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South Sudanese resort to creativity, hard
work to cope with economic hardships

By Denis Elamu JUBA South Sudan (Xinhua) -- While many of his compatriots found life untenable in South Sudan and fled to neighboring Uganda and other countries, Robert Amule who has been running two shops in Juba for the past five years, says he is not in a hurry to leave as he sees an opportunity to expand his business.

The world’s youngest nation is beset by conflicts and hyper inflation. People like Amule have decided to resort to hard work and creativity to earn a living as cost of doing business becomes costly with each day that passes due to shortage of foreign exchange.

“Those days are gone when one could sustain himself with a small business. I used to sell imported clothes from Uganda but I can no longer afford it, so I decided to venture into water and I have now even expanded into bar business,” the youthful Amule said.

Amule added that despite his versatility in business, the hard situation has forced many small businesses to close.

Conflict broke out in December 2013 and has so far killed tens of thousands, displaced more than two million from their homes, and 1.5 million people have fled into neighboring countries, according to the UN refugee agency (UNHCR).

The UN estimates about 5.8 million South Sudanese to be food insecure following a long drought season coupled forced displacements due to fighting.

Jimmy Jackson said he was forced to do jobs like building and painting after the media company he worked for closed in the aftermath of conflict, leaving him with no other option than working for small construction companies, to put food on the table for his young family.

“These days things are not easy, we struggle for survival. White collar jobs are not there anymore. For me, if building and painting jobs come, I do them,” Jackson said.

About 78 percent of the households in South Sudan derive their livelihood from agriculture. There are few alternative sources of employment as the formal sectors are yet to develop.

“If you are hardworking person you earn some pay at the end of the day,” Jackson said while referring to local construction work he survives on.

The country’s annual inflation by October last year peaked at 837.5 percent and the South Sudanese Pound continues to shed value against the U.S dollar at a rapid rate since April last year from 32 to 140 in February on the black market.

Geoffrey Mujule, who deals in construction materials such as building bricks in Munuki suburb, told Xinhua that together with his Ugandan partner they managed to open another branch to supplement their daily earnings.

“There are no customers buying, they just come and ask for goods and go away. So we decided to open up another business to supplement this one because there is no other business I can do now,” Mujule said.

Meanwhile, Oyoo Simon, a driver who also operates a generator at an office complex, says the situation has pushed up the cost of living as prices of goods in the market have doubled.

“The situation in the market is difficult for everybody whether you do your own business, you end up closing it at some point,” he said.

Juba-based economist James Alic Garang told Xinhua that options to save the worsening economic situation are limited unless conflict is halted.

“First, stop the war! The economy is carrying undue weights resulting from political crisis. Once you stop war and implement ARCISS (Agreement on Resolution of Conflict in South Sudan), you can reduce the pressure on the economy. Second, continue to reform economic institutions of governance for better and as one way to turn the economy around,” Garang said.

He added that there was need to increase oil production in the northern oil fields from less than 130,000 barrels per day to more than 300,000 bpd that will help the government earn additional foreign exchange.


UN deplore plight of 20,000 displaced South Sudanese in Upper Nile

by Denis Elamu JUBA South Sudan (Xinhua) -- The UN peacekeeping mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) on Thursday revealed that some 20,000 displaced persons remain missing after last week’s renewed fighting between warring factions on the west bank of the Nile River in the northern Upper Nile region.

The head of UNMISS, David Shearer, described the lack of information about the situation of these internally displaced persons (IDPs) as a "real problem" after he visited the war-torn country’s second largest town of Malakal - the epicenter of the recent violent fighting between government troops (SPLA) and rebels.

"UNMISS believes that the 20,000 people have fled towards Kodok from Wau Shilluk, a town eight miles north of the UN base in Malakal on the west bank of the River Nile.

Fighting between government SPLA forces and opposition forces has expanded geographically across the west bank over the past week, and shows no signs of abating, forcing more people to flee their homes," Shearer said in a statement.

He added that UN peacekeepers on Thursday attempted to carry out a foot patrol to Wau Shilluk, but were prevented from doing so by SPLA soldiers located at Wau Shilluk, a situation Shearer described as "very frustrating."

"We want to find out what has happened to those people and provide them with assistance if they need it," he said of the displaced persons.

UNMISS has described government relocations by air of IDPs through Juba into Malakal as unsustainable if they are not also supported with humanitarian assistance on arrival.

UNMISS also added that the Shilluk population of Malakal has abandoned the town and 33,000 people are currently taking refuge in the camp administered by UNMISS.

"UNMISS is increasingly concerned that fighting is once again spreading across the Upper Nile region," it added.

Meanwhile, the SPLA spokesman Brigadier Lul Ruai Koang said he had not received reports on the latest clash on Wednesday between the warring factions in newly created Bieh state located in the north of the country.

South Sudan has been shattered by civil war that broke out in December 2013 after President Salva Kiir accused his former deputy Riek Machar of plotting a coup. Machar denied the accusation but then mobilized a rebel force.

A peace deal signed in August 2015 led to the formation of a transitional unity government in April, but was again devastated by fresh violence in July, 2016.

Tens of thousands of South Sudanese have been killed, with over 2 million displaced and another 4.6 million left severely food insecure, since December 2013.


Interview: Disunity rife in South Sudan than before independence, expert says

JUBA South Sudan (Xinhua) -- A South Sudanese expert said on Wednesday that the youngest nation was now more divided by conflict which erupted in December 2013, than the period before independence from its northern neighbor Sudan in 2011.

South Africa-based law expert Remember Miamingi told Xinhua in an interview that ethnic groups that have for long decades co-existed in harmony were now distrustful of each other due to several local grievances over land, political representation and access to national resources.

“The Dinkas and Nuers (tribes) that have for centuries considered themselves as cousins became archenemies. The Shulluk and the Dinkas that lived in relative peace for years in the former Upper Nile region now are at each other’s throat. The Fertit, Balanda and other ethnic groups that co-existed in the former Bahr el Ghazal region now do not see eye to eye,” he revealed, warning that this was threat to national identity.

He added that in the once peaceful Equatoria region that has witnessed countless atrocities including rapes, killings in the Yei town South West of the capital has further heightened tension between ethnic groups.

President Salva Kiir since 2015 decided to order for creation of new 28 states that were split from the former 10 states, and these have led to tension among various ethnic groups over boundaries amid allegation of land grabbing by powerful elites from dominant tribes.

“In the former Equatoria region, the hatred for our brothers and sisters from the Dinka tribes has reached dangerous and unprecedented levels. So the longer Salva Kiir stays in power, the sooner the idea of a united South Sudan will disappear,” Miamingi said.

He added that in the period before independence there were few South Sudanese refugees, but of late the number has risen to 1.5 million refugees.

“At the inception of the country, South Sudan had billions of U.S dollars in oil and development support monies. Today the country is in billions of U.S dollars of debt and no development support. South Sudanese could feed themselves, but today there are 4.9 million South Sudanese who are extremely food insecure,” he disclosed.

South Sudan has been shattered by civil war that broke out in December 2013 after President Kiir accused his former deputy Riek Machar of plotting a coup. Machar denied the accusation but then mobilized a rebel force.

A peace deal signed in August 2015 led to the formation of a transitional unity government in April, but was again devastated by fresh violence in July, 2016.

Tens of thousands of South Sudanese have been killed, with over 2 million displaced and another 4.6 million left severely food insecure, since December 2013.


South Sudan launches UN climate change framework

JUBA South Sudan (Xinhua) -- South Sudan on Wednesday launched 28 projects under the National Adaptation Programs of Action (NAPAs), making Juba eligible to acquire funding of up to 50 million U.S. dollars for implementation of programs seeking to address climate change.

Joseph Bartel, Undersecretary in the Ministry of Environment and Forestry, said the government has indentified five projects toward developing environmentally friendly agriculture, early warning system, wetland protection, renewable energy and mainstreaming environmental policies and laws.

Bartel urged the government to enact legislations that can protect the environment by ensuring increased funding to environmental conservation efforts and enforce stringent punishment and also ensure that increased funding to the 28 projects listed in the NAPAs.

“Once we get the environmental law, we are going to go after anybody including the oil industry that is currently not being monitored,” he said.

NAPA is an initiative of the UN framework convention on climate change (UNFCC) that provides a process for Least Developed Countries (LDCs) to identify priority activities that respond to their urgent and immediate needs to adapt to climate change. So far 51 countries have responded to it.

Environment Minister Josephine Naphon said NAPAs would help guide the country to stop over-reliance on thermal energy and shift to renewable energy by 2020.

Asrad Khan, UN Environment Program (UNEP) South Sudan Program Manager, said South Sudan remains one of the countries in the world with the highest deforestation rates, which has made it prone to disasters such as drought and flooding that have severely devastated crop and livestock production in the eastern and northern parts.

He said implementation of NAPAs would strengthen efforts to combat negative effects of climate change on livelihoods and boost food security.

“Climate change has no boundaries. So you it is very important for a country like south Sudan which is prone to disasters to adapt the NAPA to ensure that we use the natural resources wisely and start to take action now,” Khan said.

South Sudan is prone to recurrent floods every year in the rainy season—May to October—which threatens the lives and livelihoods of the local population and their communities, according to the United Nations Education, Scientific and Cultural Origination (UNESCO).

The agency said destruction of homes, schools, crops and agricultural lands lead to a loss in potential income, food insecurity, disrupted educational opportunities and delayed delivery of basic services in South Sudan.




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