NAIROBI (Xinhua) --
The Eastern Africa Standby Force (EASF), a
regional rapid response force, said on Friday its troops are on
standby and ready to deploy to South Sudan if the African Union
gives the directive.
EASF Director Chanfi Issimail said
the rapid-deployment force is well equipped and has the capacity
to deploy to the troubled nation within 14 days following
command which must be confirmed and endorsed by the AU leaders.
"EASF has a ready full operational capability force of 5,200
military, police and civilian personnel to fulfill its mandate
of enhancing peace and security in the Eastern Africa region,"
Issimail said in Nairobi during a visit by Denmark’s ambassador
to Kenya Mette Knudsen to sign the joint Danish-EASF project of
The rapid deployment force is one of the five regional
standby forces under the command of the African Union and draws
its membership from ten member states from the Eastern Africa
Region, namely Burundi, Comoros, Djibouti, Ethiopia, Kenya,
Rwanda, Seychelles, Somalia, Sudan and Uganda.
EASF is one of the five regional components of the African
Standby Force established by the African Union for the purpose
of containing conflicts and enhancing peace and security on the
The EASF was established as a regional mechanism to provide
capability for rapid deployment of forces to carry out
preventive deployment, rapid intervention and peace enforcement.
South Sudan’s civil war began in December 2013 when President
Salva Kiir accused former first vice president Riek Machar of
plotting a coup, which opened ethnic divisions characterized by
human rights violations.
Heavy fighting erupted again in July between forces loyal to
President Kiir and his former deputy Machar, uprooting thousands
of refugees who crossed into regional countries.
Knudsen and Issimail signed a document totaling 3 million
U.S. dollars for the project that is designed to facilitate the
standby force in achieving its ambition as a key player in the
peace and security sector in the region through capacity
building for the duration of the program that runs from 2015 to
Knudsen said the contribution is one element that can be used
to support the clamor for peace in Africa.
"EASF is a useful tool and choice for the African Union in
implementing peace in the region and a strong instrument that
can be used to address stability in the region," the ambassador
United Nations team
arrives in Juba to look into South Sudan violence
UNITED NATIONS New York (Xinhua) --
The Independent Special Investigation team
appointed by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to look into the
violence in Juba, the capital of South Sudan, in July, and the
response of the UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS), arrived in
Juba on Friday, a UN spokesman told reporters here.
The team, led by Major General (retired) Patrick Cammaert,
will review reports of incidents of attacks on civilians and
cases of sexual violence that occurred within or in the vicinity
of the UN House Protection of Civilians (PoC) sites in Juba, the
"It will also determine whether UNMISS responded
appropriately to prevent and stop these incidents and to protect
civilians, within its resources and capabilities at the time,"
the spokesman said.
The team is also charged to review the UN Mission’s response
to the July 11 attack on the Terrain Hotel, the spokesman said.
"The team is expected to submit its report to the
secretary-general within one month."
In August, the secretary-general announced the special
investigation into allegations that UNMISS failed to respond
properly to the attack on the hotel in Juba in July.
Meanwhile, Ban was also concerned about allegations that
UNMISS did not respond appropriately to prevent this and other
grave cases of sexual violence committed in Juba, according to
On July 10, South Sudanese Health Ministry confirmed 271
people were killed in the latest clashes between rival army
factions outside the presidential palace in the capital Juba and
there is renewed heavy fighting.
In a statement, the Health Ministry said those killed
included 32 civilians, five police officers, 44 government
troops and 190 soldiers of the Sudan People’s Liberation
Movement-In Opposition (SPLM-IO) led by Vice President Riek
South Sudan says facing
cash crisis at its foreign embassies
JUBA South Sudan (Xinhua) --
South Sudan said Friday it’s facing cash crisis
at its foreign embassies stemming from salary delays as well
risk eviction for failure to pay rents.
Philip Thon leek, Chairperson of Specialized Committee for
Foreign Relations in transitional Parliament, told Xinhua in an
interview in Juba that the government is making frantic efforts
to rescue the diplomats who may be at risk of eviction due to
"The diplomats have been going without salaries for about
five months, and some of them are being threatened to be dragged
to court for failing to pay rents by their landlords," Leek
In March, Juba said it will downsize the number of staff in
its embassies across the world in order to cut costs due to
economic slump stemming from a two-year civil war.
The move comes amid unconfirmed reports that some of the
foreign missions have been served with eviction orders for not
paying rent while some staff have not been paid for months due
to economic crisis.
"Our diplomats don’t get their salaries regularly because
scarcity of hard currency has disadvantaged them from paying
their house rents abroad," Leek stressed.
The lawmaker explained that the situation has been
exacerbated by the current economic crisis that has made foreign
currencies to be very scarce, coupled with the large number of
diplomats deployed in foreign missions abroad.
Since South Sudan gained its independence from Khartoum in
2011, the world youngest nation has so far opened 32 missions
Foreign Affairs Spokesperson Mawien Makol told Xinhua that
the delays are due to economic crisis, coupled with recent
fighting that forced former first vice president Riek Machar to
flee the country.
"We have some economic problems at the moment, but we are
trying our best, and also to reduce the number of officials in
some of those embassies," Makol said.
UN expert decries high
illiteracy rates in South Sudan
JUBA South Sudan (Xinhua) --
South Sudan has one of the lowest literacy
rates in the world as only 15 percent women and 40 percent men
of the country’s 12 million population are able to read or
write, a UNESCO expert said on Friday.
Dr. Awol Endris Adem, UNESCO South Sudan Education
Specialist, said data from the country’s 2008 census shows
alarming indicators of illiteracy rates and that those figures
could have worsened following eruption of civil war in 2013.
"When we consider the 27 percent aggregate number of the 2008
South Sudan census, it means literacy level is 15 percent for
women and 40 percent for men. Because of this, South Sudan very
unfortunately is considered to be lowest in the world in terms
of literacy," Adem told Xinhua in Juba.
He said the country’s problems spanned from protracted
conflicts, lack of investment in education infrastructure, and
under funding of the education system, adding that the December
2013 conflict inflicted a heavy toll on South Sudan’s education
"The December 2013 civil war has aggravated the situation
even more because resources that should have gone into
education, health and other services might have been channeled
into the conflict," Adem said.
"So all these combined have resulted in a kind of very
decimal literacy and other education indicators for South
Sudan," he added.
South Sudan’s education indicators remain among the worst in
the world. Official data from the ministry of education shows
annual allocation to education stood at 7 percent for 2013-2014.
A report by UN children’s agency (UNICEF) released early this
month said South Sudan is the second country in the world after
Liberia with the highest proportion of out-of-school children.
Adem said collective efforts involving government, civil
society organizations and the private sector need to be put in
place to reduce the high illiteracy rates in the world’s
"We should work together and work much harder than now.
"We should create opportunities for South Sudanese youth and
adults to enroll into literacy classes and the South Sudanese
must lead the drive to teach their fellow citizens.
"It is a collective responsibility, and UNESCO shall remain a
partner in this all the way," he said.
South Sudan seeks to
improve trade ties with Ethiopia
JUBA South Sudan (Xinhua) --
South Sudan is seeking avenues to bolster
trade ties with Ethiopia through reopening of trade corridors
and construction of new roads linking the two countries, an
Ezekiel Lol Gatkuoth, South Sudan’s Petroleum Minister told
reporters at Juba International Airport before his departure
late Thursday for Ethiopia that that a high level delegation
dispatched by South Sudan President Salva Kiir to Ethiopia will
discuss issues to do with trade, infrastructure development and
"Ethiopia is a strategic neighbor and we want to make sure
that while we are implementing the agreement, we also make sure
that trade between South Sudan and Ethiopia is booming,"
Gatkuoth said the team led by the country’s first vice
President Taban Deng Gai , will meet Ethiopian Prime Minister
Hailemariam Desalegn and other government officials for
negotiations on border demarcation and regional security.
"We would like to make sure that the region is peaceful and
all our neighbors are having good relations with us.
"So we will be normalizing relations with all the neighbors,"
South Sudan share a long border with its eastern neighbor
Ethiopia, but trade between the countries have been affected by
South Sudan’s civil war which started in December 2013 which
concentrated in the Northeastern region bordering Sudan and
A deadly raid which left over 200 killed in Ethiopia’s
Gambella region in April by armed South Sudanese further caused
tense relations between the two countries.