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United Nations Security Council working group visits South Sudan

JUBA South Sudan (Xinhua) -- The UN Security Council Working Group on children and armed conflict is in South Sudan to seek ways of protecting children in the wake of recent peace deal, the UN mission said on Monday.

The UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) said the delegation, which arrived in Juba on Sunday, will hold high-level talks with senior government actors including UN, NGOs and inter-faith organizations to discuss opportunities to strengthen the protection of children.

“A particular focus will be dedicated to accountability for perpetrators of grave violations against children as well as on the reintegration of children that have been released from parties to conflict as a way of promoting sustainable peace,” said UNMISS in a statement issued in Juba.

It said the group, which will be in South Sudan until Wednesday, will also travel to Pibor and Bor to see first-hand the challenges created by ongoing violations perpetrated against children by parties to the conflict and to meet with local governors, the UNMISS and partners implementing reintegration programs for children that have been the victims of the six grave violations.

The visit by the delegation which is led by ambassador to the United Nations, Olof Skoog, will build on the visit by Virginia Gamba, the special representative of the UN secretary-general for children and armed conflict, to South Sudan in September.

During her September visit, Gamba had condemned rampant violence perpetrated against children in war-torn South Sudan.

Gamba said recruitment of children into armed groups, sexual violence, abductions, killing, attacks on schools and denial of humanitarian aid are rife as children continue to suffer the brunt of nearly five years of civil war.

South Sudan descended into civil war in late 2013, and the conflict has created one of the fastest growing refugee crises in the world.

The United Nations estimates that about 4 million South Sudanese have been displaced internally and externally.



September South Sudan peace agreement will
hold as it has popular support: ambassador

ADDIS ABABA Ethiopia (Xinhua) -- A peace agreement signed between South Sudanese warring parties in September 12, will hold as it has popular support, a senior South Sudan official said on Monday.

South Sudan has been embroiled in almost five years of conflict that has taken a devastating toll on the people, creating one of the fastest growing refugee crises in the world.

Speaking to Xinhua, James Morgan, South Sudanese Ambassador to Ethiopia and the African Union, said while several peace agreements to end the South Sudan civil war have been signed and broken soon after, the September 12 peace agreement is all inclusive and has the acceptance of South Sudanese public.

“The September 12 peace agreement facilitated by Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed is based on the principle of African solutions to African problems,” he further said.

“I understand there is skepticism about the latest South Sudan peace agreement, but nobody thought the two decades old mutual animosity between Ethiopia and Eritrea would be resolved in the blink of an eye, but it did,” said Morgan, referring to the other peace process in the Horn of Africa region.

Ethiopia and Eritrea fought a two-year bloody border war from 1998-2000 that ended in a December 2000 peace agreement, but the two countries remained locked in a state of cold war, until July when a series of mutual rapid diplomatic moves by both countries saw the two nations reconcile again.

Ethiopia has hosted several rounds of South Sudan peace talks and Eritrea has longstanding ties with the ruling party of South Sudan, Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM) and analysts hope the Ethiopia-Eritrea reconciliation will encourage South Sudanese parties to stick to peace agreement.


South Sudan to probe inter-ethnic skirmishes in Jonglei state

JUBA South Sudan (Xinhua) -- The South Sudanese government said on Saturday it is ready to probe tribal clashes in Jonglei state where 15 people have died and 20 others have sustained injuries.

Taban Deng Gai, South Sudan’s First Vice President, said the country’s top leadership has condemned the latest violence that has affected the people of Duk Payuel and Jalle respectively.

“I condemn in the strongest terms the attacks which occurred on Oct. 30 and 31 when the affected people were preparing to celebrate the signed peace agreement on Wednesday,” Gai said in a statement issued in Juba.

He said the government is committed to investigate the grievous incident and called on the state’s governors to restore calm between the two warring communities.

“We urge local authorities to work together with the disciplined forces to bring these perpetrators to book,” said Gai.

Earlier this week a group of armed Murle men attacked Duk Payuel and Bor North County, killed 15 people and wounded 20 others but the incident was refuted by the Murle authorities on Friday.

“I would like to take this opportunity to express government commitment to investigate this grievous incidence and called upon the state’s governors to restore the peace by ensuring no retaliation acts occur,” said Gai.

The Jonglei region bordering Ethiopia to the east has long been plagued by ethnic fighting over cattle grazing grounds and access to water.

The region is prone to deadly cattle rustling between the Nuer, Murle and Dinka tribes who often carry out retaliatory attacks against each other.


South Sudan seeks to invest in university education amid peace

JUBA South Sudan (Xinhua) -- South Sudan said on Monday it will prioritize investing more in higher education to achieve quality standards and competitiveness in a bid to help transform its human resource and economy.

Yien Oral Lam Tut, minister of higher education, said that they will invest and support the five public universities and collaborate with private universities to strengthen quality education, hence making it attractive for the brilliant South Sudanese who often pursue education on scholarships outside the country.

“Higher education should be getting a total of 5 percent of the national budget annually. This is going to improve with the coming of peace since the service sector like education has not been fully funded due to conflict and economic hardship,” he told journalists in Juba.

Oil-dependent South Sudan passed 2018/19 budget of 600 million U.S. dollars of which the service sector, including education, roads and capital development, were not given much priority due to the urge to end the over four years conflict.

Tut disclosed that falling standards and quality in higher education are due to the country losing some of its bright students and human resource to outside countries in pursuit of quality education and jobs, hence the need to invest more in the sector.

“The very qualified students are going outside the country due to availability of scholarships which affects quality in our education, but we need to retain these students to maintain standards,” said Tut.

The five public universities include University of Juba, Rumbek, and Bahr El Ghazal, John Garang University of Science and Technology and University of Upper Nile.

South Sudanese students have benefited from scholarships offered by China, which are aimed at improving the technical capacity of the youngest nation which has been bedeviled by conflict since winning independence from Sudan in 2011.

Michael Lopuke, undersecretary in the ministry of general education, said the education is positively improving due to the fact they have managed to set up national curriculum with support from China.

“We no longer rely on foreign curriculum from Sudan, Uganda and Kenya. What we are using now is South Sudan curriculum. This will assure us of stable foundation in education,” he said.

China recently helped develop books with South Sudan curriculum and has also been equipping officials and teachers with expertise in the education field.

“For the first time we shall be able to launch books that are based on South Sudan curriculum,” said Lopuke.



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