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Thursday, March 23, 2017

Bringing clean water to the people of Sudan

Link to web article here.

© UNOPS​/Atsushi Shibuya​​

Without water there would be no life – it’s a necessity for all living things, from the smallest of plants to the largest of animals. For some people, getting enough water to survive is still a daily struggle.

​​Around the world, water drives people. An abundance of it draws people, builds up communities and business, and creates life. A lack of it drives people away, prevents communities and businesses from flourishing, and chokes off life before it can begin.

Those who don't have sufficient water often must search for it far and wide – sometimes travelling several miles a day to collect a precious commodity that too many other countries take for granted.

But even if water is found, it doesn't mean that it's safe to drink. According to the World Health Organization, 1.8 billion people around the world get their drinking water from sources contaminated with faeces.

There are still too many people in too many countries who have no choice but to resort to drinking water that is unfit for human consumption – water that can make them deathly ill from disease like diarrhoea, cholera, dysentery, typhoid and polio.

"When you ask locals, they usually have the basic knowledge how to avoid all those water borne diseases, but those diseases persist due to the lack of access to clean water. WASH education is most effective with the combination of supplying clean water," said Maiko Utsumi, Project Support Officer in UNOPS Sudan.

The search for water can also mean putting your safety at risk. Often, women and children are the ones who walk sometimes great distances to collect water for their families – exposing them to possible violence or sexual assault.

In Darfur, an arid region located in western Sudan, water scarcity is common – and reliable access to safe, clean drinking water has long been a problem.

Over the years, population growth in Darfur's major cities has further increased pressure on urban water supply sources and infrastructure. As more and more people settle into urban neighbourhoods, the difficulty of accessing secure water sources – or even enough water at all – rises, which can foment localized conflict, particularly among cattle owners who require water for their herds.

UNOPS is working with the Government of Japan to help ensure more people in Darfur have access to clean, safe water.​

With funding from Japan, UNOPS rehabilitated an unused water treatment plant in El Fasher, Darfur's state capital, in the first phase of the project. Last year, the treatment plant was upgraded with the installation of a chlorination unit to ensure the water's quality. Now, the plant produces enough potable water for 37,500 people a day.​​​

UNOPS has also worked with Japan to improve access to and the quality of water in other parts of Darfur, including in El Geneina and El​​ Daein.

In El Daein, six existing water yards and a damaged water facility were rehabilitated – all to serve a community of 50,000 people. With water more easily accessible, the need to access water from distant hefirs – or water reservoirs – often through the purchase of a donkey to help carry the load decreases. This leaves community members with more time to engage in economic activities that benefit the local population.

In El Geneina, the newly constructed Jabal Sultan Pump Station is connected to 18 new public water posts in West Darfur – providing a community of more than 20,000 people with access to safe water.

About these projects

These projects were implemented by UNOPS with funding from the Government of Japan, a longstanding UNOPS partner. The Government of Japan funds projects that focus on constructing and rehabilitating infrastructure in fragile environments, and providing humanitarian assistance throughout Africa, Asia and the Middle East.​​

Ongoing

Primary country
Sudan
Other countries
Japan
Theme:
Water Sanitation Hygiene
Content format:
News and Press Release
Language:
English

Nuba refugees in South Sudan reject resignation of SPLM-N deputy chairman

Link to web article here.

Photo: Abdel-Aziz Adam Al-Hilu/Youtube

South Kordofan citizens who are living as refugees in South Sudan have rejected the recent resignation tendered by the SPLM-N deputy chairman Abdel-Aziz Adam Al-Hilu.
In a twelve-page resignation letter addressed to the Nuba Mountain Liberation Council, Al-Hilu disclosed differences in the national leadership council.
Speaking to Radio Tamazuj on Wednesday, several Nuba refugees at Yida, Pamir and Ajuong Thok camps, said Al-Hilu’s resignation will affect the issues of South Kordofan. They further said there will not be peace and stability in South Kordofan without Abdel-Aziz Al-Hilu.
Tutu Yonan, a youth leader at Ajuong Thok camp, said the resignation will cause significant differences in the SPLM-N leadership and that it will definitely affect the prospect for peace in the area.
“We are worried because if Al-Hilu has resigned, then nobody will follow up our issues, so we are asking him to revoke his decision. And we urge our military leaders to amicably resolve their differences,” said Tutu.
Meanwhile, Kamal Al-Hajj, a refugee living in Yida camp, said the refugees reject Al-Hilu’s resignation, while urging him to reverse the decision.
SPLM-N has been fighting the Sudanese army and its allied militia in the Blue Nile and South Kordofan regions since 2011.

South Sudan, Haiti and Ukraine Lead World in Suffering

Link to web article here.

by Linda Lyons

STORY HIGHLIGHTS

  • 47% in South Sudan rate their lives poorly enough to be suffering
  • Poverty, natural disasters prolong pain in Haiti, where 43% suffering
  • 41% suffering in Ukraine is highest in Europe
WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Amid the focus on happiness this week with the release of the 2017 World Happiness report, it's important to acknowledge the places in the world where it is in short supply. While the three happiest countries are in northern Europe -- Norway, Denmark and Iceland -- Gallup's World Poll finds three countries with the highest "suffering" rates in the world in 2016 span three continents. More than four in 10 people rate their current and future lives poorly enough to be categorized as suffering -- in South Sudan (47%), Haiti (43%) and Ukraine (41%).
Countries With Highest Suffering in 2016
ThrivingStrugglingSuffering
%%%
South Sudan94447
Haiti35443
Ukraine95041
GALLUP WORLD POLL
Gallup classifies people as "thriving" if they rate their current lives a 7 or higher and their lives in five years an 8 or higher on a ladder scale (based on the Cantril Self-Anchoring Striving Scale) with steps numbered from zero to 10, where zero represents the worst possible life and 10 represents the best possible life. People are considered "suffering" if they rate their current and future lives a 4 or lower. The U.N. World Happiness report, in comparison, ranks countries on their happiness and subjective well-being based only on a three-year average of people's ratings of their current lives from Gallup's World Poll.
Civil War, Crime and Famine Plague South Sudan
Civil war erupted in South Sudan shortly after it gained independence in 2011; high crime rates and food shortages -- that eventually became famine -- followed. Suffering rates in the new country increased significantly from 33% in 2014 to 47% in 2016 -- the highest level of suffering worldwide.
chart 2
According to the most recent Gallup data, more than four in 10 (46%) South Sudanese in 2016 report having money or property stolen in the past 12 months, the second-highest percentage in the world after Uganda, and one in four, 24%, have been assaulted, reflecting crime rates that are among the highest in sub-Saharan Africa. And last month, the United Nations declared a famine in two sections of the country while warning that half of the population of South Sudan is facing starvation. Because of the dangerous conditions, emergency relief agencies struggle to deliver food and water to the most desperate areas. In 2016, seven in 10 South Sudanese say they did not have enough money to buy needed food for themselves or their families -- an increase of nine percentage points from 2015 (61%).
Haitian Suffering Has Barely Abated Since the 2010 Earthquake
Even before Hurricane Matthew ravaged Haiti in late 2016, the small Caribbean nation was already in deep distress, with more than four in 10 Haitians (43%) rating their lives poorly enough to be considered suffering in recent years (just 3% are deemed thriving). Long recognized as the poorest country in the Americas, Haiti is prone to natural disasters that put further stress on its infrastructure and vulnerable population. A devastating earthquake in 2010 triggered a major cholera epidemic that put intense pressure on Haiti's already fragile healthcare system. Even before the recent hurricane, satisfaction with the availability of quality healthcare had dropped to a new low of 9%.
replacement chart 3
The 2010 earthquake further exacerbated the scarcity of affordable housing in Haiti. Six years later, just 17% of Haitians told Gallup that they are satisfied with the availability of affordable housing in the city or area where they live. Those figures have not likely improved since Hurricane Matthew struck the island last October; according to the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, the storm left nearly 140,000 Haitians homeless.
Ukraine's Suffering Is the Third Highest in the World
Ukraine is the only European country near the bottom of the World Happiness rankings this year -- and the 41% of the population that is considered suffering is the highest Gallup has recorded among post-Soviet states; fewer than one in 10 Ukrainians (9%) are thriving.
chart 4
The ongoing conflict in eastern Ukraine between Ukrainian and Russian-backed separatist forces have further damaged already poor economic growth in the nation. A solid majority of Ukrainians (57%) believe their personal standard of living is getting worse. Nearly half of Ukrainians (46%) say there were times in the past year when they did not have enough money for food for themselves or their families -- the highest figure Gallup has ever recorded for Ukraine and one of the highest in all Europe.
Bottom Line
Not surprisingly, all three countries fall toward the bottom of the U.N. World Happiness rankings: Ukraine is No. 132, Haiti comes in at No. 145 and South Sudan is No. 147. These nations' low life evaluations will only improve with an end to conflicts, an increase in economic growth, and good governance that is focused on upgrading and enriching the lives of every resident.
The data in this article are available in Gallup Analytics.
SURVEY METHODS
In Haiti, results are based on face-to-face interviews with 504 adults, aged 15 and older, conducted May 18-26, 2016. In Ukraine and South Sudan, results are based on face-to-face interviews with 1,000 adults each, aged 15 and older, conducted in Ukraine June 1-July 15, 2016, and in South Sudan April 14-May 27, 2016. Because of insecurity reasons, geographic exclusions represent about 44% of the estimated national population in South Sudan. Exclusions for similar reasons in Ukraine were 10% of the population in 2014 and 2% in 2015 and 2016. For results based on the total sample of national adults, one can say with 95% confidence that the maximum margin of sampling error ranges from ±3.8 to ±5.1 percentage points. The margin of error reflects the influence of data weighting. In addition to sampling error, question wording and practical difficulties in conducting surveys can introduce error or bias into the findings of public opinion polls.
For complete methodology and specific survey dates, please review Gallup's Country Data Set details.
Learn more about how the Gallup World Poll works.

Tunisia’s PM arrives in Khartoum for bilateral talks

Link to web article here.Tunisian PM Youssef Chahed (L) is welcomed by First Vice President and Prime Minister , Bakri Hassan Saleh at Khartoum Airport on March 22, 2017. (Ebrahim Hamid/Anadolu Agency Photo)
March 22, 2017 (KHARTOUM) - Tunisia’s Prime Minister Youssef Chahed Wednesday has arrived in the Sudanese capital, Khartoum on a two-day official visit.

He was received at the airport by the First Vice-President and Prime Minister Bakri Hassan Saleh and a number of officials.

In press statements Wednesday, Sudan’s Foreign Minister Ibrahim Ghandour said the Tunisian premier is accompanied by ministers of agriculture, transportation and state foreign minister besides a number of officials, pointing they will participate in the meeting of the higher committee between the two countries.

“Talks will begin on Wednesday evening at the Republican Palace and would discuss a number of files and it will continue until Thursday where a number of agreements are signed,” he said.

Also, the Tunisian premier is accompanied by 100 businessmen who will participate in the Sudanese/Tunisian businessmen forum.

Ghandour pointed out that the meeting of the higher ministerial committee comes against a background of a major work with the Arabs and African, stressing that Tunisia is an important state in North Africa and the Maghreb countries.

“The talks would cover economic issues and economic cooperation in various domains besides political coordination between the two countries,” he said.

Chahed is the first Tunisian prime minister to visit Khartoum, after the Arab Spring. His visit comes after the ministerial committee between the two countries was upgraded to higher committee.

It is noteworthy that the meetings of the higher committee at the level of the experts have convened on Tuesday.

The two sides are expected to sign about 20 agreements, Memorandum of Understandings (MOU) and executive programmes.

(ST)

Egypt and Sudan confirm good relations, reject insults


Link to web article here.
The phone call came following statements from the Sudanese information minister that stirred controversy between the two countries
Egyptian Minister of Foreign affairs Sameh Shoukry went to Rome Saturday to participate in the international conference that will discuss the Libyan crisis. The conference will be held on a ministerial level. Italy and the US called for it to force Libyan parties to establish a national unity government to overcome Libya’s current crisis.
Egyptian Minister of Foreign Affairs Sameh Shoukry and his Sudanese counterpart, Ibrahim Ghandour, confirmed during a phone call the depth and specificity of their relations, rejecting any insult towards each other, according to a statement from Egypt’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs on Tuesday.
The call—aimed at confirming relations and discussing various aspects of Sudanese-Egyptian relations—came following controversial statements made by the Sudanese minister of information.
The minister’s statements included certain claims about Egypt’s history and monuments.
“Sudan ruled Egypt, and not many people know that the pharaoh Mousa was one of the Sudanese pharaohs that ruled Egypt,” the minister said.
He also continued that “Egypt has one river, while Sudan has several rivers,” adding that the alleged fact, “is one of several scientific and archaeological evidences that will be provided in the near future.”
The minister also added that a number of Sudanese professors are now working on revising history books from the errors in order to prove the civilization of his country. He concluded that his country will prove to the world that Sudanese pyramids are older than the Egyptian ones, and this is something he will work on clarifying during the upcoming period.
In this regard, the ministers affirmed their total rejection for any unacceptable violations or abuse between the two states that could take place under any circumstances and for whatever reasons or justifications.
Both also stressed on the need to intensify their dealings with the utmost wisdom to face attempts aiming to drive a wedge between both countries and damage their relationship through social media.
The statements coincided with Sheikha Mozah bint Nasser’s visit to Sudan, as she is a member in the United Nations (UN) Sustainable Development Goals and arrived in Sudan to inspect some project there.
Egyptian media outlets linked the visit to the minister’s statements, as Sheikha visited the Sudanese pyramids and published pictures from there.
During the end of the call, the ministers expressed their full appreciation for each other’s countries’ culture, history, and civilization. They agreed to hold the next round of political consultation in Khartoum at the level of foreign ministers during the first half of April 2017.

As South Sudan's Civil War Worsens, Thousands of Children are Being Forced to Join the Fight. Will Washington Help?

Link to web article and video here.
Link to web image here.

War Child

It was just before dark, and Charles was pulling weeds with his father in South Sudan’s Western Equatoria state when roughly a dozen armed rebels appeared, demanding he join their ranks. Charles was terrified. His father tried to intervene, but he was outnumbered. That night, Charles, whose name has been changed to protect his identity, was separated from his father and forced to become a soldier. He was just 13 years old.

It’s been three years since the beginning of South Sudan’s civil war, and the consequences have been devastating. Rebels and government forces have conscripted more than 17,000 children to fight, according to UNICEF, in a conflict between supporters of President Salva Kiir and those of former Vice President Riek Machar. The war has already killed tens of thousands of civilians and displaced more than 3 million people. Both sides have been accused of killings and mass rapes, but a recent U.N. report placed most of the blame on the government’s side. The conflict has also been economically disastrous, creating inflation and now famine. In February, the U.N. said some 100,000 people are on the brink of starvation, while another million could be affected. Months earlier, Yasmin Sooka, the U.N.’s chairperson of the Commission on Human Rights in the country warned that South Sudan was showing “all of the warning signals” of a Rwanda-like genocide.

As the situation worsens, Kiir has resisted help from foreign countries by blocking humanitarian assistance and raising the cost of permits for international aid workers. This comes at a time when the United States appears to be turning inward. In mid-March, the White House directed the State Department and the U.S. Mission to the United Nations to cut U.N. program budgets by almost half—cuts, according to Foreign Policy, that would disproportionately affect State Department funding to UNICEF and peacekeeping . Since 2014, the United States has given $2.1 billion in humanitarian aid to South Sudan. But as the Trump administration hashes out Washington’s new foreign policy, some fear that boys like Charles are running out of time.

Silence and Slaughter

Six years ago, South Sudan won its independence after more than two decades of civil war between the largely Muslim north and Christian south . But in late 2013, fighting between supporters of Kiir, a Dinka, and Machar, a Nuer, spiraled into a civil war that’s now being fought largely along ethnic lines.

After a 2015 peace agreement, Kiir restored Machar as vice president in a short-lived unity government; peace evaporated in July when clashes between Kiir’s and Machar’s supporters broke out in the capital. Then, late last year, a U.S.-led effort to impose an arms embargo failed. At his last press conference before leaving office, President Barack Obama, whose administration played a key role in championing South Sudan’s independence, told journalists he felt “ responsible for murder and slaughter that's taken place” in the country.

Obama’s predecessors, Presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush, also made the country—then still part of its northern neighbor—a priority, thanks to both Republicans and Democrats in Congress and the influence of Christian evangelical groups .

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Since taking office in January, t he new administration has yet to outline its Africa policy, let alone its thoughts on South Sudan. But the Trump team has hinted in a direction that doesn’t bode well for Juba. A four-page list of questions the president’s transition team submitted to the State Department suggests the White House is skeptical of international aid. Later, during her confirmation hearing in January, Nikki Haley, the U.S. ambassador to the U.N., suggested that the new administration would review funding for peacekeeping missions, calling the one in South Sudan “terrible.” In March, the budget the White House sent to Congress proposed cutting State Department funding by 28 percent.

“If [the president] is talking about cutting money from humanitarian accounts, then obviously they don’t know what’s taking place, or they don’t care,” Democratic Representative Barbara Lee of California said before the budget was released. “I’m not sure what it is.”

There did appear to be a flicker of interest in South Sudan when a State Department spokesman in February said the U.S. was “gravely concerned ” by the recent famine, calling it “man-made, the direct consequence of a conflict prolonged by South Sudanese leaders who are unwilling to put aside political ambitions for the good of their people.” Which is in part why some observers still hope the Trump administration will make South Sudan a priority.

Another reason: religion. Part of what drove American lawmakers, like President George W. Bush, to support South Sudanese independence is that it’s a predominantly Christian country, and several top officials in the Trump administration are Christians, including Vice President Mike Pence. “The vice president has connections to the church in the U.S., and they would be unified, I think, in pushing the United States to do something,” says Andrew Natsios, a professor at the Bush School of Government at Texas A&M University and former special envoy to Sudan under Bush. “Pence could take this on as an issue.”

A handful of Democrats in Congress are cautiously optimistic too. Among them: Mike Capuano, a representative from Massachusetts and co-chair of the bipartisan Congressional Caucus on South Sudan. “Do we stand for democracy? Do we allow people to slaughter each other in a genocide? Do we allow people to starve to death? I haven’t heard anything from this administration that would indicate the answer to any of those questions is no,” Capuano says. “America should have an interest in trying to stabilize the newest democracy in the world. Last I knew, ‘America first’ requires democratic friends.”

Green Uniforms and AK-47s

As the war continues, however, human rights advocates worry more children like Charles will be forced to fight—and die. “If it goes on like this, we’re going to see more and more children being recruited to fight,” says Joseph Akech, a policy and advocacy director at Save the Children in South Sudan. “It is in everybody’s interest to save these children. Otherwise, we will likely experience a lost generation.”

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In 2014, after the rebels forced Charles to join them, they gave him a gun and a green uniform (though never any pay). He slept on the ground, surrounded by other children, thinking of his mother and the sorghum porridge she used to make him. During the day, he learned how to march, how to patrol and how to shoot. “It was very hard to shoot the AK-47—it pulls me back and forward,” Charles says. “They used to tell us to go and fight Dinka. I didn’t want that because I thought that I could be killed too.”

Charles often thought often about running away, but he felt a sense of loyalty to his commander and his fellow soldiers. But after a year with the rebels, Charles learned his commander had switched sides and joined the government. Feeling betrayed, he decided to escape, sneaking off with a friend and traveling to a U.N. protection camp in July.

Today, Charles misses his family. His father is living in a separate U.N. protection site in South Sudan, and his mother is in Kenya, where she fled after the war broke out. He would like to reunite with her and return to school. In the meantime, he is afraid, both of government spies who could find out he was with the rebels—and of the rebels themselves.

As he puts it: “I fear they can come and take me back.”

Reporting for this piece was supported by a grant from the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting.

The crisis unfolding in South Sudan: It could be a repeat of the Rwanda catastrophe

Link to web article here.
The world must interveneThe world must intervene(CHARLES LOMODONG/AFP/GETTY IMAGES)
In 1994 the Clinton administration was blamed for inaction as genocidal killings claimed 800,000 lives in Rwanda. Although violence began when Uganda invaded Rwanda in 1990, killings degenerated along ethnic lines — Hutus versus Tutsis — after Rwanda’s president was assassinated in 1994.
President Trump and the world today face a similar dilemma in Africa. Ogoing massacres in South Sudan, precipitated by political crisis, have adopted ethnic components: Dinkas versus Nuers.
Reported war crimes by government soldiers loyal to President Salva Kiir include wiping out entire villages and “ethnic cleansing.” Aid workers, including Americans, have been raped. Food supplies are blocked even as the UN says five million of the country’s 13 million people face hunger.
By last March, 50,000 people had died; tens of thousands more have since perished. UN human rights official Yasmin Sooka recently said: “The stage is being set for a repeat of what happened in Rwanda and the international community is under an obligation to prevent it.”
How did things go so wrong for South Sudan just six years after independence? The country was part of Sudan. After independence from Britain in 1956, Southerners fought for liberation from the Arab-dominated north, which tried to impose strict Islamic law. Southerners practice Christianity and African religions.
Finally, in 2005, the Bush administration brokered a peace deal. Southerners voted 99% for independence. Guerrilla army leaders Salva Kiir, a Dinka, and Riek Machar, a Nuer, became president and vice president, respectively. The U.S. pumped in billions of aid dollars. More money came from South Sudan’s 300,000 daily barrels of oil production.
Today, South Sudan is unraveling because of: lack of trust between Kiir and Machar; Kiir’s multiple power-grabs; and, meddling by Uganda’s ruler, Gen. Yoweri Museveni, who seeks regional hegemony.
Imposing an international trusteeship has been floated to stop things from spiraling out of control. South Sudanese, after struggling for freedom from Khartoum for 50 years, would likely fight this.
A more viable solution is for Kiir and Machar to agree to an immediate ceasefire; total disarmament except for equal number of bodyguards; demobilization; and a transition period of, say, six years leading to internationally organized elections.
Why could this work, unlike past attempts? Neither Kiir nor Machar would control armies; they would remain main players in South Sudan’s leadership. A UN and African Union army could protect South Sudan from aggressors, including Uganda’s Museveni, while a police force would protect citizens. A disciplined, ethnically-balanced professional army would be trained. The 16,000 UN soldiers now in South Sudan lack clear mandate and mission; they’ve merely watched the atrocities.
During transition Kiir and Machar could rotate the presidency and vice presidency. Other new political parties could be allowed to register, and to field candidates when elections are organized.
After Rwanda’s apocalypse, it would be an ugly stain on the world’s collective conscience to abandon South Sudan.
Allimadi hails from Uganda. He publishes The Black Star News and is an adjunct professor at John Jay College in New York.

South Sudan rebels capture oil workers following $500mn contract

Link to web article here.

South Sudan rebels capture oil workers following $500mn contract

A new oil exploration contract signed by Nigeria's Oranto Petroleum caused a recent flare of violence in the country's north - as experts warn against investing in South Sudan's minerals

A $500mn oil-exploration deal in South Sudan has sparked a vicious escalation in violence, after a faction of South Sudanese rebels (SPLA-IO) captured four oil workers in the country's north.

A spokesperson for the SPLA-IO told The New Arab they would not accept any oil drilling in their territory until after fighting had ended - accusing the government of prolonging the civil war with its oil revenues.

"We repeatedly warned the company and international workers in the oilfield to leave immediately before their lives fell into risk," said William Gatjiath Deng.

Nigeria's Oranto Petroleum secured the deal, gaining exploration rights to a 25,150 square kilometre area of Upper Nile State referred to as Block B3, on March 6.

"We believe the petroleum resources of Block B3 are vast," said South Sudan's Minister of Petroleum Ezekiel Lol Gatkuoth.

The area in question is not fully under the government's control however - as rebel fighters have been engaged in some of the country's most bitter fighting there for months.
In response to Oranto's announcement, the SPLA-IO ordered "all national and international oil workers to immediately leave and evacuate" the oil fields in South Sudan.

"The brutal and ruthless regime in Juba is using billions of US dollars generated from the oil production and sale for purchasing more lethal arms," the rebels said in a statement.


Experts warn that the continued exploitation of South Sudan's resources is one of the biggest reasons the civil war has lasted so long - leading to one of the worst man-made catastrophes of our time.

"The history of conflict and mass atrocities in Sudan and South Sudan is driven in large part by unchecked greed, manifesting itself primarily in the accumulation of wealth and power by the country's leaders," reads a new report by the Enough Project, a human rights NGO.

A famine was declared in parts of South Sudan on February 20. This was later attributed almost entirely to the government and its continued violence against its own citizens.

The Enough Project's new report, titled "How the world's newest country went awry", documents how the country's war-lords directly profit from massive government projects - feeding the money straight back into the sale of arms.

"The competing kleptocratic factions are fighting over a lucrative prize: control of the state, which in turn brings control over oil and other natural resource revenues."

South Sudan derives 97 percent of its budget revenue from sales of oil, according to a UN panel of experts. From late March to late October 2016, oil revenues totalled about $243 million.

This money is largely used to invest in weapons for the country's army - accused of rampant war-crimes and potential genocide by a recent UN report.

Yet despite frequent and repeated warnings coming from NGOs and independent inspectors, foreign investors routinely return to invest in Juba.

In February, the king of Morocco promised to pay $5 million for a project to relocate the country's capital to a new area further north.

A representative for the Joint Monitoring and Evaluation Commission (JMEC), the organisation responsible for monitoring the country's peace agreement, did not respond to a request for comment.

After gaining independence from Sudan in 2011, South Sudan descended into war in December 2013, leaving tens of thousands dead and 3.5 million people displaced.

Pope Francis to visit South Sudan in October: report

Link to web article here.

March 22, 2017 (JUBA) - Pope Francis, the head of the Roman Catholic church, will visit South Sudan in October if the security situation improves.

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Pope Francis recieves the flag of South Sudan from Choul Laam (Vatican photo)
"We have been informed (by a Vatican official) that he [Pope Francis] will come in October, but we don’t know the exact date yet," Yei Bishop Erkolano Tombe told Reuters.

"It depends on the security situation between now and October. If it remains as it is now, he will come," he added.

The Roman Catholic Church head has earlier expressed willingness to visit the war-hit nation to preach peace, but no time frame had been given.

South Sudan descended into civil war in mid-December 2013 when a dispute between President Salva Kiir and his former deputy Riek Machar led to an outbreak of violence, killing tens of thousand of people and displacing nearly two million.

The two warring parties, rights groups say, have targeted civilians during the civil war.

Last month, aid agencies declared an outbreak of famine in a country where an estimated over 5 million people are likely to face starvation.

"Many people have died. They were shot while trying to harvest their crops ... There are over 100,000 people trapped in Yei," Tombe told a meeting in Rome.

"I don’t want to lose hope but this hope has to be based on negotiations. If these warmongers don’t come and sit together the war will continue," he added.

Last month, the pope said he wanted the Archbishop of Canterbury, also head of the worldwide Anglican Communion, to accompany him to South Sudan.

According to the World Christian Encyclopedia, the Catholic Church was the largest single Christian body in Sudan since 1995, with 2.7 million Catholics mainly concentrated in South Sudan.

(ST)

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Motor boat attack leaves 8 dead, 9 wounded in Jonglei state

Link to web article here.

March 21, 2017 (BOR) – Eight people have been confirmed dead after a boat attack on Sunday which left nine others wounded.

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A boat crosses from Bor to Mingkaman on 10 November 2014 (ST)
The boat left Tayeer carrying 37 passengers was attacked near Cuetakuet Lake on Sunday morning. The majority of the people who were on the boat were from Jonglei, carried heads of cattle which all drowned.

Mamer Agoot, the chairperson of the Jonglei boat union indicated a report that the suspected attackers were from Lake State.

“They [victims] were sailing in their boat on Sunday where they were attacked by people who came in a small boat. The attackers came from Lakes state, from Adior or Nyang community”, said chairperson Agoot.

Wany Mathargak, one of the victim who was injured in the boat attack, told Sudan Tribune in Bor state hospital on Monday that the attackers were wearing red life coats, which indicated they must be working for a certain organization.

“When we came, they came behind us and passed in front of us. They were wearing red life coats. They went ahead and attacked us,” Mathargak said.

The witness said the boat had business people who frequently carry out their business activities between Bor and Tayeer.

The estimate loss from the passengers in the boat was SSP 13 million, 38 heads of cattle and 21, 000 USD, among others things.

Colonel Ajang John, Bor town police inspector said the attackers had been identified, adding that investigations were still underway.

(ST)