Tag Archives: democracy

South Sudan: Abyei Region Votes To Leave Islamist North, Join Christian South

By Dr. Richard Williams

Juba, South Sudan — October 29, 2013 (SSN) … The official results will be announced on October 31, but the observers claim that about 65,000 eligible voters, residents in the remote and disputed Abyei region on border between Sudan and South Sudan, voted almost unanimously on Sunday, Monday and Tuesday in a non-binding referendum in favor of secession from Sudan and joining South Sudan.

The vote came despite fears it could trigger violence.

The ownership of Abyei was left undecided when the predominantly Christian South Sudan declared independence from the predominantly Muslim Sudan in 2011 after decades of a bloody independence war, and an official referendum on the  status of the disputed Abyei has been stalled by arguments over who can vote, prompting the local referendum initiative.

The chairman of the referendum commission told Reuters that he expected a unanimous vote in favor of joining South Sudan – a decision sure to antagonize heavily armed, pro-Sudan Misseriya nomads who do not reside in the region but customarily drive their livestock through the region.

The Arab nomads are backed by the Islamist government of Khartoum led by President Omar al-Bashir indicted by the ICC for crimes against humanity, in particular the genocide in Darfur.

“Our impression is the turnout is high. On Sunday, the first polling day, the main station recorded that 75 per cent had already cast their vote,” the commission chairman, Monyluak Kuol, told Reuters.

The result, expected on October 31, is not legally binding and both Sudan and South Sudan have said they will not recognize it, but the vote is important for the majority in Abyei who identify ethnically, culturally and religiously with the South.

Dinka Ngok people from South Sudan and even from as far away as Australia have returned to take part in the vote.

The United Nations has a 4,000-strong, mainly Ethiopian peacekeeping force deployed to monitor tensions between the nomads and residents in the region, which has substantial oil reserves and has seen several clashes between Sudanese and South Sudanese troops.

In Abyei town, many buildings are still without roofs and many families live in a makeshift tent city, a legacy of the past fighting.

Abyei’s senior Roman Catholic priest Father Carlos Kaw said the local people had been traumatized by repeated attacks by Sudanese-backed militias and felt the world had forgotten them. “Abyei is fed up with waiting,” he told Reuters.

 

South Sudan Plans Major Diplomatic Reforms Planned by FM Benjamin

By Joe Odaby

Juba, South Sudan — October 14, 2013 (SSN) … South Sudan’s Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation Minister Dr. Barnaba Marial Benjamin has announced that a major diplomatic reform is underway in the South Sudan Foreign Ministry.

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South Sudan Foreign Affairs Minister Dr. Barnaba Marial Benjamin, (Getty)


The move comes after national legislative assembly lawmakers from the south-governing Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM) expressed concerns over the manner in which its embassies handle the country’s foreign affairs matters.

“There remains a lot of work to be done and it is imperative that the ministry devise policies reflective of the law and priorities of the government”, said Assembly Speaker Magok Rundial.

The South Sudan Foreign Affairs ministry, he said, should embark on sustained efforts aimed at creating awareness globally on the country’s independence status.

“There are countries which still do not know that South Sudan is an independent state. Such a challenge requires skilled and effective diplomats,” stressed Rundial.

The young nation, in 2011, enacted the Diplomatic and Consular Service Act; a law intended to simplify decision making processes and give it more access to international affairs.

The law, which became operational in January last year, allows the country to establish embassies in key countries and permanent missions at the regional and international organisations, including having temporary consular missions.

It also provides for the establishment of missions, to be run by ambassadors, minister plenipotentiaries, counselors and categorised sizable secretaries.

To the credit of the South Sudan’s President, Salva Kiir Mayrdit, and its Foreign Minister, Dr. Barnaba Marial Benjamin, this young democracy currently has 22 embassies in various countries, including efficiently-working embassies in Washington, D.C. and in London.

South Sudan’s Foreign Affairs Minister Dr. Benjamin stresses that in spite of the shortage of trained diplomats, his Ministry is determined to strengthen the international standing of their country.

Last month Dr. Benjamin  formed a technical committee to study how it could improve relations with other countries by deploying competent workforce in line with the policy of lean, but effective cadres.

According to the recent committee’s recommendations, the number of diplomats deployed at the 22 embassies needed to be reduced to reflect the government policy of lean, but effective diplomatic cadres.

The committee, the foreign affairs spokesperson said, is also conducting background checks of individual diplomats, examining specifically their areas of specialty, experiences, capabilities and level of understanding of diplomatic and international affairs,

As in many democracies, including the United States, the ambassadors are often chosen not amongst the carrier diplomats but amongst prominent figures who are rewarded by the ambassadorial post for their service to the country in other, often not related to foreign affairs, fields. South Sudan’s Foreign Ministry also has a number senior diplomats who were appointed not on the basis of their merits, but as a reward for having played active role in the independence war, but had no prior training in diplomacy and foreign relations.

“They certainly did good work by helping bring to the spotlight what our people were undergoing, but not all activists are good diplomats”, the foreign affairs spokesperson said.

Foreign Affairs Minister Dr. Barnaba Marial Benjamin is determined to limit this practice and vigorously professionalize the diplomatic cadres of South Sudan.

Sudan Prepares Major Military Offensive To Divert From Internal Unrest

By Joe Odaby

Juba, South Sudan — September 30, 2013 … The leading South Sudan think-tank, The Fashoda Institute of Strategic and Regional Studies, has published a strategic analysis of the recent military buildup in the neighboring Sudan.

Northern Sudan (capital: Khartoum), from which the South has seceded in 2011 after a long civil war, is led by the Islamist government of President Omar al-Bashar who was indicted in 2010 by the International Criminal Court for crimes against humanity.

The Fashoda institute points out that “the escalating fuel riots in Khartoum, and increasingly other cities in Sudan, serve as a stark reminder of the inherent fragility and instability of the country”.

The riots were sparked by the spiraling prices of all fuel products following the abolition of subsidies and the growing shortages of all fuel products. The recurring shortages of fuel result in shortages of food and other products and goods brought into Khartoum from both the Red Sea ports and the countryside. Within a few days, the riots became the worst since the 1989 riots that led to the military coup that brought to power Omar al-Bashir. “What began early this week in Sudan as a protest against the removal of fuel subsidies has developed into a full-blown uprising that is threatening President Omar Hassan al-Bashir’s 24-year rule,” Arab political observers warned on September 27.

As the Khartoum riots escalated and turned political, the Sudanese military was sent to the streets to crackdown the riots by force. By 27 September, the Sudanese government acknowledged that over 50 demonstrators were killed by the security forces, over 250 were wounded, and over 600 were arrested. Numerous opposition sources put the casualties tally in Khartoum alone at over 150 fatalities, over 750 wounded, and over 2,000 arrested and/or disappeared. The military’s violent crackdown in Khartoum sparked even bigger and more violent riots over the weekend throughout Sudan. The protesters are now openly demanding the overthrow of Bashir’s regime while calling Bashir himself “a killer”. Moreover, both the Sudanese government and Arab diplomats report a growing use of automatic weapons by the rioters starting the evening of September 27. On the morning of the September 28, four security personnel were shot and killed in Khartoum by unidentified gunmen in the ranks of the rioters.

The Fashoda Institute writes that “the oil crisis is unfolding and escalating at a time when Khartoum is spending huge sums of hard currency on advanced weapons – mainly weapon systems optimized for long-range strikes and major wars rather than handling insurgencies such as the never-ending insurgency in Darfur”.

The Juba-based think-tank unveils that “in recent months, Khartoum has embarked on an unprecedented military build-up – mainly of air power. The key weapon systems are being purchased from Belarus. Most important is the acquisition of 12 refurbished Su-24Ms (4-6 of them already supplied) and 18 refurbished Su-30MKs (originally leased by India from Russia but returned to Belarus for the legal reason that the Russian Air Force cannot operate them).

Sudan was also negotiating the acquisition of another batch of second hand Su-25s to augment the existing fleet of 11 Su-25s (out of 14 originally purchased from Belarus). Belarus has a large arsenal of high quality combat aircraft that was put on sale for hard currency. A total of 35-36 Su-24Ms were withdrawn from service in February 2012, and the remaining 22-23 Su-24Ms are available for purchase. As well, 17 Su-27P and 4 Su-27UBM1fighters were withdrawn from service in December 2012 and also put for sale. The Belarus Air Force also has around 20 Su-25s stored in Lida. Khartoum expressed interest in virtually every major combat aircraft available and the main lingering issue is the availability of hard currency”. 

The Fashoda Institute points at the scope of the Sudanese military buildup: “Sudan is also looking for additional MiG-29s which Belarus cannot offer. Sudan acquired numerous MiG-29s in the last decade. In late 2008, 23 of the MiG-29s were in active service. However, only 11 of these MiG-29s were operational in the first half of 2013. One MiG-29 was claimed by the South Sudanese air defense on April 4, 2012. Apparently, the aircraft crash-landed in a Sudanese airbase and was written off. The other 11 MiG-29s were grounded due to maintenance difficulties. Sudan is interested in a large number of MiG-29s and the main candidate source is Ukraine that has around 100 MiG-29s of various models stored in reserve”.

“The most important undertaking by the Sudanese Air Force in recent months is the large scale recruitment of mercenaries – aircrews, technical experts and ground crews – from all over the former Soviet Union”, discovers the Fashoda Institute. “Their main mission is to activate, up-grade and better utilize the existing arsenal of the Sudanese Air Force (that had suffered both combat and technical damage in recent years). The first visible result is the growing number of MiG-29s that are taking off for test and evaluation flights. The efforts of the ex-Soviet mercenaries have already returned 4-6 additional MiG-29s to flying status.

The revamped Sudanese Air Force has unprecedented long range reach covering northern Ethiopia and all of nemesis South Sudan. Indeed, the Sudanese government is also committing huge resources to the up-grading and expansion of all key military airbases in the southern parts of the country – including the extension of paved runways and the construction of new buildings, bunkers and other facilities.

Meanwhile, the Sudanese government is making strenuous efforts with Russia to expedite and increase the deal for assault helicopters and helicopter gunships. On order are 12+6 Mi-8T and 12+6 Mi-24D/V/P. Although Khartoum is ready to pay cash for everything – the Kremlin is not rushing the deal for political-strategic reasons. Again, the Sudanese acquisition of weapon systems is accompanied by the widespread recruitment of mercenaries – aircrews, technical experts and ground crews – to get Sudan’s existing arsenal of 20 Mi-8/Mi-17 assault and 24 Mi-24 combat helicopters into better operational status, and have highly qualified aircrews in the cockpits”.

The Fashoda Institute points out that “although the main emphasis of Khartoum is air power, the expansion and modernization of the military is not neglected either. The current priority of Khartoum is launching a concentrated effort to fully operationalize and activate the large quantities of heavy weapons (tanks and artillery) purchased from Ukraine in 2009-2010 and delivered over the next couple of years. The main weapon systems are T-72 MBTs, BM-21 MRLs, 152mm 1S3 SPGs, 122mm 2S1 SPGs, and 122mm D-30 guns. As well, the Sudanese army has embarked on the refurbishment and modernization of key military bases and garrisons in southern Sudan – including the installation of modern communications systems.

The Sudanese military build-up effort got a major boost on 9 September during the visit of Libyan defense minister Abdel-Rahman Al-Thani to Khartoum. Sudan’s defense minister Abdel Rahim Hussein signed an agreement with his Libyan counterpart on large scale weapons, spares and ammunition transfers mainly from Qadhafi’s stockpiles in southern Libya. In return, Sudan promised to restrain Libyan Jihadists that had sought and received shelter in Sudan and prevent them from returning to Libya. (The Sudan-Libya agreement is identical to the agreement signed with Egypt in 2001.) The supplies from Libya will also enable the Sudanese military to activate and return to operational use a sizeable force of older models of Soviet-origin weapons”.

“Taken together, these efforts point out to active preparations for a major land war rather than mere escalation of the fighting against irregular forces in Darfur or elsewhere in Sudan”, highlights the report of the Fashoda Institute.

“Khartoum needs a major diversion of the popular anguish and frustration”, says the Institute’s analysis. “Addressing external threats is a proven diversion from internal crises. The calls for the reunification of Sudan under the banner of Islam have been a popular rallying cry for the widespread Islamist and Mahdist constituencies – and thus a sure method for getting their supporters out of the swelling ranks of rioters. Moreover, it is also expedient for the Bashir administration to blame the oil crisis and shortage of funds on the lingering impact of the transfer of so many oilfields to South Sudan after the mid-2011 break-up of Sudan.           

Ultimately, Khartoum is driven by the grim realities of the region, and Bashir’s determination to get involved in crises with assertive offensive strategy. Irrespective of reassuring political rhetoric – Sudan and South Sudan are heading toward a major face-off that might easily escalate into violence. Abyei remains a volatile region with tension growing as a result of Sudan’s atrocious suppression of grassroots revolts in surrounding South Kordofan. The Abyei crisis will also keep lingering since the referendum is nowhere to be seen. Khartoum considers the Abyei oil reserves a shortcut to addressing the economic catastrophe and therefore won’t accept the secession the local population yearns for. The road to war from such irreconcilable quandary is very short. Abyei is not the only crisis point for the South Sudan-Sudan border demarcation as proposed by the AU is equally problematic and destabilizing, and thus might provoke crisis and war at any moment.

Furthermore, even though Cairo is currently focused on domestic issues in the aftermath of the military takeover – the crisis with Ethiopia over the Nile waters lingers on and is far from resolution. Dominance over the Nile waters is a sacred cause for both Egypt and Sudan – and thus no government in Cairo or Khartoum will ever allow itself to be portrayed as having compromised with the Nile Basin states. With no viable solution in sight, and with the work on the Ethiopian dams continuing apace – the crisis might still escalate into a major war. South Sudan will be dragged into such a war by regional geography”.  

“Thus, all of these are both ticking crises in their own right, as well as good causes for diversion and tension building for the besieged Bashir administration”, warns the Fashoda Institute. “Hence, Khartoum’s saber rattling and war preparations might prove self-fulfilling”.

The report on the think-tanks Website ends with assessment of the Juba’s options: “Little wonder that South Sudan is considering its own military build-up – as declared on September 22 by the new Defense Minister Kuol Manyang. Juba is determined to build a strong national army even if such undertaking might take nearly half of the national budget allocation. Manyang explained that Juba wants “the army to be at full military readiness to ensure victories in any military engagements.” Juba’s “strategic vision” calls for the building of “a strong and professional force” in regional terms. Manyang stressed that Juba’s ultimate objective is to deter the eruption of wars and crises, but that “the army, anywhere in the world, can only avoid wars when it is capable of winning them.”

South Sudan Establishes Database On Homeless Children

By Christian Edwards

Juba, South Sudan — September 19, 2013 (SSN) Mrs. Awut Deng, South Sudan Minister of Gender Child, Social welfare and Humanitarian Affairs, has engaged in a countrywide audit aimed at establishing the actual number of street children and orphans for the purpose of national planning.

Minister Deng has travelled to the Eastern Equatoria state to assess the situation of the homeless children there. Her visit, she said was to collect views of various civil servants, experts, charity workers on how best the street children could be helped to lead a normal life.

“It’s our collective responsibility to ensure that all these children go to school. They are the future of this country”, the Gender Minister urged.

She called on the governments of regional states, development partners, civil society organization and religious leaders to join efforts in ensuring “streets free of street children”.

Hon. Awut who was received by the state’s deputy governor Mr.Jerome Gama Surur, visited a school of the orphans in the state’s capital Torit. The school is operated by the charity organization, Hope for Sudan. It has enrolled a total of 86 orphans. Madam Awut applauded the well wishers whose contributions made it possible to set up the center that she said has become home for many homeless children.

Awest Lomoro, a street child aged nine, appealed to the government for support, saying the government needs to take action to protect the fathers and the mothers. The South Sudan Gender Minister has in the recent past visited Warrap and Western Bahr el Ghazal states.

 

South Sudan President Kiir Takes Emergency Measures As Floods Continue

Juba, South Sudan — September 17, 2013 (SSN) Most parts of South Sudan are overwhelmed by flood waters as a result of  the heavy rains the country has suffered in the last few weeks. The most hard-hit states are Northern Bahr el Ghazal with a total of 5, 882 households affected, Warrap with 10,000, Unity 8,355 and Upper Nile with 8,000 households affected. Lakes states and parts of Central Equatoria are reportedly also affected.

The President of South Sudan, Salva Kiir, said his government is taking immediate measures to respond to the needs of the affected population and is setting aside 7 million South Sudanese pounds to rescue the situation.

 

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H.E. President Kiir during the briefing.

“Your government is deeply concerned with the suffering imparted upon you by this natural disaster and has taken immediate action towards finding temporary mitigation measures while also looking for long term solutions once we overcome the emergency situation”, the President said on Thursday in his address to the nation.

President Kiir said that “food, security, shelter water purification tablets, medical services, information on floods and evacuation” are the immediate needs of the affected people in South Sudan.

President Kiir has assembled a nine-member taskforce to map, assess and propose immediate intervention plans for helping the affected 37, 238 households.

South Sudan President Kiir said the floods have swept away farms and homes depriving most of the people of the affected areas of their livelihoods. Health facilities, livestock grazing areas and other public utilities have also been rendered useless. The South Sudan President warned that flood-associated factors such as outbreaks of diseases, hunger and general collapse of peoples’ coping mechanisms remain eminent.

 

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Homes and farming land have been flooded in most parts of the country.

Besides thanking the UN and other partners for responding to the emergency, South Sudan President Kiir also called on the business communities – both in South Sudan and abroad – to help the affected regions of South Sudan with whatever they can during these difficult times.

South Sudan Breaks Oil Embargo Imposed By Muslim North

By Joe Odaby

Juba — September 5, 2013 (SSN). The visit by South Sudan’s President Salva Kiir to Sudan’s capitol Khartoum on September 3-4, 2013, might prove a turning point in both bilateral and regional terms. In the climax of the Summit, Presidents Kiir and Omar al-Bashir signed oil export agreement guaranteeing the South Sudanese oil exports will continue “without any impediments” across “flexible but secure borders” between the two countries.

The agreement removes the immediate threat of economic strangulation and uncertainty by repeated Sudanese threats to close down the oil exports of South Sudan via the pipeline to Port Sudan.

Kiir and Bashir also agreed to “remove all obstacles” in bilateral relations and fully implement all existing cooperation agreements. In this context, the two presidents tilted toward the Juba interpretation of these mutual agreements – namely, the separation between economic issues and each of the various security issues from border delineation to the fate of Abye (where the referendum scheduled for October is unlikely to be implemented on time). Khartoum remained reticent, though.

“We are now taking new steps,” Bashir told Kiir. “We respect all the agreements … and are committed to implementing them as one package.” Kiir was more optimistic about the impact of the Summit. Khartoum and Juba must “close the old chapters and open a new page,” he said. “These two countries cannot always remain on a war footing. If they do that, they cannot offer services to their citizens.” Kiir considered the Khartoum Summit to be the springboard for a new era in bilateral relations. “I do not want these agreements to be on the books [only]; we will work to implement them fully and we are here for that,” Kiir noted.

This breakthrough did not happen in a vacuum. In early August, soon after the establishment of the new government, President Kiir instructed the government to come up with a breakout in the deadlocked relationship between South Sudan and Sudan. Within days, Foreign Minister Dr Barnaba Marial Benjamin announced the formulation of new Sudan policy in effort to address the immediate economic challenges and defuse mounting threats along their mutual border and elsewhere.

After rocky start and several delays in the planned Kiir-Bashir Summit, Juba succeeded to convince Khartoum of its sincerity and the Summit took place. Indeed, President Kiir arrived in Khartoum a mere 72 hours ahead of the expiration of the deadline set by Khartoum to halt the flow of South Sudanese oil via the pipeline to Port Sudan.

Beyond the dramatic oil export agreement, the Summit contributes to the overall building of trust and reducing tension between the two neighboring countries.

Ultimately, however, the greatest achievement of President Kiir in the Khartoum Summit is buying time and securing funds for consolidating the true independence of South Sudan from strategic and economic points of view. The arrested development of the first two years – the direct result of the country’s stifling by blocking of oil exports – can now end and the true potential of South Sudan be realized.

Juba will soon have the resources to properly address the growing geo-strategic and geo-economic importance of South Sudan in both economic and regional strategic spheres. Juba can free land locked South Sudan from dependence on one venue of export, as well as develop a system of regional alliances and joint infrastructure construction programs (particularly westward as favored by the EU and Russia).

Juba can also accomplish a long-overdue defense build-up to address the lingering domestic crises (particularly Jonglei), the growing regional instability (such as still unresolved Nile waters crisis), and the unprecedented build-up by the Sudanese Armed Forces (especially the Air Force).

With Juba’s new political vitality and acumen clearly demonstrated in the conduct during the Khartoum Summit – Western political leaders and senior experts are eagerly awaiting the follow-up moves at the geo-strategic and geo-economic levels.

South Sudan: Environmental, Social Management Framework Released

By Joe Odaby
South Sudan News

 Juba, South Sudan — August 28, 2013 (SSN) … The World Bank and bilateral donors are supporting efforts by the Government of the Republic of South Sudan to deliver services to the population through supporting the development of the Local Government Service Delivery Project (LGSD).

LGSD aims at supporting improvements in local governance and deliver services to communities through strengthening of community engagement and local government capacities in planning, implementation and oversight of local development activities.

The final Environmental and Social Management Framework (ESMF) document  for South Sudan is available on-line and can be read here.

This is part of the efforts of the newly appointed South Sudanese Government to advance broad reforms in all spheres of national life. On July 23, South Sudan President Salva Kiir Mayardit issued a presidential decree removing Vice-President Riek Machar Teny and dissolving the whole government of South Sudan.

Kiir dismissed all 29 ministers and deputy ministers. The decree directed the under-secretaries of the various ministries to run South Sudan’s ministries until further notice. The decree also stipulated the new government will have only 18 national ministers and deputy ministers in order to streamline government work. A senior official at the presidency predicted that government ministers will be replaced in a “very short time, as soon as possible.”

Fashoda Institute, the leading, Juba-based think-tank, asserts that “in embarking on the profound reshuffle of government, President Kiir put the national interest ahead of internal politics and the early posturing for the 2015 presidential elections”.

South Sudan is facing numerous emergencies and challenges as a result of the attempt at economic stifling by Sudan. The economic development of South Sudan has been arrested by the Sudanese blocking of oil exports – thus depriving South Sudan of its primary source of revenues.

The Fashoda Institute states that Sudan has been sponsoring – primarily through the supply of weapons, ammunition and funds – the sustenance and escalation of insurgencies and tribal violence throughout South Sudan to the detriment of internal development. Allegations of endemic corruption throughout the entire government – which already led Kiir to undertake drastic measures such as suspending two senior ministers – considerably restricted the availability of foreign aid.

“The ability of the Kiir Government to tackle these daunting challenges has been needlessly complicated by their cynical exploitation by Vice-President Machar”, reports the Fashoda Institute.

“President Kiir will have a new and invigorated government that will be able to finally tackle the key challenges facing South Sudan: building alternate oil export venues – both short-term and long-term regional infrastructure; enhancing security and suppressing violence both internally and along the borders with Sudan and the Central African Republic; and launching overdue major social and economic development to put the country on a long-term ascent track. Juba will thus demonstrate activism – that is, initiate and launch major programs rather than be beholden to foreign aid.

The Fashoda political analysts write that “President Kiir is correct in arguing that it was impossible to initiate anything beforehand because of the endemic lack of funds and government crises. Soon, with a new government in office and limited income from the short-term export push coming in – President Kiir’s Juba will be moving fast and resolutely to alleviate crises the moment this becomes possible”.

South Sudan Devastated By Floods, Requests Emergency Humanitarian Aid

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By John Leaman
South Sudan News

Juba — August 24, 2013  (SSN) … More than 18,000 people with over 1,000 households in South Sudan have been affected and others displaced from their homes by devastating floods that ravaged the Maiwut County in South Sudan’s Upper Nile State in recent days.

According to County authorities people are deeply suffering and lacking basic essentials. Women and children have mostly been displaced due to flooded homes.

Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF), the medical NGO, says about 90,000 people are still missing.

Over 48 people have been killed with severe damage to public buildings, including schools, clinics, offices, shops, markets and water and sanitation facilities. Roads in South Sudan have been inundated, disrupting transport.

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Many are still taking shelter at higher grounds and others remain in the open without any food or shelter and no proper medication as water born diseases increases with prevalence of increasing malaria cases where three have already lost their lives.

South Sudan’s Government is stepping in to provide emergency assistance to the flooded areas but the resources of the country are limited due to the economic Jihad waged against this new democratic state by its Islamist northern neighbor, Sudan.

South Sudan’s Government is calling on Humanitarian Organizations to step in and provide assistance immediately to avoid an escalation of malnutrition and diseases.

The floods have been the worst one in two decades and people fear more rains from across the neighboring Ethiopian highlands.

UN agencies led by OCHA and United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNIMSS) have already conducted a brief assessment mission in the area and explained that immediate assistance such as food, cover sheets and medicines and will be provided to the displaced people. 

South Sudan Common Humanitarian Fund Allocates 33 Million Dollars For Refugees

By Joe Odaby

 Juba — August 23, 2013 (SSN) … The South Sudan Common Humanitarian Fund (CHF) has allocated US$33 million for life-saving assistance until the end of the year to people displaced by violence, returnees, refugees and vulnerable host communities. The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) has said.

The money, according to a UNOCHA press statement will be channeled to providing clean water and sanitation, education, livelihoods support, healthcare, household items, nutrition, mine clearance and protection for the citizens of South Sudan..

“The money will help people in South Sudan who have been worst affected by violence, disease and displacement. Our goal is to make sure aid gets to those who need it most and as quickly as possible,” said Toby Lanzer, the UN’s Humanitarian Coordinator in South Sudan.

The CHF is a tool that provides funding for the most urgent priorities for humanitarian action, and ensures that funds are available for rapid response to emergencies. The fund is managed by the Humanitarian Coordinator, with support from an advisory board of donors and UN and NGO representatives.

To date this year, Australia, Belgium, Denmark, Ireland, Norway, Sweden and the United Kingdom have all provided generously to the fund, Lanzer said. With the new allocation of $33 million, the CHF will have channeled around $90 million to NGOs and UN agencies in 2013.

Aid agencies are now reporting that some sixty thousand (60,000) returnees displaced from Abyei region by the May 2011 Sudan Armed Forces (SAF) invasion have already returned home ahead of the much anticipated referendum exercise scheduled for October this year.

An Abyei return tracking report for June and July this year showed that about 16,000 people have been verified as having returned to Abyei since June 2012. While the verification process did not capture returns in and around Agok in the south of the Abyei area, food partners monthly registration records reportedly suggest that another between 5,000 and 8,000 people have returned and settled in Agok, an areas known to many as Annet.

“Overall, partners estimate that up to 60,000 of the over 100,000 people displaced from Abyei in May 2011 have returned” the United Nation’s weekly bulletin reported. According to the verification report, there are around 3,500 people living in Abyei town.

Aid organizations are said to be responding to the needs of those who have returned to their homes, including by providing communities with seeds, tools and non-food items to “strengthen their resilience”.

Although a number of schools in Abyei town have been rehabilitated, school enrollment, education partners say is much lower than anticipated.

Since 2003, over 2.3 million Darfuris have fled their homes, including nearly 300,000 as refugees in Chad. Thousands of children born in these camps have never known another home.

And the cycle of violence continues. In the first four months of 2013, over five times as many people had been displaced than in all of 2012. In one week alone in April 2013, some 50,000 Darfuris fled into southeastern Chad following fresh ethnic conflict. The refugees reported entire villages being burned and razed with many villagers killed.

In South Kordofan and Blue Nile, indiscriminate aerial bombardments are Sudan’s devastating signature tactic. Bombs destroy residential areas, schools and markets, health clinics and farm fields.

Civilians have no warning of these attacks and flee for protection to caves in nearby mountains or to the bush. Children go without school, and villages are emptied of their people. The air strikes, combined with scorched-earth attacks and deliberate obstruction of humanitarian aid, have led to chronic hunger and conditions conducive to famine.

The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights has stated the human rights violations by Sudan rise to the level of war crimes and crimes against humanity.

Sudan’s campaigns of armed conflict and deliberate denial of humanitarian aid combined with the prevention of South Sudanese oil exports continue to devastate entire communities and regions.

 

 

New South Sudan Minister For Gender Equality Focuses on Street Children

gender_minister_south_sudanHon. Awut Deng Acuil 
Photo: Simon Matip Akol

By Juliet Abango

Juba — August 20, 2013 (SSN) … The newly appointed National Minister of Gender, Child and Social Welfare the Hon. Awut Deng Aciul has urged the staff of her ministry to embrace teamwork if they are to record any meaningful success.
“Teamwork is the only way we can be able to achieve what we want for this ministry and the people of South Sudan”, Hon Aciul said while being officially received at the ministry.

 

She said the work at the ministry is massive and called for commitment and dedication. One of the major tasks of the ministry, she said, is tackling the problem of street children in South Sudan. She said her ministry will have to work with all players and the ten state’s ministries of Social Development in order to team up efforts to address the issue.
Like many of her fellow ministers, Hon. Aciul was received at the ministry with ululations, dancing and singing. Headed by the South Sudan Undersecretary Esther Ikere Eluzai, the staff members thanked the President of the Republic of South Sudan H.E. Salva Kiir Mayardit for appointing Hon Acuil as the Gender Minister.
After the meeting, Hon. Aciul visited the Physical Rehabilitation Centre (PRC), Rejaf School for the Blind and the Deaf along Nimule roads as well as the proposed ministry building along Yei road.

On July 23, South Sudan President Salva Kiir Mayardit issued a presidential decree removing Vice-President Riek Machar Teny and dissolving the whole government of South Sudan.

Kiir dismissed all 29 ministers and deputy ministers. Kiir did not appoint a new vice-president or national ministers and deputy ministers.

The decree directed the under-secretaries of the various ministries to run South Sudan’s ministries until further notice. The decree also stipulated the new government will have only 18 national ministers and deputy ministers in order to streamline government work. A senior official at the presidency predicted that government ministers will be replaced in a “very short time, as soon as possible.”

Officially, Kiir’s Presidential decree does not explain the reason for the major shake-up.

Senior government officials, including some fired by the decree, called the undertaking a “reshuffle” that had long been expected given the mounting problems in government work. Nhial Bol, the editor of the independent Citizen TV, concurred. He believes that the president must have acted in order to end government paralysis. “Things have not been moving in the government because of this internal fighting over who is going to control the SPLM,” Nhial Bol said.

Fashoda Institute, the leading, Juba-based think-tank, asserts that “in embarking on the profound reshuffle of government, President Kiir put the national interest ahead of internal politics and the early posturing for the 2015 presidential elections”.

The Fashoda Institute states that Sudan has been sponsoring – primarily through the supply of weapons, ammunition and funds – the sustenance and escalation of insurgencies and tribal violence throughout South Sudan to the detriment of internal development. Allegations of endemic corruption throughout the entire government – which already led Kiir to undertake drastic measures such as suspending two senior ministers – considerably restricted the availability of foreign aid.

“The ability of the Kiir Government to tackle these daunting challenges has been needlessly complicated by their cynical exploitation by Vice-President Machar”, reports the Fashoda Institute.

“President Kiir will have a new and invigorated government that will be able to finally tackle the key challenges facing South Sudan: building alternate oil export venues – both short-term and long-term regional infrastructure; enhancing security and suppressing violence both internally and along the borders with Sudan and the Central African Republic; and launching overdue major social and economic development to put the country on a long-term ascent track. Juba will thus demonstrate activism – that is, initiate and launch major programs rather than be beholden to foreign aid.

The Fashoda political analysts report that “President Kiir is correct in arguing that it was impossible to initiate anything beforehand because of the endemic lack of funds and government crises.

Soon, with a new government in office and limited income from the short-term export push coming in – President Kiir’s Juba will be moving fast and resolutely to alleviate crises the moment this becomes possible”.