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XINHUA NEWS SERVICE REPORTS FROM THE AFRICAN CONTINENT

 

President Salva Kiir appeals for aid amid famine fund raising drive

JUBA South Sudan (Xinhua) -- South Sudan President Salva Kiir on Saturday appealed for assistance to help the war-torn country tackle a localized famine and also called for strengthened efforts to fight poverty.

Speaking at a fundraising event in Juba, Kiir called for immediate intervention from the citizens of South Sudan and the international community in order to rescue starving communities.

"Fighting poverty is a process and not something that can be done in one day, but fighting famine is immediate because nobody can go for two or five days without food and then survive. But you can live for years in poverty," he said.

Top athletes from Ethiopia and Kenya joined by over 2,000 South Sudanese took part in the Great Run South Sudan marathon on Saturday in a bid to raise funds to fight famine and poverty in the East African country where 100,000 people are facing starvation.

The 10km race led by retired Ethiopian long-distance track and road running athlete, Haile Gabrselassie, attracted donations worth 200,000 U.S. dollars from the African Union (AU) office in South Sudan and another combined pledge of nearly 70,000 U.S. dollars from top government officials.

Organizers said the proceeds, yet to be announced, would be used to help starving children, mothers and communities affected by famine in the northern parts of the country.

South Sudan has been devastated 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 shattered by fresh violence in July, 2016.

Tens of thousands of South Sudanese have been killed, with over 2 million displaced since December 2013.

Last month, the UN declared a localized famine in parts of South Sudan, warning that some 100,000 people are already starving and another 7.5 million people, nearly half of the population need humanitarian assistance and protection.
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EARLIER REPORTS:

South Sudan delays national dialogue over financial constraints

JUBA (Xinhua) -- South Sudan’s national dialogue initiative which was supposed to start in March has been delayed by difficulties in securing funds to kick off the event, a government official said on Sunday.

Presidential Spokesman Ateny Wek Ateny said the dialogue, announced last December by President Salva Kiir was meant to open up avenues to discuss political, social and economic problems affecting South Sudanese and also offer a platform for reconciliation and healing among disgruntled communities of the War-torn country.

Ateny said after being delayed for a month, the national dialogue will take place this month because the finance ministry has pledged to release the needed funds.

"The national dialogue is delayed because the ministry of finance is still working to avail the money.

"It is difficult to get the money but we are assured that the dialogue will begin in April," Ateny said.

However, the armed opposition group (SPLA-IO) led by former Vice President Riek Machar criticized the dialogue, describing it as "political entice" geared towards consolidating power by the Kiir government.

South Sudan has been devastated 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.

Tens of thousands of South Sudanese have been killed, with over 2 million displaced since December 2013.

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

The war has also inflicted heavy suffering on the oil-dependent country after oil revenues declined following fall in global oil price and shutdown of most oilfields in the Unity region as production fell to below 130,000 barrels per day (bpd) from 350,000 bpd.

The East African nation is currently struggling with hyper inflation amid shortage of foreign reserves to support imports as civil servants have also gone for two months without salaries.
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United Nations calls for swift end to attacks on civilians, aid workers

JUBA South Sudan (Xinhua) -- The UN top relief official in South Sudan on Saturday called for immediate end to increasing attacks on both humanitarian workers and civilians.

Eugene Owusu, the Humanitarian Coordinator for South Sudan, also demanded that warring parties to the conflict uphold their responsibilities to protect civilians and ensure the safety and security of humanitarians.

"These attacks are reprehensible and unacceptable.

"I call on those in power to take swift action to end the targeting of innocent people in this conflict and to hold those responsible to account," Owusu said in a statement issued in Juba.

He said the UN has received reports of outrageous abuses against humanitarians by both state and opposition actors in the past week in Upper Nile, as well as reports of horrific attacks against civilians in Eastern Equatoria.

According to Owusu, two serious attacks were carried out against aid workers in Upper Nile since March 31 and in Aburoc, humanitarians were harassed and beaten by members of armed opposition forces, while in Melut, state security officials detained and beat two aid workers before releasing them.

"I condemn these attacks in the strongest terms.

"I demand that the leadership on both sides investigates these incidents with a view to holding the specific perpetrators to account, as well as ending the targeting of humanitarians in the future," said Owusu.

The humanitarian situation in South Sudan continues to deteriorate with over 3.5 million people having now been forced to flee their homes, including nearly 1.9 million people who are internally displaced and more than 1.7 million who have fled as refugees to neighbouring countries.

An average of 2,000 South Sudanese refugees are arriving into Uganda each day, over 62 percent of whom are children, according to the UN.

"Humanitarians are in this country to save lives. It is beyond reckoning that they continue to be killed, harassed and abused despite our repeated calls for action," said Owusu.

He called on South Sudan leadership to investigate insecurity incidents in Pajok, Magwi County, Eastern Equatoria, where at least 6,000 people have been forced to flee to Uganda and reportedly several dozen have been killed, following an attack by government forces on the town.

             

 

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