South Sudan hails China’s support to health sector

South Sudan hails China’s support to health sector

Source: Xinhua

Igga said Beijing has provided medical equipment, capacity building to health workers and financial aid to improve South Sudan’s health infrastructure.

The deputy president made the remarks on Wednesday during a visit to the China-aided project for the expansion and modernization of South Sudan’s main public health facility, the Juba Teaching Hospital, which is expected to be completed by September.

nile explorer south sudan

South Sudan’s Deputy President James Wani Igga (C) addresses journalists during a visit to the Juba Teaching Hospital in Juba, capital of South Sudan, May 22, 2019. Phase one of the 33 million U.S. dollars medical assistance provided by the Chinese government to improve South Sudan’s health sector will be completed by September 2019. (Xinhua/Gale Julius)

Riek Gai Kok, South Sudan’s health minister, said the China-aided Kiir Mayardit Women’s Hospital in the central town of Rumbek will also be complete next month. He hailed the medical collaboration Juba and Beijing have had since 2011.

Hua Ning, Chinese Ambassador to South Sudan promised to channel more development support to South Sudan because of the prevailing peace.

“We hope that as peace finally comes to South Sudan, we will have more hospitals for the people of South Sudan,” Hua said.

South Sudan is already benefiting from a grant of about 33 million U.S. dollars provided by the Chinese government in 2013 to modernize and expand health facilities in the country that has greatly improved health care across South Sudan.

nile explorer south sudan

Photo taken on April 16, 2019 shows a building under construction in Juba, South Sudan. The project is part of a 33 million U.S. dollar medical assistance provided by the Chinese government to improve South Sudan’s health sector. Phase one of the China-aided project which kicked off in November 2017 is nearing completion. (Xinhua/Gale Julius)

SOUTH SUDAN’s REVITALIZED AGREEMENT IS ON HEALTHY START AND HOLDING IT’S GROUNDS

SOUTH SUDAN’s REVITALIZED AGREEMENT IS ON HEALTHY START AND HOLDING IT’S GROUNDS

Fresh civil war erupted in Juba on 15 December 2013, causing heavy civilian casualties. The war spread to other parts of the country as the power struggle within the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM) and took a nose dive into the military and the general public. As the war progressed, it took ethnic dimensions pitting the Dinka and Nuer residing largely in Juba. The war was predictable but the magnitude of the violence was unforeseen as it quickly spread from Juba, Bor, Malakal, Akobo, and Bentiu. There were revenge and counter-revenge from both sides of the conflict. Immediately, in January 2014, the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) intervened to stop the violence and broker a negotiated peaceful settlement within the context of the conflict. Eventually, and on 12 September 2018, the South Sudanese political parties: the SPLM, SPLM IO and South Sudan Opposition Alliance (SSOA), signed the Revitalized Agreement on Resolutions of Conflict in the Republic of South Sudan (R-ARCSS). These parties to the R-ARCSS have so far shown their commitment to it as compared to the previous peace agreements (ARCSS 2015 in point) which ended up in a brutal violence and total failure.
The focus has now shifted to the implementation of the R-ARCSS. The R-ARCSS has provisions for eight months pre-transition leading to the formation of Transitional Government of National Unity (TGoNU). The TGoNU shall run for a period of three years under which a new constitution will be made and government structures put in place. There shall be institutional and security sector reforms that will make government small, effective and efficient. Reforms will be directed at the public sector but most importantly putting governance institutions in place. The implementation phase requires all parties to collectively pull in the same direction and ensure the process is carried out to a successful conclusion.

The immediate challenge is hence security. The security challenge is complex to deal with in a period of three years given the history of the liberation struggle within SPLM/A and lack of documentation on liberation cadres within the formal and informal military ranks. The process of creating a new South Sudan Defense Forces and the criteria of inclusion and exclusion is a negotiated agenda. It also carries with it political risks of more violence from those who might not be accommodated within the new People’s Defense Forces (PDF). Thus, security sector reforms must encompass vocational training and recruitment of cadres in other security agencies such as police, wildlife, prisons, and national security among others. Security sectors reforms also have both lateral and horizontal implications since the number of generals shall be drastically reduced and redeployment and training of others in military academies to take new roles within the restructured South Sudan People’s Defense Forces (SSPDF). The success of security sector reforms shall equally guarantee success in other sectors and state institutions.

Security sector reforms remain the most controversial and basic source of ensuring peace in South Sudan. The six national security services (SPLA, South Sudan National Police, National security intelligence, South Sudan National Prison, National Wildlife, and Fire Brigade) have to be restructured, reformed and professionalized. Above all, they have to be put under government administration for accountability and strict monitoring and supervision. In the past, the central focus has been the reconstruction and undertaking of security reforms solely focusing on SPLA instead of whole security sector reforms. Whereas there have been policy documents of security sector reforms such as the transformation program (2012-2017), very little has been achieved. Security agencies are largely a reflection and damping ground of SPLA and its affiliated militias. The starting point would be a comprehensive undertaking or review of the security sector to determine force strength, capacity, skills and competencies and then right size through alignment with resources and in a manner that takes into consideration emerging security threats in South Sudan and globally. The specific objective of undertaking sector reforms is to professionalize the six security agencies while making them independent of the executive and SPLA. Most importantly is to place them under civilian control. Finally, the general objective would be to strengthen civilian oversight role internally and externally. The security sector should be undertaken also as part of greater institutional reforms.

South Sudan faces serious humanitarian crises in diverse forms- Internally displaced persons, refugees, and over seven million facing starvation across the country. There are those physically challenged, injured, traumatized, and civilian deaths with attendants effects socially manifested in IDP camps where direct and indirect effects of the war are widespread and notable. The humanitarian tasks involve high social movement and mass resettlement of people. More often than not, diseases such as measles, cholera, and meningitis take the heavy toll on women and children in a distressful environment and conditions. What is more, it requires huge international support from humanitarian agencies to resettle refugees and internally displaced persons even as the state seeks a lasting solution to the problem largely associated with war and legacy of war.
The revamping of the economy is equally important if not the most important variable in realizing and implementing the peace process. Besides the oil economy that contributes to 98% of national revenue, other sectors of the economy have been neglected. Agriculture, animal husbandry, minerals, and tourism have the potential to transform the economy and create jobs for the youth. It is worth noting high youth unemployment and security implications, especially when coupled with high inflation and low productivity. Indeed, the revitalized peace agreement placed more emphasis on sharing oil resources and revamping the oil infrastructure at the expense of diversification of the economy and food security. Prudent management of oil resources and diversification of the economy would generate revenue that might transform sectors such as health, education, delivery of social services and infrastructure to link the country both horizontally and vertically.

The success of the peace agreement would depend also on the caliber of the constitution negotiated within the transitional period of three years. The constitution requires taking into consideration a federal system of government and control of resources by devolved units to allow the central government to concentrate on foreign policy, defense national security. The aim would be to introduce many centers of power and control of resources placed at the hands of the local populace. What is important however is not to weaken the state but allow the state to play its traditional role.

Finally, peace is expensive and require support beyond national borders. The peace agreement would need the support of the whole world and especially countries with significant investments and other interests in South Sudan. The primary focus should remain the interests of South Sudanese to realize and reap peace dividends.

By Aldo Ajou Deng Akuey

Want to help save African wildlife? Visit Africa.

Want to help save African wildlife? Visit Africa.

Nairobi — Standing in the pop-out of a Land Rover just a few yards from Fatu and Najin, the last two northern white rhinos in the world, at Ol Pejeta in central Kenya, was one of the most powerful experiences I’ve ever had.

The last two massive members of this subspecies live under armed guard 24 hours a day in a 700-acre enclosure here. Ol Pejeta is the largest rhino sanctuary in East Africa.

In an era when purpose-driven, transformative experiences are the ultimate travel luxury, a visit to Africa should be at the top of any traveler’s list.

Americans are often inspired by African wildlife: there was outrage two years ago when Cecil the lion was shot by a hunter in Zimbabwe; the Trump administration took heat last year when it said it would overturn a ban on the sale of elephant trophy imports from Africa; and in March, when the last male northern white rhino, Sudan, died here at the Ol Pejeta Conservancy, the severity of rhino poaching got international attention.

For those who really want to help save African wildlife, I offer the same advice that Elodie Sampere, Ol Pejeta’s head of conservation marketing, gave to the group of journalists I was traveling with: “The best way to help is to visit, not donate.”

One of the most exciting parts of being here is seeing what the locals are doing to help conserve and protect the continent’s iconic species. Donating to causes from afar helps, but spending money in person shows the local communities that the animals are more valuable alive than dead. And in a selfie-driven era, visitors spread the word far more effectively about the importance of saving these delicate ecosystems.

Beyond that, experiences here can be life-changing, as mine were at Ol Pejeta. More than 85,000 visitors come here annually, taking game drives through Ol Pejeta’s plains, where I encountered elephants, lions and chimpanzees. The high amount of rainfall in this region compared with other parts of Africa means more vegetation, and Kenya’s highest density of wildlife outside of the Maasai Mara. The reserve uses advanced fencing techniques to facilitate the movement of wildlife while, as much as possible, keeping poachers out.

Visitors can either stay at a number of lodges on the conservancy or nearby, as we did, at the Fairmont Mount Kenya. Tour operators like Intrepid Travel offer trips that focus on visiting the last two northern white rhinos and donate part of their profits to protecting them.

Guests at the Fairmont Mount Kenya don’t even have to leave the property to get a taste of animal conservancy. The resort’s founder, 1950s film star William Holden, was a hunter turned conservationist who also founded the onsite Mount Kenya Wildlife Conservancy, which raises and rehabilitates orphaned and injured wildlife with the goal of releasing them back into the wild.

You can get far more up close and personal with cheetahs at the conservancy’s orphanage than you would in the wild. And cyclists setting off from the resort through the conservancy can see the rare white zebras, which are being bred and hopefully released back to the wild, as well as the mountain bongo, one of the most endangered animals in the world.

By Johanna Jainchill

Qatar lifts exit visa system for migrant workers

Qatar lifts exit visa system for migrant workers

By BRIAN NGUGI

Hundreds of African migrants employed in Qatar as domestic workers, cleaners, drivers and chefs can now come back home freely after the Middle East nation abolished its controversial exit visa system, which requires foreigners to obtain their bosses’ permission to exit the country.

Qatar authorities said on Sunday the “Law No 13 of 2018… regulating the entry, exit and residency of expatriates would be implemented effective this week.

Kenya on Monday welcomed the move saying it raises hope of an end to mistreatment of locals seeking bread and butter in Qatar. It asked other middle east nations to follow suit.

“It is a welcome development of putting to an end a heinous and outmoded system that has sinister echoes of a dark and oppressive time of shackled labour and slavery,” Kenya’s Foreign Affairs Principal Secretary Macharia Kamau said in an interview yesterday.

“We welcome the development and hope that Qatar’s enlightened leadership will resonate across the Arab Middle East, where similar systems of denial of free passage of peoples and labour continues to cause great difficulties and suffering among migrant workers and even some professionals,” Mr Kamau said.

Kenya has over the years called for abolition of the exit visa system as it had long been abused by employers who would confiscate passports of workers.

Most Kenyan migrants are employed as domestic workers and are vulnerable to abuse, exploitation, violence, rape and sometimes murder.

Many of them who have returned home from Qatar and other Middle East nations have come back with harrowing tales of mistreatment, torture and abuse by their employers, with many blaming the exit visa system for their predicaments.

But under the new law, all but five per cent of a company’s workforce-reportedly those in the most senior positions-can leave without prior permission from employers.

Those not allowed to exit Qatar “for any reason” can file a complaint to the Expatriate Exit Grievance Committee that will “take a decision within three working days”, the Qatar ministry was quoted as saying.

Employment contracts involving migrant workers in the Middle East are based on the ancient Bedouin principle of kafala, which many liken to modern-day slavery.

What was once essentially a code of hospitality – that encouraged families to host travelling strangers and treat them as one of their own – has evolved into the sponsorship of migrant workers, which gives employers enormous control over their employees. Common practices include the withholding of wages, confiscation of passports and long working hours in substandard or inhuman conditions.

Domestic workers, who are obliged to live in their employer’s homes, are particularly vulnerable to physical abuse, sexual violence and various forms of mental cruelty, while the almost total lack of labour laws for migrants provides little scope for redress.

Kenya in September 2014 announced a ban on export of labour to Middle East countries but later lifted it last year after instituting reforms that included vetting of recruitment agencies.

In 2013, the Kenyan embassy in Riyadh rescued more than 800 Kenyans languishing in Saudi jails.

Source – Daily Nation

As Trump Closes the Door on Refugees, Uganda Welcomes Them

As Trump Closes the Door on Refugees, Uganda Welcomes Them

 

ARUA, Uganda — President Trump is vowing to send the military to stop migrants trudging from Central America. Europe’s leaders are paying African nations to block migrants from crossing the Mediterranean — and detaining the ones who make it in filthy, overcrowded camps.

But Solomon Osakan has a very different approach in this era of rising xenophobia. From his uncluttered desk in northwest Uganda, he manages one of the largest concentrations of refugees anywhere in the world: more than 400,000 people scattered across his rural district.

He explained what he does with them: Refugees are allotted some land — enough to build a little house, do a little farming and “be self-sufficient,” said Mr. Osakan, a Ugandan civil servant. Here, he added, the refugees live in settlements, not camps — with no barbed wire, and no guards in sight.

“You are free, and you can come and go as you want,” Mr. Osakan added.

As many nations are securing their borders and turning refugees away, Uganda keeps welcoming them. And they keep coming, fleeing catastrophes from across this part of Africa.

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Solomon Osakan, a government official who manages refugee issues, worries about maintaining harmony between migrants and host communities.CreditNichole Sobecki for The New York Times

In all, Uganda has as many as 1.25 million refugees on its soil, perhaps more, making it one of the most welcoming countries in the world, according to the United Nations.

And while Uganda’s government has made hosting refugees a core national policy, it works only because of the willingness of rural Ugandans to accept an influx of foreigners on their land and shoulder a big part of the burden.

Uganda is not doing this without help. About $200 million in humanitarian aid to the country this year will largely pay to feed and care for the refugees. But they need places to live and small plots to farm, so villages across the nation’s north have agreed to carve up their communally owned land and share it with the refugees, often for many years at a time.

“Our population was very few and our community agreed to loan the land,” said Charles Azamuke, 27, of his village’s decision in 2016 to accept refugees from South Sudan, which has been torn apart by civil war. “We are happy to have these people. We call them our brothers.”

South Sudanese refugees and Ugandans gathering fruit after working in the fields in Mireyi, Uganda.CreditNichole Sobecki for The New York Times

United Nations officials have pointed to Uganda for its “open border” policy. While the United States, a much more populous nation, has admitted more than three million refugees since 1975, the American government settles them in the country after they have first been thoroughly screened overseas.

By contrast, Uganda has essentially opened its borders to refugees, rarely turning anyone away.

Some older Ugandans explain that they, too, had been refugees once, forced from their homes during dictatorship and war. And because the government ensures that spending on refugees benefits Ugandans as well, younger residents spoke of how refugees offered them some unexpected opportunities.

“I was a farmer. I used to dig,” Mr. Azamuke said. But after learning Arabic from refugees from South Sudan, he got a better job — as a translator at a new health clinic that serves the newcomers.

His town, Ofua, is bisected by a dirt road, with the Ugandans living on the uphill side and the South Sudanese on the downhill side. The grass-thatched homes of the Ugandans look a bit larger and sturdier, but not much.

Josephine Bako, 13, was adopted by her aunt, Queen Chandia, after her parents died in South Sudan.CreditNichole Sobecki for The New York Times

As the sun began to set one recent afternoon, a group of men on the Ugandan side began to pass around a large plastic bottle of waragi, a home brew. On the South Sudanese side, the men were sober, gathered around a card game.

On both sides, the men had nothing but tolerant words for one another. “Actually, we don’t have any problems with these people,” said Martin Okuonzi, a Ugandan farmer cleaning his fingernails with a razor blade.

As the men lounged, the women and girls were still at work, preparing dinner, tending children, fetching water and gathering firewood. They explained that disputes did arise, especially as the two groups competed for limited resources like firewood.

“We’ve been chased away,” said Agnes Ajonye, a 27-year-old refugee from South Sudan. “They say we are destroying their forests.”

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A crew building the foundation for a nursery school in Imvepi, Uganda. The government ensures that spending on refugees benefits Ugandans as well.CreditNichole Sobecki for The New York Times

And disputes broke out at the well, where Ugandan women insist they should be allowed to skip ahead of refugees.

“If we hadn’t given you the land you live on, wouldn’t you be dying in Sudan?” said Adili Chandia, a 62-year-old refugee, recounting the lecture she and others got from a frustrated Ugandan woman waiting in line.

Ugandan officials often talk about the spirit of Pan-Africanism that motivates their approach to refugees. President Yoweri Museveni, an autocratic leader who has been in power for 32 years, says Uganda’s generosity can be traced to the precolonial days of warring kingdoms and succession disputes, when losing factions often fled to a new land

This history of flight and resettlement is embedded in some of the names of local groups around western Uganda, like Batagwenda, which means “the ones that could not continue traveling.”

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Samuel Lagu set aside five acres in Mireyi for a rice venture in which South Sudanese refugees and Ugandans work side by side.CreditNichole Sobecki for The New York Times

The government encourages the nation to go along with its policy by directing that 30 percent of foreign aid destined for refugees be spent in ways that benefit Ugandans nearby. So when money for refugees results in new schools, clinics and wells, Ugandans are more likely to welcome than resent them.

For Mr. Museveni, hosting refugees has given him relevance and political capital abroad at a time when he would otherwise have little.

A former guerrilla fighter who quickly stabilized much of his country, Mr. Museveni was once hailed as an example of new African leadership. He was relatively quick to confront the AIDS epidemic, and he invited back Ugandans of Indian and Pakistani descent who had been expelled during the brutal reign of Idi Amin in the 1970s.

But his star has fallen considerably. He has clung to power for decades. His security forces have beaten political opponents. Freedom of assembly and expression are severely curtailed.

Students carrying a blackboard outside Imvepi Primary School.CreditNichole Sobecki for The New York Times

Even so, Uganda’s openness toward refugees makes Mr. Museveni important to European nations, which are uneasy at the prospect of more than a million refugees heading for Europe.

Other African nations also host a significant number of refugees, but recent polls show that Ugandans are more likely than their neighbors in Kenya or Tanzania to support land assistance or the right to work for refugees.

Part of the reason is that Ugandans have fled their homes as well, first during the murderous reign of Mr. Amin, then during the period of retribution after his overthrow, and again during the 1990s and 2000s, when Joseph Kony, the guerrilla leader who terrorized northern Uganda, left a trail of kidnapped children and mutilated victims.

Many Ugandans found refuge in what is today South Sudan. Mark Idraku, 57, was a teenager when he fled with his mother to the area. They received two acres of farmland, which helped support them until they returned home six years later.

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Agnes Ajonye gathered hibiscus leaves for tea in a settlement in Ofua in northwestern Uganda.CreditNichole Sobecki for The New York Times

“When we were in exile in Sudan, they also helped us,” Mr. Idraku said. “Nobody ever asked for a single coin.”

Mr. Idraku has since returned the favor, loaning three acres to a South Sudanese refugee named Queen Chandia, 37. Ms. Chandia said the land — along with additional plots other Ugandans allow her to farm — has made all the difference.

Her homestead of thatched-roof huts teemed with children tending their chores, grinding nuts into paste and maize into meal. Ms. Chandia is the mother of a girl and two boys. But over the years, as violence hollowed out her home country, Ms. Chandia started taking in the orphaned children of relatives and friends. Now 22 children call her “mom.”

A refugee for nearly her entire life, Ms. Chandia arrived in Uganda as a young girl nearly 30 years ago. For years, she worried about being expelled.

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A goat shelter on the land being used by Queen Chandia. She said the donated land has made all the difference.CreditNichole Sobecki for The New York Times

“Maybe these Ugandans will change their minds on us,” she said, describing the thought that plagued her. Then one day the worry stopped.

But Mr. Osakan, the administrator who oversees refugee affairs in the country’s extreme northwest, is anxious. There is an Ebola outbreak over the border in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Mr. Osakan fears what might happen if — or when — a refugee turns up in Uganda with the dreaded illness.

“It would destroy all the harmony between refugees and host communities,” he said, explaining that it would probably lead to calls to seal the border.

For now, the border is very much open, although the number of refugees arriving has fallen significantly. In one of the newer settlements, many of the refugees came last year, fleeing an attack in a South Sudanese city. But some complained about receiving too little land, about a quarter acre per family, which is less than previous refugees had received.

“Even if you have skills — in carpentry — you are not given a chance,” said one refugee, Simon Ludoru. He looked over his shoulder, to where a construction crew was building a nursery school. The schoolhouse would teach both local Ugandan and South Sudanese children together, but the workers were almost entirely Ugandan, he said.

At the construction site, the general contractor, Sam Omongo, 50, said he had hired refugees for the job. “Oh, yes,” he exclaimed.

How many?

“Not a lot, actually,” he acknowledged. “I have about three.” Mr. Omongo called one over.

“Are you a refugee?” Mr. Omongo asked the slight man.

“No, I’m from Uganda,” he said softly. His name was Amos Chandiga, 28. He lived nearby and owned six acres of land, though he worked only four of them. He had lent the other two to a pair of refugees.

“They asked me, and I gave it to them,” Mr. Chandiga explained. He patted his chest. “It comes from here, in my heart.”

Sources – New York Times

 

DRC: Opposition supporters protest against voting machines

DRC: Opposition supporters protest against voting machines

In Kinshasa, the capital of the Democratic Republic of Congo, DRC, a few thousand demonstrators travelled about 7 km on Boulevard Lumumba, one of the city’s main roads.

The opposition supporters in the DRC are denouncing potential fraud in the December elections, which will mark Joseph Kabila’s departure after 18 years in power.

The demonstrations were also aimed at the removal of more than ten million registered voters without fingerprints from the electoral register by the electoral commission.

It is a great show of strength by the Congolese people who refuse the voting machine, who refuse the corrupt electoral register and who want good elections. And as a leader with the people in harmony, in unison, we walked today to say no to electoral fraud.

The opposition considers that these South Korean-made machines will encourage fraudulence during these elections, which must name President Kabila’s successor in a country that has never experienced a peaceful transition since its independence in 1960.

Source – AFP