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“South Sudan faces large displacement and protection crisis”– UN expert calls for dialogue to halt violence

Posted by African Press International on December 21, 2013


GENEVA, Switzerland, December 20, 2013/African Press Organization (APO)/ “South Sudan will face a large displacement and protection crisis, if the situation is not managed with restraint or if political dialogue does not take place,” the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the human rights of internally displaced persons (IDPs), Chaloka Beyani, warned today.

“I am deeply concerned about this violent upsurge, and the targeting of civilians, and call on all those involved to cease hostilities immediately,” Mr. Beyani said, adding his voice to those of the UN Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon, and the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay.

More than 34,000 internally displaced persons (IDPs) have sought shelter in UN compounds in Juba, Bor and Bentiu due to the violence that broke out in South Sudan’s capital earlier this week. “The real scale of the internal displacement remains unclear at this stage as violence has started to spread across the country,” the expert said.

“This is primarily a political crisis that is spreading into an increasingly ethnicized conflict across South Sudan,” he said. Initial reports indicate several hundreds have died with many more injured. “Ethnically targeted violence is already reported and could escalate unrest across the rest of the world’s youngest nation,” Mr. Beyani noted.

Clashes in South Sudan’s capital, Juba, began on Sunday, 15 December 2013, allegedly triggered by either a mutiny or an attempted coup. The President’s dismissal of the former Vice President in July 2013 along with the entire Cabinet had already intensified political frictions along ethnic lines.

The war-torn capital of Jonglei, Bor, is now reported to be under the control of troops defected from South Sudan’s Liberation Army (SPLA). “This is likely to exacerbate the already volatile situation and displacement in Jonglei,” the expert noted.

The Special Rapporteur, who recently undertook an official mission* to look into the situation of internally displaced persons in South Sudan, welcomed the initiative of the Ministers of Foreign Affairs of the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region to begin political dialogue in South Sudan.

 

SOURCE

United Nations – Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR)

 

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Civil war is creeping in slowly in South Sudan

Posted by African Press International on December 21, 2013

OSLO, Norway, December 20, 2013/African Press Organization (APO)/ – “The political leaders in South Sudan must take responsibility for stopping the violence and resolving the conflict through political talks. Unless the violence is brought under control soon, I am afraid the situation could develop into a new civil war,” said Foreign Minister Børge Brende.

The civil war that raged in Sudan for more than 20 years, and finally ended in 2005 when a peace agreement was signed between the north and south, caused terrible suffering for the population.

“The current violent conflict in South Sudan and the constant reports of attacks on civilians on the basis of ethnicity give serious cause for concern. I urge the UN, theAfrican Union and other regional organisations to do what they can to persuade the parties to stop the violence and find a peaceful solution to the conflict. Norway is prepared to assist where needed with the resources we have at our disposal,” said Mr Brende.

The spread of violence from the capital to other parts of the country is further cause for concern. The UN has confirmed that at least two peacekeepers and two civilians were killed in an attack on the UN base in Jonglei state in South Sudan on 19 December. A group of civilians had sought refuge in the UN base.

“I condemn the killing of the two Indian UN peacekeepers serving in South Sudan in the strongest terms. Attacks on the UN mission and on civilians who have sought protection from the UN are completely unacceptable,” said Mr Brende.

 

SOURCE

Norway – Ministry of Foreign Affairs

 

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KYUNG-WHA KANG TO VISIT SOUTH SUDAN, ETHIOPIA AND KENYA

Posted by African Press International on November 16, 2013

UN DEPUTY HUMANITARIAN CHIEF KYUNG-WHA KANG TO VISIT SOUTH SUDAN, ETHIOPIA AND KENYA

GENEVA, Switzerland, November 15, 2013/African Press Organization (APO)/ – UN DEPUTY HUMANITARIAN CHIEF KYUNG-WHA KANG TO VISIT SOUTH SUDAN, ETHIOPIA AND KENYA

WHO: Kyung-Wha Kang, UN Assistant Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Deputy Emergency Relief Coordinator

WHAT: Mission to South Sudan, Ethiopia and Kenya

WHEN: 17 – 25 November 2013

WHERE: Juba, Jonglei, Addis Ababa and Nairobi

UN Assistant Secretary-General (ASG) for Humanitarian Affairs Kyung-Wha Kang will visit South Sudan, Ethiopia and Kenya from 17 to 25 November.

In South Sudan, from 17 to 20 November, ASG Kang plans to travel to Bor and Pibor counties in Jonglei state to visit communities who have been affected by conflict and floods. She is scheduled to meet Government officials, including the Minister for Humanitarian Affairs, local authorities and humanitarian partners to discuss ways to strengthen disaster response and find sustainable solutions for affected communities. A press conference is planned in Juba on 20 November.

On 21 November, in Ethiopia, Ms. Kang is expected to attend the 14th Session of the UN-African Union Regional Coordination Mechanism and engage with decision-makers to discuss partnership opportunities and humanitarian action in the continent.

In Kenya, from 22 to 25 November, Ms. Kang is scheduled to co-chair the Great Lakes consultations with UN agencies and humanitarian partners aimed at continued improvement of humanitarian work and coordination in the region. She is also expected to visit the Mathare informal settlement in Nairobi, where an estimated half million people live with limited access to clean water, sanitation, health care and education.

 

SOURCE

UNITED NATIONS

 

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“Protection of South Sudan’s internally displaced needs attention

Posted by African Press International on November 15, 2013

“Protection of South Sudan’s internally displaced needs to be up front” – UN rights expert says

GENEVA, Switzerland, November 15, 2013/African Press Organization (APO)/ – Humanitarian action, constitutional inclusion, development and peacebuilding measures are the four cornerstones of durable solutions for IDPs and returnees. “Development and peace can hardly be achieved when thousands of South Sudanese remain uprooted,” the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the human rights of internally displaced persons (IDPs), Chaloka Beyani, said at the end of his visit to South Sudan from 6 to 15 November 2013.

While Jonglei State hosts large numbers of IDPs, it is a phenomenon that affects the country as a whole and therefore must be dealt with as a matter of national responsibility. “The Government at the national and local levels has the primary responsibility to assist and protect all IDPs in an equal manner,” Beyani said. The UN and NGOs also play a significant role in protecting IDPs.

Displacement is caused by armed hostilities and inter-communal violence, insecurity, human rights violations as well as natural disasters. Instances of evictions have also resulted in internal displacement. “Many IDPs have been affected by several causes and suffered multiple displacements,” Beyani explained, highlighting concerns about the vulnerabilities and decreasing coping capacity of the displaced populations. “Due to these complexities and the lack of regular humanitarian access to areas affected by internal displacement, its magnitude remains unclear,” he noted. Public figures on internal displacement therefore reflect minimums, while the real magnitude of the phenomenon in South Sudan is allegedly much higher, revealing the need for improved data collection.

“Civilians, including IDPs, must be spared from violence and abuse by all parties,” Beyani strongly urged. The protection of the civilian population is first and foremost a responsibility of the Government, that must, however, be exercised with care to not do harm to the population. Capacities therefore must be further strengthened and the response to IDPs needs to be demilitarized. The Special Rapporteur also raised concerns about the increasingly violent nature of cattle raiding. The proliferation and excessive use of arms and weaponry are key factors in this upsurge in violence. “IDPs also suffer from arbitrary displacement, discrimination and harassment, destruction of property, loss of livestock and also simple oversight and neglect,” Beyani said. Many IDPs are unable or fearful to access basic services and humanitarian assistance.

The dimensions and complexities of internal displacement require a strategic response to overcome the divide between humanitarian and development action and create a common peace dividend. “A common policy on internal displacement that builds on relevant international standards could provide the common basis for such a strategic response,” Beyani strongly recommended.

The Special Rapporteur also addressed the situation of those returning from Sudan. “If returnees are unable to return to their homes or integrate in a place of their choice within South Sudan, they lack a durable solution just as IDPs do.” He also called upon the Government to take all measures possible to avoid statelessness. The lack of documentation of IDPs and returning South Sudanese needs to be addressed prior to any national census or elections, to ensure their right to participation.

During his visit, the Special Rapporteur met with representatives of the Government of South Sudan in Juba, Bor and Pibor; the United Nations Mission in South Sudan; UN humanitarian agencies; NGOs as well as donors. He is deeply grateful to the IDPs and returnees who openly shared their insights with him. The Special Rapporteur extends his appreciation to the Government for receiving him and his thanks to UNHCR and UNMISS who have kindly facilitated and supported this mission.

 

SOURCE

United NationsOffice of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR)

 

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Civilian Destruction in Jonglei: Khartoum’s Role in Arming David Yau Yau’s Militia

Posted by African Press International on August 26, 2013

  • Eric Reeves, 22 August 2013

There is a great deal of biased attention when it comes to international assessments of the ongoing ethnic strife in Jonglei.  UN reports from the ground, primarily from the UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS), suggest a recent diminishment of violence, and humanitarian access may be improving.  Both UNMISS and the Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA) are performing more effectively, and a very recent UN assessment indicated that tensions between the SPLA and civilians was diminishing.  Certainly the situation is far from stabilized; ethnic tensions remain high, particularly between the Murle and the Lou Nuer; and it must be emphasized that the previous behavior of the SPLA has entailed very serious violations of human rights and a failure to distinguish between Murle civilians and those Murle who have joined David Yau Yau’s rebellion.

But let us be clear as to why Yau Yau’s group has been able to create the havoc it has, why it has been able to engage in a kind of provocative guerilla warfare that makes distinguishing civilians and combatants particularly difficult, and why it is unlikely to cease action despite the generous offer of amnesty from Juba.  This rebel group, deep in South Sudan’s Jonglei State, has been repeatedly armed by Khartoum as part of a larger effort to destabilize the South.  Armaments have come overland, but also have been airlifted by Khartoum’s Antonov aircraft to Yau Yau.  Again, this effort is an extension of a broader war of attrition that has as its goal the collapse of the state of South Sudan.  Certainly Jonglei would not present nearly the challenges it does without the activities of Yau Yau’s group; and Yau Yau’s group would not be able to operate—without a political agenda and trading almost exclusively on ethnic grievances—without substantial military support from Khartoum.

Despite these facts, international condemnation over developments in Jonglei has fallen almost exclusively on Juba.  I have myself been publicly critical of SPLA human rights abuses in Jonglei (http://www.sudanreeves.org/?p=4108), but would hope such criticism is seen within the broader assessment of the causes of violence against civilians in Jonglei.  That so little is said on this score by the UN, the U.S., the EU, the African Union and others signals both expediency and disingenuousness.

I have discussed at length the evidence that Khartoum is supporting Yau Yau’s group and—by contrast—the complete absence of evidence for the regime’s claim that  South Sudan is supporting rebel groups within Sudan (“The arming of rebels in Sudan and South Sudan: What is the evidence?” 17 June 2013, http://www.sudanreeves.org/?p=4059).  I survey a great deal of evidence from recent years, and little has change in the intervening months to change the conclusions reached.

Moreover, a new study by the Small Arms Survey provides even more detailed evidence that armaments used by Yau Yau’s group are purposefully sent by the National Islamic Front/National Congress Party in a desperate effort to undermine South Sudan before Sudan’s own continuing economic implosion sweeps this corrupt and desperate regime from power.  Although relatively brief, the detail and authority of the evidence and conclusions is overwhelming. It is also clear that Khartoum has begun an aggressive effort to disguise the origins of weapons by grinding off identifying numbers.  I can do no better than to cite the key findings of this critical report (see website for high resolution photographs; all emphases are added)—

Small Arms Survey, “Weapons Captured from David Yau Yau’s Militia, July 2013″

http://www.smallarmssurveysudan.org/fileadmin/docs/facts-figures/arms-ammunition-tracing-desk/HSBA-Tracing-Desk-Yau-Yau-July-2013.pdf

During the first half of 2013, Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA) forces operating in Jonglei seized a variety of weapons and ammunition from rebel forces under the  command of David Yau Yau. The Small Arms Survey previously documented weapons with a group of Yau Yau’s men who defected under the leadership of James Kubrin in December 2012.

This report expands on the findings of the initial fieldwork. The Small Arms Survey and the independent research group Conflict Armament Research visited SPLA divisional headquarters in Paryak, Bor County, on 5 July 2013 to view a range of weapons that the SPLA had captured subsequent to the February site visit. These weapons, which are described below, are identical in type to those documented earlier in the year. They also include many of the same weapon and ammunition types that have been documented in the hands of Khartoum-backed rebel forces elsewhere in South Sudan, including the South Sudan Liberation Army (SSLA), the South Sudan Democratic Movement/Army (SSDM/A) under the leadership of George Athor, and Johnson Olony’s Shilluk militia.

Among the most striking findings of the July fieldwork in Jonglei was the significant increase in the number of weapons seen with removed serial numbers and factory marks. The most logical explanation for the increase is that actor(s) in the supply chain wish to obscure their sourcing.  These designs are consistent with types observed in the Survey’s February 2013 site visit of weapons. They are also of the same type observed with returning South Sudan Liberation Army (SSLA) forces in Mayom (May 2013), Johnson Olony’s forces in Lul, Upper Nile (July 2013), those collected from George Athor’s forces (February 2012), and seized from the SSLA in April 2011. In all cases, respective rebel forces report that the weapons have been supplied through Khartoum, though this cannot be independently corroborated. The weapons are similar in design to Iranian RPG-7-pattern models.

The trigger assemblies feature no viable identifying marks although a serial number (formerly positioned on the launch tube above the sight bracket) appears to have been removed by grinding and later painted (see images below). One example of many Chinese CQ assault rifles viewed, with associated 5.56 x 45 mm magazine and ammunition (addressed below). The rear sight housing/carry handle of the weapon has been deformed by a bullet impact. In all cases observed, identifying factory marks—which typically appear on the left-hand side of the magazine housing—have been removed by milling, indicated by the bright metal observable in the images above and below. In the left-hand image below, black paint was evidently applied after milling, although the paint has abraded with use. The weapons, and mode of milling, are identical to examples documented with Yau Yau’s forces (February 2013), returning SSLA forces in Mayom (May 2013), and Johnson Olony’s forces in Lul (July 2013). A number of these rifles were seized in Pibor [Jonglei] in July 2013.

This weapon is identical to PKM-pattern weapons documented in service with a range of Khartoum-backed rebel forces in South Sudan. Weapons of this kind have been identified bearing the model designation ‘M80’ (see HSBA Tracing Desk Report ‘Weapons seized from the forces of George Athor and John Duit,’ December 2012) although this particular weapon’s model designation and additional marks have been removed by grinding (see images below). This 5.56 x 45 mm small-calibre ammunition is identical to types documented with Yau Yau’s forces. [end]

Of an international community that is bringing pressure to bear on Juba over its military actions in Jonglei and failing to take seriously the implications of such authoritative findings—and in turn bringing appropriate pressure to bear on Khartoum—we must say again that this represents shamefully expedient accommodation of a regime that survives only because of its unlimited capacity and willingness to generate vast human destruction.

 

 

End.

 

 

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South Sudan: Food fears in Jonglei

Posted by African Press International on July 26, 2013

JUBA/BOR,  – Tens of thousands of people face severe food insecurity as they hide in the bush in South Sudan‘s Jonglei State following another wave of violence that ha s cut off aid to them.

“We believe these people need food now and cannot wait for much longer after hiding in the bush for weeks,” said Chris Nikoi, the UN World Food Programme’s (WFP) South Sudan country director, in a statement on 23 July. “We need more food supplies in the country and more helicopters to take this food to those who most need it.”

More than 100,000 people are out of reach of humanitarian support following violence that broke out in July between the Lou Nuer and Murle communities and following clashes between the government and a rebel movement led by David Yau Yau. Over the past six months, around 120,000 people have fled to the bush as insecurity gathered pace.

Insecurity, rains and a lack of roads or useable airstrips make it very difficult to reach the neediest, especially with heavy foodstuffs.

“The delivery of food aid poses extra logistical challenges as trucks are unable to move along water-logged roads, and we do not have enough helicopters to fly sufficient food to the swamp-like areas,” Toby Lanzer, the humanitarian coordinator in South Sudan, said in an 18 July statement.

WFP said it was providing food assistance to the displaced in areas it could access, but required US$20 million to purchase food and hire helicopters for an operation to feed 60,000 people until December. Humanitarian agencies in South Sudan are facing an overall funding shortfall of $472 million.

Extreme coping strategies

Murle communities have already resorted to extreme coping strategies, with some eating wild fruits and leaves; following cattle raids, thought to be in the tens of thousands, the population is slaughtering female cattle for meat, even if this means they cannot replenish stocks.

Women who have been hiding in the bush with children for days or weeks have walked into towns to collect food, but those IRIN spoke to said they would return to the swamps, where they have no shelter, healthcare or clean water, as they feared security forces more than disease or hunger.

“Even prior to the start of armed conflict, the UN and the Famine Early Warning System Network (FEWSNET) reported [Jonglei’s] Pibor County was experiencing chronic levels of food insecurity and predicted that 39,000 people would be severely food insecure in early 2013, with food insecurity potentially reaching emergency thresholds by July-August,” said a statement by InterAction, an alliance of US-based NGOs.

“These people need food now and cannot wait for much longer after hiding in the bush for weeks”

According to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), in 2012, “pre-harvest malnutrition rates between January and July were already approaching emergency thresholds”, while as of March 2013, 12 percent of Jonglei’s population was severely food insecure and 24 percent moderately food insecure.

Access to populations in need

On 14 July, after protracted negotiations with state and non-state armed groups, charities were allowed access to around 25,000 people in parts of the state.

Vincent Lelei, head of OCHA in South Sudan, said aid agencies had only accessed “a very, very small part [of Pibor county] both for logistical and security reasons,” although thousands had been suffering for six months.

“Going forward into the lean season, it is very likely that they will get into difficulty,” he said, adding that flying in food would be more difficult than flying in other commodities such as plastic sheeting, water purification tablets and medicines, as limited air assets meant the UN had “very limited weight to carry”.

Lelei said some of the populations they had accessed showed signs of serious illness, while Lanzer noted that “some children show signs of measles, a fatal disease in such conditions”.

Some of those affected do not want to come in to towns to seek help. “They are afraid to seek medical care in towns, so it is essential for us to intervene where they are so that all those in need can access treatment,” said John Tzanos, head of the Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) team in Pibor.

MSF is running the only healthcare facility in the village of Gumuruk after its hospital in Pibor was destroyed during clashes in May.

hm/kr/rz source http://www.irinnews.org

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South Sudan’s humanitarian needs remain enormous

Posted by African Press International on May 29, 2013

South Sudan’s humanitarian needs remain enormous

JUBA,  – A 2005 deal to end decades of civil war in southern Sudan led many to hope that conflict-related humanitarian relief would gradually give way to the peace dividend of development aid and economic growth. Eight years later, emergency needs in the now-independent South Sudan remain overwhelming, with aid agencies calling for more than a billion dollars to tackle them in 2013.

“One key question,” Humanitarian Coordinator Toby Lanzer wrote in the May edition of Humanitarian Exchange magazine, is “how we can continue to respond to emergencies without losing sight of longer-term development needs”.

It is a difficult balance to strike, said Jok Madut Jok, South Sudan’s undersecretary for culture and heritage. He joined Lanzer on a panel organized last week by the Overseas Development Institute (ODI). “The need for humanitarian action has become the face of the whole country” and draws the majority of the donor funding, Jok said.

That is largely because, after less than two years of independence, South Sudan’s humanitarian needs remain enormous.

The 2013 Consolidated Appeal (CAP) for the country, which combines requests from 114 different NGOs and UN agencies, predicts at least 4.6 million people – out of the estimated population of 11.8 million – will require assistance this year. That includes more than 4.1 million people who need food assistance and 350,000 refugees from places like Sudan, the Democratic Republic of Congo and the Central African Republic, according to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA). It will cost $1.16 billion to assist 3.3 million of those people this year, the organizations estimate.

But government officials and aid agencies say they want to do more with the money than just meet immediate needs. They are calling for a shift towards concurrently promoting long-term development, like improving infrastructure and building the capacity of local communities, so the country will eventually be able to escape the cycle of humanitarian crises.

Balancing humanitarian response and development

Kuol Manyang Juuk, the governor of Jonglei State, has been at the forefront of one of the country’s major humanitarian crises; for more than a year, Jonglei-based rebel leader David Yau Yau has been attempting to overthrow the government. As many as 190,000 people in the state required humanitarian assistance in 2012, according to the UN.

“In supporting the world’s newest country, we need to help South Sudanese avert crises, not merely respond to them.”

Still, Juuk told IRIN, he does not want to see aid agencies restricted to delivering emergency health and nutrition services. He wants them to help his government build roads. “We need to connect counties and communities,” he said at the ODI panel.

By linking communities and encouraging trade, these projects would provide jobs and ease tensions as people – especially youth – become more invested in maintaining stability. “That’s the main thing. If we don’t do it, hostilities will continue,” he said.

This emphasis, Lanzer wrote, must be adopted across all of South Sudan.

By focusing too exclusively on humanitarian responses, actors “fail to address the underlying causes that undermine sustainable livelihoods, agricultural production and economic growth, and perpetuate the pattern of emergency. In supporting the world’s newest country, we need to help South Sudanese avert crises, not merely respond to them.”

Lanzer said the UN is promoting concurrent humanitarian and development responses. As aid agencies distribute food, for example, they are encouraged to link up with other groups to develop school feeding programmes, which keep children in school, or to use food assistance as a stimulus to get communities to build roads. While the main focus is delivering food to the millions of food-insecure South Sudanese, these programmes can be “a springboard to address some of the underlying challenges,” Lanzer said.

Shrinking funding

It is easier to obtain money to respond to crises than funding for long-term development work, Lanzer noted. More than half of all official development assistance South Sudan receives is slated for humanitarian projects, he said.

And even that money might be drying up, according to Nick Helton, the coordinator for the South Sudan NGO Forum Secretariat.

South Sudan’s size and lack of physical infrastructure make it difficult for aid workers to reach some of the most remote communities. This contributes to the size of the country’s CAP, which is the second highest in the world behind Somalia’s. Helton says South Sudan is “seeing some fatigue in the donor community because of high operating costs.” So far, only 45 percent of this year’s CAP has been funded.

All of which makes the need for concurrent development work even more pressing: In their 2013 Humanitarian Implementation Plan, the European Commission’s humanitarian aid department (ECHO) said the cost of providing assistance is unlikely to shrink without long-term development projects to reduce the scale of the country’s humanitarian need.

The concurrent humanitarian-development approach jibes with what South Sudanese want, Jok said. While international reports about South Sudan focus on food shortages and ethnic conflict, local and national governments, working with aid agencies, are actually making progress towards improving road networks and cell phone coverage. School enrolment has grown from 300,000 in 2005 to 1.8 million last year. People are working to improve their situations and begin rebuilding, Jok said. “We are a society that can weather these crises.”

These concurrent programmes must be implemented more broadly, according to Lanzer. “No one is suggesting” the country’s humanitarian needs will end within the next year or two, he said. “But it has to be on our radar screen.”

ag/rz/am source http://www.irinnews.org

 

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George Malual Deng, 24, has spent two years in a transit site waiting to return to his home in Jonglei State

Posted by African Press International on May 8, 2013

The long road home to South Sudan

George Malual Deng, 24, has spent two years in a transit site waiting to return to his home in Jonglei State

RENK, UPPER NILE STATE, – George Malual Deng, 24, has spent two years stuck in a transit site waiting to return to his home in South Sudan’s Jonglei state. He is among 20,000 people who have made a home of sorts in the river port of Renk, waiting for a barge to take them further south.

When he began his journey from Khartoum, Sudan was a single state, albeit one still bitterly divided between north and south in the wake of decades of civil war, despite the signing of a major peace accord in 2005.

Since then, almost two million people have left the north for their homelands in what became the independent Republic of South Sudan in July 2011.

Many, like Deng, say they left amid increasing discrimination and reduced access to education.

The period following secession was tumultuous, marked by sporadic conflict between the neighbours’ armed forces and a row over how much Sudan could charge for piping and exporting South Sudan’s oil – a dispute that led to the shutdown of oil production, cutting off 98 percent of South Sudan’s revenue. Amid the furore, Sudan closed its common border, thereby halting the movement of both people and goods.

“Nobody anticipated on independence that the border with Sudan would be shut… that the barges would stop moving up and down the River Nile,” said Toby Lanzer, the UN’s Humanitarian Coordinator for South Sudan and Deputy Representative for the UN Secretary-General.

Peter Lam Both, chairman of the state-run Relief and Rehabilitation Commission, says helping South Sudanese come home is one of the government’s priorities, but without funds little can be done.

Luggage

Those living in and returning to the world’s newest country, which is among the least developed and most import-dependent in the world, have to put up with exorbitant prices for basic goods and household items. For this reason – and to avoid carrying large amounts of cash that might prove attractive to officials – many returnees head south laden with large quantities of furniture and other household items, in effect, their entire life savings.

In the four camps in Renk, piles of such belongings sit beside makeshift shelters.

“The main problem, really, for the returnees in Renk is the issue of luggage. When they were brought from Khartoum or Kosti [a Sudanese river port a little north of Renk], at that time, the government had the resources to bring them with a lot of luggage,” Both said.

 Mary Venerato Laki, South Sudan returnee: “We want to go to our own homeland”

Years ago, Mary Venerato Laki fled conflict in South Sudan, moving north to Sudan, where she worked as a teacher for 42 years. full report

The South Sudan government says plans to transport both luggage and people back were hampered by a lack of funds following the January 2011 secession referendum. In its first year of statehood, Both says the government earmarked around US$16 million to finance returns, but these plans were scotched by austerity measures necessitated by the oil shutdown.

When their turn comes to travel by barge from Renk to Juba, many returnees discover that they have more luggage than can be carried on the barges, so some family members tend to stay behind to watch over the excess cargo.

According to the International Organization for Migration, which assists the returnees, each reaches Renk with an average of one ton in luggage.

People are unwilling to leave their valuables behind, said Deng, the 24 year old. “They say if they sell their luggage… they won’t find [the items they need] again, and it will be difficult to buy them again, and you’re not guaranteed a job, so it’s difficult,” he said.

He says selling off his family’s only assets is unthinkable.

“I want to go, [but] there’s no way. Why would I leave my things and go alone? I would sleep where? I need to take my things to Juba [South Sudan’s capital]. There’s no money. I cannot sell my things,” he said.

Poor conditions

Grace Nasona, 38, has been in a Renk transit camp for eight months.

It is a “very, very dirty place. No food, no water [that’s] good, no anything I want to use”, she said.

Renk County does not have a lot of facilities, and when you have 20,000 people that have arrived here, some two years ago, it puts a lot of constraints on the local population,” said Both.

Local officials complain that school class sizes for both morning and afternoon sessions have swollen to up to 150 pupils. They say healthcare is also overstretched and crime is rising.

At a clinic in the Mina transit settlement, nurses say malaria is common, caused by proximity to the Nile, lack of shelter and lack of food, which weakens people’s immune systems.

“We don’t want to settle here, but we are waiting here until we can all go down with our possessions, and my father’s [pension] dues have not been received,” said Nanu Chuol, 17, while she had her four-month-old baby tested for malaria.

“The difference is that in the north, many things were available and my father was working so we could get food. But now, he’s not working, and his pension hasn’t come, so we can’t eat much,” she said.

“Your chair or your wife”

Renk became even more of a bottleneck after the oil shutdown as the government looked for other sources of revenue.

“In Upper Nile State, the authorities decided to impose some taxes on the aid agencies. That problem has been sorted out now, but of course, it did delay things,” said Lanzer.

The IOM says these tax issues resulted in the closure of Renk Port for three months at the start of 2013.

Two barges packed high with luggage were docked in the port in late April.

A barge laden with the luggage of stranded South Sudanese returnees

Lanzer says that it costs around $1,000 per person to travel downstream to Juba, and is telling people that now it is time to choose between “your chair or your wife”.

“To my mind, keeping families together is a very important consideration, as opposed to having some family members stay with luggage in the middle of nowhere,” he said.

“People have been stuck in this situation now, some of them for two years, and I think it’s the moment for hard choices to be made. Do people want to stay here and integrate into the community? If they do, then let’s help them with that. Let’s work with the government to get them a plot of land. If they do want to continue on to their destination, I think the reality is that they will have to do that without their luggage,” he said.

“Our job is really to help people who have no resources to return,” said Both.

After a prolonged stay in Renk, and days of transportation under rain and blistering sun, he says that much of the luggage is ruined by the time it gets unloaded.

More to come

The recent resumption of oil production should refill South Sudan’s coffers in the coming year, but the austerity budget will be in place until 2014.

Meanwhile, Both says around 250,000 more South Sudanese are thought to be in Sudan, and 40,000 are living in poor conditions at transit camps in Khartoum who need to come to South Sudan soon.

And while both countries have agreed in principle to honour one another’s “four freedoms” of citizenship, property ownership, jobs and basic rights, this deal has not yet been finalized.

hm/am/rz source http://www.irinnews.org

 

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Norway condemns the recent killing of UN staff in South Sudan

Posted by African Press International on April 17, 2013

Norway condemns the killing of 12 UN employees in South Sudan. Today’s attack is an attack not only on the UN, but also on the population of South Sudan, which the UN is there to assist,” said Minister of Foreign Affairs Espen Barth Eide.

Five Indian UN soldiers and seven civilian employees serving in the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) were killed today in an ambush in Jonglei state, South Sudan. The attack took place in an area that has seen considerable ethnic unrest and violence since South Sudan became independent in July 2011.

“It is vital that the international community and our partners in South Sudan take a united stand against the destructive forces responsible for today’s attack,” Mr Eide said.

 

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“One on One” with South Sudan Ambassador Bol Wek Agoth

Posted by African Press International on April 11, 2013

African Press International: “One on One” with H.E Ambassador Bol Wek Agoth, Republic of South Sudan. He is the Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary based in Oslo Norway, representing his country in the Nordic Countries. The Ambassador discussing with African Press International corruption in his country South Sudan and the volatile situation in  Jonglei area where 4 Kenyans, 5 Indians and three South Sudanese from the region working with the United Nations were murdered on Tuesday. Nine others were seriously injured when the UN convoy in the area was ambushed by over 200 people said to be loyal to a Morle tribe theologian-turned rebel leader David Yau Yau.

Bodies of Kenyans killed in South Sudan arrive in Kenya

The bodies of two Kenyans killed in South Sudan on Tuesday arrived in Kitale in readiness for their burial. The two were among four kenyans killed by some 200 militants who attacked a convoy of the united nations in southern sudan. The bodies were brought via road to Kitale in Trans Nzoia county even as the family called on the government to address the plight of kenyans working in other states and to beef up security for its citizens in south sudan.

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