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Fresh clashes erupt between South Sudan rebel groups

JUBA South Sudan (Xinhua) -- Fresh clashes have erupted between two rival South Sudanese rebel groups in the northern part of the country, threatening a recent peace deal that seeks to end a five-year-old brutal civil war.

Renewed fighting was reported to have begun early this week between  rival forces of the South Sudan United Movement (SSUM)/Army commanded by renegade Peter Gadet and the Sudan People’s Liberation Army in Opposition (SPLA-IO) led by former deputy president Riek Machar, violating a ceasefire agreement they had signed.

Lam Paul Gabriel, SPLA- IO deputy military spokesman, alleged that fighting started Tuesday after Gadet’s forces attacked an SPLA-IO base killing one civilian and injuring two soldiers.

The incident happened when SSUM forces came in the early hours of December 11 and attacked the SPLA-IO base of Abukitmalang, wounding two SPLA-IO officers and also killing one woman (civilian) in the process, Gabriel said in a statement.

“The SPLA-IO therefore, calls upon the CTSAMM (Ceasefire and Transitional Security Arrangements Monitoring Mechanism) and UNMISS (UN mission in South Sudan) to conduct a quick and thorough investigation on this direct violation of permanent ceasefire and hold those responsible accountable,” Gabriel said.

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 UN estimates that about 4 million South Sudanese have been displaced internally and externally.

A peace deal signed in August 2015 collapsed following renewed violence in the capital, Juba in July 2016.

South Sudanese President Salva Kiir, his former deputy and arch rival Riek Machar and several opposition groups early September signed a new power-sharing deal aimed at ending the five-year old conflict.

Under the deal, Machar will be reinstated as Kiir’s deputy.


United Nations refugee agency urges peace
in South Sudan to end displacements

JUBA South Sudan (Xinhua) -- The UN refugee agency on Friday appealed to South Sudan’s warring parties to the conflict to maintain peace to help end five years of displacement.

Filippo Grandi, UN High Commissioner for Refugees reiterated his appeal to all parties to continue pursuing a sustainable and lasting peace to help heal wounds of conflict.

“The people of South Sudan, many of whom have been displaced multiple times in their lives, deserve an end to their suffering,” Grandi said in a statement on the eve of the fifth anniversary of the start of conflict in South Sudan.

“Peace must prevail. The wounds of this conflict will take time to heal, but that process can only be sustained through warring parties engaging in dialogue, finding political solutions and laying down their arms once and for all,” he added.

The world’s youngest nation has remained mired in instability and conflict, which has displaced an estimated four million people, both internally and externally, according to the UN.

“UNHCR stands ready to assist efforts to achieve a genuine and inclusive peace process, including supporting the meaningful and inclusive participation of refugees in any agreement,” Grandi said.

President Salva Kiir and rebel leader Riek Machar signed a new peace deal in September amid high hopes that this will finally end the years of brutal conflict.


Aid agencies seek U.S. 1.5 billion dollars for
humanitarian aid in South Sudan in 2019

JUBA South Sudan (Xinhua) -- Humanitarian agencies require 1.5 billion U.S. dollars in 2019 to provide live-saving assistance to some 5.7 million people in South Sudan, the government and the UN said Thursday.

Alain Noudehou, Humanitarian Coordinator for South Sudan said the funds are needed to provide life-saving assistance to 5.7 million people affected by conflict, hunger and displacement.

“The goal of the 2019 HRP (Humanitarian Response Plan) is going to center in around three areas: The first one still has to be to make sure that we concentrate our work on lifesaving activities, the second part being that we want to make sure that we make protection at the center of what we do, and the third part of the area is to make sure that while we do that, we find a way also to raise people’s ability to cope,” Noudehou said.

The UN official said though the intensity of conflict has reduced recently, people will continue to experience the impacts of the conflict through 2019 as hunger, malnutrition and the safety of civilians continue to escalate.

Last year, aid agencies appealed for 1.7 billion dollars and out of that, they were able to get 1.1 billion dollars which they used to provide food, health, water and sanitation, education, livelihoods, nutrition as well as critical protection to some 4.7 million people.

Hussein Mar Nyuot, Humanitarian Affairs Minister, said the appeal reflects the real situation on the ground.

“Today together we are launching it so that it enables you (aid agencies) to mobilize resources for South Sudan and indeed we need resources,” Nyuot said.

“Indeed peace has come home and with peace it doesn’t mean that the need will vanish. Actually the need will increase because a lot of people will be coming home,” he added.

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 UN estimates that about four million South Sudanese have been displaced internally and externally. The country’s warring factions signed a new power-sharing deal in September aimed at ending five years of brutal conflict in the world’s youngest nation.

Noudehou welcomed the signing of the peace agreement, urging the parties to implement it in order to end the current humanitarian crisis in the east African nation.


United States Treasury sanctions three individuals
for alleged roles in South Sudan conflict

WASHINGTON United States (Xinhua) -- The U.S. Department of the Treasury on Friday imposed sanctions on three individuals, accusing them of being leaders of entities who have expanded or extended the conflict in South Sudan, or taken actions “that have undermined peace, stability, and security in South Sudan.”

The sanctioned people included Gregory Vasili, a South Sudanese individual; Obac William Olawo, a wealthy South Sudanese businessman; Israel Ziv, a retired Israeli Defense Forces major general.

Ziv was accused of having supplied both the South Sudanese government and the opposition with weapons and ammunition.

Additionally, six entities were designated for allegedly being owned or controlled by two of the aforementioned individuals.

The Treasury said in a statement that “the behavior of each designated person stands in direct opposition to significant U.S. efforts to help those affected by the conflict in South Sudan and establish a lasting peaceful resolution to the current conflict.”

As a result of Friday’s action, any property or interests in property of those designated that is within or transiting U.S. jurisdiction or the possession or control of a U.S. person would be blocked and reported to the Treasury.

Moreover, all transactions by U.S. persons or within or transiting the United States that involve any property or interests in property of a designated person would generally be prohibited. The property includes all property of entities 50 percent or more owned by one or more designated persons.

While announcing the administration’s new Africa strategy earlier on Thursday, U.S. National Security Adviser John Bolton said that Washington would “reevaluate its support for U.N. peacekeeping missions” and may cut aid to countries whose governance it does not like, such as South Sudan.


China donates machinery to aid South Sudan’s agricultural development

JUBA South Sudan (Xinhua) -- The Chinese government on Thursday donated 349 pieces of agricultural machinery to enable South Sudan reinvigorate and transform its agricultural sector amid food insecurity caused by five years of conflict.

He Xiangdong, Chinese ambassador to South Sudan said the machinery which include grain combine harvester, walking tractor, seeder, potato planter and potato harvester will help South Sudan to secure stability and prosperity in the wake of the recently signed revitalized peace agreement by the warring parties.

“With the signing of the revitalized agreement there is a huge opportunity for the peace, stability and prosperity of South Sudan. Today, we are here to transfer 349 pieces of Chinese agricultural machinery to the ministry of agriculture and food security,” said He in Juba, during the handover ceremony.

The Chinese government has already sent a five-member technical and engineering team to South Sudan who have trained about 14 local South Sudanese technicians over a 30-day period time who are expected to train their South Sudan colleagues in the assembly, operation and maintenance of the China-aided machinery.

Onyoti Adigo Nyikuac, South Sudanese Minister of Agriculture and Food Security, lauded China for donating the machinery and also added that more South Sudanese are going to acquire technical skills from their Chinese counterparts as they aim to move away from subsistence farming to commercial farming.

“The problem in South Sudan is poverty and hunger. Now with the signing of the revitalized peace agreement all the people of South Sudan including the rebels will be focusing on agriculture which will be a step forward in alleviating poverty,” said Onyoti.

He also urged the Chinese government to help them set up more agricultural innovation and research institutions especially in the northern areas of Renk in Upper Nile and Bhar El Ghazal regions where Sorghum and rice growing activities are prominent.

Sophia Pal Gai, the South Sudan Minister of Water Resources and Irrigation, said the Chinese government has not only given them the machinery but also the skills to develop the agricultural sector that still lags behind with the WFP estimating that only 4 percent of the vast land in South Sudan is under use.

Since the independence of South Sudan in 2011, the Chinese government has been continuously supporting the South Sudanese in agriculture and food security, said Gai.


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