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DOME, Oct. 8, 2018 (Xinhua) -- Women carry food donation delivered to them by World Food Programme (WFP) in Dome, South Sudan, Oct. 4, 2018. The World Food Programme (WFP) has for the first time used boats to deliver food aid via a new river route to an isolated and conflict-torn region in northwestern South Sudan since the country became independent in 2011.  XINHUA PHOTO: GALE JULIUS

WFP uses boats to deliver aid to hunger-hit South Sudan region 

JUBA South Sudan (Xinhua) -- The World Food Programme (WFP) has for the first time used boats to deliver food aid via a new river route to an isolated and conflict-torn region in northwestern South Sudan since the country became independent in 2011.

The WFP said with reduction in cases of insecurity in the former Upper Nile region, the newly opened Sobat river route will be an alternative to transport food aid brought through neighboring Sudan to seven hard-to-reach locations in Ulang and Nyirol counties.

Simon Cammelbeeck, WFP acting country director in South Sudan, said the new corridor will deliver assistance to hungry people who suffered for years without getting adequate humanitarian aid.

“River transport was challenging because of security issues, but now things are improving and the boat operators are willing to work with the UN, which is a great breakthrough and we want to expand that further,” Cammelbeeck said.

Cammelbeeck said aid delivery in South Sudan is complicated due to insecurity and poor infrastructure, adding if river transport could be expanded, it will reduce dependence on the costly airdrop which cost six to seven times higher than river and road transport.

“It is a win-win for WFP, for the community, for the donors and the private sector. So we want to extend this further,” he added.

At Dome, a small fishing village along the Sobat River, residents said the opening of the new water way will rescue them from hunger after a fleet of 11 boats and a barge recently offloaded 752 tonnes of assorted food commodities.

The fishing village of nearly 40,000 people had spent some four months without receiving food aid.

Mary Nyayua, 40, and her family of six received 90 kilograms of cereals and 9 kilograms of lentils as their monthly food ratio, the first in nearly five months.

Nyayua said the arrival of the food has given her some hope that peace is returning to her home after five years of suffering constant displacement and severe food shortage.

“We suffered so much during the conflict. There was no food. We used to eat leaves, wild fruits and fish,” Nyayua told Xinhua.

“We used to get food through airdrop and it was not enough. Now that there is peace, we expect to get more food through the boats.”

“We have been hungry all this time because of war. We have been displaced and if the river opens, we will be happy and get enough food to eat,” said 32-year-old Olok Makuach.

According to the food security analysis report released at the end of September, the UN agencies and the government warned that 6.1 million South Sudanese, about 59 percent of the country’s population, face food insecurity.

South Sudan descended into civil war in late 2013 and the conflict has created one of the fastest growing refugee crises in the world as some 4 million people are said to be displaced internally and externally since 2013.

A peace deal signed in August 2015 broke down in July 2016 following renewed violence in the capital Juba and quickly spread to previously peaceful areas.

Parties to the nearly five-year-old conflict last month signed a new deal in neighboring Ethiopia aimed at ending a civil war.

Like many South Sudanese, Dome residents are betting on the latest peace deal to salvage them from the ongoing suffering.

“All this time we have been suffering. We eat fish, fruits and grass. Now that they have signed peace and the river has reopened, we are very happy for that. We hope the peace will stay so that we return to our homes,” said 65-year-old Lam Kauch.

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EARLIER REPORT:

Charity scales up humanitarian interventions in South Sudan

JUBA (Xinhua) -- The international medical humanitarian organization, Medecins Sans Frontières (MSF), on Friday said it is scaling up emergency support in South Sudan’s Maban area.

“After monitoring the situation closely over the past two months, we have gradually scaled up the presence of our team in Maban area, which has now returned to our full capacity operation,” Samuel Theodore, head of mission for MSF in South Sudan, said in a statement issued in Juba.

Theodore said since mid-September, the MSF team on the ground has restarted its activities, reiterating the charity’s commitment to the host communities and displaced persons.

He said MSF operates a primary and secondary healthcare hospital in Doro refugee camp and provides primary healthcare consultations in Bunj State Hospital.

“MSF reiterates its calls for the respect and protection of humanitarian workers and health facilities,” Theodore remarked.

In July, MSF suspended most of its activities after a violent attack on aid workers and its facilities in a northwestern town of Bunj, leaving only minimal life-saving services in place.

According to UNHCR, South Sudan hosts nearly 300,000 refugees, mostly from the Kordofan and Blue Nile States. Over 144,000 of those refugees live in four camps in Maban County.

According to the UN, thousands of aid workers are providing emergency support to millions of people in South Sudan affected by war, hunger and disease.

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Sudan and South Sudan agree to establish buffer zone, open border crossings

KHARTOUM Sudan (Xinhua) -- Sudan and South Sudan on Friday agreed to establish a buffer zone on their joint border, demarcate the Zero line and open border crossings before the end of 2018, Sudan’s official SUNA news agency reported.

Sudan and South Sudan on Friday concluded military talks, where the two countries’ chiefs of staff signed the minutes of the talks before developing them into a memorandum of understanding for military cooperation.

“The talks were held under appropriate circumstances that allow boosting the military cooperation between the two countries to reach common understandings and pave the way for a great breakthrough in a number of outstanding issues,” Lt. Gen. Kamal Abdul-Marouf Al-Mahi, Sudanese Army’s chief of joint staff, was quoted in the report as saying.

For his part, Gen. Gabriel Jok Riak, chief of staff of South Sudan’s Army, reiterated his country’s full commitment to what has been agreed on, the report said.

“What has been reached is considered a strong push on the course of the two countries’ bilateral political and military relations. These talks constituted a new breakthrough in various areas of military cooperation and means of strengthening and developing them further,” he said.

Riak started a visit to Sudan five days ago, where he held talks with his Sudanese counterpart and met with Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir and National Defense Minister Maj. Gen. Awad ibn Auf.

Sudan and South Sudan signed a deal in 2012 on security arrangements stipulating withdrawal of the two countries’ troops for 10 km north and south of the zero line agreed on to establish a demilitarized zone on the joint border. 

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South Sudan develops migration policy

JUBA South Sudan (Xinhua) -- South Sudan with support from the International Organization for Migration (IOM) has kicked off meetings in Juba aimed at developing the country’s first ever comprehensive migration policy, the UN agency said on Friday.

IOM, which organized a three-day meeting which ended on Friday saw key government stakeholders set priorities to be addressed by the migration policy.

Tya Maskun, IOM South Sudan Head of Operations, said discussions centered on establishing correct facts and figures around migration in South Sudan, mixed migration, labor migration, and migration and development.

“Regular and irregular migrants contribute to the country’s economy, particularly through payments for business licenses and creating employment opportunities,” Maskun said in a statement.

She said the consultation marked the beginning of South Sudan’s journey towards establishing a legal framework, which should aim to protect and address migrants’ needs while harnessing the benefits they bring to the country.

According to Maskun, due to its status as a member of the East African Community, South Sudan is a party to the free movement protocol, an agreement that should be at the core of migration policy.

The IOM said the outcome of this week’s consultation will lead to another landmark step forward for the country which is a major transit country on the route to Northern Africa.

“We saw the need for South Sudan to come up with a migration policy when we realized that there were some legal loopholes. We need to close these gaps,” said Riaw Gatlier Gai, South Sudan’s Deputy Minister for Interior.

According to 2017 International Migration Report, South Sudan hosts about 845,000 migrants in 2017, the majority of whom are from the East and Horn of Africa and are often travelling irregularly.

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Joint UN, AU high-level delegation due in South Sudan

JUBA South Sudan (Xinhua) -- A joint United Nations and African Union delegation is due in South Sudan on Sunday to help shore up the revitalized peace deal which was inked in Ethiopia in September, the UN mission said on Friday.

The UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) said officials including Jean-Pierre Lacroix, the United Nations Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations, and Smail Chergui, the African Union Commissioner for Peace and Security, will undertake a joint visit to South Sudan from Oct. 7 to 10.

The UN mission said the delegation will use the visit to commend the South Sudanese stakeholders for signing the peace agreement in September and encourage them to faithfully implement it.

“The delegation will also travel to Bentiu and meet with women leaders and organizations, including those living in the Protection of Civilian site. They will also meet with the leadership and personnel of the UN system,” said the mission in a statement issued in Juba.

It said the senior UN and AU officials are expected to hold talks with senior government officials including President Salva Kiir and later travel to Addis Ababa and brief the African Union Peace and Security Council on Oct. 10.

“More specifically, the visit will focus on tangible actions and re-emphasizing the significance of elevating, safeguarding and ensuring women’s meaningful participation and leadership in the implementation of the Agreement,” it said.

South Sudan’s conflict is now entering its fifth year since it erupted in late 2013 after forces loyal to Kiir and his former deputy 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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Charity scales up humanitarian interventions in South Sudan

JUBA South Sudan (Xinhua) -- The international medical humanitarian organization, Medecins Sans Frontières (MSF), on Friday said it is scaling up emergency support in South Sudan’s Maban area.

“After monitoring the situation closely over the past two months, we have gradually scaled up the presence of our team in Maban area, which has now returned to our full capacity operation,” Samuel Theodore, head of mission for MSF in South Sudan, said in a statement issued in Juba.

Theodore said since mid-September, the MSF team on the ground has restarted its activities, reiterating the charity’s commitment to the host communities and displaced persons.

He said MSF operates a primary and secondary healthcare hospital in Doro refugee camp and provides primary healthcare consultations in Bunj State Hospital.

“MSF reiterates its calls for the respect and protection of humanitarian workers and health facilities,” Theodore remarked.

In July, MSF suspended most of its activities after a violent attack on aid workers and its facilities in a northwestern town of Bunj, leaving only minimal life-saving services in place.

According to UNHCR, South Sudan hosts nearly 300,000 refugees, mostly from the Kordofan and Blue Nile States. Over 144,000 of those refugees live in four camps in Maban County.

According to the UN, thousands of aid workers are providing emergency support to millions of people in South Sudan affected by war, hunger and disease.

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At least seven die, 35 wounded in grenade explosion in South Sudan

JUBA South Sudan (Xinhua) -- At least seven people have been killed and 35 others injured after a hand grenade exploded in a night club in South Sudan’s western town of Yambio, police spokesman Daniel Justice has told Xinhua.

The victims, including a child and a woman, were killed on Friday night after a hand grenade exploded at a public gathering 15 km north of Yambio town, Justice told Xinhua by phone in Juba on Monday evening.

“On Friday evening at around 11 p.m. local time an identified suspect threw a hand grenade into the night public gathering, killing three people on spot as four others later died of injuries,” Justice said.

The police spokesman said 35 people are currently being treated with serious injuries at the Yambio Civil Teaching Hospital.

He said the incident is not linked to armed opposition in the country.

Local authorities have arrested the suspect over the weekend and investigations are ongoing, Justin said.

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Dozen South Sudanese ex-fighters to return home from DRC

JUBA South Sudan (Xinhua) -- The United Nations on Friday facilitated the homecoming of the last batch of 12 South Sudanese ex-combatants who were in exile in the neighboring Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).

Lam Paul Gabriel, deputy military spokesman of the Sudan People’s Liberation Army in Opposition (SPLA-IO), hailed the United Mission Organization Stabilization in the DRC for feeding and clothing ex-combatants throughout their stay in the camp.

Paul said at the movement, the SPLA-IO was very happy and grateful that they were able to come out of the DRC and might have the chance to be reunited with their families.

He expressed fears that the ex-combatants loyal to former first vice president Riek Machar will not come to Juba although they would be repatriated to the neighboring countries including Uganda, Ethiopia, Kenya and Sudan.

According to UN, the 12 were part of a total of 744 former opposition fighters who fled to the DRC and had camped in the southeastern town of Goma that borders Rwanda.

Last month, South Sudan’s warring leaders agreed to the final peace deal.

South Sudan’s conflict that is now entering its fifth year erupted in December 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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South Sudan says to fund peace implementation with own resources

JUBA South Sudan (Xinhua) -- South Sudan on Monday said it is ready to fund its peace implementation with the country’s own resources despite poverty that has been worsened by conflict.

Government spokesman Michael Makuei Lueth told journalists in Juba that a rapid increase in oil output and improvement in oil prices in the world market will enable Juba to implement the landmark peace deal.

“The oil production is now going up and the prices of oil are increasing,” Makuei said. “If we strengthen and improve on the collection of the non-oil revenue, then we will have enough money.”

He pointed to the need for the country to have an efficient and effective non-oil revenue system that will cover government costs, including payment of salaries, without oil.

Last month, leaders of South Sudan’s warring sides signed a revitalized agreement to end a conflict that has worsened the poverty in the world’s newest country.

The conflict has now entered its fifth year since it erupted in 2013 after forces loyal to President Salva Kiir and his former deputy Riek Machar engaged in combat.

A 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. 

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