Tag Archives: oil

Slow Response Follows Forced Conscription of Hundreds of Child Soldiers in South Sudan

Despite accusations of war crimes and pledges by the various sides of South Sudan’s year-long civil war to stop using child soldiers and to release those they have recruited, forced recruitment continues unabated. Hundreds of boys were abducted by government troops in the village of Wau Shilluk two weeks ago in one of the worst cases yet reported. Read more…

Photo by Jason Patinkin, child soldiers at a demobilization ceremony in Pibor, South Sudan February 19, 2015

South Sudan abductions set back efforts to end use of child soldiers

The 89 schoolboys abducted more than a week ago by South Sudanese soldiers are being held in a military training camp territory near active front lines, aid workers report, as the national Army remains silent about the recruitment of children in a government-controlled area.  Read more…

 

Jikany Nuer White Army fighters hold their weapons in Upper Nile State, February 10, 2014. Goran Tomasevic/ Reuters

 

In Kenya, islanders on heritage site count cost of $25 billion mega-project

Lamu Island on Kenya’s northeast coast was established some 700 years ago as part of a thriving Indian Ocean trade network that eventually stretched to Oman, India, Portugal, and China.

The mixing of those cultures produced the Swahili people and language, as well as an Islamic renaissance of architecture, poetry, and cuisine.

Lamu is regarded as the best preserved Swahili settlement in existence. The history, the remote white beaches, the carved wooden doorways, and the winding alleys, all make it a top Kenya tourist destination.

But change is coming – more drastic than any in Lamu’s history – that could irreversibly transform this ancient place. Read more…

Photo: Ben Curtis/AP

UN refugees in S. Sudan face perfect storm of woe as war drags on

UN refugees in South Sudan carry goods through a waste canal in Bentiu camp, July 13. Photo by Jason Patinkin

When war broke out in South Sudan last December, the United Nations opened its bases to civilians fleeing the violence. That policy has saved tens if not hundreds of thousands of lives, and today more than 100,000 people shelter under peacekeepers’ protection.

But the UN bases are not meant to house large populations for long periods of time – and seven months later, the camps are proving untenable.

This situation is most dire in Bentiu, the capital of oil-producing Unity State, where more than 40,000 people shelter in the UN base in appalling conditions.

In Bentiu, three children under age 5 die every two days from preventable diseases, and more than 250 people have perished since May. Fights break out frequently in the cramped, politically charged quarters. Rains, lack of funds, and insecurity mean aid agencies can’t get supplies in fast enough. The camp is so poorly supplied that civilians must venture outside to forage for firewood, vegetables, or water, risking rape, abduction, and murder by waiting soldiers and mercenaries tied to different ethnic groups. Even the fortified base itself has come under their fire.

But with the war showing no signs of stopping, and UN peacekeepers delayed, civilians have no other option for safe haven in South Sudan.

“My children are sick, we’re living in the flooded area, there are mosquitoes, we are sleeping with no bed, the smell is awful,” says a mother of six named Angelina, whose 1-year-old daughter recently recovered from malnutrition and malaria.  “But if there is no peace, I can’t go out.”  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…

South Sudan talks resume Monday despite hostilities, recrimination

Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA) government soldiers wear UNICEF backpacks as they walk along a road in Mathiang near Bor on January 31, 2014. The armed government troops had stolen the UNICEF supplies intended for schoolchildren.  Carl De Souza/AFP/Getty Images

In South Sudan, a cease-fire is supposed to be in force. But rebels are openly claiming to still be fighting, while independent satellite images of the torching of rebel leader Riek Machar‘s hometown of Leer confirm that government forces are also engaged in battle.  Read more…

Quick peace eludes S. Sudan leaders, despite Army victories

Women and children stand next to their tented shelters in the grounds of a church where thousands have sought refuge during the recent fighting in Malakal, Upper Nile State, in South Sudan Tuesday, Jan. 21, 2014. Mackenzie Knowles-Coursin/AP

Addis Ababa, Ethiopia and Nairobi, Kenya

The month-old civil conflict in South Sudan has claimed some 10,000 lives, with major towns razed to the ground and half a million people displaced. Amid the fighting, negotiators have been holding peace talks in neighboring Ethiopia.

In recent days government forces, supported by Ugandan troops, apparently wrested two key towns, Bor and Malakal (both important to the oil industry) from the control of rebels. Yet despite initial hopes, there are signs that a quick peace may be further away, not closer, in the world’s newest nation. One reason is a lack of command and control over an ill-disciplined military that may be reverting to its roots as a militia.  Read more…