Friday, May 30, 2014

South Sudan: Flooding Risks Camp Disaster

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

We have a duty to help South Sudanese as famine, cholera crisis grows | Herald Sun

A mother holds her daughter, 10 months old, as she is tested for malnutrition at Save the
A mother holds her daughter, 10 months old, as she is tested for malnutrition at Save the Children's outpatient clinic in Akobo, South Sudan. Source: Supplied
WHEN I was a boy growing up on a farm in Gippsland, the horrific images of children starving during the famine in Ethiopia became burnt into my memory.
More than 400,000 people died in that crisis in northern Ethiopia alone. Living in a place of relative abundance, I couldn’t understand how the world could let things get so dire; how children could go without food.
For many people, the word “famine” may itself seem a bit 1980s.
Yet, almost three years since the United Nations declared famine and the world mobilised in East Africa, the spectre of mass hunger, starvation and death stalks the world’s youngest nation — South Sudan.
South Sudan’s President Salva Kiir has joined the UN in warning that the growing humanitarian crisis is on the brink of becoming a full-blown famine.
Food prices have skyrocketed because of fighting and predictions of a lean season ahead, with children being hit hardest. At present, 2.5 million children across South Sudan face immediate food insecurity, struggling without the basic means to survive. In many parts of the country children have been attacked and killed.
Schools and hospitals have come under fire and thousands of families have fled their homes, ending up scattered across camps and in the bush.
Nyapuoch, a mother of two, walked for days to get to one of Save the Children’s five feeding clinics in the village of Akobo in Jonglei state. She told our staff she had no choice but to feed her children potentially poisonous wild berries along the way to keep them alive.
“That’s the only food we have,” she said. “We normally bring the seeds from the bush and we suck them to try to get some nutrients. I am worried that by next month, there’ll be no food left for me and my children.”
More and more families are finding themselves in a similar situation, forced to forage for flower buds, leaves and wild fruits because they can’t afford to buy food. Children are dying from malnutrition, while the frequency of malaria is likely to rise as the rains intensify. And at the heart of South Sudan’s problems is the ongoing conflict, which threatens to break out into full-scale war.
Recently a semblance of hope was restored following the signing of a peace agreement by President Kiir and rebel leader Riek Machar. But it took only hours for fighting to reignite after the ceasefire pact came into effect. Unsurprisingly, both sides blamed each other.
At the same time, almost 400 cases of cholera have been identified. The timing could not be worse. With the rainy season under way, many of South Sudan’s communities face flooding and poor hygiene conditions, a situation that is a perfect storm for a deadly epidemic.
Those who have been displaced from their homes, especially the children, are particularly at risk.
Compounding those problems, the rains have already started making travel difficult. Soon many roads will become impassable, meaning aid agencies will struggle to deliver lifesaving food supplies and malnutrition treatment.
THE question is: What can be done to prevent the current food crisis blowing out into famine in South Sudan, a nation not yet three years old? There are two things that need to happen.
First, the violence needs to stop at least long enough to enable full humanitarian access to the worst-affected areas, including Jonglei, Unity and Upper Nile states. The peace agreement signed on May 10 was a dismal failure. The parties must adhere to the peace agreements they have signed, as well as their Recommitment to Humanitarian Matters Agreement.
With the plight of South Sudan increasingly featuring on evening news bulletins around the globe, the international community must use its collective eye to keep the pressure on South Sudan’s leaders.
Second, the UN’s $1.8 billion appeal must be fully funded. In Norway last week, a meeting of more than 40 countries and 50 organisations pledged more than $600 million to pay for food and healthcare in South Sudan over the coming year, although the figure fell short of what was hoped for.
The international community must dig deeper into its pockets.
The Australian Government bolstered its contribution by $2.6 million, taking its total humanitarian assistance for South Sudan to $13.4 million since fighting began in December 2013.
It is an important step in the right direction — however, the famine in East Africa three years ago should serve as a critical lesson: decisive action needs to take place early.
Six months after the worst of that crisis was over, leading aid agencies published a report that showed thousands more lives and millions of dollars could have been saved if the international community had taken decisive action on early warnings of a hunger crisis in East Africa.
Our window of opportunity to avert a fully blown famine in South Sudan is closing fast and the time for the international community to act is now.
To donate to Save the Children’s Emergency Fund, go to  or call 1800 76 00 11.

The crisis in South Sudan: a game of regional chess-ISS Africa

BY Berouk Mesfin  for ISS
For the past five months, the government and opposition forces in South Sudan have been locked in a destructive political and military crisis. Diplomatic efforts have thus far failed to secure a lasting ceasefire – let alone lay the groundwork for a negotiated political settlement. As a result, the volatile security situation in the Horn of Africa has only worsened.
Indeed, the crisis has added a new dimension to existing tensions in the region – between Uganda and Sudan on one hand, and Ethiopia and Eritrea on the other. Every day the crisis continues, additional pressure is placed on these states that have, for some time now, been locked in a distrustful and suspicious relationship to support one side or the other.
As one official involved in the ongoing diplomatic efforts pointed out, ‘the longer the conflict drags on, the more the possibility of fixing South Sudan fades, and the higher the risk of greater regional competition.’
"It is unlikely that Sudan can withstand the temptation of settling old scores"
There are obvious tensions between Sudan and Uganda – which no longer share a land border, and are respectively South Sudan’s oldest enemy and closest ally. Uganda has security-related, political and economic interests, which prompted it to intervene militarily in South Sudan in support of the government.
Historically, Uganda provided substantial support to the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM) during its armed struggle against Sudan, which reciprocated by giving support to the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA). Uganda also sought to protect its lucrative bilateral relationship with South Sudan since it had recently become a major trading partner, to the detriment of Sudan’s geopolitical and economic interests.
It also aimed to protect the thousands of Ugandans working and operating businesses in South Sudan. Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni assiduously cultivated close personal ties with South Sudanese President, Salva Kiir. The scenario most feared by Uganda is an outright victory by the opposition forces, which are heavily linked to the Nuer ethnic group and led by former vice-president Riek Machar – also from the Nuer group. This would lead to Kiir’s removal from power, which would be a strategic setback to Uganda and erode its capacity to influence future developments in South Sudan.
The proximity of Ugandan forces to the oil fields in the Unity and Upper Nile states caused great anxiety in Sudan regarding Uganda’s intentions. Sudan was deeply concerned by the possibility that the Sudan Revolutionary Front (SRF), a coalition of armed groups opposed to Sudan, might receive a significant number of weapons from Uganda.
“Ethiopia feels the crisis must be stopped before it becomes an ethnic conflict beyond repair”
Sudanese President Omar Al-Bashir’s visit to South Sudan in early January 2014 was supposed to symbolise his support for Kiir’s government against Machar – who for so many years had been Sudan’s key ally. Yet, there are real concerns that Sudan might already have reverted to its longstanding tactic of supporting the opposition forces, which are on the lookout for foreign sponsors and conduits for military support in the region. Last month, the South Sudanese government repeatedly claimed that opposition forces were allowed full use of Sudanese territory to carry out military operations and attacks.
The South Sudanese crisis has enabled Sudan to present itself to the international community as a force for stability. Yet, it is unlikely that Sudan can withstand the temptation of settling old scores with the greatly weakened South Sudan. A protracted civil war in South Sudan would be beneficial to Sudan’s interests in the short to medium term, as it would prevent the emergence of a stronger and oil-rich state allied to Uganda – thereby allowing Sudan to re-establish its influence over South Sudanese politics.
The tensions between Ethiopia and Eritrea are far more obvious. Since 1998, these states have been involved in a bitter and undisguised ‘long game’ of undermining each other’s security, building opportunistic alliances and fighting cross-border proxy wars. Ethiopia has consistently avoided direct involvement in the South Sudanese crisis because of wider geopolitical, diplomatic and security considerations. The state believes that unilateral and partisan military intervention is counter-productive, and would only exacerbate the existing fault-lines in South Sudan.
It has thus strongly asked Uganda to pull out its troops, even if they had entered South Sudan at that government’s request. Ethiopia believes that Uganda’s military intervention has created harmful regional dynamics, endangering the mediation efforts of the Intergovernmental Authority for Development (IGAD), of which Uganda is a member. Ethiopia sought instead to play a balanced but highly visible role in these mediation efforts.
The crisis may have presented a political opportunity for Ethiopia to play such a role and to prove itself as a reliable partner of the international community. Yet, the state has a very high stake in this crisis.
Firstly, the crisis has provoked an influx of large numbers of refugees into Ethiopia. It is currently struggling to accommodate the more than 90 000 South Sudanese, who are mostly Nuer, who have crossed into its territory since December 2013.
"Eritrea may have risked reaching out to South Sudanese opposition forces in support of Sudan"
Secondly, Ethiopia feels that the crisis must be stopped before it becomes an ethnic conflict beyond repair, which would complicate and even sharpen the political divide between the Nuer and Anuak ethnic groups that live in Ethiopia’s Gambella region. This border region, where a Nuer president was appointed in April 2013, has experienced persistent struggles for power between these two ethnic groups.
Thirdly, deteriorating security on Ethiopia’s long, porous and politically explosive border with both Sudan and South Sudan poses a direct threat to Ethiopia. More than any other state in the region, Ethiopia seeks to prevent at all costs the total collapse of the South Sudanese government and a prolonged civil war. This could in turn lead to the marginal areas of South Sudan being used by Eritrea to infiltrate Ethiopian rebel groups and conduct destabilising activities inside Ethiopia.
Ethiopia is also very concerned that a South Sudan-style crisis could materialise in Sudan and ultimately lead to a full-fledged war between the two states. It has more than 4 000 troops in the United Nations Interim Security Force for Abyei (UNISFA), which was deployed to prevent a border war between Sudan and South Sudan. Ethiopia is also actively involved in efforts by the African Union to broker peace talks between South Sudan and Sudan; as well as between Sudan and the SPLM-North, which is part of the SRF.
Since February 2014, unconfirmed reports suggest that Eritrean operatives are covertly providing support to South Sudanese opposition forces. This would be deeply unsettling to Ethiopia, which sees Eritrea as the principal source of instability in the Horn of Africa for as long as President Isaias Afewerki remains in power. Such support will probably never be fully corroborated, since it is as secretive as it is sensitive. The disclosure of its true extent would not only threaten its effectiveness, but risk major embarrassment to Eritrea – which vigorously denied these reports.
Yet, considerably isolated from Horn of Africa politics and diplomacy, Eritrea is visibly not enthusiastic about the mediation undertaken by IGAD. Eritrea views IGAD as a tool of Ethiopia’s ever-increasing military and economic predominance in the region. Controlling extensive clandestine networks, Eritrea may thus have risked reaching out to the South Sudanese opposition forces in support of Sudan’s interests – and in the hope that fragmentation or a government change could later on cause a spill-over of the violence into Ethiopia.
This would be the simplest and cheapest way to keep Ethiopia entrapped in South Sudan’s unrest for many years, as armed factions seek passage through Ethiopia to conduct military operations. As a result, Ethiopia would eventually lose the political capital that it so carefully expended in the hopelessly uncertain course of mediating the crisis. 
Eritrea’s priority would be to strategically use resulting dynamics to lift its shakier regional position, and improve its own political vulnerability and economic difficulties. It is also of great importance for Eritrea to solidify its renewed strategic relationship with Sudan. Both Eritrea and Sudan had officially proclaimed their political support for the South Sudanese government during Al-Bashir’s official three-day visit to Eritrea in late January 2014. However, this visit did nothing to allay the apprehension of their strongest rivals – Uganda and Ethiopia. On the contrary, it essentially confirmed their mutual interest of curbing the greater role that Uganda and Ethiopia play in South Sudan.
All this seems unlikely to Western analysts and diplomats, who hastily argue that the fear of a Sudan-Eritrea ‘axis of evil’ is misplaced; that there is no compelling evidence to date of Eritrean misdemeanours; and that Eritrea is currently weakened to the extent that it can no longer compete in any way with Ethiopia in South Sudan. Nonetheless, it fits perfectly into Eritrea’s interests to ensure that the South Sudanese crisis would produce losses for Ethiopia and minimise its broader regional influence – especially owing to disagreements with Uganda and Sudan.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Syria: Rebels attempt to take over checkpoint leading to military camp - YouTube

Syria: Rebels attempt to take over checkpoint leading to military camp - YouTube: ""

'via Blog this'

S. Sudan Peace Deal Signed under Pressure and menace of imprisonment without direct talk

JUBA – South Sudan’s president, Salva Kiir, said political pressure and Friday’s tense atmosphere within the Ethiopian prime minister’s palace ensured a peace agreement with opposition leader Riek Machar was signed without conducting face to face talks.

“The prime minister of Ethiopia (Hailemariam Desalegn) told me you must work for peace today, not tomorrow to stop this death in the country,” Kiir told members of his cabinet and supporters at Juba airport on Sunday.

He said Desalegn uttered the same statements while meeting Machar.

“The prime minister told Riek that you guys will not leave this place if you don’t sign this agreement. He (Desalegn) told me the same statement in the morning (Friday) that if you don’t sign this document, I will imprison you here,” said Kiir.

“I told him [Desalegn] that if you imprison me in this nice house, I am sure I will be well looked after and there will be no need to return to Juba,” he added amidst cheers.

The South Sudanese leader said he wanted to sign the peace deal after reading the entire document while his nemesis demanded adjustments in the final agreement.

President Kiir and his political rival did not hold the proposed direct talks in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa so as to reach a deal on ending the ongoing conflict.

President Kiir said he extended his hand to greet Machar after the Ethiopian leader, separating the two South Sudanese rivals, repeatedly called for peace.

Both warring parties on Friday recommitted themselves to a cessation of hostilities agreement signed on 23 January, but was never observed as fighting escalated.

The speed with which both parties to the conflict agreed on the document spelling out ceasefire, discussion for transitional government and allowing humanitarian access to conflict-affected areas surprised many experts with many doubting their commitment.

On Sunday, rebels accused government troops of breaching the ceasefire deal after it allegedly launched series of attacks on its Unity and Upper Nile states positions.

The South Sudanese army (SPLA) spokesperson, Phillip Aguer dismissed the rebel claims as a "lie" and instead accused the latter of violating Friday’s peace agreement.

Friday, May 9, 2014

South Sudan rivals sign peace deal

South Sudan rebel leader in Ethiopia for peace talks | Reuters

South Sudan's rebel leader Riek Machar speaks to rebel General Peter Gatdet Yaka (not seen) in a rebel controlled territory in Jonglei State February 1, 2014. REUTERS/Goran Tomasevic

South Sudan's rebel leader Riek Machar speaks to rebel General Peter Gatdet Yaka (not seen) in a rebel controlled territory in Jonglei State February 1, 2014.


(Reuters) - South Sudan's rebel leader Riek Machar arrived in the Ethiopian capital on Thursday to meet President Salva Kiir, a rebel source said, after international pressure for face-to-face talks to end four months of conflict and avert a possible genocide.
Friday's talks in Addis Ababa will be the first time the two rivals have sat together since fighting erupted in mid-December. Thousands of people have been killed, about a million have fled their homes and rights groups say there may have been war crimes committed.
The United States, other world powers and African neighbors, which welcomed South Sudan's independence from Sudan in 2011, have piled pressure on the two men to halt the violence that continued despite a January ceasefire deal.
Washington imposed sanctions on two commanders from opposing sides this week. Diplomats say more steps will follow if there is no action to stop what has become ethnically-driven killing.
Machar's spokesman James Gatdet Dak said Machar was heading to Addis Ababa and that he would meet Kiir after holding talks with the host, Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn. A rebel source later told Reuters he had arrived.
It is the first time the rebel side has publicly declared Machar's agreement to attend the talks.
Ethiopia is leading mediation efforts as chair of the regional African grouping the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD).
"The agenda will be presented by the mediators," Dak said. "We think they will discuss a transitional government, power sharing, but we will wait and see."
There had been doubt as to whether Machar would turn up. U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said this week that the rebel leader had told him he would "do his best" to get there.
Kiir told international visitors, including U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, that he would attend.
Kiir's foreign minister, Barnaba Marial Benjamin, said discussions would be about a "transitional process" not a transitional government, and insisted Kiir would stay on until 2015 elections. Machar has demanded Kiir resign.
Diplomats involved in the mediation say the focus on Friday would be ending violence and implementing a "month of tranquility", which the two sides agreed to this week.
They also hope the meeting will start laying the groundwork for a sustainable political solution.
The United States said its sanctions on two commanders was a "clear warning".
Norway, another of South Sudan's main Western sponsors and donors, also said patience was running out and the two leaders had to respond or face tougher action.
"This is the message that Riek Machar and President Salva Kiir will hear loudly when they come to Addis on Friday," Norwegian Foreign Minister Borge Bende told Reuters.
Fighting has increasingly followed ethnic lines, with troops loyal to Kiir, an ethnic Dinka, battling supporters of Machar, a Nuer. Machar was sacked as deputy president in July, sharpening their years of rivalry.
Clashes have quickly spread to oil producing areas in the north of the country, reducing the flows of crude by about a third from 245,000 barrels per day before the conflict and threatening the young nation's almost sole source of revenues.

(Additional reporting by Andrew Green in Juba; Writing by Edmund Blair; Editing by James Macharia and Robin Pomeroy)

What's going on in South Sudan? - Truthloader

Thursday, May 8, 2014

South Sudanese refugees flooding into Ethiopia, UN agency reports

UNHCR staff in western Ethiopia help move a wounded South Sudanese refugee, who fled across the Baro River to escape the violence. Photo: UNHCR/L. Godinho
6 May 2014 – Waves of South Sudanese women and children are fleeing across the Ethiopian border, with more than 11,000 people crossing in the past 72 hours, the United Nations refugee agency today said confirming that UN agencies and humanitarian partners are rushing food and medical supplies to the site.
The sharp influx comes after Government forces captured the rebel stronghold of Nasir over the weekend crossing the Raro River, which marks the border between the countries.
“Many more people are on their way,” spokesperson Adrian Edwards said quoting what the refugees, all ethnic Nuers, had told staff from the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR). “Many amassed on the South Sudanese side of the border waiting to cross the river on one of the few small ferry boats.”
UNHCR and its partners, including the Administration for Refugee and Returnee Affairs (ARRA) and the Ethiopian Red Cross Society, UN World Food Programme (WFP), were all rapidly scaling up their responses to meet the surge in new arrivals – some of them wounded and in urgent need of medical help – and to improve the crowded conditions, Mr. Edwards said.
Once registered, the people were being moved to Kule refugee camp further inside Ethiopia which was “fast approaching its capacity of 40,000 refugees”, while a new camp was being set up for another 30,000 people.
The UN agency is hurrying to transport people due to oncoming heavy rains “expected any time”, he added.
More than 110,000 refugees from South Sudan had fled into Ethiopia since fighting for political power there broke out in December, according to UNHCR figures.
An additional 205,000 people had fled to Uganda, Sudan and Kenya, with some 923,000 people displaced inside South Sudan.
Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon is in South Sudan today urging President Salva Kiir and his rival Riek Machar to sit down together and find a peaceful solution through dialogue.
The inter-agency appeal for the South Sudanese Refugee Emergency remained dramatically underfunded, with only 14 per cent of the requested $370 million appeal received.
“As the number of displaced people continued to rise, UNHCR was expecting to increase its appeal in the coming days,” the spokesperson said.
Meanwhile, WFP is warning that without access to everyone in need, the humanitarian situation inside South Sudan is going to worsen.
The UN agency is airlifting and airdropping food and nutrition support to hard-to-reach areas, while grabbling with looting and continued fighting, according to spokesperson Elisabeth Byrs.
Despite these challenges, WFP has dispatched more than 72,000 metric tons of food around the country so far this year.