Sudan, South Sudan to demilitarize shared borders

             By Mohammed Amin</p>  <p>KHARTOUM, Sudan (AA) - Sudan and South Sudan have agreed to demilitarize the disputed common borders between the two countries within one month, the defense ministries of the two countries said on Monday.</p>  <p>Lt. Gen. Kamal Abdul Maroof, chief of staff of the Sudanese national army, told a press conference in the capital Khartoum that the two sides would implement the previous recommendations of a deal for forming a demilitarized buffer zone between the two countries.</p>  <p>“After we listened to a report from the United Nations Interim Security Forces For Abyei [UNISFA], we agreed that within one month that all the forces within the demilitarized buffer zone would be pulled out from this area,” he confirmed.</p>  <p>“We will also send a joint technical team from the two sides and with experts from the UNISFA in one month to the border areas to make sure that all the forces will be redeployed out of these areas,” he stressed.</p>  <p>Kuol Manyang Juuk, South Sudan’s defense minister, told reporters that border crossings between the two nations would also be opened within one month, adding that the defense ministers would also meet on April 17 to follow up implementation of the deal.</p>  <p>“Now we have taken measures to evacuate the buffer zone and make sure that there are no soldiers within that area and that would be verified by UNISFA, and we have also created crossing points, and along these crossing points migration and other offices would be opened,” he explained.</p>  <p>Sudan has led the mediation of the South Sudan peace talks that resulted in a peace agreement between the government and rebels last August.</p>  <p>Sudan and South Sudan have disputed the border and traded accusations of rebel support since the separation of South Sudan from Sudan in 2011.</p>  <p> 

UPDATE – South Sudan, Ethiopia, Eritrea meet for stabilization

             UPDATES WITH QUOTES FROM LATEST COMMUNIQUE</p>    <p>By Addis Getachew</p>    <p>ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia (AA) - Leaders of Ethiopia and Eritrea paid an official visit to South Sudan on Monday in an effort to take another step towards the regional integration. </p>  <p>South Sudan’s President Salva Kiir postponed his visit to Bahr El Gazel region of Chad to host Eritrean counterpart Isaias Afwerki and Ethiopia's Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed in a rare meeting in the capital Juba.</p>    <p>Regional security and creating tighter economic ties among the countries in the region topped the agenda of the daylong meeting, a diplomatic source told Anadolu Agency.</p>    <p>The agenda of regional integration, according to the diplomat, “[…] has been in full-swing and it involved the horn of Africa nations of Ethiopia, Eritrea, Djibouti, Somalia, Kenya, Sudan and South Sudan”.</p>      <p>A communique issued following the meeting also said: “The three leaders focused on the need to advance regional integration.”</p>    <p>[To] that end, [they] agreed to task their foreign ministers and other relevant government agencies in the three countries to work out the common projects that will facilitate the attainment of the goal of regional economic integration and shared prosperity,” read the communique posted on the website of the South Sudan’s Presidency.</p>    <p>The three leaders also agreed to work together towards the consolidation of peace in South Sudan, it added. </p>  <p>Since gaining the power in April, Ethiopia’s Ahmed spearheaded an intense diplomatic shuttles aimed at enhancing regional integration as well as peace and security.</p>    <p>In September, Eritrean, Somali and Ethiopian leaders met in Asmara, the Eritrean capital, where they agreed to launch a vigorous high-level campaign towards regional integration, the diplomat said.</p>    <p>In August, Kiir was in a two-day visit to Asmara for talks with his Eritrean counterpart on bilateral relations and regional issues.</p>    <p>Earlier, South Sudan’s ambassador to Ethiopia James Morgan told Anadolu Agency that oil fields in the horn of Africa country were resuming operations after years of disruption due to civil war.</p>    <p>It came after a relative peace was established in South Sudan following the cessation of hostilities agreement between the warring parties on Sept. 12, 2018.

S. Sudan, Ethiopia, Eritrea meet for stabilization

             By Addis Getachew</p>    <p>ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia (AA) - Leaders of Ethiopia and Eritrea paid an official visit to South Sudan on Monday in an effort to take another step towards the regional integration.</p>    <p>South Sudan’s President Salva Kiir postponed his visit to Bahr El Gazel region of Chad to host Eritrean President Isaias Afwerki and Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed in a rare meeting in the capital Juba.</p>    <p>Regional security and creating tighter economic ties among the countries in the region topped the agenda of the daylong meeting, a diplomatic source told Anadolu Agency.</p>    <p>The agenda of regional integration, according to the diplomat, “[…] has been in full-swing and it involved the horn of Africa nations of Ethiopia, Eritrea, Djibouti, Somalia, Kenya, Sudan and South Sudan”.</p>    <p>Since gaining the power in April, Ethiopia’s Ahmed spearheaded an intense diplomatic shuttles aimed at enhancing regional integration as well as peace and security.</p>    <p>In September, Eritrean, Somali and Ethiopian leaders met in Asmara, the Eritrean capital, where they agreed to launch a vigorous high-level campaign towards regional integration, the diplomat said.</p>    <p>In August, Kiir was in a two-day visit to Asmara for talks with his Eritrean counterpart on bilateral relations and regional issues.</p>    <p>Earlier, South Sudan’s ambassador to Ethiopia James Morgan told Anadolu Agency that oil fields in the horn of Africa country were resuming operations after years of disruption due to civil war.

It came after a relative peace was established in South Sudan following the cessation of hostilities agreement between the warring parties on Sept. 12, 2018.

Over half of population suffers starvation in S. Sudan

             By Parach Mach</p>    <p>JUBA, South Sudan (AA) - Some 60 percent of the population in war-torn South Sudan suffer from starvation, an official report said on Friday, underlining a 13-percent rise compared to last year.</p>    <p>The Integrated Food Security Phase Classification (IPC) report released by the government of South Sudan said an estimated seven million people in the East African country face food crisis.</p>    <p>“This includes some 30,000 people who are already experiencing extreme food insecurity (in catastrophe phase or IPC5, the highest level of food insecurity) in eastern and central South Sudan,” according to the report.</p>    <p>“Food insecurity is increasing in 2019,” said Simon Cammelbeeck, the acting country director of World Food Programme in South Sudan. “Unless we scale up humanitarian and recovery activities soon, more and more people will be at risk.”</p>    <p>Alain Noudehou, UN humanitarian chief in the country, said “sustained humanitarian support” is essential to deal with the immediate food assistance need.</p>    <p>“Full and timely implementation of the peace agreement is therefore essential to allow displaced people -- the majority of whom are women and children -- to return home and to resume their lives.” </p>    <p>Humanitarians cite the ongoing conflict in South Sudan for the worsening situation in the country, which will enter its fifth year and has killed more than 50,000 people since.

In 2017, the world’s youngest nation declared famine in two counties in Unity State, the world’s first formal famine declaration since Somalia in 2011.

More than 100 child soldiers freed in South Sudan

              By Munira Abdelmenan Awel

ANKARA (AA) – More than 100 child soldiers were released Tuesday by armed groups in South Sudan, according to UNICEF in a statement.

The release of 119 child soldiers rose to 3,100 the number of those freed since the start of the 2013 conflict.

Among them were 48 girls, with the youngest from the group being 10.

UNICEF Executive Director Henrietta Fore urged all parties in South Sudan to recommit to defend the rights of children and ensure they never become soldiers.

“This year marks the 30th anniversary of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child which requires governments to meet the basic needs of children and to help them reach their full potential,” she added.

The release took place in the southwest town of Yambio where the children had been associated with the South Sudan National Liberation Movement, which signed a peace agreement with the government in 2016.

According to the statement, the children were registered and provided a certificate stating they are no longer affiliated with the group and basic necessity packages delivered.

Social workers, health workers and education specialists were on hand to assess their immediate needs.

Each child is provided with three years of reintegration support to assist their return to civilian life and prevent re-recruitment.

For each released child helped, one vulnerable child and a family from the host community are also supported to foster acceptance and promote a more sustainable reintegration.

There are still tens of thousands of children serving in the ranks of armed forces and groups in South Sudan, UNICEF noted.

Since February 2018, more than 1,000 children have been released by various armed groups in the world's youngest nation.

Terrorism expanding in Sahel region: African Union

By Addis Getachew

Addis Ababa, Ethiopia (AA) – Terrorism is expanding in the Sahel region — a region encompassing western and northwestern Africa, an African Union (AU) official said on Monday.

"The whole of West Africa is on alert," Smail Chergui, AU Commissioner for Peace and Security told reporters following the closed-door 32nd Summit about the State of Security in Africa.

Chergui said that terrorism was expanding on a "daily basis" in the region and that Africa was ill-prepared against the threat which he said was "imported."

He described even Burkina Faso — a site of relative calm in West Africa — as facing an expanding menace of criminal and terrorist attacks.

– Libya

Chergui said the AU and UN agreed to cooperate on convening a national reconciliation conference in Libya. The date is yet to be announced, he added.

"Libyan people have suffered enough," he said, adding that it was armed groups, militias and external meddling that further complicated an already convoluted situation, without naming any single interfering foreign power.

He said that the planned reconciliation conference on Libya would be inclusive and that all Libyan stakeholders would take part, underlining that the country's situation affected neighboring countries as well, referring to a recent attack in Chad by armed men coming out of Libya.

– Somalia

On Somalia, Chergui said that while some challenges remained, progress was being made on "implementing the federal transitional plan."

"We want to prepare the Somali National Forces to take over security," he added, stressing that this could only be achieved after "positive development".

An African Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) — a multinational armed intervention in the country located in the Horn of Africa — has been keeping the peace in Somalia as the militant group Al-Shabaab continues its attacks.

– South Sudan

Chergui said South Sudan was respecting the ceasefire as provided for in the peace deal reached by the warring parties on Sept. 12, 2018.

He appealed to the international community to provide the necessary financial resources for South Sudan to support the implementation of the peace process as opposing forces in the eastern African nation prepared to form a "Revitalized — Transitional Government of National Unity" in May.

3 killed as Ethiopian chopper hit UN compound in Sudan

By Faruk Zorlu

ANKARA (AA) – Three crew members were killed in the disputed Abyei region on the border between Sudan and South Sudan after an Ethiopian military helicopter hit the compound of the UN peacekeeping mission on Saturday.

In a statement, the UN Interim Security Force for Abyei (UNISFA) said a helicopter with 23 passengers on board was carrying Ethiopian troops when it crashed. Three out of ten injured passengers are in critical condition.

"The immediate cause of the crash is not yet known," UNISFA said.

"Ethiopia has around 4,500 personnel on the ground to support UNISFA’s efforts of ensuring peace and security in Abyei," UNISFA added.

South Sudan seceded from Sudan in an acrimonious split following a 2011 referendum.

The two nations have disputes over several issues including the status of disputed oil-rich Abyei area and South Sudan's alleged support to Sudanese rebels.

South Sudan fears relapse in conflict

By Addis Getachew

ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia (AA) – In spite of reassurances by the government of South Sudan that the country is on the path to implementing a 2018 peace deal, there have been fears of a relapse.

Last September, warring parties in the country signed a landmark deal after a 2015 cease-fire was violated 24 hours after it was signed.

However, an eight-nation African bloc, the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD), said that while the latest deal is holding on there have been reports of recurring violations.

South Sudan slid into civil war in December 2013, in a falling out between President Salva Kiir and his then deputy-turned-rebel-leader Riek Machar.

A peace deal signed in August 2015 under a mediation by IGAD, was short lived as Machar fled the capital Juba and entered the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) fearing for his life, sparking renewed fighting across the nascent nation.

“IGAD is dismayed at the reports of recurring violations of the Agreement on the Cessation of Hostilities, Protection of Civilians and Humanitarian Access,” IGAD’s Special Envoy to South Sudan Ambassador Ismail Weis said in a statement last week.

“The people of South Sudan are tired of war and violence. The rule of fear must end," he added, calling on all parties to respect the cease-fire.

  • Overblown concerns

James Morgan, South Sudan's ambassador to Ethiopia, told Anadolu Agency the fears of violation are overblown and do not represent the ground realities.

One of the obstacles coming in the way of implementation is the inability of fighters to stay in camps and not move about freely, a key provision of the cease-fire.

The ambassador said there have been delays in containing fighters in camps “but it is mainly due to financial constraints".

Last week, a joint monitoring commission claimed that there have been movements of armies seen in Yei River State, a concern which Morgan played down.

According to the UN, 1.74 million South Sudanese have been internally displaced by the conflict, while 2.47 million have sought refuge in neighboring countries.

Implementation of a peace agreement this time around seemed to be orderly with little complaints coming from the main opposition led by would-be First Vice President Machar.

But the process remain very fragile and stakes are very high.

Just last week, the government of Sudan announced resumption of petroleum production.

“Most of the closed oil fields have now resumed production [and] shortly we are expecting to produce one million barrels per day (1million barrels/day),” Morgan told Anadolu Agency.

“Once we do that, the financial problems facing us now would be resolved,” he said.

The eight-month pre-transition period of the peace deal will end in May when the Horn of Africa nation will move to the next phase — the Revitalized-Transitional Government of National Unity (R-TGoNU) — with Kiir as president and rebel leader Machar as first vice-president.

US sanctions ex-Israeli general over South Sudan

By Umar Farooq

WASHINGTON (AA) – The United States on Friday sanctioned three individuals, including former Israeli major general Israel Ziv, for their roles in South Sudan's civil war.

In a statement, the Treasury Department said Ziv and Obac William Olawo, a South Sudanese businessman, were being sanctioned for extending the conflict in the country.

Gregory Vasili, a South Sudanese national, was sanctioned for undermining "peace, stability, and security in South Sudan."

"Ziv used an agricultural company that was nominally present in South Sudan to carry out agricultural and housing projects for the Government of South Sudan as a cover for the sale of approximately $150 million worth of weapons to the government, including rifles, grenade launchers, and shoulder-fired rockets," read the statement.

The department said that Ziv had been paid through the oil industry and has been in close contact with a multi-national oil firm.

"While Ziv maintained the loyalty of senior Government of South Sudan officials through bribery and promises of security support, he has also reportedly planned to organize attacks by mercenaries on South Sudanese oil fields and infrastructure, in an effort to create a problem that only his company and affiliates could solve."

The U.S. designated that the ex-general owns or controls the entities Global N.T.M Ltd, Global Law Enforcement and Security Ltd, and Global IZ Group Ltd.

The U.S. said it is targeting individuals who "provided soldiers, armored vehicles, and weapons used to fuel the conflict in South Sudan."

South Sudan became the youngest nation in the world when it declared independence from Sudan following a referendum in 2011.

The country slid into civil war in mid-December 2013, when there was a fallout between incumbent President Salva Kiir and his then deputy-turned-rebel-leader Riek Machar.

The conflict in South Sudan has led to nearly 400,000 deaths.

According to the UN, 1.74 million South Sudanese have been internally displaced by the conflict, while 2.47 million have sought refuge in neighboring countries.

While a peace deal was signed in 2015, it was short-lived when Machar fled to the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), and fighting quickly spread across the nascent nation.

South Sudan rebel leader Machar to arrive in Juba

By Tufan Aktas and Addis Getachew

ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia (AA) – South Sudan’s main rebel leader Riek Machar will arrive in the country’s capital Juba on Wednesday, his spokesman said on Tuesday.

This came on the heels of the Revitalized Agreement on the Resolution of Conflict in South Sudan signed in the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa in September by the warring parties, including the government and the main rival.

This is the first time he would travel to Juba in two years before becoming the country’s First Vice President of a new 36-month transition period ahead of elections.

“We hope that all will go well in Juba so that we catch up with the timeline as far as the peace implementation is concerned,” said Lam Paul Gabriel, Machar's spokesman.

South Sudan slid into civil war since mid-December 2013, in a fallout between incumbent President Salva Kiir and his then deputy-turned-rebel-leader Riek Machar.

A peace deal signed in August 2015 under a mediation by Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD), was short-lived as Machar fled Juba and entered Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) in fear of his life in mid-2016, which saw renewed fighting quickly spread across the nascent nation.

According to the UN, 1.74 million South Sudanese have been internally displaced by the conflict, while 2.47 million have sought refuge in neighboring countries.