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At least 55 civilians killed, scores injured in South Sudan fighting

JUBA South Sudan (Xinhua) -- A series of armed attacks on civilian population in South Sudan’s eastern state of Boma early this week have left at least 55 civilians killed, 20 others injured and over 8,000 displaced, a local government official said on Thursday.

John Achon, Boma State Minister of Information told Xinhua that armed men loyal to the rebel group SPLA-IO carried out several raids in the areas of Nanam, Kongor and Lukongole late last week until Tuesday.

Achon said the casualty figures were provided by local officials yesterday after relative calm returned to the area.

"This attack was carried out by rebels of Riek Machar. The attack left 55 people dead and 20 injured and 8,200 people have been displaced to Lukongole county headquarters," Achon told Xinhua by phone.

He said the attack has created volatile humanitarian situation after 60 aid workers were evacuated from the region following the fighting.

The UN Mission in South Sudan, UNMISS on Saturday said it has observed fresh fighting between government and opposition forces in various locations across the war-torn country including Raga in Lol State, Waat in Jonglei State and Tonga in the northern Upper Nile region.

The Peacekeeping mission urged the South Sudan’s warring parties to show restraint and respect civilians and their property during conflict.

South Sudan has been embroiled in more than three years of conflict that has have taken a devastating toll on the people of South Sudan.

According to the UN, the conflict has made the East African nation one of the hostile environments for aid workers to operate as at least 79 aid workers have been killed since the civil war began in 2013.

Last month, gunmen ambushed and killed six aid workers on a road linking the Capital, Juba to Pibor in Boma State last month.

The UN estimates that 1.5 million people have been forced into neighboring countries and another 7.5 million people across the country are in need of humanitarian assistance and protection, and a localized famine declared in February in parts of northern unity state.


60 aid workers relocated from South Sudan’s region over fighting

JUBA South Sudan (Xinhua) -- At least 60 aid workers have been relocated from South Sudan’s Walgak and Waat areas in northern Jonglei due to intensified armed conflict, the UN said on Thursday.

The UN Office for Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said renewed fighting has also caused thousands of people to flee from multiple locations including Waat and Walgak in Jonglei, amid concerns that clashes may spread to additional areas.

"The situation deteriorated in the second week of April, as a government offensive swept through multiple villages, including in areas where fighting previously flared up in late February," OCHA said in its latest report released in Juba.

The UN said the humanitarian workers had to relocate from multiple locations including Waat and Walgak in Jonglei on April 14 and 15.

"The relocations forced humanitarian organizations to suspend preparations for food drops due to target more than 11,200 people in Nyirol, and disrupted other vital humanitarian programming, including education, health, nutrition and WASH activities," it said.

The relocations follow earlier disruptions to humanitarian action in Jonglei when humanitarian assets and supplies were looted by civilians and armed actors during clashes in February.

According to OCHA, although it has not yet been possible to verify displacement figures due to the fluidity of the situation, preliminary estimates indicate that up to 100,000 people have been affected and displaced, many of whom had previously been displaced during fighting in February which caused thousands of people to flee from Motot and Pulchuol in Uror to Waat, Lankien, Akobo and Ethiopia.

"While fighting in Jonglei in 2017 has to date centred in Uror and Nyirol, there are concerns that conflict may also erupt in the Pibor area, where there have been increasing reports of localized clashes since February," the UN said.

It also said there are also concerns that the renewed fighting and displacement may exacerbate food insecurity in Jonglei heading into the lean season, where Nyirol was already expected to face emergency levels of food insecurity.

Expert urges South Sudan rebels to shun abduction of aid workers

JUBA South Sudan (Xinhua) -- A security expert on Thursday warned South Sudan rebels led by their leader Riek Machar risk losing credibility globally over abduction of foreign oil workers.

Assistant professor of Political Science at Juba University Jacob Chol told Xinhua in Juba that the successive abduction and release in March of two Indian oil workers working with the Dar petroleum consortium could easily irk influential countries like China and India with large stakes in the war-torn country’s nascent oil industry.

"That is a way of provoking the countries that are producing oil in the country, but that does not weaken the government. Instead it will make countries like China and India to view the rebels as spoilers," Chol revealed.

"It’s a sort of new behavior where rebels are trying to provoke oil workers, create fear and limit their movement and operations," he added.

The rebel spokesman Col. William Deng had earlier told Xinhua that they were determined to stop oil production for fear that the government was using oil revenues to purchase military supplies to carry out offensives against them, hence prolonging the more three years of conflict.

Chol disclosed that these developments were a consequence of failure to diversify the economy which is heavily reliant 98 percent on oil revenues to finance the fiscal budget.

"If you depend on one commodity and you are affected you will not have a lifeline. Oil is the only resource right now available to generate revenue since agriculture and farming are impossible due to fighting," he said.

Assistant Professor of Economics at Upper Nile University James Alic told Xinhua the situation will be exacerbated if abductions continued amid economic hardship caused by conflict curtailing oil production.

"Let’s hope it will not be rampant but if it (abduction) continues then that will be negative for the already bad economic situation," Alic said.

Conflict since outbreak in December 2013, forced foreign oil workers to be evacuated, oil infrastructure damaged causing oil production to decline from over 350,000 barrels a day (bpd) to less than 130,000 bpd.

South Sudan authorities have beefed security around the oil fields in the northern Upper Nile and Unity states to prevent more abductions of oil workers as they are keen to increase oil output to help cushion the weak economy.

"Oil workers abduction has made government to incur huge costs of maintaining security and personnel at the oil fields," Chol said.

Cholera kills 172 in South Sudan: UN

JUBA South Sudan (Xinhua) -- At least 172 people have died from cholera outbreak across 14 counties in South Sudan since the initial outbreak was reported in June last year, the UN said on Thursday.

The UN Office for Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said as at April 14, 6,222 cholera cases had been reported since the initial case was recorded on June 18, 2016.

"New cases have continued to be reported in new locations across the country during the dry season," OCHA said in its latest report released in Juba.

According to the UN, there are concerns that the outbreak will intensify and spread during the upcoming rainy season due to continued conflict, displacement and inadequate access to clean water and sanitation.

Cholera is a gastrointestinal disease, usually spread by contaminated water and food, and can cause severe diarrhea that, in extreme cases, can lead to fatal dehydration and kidney failure within hours.

The UN said response is underway in Jonglei Health and Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) teams are responding to new and suspected cholera cases in Duk, Ayod and Fangak in Jonglei, amid the longest running outbreak since South Sudan became an independent nation in July 2011.

Health experts say some cases of the cholera across the country remain unconfirmed due to a critical lack of the laboratory equipment needed to obtain a diagnosis, which humanitarian organizations are working to address.


UN appeal for more funding to prevent Famine in South Sudan

Sudan confirm hosting over 600,000 South Sudanese refugees

Generous Uganda opens settlement for South Sudan refugees



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