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South Sudan to boost oil fields security after abductions | Coastweek

ADAR OILFIELD South Sudan (Xinhua) -- Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA) beef up security at Adar oilfield, South Sudan. South Sudan announced on Tuesday that it would introduce military escorts to strengthen security at the Upper Nile oil fields following the abduction of six oil workers about two weeks ago. XINHUA PHOTOS - GALE JULIUS

South Sudan to boost oil fields security after worker abductions 

By Julius Gale JUBA South Sudan (Xinhua) -- South Sudan said military escorts would be provided to oil workers in the Upper Nile oil fields following the abduction of six oil workers in about two weeks.

Speaking to journalists at Adar and Gumry oil fields in northern Upper Nile region, Petroleum Minister Ezekiel Lol Gatkuoth said on Tuesday evening the recent kidnapping cases would not impede oil production in the area, assuring oil operators that security will immediately be reinforced to protect oil workers.

“The president has instructed all the security forces to provide maximum security for the protection of oil workers. So we will make sure that even if it one person is going out for operation, they will be escorted,” Gatkuoth said.

“We ask the oil workers both South Sudanese and foreigners to cooperate with us to ensure that protection is given to all of them,” he added.

On March 8, rebels allied to former deputy president Riek Machar abducted two Indian nationals working for the Dar Petroleum Operating Company (DPOC) in Adar oil field, northern Upper Nile.

Another kidnapping of four oil workers also took place on March 18 in Gumry oil field, just few kilometers from Adar. Among the abductees were three South Sudanese and a Pakistani national.

Gatkuoth said negotiations are underway for the release of the abducted oil workers, but warned that the government would not listen to any demand for ransom payment.

War-torn South Sudan relies on oil revenue to finance 98 percent of its annual budget. But production has been affected by civil war that broke out in December 2013.  

The country’s oil output is currently estimated at 130,000 barrels per day, down from 350,000 bpd in 2011.

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EARLIER REPORT:

First batch of regional protection force to arrive in South Sudan soon: UN

By Denis Elamu JUBASouth Sudan  (Xinhua) -- The first batch of the much awaited African peacekeeping force with mandate to restore peace in South Sudan will arrive in the country soon, the United Nations peacekeeping chief revealed Tuesday.

The Under Secretary-General for Peacekeeping operations Herve Ladsous told journalists in Juba that the delayed deployment of the protection force was due to hiccups in getting clearance from the government.

“We are sparing no effort to speed up (deployment of protection force). I think I can say that in the next few weeks you will see the first vanguard of the protection force being deployed here in Juba,” Ladsous said.

“The deployment of the regional protection force, we are working actively on it. We did lose time because there was a delay in getting clearances and authorization here (in South Sudan),” he added.

The United Nations Security Council (UNSC) issued Resolution 2304 in August last year, allowing deployment of more than 4,000 troops to beef up the existing 13,000 UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) force.

South Sudan accepted the deployment of the protection force in November 2016 but later reneged in January this year following renewed clashes in the capital between forces loyal to President Salva Kiir and rebel leader Riek Machar who is in exile in South Africa.

The fighting that left about 300 soldiers dead, also spread near to the UN Juba base in which thousands of internally displaced persons are seeking shelter resulting in the death of some three Chinese peacekeepers.

It further spread to once peaceful Equatorial region with the UN warning of ethnic cleansing leading to genocide in the aftermath of heinous atrocities being visited on largely civilians in the remote town of Yei Southwest of the capital.

“The situation in this country remains a source of many concerns an issue that the Secretary General since he came in the UN in January has put among his chief concerns,” Ladsous said.

He added the volatile situation remains under the close scrutiny of the UNSC which failed in it’s attempts to impose arms embargo on South Sudan.

The outgoing peacekeepers chief said they were very alarmed by the very serious humanitarian situation, and worrisome security issues of fighting that takes place in many parts of the country.

“In this context it’s clear that there can’t be military solution but political solution,” he said.

Ladsous also revealed that President Kiir vowed after the two held meeting in Juba to support the protection force and protect aid workers that have increasingly suffered from restricted movements while reaching out to those faced with famine.

In late February, the UN declared famine in some parts of the country with 100,000 people starving, and 1 million on the brink of starvation and a further 5.5 million in dire need of food assistance caused by more than three years of fighting since December 2013.

“We have faced a number of impediments in terms of freedom of movement, getting clearances, very importantly the humanitarian actors have been severely impeded in their actions on the ground,” he said.

“I think South Sudan is one of the countries in the world where we have had humanitarian workers being prevented from doing their work, being killed or injured on their job,” he added.

             

 

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