Catholic Peacebuilding Network

Enhancing the study and practice of Catholic peacebuilding

News Items from South Sudan

The first woman mayor of Yei killed: an act against the Church and against peace
14 November 2014

Juba (Agenzia Fides) – Strong condemnation of the Church for the barbarous murder of the first female mayor of Yei, in the south-west of South Sudan, Cecelia Oba Tito, whose body was found along with that of her chief of staff, Emmanuel Lemi, on November 9 in the vicinity of a house under construction on the outskirts of the capital, Juba. Mgr. Zachariah Angutuwa Sebit, Vicar General of the Diocese of Yei, said that the double murder was an act against the people of Yei River County and, more generally, against peace in Southern Sudan. According to information sent to Agenzia Fides, Mgr. Sebit added that the killers of the former mayor wanted to attack the Church and asked the authorities to ensure the safety of citizens. Mrs. Tito was an active member of the Church in South Sudan and fought to promote women’s rights in her Country, in particular access to education. After being elected deputy at the National Assembly, she participated in the drafting of the Constitution of Southern Sudan (which achieved full independence in July 2011) and in 2013 was elected mayor of Yei. (L.M.) (Agenzia Fides 14 November 2014)

Campaign against the recruitment of children in armed conflict: “Children, not soldiers”!
30 October 2014

Juba (Agenzia Fides) – The government of South Sudan has just launched, with the support of the United Nations, the national campaign “Children, not soldiers” which aims to end and prevent the recruitment and use of children by Government forces in conflict by 2016. The campaign is launched by the UN Special Representative for Children and Armed Conflict and UNICEF. The UN confirms that the phenomenon continues to be rampant in the Country. It is estimated that 11 000 children are in the armies and armed groups involved in the conflict. “Children should learn to read and write, not to use weapons. Education will make us a better Country”, said the Defense Minister of the Country. In June, the Government formally signed the renewal of its commitment with regards to the 2009 Action Plan, which includes 18 provisions that the Sudanese People’s Liberation Movement must implement in order to put an end to the presence of children among their military forces. (AP) (Agenzia Fides 30 October 2014)

Committee for Nation Healing, Peace and Reconciliation (CNHPR) hosts 28-day training of peace works in Yei
28 October 2014

The Committee for Nation Healing, Peace and Reconciliation (CNHPR) trained dozens of peace trainers in a 28-day workshop called “A Step Together: Shared Journeys of Listening and Dialogue.” These trainers, who included state chairpersons and representatives from all ten states in South Sudan, gathered in Yei with the help of MAF flights. Among the 76 leaders, 24 were women.

The training aimed to equip the leaders with the skills to train 50 more peace workers in each of their home states. These peace workers will travel across South Sudan next year to document communities’ narratives, needs, and initiatives for reconciliation as part of CNHPR’s three-year national reconciliation effort. Each week of training focused on a different topic:

Yet in addition to this practical training, the participants experienced some reconciliation already budding among themselves. One participant, the Rev. Bernard Oliya Suwa, Ph.D., describes the willingness of participants from many different tribes “to search for peace together, learn together, play together, and dine together” — even to share “horrendous personal testimonies from the recent conflict together,” after which “they sobbed and cried together.” He interprets this experience as “evidence of God’s ability to triumph over man-made evil.”

“Convinced by this sacred belief, quietly, I prayed to God to bring healing and reconciliation amongst us who had gathered in Yei. I prayed, too, that the spirit of sisterhood, of brotherhood, of forgiveness, and of reconciliation that was so powerfully displayed in Yei, be carried by Angels and spread across the length and breadth of our traumatized land.”

While the training was part of the CNHPR’s larger three-year initiative, it was facilitated by South Africa’s Institute for Justice and Reconciliation (IJR). (Kristi Haas)

The Anglican Diocese of Wau, South Sudan, release a thirty-page newsletter focusing on the training. It is available online.

US Bishops Urge Continued Pressure on South Sudan Government, Opposition, writes Special Envoy to Troubled Nations
23 October 2014
By Staff

WASHINGTON, D.C., October 23, 2014 ( – The bishops of South Sudan appreciate the support of the international community and call for greater emergency assistance as well as pressure for dialogue to keep their country from descending into increased poverty and conflict, according to the chairman of the U.S. bishops’ Committee on International Justice and Peace. Bishop Richard Pates of Des Moines, Iowa, said this in an Wednesday letter to Ambassador Donald Booth, special envoy to Sudan and South Sudan.

The bishop relayed a message of hope from the Catholic Bishops Conference of South Sudan, in which the bishops condemned all parties engaging in war in their country. They [the South Sudanese Bishops] expressed gratitude for the international community and the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD), a grouping of nations in East Africa sponsoring peace negotiations, in providing aid to their country. They also called on political leaders to engage in dialogue, not war.

Bishop Pates thanked Ambassador Booth for his efforts and noted that religious leaders across South Sudan look to the Catholic Church in that country for leadership in bringing an end to civil war. “I urge you to continue your work with IGAD to intensify your combined pressure on the South Sudan government and opposition leaders to halt the fighting,” wrote Bishop Pates. “We also urge you to engage and assist faith leaders in envisioning a new future for the country and mobilizing their people to realize that new vision. We are grateful for your collaboration in these efforts with Catholic Relief Services, one of the Church’s trusted partners, and hope will you continue this partnership.”

The full text of the letter is available online.

The warring parties recognize their responsibilities in the civil war, “an important step for peace”
21 October 2014

Juba (Agenzia Fides) – “We hope this is a first concrete and decisive step for the cease-fire first and then for true peace”, says to Fides Agency Sister Elena Baratti, a Comboni missionary from Juba, capital of South Sudan, commenting the agreement reached yesterday, October 20, in Arusha (Tanzania) to resolve the civil war that since December 15, 2013 has devastated the Country.

According to a report in the “Herald Sudan”, what was signed yesterday is an agreement within the SPLM (Sudan People’s Liberation Movement), the government party, divided between the wing loyal to President Salva Kiir and the rebel wing led by former Vice President Riek Machar, whose conflicts have triggered the civil war. “The two sides recognize their collective responsibility in the crisis of South Sudan that has caused the death of a large number of people and caused considerable material damage”, says the text of the agreement. “A divided SPLM automatically means fragmenting the Country on ethnic and regional basis” continues the text, hoping for “a frank and honest dialogue that puts the interest of the people and the nation above everything”.

“It is a first acknowledgment of responsibility by the two protagonists of the crisis, mediated by Tanzania, which has engaged in a process of ‘negotiations’ parallel to the peace mediation carried out by IGAD” explains the Comboni missionary to Fides, referring to the Intergovernmental Authority for Development, the organization that brings together the Countries of the Horn of Africa (including South Sudan) that is mediating to resolve the conflict in the Country. “The peace agreement itself probably will be signed within IGAD” adds Sister Helen. “If this agreement had been signed, we would have exploded with joy in the streets of Juba, because people continue to suffer because of the war. However, yesterday’s signing gives us new hope”, concludes the missionary. (L.M.) (Agenzia Fides 21 October 2014)

The law that strengthens the powers of security services has been approved, the opposition protests
9 October 2014

Juba (Agenzia Fides) – On October 8, the South Sudan National Assembly approved a law that strengthens the powers of the Security Service, the National Security Service (NSS) Bill. According to what is reported in the “Sudan Catholic Radio Network” the approval of the law has sparked protests from some lawmakers who say that the parliamentary procedures have not been followed. The leader of the opposition, Onyoti Adigo Nyikwec, along with other MPs, left the courtroom in protest because lawmakers were not given 72 hours to study the text.
The new law allows the National Security Service (NSS) to arrest people without a warrant from a judge. The only guarantee for those arrested is that they must be brought before a judge within 24 hours. The NSS is responsible, among other things, of the temporary closure of Radio Bakhita" of the Archdiocese of Juba (see Fides 18/08/2014) and has been accused by some humanitarian organizations of torture and arbitrary arrests. (L.M.) (Agenzia Fides 9 October 2014)

A million people at risk of hunger if the political crisis is not solved
7 October 2014

Juba (Agenzia Fides) – The food crisis in South Sudan threatens to turn into a catastrophe and a million people will risk starvation between January and March next year if nothing is done urgently to resolve the political gridlock that is paralyzing the life of the young State. This is what is said in the report titled “From crisis to catastrophe” by various humanitarian agencies operating in the Country. “So far the soft approach of the international community in the peace negotiations has failed to secure a meaningful cease-fire”, the report said. Despite the ceasefire agreements signed by representatives of the government of President Salva Kiir and by rebellions linked to former Vice President Riek Machar, the situation has not stabilized yet and the possibility remains that the fighting will resume on a large scale, as confirmed by the rearmament of both parties (see Fides 05/09/2014). “This is not a crisis due to natural disaster but caused by man” says Tariq Reibl, head of Oxfam’s projects in South Sudan, one of the 10 NGOs that signed the report. The civil war broke out in December 2013 causing 1.4 million civilians to flee. (L.M.) (Agenzia Fides 7 October 2014)

South Sudan’s authorities threaten Catholic community radio
3 October 2014

Juba (Agenzia Fides) – Maybe it is not the primary job of community radio stations to cover political and security issues but avoiding them altogether is “inconceivable”, said Reporters Without Borders Africa, especially in a Country where civil war affects the civilian population each day. This was reported by the Catholic Radio Network. Just weeks after Radio Bakhita was forced off the air in Juba, the country’s capital, Voice of Hope is now under threat in Wau. Juba-based Radio Bakhita, which is run by the Juba archdiocese, was closed on 16 August (see Fides 18/08/2014) by the National Security Service for broadcasting a report about clashes in Bentiu, in Unity State. It has since been allowed to resume broadcasting on condition that it refrains from talking about politics, while Voice of Hope has been told it will be closed if it defies orders to ignore political subjects (see Fides 01/10/2014). According to the organization for the defense of the right to information, community radio stations are often the only available source of news and information at the local level, so by banning them is an “intolerable act of censorship”. (L.M.) (Agenzia Fides 3 October 2014)

Authorities have threatened to close down another Catholic radio
1 October 2014

Juba (Agenzia Fides) – The South Sudanese government has threatened to close down the Catholic Church’s “Voice of Hope” FM in Wau, in the west of the Country. According to the Catholic Radio Network (CRN), Western Bahr El Ghazal Deputy Governor said the station should limit its coverage to the state and avoid broadcasting news from other states especially stories related to SPLM-in-Opposition. The government official described the “Voice of Hope” as a “destructive station” adding that the radio should distance itself from political coverage and concentrate on “homilies and Gospel music”.

In recent weeks, the local authorities had forced the closure of Radio Bakhita of the Archdiocese of Juba (the federal capital) and arrested the chief editor, Ochan David Nicholas (later released) for a few days. (see Fides 19/09/2014). Radio Bakhita was then allowed to resume broadcasting, but the station remains closed by Juba Diocese pending further review of the situation. His Exc. Mgr. Paulino Lokudu, Archbishop of Juba, complained that the Security Service did not warn him about the closure of the radio. “When the Radio was closed, I was not consulted – I think the security people did not come to me to tell me that we are closing the radio. They just took away the keys from the service people there and I think that is not quite fair”, said the Archbishop, who, however, added: “I think they have realized it and we have reconciled it very well”.

Organizations for the defense of human rights denounce the censorship imposed by the government to the southern Sudanese media since the outbreak of the civil war between the factions respectively headed by President Salva Kiir and former Vice President Riek Machar. According to these organizations, restrictions on the freedom of information are intended to prevent the publication of news about the massacres of civilians in the capital. Journalists are barred from visiting hospitals, cemeteries and refugee camps. (L.M.) (Agenzia Fides 1 October 2014)

The Bishops denounce the manipulation of tribalism: “Put an end to the civil war now”
29 September 2014

Juba (Agenzia Fides) – “War is evil (…).There is no moral justification for any further killing. The fighting and killing must stop immediately and unconditionally” say the Catholic Bishops of South Sudan in a message posted at the end of a meeting that was held in Juba from September 23 to 25, sent to Fides Agency.

The civil war between the government forces of President Salva Kiir and those loyal to former Vice President, Riek Machar, has created a humanitarian tragedy, as pointed out by the Bishops. “Thousands have been killed and hundreds of thousands displaced. Our traumatised population has been re-traumatised by atrocities we have rarely seen before. Displaced people are living in appalling conditions, whether in the countryside, or in UN camps in the cities, or as refugees in neighbouring countries. A famine is looming in parts of the country” says the message. The Bishops complain that the hope deriving from national independence (South Sudan became independent from Sudan in 2011) are jeopardized by the civil war, which has blocked any development project. "It can be said that peace is another word for development, says the message. “While seven out of ten States are not directly affected by the violence, their people are still suffering and are still in need of development activities”.

The document highlights that one of the negative consequences of the war is the emergence of tribalism closely linked to political corruption. " Our politics is becoming ethnic, with perceptions from various communities that one tribe or other is favoured (…) – Even within our churches, elements of tribalism are creeping in and creating suspicion, hindering our efforts to work for peace and reconciliation". “Tribalism is allied with corruption and nepotism. Political office is perceived by many as synonymous with access to power and wealth, and communities often feel that they need their own tribesmen and women in power in order for that community to have access to resources”. The Bishops launch an appeal for everyone to contribute to peace and invite the faithful to prayer for national reconciliation. (L.M.) (Agenzia Fides 29 September 2014)

Read the entire statement on CPN’s website, here.

Religious leaders committed to calm tensions on the border with Uganda
23 September 2014

Juba (Agenzia Fides) – The local religious leaders are at the forefront to calm tensions in the border area between South Sudan and Uganda, among residents of Kajo-Keji (South Sudan) and those of Moyo (in Uganda). The two communities have become the protagonists of a series of attacks and reprisals along the border between the two States. The South Sudanese accuse the residents of Moyo of having destroyed 90 homes and stealing 37 head of cattle during a raid in the southern Sudanese territory. In retaliation, 12 Ugandan women have been kidnapped in Moyo and brought to Kajo-Keji. In recent clashes at least 7 people were killed.
A gesture of reconciliation between the two communities was addressed by His Exc. Mgr. Erkolano Lodu Tombe, Bishop of Yei. Mgr. Lodu Tombe has urged residents not to repay evil with evil, and to have confidence in the governments of the two Countries to resolve the border dispute. The Bishop then asked the two governments to speed up procedures to demarcate the border in order to avoid new tensions.

The Anglican Bishop of Kajo-Keji, Rev. Anthony Poggo, has appealed to the two communities to immediately cease the violence. Two delegations, each composed of about twenty people in their communities, have asked the governments of Uganda and South Sudan to monitor and demarcate the border as soon as possible. (L.M.) (Agenzia Fides 23 September 2014)

South Sudan’s Bakhita Radio can resume broadcasts, but without political issues
19 September 2014

Juba (Agenzia Fides) – South Sudan’s Bakhita Radio, sponsored by the Archdiocese of Juba, capital of South Sudan, can resume broadcasts. This was reported to CISA Agency in Nairobi by the radio director, Albino Tokwaro, who pointed out that the authorities have forbidden the radio to cover “political matters”. On August 16, the local authorities had forced the closure of the radio and arrested the chief editor, Ochan David Nicholas (later released). Bakhita Radio was taken off the air for a story that the government said blamed its troops for new fighting in Unity state (see Fides 18/08/2014). “The keys were officially handed to us on September 12 and now we are waiting for the Archbishop’s approval to resume broadcasting”, said the radio director, adding that due to security agent warnings, “the radio will focus only on programs related to development and education”. According to Fides sources, since the outbreak of the political crisis in South Sudan, in December, 2013, there have been increasing pressures on local media. (L.M.) (Agenzia Fides 19 September 2014)

Malakal destroyed by the war – testimony of a nun
17 September 2014

Juba (Agenzia Fides) – “There is instability and a large part of the population live in extremely precarious conditions”, says Sister Elena Balatti, contacted by Fides Agency in Malakal, capital of Upper Nile State, which has been at the center of fighting between government troops of South Sudan and the rebels loyal to former Vice President Riek Machar (see Fides 03/03/2014). The city that before the Civil War was inhabited by 250,000 people remains a military objective, recalls the Comboni missionary. Despite the ceasefire agreements, the situation remains very tense in the Country, and in these conditions, even the media are affected, as evidenced by, inter alia, the story of the diocesan radio station in Juba (see Fides 18/08/2014).

Sister Elena reports the last episode of the war, which happened near the city: “On August 21, at 8:30 am, we heard the roar of the bombing from the front. Like most of the inhabitants of the city, also us Comboni Sisters left the city in 10 minutes, waiting to see the outcome of the battle. We already experienced the ferocity of opposition militias. Malakal saw as many as six attacks within a few months”.
Among other things, the radio of the diocese, “Sout to Mahaba” (Voice of Charity), of which Sister Helen is responsible paid the expenses. Sister Elena emotional tells us the damage suffered to what was once the second largest city in South Sudan: “The south of Malakal is the most damaged. In that area there were no brick houses but huts. Now that we are in the rainy season, the vegetation has taken over the huts now destroyed to the point that you can no longer make out the landmarks that existed before the destruction of the area”. “People have started to come back but remain cautious. In the evening the city empties, people cross the Nile to visit the surrounding villages, or go back to the UN refugee camp which is located 4 km from Malakal”, says the nun. (L.M.) (Agenzia Fides 17 September 2014)

In South Sudan, China peacemaker role marks a first in its diplomacy
12 September 2014

Daniel Wagner and Giorgio Cafiero say it contradicts non-interference policy
South China Morning Post

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 11 September, 2014, 12:08pm
UPDATED : Friday, 12 September, 2014, 5:37am
Daniel Wagner and Giorgio Cafiero

This summer marked the third anniversary of South Sudan’s independence, yet few of its citizens had reason to celebrate. As the youngest member state of the United Nations, South Sudan has endured a bloody civil war since December that has virtually shut down its oil-based economy.

The conflict began after President Salva Kiir accused Riek Machar (his sacked deputy) of attempting to orchestrate a coup to oust him. The civil war quickly took on an ethnic/tribal dimension, with soldiers, police officers and civilians fighting each other. Both sides have been accused of war crimes. Tens of thousands of South Sudanese have lost their lives and more than 1.5 million have been displaced. The influx of hundreds of thousands of South Sudanese into neighbouring countries is creating new challenges for regional governments already struggling with refugee crises from other conflict zones. Being situated in a strategically important region of Africa, a number of foreign powers are invested in South Sudan’s future.

The Intergovernmental Authority on Development – an East African trade bloc comprised of Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan and Uganda – has been leading international efforts to end South Sudan’s civil war, without success. As South Sudan’s No1 foreign investor, China has come to play an unusually active role in an effort to resolve the conflict. Such involvement contradicts China’s traditional doctrine of non-interference in foreign countries’ domestic disputes, but Beijing’s economic and geopolitical interests in South Sudan have convinced it to bend its rules. China has high stakes in both Sudan and South Sudan, having invested US$20 billion in Sudan prior to the 2011 partition, and an additional US$8 billion in South Sudan following its seccession. As 5 per cent of China’s crude oil came from South Sudan (when it was at full production), the restoration of stability is likely to remain a high priority for Beijing.

While playing its diplomatic role, China also happens to be the government’s top weapons provider. China recently sold US$38 million worth of ammunition, grenade launchers, machine guns and missiles to South Sudan’s government. As a result, many voices in South Sudan and the international community have accused Beijing of prolonging the conflict. Some rebel figures have also criticised Beijing, claiming it is playing a contradictory role by arming South Sudan’s military while investing time, effort and money in peace talks. South Sudan’s rebels do not view China as a legitimate or genuine peace broker, and accuse it of playing peacemaker simply to protect its oil interests. Such a perception can only be heightened by China’s recent decision to deploy 700 troops to the South Sudanese states of Unity and Upper Nile, in an effort to safeguard China’s workers and assets. It marks Beijing’s first contribution of a battalion to any UN peacekeeping force. Given China’s growing dependence on Africa’s natural resources, protecting its energy investments across the continent will continue to drive Beijing’s Africa foreign policy.

Regardless of whether China’s efforts to broker peace in South Sudan succeed, Beijing’s approach to foreign policy is being greatly influenced in the process, as is its standing in the global diplomatic arena. If Beijing does not succeed, China will at least have been seen as trying to make a difference – even if some see its role as contradictory. If China does succeed, it may enhance its ability to influence other diplomatic efforts to produce stability in Africa, and elsewhere, while safeguarding its interests. South Sudan may prove to be a litmus test in that regard.

Daniel Wagner is CEO of Country Risk Solutions and author of Managing Country Risk. Giorgio Cafiero is a research analyst with Country Risk Solutions based in Washington

This article appeared in the South China Morning Post print edition as “China’s peacemaker role in South Sudan is unprecedented”

Appeal for embargo on arms entering South Sudan, grave humanitarian crisis impending
5 September 2014

Juba (Agenzia Fides) – “As long as arms are imported into South Sudan, they will most probably be used to commit more atrocities” say the signees of an appeal for an embargo on arms sales to South Sudan, a country disrupted since December 2013 by civil war. The appeal, presented by 30 local and international humanitarian organisations (including South Sudan Law Society, Human Rights Society, Amnesty International, Global Witness, Human Rights Watch) is addressed to IGAD (Inter-government Development Authority) , organisation of east African countries which is mediating the South Sudan crisis) urging IGAD to present to the United Nations Security Council a proposal for a resolution to impose an arms embargo.

“The embargo must last until reliable procedures are established to guarantee that arms, ammunition and other technological military equipment sent to South Sudan are not used to commit grave violations of international humanitarian law” the appeal demands. Civil warfare between the faction of the President Salva Kiir and that of the ex Vice President Riek Machar, has produced a serious humanitarian crisis. According to an article signed by members of humanitarian agencies of the European Union, United Nations, USA and the Norwegian foreign minister, published in the French Catholic daily “La Croix”, “more than half the population, that is 7.3 million people, suffer from hunger every day, and 50,000 children may die before the end of the year unless they receive emergency assistance”. An outbreak of cholera is already threatening the lives of thousands, and 1.5 million have been forced from their homes by war. (L.M.) (Agenzia Fides 5 September 2014)

South Sudan: Addressing Community Concerns Around Oil, Gas and Mining in South Sudan
26 August 2014

Cordaid and the Ministry are concerned with the plights of the communities impacted by oil extraction in South Sudan. Albeit endowed with significant reserves of oil in three of its northern states of Upper Nile, Unity and Jonglei, the three-year-old independent Republic of South Sudan is yet to make its… Read More

Oil Crisis and the Potential Role of Agriculture in the Post-Separation of Sudan
August 2014
Emirates Journal of Food and Agriculture, 2014

The Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) signed by the Government of the Republic of Sudan and the Sudanese People’s Liberation Movement ended more than 20 years of civil war. According to the CPA, in addition to the oil produced from northern wells, which represents about 30% of the total oil production… Read More

Previous two resource briefs originally published in Environmental Peacebuilding newsletter, 2 September 2014

Govt, Rebels Agree to a New Ceasefire
26 August 2014

JUBA, August, 26 2014 (CISA) – Warring leaders in South Sudan on Monday August 25 signed a fresh ceasefire with a promise to end more than eight months of conflict. East Africa’s regional Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) which brokered the deal called on the leaders to form a unity government within 45 days and warned of sanctions should the latest agreement fail once again.

“As a region, we have to show any party which violates agreements that there are consequences to misbehaviour,” Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn said at the summit of East African leaders, reported AFP. “We are sending a clear message to the leaders of South Sudan. So delaying in the procedure will not be acceptable – if not the region will take action,” he added. “The warring parties have to understand that further delays in the peace process cannot be tolerated,” said UN envoy Haile Menkerios.

Three previous deals between President Salva Kiir and his former deputy, Riek Machar collapsed within hours of being signed. The leaders last met in May, when they agreed to establish a unity government within 60 days – by August 10. They missed that deadline amid continuing war. IGAD has welcomed the latest “signature by the warring parties” to the peace deal “which obliges the parties to bring the conflict to an end.”

According to the UN, thousands of people have been killed and at least 1.8 million have fled the conflict that has made the food crisis in the young nation to be the “worst in the world.” IGAD has expressed “serious concerns over the worsening humanitarian situation in South Sudan where millions face famine, and which presents a threat to the national security of the entire region.”

China must stop its arms sales to war-torn South Sudan
21 August 2014

Jehanne Henry says if China is serious in its call for peace in South Sudan, where a brutal civil war is raging, it must stop the supply of weapons to government forces there
South China Morning Post

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 20 August, 2014, 11:49am
UPDATED : Thursday, 21 August, 2014, 1:56am
Jehanne Henry

A conflict that has been raging in South Sudan since December has been characterised by extraordinary acts of cruelty against civilians, war crimes and possibly crimes against humanity. China may well be enabling these crimes, whether it intends to or not. Chinese officials have publicly stated their commitment to peace and stability in South Sudan and the region, and have supported the peace talks under way in Addis Ababa. But the sale of US$38 million worth of missiles, grenade launchers, machine guns and ammunition to the government of South Sudan, reported last month, says otherwise. The likely use of those weapons by parties to the conflict in South Sudan would contribute to the grave human rights abuses that have characterised the conflict.

The conflict began in the capital, Juba, in December, triggered by a power struggle between President Salva Kiir, who is ethnic Dinka, and former vice-president Riek Machar, from the Nuer ethnicity. The fighting quickly took on an ethnic dimension. Government forces carried out widespread killings, including a gruesome massacre, and detained hundreds of Nuer men in Juba. These atrocities triggered reprisal killings of ethnic Dinka in the town of Bor and other parts of the country. In the following weeks and months, conflict spread, and with it, horrible abuses of civilians by both sides in Bor, and the towns of Bentiu and Malakal, all of which have changed hands many times.

Throughout, the two sides have completely ignored international humanitarian law, the “laws of war”, by killing civilians in their homes and in churches, hospitals and other places they thought they would be safe, often because of their ethnicity or perceived political affiliation. The forces have destroyed huge swathes of towns, including hospitals, churches and schools, and pillaged everything they could find. The results: thousands killed, property destroyed, and an estimated 1.5 million people fleeing their homes, with around 100,000 now taking refuge in UN compounds in appalling conditions. Large numbers of people are still hiding in the bush, amid a looming famine because people have not been able to plant crops.

Under these dire circumstances, it is entirely foreseeable that any more weapons flowing into the country could contribute directly to more civilian destruction and the unlawful killing and abuse of civilians. Human Rights Watch and other groups have called on the United Nations to impose an immediate arms embargo on South Sudan, and to make sure that no more weapons flow into the country. China, as a permanent member of the UN Security Council, should make sure this happens and it should stop supplying weapons to South Sudan. Unless China breaks with the past practice of rejecting arms embargoes, its claims to want to see an end to abuses in South Sudan are just empty words.

Jehanne Henry is a senior researcher in Human Rights Watch’s Africa division

This article appeared in the South China Morning Post print edition as “Action on arms”

Security agents release South Sudanese news editor
20 August 2014

Juba (Agenzia Fides) – South Sudanese editor who was detained by the country’s national security services on Saturday has been freed.
David Ocen, the news editor of the Catholic-owned Bakhita radio, was picked by security agents after the station aired a news bulletin on clashes between pro-government forces and rebels in Unity state (see Fides 18 and 19/08/2014). The journalist said he was still in shock because he was held in a dark room for three days where he could not tell day from night.
The station was consequently closed and it opening has been delayed over what officials described as demands by the national security agents “for instructions on how the radio will operate”. “They want to reduce political programs and this is what we shall discuss tomorrow with them”, a Bakhita FM staff told Sudan Tribune on condition of anonymity Tuesday.
Presently, South Sudanese journalists operate in a vacuum of laws as President Salva Kiir is yet to sign the media bills passed by the national assembly last year. (L.M.) (Agenzia Fides 20 August 2014)

The Bishops’ Conference define the closure of Radio Bakhita “unfortunate”
19 August 2014

Juba (Agenzia Fides) – Sudan Catholic Bishops’ Conference or SCBC Secretary-General, Fr. Jacob Odwa remarked that the closure of Bakhita Radio: the voice of the church at the service of lives is just “unfortunate”.
On August 16, security service had blocked transmissions and arrested journalists (see Fides 18/08/2014), which were subsequently released, except the News Editor David Ochan Nicholas, who is still in custody.
The radio is accused of having reported the position of the opposition linked to former Vice President Riek Machar who accused government forces of having attacked first in the recent fighting in Unity and Jonglei States.
Fr. Odwa complained that the government should have dealt with the problem in a different way, rather than closing down “the voice of the Church”.
Several members of civil society have defined the closure of Radio Bakhita as well as the arrest of Nicholas “unconstitutional”, who is held not by the judiciary but by the security service that does not have the authority to detain persons in police custody. (L.M.) (Agenzia Fides 19 August 2014)

The main Catholic radio station in the Country has been shut down
18 August 2014

Juba (Agenzia Fides) – Measures have been taken to detain a radio News Editor, Ochan David Nicholas, who is still in custody, and shut down Radio Bakhita, the main Catholic radio station in South Sudan.
The radio, sponsored by the Archdiocese of Juba, was closed after the news of riots on 15 August between government troops loyal to President Salva Kiir and the opposition linked to former Vice President Riek Machar.
Several local media have been forced to close or have suffered pressure from the south Sudanese security service since the crisis erupted in December, that has devastated the Country. The peace agreements signed last June have not been applied by the parties: in particular, the government of national unity has not yet been established. The United States Ambassador to the United Nations has reported the arrival of new supplies of arms in the Country, implying a resumption of hostilities on a large scale. (L.M.) (Agenzia Fides 18 August 2014)

South Sudan Catholic Radio Station Closed, Journalist Detained
18 August 2014

Presidential Spokesperson Claims National Security Service Acted Alone, Not Ministry
By Staff Reporter

VATICAN CITY, August 18, 2014 ( – A journalist has been detained and a Catholic radio station has been shut down in South Sudan on grounds of “national security”, local media reports. The country’s director of information at the National Security Service, Madut Wol, ordered the closure of Bakhita Radio Saturday and security agents detained one of the station’s news editors, the Sudanese news service Radio Tamazuj reported. Ateny Wek, a presidential spokesman, explained that the radio station had failed to report on the fighting yesterday according to the statement given by the army, which said that rebels attacked their positions yesterday. Instead, he alleged, the station reported that the army was responsible for the aggression. Wek insisted the stations was closed down “on the grounds of national security” and that South Sudan’s President Salva Kiir and the country’s Ministry for Information were not involved in the decision. A later report noted that President Kiir, a regular Mass-goer, skipped Mass at Kator Cathedral in Juba on Sunday. On Friday, near Bentiu, the capital of Sudan’s northern, oil-producing Unity State, government troops clashed with South Sudan rebels, despite the U.N. Security Council’s warning of sanctions if either side violated a ceasefire signed this May. The U.N. has been sheltering nearly 30,000 displaced by the fighting.

“Let us work together for peace”: Christian leaders urge traditional chiefs
3 September 2014

Juba (Agenzia Fides) – “Traditional chiefs are inspired by God to work for peace in our communities. They settle disputes between individuals and groups ” said Pentecostal Bishop Michael Taban, President of South Sudan’s Council of Churches, in a call to traditional chiefs and elders to help restore peace in South Sudan. The young nation, (independent in July 2011), since last December is in a state of civil war, the fighting is between the pro President Salva Kiir faction and the pro Vice President Riek Machar faction. The South Sudan Council of Churches, a body comprising 6 Christian denominations present in South Sudan (Catholic Church, Episcopal Church of the Sudan, Presbyterian Church of Sudan, African Inland Church, Sudan Pentecostal Church, Sudan Interior Church), is fully committed to helping restore peace, also because peace agreements signed in June have yet to be applied by both parties. In particular, a government of national unity has still to be formed .
The President of the South Sudan Council of Churches said that religious leaders and traditional chiefs have the same mission to work for reconciliation, to build peace, because local chiefs have an important role to play at grassroots level, and also because the conflict has taken on a ethnic dimension with clashes between the Dinka people (the President’s ethnic group) and the Nuer people (the ethnic group of Machar). (LM) (Agenzia Fides September 3, 2014)

Press Release: Jonglei’s Dinka and Nuer communities agree to reconcile
7 August 2014
The National Platform for Peace and Reconciliation (NPPR)

Press Release: for immediate release 07/08/2014

BOR – The National Platform for Peace and Reconciliation (NPPR) has initiated a community-based peace process in Jonglei state with Dinka and Nuer church leaders taking the lead in mediating the talks. The initiative aims at engaging the two communities of Dinka and Nuer with the sole objective of fostering peaceful co-existence between them. The consultative programs were led by a group of pastors from the Dinka and Nuer who recently formed an alliance under the auspices of NPPR to initiate a community-to-community peace process among the Dinka and Nuer communities. The consultations in Bor targeted stakeholders from both Nuer and Dinka including elders, youth, women and religious leaders.

The Pastors held consultation sessions with members of both communities in Bor town. The consultations reached out to over 200 people from both Dinka and Nuer communities including youth, women, religious leaders and community elders among others. All groups met expressed willingness to work together in fostering peace and reconciliation.

The Paramount Chiefs, Head Chiefs and Executive Chiefs of Greater Bor, during a consultative meeting with the NPPR team to explore ways of ending the tribal conflicts, presented a number of grievances but explicitly stated their wish for peace. The Chiefs unanimously called for a joint face to face meeting with Nuer Chiefs.

Manyok Deng Biar, a Head Chief from Wangulei Payam of Twic East County said that they are community leaders and do not support any form of violence. He said that a joint meeting between them and Nuer Chiefs should be convened to discuss ways of defusing violence.

“We are community leaders, and a good leader does not encourage violence. I want to meet the Nuer Chiefs so that I can tell them that we the chiefs are the community leaders and should not mobilize our children to go for war. We the Chiefs were the very people who could have stopped the crisis from spreading over.” Said Manyok Deng Biar, a Head Chief from Wangulei payam of Twic East County.

The youth and women from the Dinka community in separate consultations also expressed their willingness for reconciliation with the Nuer community. Both youth and women groups agreed to holding joint meetings with their corresponding Nuer Community stakeholders.

“I wish the Nuer IDPs inside UNMISS camp in Bor should come out so that it sends out a positive message of peace to others who are engaged in fighting and eventually encourage them to abandon the war and seek peace.” Said Nyankiir Atem, a women leader from Twic East County.

During a separate consultative meeting with Nuer women at UNMISS, Achuol Jang, who is one of the women leaders said most of the Nuer women now living in the Protection of Civilians (POC) site in UNMISS, were residents in Bor town which is the state capital and have nowhere to go but only to make peace with host (Dinka Bor) Community.

While speaking during the consultative meeting, Rebecca Ayen Awan, from Duk County said that South Sudanese citizens are not realizing the truth that the politicians are only destroying the lives and future of the children of peasants while they send their children to the best schools abroad. “Politicians are selfish; they are destroying the future of our children when their children are studying abroad. They send their children to the best schools abroad and set our husbands and children to kill each other. They want their children to come also rule us and we are blind to see this.” She strongly stated.

A joint meeting convened between Dinka and Nuer women in Bor was seen as one of the successful sessions. The women shared their war experiences and discovered that war affected all of them and that atrocities were committed on both communities during the fighting. Nyankiir Atem who led the Dinka Bor women to the joint meeting with Nuer women said women should set the pace towards reconciliation and the men will follow. She urged the fellow women to influence their men and children to stop fighting and opt for peace. “… Dinka and Nuer women, let’s join our hands together to save the lives of our few surviving men and sons. Let’s urge them to stop fighting and accept peace.” Ms. Nyankiir said. Her call for peace was also backed by her counterpart Elizabeth Joseph who also led the Nuer women to the joint meeting. Ms. Elizabeth told the women that for Jonglei to be called a state, then it must accommodate Nuer and Dinka as well as other tribes. She called for peace and unity among the women especially in the state capital Bor so that people in other areas of the state can learn from the example.

His Grace Archbishop Daniel Deng Bul who is one of the Principals of NPPR, met with the Nuer IDPs representatives in UNMISS-Bor where he listened to their grievances and also shared with them the message of peace.

According to the pastor’s action plan, the consultation with different stakeholders from Dinka and Nuer in Jonglei State is a process that needs continued engagements. The next phase outlines further engagements with youth, community elders, from both communities.

For further information, please contact Mr. Tobias Atari
Director General of South Sudan Peace and Reconciliation (SSPRC) and head of NPPR Secretariat
Tel: 0955294789 email:

“The Journey to Peace in South Sudan”
August 2014
Sr. Akumu Lily Grace, CMS, shared this reflection on the peace process.

It has taken me a couple of months now reflecting on South Sudan’s conflict that erupted in Juba on December 15th 2013 and the ongoing peace process between the Government of the Republic of South Sudan (GRSS) and Sudan People’s Liberation Movement/Army (SPLM/A) in opposition in Addis Ababa. The question that lingers in my mind is; “Was this conflict necessary?” Continue reading.

Dialogues on the Constitution implemented from April 2012 – July 2013 across the ten states of South Sudan
August 2014

A report is available on the citizen’s dialogues on the constitution carried out by the Civil Society Resource Team of the Constitution Review Process. The dialogues were held in all the ten states of South Sudan from April 2012-July 2013 with support from by Justice Africa in partnership with South Sudan Law Society (SSLS). Analysis was carried out from July 2013-July 2014. The document explains the methodology of the dialogues, provides a summary of the citizens views gathered, and outlines the next steps of the process. (Quoted from document and Hannah Logan, Programme Coordinator, Justice Africa, South Sudan)

Click here to download the report.

Statement of the Principals of the National Platform for Peace and Reconciliation-National Launch
5 April 2014
Freedom Hall, Juba Click Here

CNHPR consults women on national reconciliation agenda
28 March 2014
Committee for National Healing, Peace and Reconciliation (CNHPR)

JUBA – The Committee for National Healing, Peace and Reconciliation (CNHPR) in collaboration with South Sudan Peace and Reconciliation Commission (SSPRC) and Specialised Committee on Peace and Reconciliation in the National Legislative Assembly (SCPR/NLA) held a two day Women Consultation Workshop with the main aim of understanding and incorporating the views of women in the process of peace and reconciliation in South Sudan. Read more: