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South Sudan gunmen release Ugandan consul-
tant, eight aid workers after days in captivity

KAMPALA Uganda (Xinhua) -- Nine aid workers including a Ugandan consultant who were kidnapped by an unknown armed group last week in South Sudan have been released, a military spokesperson said here on Sunday.

Brig. Richard Karemire, Uganda’s military spokesperson, told Xinhua by telephone that Ambrose Olaa and eight of his colleagues were released late on Thursday in the neighboring war-torn country.

Olaa is currently working as a contract consultant on conflict management for the World Bank and World Vision International.

“We welcome their release since they should in the first place not have been abducted,” said Karemire.

Maj. Telesphor Turyamumanya, the fourth division army spokesperson based in the northern Ugandan district of Gulu, told Xinhua that Olaa and colleagues were transported to Juba, the capital of South Sudan.

“He (Olaa) is safe and secure. He is still in Juba,” said Turyamumanya.

The aid workers were abducted on Tuesday while on their way from Tambura to Yambio in South Sudan’s Western Equatoria.

The release of the aid workers follows intervention of the United Nations Mission in South Sudan and World Vision team, who took the lead in negotiating with the unknown armed group, according to the local Daily Monitor.

The UN has described South Sudan as one of the deadliest countries for the delivery of humanitarian aid. At least 90 aid workers have been killed and dozens captured by armed groups since the east African country slid into violence in December 2013.



UN calls on South Sudan parties to release all child soldiers

JUBA South Sudan (Xinhua) -- The United Nations has called on all warring parties to the South Sudan conflict to release all children from their ranks and work closely with the world  body to prevent future recruitment and use of child soldiers.

Virginia Gamba, the UN Special Representative for Children and Armed Conflict, also said she was encouraged by the release of 210 children, including three girls, from parties to conflict in South Sudan on Friday by the rebels,

“This release is the result of sustained advocacy by the United Nations and the international community,” Gamba said in a statement on Saturday.

She said the release of the 210 children on Friday brings the total of released children to more than 800 in the country since the beginning of the year.

“I call on all parties in South Sudan to release all children from their ranks and to work closely with the UN to commit to and implement Action Plans to end and prevent the recruitment and use of child soldiers,” Gamba said.

The boys and girls were released from the ranks of the pro-Taban Deng Sudan People’s Liberation Movement in Opposition (SPLM-IO) and the National Salvation Front (NSF) and their release was formalized on Friday in Pibor, eastern South Sudan.

“These boys and girls are finally allowed to be children again; but their release is just the first step of a long reintegration process. These children deserve support for their recovery; I call on the international community to provide the necessary resources to sustainable reintegration efforts,” Gamba said.

More than 300 children were released in February and more than 200 in April, and additional releases are expected to take place this year.

UNICEF said the freed children will be reunited with their families and provided with three months’ worth of food assistance and provided with vocational training aimed at improving household income and food security to support their initial reintegration.


South Sudan rebels release 210 child soldiers

JUBA South Sudan (Xinhua) -- About 210 child soldiers were released by rebel groups in South Sudan’s Pibor area on Thursday, the UN children’s agency, UNICEF confirmed on Friday.

“Every time a child is released and able to return to their family, it’s a source of great hope - hope for their future and for the future of the country,” Mahimbo Mdoe, UNICEF’s Representative in South Sudan said in a statement issued in Juba.

“We also hope there will be many more of these events until there are no longer any children in the ranks of armed groups,” Mdoe added.

It said 806 child soldiers have now been released across South Sudan since the start of 2018, adding that more children are expected to be freed in the coming months.

UNICEF said the freed children will be reunited with their families and provided with three months’ worth of food assistance and provided with vocational training aimed at improving household income and food security to support their initial reintegration.

According to the children’s agency, an estimated 19,000 children continue to serve in the ranks of armed forces and groups in South Sudan.

The UN agency called on all parties to the conflict to end the recruitment of children and to release all children in their ranks.


South Sudan’s media regulator says UN-aided radio remains suspended

JUBA South Sudan (Xinhua) -- South Sudan’s media regulator on Friday reiterated its suspension of the UN-aided radio Miraya and appealed to the public and UN agencies operating in the country not to deal with the unauthorized broadcaster.

Elizah Alier Kuai, managing director of the South Sudan Media Authority, told journalists in Juba that the media regulator suspended Radio Miraya in March for persistent non- compliance and refusal to be regulated under the country’s media laws.

“I would like to inform the public and all the institutions and agencies including officials not to interact with Radio Miraya with immediate effect,” Kuai warned.

Alier said the media regulatory body remains committed to promote the freedom of expression and media as a fundamental human right in compliance with the world’s newest media laws in conformity with the international standards.

He said according to the Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) agreement, UNMISS agreed to refrain from any action or activity incompatible with the impartial and international  nature of their duties, adding the mission is inconsistent with the spirit of the present arrangements.

“The United Nations Mission in South Sudan and its members need to respect all local laws and regulations that govern the media in the country,” Kuai added.

He also said the Radio Miraya journalists are still not allowed to cover any news events in the country but denied that the decision is mounting to censorship.


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