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South Sudan’s peace monitors deplore surge in violence       

JUBA South Sudan (Xinhua) -- South Sudan peace monitors on Saturday decried a surge in violence and fighting in three South Sudan states, terming the detainment of 10 aid workers as unacceptable violation of the ceasefire deal.

The Joint Monitoring Evaluation Commission (JMEC) said it is dismayed by reports that 10 aid workers, working for UN agencies and NGO’s and supporting people in need, have gone missing from around Yei town in Central Equatoria.

“JMEC expects this deplorable situation to be resolved as quickly as possible and that the aid workers are found and released immediately and unconditionally,” JMEC said in a statement issued in Juba.

Fierce fighting has been reported in Nhialdiu, Mayendit, Rupchai, Thaker, and Mirinyal, in the vicinity of Leer and Bentiu in the Unity region, as well as around Motot and Akobo in Jonglei.

In Leer, in the northern part of the country, armed clashes have occurred near a temporary UN mission operating base and peacekeepers have placed on high alert to protect some 600 internally displaced persons who sought sanctuary nearby.

The peace monitors said security and humanitarian violations are unacceptable and demanded unconditional and immediate release of aid workers who went missing on Wednesday.

It called on warring parties to comply with the terms of the Agreement on the Cessation of Hostilities, Protection of Civilians and Humanitarian Access, signed on December 21 2017.

“JMEC condemns this latest violation of the two-signed Agreements, which demand unimpeded access for humanitarian aid workers in South Sudan,” it said.

JMEC also condemned a reported outbreak of fighting in Unity, Jonglei and Central Equatoria states, where violent clashes are reportedly causing an influx of internally displaced people, especially women, children and the elderly, seeking sanctuary.

These incidents, the peace monitors said, must be investigated before any pronouncements can be made, noting however that all violence is unacceptable and potentially damaging to the on-going revitalization process.

“JMEC therefore has asked Ceasefire Transitional Monitoring Mechanism (CTSAMM) to undertake the necessary investigation as stipulated in the 2017 Agreement on Cessation of Hostilities, Protection of Civilians and Humanitarian Access (ACoH),” it said.

The peace monitors further called upon all signatory parties to cease fighting, avoid confrontation and protect civilians from harm or displacement and fully comply with the provisions of the ACoH in both letter and spirit.

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.



Relief agencies slate increased attacks on workers in South Sudan

JUBA South Sudan (Xinhua) -- Relief agencies in South Sudan on Saturday condemned increased attacks on humanitarian workers in the war-torn nation.

The agencies under South Sudan NGO Forum which comprises both local and international organizations also called for safe release of ten aid workers who went missing outside Yei town in Central Equatoria region on Wednesday.

“The NGO community is deeply concerned about these heinous acts and calls for the immediate release of the ten humanitarian colleagues and their safe return to their families,” said the agencies.

The organizations which included Plan International, South Sudanese Development Organization, (SSDO), ACROSS and Action Africa Help (AAH) called for an end to increased attacks on humanitarian workers in the country.

“In order to prevent the already dire conditions deteriorating, aid workers must be facilitated to deliver humanitarian assistance safely and without any threat or risk to their lives,” said the agencies.

The statement comes after the UN peacekeeping mission said surging violence in parts of South Sudan is putting thousands of war-weary civilians at risk and endangering the fragile peace process in the world’s youngest nation.

According to the UN, such hostilities have forced the relocation of several humanitarian workers resulting in disruption of aid services.

The agencies said the missing of ten aid workers is the latest in a series of incidents directly targeting aid workers in the last two weeks.

“NGOs condemn all forms of attack against humanitarian aid workers and appeal to parties to the conflict to not lose sight of those most affected by the ongoing crisis in South Sudan including vulnerable women, children and elderly people,” said the agencies.

“All parties must support the efforts of humanitarian aid workers to save lives and alleviate suffering for dignified human beings in the world’s youngest nation.”

According to South Sudan Humanitarian Response plan for 2018, 4 million people have been displaced since the conflict broke out in 2013, including 1.9 million internally displaced people, with over 85 percent estimated to be women and children.

The Integrated Food Security Phase Classification (IPC) projected that in the absence of humanitarian assistance in May-July, an estimated 7.1 million people (63 percent of the population) will face food crisis or worse acute food insecurity.


South Sudan and UN mission reach settlement on radio operation

JUBA South Sudan (Xinhua) -- South Sudan and the UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) on Friday agreed to end the bickering over the operations of the UN-owned radio in the strife-torn country after previously being ordered to shut down.

Head of UNMISS David Shearer told journalists that they reached positive resolution with South Sudanese Minister of Information Michael Makuei on the operation of Radio Miraya after the media regulator ordered its shutdown on March 9 over failure to register.

“I just had a very good meeting with the minister of information, it was cooperative we set out both sides of the issue around Radio Miraya. We came to a resolution about moving forward in terms of looking at it from a legal point of view,” said Shearer in Juba, adding that the UN legal team from New York will be coming in the country over the issue.

South Sudan has 38 radio broadcasters which have been registered but Radio Miraya is covered under the Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) signed between the government and UN in the wake of South Sudan winning independence from Sudan in 2011.

Radio Miraya focuses much of its programs on peace, culture and nation building.

The director of international organizations in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Andruga Duku denied shutting down the radio as it continued operating on the air waves despite the shutdown order by the South Sudan media authority.

“I am saying that it (Miraya) has not been shut down even this morning I listened to Radio Miraya. We hope that this process will be resolved and of course the decision has been taken by the authorities concerned because of lack of cooperation,” said Duku, urging further cooperation between the two parties.

He expressed hope that there will be mutual understanding between the management of radio Miraya, UNMISS and the ministry of information.

“What has been misunderstood here is the regularization of Radio Miraya does not mean censorship. The frequency 101 was given before South Sudan came into existence, but now if this frequency is not given to Radio Miraya legally it becomes difficult any other person can interfere,” Duku said.

He also disclosed that the local laws of South Sudan must work hand in hand with the Status of Forces Agreement between government and UNMISS.

South Sudan descended into violence in December 2013 after political dispute between President Salva Kiir and his former deputy 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 the outbreak of renewed fighting in July 2016.


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