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UN plans to re-establish peacekeeping
base in South Sudan Yei town 

JUBA South Sudan(Xinhua) -- The UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) said Friday it plans to re-establish a peacekeeping base in the volatile Yei border town where government soldiers were accused of killing 114 civilians.

The UNMISS spokesman Daniel Dickinson told Xinhua in Juba that the decision follows the Thursday remarks by David Shearer, the UNMISS head, who described the situation as terribly sad on visiting the town located 150 km southwest of the capital.

“The Head of UNMISS David Shearer visited Yei on Thursday  on a mission to assess the need for a base in the area which is continuing to experience violence and human rights abuses, including murder, rape, torture and looting,” said Dickinson.

Shearer  earlier described the situation in Yei as “terribly sad” given it remains the war-torn country’s bread basket whose potential has been badly affected by the renewed violence in July 2016 spreading to the once peaceful Equatoria region, hence forcing 70 percent of the population to flee into Uganda and DR Congo.

“This was a highly prosperous town with well-educated and hardworking people. It’s incredibly fertile land too. You have everything that you would want here and yet it has been destroyed by war,” Shearer said.

Yei is the town where the UN Secretary General’s Advisor on Prevention of Genocide, Adama Dieng, visited last November and warned of potential of ethnic hatred and killings morphing into genocide.

The UNMISS head said they will support bringing back Yei to its former position, but on condition the UN is provided unlimited access into the surrounding countryside and also to be able to talk to the opposition as well as the government.

Shearer added there were conditions that needed to be met before a base could be established including the cooperation of local authorities, a genuinely inclusive grassroots peace process and guaranteed access for peacekeepers to enable regular patrols to outlying areas.

He added political leaders, religious and community groups are urging the UN to provide protection for civilians who are unable to travel beyond the town itself because of ambushes and ongoing violence.

South Sudan descended into violence in December 2013 after political dispute between President Kiir and his former deputy Machar led to fighting that pitted mostly Dinka ethnic soldiers loyal to Kiir against Machar’s Nuer ethnic group.

The 2015 peace agreement to end the violence was again violated in July 2016 when the rival factions resumed fighting in the capital forcing the rebel leader Machar to flee into exile.

The conflict has killed tens of thousands and displaced millions into refugee camps in neighbouring countries like Uganda.



South Sudan seeks help to tackle armyworm invasion

JUBA South Sudan (Xinhua) -- South Sudan on Thursday appealed to UN agencies and development partners to offer technical and financial support to assist in combating an outbreak of fall armyworms which is spreading rapidly across the country.

Onyoti Adingo, Minister of Agriculture and Food Security told journalists in Juba that the crop-eating pest has already affected 166,000 hectares of farm land, 500 of which were destroyed completely.

Adingo said the government initially provided 588,000 U.S. dollars to purchase pesticides, warning that the fund will not be enough to roll out a nationwide armyworms control program to contain the outbreak.

He said additional financial and technical support is required from UN agencies and development partners to enable the government to strengthen control and surveillance of the pest.

“If this outbreak continues to spread into the northern parts of the country where large scale agriculture is taking place now, we are afraid there will be a very big destruction to us because this will increase the threat of food insecurity,” Adingo said.

The war-torn country last month declared an outbreak of armyworms in the southeastern parts of the country, but the worms have now spread into the bread basket region of Equatoria and parts of Barh El Gazel.

“The ministry of agriculture and food security is appealing to development partners such as FAO, UNDP, WFP and others to commit both technical and financial support for us to carry out this noble task,” he added.

The fall armyworm has devastated many countries in Southern and Eastern Africa.

According to the Food and Agriculture Organization, the fall armyworm can cause extensive crop losses of up to 73 percent depending on existing conditions and is difficult to control with a single type of pesticide, especially when it has reached an advanced larval stage.

The outbreak poses another threat of food insecurity after a UN-backed report released last month said famine has eased in the war-torn East African country after massive humanitarian response , but warned that the number of food insecure people remains worrying.

The Integrated Food Security Phase Classification update by the government, the FAO, UN Children’s Fund, the World Food Programme, said the food situation remains dire as the number of people struggling to get food increased from 4.9 million in February to 6 million, the highest level of food insecurity ever experienced in South Sudan.

“We import food from outside because few people this year are able to cultivate. So this outbreak of armyworms will cause more problems unless something is done to stop it,” said Gorge Tadu, team leader of South Sudan’s emergency fall armyworm control program.


Malaria claims over 1,900 lives in South Sudan in 6 months

JUBA South Sudan (Xinhua) -- Malaria has caused 1,956 deaths in South Sudan, making it one of the main causes of illness in the world’s newest nation, the UN humanitarian agency said.

The UN Office for Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said in its latest report released on Saturday evening said more than 928,141 malaria cases have been reported since January and warns that the mosquito-borne disease is expected to increase as rainy season sets in.

“Deaths caused by malaria representing 76.9 percent of all disease-related deaths recorded so far in 2017. The counties most-affected to date are Aweil North, Gogrial West, Juba, Maban, Torit and Wau,” the UN said.

Malaria spikes during the mid-year rainy season as mosquitoes, which transmit the disease, breed in stagnant water.

Health organizations are scaling up their malaria prevention and response, with distribution of mosquito nets, and replenishment of antimalarial drugs in health facilities ongoing.

There were at least 20 robberies or ambushes of vehicles involved in humanitarian activities in June.

Malaria is endemic in South Sudan, especially during the country’s rainy season, and there is an annual upswing in cases around July.

In recent years, conflict, displacement and poor access to health services have contributed to the severity of malaria outbreaks, with 2016 having the highest number of recorded cases since South Sudan became independent.



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