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South Sudan

    May 21, 2015

    New research conducted by Amnesty International on the surge in military activity in South Sudan over the past weeks clearly shows that regional and international efforts to end the human suffering caused by armed conflict in South Sudan have failed.

    Amnesty International researchers have just returned from Bentiu in Unity state where they documented violations including civilian killings, abduction and sexual violence.

    “The spike in fighting between the parties to the conflict is a clear indication that South Sudan’s leaders have little interest in a cessation of hostilities, while the region and the rest of the international community are reluctant to take bold steps towards addressing repeated atrocities,” said Michelle Kagari, deputy director with Amnesty International.

    Thousands of people have fled to the United Nations base in Bentiu to escape intensified fighting in Unity state between the Sudan Peoples’ Liberation Movement/Army-In Opposition and government forces and allied youth and militia groups.

    May 14, 2015
    By Alex Neve, Secretary General for Amnesty International Canada Section

    SOUTHERN KORDOFAN - Time and again, as we have interviewed women, men and young people throughout Sudan’s besieged Southern Kordofan state, people have had not just one account of personal tragedy to share but several.

    That is perhaps the most heartbreaking measure of how entrenched this human rights and humanitarian crisis has become. After four years, the people of Southern Kordofan have seen the violence and injustice come around several times: more bombs, more displacement, more hunger, more loss and more death.  This is a cruel campaign that does not only strike once.

    These are not the stories of those caught on the front line by chance. But civilians deliberately targeted.

    In none of the sites we visited did we see or hear of any evidence of nearby military targets that might have justified the attacks.  In fact one woman told me that the Antonov bombers spend much more time raining hell around villages and sites for internally displaced persons (IDPs), than they do at the front-lines of the fighting.  

    May 11, 2015
    People flee fighting in Southern Kordofan FILE Photo 2011 EPA/ PAUL BANKS

    In a forgotten corner of South Sudan – a country itself mired in war, human rights violations and a staggering humanitarian catastrophe – refugees from a largely overlooked human rights crisis continue to arrive and continue to face immense challenges.

    The refugee camps of Yida and Adjoung Thok lie inside the northern tip of the country’s Unity State (a cruelly ironic name for a state that has seen some of the worst fighting in the country’s current civil war), very close to the border that was etched into atlases when it gained independence from Sudan in July 2011.

    They have  arrived here from neighbouring Sudan’s Southern Kordofan state, where an overlooked human rights crisis has played out during four unrelenting years of armed conflict and at the Sudanese armed forces’ massive and indiscriminate military assault.

    These refugees number around 95,000 and continue to arrive daily. Just imagine the desperation that makes fleeing to war ravaged South Sudan, a more attractive option than enduring the bombing, terror and hunger in Southern Kordofan.  

    March 06, 2015

    The African Union (AU) Peace and Security Council (PSC) should immediately consider, publish and disseminate the final report of the Commission of Inquiry into human rights violations and abuses committed in South Sudan said 76 organizations in an open letter to the 15 PSC member states.

    In January 2015, AUPSC members decided to defer consideration or publication of the African Union Commission of Inquiry on South Sudan (AUCISS) report because they thought it would obstruct the achievement of a peace agreement. But as a 5 March deadline for reaching a final agreement has now passed, the organizations renewed calls for the report to be published.

    “A culture of impunity has fuelled South Sudan’s conflict and emboldened combatants to target civilians, commit sexual violence, destroy and loot civilian property without fear of legal consequences,” said Arnold Tsunga, Africa Director of the International Commission of Jurists. “The release of the report could help deter further atrocities, by bringing to light what has taken place and making more real the prospect of accountability,”

    January 30, 2015

    The African Union’s (AU) Peace and Security Council has failed the thousands of South Sudanese victims who are waiting for truth and justice by not making public the report of the Commission of Inquiry on South Sudan, said Amnesty International today.

    Olusegun Obasanjo, former president of Nigeria and Chair of the Commission of Inquiry, was scheduled to present the report to the AU Peace and Security Council yesterday evening. But, in a move shocking to those committed to accountability, Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn, tabled a motion to “defer” presentation and consideration of the report pending the finalisation of a peace agreement. Presidents Zuma of South Africa and Museveni of Uganda seconded the motion.

    “What is outrageous is that the Peace and Security Council shelved the report indefinitely before its members even received copies or heard Obasanjo’s remarks,” said Amnesty International’s African Regional Research and Advocacy Director Netsanet Belay. “The AU seems to have forgotten that one of its founding principles is the condemnation and rejection of impunity.”

    January 21, 2015

    0001 GMT 22 January 2015.

    The African Union (AU) should immediately publish the report of the AU Commission of Inquiry on South Sudan, said Amnesty International, Community Empowerment for Progress Organization, FIDH (the International Federation for Human Rights), and the South Sudan Law Society.

    Their joint call comes ahead of the AU summit, amid concern that the ongoing delay in the publication of the report is impacting on the urgent need for accountability for crimes committed in South Sudan.

    “Three months after the Commission of Inquiry submitted its report to the AU, its findings and recommendations are yet to see the light of day,” said Edmund Yakani, director of Community Empowerment for Progress Organization. “In the meantime the conflict in South Sudan is continuing unabated with dire impacts on the civilian population.”

    January 08, 2015

    US President Barack Obama should call for and support a comprehensive United Nations arms embargo on the parties to South Sudan’s brutal conflict, 29 South Sudanese and international human rights, humanitarian, and other groups said today in a letter to President Obama. Thousands of civilians have been killed in the conflict, which began just over a year ago, in many cases targeted for their ethnicity or perceived political allegiances. An estimated 1.9 million people have been displaced, and massive looting and burning by both government and opposition forces has left towns and rural areas destroyed and abandoned.

    “More weapons will mean more fuel to the fire, more attacks on civilians, arbitrary killings, rape, burnings and pillage,” said Geoffrey Duke, secretariat team leader at the South Sudan Action Network on Small Arms. “President Obama should do everything he can to ensure that this year is not a repeat of the horrific last year for South Sudanese. Now is the time to take action.”

    November 05, 2014

    (Juba, November 5, 2014) – South Sudan’s neighbors should urgently call for the United Nations Security Council to establish an arms embargo to stem gruesome violations in the country’s devastating conflict, more than 50 South Sudanese and international human rights and humanitarian organizations said in a petition to regional leaders. The ongoing attacks on civilians are contributing to a humanitarian crisis, the organizations said.

    Regional leaders including the presidents of Kenya, Uganda, and Ethiopia are to meet on November 6, 2014 in Addis Ababa to discuss South Sudan at a summit meeting of the regional body, the Intergovernmental Authority of Development (IGAD).

    “South Sudanese civilians are desperate and need regional leadership to help protect them,” said Geoffrey Duke, secretariat team leader at the South Sudan Action Network on Small Arms. “More weapons will mean these civilians will face more abusive attacks: killings, rape, burnings, pillage. Now is the time to take action.”

    August 13, 2014

    Meriam Yehya Ibrahim and her family left Sudan and arrived in Italy on July 24, 2014. Amnesty International continues to press the government of Sudan to change the laws so that no one ever has to endure this kind of ordeal again. 

    She arrived in New Hampshire on July 30th to begin a new life with her husband and children. According to Ibrahim’s brother-in-law, Gabriel Wani, said Ibrahim had been granted asylum by the U.S. government. “I am so relieved,” Daniel Wani, Ibrahim's husband, said to reporters at the airport. 

    Thank you for the part you have played in this remarkable story!

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    August 01, 2014

    (Juba, South Sudan) – South Sudan’s National Security Service (NSS) should stop seizing and shutting down newspapers as well as harassing, intimidating and unlawfully detaining journalists, two leading human rights organizations said today in a joint report.

    Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch said that against the backdrop of an internal armed conflict that has raged for seven months across much of the country, the moves are restricting freedom of expression and curtailing public debate about how to end the conflict. The groups called for an end to these abuses and for South Sudan’s parliament to ensure proper oversight of the NSS, in line with international human rights law and standards.

    July 17, 2014

    The United Nations Security Council must impose a comprehensive arms embargo on South Sudan, Amnesty International urged after receiving reports of Chinese small arms and ammunition proliferation amongst both sides in the conflict.

    The organization also has confirmed that China supplied a further 1,000 tons of small arms and light weapons worth US$38 million to the country just over two weeks ago. 

    “China is playing a dangerous diplomatic game with the lives of millions of people in South Sudan. It has pledged to provide peacekeeping troops to protect civilians, and at the same time has sent over 1,000 ton of arms,” said Elizabeth Ashamu Deng, South Sudan Researcher at Amnesty International.

    “Such arms are likely to fall into the hands of both parties to the conflict and be used to fuel the atrocities threatening civilian lives.”

    The Security Council, of which China is a permanent member, has already condemned violations of international humanitarian law in South Sudan, including extrajudicial executions and ethnically targeted violence.

    July 08, 2014
    There are currently more than a million internally displaced people in South Sudan.  © Amnesty International

     

    Questions & Answers on the Conflict in South Sudan, 3 years after its independence
    -by Elizabeth Ashamu Deng, Amnesty International

    On 9 July, South Sudan will mark three years as an independent state. But the growing pains of the world’s newest country are evident as millions are trapped in a vicious cycle of violence. Amnesty International’s Elizabeth Ashamu Deng looks at some of the problems facing South Sudan today.
     

    July 08, 2014
      Both sides to the conflict committing war crimes and crimes against humanity More than 1 million internally displaced and 400,000 forced to flee the country 3.9 million people face an alarming risk of food insecurity as fears of famine loom Arms flow into South Sudan as conflict continues

    Since the conflict began in December 2013, more than 1 million people have been displaced, with 400,000 fleeing to neighbouring countries. Around the country 3.9 million people face an alarming risk of food insecurity, as fears of an impending famine loom.  More than 100,000 people are in internally displaced persons (IDP) camps at UN bases – some have been trapped in these compounds for months, afraid they will be attacked if they leave.

    One local human rights defender told Amnesty International: “What is there to celebrate when I don’t feel free?”

    July 07, 2014
    An elder in South Sudan

    by Alex Neve
    Secretary General, Amnesty International Canada
     

    Greeting to Amnesty International supporters, from Juba, South Sudan.

    As our human rights mission gets underway, I thought I’d share an uplifting "Amnesty moment" amidst two long, hot days of interviews in IDP (Internally Displaced People) camps here in Juba; with more to come. 

    These IDP camps are actually within United Nations peacekeeping bases.  The two in Juba hold around 30,000 people.  Nationwide, UN soldiers are sheltering about 100,000 people.  It was an unprecedented decision back in December when people were fleeing widespread massacres. Whereas UN bases have usually been a no-go zone for people fleeing atrocities, this time the UN Mission here made an unparalleled decision to open the gates.  It saved thousands of lives at the time, no doubt.

    July 07, 2014

    Alex Neve, Secretary General, Amnesty International Canada
    - in Juba, South Sudan
     

    “Stop publishing articles on federalism”

    That is the warning media outlets in South Sudan received in late June, through phone calls and visits from government security officers. 

    The National Security Service had decided that it was a threat to “national security” to discuss federalism – an approach to governance embraced by states around the world and already a feature of the interim South Sudanese Constitution. There was no written decree to back up their ominous warning. 

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