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Population of refugees in Yida settlement passes the 35,000 mark: UNHCR

Juba, May 23, 2012 (SSNA) -- The number of refugees arriving in Yida from the
Nuba Mountains continues to increase, and crossed the 35,000 mark over the weekend. The flow of new arrivals has been erratic during the month of May, with highs of over 700 on some days and lows of under 100 on others. The present average arrival rate of 434 refugees per day represents a 47% increase over the rate in April.  If the present trend continues, there will be over 40,000 refugees in the settlement by the end of May.

The general condition of new arrivals is very poor. Refugees normally arrive by the only road through the disputed area of Jau, a 40km journey through dense bush with regular military traffic. Most travel on foot with the few possessions they are able to carry. Many are hungry and there are increasing signs of malnourishment owing to the lack of humanitarian assistance in their home areas.

Conditions in Yida are both difficult and dangerous given its proximity to the border, previous bombardment, overall militarization of the area, and the lack of a large host community or infrastructure. Despite efforts by UNHCR, NGOs and others to encourage movement to areas of greater safety and better infrastructure, identified and equipped by UNHCR and the government of South Sudan, many remain in Yida – hesitant to be too far from home, and hopeful to return there quickly. Delivery of humanitarian assistance in Yida is likewise a challenge. Risks are associated with its proximity to the disputed border zone as well as the looming arrival of rainy season, which will make the area accessible only by air for several months.

Upon arriving in Yida, refugees are registered and immediately provided with water and high energy biscuits. A medical screening follows after which they receive an initial two-week WFP food ration to cover them until the next general food distribution. Agencies provide urgent medical attention and therapeutic feeding. During the last two weeks UNHCR distributed plastic sheets, mosquito nets, sleeping mats and blankets to 2,540 households. While we initially prioritized the most vulnerable, particularly older persons, unaccompanied minors and female-headed households, we plan to ensure the entire population has sufficient supplies to carry them through the rainy season.

UNHCR has strengthened its presence in Yida and is engaging more predictably with the refugee community and humanitarian actors. “While Yida remains highly problematic as a safe location for refugees, the resilience and self-sufficiency of the population is truly amazing. Despite UNHCR’s continued belief that refugees will be safer farther south and away from the border and conflict area, we have significantly enhanced our protection and assistance presence to build upon the
remarkable capacity of the people.” These observations were made by Peter Trotter, UNHCR Senior Protection Officer after completing a four-week assessment in Yida.

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For further information, please contact:

Juba: Teresa Ongaro, mobile: +211 927 770 040; email: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
Nairobi: Vivian Tan, mobile: +254 735 337 608; email: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it  
Geneva: Fatoumata Lejeune-Kaba, mobile: +41 79 249 3483; email
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Unity State citizens in diaspora to conduct peace, national healing, and reconciliation conference in July

Dear compatriots and fellow citizens,

United States, May 21, 2012 (SSNA) -- In the name of our beloved Unity State, warm greetings to you all. Many of you may be aware or have heard that Unity State citizens in North America are organizing a general Three-day Open Dialogue Conference, scheduled to take place on Friday, July 6-8, 2012, in Omaha, Nebraska, at the Malcolm X Memorial Foundation Activities Hall, located at 3448 Evan ST., Omaha, NE 68111. You will find more information (including a short clip) about the venue by clicking the following website: http://www.malcolmxfoundation.org/MXMF/Welcome.html.

This conference is being organized by a group of volunteers from the U.S., and Canada. Only Unity State citizens worldwide are cordially invited to come and join hands together with the rest of your brothers and sisters to discuss post-Independence challenges facing Unity State and South Sudan at large. Like most of you, the volunteers organizing the conference have been thinking genuinely about the current state of affairs in Unity State and ways in which those of us in Diaspora can attune our contributions to the interests of the ordinary people back home. We can achieve the positive change we wish to see in Unity State if we believe in the strength and power of togetherness as citizens with shared interests and destiny. As Margaret Mead once said, “never doubt that a small group of thoughtful and committed citizens can change the world, and indeed it is the only thing that ever has”. The situations and We are united and committed to promotes peace, national healing and reconciliation and prosperity among Unity State citizens circumstances Mead alluded to may be different from ours, but her wise words undoubtedly resonate today with the need of bringing positive changes to our state by focusing on and tackling our common issues irrespective of an ethnic affiliation or a political leaning. We can build a prosperous state by engaging in civil discourse and initiating concrete plans that will serve as blueprints for building a better society.

Many of us have accomplished a lot individually in our respective host nations. However, we have not done much together. Therefore, this conference provides a platform on which all of our individual accomplishments can be coordinated together to harness the power of togetherness for greater purposes such as achieving PEACE, UNITY, social and economic development in order to build a vibrant society.

This conference also affords us an opportunity to talk about our shared objectives as Unity State citizens in Diaspora. For example, achieving peace and promoting harmonious relations among communities in Unity State and other neighboring states. Finding ways of coordinating our efforts will enable us to work together with PEACE builders back home. This needs our diverse perspectives and collective thinking as a team.

By utilizing the skills and diverse resources we have in Diaspora we can undoubtedly become instrumental in creating better living conditions for our people in the motherland. The conference will also provide a platform to come together and talk about bringing economic development to Unity State by wooing foreign investors to invest in the state’s numerous human and natural resources. Each one of us has a duty and We are united and committed to promotes peace, national healing and reconciliation and prosperity among Unity State citizens responsibility to contribute in building Unity State, whether in big or small ways. We can bridge our petty differences by eliminating our doubts and all that divides us, embracing the strength of the thread that binds us together. We hope to come out from this conference united by the common vision of:

What We Hope to Achieve:

  • Build and promote peace and harmony among Unity state citizens from all 9 counties and the neighboring states such as Warrap, Lakes, and Jonglei.
  • Foster reconciliation and forgiveness among our people through initiating a healing process through which people will be encouraged to put their bitter past behind and aspire for a better future.
  • Form a think-tank consultant group, whose responsibility will be to consult with the Unity State different sectors of leaderships on matters critical to the good governance and nation building.
  • Focus on economic development by encouraging foreign and local investors to invest in agriculture, including husbandry and livestock to create for employment opportunities for people with little educational skills that will enable them to compete ably in the job market.
  • Discuss way of eliminating all forms of bad governance (corruption, cronyism, nepotism, tribalism) which cause distrust and conflicts between public officials and the constituencies they represent;
  • Promote respect for the rule of law so that nobody feels he/she is below or above the law, but all citizens are entitled to equal rights and privileges;
  • Discuss the provision of basic services (health clinic, education, and food) to the most needy in the state;
  • Discuss land dispute between and among different counties

For questions or additional information about the conference, please contact the following organizing volunteers in Canada and the U.S., respectively. We look forward to seeing you soon in Omaha, Nebraska!

1. Mr. James Nguen, Calgary, Canada (403-554-8692)
2. Mr. Gatley Tungwar, Winnipeg, Canada (204-415-2668)
3. Mr. Simon Mayiik, Calgary, Canada
4. Mr. Simon Tor, Saskoot, Canada
5. Mr. Gatwech Ruach, Toronto, Canada
6. Mr. Lwal Baguoot, Boston, MA (781-859-8059)
7. Mr. Josephs Khan, Kansas City, MO
8. Mr. Palath Thonchar, Rochester, NY
9. Mr. Chuker Nger, Colorado Springs, CO (719-217-3500)
10. Mr. Lem Miyar, Harrisburg, PA
 11. Mr. Lazarus Yak, Phoenix, AZ
12. Mr. William Pay, Phoenix, AZ
13. Mr. Abuot Tor, Dallas, TX,
14. Mr. Gabriel Shallbreak, Houston, TX
15. Mr. James Maliah, Portland, ME
16. Mrs. Becky Machar-Teny, St. Paul, MN
17. Ms. Mary Nyanbuoney Biel, Des Moines, IA
18. Mr. Laat Gatluak, Omaha, NE
19. Mr. Dieu Makuach, Omaha, NE
20. Mr. John Kuk, Omaha, NE
21. Mr. Stephen Lam, Omaha, NE
22. Mr. Gat-kier Machar, Fargo, ND
23. Mr. David Gatwech, Seattle, WA
24. Mr. Bolis Gatley Wal, Canada,
25. Mr. Michael Gatlek Liah, Phoenix, AZ
26. Mr. Biem Miabek Akol, Omaha, NE
27. Mr. Mark Gatkier Kuol, Amrillo, TX
 28. Mr. Biel Thiech, Grand Rapids, MI
29. Mr. Mabor Koang, Vancuover, Canada
30. Mr. Kuagany Wal, Grand Rapids, MI
31. Mr. Chap Phan, Grand Rapids, MI

South Sudanese in Ethiopia reject the appointment of Arop Deng Kuol as Ambassador to Ethiopia; accuse President kiir of playing ‘tribal politics’

For Immediate Release
South Sudan Community in Ethiopia
May, 20, 2012

Addis Ababa, May 20, 2012 (SSNA) -- After wider consultation, we, the South Sudan citizens in Ethiopia, collectively rejected the appointment of Mr. Arop Deng Kuol as South Sudan Ambassador to Ethiopia. As citizens of the Republic of South Sudan, we are opposing his appointment not only for national security issue but also the principles of Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations. We issued a press release in 2011 demanding his removal from Addis Ababa for legitimate reasons. However, the office of President Salva Kiir did not pay attention to our request to remove him from GoSS Head of Mission in Ethiopia for reasons enumerated below.

We have noticed for quite awhile that President Salva Kiir pays attention to petitions coming from Dinka ethnic group and doesn’t even respond to requests made by non-Dinka communities. When the Union of Dinka Community in Kampala, Uganda, petitioned for the removal of GOSS Head of Mission in Uganda in 2011, the Office of the President took the issue seriously and recalled GOSS Head of Mission immediately to Juba and replaced him with a new head mission.

The South Sudanese in Ethiopia petitioned the office of the President many times but never received any response at all. We have learned that the case of Arop Deng Kuol has been seen by the office of the President as Nuer versus Dinka politics because the majority of South Sudanese in Ethiopia are Nuer. Most importantly, Arop Deng Kuol himself repeatedly made it abundantly clear that President Salva Kiir could not remove him because of the petitions of “people who didn’t support SPLM/A-Torit faction after the Movement split in 1991”. His statements to South Sudan communities in Addis Ababa confirmed the obvious fact that the case of Arop Deng Kuol is being seen in tribal lenses by the office of the president.

When Vice-president Riek Machar visited Addis Ababa on September, 10, 2011, the South Sudan community organized a meeting to express the position of the community. All the 40,000 people who attended the meeting called for the removal of Arop Deng Kuol and Dr. Riek Machar was shocked with the overwhelming rejection of Arop Deng Kuol to continue as GOSS Head Mission to Ethiopia. After listening to community members attentively, Dr. Riek Machar assured the community, in front of Arop Deng Kuol, that the Government in Juba would appoint a new Head Mission to fulfill the democratic wish of the citizens of South Sudan.

Unfortunately, the promise made by the Vice President never materialized and Arop Deng Kuol continued as Head of the GOSS Mission to Ethiopia. After the independence of South Sudan, and its recognition by the UN and AU, our community made another request for the appointment of a new ambassador who is not Arop Deng Kuol. Based on the principles of Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations, the followings points disqualify Arop Deng Kuol to be appointed as South Sudan ambassador to Ethiopia and AU.

1. Arop Deng Kuol owns businesses in Ethiopia and he is Ethiopian citizen who holds Ethiopian Passport. He acquired Ethiopian citizenship after marrying from the ethnic group of Prime Minister Meles Zenawi in 1997.

2. Based on Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations, Arop Deng Kuol could not have been appointed as Ambassador to Ethiopia prior to relinquishing Ethiopian citizenship.

3. South Sudan cannot appoint somebody who has vast businesses in Ethiopia because there would be a conflict of interest between South Sudan national interest and the private interest of Arop Deng Kuol.

4. Arop Deng Kuol owns three houses in Addis Ababa; four clothe factories, three cafeterias, ten Mini buses, two hotels in Addis Ababa, one hotel in Keren, two super Markets in Addis Ababa.

In the field of public relations, the government of South Sudan could not have appointed somebody who has bad relationship with South Sudan communities in Ethiopia. For the last seven years, Arop Deng’s relations with South Sudan Diaspora in Ethiopia have been characterized by the followings:

5. He denied scholarships for seven years to South Sudan students who are from Nuer, Anyuak and Shilluks. All the scholarships to Ethiopia institutions of learning have been given to Dinka.

6. He refused to organize community celebrations and to attend them as GOSS Representative in Ethiopia.

7. He wrote letters that South Sudan community leaders in Ethiopia were banned from visiting the Embassy of the Republic of South Sudan.

8. He took referendum money ($20,000 US Dollars) which were sent through GOSS Mission Account by 2011 Referendum Taskforce.

9. He claimed that $20,000 US dollars were given to the Director General for African Affairs in Ethiopian Federal Ministry of Foreign Affairs as part of GoSS diplomatic campaigns for recognitions from Ethiopian government.

If ambassadorial appointments in South Sudan were conducted in a way that took into account Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations of 1965, there was no rational ground at all for somebody who owns so many businesses in Ethiopia to have been appointed without infringing the principles of Vienna Convention. Article 42 of the Vienna Convention states “a diplomatic agent shall not in the receiving State practise for personal profit any professional or commercial activity”.

Besides, our community is taken by surprise with the violation of protocol by the Federal Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ethiopia, which violated two cardinal principles of Vienna Convention. First, in the diplomatic rules, a receiving state cannot accept an ambassador before receiving credentials of the ambassador from sending state. The Ethiopian Federal Ministry of Foreign Affairs accepted Arop Deng Kuol to become South Sudan ambassador prior to receiving his credentials from government of South Sudan. This violation confirms the allegation that the in-laws of Arop Deng Kuol in the Ethiopian Ministry of Foreign Affairs wanted him to become the ambassador at the expense of South Sudan national interest. The people of South Sudan should ask themselves whether Arop Deng Kuol will really serve the national interest of South Sudan given his businesses and family connection in Ethiopia. Article 13 (1) of Vienna Convention states,

the head of the mission is considered as having taken up his functions in the receiving State either when he has presented his credentials of when he has notified his arrival and a true copy of his credentials has been presented to the Ministry for Foreign Affairs of the receiving State, or such other ministry as may be agreed, in accordance with the practice prevailing in the receiving State which shall be applied in a uniform manner”.

Second, the Ethiopian Federal Ministry of Foreign Affairs could not have accepted Arop Deng Kuol as ambassador to Ethiopia prior to relinquishing his Ethiopian citizenship. Article 3 of the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations lists, as one of the functions of a diplomatic mission, “protecting in the receiving state the interests of the sending state and its nationals, within the limits permitted by international law”. The Vienna Convention on Consular Relations asserts a similar role for consular officials.

Article 38 of the Vienna Convention 1961 states that except where additional privileges and immunities have been specifically granted by the host State, a diplomatic agent who is a national of or permanent resident in that State shall enjoy only immunity from jurisdiction, and inviolability, in respect of official acts performed in the exercise of his functions. Article 38 clearly differentiates between an act carried out as part of his official duties and those done as a personal act. Any actions done personally and outside the ambit of official consular duties shall not be covered by “diplomatic immunity.”

Based on the principles of Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations, there are many reasons against the appointment of Arop Deng Kuol as South Sudan ambassador to Ethiopia. Conditions that could raise a security concern and may be disqualifying include:

1. The exercise of dual citizenship;

2. Possession and/or use of a foreign passport;

3. Residence in a foreign country to meet citizenship requirements;

4. Using foreign citizenship to protect financial or business interests in another country;

5. Performing or attempting to perform duties, or otherwise acting, so as to serve the interests of another government in preference to the interests of the South Sudan.

Based upon the above legal reasons, we call upon President Salva Kiir to recall Arop Deng Kuol and appoint a new ambassador as soon as possible. As stated above, the appointment of Arop Deng Kuol as South Sudan ambassador to Ethiopia violated every letter and spirit of Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations. Unless President Salva Kiir wants to endanger the national interest of South Sudan, article 42 of the Vienna Convention states clearly that “a diplomatic agent shall not in the receiving State practise for personal profit any professional or commercial activity”. Mr. Arop Deng has more businesses in Ethiopia than Prime Minister Meles Zenawi and appointing such a person as South Sudan diplomatic representative is an infringement of article 42 of the Vienna Convention.

For contact:
Representative of South Sudan community in Ethiopia
Email: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
Addis Ababa
 
Cc: H.E President of the RSS
Cc: H.E Vice –President of RSS
Cc: H.E Minister of Foreign Affairs
Cc: H.E Federal Minister of Foreign Affairs, Ethiopia
Cc: H.E Minister of Justice RSS
Cc: Undersecretary of Minister of Foreign Affairs RSS,
CC. H.E. The Ethiopian Ambassador to the RSS

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