South Sudan

  1. Building of South Sudan palace begins amid food crisis

    Nichola Mandil

    BBC News, Juba

    The construction of a new presidential palace has begun in South Sudan's capital, Juba - with President Salva Kiir attending a ceremony to mark the start earlier this week.

    The project is funded by the government and will take about two years to be completed, according to James Deng Wal, the executive director in the Office of the President.

    It is unclear how much it will cost, but the country is facing a worsening humanitarian crisis that the UN says has left half of the population food insecure this year.

    The new building will house the president’s office and will be a venue for other government activities.

    Mr Deng said its construction would provide work for South Sudanese citizens including engineers, architects, artisans and administrative staff.

    He said once completed, the building would rival other modern State Houses in East Africa.

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  2. Mining giant Glencore admits to bribery in Africa

    Will Ross

    Africa editor, BBC World Service

    The Swiss headquarters of Glencore.
    Image caption: The court heard bribes were paid in Nigeria, Cameroon, Ivory Coast, Equatorial Guinea and South Sudan

    A British subsidiary of the mining company Glencore has pleaded guilty in a UK court to corruption offences, after being accused of paying millions of dollars in bribes to secure access to crude oil in Africa.

    The UK's Serious Fraud Office said Glencore had, via its employees and agents, paid bribes of more than $28m (£22.8m) in Nigeria, Cameroon, Ivory Coast, Equatorial Guinea and South Sudan.

    Sentencing will take place in November.

    The Swiss-based multinational has already said it expects to pay up to $1.5bn to settle allegations of bribery.

  3. South Sudan's elite are depriving the poor - bishop

    Nichola Mandil

    BBC News, Juba

    Men carry bags of food while women wait for their rations at the WFP food distribution site in Pibor
    Image caption: Last week, the WFP said it was partially suspending food aid delivery to South Sudan because of a funding shortage

    A Catholic bishop in South Sudan says the country is experiencing severe food insecurity because a few individuals in positions of authority control the abundant resources, deprive the majority and force them to go hungry.

    Alex Lodiong Sakor, the Bishop of Yei, said many people were suffering because there was no sense of solidarity with the poor among those who should be caring for their needs.

    The Russian invasion of Ukraine has caused a global food crisis, but in addition South Sudan has to grapple with unprecedented levels of food insecurity caused by the conflict, climate change and the Covid-19 pandemic.

    "If there are poor people in this country, those of us who are in authority are the cause of this, it’s because we make them poor," the bishop said.

    "We have plenty [of resources] and this plenty has been accumulated by very few who deprive the others."

    In addition, insecurity was preventing people from getting to their farms, he said.

    "When people go to cultivate and they are found, they would be shot and killed allegedly because they are rebels. Are we true Christians? We are not true Christians because there is no Christian who kills another Christian."

    Bishop Lodiong said many people in his diocese had fled to neighbouring Democratic Republic of Congo and Uganda because of rampant insecurity, and they might not return home soon if there was no real peace.

  4. South Sudan water minister dies in Egypt

    Nichola Mandil

    BBC News, Juba

    Manawa Peter Gatkuoth Gual

    South Sudan’s Minister of Water Resources and Irrigation Manawa Peter Gatkuoth Gual has died in a hospital in the Egyptian capital, Cairo, South Sudan's government has announced.

    First Vice-President Riek Machar said the minister was flown to Egypt on Friday after developing chest pains in the capital, Juba.

    He underwent surgery on Saturday and died at 05:00 local time on Sunday, Mr Machar said.

    “Mr Manawa was a strong student leader during his university days as well as a leader in the youth movement in Sudan. He was a committed nationalist. He was a strong believer in reforms in the Republic of South Sudan,” Mr Machar said in a condolence message to the family.

    In his condolence message, President Salva Kiir said he received the news of the death of Mr Manawa with “profound sorrow.”

    The late minister was also a member of the political bureau of the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement in Opposition (SPLM-IO).

    His father, the late Peter Gatkuoth Gual, was a prominent South Sudanese politician.

  5. S Sudan students' aid cut plea: 'No food, no school'

    Nichola Mandil

    BBC News, Juba

    Mayo Girls Primary School
    Image caption: The school term started on Wednesday and only half the students turned up at Mayo Girls Primary School

    Thousands of children in South Sudan are likely to drop out of schools this year because of the suspension of the UN’s food aid, students and teachers have warned.

    On Tuesday, the UN World Food Programme (WFP) said it was cutting food rations to almost 6.2 million people in the country - including 178,000 children fed in schools - because of a shortage of funding.

    “Without that food children cannot come to school,” 16-year-old student Anita Anna Samson told the BBC.

    She attends Mayo Girls Primary School in the capital, Juba - one of the beneficiaries of WFP’s feeding programme.

    “I am appealing to WFP to continue providing the food. Personally I will be affected because my family cannot afford to provide enough food for me. If there is no food, I will not come to school,” she said.

    Another student, 17-year-old Ijora Jovian, echoed the importance of the programme.

    “The school provides for us beans with sorghum and this improves learning because children who don’t have money for breakfast rely on this food and during break time they stay in the school.”

    The school’s deputy head teacher, Thomas Hakim Sebit, agreed the announcement by WFP was “sad news” as it would affect many of the more than 700 children at his school.

    “If the food is cut off, the children will no longer come to school. I am appealing to WFP and the international community to continue supporting the school-feeding programme,” he said.

    The news has already affected enrolment for the new term, which started on Wednesday, as only 350 girls turned up.

  6. Conflict pushing food prices up in South Sudan - UN

    Nichola Mandil

    BBC News, Juba

    Conflict and disease outbreaks are pushing food prices up in South Sudan, according to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (Ocha).

    The prices have increased by 17% compared to last month with the capital, Juba, being the most affected.

    In a statement, the UN also blamed food insecurity for "deepening people’s humanitarian needs” in the country.

    Some 7.7 million people, more than half of the country’s population, are estimated to be severely food insecure this year.

    They include 87,000 people who are already facing catastrophic conditions, according to Ocha.

    On Tuesday, the World Food Programme (WFP) said it was cutting food aid to almost 6.2 million people in South Sudan due to shortages of funds.

    Among those to be affected by the food cuts are 178,000 children school under WFP's feeding programme. But it says the effect will be across the country, meaning it will have a severe nationwide impact.

    While global attention is focused on Ukraine, South Sudan continues to grapple with unprecedented levels of food insecurity caused by conflict, climate change, Covid-19 pandemic and the rising cost of living.

  7. UN partial suspension of South Sudan aid hits children

    Will Ross

    Africa editor, BBC World Service

    omen from Murle ethnic group carry bags of sorghum during a food distribution by United Nations World Food Programme
    Image caption: The suspension of aid heightens the risk of starvation for 1.7 million people, the WFP says

    The UN World Food Programme says due to a shortage of funding it is having to suspend some food aid in South Sudan where more than half the population is grappling with severe food insecurity.

    The crisis has been fuelled by conflict, flooding, drought and and soaring food prices exacerbated by the crisis in Ukraine.

    The WFP says among those affected by the cuts will be close to 200,000 children who will no longer receive daily school meals.

    It describes these as a crucial safety net that helps keep South Sudanese children in school.

    “We are extremely concerned about the impact of the funding cuts on children, women and men who will not have enough to eat during the lean season,” said WFP country director Adeyinka Badejo.

    “If this continues, we will face bigger and more costly problems in the future, including increased mortality, malnutrition, stunting, and disease."

    The WFP is appealing for more than $400m (£330m).

  8. Pope apologises for cancelling trip to Africa

    BBC Monitoring

    The world through its media

    Pope Francis
    Image caption: Pope Francis has expressed hope that he will reschedule the visits “as soon as possible”

    Pope Francis has apologised to the Democratic Republic of Congo and South Sudan for postponing his July visits to the two countries indefinitely for health reasons.

    He had planned to visit the DR Congo cities of Kinshasa and Goma on 2 to 5 July before travelling to the South Sudanese capital, Juba, for a two-day trip.

    However, the Vatican announced the postponement on Friday due to the 85-year-old pontiff's knee problem.

    The pope told thousands of people in St Peter's Square that "with great regret, due to problems with my leg, I have had to postpone my visit to your countries".

    He expressed hope that he will reschedule the visits “as soon as possible”.

    The pope used a wheelchair for the first time at a public event in May due to reported pain in his right knee and has had to postpone a a scheduled trip to Lebanon this month.

  9. Pope Francis postpones trip to DR Congo and South Sudan

    Nichola Mandil

    BBC News, Juba

    Pope Francis has had to cancel an upcoming visit to the Democratic Republic of Congo and South Sudan because of a knee injury, the Vatican has announced.

    The head of the Catholic Church was scheduled to travel in July to the Congolese cities of Kinshasa and Goma, followed by a visit to South Sudan’s capital Juba.

    In Juba he was to lead a prayer vigil with Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby, and the Moderator of the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church of Scotland Rev Iain Greenshields.

    The Vatican said the visit would take place at "a later date to be determined". The decision had been made "at the request of [the Pope's] doctors, and in order not to jeopardise the results of the therapy that he is undergoing for his knee".

    The Sudan and South Sudan Catholic Bishops’ Conference has not yet issued any statement regarding the postponement.

    Both DR Congo and South Sudan have large numbers of Roman Catholics.

    The 85-year-old pontiff has made several visits to Africa since becoming pope in 2013.

  10. World sidelining plight of refugees in Africa - aid agency

    BBC World Service

    Woman at camp for internally displaced people in Ethiopia
    Image caption: DR Congo, Burkina Faso, South Sudan and Ethiopia are listed amongst the countries with the most neglected refugee crises, according to the Norwegian Refugee Council

    The Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC) says the world is paying too little attention to mass displacements of people across Africa.

    The head of the organisation, Jan Egeland, said that African suffering would, in his words, be pushed further into the shadows by the all-absorbing war in Ukraine.

    It is the first time that all 10 countries on the Council's list of "most- neglected" refugee crises are on the African continent.

    They include the Democratic Republic of Congo, Burkina Faso, South Sudan and Ethiopia.

    The Council's assessment is based on shortfalls in the international political response, media coverage, and aid pledged.

  11. Canada pledges boost to South Sudan food production

    Nichola Mandil

    BBC News, Juba

    Harjit Singh Sajjan
    Image caption: Development Minister Harjit Singh Sajjan is on official visit to Juba

    Canada will champion efforts to boost food production in South Sudan, its development minister Harjit Singh Sajjan says.

    "There is a tremendous potential in this country when it comes to agriculture. There is an opportunity in South Sudan to start feeding not only the region, but the rest of the world... There is a significant economic opportunity," he told the BBC on an official visit to Juba.

    This would build on Canada's existing partnership with local farmers, said Mr Singh Sajjan.

    Many nations are grappling with a food crisis after the war in Ukraine stopped grain exports.

    On top of this, South Sudan is also grapplling with conflict, climate change, the Covid-19 pandemic and the rising cost of living.

    According to UN estimates, more than 70% of people face food insecurity in the country.

    "I want to make sure that I put attention internationally for South Sudan and see how we can help this country," Mr Singh Sajjan said on Monday.

  12. South Sudan slams UN arms embargo renewal

    Nichola Mandil

    BBC News, Juba

    outh Sudanese UN Permanent Representative Akuei Bona Malwal
    Image caption: South Sudan's UN ambassador Akuei Bona Malwal said sanctions could harm people in his country

    The government of South Sudan has slammed the UN Security Council’s renewal of an arms embargo and targeted sanctions on the country.

    Those accused of prolonging the conflict in South Sudan will remain under sanction.

    Rights group Amnesty International has welcomed the decision.

    "The [embargo] is crucial to curtailing the flow of weapons that have been used to commit or facilitate war crimes, human rights violations and abuses including conflict-related sexual violence," it said in a statement.

    South Sudan's Foreign Minister Mayiik Ayii Deng called the resolution “counterproductive”.

    He also criticised Ghana for having voted in favour of the resolution. The other African members of the Security Council - Gabon and Kenya - abstained.

    “When the African Union rejected the arms embargo on South Sudan, Ghana was its chair. That our brotherly country, whom we look to as an anchor of Pan-Africanism, should vote against the African Union position disappoints us. We, nonetheless, have confidence that the Ghanaian Government will revisit its position,” Mr Ayii added.

    South Sudan's envoy at the UN, Akuei Bona Malwal, said the renewal of the resolution may compound the economic misery the people of South Sudan are enduring.

  13. UN Security Council renews South Sudan arms embargo

    BBC Monitoring

    The world through its media

    A rebel South Sudan soldier poses with his gun in Touch Riak, Leer county, on March 7, 2018
    Image caption: An arms embargo was first imposed on South Sudan in 2018

    The United Nations Security Council has renewed an arms embargo on South Sudan by another year.

    The UN's resolution to extend the ban through May next year passed with 10 out of 15 votes, with Gabon, Kenya, India, Russia, and China abstaining.

    The council also extended targeted sanctions against South Sudanese individuals.

    Rights group Amnesty International has welcomed the decision.

    "The [embargo] is crucial to curtailing the flow of weapons that have been used to commit or facilitate war crimes, human rights violations and abuses including conflict-related sexual violence," it said in a statement.

    South Sudan has protested against the US-drafted resolution as unfair to "the people of South Sudan, who suffer under the cruelty of the UN sanctions and arms embargo", its foreign affairs ministry said.

    A UN panel of experts had recommended that the council extend the arms embargo because of "persistent ceasefire violations" and rising violence in the country.

    The embargo was first imposed in 2018 after a peace agreement ended five years of a civil war that killed hundreds of thousands of people and displaced millions.

    The world's youngest country has experienced pervasive insecurity since seceding from Sudan in 2011.

  14. South Sudan gets first permanent bridge over Nile

    Nichola Mandil

    BBC News, Juba

    The Freedom Bridge.

    Jubilant crowds came out to cross South Sudan's first permanent bridge over the River Nile after it was officially opened on Thursday.

    The 560-metre long Freedom Bridge on the edge of the capital, Juba, was constructed using a grant from the government of Japan.

    Construction began in 2013 but had to be suspended multiple times because of the civil war and the coronavirus pandemic.

    The previous bridge could be dismantled and moved and was sometimes dangerous to cross - especially for pedestrians.

    Thursday's opening was attended by the Kenyan presidential candidate and AU infrastructure envoy Raila Odinga, as well as the head of Japan's International Cooperation Agency Tanaka Akihiko.

    President Salva Kiir told those assembled that the Freedom Bridge was a symbol of long and lasting friendship between the people of Japan and South Sudan.

    It is hoped that the bridge will ease traffic congestion in Juba as well as help speed up trade.

  15. South Sudan to send army to contested Abyei region

    Emmanuel Igunza

    BBC News

    Cattle traders from the Misseryia area in Abyei region migrate from north on December 18, 2016.
    Image caption: The Arab Misseriya communities often cross from Sudan looking for pasture

    South Sudan says it is sending its army to the disputed oil-rich Abyei region, along the border with Sudan, following ethnic clashes that have killed more than 40 people.

    The government has accused UN peacekeepers in the region of failing to protect civilians displaced during the latest spate of violence.

    The deployment could reignite tensions with Sudan over the contested territory.

    The ethnic clashes are between the Ngok Dinka community and the Misseriya Arab community who cross from Sudan looking for pasture.

    The two groups have long-running disputes that have displaced thousands of people there over the years.

    A referendum to resolve the status of Abyei was supposed to be held following a peace deal in 2005, but the vote has never materialised.

    The latest violence comes as South Sudan grapples with rising inter-communal fighting in various parts of the country.

    Violence has also been reported in the northern Unity State which borders Abyei, where armed groups have clashed over cattle.

    On Monday, nearly 30 people were killed in Leer county in the latest bout of fighting that began in late February.

    Analysts warn that the fighting threatens the fragile peace deal in the world’s youngest nation.

  16. South Sudan herders blamed for tension urged to move

    Nichola Mandil

    BBC News, Juba

    Map of South Sudan

    Cattle herders from South Sudan's Dinka Bor community of Jonglei State have been urged to leave Eastern Equatoria State and return to their areas of origin.

    The call follows recent deadly clashes during a raid on a Dinka Bor cattle camp that left at least 20 people dead – including women, children and elderly people.

    The attacks were carried out by suspected Murle armed raiders from the Greater Pibor area, according to Eastern Equatoria State Governor Louis Lobong Lojore.

    Mr Lobong said following the violence, hundreds of people from the Madi community who live in the area were forced from their homes.

    "The people of Eastern Equatoria State are suffering from a conflict that is transferred from Greater Jonglei to their area. I strongly reiterate my appeal to the people of Greater Jonglei to go back to their areas and try to find ways of addressing their issues amongst themselves," Mr Lobong said in a press release.

    Mr Lobong alleged that since the herders arrived months ago, their cattle had caused severe damage to crops on local farms. He added that they have also been harassing the host community, who are mainly farmers – intimidating and humiliating them.