By Julius Gale JUBA South Sudan (Xinhua) --
Some 6 million people in South Sudan live in
areas with the presence of landmines and explosive remnants of
war, the UN mines agency in the East African country said
The United Nations
Mine Action Service (UNMAS) in South Sudan said decades of
conflict have plagued nearly 90 million square meters of land
with explosive hazards.
The agency said an
estimated 150 previously unknown hazards are discovered each
month, with the full extent of contamination unknown, calling
for a countrywide survey.
UNMAS said the
existence of explosive hazards prevent the delivery of
humanitarian aid and hinder socioeconomic development in the
world’s youngest nation.
“In addition to
the threats posed to the safety of conflict-affected
communities, explosive hazards prevent the safe movement of
the population including those who must flee active conflict,”
UNMAS said in a statement marking the UN body’s 20th
UNMAS said since
it started operations in the war-torn country in 2004, it has
surveyed, cleared and released 1.184 million square meters of
land back to the people of South Sudan.
As the UN body
celebrates its 20th anniversary Saturday, it
pledged commitment to implements all aspects associated with
mitigation of the threats from mines and explosive remnants of
Homeless of war-torn South
Sudan seek refugee in graveyard
By Julius Gale JUBA South Sudan (Xinhua)
-- The cemetery, situated at Konyo
Konyo, in the heart of Juba, was meant to be the resting place
for residents who’ve passed away in the South Sudanese
graveyard has become a comfort zone to thousands of people who
flocked to the capital before or after the east African
country gained independence in 2011 and ended up with nowhere
“I used to fear
staying with dead people, but because I have nowhere to go, I
have become a friend of our departed brothers and sisters for
all these years,” 45-year-old Raymondo Modi told Xinhua.
Modi, a father of
10 children, ended up seeking shelter at the burial ground
after he was evicted from a rental house on the outskirt of
Juba. He had failed to meet the cost.
Terekeka, an area 50 miles outside Juba, Modi moved his family
to the capital hoping that new opportunities would come his
astonishment, things did not work out and he was left with no
option other than seeking refuge in the graveyard.
“I have named this
cemetery St. Mary village to help me remember the church I
used to pray in, in my village in Terekeka,” Modi said.
to earn a living, the self-styled leader of about 3,000
residents of the graveyard said he makes between 50 and 100
South Sudanese pounds (between 0.3 and 0.6 U.S. dollars) a
With a biting
economic crisis, he and his family are forced to take one
simple meal a day, Modi said.
“We can’t afford
to buy meat and fish because everything is expensive,” Modi
Lack of clean
water and inadequate medical and education services make it
even harder for Modi and his community.
“Life has become
more difficult for the community compared to the early days
when I settled here,” he said.
Like Modi, many
people who moved to Juba from neighboring areas have ended up
in the graveyard under similar circumstances.
James Legge, a
father of 12, has spent 14 years at the cemetery after
retiring from the army. Legge said the government has failed
to pay his retirement package and he was no longer working.
South Sudan is
engulfed in a civil war that began in December 2013, killing
tens of thousands displacing millions of others.
According to aid
organizations operating in the African nation, six million
people, half the population of South Sudan, is severely food
flocked to the capital from the hinterlands, expecting to find
a little relief but have to end up hustling for life.
“This place is
bad. There are a lot of diseases. People are dying every day
but since I don’t have anywhere to go, I have decided that I
die here and join my brothers,” said 24-year-old Maria Poni,
who has spent 12 years at the burial ground.
“The government is
free to take my children out of this place, but I’m not
leaving because this is my home,” said the mother of four.
Poni is but one
example of South Sudanese citizens bearing the brunt of a
four-year old conflict that has caused one of the world’s
fastest-growing humanitarian crises.
“If the government
can reason that they have people suffering in Juba, then I’m
hopeful that one day I will go home and live a decent live
with my children in the village,” said 70-year-old Evelyna
Kaku, another graveyard dweller. “But with what is happening
now, I don’t think I will ever see home.”
South Sudan army downplays
standoff with ex-army chief in Juba
By Julius Gale JUBA South Sudan (Xinhua)
-- The South Sudanese army on Sunday
downplayed fears that an ongoing standoff between the Sudan
People’s Liberation Army (SPLA) and bodyguards of former army
chief Paul Malong Awan would escalate into violence in Juba.
SPLA Spokesman Lul
Ruai Koang told Xinhua by phone that tension emanated after
the former military strongman refused to have his bodyguards
Juba was tense on
Saturday as soldiers blocked major roads including the one
leading to the airport and surrounded the home of the ex army
had asked him (Malong) to reduce the platoon under his command
to three bodyguards, but he refused to cooperate and the SPLA
has deployed around his home to avoid the misunderstanding
escalating into violence,” Koang said.
has no intention to make the situation escalate,” he added.
“We are in negotiation with General Paul Malong and we hope
that the misunderstanding will be addressed soon.”
Before his sacking
by President Salva Kiir in May, Malong was widely regarded as
kiir’s close ally who mobilized an ethnic militia to fight for
the Kiir administration.
groups have on several occasions accused Malong and his
militia of committing atrocities on civilians across the
The former army
chief is among three South Sudanese officials sanctioned by
the United States in September, and by Canada this month, for
allegedly obstructing peace efforts and benefiting from the
ongoing civil war.
The east African
nation has been embroiled in almost four years of conflict
that has taken a devastating toll on the people, and creating
one of the fastest growing refugee crises in the world.
A peace deal
signed in August 2015 between the rival leaders under United
Nations pressure led to the establishment of a transitional
unity government, but was shattered by renewed fighting in
The UN estimates
that about 4 million South Sudanese have been displaced
internally and externally.
South Sudan to pay off
outstanding debt to Sudan
By Denis Elamu JUBA South Sudan (Xinhua)
-- South Sudan on Friday said it
will benefit more from its oil sales by paying off outstanding
debt with Sudan after the two neighbors agreed to implement
the hitherto stalled cooperation agreement.
“The government of
South Sudan has accepted to pay off the outstanding arrears
which were not paid to the government of Sudan,” said the
Minister of Information Michael Makuei.
President Salva Kiir and his Sudan counterpart Omar al-Bashir
met on Monday in the Sudanese capital Khartoum and agreed to
expedite implementation of the cooperation agreement signed in
2012 that covered security, trade and oil issues.
According to the
South Sudan Ministry of Finance, arrears owed to Sudan are
estimated at 301.2 million U.S. dollars this fiscal year, of
which 171.8 million dollars will be provided through in-kind
shipments and 12.1 million dollars in direct payments.
that Sudan will also pay off the outstanding pension arrears
of South Sudanese civil servants who have not been paid for
long service before South Sudan won independence from Sudan in
“There are a lot
of South Sudanese who were working in Sudan and are on pension
and these people have been facing difficulties in receiving
their pensions. So it is also agreed a mechanism is worked out
they will be paid by Sudanese government,” he revealed.
Makuei also said
that customs and migration offices will be established in the
11 crossing points between the two countries by December.
Chairperson of the African
Union Commission visits Sudan
ADDIS ABABA Ethiopia (Xinhua) --
The chairperson of the African Union
(AU) Commission, Moussa Faki Mahamat, on Sunday kicked off a
two-day visit to Sudan, where the chief of the pan-African
bloc is expected to hold talks with Sudanese authorities on
issues of mutual interest.
has been accompanied by AU Commissioner for Social Affairs
Amira El-Fadil and other officials, the AU said in a statement
The visit is
expected to provide an opportunity to take stock of the peace
and reconciliation efforts in the Darfur region, where recent
progress made it possible to initiate the drawdown and exit of
the AU-UN Hybrid Operation in Darfur, as well as in Southern
Kordofan and the Blue Nile, the statement said.
also expected to focus on the efforts by Sudan and South Sudan
to advance the implementation of the cooperation agreements
signed in 2012 and the search for a solution to the Abyei
During his stay in Sudan, the chairperson of the AU Commission
will address the International University of Africa in
Khartoum, with focus on youth, the statement said.