A necessary delay for easing of Sudan sanctions

Link to web article here.

Obama-era benchmarks for human rights progress are still missing

Sudan Corruption Illustration by Greg Groesch/The Washington Times

Sudan Corruption Illustration by Greg Groesch/The Washington Times

– – Monday, July 24, 2017

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

The announcement last week by the Trump administration that it is delaying the Obama administration’s order to ease sanctions on Sudan was a welcome decision. The three-month delay is not long enough to give the Sudanese the impression that we are not serious about this matter, but will be long enough to complete the needed and ongoing review of that government’s adherence to the requirements of sanctions-easing.

When the previous administration announced the plan to ease sanctions last year, it came without prior consultation with Congress, a body that has played a key role in U.S.-Sudan relations for more than three decades. In 1996, I co-chaired a hearing with Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen on slavery in Mauritania and Sudan. We both lamented that at that late date we were still examining the existence of slavery, an action that should have been relegated to the dustbin of history long ago. Then-Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs William Twadell described an appalling attempt by the government in Khartoum to “subjugate opposition wherever it is found” — including the taking of slaves by the army of Sudan or forces under its control. A few years later, the Sudan government and its forces were no longer enslaving Sudanese citizens, but continued to terrorize them.

Our government, led by Congress, has continued to play a role in supporting diplomatic efforts to end the long North-South civil war and set the stage for independence for South Sudan in 2011. Over the years, Congress has discussed with various administrations the prospect of easing sanctions as a reward for proven democratic progress by the Republic of Sudan.

Unfortunately, that government has met these efforts not with cooperation but with further provocations. For example, the Sudanese government facilitated attacks on the people of Darfur by the Janjaweed militias; the attacks were declared genocide by our government in 2004. Subsequent attacks on people in the Abyei area by Misseryia Arabs drove thousands to flee as refugees. Repeated bombings in the Nuba Mountains have prevented normal life for people there, and intimidation reportedly continues with overflights, if not actual bombing.

The Obama administration set five conditions for easing sanctions that would allow American companies to engage in commerce freely in Sudan: 1) rebuilding counterterrorism cooperation; 2) countering the threat of the Lord’s Resistance Army; 3) ending “negative involvement” in South Sudan’s conflict; 4) sustaining a unilateral cessation of hostilities in Darfur, Southern Kordofan and Blue Nile Provinces; and 5) improving humanitarian access throughout Sudan.

The major missing point is the defense of human rights. The current Department of State human rights report describes Sudan as “a republic with power concentrated in the hands of authoritarian President Omar Hassan al-Bashir and his inner circle.” The report went on to state that in the period before the April 2015 national elections, “security forces arrested many supporters, members and leaders of boycotting parties and confiscated numerous newspapers,” conditions creating a repressive environment not conducive to free and fair elections.

The State Department report further cited the National Intelligence and Security Service of perpetrating “a pattern of widespread disregard for rule of law, committing major abuses, such as extrajudicial and other unlawful killings; torture, beatings, rape and other cruel or inhuman treatment or punishment; arbitrary arrest and detention by security forces; harsh and life-threatening prison conditions; incommunicado detention; prolonged pretrial detention; obstruction of humanitarian assistance; restrictions on freedom of speech, press, assembly, association, religion and movement and intimidation and closure of human rights and nongovernmental organizations.”

Former Secretary of State John Kerry has been a proponent of easing sanctions on Sudan since his days as a U.S. senator. Yet few observers are certain that the conditions he saw being met by the Sudan government have indeed fully been implemented. The current administration’s delay allows for further investigation and, hopefully, benchmarks for progress. This will benefit both the U.S. and Sudanese governments as both sides can quantify the status of progress.

Providing incentives for Sudan to make democratic progress is reasonable, but only if there is a framework to certify that Sudan is indeed making the promised reforms and that both sides can transparently track any progress being made. Otherwise, we are left with a vague process that will disappoint both governments, but most of all, the people of Sudan.

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Access to key medicine for nearly 2 million Sudanese due to USAID contribution

Link to web article here.

© WHO Sudan

WHO staff loads Rapid Response Kits with medicine for 80 different common diseases onto a truck to be delivered to different locations across Darfur, Kordofan and Blue Nile.

Between January and May 2017, over 137,000 South Sudanese arrived in Sudan as refugees, fleeing their home and often leaving their possessions behind to escape a civil war. These new arrivals meant that there were now 418,000 refugees in Sudan, and that no less than 3,4 million people were in need of better health services in the country.

Health systems across Sudan, and especially in Darfur, Blue Nile, and Kordofan, were struggling with this increasing burden. Despite continued efforts and improvements by the Government of Sudan, WHO, and health partners, the existing health facilities were becoming overburdened. Shortages of life-saving medicine were spreading, as well as shortages of medical supplies, health staff, and the availability of quality health care all-round.

The Sudanese people who relied on the weakened health systems were increasingly suffering from deadly, but preventable diseases, such as acute watery and bloody diarrhoea, malaria, and respiratory infections. Their biggest need? Medicine. The lack of available and affordable medicine was not only causing more illness and death, it was forcing people to spend more money which then took away from other essential expenditure on food, water, and more. So, with the generous help of USAID, medical specialists of WHO Sudan put together a three step programme to fill this need for proper medicine.

First, staff conducted a quick assessment of which kinds of medicine were needed. Using past reports as well as constantly updated digital information from smart, decentralized reporting systems like the HeRAMS and EWARS, WHO staff was able to put together an emergency health kit including 80 different kinds of medicine. The list included treatment for diarrhoea, pneumonia, but also diabetes and high blood pressure. These so-called Rapid Response Kits contain 10 modules of essential medicines and cover at least 3000 people for 3 months.

Then, WHO needed to buy the actual pills, powders and injections, and get them to the right place. To make sure that medicines and pharmaceutical products meet the highest standards, WHO applies strict safeguards while also looking for the best price. By ensuring high standards and sharp prices, the generous contribution of USAID lasts far longer. In total, WHO distributed 518 kits and implemented medical consultations, covering 1,819,000 vulnerable people. The support of 8 international partners was crucial in achieving the result, including the American Refugee Committee, Care International Sudan, Save the Children Sweden, World Relief, GOAL IRELAND, Relief International, Catholic Relief Support, and the International Medical Corporation.

After distribution of the kits, WHO ensured that the right medicine was being prescribed for the right conditions. Spot checks and data from the smart systems in place, including a WHO supply tracking and stock management system, guaranteed this.

At the end of the project, thanks to the generous contribution of USAID and the smooth collaboration between WHO and its partners, nearly 2 million Sudanese people had received access to life-saving essential medicine. What’s more, another 3 million people benefited indirectly from the project outcome: their risk of becoming ill because their friend or neighbor did not have a health system to turn to was now far lower.

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WESTERN DONORS FREEZE SUPPORT FOR ‘OBSOLETE’ SOUTH SUDAN PEACE DEAL

Link to web article here.

Signed in 2015, the deal collapsed when rebel leader Riek Machar, fled the country after fighting broke out in Juba last July.

FILE: Former Vice President of South Sudan Riek Machar. Picture: EWN.

FILE: Former Vice President of South Sudan Riek Machar. Picture: EWN.

NAIROBI – Western donor nations will commit no further resources to support implementation of South Sudan’s peace deal, until East Africa’s leaders find a credible way of relaunching an agreement ripped apart by a worsening conflict.

Signed in 2015, the deal collapsed when rebel leader Riek Machar, appointed First Vice President in a unity government under President Salva Kiir, fled the country after fighting broke out in the capital Juba last July.

The government says it is implementing the peace deal after appointing a replacement for Machar, and the West has stood by it until now.

But the donors from the European Union, the United States, Britain and Norway said they would offer no further support. They have not specified how much funding they have been providing.

Parts of the agreement signed between the two men were “obsolete in light of the expansion of conflict since 2015,”
they said in a statement issued late on Thursday.

South Sudan gained independence from Sudan in 2011 but plunged into civil war in 2013 after Kiir fired his then deputy Machar.

The war has split the country along ethnic lines, killing tens of thousands and displacing nearly a quarter of the 12 million-strong population. Millions face famine.

A national election, which the deal stipulates should take place next year, would now be an “unnecessary diversion” from ending the war given the widespread violence, displacement and hunger, the donors said.

Government spokesman Michael Makuei said the government would participate in efforts by East African nations to boost the peace process.

But he refused to commit to including Machar as part of an inclusive plan that Western nations have called for.

He accused the West of having “unstable opinions” for changing stance on backing the peace deal and elections.

“This (peace deal) is their child and it is their duty to ensure that this child survives,” he told Reuters. “If they don’t want to support, then let them be quiet.”

Senior rebel official Nathaniel Oyet said revitalising the deal was the “final opportunity” to save the country from “total disintegration,” and dismissed talk of holding an election.

“War continues unabated in the countryside,” he told Reuters. “Where will the polling stations be? The front lines?”
South Sudan has never held national elections as an independent nation. In 2015, its parliament postponed them for three years by amending the constitution to extend Kiir’s term and their own.

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UNICEF South Sudan Humanitarian Situation Report #111, 1 January – 20 July 2017

Link to web article and detailed downloadable PDF file here.

Highlights

  • Escalated conflict and security restrictions have significantly affected UNICEF’s ability to reach many areas with critical assistance in 2017. In response, the Rapid Response Mechanism (RRM) was scaled up at the beginning of the year in an effort to reach the most vulnerable populations in hard to reach locations. Since January, 27 RRM missions have taken place reaching 498,461 people with live-saving support.
  • Food insecurity and malnutrition rates in South Sudan have reached an alltime high, with 6 million people – some 50 per cent of the population – estimated to severely food insecure at present. Famine was declared in South Sudan in February, and since January, UNICEF and partners have reached 96,000 severe acutely malnourished (SAM) children with treatment.
  • South Sudan is in the middle of the most severe and protracted cholera outbreak in its history, with 13,880 cholera cases and 243 cholera deaths reported so far in 2017. UNICEF has continued to scale up its cholera response in line with the resurgence of transmission, providing direct support to more than 7,673 cholera cases this year.

Situation Overview & Humanitarian Needs

Throughout 2017 the security situation across the country has been volatile due to intermittent clashes between the government forces and different armed groups, particularly in Upper Nile, Jonglei, Western Bahr Ghazal and the Greater Equatoria region. While efforts have been made to bring forward the peace process, little difference has been seen in terms of the political and security situation on the ground. The ongoing clashes have severely limited and in some cases prevented humanitarian access to the affected areas where the civilian population were displaced, thus leaving them without needed immediate humanitarian assistance. Displacement has reached historical levels, with close to four million people having been forced to leave their homes, including more than 1.9 million people who remain internally displaced. Additionally, humanitarian workers continue to be targeted in the conflict; so far in 2017, at least 17 aid workers have been killed in South Sudan, with a total of 84 killed since the conflict began in December 2013.

In February 2017, famine was declared (and lasted until July) in Leer and Mayendit counties (in Unity State) by the Integrated Food Security Phase Classification (IPC). This was the first time that a famine had been declared anywhere in the world since 2011. In the May IPC update, an estimated 6 million people (50 per cent of the population) were projected to be severely food insecure in June and July 2017, compared to 5.5 million people in May 2017. This is the greatest number of people ever to experience severe food insecurity (IPC Phases 3, 4 and 5) in South Sudan. Acute malnutrition remains a major public health emergency in several parts of the country.

Widespread fighting, displacement and poor access to services, as well as disease outbreaks, extremely poor diets (in terms of both quality and quantity), low coverage of sanitation facilities and poor hygiene practices are the key drivers of the high levels of acute malnutrition seen across South Sudan. By June 2017, 23 (42%) out of 55 planned SMART surveys had been conducted and validated. Over 91 per cent showed global acute malnutrition (GAM) above the 15 per cent WHO emergency threshold. Most of the counties displaying high GAM rates were from Unity and Jonglei states.

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South Sudan: Sexual assault victims call for justice

Link to web article and video here.

WARNING: GRAPHIC CONTENT.

WHEN soldiers attacked and raided his village two years ago, Gatluok had no clue what lay in store.

The blind man soon learned he had to make a stark choice.

“Because of my blindness, I couldn’t run with the young men and so I was caught,” he told Amnesty International.

“They told me to choose if I wanted to be raped or be killed. I said I didn’t want to be killed and so they decided to rape me.”

His horrific story and what took place that day when forces raided his village in South Sudan in May 2015 is just one to emerge from a damning new report released by the human rights group.

The Amnesty International report reveals how the world’s youngest nation is reeling from sexual violence four years after a civil war broke out in the region.

The D o not remain silent Survivors of Sexual violence in South Sudan call for justice and reparations report also reveals how many are being targeted simply because of the race with survivors suffering life-changing injuries.

The report reveals how attacks have been carried out to terrorise, degrade and shame victims as well as intentionally stop them procreating.

“Elderly women, young girls and pregnant women were not spared,” the report reveals.

“Sixteen male survivors of sexual violence described rape, castration, or other forms of torture, including having their testicles pierced with needles.”

Four years into South Sudan's devastating civil war, the world’s youngest nation is reeling from sexual violence on a ”massive scale” a new Amnesty International report reveals. Picture: Ben Curtis/AP

Four years into South Sudan’s devastating civil war, the world’s youngest nation is reeling from sexual violence on a ”massive scale” a new Amnesty International report reveals. Picture: Ben Curtis/APSource:AP

NO ONE SPARED

Amnesty reveals how elderly women, young girls and pregnant women were not spared.

One victim named Nyagai revealed how she was gang-raped by government soldiers in Juba in July 2016 and no longer believes in God.

“Satan went through me the day I was raped,” she said.

A 13-year-old boy told how he was snatched from his bed, drugged and raped in the middle of the night and hasn’t been able to say much since.

“I don’t remember a lot,” the boy known as Batista told the Associated Press from a makeshift clinic in one of South Sudan’s displaced people’s camps in the town of Wau.

The teen said he was raped in December by a 45-year-old man he had seen around the United Nations-run camp but didn’t seek psychosocial support until May.

According to community members he has kept to himself and is in dire need of help.

The UN last year reported a 60 per cent increase in gender-based violence in South Sudan, with 70 per cent of women in its camps across the capital, Juba, having been raped since the start of the civil war in December 2013.

Amnesty’s regional director for East Africa Muthoni Wanyeki said it was premeditated sexual violence.

A sign promoting knowledge of gender issues hangs on the wall at a women’s centre for South Sudanese refugees focusing on sexual and gender-based violence. Picture: Ben Curtis/AP

A sign promoting knowledge of gender issues hangs on the wall at a women’s centre for South Sudanese refugees focusing on sexual and gender-based violence. Picture: Ben Curtis/APSource:AP

“Women have been gang-raped, sexually assaulted with sticks and mutilated with knives,” Mr Wanyeki said.

“Victims are left with “debilitating and life-changing consequences,” and many have been shunned by their families.

The new report interviewed 16 male victims, some who said they had been castrated or had their genitalia pierced with needles.

Thousands are suffering in silence and grappling with mental distress. Some now have HIV while others were rendered impotent.

The report is based on interviews with 168 victims of sexual violence in South Sudan and in refugee camps in neighbouring Uganda, home to the world’s fastest-growing refugee crisis.

The report also reveals how some of the sexual assaults occur not during the fighting but among the millions of people sheltering from the conflict.

South Sudanese refugee women who suffered sexual or other gender-based violence play a board game at a women’s centre run by the aid group International Rescue Committee, in Bidi Bidi, Uganda. Picture: Ben Curtis/AP

South Sudanese refugee women who suffered sexual or other gender-based violence play a board game at a women’s centre run by the aid group International Rescue Committee, in Bidi Bidi, Uganda. Picture: Ben Curtis/APSource:AP

“Some of the attacks appear designed to terrorise, degrade and shame the victims, and in some cases to stop men from rival political groups from procreating,” Mr Wanyeki said.

The UN Commission on Human Rights in South Sudan and others say both government and opposition forces use rape as a weapon of war — a strategy made worse because of the country’s culture of stigma.

Survivors are discouraged from speaking openly about rape meaning attacks could continue with impunity.

South Sudan’s government has condemned sexual assaults, promising that “the government is moving swiftly to protect civilians from such behaviour by educating all armed forces and holding perpetrators accountable,” acting government spokesman Choul Laam told the AP.

Victims who have reported their attackers to authorities say they’ve seen little justice.

Batista reported his rape to local police, who arrested the perpetrator — only to set the man free a few days later.

debra.killalea@news.com.au

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Darfur prisoners of war are tortured in Sudanese jails: rebels

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July 25, 2017 (KHARTOUM) – The Sudan Liberation Movement -Minn Minnawi (SLM-MM) and the SLM-Transitional Council (SLM-TC)called on the international community to press the government to stop torture on rebels recently detained in the Sudanese jails

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Rebels from the Sudan Liberation Army led by Minni Minnawi (Photo: Reuters)

Following clashes with the Sudanese government forces in North and East Darfur, several rebel leading members have been arrested including SLM-TC chairman Nimir Abdel Rahman, and the military spokesperson of the SLM-MM Ahmed Hussain Mustafa (Adorob).

In a joint statement extended to Sudan Tribune on Tuesday 25 July, the two groups said Adorob “has been subjected to severe torture that caused his hand and leg were been broken”.

The rebel has been transferred to Omdurman military hospital on 17 July, further said the statement.

“We call on human rights activists, international organisations and the international community to exert strong pressure on the Government of Sudan to refrain from committing such atrocities that constitute war crimes and crimes against humanity and to abide by international conventions that protect rights of PoWs”.

The rebel spokesperson was arrested in East Darfur State on 20 May. He was among rebels that entered the country from South Sudan led by Mohamed Abdelsalam (aka Tarada) who was killed during the clashes.

Rebel sources at the time said they the arrested rebels are detained in El-Fasher prison. However, it is believed they are now transferred to other prisons.

No date has been yet announced for the trial of the detained rebel commanders.

The government said its troops routed the coordinated attacks in North and East Darfur and accused the Libyan general Khalifa Hafar of supplying the rebels with weapons and ammunition.

(ST)

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S. Sudan’s Kiir, former detainees recommit to SPLM reunification

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July 25, 2017 (JUBA) – The South Sudanese president, Salva Kiir and a group of the country’s former political detainees have agreed to reaffirm their commitments to the re-unification of the ruling Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM) in order to end the ongoing conflict.

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A South Sudanese rebel delegation meets Ugandan president Yoweri Museveni in Kampala on 27 November 2014 (Photo: Mabior Garang)

Last week, the South Sudanese leader led an eight member delegation to a meeting in Uganda and was joined by the former detainees.

The officials, according to 24 July statement, agreed that uniting the SPLM was paramount and vital for bringing peace as well as uniting the people of South Sudan.

They also agreed, during the meeting, “to expedite the implementation of the Arusha agreement which is the agreement that addresses differences that arose among SPLM leaders in 2013”.

South Sudan’s Defence Minister, Kuol Manyang Juuk, senior presidential adviser and special envoy, Nhial Deng Nhial, acting SPLM secretary Jemma Nunu Kumba and the minister in the president’s office, Mayiik Ayii Deng accompanied President Kiir.

However, the delegation of ex-detainees that met President Yoweri Museveni comprised of Nyandeng, foreign affairs minister, Deng Alor Kuol and transport minister, John Luk Jok. Other opposition figures who took part in the meeting on the former detainees side were former finance minister Kosti Manibe and former national security minister, Oyay Deng Ajak.

Museveni facilitated the meeting on the request of Kiir to enable the SPLM reunification as stipulated in the Arusha agreement.

The faction of South Sudan’s former First Vice President Riek Machar did not attend and it remained unclear as to why neither Machar nor a representative attended the meeting for the third time in a row.

Meanwhile, Museveni has been tasked to invite Machar to either attend or send a representative for the next round of the meeting.

In May this year, three factions of South Sudan’s ruling party agreed in Kampala to set aside their differences and work out a roadmap to reunify the historical party.

The meeting was, however, boycotted by the armed opposition faction (SPLM-IO) led by South Sudan’s former First-Vice President, Riek Machar.

South Sudan was plunged into conflict in December 2013 as the rivalry between Kiir and his then-Vice President, Riek Machar, turned into a civil war. The fighting, which has often been along ethnic lines, triggered Africa’s worst refugee crisis, with over three million people fleeing their home.

(ST)

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South Sudan: ‘When we came home for lunch our parents had been killed’

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One hundred children a day are now crossing the border into Uganda from the war, without their parents – creating a ‘children’s emergency’

Nadal, 16, and his sister Talia, 12, who are refugees from Juba, South Sudan. Photograph: Samuel Okiror

“When we came back home for lunch, we found it had been bombed and our parents killed. They threw a bomb into the house that killed my father and mother,” says Nadal, 16.

“We left our parents in a pool of blood. We ran and walked for three weeks from Juba to Lanya. We were sleeping in the bush and didn’t have food to eat. It’s good samaritans who used to give us something to eat for survival.”

Nadal, his three sisters, Rachael, 14, Talia, 12, Lamya, 19, and brother Isaac, eight, are being looked after by another family at Imvepi refugee settlement in northern Uganda. Half a million children are here without mothers or fathers.

“I miss my parents so much,” says Nadal. “But there is nothing much I can do. I want to get quality education in Uganda and go back to South Sudan to take over what my father was doing. He was a great doctor.”

Uganda is struggling to cope up with a staggering number of unaccompanied children fleeing violence in neighbouring South Sudan. They have lost or been separated from their families since the renewed fighting in their homeland broke out in July last year between troops loyal to President Salva Kiir and his former deputy, Riek Machar.

The majority of these children have witnessed haunting acts of violence and face exploitation and abuse – both along the journey and in Uganda’s camps.

Agencies working in the area say around 100 children a day on average, 60% of the nearly 1 million South Sudanese refugees, are crossing into Uganda, a country now hosting more refugees than any other in Africa.

“Uganda is experiencing the fastest growing refugee crisis in the world … Many of the children have lost one or both parents to the senseless violence that is being perpetrated in South Sudan,” says a spokesperson for the UNHCR, the UN refugee agency. He says the war is creating a “children’s emergency”.

Amalia, 14, from Yei, in eastern Equatoria, says: “We witnessed terrible things on our journey. I was terrified and feared being killed. I can’t forget how the armed people attacked and killed people on our way here.

Children show their toys made out of red earthen mud.

South Sudanese children at a refugee camp in Uganda. Most of of the children have witnessed terrible violence, and face exploitation and abuse. Photograph: Samuel Okiror

“I am facing a lot of challenges. I have no one to take care of me. I lost my parents.” She doesn’t know if her aunt, who also fled, is dead or alive. “We took off in different directions when the fighting started,” she says.

“We don’t have anything here. We at times have one meal a day.” She does odd jobs for the foster family who have taken her under their wing so that they can afford to feed the extra mouths.

Judy Moore, World Vision’s response director in Uganda, says the challenges the children face are enormous. “We hear many stories of children’s parents being shot by opposing forces. Some children as young as 10 are raped, they are deeply traumatised and they should not see and experience what they have seen and experienced.

“Psychologically the children need counselling, food, assistance and stability. They need to adapt and learn different languages and different cultures, they have lost all of their friends and families so even socialising for them has become challenging. They think of how I can get a meal, where do I live.”

This week, the NGO is attempting to highlight the affect of the conflict on children through its #BearsOnStairs campaign – on Thursday, 700 teddy bears will be placed on the steps of St Paul’s Cathedral in London to represent the number of children who arrive in Uganda weekly.

As well as giving accompanied children medical and psycho-social care, the UNHCR and its partners place them with foster parents at refugee camps.

World Vision has helped about 1,000 separated children reunite with their relatives and runs “child-friendly” spaces for counselling and play across Uganda.

“The dream for an unaccompanied or separated child is reunification with the family. We are stressing family reunification of these children as the best option,” says Robert Baryamwesiga, the Bidi Bidi settlement commander. “We should be supporting the foster parents with housing units, shelter and providing basic items, which we are not doing now because of the funding constraints. That creates a bit of a problem.”

The UN appeal for money to support South Sudan’s refugees is only 20% funded. “Chronic and severe underfunding is severely hampering the efforts of the refugee response,” says a UNHCR spokesperson.

“There are not enough social workers, meaning one social worker is currently responsible for 70 refugee children. There are not enough child-friendly spaces, meaning some kids are being deprived of a critical mechanism for addressing psycho-social distress.”

For many of the children, all they have left are their aspirations. “I am studying in a congested class,” says Amalia. “But I am determined. I want to go to university and become a lawyer, to help the community address the injustices and dispense justice to the oppressed.”

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Sudan: Weak Sudanese Pound Impacts Market Commodity Prices

Link to web article here.

El Gedaref — Commodity prices in Sudan’s El Gedaref have reportedly risen in an unprecedented manner after the Sudanese Pound fell sharply against the US Dollar following the decision by US President Trump to postpone his decision to lift economic sanctions.

“This also comes at a time when the markets are experiencing a significant recession,” a resident of El Gedaref told Radio Dabanga. The price of a 50kg sack of sugar 50 kilos has climbed from SDG 650 to SDG 540, while the price of a jerry can of oil has climbed from SDG 520 to SDG 480.”

The official rate for the US Dollar quoted by the Central Bank of Sudan is SDG 6.6667, however on the ‘parallel market’, the Dollar was trading for more than SDG 21 on the streets of Khartoum on Sunday.

The trader from El Gedaref pointed out that the rise in prices included all commodities, and prompted traders to increase the prices of all imported goods.

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Girl Guides of South Sudan Have One Wish: ‘Give Us Our Peace’

Link to web article & video here.

In war-torn South Sudan, Girl Guides learn peace-building skills – such as asking the adults around them to put away their weapons – and are counseled on how to support victims of rape.

Guides

Girl Guides clap along with performers at a public event in Juba, South Sudan.

JUBA, SOUTH SUDAN – Twenty girls are dressed in freshly pressed Girl Guide uniforms, swaying from side to side in unison, singing a mournful tune.

“South Sudan is crying. South Sudan is weeping,” they sing. Crowds of children are nestled under a big white tent, some perched on white plastic chairs, others peering from behind metal poles. Around the square, dozens of curious neighbors have clustered to watch the performances.

Then, 18-year-old Ayueek Reech grabs the microphone and begins to freestyle.

“Please, stop the violence,” she shouts. “Stop the raping. Give us our peace.”

Reech is a Ranger – the highest-ranking troop of the Girl Guides of South Sudan. She’s been part of the group for years, coming to weekly meet-ups in Juba’s Hai Neem neighborhood.

A Girl Guide belts out a song at a public event in Juba, South Sudan. (News Deeply Contributor)

In July last year, when fighting spread across Juba, Reech, who was just about to complete secondary school, says she watched as a woman was raped outside her house.

That’s why she spoke out. She wants people to know that she and her fellow guides have lived the war – they have seen it.

Mary Elias Lado, the chief commissioner for the Girl Guides of South Sudan, estimates that there are about 35,000 guides across the country – or at least there were before the war forced nearly 1.8 million people across the borders as refugees. At least three Girl Guide chapters shut down after fighting forced their members into camps in Uganda, Kenya and Sudan. Most of the Girls Guides’ meager funding comes from USAID, the U.S.government’s development fund.

South Sudan has been embroiled in conflict for decades: first, as the region struggled for independence against Sudan, then during a civil war between factions vying for leadership of the newly created country.

Here, the Girl Guides don’t just learn wilderness survival techniques, arts and crafts. They learn to support each other and deal with the trauma of living in a country in conflict. There is only one badge they can earn: the peace badge, which bears a small white dove.

“Give us our lives, our education.”

The girls receive the badge after being trained in peace-building, during which they are encouraged to use dialogue to convince their families and friends to put down their weapons.

The girls are trained in conflict mitigation, and encouraged to remind their families and friends to talk about issues, rather than fight.

In one case, after a girl received this training, she went back to her village near Aweil, in South Sudan’s northwest. There had been a cattle raid – when one community steals cows from another. Often, the response is retaliation.

“There was a lot of fighting,” Lado says. “The girl started from within her family. She was like, ‘No, you are not supposed to do this.’”

The girl’s family listened. “From her family, it went to her community,” Lado says.

Mary Elias Lado, chief commissioner of the Girl Guides of South Sudan, calls for support for the group at a public event in Juba, South Sudan. (News Deeply Contributor)

“We feel that our people should hear that message from our girls.”

Whenever they can find enough funding, the Girl Guides hold public events designed to let the girls’ voices be heard. They want the government to hear their message of peace, their requests to end the war. But not one official showed up to today’s event.

“We feel that our people should hear that message from our girls,” Lado says. “We invited them to come and listen to the young ones about how they feel in this country of South Sudan. But they never turned up. They didn’t come.”

The Girl Guides focus much of their time on women’s rights. In South Sudan, almost half of girls are married by the time they turn 18, according to UNICEF. Many endure gender-based violence, and are pulled out of school at a young age.

“Sometimes parents will not accept,” Lado says. “They will think if a girl is educated, she is spoiled. But we say no, she is not spoiled; the education will help her family, her children.”

Since rape is used as a weapon in the South Sudanese conflict, the girls also learn how to help if one of their friends is raped.

“We teach them how to welcome such girls,” says Stella Lotta, a volunteer and former Girl Guide. “Not to isolate them, but to show them love. To tell them that they are with her. She is not alone in the situation she is going through.”

Lado has been with the Girl Guides since she was six years old, when Sudan and South Sudan were one country. She shakes her head, saying things have changed so much since then.

The groups used to hike up the small mountains in Juba and in the countryside to the east of the city, learning about the region’s rich vegetation. “These days we cannot take them there,” she says, due to landmines.

Despite all of the challenges, the Girl Guide leaders refuse to shut down.

“We cannot leave it. If we leave it, it means we have abandoned our girls,” Lado says.

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