick to implementation of the key provisions in the deal.

President Kiir himself announced at the opening of the assembly that the delay was due to petty political differences and lack of better working relationship between him and Machar at the time.

He declared he would from the time of opening the assembly work collaboratively with Gai to implement the agreement. Gai declared at the inaugural function of his appointment that there was no need for two armies in the country and president Kiir was the only existing commander in chief in the country.

(ST)

South Sudan – plans for major spending boost to help heal divisions

Reuters

By Denis Dumo | JUBA

South Sudan’s cabinet wants to almost triple spending in the next budget, as it hopes to stabilise the fledgling country that has flirted with civil war.

However, with earnings from its main asset – oil – heavily disrupted, it was unclear how the government could finance such a level of spending.

The cabinet approved a budget proposal for the 2016/17 fiscal year that caps government spending at 29.6 billion South Sudan pounds ($520 million), a 187 percent rise over the year that ended on June 30.

The world’s newest country has been ravaged by war since December 2013, when soldiers loyal to President Salva Kiir clashed in the capital Juba with troops loyal to his former deputy Riek Machar.

A shaky peace deal was agreed a year ago, but it was frequently violated.

Machar returned to Juba as deputy president in April but Kiir appointed a new deputy to replace him in late July, when he left the capital after street battles between rival troops.

The fighting has hurt oil production, a major source of revenue, which has also been hit by falling prices. The economy has been battered, driving prices higher. Inflation has surged in July to reach an annual rate of 661.3 percent.

“This (budget) increase, estimated to be 187 percent, comes of course as a result of so many factors including the implementation of the (peace) agreement,” Michael Makuei, Information Minister and Government spokesman, told a news conference late on Wednesday.

“Objective number one was the consolidation of peace by prioritising the financing of the agreement. Number two, to restore confidence in local markets by improving key economic indicators: economic growth, employment, inflation and exchange rate,” Makuei said.

Makuei said the ceiling was a proposal and the finance ministry and other ministries would work out the final details before the budget is brought to parliament for approval at a date yet to be decided.

He did not say what the sources of funding would be but in the past oil has accounted for most of its revenues. Juba has also taken loans from Chinese companies, offering to pay them back with future oil proceeds.

Earlier this month, Foreign Minister Deng Alor said the country planned to ask China for a $1.9 billion loan – a sum equal to more than a fifth of its national output – to be used for infrastructure projects such as roads and bridges.

($1 = 56.90 South Sudanese pounds)

(Writing by George Obulutsa; Editing by Elias Biryabarema and Toby Chopra)

Can development bring peace and resilience in West Africa

Institute for Security Studies

Pour la version française, cliquez ici

Dakar, Senegal – Unemployed, idle and fanatical; this is how young members of armed jihadist groups in Mali are portrayed. However, there is little empirical data to support this characterisation.

The Japanese International Cooperation Agency (JICA) and the Institute for Security Studies (ISS) conducted a study which interviewed more than 60 youths previously involved with extremists. ‘Factors other than economics, religion or ideology explain why young people join the ranks of armed jihadist groups in Mali’, said Lori-Anne Théroux-Bénoni, Director of the ISS office in Dakar and leader of the research team.

The study questions the conventional wisdom on an issue that is crucial to stability in Mali and the security of its neighbours. It also shows that proactive approaches that prioritise development and the building of inclusive and resilient societies should be part of the solution.

‘The study has important policy implications for how development actors like JICA could design more effective interventions in affected countries or countries at risk’, said Iimura Tsutomu, the Japan International Cooperation Agency’s Resident Representative in Côte d’Ivoire.

‘Concepts like radicalisation and violent extremism are currently in vogue, but should be used with caution, as they could lead to solutions that miss the point’, said Théroux-Bénoni.

The results of the study will be launched on 26 August at the Sixth Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD VI) Summit in Nairobi, Kenya. The side event will assess whether development interventions can address the region’s security challenges and contribute to achieving peace. A policy brief covering the main findings will be available.

For the full programme and registation details, click here.

For enquiries and to arrange media interviews:

Makiko Naemura, email: Naemura.Makiko@jica.go.jp

Marie Sagna, email: msagna@issafrica.org

Dr Congo – Hutu women lynched as land shortages fuel conflict

Reuters

Congolese soldiers arrest a civilian protesting against the government’s failure to stop the killings and inter-ethnic tensions in the town of Butembo, in North Kivu province, Democratic Republic of Congo, August 24, 2016. REUTERS/Kenny Katombe
By Kenny Katombe | BUTEMBO, DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO

Two Hutu women were dragged out of a minibus, lynched and their bodies set on fire by a crowd in eastern Congo, the local mayor said on Wednesday, as inter-ethnic tensions in the region surge in the wake of massacres that have killed hundreds of civilians.

The crowd in the town of Butembo, which is dominated by members of the Nande ethnic group, said the two ethnic Hutu women who were travelling by minibus in North Kivu province were militants, mayor Sikuli Uvasaka Makala told local radio.

Dozens have died in tit-for-tat killings by ethnic militia this year.

Ethnic rivalries, invasions by Rwanda and Uganda and competition for land and minerals among eastern Congo’s dozens of rebel groups have stoked conflict over the last two decades.

“I condemn the death of these two women,” Uvasaka said. “I insist: stop carrying out popular justice. Do you want to put the Nande community at risk?”

Migration by Hutu farmers from North Kivu through predominantly Nande areas towards Ituri province in search of more fertile land has fuelled tensions, Otto Bahizi, a Hutu tribal leader from nearby Rutshuru territory, told Reuters.

The government blames the massacres over the last two years that have killed more than 700 civilians on Ugandan Islamist rebels but independent analysts say other armed groups are involved and ethnic rivalries likely play a role.

About 50 civilians were hacked to death this month outside Beni, some 50 km (30 miles) north of Butembo.

Hundreds of young demonstrators again took to the streets of Butembo on Wednesday to protest against the government’s failure to stop the killings. The army fired into the air and arrested about 15 people, a Reuters witness said.

(Additional reporting and writing by Aaron Ross in Kinshasa; Editing by Matthew Mpoke Bigg and Louise Ireland)

Mozambique – Renamo raids hospitals and health clinics

Human Rights Watch

(Johannesburg) – Armed men linked to Mozambique’s main opposition party, the Mozambique National Resistance (RENAMO), have raided at least two hospitals and two health clinics over the past month. The attacks on the medical facilities, which involved looting medicine and supplies and destroying medical equipment, threaten access to health care for tens of thousands of people in remote areas of the country.

Damaged medicine cabinet in Morrumbala District Hospital after the raid by RENAMO gunmen on August 12, 2016.
“RENAMO’s attacks on hospitals and health clinics are threatening the health of thousands people in Mozambique,” saidDaniel Bekele, Africa director at Human Rights Watch. “RENAMO’s leadership needs to call off these attacks on health facilities immediately.”

In the most recent attack, on August 12, 2016, about a dozen gunmen who identified themselves as RENAMO entered the town of Morrumbala, in the central province of Zambezia, at about 4 a.m., several witnesses and local authorities told Human Rights Watch. The men first raided a police station, freeing about 23 men detained there, and then looted the local district hospital.

A nurse who was there said that the men opened fire at the building. “I was in the emergency room when they fired gunshots through the windows,” he said. “We were hiding beneath chairs, beds…anything we could find.”

The nurse and two Zambezia-based reporters who arrived at the hospital just after the attack said that the gunmen had looted medicine from the facility’s main pharmacy.

On July 30, a group of armed men who identified themselves as RENAMO entered the village of Mopeia, in Zambezia province, at about 3 a.m., two local residents said.

The armed men first raided the house of a local official of the governing FRELIMO party, who is the chief nurse at the local Centro 8 de Março health clinic. When they did not find him, they went to the clinic. A doctor who visited the clinic the following day said the gunmen burned patients’ medical records and stole vaccines, syringes, and medicines. The clinic stores essential medicines, including antiretroviral medicines for HIV/AIDS patients, for a population of over 8,000 people, he said.

Bullet hole in the window of Morrumbala District Hospital after the raid by RENAMO gunmen on August 12, 2016.

Bullet hole in the window of Morrumbala District Hospital after the raid by RENAMO gunmen on August 12, 2016.

The armed men then went to Mopeia’s main hospital, about eight kilometers from the clinic. A nurse at the hospital said that she saw about 15 men in dark green uniforms enter the main ward in the early morning, most of them armed with Kalashnikov assault rifles. They entered the ward where patients were sleeping, threatened patients and medical staff, ordering them to leave the hospital, and carried away medicines, serum bags, bed sheets, and mosquito nets. The nurse said none of the patients or medical staff were hurt.

Together, Mopeia district hospital and Mopeia village clinic serve over 100,000 people, local health authorities said.

On July 31, about a dozen armed men who identified themselves as RENAMO raided the village of Maiaca, Maúa district, in the northern province of Niassa. The administrator of Maúa, Joao Manguinje, told Human Rights Watch that the gunmen attacked the local health clinic and the police station. They took five kits of HIV tests, four boxes of syringes, and over 600 vials ofpenicillin, he said.

Manguinje also alleged that on July 24, RENAMO gunmen had raided the health clinic in the nearby village of Muapula, where they stole, among other things, five obstetric kits, over 200 tetanus vaccines, and over 300 vials of penicillin. Human Rights Watch was not able to verify this attack.

I was in the emergency room when they fired gunshots through the windows. We were hiding beneath chairs, beds…anything we could find.

A nurse who witnessed the hospital looting.

Mozambican authorities say that RENAMO gunmen have carried out similar attacks on health clinics over the past month in Sofala, Manica, and Tete provinces, in central Mozambique, but Human Rights Watch was not able to verify those reports.

The RENAMO party, which has offices in the capital, Maputo, has neither confirmed nor denied carrying out the attacks. However, the party leader, Afonso Dhalkama, who is believed to be hiding in the Gorongosa bush, in the central province of Sofala, told the Mozambican private television station, STV, on August 5 that he had given orders to attack some areas of Zambezia province. He did not specify the targets or mention medical facilities.

Dhlakama said the attacks were a “military strategy” aimed at dispersing government soldiers who are surrounding RENAMO positions in Gorongosa bush, about 200 kilometers south of the villages that were attacked. Several districts of Tete, Zambezia, Manica, Sofala, and Niassa provinces have had recent armed clashes between government forces and Renamo fighters.

“RENAMO’s raids on medical facilities seem part of a repugnant strategy to damage health facilities and loot medicines,” Bekele said. “What they are succeeding in doing is to deny crucial health services to Mozambicans who need them.”

Background Information
After the 1992 peace agreement that ended Mozambique’s 16-year civil war, RENAMO leader Afonso Dhlakama was allowed to keep a 300-man private armed guard. Successive failures to integrate other RENAMO fighters into the national army and civilian life have encouraged former fighters to join the private guards and to camp in old RENAMO training grounds. RENAMO, a political party that currently holds 89 seats in parliament, is now believed to have an armed force of more than double what it was permitted.

Over the past four years, tension has increased between RENAMO and the governing party, FRELIMO, including an increase in armed attacks by RENAMO and counterattacks by the government. The parties signed a new peace agreement in 2014, but RENAMO says the government has failed to integrate RENAMO fighters into the national army and police in accordance with the agreement. The government says RENAMO has refused to hand over a list of its militia to be integrated into the security forces because it wants to use them as leverage for political negotiations. FRELIMO won elections in October 2014, but RENAMO says it wants to govern the six provinces in which it claims it received more votes.

In February 2016, Human Rights Watch documented abuses committed by government forces in Tete province, where RENAMO enjoys support among the population, including alleged summary executions and sexual violence. At least 6,000 people fled the area for neighboring Malawi. The Malawi office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees says that most of these people have now returned home, following assurances of safety by the Mozambican government.

In May, Mozambican and international media reported the discovery of several unidentified bodies near Gorongoza, between the provinces of Manica and Sofala. Human Rights Watch called on the Mozambican authorities to investigate the gravesite thoroughly, to identify the victims, and to hold perpetrators to account. The government says it launched an investigation in June, but it has not yet announced any findings.

 

Is there is new era emerging of relations between Sudan and South Sudan?

Sudan Tribune


(KHARTOUM/JUBA) – Sudan and South Sudan appear to be on the verge of bringing their relations to a new level following the current visit of First-Vice President Taban Deng Gai to Khartoum which Juba hopes would normalize ties between the two nations particularly as it faces mounting international pressures.

JPEG - 22.2 kb
South Sudan President Salva Kiir (R) and his Sudanese counterpart Omar al-Bashir look on during a photo opportunity at the state house in capital Juba January 6, 2014 (Reuters/James Akena)

On the one side, Gai and his senior economic and military delegation who arrived in the Sudanese capital on Sunday, have discussed outstanding issues between the two countries including security, border and oil issues.

However, South Sudan’s President Salva Kiir Mayardit seems to have sought to gain support of the Sudanese government in the face of the heavy international pressure that he encountered following the escape of his former First Vice-President Riek Machar which exacerbated the humanitarian and security situation in the newborn state.

Kiir had written a special letter to his Sudanese counterpart Omer al-Bashir expressing full commitment to implement all cooperation agreement signed between the two countries in 2012 before asking Khartoum to deal the same way with his government.

He also underscored his personal commitment to work to achieve a homegrown solution to stopping the war that brought his country to the brink of economic collapse.

“Let me be clear my brother, Omer al-Bashir and members of your government that we are not opposed to the regional support. We need support of the region, particularly countries like Sudan but this support should be supplementary. It should be a supplementary to our own so it is not rejected by the people. The region also needs to know that imported solutions aren’t the answer. We have many examples where external intervention had been short lived in other countries. Only a domestic solution realised from understanding people’s needs and aspirations that can be permanent”, Kiir explained in the special letter addressed to al-Bashir, copy of which Sudan Tribune obtained.

The South Sudanese government has declined to respond to a UN Security Council Resolution 2304 that authorized sending extra 4,000 troops to boost UN peacekeepers in country with a mandate to fight rival forces considering the move a violation to its sovereignty.

Washington is standing behind the resolution to send extra troops to South Sudan, saying it would participate to the protection of civilians in the country.

“It is absolutely indisputable that we need to push for the deployment of the regional force which has been approved by the UN Security Council” said US Secretary of State John Kerry during his meeting with five Foreign Ministers from the regional bloc IGAD on Monday in Nairobi.

“With respect to the protection force, let me make it clear: The protection force is limited by definition, not a response to the overall crisis within the country as a whole, because clearly, there are many people with weapons in many parts of the country, and a protection force of 4,000 people will not have the capacity to cover all those bases,” the top U.S. diplomat said.

“But the hope is that with a transitional government that is now committed to the full implementation of the peace agreement and that has already begun to implement that peace agreement, that a force with a presence in Juba itself, which is where most of the violence took place during the last round, will be able to guarantee access for everybody, and that includes people trying to prevent the violence,” he added.

Earlier this month Sudan declined a proposal by some international partners to conduct a solo mediation between the warring parties in South Sudan and also refused to send troops within the regional force, saying it doesn’t want to create any sensitivities with the conflicting parties.

“Sudan is sticking to its role within the IGAD only,” Foreign Ministry Spokesperson, Garib Allah Khidir, told reporters on August 2.

In his special letter, Kiir further projected the future of South Sudan to be brighter, saying the country was now moving forward after the appointment of Gai as his new first deputy in unity government in place of armed opposition leader, his main political rival for top office in the country, Riek Machar.

“We are moving towards a brighter future and the international community should support and not weaken us, the letter adds in part. It further added that South Sudan doesn’t need lessons on human rights from the international community. “Respecting human rights is enshrined in our culture, heritage and it is part of our values system. We are more respectful of human rights in terms of commitment and action,” it added.

It was apparent from Kiir’s letter that Juba seeks to win the trust of Khartoum by sending clear signals to assure the latter that it intends to open a new chapter in relations.

Also, these signals were sent by Gai when he directly addressed Khartoum’s major concern about the security file between the two countries and particularly with regard to Juba’s support for the Sudanese rebels saying his country is keen to resolve the outstanding security issues within three weeks.

On Monday, Gai also sent amessage from Khartoum to the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement/North (SPLM-N) demanding the rebel group to resort to the peaceful settlement with the Sudanese government.

He stressed that his country wouldn’t serve as a launching pad for any Sudanese who wants to continue the war against Khartoum, adding “we hope that Sudan wouldn’t serve as a launching pad for Machar”.

South Sudan’s First Vice President Gai also on Tuesday denied that Darfur movements and SPLM-N are currently present in South Sudan’s territory, saying mutual accusations between the two countries “would continue until we agree on a verification mechanism”.

“We would go to Addis Ababa and all places where these [rebel] movements have presence and tell them that appropriate time has come to achieve peace and we would render the necessary support and advise them in a kind manner” he said.

“We advise them [SPLM-N] that wartime is over, and we say to them that your brothers in South Sudan shouldn’t suffer because of you, for even if the South didn’t support you Sudan is making use of that [pretext]” he added.

South Sudan seceded from Sudan on July 9th 2011 following a referendum on whether the semi-autonomous region should remain a part of the country or become independent. 99% of the southern Sudanese voters chose independence.

Relations between the two nations soured after South Sudan’s independence following a series of disputes over a number of issues.

(ST)

South Sudan – Machar in Khartoum for medical treatment

Reuters

South Sudan opposition leader in Khartoum for treatment, Sudan says

(This August 23 story has been corrected to change the date of the final peace deal from 1995 to 2005 in paragraph 9)

South Sudan opposition leader, Riek Machar, is in Khartoum for medical treatment, a Sudanese minister told the state news agency SUNA on Tuesday, after he left the country to escape government forces.

President Salva Kiir sacked Machar from his post as vice president after renewed fighting in South Sudan’s capital Juba last month between forces loyal to the long-time rivals. The clashes forced tens of thousands of people to flee.

Machar withdrew to the bush during the fighting in Juba and was picked up this month by U.N. peacekeepers in Democratic Republic of Congo with a leg injury. His spokesman earlier said Machar had left South Sudan to evade Kiir’s forces and had said his injury was not serious enough to require medical attention.

However, on Tuesday, Sudan said he was receiving treatment.

“Sudan has received, lately, Dr. Riek Machar, for pure humanitarian reasons, especially his need for treatment and medical care,” Information Minister Ahmed Bilal Osman said.

“Dr. Riek Machar’s health is stable currently and he will remain in the country under comprehensive healthcare until he leaves to a destination of his choice to complete his treatment,” he added.

Machar’s spokesman in Nairobi, James Gatdet Dak, could not immediately confirm he had travelled to Khartoum. He said Machar’s original plan had been to travel to Addis Ababa, which has previously hosted South Sudan’s troubled peace process.

Machar and Kiir have long been rivals, even before South Sudan’s independence in 2011 when they were both commanders in the SPLA force that fought Sudan’s Khartoum-based government.

Machar, at one point in the two-decade-long conflict, led a splinter group that signed a unilateral peace deal with the Khartoum government in 1997 that give him an official post in Sudan. Sudan’s government and the SPLA finally signed a peace deal in 2005, which led to South Sudan’s independence in 2011.

But by December 2013, the political rivalry between Kiir, an ethnic Dinka, and Machar, a Nuer, had again boiled over into a civil conflict, which often followed ethnic lines.

The two men signed a peace deal in August 2015. Under that deal, Machar returned to Juba in April to resume his role as vice president. But fighting flared last month and he was then sacked.

During a visit to Kenya, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry urged South Sudan’s leaders to “get the job done” by fully implementing the peace deal or face a U.N. arms embargo and sanctions.

The U.N. Security Council voted on Friday to authorise sending an extra 4,000 troops to the country to bolster the existing U.N. mission, which South Sudan said it was considering.

(Reporting by Ali Abdelaty; Writing by Asma Alsharif and Edmund Blair; Editing by Alison Williams)