Tag Archives: humanitarian

South Sudan Needs More Answers On Seized UNMISS Arms

By Joan Walters
South Sudan News

PaulJacob_ssnSouth Sudan Acting Director General of Information Paul Jacob viewing some of the guns
[Photo: Matata Safi]

Rumbek — March 10, 2014 … The rift between the Government of the Republic of South Sudan and the leadership of United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UMNISS) seems to be deepening after authorities in the Lakes state last week seized vehicles contracted by the later to transport ‘building materials’ were found to be carrying military hardware.

Thirteen of the privately owned vehicles belonging to different companies based in Juba are now been held in Lakes State capital Rumbek, and another unspecified number have also been detained beyond Rumbek.

 

Three of the thirteen detained semi-trailer vehicles each carrying two twenty-feet containers were searched and a number of firearms and ammunition were recovered.

 

The samples of the arms as were being ‘identified’ by military personel included; Rocket Propel Grenade (RPF) launchers, AK24, Gim files, Anti Riot guns, Binoculars [Ances-6 Trilium night bino], radio systems, Bayonets’ Anti-Personal Landlines among others.

 

UNMISS in a statement confirmed the incident and said the seized cargo were meant for its Ghanaian peacekeepers on a peace keeping mission in South Sudan.

 

“In connection with the transport of cargo of general goods belonging to the Ghanaian battalion on its way to Bentiu, several containers were wrongly labeled and inadvertently contained weapons and ammunition This is regrettable,” a UNMISS press release issued on Thursday partly read.

 

“It is the policy of the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) that during the crisis in South Sudan all arms and ammunition for peacekeeping contingents are flown into respective areas of deployment and not taken by road. This is an important security measure.” However the government says it needs more answers than ‘just’ issuing press releases.

 

“It is not enough that the South Sudan UN representative the other day issued a statement and admitted it was a mistake and called it an error; in security situations like this, we will not say ok, if it was a mistake, it is fine …some people must answer, some people must answer” South Sudan’s Information Minister Hon. Micheal Makuei Lueth who traveled to Rumbek on Saturday said after confirming the UN consignment that was impounded.

 

He wondered why the UN body did not following the correct procedures of handling military hardware, as they have been doing previously. We had earlier on established a system, that when importing arms and amunitions or any other military hardware, UNMISS informs the government before these items could begin to move from where they are been imported. It is there after that we [government] give them approval. Hon. Makuei explained. Adding that even after the equipment are moved to South Sudan, they are inspected before they are moved to their destination.

 

“UNMISS is not working in good faith, in fact our problem is not with UNMISS as a UN entity in South Sudan but with the personnel who are running UNMISS – why are they hiding these arms from the South Sudan government? This is an ill intension and this will not be accepted by the government of South Sudan” the Hon. Makuei who is also the government’s official spokesperson stressed.

 

The government earlier accused UNMISS for what is termed as ‘handing over’ of it vehicles and military tanks to the rebels of Dr. Riek machar who rebelled against the government after a failed coup attempt in mid December last year. UNMISS denied the charges.

 

At least from the offloaded containers, the arms and firearms were found parked at the far end of the container, while towards the entrance were building material as indicated on the way bill.

 

Containers bear varying destinations

Despite all waybills of the thirteen impounded vehicles indicating Bentiu as the last destination of delivery; varying labels could be seen on the containers suggesting that not all the containers were heading to Unity state as indicated in the waybills. Rumbek, Bentiu are some of the labels on the containers.

 

Lakes state Governor Matur Chut Dhuol wondered why the container(s) for Rumbek were not handed over to the UNMISS representatives in Lakes state. Governor Dhoul said it is time the UN brings fresh faces to its mission in South Sudan.  If you keep people in the same positions for very many years, they will get used to the system and begin manipulating it he said.

 

The drivers speaks out

Speaking to all the drivers of the different companies currently in custody, one thing was clear, all the drivers were not present when the containers were loaded.

 

“We are drivers of a company called Taslim, when these containers were filled, we were not there. When we arrived with out trucks, we found the containers had seals on them and were loaded on our truck; We were latter given the waybills indicating that what we had on board are building materials”, one driver of Kenyan origin who identified himself as Ali speaking in Kiswahili said.

 

As drivers we are not hired by UN nor paid by UN. We are here as drivers of our company that pays us; we do not know anything about these guns, he added.

They wanted to hire about twenty trucks, but am sure they did not find all that number, said another driver Abraham Ladu, a South Sudanese National who lives in Malakia, a suburb in the Capital Juba. Indeed we found there were many containers all sealed waiting to be transported at the UN base in Tongping; Laku whose company vehicle was hired on the 14th  of last month said

 

IGP was misled Hon: Makuei

Hon. Makuei said because of the blanket-trust that the government had on UNMISS, the Inspector General of Police (IGP) based on the waybills presented to him, he said issued a letter to all roadblocks and all the police commissioners of the states through which the vehicles would be passing, directing them to facilitate the free movement of the trucks. “It turned out that even the IGP was misled”, Hon. Makuei noted.

 

He congratulated the lake states government particularly the governor and the security operatives. He said if the hired vehicles were able to move thousands of kilometers only to be apprehended in Rumbek, ‘that means these vehicles have been moving everywhere”. Hon. Makuei further said the ‘UNMISS has given the government the licenses” to search any UN vehicle anywhere in South Sudan.

 

The high-level government delegation that was in Rumbek over the weekend to confirm the “illegal” transportation of UN arms included, Hon. Makuei, the Interior Minister Aleu Ayieng Aleu and the deputy minister of General Education Bol Makueng who went as a representative of the Ruling Party Sudan Peoples Liberation Movement (SPLM) and Paul Jacob Kumbo, the Acting Director General of Information in the Ministry of Information. Reporters from both public and private media houses were flown in to witness.

South Sudan VP James Wani Igga Returns To Juba From Abuja Summit

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Vice President HE James Wani Igga

By South Sudan News Staff

JUBA — March 7, 2014 … South Sudan Vice President HE James Wani Igga arrived in Juba from Abuja, the Capital of Nigeria on Thursday where he led a high level delegation to attend the just-concluded Human Security summit.

Upon arrival at Juba International Airport, His Excellence Igga, was received by the South Sudan Affairs and International Cooperation Minister Dr. Barnaba Marial Benjamin and other ministers and senior government officials.

“We had a very important visit to Nigeria. We arrived in Abuja on the February 27, it was a very big conference attended by over forty heads of states” the Vice President told reports in Juba. The seven-day conference centered on security, peace and development in Africa.

He said the South Sudan delegation, made fruitful engagements with a good number of heads of states within the sidelines of the conference where they briefed them on the political and economic situation in the country.

HE Igga also met with the Nigeria President Goodluck Jonathan and discussed matters of bilateral relations and cooperation.

 

African Union Welcomes Conclusion of Phase Two of South Sudan Peace Process

By Joe Odaby
South Sudan News

ADDIS ABABA — March 5, 2014 … The Chairperson of the Commission of the African Union (AU), Dr. Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, welcomed the conclusion of Phase II of the South Sudan Peace Process, after two weeks of substantive consultations on a Declaration of Principle and a Framework for Political Dialogue towards National Reconciliation and Healing.

She commended the IGAD Special Envoys, including its Chair, Ambassador Seyoum Mesfin, for their relentless efforts towards the resumption of the political negotiations and the progress they have achieved thus far.

The Chairperson of the Commission welcomed, in particular, the progress made in finalizing the Agreement on the Declaration of Principles. She expressed the hope that the parties would be able to sign this document at the resumption of the next phase of the talks, on 20 March 2014. The Chairperson reiterated AU’s full support to the envisaged deployment of an African stabilization force led by IGAD, as proposed by the Mediation.

The Chairperson of the Commission also welcomed the signing, on 3 March 2014, by the SPLM/A (in Opposition), of the Implementation Modalities in support of the Agreement on Cessation of Hostilities (CoH), which was signed by the Government of South Sudan on 24 February 2014.

As part of the implementation and consolidation of the CoH, the Chairperson of the Commission expresses AU’s support to the IGAD efforts. She looks forward to the early deployment of the Monitoring and Verification Teams (MVTs), as well as to the finalization of the work being done towards the deployment of the envisaged African force to protect the MVTs and contribute to the stabilization of the situation.

The Chairperson of the Commission reaffirmed the AU’s commitment to continue to work closely with IGAD and its Special Envoys to assist the South Sudanese parties in finding a consensual and comprehensive solution to the conflict in their country. In this regard, she wishes to remind the South Sudanese parties of the commitment they made to an all-inclusive dialogue and reconciliation process, with the aim of resolving the issues related to the current crisis and laying the foundation for lasting peace, security and stability in their country.

In this connection, the Chairperson of the Commission recalls earlier AU pronouncements, emphasizing the imperative of inclusivity with the participation of all stakeholders, both armed belligerents and those who did not take up arms, including other political actors, civil society, traditional and religious leaders, as well as the youth and women.

South Sudan: Rebels Shoot Patients in Hospital Beds

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By Joe Odaby
South Sudan News

Juba — February 27 … Patients in South Sudan have been shot to death in their hospital beds and medical facilities have been looted and burned to the ground by anti-government forces.

Doctors Without Borders announced that they have to re-examine their operations in the country.

Doctors Without Borders states that the extreme violence and lack of respect for health care workers, shown by rebels opposing South Sudan’s government has made Doctors Without Borders’ work almost impossible.

Members of the humanitarian aid group discovered at least 14 dead bodies in a hospital in the contested city of Malakal over the weekend, said the statement. Several of the dead bodies had been shot while lying in their beds, the aid group said. Rebels have been fighting government forces for control of the city, the capital of an oil-producing state.

In addition, Doctors Without Borders’ facilities in the towns of Leer and Bentiu have been looted and completely destroyed, said the group’s leader in South Sudan Raphael Gorgeu. He said Doctors Without Borders does not want to leave South Sudan but must look at the safety of its workers.

Gorgeu told the South Sudan News that his medical aid group does not want to pull out of South Sudan, where 800,000 people are displaced and 3.2 million in immediate need of food due to fighting that broke out in mid-December. Thousands have died in the violence.

At the end of January thousands of residents fled as fighting broke out in Leer, the home town of rebel leader and former South Sudan Vice President Riek Machar.

Doctors Without Borders has worked in Leer for 25 years, evacuated staff while 240 others fled into the bush. They returned this week to find their hospital — a facility that served 300,000 people — destroyed.

South Sudan: A Structural Turning Point

By Joe Odaby
South Sudan News

Juba — February 11 … The internationally respected African think-tank The Fashoda Institute has released a report analyzing the continuing unrest in Central African Republic, South Sudan, Mali and prescribing a change in African governance trends.

The Fashoda Institute comes to conclusion that “African states have to cope with the growing schism between the imperatives of the African modern state and the trends of the African population. Under pressure and in growing destitution, much of the African populace is returning to tribal, national, ethnic, and religious frameworks of self-identity in quest for solace, security, and shelter. This is a mega-trend which also takes place throughout Asia and even parts of Europe. In contrast, to be effective and successful in delivering security, stability, reforms, good governance, development, food and water, modern states must be tribe-blind”.

“There is an urgent imperative to formulate new checks and balances between the sub-state, state, and supra-state (regional) levels of self-identity and quests for self-determination”, asserts the think-tank. “This means the imperative for reassessment of all basic services and infrastructure, particularly security, education, energy, communications, and transportation. To be effective in the vast rural areas, all of these long-term planning and reforms must be undertaken with close attention being paid to sub-state and supra-state, or regional, identities and aspirations.”

“Ultimately, the tangible success of proposed long-term reforms and development programs depends first and foremost on the legitimization, trust, and cooperation between state authorities and the populace; both individuals and groupings”, points the Fashoda Institute.

“To succeed, states and regional bodies must be both tribe-blind in caring for all the people as equally as humanly possible, and also tribe-sensitive and -conscious in order to care and cater for heritage sensitivities and proclivities. This delicate balancing will enable the grassroots to celebrate and preserve their distinctions and self-identities while eradicating the ability of aspirant leaders to exploit real, manufactured and imaginary tribal and sectarian tensions and self-identities as the levers to rebel against the modern state and the government”.

The analysis concludes with the summary: “These challenges must be addressed at an all-African level, given the artificiality of African borders and the importance of cross-border population connections. Unfortunately the African Union has so far failed to rise to the challenge. It brings the conclusion that African states must establish small regional groupings to address these burning issues before it is too late. This is the essence of the most urgent reforms”.

South Sudan: Rebels Stole 1,700 Tons of Food From Poor

south_sudan_looted
Empty tins litter the ground at the looted compound
of an aid agency in Malakal, South Sudan.

By Joe Odaby
South Sudan News

Juba — February 6, 2014 … In its latest analytical report from the respected African think-tank The Fashoda Institute, it is pointed out that “in South Sudan the ceasefire is becoming a political nightmare. Localized fighting continues because coup leader and former Vice-President Riek Machar has no control over the rebel forces, while the administration of President Salva Kiir in Juba is under international pressure to make more and more concessions to rebels”.

The Fashoda Institute points that “liberal West’s traditional approach — that the “rebels” represent the real interests of the people while the government pursues interests of the establishment — is maintained irrespective of emerging evidence to the contrary.

This approach is being applied to Machar, the ostensibly romantic rebel, while in reality Juba has to cope with the destruction and looting of the stockpiles of the United Nations World Food Program (WFP) in Malakal (the capital of the Upper Nile State) when it was under rebel control”.

According to UN officials, thousands of people — mainly rebel soldiers and ordinary civilians — loaded the supplies into donkey carts and trucks and took off for the bush where Machar’s forces were trying to reorganize under SPLA pressure.

The WFP estimates that 1,700 tonnes of food were stolen: long-term supplies for about 100,000 of the poorest people in South Sudan.

Concurrently, rebel forces assaulted and looted the MédecinsSans Frontièreshospital in Leer, Machar’s hometown in the southern parts of Unity State. This hospital treats both the local population and refugees from across the Sudanese border. Consequently, most of the staff and ambulatory patients fled the hospital. Only about 30 staff members remained, trying to care for severely ill patients in the nearby bush. Until the rebel attack, the Leer hospital was the only functioning hospital in Unity State.

On February 2, 2014, SPLA forces returned to Leer and restored order.

Throughout South Sudan food shortages are growing because rebel ambushes and raids make food distribution by international aid organizations impossible.

Obama’s “Humanitarian Interventionism” in Africa is Exacerbating Conflicts

By Joe Odaby

Juba — January 25, 2014 … The respected African think-tank The Fashoda Institute has published an analysis of the root causes of the current turmoil in the Central African Republic and South Sudan. It blames US-led Western interventionism which is focused on “feel-good, instant-gratification” in the Western media while having access to African riches as its primary objective.

Fashoda analyses the pattern of the US demands made of the local governments and leaders, naming the constant three: “Cease hostilities immediately and at all cost. This effectively rewards those who provoked and unleashed the hostilities and those who use civilians as human shields; Immediately implement Western-style democratic reforms, human rights, and swift elections. This undermines local governments, rooted in local customs and practices, and prevents them from addressing the real crises; and Establish weak governments totally dependent on Western patronage and protection for survival –both  for security and economically — and  then extort them for access to local riches”.

Fashoda notes that “these interventions continue as if the recent West-orchestrated “regime changes” in Iraq, Egypt, Libya, Syria (attempted), and even Mali worked or benefitted the public at large. Undaunted, the US and France continue to lead the West in self-destruct policies in sub-Saharan Africa because of blatant disregard of the facts and realities on the ground while pursuing feel-good, instant-gratification interventionism”.

“The coup in South Sudan would not have happened without the conviction of the Riek Machar camp that they had the support and endorsement of the US-led West”, asserts the analysis. “In Autumn 2013, the Obama White House all but encouraged Machar to rebel, warmly endorsed Machar’s rhetoric about reforms and human rights, arranged for supporting coverage in the Western liberal media, and harshly criticized Pres. Kiir’s actions and record. Private foundations, mostly very close to the Obama coterie, were urged to funnel funds to Machar. Thus, the Obama White House and the liberal foci of power in the West created the impression of support and endorsement should Machar seize power.”

“Obama’s continues to threaten President Salva Kiir Mayardit and his government with sanctions and cutting of aid in order to coerce Juba into giving Machar victory in a failed coup rejected by the vast majority of South Sudanese”, notes the think-tank.

“Significantly, the US position stands in stark contrast with both all African states and all other Western powers, all of which rejected the coup and have supported the restoration of state authority in Juba.“

The grassroots Nuer population from Bor to Bentiu refused to cooperate with the coup attempt. The main Nuer communities demonstrated by action that they preferred Kiir’s tribe-blind nation-building to Machar’s sectarian benefits. Meanwhile, the vast majority of the Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA) — including both Nuer troops and senior officers — remained loyal to the State and carried out successful operations against the rebel forces.

“The Obama Administration’s distinct — and failed — intervention on the side of a power-hungry Machar and its willingness to derail the tribe-blind nation building effort in South Sudan will not be forgotten or ignored not only by virtually all South Sudanese, nor by the bulk of sub-Saharan African leaders and peoples who dread the reawakening of the tribal-secessionist ghosts”, concludes the Fashoda Institute.

South Sudan: Cease-Fire Signed

southsudan_ceasefireSouth Sudan’s government-delegation leader Nhial Deng Nhial (left) and the rebel-delegation leader Taban Deng Gai (right) shake hands after signing a ceasefire agreement in Addis Ababa.

By South Sudan News Staff

NAIROBI, Kenya —  January 23 … The government of South Sudan was pleased to announce that rebels loyal to the country’s ousted former vice president signed a cease-fire agreement today. The cease-fire ends more than a month of fighting that displaced thousands of people.

Under the agreement, signed in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa, both sides in the conflict promised to lay down their weapons. But they have also said that a cessation of hostilities would be a temporary measure, short of a formal peace agreement, and that negotiations would have to continue.

The cease-fire was scheduled to begin 24 hours after the signing.

“We promise total cooperation in the monitoring and verification mechanism that we urge the special envoys to quickly set in motion,” said Nhial Deng Nhial, the head of the South Sudanese government delegation.

South Sudan: UK Legislators Demand Riek Machar Stops Using Child Soldiers

By Joe Odaby
South Sudan News

Juba — January 20 … Former Vice Speaker of the House of the Lords Baroness Cox, Lord Alton of Liverpool, Lord Avebury, Sir Peter BottomleyMP, Lord Chidgey, Nic Dakin MP, Jeffrey Donaldson MP, Baroness Kinnock, Lord Lea of Crondall, Stephen Mosley MP, The Earl of Sandwich and John Mann MP have sent a letter to the Times pointing out that while hostilities occur in South Sudan, “in the Republic of Sudan a systematic campaign of aerial bombardments and other atrocities continues, committed by the government in Khartoum against civilians in South Kordofan, Blue Nile state and Darfur. As the rest of the world turns its attention to South Sudan, the suffering of these people will be forgotten and aid will be diverted or denied”.

British legislators, all with extensive experience in foreign affairs and African issues in particular, note that “the current conflict has been wrongly caricatured as primarily an ethnic dispute between the two main tribal groups, the Dinka and the Nuer.

Although tribal identity has been a historic basis for conflict and continues to be a factor in recent violence, the current fighting is not simply based on ethnicity – for example, the General Chief of Staff, who remains loyal to the Dinka President of South Sudan, is a Nuer”.

Members of the UK’s House of the Lords and House of Commons have urged “the leader of the rebellion, Riek Machar, to demobilize all child soldiers who have been fighting alongside his forces, including those in the so-called White Army”.

 

The legislators have expressed their support for the current peace talks led by the Inter-Governmental Authority on Development (IGAD) to secure an immediate cessation of hostilities and urged the UK’s Prime Minister David Cameron to add his strong support to the ongoing IGAD negotiations.

South Sudan Optimistic Of Reaching Ceasefire

southsudanpeacetalksjan2014

By South Sudan News Staff

Juba — January 15 … The head of the South Sudan governmental delegation on peace talks has expressed optimism over ongoing peace talks with rebels loyal to former South Sudan Vice President Dr. Riek Machar in the Ethiopian Capital, Addis Ababa.

Nhial Deng Nhial, the Head of the South Sudan government negotiation team arrived home from Addis Ababa on Monday for consultations with President Salva Kiir following the start of face to face talks with the rebels in its first day on Monday.

“We are hopeful,” Nhial told journalists in Juba on Tuesday shortly after meeting President Kiir.
“So there is an intense process that is going on aimed at arriving and speedily as possible to cessation of hostilities,” he said.

“Initially, there was a hiccup that threatened to scuttle the negotiation but fortunately the problem was resolved. The other side basically insisted that they cannot talk unless they see that the detainees are set free,” Nhial said.

“I want to tell you that it will not be very long until a cessation of hostilities agreement is signed,” Ateny Wek Ateny, a spokesman for President Salva Kiir, told reporters in Juba.

Three Chief mediators from Sudan, Ethiopia and Kenya on behalf of the Inter-governmental Authority on Development (IGAD) are brokering the talks and also arrived in Juba to meet President Kiir for consultations.

Release of detainees before the talks reaches a peak and a commitment to other issues including cessation of hostilities remained key demand of the rebels.

Though South Sudan government said the detainees, accused of masterminding a Coup on the 15 of  last month, can only be released in accordance with the laws of South Sudan.

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More than 400,000 South Sudanese civilians have been driven from their homes by the fighting, with most believed to be internally displaced in the country and nearly 80,000 fleeing to neighboring countries.

As rebels advanced, crowds of civilians fled to the river to escape the violence, rushing into barges to cross the White Nile. Amid the frenzy, officials said Tuesday, more than 200 people were killed when the ferry carrying them to safety went down.

All of the people killed, possibly as many as 300, were civilians, including children abandoning the town of Malakal, said Colonel Philip Aguer, a spokesman for the South Sudanese military. “The boat was overloaded,” he said.