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ICRC president calls for political
solution to end South Sudan crisis   

KAMPALA Uganda (Xinhua) -- As the people fleeing the South Sudan crisis continue to enter neighboring Uganda, the president of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) said a political solution is urgently needed to resolve the crisis.

Peter Maurer who visited South Sudan and Uganda told reporters here on Monday that the solution to the crisis is political rather than military.

He urged Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni to use his regional influence to push the rival parties to stop the fighting.

“I am deeply convinced that some of the structural and systematic problems with which we are confronting can be found if the neighbors and together with the parties in South Sudan play an important role in a peaceful solution,” Maurer said.

“It’s through a political negotiation that peace has to be found and not us (humanitarian agencies) can do it. Everybody knows one of the key influencers, one of the key actors in South Sudan crisis is President Museveni because of his influences,” Maurer added.

Museveni, under a request by his South Sudan counterpart, Salva Kiir, has been mediating talks between the conflicting parties.

Maurer who met Museveni later on Monday urged the warring parties to respect international humanitarian law. Human rights agencies and the UN have accused parties in the conflict of committing atrocities.

“We remind those taking part in the fighting of their obligations under international humanitarian law and to take all feasible precautions to avoid civilian injuries and loss of life,” said Maurer.

He said the conflict is also complicated by the poverty coupled with international pressures on the economy.

New figures released by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) office here indicate that of the 1,338,887 refugees and asylum seekers in Uganda, 1,006,779 are South Sudanese as of Aug. 15.

Humanitarian agencies said the increased influx of South Sudanese refugees in Uganda has continued to exert pressure on the limited resources available.

According to UNHCR, of the 674.25 million U.S. dollars Uganda and the UN requested from the international community to cater for the refugees this year, only 24 percent has been raised.

South Sudan descended into violence in December 2013 after political dispute between Kiir and his former deputy Riek Machar led to fighting that pitted mostly Dinka ethnic soldiers loyal to Kiir against Machar’s Nuer ethnic group.

The 2015 peace agreement to end the violence was again violated in July 2016 when the rival factions resumed fighting in the capital forcing Machar to flee into exile.

The conflict has killed tens of thousands of people and displaced millions that have sought refuge in neighboring countries.



South Sudan, UN end dispute over air operations

by Julius Gale JUBA South Sudan (Xinhua) -- South Sudan and the UN peacekeeping mission UNMISS have resolved a dispute over the control of the Juba airport and operations of UN planes, officials said Tuesday.

Government spokesman Michael Makuei said the stalemate was solved on Monday during a meeting with heads of diplomatic missions in the country, UNMISS and the government.

“We all agree that we should continue to cooperate and work together for the overall interest of the people and the government of South Sudan. And we hope that from now onwards, we are opening a new page that will pave the way for us to continue to cooperate and coordinate our activities correctly,” Makuei said.

“The cooperation and the clearance order have been cancelled and the clearance is now open. If UNMISS want to move or go anywhere, they should follow the right procedure,” he added.

The government over the weekend stopped all planes operated by UNMISS from taking to the skies following a dispute over security clearance and mandate of the newly deployed peacekeepers.

The UN mission recently deployed the newly arrived Regional Protection Force (RPF) at Juba airport to protect the facility, but this angered the authorities, with the government arguing that a status of forces agreement it signed with the UN mission doest not permit blue helmets to take charge of the airport.

The 4,000-strong additional blue helmets were mandated by the Security Council last year to back-up the existing 12,000 troops to protect civilians and key installations, including the airport, following renewed violence in July 2016.

Army Spokesman Lul Ruai Koang confirmed to Xinhua by phone that the RPF have pulled out of the airport  and the parties have resumed normal cooperation, including issuing of security clearances for UN flights.

“There was a violation of the Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) by UNMISS, but that has been resolved and we are now cooperating with them (UN),” Lul told Xinhua.

South Sudan has been embroiled in more than three years of civil war which has taken a devastating toll on its people as tens of thousands have been killed and nearly 6 million displaced, according to the UN.


One in three displaced, one in two severely hungry in South Sudan: Red Cross

GENEVA South Sudan (Xinhua) -- Of all the 12 million population in South Sudan, one in three residents has been displaced, while one in two is severely hungry and in need of food assistance, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) said on Tuesday.

“You just carried your child and run without any property. We don’t even have beds in the camp. We just sleep on the ground,” Sebit Akuar, a 31-year-old father of four now living in a makeshift home, was cited as saying by ICRC in s media statement issued Tuesday.

Belila Sabino, a mother of five children, told ICRC that she fled her home quickly when the conflict escalated. While was pregnant at the time, she walked for 10 days on foot with her children to reach a camp in Deim Zubeir in the northwest South Sudan.

“When the attacks happened my husband was away,” she said. “I fled with my children. I do not know where my husband is and he does not know where we are. It is a daily struggle to get food. I have no one to help me.”

In an effort to assist residents harmed by warfare, the ICRC recently distributed an emergency food supply to 1,000 families, or about 6,000 people, in the village of Deim Zubeir.

About 54,000 people, including around 18,000 internally displaced people (IDP), live in Deim Zubeir.

According to ICRC, a majority of the IDPs in Deim Zubeir arrived with close to nothing. The host community is sharing the little they have.

South Sudan has been embroiled in more than three years of conflict that has have taken a devastating toll on the people.

A peace deal signed in August 2015 between the rival leaders under UN pressure led to the establishment of a transitional unity government in April, but was shattered by renewed fighting in July 2016.

The UN estimates that 1.5 million people have been forced into neighboring countries and another 7.5 million people across the country are in need of humanitarian assistance and protection 


Kenyan bank to scale down South Sudan operations over uncertainty

by Ronald Njoroge NAIROBI (Xinhua) -- Regional bank Equity Bank announced on Tuesday that it will scale down its South Sudan operations due to ongoing political uncertainty.

Equity Bank Group CEO James Mwangi told an investor briefing in Nairobi that the organization will reduce its branches in Africa’s youngest nation from 13 to five.

“We will remain in South Sudan so long as we are not making losses. Currently we are depending on non-funded revenues to stay afloat,” Mwangi said.

Kenyan-based Equity Bank has subsidiaries in Uganda, Tanzania, Rwanda, South Sudan as well as Democratic Republic of Congo.

Mwangi said that in order to deepen its regional presence, it plans to roll out agency bank in all its subsidiaries.

“We have already received regulatory approval from the Central Bank of Uganda, Rwanda, Democratic Republic Congo and Tanzania to carry out agency banking in the respective countries,” he added.

According to the financial results for six months ending in June 30, the firm posted 133 million U.S. dollars in pre-tax profit, down from 142 million dollars for a similar period last year.

Mwangi said that decline in profit was due to a decline in interest income which was caused by the interest rate capping law that was operationalized in Kenya in 2016.

Mwangi noted that the subsidiaries outside of Kenya contributed ten percent of the revenues.

“As part of our regional diversification strategy our target is that operations outside Kenya generate 40 percent of all income in the next five years,” he added.

The regional bank’s deposit mobilization has been boosted by growth in customer numbers which have reached 11.7 million customers up from eight million customers in 2010. 


Ethiopia pledges continued support to South Sudan’s stability

ADDIS ABABA Ethiopia (Xinhua) -- Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn said Monday his country would give continued support for South Sudan’s peace and stability.

Desalegn made the remarks while holding talks with South Sudan’s Petroleum Minister Ezekiel Lol Gatkuoth on ways of ensuring peace and security in South Sudan in Ethiopia’s capital Addis Ababa.

He also urged the South Sudanese government to work towards a full restoration of peace and stability in the country and solve the nation’s problems in a more inclusive manner, Ethiopia’s state news agency reported.

Desalegn also stressed the need to install comprehensive public participation as a crucial impetus to build political solution to the ongoing crisis in the world’s youngest nation.

Ethiopia and South Sudan have earlier this year signed eight agreements aimed at further strengthening ties of the two neighboring countries.

The agreements, signed as part of South Sudanese President Salva Kiir’s official visit to Ethiopia, envisages partnerships in infrastructure, trade, energy and healthcare sectors.



China, Sudan provide model for South-South cooperation

KHARTOUM Sudan(Xinhua) -- China-Sudan ties have presented a model for South-South cooperation for 58 years since their establishment, during which the two sides have expressed keenness to enhance their ties and create new impetus to strengthen economic cooperation.

Sudan is grateful to China for providing it with valued assistance as a strategic partner when Sudan was under complete economic siege. The Sudanese government is looking forward to Chinese Vice Premier Zhang Gaoli’s upcoming visit to Khartoum on Aug. 25.


The exchange of visits by officials from both sides and the establishment of joint projects remain tried-and-true means for boosting historical ties, strengthening common denominators and deepening mutual respect.

“Our relationship with China is historical, deeply-rooted and strategic. This is a model relationship that we hope will continue and shift to wider horizons,” said Awad Ahmed al-Jaz, Sudanese presidential assistant and official in charge of maintaining China-Sudan relations.

There are geological studies indicating that Sudan owns great reserves of oil and gas in many areas of the country. He said Sudan has now become an inspiring model for the oil industry, and the country is currently preparing for China-Sudan cooperation in the agricultural field.

He also said the two countries have a lot of cooperation potential, adding, for example, that Sudan boasts huge agricultural, mineral and animal resources, as well as a food industry. The partnership between Sudan and China in these fields can achieve great success, the Sudanese official said.

Al-Jaz also expressed optimism over the possibility that the Belt and Road Initiative would add a new momentum to the relationship between Sudan and China as Sudan represents a link between the African continent and the Arab region.

He regarded the upcoming visit of Chinese Vice Premier Zhang as an indication of the continuing development of ties between Sudan and China, as well as of further enhanced bilateral cooperation in different fields.

Meanwhile, Dr. Ali Yousif, executive director of the Arab-Chinese Friendship Societies’ League, an affiliate of the Arab League based in Sudan, said China represents Sudan’s most important external partner.

“China is the most important partner in Sudan’s external relations, and even if the United States lifted its sanctions on Sudan, this will not change the fact that China is the most important economic partner for Sudan,” he said.

“We have a great model indicating the benefit of this relationship and I mean the Sudanese oil project which has achieved a great benefit for Sudan by providing its economy with huge resources. The Chinese side has also benefited from this project,” he said.

Bushra Al-Sheikh Dafalla, a Sudanese political analyst and diplomat, told Xinhua that the partnership between Sudan and China has achieved many benefits and contributed to the establishment of great development projects in Sudan.

He expressed the hope that China would continue its support for Sudan to establish more development projects, saying “Sudan needs more support now in the field of infrastructure, namely railway lines.”

“Sudan can utilize its geographical location, according to the Belt and Road Initiative, where China can establish land transport lines linking the Mediterranean Sea until Cape Town, and also linking the entire Africa across Sudan,” he said.

The diplomatic ties between Sudan and China were established in 1959,followed by the first protocol for commercial exchange between the two countries signed in 1962.

China is Sudan’s largest trade partner, and Sudan, in turn, ranks third among China’s African economic partners.




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