Maiwut Commissioner tours Jekow & Zinke, calls on displaced communities to return home

Hon. Bang Kawich and his accompanying delegation were warmly received upon arrival in Maiwut County, Upper Nile State | © Thessherald

Thessherald—The Commissioner of Maiwut County, Hon. Bang Kawich Deng has called on all displaced communities to return to their places of residence and resume their farming activities during the rainy season.

Kawich made the remarks while meeting with representatives and members of Chany and Wadu communities in Jekou and Zinke, respectively.

“I want to assure you that peace has returned to Maiwut — we are dealing with so many things at the moment but our top priority is to ensure that peace prevails in Maiwut.”

Hon. Bang Kawich

On the same note, Kawich urges international and national NGOs to intensify operations and provide life-saving humanitarian assistance in areas previously affected by inter-communal violence and armed conflicts.

Since assuming office on May 5, 2021 Kawich has been working around the clock to bring peace and stability in the area.

Maiwut is one of the nine Counties in Upper Nile State which was affected by the conflict between the rival forces of SPLA I-G and the SPLA –IO which occurred in July, 2017 in Pagak and within Maiwut.

This has led to mass displacements of the civilian population and some were forced to move to areas where they felt safe like Jekow and some IDPs had to cross the Ethiopia boarders where they were received by UNHCR and got settled as refugees in Tharpam Refugees Camps in Gambella, Ethiopia.

UNHCR commends South Sudan as first refugees receive COVID-19 vaccination

The first refugee receives Covid-19 jab in South Sudan | Photo: UNHCR

Thessherald—Refugees in South Sudan are receiving COVID-19 jabs during the rollout of the country’s national vaccination campaign, joining Ethiopia, Rwanda, Sudan and Uganda in including refugees in their COVID-19 vaccination plan in the East African Region. Today, 13 people, among them 10 refugees from the Gorom Refugee Settlement located some 20km outside of Juba and three members of the host community including one health worker visited the Buluk Police Hospital for their vaccine.

For vulnerable refugees, their inclusion in the national vaccination campaign could not have come soon enough, “I came to receive my first dose of COVID-19 vaccine, I feel very fine, there is no pain and the process is very simple,” shared Ojullu Ochan Ochan, a refugee from Ethiopia. “I encourage all refugees in South Sudan and the region including the host community to take the vaccine to protect themselves and their families” he added.

Health workers are among the group to receive the jab in line with the national vaccination plan of prioritizing frontline workers in the country. “I came today to take my COVID-19 vaccine in order to share my experience with others and bring home the message that I am doing very well and to encourage others to take the vaccine to protect themselves, their families and their communities,” explained Dut Yual Agoth, a volunteer health worker from the host community with UNHCR partner ACROSS.

Since the start of the pandemic, UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, in collaboration with its partners and the government, has scaled up its COVID-19 response activities to keep refugees, internally displaced people, returnees as well as the communities hosting them safe across South Sudan. Life-saving support such as boosting water and sanitation services, increasing access to healthcare including the renovation of health facilities and provision of ongoing regular services including nutrition programmes continued despite the pandemic.

The organization also provided three ambulances to state authorities, installed six COVID-19 testing machines in refugee settings in Maban, Jamjang, Makpandu, and in Yei, as well as airlifted various medical items including oxygen concentrators, portable ventilators, emergency supplies including soap. UNHCR also established two intensive care units in Maban and in Pariang, and COVID-19 isolation units in all refugee camps. Personal protective equipment such as masks, gloves, gowns, and sanitizers continue to be supplied to health facilities that are serving the forcibly displaced families across the country.

The roll-out of the national vaccination campaign has also heralded good news for students. Schools have reopened following more than one year of closure. Since March of 2020, UNHCR and education partners have supported remote learning for refugee and host community students, however in-class attendance and the joy of studying alongside friends everyday has been greatly missed. To support the reopening of in-person learning this May, UNHCR also made improvements to water and sanitation facilities in primary and secondary schools.

“Today, I wish to commend South Sudan for the continued generosity to include refugees as well as internally displaced people in the national preparedness and response plans since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic,” said UNHCR’s Representative, Arafat Jamal. “Safeguarding refugee health also protects the health of their host communities and wider society, and UNHCR is working with the Ministry of Health, the World Health Organisation, UNICEF and partners to support the roll-out in all refugee hosting locations.”

UNHCR participates in the National COVID-19 Steering Committee, headed by the Ministry of Health and the World Health Organization, and in its various technical working groups, headed by other partners in implementing the national COVID-19 preparedness and response plan including among forcibly displaced populations.

UNHCR reiterates that refugees, internally displaced and stateless people and their local host communities must be included on an equal footing with citizens in national responses to the pandemic, including public health access, vaccines, and social safety nets, and the South Sudan government has shown this.

Maiwut Commissioner, Deputy Governor discuss border issues with Gambella leaders

Deputy Governor of Upper Nile State, James Tor Monybuny and Governor of Gambella, Omot Ojulu Obub | © Thessherald

Thessherald–The Deputy Governor of Upper Nile State, James Tor Monybuny, Maiwut Commissioner, Hon. Bang Kawich Deng and other accompanying delegation traveled to Gambella on Friday, May 7, 2021 and discussed cross-border issues with Gambella regional leaders.

The three-hour meeting between leaders of neighboring states addressed issues related to cross-border trade, illicit arms smuggling, and among other pressing issues undermining regional peace and stability.

Speaking to the press after the meeting, Monybuny expressed his readiness to work hand-in-hand with the Gambella regional leaders in an attempt to restore peace and security between Upper Nile State and Gambella region.

“South Sudan is within our reach, and now we have an organized government that will deal with you directly…we were divided by the conflict and this has been very difficult for us to stop criminal acts along the border,” said James Tor Monybuny, Deputy Governor of Upper Nile State.

He also stressed the need to review Ethiopia’s federal policy prohibiting commercial items exported from Kuergeng to Pagak, and incidents of harassment of South Sudanese officials and diplomats at border posts. He commended the Ethiopian government for sheltering thousands of South Sudanese refugees and asylum seekers who fled the country in 2013.

Your Excellency, as you have mentioned earlier — indeed, we’re one people divided by regional boundaries. The people of South Sudan, particularly the people of Upper Nile and the people of Gambella, are one community. We are thankful that you have been hosting our refugees,” he pointed out.

According to the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, at the end of June 2020, Ethiopia hosted 342,765 refugees from South Sudan, of whom 319,130 were accommodated in seven camps in Gambella.

On the same note, the Commissioner of Maiwut county, Hon. Bang Kawich Deng, lauded the Ethiopian government for showing warm hospitality to the people of South Sudan when they were in desperate need of help. He also emphasized on the importance of allowing free movement of traders along the borders.

For his part, the Governor of Gambella region, Omot Ojulu Obub, warmly welcomed the South Sudanese delegation and expressed his willingness to re-open and ease some restrictive measures put in place by the federal government.

Maiwut Commissioner, Deputy Governor Accorded Warm Welcome In Maiwut

Hon. Bang Kawich Deng, Deputy Governor of Upper Nile State, James Tor Monybuny and former Minister of Higher Education Dr. John Gai Yoah accorded warm upon arrival | ©Thessherald

Thessherald–Maiwut Commissioner, Hon. Bang Kawich Deng, and his accompanying delegation were warmly welcomed on Wednesday, May 5, 2021 upon arrival in Maiwut County, Upper Nile state.

He was accompanied by the following senior government officials:

1) James Tor Monybuny, Deputy Governor of Upper Nile State

2) Dr. John Gai Yoah, Former Minister of Higher Education

3) Hon. Gatluak Liphoth Diew, Former Commissioner of Maiwut county

4) Pal Deng Kerweth, Minister of Finance in Upper Nile State

5) Gabriel Tut Gatchai, Upper Nile State SPLM Secretary

6) Hon. Bor Gatwech, Chief Whip | TNLA

7) Biel Jock Thich, Head of Northern Corridor in the Office of the President

8) Baruach Uloch, Former Minister of Information — defunct-Maiwut State

9) Hon. Changkuoth Bichiok, SSOA representative.

In an opening remark, Hon. Bang urges the people of Maiwut to put aside their differences and focus on bringing peace, love and stability in the county.

In the same development, the Deputy Governor of Upper Nile State, James Tor Monybuny, calls on Gajaak communities to embrace unity and peaceful co-existence in their respective places.

The reception ceremony brought together community leaders, church-based groups, NGOs representatives, students and traditional leaders.

Major-General James Ochan arrives in Maiwut, warm reception accorded

Thessherald—Major General James Ochan Puot, commander of the special forces and his accompanying delegation were warmly welcomed this morning upon their arrival in Maiwut, a remote area bordering South Sudan and Ethiopia.

He was accompanied by members of the press, including journalists working for the South Sudan Broadcasting Corporation (SSBC).

General Ochan, who’s currently in charge of Maiwut and its surrounding areas, had been in the capital, Juba since December last year.

Maiwut is one of the areas administered by the government under President Salva Kiir Mayardit.

South Sudan’s government and opposition Parties signed a peace agreement in 2018, aimed at ending protracted conflict that has killed more than 400,000 people and displaced millions from their homes.

On Monday, while releasing its quarterly report covering January and March, the R-JMEC expressed grave concern over the stalled implementation of the Permanent Ceasefire and Transitional Security Arrangements.

“Much remains to be done by the Revitalized Transitional Government of National Unity (RTGoNU) especially considering that less than two years remain in the Transitional Period as it was previously agreed upon,” the peace monitors stressed in a statement seen by Thessherald.

Kiir strongly condemns aimless shooting of Bishop-Elect Fr. Christian Carlassare

Statement on the Shooting of Bishop-Elect of Rumbek Diocese April 26. 2021

President Salva Kiir Mayardit condemns the shooting of Bishop-Elect Fr. Christian Carlassare in Lakes State | Photo: Courtesy

Thessherald—I have learned today with dismay the unfortunate incident that involved the Rt Rev. Christian Carlassare, Bishop elect of Rumbek Diocese, who was shot last night by the unidentified gunmen.

The reprehensible act of violence meted on him is unacceptable and it must stop. I call upon all South Sudanese to condemn the criminals who carried out this heinous crime in strongest terms possible. To ensure no such act is carried out against the clergy, I call upon authorities in Lake State to carry out an expeditious investigation that will lead to lawful apprehension and prosecution of criminals who perpetrated this crime.

If those who carried out this shameful act were doing so to intimidate the Church, they are sadly mistaken, The Catholic faithful Bishop Elect, Christian Carlassare, Was chosen to lead and authoritics in Lake State will stand by him and will not allow action of few criminals to affect die plans of ecclesiastical authority.

I pray for God to strengthen the Rt. Rev. Carlassare faith in serving our people so that he can come back to his flock with renewed determination to serve the faithful in the Diocese. I wish him speedy recovery. Salva Kiir Mayardit President, Republic of South Sudan Juba, South Sudan

Italian-born missionary shot twice in South Sudan

Newly elected Bishop of Rumbek Diocese, Fr. Christian Carlassare receives First-Aid treatment from AMREF’s Flying Doctors before being taken to Nairobi | Photo: Courtesy

Thessherald—An Italian-born missionary, Fr. Christian Carlassare, has been shot twice by unidentified gunmen in Rumbek, South Sudan, prompting nationwide condemnation on social media.

Fr. Christian Carlassare was recently appointed as the Catholic Bishop of Rumbek Diocese.

Speaking to the press on Monday, Lakes State Acting Information Minister William Kocji said that the unknown gunmen had ordered the bishop to open his door before they began shooting him twice in the legs.

The bishop was attacked by two gunmen who went to his residence at the church compound and asked him to open his door, after failing to open, they started shooting at the door before forcing their way in,” the state official said in a brief statement.

He’s currently receiving treatment in the Kenyan capital, Nairobi.

Since the country descended into conflict in mid-December 2013, Rumbek has been a hotbed and fertile ground for criminal activities.

The proliferation of illegal firearms in the hands of civilians continues to weaken and impede law enforcement efforts in the country.

Chad President Idriss Deby Itno Killed: Military

AP—Chadian President Idriss Deby Itno, who ruled the central African nation for more than three decades, was killed Tuesday amid clashes between rebels and security personnel, the country’s top military commander announced on national television and radio.

The stunning announcement came just hours after electoral officials had declared Deby the winner of the April 11 presidential election, paving the way for him to stay in power for six more years.

The circumstances of Deby’s death could not immediately be independently confirmed due to the remote location. It was not known why the president would have visited the area or participated in ongoing clashes with the rebels who opposed his rule.

UNKEA at forefront of serving vulnerable populations in flood-prone areas

Eligible groups of women, children and the elderly queue in Riang Payam, Ulang County waiting for their cash | Photo: UNKEA

Thessherald—Universal for Knowledge & Empowerment Agency, a Juba-based national organization, spares no effort in its endeavor to improve livelihoods of vulnerable populations in hard-to-reach and flood-prone areas.

Last year, as part of its efforts to boost resilience among rural communities, UNKEA distributed hundreds of goats to vulnerable and elderly people in Ulang county, Upper Nile state – one of the states hit hard by devastating floods.

According to the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), the situation in South Sudan remains extremely dire across the country with approximately 7 million or 60% of the population still struggling to find adequate food every day.

In November 2020, UNKEA provided cash transfers to eligible groups in Upper Nile State in a bid to meet their basic needs, such as access to food, healthcare and shelters.

A girl living with Achondroplasia /Dwarfism receives cash from UNKEA staff in Ulang county, Upper Nile State| Photo: UNKEA

It also provides free education to thousands of children deprived of decent education as a result of conflicts in South Sudan.

South Sudan, despite having achieved peace, continues to face numerous challenges with economic collapse being the most difficult problem affecting vulnerable populations across the country.

Juba returns to ancient darkness as JEDCO begins load-shedding

South Sudan’s capital, Juba is being affected as the nation’s power utility company, JEDCO, has begun load-shedding in certain areas, leaving residents in sombre moods. Earlier this week, the company announced that due to the ongoing shortage of hard currency in the country, JEDCO would have no choice but to conduct a rotating outage in Juba.

“Dear Valued Customers, JEDCO management has been informed by Ezra Construction & Development Group, that because of a lack of foreign currency and lack of commitment from other stakeholders, the power plant is in a critical state and cannot supply power at full capacity as usual. Consequently, JEDCO will be forced to start shedding power starting from midnight, 6 April 2021, until further notice. The affected areas with their respective power outage times are presented in the below table.”

“We once again sincerely apologize for the inconvenience and humbly request your patience and understanding. We’d like to further reassure our customers that JEDCO is working urgently with all the stakeholders to resolve the problem and resume regular services to our esteemed customers.”

On the same development, the African Development Bank distanced itself from the unilateral decision taken by JEDCO and its partner companies, saying that they are no longer responsible for the maintenance, distribution and operation of the electricity.

“This statement is to inform the general public that the African Development Bank Group is not involved in any decision-making regarding power shedding in Juba, South Sudan’s capital city. The African Development Bank Group wishes to clarify that the Bank has played no direct role in power generation in Juba and is not involved in any matters concerning the operation and maintenance of the electricity distribution networks in South Sudan.”

“The Bank funded the USD 38 million expansion and rehabilitation of the electricity distribution network in Juba. The project was primarily financed through a grant. It was implemented by the South Sudan Electricity Corporation, which is the power utility created by the Government.”

“The Corporation falls under South Sudan’s Ministry of Energy and Dams. On being commissioned in 2019, the African Development Bank-funded project significantly helped to restore electricity supply in the central business district. It has brought electricity to Juba homes, businesses, educational institutions and hospitals.”

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