Saturday, September 27, 2014

S. Sudan army vows not to back down against rebels - Sudan Tribune: Plural news and views on Sudan

The South Sudanese army (SPLA) in Jonglei has vowed not to retreat from rebel forces commanded by former vice-president Riek Machar, accusing the latter of using child soldiers to fight against their own people.
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The deputy SPLA commander for Jonglei, Maj-Gen Malual Majok, speaks at a public address in the capital, Bor, on 22 September 2014 (ST)
The deputy SPLA commander for Jonglei, Maj-Gen Malual Majok, said the army would not back down from rebel forces, assuring civilians they would not be abandoned.
“I want to assure you that you will never run again. The army is stronger than any [other]. We will maintain our positions. We shall never move an inch back, because if we do, we will be forced to move ten thousand miles away for hiding,” said Majok from Jonglei state capital Bor on Monday.
Since the outbreak of violence in mid-December last year in South Sudan’s capital, Juba, Jonglei, Upper Nile and Unity states have been hard-hit by the crisis, with thousands forced to flee into exile, while many more have been killed or injured.
Jonglei has been a flashpoint for violence, changing hands a number of times at the height of the conflict. The fighting has also caused widespread damage to public infrastructure.
Many people have been unable to return to their homes in Jonglei since the SPLA retook Bor from opposition forces in January.
A series of attacks have been reported in and around Renk, a clear violation of a ceasefire agreement signed by South Sudan’s warring parties.
Meanwhile, sources from Upper Nile state capital Malakal claimed the SPLA had captured a number of rebel fighters, some of whom were identified as foreign nationals.
Fighting has continued on the ground despite the agreed truce and ongoing peace talks in Ethiopia, which have been hampered by ongoing delays.

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Six South Sudanese air force officers join rebellion - Sudan Tribune:

 At least six personnel from South Sudan’s air force have defected to the rebel faction, opposition sources and the defectors confirmed on Saturday.
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Former vice-president turned rebel leader Riek Machar (Photo: Reuters)
Speaking at a press conference held in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, the defected South Sudan army air force members, who included a pilot, declared they were joining the rebel faction led by former vice-president Riek Machar.
The defectors said that ethnic-based recruitment does not reflect diversity, while citing poor promotion policy, among others, as some of the reasons that saw them leave government and join rebellion.
They alleged that promotion, if any, only favoured officers those from the Dinka tribes, while many of their Nuer counterparts, some of whom joined the air force in 2007, had never been promoted.
“Up to two-thirds of the fleet is grounded due to corrupt practices by successive air force commanders who would misappropriate funds meant for maintenance and services,” partly reads a joint communiqué they issued at the press conference.
Poor maintenance and services policy, as well as rampant corruption, were also other reasons mentioned as reasons for their defection.
Endemic corruption within South Sudan’s army (SPLA) has resulted in acute salary delays, low morale among servicemen/women, and poor combat service support leading to poor performance of combat units, they said.
The military spokesperson for the SPLM in opposition has described the defections of the six officers as a huge blow to the Juba regime.
“Their presence in the resistance movement will facilitate [the] establishment of [an] air force in liberated areas, as well as help in countering UPDF’s air force which had dominated the skies of South Sudan since the civil war broke out on 15 December 2013,” said Brig. Gen. Lul Ruai Koang.
According to Koang, the defectors were among South Sudan’s best trained air servicemen, some of whom received training in South Africa, Ethiopia, Russia and the United States.
The latest revelation follows a string of mass defections to the rebel faction by pro-government forces and some of its top military officials.
No official reaction has so far been issued by the army regarding these defections.
* 1st Lt. Tut Jock Bov, Chief Air Force, ground engineer
* 1st Lt. Pito Adwok Nyaba, fixed wing pilot
* Sgt. Ocholla Joseph, flight engineer
* Pvt. Khan David Bedit, MI 17 helicopter pilot
* Pvt. Liech Domai Ruei, air traffic controller
* Riang Ruei Duop, senior manager, South Sudan Civil Aviation Authority

US sanctions more South Sudanese military - Sudan Tribune

 Unites States government has slapped the South Sudanese warring parties with additional sanctions targeting two senior military officers on the two sides, accused of fuelling the ongoing 9-month long conflict.
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Soldiers from the South Sudanese army (SPLA) jump from a vehicle while on patrol in the capital, Juba (Photo: Reuters/Goran Tomasevic)
Major General Santino Deng Wol of South Sudan army, in charge of third military division and Major General James Koang Chuol, who was previously in charge of fourth army division but defected and joined the rebel faction of the Sudan Peoples’ Liberation Movement (SPLM-in-Opposition) became the latest targets.
In a statement released on Thursday by the US Treasury under-secretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence, David Cohen, accused the two generals of prolonging the violence in South Sudan.
"Both of the individuals we are designating today are prolonging the violent conflict in South Sudan and engaging in reprehensible violence," the statement partly reads.
The treasury department accused Wol of expanding the conflict and of obstructing peace, saying his troops continued to attack the rebel positions despite the 23 January cessation of hostilities agreement between the warring parties.
According to the treasury, Wol is accused of breaking the agreement with a series of military engagements in which his forces recaptured the towns of Mayom, Tor Abyad and Wang Kai from the rebels.
The statement also accused the rebel commander Koang of carrying out attacks against civilians in Unity state.
The rebel attacks "targeted civilians, including women and children, with killing, sexual violence and attacks on schools, hospitals, religious sites, and locations where civilians were seeking refuge," says the statement.
Washington in the past imposed sanctions on president Salva Kiir’s presidential guards commander, General Marial Cinuong and General Peter Gatdet who defected in December to the rebel group in Jonglei state while previously serving as the overall commander of the eighth army division.
The four generals are banned from travelling to US and their assets or financial transactions which may be in the US or related to US companies are frozen.
Generals Wol and Gatdet are also under sanctions by the European Union (EU), which also bans their movement to EU countries and freeze their assets.
The latest US sanction came a day after the United Kingdom threatened the two warring parties with regional sanctions unless they abide by the cessation of hostilities agreements they signed and speedily conclude the peace talks.
UK also hinted that the United Nations would impose sanctions on South Sudan.
However, Juba slammed the looming sanctions, describing them as a conspiracy of western strategy.
“We believe that threats of sanctions as a western strategy to bring peace while apportioning blames, even when they know every well that the government does not bear any responsibility in this senseless war created by Riek Machar and his group, will also affect other countries in the region”, Mark Nyipuoc, the deputy speaker of the national assembly told reporters Monday.
The rebels on their side downplayed the effect of the targeted sanctions on individual military officers, saying South Sudan government has re

Thursday, September 18, 2014

S. Sudan split over claims the west is supporting rebels - Sudan Tribune: Plural news and views on Sudan

 (JUBA) – The South Sudanese government is sharply divided over the level of involvement of western countries in the current conflict, amid claims some are providing support to rebels forces aligned with former vice-president Riek Machar.
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Rebel fighters aligned with former vice-president Riek Machar gather in a village in South Sudan’s Upper Nile state on 8 February 2014 (Photo: Goran Tomasevic/Reuters)
The ambassadors from the United States and European Union countries issued a statement on Wednesday expressing disappointment over the government’s decision to block a delegation of political parties from attending peace talks in neighbouring Ethiopia, which are being facilitated by the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD).
The statement, a copy of which was obtained by Sudan Tribune, is signed by representatives from the US, the United Kingdom, Norway, the European Union, Germany and the Netherlands.
“We are concerned that some members of the political parties delegation have been prevented from travelling to join IGAD talks in Ethiopia to which they were invited by the IGAD mediators,” the statement said in part.
“This does not sit well with an inclusive and representative process that takes into account the views of all constituencies and all stakeholders. Preventing an individual from travelling may also violate his or her right to freedom of movement,” it adds.
The ambassadors said they remained “deeply concerned” about the prevailing political and humanitarian crisis in South Sudan, which they described as “an entirely man-made catastrophe”.
“We call on leaders on all sides to recognise the need for compromise, to put their people first and to make peace a reality as a first priority,” it adds.
Presidential spokesperson Ateny Wek Ateny lashed out western countries following the statement, describing the country’s current conflict as a “Troika project”, saying the west’s failure to act had inflamed the crisis.
South Sudan spiralled into violence in mid-December last year amid political differences within the leadership of the governing Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM).
The presidential aide also accused US special envoy to the Sudans Donald Booth of “supporting rebels” and “sympathising” with political detainees accused of plotting to overthrow the government.
The South Sudanese government has become increasingly frustrated with the west after it refused to accept its version that the conflict was sparked by a failed coup attempt.
It remains unclear whether Ateny’s comments were representative of the government or he was expressing his own personal views.
However, SPLM secretary for political and mobilisation affairs Antipas Nyok said the views expressed by the presidential spokesperson did not reflect those of the party.
“I see these views as personal. They do not represent the party [and] nor do they also represent the government. They neither represent the views of the SPLM nor the official position of the government,” Nyok told reporters on Thursday.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

South Sudan bans foreign workers despite looming famine - Yahoo News

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Juba (AFP) - Authorities in war-torn South Sudan announced Tuesday a ban on foreign workers, including aid agency staff, and ordered their jobs to be given to locals.
There was no immediate explanation for the ban, which comes as NGOs warn of a looming famine caused by nine months of civil war in the country, which is heavily dependent on foreign aid.
A government statement, published in several newspapers, ordered "all non-governmental organisations, private companies, banks, insurance companies, telecommunication companies, petroleum companies, hotels and lodges working in South Sudan (...) to notify all the aliens working with them in all the positions to cease working as from 15th October."
It said these positions should be advertised so that they can be filled by "competent South Sudanese nationals", listing roles ranging from receptionists to executive directors.
But South Sudan's Information Minister Michael Makuei told AFP the order only covered "jobs South Sudanese can do", suggesting the statement from the ministry of public service may have been misleading.
"It is not all foreigners, but for those employed in specific jobs," he said by telephone from Ethiopia, where he is taking part in peace negotiations.
Still, the minister confirmed that the positions should be filled "through the guidance of the ministry of public service", therefore giving the government control over who is appointed.
South Sudan is heavily dependent on international aid organisations for humanitarian aid for more than a million people who have been internally displaced by the civil war.
- 'Massively disrupt aid' -
Oxfam said that it employs South Sudanese -- like other aid agencies -- but still has "many foreigners in key roles", and restricting that would frustrate efforts to support people in need.
"If this order were to come into effect it would massively disrupt aid programmes across the country which feed over one million people," said Oxfam director Tariq Riebl.
"South Sudan is on a knife-edge and could easily tip into famine in 2015 -- even though the aid effort here is huge, it is not reaching many of the people who desperately need help. We need to be expanding aid programmes in South Sudan, not restricting them."
The international NGO Global Witness, which campaigns to prevent natural resource-related conflict and corruption, said the order was "disturbing" and accused the government of "attempting to expel trained aid workers at a time of a grave humanitarian crisis".
"The decision demonstrates a total disregard for the lives of the 1.3 million citizens displaced by this oil-fuelled conflict," it said, adding that the government also "risks crippling the economy".
Skilled foreign workers are key to the country's oil industry, which provided some 95 percent of the government budget before fighting began.
Workers from regional neighbours including Ethiopia, Eritrea, Kenya, Sudan and Uganda, provide key services, while foreigners are vital to the mobile telephone network.
South Sudan suffers from a major shortage of skilled workers, with only around a quarter of the population being able to read and write.
Fighting broke out in the oil-rich country, the world's youngest nation, in December 2013 following a clash between troops loyal to President Salva Kiir and his former deputy Riek Machar.
The war spread rapidly across the country and has been marked by widespread human rights abuses and atrocities by both sides.

Monday, September 8, 2014

MSF scales back cholera efforts after treating 3,300 cases in S. Sudan

A significant decline in the number of new cholera cases in South Sudan in recent weeks has prompted Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) to scale down its cholera operations and will redirect resources towards other unmet health needs in the country.
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Displaced people who fled from violence in Jonglei state capital Bor queue outside a clinic run by MSF in Lakes state’s Awerial town on 2 January 2014 (Photo: AP/Ben Curtis)
Since the cholera outbreak was declared on 15 May, MSF teams have reportedly provided treatment to 3,300 patients in the capital Juba, Eastern Equatoria state and in Wau Shiluk in Upper Nile state.
This is reportedly more than half of the 5,561 total cholera cases officially recorded countrywide in the current outbreak. MSF teams responded to the outbreak by rapidly constructing treatment centres in Juba and setting up oral rehydration points across the city and in other affected locations.
At the same time, MSF worked closely with the South Sudanese authorities and other partners to improve people’s access to safe drinking water and to train health staff in dealing with the outbreak.
At first the disease spread quickly, exacerbated by unsanitary and overcrowded conditions in the camps where people were sheltering, and by the lack of healthcare.
“Deteriorating living conditions for hundreds of thousands of people, combined with the lack of functioning health facilities, created a perfect storm for the spread of the disease earlier this year,” said Brian Moller, MSF’s head of mission in South Sudan.
The recent decline in the number of new cases of cholera suggests that the outbreak is now under control.
“While MSF will remain vigilant, it looks like the efforts of the Ministry of Health and other organisations, including MSF, have helped bring the epidemic under control,” noted Moller.
As part of its cholera response, MSF teams carried out the first mass cholera vaccination campaigns ever done in South Sudan, immunising a total of 200,000 displaced people and host families in Malakal, Minkamen and Juba against the disease.
MSF teams also vaccinated a further 150,000 South Sudanese refugees in Gambella camp, Ethiopia, to prevent the outbreak spreading beyond South Sudan’s borders.
"Cholera vaccinations provide vulnerable communities with a better chance of avoiding an outbreak. While the vaccination itself only provides an estimated 65 percent chance of protection, it is one of a number of measures that can help reduce the spread of the disease, alongside improving people’s living conditions, and ensuring they have proper sanitation and clean drinking water," Moller observed.
Over its 40 years of existence, MSF has reportedly developed significant expertise in the management of cholera.
While MSF is reducing its cholera response in South Sudan, ongoing health promotion and community awareness activities will be essential to prevent a recurrence of the disease, the agency said.

Monday, September 1, 2014

S. Sudan president warns rebels could become regional security threat - Sudan Tribune: Plural news and views on Sudan

August 31, 2014 (JUBA) – South Sudanese president Salva Kiir has warned rebel forces allied to former vice-president Riek Machar could become a regional security threat unless the international community closely monitors their activities.
South Sudan's president, Salva Kiir (AFP)He has also called for regional and international assistance to help his administration contain the country’s rebellion.
“If they are not given meaningful and serious attention by the region and the international community involved in this peace process, I am sure that their activities would reach other countries and when this happened, the conflict will be a regional issue,” he said.
If today like they did before, they attack the oil area, they will not spare anybody. This is [a] terrorist act,” he added.
Kiir has accused his former deputy of ignoring the suffering of the South Sudanese people, who continue to be affected by the more than eight-month-long conflict in the country.
“When we signed the protocol of agreed principles, it was not because we are fully satisfied with the contents of the document, but because of the importance of peace to our people. But Riek and his group jumped up and refused to sign,” said Kiir.
“We signed the protocol because we wanted to accelerate negotiation process so that peace and stability returns to the areas which have been affected by this senseless war,” he added.
The president made the comments while speaking to a number of government officials and military officers, as well as religious and civil society leaders, who had paid him a visit at his residence to congratulate him on the signing the protocol of agreed principles.
President Kiir’s administration has been engaged in an armed struggle with pro-Machar rebels, since mid-December last year when a political dispute within the country’s ruling party (SPLM) descended into violence.
He said rebel forces lacked “any sense of humanity”, citing the killing of elderly and sick people as they lay in their hospital beds in Bor, Malakal and Bentiu, as well as the alleged gang rape of women.
“They do things which are inhuman,” the president Kiir said.
Machar’s rebel faction, meanwhile, accuse Kiir of exhibiting dictatorial tendencies, failing to tackle endemic corruption, poor foreign relations and tribalism, among others.
Ongoing peace talks, which are being mediated by the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa, have failed to halt the violence on the ground, with both sides accusing each other of violating a January ceasefire deal.
However, Kiir said his administration was prepared to accept the outcome of IGAD-led negotiations with the rebel faction, provided it meets the desires of the general population.
On a recent visit to Uganda he told MPs there that South Sudan was a country “at war with itself” because certain elements within the government had attempted to seize power from him by force.
“I told them (Ugandan MPs) that the war we are fighting was imposed on our people by some of our brothers who did not want to wait [until] elections like the way it is done here in Uganda and elsewhere in the world. They wanted to get the power by bullets,” he said.
“We said ‘no, you [must] wait for elections, so that you get the power by ballots. If our people see you would be any better’, but they refused. And in December they tried to take the government by force. They used their influence in the army to divide our people. This was why Uganda and other friends came in,” president Kiir explained.
Kiir travelled to Uganda last month ahead of an IGAD heads of state and government summit on peace and security in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, in which the South Sudan crisis was among the top agenda items for discussion.