Failure to address critical issues in the revitalised peace deal could restart the devastating violence of recent years and displace even more people, a new report has warned.
The report by Refugees International “No Confidence: Displaced South Sudanese Await ‘Real Peace “ says failure to address critical issues, including relocation and disarmament of soldiers and disenfranchisement of ethnic minorities, could restart the devastating violence of recent years and displace even more people.
The new report on South Sudan by Senior Advocate for Human Rights Daniel Sullivan stated that a year after South Sudan signed a peace agreement to end the country’s devastating civil war, a staggering one-third of its population is still displaced.
Few feel safe enough to return home, and the situation remains dire, according to the report released on Thursday.
It calls on the government and opposition leaders of South Sudan to implement the peace agreement, pointing out that little of it has been fulfilled even while a November 12 deadline to form a transitional government looms.
The report urges the government and opposition groups to prioritize the cantonment of soldiers, integration of armed forces to reflect ethnic diversity, and settlement of state boundaries to avoid disenfranchisement of ethnic minorities
It also calls on the parties to the peace agreement reach a political agreement on former Vice President Riek Machar’s permanent return to Juba.
The organization advised the international community to pursue a robust, coordinated, diplomatic effort to engage South Sudan’s leaders toward the creation of a transitional government by November 12, and further implementation of the peace agreement.
It also called for further analysis by UN and NGO actors on the issues of population movements, intentions, and barriers to returns to better plan for returns and avoid manipulation of those returns for political purposes.
The United Nations Mission in South Sudan on Wednesday said a transitional unity government should be formed by 12 November as originally planned, pointing out that there should be no more extensions.
The 2018 peace deal brokered by the East African bloc IGAD reinstates opposition leader Riek Machar as first vice-president, one of five vice-presidents.
Last year, a study by the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine estimated that at least 382,900 South Sudanese died as a result of the country’s civil war.
A Christian leader was released last week in Aweil State after six months of imprisonment without trial.
South Sudan’s transitional constitution requires detainees to be produced before a court within 24 hours.
Rev. Malong Baak Malong of Jenina Christians’ Tabernacle (JTC) was arrested on 4 January after his church members opposed a government decision to demolish the church buildings in Aweil town over a land row.
During independence celebrations on 9 July, Aweil state governor Tong Akeen Ngor announced the release of the detained pastor as part of activities marking the country’s 8th independence anniversary.
Speaking to Radio Tamazuj on Sunday, the director for criminal investigation department, David Dut said the pastor had been released after several months in jail.
On his part, Pastor Malong Baak applauded Aweil state governor for ordering his release from prison.
“I am now free after my release from prison on 11 July. I thank the governor and I call upon all South Sudanese to embrace forgiveness,” said Malong. The religious leader has called on authorities to guarantee freedom of worship across the country.
July 4, 2019 (NAIROBI) – Chinese contractors working on the Kenya-South Sudan highway will complete project by 2020, an official said.
The principal secretary in Kenya’s Ministry of Transport, Infrastructure, Housing and Urban Development, Julius Korir told Xinhua that three Chinese contractors won the tender to upgrade about 248 km of road to bitumen standards on the road section linking South Sudan.
“So far the project is about 30 percent complete and we expect the road to be commissioned in 2020,” he said Monday.
Korir said Kenya is prioritizing the highway, which is part of the East African Community road network so as to boost intra-regional trade.
He said the poor quality of the existing roads has negatively impacted on trade between Kenyan and Africa’s youngest nation.
“Kenyan traders are forced to travel through Uganda in order reach South Sudan, a process that could take up to three days. With the new road, travel time will be cut by at least two days,” stressed Korir.
South Sudan is a strategic partner of Kenya in many areas. The two countries have cultural similarities as many South Sudanese lived in Kenya during the war before independence.
The Board of Directors of the African Development Bank on June 20, 2019, approved a proposal to commit $24.7 million to finance the South Sudan Strategic Water Supply and Sanitation Improvement Project.
Image: Implementation will commence during the 2019/2020 financial year. Photo: Courtesy of African Development Bank Group.
The Strategic Water Supply and Sanitation Improvement Project will support the rehabilitation of approximately 50km of the Juba town distribution network and related works, including metering and public water collections outlets. The project will also cover feasibility and
engineering design for two other towns under the jurisdiction of South Sudan Urban Water Corporation. The project will additionally cover the development of solar powered water distributions systems and sanitation and hygiene promotion in high-density rural communities surrounding Juba, as well as capacity development in the relevant water institutions.
Implementation will commence during the 2019/2020 financial year, with the Ministry of Water Resources and Irrigation and the South Sudan Urban Water Corporation serving as the executing and implementing agencies, respectively.
South Sudan’s capital city of Juba, like many urban centers in the country, suffers from the effects of years of armed conflict and under-investment in the development and maintenance of basic water infrastructure. Increased numbers of displaced people and rapid urbanization have placed considerable strain on existing urban water supply infrastructure and the illegal supply of untreated water drawn from river Nile by private water tanker operators is common in the city and its suburbs.
On completion, the project will directly benefit 300,000 people in Juba and the surrounding rural Jubek state. The nearly $2 million grant will ensure that schools and communities in eight targeted rural areas of Jubek state, will benefit from 40 public/institutional latrines blocks to be constructed, as well as hygiene education.
“The incorporation of a rural water and sanitation component in areas that are relatively safe to reach indicates that the project opens a pathway for more support for rural WaSH going forward,” said Osward Chanda, Manager for the Water Security and Sanitation Division at the Department of Water Development and Sanitation.
“By helping to improve the quality and delivery of urban water supply services in Juba city and strengthening rural water supply and sanitation services, the project will greatly assist its target population,” said Bank Country Manager for South Sudan, Benedict Kanu. He added that it will help in combatting diseases, reducing health costs, improving quality of life, as well as helping women save time and increased convenience due to closer water supply outlets.
Since 2012, the Bank has contributed more than $136.79 million in
development aid across various sectors in South Sudan. Bank support has
focused on capacity building, infrastructure development, and creating
conditions for promoting peace, stability and state building, among the
Bank’s strategic priorities.
The project aligns with South Sudan’s National Development Strategy (2018-21) and the orientation of the Bank’s 2012-18 Country Strategy Paper, which was extended in May 2019 to 2021. Both strategies emphasize nation building through capacity building and infrastructure development.
ADJUMANI, UGANDA – Uganda hosts Africa’s largest refugee population – one and a quarter million people, with two-thirds having fled conflict in South Sudan. Last year’s peace deal raised hopes for some South Sudanese that they could soon return home. But the fragile peace has discouraged many from leaving Uganda’s refugee camps, despite struggles for adequate aid.
James Gwemawer joined other South Sudanese elders for a board game at the Maaji Refugee Camp in Uganda.
It’s been six years since he arrived here after losing his cattle during fighting in South Sudan.
His family scattered to different refugee camps in Uganda, and he’s still wondering when they can all go home.
“I need to first witness peaceful resettlement of my people back home, with no war or tribal conflict, before I can return. But now, I can’t think of going back. Things are still bad, I can’t leave.”
Sixty-three-year-old Madelena Moria hopes to return to South Sudan – one way or another.
“My husband died and was buried in South Sudan. My other children are buried there. When I die, I want to be buried beside them.”
There are more than 800,000 South Sudanese refugees in camps just inside Uganda, more than four times the number in 2016.
Musa Ecweru, Uganda’s state minister for refugees, says Uganda’s ability to help is being challenged.
“We’d never known that at any given time we would host over 1 million people. We had always oscillated between 200,000 and 300,000. That was what we knew, even at the peak of displacements from DR Congo, from Rwanda and from Burundi. But when South Sudan collapsed, then we received refugees surpassing millions and that overwhelmed our system,” Ecweru said.
In May, Uganda and the United Nations refugee agency appealed for $927 million in funding to address refugee needs until 2020.
The appeal is complicated by the alleged misuse of aid and the exaggeration of refugee numbers, which prompted the dismissal of four Ugandan officials and launched several investigations.
Joel Boutroue of the U.N. refugee agency also says donors no longer see the situation as an emergency.
“We are falling short of what is really required in terms of access to basic services – such as education. Water is slightly better covered health slightly better covered. But, education needs, for environment energy, protection, we are falling short of really what refugees deserve and need,” Boutroue said.
For the time being, South Sudanese refugees in Uganda will get by on basic services and wait for the day when it is safe to return home
South Sudan’s energy minister, Ezekiel Gatkuoth, attends the reopening of the first session of the transitional national legislature at parliament in Juba, South Sudan, May 14 2019. Picture: REUTERS/ANDREEA CAMPEANU
19 May 2019, 21:20 Paul Burkhardt
South Sudan, recovering from a civil war in which 400,000 people died and a quarter of the population was displaced, is concerned that an uprising in neighbouring Sudan could threaten its oil exports, choking off its economic lifeline.
Two pipelines deliver about 175,000 barrels of oil a day to a port in Sudan, the country from which South Sudan seceded in 2011 after a lengthy conflict, according to the nation’s oil minister Ezekiel Gatkuoth. While Sudan’s President Omar al-Bashir was ousted after popular protests, the military, which is running the country, is at loggerheads with the opposition over who should rule.
“What is happening in Sudan now is concerning me,’’ Gatkuoth said in an interview in Bloomberg’s office in Johannesburg. South Sudan’s president has sent him to meet with officials “to make sure that the port where we are having our oil transported to the international market is secured”, he said.
Transport of drilling chemicals used for production could also potentially be interrupted.
The smooth flow of oil to Port Sudan, on the Red Sea, is key for the economies of both countries. South Sudan depends on oil for most of its foreign exchange and Sudan benefits from transport fees, which compensate it for losing 75% of its oil production when South Sudan seceded.
South Sudan pays its neighbour a commercial fee of $9 a barrel along with a so-called transitional financial arrangement of $15 per barrel, Gatkuoth said. The need to pay the latter fee will end in December, he said.
South Sudan has a production goal of 200,000 barrels a day by the end of 2019, a 14% increase on its current output, said Gatkuoth. The nation could potentially produce 350,000 barrels a day in 2020, returning to levels it hasn’t seen since its own civil war started.
South Sudan has agreed to participate in the Opec+ cuts deal, but Gatkuoth said it hasn’t yet curbed production since it is pumping below its full potential. The minister was to attend a meeting of the group’s joint technical committee in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, this weekend.
“We have to be sure we’re meeting the demand of the market instead of overflowing the market,” he said. “So we want to make sure we maintain the cut.”
The nation will consider applying to be a fully fledged member of the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries (Opec) once it reaches its output potential, the minister said.
South Sudan President Salva Kiir (right) waves after attending a session at parliament in Juba, May 14 2019. Picture: CHOLMAY AKUOT / AFP
May 16, 2019. Juba — South Sudan’s President Salva Kiir said on Wednesday that any attempt to forcibly seize power in the country would be met with “violent resistance”, as calls for his ouster spread on social media.
In the past two weeks, a new group calling itself the Red Card Movement, has been circulating calls online for a protest on Thursday with the hashtags #KiirMustGo and #SouthSudanUprising, with organisers appearing to be based mostly in the diaspora.
The movement appears to be inspired by street protests in neighbouring Sudan which led to the toppling of veteran president Omar al-Bashir.
“Violent attempts to usurp power from the people would be met with violent resistance and the cycle of violence cannot end,” Kiir told a press briefing. “The way to stability in South Sudan is through democracy and democratic elections, and this is what we fought for and we will not compromise it.”
Since last week security on the streets of Juba has been beefed up. However, officials have said this was unrelated to the planned protests, but was in preparation for a public holiday on Thursday celebrating those who took up arms in the fight for independence from Sudan, achieved in 2011.
Army spokesperson Major-General Lul Ruai Koang said that the celebrations had been postponed by a week for “final touches” to preparations.
“The security deployment and all sorts of security arrangements [are] to provide maximum security and safety for the people during the celebrations,” he added.
Independent radio station Eye Radio reported on Wednesday that some Juba residents had woken up to security officers going house to house searching for guns.
South Sudanese activist Keluel Agok, now living in Kampala, Uganda, is among those calling for the protests. “If you want to end the impunity please come out on 16th May 2019 to restore liberty, justice and unity in South Sudan,” he wrote on Facebook on Tuesday.
South Sudan plunged into civil war in 2013 after Kiir accused his former deputy Riek Machar of plotting a coup against him.
The war has left 380,000 people dead and forced more than 4-million South Sudanese — almost a third of the population — to flee their homes.
A peace deal signed in September 2018 has largely stopped fighting, but implementation has run aground and the planned formation of a unity government on May 12 was postponed for six months.
Meeting in Addis Ababa comes days before a unity government is expected to be formed to end the six-year civil war.
South Sudan’s civil war broke out two years after its independence from Sudan [FILE: Jason Patinkin/AP]
South Sudan’s warring parties are set to hold talks in Addis Ababa on Thursday in a bid to salvage a stalled peace deal, with just days to go until a unity government is meant to be formed.
President Salva Kiir, rebel leader Riek Machar and a handful of other groups inked the peace deal in September 2018. It is the latest in a long line of efforts to end a devastating conflict now in its sixth year.However, the parties have failed to resolve several crucial issues before a power-sharing government is to be installed on May 12, and are at odds over how to proceed.
The Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD), a regional bloc for East Africa, said in a statement it had called the two-day meeting to “develop a clear roadmap” for the formation of the government, and tackle “pending tasks of the agreement”.
The government has insisted the meeting must focus on how to push forward with the formation of the unity government, while Machar’s camp wants a delay of six months to resolve issues such as security for his return.
Machar is living in exile in Khartoum, having been hounded out of Juba in a hail of gunfire in 2016 when a prior deal collapsed.
He is set to return as first vice president under the new deal.
Observers say crucial steps envisioned in the deal such as establishing a unified army and discussing security control of the capital have yet to take place.
“We would like to see an extension being agreed upon by the parties, but we would also like to see that the government is committed politically and resources-wise, so that we implement the activities in the agreement,” senior SPLM-IO member Kang Pal Chol told AFP news agency.
“For now we believe we will reach a consensus,” he said, adding that Machar would attend the meeting in Addis Ababa.
Kiir’s spokesman Ateny Wek Ateny said the president would be represented by members of his negotiating team.
South Sudan’s war broke out two years after independence from Sudan, after Kiir accused his former vice president Machar of plotting a coup against him.Battles between members of Machar’s Nuer community and Kiir’s Dinka people were characterised by brutal violence on both sides, rape and UN warnings about “ethnic cleansing”.
An August 2015 peace deal collapsed almost a year after it was signed and the conflict spread, drawing in more groups around the country.
The fighting has killed around 380,000 people and forced more than four million South Sudanese – almost a third of the population – to flee their homes.
While the latest peace deal largely stopped fighting, violence has continued in some regions with rebel groups who did not sign up to it.
Rise in state-sanctioned executions condemned by Amnesty International as ‘outdated and inhuman’
Children are among those being executed in South Sudan, in an “extremely disturbing” escalation of the state’s use of the death penalty, according to Amnesty International.
This year, seven people, including one child, were hanged, the highest number since the county gained independence in 2011 , according to evidence provided to Amnesty by legal professionals and government officials.
In 2017, two of the four people executed were children at the time of their conviction, the organisation said.
Among the 342 people currently on death row – more than double the number recorded in 2011 – are a secondary school pupil, who was sentenced to death when he was 15, and a breastfeeding mother. The country’s lack of transparency on its use of the death penalty meant the figures were likely to be underestimated, Amnesty said.
The rise in executions is happening at a time when the world is moving away from death sentences.
Joan Nyanyuki, Amnesty International’s east Africa director, said: “It is extremely disturbing that the world’s youngest nation has embraced this outdated, inhuman practice and is executing people, even children, at a time when the rest of the world is abandoning this abhorrent punishment.
“The president of South Sudan must stop signing execution orders and end this obvious violation of the right to life.”
More than 100 countries, out of 195 globally, have abolished the death penalty. South Sudan and Somalia were the only countries in the region that carried out judicial executions in 2017.
The use of the death sentence or penalty against a person under 18 at the time a crime was committed is a breach of the South Sudanese 2011 transitional constitution, in addition to international human rights laws and standards. The execution of a mother caring for a young child would also contravene South Sudanese law and international laws and standards.
Philip Deng* was found guilty of murder when he was 15, following a trial in which he did not have any legal representation. Deng claims the crime was an accident.
Deng, who will turn 17 in December, said: “Before the accident, I was in secondary school. I was a runner, a very good one, and I was also a singer of gospel and earthly songs … My own aim was to study and do things that can help others. My hope is to be out and to continue with my school,” he said.
Deng, who said he told the judge he was 15, was sentenced to death by hanging on 14 November 2017. He finally gained access to a lawyer, who appealed against the court’s decision. He was transferred from Torit state prison to Juba State central prison in September and is awaiting his appeal.
Since independence, 140 people have been sentenced to death and at least 32 executed. The country, which allows the death penalty for crimes including murder, terrorism, drug trafficking and treason, has carried out executions every year since it acquired independence, except for 2014, when Amnesty did not record any.
This year’s spate of executions appears to have been prompted by a directive by the director-general of South Sudan’s national prison service on 26 April, in which all death row prisoners held at county and state prisons were ordered to be moved to two of the country’s most notorious prisons – Wau central prison and Juba central prison.
South Sudan, which has been embroiled in a civil war between forces loyal to President Salva Kiir and rebel groups since 2013, signed a peace accord in October.
Before a person sentenced to death can be executed, the supreme court and the president must confirm the death sentence.
In all, 23 countries carried out 993 executions in 2017, with nearly 22,000 people on death row; worldwide, there was a small drop in the number of executions carried out.
In 2017, there was a significant decrease in death sentences imposed across Sub-Saharan Africa.
NHIALDIU — Wrapping an arm around her stomach, the young woman hung her head and recounted the day in early November when she and a friend were bound, dragged into the bush and raped by four men with guns.
“My body hasn’t been the same since,” the 18-year-old said. The men attacked during an hours-long walk home to the South Sudan village of Nhialdiu.
“I was crying and screaming but I was so far from the village that no one could hear me,” she told The Associated Press, which doesn’t identify survivors of sexual assault.
In an exclusive look at the aftermath, the AP joined a U.N. peacekeeping patrol where the attacks occurred as humanitarians, rights groups and South Sudan’s government scrambled to find out more.
Rape has been used widely as a weapon in South Sudan. Even after a peace deal was signed in September to end a five-year civil war that killed nearly 400,000 people, humanitarians have warned of higher rates of sexual assault as growing numbers of desperate people try to reach aid.
While some aid groups have quietly questioned whether all 125 people in the Doctors With Borders report were raped, they do not dispute that the problem has become grave.
The 18-year-old was not included in that report, and the real toll of sexual assault is not known.
Joining the U.N. patrol on Friday, the AP traveled the potholed road where the recent assaults took place. Shrouded by trees and elephant grass, some stretches provide cover for perpetrators to lurk.
Several local women said the violence is escalating.
Nyalgwon Mol Moon said she was held at gunpoint last month while two men in civilian clothes, their faces covered, stole her clothes, her shoes and the milk she meant to sell at market. Standing beside the road, pointing to her borrowed, oversized sneakers, she said she now tries to take alternative routes on her weekly walks to Bentiu.
She has no other choice. Food in Nhialdiu and nearby villages is scarce. Most people could not cultivate last season because of fighting and too much rain. Many rely on monthly aid from the U.N.’s World Food Program.
That means a walk of almost 40 kilometers (24 miles) to Bentiu town. Unable to carry the heavy rations back in one trip, most women leave some behind with relatives and make several journeys throughout the month.
Some said they make the 11-hour trek at least six times.
Alarmed by the sexual assaults, the World Food Program said it is prepared to bring distribution points closer to communities. The U.N. is now clearing the road from Bentiu to Nhialdiu of debris to make access easier.
No one has taken responsibility for the wave of assaults that the U.N. and African Union have condemned as “abhorrent” and “predatory.”
South Sudan’s government has acknowledged the assaults occurred in areas it controls, on the road between Nhialdiu and Bentiu and in surrounding villages. But it blames them on “unregulated youth” who fought alongside warring factions before the peace deal, Laraka Machar Turoal, deputy governor of Northern Liech state that was once part of Unity, told the AP.
Youth who were never officially integrated with armed groups have been left idle, guns in hand, to take what they want by force, Turoal said.
South Sudan’s government has called on all sides to demobilize the youth. It said it has deployed troops to areas in Unity state suspected of harboring criminals.
And yet the army in Nhialdiu has not detained anyone in the assaults and denies responsibility for finding the perpetrators, said John Dor, army commander for the area. He said they took place far from town, outside his jurisdiction.
But several local people said they knew of attacks in villages less than 15 kilometers from the army base. Some who were attacked at gunpoint said they believe the armed youth are affiliated with government troops. The government has done nothing so far to stop the violence, one woman explained.
The U.N., which has increased patrols, is pushing South Sudan’s government to take more responsibility. The U.N. Security Council in a statement on Saturday noted its willingness to impose sanctions on those who threaten the peace, including by sexual violence.
“They’re obliged to make sure everyone’s protected … it’s not enough just to sit in one place and not be involved,” said Paul Adejoh Ebikwo, the U.N. mission’s senior civil affairs officer in Bentiu.
Unity state was one of the hardest-hit areas in the civil war, and Bentiu has changed hands several times. Government and opposition forces remain at odds, even as factions across the country try to reconcile. A meeting on Thursday to build trust was canceled because the parties couldn’t agree on a place to meet, said the independent monitoring group charged with overseeing the peace deal’s implementation.
Meanwhile, many women and girls are terrified.
Cautiously peering through the trees, several hesitantly emerged from the bush, inching toward the side of the road.
“We’re walking here because we’re scared of coming on the main path,” said Nyachieng Gatman. Three days ago, she said, she met a breast-feeding mother and young girl who had been raped in a nearby town.
Standing beside her, 11-year Anchankual Dood lowered her heavy bag of grain and gulped from a bottle of water.
“It’s a long distance to go and come from Bentiu,” the girl said. “But we do it because we need food and because we’re suffering.”