Tag Archives: South Sudan

South Sudan – gunmen kill six humanitarian aid workers

Reuters

GENEVA Six aid workers were killed in an ambush in South Sudan on Saturday while travelling from the capital Juba to the town of Pibor, the United Nations said on Sunday, without specifying if they worked for the U.N. or giving other details.

It was the highest number of aid workers killed in a single incident since the country’s civil war began in December 2013, a U.N. statement said. At least 79 aid workers have been killed since then. This year, at least 12 have died and at least eight humanitarian convoys have been attacked.

“I am appalled and outraged by the heinous murder yesterday of six courageous humanitarians in South Sudan,” U.N. humanitarian coordinator for South Sudan Eugene Owusu said in the statement.

“I implore all those in positions of power to step up to their responsibilities and stop this, as they are ultimately accountable for what happens under their watch. There is no safety when attacks are met with silence and inaction.”

U.N. monitors have found President Salva Kiir’s government is mainly to blame for the catastrophe in his country which – in less than six years of independence – has collapsed into a chaotic ethnic war, with an epidemic of rape and a famine in parts of the country.

It was not clear if Saturday’s ambush was linked to recent violence in Pibor, where youth groups belonging to the Lango and Kurene clans clashed on March 21-22, prompting armed civilians to take up defensive positions near a U.N. base.

The U.N. said on Saturday that 800 to 1,000 civilians ran from Pibor town to the U.N. site for protection on Thursday. Indian peacekeepers shielded them and two U.N. helicopters and a civilian aircraft that were offloading at the airstrip.

The local governor later held a peace meeting and tensions subsided, the U.N. said.

(Reporting by Tom Miles; Editing by Andrew Bolton)

Next In World News

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 – former deputy chief of staff of SPLA forms new movement

Sudan Tribune

(JUBA) – South Sudan’s former deputy chief of staff for logistics, Lt. General Thomas Cirillo Swaka has formed a new rebel group, seeking to against the Juba regime under President Salva Kiir.

PNG - 200 kb
Lt. Gen. Thomas Cirino Swaka, the SPLA deputy chief of general staff for training (youtube photo)

Swaka, who now heads the National Salvation Front (NAS), quit the military, accusing its leadership of running the army on ethnic lines.

“The National Salvation Front (NAS) is convinced that to restore sanity and normalcy in our country, Kiir must go, he must vacate the office without further bloodshed,” he wrote on Monday.

The former army official vowed to ensure all means are used to restore law, order and ensure respect for human rights in the country.

NAS, it leader said, strongly advocates for national co-existence, ideals of free, sovereign and a democratically-governed nation.

“Thus, with a clear conscience and with determination, we declare the birth of a citizen-imposed change,” partly reads Swaka’s letter.

The former army official said his rebel movement would respond to the call for unified resistance against President Kiir’s government, using all means that would be available, feasible and effective.

“It is in this spirit of dedication to the cause of our people that I, General Thomas Cirillo Swaka, on behalf of the National Salvation Front, solemnly declare the launching of the National Salvation Front (NAS) on this 6th Day of March, 2017,” further noted the letter.

The new rebel movement, said Swaka, will vigorously use all means at its disposal after the Juba regime created a “highly selfish class that ensures its continued existence for the singular purpose of illicitly amassing personal and family wealth”.

The former top military said the objective of the regime to amass resources at the expense of development and common goal.

In a six-page letter issued last month, Swaka claimed the country was dominated by Dinka tribe and the army turned into tribal militia that “targets non-Dinka ethnicities”.

(ST)

South Sudan – mounting calls for investigation of atrocities

Sudan Tribune

(ADDIS ABABA) – The United Nations Human Rights office has called for an independent body to investigate crimes committed during the more than three-year conflict in South Sudan.

JPEG - 157.1 kb
A general view of participants during the 29th Regular Session of the Human Rights Council in Geneva on 3 July 2015 – (UN Photo)

A three-member commission made the call during a three-day workshop on transitional justice in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa.

“An independent mechanism is needed to immediately assist in investigating violations in South Sudan, in advance of the establishment of the hybrid court,” said Yasmin Sooka, chair of the U.N-mandated commission on Human Rights in South Sudan.

The Human Rights Council, she urged, should immediately establish a specialised mechanism to map and document conflict-related sexual violence in South Sudan with a specific emphasis on command and superior responsibility.

“Too many of those who say ‘justice should only come later’ really mean ‘justice should never come at all,” said Sooka.

“It is imperative to immediately start collecting evidence of violations even before the hybrid court is established,” she added.

Commissioner Ken Scott on his part, however, said investigations needed to start now so that the hybrid court has cases to hear.

“Critical evidence is being lost every day as witnesses are killed or disappear, as memories fade and physical evidence degrades”, he said.

During a visit to South Sudan in December last year, members of the commission reported that the level of sexual violence in the young nation had reached epic proportions and required urgent attention.

The Commission was established in March 2016, by the Geneva-based UN Human Rights Council and tasked with, among other mandates, monitoring and reporting on the situation of human rights in South Sudan and making recommendations for its improvement.

On 14 March 2017, the U.N Commission on Human Rights in South Sudan will present its report on the human rights situation and make recommendations on accountability to the Human Rights Council in Geneva.

“We will be calling for an international, independent, investigative mechanism for South Sudan to be set up,” said Sooka.

“It should be well-resourced to collect evidence on the ground, focusing primarily on the most recent serious crimes,” she stressed.

Chapter V of the Agreement on the Resolution of the Conflict in South Sudan (ARCSS) calls for the establishment of a Hybrid Court for South Sudan, tasked to investigate and prosecute individuals bearing the responsibility for violations of international law.

(ST)

South Sudan – famine declared in Unity State

Sudan Tribune

February 20, 2017 (JUBA) – War and a collapsing economy have left some 100,000 people starving in parts of South Sudan, government and three United Nations agencies said Monday.

JPEG - 49.7 kb
IDPs wait to receive food rations and other items from the WFP at a distribution point in Pibor town, Jonglei 21 March 2009 – (photo UN)

An additional one million people in the war-torn nation, the United Nations agencies projected, could be on the brink of famine.

The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and the World Food Programme (WFP) warned that urgent action is needed to prevent more people from dying of hunger.

“If sustained and adequate assistance is delivered urgently, the hunger situation can be improved in the coming months and further suffering mitigated,” partly reads a joint statement the agencies issued on Monday.

The total number of food insecure people is expected to rise to 5.5 million at the height of the lean season in July if nothing is done to curb the severity and spread of the food crisis.

According to the Integrated Food Security Phase Classification (IPC) update released today by the government, the three agencies and other humanitarian partners, 4.9 million people, over 40% of South Sudan’s population, are in need of urgent food, agriculture and nutrition assistance.

Unimpeded humanitarian access to everyone facing famine, or at risk of famine, is urgently needed to reverse the escalating catastrophe, the UN agencies urged. Further spread of famine can only be prevented if humanitarian assistance is scaled up and reaches the most vulnerable.

Famine, the agencies said, is currently affecting parts of Unity State in the northern-central part of the country. A formal famine declaration means people have already started dying of hunger. The situation is the worst hunger catastrophe since fighting erupted over three years ago.

“Famine has become a tragic reality in parts of South Sudan and our worst fears have been realised. Many families have exhausted every means they have to survive,” said FAO Representative in South Sudan, Serge Tissot.

“The people are predominantly farmers and war has disrupted agriculture. They’ve lost their livestock, even their farming tools. For months there has been a total reliance on whatever plants they can find and fish they can catch,” he added.

Malnutrition is a major public health emergency, exacerbated by the widespread fighting, displacement, poor access to health services and low coverage of sanitation facilities.

The IPC report estimates that 14 of the 23 assessed counties have global acute malnutrition at or above the emergency threshold of 15%, with some areas as high as 42%.

“More than one million children are currently estimated to be acutely malnourished across South Sudan; over a quarter of a million children are already severely malnourished. If we do not reach these children with urgent aid many of them will die,” said Jeremy Hopkins, UNICEF Representative in South Sudan.

“We urge all parties to allow humanitarian organizations unrestricted access to the affected populations, so we can assist the most vulnerable and prevent yet another humanitarian catastrophe,” he added.

U.N agencies and other partners have conducted massive relief operations since the conflict began, and intensified those efforts throughout 2016 to mitigate the worst effects of the humanitarian crisis. In Northern Bahr El Ghazal state, among others, the IPC assessment team found that humanitarian relief had lessened the risk of famine there.

In 2016, WFP said it reached a record 4 million people in war-ravaged South Sudan with food assistance, including cash assistance amounting to US$13.8 million, and more than 265,000 metric tons of food and nutrition supplies. This is reportedly the highest largest number of people assisted by WFP in South Sudan since independence from neighbouring Sudan in July 2011.

(ST)

South Sudan – army general resigns citing abuses and ethnic bias

Reuters

By Katharine Houreld | NAIROBI

A South Sudanese general has resigned, citing abuses by the security forces against civilians and what he called increasing ethnic favouritism in the military, according to a letter seen by Reuters on Saturday.

Lieutenant General Thomas Cirillo Swaka, the deputy head of logistics, is the highest-ranking officer to resign since former Vice President Riek Machar fled after his supporters clashed in Juba in July with soldiers loyal to President Salva Kiir.

Swaka, widely known as Cirillo, is respected by the international community and Western governments would see his resignation and the charges he has levelled as an indictment of the government, one security expert in Nairobi said.

South Sudan has been riven by conflict since 2013, two years after seceeding from North Sudan. Fighting broke out a few months after Kiir, from the Dinka tribe, sacked Machar, a Nuer. His reinstatement in 2016 lasted just weeks before violence erupted again.

The conflict has increasingly followed ethnic lines, forcing three million people to flee their homes, bringing the nation of 11 million close to famine and leading the United Nations to say South Sudan was on the brink of genocide.

Swaka’s letter reinforced those warnings.

“President Kiir and his Dinka leadership clique have tactically and systematically transformed the SPLA into a partisan and tribal army,” it read, using the acronym for the government Sudan People’s Liberation Army.

“Terrorising their opponents, real or perceived, has become a preoccupation of the government.”

Swaka said the military, police and other security branches systematically recruited Dinka from the president and chief of army staff’s home region. Non-Dinkas and Dinkas who disagreed with the president’s agenda were given remote postings or sidelined, he said.

He also said “soldiers from the Dinka ethnic group have been strategically deployed and posted in non-Dinka areas to support the policy of land occupation.”

Swaka said the military raped and killed civilians and allowed tribal militias to commit the same abuses as well as running a network of secret prisons where torture was endemic.

The government routinely dismisses charges of ethnic bias and blames rebels for stoking trouble. Officials say any soldier committing abuses will be held to account and the president said on Monday any soldier committing rape should be shot.

Military spokesman Brigadier General Lul Ruai Koang did not return calls seeking comment about Swaka’s letter. The presidential spokesman also could not immediately be reached.

U.N. officials and Western governments have accused both sides in the conflict of abuses.

(Editing by Edmund Blair and Louise Ireland)

South Sudan – Rebel leader Machar backs AU call for end to conflict

Sudan Tribune

January 31, 2017 (JUBA) – South Sudan rebel leader, Riek Machar has strongly supported calls from the African Union, the East African regional bloc (IGAD) and United Nations for an end to the country’s conflict.

JPEG - 19.6 kb
South Sudan’s opposition leader Riek Machar speaks during a briefing in Ethiopia’s capital Addis Ababa April 9, 2016 (Photo Reuters/ Tiksa Negeri)

Machar, who currently lives in South Africa, however, disagreed on the advocacy for an inclusive national dialogue in the young nation, saying it cannot be achieved in the absence of peace and stability.

Calls for both dialogue and an inclusive dialogue were made in a joint statement issued by AU, IGAD and the U.N during consultations on the South Sudan crisis at the sidelines of the just-concluded AU head of states and governments summit in Addis-Ababa, Ethiopia.

The South Sudanese official said outcomes of the summit contradict the U.N Security Council approach to South Sudan’s ongoing crisis.

“The joint statement by the AU invigorated IGAD and the U.N seems to interpret the national dialogue declared by President Salva Kiir to invigorate peace process that was declared by the UNSC. The national dialogue we believe cannot replace the process aiming at reviving the agreement and ending the war,” explained Machar.

He said for a meaningful dialogue to take place, there was need to first end the war so as to create conducive environment and a safe space for the people of South Sudan in order to achieve inclusivity and enable people to express their views minus fear or favour.

“Our vision of the national dialogue is a participatory process inclusive of grassroots, refugees, internally displaced, victims and perpetrators of atrocities,” stressed the South Sudanese rebel leader.

Last month, the UNSC president called for a new invigorated inclusive political process to restore the agreement on the resolution of South Sudan’s conflict and end renewed fighting in the country.

Machar, however, insisted the new mechanisms adopted in Addis-Ababa at the sidelines of the AU summit, instead blessed president Kiir “self-made” national dialogue, which, he said, contradicted what the UNSC president said in relation to the South Sudan crisis.

“A national dialogue will not work as war continues across South Sudan. Dialogue comes after meaningful peace is achieved,” he said, urging the regional and international partners to instead dedicate their commitment a peace process that will end the war.

The South Sudanese rebel leader welcomed the appointment of Alpha Konare’s as the new AU envoy to South Sudan, vowing to closely work with the latter for peaceful resolution of the conflict.

(ST)