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Red Cross demands access to wounded
people in South Sudan town       

By Julius Gale JUBA South Sudan (Xinhua) -- The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) on Thursday expressed concern about the fate of people wounded in the fighting around Waat, in South Sudan’s Bieh state, and requested all sides to allow the wounded access to health care.

The ICRC in a statement issued in Juba reminded all sides involved in the hostilities to respect and protect those not taking part in the fighting, including wounded combatants.

“The ICRC has been able to evacuate several wounded combatants so far and we stand ready to do it again. We are discussing with all sides to the conflict to ensure that the wounded have access to the medical assistance they are entitled to,” ICRC’s head of delegation in South Sudan, Francois Stamm said.

Fresh clashes erupted early this week between government forces and rebels loyal to the country’s former deputy president Riek Machar known as SPLA-IO, which left over 90 killed and dozens injured, according to the South Sudan army (SPLA).

SPLA spokesman Lul Ruai Koang blamed opposition fighters for obstructing evacuation efforts by the ICRC on Wednesday, alleging that rebel fighters fired shells at the airstrip as the ICRC team tried to evacuate their wounded soldiers.

Lam Paul Gabriel, Deputy Spokesman of the rebels denied all the accusations, saying that the government is trying to restrict the ICRC to only rescue wounded government soldiers and leave out the rebels.

“Fighting is still ongoing and we are in full control of the airstrip. But the government is putting the ICRC under huge pressure not to assist our fighters, which is not acceptable,” Gabriel told Xinhua by phone.

The Red Cross said since the beginning of 2017, they have evacuated more than 590 people wounded in fighting and other situations of violence across South Sudan, and it has treated a total of 1,046 people affected by the conflict.

“We remind all parties involved in the fighting about their obligation to allow the war wounded prompt access to medical assistance,” Stamm said.

“There are rules in war and it is crucial that international humanitarian law (IHL) be respected and that those affected by the fighting are protected,” he added.

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

A peace pact signed in Addis Ababa in 2015 under intense international pressure was shattered again following renewed violence between rival government and opposition troops in the capital Juba in July 2016.

The conflict has since spread to other regions which enjoyed relative peace, causing mass displacement of least 4 million people from their homes, ethnic polarization and tribal violence that has killed tens of thousands of people.



Militarization big concern for Juba residents: South Sudanese survey

By Julius Gale JUBA South Sudan (Xinhua) -- South Sudanese are concerned about heavy deployment of the army in the capital Juba, a survey conducted by a lobby group South Sudanese Network for Democracy and Elections (SSuNDE) said.

SSuNDE said the security survey, conducted in March covered over 1,500 residents of Juba, found that the force deployed in the city signifies war-related danger to the population.

It said militarization of the city led to increased armed robbery, rape and reported cases of murders through gun shot.

The survey also said security reforms initiated late last year by the government to improve safety and security of civilians in Juba was largely effective and appreciated by the public.

The report called for an expanded and sustained security sector reforms, collection of illegal arms from civilians and deployment of soldiers outside urban centers.

“They (civilians) recommended that the people who interact with them, especially providing security in town should be the police and the military should get involved in defence and other assignments outside the city,” said Rajab Mohandis, SSuNDE Executive Director.

Juba remains heavily militarized with soldiers seen in the several military patrols and security checkpoints across the city despite repeated calls by the UN and regional blocs for demilitarization of the city.

The August 2015 peace agreement also provided for redeployment of the military 25 km outside the city, but little has been achieved as the pact was shattered by fresh clash between rival forces in July 2016.

Responding to the findings, South Sudan’s Interior Minister Michael Chiangjiek said the report would help the government improve on its shortfalls and strengthen its capacity to protect civilians and their property.

“Based on the assessment, I call it very positive because it gives us the feedback on what we can do as a government and also as security organs because they have found that there are areas that we have done very well and there are areas that need improvement,” Chiangjiek told reporters on Thursday.


South Sudan rebels defect to government

By Denis Elamu JUBA South Sudan (Xinhua) -- Eleven South Sudanese rebels on Thursday defected to the government in order to participate in the ongoing national dialogue process launched last year by President Salva Kiir.

General Gabriel Gatwech Puoch from the SPLA-In opposition (SPLA-IO) faction under First Vice President Taban Deng Gai said the 11 returnee rebels, including two Brigadiers, arrived in Juba from the Ugandan capital, Kampala.

“I have been sent to Kampala by Taban Deng to meet those who have called for peace and some of them have come with me. We are delighted that people are now ready to talk and air out differences through the national dialogue,” Gatwech said in Juba.

He added that some of the returnees had fled to the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) in the wake of the renewed July violence last year that pushed Machar out of the capital.

Brigadier Jeremiah Sero, who is among the returnee rebels, said they came to be part of the national dialogue process and that peace will only come from local solution.

“We have heard this call to join the national dialogue, because it’s South Sudanese who will bring peace to our country. I call on our comrades still in the bush to join this process,” said Sero who was among rebels that fled with Machar to DRC during violence last year.

Meanwhile, Brigadier Okello Odongo who was with the rebels in Magwi County, Imatong state said more rebel fighters are ready to renounce rebellion for the national dialogue.

“This is high time that we welcome everybody who has left this country because of grievances to return and help build the country. There are number of soldiers that are ready to come but delayed due to facilitation,” he disclosed.

“Right now as we talk already there are forces gathering, building up in cantonment sites. And with my coming I believe that even the (rebel) remnants still in the bush will join us,” he added.

South Sudan descended into violence in December 2013 after political dispute between President Salva 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 the rebel leader Machar to flee into exile.

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


South Sudan plans for electricity import from Uganda

By Denis Elamu JUBA South Sudan (Xinhua) -- South Sudan said Thursday electricity supply from Uganda will create necessary socio-economic development along its border towns.

The Minister of Electricity and Dams Dhieu Mathok said the two neighboring countries reached an agreement in Kampala that will see import of at least 15 KV of electricity to three border towns of war-torn South Sudan

“This Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) is aiming at electrification of the border towns of Kaya, Nimule and KajoKeji. We are going to form committee on both sides to draft the agreement to implement the project,” he said in Juba.

The project under the regional body the East African Community (EAC) pool for electricity connectivity will see both countries mobilize funds for implementation.

“This project is very important and is going to create necessary social-economic development for our people and also stop rural-urban migration,” Mathok said.

Mathok also said the electricity supply from Uganda will help fill the void caused by delays in implementation of the country’s eight hydro power projects.

“We are immediately going to form a committee and this will embark immediately on drafting the agreement on terms of management, finance,” he added.


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