JUBA South Sudan
(Xinhua) -- Three UN agencies said
wars and a collapsing economy have left some 100,000 people
facing starvation in parts of South Sudan where famine was
declared on Monday.
The UN Food and Agriculture
Organization (FAO), the International Children’s Fund (UNICEF)
and the World Food Programme (WFP) on Monday also called for
urgent action as almost 5 million people urgently need food,
agricultural and nutrition assistance.
The UN agencies said famine was currently affecting parts of
Unity State in the northern-central part of the country, adding
that a further 1 million people are classified as being on the
brink of famine.
"A formal famine declaration means people have already
started dying of hunger.
"The situation is the worst hunger catastrophe since fighting
erupted more than three years ago," they said in a joint
statement issued in Juba.
FAO Representative in South Sudan Serge Tissot said famine
had become a tragic reality in parts of South Sudan.
"Our worst fears have been realized. Many families have
exhausted every means they have to survive," Tissot said.
"The people are predominantly farmers and war has disrupted
"They have 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.
According to the UN agencies, if sustained and adequate
assistance is delivered urgently, the hunger situation can be
improved in the coming months and further suffering mitigated.
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
According to the Integrated Food Security Phase
Classification (IPC) update released on Monday by the
government, the three agencies and other humanitarian partners,
4.9 million people—more than 40 percent of South Sudan’s
population—are in need of urgent food, agriculture and nutrition
Unimpeded humanitarian access to those facing famine, or at
risk of famine, is urgently needed to reverse the escalating
catastrophe, the UN agencies urged.
Jeremy Hopkins, UNICEF Representative in South Sudan, said
over 1 million children are estimated to be acutely malnourished
across the country, while 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.
"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," Hopkins said.
The IPC report estimates that 14 of the 23 assessed counties
have global acute malnutrition (GAM) at or above the emergency
threshold of 15 percent, with some areas as high as 42 percent.
WFP Country Director Joyce Luma said the UN agencies will
step up their humanitarian assistance cross the country to
reverse the spread of famine.
"But we have also warned that there is only so much that
humanitarian assistance can achieve in the absence of meaningful
peace and security, both for relief workers and the
crisis-affected people they serve," she added.
Over three years of conflict have severely undermined crop
production and rural livelihoods.
The upsurge in violence since July 2016 has further
devastated food production, including in previously stable
Soaring inflation, up to 800 percent year-on-year, and market
failure have also hit areas that traditionally rely on markets
to meet food needs. Urban populations are also struggling to
cope with massive price rises on basic food items.
The three UN agencies, with other partners, have conducted
relief operations since the conflict began and intensified the
efforts throughout 2016 to mitigate the worst effects of the
UN agencies report famine
in parts of South Sudan
UNITED NATIONS New York (Xinhua) --
Three UN agencies have warned that war
and a collapsing economy have left some 100,000 people facing
starvation in parts of South Sudan where famine was declared on
Monday, Farhan Haq, the deputy UN spokesman, told reporters
"A further one million people are on the brink of famine,"
Haq said at a daily news briefing here.
"The situation is the worst hunger catastrophe since fighting
erupted in the country more than three years ago."
World Food Programme (WFP) Country Director Joyce Luma
stressed that this famine is man-made, Haq said, adding that she
said the entire humanitarian community has been trying with all
its might to avoid this catastrophe, mounting a humanitarian
response of a scale that would have seemed impossible three
But she said there is only so much that humanitarian
assistance can achieve in the absence of meaningful peace and
security, both for relief workers and the crisis-affected people
The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the UN
Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and WFP also called for urgent action
to prevent more people from dying of hunger, he said.
"If sustained and adequate assistance is delivered urgently,
the situation can be improved in the coming months and further
suffering mitigated," Haq said.
"Unimpeded humanitarian access to everyone facing famine, or
at risk of famine, is urgently needed to reverse the escalating
Famine has been declared in parts of Unity State in the
northern-central part of South Sudan, the youngest country in
The formal announcement means people have already started
dying of hunger.
Three years of civil war has been going on in the oil-rich
country after it gained independence from Sudan at the end of
one of Africa’s longest running conflicts.
Unity State, which borders Sudan, has been at the centre of
some of the fiercest fighting, while tens of thousands have been
forced to flee their homes in the face of a government offensive
against opposition-held areas.
South Sudanese army
dismisses tribalism allegations by renegade top officers
NAIROBI (Xinhua) --
The South Sudanese army (SPLA)
on Monday dismissed allegations of tribalism leveled against it
by former top officials who resigned last week.
SPLA spokesman Brigadier Lul Ruai Koang told journalists in
Juba that the army courts were not applying double standards in
prosecuting those believed to have committed rapes, killings and
looting of property during especially the renewed July clash,
"There are no sacred cows in SPLA when it comes to
application of punitive measures and in fact, before and July
2016, 72 out of 82 SPLA officers, noncommissioned officers and
men punished for war crimes were from Dinka ethnic group," he
This came after two high ranking military officers overseeing
the army’s military courts quit and authored a critical dossier
exposing the ethnic favouritism afforded to President Salva Kiir
and Army chief Paul Malong’s Dinka tribe officers where the
former allegedly exempted them from prosecution.
Brigadier General Henry Oyai Ngago, former Director for
military justice and Colonel Khalid Ono Loki, the former head of
military courts, became the latest officers to quit after the
elite Lt. General Thomas Cirilo Swaka, the former Deputy Head of
logistics resigned from the SPLA over similar allegations of
tribalism and abating of crimes committed against non-Dinka
"SPLA is not a tribal army.
"In fact, those officers who had defected are going to be
part and parcel of purely tribal outfits that is Agullek, SPLA-IO.
"To the contrary SPLA has more national composition and
outlook," Koang added in a statement.
The renegade officers also accused the army of deliberating
fanning ethnic killings in mostly Equatoria and Upper Nile
regions where fighting is still ongoing between SPLA-in
opposition (SPLA-IO) and SPLA forces.
They added that the SPLA was illegally arresting civilians
and subjecting them to torture in detention cells, hence
reinforcing various human rights reports by the UN documenting
heinous atrocities committed in Yei South West of the capital
and in northern towns of Malakal and Bentiu.
"On arrest of civilians, let them provide us with lists of
civilians currently in military detention facilities and the
leadership will not hesitate to look into circumstances under
which they were arrested," Koang said.
Koang also denied allegations of deliberate recruitment of
child soldiers in the rank and file of the SPLA.
"We challenge concerned bodies/institutions to go on fact
finding mission to SPLA divisions in order to confirm for
themselves that we have no child soldiers in our rank and
files," he added.
South Sudan has been shattered by civil war that broke out in
December 2013 after President Salva Kiir accused his former
deputy Riek Machar of plotting a coup.
Machar denied the accusation but then mobilized a rebel
A peace deal signed in August 2015 led to the formation of a
transitional unity government in April, but was again devastated
by fresh violence in July 2016.
Tens of thousands of South Sudanese have been killed, with
over 2 million displaced and another 4.6 million left severely
food insecure, since December 2013.
South Sudan may miss 2018
by Denis Elamu JUBA South Sudan
(Xinhua) -- South Sudan is unlikely to
host the much-expected elections in 2018 due to delayed
implementation of key election provisions in the the Agreement
on Resolution of Conflict in South Sudan (ARCISS) to end more
than three years of conflict, experts have said.
Experts interviewed by Xinhua in Juba said the transitional
unity government (TGoNU) since formation in April last year has
not yet expedited the process of setting up the National
Constitution Amendment Commission (NCAC) crucial for drafting
and reviewing election laws that could affect the 2018 polls
scheduled in May.
South Sudan has not had democratic elections since it won
independence from Sudan in 2011 after more than two decades of
civil war that ended with President Salva Kiir ascending to
power through referendum vote, ushering in a transition period
in the oil-rich and yet impoverished country.
According to the ARCISS, the NCAC shall in not later than six
months enact the National Elections Act (NEA) 2012, reconstitute
the National Elections Commission (NEC) which has not yet been
done after more than one and half year since the birth of the
The Minister of Information Michael Makuei cast doubt on the
probability of holding elections, saying the subject was
premature right now to be discussed due to other pressing needs
"It is premature for us to talk of elections next year,"
Makuei said, adding that the NCAC will be formed later on to
undertake its role.
"The ARCISS says that within the first six months of its
signing you have to amend the NEA 2012, and that amendment has
not yet been done.
"Perhaps others who think that elections could be done
anytime from now may not have read the peace agreement
properly," said Jacob Dut Chol, professor of politics at Juba
"The other important thing in the ARCISS says within the
first seven months the NEC should be reconstituted again.
"You reconstitute, restructure it and appoint the
commissioners by the President and his First Vice President
which has not been done," he added.
"There are very strong caveat to these things of elections,
you must ensure there is peace, ceasefire in the country.
"To do elections you need voters in Upper Nile, Equatoria
regions, and genuine peace not just peace you hear in
newspapers, but peace that shows there are no gunshots," Chol
He added that the prevailing insecurity amid mass
displacements in several parts of the country meant population
census critical for elections could be difficult to undertake
and eventually affect preparations for the upcoming elections.
The UN refugee agency UNHCR said there are 1.5 million South
Sudanese refugees in neighboring countries, besides more than 2
million displaced in UN Protection of Civilians sites.
The last South Sudan census carried out in 2008 put the
population of South Sudan at 8 million people.
South Africa-based law expert Remember Miamingi told Xinhua
that elections are not peacemaking mechanisms, but could only be
conducted until there is peace and security in South Sudan,
noting that more than half of the populations are still in
Protection of Civilians sites and refugee camps.
He added that elections would also cost millions of dollars
for a country that is nearly bankrupt as the TGoNU’s requests
for donor assistance to support its meager deficit-budget since
last year has failed to materialize.
"In fact peace, security, safety and food are the immediate
need of South Sudanese.
"Elections are the immediate need for those struggling to
purchase legitimacy," he added.
Miamingi highlighted the need to resuscitate the ARCISS that
has suffered setback since renewed clash in July last year.
"I do not see how elections can be held in 2018 in the
absence of the implementation of the agreement that called for
it in the first place," he revealed.
Juba-based political analyst James Okuk told Xinhua that the
TGoNU needs to first incorporate the ARCISS provisions into the
transitional constitution 2011 which has so far not happened.
He expressed doubts whether elections could successful be
held early next year without silencing the guns.
"It is impossible to conduct any elections considering what
we have right now (war).
"Unless, the government wants to conduct elections in only
territories that they control," Okuk added.
South Sudan’s major
highway still a death trap for travellers
by Denis Elamu JUBA South Sudan
(Xinhua) -- South Sudan’s only
tarmacked major highway, the 123-mile Juba-Nimule road, remains
a death trap in the eyes of many who endure hours of travel
along the potholed road linking the war-torn country to the
According to Isaac Mashete, a driver for Eco-Bus one of the
few bus companies plying along the Juba-Kampala highway, he is
always wary of a bullet striking him at his seat along with
others on board by armed groups operating in the shadow on the
"The first thing you fear is a bullet, other accidents are
common and whenever they occur the wreckage on the scene is not
carted away and so further accidents reoccur," Mashete told
Xinhua on Sunday after he negotiated the tortuous journey to
arrive in Juba.
Since the renewed July clash in Juba last year the highway
has claimed more than 100 lives, including shooting at the
Ugandan army convoy evacuating people fleeing fighting and the
February shooting to death of a top ranking South Sudan army (SPLA)
Brigadier has reinforced public fear and anxiety.
Those who always risk the journey have told Xinhua that the
persistent robberies, killings along the key transport corridor
of South Sudan is driven by the fact thousands of illegal
weapons being in hands of civilians who impersonate security
Mashete, added that on several occasions some ill disciplined
security people and criminals not particularly rebel outfit have
resorted to carrying out robberies, which he attributes to the
prevailing economic hardship in the country that has led to
delayed salaries for the SPLA and police officers.
"Another thing there are several people with guns and
"And it is difficult to distinguish who is a government
soldier or impersonator.
"So the government should disarm the population," he
He also disclosed that ever since last year, when of one of
their Eco-bus was attacked by gunmen who later set the ill-fated
bus ablaze; he is relieved this year they haven’t yet been
But, adds that with the coming of the rainy season starting
February, the tall grass and trees along the road will grow and
will affect visibility which gun men will take advantage of to
stage deadly attacks on travelers.
Mashete urged the authorities to help cut down the tall trees
and grass along the road to give visibility to drivers, thus
avoiding road ambushes that have been a permanent occurrence
before subsiding in January, this year.
SPLA spokesman Brigadier Lul Ruai Koang revealed to Xinhua
that the gun men behind attacks of vehicles use hit-and-run
tactics where they exploit the distance between the over
stretched soldiers deployed to patrol the road.
"The only problem you cannot have soldiers stretched along
the 90 km road because the attackers use hit-and-run tactics and
this is a problem," Koang revealed.
He added the army continues to patrol the main transport
road, which net importer South Sudan relies on entirely for most
goods and services from the East African region.
Another bus driver Musisi Godfrey told Xinhua that besides
negotiating the pot holes on the road, the various illegal
checkpoints mounted by security agencies were frustrating as one
has to keep paying loose change at these posts which further
delays a journey that would take three hours to negotiate.
"I have a person I brought and he had been cleared with the
immigration office, but when he returned shortly from Juba while
heading to Kampala, they (officers) requested again for the very
requirements and yet they were not expired," he disclosed,
adding that some officers were harassing and extorting money
from travelers illegally.
South Sudan forms
committee for new capital city construction
by Denis Elamu JUBA South Sudan
(Xinhua) -- South Sudan said Monday
that it had formed a high-level committee led by the country’s
vice president Taban Deng Gai to fast track the construction of
the planned capital city Ramciel.
President Salva Kiir’s spokesman Ateny Wek Ateny told Xinhua
in the capital of Juba that Kiir set up the committee to carry
out physical and feasibility studies around Ramciel in the
former Lakes State, whose central location is believed to be an
ideal site for the new capital.
"Already the committee has been formed that will take up the
issue of the new capital, it will work in conjunction with the
Moroccan officials," Ateny said.
"So the work is immediate as soon as the President issued the
decree," Ateny said.
Morocco and South Sudan agreed to the ambitious construction
of Ramciel that will see the government relocate from current
capital Juba by 2022 after the visit by Moroccan King Mohammed
VI earlier this month.
South Sudan barely has enough infrastructure like roads,
hospitals, schools and electricity due to underdevelopment
resulting from more than years of civil war and conflicts.
The country is currently mired in economic stagnation with
annual inflation peaking over 800 percent, and huge budget-
deficit due to conflict reducing oil production that South Sudan
depends upon to finance 98 percent of its fiscal budget.