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XINHUA NEWS SERVICE REPORTS FROM THE AFRICAN CONTINENT

 
South Sudan President Salva Kiir in Ethiopia for peace talks

JUBA South Sudan (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.

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EARLIER REPORTS:

South Sudan’s Kiir in Ethiopia for State visit

JUBA South Sudan (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.

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South Sudan says U.S. sanctions will not derail peace

JUBA South Sudan (Xinhua) -- South Sudan said Wednesday the U.S. targeted sanctions against its government officials will not derail the government’s drive to achieve peace in the country.

Government spokesman Michael Makuei told Xinhua in Juba that the government is committed to ushering in peace despite threats from Washington to sanction President Salva Kiir’s senior officials.

His remarks come as the UN Security Council is due to vote on Thursday to impose sanctions on senior government officials including former army chief.

The proposed measures include freezing of assets and travel ban for the six officials on both sides of the conflict for obstructing peace efforts in South Sudan.

“Yes, we know that our people are suffering but we are working collectively to build peace. Peace building is just like building a house, you keep on bringing something every day until you come up with final building,” he said, dismissing sanctions as political.

South Sudan’s conflict has now entered its fifth year. The conflict erupted in 2013 after forces loyal to President Kiir and his former deputy Riek Machar engaged in combat.

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

Millions of South Sudanese civilians have sought refuge in neighboring countries as the conflict rages on despite attempts by international players to end it.

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South Sudan welcomes China’s peace mediator role: ambassador

ADDIS ABABA South Sudan (Xinhua) -- South Sudan welcomes China’s role as a mediator in peace talks to end the civil war, a South Sudanese diplomat said Sunday.

Speaking to Xinhua, James Morgan, South Sudan Ambassador to Ethiopia and the AU, said an enhanced Chinese role in the peace process can encourage South Sudanese warring parties to achieve peace.

South Sudan descended into violence in December 2013, after a political dispute between President Salva Kiir and his former deputy Riek Machar led to split in the army, leaving soldiers to fight alongside ethnic lines.

The civil war is estimated to have killed tens of thousands of South Sudanese and displaced millions.

“China is urging everybody to arrive at peace without sanctioning anybody. China doesn’t take sides in the South Sudan civil war and Chinese peacekeepers’ role in South Sudan has been positive,” said Morgan.

He also pointed to China’s stance that Africa’s problem should be solved by Africans. “China’s role in South Sudan peace talks is to make sure peace and stability returns to the country that satisfies all South Sudanese parties.”

China has sent several groups of peacekeeping troops and police to South Sudan under the UN mandate since the outbreak of the civil strife in the East African nation.

Chinese peacekeepers in South Sudan have been engaged in protecting refugee camps, repairing broken infrastructures and facilitating local peace initiatives.

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MSF vaccinates 200,000 people against cholera in South Sudan

JUBA South Sudan (Xinhua) -- International medical charity Medicins Sans Frontieres (MSF) said Monday it has vaccinated more than 200,000 people against cholera in South Sudan during a four-week campaign.

The second batch of preventive vaccination campaign was conducted in 12 areas of the capital Juba, where people were identified most at risk in previous cholera outbreaks, the MSF said in a statement issued in Juba.

The vaccine would increase people’s immunity and level of protection against the deadly diarrheal disease from one year to three to five years, the charity added.

“The campaign has helped to provide protection to a population that most needs it, at a critical time now that the rainy season has started,” said Will Harper, head of the MSF mission in South Sudan.

“The second dose will provide even better protection against the deadly disease in areas of historically high rates of cholera transmission,” Harper added.

South Sudan is prone to cholera outbreaks, with the most recent one, which ended in February this year, affecting at least 20,000 people and killing 436.

According to the World Health Organization, millions of people around the world continue to be affected by cholera every year, with an estimated 140,000 deaths per year.

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South Sudan and UN vow to strengthen fight against HIV

JUBA South Sudan (Xinhua) -- The South Sudanese government and the Joint UN Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDs) on Tuesday agreed to work together to combat HIV among young people.

The ministry of health and UNAIDs have also signed a memorandum of understanding that seeks to enhance sexual and reproductive education among the youths and also strengthen access to information about HIV prevention.

The package would allow UNAIDs to partner with South Sudan in the areas of resource mobilization, advocacy and technical expertise.

UNAIDS Executive Director Michel Sidibe said the pact would help in scaling up youth-friendly services across South Sudan.

“This memorandum will be a tangible demonstration of your commitment to break the cycle of youth infections in the most critical age group because that is where we are having a big problem,” said Sidibe.

Esterina Novello Nyilok, head of South Sudan HIV/AIDS Commission said lack of access to HIV services, stigma, and gender based violence and the ongoing civil war are major contributors to the spread of HIV in the East African country.

According to Nyilok, an estimated 180,000 people live with the virus, with the national prevalence rate standing at 2.4 percent.

Nyilok said about 14,000 young people got infected with the HIV virus 2017, down from 18,000 the previous year, adding that the partnership with UNAIDs seeks to reduce new infections among youth.

Victoria Anib Majur Achut, HIV/AIDS Program Manager at the ministry of health, said the government will work with UNAIDs and partners to introduce sexual and reproductive health education in the country’s education curriculum in a bid to raise awareness.

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UN honors fallen peacekeepers in South Sudan

JUBA South Sudan (Xinhua) -- The United Nations peacekeeping mission in South Sudan on Tuesday honored peacekeepers who paid the ultimate price in line of duty to protect lives and help restore peace in the world’s newest nation.

Speaking during a UN 70th peacekeepers day in Juba, Deputy Special Representative of Secretary General and head of UN mission in South Sudan, David Shearer, said peacekeepers are faced with grave challenges in South Sudan but consistently and unswervingly support the cause for peace in the country.

“So today we mourn the loss of colleagues, for example, in recent attacks in Malia, Central African Republic and South Sudan in particular. We remember very kindly 55 who have died in UNMISS since 2011,” he said.

Shearer said the mission is mandated to protect civilians and to help build a durable peace in South Sudan.

“Some of our colleagues have paid the ultimate price in the line of duty across the world, and more than 3,000 has died in the line of duty including 134 of those died last year alone,” he said.

South Sudan’s conflict that has now entered its fifth year erupted in 2013 after forces loyal to President Salva Kiir and his former deputy Riek Machar engaged in combat.

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

Millions of South Sudanese civilians have sought refuge in neighboring countries as the conflict rages on despite attempts by international players to end it.

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Ghana takes serious view of sexual offenses in peacekeeping operations: minister

ACCRA Ghana (Xinhua) -- Ghana’s Minister for Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration Shirley Ayorkor Botchwey Tuesday stated that her country took a serious view of the issue of sexual exploitation and abuse in United Nations peacekeeping operations.

Speaking at a flag-raising and wreath-laying ceremony to mark the International Day of UN Peacekeepers in Accra, Botchwey said, as a member of the UN Secretary-General’s circle of leadership against sexual exploitation and abuse in the peacekeeping operations, Ghanaian President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo had made a personal commitment to help in preventing sexual exploitation and abuse.

“The government would, therefore, take swift punitive measures against any member of our troops or civilian personnel who is proven to have mis-conducted him/herself while on peacekeeping duties, contrary to the exemplary high standards that Ghana’s peacekeepers on UN mission have held themselves to over the years,” she said.

The assurance comes after the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) recalled a unit of police officers from Wau and confined them to base after a preliminary investigation into allegations of sexual exploitation.

The information received indicates that some members of the Ghanaian Formed Police Unit allegedly engaged in transactional sex, which is a clear breach of the UN and UNMISS code of conduct which prohibits sexual relationships with vulnerable individuals, including all beneficiaries of assistance.

The International Day of UN Peacekeepers was instituted by member states of the UN to acknowledge and appreciate the selfless service of all men and women who have served and continue to serve in peacekeeping missions across the world.

Ghana is noted for its role in peacebuilding in many countries. As at April, 2018, Ghana ranked as the 10th largest contributor to UN missions, with a total number of 2,645 peacekeepers.

           

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