Tag Archives: South Sudan war

UN warns that South Sudan is fastest growing refugee crisis

UN News Service

Refugees from South Sudan arrive in Elegu, northern Uganda Photo: UNHCR/Will Swanson

The number of South Sudanese fleeing their homes is “alarming,” the United Nations refugee agency today said, announcing that 1.6 million people have either been displaced or fled to neighbouring countries in the past eight months ago.

“A famine produced by the vicious combination of fighting and drought is now driving the world’s fastest growing refugee crisis,” the spokesperson for the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), Babar Baloch, told journalists at the Palais des Nations in Geneva.

He added that “the rate of new displacement is alarming, representing an impossible burden on a region that is significantly poorer and which is fast running short of resources to cope.”

Refugees from South Sudan are crossing the borders to the neighbouring countries. The majority of them go to Uganda where new arrivals spiked from 2,000 per day to 6,000 per day in February, and currently average more than 2,800 people per day.

“The situation is now critical,” said Mr. Baloch, warning that recent rains are making the humanitarian situation more difficult.

VIDEO: UNHCR spokesperson Babar Baloch warns that South Sudan is facing world’s fastest growing refugee crisis.

The UN agency is reiterating its calls for financial support. Aid for South Sudanese refugees is only eight per cent funded at $781.8 million, and UNHCR’s funding appeal for Uganda urgently needs $267 million.

The situation in Uganda is a “first and major test” of the commitments made at the Summit for Refugees and Migrants last September, the spokesperson said.

One of the main achievements of the Summit was to create a refugee response framework that integrates humanitarian and development efforts. This translates into giving refugees land and allowing them to access job markets, for example.

The situation of refugees in Uganda could impact how the UN and humanitarian partners are working to support national authorities in the other neighbouring countries – the Central African Republic, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ethiopia, Kenya and Sudan.

“No neighbouring country is immune,” said Mr. Baloch.

‘Security situation continues to deteriorate’

Also today, the head of the UN peacekeeping mission in the country (UNMISS), David Shearer, warned that the security situation in the country is worsening, and national authorities are not taking action.

“The situation in South Sudan continues to deteriorate and generate profound human suffering for the population of that country – suffering in which local and ethnic divisions have been exploited for political ends,” David Shearer told a meeting of the African Union Peace and Security Council on South Sudan.

He added that the recent escalation of fighting in Equatoria– considered the food basket of South Sudan – has led to a significant displacement of civilians and disrupted food production for the country.

Intense fighting is also reported in the Upper Nile. Satellite imagery shows much of one town, Wau Shilluk, destroyed and deserted.

The senior UN official reiterated concerns about the humanitarian situation in the country, calling the ongoing crisis “entirely man-made.” An estimated 100,000 people are facing starvation and an additional one million are classified as being on the brink of famine.

Mr. Shearer, who is also the Special Representative of the Secretary-General in the country, urged access for humanitarian organisations and the UN mission.


News Tracker: past stories on this issue

UN aid chief urges global action as starvation, famine loom for 20 million across four countries

South Sudan – UN reports slams arms purchases during famine

allAfrica/DW

A proposal for an arms embargo was supported by the United States in December, but the plan was rejected by the UN Security Council. Could the international body be ready to change it position as suffering continues?

A confidential UN report slams the government of South Sudan for spending more than half its budget on weapons and security as 100,000 people are dying of starvation

The human misery is the result of famine caused primarily by ever-increasing government attacks in the area.

Experts say another 1.1 million are near starvation. In addition, the number of people desperately needing food is expected to hit 5.5 million in the “lean season in July … if nothing is done to curb the severity and breadth of the food crisis.”

The report also calls for an arms embargo on South Sudan – a measure supported by the United States but rejected by the UN Security Council during a vote in December.

“Weapons continue to flow into South Sudan from diverse sources, often with the coordination of neighboring countries,” said the report by a panel of experts.

The experts found a “preponderance of evidence (that) shows continued procurement of weapons by the leadership in Juba” for the army, the security services, militias and other “associated forces.”

A petrostate

Rich in oil, South Sudan generates 97 percent of its budget revenue from petroleum sales. From late March to late October 2016, oil revenues totaled about $243 million, according to calculations from the panel.

At least half – “and likely substantially more” – of its budget expenditures are devoted to security issues including arms purchases, the 48-page report said.

President Salva Kiir’s government has continued to make arms deals even as a famine was declared in parts of Unity state, where the famine is most acute.

 South Sudan arms purchases

“The bulk of evidence suggests that the famine in Unity state has resulted from protracted conflict and, in particular, the cumulative toll of repeated military operations undertaken by the government in southern Unity beginning in 2014,” according to the report.

The government is compounding the food crisis by blocking access for humanitarian aid workers. Significant population displacement has helped exacerbate the famine.

Fighting began intensifying last July, devastating food production in areas that have traditionally been stable for farmers, including the Equatorial region, which is considered the country’s breadbasket.

After gaining independence from Sudan in 2011, South Sudan descended into war in December 2013, leaving tens of thousands dead and some 3.5 million people displaced.

bik/sms (AP, AFP)

South Sudan – aid convoy attacked by gunmen; two killed

Reuters

By Denis Dumo | JUBA

JUBA Gunmen have attacked an aid convoy in famine-hit South Sudan, killing two people and wounding three, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) said on Thursday.

The attack underscored the dangers confronting aid agencies in the world’s youngest country at a time nearly half its population, or about 5.5 million people, face food shortages. The United Nations has already declared a famine in some parts.

South Sudan has been mired in a conflict that has split the nation along ethnic lines and forced more than three million people to flee their homes. Aid workers have been kidnapped, shot at and had their supplies looted by armed men.

The attack occurred on Tuesday near Yirol, in the centre of the country about 210 km (130 miles) northwest of the capital of Juba, where the aid workers had been dealing with a cholera outbreak.

In a statement, the IOM said the convoy was targeted as it returned to Yirol, with the gunmen ambushing one of the vehicles. Two people died of gunshot wounds, the aid group said, and an IOM health officer was among the wounded.

The identity and motivation of the attackers were unknown, the statement said.

Also on Thursday, medical charity Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) said its hospital in Wau Shilluk had been looted during recent heavy fighting.

“Wau Shilluk was looted of all medicines including life-saving drugs and essential supplies,” Abdalla Hussein Abdalla, the deputy head of mission for South Sudan, said in a statement. “Our hospital is in a terrible condition.”

Earlier this week, gunmen briefly detained eight local employees of U.S. charity Samaritan’s Purse.

The civil war erupted in 2013 when President Salva Kiir, an ethnic Dinka, fired his deputy Riek Machar, a Nuer.

Machar’s rebels, the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (In Opposition), on Thursday criticised a new rebel faction led by an army general who resigned earlier this year.

A statement allegedly released by the new rebel faction said that Machar’s forces in the Equatoria region, near the Ugandan frontier, had pledged loyalty to former General Thomas Cirillo Swaka.

“The SPLA IO is totally amazed and at the same time DISAPPROVES the claim of Thomas Cirillo that its forces in Equatoria region have pledged loyalty to him and his new faction,” the statement said.

“We urge General Thomas to reconsider his strategy and not play into the hands of Salva Kiir’s allies in the region, whose intention is to divide the opposition.”

(Reporting by Denis Dumo; Writing by Katharine Houreld; Editing by Alison Williams and Richard Lough)

South Sudan – creation of new rebel movement as groups splinter

Daily Natio

Monday March 13 2017
The President of South Sudan, Salva Kiir. FILE

The President of South Sudan, Salva Kiir. FILE PHOTO | CHARLES ATIKI LOMODONG | AFP 

By AGGREY MUTAMBO

The emergence of splinter groups among South Sudan’s warring parties is threatening to derail further efforts to bring the war-torn country to peace, an organ formed to monitor the peace deal say.

At a meeting to brief stakeholders on the respect for ceasefire, Ethiopian military officer Maj-Gen Molla Hailemariam told the audience that both sides have violated the peace deal, something which could worsen if new rebel groups continue to emerge.

“The presence and emergence of different armed groups in other areas still remains a challenge for Ceasefire and Transitional Security Arrangements Monitoring Mechanism (CTSAMM) in conducting its activities.

“CTSAMM is observing deliberate, well planned attacks being committed by both Parties in many areas of the country. These violations indicate a gross disregard for the Permanent Ceasefire and they must stop,” he said in Juba last week.

CTSAMM is an organ made up of representatives from warring parties that signed the peace agreement in 2015.

It also includes representatives of political parties, former detainees, women’s guild, civil society organisations, clerics, the African Union, donors and the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (Igad).

OUST PRESIDENT KIIR

Currently chaired by Maj-Gen Hailemarriam, it is supposed to ensure that the parties stick by the ceasefire contained in Chapter II of the peace agreement, thought to be necessary for the country to move from its war years.

But as the CTSAMM board met to deliberate and update for the African Union’s Joint Monitoring and Evaluation Commission on the security situation, another former government official declared he had formed a new rebel group aimed at ousting President Salva Kiir.

Thomas Cirillo Swaka, until last month the Deputy Chief of General Staff for Logistics in the national army, SPLA, said he was now leading the National Salvation Front (Nas) motivated by the desire for a “citizen-imposed change.”

The new group was declared even as the National Constitutional Amendment Committee led by Kenyan lawyer Gichira Kibara announced it would table its draft changes to the government in Juba, next week.

But the draft changes, most of which are centred on altering the peace agreement into a permanent supreme law now face a challenge of who, among the parties, should be consulted before they are endorsed.

MAKE IT DIFFICULT

Maj-Gen Hailemarriam warned the splintering and disrespect for the agreement could make it difficult to implement all the clauses.

“These actions (of violence) have a detrimental effect on the peace and security of the country and despite our continuous reporting on this issue we are yet to see any change in relation to the commitment to the ceasefire,” he said during a meeting with members of his team.

Meanwhile, South Sudan rebels loyal to former Vice President Riek Machar are threatening to derail plans to implement major cross-border infrastructure projects in the region if they are not consulted.

They want to be party to negotiations by claiming the planned transport infrastructure will pass through areas they control.

“The Eastern (and) Central Corridor Project will not work unless the SPLM-IO under the leadership of former vice president Dr Machar (are) involved for its smooth running,” warned Dickson Gatluak, Spokesman for rebels often known as Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-in-Opposition (SPLM-IO).

“To guarantee a smooth implementation, there is a need to involve in the SPLM-IO. Otherwise it’s a wishful thinking and all agreements would remain unworkable on papers (sic),” the official said in a statement.

Gatluak has since been replaced as spokesman with Gabriel Duop Lam who resigned last month from the Transitional government under Salva Kiir. In his resignation letter, Lam who was the Minister for Labour accused Mr Kiir of corruption and brutality, before he shifted allegiance to Dr Machar.

SEEK ATTENTION

The threat to block infrastructure project appear to be a new modus operandi to seek attention, especially since Dr Machar was replaced by Taban Deng Gai and quickly accepted by the international community.

The projects, part of the larger East African Community and the Southern African Development Cooperation (Comesa ) arrangement is a tripartite plan mooted six years ago to address the transportation challenges in the region, blamed for low trade between these countries.

The countries directly involved initially were Burundi, Kenya, Tanzania and Rwanda but the Corridor was designed to link up the Democratic Republic of Congo, South Sudan and Ethiopia.

Though certain changes have taken place since it was mooted, it was initially designed to cost at least $1.8 billion and could see five new ports, railway lines and at least eight cross-border highways built.

In South Sudan, an ambitious plan was laid to have a crude-oil pipeline, a refinery, an oil storage facility, a fiber optics cable and power supply line established between Pagak in eastern South Sudan, Gambella in western Ethiopia, Addis Ababa and the Djibouti city.

The idea is to help develop the areas as well as connect the three countries. But now the rebels say that won’t happen unless they take part in discussions.

Mr Gatluak claimed that the people in the South Sudan side are not yet recovered from the violence and would automatically be hostile to such projects unless a “healing” initiative is launched.

Officially, President Kiir’s government denies that rebels control any significant territory and could therefore have no impact in the negotiations.

South Sudan Information Minister Michael Makuei last week accused the rebels of desperate attempts to discredit the government in Juba.

“What do you expect the rebels to say about the government they oppose? They will say bad things so this is a normal thing and it is expected.

“If any individual has decided to live a rebellious life, they are free to go. It is not going to affect the strength of the government in any way,” he told the Nation in an interview.

South Sudan’s government wants rebels labelled regionally as a negative force

Sudan Tribune

S Sudan's FVP designate Riek Machar, arrives in his General Headquarters, Pagak. He was received by SPLA-IO's Chief of General Staff, 1st Lt. Gen. Simon Gatwech Dual, 12 April, 2016 (courtesy photo of SPLM-IO)

March 12, 2017 (JUBA) – The South Sudanese government on Sunday called on regional leaders to designate as a “negative force”, the armed opposition forces (SPLM-IO) operating in the war-ravaged nation.

“The president has declared a national dialogue which has been welcomed by all the countries and leaders in the region because the dialogue is the only way to resolve political issues,” said presidential advisor on security, Tut Kew Gatluak.

“Why continue to fight when the national dialogue has been declared? If there are issues, the national dialogue is the platform through which all these issues would be discussed,” he added.

The presidential advisor went on to mention that those who support the war are a negative force and the government would need to take a firm stance for peace.

“But if there are people who refused this dialogue and continue to advocate for war, the region needs to come out clearly to affirm support to the peace agreement and work with the government to declare these people who are continuing to promote war as a negative force,” Gatluak told Sudan Tribune on Sunday.

Tut Kew Gatuak claimed the armed opposition forces were “bandits” who had no objectives. “These people who are still carrying arms and killing people are bandits. They have no clear political objectives. Their objectives are simply to kidnap, rape innocent women and loot,” he claimed.

The presidential advisors’ justification for calling the armed opposition bandits was due to the kidnapping of two Indian oil engineers who were taken in an oil field located in Gueluguk North.

The SPLA-IO spokesman Col. William Gatjiath Deng said in a statement last week that their forces captured two Indian nationals who were identified as Ambross Edward and Muggy Vijaya Boopathy.

“Despite repeated warnings from the SPLA-IO leadership, the two Indians engineers namely Mr Ambross Edward and Mr Muggy Vijaya Boopathy working for the Juba regime were captured yesterday Thursday, March 09, 2017 alive during the fighting between the gallant SPLA-IO forces, and the Juba regime soldiers and their Sudanese rebel allies in and around the new oil site at Guelguk north, Adar,” said Col. Deng said.

The armed opposition spokesperson explained in the statement that Edward and Boopathy were captured after rebel forces under the command of Major General Khor Chuol Giet and Brigadier General Gatbel Kuach “disintegrated, defeated, and killed” at least thirty-three government soldiers.

He also proclaimed the SPLA-IO defeated and inflicted heavy losses on government troops and its allies from the Sudanese rebel group.

The rebel spokesman further claimed that the armed opposition took control of the area and warned of unspecified consequences if Juba and its Sudanese allies continue attacking the SPLA-IO positions.

 

UN says flood of refugees from South Sudan rising fast

Reuters

U.N. says tide of refugees from South Sudan rising fast

By Elias Biryabarema | KAMPALA

KAMPALA Some 1.5 million refugees have fled fighting and famine in South Sudan to neighbouring countries, half of them to Uganda, and thousands more are leaving daily, the U.N. refugee agency said on Thursday.

Political rivalry between South Sudan’s President Salva Kiir and his former deputy Riek Machar ignited a civil war in 2013 that has often followed ethnic lines.

The two signed a shaky peace deal in 2015, but fighting has continued and Machar fled in July after days of clashes between soldiers loyal to him and Kiir’s forces in the capital Juba. He is now in South Africa.

Charlie Yaxley, spokesman for the UNHCR in Uganda, said the agency estimated the total number of South Sudanese who have gone to neighbouring countries at 1.5 million, half in Uganda.

In December there were an estimated 600,000 South Sudanese who had arrived in Uganda.

Yaxley said there were thousands of new arrivals every day. The UNHCR had planned for 300,000 this year.

“We have already in the first two months of this year received 120,00 new arrivals. If this rate of inflow continues actually that figure for 2017 will be far higher,” Yaxley said.

Refugees arriving in Uganda often say they are fleeing from ethnic violence.

“I was in Invepi … and almost every refugee I spoke to had either seen a friend or family member killed in front of their eyes,” Yaxley said, referring to the latest refugee settlement set up in Uganda.

Violence has prevented many farmers from harvesting crops and the scarcity of food has been compounded by hyperinflation, triggering famine in parts of South Sudan.

The UNHCR says the refugee crisis is the world’s third largest after Syria’s and Afghanistan’s.

(Editing by George Obulutsa and Andrew Roche)

Tens of thousands flee hunger in South Sudan into Sudan

Reuters

KHARTOUM More than 31,000 South Sudanese refugees – mostly women and children – have crossed the border into Sudan this year, fleeing famine and conflict, the United Nations refugee agency said on Monday.

The United Nations declared famine last week in parts of South Sudan’s Unity State, with about 5.5 million people expected to have no reliable source of food by July.

“Initial expectations were that 60,000 refugees may arrive through 2017, but in the first two months alone, over 31,000 refugees arrived,” a statement from the office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in Khartoum said.

More than a million people have fled South Sudan since a civil war erupted in 2013 after President Salva Kiir’ fired Vice President Riek Machar. Fighting between government forces and Machar-led rebels has caused the largest mass exodus of any conflict in central Africa since the 1994 Rwandan genocide.

Some 328,339 South Sudanese refugees have sought refuge in Sudan, including about 131,000 in 2016, many exhausted, malnourished and ill, having walked for days. More than 80 percent of the latest arrivals were women and children.

The fighting has uprooted more than 3 million people and the U.N. says continuing displacement presented “heightened risks of prolonged (food) underproduction into 2018”. In the fighting, food warehouses have been looted and aid workers killed.

South Sudan is rich in oil resources. But, six years after independence from neighbouring Sudan, there are only 200 km (120 miles) of paved roads in a nation with an area of 619,745 square km (239,285 square miles).

(Reporting by Khalid Abdelaziz; Writing by Ahmed Aboulenein; Editing by Louise Ireland)