Displaced people in South Sudan fear return over delay in peace implementation

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JUBA, South Sudan – The South Sudan civil society forum has said that several internally displaced persons and refugees in neighboring countries are fearing to return to their homes because of delay in implementing the revitalized peace deal.

“Lack of plans by the government, looming insecurity and poor services continue to discourage IDPs and refugees from returning home,” said a statement issued by South Sudan Civil Society forum on Monday in Juba.

According to UN agencies, close to one million people are living in IDP camps in the country.

These people were displaced in the aftermath of violence that broke out in December 2013 and renewed violence in July 2016 that displaced thousands in Central, Eastern and Western Equatoria states respectively.

“A comprehensive national plan to facilitate and support repatriation, rehabilitation and resettlement of internally displaced persons and returnees in a voluntary and dignified manner has to be developed,” according to the forum.

It also expressed deep concern over slow implementation of the security arrangement that includes training and unification of the army.

South Sudan is supposed to complete training and unification of 83,000 estimated force to take charge of security during the transitional period before elections are held around 2023.

“The 2018 agreement provided for restoration of permanent and sustainable peace, security and stability in our country envisaged through training, graduation and deployment of national unified forces to take charge of security. Sadly, there is little progress to report on this front,” it said.

By Benjamin Takpiny

South Sudan to begin oil sector audit

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JUBA, South Sudan – South Sudan’s government has directed a full audit into its oil resource management after years of reports of mismanagement of the environment in the oil producing areas.

Caesar Oliha Marko, deputy chairperson for a government oversight committee to oversee implementation of the audit revealed that a U.S.-based firm will audit production and sale of crude since the independence of South Sudan in 2011.

The oversight committee was established in a presidential decree on Feb. 18 this year.

“It is a very serious audit — it is for the first time since 2011,” Marko told reporters in Juba on Monday.

The audit will “ensure the government adopts measures to ensure that loss and wastage of petroleum resources in the course of extraction, processing, transportation and exportation is kept to a bare minimum so that the country derives maximum financial benefits from its exploitation,” Marko said.

Commenting on the humanitarian side of the issue, Marko said, “We have heard about children born with deformities and we are yet to establish real findings to prove it true and if it is true, someone will be held accountable for and that is why someone has to do work to prove it scientific to us.”

“In regard to when the auditing will start, we have already started and that is why we are here we are working out procedures and the real work will start when the audit plan is approved by the government,” Marko said.

The Ministry of Petroleum announced the tender in January of 2020 targeting competent international companies to bid to undertake an environmental audit in the oil producing northern Upper Nile, Unity states and the newly created Ruweng Administrative Area.

By Benjamin Takpiny

15 Ethiopian peacekeepers in South Sudan refused to return home

15 Ethiopian peacekeepers in South Sudan refuse to return home
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ADDIS ABABA – Fifteen Ethiopian peacekeepers have said they do not want to return to Ethiopia from South Sudan, according to the UN.

According to their report, 169 South Sudanese peacekeepers were returning to Addis Ababa, but 15 members of the force said they did not want to return to Ethiopia. The 15 were all from Tigray.

The Ethiopian Defense Forces (EDF) Facebook page, citing the army’s director general of indoctrination, Major General Mohamed Tesema, said the news was that the peacekeepers were members of the 15th Motorized Peacekeeping Battalion. Tesema said the battalion is returning to Ethiopia after completing its stay in South Sudan.

“Those peacekeepers have been trying to create chaos by rolling and shouting at Juba airport saying they will not go to our country,” Tesema stated.

He described the actions of the individuals as “disgraceful” and said they did not represent the members of the armed forces.

The privately-owned Sudan Post reported that the soldiers, who did not want to return to Ethiopia, said they were concerned about the “law enforcement” being carried out by the Tigray regional government and that they were concerned about what would happen to them once they returned. The soldiers were said to have been forced to board the plane.

The troops are currently under the protection of the South Sudanese National Security Service.

Ethiopia was one of the first countries to contribute troops to the UN peacekeeping mission, and currently there are around 8,000 troops serving, representing about 8% of the UN’s peacekeeping force worldwide.

The military overthrew the TPLF leadership in the wake of the Oct. 24, 2013 military offensive between the federal government and the TPLF. In connection with this, several suspected members of the TPLF and members of the armed forces were arrested, and arrest warrants were issued. The exact number of people killed in the conflict is unknown, but it is expected to be in the thousands.

In addition, more than 60,000 people have fled the conflict to Sudan, and millions more are in need of humanitarian assistance, according to humanitarian organizations. Following the announcement of the end of the military operation in Tigray State, an agreement was reached with the UN to provide humanitarian assistance to the region. But the International Committee of the Red Cross warns that the number of people in need is “extremely high.”

By Henok Aleayehu

Warring President and Vice President Making Peace, Forming Government in South Sudan

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War in the world’s youngest nation, South Sudan, may be drawing to a close, as rival leader and former vice president Riek Machar has returned to Juba to be sworn into office once again by President Salva Kiir.

Machar is to return to his post of vice president more than two years after a scuffle in the presidential building led to a splintering of the countries alliances. Political lines were largely drawn between the countries two largest tribal groups — Dinka and Nuer. Kiir is Dinka and Machar in Nuer.

Since December 2013, tens of thousands of South Sudanese have died — some in territorial military battles and others for nonpolitical reasons. The United Nations and other groups, which have provided assistance in the form of safe compounds, food, medicine, and protection, have struggled to keep track of the number of other atrocities committed in the lawless state.

Negotiations have been constantly urged by the U.N., the East African trade group EGAD, the United States, and other interested parties, all of which have tried to work towards peace, but agreements were regularly thwarted by irreconcilable disagreements, despite repeated claims by both sides that their foremost goal was peace for South Sudan.

Machar flew into Juba from neighboring Ethiopia April 26, one week after he was originally scheduled to arrive. Last minute negotiations about the manpower and weapons Machar would be allowed to bring with him delayed the trip.

Upon landing in the capital, Machar proceeded immediately to the presidential palace, where he is expected to be sworn into office in the near future.

UN reports South Sudan’s soldiers commit systematic killing, gang-rape and burning civilians alive; South Sudanese officals dismiss another UN official

South Sudan
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The United Nations’ top diplomat in South Sudan is not needed by the country, according to the young nation’s Unity State government.

Mary Cummins was the UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) head, based in oil-rich Unity State. The UN’s human rights division released a report at the end of June in which it accused the government army of human rights violations including systematic killing including killing of women and children, gang rape and burning people alive.

Sunday the South Sudanese government announced that Unity State officials had submitted a request that Cummins be expelled.

Cummins will not be the first UN head to be expelled from South Sudan. Last May, the nation expelled UN humanitarian coordinator Toby Lanzer.

Lanzer was also removed following the publication of a UN report on serious human rights violations in South Sudan, including killing, rape and kidnapping.

The difficulties UN officials face in South Sudan are also illustrated, commentators note, in the resignation of former UNMISS peacekeeping leader Hilde Johnson in July of 2014. Johnson assumed office in the summer of 2011 when South Sudan’s Independence was new and no serious violent conflict existed in the region.

The national government of South Sudan stated that Unity State officials made the decision to remove Cummins only from the state, not the nation.

But according to South Sudanese lawyers, the state government does not have authority to remove Cummins because the UN made agreements with the national government, not Unity State.

“The notion that Mabek Lang and his colleagues expelled a top UN official in the country is like saying Unity State Governor banned the United Nations Secretary General,” an independent South Sudanese legal expert told South Sudan News Agency.

“What the Unity State government supposed to say is that it has decided to expel Mary Cummins from Unity State, not South Sudan; from there, the national government can decide of what to do with the state decision.”