Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Youth speak out against war and tribalism in Yei

Youth speak out against war and tribalism in Yei

Link to web article here.

Nearly one hundred people from all sixty four tribes in South Sudan attended a two day workshop that denounced youth involvement in the country’s continuing conflict.

Recently, the Yei area has seen heavy fighting between government and rebel forces.

“Our tribes in South Sudan like violence, revenge, looting by using arms, and hate. This old phenomenon must be forgotten,” said Yei Episcopal Bishop Hillary Luate Adeba. “Some people are using you as tools for their own benefit and you continuously remain poor and hungry behaving on behalf of somebody whose stomach is big and has a fat bank account. Say no to such people.”

The designate commissioner for Yei River County Cosmas Bidali Wori-Kojo urged the youth to be agents of positive transformation.

“Let this peace initiative be a source that bring all of you together in unity for peace, development, and progressive leaders of tomorrow,” he said.

Micaheal Malish has called on his fellow youth to abandon the culture of tribalism, corruption and war, but instead work hard for peace and economic development.

“It’s high time for us as youth to avoid this traditional way of tribalism but work hard to attain peace” he said.

Kenyan President visits Juba to push for peace

Kenyan President visits Juba to push for peace

Link to web article here.

Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta visited South Sudan on Tuesday to discuss how to move the country forward in its peace deal.

He was the first head of state to visit the country after the recent fighting in July, and comes just days before the United Nations Security Council is expected to visit South Sudan.

"I am glad to have seen for myself that after the unfortunate incident that took place a few weeks ago, it looks like everything is back to normal, there is peace in Juba," Kenyatta said at J1. "We are here to encourage and give support, to ask the government to push the peace agreement and the reforms that were agreed,"

President Kiir said the visit showed strong leadership in East Africa.

"For President Uhuru to come to Juba as the first head of state after our crisis, it shows that the regional leadership is with us, and they are very concerned about the situation in South Sudan," Kiir said.

Court convicts 60 South Sudanese soldiers for murder

Court convicts 60 South Sudanese soldiers for murder

Link to web article here.

August 30, 2016 (JUBA) – A military court has convicted 60 soldiers of murdering civilians and for looting during last month’s fighting in the South Sudanese capital, Juba.
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South Sudanese SPLA soldiers are pictured in Pageri in Eastern Equatoria state on August 20, 2015 (Photo AFP/Samir Bol)

The spokesperson for the Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA) Brig. Gen. Lul Ruai Koang said President Salva Kiir would decide the fate of the 60 convicted soldiers.

“60 soldiers have been charged and found guilty of various crimes including looting, killing of civilians and other misbehaviours,” Lul told Sudan Tribune by phone Tuesday.

He, however, said no soldier was charged with rape contrary to widespread claims of abuse against women and girls allegedly committed by forces loyal to President Kiir.

Last month, a compound hosting humanitarian workers was attacked when forces loyal to former first vice president Riek Machar fought street battles with those allied to Kiir.

“We don’t have evident about rape as reported by UNMISS [UN Mission in South Sudan] or any other persons because nobody came forward,” Lul further revealed.

According to the army spokesman, the court martial, formed in July by orders of the army chief of general staff, listened to the charges and found only 60 of the soldiers out of the more than 100 accused, guilty of looting markets, homes and killing civilians.

"Once the president approves the court ruling, the sentences will be implemented," he stressed.

A number of human rights entities as well as the United Nations had in the past accused South Sudanese soldiers of gross human rights violations, allegations the army denies.


Hunger Grips Thousands of New South Sudan Refugees in Uganda

Hunger Grips Thousands of New South Sudan Refugees in Uganda

Refugees listen as UN High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi speaks during a visit to a transit center for South Sudanese refugees in the remote northwestern district of Adjumani, near the border with South Sudan, Uganda, Aug. 29, 2016.

Link to web article here.

When the refugees arrive at this camp near the border with South Sudan, the beans provided by the United Nations are their only source of protein. There is no milk, not even for the toddlers with distended bellies who tightly hold onto their mothers' skirts in the intense afternoon heat.

Now, less than two months since a new outbreak of violence in South Sudan sent a surge of about 70,000 refugees into this neighboring East African country, the U.N. and its partners are struggling to feed them. Last month, the U.N. announced that South Sudanese refugees who arrived in Uganda before this latest wave would see food rations or cash allowance cut in half.

As the U.N. refugee chief visited Monday, some of the refugees held up placards demanding better rations and a chance to move out of overcrowded camps and grow food for themselves.

The refugees are running "on empty stomachs,'' they said in a memo they presented to U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi.

The humanitarian emergency could become a disaster if things go out of control, Grandi said. "The resources are still insufficient.''

Close to one million people have fled South Sudan since civil war began in December 2013, and a peace deal reached a year ago has been repeatedly violated. Tens of thousands have been killed.

Nyumanzi Transit Center, built to hold 2,000 refugees before they can be sent to a more permanent settlement, is now home to more than 7,000 newcomers, most of them women and children. They live in crowded structures of tarpaulin that bake like furnaces in the sun.

There are not enough toilets and water sources. Earlier this month, a cholera outbreak in some refugee centers infected 54 people; no deaths were reported. Young girls going out to collect firewood or fetch water have been sexually assaulted.

But it is the food that causes the greatest concern. The U.N. rations are beans and a corn porridge known locally as posho.

Martina Murra, a 56-year-old woman who was among those who erupted in tribal song and dance at the sight of Grandi, said her five children were starving.

A 15-year-old from South Sudan, Henry Ojja, nodded.

"Sometimes we eat posho without sauce,'' he said.

The U.N.'s World Food Program says it needs about $7 million a month to provide life-saving food assistance to refugees in Uganda.

Earlier this month, the U.N. and Uganda's government said about 200,000 refugees who arrived before July 2015 would have their food rations or cash assistance reduced by 50 percent because of low funding and the surge in new arrivals.

A full ration means 2,122 calories of food per person per day during their first year, decreasing as they become increasingly self-reliant, according to WFP. Others get cash, which they can spend however they choose.

At the edges of Pagirinya camp, home about 20,000 more settled South Sudanese refugees, shops are being erected for businesses selling everything from groceries to timber. Shelters hammered out of iron sheets dot the verdant plains, makeshift homes for refugees who try to survive the unpredictable rations by planting crops like corn.

This is the life that Richard Lagu, 22, hopes for once he leaves the holding center he shares with family members after fleeing South Sudan following the latest fighting.

He said he was happy to be in Uganda, where fully settled refugees can access the same health facilities and schools as the locals.

Asked when he might return home, Lagu said simply: "I don't know.''

South Sudan court martials 60 soldiers

South Sudan court martials 60 soldiers

2016-08-29 20:30
Link to web article here
Nairobi - Sixty South Sudanese soldiers have been tried before a court martial for alleged crimes committed during last month's fighting in the capital Juba, the army spokesperson said on Monday.

Brigadier-General Lul Ruai Koang told AFP they include looting, murder, shooting and loitering with at least two officers convicted of murder. He said the military is "waiting for presidential approval" before revealing the exact number of those convicted and their sentences.

"They have been tried and the sentences have been passed to the high authorities," Koang said.

However, none of the 60 were charged with rape, despite many reported incidents of sex attacks by government soldiers on civilians and aid workers.

Koang said rape victims had failed to come before the court martial, which was neither held in public nor publicised in advance.

"One problem we have been having is lack of evidence. We have been accused left and right by Human Rights Watch and UNMISS [the UN Mission in South Sudan] but unfortunately they have not come forward with evidence for us to move forward against those who have been suspected of committing the crime," Koang said.

"As we speak now we have not received a single complainant who says or confirms that she has been raped so it has been very difficult for us to bring any soldier to book because of lack of evidence," he said.

Koang added that anyone with evidence should bring it to the military.

Survivors of attacks, human rights groups and the UN all reported many rapes during and after an outbreak of fighting between government and opposition forces in the capital last month threatening an already weak peace agreement.

At least 300 people were killed in the latest violence, and more than 60 000 forced to flee the country.

South Sudan's civil war began in December 2013, but a peace deal signed a year ago has so far failed to end the fighting.

Sudan: Drop all charges and release activists detained for exercising their rights

Sudan: Drop all charges and release activists detained for exercising their rights

Link to web article here.

Sudanese authorities should drop all charges against 10 activists affiliated with Tracks for Training and Development (TRACKs), a Khartoum-based training organisation, and immediately and unconditionally release three men who have been detained since May 2016 solely for the peaceful exercise of their rights, the African Centre for Justice and Peace Studies, Amnesty International, DefendDefenders, the International Federation for Human Rights and the International Refugee Rights Initiative said today.

The activists affiliated with TRACKs – which provides training on a range of issues from IT to human rights - are facing two overlapping criminal cases, one opened following a raid on the organisation in March 2015 and another following a second raid in February 2016. They have been charged with a number of offences including crimes against the state that carry the death penalty. The two cases were scheduled to be heard on 24 August 2016, but were postponed to 30 August.

“The criminal charges, arrests and raids all appear aimed at intimidating TRACKs staff members and disrupting the operation of the organisation,” said Mossaad Mohamed Ali, Executive Director of the African Centre for Justice and Peace Studies. “Sudan must immediately and unconditionally release the detainees, drop all charges that stem from their peaceful activities and let TRACKS staff and their affiliates conduct their work without fear of reprisals.”

Three of the accused are held in detention at Al Huda Prison in Omdurman North, Khartoum. TRACKS director Khalafalla al Afif Mukhtar, TRACKS trainer Midhat Afif al-Deen Hamdan, and the director of Alzarqaa Organisation for Rural Development, Mustafa Adam, who happened to be visiting TRACKS at the time of the February raid, were detained on 22 May together with six others who were released within two weeks.

The group of eight was charged on 15 August and the three men were transferred to Al Huda prison on the same day. They had spent 86 days without charge at the Office of the Prosecutor for State Security in Khartoum in inhumane conditions, in a cell that was overcrowded, with poor ventilation and restricted access to sanitation. Khalafalla al Afif Mukhtar, who suffers from a heart condition, was denied medical treatment on a number of occasions at the Prosecutor’s office and fainted twice due to the heat.
The very serious criminal charges, which include allegations of waging war against the state and espionage, are baseless and reflect a grave and increasing misuse of the criminal justice system to harass and intimidate civil society groups in Sudan
Sarah Jackson, Deputy Regional Director for East Africa, the Horn and the Great Lakes
Also on 22 May 2016, Sudan’s National Intelligence and Security Service (NISS) reactivated an earlier criminal case, number 56/2015, brought against TRACKS director Khalafalla al Afif Mukhtar and Adil Bakheit, a well-known independent human rights trainer who had delivered trainings for TRACKS, following a raid on the organisation in March 2015.

The men were charged in April and May 2015 with seven offences including three under the category of crimes against the state that carry the death penalty. However, they heard nothing further about the case until they were summoned to court on 22 May and informed that two other members of TRACKS staff, administration manager Arwa Al-Rabie and accountant Nudaina Kamal, were also accused in the case. The hearing has been adjourned five times because the investigator failed to attend.

“The very serious criminal charges, which include allegations of waging war against the state and espionage, are baseless and reflect a grave and increasing misuse of the criminal justice system to harass and intimidate civil society groups in Sudan,” said Sarah Jackson, Deputy Regional Director for East Africa, the Horn and the Great Lakes at Amnesty International.  “In both cases, the Prosecution has failed to provide written confirmation of the names of the accused or charges brought against them, or provide details on the factual or legal basis for the charges, and has repeatedly delayed proceedings, undermining the right to a fair trial”.

The charges appear to be part of an on-going pattern of harassment and intimidation against TRACKS and other civil society groups by the NISS.

During the two raids on TRACKS in March 2015 and February 2016, NISS officers confiscated laptops, mobiles, and documents and repeatedly summoned staff for interrogation afterwards. On 11 June 2016, NISS officials searched the home of TRACKS director Khalafalla al Afif Mukhtar and the homes of three of his relatives. Officials seized printed materials and the family’s cash savings and briefly detained his brother, Jamal Mukhtar.

The Sudanese authorities have unduly restricted the rights to freedom of expression, peaceful assembly and association, including by shutting down newspapers, using excessive force to break up protests, and placing arbitrary restrictions on civil society organisations. The Confederation of Sudanese Civil Society Organisations reported that in the last quarter of 2015 three organisations faced undue restrictions in the renewal of their licences, one local organisation was denied registration and another was forcibly closed without reasons being given. In March this year, the NISS stopped four civil society representatives from travelling to Switzerland for a high level meeting with diplomats in preparation for a UN-led human rights review of Sudan and confiscated their passports.

“Sudan continues to unlawfully restrict civil society through forced closures, raids and obstructions to the registration of organisations, as well the harassment and arbitrary  detention of activists and human rights defenders,” said Hassan Shire, Executive Director of DefendDefenders. “The government should stop these repressive tactics and allow Sudanese civil society to operate freely.”

Human rights organisations have long called on Sudan to reform repressive laws, including the National Security Act of 2010 which vests the security agency with wide powers of arrest and detention for up to four and a half months without judicial review in addition to powers of search and seizure. Sudan also continues to use the death penalty, implemented by hanging, for a range of offences. These laws have been used to crack down on civil society and human rights defenders.

“Sudan must reform its laws in line with its own constitution and international obligations, especially the National Security Act; the Volunteer and Humanitarian Work Act of 2006; and the Criminal Law of 1991,” said Andie Lambe, Executive Director of the International Refugee Rights Initiative.

For more information or to arrange an interview, please contact:

For the African Centre for Justice and Peace Studies in Kampala, Mossaad Mohamed Ali, Executive Director, +256 779584542 or Katherine Perks, Programme Director, +256 775072136,
For Amnesty International in Nairobi, Seif Magango, Media Manager – East Africa, +254 20 4283020 / +254 788 343897,

Further information 

Case number 110/2016 was filed on 15 August against eight TRACKS staff and affiliates: TRACKS director Khalafalla al Afif Mukhtar, trainer Midhat Afif al-Deen Hamdan and the director of Alzarqaa Organisation for Rural Development, Mustafa Adam are detained at Al-Huda prison. Also accused in the case are two TRACKs trainers, Al-Hassan Kheiry and Abu Hureira Abdelrahman, TRACKS administration manager Arwa Ahmed Elrabie and volunteer Imany Leyla Raye, as well as Albaqir al Afif Mukhtar, the director of another organisation, Alkhatim Adlan Centre for Enlightenment and Human Development (KACE), who is the brother of the Khalafalla al Afif Mukhtar. Abu Hureira and Albaqir al Afif Mukhtar were outside Sudan when the charges were issued.

Case number 56/2015 was brought against Khalafalla al Afif Mukhtar and Adil Bakheit in April and May 2015. After more than a year were summoned to court on 22 May 2016 and informed that two other TRACKS staff, administration manager Arwa Al-Rabie and accountant Nudaina Kamal, were also accused in the case.

Trial of detained Christian pastors resume in the Sudanese capital

Trial of detained Christian pastors resume in the Sudanese capital

Link to web article here.

August 29, 2016 (KHARTOUM) - Trial of Christian pastors resumed on Monday in the Sudanese capital, Khartoum amid remarkable presence from western diplomats and rights groups.
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South Sudanese worshippers attend Sunday prayers in Baraka parish church in Haj Yusif on the outskirts of Khartoum on 10 February 2013 (Photo: Mohamed Nureldin Abdallah/Reuters)

Last week a Sudanese court began the trial of two Sudanese Christian pastors, a Czech missionary filmmaker and a human rights activist. The four are accused of conducting intelligence activities and providing material support for the rebels in South Kordofan.

Charges were filed against the defendants under articles of the Criminal Code and article (29) of the Passports and Immigration Law on sneaking into the country illegally besides article (23) of the Humanitarian and Voluntary Work Act pertaining to running a voluntary organization without registration.
Some of those charges are punishable by death.

During the court session, the prosecutor displayed several photos and videos seized from the Czech missionary filmmaker showing sites from the war-affected areas in South Kordofan, saying the latter handed over these photos to a foreign organization by the name of BBF.

He added that the photos show a team from the BBF looking at a map of the Nuba Mountain and planning to go to areas claimed to be destroyed by the Sudanese army, pointing they were intending to interview civilians who they say tortured by the Sudanese authorities.

The prosecutor also presented pictures in which the accused appear with members of the BBF and the Sudan People’s Liberation Army/North besides photos of destroyed buildings that were claimed to be bombarded by government warplanes.

The judge, Osama Ahmed Abdallah, pointed the photos underscored that the accused was present alongside the BBF team in the Nuba Mountains in 2012.

On Saturday, the SPLM-N) called on the United States Special Envoy Donald Booth who is visiting the country nowadays to help to secure the release of detained pastors and activists in Sudan.

Last August, a Sudanese court acquitted two South Sudanese pastors who were charged with espionage and inciting tribal sentiments and ordered their immediate release after they spent seven month in detention.

Monday, August 29, 2016

S. Sudan peace monitors say ready to work with new VP

S. Sudan peace monitors say ready to work with new VP

Link to web article here.

August 29, 2016 (JUBA) – The body monitoring implementation of South Sudan’s peace agreement said it would work with the controversially-appointed first vice president Taban Deng Gai, although hopes for honoring last year’s peace accord were diminishing.
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President Salva Kiir (R) embraces Taban Deng Gai after his swearing-in ceremony as FVP at the Presidential Palace in the capital of Juba, July 26, 2016 (Photo Reuters Jok Solumun)

The Joint Monitoring and Evaluation Commission (JMEC) said President Salva Kiir and former first vice President Riek Machar “lack political will” to work together and implement the peace agreement.

“Although the legitimacy of Taban Deng [Gai] as First Vice President is questionable, diplomats will work with him because they don’t have an option,” JMEC chairman and Festus Mogae told the Associated Press.

Gai was appointed to replace Machar, a move described as “illegal” by supporters of the ex-ebel leader. Machar fled the South Sudanese capital Juba when his bodyguards clashed with soldiers loyal to President Kiir. He is now in Sudanese capital Khartoum.

JMEC’s position to work with Gai come days after US secretary of state, John Kerry and regional countries vowed last week to cooperate with the country’s new vice president.

Mogae said Kiir and Machar lack the political will to work together for peace in South Sudan.

“There is no political will to implement the peace agreement. They [Kiir and Machar] are bent on a military solution, not political solution,” he said.

He said Gai’s appointment adds weight to efforts to realize peace in the country.

“I am more disillusioned or less optimistic than I was when I first came. I thought that commonsense and logic could persuade them to do right thing,” said the ex-Botswana leader.

Egypt, Sudan, Ethiopia have surpassed disputes over GERD: Sudanese FM

Egypt, Sudan, Ethiopia have surpassed disputes over GERD: Sudanese FM

An Egyptian-Sudanese summit will be held in Cairo in October, says Ghandour

Egypt, Sudan, and Ethiopia have surpassed their disputes over the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD), and have moved to a new cooperative phase in economic, political, and security-related fields, Sudanese foreign minister Ibrahim Ghandour said on Saturday.

In a press statement, Ghandour added that the three countries are currently considering the cooperation plans suggested by Egypt. He added that some events are upcoming to further boost this cooperation, such as an Egyptian-Sudanese summit held in Cairo in October, as well as a tripartite summit in which the three heads of state will announce a new development fund between the three countries.

Former assistant minister of foreign affairs Mona Omar commented on Ghandour’s statements, saying that the disagreement between Egypt and Ethiopia is focused on different opinions rather than over the GERD. For the issue of the dam, the two countries will rely on consultation offices.

However, Nader Nour Al-Din, a professor of water resources, previously told Daily News Egypt that these consultation offices will not prove fruitful, as these studies will take 12 months to conduct, by which time Ethiopia will have completed construction of the dam.

The three countries signed in March 2015 a declaration of principles, whereby they agreed on the construction of the dam. Nevertheless technical studies will be conducted to guarantee that each country’s water share will not be affected.

Though GERD has strained relations between Egypt and Ethiopia since the beginning of its construction, Foreign Ministry spokesperson Ahmed Abou Zeid previously told Daily News Egypt that it had no effect whatsoever on the bilateral relations between the two countries.

Ethiopian minister of information and communications said in May that about 70% of the dam’s construction is complete.

South Sudan wants big budget despite economy in ruins

South Sudan wants big budget despite economy in ruins

JUBA: The government of South Sudan, whose economy has been ravaged by years of war, has adopted an ambitious budget for 2016-2017 of around one billion dollars, three times as big as the previous year’s.

Link to web article here.

“The purpose of this budget is to implement the peace agreement,” Information Minister Michael Makuei told AFP on Friday, referring to a deal signed in August 2015.

The budget proposal has yet to be approved by parliament, but it will likely be accepted as most of the world’s newest nation’s lawmakers are loyal to President Salva Kiir’s government.

Adopted on Thursday by the government, the 30 billion South Sudanese pound $1 billion draft was delayed earlier this summer by a spike in violence, the latest upsurge in two-and-a-half years of war.

It is not yet clear however where South Sudan will find the funds it would need to finance the budget, as fighting continues in parts of the country, leaving key trading routes to the capital blocked.

Asked about the possible sources of funding, the information minister told AFP: “We know where we will get the money. You need not to know where we can get the money.”

Makuei added: “The budget is higher than that of last year simply because last year there was no agreement on implementation” of a peace deal.

South Sudan’s economy, ravaged by a civil war that erupted in 2013, was further damaged by a wave of clashes in July that pitted President Kiir’s troops against the former vice president Riek Machar’s forces in the capital Juba.

At least 300 people were killed in the latest violence, and more than 60,000 forced to flee the country.

Among those who escaped were many of the nation’s traders and bankers, leading many businesses to close.

On the street, the South Sudanese pound’s value has plummeted dramatically, with the exchange rate at 70 pounds to the US dollar — nearly two and a half times the official rate.

Oil production too, which at the time of independence five years ago contributed 98 percent of the national budget, has sunk to just under 150,000 barrels a day.

Inflation meanwhile is soaring at 600 percent a year, leading to a massive hike in the prices of basic goods.