South Sudan’s refugee flow is often a children’s crisis

2018-04-15 12:00

The flood of South Sudanese refugees from the country’s 5-year civil war has been called a children’s crisis.

More than 60% of the well over one million refugees who have poured into neighboring Uganda are under the age of 18, government and United Nations officials say. More than two million people have fled South Sudan overall.

Amid the fighting, over 75 000 children have found themselves on their own in Uganda and other neighboring countries, according to the U.N. refugee agency, separated from their families in the chaos or sent by their parents to relative safety.

While many children have reunited with relatives after crossing the border, others are matched by aid workers with foster families in an effort to minimize the disruption in their lives. Without parents, some children are left vulnerable to exploitation and abuse, aid workers say.

 Some teenagers find themselves the head of their households, taking care of siblings. One 16-year-old boy now takes care of his younger brother. “My father was shot in the war,” he said. “And then my mother, I don’t know where she went.” He doesn’t know if she’s dead or alive.
More than 60% of the well over one million refugees who have poured into neighboring Uganda are under the age of 18, government and United Nations officials say. More than two million people have fled South Sudan overall.Amid the fighting, over 75 000 children have found themselves on their own in Uganda and other neighboring countries, according to the U.N. refugee agency, separated from their families in the chaos or sent by their parents to relative safety.While many children have reunited with relatives after crossing the border, others are matched by aid workers with foster families in an effort to minimize the disruption in their lives. Without parents, some children are left vulnerable to exploitation and abuse, aid workers say.

Some teenagers find themselves the head of their households, taking care of siblings.

One 16-year-old boy now takes care of his younger brother. “My father was shot in the war,” he said. “And then my mother, I don’t know where she went.” He doesn’t know if she’s dead or alive.

The two brothers fled to Uganda on the back of a car after seeing their father’s body on a street in their village. After arriving in Uganda they were taken to a reception center run by the U.N. refugee agency.

Efforts to support the children have been hurt by a recent scandal in Uganda in which officials were accused of inflating refugee numbers to siphon off aid money. That has shaken international donors.

Aid workers say resources are stretched thin as they try to place the unaccompanied children with foster families with close ethnic ties.

It’s crucial to place children with families that speak the same language, said James Kamira, a child protection expert with the World Vision aid agency.

One young mother of two, Beatrice Tumalu, now takes care of eight other children who are not her own.

“I feel pity for them,” she said, as she grew up under similar circumstances during the years that South Sudan fought for independence from Sudan. That independence was won in 2011, and South Sudan’s civil war broke out two years later.

The unaccompanied children have little of that aid workers call psychosocial support to help deal with trauma. In one refugee settlement just six case workers are available for 78,000 children, according to the Danish Refugee Council.

Another 16-year-old said his parents died three years ago in South Sudan. He walked into Uganda last year and later was placed with a foster family from another ethnic group.

“Staying there, it is not very well,” he said of the cultural and communication issues.

Sitting against a tree, he opened the Bible he carried with him and began to cry as he read one passage: “I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you.”

South Sudan’s many unaccompanied children need stability and education or “we can lose actually that generation,” warned Basil Droti, who is in charge of child protection at one settlement for the Danish Refugee Council.

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Actions of Lt. Col. Melanie Childs saved scores of South Sudan refugees

16 Apr, 2018 5:00am

As the attack helicopters buzzed over densely-packed city streets, and rotor-blades and machinegun bullets kicked up dust and fear, people ran for their lives.

The South Sudan civil war raged on the streets of the world’s newest country’s capital, Juba. Mortars exploded and RPGs rounds fizzed. Caught in the middle, were 30,000 internally-displaced civilians living in a ramshackle, rambling camp.

They began running to the nearby United Nations headquarters where 1800 international troops were stationed, with a clear mandate to protect civilians.

However, as the battle intensified, with hundreds dying, UN soldiers started turning away the refugees, carrying their lives with them – 20L containers of water, mattresses, babies – seeking safety and protection.

Inside the compound, New Zealand Defence Force Lieutenant Colonel Melanie Childs, who was attached to the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UMISS) as a deputy plans officer, was getting increasingly frustrated.

“It was a very challenging situation,” said the Christchurch-born East Timor and Afghanistan veteran.

“We had a number of troop contributing countries who didn’t react the way they needed to. There was widespread confusion over whether these civilians should be allowed in or pushed back.

“What resulted was a bunch of staff officers getting out on the ground, trying to explain to these different nations that, ‘This is our job, to protect them, this is why we are here’.”

While orders from the Joint Operations Centre were failing to be carried out, either through translation issues or the fog of war, Childs decided to take her own action.

Alongside a Dutch lawyer, she hit the chaotic streets and started corralling hundreds of refugees and convincing them to follow her inside the UN compound, which was a relatively safe zone. She was in radio contact with a British Royal Marine who was doing the same. Elsewhere, US police officers and Norwegian staff officers also rounded up refugees caught in the crossfire.

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SOUTH SUDAN IS HANGING ON TO HOPE

This article was first published by The Washington Examiner on April 14, 2018.

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News about my country, South Sudan, probably doesn’t make it very often to your social media feed. When it does, it’s for stories about deadly attacks, or refugees fleeing their homes, or the humanitarian emergency that keeps many of my compatriots in its grip.

Seven years ago, South Sudan was born into an atmosphere of optimism. My father’s generation had persevered through decades of war, relishing the promise of a new horizon to build prosperity. Finally, that possibility seemed close to becoming a reality, but the conflict that broke out in 2013 shattered it.

Since then, tens of thousands of South Sudanese have been killed. Half of the population is now food-insecure. One quarter has been displaced. We had momentary reprieves from violence, including the 2015 Agreement on the Resolution of Conflict, but South Sudan remains at war with itself. Today, violence is part of our everyday life.

If you think that there’s no hope for peace in South Sudan … well, it’s not your fault. After all, everything you hear is bad news. But my perspective is a bit different. I’m a 32-year-old South Sudanese development worker with Search for Common Ground, and I see daily evidence that hope is very much alive in my country when I go to work.

My organization runs programs that build relationships of trust between groups across ethnic and political divides. We call ourselves peacebuilders. We look at the drivers of conflict at the local level and bring everybody to the table to find resolutions. We find ways for communities to work together toward addressing shared needs, like safety, education, representation — the titular “Common Ground” in my organization’s name. In this way, we create bonds of mutual trust, even in the most polarized environments.

We then use media to reinforce these bonds by giving a voice to those at the margins of decision-making. Radio, the most popular medium in South Sudan, is an especially powerful tool to achieve that. Currently, we produce two radio programs in partnership with the Catholic Radio Network. The first is a talk show called Hiwar al-Shabaab, meaning youth dialogue; it provides a platform for young people to call in and discuss their issues. The second is a drama, Sergeant Esther, following the trials and triumphs of a female police officer who uses nonviolent methods to uphold the law.

I know what you’re thinking. Local peace initiatives and radio shows seem small in comparison with the daunting problem of interethnic conflict in South Sudan. However, the results we achieved are groundbreaking. In areas targeted by these projects, independent evaluators measured a staggering 200 percent growth in interactions between tribes, of which 90 percent were positive. They measured the increase in intertribal trust at 63 percent.

I see these accomplishments and I wonder — what would happen if we scaled these initiatives to target hundreds of communities across South Sudan? How would my country change?

Internationally, many efforts to end the war are taking place. In February, the High-Level Revitalization Forum held in Addis Ababa brought together the South Sudanese government, opposition parties, and other actors to revive the components of the 2015 Agreement. The Forum ended without major gains, but many saw it as a promising sign that future talks could bring about a new peace agreement.

I believe that these institutional efforts are critical to solving the crisis. But without grassroots peacebuilding efforts now, it will be difficult to rebuild the relationships needed for citizens to embrace the peace agreement when it comes. As the world’s largest dedicated peace-building organization, we know it from experience: in absence of local buy-in, ceasefires negotiated at the national level don’t last.

That’s why it’s so important to support and scale local, pragmatic, effective peacebuilding programs in South Sudan. Not only are they transforming violence into cooperation in local communities, they also are a promising avenue to build a national constituency for peace, which can serve as the backbone for future peace talks. The way to ending the horrific and hugely destabilizing crisis in my country goes through grassroots peacebuilding as much as it does through high-level efforts.

It’s time for the international community to recognize that the kind of local work we do as peacebuilders works. It’s time to invest in it and take it to a wider public. It’s time to link local experts with policymakers, so that any peace agreement is built on the needs of the people who are supposed to uphold it.

It’s time to embrace and cultivate the signs of hope that I see everyday as I do my job. When that happens, I bet you’ll start hearing different news about South Sudan.

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South Sudan Peace Forum: IGAD, civil society discuss outstanding issues

THURSDAY 12 APRIL 2018

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April 11, 2018 (JUBA) – IGAD special envoy for South Sudan discussed with the civil society groups the outstanding issues in the peace revitalization process as part of the ongoing preparation to resume the process by the end of this month.

The IGAD mediators suspended the second phase of the High-Level Revitalization Forum (HLRF) last February and worked on new proposals on the security arrangements and the power-sharing during the transitional period.

The process is scheduled to resume on 26 April, but through these separate consultations meetings, the mediation team hopes to narrow the gaps between the HLRF parties, prior to the next reconvening of the Forum.

In a statement released after the meeting, the IGAD said Special Envoy Ismail Wais met the representatives of the South Sudanese Civil Society Stakeholders to the HLRF to discuss key outstanding issues at the Forum, including positions of the various parties and possible compromises.

“The consultations meeting tackled the key areas of disagreements on governance and security arrangements at the HLRF,” said the statement.

Under governance, the meeting discussed: the composition of the transitional government; structure of the government; responsibility sharing; number of states and size and composition of the Parliament.

On security arrangements, the two sides examined: timeframe for reintegration/unification of forces and approach to the formation of one national army; security for Juba during the Transition; demilitarization of civilian centres; cantonment of forces and Security sector reform or establishment of new security services.

At the end of the meeting, “the representatives of the Civil Society and stakeholders at the HLRF made recommendations for considerations by the Parties at the HLRF”.

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Spokesman for South Sudan’s VP Quits, Blames Government for Country’s Suffering

April 06, 2018: The press secretary for South Sudan’s Vice President James Wani Igga has resigned, saying he cannot serve a government that is subjecting its people to suffering.

David Mayen Dengdit, center, the now-resigned press secretary for South Sudan’s Vice President James Wani Igga, attends a meeting in this undated photo. (Photo courtesy of David Mayen Dengdit). Link to image.

David Mayen Dengdit told VOA’s South Sudan in Focus that he left his position a week ago because of what he called bad government policies.

“I would be a hypocrite if I pretended to be serving two masters: A government that is sending its people away, that is subjecting its people to different forms of sufferings, and the same people who are victims of our government. I could not do both at the same time,” said Dengdit, who is now in Denver, Colorado.

The government of President Salva Kiir has been fighting rebel groups since December 2013. The civil war has pushed an estimated 4 million South Sudanese from their homes and left at least 6 million in need of humanitarian assistance.

Office: Dengdit requested time off

Dengdit is a longtime associate of Igga. Dengdit began working for Igga in 2008, when the vice president was the speaker of the national legislative assembly in Juba.

FILE – South Sudan’s President Salva Kiir attends a meeting in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, Jan. 28, 2018. Link to image.

Kalisto Lado, the deputy press secretary in the vice president’s office, told VOA that Dengdit has not submitted a resignation letter.

“We were surprised to hear him talking to VOA that he has tendered his resignation,” he said. “What we know is that he took some time off to visit his family in Kampala [Uganda] and his mother and sister in the U.S. He also requested some time off to seek medical attention.

“He was a good press secretary. … We don’t know the motives behind his resignation. We wish he had first consulted us before resigning.”

War crime accusations

Dengdit said the government’s counterinsurgency policy in parts of eastern Equatoria and Yei River states has pushed thousands of people from their ancestral lands.

FILE – South Sudanese refugees queue to receive a lunch of maize mash and beans, at the Imvepi intake center, where newly-arrived refugees are processed before being transferred to the nearby Bidi Bidi refugee settlement, in northern Uganda, June 6, 2017. Link to image.

Dengdit said he traveled recently to Uganda on a bus and witnessed ghost villages along the once-busy Juba-Nimule highway, which connects South Sudan with east African countries.

“I can attest to you that if a population census is conducted tomorrow, the Madi tribe would not be counted because they have all been pushed to refugee camps in Uganda,” he said.

Kiir visited the South Sudanese border town of Nimule last month and apologized to residents whose villages were destroyed during a government campaign to fight rebels of the Sudan People’s Liberation Army in Opposition in the area.

“I am sorry to see Lowa Pari in the shape I have seen this morning,” Kiir told a small crowd of people who turned up at a trading center during his visit. “This was once a place where the population used to be active. Now it is vandalized; there is nothing there and I am sorry for that.”

Dengdit said, “A skewed counterinsurgency strategy by the Kiir administration is responsible for the sufferings of civilians in South Sudan, for the war crimes that have been committed against the civilians in greater Equatoria, in greater Upper Nile.”

He said the government practices a policy of blanket condemnation of civilians in villages across South Sudan.

“This is happening in Lainya [county]; this is happening to [the] Kakwa in Yei [state] and Morobo [county in Yei]. This is happening to [the] Kuku in Kajokeji [county],” the former press secretary said.

Pay issue

Dengdit also said he has not been paid since November.

When he was last paid, the money wasn’t enough to cover basic costs, Dengdit said. “When your salary comes, it is not enough to provide you with water for 30 days. A barrel of water is now 200 South Sudanese pounds,” (about $1.50), he said.

Kiir has acknowledged on several occasions that his government has no money to pay its soldiers and civil servants.

In March, Kiir told his new finance minister to devise ways to revitalize the collapsed country’s economy.

Dengdit, however, maintained the country has money from oil revenues. “We are still exporting 150,000 barrels [of crude oil] per day even today. Where is that money going?”

He said South Sudan’s capital, Juba, is crowded with women, men and street children begging from well-wishers.

“There is a total meltdown, there is a complete collapse of the economy, [and] people cannot make ends meet,” Dengdit said.

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South Sudan archbishop urges government and opposition to end violence before peace talks

April 4, 2018

Retired bishop Enock Tombe addresses a news conference at the Church of South Sudan’s provincial headquarters in Juba. Link to image.

Archbishop Paul Yugusuk, leader of the Church of South Sudan’s internal Central Province, has called on the government and opposition groups to declare an end to violence before the next round of peace talks. The continuation of phase two of the talks is expected to take place in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia from the 26 to the 30 April. During the last negotiations, the parties discussed the formation of a transitional government and permanent ceasefire and security arrangements; but the delegates did not reach a consensus.

Archbishop Paul said all the parties must conclude with signing a peace deal during the upcoming round of negotiations.

“Our delegation is going to IGAD and as they go there and before they go there, let the government and opposition say it is finished,” he said. “Let us bring everything to an end. We open a new page and let us come back home and live.”

The second phase of the revitalisation forum, held in February, was riddled with disagreements over a number of issues in chapters I and II of the 2015 peace agreement. The third round was supposed take place this month in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa; but IGAD announced last week that the upcoming talks will be a continuation of the second round.

Archbishop Paul Yugusuk. Link to image.

After the second round of talks, Bishop Enoch Tombe, the retired bishop of Rajaf and leader of the religious team in the peace talks, said the parties should take a people-centred approach during the next round. “If you are serious about peace, we should go with a new mindset,” he said. “We shouldn’t just continue business as usual – this is my position and that’s it.

“I think we have to be ready to compromise for the sake of the people, for the sake of this country and even for ourselves.”

There is continued suffering in this country as a result of the ongoing civil war. Millions of people in refugee camps with hopes of returning back should there be peace.

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Moyross to South Sudan: Irish priest begins new ministry at refugee camp

After six years in Limerick, Fr Tony O’Riordan has taken up a new role in one of the world’s most isolated refugee camps

Fr Tony O’Riordan in South Sudan where he is charged with building schools for thousands of children. Link to image.

A long-serving parish priest of the Moyross area of Limerick has begun a new ministry in South Sudan.

While Fr Tony O’Riordan has seen disadvantage up close during his time in Ireland, he says he is “overwhelmed” by the scale of the human suffering in his new parish.

The west Cork priest has taken up the role of project director of the Jesuit Refugee Service, in Maban county, home to one of the world’s most isolated refugee camps .

The location has become a sprawling tent city for 150,000 refugees and is a “maze of misery and toil”, Fr O’Riordan says.

Having already fled conflict in the Blue Nile state, the refugees face a daily battle against hunger and disease.

Despite the “weight of all that seeks to destroy life here”, Fr O’Riordan says he is still greeted by refugees “with smiles and a welcome”.

He sees “similarities” in the strength of the refugees with the strength of the people of Moyross, who faced an epidemic of violence and decades of deprivation.

Fr O’Riordan has had good preparation for the many challenges in Maban. On a recent mission to the Middle East, he closely observed how education is used as a tool to reduce trauma and stress on young victims of war.

During his six-year ministry in Moyross, he helped many who were in the reaches of local drug gangs to find a path to employment and way to a better life.

The Limerick estate is undergoing a slow renewal, having been tarnished by a wave of gangland crime.

Fr O’Riordan says he believes that even the most damaged communities that experience extreme levels of trauma, can be helped through education.

Education is key

In between Moyross and Maban, O’Riordan worked at the Jesuits regional office in Beirut, helping the response to refugees coming from Syria, Iraq, Egypt, and Lebanon, where “a team of psychologists are running social and mental health programmes to help people deal with trauma and loss, and to rebuild their lives”.

He hopes he can do something similar in Maban where he is charged with building schools for thousands of children.

“The primary effort of the Jesuits is education. Almost the day [refugees] arrive in a camp, particularly for kids, education reduces their trauma significantly.”

“If their parents can say to them, you might have left your home, but your schooling continues, it brings back to them a sense of structure and a sense of normality.”

Similar efforts being used in both poor, white and aboriginal towns, in Australia and the Northern Territory, remind Fr O’Riordan “very much what we were trying to do in Moyross”.

“In parts of the community, children were being affected by poverty which resulted in challenging behaviour, and their school was trying to cope and trying to break the cycle.”

Moyross school principal Tiernan O’Neill described Fr O’Riordan as a “visionary” who has helped the school implement various therapy tools for pupils, including “mindfulness and therapeutic interventions”, as well as “equine therapy”.

Promoting resilience

“Moyross is an amazing community and some of our pupils’ parents may have grown up in adversity, and we want to make sure we promote a resilience in the children which helps prevent them from experiencing the same issues,” Mr O’Neill adds.

“Moyross’s loss is definitely Maban’s gain,” he says.

Fr O’Riordan believes Ireland should be taking in more refugees or, at least accepting them at a faster rate.

“I think immigration is fantastic,” he says. “I know people are fearful of it…but I think we need to be very aware of the concerns of people who are either racist, or of those who are in need and are preyed upon by others who drum up racism and a scapegoating of migrants.

“We are a nation of migrants; we are the original boat people.”

He says Ireland has the capability to solve its own homeless crisis, but he sees “no political will” to do so. Blaming migrants for the housing crisis is “wrong”, he adds.

“Responding to people fleeing persecution is a solemn international obligation on us… and when there’s pressure on housing, which there is in this country, you hear the argument that, ‘well, it’s the migrants [fault]’, but it’s not, it’s a failure of housing policy.”

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‘If my phone is off, I’m in trouble, get help’: the perils of reporting in South Sudan

Canadian program helps women in South Sudan report on news amid political threats and a civil war.

Anna Nimiriano is the only female manager of the 75 women journalists in Juba, South Sudan. (PETER BREGG). Link to image.

1 April 2018. JUBA, SOUTH SUDAN—Anna Nimiriano was at her desk when the goons came to take her away. She could see them, standing in the 42-degree heat of the noon-day sun outside her cubicle where she works as editor-in-chief of the Juba Monitor, beckoning her with their hands. “You will come with us now. The mayor is angry about a column in your paper today. He told us to bring you to him.”

Just imagine two thugs walking into a Toronto newspaper and saying, “Come with us. John Tory is angry about your column.” But this isn’t Toronto. This is South Sudan where such a visit can lead to a shutdown of your newspaper or prison or being disappeared.

Nimiriano is one of 75 women journalists and the only manager in a country that is in the midst of civil war. This is a place where women are treated as second-class citizens and expected to walk behind their husbands and keep their opinions to themselves, where the president allows a so-called free press as long as they don’t mention politics or security issues, and where the government is more afraid of a camera than a gun.

And it’s where an innovative program for women journalists is being conducted by Journalists for Human Rights (JHR), a Canadian media development organization that aims to teach non-biased reporting and to keep journalists like Nimiriano out of jail. In the capital city of Juba, 24 print, radio and TV journalists recently gathered for a workshop designed exclusively for women and focused not only on improving journalism skills, but on the rights of women and the danger to reporters.

Nimiriano who had spent the previous two days at the course, waved off the thugs, and told them she was busy in a meeting and would see them later. The dismissal worked for a short time. They continued to pace outside the newspaper office — a collection of windowless cubicles on cement slabs, surrounded by barbed wire and secured by a locked gate and guards. She was not surprised the guards let the men in: “They always do,” she says. “Everyone is afraid when people like this come for them.”

Nimiriano had a strategy, but she needed to buy some time. First, she called the South Sudan Media Authority, an organization that acts as a regulatory body between the government and journalists. She then planned to reread and fact-check the published column in question, which was about men in the mayor’s office demanding money from residents for picking up garbage. She was still activating her plan when the goons finally barged into her office, towering over the diminutive editor: “The mayor told us not to come back without you.”

The clock had run out. “I will come,” she said, “but not with you. My driver will bring me in my own car.” She then scribbled her mobile number on a piece of paper, handed it to a woman she had been meeting with and said, “Call this number every 10 minutes. If my phone is off, I’m in trouble, get help.”

A harrowing meeting with the mayor and his henchmen followed, a meeting that included accusations and threats. Nimiriano confronted the mayor with the facts, offering to go with him to the site in question so that he could see the heaped-up garbage and assess the health risk himself, as well as question the residents about who was asking them for money. Eventually, the issue was resolved. Later, Nimiriano shrugged off her incident with surprising sang-froid: “I knew what to do.”

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Re-shaping Sudan’s peace roadmap

1 April 2018

To End War, Economic Crisis and Establish a Genuine Political Process

By Yasir Arman

The Roadmap Agreement of 2016, which is the only political document to have been signed by the major political organisations to Sudan’s conflicts, suffered a serious setback when the Sudan Government decided unilaterally to conduct and then terminate its non-inclusive national dialogue. A genuinely inclusive, transparent and credible national dialogue carried out in a conducive environment was supposed to have been central to the political process envisaged in the Roadmap Agreement. The Government’s decision created a political vacuum; it left the issues of stopping war and addressing the humanitarian crises in Darfur, the Nuba Mountains and Blue Nile hanging in the air without anchoring them to an inclusive political process that could resolve the root causes of conflict and address the historical question of how Sudan should be governed before who governs it.

The Sudan Government and the international community now seem to be keen to replace the national dialogue with a constitutional drafting process. Such a process is not viable in current circumstances, as it first requires a political agreement that would address the root causes of Sudan’s conflicts and lead to a process of democratic transformation that would end the one-party monopoly of power and establish national institutions based on the rule of law, democracy and respect for human rights.

Sudan Call Leaders met in Paris last month, and in addition to agreeing on a new organisational structure, decided to recommit to the Roadmap Agreement and try injecting a new momentum into it. However, it takes two to tango; the Sudan Government, which is the other party to the conflict, also needs to recommit to the Roadmap Agreement in good faith, if it is to provide a path for future engagement, addressing the political crisis and resolving Sudan’s conflicts. There is no point in drafting a new constitution without having a political agreement between the parties to the conflict, which can then be transformed into a constitutional text, as was the case with the Interim National Constitution of 2005. This was meant to govern Sudan, including after the secession of South Sudan. Sudan already has a perfectly good constitution based on respect for diversity and including a Bill of Rights that safeguards human rights and basic freedoms.

The problem is not the need to draft a new constitution but lack of political will by the Government to respect and implement the existing Constitution. For example, key provisions in the current Constitution, such as requiring the National Intelligence and Security Service to focus on information gathering, analysis and advice has never been reflected in the National Security Act, which gives them extensive powers of arrest and detention. Moreover, the Constitution was arbitrarily amended in January 2015 to abolish the election of State Governors and incorporate the Rapid Support militia into the national regular forces.  Drafting another constitution is simply a gimmick by the Government to buy time until the 2020 elections and to remove term limits on the office of the President so that General Bashir can stand again. There is thus a real risk that any new constitution drafted under the current regime would be a retrograde step. The Government has always been opposed to any genuine political process that would address the root causes of the war and effect democratic transformation.
 
There is an elephant in the room that the NCP government has failed to acknowledge. That elephant is walking on four big legs i.e. the war, the ICC arrest warrants against Bashir and two state governors, the economic crisis and an unjust political system that led to the marginalization of the overwhelming majority of the Sudanese people while concentrating power and resources in the hands of a few. These four issues are all interrelated and none can be resolved on its own unless the others are also addressed. For instance, it was the Government’s war in Darfur, that led to the ICC arrest warrants, and its massive military expenditure on the wars and grand corruption in the interests of the few, that contributed significantly to the economic crisis.

There will also be no normalization of relations with the outside world unless these internal issues are addressed. Normalization has to start from the inside as the crisis emerged from the inside through the agenda of Political Islam. This caused the displacement of millions of people denied them basic freedoms, internal political and economic spaces in their own country, and drove many of them in desperation to seek asylum in Europe and elsewhere, even at the risk of drowning in the Mediterranean. It is the same agenda of Political Islam that supported terrorism and as long as this ideology continues, it will be impossible to cut the organic link with terrorism. It is the same political agenda that has contributed to destabilising the region from Libya to South Sudan. Democratic transformation is the only remedy for these ills; without addressing the root causes of the war and having a genuinely inclusive transformational process that will create a political space and a level playing field for all Sudan’s opposition forces, there is no way of ending Sudan’s multiple crises. Such a process should culminate in free and fair democratic elections. Those elections cannot be free and fair without first ensuring unimpeded humanitarian assistance, allowing millions of internally displaced people and refugees to return to their homes, ending wars, and guaranteeing basic freedoms. Ending wars is key for the armed organisations to transform themselves fully into the political life and maintaining the status quo will never result in peace, prosperity and democracy.

We believe that the Sudan Call has taken an important step in Paris towards peace and a renegotiated political settlement by recommitting to the Roadmap Agreement on the basis of its provisions to stop the war and address the humanitarian crisis. The Sudan Call also highlighted the importance of the African Union Peace and Security Council’s Communiques 456 and 539, which set out in detail the conditions for creating an enabling environment for the political process on the basis of the Roadmap Agreement that will include, among others, releasing all political detainees and prisoners of war, and addressing the humanitarian crisis.

In the meantime, the Sudan Call, together with the wider oppositions, will continue their efforts to overthrow the repressive one-party NCP regime. It may be a difficult task, but it is not an impossible one, given Sudan’s growing economic and political crises. The only difference between the Sudan Call and other opposition forces is that the Sudan Call can walk and talk at the same time. It can work to overthrow the regime through an uprising, while at the same time being ready to negotiate a just and peaceful settlement, which would be less costly in terms of human and material costs if a truly inclusive political process were to be available. Other opposition forces are reserved out of the lack of a genuine process; therefore a genuine process is the demand of all opposition forces. By consolidating its national unity and stability through a negotiated peaceful settlement and democratic transformation, Sudan could set an example to the rest of the region and contribute to enhancing regional stability, including making the positive contribution that is needed from Sudan, particularly in South Sudan and Libya.

The African Union High-Level Implementation Panel chaired by President Mbeki, which has the lead in mediating the Sudan’s peace process, the African Union Peace and Security Council, the region, the United Nations, Troika, Europe and other international partners need to develop and reshape the Sudan Roadmap Agreement by setting out clear steps that can address the root causes of Sudan’s conflicts and lead to democratic transformation. This in turn, would also have a major positive impact on addressing the economic crisis. Thus, it is time for the international community to refocus attention on creating a truly inclusive political process in Sudan.

The author is a member of the Sudan Call Leadership Council and Deputy Chairperson of the SPLM-N.

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Appeal could save SA man from death penalty in South Sudan

31 March 2018

William Endley. Link to image.

A month after William Endley was sentenced to death, his family are hoping an appeal will save him from the gallows. The ex-South African National Defence Force (SANDF) colonel was sentenced to hang in a South Sudanese court on February 23.

He was charged with espionage and conspiring to overthrow the government.

But in the days following his sentencing, Endley has filed an appeal.

The appeal, according to Charmaine Quinn, Endley’s sister, means that the South Sudanese courts can’t set an execution date.

Endley was also sentenced to nine years in jail. “The appeal deals with the fact that he had an unfair trial, that there was no formal evidence and that he should have been released according to the December Peace Accord,” explains Quinn, who lives in Cape Town.

During his trial, none of his defence witnesses appeared in court. But following his court appearance, Endley’s prison conditions have improved. He has now been moved to the Juba Central Prison.

He was previously held in the notorious headquarters of the South Sudanese National Security Service, which is known as the Blue House.

“He is allowed more phone calls now,” says Quinn. “He is positive but I can hear that it is taking its toll on him.”

Endley’s family have also written letters to President Cyril Ramaphosa and Lindiwe Sisulu, the minister who heads the Department of International Relations and Co-operation (Dirco).

“We’re just hoping and praying that we get some light at the end of the tunnel,” says Quinn.

The family are also hoping that Dirco is trying to secure his release through behind-the-scenes negotiations, though they are not aware of these.

Dirco did not respond to the Saturday Star this week.

Quinn explained that it is now easier for embassy staff to visit her brother, now that he is in the Juba Central Prison. The family are also able to send him R2000 a month, for food and medicines.

“What does concern me is that he is kept in chains.”

Endley became a defence contractor after he left the SANDF and was hired by former rebel leader Riek Machar as an adviser.

He was tasked with helping integrate the rebel forces into the national army, in accordance with a peace agreement.

But this agreement fell apart in July 2016 when heavy fighting broke out in the capital. Machar fled and is now under house arrest in South Africa, while Endley was arrested.

Jakkie Cilliers, the head of African Futures & Innovation at the Institute for Security Studies, says now that Endley has been formally charged it’s easier for the South African government to act.

“This is where Dirco becomes the key player and would be engaging to see, firstly, if there is a basis to engage, but it also becomes a Department of Justice issue,” he says.

The government has a good relationship with the South Sudanese, he adds.

But while political forces may be at work, Quinn has drawn strength from her brother’s sense of humour.

“The other day he phoned and he called himself the dead man talking, not the Dead Man Walking, as in the movie.”

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