Russia Arrests 5 Terrorists With Weapons Near Sochi

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Saturday, Russian police detained five suspected terrorists in Nalchik city, 185 miles east of Sochi.

Russia’s National Anti-Terrorism Committee stated that the suspects were members of an international terror group, but the Committee did not specify any group in particular.

The suspects were in possession of explosives and ammunition.

Russia recently geared up Sochi security. Russia is employing 37 000 security personnel for Sochi. This number is twice the security force employed at London or Vancouver. Beijing, however, spent $6.5 million in 2008. The total cost of the Sochi games, which will take place February 7 – 23, is estimated at $51 billion.

Russia is keen to the threats of terrorism, having been a target of North Caucuses terrorists for years. Sochi is seen as a particularly vulnerable forum for terrorist attacks, and recent Volgograd bombings have raised concerns about the safety of the Games.

December 29 and 30, 2013, two separate suicide bombings in the Russian city of Volgograd killed 34 people and wounded 100 others. Volgograd is seen as a gateway city to Sochi and is expected to be a main route for Sochi attendees.

Other recent security measures announced in Russia recently include a ban on demonstrations and rallies and a ban on all weapons sales in proximity to the Games. There is also a prohibition on vehicles not registered for the games within the Sochi secure perimeter.

By Day Blakely Donaldson


By Day Blakely Donaldson

South Sudan: Wartime Campaigns, Peace Talks Stalemate, Bentiu and Bor

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In Juba, wartime campaigns have begun as the IGAD delegation visited Machar at an unknown location in South Sudan. The UN estimates of displaced persons in South Sudan has risen sharply. Bentiu has been reclaimed by the SPLA, so the government now controls Unity State. Bor is the only important position remaining in rebel hands.

In Juba a mobilization and donation campaign has been begun which will recruit young men, women and ex-combatants to join the SPLA and fight rebels. The campaign will also raise money to send to the front lines. Government staff will contribute, according to their station, with the highest agent paying $500 or $1000 dollars.

A blood donation campaign, too, has been initiated by the Indian Association in Juba.

IGAD members have visited Riek Machar at Machar’s hideout in South Sudan. The IGAD members were accompanied by U.S., U.K., and Norwegian envoys and met Machar over the question of delayed peace talks. The IGAD members have returned to Ethiopia since visiting Machar. The delegation to Machar found that Machar was willing to sign a cessation of hostilities, but that Machar maintained his precondition that the political prisoners be released by Kiir.

Other of Machar’s reservations about signing a ceasefire include the Ugandan military presence in South Sudan and the question about whether a ceasefire would be respected if it were signed.

“I think that we were not closer to a deal because apparently they have played down the importance of releasing the political detainees and also they have played down the importance of the fact that there is an invasion from Uganda of South Sudan,” said Machar.

The allegations that Uganda is acting militarily in South Sudan have been denied by Uganda. The U.S., too, at a recent Senate Committee on South Sudan did not describe Uganda’s actions in South Sudan as particularly military. The U.S. described the Ugandan military in South Sudan as having come at the request of South Sudan and tasked with protecting infrastructure, the airport, Juba road, and Ugandan citizens in South Sudan. The U.S. did note, however, that Uganda was prepared to aid South Sudan militarily.

The IGAD delegations had met President Kiir on January 7 and 8 to talk about the peace negotiations. Kiir was firm on his refusal to release the political prisoners.

The U.S. and other international players in South Sudan have urged Kiir to release the political prisoners immediately. The U.S. State Department’s Marie Harf stated, “We do believe that to be meaningful and productive, senior SPLM members currently detained in Juba need to be present for discussions on political issues which are happening in Addis.”

South Sudanese Information Minister Makuei Lueth responded by saying that the prisoners were arrested and charged, and could not just be released without completing legal procedures.

The number of displaced persons has risen to nearly 400 000 since the conflict broke out December 15, according to UN estimates. The estimate of war dead has been pegged at 1000. That number has not changed since the first week of fighting, and commenters have noted that the current number must be much higher.

The UN houses 60 000 IDPs in UN compounds. The UN force in South Sudan is in the process of being doubled. The decision to double the force was made in the early weeks of the conflict, but redeploying UN peacekeepers has taken some time. So far only a small fraction of the nearly 7000 new UN staff have arrived.

Bentiu, capital of oil producing Unity State, was retaken by the government Friday after hours of fighting. The SPLA took 10 tanks and other vehicles as part of their victory.

Lul Ruai Koang, spokesperson for the rebels, stated that the battle was a “tactical withdrawal to avoid casualties.”

With the rebels out of Bentiu, only Bor is left as a major rebel stronghold. Bor is the capital of Jonglei State and is 125 miles (200 kilometers) north of Juba. The SPLA stated it was positioned and ready to retake Bor.

The SPLA has been fighting rebels just south of Bor.

By Day Blakely Donaldson


Radio Miraya
Chimp Reports

South Sudan: How Does the U.S. View South Sudan?

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The U.S. has a special relationship with South Sudan, being responsible in large part for the creation of South Sudan in 2011. Last Friday a Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing was held in Washington about South Sudan, specifically about civil unrest and ethnic cleansing in the country.

The Senate engaged in dialogue with two panels. First the current U.S. Envoy to South Sudan was interviewed, led by Linda Thomas-Greenfield. Second a panel of experts on South Sudan was interviewed.

What follows in this article is a summary of the Committee hearing. Senators took turns asking questions of the panels. Senators sometimes made statements themselves. The article refers to all senators and panel-members as “the U.S.” for sake of convenience. Obviously, it does not represent the views of any particular member involved, but is a shorthand of how the U.S. views South Sudan.

What is South Sudan, in America?

South Sudan is the world’s youngest nation, having been formed finally in 2011. South Sudan is still a somewhat fragile democracy, but had been–before December 15–a success story in America.

America has been South Sudan’s strongest international champion. In Washington, South Sudan has a powerful and interested constituency. America has invested hundreds of millions in aid to South Sudan. The U.S. has invested a total of possibly around $12 billion in South Sudan. America’s most recent aid portfolio was $350 million. The U.S. has now added $50 million to the $350 million.

U.S. diplomat for Africa Thomas-Greenfield explained why South Sudan matters to the U.S. this way:

“For 30 years the United States has been supporting the people of South Sudan, even before South Sudan became an entity, supporting their right to exist, their right to freedom of religion, and their fight against the government of Sudan. We birthed this nation and there are Americans from all walks of life … who are concerned about what is happening.”

U.S. presence in South Sudan

The U.S. in South Sudan is currently working very closely with the UN, NGOs and international partners, both at the Juba level and in Nairobi. The U.S. has been seen by both sides of the conflict as an honest broker between the two. The U.S. has also been accused by both sides of aiding the other.

The UN in South Sudan

The UN mission in South Sudan was not there to deal with civil violence. Violence broke out suddenly in mid December. The violence was something new to the peacekeepers, who hadn’t before thought of aggressive peacekeeping as their mission. The UN operation was largely concerned with statebuilding. The current UN mission is divided into separate categories, such as government capacity building, standing up of new institutions, etc.

Does statebuildling represent leverage in situations like the current conflict? Does the aid and assistance given represent leverage the U.S. can use? Is it effective at all, or just on the margins, or not at all? The U.S. did not provide a clear answer to this.

The UN, in order to meet the new challenges of South Sudan, will have to organize, provide and train for a different role: aggressive peace-keeping. The mission will have to protect civilians. UN compounds will have to be secured against rebel encroachment. Protected areas will have to be patrolled. A ceasefire–when it comes–will have to be monitored and reported. It will take the UN mission a while to adjust to this very different type of mission.

Challenges to providing aid in South Sudan

Security challenges in South Sudan are the main–almost the only–obstruction to distributing aid, but logistical challenges also exist. For example, the White Nile is a highway for supplies, but all barges on the White Nile have been commandeered and can’t move relief supplies. There are few roads in South Sudan. The rainy season is upcoming (May). Now–the dry season–is the time when provisions need to be pre-positioned around the country for the coming year.

Status of current U.S. aid in South Sudan

U.S. aid is being altered by the rebel outbreak. U.S. aid had gone to the South Sudanese government. Therefore, the U.S. can’t implement this aid right now. The U.S. has considered that if violence continues the U.S. should suspend support. The U.S. committee was not certain how much U.S. aid would run to South Sudan if a new government was instituted in the event of a successful coup.

Current U.S. aid measures taking place

The U.S. has begun to fund additional flights for the UN to distribute aid, but this is expensive because it is not an organized distribution mission based on most effective and economical means. The flights are emergency, immediate, individual missions. Aid cannot be moved to an optimal degree nor as quickly using this type of method.

Mass graves

Thomas-Greenfield stated that the reports of mass graves has not been confirmed, and that confirmation would be the job of UN workers who would go out into the field to find out.

Refugees in South Sudan

The outflow of refugees into neighboring countries takes the problems of South Sudan into those other countries, who–given their recent histories–know well what will be the impact of refugees on their economies and societies.

The region is one that already has significant displacement of persons, and there are already pressures of dealing with such significant displacement of persons.

Uganda’s activity in South Sudan

Uganda came in at the request of South Sudan. Ugandan military has has been tasked with protecting infrastructure at the airport, on Juba road, and protecting Ugandan citizens. Uganda is prepared to aid militarily in South Sudan.

China and what China will do regarding the South Sudan crisis

China went further than it ever has in just making a statement that the sides should cease hostilities. China’s interests are actually much deeper than the U.S. or any other country regarding national security. China will therefore act, America believes, but not publicly. The U.S. seeks ways to engage China in supporting stability in South Sudan. The U.S. seeks to find common ground with China so that they can together support peace efforts in South Sudan. One expert suggestion at the committee had to do with reforming the TROIKA plus China (and India) for leverage, due to the major oil investment of China and India in South Sudan.

Other countries in South Sudan

The U.S. seeks to put collective pressure on South Sudan’s leaders during key point moments, when there needs to be a push.

Currently, South Sudan is staffed with peacekeepers from Bengal, Kenya, Nigeria, and is expecting Guineans.

South Sudanese oil

Most of the oil pumping in South Sudan has ceased, according to Thomas-Greenfield, leaving South Sudan without much to fall back on. This statement contradicts somewhat the South Sudanese government’s statements that oil production has fallen 45 000 barrels per day to 200 000 due to Unity State fighting–that is to say Upper Nile State is still producing 200 000 bpd.

The U.S. decided that South Sudan would need to have a more dynamic relationship regarding its economy. South Sudan should not just have oil production. The U.S. noted that the second largest revenue source in South Sudan was a brewery.

Droughts and floods in South Sudan

Climate change creates a threat multiplier in South Sudan because draughts and floods create negative consequences for agriculture and food security. The overwhelming majority of South Sudanese depend on agriculture. Poverty is also linked to this situation. Floods and droughts create a negative feedback loop wherein civilians fight for smaller and smaller amounts of natural resources, making it more difficult to solve the original problem. Any disruption in agricultural production–whether flood, drought, or civil violence–rolls back any progress and gains previously made. Steps must be taken to reduce the long-term impact of climate change in South Sudan. Greater resilience to floods and droughts must be created. There must be greater management of risk.

Machar and Kiir

No evidence was seen by the U.S. that the outbreak was a coup attempt by Machar. Thomas-Greenfield stated that the outbreak had been “the consequence of a huge political rift” in South Sudan.

The U.S. noted that Machar split from the SPLA in the 90s and had massacred Dinka. The U.S. also noted that party dissenters do not favor Machar; rather, party dissenters criticize the ways policy institution dissolvements have taken place during Kiir’s presidency.

The U.S. stated that Kiir must accept his burden as president and play his role more effectively. The U.S. sees Kiir, though, “for all his faults” as “the democratically elected President, and you have to build on that.” The U.S. remembered Kiir’s past. Kiir had been proud of and admired for creating unity among all the groups in the run-up to the formation of South Sudan. This was one of the reasons Kiir was highly supported. Kiir has changed direction since then. Kiir now sees all critics as enemies. Kiir’s original contribution is being lost.

Dinka and Nuer tribes

The tribal question was of interest to the U.S. 30-35 percent of South Sudan is Dinka, although that group contains many subgroups. Nuer is the second largest ethnic group. There are 65 ethnic groups in South Sudan. There was reference to the problem of possible all-out tribal war as being “a numbers thing,” and in which the U.S. should “forget the mandate.”

Accountability for humanitarian crimes

The U.S. stated that those actors who are guilty of violence should not be part of a new government. Charles Taylor and Liberia were remembered. The U.S. wants to see an example set that war criminals will be tried in the international court.

U.S. selling arms to South Sudan

In January 2012 Obama added South Sudan to the U.S. list of countries eligible to buy weapons from the U.S., although the EU maintained an arms embargo on South Sudan. The U.S. authorized $9 million in weapons sales to South Sudan, and $3 million were actually shipped to South Sudan.

Possible new restrictions on weapons sales to South Sudan

In light of the fact that there is a risk that the weapons will be used to commit atrocities, the U.S. is considering suspending or limiting weapons sales to South Sudan. There was a call for a review of U.S. arms exports in general, which weapons were used to commit human rights violations. A statement was made that the U.S. has the responsibility for longterm harm if the U.S. does sell weapons.

The video of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing in Washington Friday:

By Day Blakely Donaldson


Radio Miraya

South Sudan: U.S. Warns Both Kiir and Machar

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The U.S. government made announcement Friday regarding South Sudan, in which a government spokesperson warned both President Salva Kiir and rebel leader Riek Machar against continuing their respective obstructions against the peace process.

Friday the National Security adviser for President Obama, Susan Rice, stated that both leaders must not involve their country in further violence. Rice warned each of the two politicians that they must alter their current actions.

“Mr. Machar, in particular, must commit to a cessation of hostilities without precondition,” Rice said about the rebel leader. “His continued insistence on the release of detainees as a pre-condition for a cessation of hostilities is unacceptable and runs counter to the express will of the detainees.”

Rice stated about the President of South Sudan, “The United States is disappointed that the detainees being held by the government of South Sudan have not yet been released. The United States reiterates its call upon President Salva Kiir to release the detainees immediately to the custody of IGAD so that they can participate in the political negotiations.”

Kiir has recently offered to involve the detained political leaders in the peace talks. Kiir offered to move the peace talks from Addis Abada to Juba, where the political prisoners would be allowed to participate in the negotiations. The prisoners would return to detainment after the days meeting. This offer was rejected by the rebels, even though the political prisoners themselves have stated that they did not require their own freedom.

By Day Blakely Donaldson


Radio Miraya

South Sudan: David Yau Yau Sides With Government

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Speaking from Juba, also Wednesday, SPLA spokesman Philip Aguer stated that David Yau Yau, a rebel who had fought the government for two years before the recent rebel outbreak, has joined the government troops. Yau Yau has not commented on this news.

Yau Yau had been engaged in a ceasefire during a three-month long negotiation process, during which time the rebel force under Yau Yau has remained peaceful. Yau Yau’s forces did not join the violence that broke out December 15, although that violence quickly spread to Yau Yau’s home turf, Jonglei State. Aguer directed the SPLA to cease fighting Yau Yau’s forces.

Yau Yau had met with Bishop Emeritus Paride Taban of the Torit Roman Catholic Diocese and other religious and Murle leaders before entering into peace talks with the government. The delegation was motivated to stop Yau Yau’s rebellion because the rebellion threatened the community and economic development in the area.

Yau Yau recently gave Kiir a letter urging a ceasefire so that the many people who have sought refuge in Jonglei could be supplied.

Yau Yau and his group had been engaged in a prolonged struggle against the government. Last year these forces fought several battles with SPLA for control of positions in Jonglei State. In 2011 Yau Yau was pardoned by Kiir, who promoted Yau Yau to general in the SPLA. Yau Yau resided in Juba until 2012 when Yau Yau again rebelled, setting up in Jonglei.

Yau Yau ran but did not win a seat on parliament in elections in 2010. Yau Yau subsequently accused the SPLM of rigging the elections.

Yau Yau had stated that he seeks a separate state for his minority tribe–the Murle–which, Yau Yau stated, was treated unfairly.

In the statement read out on television, Aguer said Yau Yau and the government have recognized “that given the humanitarian crisis that has befallen the civil population in the entire areas of Jonglei… there is a need to cease hostilities.”

By Day Blakely Donaldson


Land and Sea Journal
Radio Dabanga
Radio Dabanga
Radio Dabanga
South Sudan News Agency
Radio Tamazuj
Radio Tamazuj
Radio Tamazuj
Radio Tamazuj

South Sudan: Fighting in Bor and Bentiu, Peace Talks Stalemate

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In South Sudan, the main scenes of battle in recent days have been the Bor area and Unity State.

Bor and the region around Bor were the scene of continued fighting on Wednesday. Rebels have made statements that they repelled the SPLA from rebel positions in the Juba-Bor area. From the other side of the battle, SPLA spokesperson Lul Ruai Koang also stated that rebel forces had attacked SLA near Bor. Koang’s troops are now stationed near Juba, awaiting orders to attack Bor.

In Unity State, fighting moved closer to Bentiu causing panic in that city and its twin city, Rubkona, a few miles north. Some civilians fled their homes and some even fled UN bases, deeming those bases unsafe. However, some civilians of outlying areas where violence was even more prevalent have fled to Bentiu.

Bentiu has been held by rebels since the first week of the rebel outbreak in December. The government has declared that it will retake Bentiu and has sent a force against the rebels in Unity State, but this SPLA force was held up by rebels who engaged the SPLA force in heavy fighting in west of Bentiu in Mayom County.

Mayom has been destroyed by two days of heavy fighting, according to South Sudanese radio, and from Mayom to Pariyang towns are burned to ashes and looted, according to UN missionaries. There are severe food and water shortages. The Bentiu-Robkona bridge is still in order, but at least one bridge in Mayom County has been destroyed.

There were also battles in Tor al-Abyad/Lor Lam, an hour drive from Bentiu. Civilians from Lor are fleeing to Rubkona, many taking their cattle, which they fear would be stolen by attackers.

The fighting is expected to continue while peace talks in Addis Abada, Ethiopia progress.

The scheduled peace talks for Wednesday were rescheduled for Thursday because the government delegation was in Juba all day Wednesday. The two sides were expected to discuss their positions at Wednesday’s meeting.

Talks began Tuesday, after which mediators made a trip back to Juba to discuss with Kiir. The mediators were expected to return Tuesday, but did not return until late Wednesday. Michael Makuei stated that he believed that the delegates would be in a position to sign a peace agreement after returning from Juba.

The progress of the peace talks has, over the week in Addis Abada, been stalemated by the demand made by the rebels that Kiir release 11 political prisoners held in Juba and the President’s refusal to release these prisoners.

The South Sudanese government proposed to move the peace talks to the UN compound in Juba so that the 11 prisoners could attend. The prisoners would return to jail after the meeting, according to this proposal. Deng responded that the rebels would not accept this proposal because “Juba is a big prison.”

Deng also called on Uganda to withdraw its soldiers from South Sudan because Ugandan presence was complicating the peace process:

“Special envoys, we have a concern that a member country of IGAD, Uganda, have decided to invade my country. This is a concern we want to voice because we are concerned about peace,” Deng said at a press conference at the Addis Abada Sheraton Hotel Tuesday evening.

Uganda has evacuated Ugandan citizens from South Sudan and the Ugandan president has threatened Machar to cease hostilities or face defeat. The Ugandan military is already active in South Sudan, having taken part in battles on the Nimule-Juba road on the side of the SPLA, according to Ugandan news. However, the UPDF participation on that road is not confirmed. Ugandan forces have been sighted at various locations in and around Juba.

Currently, 2500 South Sudanese are seeking refuge in Uganda every day. Refugees are fleeing to Ethiopia and Kenya also. South Sudanese trying to flee into Sudan are being detained and are gathering at the border. Sudan has claimed that Sudan is taking in new refugees, but many accounts disconfirm this statement.

Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir visited Juba to meet briefly with Kiir Monday. After flying back to Sudan the Sudanese Minister of Foreign Affairs announced that Kiir had proposed joint protection of Unity and Upper Nile States’ oilfields with the Sudanese government.

Sudan announced Tuesday that it had agreed to send 900 oilfield technicians to South Sudan , according to the Sudan Media Center. These technicians will work under the South Sudanese Ministry of Petroleum.

Sudanese troops will not be sent to South Sudan, according to Sudan’s Minister of Information, unless “the peace council in the AU considered this and decided to send troops or something like that. But now, separately, we will not send any troops to the South.”

No violence has taken place in Juba since the gunshot incidents last Saturday.

In Juba Wednesday a peace march was held demanding rival parties in South Sudan make peace. A couple of hundred South Sudanese participated in the march through Juba. The march was organized by the South Sudan Society Alliance, but the whole public was invited–an invitation which was answered by some angry protesters who held signs that read “Hilde Johnson you are destroyer of our country leave the country for our security,” and “Hilde Johnson leave our country!!!.”

By Day Blakely Donaldson


Land and Sea Journal
Radio Dabanga
Radio Dabanga
Radio Dabanga
South Sudan News Agency
Radio Tamazuj
Radio Tamazuj
Radio Tamazuj
Radio Tamazuj

Radio! Radio! South Sudan’s #1 Information Source Highlights Illiteracy

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Radio is the #1 news source for South Sudanese, says a recent nationwide survey. The survey found that radio remains the most accessible, trusted, and widespread source of information for the vast majority of South Sudan’s people.

The survey, conducted by Internews, sampled 3300 individuals aged 16 and up across South Sudan’s 10 states. USAID, Foundation Hirondelle and BBC Media in Action have conducted similar studies with similar findings.

Some surveys of South Sudanese media have suggested that around 95 percent of South Sudan gets their news through radio. Other surveys put that rate at 74 to 93 percent. 70 percent of South Sudanese trust radio more than any other news sources, a rate followed only by word of mouth and churches or mosques.

South Sudan has 30 radio stations which broadcast a variety of views in a dozen languages: English, Arabic, Simple Arabic, Dinka, Nuer, Lutuka Lovo, Zandi, Madi, Muru, Bari, and Kuhu. In addition to privately owned stations, churches, community organizations, NGOs and state and local governments run radio networks in South Sudan. Radio is also received from neighbouring countries such as Nairobi and Sudan, and from further locations, such as the BBC, which maintains transmitters in South Sudan.

The use of radio is considered to be a social activity in South Sudan, but it also highlights South Sudan’s poverty and illiteracy.

Only 20 percent of South Sudanese use television, newspaper,s or the internet regularly. South Sudan has only one government-run Juba-based TV station.  This station broadcasts four to six hours a day in English and Arabic. The station runs smaller local TV stations in several locations as well. This single station has a regular viewership of 17 percent of the population of South Sudan.

Newspapers in South Sudan are printed mostly in English  Papers are printed mostly in Nairobi or Kampala and flown into South Sudan. English and Arabic are the national languages of South Sudan, but many people in rural locations understand neither of these languages, hence newspapers are read primarily by elite, urban citizens. Few copies reach rural areas.

There are two printing presses in South Sudan–one run by the government and one run by The Citizen daily newspaper. These two presses print the only daily papers in South Sudan. More common are bi-weekly newspapers flown into South Sudan, such as the Juba Post and the Sudan Mirror, and weeklies, such as The Star, the New Times, The Hero and The Pioneer. The Juba post has a circulation of 2000 and The Citizen 4400.

With a population of 8 million (2008 national house hold census survey) to 12 million (estimate of UN head in South Sudan Toby Lanzer), South Sudan has a literary rate of 27 percent. 40 percent literacy for males; 16 for females. These figures are according to the 2009 National Ministry of Education and UNESCO, and are suspected to be somewhat outdated.

Illiteracy is defined by the World Bank as The ability to read and write by age 15.

The world overall literacy rate is 84 percent: 89 percent for males and 80 percent for females. South Sudan has the lowest rate in the region, but Ethiopia also has a low rate, 39, as does Chad and the Central African Republic. Sudan, South Sudan’s northern neighbor, has a rate of 71 percent.

For point of comparison, Canada, the U.S., Australia, Japan and Europe have 100 percent or near 100 percent literacy.

In Sudan education is not available to many citizens.  Another problem is the disruption caused by prolonged civil violence. Also, South Sudanese culture encourages girls to marry rather than receive education. Three times as many boys as girls go to school.

Due to these factors, plus the ever-present poverty and lack of educational resources–much of South Sudan’s primary schooling is managed by NGOs–many South Sudanese adults have only one or two years of schooling. The average adult had only received 1.9 years of schooling in 2000. Compare this with World Bank’s statement: “Research shows that it takes five to six years of basic schooling to achieve functional literacy and numeracy.”

The  three quarters or more of South Sudan’s population who listen to radio regularly can be contrasted with wealthier, more literate countries:  in America, for example, radio news accounts for only 6 percent of Americans’ news source; print 9 percent (most of that is newspaper); internet 21 percent (most of that is nonspecific–i.e. not Facebook or Twitter). Television is the main source at 55 percent.

However, there are demographic variations in America that are relevant to a comparison with South Sudan’s use of radio. Radio may make up 3-7 percent of news for Americans under 65, but for people above 65 radio makes up 18 percent of their news sources. Americans 65 and older still watch TV as much as other age groups–more, actually–but they use the internet much less. Also, Americans who work full time listen to radio more than the unemployed, although they read about the same amount of news. College grads and especially post-grads use print and radio more than less educated Americans.

These statistics are according to polls by Gallup, who asked Americans what they considered to be their main source of news.

In addition to general poverty and lack of resources in South Sudan, radio is #1 because of other factors as well. The transport infrastructure, telecommunications and electricity limitations of South Sudan prohibit wide circulation of newspaper. Roads are sparse and only 300 kilometers of road are paved, limiting the ability of reporters to cover the whole country.

Additionally, newspapers such as The Citizen and The Juba Post have been victim to extralegal SPLA censorship measures in the form of harassment, according to the ownership and staff of those papers. The SPLA has confiscated newspapers in the past. The SPLA has also threatened radio stations with closure, but the effect has not been as great as newspaper censure.  Radio is more abundant, freer, more accessible, more diverse, more immediate, less tangible, and covers distances better than print in South Sudan, and is the only news available to poor or illiterate South Sudanese who reside outside of the capital .

By Day Blakely Donaldson


Land and Sea Journal
Land and Sea Journal
World Bank
University of Western Kordofan
Pew Research
U.S. State Department

Sochi: Why the Olympics Will Be Safe


Russian President Vladimir Putin has pledged that the Olympic Games in Sochi will be “the safest Olympics in history,” but in light of the recent terrorist bombings in Russia, questions have arisen as to why Putin says Sochi will be safe.

Sochi will be the site of the 2014 Winter Olympics, February 7-23.

The Winter Olympics, Russia’s first Winter Games, are a matter of personal prestige and a major project for Putin, who has spent a record $48 billion on the games. This sum is four times the cost of the London Olympics and 25 times the cost of the Vancouver Olympics.

Sochi is about 430 miles (690 kilometers) Southwest of Volgograd, where two recent suicide bombing incidents killed 33 people in 24 hours. In October, six people died when a bus was blown up by a suicide bomber in Volgograd. Although the distance is not small between Volgograd and Sochi, Volgograd is seen as a gateway to Sochi.

These bombings are just an example of a commonplace occurrence in Russia. Many suicide bomb attacks have been carried out in Russia in the last decade.

Security at the Sochi Games has been questioned in light of the recent terrorist bombings in the region.

Sochi is in the western North Caucasus, 500 miles (800 kilometers) west of Chechnya and 700 miles (1000 kilometers) west of Dagestan in the far eastern North Caucuses . Volgograd is 500 miles north of Dagestan and Chechnya and 600 miles north of Sochi by road. These locations form a triangle. This proximity is said to comprise a huge security challenge for the Games.

The North Caucasus region is seen as the base for hostile Islamist insurgency against Russia. Islamist terrorists in the region have claimed responsibility for several attacks on Russia in recent years.

Dagestan, the most volatile province in the North Caucasus, has been linked to last Sunday’s railway station bombing in initial findings.

The Domodedovo Airport bombing in 2011 was also claimed by a North Caucasus terrorist, Doku Umarov of Chechnya, who threatened further attacks. Domodedovo is Moscow’s busiest airport.

The recent Volgograd railway station and the Domodedovo bombings have highlighted the weaknesses in public transport security. Both bombings took place outside the secure areas of the transport hubs.

Despite the concerns being raised, and despite increased security ordered by Putin in Volgograd, the Russian Olympic Committee has stated that no additional security measures would be adopted in Sochi. Chief of the Committee, Alexander Zhukov said last Monday that “all necessary security measures are provided for.”

Given the huge importance of Sochi to Putin, the expectation is that all of Russia’s formidable military, police, intelligence, and counter-terrorism apparatus will be employed to protect the Games.  These measures contribute to the answer of why the Sochi Olympics will be safe.

The security measures that have been adopted are some of the most extensive ever seen for a public sports event. Identity checks, a large secure perimeter and travel restrictions are among these measures.

Tickets for the games must be purchased online from the organizers. The organizers then issue a “spectator pass” to the attendee. This measure provides authorities with passport details and contacts, which will be checked to screen visitors. Visitors identities will be confirmed on arrival in Sochi.

The secure perimeter around Sochi extends 60 miles south to Black Sea Coast and 25 miles north. Special troops patrol the forested mountains surrounding the Sochi Games resort. Drones constantly monitor Olympic facilities. Speed boats patrol the coast.

The secure zone will be barred from all un-authorized automobile traffic for one month before the Games begin until one month after the Games end.

Trains to Sochi must pass first through Volgograd and other Russian cities, at which points security should be expected.

No flights directly to Sochi are permitted from any origin outside the former Soviet Union. Most flights to Sochi originate in Moscow or St. Petersburg. Foreign visitors will only be able to fly directly to Sochi via charter or private flights.

Comfort of visitors to the Sochi Olympics is assured by the Russian Security Service, despite the heavy security measures. The head of the Federal Security Service was quoted, “Our security measures will be unnoticeable and in no way will inhibit the movements of Olympic guests.”

The London Olympics of 2012, set in a metropolitan area much harder to protect than Sochi, was cited by the Security Service head as an event where security measures were much more conspicuous:

“If you remember London, on the roofs of houses there were snipers and rocket complexes, despite the protests of the locals. … There were also military personnel on the streets, but we will not have this.”

Warnings, however, have been issued by various observers and interested parties, who have pointed out that although the Sochi Olympic resort might be secured against attacks, the greater risk is to transporttargets around cities near the North Caucasus. Matthew Clements of London’s IHS security organization warned, “The [Volgograd] attack demonstrates the militants’ capability to strike at soft targets such as transport infrastructure.” Moscow was also noted as a possible terrorist target.

Clements warned, “Any sort of soft target in and around the games, anything that would harm the reputation of the games, would be a viable target for the terrorists.” Not only transport hubs but Coca-Cola, McDonald’s, and Procter & Gamble–sponsors of the games–could be the site of a planned attack, Clements suggested.

Terrorism in Russia is a problem that has been taken up by America.

The U.S. has voiced its support of Russia in Russia’s fight against terrorism. White House spokesperson Caitlin Hayden stated, “The US government has offered our full support to the Russian government in security preparations for the Sochi Olympic Games.”

The Boston Bombings of April, 2013 have been explained by the U.S. government as carried out by two brothers tied to the North Caucasus region. Since that time, the U.S. and Russia have cooperated in counterterrorism, according to the U.S. government, who issued a joint U.S.-Russian counterterroism report recently which states, “In the wake of the Boston Marathon bombing, our nations have redoubled our counterterrorism and law enforcement efforts.”

Threats against the Olympics have come from the same region the U.S. has focussed on as tied to the Boston Bombings.

Last July Doku Umarov, the Chechen rebel leader, called for militants to target the Sochi Olympics. Umarov’s message was distributed by video. Umarov threatened to use “maximum force” to disrupt the Sochi Olympics. Umarov called the Games “satanic” because the Olympic site was “on the bones of our ancestors, on the bones of many, many dead Muslims, buried on the territory of our land on the Black Sea,” referring to a battle fought during the Tsarist expansion in the 19th century.

Umarov had previously ordered his followers “to limit [violent] operations, if there is a risk that the peaceful Russian population may get harmed,” but in the July video Umarov cancelled this order.

Umarov was the self-proclaimed President of the Chechen Republic of Ichkeria–a government which succeeded from Chechnya–before Umarov formed the Caucasus Emirate.

Umarov’s Caucasus Emirate group has been listed as terrorist since 2011 by the U.S. and UN. Last Monday Canada also listed it as terrorist.

Past attempts by Umarov to attack the Sochi site have been made, according to Russia’s National Terrorist Committee and Federal Security Service, who claim to have foiled a plot in 2012. Russian authorities seized portable surface-to-air missiles, grenade launchers, landmines and other weapons 200kilometers from Sochi in the republic of Abkhazia.

Confidence is a theme expressed by many of those involved with Olympic sport.

Confidence has been voiced by the organizer of the 1994 Lillehammer Olympic Winter Games, Norwegian Gerhard Heiberg, who said he was not surprised at the pre-Sochi bombings. “I feel that everything that is humanly possible is being done,” said Heiberg. ”When we come to Sochi, it will be impossible for the terrorists to do anything. The village will be sealed off from the outside world.”

“Sochi will be turned into a veritable fortress,” was the comment made by Leonid Bershidsky at Bloomberg View. Bershidsky noted that Putin “would not forgive” authorities if they allowed anyone to mess with Putin’s Olympic showcase.

The Canadian Olympic Committee has assured its athletes that their safety is its main concern at Sochi. Noting the distraction the terrorist threat poses to the Olympic competition, the Committee stated that it “strives to ensure that athletes feel safe and secure at all times so 100 percent of their attention is focused on their sport and achieving podium success.”

Britain has confirmed its national team’s participation in the Sochi Olympics. Lord Coe, the British Olympic chairman, noted that the recent violent attacks had only reinforced the importance of going ahead with the Olympics, one of the biggest sporting events participated in by every nation on earth.

Australia’s leaders have expressed the opposite of Lord Coe’s confidence.

Australia is exploring the idea of an attendance ban on its athletes as a response to the Volgograd incidents. Australia’s foreign minister made a public statement to this effect last week.

The choice of Sochi as the site of the Olympics has been criticized since the beginning for security reasons–specifically because of its location so close to the perceived center of European Islamist terrorism. It has been commented on since the beginning that the Olympics at Sochi will take place under the constant threat of terrorist attacks.

Even if there are no attacks at Sochi, the terrorist threat will be an effective way to rattle the nerves of Russians and everyone else ahead of the games. There is evidence enough, though, to answer either way to the question of why the Sochi Olympics will be safe despite terrorist threats or that the recent bombings foreshadow an impending disaster at the 2014 Olympic Games.

By Day Blakely Donaldson

Global News
Ria Novosti
Business Week
Voice of Russia
The Week

South Sudan: Juba-Bor Violence, Kiir Meets Sudan President, Peace Talks, China Enters Crisis

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Battles continued along the Juba-Bor road as President of Sudan Omar al-Bashir met South Sudanese President Salva Kiir.  China also finally entered the stage of the South Sudanese crisis.

After incidents of gunfire Saturday evening in Juba’s Qiyada barracks and Jebel market, the government announced that it would hold a press conference Sunday morning to explain the events. No specifics were given as to who was involved in the gunfire incidents, but government spokespeople stated that no substantial group of rebels was involved.

In Juba, at the residence of a senior SPLA commander, a gunfight broke out at around 6 p.m. Saturday evening, according to Radio Tamazuj. Several bodyguards were killed and Lam Dak, the owner of the Tong Ping residence, fled the scene. Several bystanders were injured at the UNMISS compound nearby. Tong Ping himself was admitted at the UNMISS compound after surrendering his weapons.

According to sources of Radio Tamazuj, shots fired at Lam Dak wounded eight refugees inside the UN compound and killed one child. One of the refugees wounded was left in critical condition.

Also in Juba Saturday night at 1:30 a.m. National Security forces searched the house of MP Kong Dak Jishlive. The forces seized computers, other assets, and three vehicles from the house but did not arrest Dak.

Dak represents Leer in Unity State and is seeking refuge with the UN in Juba.

Bor is still the scene of continuing battles.On Sunday an SPLA convoy was moving towards Bor when rebels ambushed the convoy. The convoy was 15 miles (25 kilometers) South of Bor on the Juba-Bor road at the time, near the town of Pariek.

On Sunday an SPLA convoy was moving towards Bor when rebels ambushed the convoy. The convoy was 15 miles (25 kilometers) South of Bor on the Juba-Bor road at the time, near the town of Pariek.

SPLA general Abraham Jongroor Deng was killed in the rebel ambush at Pariek.The SPLA officer in charge of the Bor operation, Lieutenant General Malual Ayom Dor, also the SPLA Deputy Chief of Staff, had been reported by some press organizations as killed in the Pariek battle, but Malual is alive and well.

The SPLA officer in charge of the Bor operation, Lieutenant General Malual Ayom Dor, also the SPLA Deputy Chief of Staff, had been reported by some press organizations as killed in the Pariek battle, but Malual is alive and well.

The SPLA has been attacking Bor for several days. The government has been continually reinforcing the army pushing for Bor. There are currently 2000 SPLA soldiers involved.

A division of the SPLA has defected to the rebel side, so both sides of the Bor fight are now manned by trained soldiers.

UN vehicles have been commandeered in Bor, according to the UN.

Currently, the Juba-Bor road is lined with dead bodies and all villages are deserted.

Elsewhere in South Sudan, reports have come in relating local events.

In Unity State, Rebels in Bentiu have taken control of a UN food warehouse in that city.

In Upper Nile State, officials are trying to convince Sudan to reopen the border in order to get foodstuffs into Upper Nile. Malakal was looted after a large battle and food and other merchandise has been in short supply.

In Yei and other regions, SPLA soldiers defected from the government.

Soon after the gunfire incidents took place in Juba, 120 SPLA soldiers in Yei defected and headed for the forest. There was fighting in the Yei barracks at 9:30 p.m. and there was a clash with pursuing government SPLA later Saturday night.

Also in Central Equatorial State, 30 SPLA soldiers defected from the government in Morobo.

In the Western Equatorial State city of Mundri an unknown number of SPLA soldiers also defected. The defectors commandeered the vehicles of business people and looted Mudri, then proceeded to Lui where the defectors also looted, then did the same in Jambo. SPLA soldiers pursued the defectors.

Lui and Jambo are on the Mundri-Juba road. Mundri is a city 200 kilometers west of Juba.

Aguer said of the defections, “Defection is part of armies emerging from a post-conflict state. That is not a signal of collapse,” he said, noting that the runaway soldiers fled to the forest and did not occupy any areas.”

Aguer stated that the blame for the defections was on “telephone calls to Juba,” and commented on the use of the phone as a tool for misleading people. Aguer said that the defections came after SPLA in Yei were told that Juba was being attacked.

Peace negotiations in Addis Abada were rescheduled once again. The scheduled date is again “tomorrow.”

Peace talks have been held up by, according to officials, “protocol issues” and demands made by the rebel group. The focus of preliminaries was therefore on procedures and non-controversial matters, according to BBC reporter Lam Akol.

But the preliminary process of the talks was announced to have been accomplished Monday afternoon.

After the meeting, Seyourn Mesfin, head of the mediation team, told reporters that the opposing delegations had progressed to the point where they could negotiate.

“What we have done today is finalize the framework of conducting talks,” said Mesfin.

The agenda will focus on ceasefire, political prisoners held in Juba– which prisoners the rebels want to see freed–the initiation of political dialogue and access for humanitarian agencies.

However Sunday South Sudanese Information Minister Michael Makuei repeated the government’s position that the government would not release the prisoners, despite rebel demands. Makuei stated that the government would not accept such a demand as a precondition for peace talks.

“We are not ready to negotiate on preconditions. This is why we are here. The question of the releases should not be annexed to the successful peace talks. We came here to talk peace without conditions and to come and tell us that ‘release these people so that they talk’ is a condition and we are not ready to accept any precondition.”
Ceasefire progress has happened, though, with another rebel group.

David Yau Yau agreed to a ceasefire with the government which began at 11:00 p.m. Monday in Jonglei State, as announced by the South Sudan Ministry of Defence.
Yau Yau had been fighting the government for two years. Yau Yau has troops in Jonglei state, and there was suspicion Yau Yau might join the rebel forces there, greatly strengthening Machar’s opposition.

Yau Yau’s fight, according to Yau Yau, is not to overthrow the government but to win greater rights for his tribe, the Murle.

Sudan has become more involved in the South Sudanese conflict.

Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir flew to Juba to visit Kiir briefly Monday.

Bashir announced that Sudan will not support the South Sudanese rebels or rebels in any neighboring country, which, Bashir said, “would only cause instability, exhaustion of resources and destruction of ties between countries.”

Bashir also stated that Sudan would give full protection to South Sudanese refugees in Sudan: “South Sudanese fleeing the fighting are welcome and free to live in any part of Sudan.”

President Kiir thanked Bashir for the visit and the Sudanese assistance during the “disaster of the last two weeks.”

Kiir stated that Bashir’s visit confirmed the strength of relations between Sudan and South Sudan.

The visit was significant because Sudanese and South Sudanese have in the past accused each other of sponsoring rebels in each others territory.

Uganda’s is helping South Sudanese, and providing aid to the South Sudanese government.

12 000 refugees have sought refuge in Uganda since mid-December, according to Ugandan authorities. Most of these refugees are being hosted in settlement camps, since they have no connections in Uganda.

Uganda is providing the refugees with water, food, sanitation and shelter, and in some locations is planning to provide hepatitis E and polio immunization to prevent an epidemic.

The Ugandan army’s Paddy Ankunda stated that Uganda was deploying more troops to South Sudan because the security situation in South Sudan had worsened. Ankunda stated that the troops were only there to secure stranded Ugandans.

Ugandan forces patrol Juba’s airport. This duty was accepted after Kiir invited Uganda to do so.

Rebel delegates to the Addis Abada meetings have repeatedly complained of Ugandan forces and gunships attacking rebel positions.

Heavy military equipment was also seen being transported from near the Ugandan border town Atiak towards central South Sudan.

U.S. and UN personnel have been evacuated from embassies and bases in South Sudan over the past week. The South Sudan government recently criticised the U.S. and UN for these measures, calling them “alarmist and unneccessary.”

Antony Wek, government spokesperson, stated, “in fact there is nothing grave in the situation.” The government is warning observers not to be misled by the propaganda war Wek says is assaulting South Sudan.

U.S. diplomat John Kerry recently made a statement regarding the U.S.’s position to South Sudan support oppose to the effect that the U.S. would help any peaceful actions but would oppose any violent ones.

The UN recently deployed three helicopter to Juba, on loan from the UN mission in the DRC. The Bengladesh-made military helicopters will be use to transport UN personnel and equipment.

The humanitarian situation is worsening in degree and scope, but humanitarian aid is increasing to meet the need.

Disease is a major threat.

UN High Commissioner for Refugees announced in December that at least 6000 people in South Sudan had contracted hepatitis E in refugee camps.

The UNMISS compound in Juba houses the largest amount of refugees.

Another 1000 refugees arrived in Juba after the shooting incidents Saturday night. The mass of refugees in the compound has not left despite relative calm in city since the initial outbreak of violence in December.

In Bor, supplies re running low for the 9000 refugees being sheltered by UNMISS. Due to the constant fighting around Bore, resupply is becoming an issue. Bor’s medical capacity is being overstretched.

China has entered the South Sudan crisis, as violence continues along the Juba-Bor road and as the President of Sudan meets President Kiir.

China is planning to hold talks with the representatives of the two opposing forces. These talks were expected to take place Monday in Addis Abada.

China’s Foreign Minister Wang Yi is currently touring Africa, including Ethiopia, and it is Yi who will participate in the talks.

Last December, Chinese Special Envoy to Africa Zhong Jianhua also made statements calling for peace talks when Jianhua visited South Sudan.

China is the number one international investor in South Sudanese oil. China recently evacuated some Chinese workers from Chinese state-owned oil companies China National Petroleum Corp and Sinopec.

News in South Sudan is under threat.

The two biggest daily newspapers in South Sudan, The Citizen and Juba Monitor, threatened a blackout Saturday. The threat was in response to directives made by the South Sudan government’s Information and Broadcasting department. The papers are claiming that the government made extralegal demands on the news agencies.

Newspapers published front page articles that all South Sudanese news agencies would agree Thursday to boycott the government, threatening South Sudanese people who rely on these agencies for information about developments such as the violence along Juba-Bor road, the President of Sudan meeting with President Kiir, and China entering the crisis.

By Day Blakely Donaldson


Guardian LV
Voice of America
Voice of America
Voice of America
Radio Tamazuj
Radio Tamazuj
Radio Tamazuj

South Sudan: Attacks, Gunfire in Juba, Peace Talks Pushed Back Again

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South Sudan – Attacks in several locations took place while peace talks were pushed back once again; gunfire in Juba was followed by various reports.

Gunfire was heard in several locations in and around Juba, the capital of South Sudan. Various reports filed in, and an attack on Juba by rebels was reported by several news agencies.

Explanations for the gunfire were several: drunken soldiers; a foiled assassination attempt; and rebellion among SPLA in Juba.

Reports seemed to indicate that the gunfire took place in Jebel–where there is a national security office–and also near the UNMISS compound in Juba. Gunfire was reported to have been heard at around 8:30 p.m. for 10 minutes. There were also reports of gunfire heard at Hei Neem and Atla Bara. The city was reported to be quiet by 10 p.m.

The UN issued a statement Saturday commenting on the reports of gunfire: “UNMISS has noted with concern reports in the news media which alleged that the United Nations said that ‘the rebels are advancing on Juba.’ No UN official has made such a statement to the press.”

At the time of this report, the explanation for the gunfire is still not clear, several varying accounts having been reported by news agencies, reporters, and local sources.

Authorities for the South Sudan government have announced that the government will hold a press conference at 10 a.m. to inform the public regarding Saturday night’s incidents in Juba.

Clashes took place around Bor city, as warned by leaders of both the SPLA and the rebel army over previous days.

Saturday, the army continued to battle rebels in an attempt to retake Bor.

Both Machar and SPLA representatives spoke strongly about the battles that have been waged between Bor and Juba, which lies 125 miles (200 kilometers) south of Bor by road.

Friday Machar stated regarding Bor, “Today our forces crushed the amassed government soldiers at their stronghold in Jameza on Juba road. Our troops broke their stronghold and are pursuing them as they flee back to Juba. Juba will fall soon.”

A rebel commander who participated in Friday’s battle stated that SPLA soldiers were retreating back to Juba:

“We are currently pursuing pro-Salva Kiir soldiers. We are surely matching and will enter Juba soon.”

The commander warned Juba residents to stay indoors or at UNMISS compounds because the rebels would attack Juba “any time soon.”

Colonel Philip Aguer told news media not to broadcast that the rebels were advancing, because this would cause panic in Juba.

Besides Bor and the gunfire confusion in Juba, elsewhere in South Sudan attacks took place as the peace talks were pushed back again.

There was confirmed fighting Saturday night in Yei in Central Equatoria State 100 miles west of Juba. Yei has a polulation of 170 000. Yei residents sought refuge in a U.S. run orphanage.

There were clashes around Mayom in Unity State, according to Colonel Aguer.

Pariak was damaged by fighting.

Armed civilians loyal to Machar tried to disrupt Adar oilfield in northeastern South Sudan, but failed, according to Aguer.

There were also reports Mundri had been taken by a rebel force from Lui.

Peace talks are now scheduled to begin Sunday at 1200 GMT in the Addis Ababa Sheraton Hotel. The first reported date for talks was last Wednesday, and since Wednesday talks have been pushed back every day.

A press conference is also scheduled for 8 a.m. Sunday outside the Sheraton. The conference will be held by government spokespeople.

Last Thursday the rebel delegation had attempted to hold a press conference twice outside the Sheraton, but those attempts had been prevented by Ethiopian authorities for reasons unexplained.

The talks are taking place between delegated teams for President Kiir and former Vice President Riek Machar. The talks are being hosted by IGAD, the East African trading bloc. Kiir and Machar are not in Ethiopia for the talks, but IGAD has stated that IGAD would pursue the two leaders to attend if their presence was needed.

Kiir is in the capital, Juba; Machar’s whereabouts are unknown.

Preliminary talks have been held. The focus of these preliminary talks has been to pin down the main issues that might lead to a negotiated peace. Both Kiir and Machar have shown themselves willing to enter peace talks, but both have been rigid in their respective demands. Kiir has stated that there will be no sharing of power with Machar, who, Kiir says, does not deserve power because Machar opted to use violent rather than peaceful means to take power. Machar, for his part, has demanded the release of 11 political prisoners held by Kiir in Juba as a precondition for negotiations.

The talks, therefore, will be focussed mainly just on cessation of hostilities and starting of a political dialogue.

International parties are putting pressure on Kiir and Machar to settle their differences in order to prevent escalation of the violence in South Sudan. Many fear escalation will lead to a civil war along tribal lines. Ethiopian Foreign Minister Tedros Adhanom at the opening ceremony of the talks said, ”You should not allow this senseless war to continue, you need to stop it, and you need to stop it today — and you can.”

UN aid is being increased in South Sudan.

The UN released a statement Saturday stating that UNMISS was reinforcing its presence in South Sudan, including military, police, logistics, and civilian staff. A portion of these reinforcements will arrive this week. The UN stated that more resources will be allocated to Bor, Malakal, Bentiu, and Juba, which locations are in great need. UN has already increased aid in Juba and Awerial, Lakes State.

The UN stated, “In the past 72 hours, we have raised close to $100 million and are using this money to bring in additional supplies and staff to respond to the evolving situation.”

$209 million is being requested by aid agencies in South Sudan for the next three months.

The UN’s reinforcements come as other groups in South Sudan are leaving the country.

Friday the U.S. began to remove all personnel except core staff, and advised all U.S. citizens to leave South Sudan. Neighboring countries have evacuated their citizens from South Sudan.  The U.S. is offering $50 million in aid as they withdraw.

The conflict in South Sudan began December 15 between members of the presidential guard after a disagreement between the two politicians, Kiir and Machar, the previous night.

Peace talks have been pushed back again in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, as more attacks have taken place in South Sudan and gunfire caused confusion in Juba.

By Day Blakely Donaldson


Land and Sea Journal
Sudan Tribune

South Sudan: Government Attack on Bor Underway

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South Sudan – A government attack on the city of Bor is underway: SPLA troops are fast approaching Bor and should take Bor before Saturday morning, according to SPLA general Malual Ayom Dor.

Ayom is leading the SPLA army in operations against Bor, a city 75 miles (120 kilometers) north of the Juba. Juba is the capital of South Sudan.

Colonel Philip Aguer, an army spokesman, announced that the SPLA and rebels battled Friday morning, that the rebels were now retreating, and that the rebels would move north of Bor by evening.

Aguer stated, “The SPLA is moving with confidence. We have enough forces to defeat them within 24 hours.”

Accounts of skirmishes have been reported by the government, rebels, and citizens fleeing from the conflict zones to Juba.

According to citizens, the SPLA was fighting the White Army 22-25 miles (35-40 kilometers) south of Bor towards Juba, Thursday.

SPLA representatives stated that SPLA forces had engaged with rebels near Mangala, 18 miles (30 kilometers) from the capital.

Colonel Aguer stated that the army had captured several of the rebel fighters.

The SPLA explained that the rebel White Army was disputing SPLA reinforcements travelling between Juba and Bor which had been sent as a pre-emptive force against a rebel-march towards Juba.

The SPLA remarked that since there is no ceasefire as yet, Bor–which is held by rebels under defected commander Peter Gadet–will be attacked by SPLA from Juba. SPLA will attack Bor, according to SPLA representatives, because a rebel-held Bor is a threat to Juba.

These accounts conflicted somewhat with other statements issued by government officials.

The government denied that rebel forces are marching on Juba Friday. The government stated that the White Army is contained in Bor.

Aguer responded to reports of a rebel advance on Juba thus: “I don’t know how will the rebels that Al Jazeera is reporting–how will they be advancing to Juba. They will be running from Bor, not advancing to Juba.”

Although the government is explicitly planning an attack on Bor and has mobilized the SPLA for such an attack, Machar has announced that the rebels will not march on Juba–for the time being at least.

Machar stated in an interview with Hannah McNeish that the rebels will hold off from attacking Juba in hopes of a “negotiated settlement,” referring to the peace talks in Addis Abada that have now begun. Machar said that he was retrained by the international community, but that the rebels would continue to hold all current positions and defend all rebel-held oilfields, including those in Jonglei State. Machar warned that Kiir’s attempts to retake rebel-controlled areas threatened the peace talks.

Machar also remarked on Thursday’s skirmishes between Juba and Bor. Machar said that the rebels fought SPLA and destroyed a 900-troops convoy armed with four tanks and heavy weaponry.

Appraising the tenuous situation of ongoing aggressive violence whilst negotiating peace, a security expert in South Sudan commented that “Whichever way the military engagements go, it will impact significantly on the talks in the next 24 to 48 hours.”

Peace talk delegates in Addis Abada met for the first time Friday for preliminary talks, but reportedly these talks were carried out through mediators rather than face to face. The goal of these preliminary talks was to smooth out tensions before actual formal negotiations begin.

However, government representative Ateny Wek Ateny announced Friday that the two groups had not agreed on an agenda. Rebel leader Machar also stated that the agenda for negotiations had not yet been agreed upon, nor had his preconditioned release of 11 political prisoners been heeded by Kiir.

Formal talks are scheduled to begin Saturday at the Addis Abada Sheraton Hotel.

The talks will supposedly focus entirely on ceasing hostilities, according to the mediators, the IGAD East African trading organization. IGAD is being led in negotiations by Ethiopia’s former Foreign Minister, Seyoum Mesfin.

Rebel delegates arrived Wednesday and early Thursday. Government delegates arrived Thursday afternoon.

The rebel delegation engaged in talks with Mesfin Thursday, and afterwards tried to hold a press conference outside the Sheraton Hotel. The delegation made two attempt to a hold press conference, but were prevented by Ethiopian authorities.

Movements and remove-ments of people has been taking place in South Sudan over the past days.

Government forces have been called to the capital from South Sudanese states where there is no rebel violence.

The governor of Central Equatoria State has called on all trained organized forces of the government in Central Equatoria State to return to the capital, Juba within three days.

The forces referred to include SPLA army, police, prison, fire, wildlife, and air defence officers. The order refers to officers who have previously received training. The order does not refer to fresh officers.

The forces are to gather at the headquarters of the various counties except where this is impossible due to rebel control. From these points the forces will be transported to Juba.

The purpose of the movement was training. The forces would be trained specially to defend South Sudan from Machar-loyal rebels.

Evacuations of American, UN, and Sudanese citizens has been increased.

The U.S. ordered more of its American Embassy staff out of South Sudan. The number of American staff to be moved was not specified, but all but core personnel are to be withdrawn. The U.S. also warned that it would not provide consular services for U.S. citizens in South Sudan as of Saturday, January 4. The U.S. State Department website travel advisory states that these measures were taken “because of the deteriorating security situation” in South Sudan.

The State Department travel advisory read, “We continue to urge U.S. citizens in South Sudan to depart the country,” and described an evacuation flight Friday to “the nearest safe haven country” on a first-come, first-served basis.

It had been reported Friday that Susan Page, the American Ambassador in South Sudan, had been evacuated, but Page remains in South Sudan.

Page commented, “We are not suspending our operations, we are just minimizing our presence.”

An American Embassy spokesperson announced, “The Embassy will still remain in terms of engaging in political dialogue and work towards a peaceful solution to the current situation. At the same time it is important to note the Embassy will not be able to provide consular services to American citizens. Any American who has an interest in leaving South Sudan today is advised to call the emergency number immediately. The number to call is 0912 105 107.”

The U.S. has offered $50 million in aid money while withdrawing.

The U.S. had begun evacuating U.S. citizens from various locations in South Sudan as the conflict broke out in mid-December. The U.S. Embassy has been protected by 45 American marines sent by President Obama December 20.

The UN is also withdrawing all but core personnel.

Sudan has announced that it will evacuate all Sudanese citizens from south Sudan in the next 72 hours. Sudanese in South Sudan will fly out of Juba airport. Approximately 320 Sudanese have already evacuated South Sudan.

Sudanese officials have expressed concern that South Sudanese refugees might flee into Sudan over the border. Officials have stated that neither Darfur nor the DRA have the capacity to host refugees. On Tuesday the UNHCR announced that “several hundred” South Sudanese had come to Sudan.

The situation with refugees is worsening, as expected.

Awerial County, Lake State, is reporting that people fleeing Bor are moving in boats across the White Nile towards Yiol and Rumbek. Tens of thousands have fled Bor, which city is facing worsening water food, sanitation, and medicine conditions.

Awerial County is hard-pressed to meet the demands of the 75 000 (UN estimate) IDPs who have sought refuge in Awerial. The number is expected to rise. UN in Awerial issued a humanitarian warning recently due to the danger of disease. Oxfam announced Thursday that it was responding to Awerial with a rapid response team to support water, sanitation, and health needs in Lakes State.

Bor refugees have also arrived in Juba–about 2200, mostly children without parents–since Thursday. This group is being hosted by the Islamic Center in east Konyo Konyo, Juba. Food has been provided to them by the Islamic Center and the Sudanese government. There are currently 30 000 refugees in Juba, with more arriving.

In Bor, flights have been disrupted, but some helicopters were still able to land Friday.

The UN compound in Bor still hosts around 10 000 people.

Malakal, Upper Nile State is also suffering after massive displacement of its citizens during the last week’s fighting has caused health strains. Hospitals are overwhelmed. Food distributions have begun. Large parts of Malakal are deserted, but the town is currently calm, according to the UN. According to NGOs, additional mobile health clinics are underway, which should be ready by next wee, as attacks in Bor and elsewhere in South Sudan continue.

By Day Blakely Donaldson


Land and Sea Journal
Sudan Tribune
New York Tribune
South Sudan News Agency
Radio Miraya
Radio Tamazuj
Radio Tamazuj
All Africa
All Africa
Hannah McNeish

South Sudan: Rebels Toward National Capital Juba

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Rebels in South Sudan are forcibly recruiting civilians in preparation for a march on Juba after a skirmish in Mangala, just 18 miles (30 kilometers) from the national capital.

Army spokesman colonel Philip Aguer made statements Thursday describing rebels, who had taken over Bor Tuesday, now forcibly recruiting civilians for this purpose:

“Juba, that is their intention. They are trying to march to Juba. The (SPLA) will return them to where they came from.”

General Hoth Mai commented in an interview Thursday that a skirmish had taken place near Mangala, halfway between Bor and Juba, and that one soldier was killed in the fight, but Mai denied that this skirmish was part of a rebel movement towards Juba, and reassured Juba residents that they should not panic. The SPLA still holds Mangala.

Mangala had been the site of earlier skirmishes December 23 when, after vowing to retake Bor from the rebels, the SPLA were defeated between Juba and Mangala and forced to retreat back to Juba, according to All Africa and the Sudan Tribune. Mangala was later retaken by the government, as was Bor, before the rebels conquered Bor Tuesday.

Bor, capital Jonglei State, has been in the hands of rebels under defected commander Peter Gadet since Tuesday. The governor of Bor now resides in Juba. This government has dismissed all officials suspected of loyalty to Machar. The dismissal was read on state TV, but did not announce replacements for the offices.

Bor will be the site of another battle soon, according to the SPLA. Although peace talks are upcoming, the government will continue to battle rebels in Bor because Bor is seen by the government in Juba as currently posing a threat to Juba.

SPLA leaders said that the SPLA was currently advancing toward Bor, noting that, “Of course, we don’t have yet a ceasefire,” and also noting that the rebels are in Bor because they want to come to Juba.

The fighting in Bor January 1 was a concern to those who seek peace in South Sudan. A deadline–the end of the year–for cessation of hostilities had been demanded of Machar by the East African trade union. After rebels took Bor, Machar was notified that threatened intervention by the Ugandan government and army would be activated if rebels proceeded beyond Bor.

Elsewhere in South Sudan, battles and changes of hands have taken place.

Malakal, capital of Unity State, which was partially taken by rebels December 24, has been fully regained by the government, including Malakal Airport which is now open. The governor of Malakal has returned to the town and has called on civil servants and civilians to resume work. The sector commander and the SPLA stationed in Malakal have assured citizens that the citizens are being protected and have urged citizens to refrain from ethnic aggression.

The UNMISS camp previously located just outside Malakal, which had housed refugees since the December 24 fighting broke out has been found insufficient. The site had often been in the crossfire of opposing forces and defeated combattants often sought refuge in the camp, scaring non-participant civilians. Because of the large population in the camp, which was protected by a perimeter of Indian Battalion guards, some people had to sleep outside. The refugees were moved into the UNMISS compound in Malakal. The compound was divided into four sections to host the refugees.

Mayom County in Unity State had been claimed by the government as retaken. Such statements were made by SPLA spokespeople on Miraya FM radio and other outlets. But rebels in Unity State have denied that Mayom has been retaken by the SPLA.

Bentiu, the capital of Unity State, which is held by rebels, has not been commented on by the government since the army stated that it was only “a matter of time before the SPLA restores law and order in the state.”

A rebel spokesman stated that the rebels had forced the SPLA back to neighboring Warrap State after a Wednesday battle.

Authorities in Unity State have stated that most Unity State counties are in the hands of Machar-loyal forces, including Rubkona, Koch, Guit, Leer, Panyijar, Mayendit, Mayom, and Bentiu. According to the statement, Abiemnom, Pariang, and part of Mayom remain under the government’s control.

Due to the recent weeks of fighting, New Years in South Sudan proceeded in various ways.

New Years celebrations in some locations were cancelled due to security concerns or solidarity gestures.

The Archbishop of Wau gave a New Year’s speech, stating, ““We need to be realistic and shun what divide our nation , rumour of tribal divisions need to be stopped, especially among you as Christians, you came from different ethnic background and tribes but you are now united under one tribe of Christianity, therefore, a good Christian work for peace, unity and prosperous of his or her nation.”

Peace talks are now scheduled to start Thursday evening in Addis Abada, Ethiopia, overseen by IGAD.

A ceasefire was reported by media after IGAD issued a statement to this effect, but at that time neither side had actually committed to any ceasefire. Both sides have voiced their hopes for a ceasefire, however, and ceasefire is the primary purpose of the conference in Ethiopia.

According the government of South Sudan, the government delegation to Addis Ababa includes former Minister of Foreign Affairs Hon. Nhial Deng Nhial, SPLM-DC leader Dr. Lam Akol, Minister of Health Dr. Riek Gai, deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs & International relations Hon. Peter Beshir Gbendi, Minister of Information & Broadcasting Hon. Michael Makuei Leuth, Justice Ambrose Thiik, Amb. John Andruga, former Minister of Humanitarian Affairs James Kok, Director of External Security Douth Guet, Governor of Northern Bahr el Gazal state Paul Malong, Joseph Ukel (United South Sudan African Party) & Akol Kor (SPLM Youth League).

Machar’s includes Hussein Mar Nyout. The team had been reported to include the widow of John Garang, Rebecca Nyandeng Garang. However, Rebecca Garang has declined to participate, saying that she advocated SPLM reforms, not conflict.

The U.S. and UN have repeatedly called for peace.

U.S. spokespeople have stated that the U.S. will not support any force that takes power through violence.

Uganda’s President Museveni has threatened the rebels in South Sudan with intervention if the rebels do not cease. Uganda’s parliament recently demanded an explanation from Museveni for deploying troops to South Sudan without parliamentary authorization–necessary according to the Ugandan constitution (article 210).

International observers as well as South Sudanese are concerned that the conflict will evolve into a civil war, matching Dinka and Nuer tribes against each other. The politicians involved have stated that their differences are political, not ethnic, but there have been reports of tribal killings during the violent turmoil. There have also been reports of inter-tribal neighborliness and help.

War crimes by SPLA are being investigated by a special committee formed for this purpose by the SPLA, and the government of South Sudan has captured and will continue to capture criminals who have been “utilizing the situation to loot innocent people,” according to government spokespeople.

Civil violence broke out in South Sudan December 20 when President Kiir and former Vice President Machar accused each other of political underhandedness. Since that time Machar has been calling for the end of Kiir’s presidency, and Kiir has been attempting to control the rebel forces that have sprung up spontaneously across South Sudan. The conflict quickly spread to half of South Sudan’s 10 states.

The current numbers of displaced persons is 204 000, according to the UN. Aid organizations currently taking care of 67 500 of these people are asking for more supplies. $209 million is being requested to provide aid for the next three months. About half of the refugees are camped out in Juba. Malakal, Bentiu and Bor also host large refugee populations. The primary concern currently is the rising risk of disease. 10 000 people have fled to neighboring countries.

Oxfam announced Thursday that it has deployed a rapid response team to support the delivery of water, sanitation, and health in Awerial in Lakes State. Aid agencies in Awerial had declared a humanitarian crisis regarding medicine.

UN officials warned that the number of displaced could double to 400 000 in a few days if peace talks fail.

1000 people have died as a result of the conflict.

States of emergency were declared Wednesday in the two states controlled by rebels, Unity State and Jonglei, where South Sudan rebels are plotting toward an attack on the national capital, Juba.

By Day Blakely Donaldson


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