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Famine Hits Parts Of South Sudan (20.02.2017)

WFP South Sudan 2016

UN agencies warn that almost 5 million people urgently need food, agriculture and nutrition assistance.

JUBA, South Sudan, February 20, 2017 – War and a collapsing economy have left some 100,000 people facing starvation in parts of South Sudan where famine was declared today, three UN agencies warned. A further 1 million people are classified as being on the brink of famine.

The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and the World Food Programme (WFP) also warned that urgent action is needed to prevent more people from dying of hunger. If sustained and adequate assistance is delivered urgently, the hunger situation can be improved in the coming months and further suffering mitigated.

The total number of food insecure people is expected to rise to 5.5 million at the height of the lean season in July if nothing is done to curb the severity and spread of the food crisis.

According to the Integrated Food Security Phase Classification (IPC) update released today by the government, the three agencies and other humanitarian partners, 4.9 million people – more than 40 percent of South Sudan’s population – are in need of urgent food, agriculture and nutrition assistance.

Unimpeded humanitarian access to everyone facing famine, or at risk of famine, is urgently needed to reverse the escalating catastrophe, the UN agencies urged. Further spread of famine can only be prevented if humanitarian assistance is scaled up and reaches the most vulnerable.

Famine is currently affecting parts of Unity State in the northern-central part of the country. A formal famine declaration means people have already started dying of hunger. The situation is the worst hunger catastrophe since fighting erupted more than three years ago.

“Famine has become a tragic reality in parts of South Sudan and our worst fears have been realised. Many families have exhausted every means they have to survive,” said FAO Representative in South Sudan Serge Tissot. “The people are predominantly farmers and war has disrupted agriculture. They’ve lost their livestock, even their farming tools. For months there has been a total reliance on whatever plants they can find and fish they can catch.”

Malnutrition is a major public health emergency, exacerbated by the widespread fighting, displacement, poor access to health services and low coverage of sanitation facilities. The IPC report estimates that 14 of the 23 assessed counties have global acute malnutrition (GAM) at or above the emergency threshold of 15 percent, with some areas as high as 42 percent.

“More than one million children are currently estimated to be acutely malnourished across South Sudan; over a quarter of a million children are already severely malnourished. If we do not reach these children with urgent aid many of them will die,” said Jeremy Hopkins, UNICEF Representative a.i in South Sudan. “We urge all parties to allow humanitarian organizations unrestricted access to the affected populations, so we can assist the most vulnerable and prevent yet another humanitarian catastrophe.”

“This famine is man-made. WFP and the entire humanitarian community have been trying with all our might to avoid this catastrophe, mounting a humanitarian response of a scale that quite frankly would have seemed impossible three years ago. But we have also warned that there is only so much that humanitarian assistance can achieve in the absence of meaningful peace and security, both for relief workers and the crisis-affected people they serve,” said WFP Country Director Joyce Luma. “We will continue doing everything we possibly can to hold off and reverse the spread of famine.”

Across the country, three years of conflict have severely undermined crop production and rural livelihoods. The upsurge in violence since July 2016 has further devastated food production, including in previously stable areas. Soaring inflation – up to 800 percent year-on-year – and market failure have also hit areas that traditionally rely on markets to meet food needs. Urban populations are also struggling to cope with massive price rises on basic food items.

FAO, UNICEF and WFP, with other partners, have conducted massive relief operations since the conflict began, and intensified those efforts throughout 2016 to mitigate the worst effects of the humanitarian crisis. In Northern Bahr El Ghazal state, among others, the IPC assessment team found that humanitarian relief had lessened the risk of famine there.

FAO has provided emergency livelihood kits to more than 2.3 million people to help them fish or plant vegetables. FAO has also vaccinated more than 6 million livestock such as goats and sheep to prevent further loss.

WFP continues to scale up its support in South Sudan as humanitarian needs increase, and plans to provide food and nutrition assistance to 4.1 million people through the hunger season in South Sudan this year. This includes lifesaving emergency food, cash and nutrition assistance for people displaced and affected by conflict, as well as community-based recovery or resilience programs and school meals.

In 2016, WFP reached a record 4 million people in South Sudan with food assistance — including cash assistance amounting to US$13.8 million, and more than 265,000 metric tons of food and nutrition supplies. It is the largest number of people assisted by WFP in South Sudan since independence, despite problems resulting from the challenging context.

UNICEF aims to treat 207,000 children for severe acute malnutrition in 2017. Working with over 40 partners and in close collaboration with WFP, UNICEF is supporting 620 outpatient therapeutic programme sites and about 50 inpatient therapeutic sites across the country to provide children with urgently needed treatment. Through a rapid response mechanism carried out jointly with WFP, UNICEF continues to reach communities in the most remote locations. These rapid response missions treat thousands of children for malnutrition as well as provide them with immunization services, safe water and sanitation which also prevents recurring malnutrition.

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Opinion: SPLM/A government has the wrong priorities with building Ramciel city!

South Sudan Cartoon

We can be sure that General Salva Kiir Mayardiit must be proud of the agreement done with the Kingdom of Morocco that has offered a fortune to build the new capital city of Ramciel. This is apparently very important for the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM) who is already mixed in a dozens of issues. That the movement of Juba capital shouldn’t be the focus, but here is the agreement made earlier in February!

The agreement between the nations:

“South Sudan and Morocco have signed four partnership agreements and five Memoranda of Understanding covering areas of health, education, mining and infrastructural development.

The deals include an agreement on the building of the South Sudan Capital in Ramciel which cabinet approved shortly after independence in 2011.

The agreements were on:

  • General Operation
  • The building of the Capital Ramciel
  • Promotion and protection of investment
  • Avoidance of double taxation and prevention of physical invasion with respect to taxes and income. The documents were signed by ministers from both countries in the presence of President Salva Kiir and King Mohamed VI” (Radio Miraya, 02.02.2017).

So the Kiir Government and Transitional Government of National Unity (TGoNU) has focused on the wrong things these days, as even court justices, ministers and others are deflecting, as the fighting with rebels and other fractions are weakening the central leadership. So the news of this is absolutely bonkers:

“President Kiir appointed FVP Gen. Taban Deng Gai to head the Ramciel city project committee. The project is scheduled to start before May. Taban Deng Gai has been winning the trust of his career mate, His Excellency President Kiir” (South Sudan News, 17.02.2017).

So the man who took the place of Dr. Riek Machar who is fighting the SPLM/A government with his SPLM-IO fraction, the reality is that the Central Government is so fixated on the Ramciel building that they have continued to work on it:

“The order also named Nhial Deng Nhial, senior presidential advisor and special envoy for diplomatic affairs, as deputy chairperson of the committee. The committee members include the presidential advisor on legal affairs and constitutional development, Lawrence Korbandy, minister of finance, Stephen Dhieu Dau, minister in the office of the president, Mayiik Ayii Deng and minister of petroleum, Ezekiel Lol Gatkuoth” (South Sudan Broadcasting Corporation, 19.02.2017).

So that President Kiir is using time forming a working committee to work on building a new capital, instead of securing peace and shielding the citizens. The government is not using funds or securing the inflation, they are not making sure the people who go without water, food or shelter. Instead they are fixated on building a new town to have the main buildings. A new administrational seat instead of the one they have had for a long time. So they are creating a new administrative seat, so they might have a commercial seat and the administrative in the South Sudan. Still, the issue is that nation is grappling with such giant issues that should not contain city or town building at the moment.

With over a million citizens abroad, with drought, with lack of food and armed battles with rebellion, as well as problems of raping soldiers and such, the administrative seat of government, should be the least of concern. The problem of getting petroleum export and pipelines sufficiently works, so the petro-dollars come’s safe in the state coffers too.

In 2011: “MP Andrew Acijok told Good News Radio that legislators representing Greater Yirol met on Saturday and they raised concerns about the governor’s appointment. He said an appointee from Greater Yirol would be more familiar with the background of the new capital and would be of greater assistance to the committee. Mr. Acijok stated that the communities around Ramciel have given the land for the development of the new South Sudan capital for free. Mr. Acijok said traditional songs show that Ramciel had local residents for close to two centuries. He added that Ramciel natives offered the land to Dr. John Garang be used by the national government. On September 2, 2011, South Sudanese ministers designated Ramciel as the site for a planned capital city. The place, an open space in Lakes state, is considered the geographic centre of South Sudan” (Catholic Radio Network, 14.09.2011).

So the modernization should be more than enough to focus on and to secure the current capital. Because the other dire issues and unfixed problems in the domain. All the people that are in the limbo, that is in refugee camps in Uganda, Ethiopia and Kenya. That the spies of South Sudan are following into these camps and nations to pick-out the rebels inside the neighbour nations. This been told by resigned officials that they even went this far. So the missing South Sudanese could easily been taken by South Sudanese officials and their friends in EAC nations. When we know that the United Nations blue-helmets, MONUSCO could safely transfer SPLM-IO into the republic of Sudan and to Khartoum during the month of July, 2017.

The knowledge of all of this, the dying need for food for so many with the drought, the instability of the arms and battles between forces, as the government army and rebels are trying to controls areas. The government should use the manpower and the arms to secure the population and not to use time to build a new capital. That is waste of the Kingdom of Morocco donor aid and also the spent man-hours that the South Sudanese authorities shouldn’t need to use. The building of the Ramciel instead of Juba is misusing the capacity and the structures that already there. Instead of building stronger institutions and using the time to focus on needed restructuring and negotiating peace with rebels. The Government are getting busy on a project instead of trying to build a lasting peace.

The South Sudanese authorities and government should focus on building the nation, building the institutions, building the legal framework and the civil society, instead their focusing on building a town and city. That is not a key issue or pressing demand; the demand is to show up and be there for the citizens that fleeing violence, killing and lacking shelter. Even lacks peaceful villages to grow food and sell it on the market. Now, it is time for something else than fancy projects, but instead being there for the people. Peace.

South Sudan: Resignation letter from Brig. Gen. Henry Oyay Nyago, Director for Military Justice in SPLA, Juba (18.02.2017)

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South Sudan: Col. LLB Khalid Ono Loki resigns from SPLA – “There may be times when are powerless to prevent injustice but here must never be a time when we fail to protest” (17.02.2017)

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South Sudan: SPLM statement on the Lt. Gen. Gabriel Duop Lam’s resignation (17.02.2017)

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South Sudan: Lt. Gen. Gabriel Duop Lam resigns as Minister of Labour, Public Service and Human Resource Development in TGoNU (17.02.2017)

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Senior United Nations Human Rights Official Condemns Deplorable Rights Situation in South Sudan, Calls for Perpetrators to be Held to Account (17.02.2017)

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During his visit, Gilmour also travelled to Malakal, where he received further information concerning the suffering of the civilian population in the area.

GENEVA, Switzerland, February 17, 2017 – At the end of a four-day visit to South Sudan, the United Nations Assistant Secretary-General for human rights, Andrew Gilmour, called for those committing  atrocity crimes in the country to be held accountable.

“This is a war that has been waged against the men, women and children of South Sudan,” he said. “And the only way of ending this onslaught will be when the perpetrators face consequences for what they are doing.”

Gilmour held meetings in Juba with the Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, the Minister of Information, the Chief of General Staff of the Sudan People’s Liberation Army, the Director General of the National Security Service, representatives of the South Sudan Human Rights Commission, local authorities, religious leaders, United Nations and humanitarian partners, as well as non-governmental organizations, victims and civil society actors.

During his visit, Gilmour also travelled to Malakal, where he received further information concerning the suffering of the civilian population in the area.

“Although this is the fourth time I’ve been in South Sudan since 2011, I wasn’t prepared for the shocking devastation I witnessed in Malakal and even more by the clear pattern of systematic human rights violations and abuses suffered by the population,” Gilmour said.

He was informed of the appalling risks that women, now living under UN protection, are forced to take in order to be able to earn even the most meagre livelihood. When leaving the United Nations Mission in South Sudan protection of civilians site, they have been frequently subjected to rape by militias and the Sudan People’s Liberation Army on their route to the market in Malakal town. Rape and gang rape is present in the testimonies of numerous women in the area, though this was categorically denied by the Sudan People’s Liberation Army  Division Commander with whom Gilmour spoke.

“It is utterly abhorrent that women in this area have to choose between getting raped or getting a livelihood,” Gilmour said, “But this seems the brutal reality of what South Sudan has become.”
In March 2016, the United Nations human rights office issued a detailed report which documents the horrendous patterns of sexual violence in the country.  The report can be read here.
In his meetings with the authorities in Juba, Gilmour raised concerns about the unspeakable human rights situation throughout the territory. He urged the authorities to combat the worrying rise of hate speech and to do more to protect human rights defenders.

In his meeting with the Chief of General Staff of the Sudan People’s Liberation Army, General Paul Malong, Gilmour emphasized the severe restrictions on access that the United Nations Mission in South Sudan faces when trying to protect civilians, provide humanitarian assistance and monitor the human rights situation in the country.

He stressed his concern that elements of the Sudan People’s Liberation Army had engaged in what could well amount to war crimes and crimes against humanity. On the other hand he welcomed the recent start of United Nations human rights training for the Sudan People’s Liberation Army and the appointment of its focal points on conflict related sexual violence.

“Of course we know that until there’s peace in South Sudan, human rights will continue to be trampled,” the Assistant Secretary-General said. “But even during war, one can fight without routinely committing such needless acts of cruelty. And this is what we are calling on all parties – government and opposition – to do.”

Gilmour urged the Director General of the National Security Service to put an end to the practice of arbitrary and prolonged detention without charge, bring detainee before the courts, and allow them access to their lawyers and family.

He underlined to the Government authorities the absolute need to avoid reprisals and threats against human rights defenders who have cooperated with the United Nations. In this connection, he drew attention to a specific incident last September in which human rights defenders were threatened following the visit of the United Nations Security Council.

South Sudan: “SPLM-IO forces pursued the aggression and overran Nyinakok of Jur River in Western Bahr el Ghazal State” (16.02.2017)

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Just as the world is looking for another political process to end the ongoing war in South Sudan, the brutal and ruthless Juba regime has once again intensified its atrocious, ferocious and egregious abuses against the people of South Sudan. The ongoing mass killings, rapes, destruction, arbitrary arrests and displacement of people in and around Kubi in Oponi County of Eastern Equatoria State (CES) and Unity State is a stark reminder and a clear indication to the people of South Sudan, the African Union (AU), United Nations (UN) and indeed the international community that the Jieng Council of Elders (JCE) as an executive arm of the Juba regime under Mr Salva Kiir Mayardit is more than ever committed to exterminating non-Dinka communities.

At the same time, the same brutal and ruthless Juba regime has now escalated its all-out and nationwide dry season offensive by burning down villages and attacking SPLA-IO positions and bases throughout South Sudan. In the afternoon of yesterday February 15, 2017, the Juba regime attacked the gallant SPLA-IO positions and bases in and around Jur River, Western Bahr el Ghazal State (WBS).

In response, the gallant SPLA-IO forces pursued the aggression and overran Nyinakok of Jur River in Western Bahr el Ghazal State (WBS). The fighting of yesterday Wednesday February 15, 2017 at 1:30PM left fifteen (15) soldiers, including three (3) officers, died. Following the intense fighting, the Luo young men and women that the Juba regime had apparently mobilised as vigilante groups and counterinsurgency units were eventually forced to join the gallant SPLA-IO forces in pursuit of the defeated and desperate Juba regime soldiers.

Indeed, Nyinakok and the entire Jur River are now under the full and complete control of the gallant SPLA-IO forces. In the same afternoon of yesterday Wednesday February 15, 2017, a squad of fifteen (15) Juba regime soldiers under the command of Capt. Simon Lam Yuol Joker and Sgt Gai Muot (MO) abandoned its Raja base and reported to the nearby SPLA-IO base in and around Raja, Western Bahr el Ghazal State (WBS). With them were two (2) PKM, one (1) RPG in addition to their individual AK47.

With the ongoing mass defection of Juba regime soldiers to the gallant SPLA-IO, the people of South Sudan have understood why South Sudan is not at all the property of the Jieng Council of Elders (JCE) and why the Juba regime must go now rather than later. Therefore the SPLA-IO would like to one more time remind the African Union (AU), the United Nations (UN) and indeed the international community that the Juba regime is the problem, a threat to peace and stability in the region and hence must be isolated for peace and stability to return in South Sudan.

By Col. William Gatjiath Deng
Spokesperson for SPLA-IO

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