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.

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.

Peter Mayen’s wife files for divorce over her husband’s “reckless behavior”

Minister of Humanitarian Affairs and Disaster Management Peter Mayen Majongdit | Photo: File

Thessherald—The wife of Peter Mayen Majongdit, Minister of Humanitarian Affairs and Disaster Management, has filed for divorce a day after her husband fired three shots in the air to disrupt a women’s soccer match on Saturday.

According to a reliable source, the wife insisted that she must file for divorce due to what she described as “reckless behavior” by her husband, who currently holds a public office in the unity government.

Mayen was trying to forcibly take his wife off the pitch while playing when he was stopped by security guards deployed at the stadium.

This is not the first time the Minister has been in the limelight over abuse of power and malfeasance in office.

Last year, Mayen traded blows with individuals after defaulting on outstanding debts, sparking an uproar on social media.

Mayen was appointed in March 2020, in line with the implementation of the peace agreement signed in 2018.

Breaking: Lungechuk commissioner, his delegation involved in deadly accident

Thessherald—The commissioner of Lungechuk County, Dak Tut Dey, and his accompanying delegation were involved in a deadly car accident this morning between Paloich and Lungechuk.

Tut and other senior government officials were traveling to Longechuk County, Upper Nile State, when their vehicles veered off the road and overturned while traveling at extremely high speed.

Among those involved in that horrible car accident are:

1) Commissioner of Lungechuk County, Dak Tut Dey

2) Hon Kech Nguoth Tiem, Minister of Parliamentary and Legal Affairs

3) Hon Duop Nhial Teny, Chairperson of Peace Commission

4) Hon Ruon Puok Deng, Adviser for Human Rights

5) Paul Biel Chuol, Former Commissioner of Maiwut County.

They were airlifted to the capital, Juba for urgent treatment and surgeries.

Health Minister takes lead on COVID-19 jab, urges leaders to follow suit

The Minister of Health Elizabeth Achuei Yol receives her first dose of Covid-19 vaccine | Photo: File

The Minister of Health, Elizabeth Achuei Yol, has received her first dose of the Covid-19 vaccine and urged the country’s leaders to do the same. She’s the first person in the country to be vaccinated against the virus.

In the coming weeks and months, all frontline health workers in South Sudan will be offered the vaccine through a national vaccination campaign. Subsequently, people with co-morbidities and people above 65 years of age will also be offered the vaccine. 25 March 2021, South Sudan received 132,000 doses of the Astra Zeneca COVID-19 vaccine through the COVAX facility.

“The first phase of the vaccination is conducted in Central Equatoria State targeting health care workers as well as persons aged 65 years and older, given their increased risk of severe disease and death due to a potential COVID-19 infection”, said Minister of Health Hon Elizabeth Achuei. “The aim of the roll out of the COVID-19 vaccine is to protect the prioritized groups against COVID-19”.

South Sudan aims at vaccinating 40 per cent of its population against COVID-19. The COVAX facility has committed to providing half of the required doses meaning 732,000 doses in total. Therefore, the vaccination must be done in phases as the vaccines arrive.

“This is a significant moment for the people of South Sudan. “said Patience Musanhu, Gavi Senior Country Manager for South Sudan. “By protecting the most vulnerable groups, we can save lives, take pressure off health systems and ease the economic burden brought on by the pandemic.”

A person being vaccinated with the Astra Zeneca vaccine requires two doses to ensure optimal immune response against the COVID-19 virus. The COVID-19 vaccination in South Sudan will be provided on a voluntary basis and free of charge. All people receiving the vaccine will be asked to consent prior to being vaccinated.

“The COVID-19 vaccination marks an important step towards control of COVID-19 in South Sudan, which pose a threat to our well-being”, said Dr Fabian Ndenzako, WHO Representative a.i. for South Sudan. “Safe, effective, and quality vaccines for COVID-19 are our best hope for bringing the pandemic under control, together with other public health interventions, such as physical distancing, washing hands and mask use”.

Over several months, COVAX partners have supported governments and partners, particularly in low-income countries including South Sudan, to prepare for the vaccination roll-out. This includes assisting with the development of national vaccination plans, supporting cold chain infrastructure, as well as stockpiling of half a billion syringes and safety boxes for their disposal, masks, gloves and other equipment to ensure that there is enough equipment for health workers to start vaccinating priority groups as soon as possible.

“If there is one lesson we can draw from the pandemic, it is that we need more partnerships like these in the world,” said the UNICEF South Sudan Representative Hamida Lasseko. “UNICEF is proud to have made vaccine deliveries all over the world including South Sudan on behalf of COVAX. Children in South Sudan are now safer because the warm hands of health workers are safer through vaccination.

Latest: Archbishop Paul Lukudu passes away in Nairobi

A well-known and outspoken Catholic Emeritus Archbishop of Juba Diocese, His Grace, Paulino Lukudu Loro, has died in the capital, Nairobi after battling an illness.

“The Lord is my shepherd…Even were I to walk in the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no danger, for you are at my side… (Ps 23:1.8). My brothers and sisters in Christ and fellow-citizens of our great nation.

“I, your shepherd, by God’s will and design, bring to you the saddest news of my entire life-time: My predecessor and Father, His Grace Archbishop Paolino Lukudu Loro, a star that ceaselessly was shining over our church and nation for well over thirty years has this morning flickered out in the Kenyan Capital City of Nairobi.”

“This tragic and saddest of all news will not affect only the church but indeed the wider community of our South Sudan society.”

In a statement, the Archbishop of Juba declared three days of mourning in honor of Archbishop Paulino Lucudo Loro until the beginning of the Requiem Mass.

“I therefore announce, beginning as of today, a 4-day mourning period for His Grace Archbishop Paolino Lukudu Loro. Further pieces of information on the content of the mourning period will be announced as soon as they are available.”

“Eternal rest grant unto him, Oh Lord, and let your perpetual light shine upon him. May he rest in peace. Amen Eternal rest grant unto him, Oh Lord, and let your perpetual light shine upon him. May he rest in peace. Amen Eternal rest grant unto him, Oh Lord, and let your perpetual light shine upon him. May he rest in peace.”

Peter Biar: “Kiir is illegitimate, he will be removed like Charles Taylor”

President Salva Kiir Mayardit | Photo: File

Responding to the recent statement issued by Kiir’s office, the South Sudanese human rights defender, Peter Biar Ajak, says the current incumbent President, Salva Kiir Mayardit is too illegitimate to rule the country and should have been dethroned.

Greetings to the people of South Sudan. I am sure by now you have seen the clear intentions of Juba. Minister Nhial Deng Nhial’s response to my testimony has only confirmed the validity of the points that I raised.

Biar said the government’s decision to withhold long-awaited General Elections is the tip of the iceberg and a sign that the parties are not ready to allow the people of South Sudan to choose their next leader.

“They want to continue to rule the country without allowing our people to have a say. This is what they want to accomplish through a crash-22 situation. They don’t want to hold elections because the country is in conflict and the peace agreement is yet to be implemented. But at the same time – they deliberately create the conflict and drag their feet when it comes to the implementation of the peace agreement.”

“So by default, elections will never happen because that’s their intention.
So, you people of South Sudan must realize this. You have a legitimate government that was never elected by the people of South Sudan – that wants to use the conflict as an excuse to forever rule there.”

The human rights defender says that Kiir has become illegitimate and does not have any mandate to run the country.

“This is not the first time. This is why the election was extended in 2015 and extended again in 2018 — and now they’re arguing again for another extension. So, it’s very clear, the objective is to perpetrate corrupt rule so that continue to steal from you, kill you and displace you. So, let me repeat, Kiir was never elected. He’s an illegitimate president.”

“They only thing that is keeping him in power is the peace agreement; and the peace agreement requires that elections be held by March 2022. If that time comes and has not held any election—his illegitimate regime and will have expired.”

“So, the choice is this, hold the elections and do whatever you want to do and, implementation the agreement or by that time we will demand a Liberian model… Just like Charles Taylor was removed, Kiir will be removed, I assure you.”

The activist accused the Kiir administration of being responsible for the death of opposition officials, Dong Samuel Luak and Aggrey Idris, who were kidnapped by the National Security Services in Nairobi in 2016.

“Regarding the denial that they didn’t want to kill me, where’s Dong Samuel?… Where’s Aggrey Idris? — or didn’t you kidnap them, bring them to Blue House and kill them?. If you produce Dong Samuel and Aggrey Idris, you would have proved me a liar. Bring them and show them to us.”

Biar fled to the United States in July after accusing President Kiir of ordering him killed by a death squad, a claim vehemently denied by the South Sudanese government, which in turn accused him of seeking asylum in the Western world.

“No General Elections in 2022,” Kiir’s Office Declares

President Salva Kiir Mayardit | File Photo

Responding to allegations made by Peter Biar Ajak, the office of the president has said that, given the ongoing situation in the country, there will be no General Elections in 2022.

” During the recent US Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing on the State of Democracy in the World, Dr. Peter Biar Ajak testified making a series of largely unsubstantiated allegations against President Salva Kiir Mayardit and the Government of South Sudan. Some of these baseless claims merit a response,” the Office of the President denied Peter Biar’s unsubstantiated claims while testifying before the U.S. Senate on Foreign Relations.

On allegations of human rights violations committed by the notorious national security services, Kiir’s office said there is no concrete evidence that innocent civilians are killed on a daily basis in the country.

“The charge incessantly repeated by Dr. Ajak that he narrowly escaped death at the hands of South Sudanese Security agents in Nairobi, Kenya is patently false. All along meanwhile under detention in South Sudan for dangerous subversive activities, he was totally at the mercy of the Government. Yet, not only did he suffer no harm both physically and psychologically, but the very same President Salva Kiir Mayardit whom he continues to vilify, showed clemency and ordered his release after hardly serving any significant jail term following his lawful conviction by a competent court of law.”

“Having said that perhaps Dr. Ajak is entitled to sorme credit after all for this elaborate ruse, probably crafted with the help of his lawyers, to enable him instantaneously gain political asylum in the US as an applicant whose life was allegedly in immediate danger. In that he has succeeded with flying colors. On the mandate of President Kiir, Dr. Ajak asserts that the President assumed power upon the country’s independence as an appointed rather as an elected leader.”

“By this he insinuates, that as an unelected leader of independent South Sudan, President Kiir lacks legitimacy. Naturally the new political dispensation ushered in at South Sudan’s independence in July 2011, was an interim arrangement that could not conceivably start in a vacuum. The incumbent Government led by President Kiir had by necessity at the time, to be entrusted with the task of steering the country through transition to elections.”

“It is fanciful to think that the SPLM should have dispensed with and proceed to organize elections immediately upon the proclamation of independence. need for an interim period The unfortunate and tragic events of 2013 denied South Sudanese the opportunity of exercising their inalienable right to go the polls and elect their leaders in 2015 as originally envisaged.”

“Had elections gone ahead as planned, President Kiir and the SPLM would have undoubtedly sought the renewal of their mandate to run the country. It is regrettable that South Sudan missed the chance of holding elections, but that is not a credible basis upon which to brand the current Administration as a regime that is undemocratic and hence bereft of any legitimacy. Legitimacy does not stem from form but rather from substance or essence. When President Kiir was elected in 2010 as the President of the Government of Southern Sudan, those who cast their ballots for him are the very same South Sudanese who would have done so again had elections been held in 2015.”

“The fact that eligible South Sudanese voters voted in 2010 in the context of a united Sudan and were expected to vote again in 2015 as citizens of an independent South Sudan, does not affect one bit, the mandate they bestow upon whoever they vote into office.”

“The constitutional and political context in which they vote is immaterial for as long as the voters remain the same people. Therefore President Kiir’s right to lead South Sudan, at least till the next elections determine the post-transition power architecture, is undiminished.”

“Furthermore, the claim that democracy in South Sudan is being stifled is totally without merit. Responsibility Sharing (Power Sharing) during the Transitional Period among multiple political entities is the bedrock of the Revitalized Agreement on the Resolution of the Conflict in South Sudan (R-ARCSS) of September 2018.”

“These arrangements that have been embedded in the Agreement, constitute an eloquent manifestation of democracy in action. Therefore the Revitalized Transitional Government of National Unity (R-TGONU), by its very nature, is a recognition and full acceptance of the reality that South Sudan is irreversibly locked into a trajectory towards multi-party democracy.”

“The call for early elections in 2022, is again without justification. It must be borne in mind that the actual inauguration of the (R-TGONU) following conclusion of the Agreement in September, 2018 took some time. Hence the time lost must be recouped so that there is adequate time to complete all the tasks of the transition before elections are held.”

“Dr. Ajak himself would acknowledge the absolute necessity of first producing a Permanent Constitution and conducting a population census as indispensable pre-requisites to holding any credible elections. And since these two processes, especially adoption of the Permanent Constitution on the basis of which elections shall be held, and others require time, there is no plausible rationale to insist on rushing elections.”

Kiir presides over opening of CSE, urges students to embrace education

President Salva Kiir presides over the opening of the country’s secondary school leaving exams | PPU

Presiding over the opening of the country’s secondary school leaving exams, South Sudan’s President Salva Kiir Mayardit, has urged all students to embrace education in the country.

“I am very excited to be with you this morning to ring the bell that symbolizes the beginning of the 2020 Certificate of Secondary Education examinations, and to also wish you, the candidates who are sirting for this important examination the very best of luck. It is also an opportunity for me to sincerely thank the teachers who have worked tirelessly to prepare you for this important milestone.”

Kiir commends the tremendous efforts made by teachers to ensure that students realize their dreams.

“Given the challenges that our country has gone, and still going through, this day may have not arrived without the hard work from the institutions responsible for your education. We are here today because many people have spent countless hours to ensure that you, the candidates, sit for this examination.”

“For the work that has gone through your preparations, I would like to ask all South Sudanese to recognize your teachers, officials in the Ministry of Education, and their able Minister Hon. Awut Deng Acuil, who have worked collectively and tirelessly with all stakeholders to ensure your progress on educational ladder is not obstructed by the challenges facing the country.”

Kiir further praised the students for their outstanding performance despite the challenge they faced in their schools

“I was reliably informed that there are 34,536 candidates who are sitting for this examination. Out of this number there are 11,716 females and 22,820 males. This figure represents an increase of 20.4 % from 2019.”

“While more still needs to be done, this percentage increase is commendable and it did not come out of the blue. It came as the result of hard work from the officials in the Ministry and schools across the country. Again, thank you to the teachers and thank you to the officials in the ministry for this incredible work. With the return of peace, I would like to urge all South Sudanese to embrace the pursuit of education, because our ability to move our country forward lies in its transformative power.”

“Finally, to parents of the candidates who are taking this examination, we thank you for nurturing them, and also share in your joy in seeing them take this vital step in their progress along their educational journey. Continue giving them unconditional love and support in their preparation to be leaders of tomorrow. Once again, I wish all the candidates good health during this examinations period and the very best of luck. Thank you all and may God bless South Sudan.”

The ceremony was held at Juba Day Secondary School, and was attended by several senior government officials in Juba.

S. Sudan’s journalist commits suicide attempt over quarrelsome wife

South Sudan’s local journalist commits suicide attempt over his quarrelsome wife | Courtesy

Depressed, a South Sudanese journalist, Makur Chol Khor, took to social media on Sunday evening — announcing his death before police officers stormed his house and rescued him from a hanging noose.

“Dear friends, relatives, in-laws, work mates and country mates. Something is beyond my control in my life, she married to me and I give good care of her in all time we have spent and now she’s turning threats to my life. I’m ready to leave this world, you guys remain in peace,” said Chol in a Facebook post shared widely on social media.

Chol is a well-known journalist who has worked for a number of local and international news organizations in South Sudan.

He was a former Program Manager at Radio Jonglei 95.9 FM, South Sudan Broadcasting Corporation (SSBC) and the Voice of American (VOA).

Stress, that usually leads to depression and suicide can be effectively controlled by applying five stress management techniques, such as physical exercise, taking deep breaths, relaxing when stressed, and prioritizing your hobbies.

South Sudan’s government has no Crisis Helplines that play a key role in preventing suicide cases across the country.

Last year, the International Committee of the Red Cross noted that the number of suicides due to lack of services and violence has increased dramatically.

“October 10th marks World Mental Health Day, an untold number of people in South Sudan are struggling with depression, anxiety, and other mental health problems caused by conflict and violence and not receiving the support they need, especially in rural areas.”

“Mental health is just as important as physical health and more needs to be done to ensure that people have access to the care they need, and that they don’t face stigma for seeking help,” said Fiona Allan, the mental health and psychosocial support manager for the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) in South Sudan.

“In South Sudan, there are things that people fear to talk about,” said Thimon Ozinga Ismail, ICRC’s mental health and psychosocial support field officer in Juba. They fear that talking about mental issues can spoil the family history, the community or the clan history. They also fear that people will think they are wicked, mad, or that if they raise these issues, it would bring violence to their family.”

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