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XINHUA NEWS SERVICE REPORTS FROM THE AFRICAN CONTINENT

 
UN urges swift action to ease worsening food crisis in South Sudan

JUBA South Sudan (Xinhua) -- The UN senior relief official in South Sudan on Friday called for urgent action to help avert a worsening food crisis in the world’s youngest nation.

Alain Noudehou, the UN humanitarian coordinator, said although a famine was stopped due to intensive humanitarian intervention, the situation remains fragile, with about 85 percent of the population predicted to reach crisis and emergency food insecurity conditions by the end of April.

“Due to seasonal time pressure, we need early funding now to reach millions of people with multi-sectoral assistance during the dry season through road transport and prepositioning of life-saving aid supplies,” Noudehou said in a statement issued in Juba.

“These same activities will be many times more costly if done by air transport during the rainy season,” Noudehou added.

He was speaking after leading a high-level delegation of donors, heads of humanitarian agencies and partners to Leer, in the Unity region of South Sudan, to see first-hand the plight of the 90,000 people living in the area.

The delegation met with the governor of Leer, community leaders and aid agencies operating in the region. Leer was one of two counties affected by famine in 2017.

According to the UN, at least 4.3 million people have been displaced, including more than 1.8 million who are internally displaced and about 2.5 million who are in neighboring countries.

“Once again, I strongly urge all parties to the conflict to stop the fighting and to ensure that humanitarian agencies are given free, safe and unhindered access to all areas of South Sudan, and for all bureaucratic impediments to be removed,” said Noudehou.

A recent report analyzing food security in the conflict-affected country projected that more than seven million people—almost two-thirds of the population of South Sudan—could become severely food insecure between May and July without sustained humanitarian assistance and access.

Civilians across South Sudan are continuing to suffer from hunger, disease and displacement with the conflict now in its fifth year.

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EARLIER REPORTS:

UN aid official calls for action to avert food crisis in South Sudan

UNITED NATIONS New York (Xinhua) -- UN Humanitarian Coordinator for South Sudan Alain Noudehou has called for urgent action to avert a worsening food crisis in the country, a UN spokesman said Friday.

“Over 7 million people, almost two-thirds of the population, could become severely food insecure between May and July without sustained humanitarian assistance and access,” Stephane Dujarric, spokesman for UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, said at the daily news briefing.

Funding is needed now to reach millions of people with assistance during the dry season through road transport and prepositioning of life-saving aid supplies, adding that the same activities will be many times costlier if done by air transport during the rainy season, Noudehou was quoted as saying.

Noudehou led a high-level delegation of donors, heads of humanitarian agencies and partners to the area of Leer, in South Sudan’s Unity region, to see first-hand the plight of the 90,000 people living in the area.

Although the famine there was stopped due to intensive humanitarian intervention, the situation remains fragile with about 85 percent of the population predicted to reach crisis and emergency food insecurity conditions by the end of April, said the spokesman.

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South Sudan orders shutdown of UN radio

JUBA South Sudan (Xinhua) -- South Sudan’s media regulator on Friday suspended the operations of the UN-aided Radio Miraya FM.

An official of the South Sudan Media Authority told reporters in Juba that the radio station operated by the UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) was suspended as it failed to obtain a valid broadcasting license.

Elijah Alier Kuai, managing director of the South Sudan Media Authority, said the government has asked the country’s communications authority to withdraw the radio’s frequency effective March 9.

Alier said the decision was taken after a two-week registration deadline elapsed.

“The Media Authority has suspended the operations of Radio Miraya 101 FM for persistent non-compliance and refusal to be regulated under the media laws in the Republic of South Sudan,” Alier said.

Alier said Radio Miraya journalists will not be allowed to cover stories until the suspension is lifted. He denied criticism that the suspension amounts to media censorship.

“The Radio Miraya should operate legally as a media house in South Sudan. Even though they are under the UN, they have to be regulated,” he added.

However, a spokesperson for the UN mission denied the shutdown, saying the UN-operated radio is operating as talks between the world body and government continue.

“The United Nations Mission in South Sudan is in discussions with the government. Radio Miraya is continuing to broadcast across the country,” Francesca Mold, the spokesperson for UNMISS told Xinhua.

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South Sudanese call for peace, ending sexual violence against women

JUBA South Sudan (Xinhua) -- South Sudan on Thursday joined the rest of the world in marking the International Women’s Day amid calls for ending gender-based violence, sexual abuse, discrimination in the war-torn nation.

Hundreds of women marked the event by staging a peaceful procession in Juba carrying placards calling for empowerment and an end to all forms of women’s rights violations.

Women interviewed by Xinhua said the civil war that is now in its fifth year and a biting economic crisis have caused a lot of suffering in their lives.

“Our children and husbands are dying daily. Women are being raped. How long will this continue? We want peace and reconciliation in our country,” 55-year-old Jane Kaku told Xinhua.

According to a survey released in November 2017 by the International Rescue Committee and the George Washington University’s Global Women’s Institute, violence perpetrated against women and girls in war-torn South Sudan are among the highest in the world and twice the global average.

“Old women are being raped, small girls are being gang raped. Government must implement the law and punish these rapists because women in south Sudan are tired of suffering,” said activist Sarah Keji.

Awut Deng Achuil, Minister of Gender and Social Welfare, said women who make up over 60 percent of South Sudan’s population continue to bear the brunt of violence from armed groups, sexual violence and child marriage.

Achuil said immediate action focusing on investment in women’s programs is needed for attainment of gender parity in the world’s youngest nation.

“It is sad that our girls are booked for marriage when they are three years old. It is too much to bear. Time is now to take action to change the lives of women through silencing the guns,” Achuil said.

According to the United Nations, gender-based violence (GBV) is persistent and a serious problem in the East African nation as 98 percent of GBV incidents reported in South Sudan in 2016 affected women and girls.

The UN said GBV includes rape, sexual assault, domestic violence, forced and early marriage that affect women, girls, boys and men.

David Shearer, head of the UN mission in South Sudan (UNMISS), urged the government and development partners to invest more in women empowerment initiatives for realization of gender equality and socioeconomic progress for all women in south Sudan.

“This day is about women and girls, but is it also about peace. It is a chance to challenge ourselves to find other ways to transform their lives of women and girls in South Sudan and across the world,” said Shearer.

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UN mission mourns death of deminer in northern South Sudan

JUBA South Sudan (Xinhua) -- The UN Mine Action Service (UNMAS) on Friday confirmed the death of a deminer working for a contracting partner after suffering serious injuries while working at a demolition site.

UNMAS said in a statement that a second deminer received minor injuries in the incident, which took place at Melut in the northern Upper Nile region of South Sudan on Wednesday.

UNMAS South Sudan program manager, Tim Lardner, said the mine action community in South Sudan was deeply shocked by the loss of their long-time colleague.

“Our deepest sympathy and condolences go to the family of the deceased who had devoted much of her life to removing explosive hazards in South Sudan and was committed to building a safer country for future generations,” said Lardner.

He added that UNMAS is working with its partners, including the South Sudan National Mine Action Authority, to fully investigate the cause of the incident.

The head of the UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS), David Shearer, also expressed his sympathy to the family, friends and colleagues of the deminer.

Since its inception in South Sudan in 2004, UNMAS has surveyed vast tracts of land, cleared 37,839 landmines and 939,552 unexploded ordnance (UXO).

“We also pay homage to the brave and highly skilled women and men in the 49 demining teams currently operating across South Sudan,” said Lardner.

South Sudan has been embroiled in more than four years of conflict since December 2013 between forces loyal to President Salva Kiir and his former deputy Riek Machar, causing millions of people to flee as refugees.

           

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