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South Sudan regrets ‘outrageous’ U.S. statement on president Kiir

JUBA South Sudan (Xinhua) -- South Sudan on Thursday described as outrageous and regrettable the statement by the U.S. diplomat at the UN that the Juba government is unfit to sail the country out of the four-year conflict.

Presidential spokesperson Ateny Wek Ateny said the statement by Nikki Haley, the U.S. Ambassador to the UN, on Wednesday is demoralizing to South Sudan leaders she met in October last year in Juba.

Talking to Xinhua, Ateny condemned the “outrageous statement” about President Salva Kiir being unfit to govern South Sudan, adding that it shows the international community is taking sides in the conflict.

Haley said the South Sudan government is unfit partner in the pursuit of peace in the wake of the recent violations of the Cessation of Hostilities (CoH) agreed upon by the warring parties late last year.

“The government of South Sudan is increasingly proving itself to be unfit partner for this Council and any country seeking peace and security for the people of South Sudan,” Haley reportedly said in New York.

The United States is a member of the international group Troika that also includes Britain and Norway, which is supporting the ongoing High-Level Revitalization Forum led by the East African bloc IGAD and has been partners in the inking of the now weakened 2015 peace agreement between warring sides.

“It is unfortunate that she (Haley) was the last senior American leader to visit South Sudan and the president showed flexibility on peace to the Americans,” Ateny said.

Haley, who visited South Sudan in October 2017, also renewed calls for imposition of arms embargo and described the promotion of three senior military officers by President Kiir as a slap in the face of the international community.



South Sudan peace monitors urge consequences on ceasefire violations

JUBA South Sudan (Xinhua) -- South Sudan peace monitors on Thursday urged the UN Security Council (UNSC) to define clear consequences to punish ceasefire violators in the wake of the warring parties’ violation of the Dec. 21 agreed Cessation of Hostilities (CoH).

The Joint Monitoring and Evaluation Commission (JMEC) Chairperson, Festus Mogae, implored the Council to define clear consequences to be faced by those who willfully violate, spoil or derail the peace agreement in South Sudan.

“For the (peace) revitalization process to be successful and for it to have the value and meaning that we would all wish it to have, there must be a clear understanding among all South Sudanese leaders of the consequences of non-compliance and the determination of the world to ensure that the Agreements they sign are enforced,” Mogae said while addressing the UNSC via video tele-conference from Juba.

“We cannot stand by as South Sudanese leaders sign an agreement one day and authorize or allow its violation with impunity the next,” he said.

Mogae added that the urgent need to revisit the range of practical measures that can be applied in earnest to those who refuse to take this process seriously and make clear to all concerned that the world will not tolerate any further disruption of efforts to deliver peace.

He also cited the 28th Extraordinary Summit of the East African bloc IGAD Heads of State and Government, communique issued on November 7, 2014, which listed enactment of asset freezes, regional travel bans, and the denial of the supply of arms and ammunition as consequences against violators of the then signed cessation of hostilities agreement.

“Together, with one voice, we can challenge those who peddle violence and self-interest and we urge the TGoNU (Transitional Government of National Unity) and all parties to continue to engage in this inclusive, political process,” JMEC said in the statement.

Mogae expressed disappointment that within days of the signing of the CoH in Ethiopia fighting and troop movements had been reported in the northern Unity, Jonglei, Upper Nile States and Central Equatoria, causing further displacement and disturbance of civilians.

“I condemn these acts of violence and call upon all signatories to the Cessation of Hostilities Agreement to disseminate the terms of the agreement to their subordinate commanders and ensure immediate and consistent compliance,” he said.

South Sudan descended into violence in December 2013 after political dispute between President Salva Kiir and his former deputy Riek Machar led to fighting between 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.


UN officials voice concern over situation in South Sudan

UNITED NATIONS New York (Xinhua) -- UN officials on Wednesday expressed grave concern over the dire security and humanitarian situation in South Sudan.

Although an agreement on the cessation of hostilities was signed on Dec. 21 and put into force days later, the security situation in the country remains volatile as there continue to be numerous violations of the agreement, UN Undersecretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations Jean-Pierre Lacroix told the Security Council.

Those violations by the parties and the continuing hostile propaganda undertaken against one another are worrisome, as they illustrate a lack of will to honor their commitments, and undermine the regional and international efforts to revitalize the peace process, said Lacroix.

He also expressed deep concern over the high level of human rights abuses and violations against civilians, mainly women and children. “The gravity of conflict-related sexual violence is deplorable and constitutes an emergency in its own right.”

The UN mission in South Sudan documented 111 incidents of conflict-related sexual violence in 2017, he said.

That figure, he noted, is a very conservative one given that the mission’s ability to perform its monitoring and reporting tasks to verify violations has been restricted by interference of government institutions and by difficulty in access.

In 2017, there were 2,670 incidents of sexual and gender-based violence, he said, adding that those human rights violations are compounded by impunity, with perpetrators not being held accountable.

A police officer, who was sentenced on Dec. 20 to three years imprisonment for raping a minor, was released the same day, allegedly on the order of the High Court Judge, said Lacroix. “This contributes to the perception of impunity across the country.”

Briefing the Security Council at the same meeting, UN Assistant Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs Ursula Mueller also expressed concern over sexual violence in South Sudan.

Humanitarian partners estimate that 1.8 million women and girls are at risk of gender-based violence in 2018, she said.

Mueller reported shocking humanitarian conditions in the country.

The latest food security analysis estimates that 5.1 million people are severely food insecure, an increase from the October-December period, she said. Some 1.5 million people are in emergency-level food insecurity, just one step away from famine, and around 20,000 people are already in famine conditions.

The next lean season, which begins in March, is likely to see food security worsen, and could see famine conditions spread to several new locations across the country, she warned.

Women and children are particularly vulnerable to food insecurity and their situation is projected to deteriorate. An estimated 250,000 children will be affected by severe acute malnutrition in 2018, she said.

The alarming levels of food insecurity and malnutrition are closely linked to people’s inability to plant or harvest due to the ongoing conflict and constraints upon their freedom of movement, she noted.

Humanitarian access remains challenging in the war-torn country, resulting in delays and interruptions in humanitarian response, she said.

Last year, at least 28 aid workers were killed in the line of duty, and more than 1,100 incidents were reported, the highest annual count since the start of the conflict. Those incidents included killings, kidnappings, attacks against humanitarian assets and bureaucratic impediments.

The challenging operating environment is restricting the ongoing dry season pre-positioning of supplies and overall program delivery, she said.

Humanitarian response in South Sudan for 2018 requires 1.7 billion U.S. dollars. The world body is trying to help 6 million people—more than half of the population—with life-saving aid and protection.

Shortly after its independence from Sudan in 2011, South Sudan plunged into civil war. Up to 300,000 people are estimated to have been killed since late 2013. More than 2 million people have fled to neighboring countries, and an additional 1.9 million are internally displaced.

UN officials have repeatedly pointed out that the tragedy is South Sudan is purely man-made with selfish and greedy politicians to blame.


South Sudan to deploy military force to stem rampant child abductions

JUBA South Sudan (Xinhua) -- South Sudan on Wednesday vowed to deploy military forces to stem rampant wave of child abductions and cattle rustling that are predominantly among rival pastoral tribes in the northern parts of the war-torn country.

The First Vice President Taban Deng Gai told journalists in Juba that the South Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA) will soon start using heavy artilleries like Armoured Personnel Carriers and helicopter gunships against pastoral tribes like the Murle of the northeastern Pibor region near the Ethiopian border who have in the past wrecked havoc on their neighbors like the Dinka and Nuer in the Jonglei region.

“This time we must follow our orders, orders of the president must be fully implemented and we are going to do this whether it needs tanks, police or army because these (child abductors) criminals are armed to the teeth,” Deng said in Juba.

He added that the rampant child abduction and cattle theft have destabilized national security and rendered the government weak in terms of offering protection to the local population, adding that they managed to dissuade recently Dinka and Nuer armed youth from carrying out revenge attacks against the Murle.

He said that joint efforts are urgently needed to stop child abductions not only in Jonglei since the vice was spreading as far as in the central Equatoria region.

“Child abduction from communities of Boma is not only against the Dinka or Nuer it has even come to Central Equatoria. Yesterday (Tuesday) I was informed that the Murle went up to a place called Dima in Ethiopia and abducted children; the Ethiopian army was pursuing them,” he disclosed.

South Sudan descended into violence in December 2013 after political dispute between President Salva Kiir and his former deputy Riek Machar led to fighting between 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 and China confirm U.S.  248 million dollars pact on airspace project

JUBA South Sudan (Xinhua) -- South Sudan and China on Thursday signed a loan agreement worth 248.8 million U.S. dollars for the establishment of an Air Traffic Management (ATM) system in the world’s youngest country.

Under the pact, the two governments agreed that the money will be channeled through the Export-Import Bank of China.

Transport Minister John Luke Jok said South Sudan currently has no facility or capacity to provide air traffic monitoring and control services for itself and relies on neighboring Sudan for ATM service.

Jok said the project to be undertaken by the China Harbor Engineering Company Ltd. will take three years to complete.

“The project is great and we are so happy it reached this stage. Our greatest happiness goes to the Chinese embassy and the people of China for helping us build our own air traffic management system,” Jok said.

Finance and Economic Planning Minister Stephen Dhieu Dua said the ATM would be a key infrastructure for safeguarding national security and in generating revenue for the cash-strapped government.

Dua appreciated the Chinese government for its continued support geared towards reconstruction of the war-torn nation.

“We thank our governments for bringing the two people together and we are proud of our friendship with the people of China. I want to thank the Chinese embassy in South Sudan for strengthening our bilateral relations with China,” Dua said.

“We are also negotiating with the Chinese government, Chinese companies and financial institutions to fund other economic and social services projects in South Sudan,” he added.

Chinese Ambassador to South Sudan He Xiangdong said once the project is completed, it will enable South Sudan to collect air traffic fees, improve monitoring of their air space and enhance safeguarding of its sovereignty.



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