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XINHUA NEWS SERVICE REPORTS FROM THE AFRICAN CONTINENT

 

South Sudan warring factions warned for violating peace accord

ADDIS ABABA Ethiopia (Xinhua) -- The United Nations (UN), the African Union (AU) and the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) on Saturday warned South Sudan’s warring factions for violating the recent peace deal.

In their joint meeting on the sidelines of the 30th AU summit in Ethiopia, Antonio Guterres, UN Secretary-General, Moussa Faki Mahamat, AU Commission Chairperson, and Hailemariam Desalegn, Current IGAD Chairperson and Ethiopian Prime Minister, called for compliance with the peace agreement.

According to the statement from the Ethiopian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the three parties have agreed on possible measures against parties that violate the agreement.

The South Sudanese government and opposition factions in December signed an Agreement on Cessation of Hostilities, Protection of Civilians and Humanitarian Access in Ethiopia’s capital Addis Ababa.

The cease-fire agreement, brokered by IGAD, asked the warring parties to stop military operations, demands that forces remain in their bases and further called for release of political detainees.

According to the statement, the three organizations have “strongly condemned” the violation of the agreement by the parties involved.

Mahamat stressed the need to take actions on parties that violate the peace accord, according to the statement.

Guterres, who praised IGAD’s efforts in South Sudan’s peace process, also affirmed UN’s support to the East African block.

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EARLIER REPORTS:

South Sudan rebels free 15 prisoners of war

JUBA, (Xinhua) -- The Sudan People’s Army in Opposition (SPLA-IO) loyal to South Sudan’s former deputy president Riek Machar said on Monday that they have released 15 government soldiers to the International Committee Red Cross (ICRC) as required by a recent cease-fire agreement.

Lam Paul Gabriel, SPLA-IO Deputy Military Spokesperson, said the prisoners of war were released on Sunday in KoloPach airstrip, in the eastern state of Jonglei.

He said another group of 11 prisoners of war refused to return to the capital, Juba for fear of persecution from the government, adding that they have been allowed to live among displaced people in the same region where they were detained.

“This is the third time the SPLA-IO is showing compliance with the Cessation of Hostilities (COH) agreement signed on Dec. 21 last year while other partners have not yet complied,” Lam said.

“The Leadership of the SPLA-IO appreciates the field commanders and the State leadership for keeping these POWs safe and helping them get reunited with their families wherever they may be,” he added.

According to the COH agreement signed between the government and several rebel groups in the Ethiopian capital of Addis Ababa, all parties agreed to release political detainees and prisoners of war and hand them to the Red Cross within 14 days.

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.

ICRC could not confirm or deny release of the detainees but said in a statement on Sunday that it had informed the parties to the South Sudan conflict of its readiness to act as neutral intermediary in facilitating release of detained persons.

Francois Stamm, Head of Delegation for the ICRC in South Sudan, said the ICRC aims to secure humane treatment and conditions of detention for all those deprived of their liberty, regardless of the reasons for their arrest and detention.

He added that the ICRC seeks to alleviate the suffering of their families, particularly by restoring communication between detainees and their relatives.

“We have approached the various parties concerned in what will remain a bilateral and confidential dialogue and have already facilitated a number of releases.

“Our role is to make any potential related release possible and ensure that those released are transported voluntarily and safely, not to play a part in negotiating or comment on the implementation of the Cessation of Hostilities by the parties,” Stamm said.

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 crises 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 2016, but was shattered by renewed fighting in July 2016.

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UNMISS arrest suspects behind killing in Juba

JUBA South Sudan (Xinhua) -- The United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) said Saturday it has arrested a number of suspects in the refugee camp in connection with the killing of three people in Juba last week.

UNMISS said in a statement that the arrests were made during a search operation in the Protection of Civilians site next to its base in the capital.

It said the operation was carried out to determine whether individuals allegedly involved in the abduction and killing of three people in the capital last week were located within the camp.

“A number of suspects were apprehended and handed over to the South Sudan National Police Service to investigate further,” UNMISS said.

The UN mission said the Protection of Civilians sites exist to shelter South Sudanese people who are under imminent and ongoing threat of physical violence and those who genuinely fear for their lives.

It warned that it will not tolerate people who commit crimes outside and then hide inside the camp behind women and children who need protection.

“The actions of a few must not jeopardize the safety of 39,000 vulnerable people,” it said.

South Sudan descended into violence in December 2013 after political dispute between President Salva Kiir and his former chief Riek Machar led to split within the Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA), leaving soldiers to fight alongside ethnic lines between the two major ethnic groups Dinka and Nuer to which the two rivals belong respectively.

The 2015 peace agreement to end the conflict was weakened after outbreak of renewed fighting in July 2016 forced the Machar to flee the nation.

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South Sudan waives registration fee for aid organizations

JUBA, (Xinhua) -- South Sudan has waived registration fees for local and international Non-governmental Organizations (NGOs) operating in the East African nation in a bid to ease delivery of humanitarian aid, the country’s relief agency said Monday.

The South Sudan Relief and Rehabilitation Commission (RRC) issued a notice last week informing aid groups that registration fees for 2018 have been temporarily scrapped effective Jan. 24.

International aid organizations were previously paying 3,500 U.S. dollars annually and local NGOs charged 500 dollars.

Deng Tong Kenjok, Registrar General of NGOs at the RRC, said the waiver came after President Salva Kiir ordered the relief agency to drop the annual charges due to ongoing crisis and huge burden of funding humanitarian projects in the country.

“The commission shall continue to implement all registration requirements in the NGOs Act 2016, however all NGOs shall be required to pay service and administrative fees payable to the RRC,” Kenjok wrote in a circular addressed to NGOs seen on Monday.

However, the waiver does not affect the annual work permit fees for foreign aid workers which were increased from 100 dollars to between 1,000 dollars and 4,000 dollars last year.

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.

The UN and other aid agencies have warned that least 1.5 million South Sudanese could face famine as the East African nation enters what has been described as the worst lean season in history between January and March.

             

 

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