Tag Archives: Ethiopia

With peace talks dead, S. Sudan’s president emerges defiant

In a defiant and much-anticipated speech on Wednesday, South Sudan’s President Salva Kiir laid out his plans to end his country’s 15-month civil war — but they have little to do with reconciling and reaching a political settlement. Read more…

Photo by Jok Solomun/Reuters

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South Sudan cease-fire blows up, days after the ink dries

A general view shows flood waters within the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) camp in Malakal, Upper Nile State, May 1, 2014. Drazen Jorgic/Reuters

By Jason PatinkinCorrespondent, Will DavisonCorrespondent / May 15, 2014

Malakal, South Sudan; and Addis Ababa, Ethiopia — A cease-fire inked days ago between South Sudan’s warring leaders is falling apart, dimming hopes for a quick peace that is widely seen as needed to ensure that millions of civilians have access to basic humanitarian aid.

President Salva Kiir and rebel leader Riek Machar agreed at a meeting last Friday in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, to end a brutal five-month civil war that has seen thousands killed and more than a million people displaced. The agreement was nearly identical to a previous cease-fire signed in January, which collapsed in days.

Now, with fighting reported hours after the cease-fire went into effect Saturday night, and continuing daily, it seems the new deal is faring almost as badly as its predecessor.  Read more…

South Sudan civil war: Rights reports slam both sides as leaders go to talks

South Sudan’s rebel leader Riek Machar smiles as he meets his friends at Sheraton Hotel in Addis Ababa May 9, 2014. South Sudan’s President Salva Kiir arrived on Friday in Ethiopia’s capital for the first face-to-face talks with Machar to try to end four months of conflict and avert a possible genocide. Goran Tomasevic/Reuters

Juba, South Sudan — In one of two much-anticipated human rights report released Thursday, the United Nations said both sides in South Sudan’s civil war have possibly committed war crimes and crimes against humanity, and called for international justice.

A striking feature of investigations on the brutal warfare in the world’s newest country is evidence of widespread use of sexual violence, including gang rape and forced abortion, by all parties.

The accusations come as South Sudan’s President Salva Kiir and rebel leader Riek Machar today traveled to Ethiopia for peace talks amid continued fighting.

“From the very outset of the violence, gross violations of human rights and serious violations of humanitarian law have occurred on a massive scale,” reads the UN report.  “Civilians were not only caught up in the violence, they were directly targeted, often along ethnic lines.”

The UN report came out on the same day as another damning investigation by advocacy group Amnesty International.  Both reports document shocking abuses by both the government and the rebels since the war began in mid- December.

The conflict emerged out of a power struggle between President Kiir and his former vice president, Mr. Machar, that widened largely along ethnic lines. Kiir is an ethnic Dinka, and Machar is a Nuer.  Thousands have been killed, and more than a million civilians have fled their homes.

Totaling 130 pages and based on more than 1,000 interviews with victims, witnesses, and others, the two reports present the most credible and comprehensive documentations of human rights violations since the conflict began.  Read more…

A South Sudan surprise: breakthrough on peace talks? Maybe.

South Sudan’s President Salva Kiir (r.) chats with US Secretary of State John Kerry at the President’s Office in Juba, South Sudan, May 2. Saul Loeb/Pool/AP

Juba, South Sudan — Leaders of both sides of South Sudan’s bloody five-month civil conflict agreed Tuesday to go to Ethiopia for peace talks this Friday.

The announcement comes after a week of heavy diplomacy, with visits to South Sudan’s capital by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and US Secretary of State John Kerry, who threatened targeted economic sanctions against the belligerents. After months of a fruitless peace process, there are at least some tentative hopes now for a breakthrough.  Read more…

Kenya: a safe haven for persecuted gays?

Nairobi (dpa) – While homophobia is on the rise across Africa, the gay community in Kenya has managed to win a small degree of acceptance despite homosexuality remaining illegal in the East African country.

Gay people have been able to stage small public protests to advocate equal rights. The community has even hosted its own film festivals, and social media has discreetly facilitated same-sex dating.

In 2013, David Kuria Mbote became the first openly gay person to run for public office in the country. In January, acclaimed author Binyavanga Wainaina declared his homosexuality in a heartfelt essay that received praise from many Kenyans.

Gay activists credit backstage lobbying with achieving better equality in public health. Kenya’s National AIDS Council, for example, provides gays with targeted treatment and disease prevention services.

Whilst in other countries in Africa, “people import lubricant under cover,” lubricants and condoms are easily available in Kenya, says Kevin Mwachiro, who works in Nairobi for the gay rights group Hivos Forum and wrote a book about homosexual and transgender Kenyans.

Kenya has become a safe haven for gays fleeing discrimination in Uganda, where President Yoweri Museveni signed a law in February that foresees lengthy prison sentences – in certain cases, even life sentences – for homosexuals.

Dozens of Ugandan gays and lesbians have travelled to Kenya as harassment and violence against them have increased in their home country. More than 20 have been registered as refugees with the United Nations.

Yet with anti-homosexual sentiment on the rise across Africa, Kenyan gay, lesbian and transgender people worry of a rollback on the modest but growing movement for equal rights in their country.  Read more…

Forgotten among the forgotten: Foreign refugees in South Sudan’s civil strife

At this camp in Juba, more than 10,000 people are sheltering, including hundreds of Eritreans who are afraid to go back to their country. Photo by Jason Patinkin

Juba, South Sudan — Two years ago when Peter moved here from nearby Eritrea, things looked pretty good: South Sudan was a new country getting international help. The city of Bor, where Peter opened a general store, was along a major corridor of emerging oil wealth and prosperity.

South Sudan was in fact a refuge, politically and religiously freer and less repressive than Eritrea. Peter, who will not give his real name for fear of reprisal, could escape what has become Eritrea’s notorious forced conscription policy, where the government is grabbing men up to the age of 50 for indefinite Army service. Plus, getting across the South Sudan border was not too difficult.

But now he finds himself caught in South Sudan’s brutal civil strife. A slight man with a short, shaggy Afro, he is living in a refugee camp of 10,000 people in the capitol of Juba. And at this point he just wants to leave this place and find some safer haven.  Read more…

New fighting in South Sudan threatens oil state capital

South Sudanese children displaced by the fighting are seen in a camp for displaced persons in the UNMISS compound in Tongping in Juba, South Sudan, February 19, 2014. Andreea Campeanu/Reuters

Juba, South Sudan South Sudan‘s army today vowed to retake the contested town of Malakal, days after rebels launched their own assault on the battered riverside city, defying a month-old ceasefire agreement.

The new fighting around Malakal is the worst violence yet since the ceasefire was signed and underscores the difficulty of reaching a political solution to the conflict amid stop-start negotiations in neighboring Ethiopia.

Opposition forces loyal to former vice president Riek Machar attacked Malakal, the capital of oil-rich Upper Nile State, on Tuesday morning with mortars, and light and heavy arms. Shelling continued Wednesday, and a UN spokesperson said sporadic small-arms fire was heard Thursday.

Malakal has changed hands several times since the conflict began in December, and analysts say the new fighting is reminiscent of earlier hostilities when the government and rebels sought to gain advantage while peace talks slowly took shape. Over 500 homes in Malakal have been destroyed, according to a satellite survey.  Read more…