In less than a week, after the government of South Sudan government threatened to kill journalists who are reporting 'against' their country, a reporter formerly working for The New Nation and The Corporate Newspapers was found dead, reportedly killed by unknown gunman in Juba yesterday at 8: O’clock p.m. local time.
Police officials have not disclosed circumstances, which led to the death of Peter Moi, but witnesses who saw the body at the scene alleged that the journalist was short while he was on his way home in Korok area.
Julius Jilong, the father to the decease and his family were met with shocking news of the sudden death of their son. “He was a courageous and hardworking son,” said the father.
Moi before he died was preparing to conduct his wedding in December this year according to Solomon Jok, a close friend. Central Equatoria government was also processing appointment of the late Moi to assume a position of Communication and Information Officer for the state education department.
Journalists and media practitioners condemned the killing of Moi describing it as an acceptable action and calling on authorities concerned to apprehend any criminal behind the killing. South Sudan Union of Journalists, international and local media bodies including The Corporate Newspaper to which the decease worked for condemned the incident.
The death of Moi raised the number of journalists killed in South Sudan to six this year. Reports of international media agencies including Reporters Without Borders and the Committee to Protect Journalists rank South Sudan as a difficult country with limited freedom of press for journalists to work in.
The Union of Journalists in the country has announced three days mourning for the media houses in the country lay down their pens, cameras, recorders and notebooks for three days as a sign of protest for injustices committed against journalists.
Civil society organizations in Yei River County are reviewing the municipal Child Education Bill 2014 for the second time to realize the provision of sustainable and quality educational services.
The draft Bill was given to the civil society organizations by the municipal legislative council two weeks ago to enable them add their input.
Dara Felix, the forum’s secretary general said they are collectively carrying out review, analysis and adding input on the draft Bill, which aims at creating an inclusive, quality and sustainable learning environment.
Dara says the Bill will help parents, education officials and the local authority in addressing issues of school dropout and other education issues affecting children.
“We are trying to analyze our ideas and see how our ideas can best be fitted in that document so that it becomes an inclusive, collective document made by the people of Yei municipality,” Dara told TCT.
“The purpose of this document is to create an inclusive, quality and sustainable learning environment,” he added.
He said the assessment they carried out in 2014 revealed 608 pupils out of 3,719 pupils dropped out of school in the whole county, including the municipality.
The activist called for team work towards reduction in maternal mortality rate, poverty level, infant morality rate and to see increase in children’s enrolment in schools.
“So something has to come out that can address this issue,” he said.
Community Empowerment for Rehabilitation and Development (CEFoRD) programme manager Mawa George Lazarus said it was the first time that the council had given the civil society organizations a chance to get their views on law making.
“This is the first kind here in Yei, and that to me gives credit to them. It is important that when you come up with laws it has to be consultative,” he said.
The County and municipality have in total 120 primary, 64 nursery and 20 secondary schools with a high number of pupils and students. This is according to the acting education director, Reverend Philip Taban Isa.
He attributed poor performance to delayed and irregular payment of school fees and influx of people from other conflict areas to the few available schools, leading to congestion in classes.
“If we go to the school, a class is having about 200 pupils. Will the teacher really concentrate? But the law says don’t stop a child from accessing school. We the parents are sometimes to blame for the failure of the children because what is needed for the child at school is not given,” Rev. Taban said.
A civil society organization in Yei River County has called on citizens to promptly report any abuse to the concerned authorities to ensure justice prevails.
The call comes following a late reporting of a rape case where a man believed to be in his 40s rapped a ten year old girl in Pakula quarter council of Yei municipality last week, and the report was delayed for days before reaching the police.
Community Empowerment for Rehabilitation and Development-CEFoRD condemned the act, and called for apprehending and meting of justice to the perpetrator.
“The perpetrators must be brought to book and justice must be accorded,” said Mawa George Lazarus, the organization’s programme coordinator. He decried that most cases of abuse are not reported to the authorities and this in turn promotes the act.
“Some two days ago, I also heard another incident happening around Logobero. The challenge is that such kinds of issues are not reported,” he said.
Mawa challenged social workers to perform their task through regular visits to the grassroots, especially payams and bomas so that they can gather information about abuses in the community.
He echoed calls to law enforcement agents to ensure that reported cases are transparently and honestly handled in accordance to the demands of the law.
“They need to perform their task the way the laws demand them to do,” he added.
The civil society organizations will continue to engage with the law enforcement bodies so that justice prevails to violators of human rights as stipulated in the law, he said.
Women usually complain of lack of justice for violators of their rights. Last year, they decried that lenient sentences are encouraging more abuses because violators are punished contrary to the demands of the law.
Victoria Nasera, the county assistant commissioner of gender, child and social development said her department has been holding awareness campaigns against domestic violence in the payams and bomas, which she believes could help reduce violence against women and children.
“There is a lot of domestic violence in the community and even the work load in houses, making girls to fail in school,” she said.
Despite the efforts in place, Mawa says more financial support is needed to supplement women associations and offices to collectively step up activities, including awareness campaigns, on the dangers of gender based violence.
“We appeal that the county women association and other stakeholders need to be supported to do more of their work,” he says.
Lainya county health department in Central Equatoria state and African Medical and Research Foundation (AMREF) have kicked off a ten-day free operation for people who suffer from hernia and appendicitis.
Dr Garang Deng said they operated on 22 people on Monday, with ongoing consultations with 120 others, adding that the number of people keeps increasing. He attributed the cause of hernia cases to hard work.
“The number of people is increasing and until now we are seeing a number of them coming. Most people are farmers here, this hernia cases are caused because most people are farmers, they are working hard,” Dr Garang told TCT by phone on Tuesday.
Mechanical causes of hiatus hernia include improper lifting of heavy weights, hardcoughingbouts, sharp blows to the abdomen, and incorrect posture.
Taban Jackson, one of the patients who was operated on, expressed joy after a successful appendix operation, a condition which he said had been keeping him from movement and work.
“It was so painful to me, but I finally accepted to come to bear the two days of pain compared to the long period of time I was enduring,” said Jackson, who came from Kenyi payam.
He called on the people of South Sudan having such cases to go for operation immediately to avoid further health complications.
County clinical officer Scopas Guya Wayiwayi hailed AMREF for coming to the rescue of South Sudanese people, including the poor, with free and accessible health services.
“This operation is free of charge to save our vulnerable communities who have no money,” he said.
According to Scopas, many people from other counties like Morobo, Yei and Juba city are turning up in huge numbers for the free and mobile service.
He lamented that the health centre is having inadequate equipments, drugs and accommodation for the workers to enable them offer improved services to the citizens.
Most of the cases been operated are hernia, said Philip Chandiga, the coordinator for AMREF health surgical outlet.
“I realized since last year when we started coming here, ninety percent of the cases that have been operated were hernia cases,” Mr Chandiga told TCT on telephone.
He estimated that they will operate more than one hundred patients within the ten day period. He added that this was the third time they were offering free medical services to the people of Lainya.
AMREF is currently supporting about six state hospitals - Lainya, Kajokeji, Juba teaching hospital in Central Equatoria state, and Bor, Wau and Kwajok state hospitals.
He said AMREF aims at extending health services to poor people.
“This is a free surgical part that is organized for the rural poor who cannot afford to go to the town. There is no limit, whether you are in Lainya, Morobo, Kajokeji, Juba, you are welcome,” he added.
Chiefs in Yei River County and the municipality have lamented that random movement of herds of cattle in farmlands have destroyed crops, which the government should address to avoid conflict.
“Last week, the cattle entered one of the lands of my community members and destroyed all the cassava. This is our living and theirs is cattle,” Abel Sebit Morjan, Minyori, quarter council chief in Yei municipality told TCT on Saturday.
“The government should take this issue seriously and know where have they (cattle) come from so that they go back,” he said.
He complained that the farmers are afraid of farming on a massive scale because cattle keepers are well armed.
Last week, Tore payam head Chief Anthony Amedeo Mauya decried that the large herds of cattle in the payam had destroyed many crops.
“Our brothers who brought many cattle here, had wanted to provoke us but our hearts were strong because we thought they might have escaped from their homes due to fear. We reported to the commissioner about what to do to help those who have their crops all eaten by cattle,” Amedeo said.
The chief said local farmers who lost their crops in cattle destruction were stranded on what next to do, adding that the payam authority had given a report to the county so that the affected people can be helped.
However, Azaria Khemis Noah, the payam director reported that local farmers had resumed farming when cattle keepers started leaving the area with their animals. He said the move was implementation of the resolution reached between cattle keepers and farmers.
“Most of them have moved and the residents are now preparing lands so that when it rains they will plant their first season crops,” he said on phone.
A committee formed by the governor of Central Equatoria state Clement Wani Konga has assessed the state of development in Tore Payam of Yei River County in order to improve the quality of services rendered to citizens.
The state director general in the ministry of Physical Infrastructure John Bullen Lako said they assessed many sectors in the payam including education, health, water, roads and bridges.
He said the assessment seeks to enable the state government to plan for service delivery to the people of Tore. Mr. Bullen said the ministry will send surveyors and engineers to the payam to implement the demarcation master plan.
He said that the delegation tried to collect information on as many problems as possible and to forward the report back to the governor. Many local residents decried the poor state of educational facilities in the payam.
“For sure these problems can be addressed,” Bullen said. “The school environment in Tore is not good, no classes, no shelter and a lot of things.”
Tore payam, one of the five payams of Yei River County including the municipality, is located 48 miles North West of Yei town, bordering Western Equatoria state and Democratic Republic of Congo. It is the biggest payam in the county but due to its location, services hardly reach the citizens.
Azaria Khemis Noah, the payam director lamented that poor school structures compel pupils and students to attend classes for half a day during the rainy season.
“There is no shelter. When it comes to rainy season, they are unable to complete their lessons. And when it comes to the dry season it is open and the sun is very hot, so they are unable to go on,” he said during a meeting with the state delegation.
He said the school officials and pupils struggle to pass though there is a lack of materials and teachers. Local education officials said the payam has eleven primary schools and one secondary.
A resident Fr Lazarus Mondua told state delegates to report their assessment to the government so that the government can improve the quality of education in the payam.
“If someone comes to Tore and talks about education, it is really shameful. You will find many children are under trees. Which is a big problem,” he said.
Civil society and community based organizations earlier on reported that boreholes constructed by state funds were put in places with low populations, with others being unfunctional.
The residents complained that up to June, the roads would be blocked and farmers would have no way of transporting their produce to markets.
President Salva Kiir has launched the ‘Back to Learning’ campaign in Juba. The launch is a $42 million joint initiative between the ministry of Education, Science and Technology, United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and other partners.
The initiative aims at giving more than 400,000 children whose schooling was interrupted by ongoing conflict a chance to return to their studies over the next year.
The launch of the initiative in South Sudan was also attended by the minister for Education Dr. John Gai Yoh, deputy governor Central Equitoria state Manase Lomole Waya, UNICEF Country Director Jonathan Veitch, UNMISS Chief Ellen Margaret Loej, heads of diplomatic missions and other development partners in the country.
Addressing hundreds of people who attended the launch at Dr. John Garang Mausoleum, President Kiir said the country fought for 37years in order to give children a bright future.
“Now that we are independent, focus on your education and it is your duty to learn and build this land of abundance,” he told pupils and students present. “Wake up the eagerness to learn and be courageous and always ask questions as well remembering that answers originated from questions.”
President Salva Kiir emphasized the importance of studying to the learners, saying that books are the source of knowledge and that they should read in order to expand their understanding.
He addressed the issue of girl-child education as being less noted important by our society but added that education is not for boys only.
“Education must be provided for all (boys and girls), so we must give them equal opportunity,” said the president.
The minister for Education Dr. Gai told the gathering that his ministry will work with partners to implement the programme, which will reach out-of-school children in all 10 states, including areas currently engulfed in conflict.
“This initiative is a national call and for those who listened to the national anthem sang by the children, I hope…this anthem will be sung by children for years,” said Gai. “This is an emotional moment because the future of this country is their future.”
Central Equatoria state deputy governor Mr. Lomole called on leaders at all levels to take education seriously and own the learning process if the nation is to succeed.
Mr. Lomole appealed to the president and the development partners for construction of more learning spaces, particularly in Juba and Yei, where citizens from the displaced states have sent their children to school.
“I am deeply concerned that the education of this generation of children has been affected by the conflict,” said UNMISS Representative Ellen Margaret Loej. “I bring to your attention the regretful fact that a third of schools in conflict states are closed and this is unacceptable.”
The UNICEF representative Jonathan Veitch said the initiative will invest $100 in every child’s learning.
“It is a small cost for the hope and opportunity it brings,” said Veitch.
The Episcopal Church of South Sudan and Sudan’s diocese of Wau has developed a course titled “Reconcile: Moving Forward in Peace”, inviting people to be peace-builders this Lenten season.
This initiative from the church comes amidst the conflict in South Sudan which has gravely affected all communities since the country’s independence from Sudan in 2011.
Written by the staff of the Wau diocese of the Episcopal Church of the South Sudan and Sudan, a member church of the World Council of Churches (WCC), the course engages the community in discussion and prayer.
The content gives an African outlook on Christianity and focuses on issues relating to peace. The course tries to stimulate participation, discovery and tackles faith-related issues. Themes include tribalism, causes of friction, domestic violence and the understanding of peace. The course can be obtained for free at the Wau diocese website and is scheduled over six sessions.
“Terrible things have happened in South Sudan, things that must end for us to know peace. But peace will not come without reconciliation,” said Bishop Moses Deng-Bol of Wau Diocese. “This course aims to show reconciliation in the Bible as it teaches,” he added.
“We hope that there will be a joyful and peaceful Easter celebration this year. This is a special time for us. Please remember us and all the challenges facing South Sudan in your prayers, especially the peace mobilizers who are working so hard to bring reconciliation to every part of South Sudan,” said Deng-Bol.
“The WCC has received with appreciation the news about the course on reconciliation developed by the dioceses of Wau. It is a welcome contribution to the implementation of the invitation from the WCC 10th Assembly inviting all churches to join the pilgrimage of justice and peace,” said Dr Isabel Apawo Phiri, the WCC associate general secretary for Public Witness and Diakonia.
“This is a clear example of the ministry of the church in the context of suffering. We become the channel of healing from Jesus Christ to suffering communities.”
“May God bless and expand such healing ministries to all the communities where the people of God are suffering as a result of internal and external conflicts,” added Phiri.
The government of South Sudan has condemned the killing of an aid worker in the capital, Juba, on Tuesday night.
Reports say that the British aid worker who works for the Carter Centre was shot dead on Tuesday night after being approached by a gunman as he entered his compound.
Ateny Wek Ateny, an official spokesman, said the assailant walked into the guarded compound, where the Carter Centre is based, at around 8.30pm and opened fire with an AK-47.
“He got out of the car, then while walking he was shot,” said Mr Ateny, according to Agence France-Presse news agency.
The government condemned the crime “in the strongest terms possible” and an investigation would take place, Mr Ateny said.
The death has sparked deep concern in Juba’s large expatriate community, which is facing growing criticism from government and an increase in violent crime.
Meanwhile, Community Empowerment for Progress Organization (CEPO) has condemned the killing.
“CEPO treats the act of the killing the British aid worker as act of person(s) that are enemies of peace and criminal-minded,” it said in a statement.
Mr. Edmund Yakani, Executive Director of CEPO said targeting aid workers is absolutely unacceptable and it is violation of the international humanitarian law. He said the recent increase in targeting humanitarian workers by armed men is an indicator of threat towardshumanitarian work, including increase in road blocks that result to harassment and intimidation of humanitarian aid workers.
“These acts should be stopped and the perpetrators should be identified and held accountable by the government,” he said.
Non-governmental organisations have complained of increased harassment and threats of expulsion by the government, which has in turn accused them of stirring up the civil war.
Last year, the government accused the UN of deliberately concealing rebels inside refugee camps and allowing them to amass weapons.
The United Nations Mission in South Sudan was forced to come out and issue a denial, saying that all those who took refuge in the camps were from all sides in the conflict, and were always disarmed before they are allowed inside the protection of civilian sites.
President Salva Kiir is scheduled to attend a three-day community-organised peace conference in Lakes state. The conference will be bring together youth, women, chiefs, religious leaders, law enforcement agents, politicians, civil society and non-governmental international organizations.
Lakes state has witnessed continuous hostilities and revenge killings among the communities residing in the state for the last two months. The conference is expected to discuss the causes of the killings and try to find a permanent solution to them.
A local non-governmental organization has applauded the move by the president to attend the peace conference in person as president of the country.
Edmund Yakani, Executive Director of CEPO says should listen to the views of the citizens of the state and take immediately the required action.
The loss of lives and properties among citizens of Lakes State is abnormal and that should not be allowed to continue. The most vulnerable groups who always pay the price of war are the youth, women and children, estimated at the rate of 2-5 persons per week, and 5-10 persons per month since the beginning of this year,” he said.
CEPO has alleged that some of the guns used to kill people are supplied by some leaders in the government. It adds that the same leaders are polarising neighbouring communities for their personal political gains.
CEPO strongly recommends that the best solutions for the violent conflict in Lakes state should be centered on making rule of law, justice and accountability to prevail and observation of human rights.
Further, it says that politicians should be restrained from politicizing the communities’ disagreements for their own gain.
Meanwhile, the organization has welcomed the decision by the Council of Ministers to postpone the elections that were scheduled to take place in June of this year.
The South Sudan Council of Ministers resolved at its regular meeting last week to postpone the General Elections till peace is achieved.
At the same time, the council of minister resolved to extend the lifespan of the elected positions and agreed for a constitutional amendment to legalise the decision. The council of ministers resolved that it will table the required constitutional amendments before the national parliament next week.
The decision comes after pressure from various players, who had asked the government to postpone the elections until peace prevails in the country. The pressure came from civil society, political parties and religious leaders, notably the Catholic Church which last week said the timing of the elections would not be right for the country.