Jikany, Padang leaders urge calm as ethnic violence rocks Upper Nile State

Former Governor of Upper Nile State, Simon Kun Puoch |Photo: Via Facebook

Leaders of Jikany and Padang communities are calling for peace in the wake of the recent revenge attacks that killed 12 people and left dozens wounded in Upper Nile State.

“The leaders of Jieng Padang and Jikany Nuer in the SPLM convened a briefed meeting at the SPLM House on 19th Jan 2021. Chaired by the former Governor of Upper Nile State Hon Simon Kun Puoch. This meeting was cognizance of the two incidents of attacks in Melut County in Upper Nile State.”

According to a statement extended by the former Speaker of Parliament of the now-defunct Maiwut state, Chuol Dep, the first attack took place on 13th Jan 2021, in Bai Ajak village, and is believed to have been carried out by suspected armed men from Nasir County and Ulang County, Upper Nile State.

“The attack left five innocent civilians dead, including two young men, a child, two women and an elderly person, but wounded more others. The attackers took over 500-700 heads of cattle, though later all cattle were recovered,” the statement further explained.

The second incident took place in Paloch on 14th Jan 2021, of which seven (7) civilians from Gajaak lost their lives and five others critically wounded.

“Due to these two bloody incidents in the State, leaders from the two Communities of Jieng Padang and Eastern Jikany Nuer expressed their sadness and grief for the tragedy in the State.”

The following are the Resolutions reached after the meeting to address the situation in question.

• We the leaders of these two communities are abhorred by violence incidents in Melut County, and condemned these attacks against the civilians in both Bai Ajak and Paloch in the strongest terms possible.

• We conveyed our heartfelt sympathies and Condolences to the bereaved families of Bai Ajak village, and also our Condolences to the family of our beloved Gajaak civilians killed in Paloch.

• Strongly appealed for the calm among the youth on both sides and work to restore peace immediately.

• We send this warning strongly to all anti-peace elements, to cease all forms of provocations and negative propaganda on social media.

• We urged all the youth to ease tensions in the Counties mentioned above, and to engage in dialogue as the only viable means to restore peaceful coexistence and stability in our State.

• Appealed to the Government of National Unity to apprehend these Criminals and bring them to justice. Appealed to all Organized Forces Stationed in area to protect Civilians lives and their property.

Canada pledges $3m in humanitarian assistance as violence continues in Ethiopia

Ethiopian refugees line up in a queue waiting to be served |Photo: CGTN

Canada | Press Release

Nov 24, 2020 (Thessherald)–Canada is deeply concerned by the humanitarian crisis caused by the conflict in Ethiopia’s Tigray region. Today, the Honourable Karina Gould, Minister of International Development, announced new support for humanitarian operations in Ethiopia and Sudan in response to the impact of growing conflict.

Canada’s commitment will provide $3 million to experienced humanitarian partners who are providing assistance to people affected by conflict within the Tigray region of Ethiopia and to those who have crossed the border seeking safety in Sudan.

This support will be provided to the International Committee of the Red Cross, the Ethiopia Humanitarian Fund, and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, to respond to the urgent needs arising from this rapidly evolving crisis, including for emergency healthcare, shelter and non-food items, water and sanitation, and protection.

“Canada stands alongside our partners to deliver urgent assistance to those affected by this crisis and continues to call on all parties to ensure the protection of civilians, and rapid and unimpeded humanitarian access to those in need.”

Karina Gould, Minister of International Development

The outbreak of the conflict between the Federal Government of Ethiopia and the Tigray People’s Liberation Front on November 3, 2020 has led to a rapidly deteriorating humanitarian situation affecting both Ethiopia and neighbouring Sudan.

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Ethiopian government urged to protect unarmed civilians trapped in Mekelle

TPLF troops in military show of force |Photo: File

Nov 23rd, 2020 (Thessherald)–A South Sudanese journalist, Buay Kapduel, has urged the Ethiopian federal government to protect the civilian population, including foreigners trapped in the Tigray region, more specifically in the capital, Mekelle.

“The Ethiopian government is obligated to protect its citizens, regardless of their ethnic background or political affiliation. Launching large-scale military operations and using tanks and artillery against unarmed civilians in the city in an attempt to drive off dissident leaders is detrimental, and would certainly amount to war crimes,” said the S. Sudanese journalist who’s monitoring the situation in Kenya.

Buay Kapduel

Buay, who resides in Kenya, has lost contact with his family members who have been trapped in the capital, Mekelle – since the government cut off phone communications and internet connections on November 4.

“So far, we do not know their fate – the Ethiopian government needs to understand that there are other innocent people in that region who have the right to protection under international humanitarian law.”

“The Federal Government can use certain or other means and methods of warfare to flush out their enemies [the TPLF forces] but they can’t consider the whole city [Mekelle] as a legitimate military target – it will end up harming civilians who are not taking a direct part in the ongoing fighting in the Tigray region.”

“Based on the statement attributed to the top FDRE commander, there’s a possibility of ethnic cleansing in the whole region, if not genocide, unless the United Nations nips this unfolding situation in the bud,” he warned.

Buay Kapduel

The journalist called on United Nations agencies and the International Committee of the Red Cross to identify and protect foreigners caught up in the Ethiopian conflict by establishing a temporary protection camp in the city until the African Union brings the warring parties to the negotiating table.

“I have been monitoring this situation in very closely –at first, we thought it would be a “law enforcement operation” as the prime minister described it, but now it appears to be a collective operation which will not distinguish civilians from combatants,” Buay added.

On Sunday, an Ethiopian military commander warned that there would be no ‘mercy‘ if civilians do not flee the city.

“From now on, the fighting will be a tank battle,” spokesman Colonel Dejene Tsegaye said late Saturday, asserting that the army was marching on the Tigray capital, Mekele, and would encircle it with tanks. “Our people in Mekele should be notified that they should protect themselves from heavy artillery.”

The top military officer accused the Tigray leaders of using the civilian population as human shields.

On Sunday, the rights watchdog, Human Rights Watch, condemned the statement and said the action may constitute war crimes.

“Treating a whole city as a military target would not only unlawful, it could also be considered a form of collective punishment,” Human Rights Watch researcher Laetitia Bader tweeted Sunday.


UN Relief Chief calls for de-escalation of violence in Tigray region

The Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator, Mark Lowcock |Photo: Prokeraia

Nov 18, 2020 (Thessherald)–The Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator of the United Nations, Mark Lowcock, has expressed deep concern over the growing violence in the Tigray region and urged the warring parties to allow humanitarian aid to reach vulnerable populations.

“I am increasingly concerned about the evolving humanitarian situation in northern Ethiopia and neighbouring areas,” said Lowcock.

Relief Chief Mark Lowcock

Adding that, “Even before the current hostilities, nearly a million people in Tigray, and millions more who live in close proximity to its regional and national boundaries, were in need of humanitarian assistance. Many humanitarian organizations, working closely with national, regional and local authorities, have been deeply involved in helping meet those needs for many years.”

The top UN official noted that, “ the current situation is heightening the needs and the vulnerability of local people. It is disrupting the work of UN and other humanitarian organizations.”

He called on both sides to respect International Humanitarian Law and safeguard aid workers who are currently providing life-saving humanitarian assistance in the conflict zone.

“I call for full access to reach people in need wherever they are; safe passage for civilians seeking assistance; and the security of aid workers. Humanitarian workers must be able to deliver assistance without fear of attack.”

“Our humanitarian priorities in the region are the protection of civilians, including children; preventing gender-based violence; and getting food, clean water and health care to those who need it, including civilians displaced by ongoing hostilities.”

“The UN is engaging with the Government and relevant authorities to facilitate immediate and unimpeded humanitarian access. We are committed to staying and delivering humanitarian assistance.”

BREAKING: PM Abiy declares state of emergency in opposition Tigray region

November 4, 2020 (Thessherald)–Ethiopia’s government has declared a state of emergency in the opposition Tigray region, that will last for a period of six months, the prime minister’s office announced this afternoon.

Today, fierce fighting erupted in Ethiopia after the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) was accused of attacking the Ethiopian National Defense Forces Base located in Tigray region and attempting to rob the northern command of artillery and military equipment.

“The Northern command has been stationed in the Tigray region for more than two decades in service and protection of the people of Tigray from any threats.”

“It is to be recalled that in the past few weeks the TPLF has been arming and organizing irregular militias outside of the constitutionally mandated structure. The attack on the Northern Command has been premised on TPLF viewing the Ethiopian National Defense Forces as a foreign army rather than an army that has been protecting the people of Tigray for more than twenty years,” said the Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed in a statement.

War breaks out in Ethiopia as TPLF attacks Defense Forces in Tigray region

November 4, 2020 (Thessherald)–Deadly conflict has broken out in Ethiopia in the early hours of November 4, 2020, after the “Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) attacked the Ethiopian National Defense Forces Base located in Tigray region and attempted to rob the northern command of artillery and military equipment.”

“The Northern command has been stationed in the Tigray region for more than two decades in service and protection of the people of Tigray from any threats. It is to be recalled that in the past few weeks the TPLF has been arming and organizing irregular militias outside of the constitutionally mandated structure. The attack on the Northern Command has been premised on TPLF viewing the Ethiopian National Defense Forces as a foreign army rather than an army that has been protecting the people of Tigray for more than twenty years,” said the Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed in a statement.

The Ethiopian leader, Abiy accused the
Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) of instigating provocative activities in the region.

“Resultantly, TPLF has chosen to wage war in Dalshah. Over the past months of continued provocation and incitement for violence by TPLF, the Federal Government has maintained a policy of extreme patience and caution in order to avoid any harm that such provocations would cause the people of Tigray. In addition to Federal government provocation, the TPLF through Almeda Plc – a textiles manufacturing company based in the region – have been manufacturing military outfits resembling that of the Eritrean National Defense Forces, to implicate the Eritrean government in false claims of aggression against the people of Tigray.”

“While the Federal government has used all means to thwart a military engagement against the TPLF, a war however cannot be prevented only on the goodwill and decision of one side, but on the mutual choice for peace by both parties. The last red line has been crossed with this morning’s attacks and the Federal government is therefore forced into a military confrontation.”

“The Ethiopian National Defense Forces, under the direction of a Command Post, have been ordered to carry out their mission to save the country and the region from spiraling into instability. The Prime Minister of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia, Abiy Ahmed, calls upon the Ethiopian people to remain calm, to be vigilant in the face of possible harassment, and to stand by our National Defense Forces in this critical time.”

U.S. Embassy Call for Urgent Efforts to Resolve Conflict

Troika countries issue a press release, calling for full implementation of R-ARCSS | Photo: USA Embassy in S. Sudan

Press Statement

August 3, 2020 (Thessherald)–The Embassy of the United States expresses deep concern with continued pockets of conflict around South Sudan and calls for all parties to deescalate tensions. Fighting in different parts of South Sudan in recent weeks has reflected different causes and involved different parties but the impact is all similarly unacceptable; the people of South Sudan, your friends, your neighbors and communities are all suffering abuses against civilian populations. Forced displacement, disruption to livelihoods, diversion and looting of humanitarian aid, and the killing of aid workers are all unacceptable.

It is time for local and regional leaders and the government of South Sudan to put an end to these conflicts and start unifying the country and bringing well-deserved peace to the people of South Sudan.

In Western Bahr el Ghazal, we are concerned by recent clashes between Sudan People’s Liberation Army-In Opposition and South Sudan People’s Defense Forces units, accompanied by the arbitrary detention of civilians and attacks on civilian vehicles. We welcome the establishment of a delegation with leaders from both sides and urge immediate dialogue to reduce tensions, forestall further clashes, and prevent a broader threat to the peace agreement ceasefire.

In Western and Central Equatoria, we note an uptick in clashes between SSPDF and the National Salvation Front in the past week, accompanied by displacement of civilians and civilian abductions.

We urge all parties to immediately adhere to the Agreement on the Cessation of Hostilities, comply with their Rome Resolution obligations, and resume dialogue on a political solution to the conflict.

In Jonglei, we remain deeply concerned by the large-scale mobilization of armed groups and fighting on an ethnic basis. We welcome all efforts to address the base causes of the recent violence in South Sudan but it is going to take more work. It is going to be hard, but now is the time for all the people who took or accepted the responsibility to lead this country, to work towards a nation of unity where everybody has a right to speak in public without fear of repercussion, where every has a right to education, where everybody has a right to live in their home of choice without fear of violence. The leaders of South Sudan cannot sit back and wait for things to happen; they need to make them happen.

Kiir constitutes committee to probe into inter-communal violence in Jonglei state

South Sudan’s President Salva Kiir Mayardit signing a document | Photo: File

June 23, 2020 (Thessherald)–South Sudan’s President Salva Kiir Mayardit has issued a Republican order, constituting a High-Level Committee to investigate the ongoing circles of ethnic violence between the Murle and Lou Nuer communities in Jonglei State.

The new committee will be headed by the Vice President, James Wani, deputized by Daniel Awet Akot, Presidential Advisor on Military Affairs.

The 13-member Committee, made up of representatives from the feuding communities, was given 21 days to finalize its report and submit it to the president.

South Sudan’s Jonglei state has been one of the areas engulfed in widespread intercommunal violence exacerbated by cattle rustling and rampant child abduction.