WFP Report: Famine-hit South Sudanese eat weeds, water lilies to survive.

Thousands of South Sudanese families caught up in famine eat weeds and water lilies to survive, according to George Fominyen, spokesperson for the World Food Programme (WFP).

He said “what we’ve seen is a lot of people coming from the islands.

“They have been living on water lilies, they have been living on roots, from weeds in the Nile, at most they eat once in a day.”

County commissioner Majiel Nhial also said when villagers received food aid in 2016, they were attacked.

He added that “men in uniform looted and burnt homes.

“We lost all our properties, cows and our houses were looted. We were attacked, women were raped and girls abducted.”

Last week, the United Nations declared that parts of South Sudan were experiencing famine.

It stated that some 5.5 million people, nearly half the population, would not have reliable source of food by July, noting that the disaster wasmlargely man-made.

Oil-rich South Sudan, the world’s youngest nation, plunged into civil war in 2013 after President Salva Kiir fired his Deputy, Reik Machar.

Since then, fighting has split the country along ethnic lines, inflation topped 800 per cent in 2016 , while war and drought paralysed agriculture.

The women were among a crowd of 20,000 people that emerged from the swamps and assembled at the rebel-held village of Thonyor, in Leer county, when they heard the United Nations was registering people for emergency rations.

Some families received fishing nets and rods from aid workers to keep them going until food arrived.

It was UN first trip to Thonyor in a year.

Many parts of the country awere inaccessible due to fighting, while others were just very remote South Sudan, the size of Texas, only 200 km (120 miles) of paved roads, nearly six years after independence from neighbouring Sudan.

Meanwhile, Sara Dit and her 10 children were hiding from marauding gunmen in the swamps and islands of the river Nile.

The refuge has a steep price: families cannot farm crops or earn money to buy food.

They eat water lily roots and occasionally fish.

Dit said her family had not eaten for days.


Source: Reuters/NAN

Fighting Escalates in South Sudan – UN

The UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) has voiced concerns about an escalation in the fighting between government and opposition forces in the west bank of the River Nile in the country’s north.

The Head of UNMISS, David Shearer, said the situation had reached “worrying proportions” according to a statement issued by the Office of Spokesperson for the UN peacekeeping operation.

“What began with an exchange of fire between SPLA (the Sudan People’s Liberation Army) and Aguelek opposition forces, has expanded geographically,” Shearer said in the statement.

The UN envoy noted that military resupplies have since been observed arriving in the area.

He said military operations on the west bank of the Nile River were taking place in an area where people, predominantly from the Shilluk ethnic group live, forcing people out of their homes.

“The town of Wau Shilluk is now reported to be deserted while humanitarian workers have been evacuated and aid is not being provided,” he added.

Shearer said he returned to the South Sudanese capital, Juba, on Thursday from a two-day field visit to Bentiu and Leer, two towns which have been among the most affected by the country’s conflict.

In Bentiu, he said’, he met state government officials, as well as internally displaced people who are living in the largest protection of civilians site in the country.

In Leer, he visited the mission’s temporary operating base to assess UNMISS’ success in mounting robust patrols which push the mission’s presence deep into the field.

He also said he held discussions with local officials and also took the opportunity to travel to an opposition-controlled area to meet with pro-Machar representatives so he could hear all shades of opinion on how to facilitate humanitarian assistance and advance the peace process.

“Both the local authorities and the opposition praised the UN for its efforts to facilitate communications between them.

“Mr Shearer heard that they both recognise that an inclusive national dialogue will assist the peace process,” the statement added.

South Sudan has faced ongoing challenges since a political face-off between President Salva Kiir and his then former Vice-President Riek Machar erupted into full blown conflict between forces loyal to each in December 2013.

The crisis has produced one of the world’s worst displacement situations with immense suffering for civilians.

Despite the August 2015 peace agreement that formally ended the war, conflict and instability have also spread to previously unaffected areas.

South Sudan president to seek election in 2018 – spokesman

South Sudan’s president will seek election next year, a spokesman said Wednesday, in what will be the first vote on Salva Kiir’s leadership since the turbulent country won independence.

The president “is a uniting factor. If he leaves power now, the whole country will collapse,” spokesman Ateny Wek Ateny told The Associated Press.

Kiir was elected in 2010, a year before the East African country gained independence from Sudan. Presidential elections set for 2015 were delayed by civil war that began in December 2013 and continues to rage.

The United Nations has warned that South Sudan is witnessing ethnic cleansing and is at risk of genocide. Tens of thousands of people have been killed, and the United Nations says more than three million people are either internally displaced or living as refugees.

The international community has grown frustrated with Kiir and other South Sudan leaders as the fighting drags on. In his last remarks as U.S. special envoy before leaving office in January, Donald Booth said the United States “wanted peace for South Sudan far more than its leaders did.”

In recent months, power struggles within the government over who might succeed Kiir as president have grown to dangerous levels. Kiir’s rival and former deputy-turned-rebel leader Riek Machar fled the country last year when fighting erupted in the capital, Juba.

A spokesman for Machar said he likely would not run for president next year under the current circumstances. The peace agreement under which the election would be held has “collapsed,” Mabior Garang said, and reviving it should be the first priority.

South Sudan has been named the second most corrupt country in the world by Transparency International. The Sentry, a U.S.-based corruption watchdog, has said Kiir and his family have plundered the oil-rich country’s natural resources.

South Sudan to abolish school fees – Education Minister

South Sudan will abolish fees in all public schools, the government announced on Monday, sparking concern that the move could worsen the problems of the war-torn country’s already crippled education system.

“South Sudan is working hard to build an inclusive education system in the face of huge unmet needs, and this is why we want free education for all children,” Education Minister, Deng Deng Hoc, said.

Devastated by decades of civil war before achieving independence from Sudan in 2011, South Sudan has a literacy rate of only 27 per cent.

A military conflict between the government and rebels that has been ongoing since December 2013 has destroyed more than 800 schools, according to the UN.

With more than half of elementary and high school age children not able to get an education, South Sudan has one of the highest proportions of children out of school in the world.

Hoc said the UN and other development partners were supporting schools with educational materials.

South Sudan is also trying to revive its oil production, which had dropped because of the military conflict.

It was not clear how the government would finance the free education.

South Sudan’s school fees are currently only about five dollars per child annually, but education analyst Abraham Kuol Chol said fees helped to finance teachers’ salaries.

Abolishing them could prompt many teachers to abandon the profession.

“Most of the teachers in the countryside … depend on … school fees,” he said.


Source: NAN

South Sudan soldiers found guilty of rape, murder to be shot.

South Sudanese soldiers guilty of rape or murder amid the country’s civil war will be executed by firing squad, the country’s president, Salva Kiir, on Monday said.

The announcement came as Mr. Kiir addressed a gathering in the town of Yei, celebrating 100 years of existence for the Episcopal Church of Sudan and South Sudan.

South Sudan has spiraled ever further into violence since fighting has broken out between forces loyal to Kiir and those loyal to his former Vice President, Riek Machar, in 2013.

Yei has become a gathering point for people trying to escape the fighting in surrounding Yei River state, where multiple reports of atrocities are coming to light.

“We will get rid of bad elements through capital punishment and this will free the country from such practices,” Mr. Kiir told military leaders.

“Let’s get rid of bad elements among us and we will remain clean, pure and perfect,” the president said.

“From today onward, if such a thing happens, I want them to bring me a report that somebody has committed such a crime and has been shot,” he added.

There have been reports of killing and rape in South Sudan. In January, a local women’s group said nearly 40 cases of rape has been registered in the state.


Source: NAN

UN says no justice in South Sudan after July rapes, killings.

The UN has criticised South Sudan for failing to pursue justice after grave human rights abuses, including killings and gang rapes, were committed during an explosion of violence in Juba in July, 2016.

Forces loyal to South Sudan’s President Salva Kiir and Vice President Riek Machar engaged in five days of street battles with anti-aircraft guns, attack helicopters and tanks.

The UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) and the UN Human Rights Office said it documented 217 cases of rape, including gang rape, committed by the Sudan People’s Liberation Army, SPLA.

Others are the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement/Army in Opposition (SPLM/A-IO) and other armed groups from July 8 to 25, 2016.

The South Sudan government spokesman was not immediately available for comment.

“The fighting that erupted in July 2016 was a serious setback for peace in South Sudan and showed just how volatile the situation in the country is.

“This caused the civilians to be living under the risk of mass atrocities,” Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, said.

He said absence of any semblance of justice and accountability for the violations perpetrated including possible war crimes, such unbridled outbursts of violence could quickly escalate for civilians to continue suffering immensely.

“Concrete steps to halt this downward spiral must be urgently taken, beginning with justice and accountability.”

Political rivalry between Kiir, an ethnic Dinka, and his former deputy Machar, a Nuer, led to civil war in 2013 that has often followed ethnic lines.

The pair signed a shaky peace deal in 2015, but fighting has continued.


Source: NAN

I’m worried by political situation in South Sudan – Buhari

President Muhammadu Buhari, has expressed displeasure over the disturbing political developments in South Sudan which had lingered due to the non-implementation of peace accord signed by the leaders.

Buhari, however, said that Nigeria would keep following up events in the country to ensure that the country regains stability.

The President, while receiving a Letter of Credence of the Ambassador of the Republic of South Sudan, Paul Malong Akaro, at the State House, Abuja yesterday, pointed out that delay in implementing the peace accord had affected the development of the country in spite of the lofty potentials for growth.

According to him, “I was a little disappointed with the subsequent developments in your country. I was hoping that we can move forward and develop the great potentials of your country after the peace accord.

“The African Union will continue to hold your leaders to account in implementing the peace process.

“And the leaders should be able to accommodate one another for the good of your people.”

Buhari further told the ambassador that the peace process would be most effective when accepted and implemented by leaders from within the country, without external interventions.

Buhari, who also received the Letter of Credence of the Ambassador of Saharawi Arab Democratic Republic, Malainine Sadik-Bachir, assured that Nigeria would continue to back the country as it strove to realize its goals of development.

He added, “You can be assured that Nigeria will remain steadfast in her support for Saharawi Arab Democratic Republic. We will continue to do our best for you.

“In his remarks, the South Sudan ambassador, Mr. Akaro said the government of national unity in South Sudan was still committed to the peace process in the country.

“We know that the only way we can achieve stability and development is to implement the peace process. We are grateful for your support.”

US urges UN arms embargo against South Sudan, Russia says no.

The United States on Thursday launched a bid at the Security Council to impose an arms embargo on South Sudan following UN warnings that the war-torn country could descend into genocide.

US Ambassador Samantha Power said a draft resolution will be presented to the council in the coming days to ban weapons sales to the African country and impose sanctions, setting the stage for a clash with Russia, which opposes an arms embargo.

“South Sudan is a nation at the precipice,” Power told the council.

“In the coming days, the United States will put forward a proposal to impose an arms embargo on South Sudan and targeted sanctions on the individuals who have been the biggest spoilers to achieve lasting peace,” she said.

Of the council’s permanent, veto-wielding members, Britain and France backed the proposed arms embargo, but Russia reaffirmed its opposition and China expressed reservations.

The move followed a recent report by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, who warned that South Sudan faces a “very real risk of mass atrocities” and that 14,000 peacekeepers deployed in the country would not be able to stop such a bloodbath.

The US-drafted text seen by AFP calls for a one-year ban on all sales of arms, weapons, ammunition, military vehicles and equipment.

Power said months of talks with South Sudan’s leaders had failed to persuade them to opt for peace as she made the case for a travel ban and an assets freeze on those behind the violence.

“There is no good reason why we would not deprive those who have shown a willingness to commit mass atrocities of the means of doing it more efficiently,” she said.

Russian Deputy Ambassador Petr Iliichev dismissed an arms embargo as “premature,” saying it would “hardly be helpful in settling the conflict” and warning that sanctions against South Sudan’s leaders would be “the height of irresponsibility.”

In a barb directed at the United States, he suggested that President Salva Kiir was being targeted to share the same fate as Moamer Kadhafi, the Libyan leader toppled in 2011.

China’s Deputy Ambassador Wu Haito said the council should refrain from sanctions “to avoid complicating the situation” and “send more positive signals” instead.

Returning from a visit to South Sudan, the UN’s adviser on genocide prevention, Adama Dieng, said he “saw all the signs that ethnic hatred and targeting of civilians could evolve into genocide if something is not done now to stop it.”

He cited perceptions that Kiir’s army was “increasingly ethnically homogenous,” composed mostly of ethnic Dinka, who are preparing to launch attacks against Nuer and other groups.

Dieng urged the council to end the “devastating” flow of weapons fuelling the war.

South Sudan’s Ambassador Joseph Moum Malok rejected the proposed embargo as a “totally unacceptable” violation of his country’s sovereignty.

The authorities in Juba, confronting an “armed rebellion intent on overthrowing the government,” he argued, should not be deprived of the means to defend themselves.

The world’s youngest nation, South Sudan descended into war in December 2013, leaving tens of thousands dead and more than 2.5 million people displaced.

The country won independence from Sudan in 2011 with strong support from the United States.

A peace deal between Kiir and rebel leader Riek Machar in August last year had raised hopes of peace, until clashes erupted in Juba four months ago.

South Sudan Faces ‘Unprecedented’ Level Of Hunger- UN

The United Nations says hunger in South Sudan has reached “unprecedented” levels, with nearly 5 million people suffering from severe food insecurity.

The U.N.’s Food and Agriculture Organization said Friday that without a return to stability that will allow agricultural production to continue, “the situation could rapidly become catastrophic.”

The World Food Program has said both South Sudan’s government and the opposition have held up food shipments in parts of this East African country, which is trying to recover from civil war.

Roughly $30 million in supplies were looted from warehouses of the two U.N. agencies during clashes between government and rebel forces in July.

South Sudan is experiencing severe hyperinflation, and the World Food Program said the price of food spiked by 778 percent after the July fighting.

Credit: foxnews

South Sudan Leader Agrees To Extra UN Peacekeepers

South Sudan’s President Salva Kiir on Sunday agreed to the deployment of a regional protection force to beef up the UN’s large UN peacekeeping mission in the war-scarred nation after initially opposing it as a breach of national sovereignty.

The announcement came after the leader of the world’s youngest nation met with ambassadors of the UN Security Council at the bullet-scarred presidential palace in the capital Juba.

“The transitional government of national unity gives its consent for the deployment of the regional force,” said a joint statement by the UN and the government, which was read out to the media by South Sudanese Cabinet Affairs Minister Martin Elia Lomoro.

“We will design the modalities,” Mr Lomoro said, without elaborating.

The presidential palace was the scene of clashes on July 8 between President Kiir’s guards and troops loyal to his former deputy Dr Riek Machar, shattering a fragile truce that has been breached several times.

President Kiir showed the ambassadors from the council’s 15 member states bullet marks in the heart of the building as well as shattered window panes. He said Dr Machar had wanted to assassinate him that day but claimed he had helped his rival to escape to safety.

Following the violence, the UN Security Council authorised the deployment of an additional 4,000 troops from East Africa with a stronger mandate than the 13,000-strong UN peacekeeping mission UNMISS.

The UN officials arrived on Friday in a bid to secure President Kiir’s agreement to the extra troops.

Words into action

UNMISS has faced considerable criticism over its failure to protect civilians during the July violence, which included the rape of civilians sheltered just outside its camps.

President Kiir had opposed the deployment of additional troops, initially touted as an “intervention force”, as breaching national sovereignty.

Minister Lomoro also underscored that the government committed “to permit free movement to UNMISS in conformity with its mandate” and “improve humanitarian access, including by providing assistance by eliminating illegal check points.”

Samantha Power, the US envoy to the Security Council, hailed the move but said it was now important to start translating words into action.

“What we need to do now is move from those very important high-level commitments into working up the modalities in an operational way,” Ms Power said.

“UNMISS has an impartial mandate to protect civilians, no matter who they are, no matter where they are. The number one obstacle for (the peacekeepers) fulfilling their mandate to this point has been the severe restrictions on their movements.”

Earlier Sunday, the UN team met with displaced people in the northern town of Wau, the scene of bitter fighting in recent months.

Catherine Atanasyo, a local area chief from the south of Wau now living in the camp, said lawlessness was rampant.
“Looting is going on in town. We don’t know when we’ll be going home,” she told them.

Speaking to AFP later, Atanasyo said the regional force was badly needed as members of the president’s Dinka tribe were raping and killing people if they went into Wau.

“We cannot leave this camp without security and that security can be provided by the regional force,” she said.

South Sudan descended into war in December 2013 after President Kiir accused his former deputy Machar of plotting a coup.

During the fighting in July, Dr Machar, who had been persuaded to return to Juba to join a national unity government agreed under a peace deal, fled the country and is now in Khartoum, having been replaced by Taban Deng Gai in Juba.

Aside from the tens of thousands of people killed, the United Nations has reported shocking levels of brutality including gang-rapes and the wholesale burning of villages.

An estimated 16,000 children have been recruited by armed groups and the national army in the conflict, and 2.5 million people have been driven from their homes.

Scores Dead After Russian-made Plane Crashes In South Sudan

A Russian-built cargo plane with passengers on board crashed after taking off from the airport in South Sudan’s capital, killing at least 41 people onboard and on the ground, airport officials told Al Jazeera.

A crew member and a child onboard survived, presidential spokesman Ateny Wek Ateny told Reuters news agency.

Shortly after taking off from Juba airport on Wednesday, the plane came down on the banks of the White Nile river, leaving a tail fin and lumps of fuselage strewn in vegetation close to the water.
Al Jazeera’s Hiba Morgan, reporting from Juba, said bad weather was hampering the rescue effort.

“It is raining hard here in Juba, making it difficult to look for more victims. The cargo plane was carrying passengers and it is believed that many of them were not wearing seat belts.”
The plane may have had about 20 people on board, including crew and “probably” 10 to 15 passengers, Ateny said, but added: “We need to confirm how many people were on board.”
In addition, he said an unknown number of people were killed on the ground as the Antonov plane crashed near where some fishermen were working. “We don’t know the number of people that were killed on the ground,” he added.

A police officer, who did not give his name because he was not authorised to speak to the media, told Reuters at the scene that at least 41 people died, but said the number could climb. The Reuters witness said he saw 41 bodies at the site.

Earlier, South Sudanese media had said the cargo plane carried five Russian crew and seven passengers. South Sudan Tribune on Twitter also reported two survivors, one of them a child.
Radmir Gainanov, spokesman for Russia’s diplomatic mission in Uganda, which also oversees South Sudan, said the embassy was in touch with local authorities, including the defence ministry.

“We are clarifying details,” he told AFP news agency from Uganda.

Credit: Al Jazeera

What Obama Is Selling In Ethiopia

Barack Obama on Monday officially begins a two-day visit to Ethiopia, the first-ever trip by a US president to Africa’s second-most populous nation and the seat of the African Union.

Obama, who flew into a rainy Addis Ababa late on Sunday after a landmark trip to Kenya, his father’s birthplace, is to hold talks with the Ethiopian government, a key strategic ally but much criticised for its record on democracy and human rights.

He will also hold talks with regional leaders on the civil war in South Sudan in an attempt to build African support for decisive action against the war-torn country’s leaders if they reject an ultimatum to end the carnage by mid-August.

On Tuesday Obama will also become the first US president to address the African Union, the 54-member continental bloc, at its gleaming, Chinese-built headquarters.

Air Force One touched down at Addis Ababa’s international airport after a short flight north from the Kenyan capital Nairobi, and the president was greeted on the tarmac by Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn.

AU Commission chief Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma has hailed what she said will be a “historic visit” and a “concrete step to broaden and deepen the relationship between the AU and the US”.

Ethiopia, like Kenya, has been on the frontline of the fight against the Somali-led, Al-Qaeda-affiliated Shebab. Both nations have troops in Somalia as part of an AU and US-backed force and are key security partners to Washington.

But the visit also comes two months after elections that saw the prime minister’s ruling coalition take every one of the 546 seats in Ethiopia’s parliament. The opposition, which lost its only seat, alleged the government used authoritarian tactics to guarantee victory.

The US State Department has noted Ethiopia’s “restrictions on freedom of expression,” as well as “politically motivated trials” and the “harassment and intimidation of opposition members and journalists”.

Read More: AFP

South Sudan Army Rape, Burn Girls Alive – UN

UN rights reports have said on Tuesday that South Sudan’s army raped then torched girls alive inside their homes during a recent campaign notable for its “new brutality and intensity”.

A UN mission in South Sudan said some of the most disturbing allegations focused on the abduction and sexual abuse of women and girls, some of whom were reportedly burnt alive in their dwellings. The UN mission said they have interviewed 115 victims and eyewitnesses in Unity state where South Sudanese forces were involved in fighting against opposition fighters in April. They have also promised to bring those involved to book.

South Sudan Women Suggest Sex Strike As Solution To War

A group of South Sudanese women peace activists has suggested that men in the civil war-torn country be denied sex until they stop fighting.

The suggestion emerged after around 90 women, including several members of South Sudan’s parliament, met in the capital Juba this week to come up with ideas on how to “to advance the cause of peace, healing and reconciliation”.

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On South Sudan Famine

Emergency food aid, normal rainfall and the start of the harvest have helped to stave off famine in South Sudan, the latest analysis shows, but there is a risk of mass starvation in early 2015.

Aid agencies scrambled to avert famine in South Sudan by launching the world’s largest humanitarian operation after fighting erupted in the world’s youngest country in December.

Some 10,000 people have died and 1.7 million, one seventh of the population, have been displaced since conflict broke out between President Salva Kiir’s government forces and rebels allied to his former deputy Riek Machar.

“There is no famine in South Sudan,” the agriculture, fisheries, cooperatives and rural development ministry said in a statement. “Food security across the country has begun improving and is expected to continue on a positive trend through December.”

But the World Food Programme, looking ahead, said “The outlook remains grim for early 2015, especially in conflict affected states.”

“Food security may deteriorate sharply early next year as their food stocks run out,” it said in a statement.

Aid agencies called for continued funding for the crisis in South Sudan, which has received almost $1.2 billion from donors this year.

imrsimrs“When we get distracted by language and trying to define a problem in abstract percentages we can forget that every night more people than the population of the city of Los Angeles go to sleep hungry,” WorldVision’s South Sudan Program Director Perry Mansfield said in a statement.

Malnutrition rates remain above the emergency threshold of 15 percent in most of the country, the IPC said.

The number of people in IPC phases three and four is predicted to rise to 2.5 million in January. Experts will have a clearer picture of the situation when the October harvest is in.

UN Helicopter Crash in South Sudan: Apparently Shot Down?

The UN cargo helicopter that crashed near Bentiu, Capital of the oil rich Unity State has uncertain reports that the Mi-8 chopper was shot down.

Also, an official of UN confirms that the cargo helicopter had been shot down apparently, while a government official in South Sudan points fingers at sympathizers and forces loyal to the rebel commander Peter Gadet as regards to the shooting of the chopper.


UN has been distributing food to over a million displaced persons who have sought shelter in UN bases around the country; while both the government and the rebel forces are yet to form a power sharing administration.

Three out of four of the crew of the Mi-8 chopper died while on a UN mission in South Sudan.