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Saturday, September 24, 2016

South Sudan: Number of refuges reaches the one million mark; half of the population is in need of lifesaving assistance and protection

South Sudan: Number of refuges reaches the one million mark; half of the population is in need of lifesaving assistance and protection


22 September, 2016
Wau, 2 August 2016: More than 20,000 people are seeking protection at a protected site adjacent to the UNMISS base as a result of the conflict. Credit: OCHA/E.Sacco

Link to web article here.

USG O'Brien's Remarks at High Level event on South Sudan on the margins of the 71st Session of the General Assembly

Ministers, Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,

I would like to thank you once again for your participation in this important meeting. It has underlined the urgency of strong collective action and solidarity with the people of South Sudan.

Panelists have spoken with alarm of the brutal levels of violence meted out on civilians in this conflict and the dire need for strong protection solutions.

They have voiced deep concern on the impact of conflict on the already fragile food security situation in the country.

And they have spelled out the impacts of the rapidly deteriorating economic crisis in South Sudan, which is generating additional security risks, while increasing the risk of food insecurity, malnutrition and sickness for millions of people.

Many have also expressed concerns about the challenges aid workers face while reaching those in need of assistance.

Humanitarians are saving lives while risking their own, and attacks - such as the one in July at Terrain Hotel where aid workers were targeted – are simply unacceptable. The level of disregard for the work that they do and the principles under which they operate is untenable.

Ministers, Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,

As noted by the Secretary-General, half of all South Sudanese need lifesaving assistance and protection; 4.8 million people are food insecure; and 2.6 million people have been forced to flee their homes. This month, the number of refuges has reached the one million mark.

We call upon leaders here today to leverage their influence over fighting parties to bring an end to the bloodshed and to redouble their efforts towards durable peace. Only by bringing an end to the violence can we sustainably stem the suffering.

I reiterate the call made by the Secretary-General and other speakers here today: civilians must be protected and humanitarian principles must be respected to help us protect and assist all of those in need, wherever they may be. Attacks against aid workers and their facilities must stop, and those who are at the front line of providing assistance must be able to do so safely and without impediment.
I would like to thank donors for their generosity to South Sudan.

Already this year, donors have given more nearly US$ 700 million dollars for the Humanitarian Response Plan, including some US$ 47 million through the Central Emergency Response Fund. But as of today, nearly three months before the end of the year, we still have a gap of more than US$600 million.

So far this year, aid workers have reached more than three million people with assistance and protection. Despite the violence, intimidation, and interference they have faced, aid workers are determined to assist women, girls, men and boys across this country who have already suffered too much.

I would like to end on a note of thanks to the humanitarian organizations, including the NGO workers, local, national and international who are on the front lines of the response - working tirelessly in difficult circumstances, to help those in need. Their efforts demand the highest levels of moral, political and financial support and to that end, I welcome the commitments expressed at today’s event. May this support continue to be scaled up so that no one in South Sudan is left behind.

Ethiopia says will not allow Riek Machar to stay within territory

Ethiopia says will not allow Riek Machar to stay within territory

South Sudan's opposition leader Riek Machar speaks during a briefing in Ethiopia's capital Addis Ababa April 9, 2016 (Photo Reuters/ Tiksa Negeri)
September 23, 2016 (JUBA) – South Sudan’s former First Vice President and leader of the armed opposition faction of the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM-IO), Riek Machar, will not be welcomed to Ethiopia if he wishes to continue with the rebellion, Ethiopian Prime Minister, Hailemariam Desalegn, has said.

Link to web article here.

Speaking in an exclusive interview to reporters of the Foreign Policy in New York, the leader of the regional powerful nation who chairs the East African regional bloc, the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD), which mediated the August 2015 peace deal between Machar and President Salva Kiir, said South Sudanese leaders should implement the peace agreement.

“We do not need someone who is leading an armed struggle in Ethiopia,” Desalegn to the US-based Foreign Policy media in Washington.

The Ethiopian leader who was speaking to the media on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly meeting in New York did not however explain how the peace deal will be salvaged after the 8 July violence in the capital, Juba, which pushed out Machar from the city and eventually from the country.

The Ethiopian Prime Minister however said his country would only allow Machar to pass through Ethiopia but not to stay longer as he used to do during the peace negotiations.

NO EXILE

When asked on the comment from the Ethiopian premier about the fate of their leader, Machar’s spokesman, James Gatdet Dak, said his leadership has not received any information from the Ethiopian government about any conditions attached to Machar’s future visits to the country.

He also said the opposition leader, Machar, does not intend to live in exile in any of the regional countries.

“Well, first of all, our leader has not received a notification from the Ethiopian leadership about any conditions allegedly attached to his future visits to the country. Second, Dr. Riek Machar does not intend to live in exile. He has his General Headquarters inside South Sudan as the Chairman and Commander-in-Chief of the SPLM/SPLA (IO). And of course he is the legitimate First Vice President of the Republic of South Sudan per the Agreement on the Resolution of the Conflict in South Sudan,” Dak told Sudan Ttribune.

He said Machar had to stay longer periods at times in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa, in 2014 and in 2015 because he was needed for timely and continuous consultations when the peace negotiations were being hosted in Addis Ababa.

He also said he would visit Ethiopia and the rest of the region this time in order to consult with the IGAD leadership on the deteriorating situation in South Sudan which, he said, threatens the total collapse of the peace deal after President Kiir’s forces renewed the war in Juba on 8 July, 2016.

Machar fled Juba in July following eruption again of the violent conflict between his forces and those loyal to President Kiir, only three months after taking over the first vice presidency in accordance to the peace agreement negotiated and signed in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa.
(ST)

Sudan bishop pleas for UN to help Christian pastors facing death penalty

Sudan bishop pleas for UN to help Christian pastors facing death penalty


Lorraine Caballero
Link to web article here.

A Sudanese bishop has called on the United Nations (UN) and the U.S. government to help two Christian pastors facing the death penalty in Sudan.

In December, Rev. Abdulraheem Kodi and Rev. Kuwa Shamal Abu Zumam from the Church of Christ in Sudan were arrested and jailed for several offenses including espionage and waging war against the state. The two ministers are now facing trial and could be sentenced to death if found guilty of the charges, Fox News details.


(Reuters/Mohamed Nureldin Abdallah)Pastor Samuel Chachin is seen during an interview with Reuters in the town of Pibor, South Sudan, April 4, 2012.

"We call for their protection and immediate release and urge that the U.N., U.S. government — including Congress — and other world communities demand the freedom of these two men of God and other prisoners," the Rev. Andudu Adam Elnail, bishop of Kadugli Diocese, told Fox in an interview.

Elnail, who is now based in South Carolina after he fled from Sudan five years ago due to threats from government forces, lamented the absence of religious freedom in Sudan. He said the two pastors were "unfairly targeted" when they were accused of sharing evidence of the government's attacks against churches in Khartoum and the Nuba Mountains.

Rev. Elnail said the government has a policy of keeping this information confidential to avoid being pressured by the international community. Now, the Sudanese bishop is appealing to the international community to pressure the government to grant people their freedom of religion.

In addition, Elnail said the hearings of the pastors keep getting postponed although a lot of people are attending these hearings. He also said some attorneys for the accused pastors were unable to attend the hearings. The pastors' defenders say the accusations of exposing state secrets have only been fabricated.

Christian Solidarity Worldwide chief executive Mervyn Thomas released a statement accusing the Sudanese authorities of manipulating the country's criminal justice system to target ethnic and religious minorities. He also urged the government to scrap the charges against the pastors without condition.

Meanwhile, a representative from the U.S. State Department said officials at the embassy in Khartoum are monitoring the case since the arrest of the pastors. The spokesperson also conveyed the department's commitment to work with countries in addressing issues involving religious freedom.

Maternal health a concern as South Sudan crisis deepens

Maternal health a concern as South Sudan crisis deepens


About 3,400 South Sudanese refugees are temporarily accommodated at the Nyumanzi Refugee Transit Point.
Pigirinya refugee camp along Uganda’s border. Picture: Aurelie Kalenga/EWN

JUBA – Maternal health issues have come into sharp focus as the humanitarian crisis deepens in South Sudan.

At least 800 babies were born at a transit point on Uganda’s border in July when fighting broke out between forces loyal to President Salva Kiir and his rival Riek Machar.

Three hundred people were killed and hundreds of thousands more forced to flee with Uganda hosting the lion’s share of those displaced.

About 3,400 South Sudanese refugees are temporarily accommodated at the Nyumanzi Refugee Transit Point before they are screened, given water, a warm meal and sent to an official camp.

For many this is their first point of entry to their new lives.

Assistant settlement commandant Albert Alumgi says thousands of pregnant women have come through these gates since the resurgence of fighting in South Sudan.

He says a baby is born almost daily, making it difficult to confirm how many people live in the shelters.

“When the influx was very messy, we had about 18,000 here, which has raised a lot of concerns, even commissioners from Geneva came here.”

For most refugee mothers, all they want is a peaceful life for their new born babies.
(Edited by Leeto M Khoza)

South Sudan refugee: Intimidation by soldiers has become unbearable

South Sudan refugee: Intimidation by soldiers has become unbearable

Kevin Foni was 8 months pregnant when she fled the violence in South Sudan by foot.
Kevin Foni with her baby. Picture: Aurelie Kalenga/EWN.


SOUTH SUDAN - A young woman born at a refugee camp 21 years ago says she feels her life has come full circle after giving birth at the Nyamanzi refugee transit post along Uganda’s border.
Kevin Foni’s parents fled South Sudan in 1995 due to the civil war.

Just two months ago a heavily pregnant Foni had to make the same dangerous journey, following clashes between President Salva Kiir and his rival Riek Machar in July, in which at least 300 people were killed.

Foni was eight months pregnant when she started her week long journey, fleeing the violence in south Sudan.

She says the intimidation by soldiers and the bloodshed has become unbearable.

“In 2006 they were repatriated, but they keep coming back.”

Foni says she never thought her daughter would be born under the same circumstances as her.

“I feel bad, I want my child to be educated.”

She is currently living at the first point of entry for many south Sudanese fleeing the war in their country, they are screened, given water and a hot meal, before being registered and later sent to an official refugee camp.

(Edited by Zamangwane Shange)

Friday, September 23, 2016

UN says South Sudanese forces demanding bribes from those fleeing country

UN says South Sudanese forces demanding bribes from those fleeing country


Link to web article here.

eptember 22, 2016 (JUBA) - Some people fleeing South Sudan into Uganda are being forced to pay bribes at checkpoints run by South Sudan’s warring factions, the United Nations Refuge Agency (UNHCR) said.
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South Sudanese refugees fleeing violence in their home country wait to be transported to Uganda’s Arua district settlement camp on 6 January 2014 (Photo: AFP/Isaac Kasamani)

According to the world body, over 100,000 South Sudanese have fled to Uganda after deadly fighting occurred between the country’s warring factions in July.

Rocco Nuri, a spokesman for UNHCR described as “disturbing” reports of South Sudanese refugees being forced to pay bribes to reach safety places out of their country.

The world body, in a statement, said it received reports of physical and sexual assaults on a number of refugees fleeing South Sudan.

Officials from both warring factions were unavailable to comment.

Last week, the UN said at least one million South Sudanese have fled the East African nation since violence broke out in December 2013.

A peace accord signed in 2015 has not ended fighting in the South Sudan, despite formation of a coalition government in April this year.

The fragile peace agreement signed in August last year is on the brink of collapse.

Over 1.6 million people have reportedly been displaced within South Sudan, implying about 20% of the population are homeless since December 2013.

(ST)

UN chief blasts South Sudanese leaders in farewell speech

UN chief blasts South Sudanese leaders in farewell speech


Link to web article here.

September 22, 2016 (JUBA) - The United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon Ban has charged South Sudan leaders, including the country’s President Salva Kiir, with having “betrayed their people” by pursuing a violent path to power.
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The United Nations Secretary General, Ban Ki Moon handshake with the President of the Republic of South Sudan, Salva Kiir at Presidential Palace, J1 in Juba capital on February 25, 2016 (UNMISS photo)

“In too many places, we see leaders rewriting constitutions, manipulating elections and taking other desperate steps to cling to power,” Ban said in his final speech before the world body’s General Assembly on Wednesday.

“My message to all is clear: serve your people. Do not subvert democracy; do not pilfer your country’s resources; do not imprison and torture your critics,” he added.

Ban criticized outside powers that have supported the warring parties on both sides of the South Sudanese conflict, but did not directly name these countries on Wednesday.

Tens of thousands of people have been killed and millions displaced in South Sudan’s worst violence since its cessation from Sudan in July 2011. The UN, on several occasions, accused South Sudan’s warring forces of gross human rights violations.

Several attempt by the world body and its member states to impose targeted sanctions, including asset freezes and travel bans, on those responsible for serious human rights abuses in South Sudan have often been thwarted by Russia.

“Powerful patrons that keep feeding the war machine also have blood on their hands,” the UN chief told the assembly.

“Present in this hall today are representatives of governments that have ignored, facilitated, funded, participated in or even planned and carried out atrocities inflicted by all side,” he added.

Ban called on all countries to continue to pursue reform of the UN Security Council, calling for “a major and much needed reform for fairness and effectiveness in the UN.”

He added that “far too often, I have seen widely-supported proposals blocked, in the name of consensus, by a few or sometimes even just one country,” and questioned whether it is fair for any one country or few countries to yield such disproportionate power and “hold the world hostage on so many important issues?”

Last month, the 15-member UN Security Council approved the deployment of an additional 4,000-strong peacekeeping force in South Sudan, after renewed clashes in the capital between the country’s rival factions threatened to send the young nation back to all-out civil war.

Stressing that consensus should not be confused with unanimity, the Secretary-General told the General Assembly that, “The global public is right to ask whether this is how an organization in which we have invested so much hope and aspirations should function.”

The UN chief also called on the President of the General Assembly, to explore, with his successor, the establishment of a high-level panel to find practical solutions that will improve decision-making at the global organization.

He also urged all countries to cooperate with and work with the UN’s human rights arm; to not put obstacles in the path humanitarian workers; and not to ostracize or threaten UN envoys or and staff when they raise difficult issues.

“We must all be open and accountable to the people we serve,” said the UN chief.

He called on all political leaders not to “engage in the cynical and dangerous political math that says you add votes by dividing people and multiplying fear,” urging the world to “stand up against lies and distortions of truth, and reject all forms of discrimination.”
(ST)

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Sudan says hosting more than 400,000 South Sudanese refugees

Sudan says hosting more than 400,000 South Sudanese refugees


Link to web article here.

September 21, 2016 (KHARTOUM) - Sudan’s State Minister of Interior Babiker Digna on Wednesday has said that his country is hosting more than 400,000 South Sudanese refugees.
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South Sudanese refugees arrive to Sudan’s white Nile state in January 2014 (Photo SUNA)

Digna, who spoke at a press conference on Wednesday in Khartoum, pointed to the difficulty of determining the exact number of the South Sudanese especially as the refugee influx still continues.

He said that southerners would only get subsidies if they were registered as refugees, pointing the refugee commission is committed to provide full support for the South Sudanese refugees.

In December 2013, Sudan’s President Omer al-Bashir decided to treat South Sudanese refugees as citizens and refused establishing refugee camps for them, saying they can live and work all over Sudan.

However, earlier this month, Sudan decided to treat South Sudanese that fled the conflict in their country as refugees, enabling United Nations to provide assistance and raise funds for aid operations.

For her part, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) representative for Sudan Noriko Yoshida said they provided only 20 percent of the actual needs of the refugees, appealing for more foreign aid to help address the South Sudanese refugee crisis.

On Tuesday, Digna issued a decision banning the foreign aid groups from entering South Sudanese refugee camps in the states of East Darfur, Blue Nile and West Kordofan.

He told the pro-government Sudan Media Center (SMC) that foreign aid groups are not allowed to operate in these camps, saying assistance to South Sudanese refugees is provided by the UNHCR and the national aid groups.

On Friday, UNHCR said the number of South Sudanese refugees living in neighbouring countries has passed the one million mark.

According to the UN, as of August 31 the total number of South Sudanese in Sudan had exceeded 247 000, of which about 90 000 had arrived since January this year.

Tens of thousands of people have been killed and millions displaced in South Sudan’s worst-ever outbreak of violence since it seceded from neighbouring Sudan in July 2011.
(ST)

Charges against Czech national underpin case

Charges against Czech national underpin case


16 Sep 2016
Link to web article here.

Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW) can confirm that Czech Christian Petr Jašek is being tried jointly with Reverend Hassan Abduraheem, Reverend Kuwa Shamal and Mr Abdulmonem Abdumawla in Sudan.

Mr Jašek is charged with the propagation of false news (Article 66 of the Sudanese Criminal Code). He is also accused, along with Reverend Hassan Abduraheem Reverend Kuwa Shamal and Mr Abdulmonem Abdumawla, of at least seven crimes, including waging war against the state (Article 51 of the Sudanese Criminal Code) and espionage (Article 53), which carry the death penalty as the maximum sentence.

As with Reverend Abduraheem and Mr Abdumawla, the case against Mr Jašek centres on the provision of finances for the medical treatment of Mr Ali Omer, a young man from Darfur who was injured in a demonstration in 2013. Mr Jašek heard of Mr Omer’s plight during an international conference for Christian leaders in November 2015. 

Reverend Abduraheem and Reverend Shamal were also attending the conference, where Reverend Abduraheem had been invited to speak about his work as a church leader in Sudan. During his presentation, Reverend Abduraheem showed a picture of Mr Omer and mentioned that he had donated money towards his medical treatment. Mr Jašek subsequently pledged to provide finances for Mr Omer’s treatment.

In December 2015, Mr Jašek travelled to Khartoum and met Mr Omer. The meeting was facilitated by Reverend Abduraheem and Mr Abdumawla, who is a friend of Mr Omer’s and had been collecting finances for his medical treatment. Mr Jašek donated $5,000 towards Mr Omer’s medical treatment, which was signed for by Reverend Abduraheem and Mr Abdumawla. As he was leaving Sudan, Mr Jašek was searched at Khartoum Airport by NISS agents who found the receipt for $5,000, signed by Reverend Abduraheem and Mr Abdumawla, and arrested him. They also confiscated personal belongings, including his mobile phone, laptop and camera.

Nine days after Mr Jašek’s arrest, Reverend Abduraheem, Reverend Shamal and Mr Abdumawla were also arrested by NISS officers. While Mr Jašek, Reverend Abduraheem and Mr Abdumawla remained in NISS detention, Reverend Shamal was conditionally released until May 2016, when he was re-arrested and held in the Attorney General’s custody. Mr Jašek, Reverend Abduraheem and Mr Abdumawla were also transferred to the Attorney General’s custody in May 2016. They were all charged in August 2016 and their trial is ongoing.

The prosecution alleges that the $5,000 Mr Jašek donated to Mr Omer’s treatment was in reality support for rebel movements in the South Kordofan, Blue Nile and Darfur regions. By framing the case in this manner, NISS has attempted to exploit the fact that Reverends Abduraheem and Shamal are originally from the Nuba Mountains in South Kordofan and Mr Abdumawla is from Darfur. Reverend Shamal was not involved in fundraising for Mr Omer’s medical treatment but appears to have been included in the case due to his senior position in the Sudan Church of Christ, his relationship with Reverend Abduraheem and his ethnicity.

Christian Solidarity Worldwide’s Chief Executive Mervyn Thomas said, “The case against Reverend Hassan Abduraheem, Mr Abdumawla, Reverend Kuwa Shamal and Mr Petr Jašek is an example of NISS’s manipulation of the criminal justice system to harass ethnic and religious minorities. The evidence clearly shows that Reverend Abduraheem, Mr Abdumawla and Mr Jašek attempted to provide medical care for Mr Omer. As a consequence of their acts of kindness, these men have been detained in terrible conditions and are now enduring an unjust trial. Reverend Kuwa Shamal, meanwhile, is being targeted simply because of his position as a senior church leader, his ethnicity and relationship to Reverend Abduraheem. We urge everyone who is as concerned as we are about this grave injustice to join us in campaigning to see these men set free. CSW urges the government of Sudan to drop the charges against these men without conditions or delay. We also call for a review of NISS’s powers and for the end of targeting religious and ethnic minorities in Sudan.”

Family visits permitted for clergymen and Mr A

Family visits permitted for clergymen and Mr A

6 Sep 2016
Link to web article here.

As the prosecution in the trial of Reverend Hassan Abduraheem, Reverend Kuwa Shamal and Mr Abdulmonem Abdumawla continues to outline its case, their families have finally been allowed to visit them in prison.

Reverend Abduraheem, Reverend Shamal and Mr Abdumawla are accused of at least seven crimes, including waging war against the state (Article 51 of the Sudanese Criminal Code) and espionage (Article 53), which carry the death penalty as the maximum sentence.

During hearings on 29 August, 1 September and 5 September, the prosecutor gave the case investigator the opportunity to outline the evidence allegedly gathered against the men.

Reverends Abduraheem and Shamal have been held since December 2015 and May 2016 respectively. Mr Abdumawla has also been detained since December 2015. The men were transferred to Al-Huda Prison in Omdurman on 11 July, and on 29 August they were permitted family visits and regular access to their legal team for the first time after several requests.

The case against Reverend Abduraheem and Mr Abdumawla revolves around a request for assistance with medical costs from a young Darfuri man named Ali Omer. Mr Omer was injured during a demonstration in 2013 and was left with severe burns that require regular medical care. His friend Mr Abdumawla began collecting funds towards his medical expenses from various organisations and individuals. Through a colleague, Mr Abdumawla was put in contact with Reverend Abduraheem, who donated money towards Mr Omer’s treatment. The case against Reverend Shamal appears to be related to his friendship with Reverend Abduraheem and his senior position in the Sudan Church of Christ.

Christian Solidarity Worldwide’s Chief Executive Mervyn Thomas said, “These men have committed no crime. Reverend Abduraheem and Mr Abdumawla responded with compassion to a request for medical assistance and Reverend Shamal’s only connection to this case is his friendship with Reverend Abduraheem and his senior position as a church leader. We urge the government to end the harassment and targeting of religious and ethnic minorities by the security services, as has clearly occurred in this case, and to uphold the civil rights of all Sudanese citizens. While commending the decision to allow these men to receive visits from their families and legal representatives, we call on the government to ensure this access continues for the duration of the trial in keeping with fair trial principles.”