In South Sudan, a soldier’s monthly wage cannot buy a chicken

Years of bloody conflict have crippled the country’s economy, exposing soldiers to an extremely difficult situation with their families as their monthly salaries cannot even buy a chicken.

According to an independent report obtained by Thessherald, a private soldier in the military earns about 1,200 South Sudanese pounds per month, equivalent to less than $4, making it the lowest paid army in the world.

Sometimes, they resort to doing odd jobs for a living as their monthly wages, which are supposed to be paid regularly, come once in a blue month.

South Sudan descended into conflict in mid-December 2013, after President Salva Kiir accused Dr. Machar of plotting a military coup against his administration – sparking deadly violence between forces on ethnic lines.

In September 2018, the Parties signed R-the ARCSS, aimed at restoring peace in the country. However, the ongoing deteriorating humanitarian situation along with other underlying factors continues to paralyze the economy.

Last week, the Ministry of Defense, Angelina Jany Teny admitted that lack of funding derails efforts to graduate the first batch of the Necessary Unified Forces.

SSPDF soldier goes missing while burning charcoal for living

South Sudanese soldiers walk away after ransacking backpacks provided by the UNICEF |Photo: AlJazeera

A 34-year-old soldier has gone missing while burning and collecting charcoal for a living in the bush around Juba, according to his family, who took to social media calling for help.

The man, identified as Dut Garang, “left the house at 8: 00 on Saturday morning and has not returned so far,” said his elder daughter in an exclusive interview with Thessherald.

“We have been everywhere since Saturday evening, hoping to find his whereabouts in the nearby jungle, but he was nowhere to be found,” she said.

Dut is one of the 80% of the country’s national army who have turned to hard manual labor as a way to support their starving families.

In 2018, President Kiir instructed military commanders to discourage soldiers from cutting and burning trees for charcoal. However, the order has not been enforced.

As a result of the conflict that has engulfed the country, the South Sudan People’s Defense Forces (SSPDF) are the lowest-paid army force in the world.

For months, South Sudanese soldiers have gone without salaries as the country continues to grapple with unprecedented economic crisis.

Breaking: Fierce fighting erupts between SSPDF and SPLA-IO forces in Bankida

Fierce fighting broke out on January 26, 2020 between the SSPDF and SPLA-IO forces in Upper Nile State |Photo: Via Facebook

Fierce fighting broke out this morning between the SSPDF and SPLA-IO forces in Bankida, Upper Nile State, according to Col. Lam Paul Gabriel, SPLA-IO Deputy Military Spokesperson.

“This morning the 26/01/2021 at about 8:00AM, a combined force of National Security forces, Tiger and the SSPDF attacked the SPLA-IO assembly area of Bankida in complete violations of the Permanent ceasefire.”

“The SPLA-IO forces tactically withdrew from Bankida on directives from the SPLA-IO High Command,” he added.

The main opposition group strongly condemned the flagrant violation of the Permanent Ceasefire and called on SSPDF forces to withdraw from the area.

“The SPLA-IO strongly condemn[s] this constant suicidal act of aggression against its forces and positions by forces of the SPLM-IG; and, is therefore, demanding a complete withdrawal of this combined force from Bankida as soon as possible to avoid the escalation of this provocative attack.”

“The SPLA-IO remains committed to the implementation of the Security Arrangements in particular and the R-ARCSS in general but it holds the right to self defence when attacked.”

Maiwut’s senior officials reject James Ochan’s re-deployment

High-ranking officials from defunct Maiwut state |Photo: File

Top government officials from defunct Maiwut state have penned a letter to President Salva Kiir Mayardit, asking him to reconsider the recent assignment of James Ochan Puot as head of the Integrated Forces in Maiwut County.

In a letter obtained by the media on Sunday, the senior officials urged the President to halt the recently planned re-deployment of Maj. Gen. James Ochan Puot — until an alternative solution is found.

“The deployment of para-military forces in Maiwut is dangerous to our Communities living in and around Maiwut and also entail the invisible programs that our government may not want to share with sons and daughters of Maiwut that we will definitely be against should that happen,” the group said in a statement.

The group pointed an accusing finger at James Ochan as a warmonger who chose violence over peace and unity.

Among those who wrote the petition letter are:

1) Maj. Gen. Bol Ruach Rom, former Governor of the now-defunct Maiwut state;

2) Maj. Gen. Gatluak Riek Jack, former commissioner of Maiwut county;

3) Brig. Gen. Daniel Gatbel Kuach, a high-ranking officer in the former PMPC.

Rights group urges justice for victims raped by national army

Press Release

South Sudan’s soldiers stand at attention during the official independence day ceremony. Photo © J.B. Russell
South Sudan’s soldiers stand at attention during the official independence day ceremony. Photo © J.B. Russell

Press Release | The Center for Peace and Advocacy (CPA) has recently noted with great concern gross human rights violations perpetrated against women in the country.

On Wednesday, CPA learned that innocent women were gang-raped between March and April of this year in South Sudan and such an unbearable incident was confirmed by a law maker representing Yei River County in the Transitional Legislature Assembly and perpetrators happened to be “men in uniform”. CPA urges the government to hold perpetrators accountable and brought them to book.

“The failure of the government to protect and support victims of sexual violence undermines the quest for justice,” said the group’s national Director Ter Manyang Gatwech.

Since the signing of Revitalized Peace Agreement on Resolution of the Conflict in the Republic of South Sudan (R-ARCSS) on the 12 September 2018 in Addis Ababa in Ethiopia by parties to the agreement and therefore, human rights situations remain a challenge for the last two years in South Sudan.

Late last year to early this year, rape and gang rapes occurred in northern Unity state has been reportedly continuing this year, with perpetrators apparently thinking they could get away unpunished a statement by U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet (Source Reuters news). Last November there were report of 125 women and girls who were allegedly raped or gang raped over a 10-day period reported.

Reference Reuters: http://reut.rs/3rHsVek

Violence against women and girls in South Sudan remains a challenge. Two thirds of women who have experienced domestic violence say it was perpetrated by an intimate partner, while one in four women report that their first sexual experience was forced. It is important to note that in cases of sexual violence, many women do not report due to fear, stigma and the trauma that is associated with the offences.

“These police brutalities are just a tip of the ice bag of the magnitude of violence committed against women on a daily basis in this country.”

We at CPA condemn these acts of injustice committed by individuals and other criminal groups in the country. As a Human rights organization, we urge the government to bring these criminals to justice and also to speed up the formation of states governments and hybrid court for South Sudan to avoid such violations.

SSPDF soldiers accused of raping women, forcing kids to drink alcohol

SSPDF soldiers walking away after stealing UNICEF-issued backpacks meant for children |Photo: AlJazeera
SSPDF soldiers walking away after stealing UNICEF-issued backpacks meant for children |Photo: AlJazeera

The National Salvation Front (NAS), in its latest report, has accused the SSPDF of committing horrific crimes, including rape, forcing children to drink alcohol, and brutally mutilating civilians on ethnic grounds.

The non-signatory group strongly condemned the action and called on the ceasefire monitors to investigate the these crimes and the recent violation of the Cessation of Hostilities Agreement (CoHA) in the Equatoria region.

“The Leadership of National Salvation Front (NAS) informs its members, supporters, the people of South Sudan and members of International Community about the latest violation of Cessation of Hostilities Agreement (CoHA) by the South Sudan People’s Defense Forces (SSPDF),” the group alleged in a statement.

“On 21 st and 22nd December 2020 respectively, a force of SSPDF under Loka West detachment committed heinous crimes against civilians; raping three (3) women, maiming (7) people, forcefully making members of Revival Community of Episcopal Church of South Sudan (ECSS) to drink alcohol, looting properties and burning several huts.”

The NAS leadership pointed an accusing finger at the SSPDF for breaching the Permanent Ceasefire by committing serous crimes in different parts of the country including Western Bahr El Ghazal State.

“These crimes are serious violations of Cessation of Hostilities agreement (CoHA) which aimed at protection of civilians and provision of unhindered access to humanitarian assistance. The regime has also been flagrantly violating COHA and committing heinous human rights violation in Western Bahr el Ghazal State killing innocent civilians.”

“The Leadership of NAS condemns in the strongest possible terms these heinous crimes of the SSPDF and the regime of Salva Kiir and holds the SSPDF and the President Kiir responsible for committing ethnic-based crimes in South Sudan. It is very unfortunate and alarming that, these crimes are being committed in full glare while the peace monitors are watching and being indifferent.”

“NAS assures the people of South Sudan that the Movement will continue to struggle for their aspirations and will defend civilians whenever they are subjected to different kind of mistreatment by the regime of Salva Kiir. NAS calls on the people of South Sudan to take charge of their destiny; speak out and defend themselves against criminals of Juba regime.”

“The Leadership of NAS renews its commitment to addressing the root causes of the conflict in the country to achieve sustainable peace to creating a responsible governance system that protects civilians and deliver basic services to the people of South Sudan without ethnic, gender or regional discriminations.”

Breaking: SSPDF and SPLA-IO forces clash in Upper Nile State

South Sudan's armed forces holding up their guns a sign of victory | Photo: File
South Sudan's armed forces holding up their guns a sign of victory | Photo: File
South Sudan’s armed forces holding up their guns a sign of victory | Photo: File

Dec 13, 2020 (Thessherald)–In what appears to be a flagrant violation of the Permanent Ceasefire, the South Sudan People’s Defense Forces, and the Sudan People’s Liberation Army-IO (SPLA-IO) clashed this afternoon in Maban County, Upper Nile state, according to several sources on the ground.

“The SSPDF forces have carried an attack on the SPLA I-O defensive positions in Maban county, Upper Nile State,” said a highly placed source.

Another source disclosed, this evening, that the opposition forces were aware of the planned attack and repulsed the government forces.

“Our forces were fully aware of the attack and repulsed them [attacking forces] back to their barracks,” said a top military officer interviewed this evening by Thessherald.

This is a developing story, check back in a few minutes for more updates!

Defence Minister’s office warns against destructive criticism

President Salva Kiir Mayardit and the Minister of Defence and Veterans Affairs, Angelina Jany Teny at the State House |Photo: © PPU
President Salva Kiir Mayardit and the Minister of Defence and Veterans Affairs, Angelina Jany Teny at the State House |Photo: © PPU

Dec 13, 2020 (Thessherald)–On Saturday, the Office of the Minister of Defence and Veterans Affairs debunked destructive criticism and urged SPLM-IO members not to shift the blame onto Defence Minister Angelina Jany Teny over the recent fighting between the SSPDF and SPLA-IO forces in the Equatoria region.

“The Office of the Minister of Defence and Veteran’s Affairs sighted with concern the trending attacks on social media against the Defence Minister, Hon. Angelina Jany Teny by some aggrieved SPLM/A-IO cadres who are rightly angry with the violations against the SPLA-IO forces in Morota Training Centre,” said Lam Paul Gabriel, Press Secretary and Media Analyst in the Defence Minister’s office.

The Office of the Defence Minister pointed out that, inasmuch as the Minister is open to any criticism, SPLM-IO cadres should be mindful of what they say publicly so as not to damage her image.

“Much as the Minister is opened to any constructive criticism, it should be noted that subjective criticisms meant to tarnish her image as a person is not welcomed.”

Lam added that, “Hon. Teny understands the pain caused by the violations against the Security Arrangements not only in Morota but all over South Sudan. These violations are real threats to the R-ARCSS. However, it is important to know which body or structure is responsible for command and control of the forces.”

Article 2.4.2. of R-ARCSS states that “The JDB shall be formed at the Level of Chiefs of Staffs and Directors General of National Security Services, Police and all other organised forces to exercise command and control over all forces during the Pre- Transitional Period”.

Lam explained that the defence minister does not have any command or authority over the forces given that the two sides have different command structures.

“It is therefore, very clear that the Defence Minister doesn’t have any command and control over any force, but as the Defence Minister and a member of the NTC, she has the responsibility to direct the JDB to exercise to arrest the situation on the ground since they are in charge of the forces to the agreement; which she did several times already.”

“Secondly it should be noted that on 7/10/2020, the Minister showed courage by visiting both forces of the SPLA-IO and SSPDF after the first violations in Morota and directed the JDB to investigate the clashes that occurred and bring those responsible to account. This can’t just go unrecognized if we seriously mean to acknowledge ones efforts towards stopping the aggression in Morota,” he noted.

“Furthermore, the notion of looking at forces in cantonment sites and unified Training Centres as under the command of the SPLA-IO or SSPDF is a complete lack of knowledge of the Agreement. The JMCC is tasked with responsibility of the assembly areas, cantonment sites and barracks while the JTSC is responsible for Training Centres. This misunderstanding of the Agreement is the one that is currently causing such unwanted violations.”

“Finally, the Minister of Defence and Veteran’s Affairs, calls for calm and patience while the JDB does its work to arrest the situation in Morota.”

US urges restraint amid reports of renewed fighting in Central Equatoria

Photo |US Embassy in the Republic of South Sudan.

Nov 28, 2020 (Thessherald)–The United States Embassy in South Sudan has expressed deep concern over reports of fighting between SPLM/A-IO forces and troops loyal to a pro-government militia commander, General Moses Lokujo, at the Moroto Training Center.

“The U.S. Embassy in Juba is deeply concerned by reports of renewed fighting in and around the Moroto training center in southern Central Equatoria, which has impacted trainees for the unified forces and civilians,” the American Embassy stressed in a press release seen by Thessherald.

The US called upon relevant authorities and the Joint Defense Board to de-escalate the ongoing military confrontations in the Equatoria region by identifying those elements responsible for attacking opposition trainees at the training centers.

“We call for an immediate end to the fighting, and urge the parties to the Revitalized Agreement on the Resolution of the Conflict in South Sudan (R-ARCSS), led by the Joint Defense Board, to resolve tensions in the area and restrain forces for whom they are responsible.”

The Embassy pressed the Ceasefire and Transitional Security Arrangements Monitoring and Verification Mechanism (CTSAMVM), an independent body responsible for overseeing compliance with the Cessation of Hostilities, to expedite its investigation into the incident.

“We understand the Ceasefire and Transitional Security Arrangements Monitoring and Verification Mechanism (CTSAMVM) is urgently seeking to conduct an investigation; we call on all parties to fulfill their responsibilities to enable access by CTSAMVM. Furthermore, we urge CTSAMVM to complete its investigation as quickly as possible.”

“We see no reason for defections at a time when parties have committed themselves to working together to implement the peace agreement, including the establishment of a unified force. The continued defections and the fighting that has ensued underscore the urgency of peace agreement implementation — including the need for progress on security arrangements and state and local power sharing.”

“We call upon the leaders of South Sudan to work together to build trust, address challenges, and bridge differences. The people of South Sudan deserve nothing less.”

On Thursday, the SPLA-IO accused defected forces headed by a militia commander, General Moses Lokujo, of carrying out an attack on Protection force in Morota Training Center, leaving one soldier dead.

“This morning the 26/11/2020, at about 6:00am, the defected force of Maj. Gen. Moses Lokujo who is now under the command and control of the SSPDF attacked the SPLA-IO component of Protection force for Morota Unified Training Centre, in complete violation of the permanent ceasefire,” said Lam Paul Gabriel, SPLA-IO’s Deputy Military Spokesperson.

Pro-government commander Gen. Moses Lokujo attacks SPLM-IO forces

Defiant militia commander, General Moses Lokujo attacks SPLA-IO’s forces in Yei |Photo: File
Defiant militia commander, General Moses Lokujo attacks SPLA-IO’s forces in Yei |Photo: File

Nov 26, 2020 (Thessherald)–A pro-government militia commander, General Moses Lokujo, has been accused of carrying out an attack on opposition forces at their training centers, according to a statement issued by Lam Paul Gabriel, SPLA-IO’s Deputy Military Spokesperson.

The main armed opposition said the recent attack on its forces was a breach of the Permanent Ceasefire and indicated a worse development in a country that has seen a relative calm since 2018.

“This morning the 26/11/2020, at about 6:00am, the defected force of Maj. Gen. Moses Lokujo who is now under the command and control of the SSPDF attacked the SPLA-IO component of Protection force for Morota Unified Training Centre, in complete violation of the permanent ceasefire.”

“The attacking force killed one SPLA-IO soldier and wounded two others, while clashes is still ongoing as they planned to overrun the Training Centre.”

The SPLM/A-IO called upon the SSPDF command to monitor the provocations of Maj. Gen. Lokujo against its forces, which are currently undergoing training at designated cantonment areas in the Equatoria region.

“The SPLA-IO leadership calls upon the SSPDF command to restrain Maj. Gen. Lokuj (who is currently under the command and control of the SSPDF), from the continuous aggression against the SPLA-IO forces in the greater Yei area.”

“It should also be noted that the forces in Morota Training Centre are not only SPLA-IO forces but a component of the unified forces under the command and control of the JTSC and JDB. Therefore, attacking this force is not only a violation but a direct attack against the Security Arrangement in particular and the R-ARCSS in general.”

The group urged the CTSAMVM to investigate the recent attack and hold Maj. Gen. Lokujo’s forces responsible for violating the Permanent Ceasefire.

“The SPLA-IO therefore, calls upon the CTSAMVM and JDB to investigate this violation and bring those responsible to book as soon as possible.”

This is the second time that the defiant commander has attempted to push the country into another conflict by attacking opposition forces at their bases.

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