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XINHUA NEWS SERVICE REPORTS FROM THE AFRICAN CONTINENT

 

Six missing aid workers return safely in South Sudan: UN

JUBA South Sudan (Xinhua) -- The United Nations humanitarian agency on Wednesday welcomed news of the safe return of the six aid workers who went missing days ago in South Sudan’s Western Bahr el Ghazal region.

The six aid workers, including one international and five locals, were traveling on Raja-Wau road when they went missing on Sunday evening.

Alain Noudehou, the Humanitarian Coordinator for South Sudan said the six aid workers, working with Solidarites International, HealthNet TPO, and AFOD, are all accounted for.

“The Humanitarian Coordinator commends all those who worked to ensure the safe return of the NGO staff and particularly the efforts of the UN’s World Food Programme,” Noudehou said in a statement issued in Juba.

He reminded all parties of their obligation to respect the neutrality of on-going humanitarian operations and facilitate safe and unhindered access for humanitarian workers providing life-saving aid to vulnerable people throughout the country.

“These aid agencies were implementing food assistance, livelihoods, health, and nutrition interventions in an area heavily impacted by food insecurity and malnutrition,” Noudehou said.

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EARLIER REPORTS:

Sustainable solution urged to end South Sudan’s 4-year conflict

ADDIS ABABA Ethiopia (Xinhua) -- South Sudanese leaders and stakeholders have been urged to work out a sustainable solution to a four-year conflict gripping the world’s youngest country.

Led by the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD), a five-day High-Level Revitalization Forum for the Agreement on the Resolution of the Conflict in South Sudan entered its second day on Tusday in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa.

Launching the forum on Monday, IGAD Chairperson Hailemariam Desalegn called on the South Sudanese warring parties to do their part for the peace and stability of their country.

Moussa Faki Mahamat, chairperson of the African Union (AU) Commission, said the week would be a historic one in the post-independence history of South Sudan.

“It can mark the beginning of a real reconciliation and the end of the suffering that the people of your country have been experiencing for four years,” Faki said.

Commending IGAD for its commitment and unwavering support to the peaceful resolution of the conflict in South Sudan, the chairperson of the AU Commission urged all AU member states and the international community to make every effort to support the efforts of the region.

Festus Mogae, chairman of the Joint Monitoring and Evaluation Commission (JMEC) for South Sudan, called on all South Sudanese leaders and stakeholders to come to the table in search of a sustainable political solution, to renounce violence and demonstrate political will to compromise and accommodate one another.

“At every level of society, from the village, to the community, the county, the state and the nation, dialogue and reconciliation must begin in earnest,” Mogae said. “You must find within you a desire to set aside the gun and settle your differences through dialogue and compromise.”

According to an IGAD statement, each of the delegates of the South Sudanese parties and stakeholders have expressed their strong support for the revitalization process.

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UNICEF warns of dire situation for children in South Sudan

UNITED NATIONS New York (Xinhua) -- Years of war and economic collapse in South Sudan have brought about a humanitarian tragedy for children, who face death, injury, hunger, diseases, recruitment by armed groups, forced displacement and loss of schooling, said UNICEF on Monday.

At least half of the children in South Sudan are affected and there are fears that the situation could get even worse as an escalation of the conflict and security restrictions are preventing aid from reaching many of the areas where it is most needed, warned the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) in a report.

Malnutrition, food insecurity and displacement have reached all-time highs, it warned.

Almost 3 million children are facing severe food insecurity, with more than 1 million acutely malnourished, while 2.4 million have been forced to flee their homes, said the report.

More than 2,300 children have been killed or maimed and about 19,000 have been recruited and associated with armed groups. Many more are growing up traumatized by the violence they witness and the hardships they endure, and an estimated 900,000 children suffer from psychosocial distress, it said. Children are targeted and killed for their ethnic background or for the political affiliation of their relatives or community members.

Widespread and horrific sexual violence has also been reported in the country. Although the full extent of sexual violence in the country is not known, nearly a quarter of documented incidents of conflict-related sexual violence affect children, said the report.

Malaria, pneumonia, and diarrhoea are major killers of children in a country where one in every 10 children dies before reaching the age of 5, and almost one in 100 births results in the death of the mother. More than 1.3 million people fell ill with malaria in the first nine months of 2017, it said.

Education has been severely disrupted, and if the current situation persists, only one in 13 children is likely to complete the full cycle of primary education, it said. Some two million school-age children in South Sudan are estimated to be out of school. The dropout rate of 72 percent is the highest in the world.

In South Sudan, only about half of the population have access to basic water supply and only 10 percent of the population have access to basic sanitation, while more than 60 percent are practising open defecation.

When it gained independence from Sudan in July 2011, the country was among the world’s poorest, and was already scarred by decades of fighting between Sudanese government troops and rebels from the south. Only two years after independence, the world’s youngest country was plunged into civil war as a result of a power struggle between President Salva Kiir and his former deputy Riek Machar.

A major economic crisis, with an inflation rate that has at times reached 800 percent, has further exacerbated the situation, plunging millions of people deeper into poverty and food insecurity, and leaving children ever more vulnerable, said the report.

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East African bloc starts revitalization forum on South Sudan conflict resolution

ADDIS ABABA Ethiopia (Xinhua) -- The Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) - led High-Level Revitalization Forum for the Agreement on the Resolution of the Conflict in South Sudan kicked off in Ethiopia’s capital Addis Ababa on Monday.

The five-day forum is expected to provide a distinctive opportunity to bring IGAD, regional and international parties together towards ending the conflict in South Sudan with the help of stakeholders on the negotiation table.

Ethiopian Prime Minister and the current Chairperson of IGAD, Hailemariam Desalegn, said during the opening session of the forum on Monday that the two South Sudanese warring factions need to leave their differences aside.

Desalegn, who urged South Sudanese warring parties to do their part for the peace and stability of their country, stressed that the current five-day forum is the last opportunity to ensure peace in South Sudan.

According to Desalegn, the East African bloc of IGAD will take the necessary actions if the current efforts are failed.

Moussa Faki Mahamat, African Union Commission (AUC) Chairperson, also urged the two South Sudanese warring parties to seize the opportunity to resolve the crisis.

The forum started shortly after the IGAD Council of Ministers meeting on Sunday.

IGAD Council of Ministers has on Sunday reviewed the Progress Report of the IGAD Special Envoy on the preparations of the High-Level Revitalization Forum.

IGAD, in a statement issued after the council of ministers meeting on Sunday, indicated that the east African region must approach the revitalization with strength of purpose.

The Chairman of the Joint Monitoring and Evaluation Commission for South Sudan, Festus Mogae, has also appealed to IGAD leaders to remain united under one voice and to encourage the South Sudanese leadership to commit on the current opportunity to restore the peace agreement to center stage.

South Sudan descended into violence in December 2013 after political dispute between President Salva Kiir and his former deputy turned rebel chief Riek Machar led to split within the SPLA, leaving soldiers to fight alongside ethnic lines.

The 2015 peace agreement to end the conflict was weakened after outbreak of renewed fighting in July 2016 caused the SPLA-in opposition rebel leader Machar to flee the capital.

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IGAD asked to show resolute determination in driving South Sudan peace process

ADDIS ABABA Ethiopia (Xinhua) -- The Chairman of the Joint Monitoring and Evaluation Commission (JMEC) for South Sudan , Festus Mogae, has appealed to leaders of the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) to remain united under one voice and to encourage the South Sudanese leadership to seize the opportunity to restore the Peace Agreement to center stage.

The Chairman made the remarks on Sunday during the 59th extra-ordinary session of the IGAD Council of Ministers in Ethiopia’s capital Addis Ababa, according to a statement released in connection with the meeting.

“I appeal to IGAD to be resolute, without fear or favor, in their determination to ensure the success of the revitalization forum. This is a huge opportunity that cannot be wasted or squandered,” said Mogae.

The chairman has underlined that the region must approach the revitalization with strength of purpose.

“Collectively, it is critical that the IGAD Heads of State and Governments prevail over the South Sudanese leadership to rethink the current trajectory of the country and take the necessary steps to restore peace and inclusive governance,” he said.

The Chairman has called on all the South Sudanese participants at the High Level Revitalization Forum to remain focused on the desperate plight of the people of South Sudan.

“For them, we must stop the fighting, end the violence, deal with criminality, prevent sexual and human rights abuses, reduce human suffering and address the economic crisis,” said Mogae.

“I reiterate my call to all South Sudanese stakeholders that, as they come to the table in search of a sustainable political solution, they must renounce violence and demonstrate the political will to compromise and accommodate one another,” he said.

“It is simply not possible to overstate the fundamental necessity for an immediate cessation of all hostilities. Without that, we stand no chance of stemming the tide of displacement, enabling unhindered delivery of aid to those in need or contemplating the return of IDPs (internally displaced persons) and refugees to their homes”, he said. 

The JMEC has been established among others to oversee the implementation of the agreement on the resolution of the conflict in South Sudan.

             

 

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