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IGAD decides to arrange meeting between
South Sudanese warring leaders

ADDIS ABABA Ethiopia (Xinhua) -- The Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) has decided to bring leaders of the two major warring factions in South Sudan to the table, the Ethiopian Ministry of Foreign Affairs revealed on Friday.

The Ethiopian Ministry of Foreign Affairs disclosed on Friday that IGAD’s Council of Ministers, during its Thursday’s 62nd Extra-Ordinary Session in Ethiopia’s capital Addis Ababa, has decided to arrange a meeting between South Sudan’s President Salva Kiir, and his former deputy Riek Machar, who is head of Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-in-Opposition (SPLM-IO).

According to the ministry, the East African bloc in its Thursday’s “successful deliberation” stressed that all South Sudan’s political forces “are responsible for the elimination of the violence and brutality in the country towards peace.”

The ministry, however, did not disclose specific details of the meeting among Salva Kiir and Riek Machar. Machar is presently in exile in South Africa.

The IGAD Council of Ministers stressed in its final communiqué that “despite all efforts made so far, South Sudanese parties have not made sufficient compromises to overcome the outstanding issues on governance and security matters.”

IGAD Council of Ministers has decided to submit punitive measures against violators of the Cessation of Hostilities Agreement (CoHA) for approval by the Assembly of Heads of State and Government, the communiqué read.

It has also decided to submit its request to the IGAD Assembly to delegate the Council to decide on actions to be taken against violators of the CoHA on the Assembly’s behalf. The Cessation of Hostilities Agreement was signed in December 2017 among South Sudanese warring parties in Addis Ababa.

The Chairperson of the IGAD Council of Ministers, Workneh Gebeyehu, said Thursday during the opening session of the bloc’s council of ministers meeting in Addis Ababa that “we have now reached at a decisive moment.”

Gebeyehu, also Ethiopia’s foreign minister, further stressed that parties involved in South Sudan violence should spare no time to recommit to silencing the guns and sticking to the document they signed in December 2017.



Sudan Foreign Minister reiterates support to
IGAD’s efforts in South Sudan peace process

ADDIS ABABA Ethiopia (Xinhua) -- Sudan’s Foreign Minister, El-Dardiri Mohamed Ahmed, reiterated on Friday his country’s unreserved support to the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) in the acceleration of the South Sudan peace process.

El-Dardiri made the remarks during his meeting with the Chairperson of the IGAD Council of Ministers and Ethiopian Foreign Minister, Workneh Gebeyehu, on Friday in Ethiopia’s capital Addis Ababa, according to a statement by the Ethiopian Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

El-Dardiri on Thursday attended the IGAD’s 62nd Extra-Ordinary Session of the Council of Ministers in Addis Ababa, in which the participants called on South Sudan’s political forces to end the violence and brutality in the country towards peace.

El-Dardiri, during his discussion with Gebeyehu, further reiterated to strengthen the relations between Ethiopia and Sudan.

“Ethiopia and Sudan have enjoyed very cordial relations and enhanced level of bilateral cooperation on a range of bilateral and regional issues of common concern,” the statement quoted El-Dardiri as saying.

The diplomatic relations between Ethiopia and Sudan is largely intertwined with the Blue Nile River that originates from Ethiopia and shared among Ethiopia, Sudan and Egypt.

The construction of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam on the river, which will be regarded as Africa’s largest dam upon completion, has been a major issue among the three countries since its commencement in April 2011.


UN Security Council extends South Sudan sanctions

UNITED NATIONS New York (Xinhua) -- The UN Security Council on Thursday adopted a U.S.-drafted resolution to extend sanctions against South Sudan.

Nine members of the council voted in favor and the remaining six abstained, giving just enough votes for the draft to be adopted as Resolution 2418.

The adoption of a Security Council resolution needs nine affirmative votes on the condition that none of the five permanent members of the council—Britain, China, France, Russia, and the United States—vetoes it.

Resolution 2418 renews a travel ban and asset freeze against designated individuals and entities until July 15, 2018.

It also renews the mandate of the Panel of Experts, who assist the work of the sanctions committee, until Aug. 14, 2018.

The resolution decides that six individuals—high-ranking government officials and prominent rebel leaders—should be subject to the travel ban and asset freeze unless the parties stop fighting and agree on a viable political agreement. The resolution also threatens to impose an arms embargo.

The six individuals are: Koang Rambang Chol, a high-ranking opposition military official; Kuol Manyang Juuk, South Sudan’s defense minister; Malek Reuben Riak Rengu, the former deputy chief of staff of South Sudan’s army; Martin Elia Lomuro, South Sudan’s cabinet affairs minister; Michael Makuei Lueth, South Sudan’s information minister; Paul Malong Awan, former chief of staff of South Sudan’s army who rebelled last year.

Prior to the vote, Ethiopian Ambassador to the United Nations Tekeda Alemu warned that the adoption of the U.S. resolution would be detrimental to the peace process in South Sudan as the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD), a subregional bloc, is at a critical moment in brokering peace.

Ethiopia is hosting the IGAD-sponsored South Sudan High-Level Revitalization Forum in Addis Ababa.

“The possibility that the peace process might totally collapse—God forbid—as a consequence of this (adoption) could not be ruled out,” warned the ambassador.

He proposed that the Security Council instead approve a technical roll-over of the current sanctions regime without adding names to the sanctions list.

“Waiting for two months would not have caused the sky to fall,” he said, adding that the South Sudan crisis can only be addressed through an all-inclusive process, regarding which progress is being made.

U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley told the council that her country has lost patience. “The United States has lost its patience. The status quo is unacceptable. It is long past time for all of us to demand better for the South Sudanese people,” she told the council before the vote.

Shortly after its independence from Sudan in 2011, South Sudan plunged into a civil war. Up to 300,000 people are estimated to have been killed since late 2013. More than 1.5 million people have fled to neighboring countries, and many more are internally displaced.

UN officials have said repeatedly that the South Sudan crisis is a man-made tragedy, blaming it on greedy politicians.


East African bloc urges South Sudanese warring factions to silence guns

ADDIS ABABA Ethiopia (Xinhua) -- The Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD), an East African bloc, on Thursday urged South Sudanese warring factions to abide by the ceasefire agreement and silence the guns.

The Chairperson of the IGAD Council of Ministers Foreign Minister, Workneh Gebeyehu, said Thursday during the opening session of the bloc’s council of ministers meeting in Ethiopia’s capital Addis Ababa that “we have now reached at a decisive moment.”

Gebeyehu stressed that parties involved in South Sudan violence “should spare no time to recommit to silence the guns and, once and for all, stick to the document they signed afresh in December 2017.”

He stressed that IGAD would act on those that have violated the Cessation of Hostilities Agreement.

IGAD Special Envoy for South Sudan Ismail Wais, who presented a status update of the High Level Revitalization Forum since its commencement on December last year, also called on the parties to “wisely” consider options in the peace process.”

Prior to the peace process’ opening session, South Sudan’s President Salva Kiir on Wednesday met and talked with Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed in Addis Ababa.

Ethiopia, which is currently the chair of IGAD, has been actively engaging under the IGAD umbrella to reconcile South Sudan’s warring parties ever since the civil war broke out in December 2013.

Due to the civil war, which started after a political dispute between President Salva Kiir and his former deputy Machar led to split in the army, the world’s youngest nation has been embroiled in a conflict that has taken a devastating toll on the people, creating one of the fastest growing refugee crises in the world.


South Sudan President Salva Kiir in Ethiopia for peace talks

JUBA South Suda (Xinhua) -- South Sudanese President Salva Kiir on Wednesday travelled to Addis Ababa, Ethiopia for a one-day State visit, the presidency said.

President Kiir was accompanied by the country’s chief peace negotiator and government ministers for talks with Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed.

The South Sudanese leader is expected to brief the Ethiopian prime minister about South Sudan’s position on the peace talks led by the East African regional bloc, the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD).

“The president of the republic would discuss with the new Ethiopian Prime Minister the government’s position on the recent IGAD proposal on the revival of the country’s peace,” the presidency said.

It is Kiir’s first visit to Ethiopia since the resignation of former Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn. Ethiopia is hosting peace talks aimed at reviving South Sudan’s stalled 2015 peace deal.

The second round of the High Level Revitalization Forum ended last week without any deal after the warring parties rejected a proposed power sharing deal developed by IGAD. IGAD is yet to announce the next date for the negotiations.

In a press statement, spokesperson of Ethiopia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MoFA), also said Kiir is expected to hold discussion with Abiy Ahmed on ways to end South Sudan’s civil war.

Ethiopia is the chair of IGAD that has been trying to reconcile South Sudan warring parties ever since civil war broke out in December 2013.

Ethiopia was also host to the peace agreement signed in August 2015, between South Sudan President Salva Kiir and his ex-deputy Riek Machar. Renewed fighting in July 2016, however, led to the weakening of the agreement with South Sudan government and rebels accusing each other of restarting the hostilities.


Seven million people in South Sudan unsure of where next meal will come from

GENEV (Xinhua) -- As many as 7.1 million people or more than half the population of South Sudan would not know where their next meal come from, in the absence of humanitarian assistance, the World Food Programme (WFP) said Friday.

Hunger peaks during the annual lean season when food is most scarce before the next harvest, WFP spokesperson Bettina Luescher said at a UN briefing here.

“WFP and partners aim to reach up to 4.8 million hungry people with assistance in the worst-affected areas of South Sudan at the height of the lean season in June and July,” she said.

At the same UN briefing, Christophe Boulierac, spokesperson for the UN children’s fund UNICEF said that more than one million children are acutely malnourished, with hundreds of thousands at risk of dying in South Sudan.

WFP said that without a sustained, comprehensive response, millions of people are at risk for a fifth straight year of conflict.

Of special concern are Southern Unity state and Pibor County in Jonglei state. The fear is that rising hunger may reach catastrophic levels without a concerted emergency response.

The international community stepped up efforts when famine was declared in South Sudan in February 2017 and funded a huge response that ended the famine by June.

WFP said humanitarian assistance alone cannot solve South Sudan’s problems.

“Only a political solution can provide the peace needed for people to rebuild their lives and livelihoods,” said Luescher.

Food insecurity has worsened across South Sudan because of conflict since 2013 and economic collapse, which continue to destroy lives and livelihoods.

The number of displaced people and refugees only increases as more people become destitute and depend on assistance to stay alive, said WFP.


South Sudan aims to raise 600,000 USD to support response to floods

JUBA South Sudan (Xinhua) -- South Sudan requires over 600,000 US dollars to provide emergency aid to victims of flooding, the country’s disaster management agency said on Friday.

The Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs and Disaster Risk Management predicted likelihood of an escalating flooding crisis in many parts of South Sudan amid torrential rains.

Gatweech Peter Kulang, Undersecretary in the Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs and Disaster Risk Management, said urgent funding is needed to buy boats, tents, mosquito nets and blankets to assist communities living in the flood-prone regions of Bahr el Ghazal, Upper Nile and Unity.

South Sudan’s Meteorological Department warned last week that several regions in the country are at risk of experiencing heavy rains as the rain season peaks by August this year.

“We are seeking an emergency fund to procure and preposition emergency supplies such as mosquito nets, tents, blankets and drainage tools. We need to act before it unfolds into a national disaster,” said Kulang.

“The ministry is encouraging all government sectors and humanitarian actors to share their contingency plans in the hot spot areas to improve coordination, reduce cost, consolidate efforts and synergy to avoid duplication,” he added.

South Sudan is prone to recurrent floods every year in the rainy season, between May and October, which threatens the livelihoods of a huge population.

Last year, torrential rains forced over 100,000 people from their homes and destroyed valuable property in central and northern parts of the world’s youngest republic.


Chinese medics offer free treatment to children in South Sudan

JUBA South Sudan (Xinhua) -- The Chinese medical team in South Sudan on Friday offered treatment and food donation to children at the state-owned Juba Orphanage during an event to  mark the International Children’s Day.

The sixth batch of Chinese doctors treated children with eye and skin infections and also donated foodstuff to boost their nutrition status.

“Children are the hope of a nation, they have great potential. We the Chinese say, when the young are strong, the country is strong. So children should get care from the society,” said Sun Yaxi, head of the China medical team in South Sudan.

“We are really happy to see that China and South Sudan enjoy a close and lasting partnership,” Sun added.

Angelo Kenyi, Director of the Orphanage in the capital, Juba, appreciated the Chinese doctors for their consistent support to the children’s home in the last five years.

Kenyi appealed to donor agencies to support the orphanage since it lacks basic necessities like food, medicine and learning materials.

Since independence of South Sudan in 2011, China has dispatched five medical teams with a total of 66 members to offer specialized medical care and surgeries to about 50,000 patients across the east African county.

Isaac Maker, Medical Director at South Sudan’s biggest public health facility, the Juba Teaching Hospital, hailed the role played by the Chinese doctors.

He said the people of South Sudan have benefited a lot from the Chinese doctors in the last five years.

“I really thank the Chinese medical team not only  for coming here to donate something to the orphans, but also for coming all the way from China to give medical service to our people,” said Maker.

“Your feeling towards these children is appreciated. What you are doing will change the lives of these children. They will always remember the Chinese people,” he added.


UN sends home Ghanaian peacekeepers
accused of sexual abuse in South Sudan

JUBA South Sudan (Xinhua) -- The UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) said it has repatriated a group of Ghanaian peacekeepers involved in a sexual exploitation scandal in South Sudan in February.

The contingent of 46 police officers was repatriated to Ghana on Wednesday, UNMISS told Xinhua in a statement Thursday evening.

UNMISS withdrew the 46-member Ghanaian Formed Police Unit (FPU) from their duty station inside a UN Protection of Civilians (PoC) site in the north-western South Sudanese town of Wau on Feb. 8, and confined to their base in the capital, Juba after a complaint of sexual misconduct was made.

The UN mission said investigations conducted by the Office of Internal Oversight Services, an independent office within the UN established that some members of the FPU were in fact involved in transactional sex with women under their protection.

UNMISS added that it is following up with the Ghanaian authorities to ensure that disciplinary or criminal actions are taken against the perpetrators.

“The UN has a zero tolerance, no excuses, and no second chances approach to sexual exploitation and abuse (SEA),” the UNMISS said.

“In line with existing rules, the report will be shared with the Government of Ghana which is also conducting its own national investigation into the allegations and has pledged to take disciplinary and/or criminal action for substantiated acts,” it added.

UNMISS has some 17,000 peacekeeping personnel, including 13,000 soldiers and 1,500 police, who carry out the mission’s mandate to build peace and protect civilians in South Sudan.

“Its priority is to put victims’ rights and dignity first and ensure provision of victim assistance services, as well as transparency and accountability,” UNMISS said.



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