South Sudan’s warring parties have reached a tentative agreement to revert to ten states, paving the way for the creation of a transitional government of national unity.
In an overnight about-turn, President Salva Kiir stood down from his stance on 32 states, saying he was compromising for the sake of the country’s peace.
A document released by the Presidency in Juba on Saturday indicated Kiir, his First Vice President Taban Deng Gai and Vice President James Wani Igga, who represented the incumbent government, agreed to go back to the original ten states South Sudan had at independence. They also added three administrative regions which they argued could be addressed during the transitional government expected to be formed with opposition leaders Riek Machar.
These regions include Abyei, whose border demarcation with Sudan is still a matter of discussion. They also included Ruweng and Greater Pibor Areas, usually seen as oil-rich.
Opposition groups welcomed President Kiir’s move to revert to 10 states.
However, James Oryema, who represents the SPLM-IO in Kenya, said there was no justification to add the two, saying all parties were comfortable with Abyei because of the issue with Sudan.
A locust outbreak devastating parts of East Africa reached South Sudan, a government official announced Tuesday.
Speaking to reporters in Juba, Agriculture Minister Onyoti Adigo confirmed the arrival of locusts in Eastern Equatoria State, saying locusts have been spotted in Lobone, Panyikwara and Owiny-kibul areas of Magwi County, on the border with Uganda.
“On Monday, we received reports that desert locusts have entered South Sudan from Magwi County and thought it was the normal green grasshopper like it has been reported earlier, but we sent our team with those of FAO [Food and Agriculture Organization] and they confirmed the presence of locusts in Magwi County,” said Onyoti.
He added, “As you know, these desert locusts are like human beings, they send their reconnaissance ahead of time to make sure that whether there is food or not.”
The minister said that authorities will try to control the outbreak.”We are training people to be involved in spraying, so we need chemicals and sprayers. We will also need cars to move while spraying and if it becomes worse, we will need aircrafts,” he said.
Meshack Malo, the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) representative in South Sudan, said about 2,000 locusts had been spotted so far, and if not controlled quickly, could have a devastating impact.
“You can imagine currently we have about 2,000, then there is a high likelihood that they will produce and will invite more females to come, that is what we are dealing with,” Malo said.
He added, “These are deep yellow which means that they will be here mostly looking at areas in which they will lay eggs.”
Malo, however, said FAO was training locals and acquiring sprayers and chemicals to combat the locusts.
This is reportedly the first locust invasion in 70 years in the country.
During the 34th extra-ordinary submit of the regional bloc (IGAD) heads of state and government held in Ethiopia a week ago, IGAD called on its member states to cooperate with the neighboring countries and exert more efforts to fight the desert locust invasion.
The arrival of the locusts, experts say, could be catastrophic in South Sudan, where war followed by drought and floods has already left six million people or 60 percent of the population facing severe hunger.
Johannesburg – At least 32 people have been killed, 15 abducted and dozens wounded after several attacks on a village in Kolom in the disputed town of Abyei in the South Sudan border area, the UN peacekeeping mission UNISFA said on Friday.
“Our mission in Abyei has increased protection of civilian efforts after attacks that killed at least 32 people. The mission apprehended five armed group members and stepped up patrols and engagement at community levels,” UNISFA said in a post on Twitter.
Local elders confirmed the deaths after armed nomadic herders from the Misseriya tribe carried out the attack on the rural Dinka Ngok village, burning down 19 houses during the violence.
UNISFA spokesman Daniel Adekera told the Sudan Tribune that Thursday’s violence followed clashes between the two sides on Monday and Wednesday, which had already claimed 22 lives.
The cause of the violence is unknown but conflict in the area has revolved around cattle rustling with the absence of police and administrative structures in Abyei exacerbating the situation.
The Dinka Ngok tribe has long called for a referendum to be held on the future of the area, which is currently part of Sudan, so that it can join South Sudan.
South Sudan ceded from Sudan in 2011 and this has been a cause of friction between the two countries due to the political and security vacuum in the 10,500 km area border area despite it previously being seen as a model of coexistence.
Due to the ongoing friction, UNISFA deployed troops to the area to contain the situation and prevent any escalation as armed men from both sides converged on Kolom.
“UNISFA would like to reiterate that any presence of armed groups within the Abyei box other than its own troops is viewed by the mission as a violation of its mandate and will not hesitate to place responsibility on those engaged in such violations,” Adekera said.
South Sudan’s government and holdout opposition groups on Sunday signed a declaration of principles, in a critical step towards resolving years of conflict.
The document, dubbed the Rome declaration on the peace process in South Sudan, was signed under the auspices of the community of ’Egidio, a lay Catholic association dedicated to social service provision.
The government signed the document with South Sudan Opposition Movements Alliance (SSOMA), a coalition of opposition groups that did not sign the 2018 peace agreement.
The parties agreed to foster political dialogue in order to facilitate further reconciliation and stabilization by addressing the root causes of the conflict in South Sudan.
Both sides said the current conflict in South Sudan requires a comprehensive political engagement in order to achieve inclusivity and sustainable peace with the non-signatories to the revitalised peace deal.
The parties agreed that the dialogue will continue under the auspices of Sant’Egidio in consultation with IGAD and with the support of the international community.
The parties recommitted themselves to the cessation of hostilities agreement signed in December 2017 to void further armed confrontation. The government and the holdout opposition groups reaffirmed readiness to allow uninterrupted humanitarian access to alleviate the suffering of the population.
Sant’Egidio hosted the meeting in Rome, Italy from Saturday to Sunday.
The declaration contains names of presidential envoy Barnaba Marial Benjamin, member of the leadership council of SSOMA Gen. Thomas Cirillo, member of the leadership council of SSOMA Gen. Paul Malong, member of the leadership council of SSOMA Pagan Amum, among other opposition officials.
The document was witnessed by representatives of Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-In-Opposition (SPLM-IO) and National Democratic Movement (NDM). The Intergovernmental Authority on Developmental (IGAD), a regional bloc for East Africa, witnessed the declaration of peace as observer.
JOHANNESBURG (AP) — The United States has called its ambassador to South Sudan back to Washington for consultations as Washington reevaluates its relationship with the country after a delay in implementing a fragile peace deal.
The unusual public statement Monday by the State Department was echoed in a tweet by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo as the U.S. signaled its frustration with the failure of South Sudan’s rivals to meet this month’s deadline to form a coalition government.
South Sudan President Salva Kiir and opposition leader Riek Machar agreed to postpone that key step for 100 days until mid-February. They had faced a Nov. 12 deadline but said security and governance issues needed to be resolved.
The U.S., the top humanitarian donor to South Sudan, said the delay “calls into question their suitability to continue to lead the nation’s peace process.” Its reevaluation of the relationship with South Sudan could mean further sanctions.
South Sudan’s government has said it wanted to form the coalition government on time and blamed the opposition for the delay. Machar had asked for an extension and warned that the ceasefire would “erupt” without one.
The peace deal was signed in September 2018 after five years of civil war killed nearly 400,000 people.
The conflict began in late 2013, just two years after the country’s independence from Sudan, when supporters of Kiir and Machar, then his deputy, clashed. A previous peace deal under which Machar returned as Kiir’s deputy fell apart amid fresh fighting in 2016 and Machar fled the country on foot.
Under the current agreement Machar would again become Kiir’s deputy.
The Vatican earlier this month said Pope Francis and Anglican leader Justin Welby intend to visit South Sudan together if a coalition government can be formed in the next three months.
KAMPALA, Uganda — South Sudan President Salva Kiir and opposition leader Riek Machar have agreed to postpone the formation of a coalition government for 100 days.
The rival leaders were to have formed a unity government by Nov. 12, but after meeting in Uganda for six hours Thursday, they said that security and governance issues needed to be resolved before they could form a government together.
Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni mediated the Kampala meeting which was held to try to salvage the peace deal designed to prevent South Sudan from sliding back into civil war.
Uganda’s Foreign Affairs Minister Sam Kutesa made the announcement of the extension, attracting applause from Machar’s delegation who had been pressing for the deadline to delayed.
It was agreed that during the 100-day period, Uganda, Kenya, Sudan and South Sudan would work with the regional group, the Intergovernmental Authority on Development, to resolve all outstanding issues hampering the formation of a new South Sudanese government in which Kiir would be president and Machar one of the vice presidents.
South Sudan is slowly emerging from five years of fighting that killed almost 400,000 people and displaced millions. A fragile power-sharing agreement signed last September has been riddled with delays and a lack of funding. The formation of a unity government has already been delayed once due to outstanding issues including security arrangements and defining the number of states.
South Sudan experts warn that without a new approach, the uneasy situation may well be the same when the 100-day period ends in February.
“The key question is what will change during this 100 days? They’ve already had more than a year and achieved virtually nothing of substance,” said Klem Ryan former coordinator of the U.N. Security Council’s expert panel for South Sudan. This will potentially only increase international frustration and fatigue with Kiir and Machar, he said.
Senior analyst for the International Crisis Group Alan Boswell said while “this veers us away from the cliff edge by avoiding the worst,” regional heads of state must use the extension to mediate a path forward.
At least one aid group is urging South Sudan’s government to use the extension to focus on the country’s dire humanitarian situation. Almost 1 million people have been affected by flooding across the country, last week the government declared a state of emergency in 27 counties.
“The South Sudan government must prioritize meeting humanitarian needs now, not in 100 days. Many will not survive another 100 days if nothing changes,” said Martin Omukuba, South Sudan country director at the International Rescue Committee.
KHARTOUM – Sudan’s ruling Sovereign Council recently ordered the closure of the country’s borders with the Central African Republic and Libya, citing security concerns. The order has been gradually implemented in the last three weeks.
However, some Sudanese say the decision is affecting business.
Spare parts trader Ahmed Bushara thinks reopening the borders would ease the country’s transportation crisis.
The current high price of transportation isn’t about the fuel shortages only, he says. Spare parts are a major element for cars. If the borders are open and trade is facilitated, he says, it’ll reflect positively on the car sector and spare parts.
Unlike Bushara, Noman Eisa has welcomed the measure, even though he once tried to migrate through Libya to Europe, only to return to Darfur.
Eisa says Libyan gangs and militias are a danger for Sudanese youth hoping to escape poverty and strife.
He says the closed borders are positive if they stop illegal migration, but he hopes the new government will deal with the people detained and lost in Libya, and handle the root cause of Sudanese youngsters leaving. In addition, he wants measures in place for legal migration.
The Sovereign Council decided to close the borders after a September clash between rival militias in Birau, Central African Republic, that left 23 people dead.
Council members cited reports that militiamen were sneaking into Sudan on their way to join other militias in Libya.
But political analyst Othman Mirghani thinks the council has both economic and security concerns.
The main smuggling of commodities is on the eastern borders not on the westerns ones, he says, but western borders have many security concerns, including weapon smuggling and armed troops entering the country from Libya and other countries that suffer from security issues.
Sudan is located on a widely-used migration route that links east and central Africa with the Mediterranean and Europe.
The unrest Sudan has seen before and since the ouster of former president Omar al-Bashir led the European Union to suspend funds for migration control, allowing a greater number of migrants to enter the country. It remains to be seen whether the border closures will slow that flow.
One year on from the signing of the peace agreement, millions of South Sudanese remain displaced as the country continues to face a humanitarian crisis and people fear that peace may not last, according to a new report published today.
Women, who lead the vast majority of displaced households, may be especially vulnerable, including facing the threat of sexual violence. While some women have begun returning to South Sudan, many are not going back to their homes but seeking a safer and better place to live.
The report, No Simple Solutions: Women, Displacement and Durable Solutions in South Sudan, is by Oxfam, Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC), Care Foundation, Danish Refugee Council, and South Sudanese organizations, Nile Hope and Titi Foundation. It highlights the experiences of women in transit and the conditions they need in order to return home.
After five years of brutal conflict, more than seven million South Sudanese – over half the country’s population – are in need of humanitarian assistance. Homes, schools and hospitals have been destroyed and it will take years for essential infrastructure and services to recover.
The conflict created the largest displacement crisis in Africa with over 4.3 million people forced to flee their homes; 1.8 million people are internally displaced and there are 2.3 million refugees in the region.
Elysia Buchanan, South Sudan policy lead, Oxfam said: “Since the signing of the revitalized peace deal, armed clashes between parties have reduced, bringing tentative hope to many. But because of the slow implementation of the deal, many women told us they are still not sure if lasting peace is at hand.”
The civil war also fueled the rise of sexual violence, including rape as a weapon of war, and the abduction of women and girls who were forced into sexual slavery.
With the sheer scale of the crisis, and endemic levels of sexual and gender-based violence, a South Sudanese woman activist quoted in the report warned humanitarian agencies against rushing to support people to return home. “This would be like throwing people from one frying pan to another. Humanitarian actors should take things slow, until refugees and internally displaced people can move themselves.”
Due to the ongoing humanitarian crisis, people returning from neighboring countries often find themselves in more difficult conditions than when they were displaced, including struggling to find somewhere to live.
Connolly Butterfield, Protection and Gender Specialist of NRC, said: “Time and again, women spoke to us of the challenges they face in returning to their homes. They make the journey back, only to find that their houses and properties were completely destroyed, or had already been occupied by strangers, sometimes soldiers. Some of the women said that if they try to reclaim their properties, they have no means of support. They are more likely to be threatened or exposed to physical or sexual assault.”
Because the context still poses risks, all actors should take a long-term, community-driven vision around supporting the conditions required to deliver a lasting end to the displacement crisis, to mitigate the risk of people falling into an endless cycle of movement. It is estimated some 60 percent of displaced South Sudanese have been displaced more than once, and one in 10 have been displaced more than five times.
Buchanan said: “Helping people return to their homes and rebuild their lives is our goal. But by ignoring or downplaying the issues that make returning dangerous, or not ensuring people have adequate information on what they are coming home to, humanitarian agencies could inadvertently endanger people or make their lives worse.
The international community must only support the return of internally displaced people if conditions are safe and dignified, and the decision to return is informed and voluntary. The humanitarian response must be sensitive to the needs of women and girls, taking into consideration the country’s harmful gender norms.
Martha Nyakueka, Gender and Protection Coordinatior of the national NGO Nile Hope, said: “After years of conflict, it will take time for the country to recover. The warring parties who signed the peace deal must ensure that the agreement leads to lasting changes on the ground, not just in terms of security, but also in terms of improving the lives of the South Sudanese people.”
Sudan announced Wednesday a “permanent ceasefire” in the country’s war zones even as a key rebel group threatened to pull out of peace talks, accusing government forces of bombing its territory.
Juba has been hosting talks between new Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok’s government and delegates from two umbrella groups of rebels who fought now-ousted president Omar al-Bashir’s forces in Darfur, Blue Nile, and South Kordofan states.
The talks were launched on Monday, but the rebel Sudan People’s Liberation Movement North (SPLM-N) told journalists it would pull out unless the government withdrew from an area in the Nuba mountains.
The group said that for the past 10 days government forces had kept up attacks on its territory despite an unofficial ceasefire.
Late on Wednesday, the chief of Sudan’s ruling sovereign council, General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, announced a permanent ceasefire in the three conflict zones.
“General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan has announced a permanent ceasefire to show that the government is committed to peace,” the sovereign council said in a statement.
“The ceasefire is valid from the signing of this declaration.”
An unofficial ceasefire had been in place since Bashir was ousted by the army in April in a palace coup following nationwide protests against his decades-old rule.
A joint civilian-military sovereign council is now ruling Sudan and is tasked with overseeing the country’s transition to civilian rule as demanded by protesters.
A new transitional government is in place to carry out the daily affairs of the country and has been leading the peace talks in South Sudan’s capital with the rebel groups.
Bloodshed in the three states has left hundreds of thousands of people dead and millions displaced, in turn severely impacting the northeast African country’s economy. Last Update: Thursday, 17 October 2019 KSA 04:19 – GMT 01:19