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XINHUA NEWS SERVICE REPORTS FROM THE AFRICAN CONTINENT

 

WFP says urgent food distribution needed in South Sudan 

JUBA South Sudan (Xinhua) -- South Sudan’s food security situation will worsen this year compared to the previous year unless food is procured and distributed to millions of people in urgent need in hard-to-reach areas before the rainy season, the World Food Program (WFP) said on Tuesday.

WFP Deputy Country Director Simon Cammelbeek told journalists the UN agency needs to urgently procure and distribute food by air drops to six million people in hard-to-reach areas classified as food insecure in 2018 before the coming of the rainy season.

“The food security situation is not good and the indication we get is that the harvest last year (2017) was less than the year before,” he revealed in Juba.

South Sudan in December last year launched humanitarian appeal estimated at 1.72 billion U.S. dollars.

A report released by the Integrated Food Security Classification (IPC) last year said an earlier-than-normal start of the lean season will result in an estimated 5.1 million people (48 percent of the total population) being classified as severely food insecure in January-March 2018.

“It’s very important that we also take this opportunity in the current month to procure food and distribute food to those areas which will not be reachable during the rainy season. So as much as we have to wait for the final (IPC) assessment the indications are clear it (food situation) is worse than last year,” Cammelbeek said.

Violence continues unabated in the world’s youngest nation despite repeated stern warning of consequences to the warring parties by the international community and regional East African leaders after several cease-fire violations.

Cammelbeek also disclosed that the humanitarian needs continue to worsen in the country where donors have been supportive of WFP and other partners’ efforts, noting that additional resources are urgently required to help mount an effective and timely response to tackle hunger.

He added that the planting season begins in February and they will liaise with the government on how to extend support to farmers.

“Whereas famine conditions were averted in 2017 thanks in part to the extensive and large scale response by WFP and partners, some 6 million people are unable to meet their daily food needs already in January this year. We must do everything in our power and work jointly to ensure food and nutritional assistance for all,” he said.

South Sudan descended into violence in December 2013 after political dispute between President Salva Kiir and his former deputy turned rebel chief 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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EARLIER REPORTS:

South Sudan joins African export credit agency

JUBA South Sudan (Xinhua) -- South Sudan has joined the African Trade and Insurance Agency (ATI), a multilateral financial institution providing export credit insurance, political risk insurance, investment insurance and other financial products to member countries.

The world’s youngest nation becomes the 14th member country of ATI after a six-year wait.

The trade body, with both commercial and development mandates, supports African countries by covering risks to companies and investors doing business in member countries.

It also covers investment and trade risks ranging from breach of contract to non-payment and government expropriation.

John Lentaigne, ATI Chief Underwriting Officer, told Xinhua on Tuesday that the East African country was able to complete its membership in late 2017 with an initial share capital subscription of 7.8 million U.S dollars provided by the African Development Bank (AfDB).

Lentaigne said South Sudan’s membership in ATI can help boost trade and foreign investment because the 7.8 million dollar capital contribution can reduce risks of doing business in the war-torn country.

“We have a range of products that can mitigate a country’s risks whether it is real or perceived. For example the risk of a government not honoring their contractual commitment, risk of war, political violence, inability to convert current and payment risk whether on the government or the private sector,” he said.

South Sudan depends on oil revenue for 98 percent of its budget, but production decreased significantly due to civil war that erupted in December 2013, causing most oilfields in the country’s oil-rich northern region to shut down.

Oil production fell to less than 130,000 barrels per day (bpd) from 350,000 bpd in 2011.

South Sudan is currently struggling with hyperinflation amid shortage of foreign reserves to support imports.

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South Sudan rebels fault international community
for inaction amid cease-fire violations

JUBA South Sudan (Xinhua) -- South Sudan’s main rebel group Sudan People’s Liberation Army-in opposition (SPLA-IO) on Monday said the international peace partners under Troika and regional leaders were “complicit” in the continued violation of the recently agreed Cessation of Hostilities (CoH).

A reliable source within Inter-Governmental Authority on Development (IGAD), the east African trade bloc, that IGAD permitted Taban Deng Gai as South Sudan’s First Vice President with the knowledge of Troika to travel to greater Jonglei where he is currently causing more destruction and displacement to the civilians in areas under the control of the SPLA-IO, Lam Paul Gabriel, the deputy spokesman of the rebels said in a statement.

He added that this was absolutely unacceptable and requires explanation from the IGAD and Troika which includes Britain, United States and Norway whom he accused of contributing to the bloodshed in the youngest country.

The Troika and IGAD in July 2017 convened the High-Level Revitalization Forum seen as the last chance to salvage a weakened peace deal agreed upon in 2015 by the warring factions, but has been violated due to continued violence, despite stern warning by regional and international partners.

Gabriel also lauded the Cease-fire transitional Monitoring Mechanism (CTSAMM) for trying their best to monitor violations happening after the two warring parties violated the CoH after they agreed on Dec. 21 to enforce.

He further urged them to be transparent and avoid giving intelligence reports to government on SPLA-IO positions.

“Secondly, the SPLA-IO calls upon CTSAMM to travel into our areas of control to get a clear report on violations instead of depending on press releases and phone calls,” Gabriel said.

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. Enditem

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South Sudan’s rebels start official release of PoWs

JUBA South Sudan  (Xinhua) -- South Sudan’s main rebel group, the Sudan People’s Liberation Army-in opposition (SPLA-IO), on Saturday commenced its official release of prisoners of war (PoWs) captured during four years of violence.

The SPLA-IO deputy spokesman Colonel Lam Paul Gabriel said their leader and former First Vice President Riek Machar ordered the release of PoWs being held by the group.

“The chairman and commander in chief of the SPLM/A -IO Riek Machar has officially directed the SPLA-IO forces to release all PoWs and Political detainees as mentioned in the Cessation of Hostilities (CoH) agreement effective on 09/01/2018,” Gabriel said in a statement.

He disclosed that the SPLA-IO Sector Seven in Western Bar El Ghazal region through its command structure on Jan. 11 handed over three detainees to the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC).

This came after the 14-day deadline agreed in the CoH by the warring parties in December 21 last year, in Addis Ababa on the release of PoWs being held on both sides elapsed last week amid intermittent fighting between the groups in violation of the cease-fire.

The agreement also called on the warring parties to surrender children enlisted or recruited in their ranks to the UN children’s agency (UNICEF) in the stipulated period.

However, the South Sudan government denies holding any more PoWs and political detainees following the Presidential directive since 2017 that saw some of the political detainees released.

The rebel spokesman also revealed that government troops attacked them on Friday in another round of fresh clashes in Pakuah between Malakal and Tonga with the intention to capture Tonga but the South Sudan army denies attacking the rebel positions.

South Sudan descended into violence in December 2013 after political dispute between President Salva Kiir and his former deputy turned rebel chief 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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Western nations condemn ceasefire violations in South Sudan

JUBA South Sudan (Xinhua) -- South Sudan’s international peace partners, the United States, Britain and Norway, have condemned ceasefire violations after both parties signed the Cessation of Hostilities (CoH) in December last year.

In a joint statement issued in Juba on Saturday, the Troika group of international partners called on all parties to immediately and fully implement the CoH in letter and spirit and ensure humanitarian access throughout the country.

“The Troika has seen strong evidence of violations of the CoH by Government of South forces in Unity State and by forces associated with opposition groups, including Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-In Opposition (SPLA-IO), in Unity State and the Greater Upper Nile region, as witnessed by ceasefire monitors,” it said.

The Western nations said they are seriously concerned by continuing reports of the movement of forces by all sides in violation of the CoH which was inked in Ethiopia on December 21, 2017, including the movement this week of hundreds of government troops into Jonglei state.

The Troika also noted with grave concern the strong evidence from multiple sources linking the attacks in Gudele, Jubek State, on Jan. 4 to former SPLA Chief of Defense Paul Malong and forces under Lt. Colonel Cham Garang, an SPLA-IO commander.

“We remain committed to holding to account all those who obstruct the realization of lasting peace for the people of South Sudan, whether or not they are participating directly in the Forum,” Troika warned.

It called on partners of the Inter-Governmental Authority on Development (IGAD), a regional bloc which brokered the ceasefire deal to rapidly investigate all violations and to immediately hold those responsible to account.

“We will continue to work closely with international and regional partners to ensure full accountability with respect to the CoH and stand ready to impose consequences on those who violate the agreement,” Troika warned.

South Sudan has been embroiled in four years of conflict that has taken a devastating toll on the people, creating one of the fastest growing refugee crisis in the world.

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.

             

 

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