Daily Archives: June 6, 2018

S. Sudan’s Latest Civil War Atrocities Kept Out of Sight

The accounts are horrific. A young girl strangled and gang-raped. Children burned alive as government soldiers blocked the door of their hut and set it aflame.

These are some of the atrocities revealed in 14 reports, seen by The Associated Press, that have not yet been released by the independent body charged with monitoring a failed cease-fire imposed in December in South Sudan, where civil war is now well into its fifth year.

The reports should have been released last month at a meeting led by the Joint Monitoring and Evaluation Commission but South Sudan’s government did not attend, preventing the accounts of abuses from being made public because there was not a quorum.

“The reports contain evidence that soldiers continue to kill, rape and destroy property. The decision to keep these ongoing atrocity crimes secret sends the wrong message,” Jehanne Henry, senior Africa researcher for Human Rights Watch, told the AP. Only five such reports have been released this year.

The African Union and the East African regional bloc that mediates South Sudan’s peace talks should take action, said Edmund Yakani, executive director for the local advocacy group Community Empowerment for Progress Organization.

“Silence on the violations only encourages further violations,” he said.

While people attending the meeting said copies of the reports on atrocities were distributed to diplomats from the United States, the United Nations, Britain and elsewhere, none have released them publicly or made public the reports of abuses.

South Sudan’s government didn’t respond to multiple requests for comment on why it didn’t attend last month’s meeting.

The unpublished reports describe violations by both government and opposition forces but most of the accounts blame government troops for instigating attacks and deliberately targeting civilians.

During an attack in February on a school in the town of Modit, children fled into a hut to hide. Government soldiers blocked the door and set it on fire, burning the children to death, said one report.

A young girl fetching water from a river in the town of Yei was strangled before she and her mother were gang-raped by government soldiers, another report said. More than 30 cases of sexual assault were recorded in Yei and surrounding areas in the three months following December’s cease-fire agreement.

And in the nearby town of Morobo, a woman was raped and beaten so badly that she lost sight in one eye. A disabled woman, unable to flee the fighting, was thrown into a burning house by government soldiers, the report said.

The group that compiled the reports, the Ceasefire and Transitional Security Arrangements Monitoring Mechanism, told the AP its mandate doesn’t require it to publish reports and that releasing them had been the task of its parent body, the Joint Monitoring and Evaluation Commission. The commission reports to the East African regional bloc, the Intergovernmental Authority on Development. Neither responded to several AP requests for comment.

The concealing of the atrocities comes as the international community loses patience with South Sudan’s civil war, which has killed tens of thousands and created Africa’s largest refugee crisis since the Rwandan genocide in 1994. The U.S., South Sudan’s largest aid donor, has increased pressure on the Juba government amid widespread allegations that its officials are profiting from the conflict instead of working to end it.

Last week the U.N. Security Council adopted a U.S.-sponsored resolution that warns of an arms embargo and sanctions against six high-ranking officials if the fighting doesn’t stop.

The U.S. and others, however, insist that the East African regional bloc, along with the African Union, should take the lead in finding peace and holding perpetrators of abuses accountable.

The U.S. urges the monitoring bodies to release the reports of atrocities as soon as possible and regrets that the South Sudan government’s refusal to attend the plenary on May 14 prevented those reports from being made public at that time,” embassy spokesman Mark Weinberg told the AP.

Chris Trott, U.K. special representative for South Sudan, concluded that “it’s important, for the sake of ordinary South Sudanese who are again falling victim to the violence and for the credibility of the peace process, that violators are held to account.”

Source: Voice of America

Cameroon, Equatorial Guinea Reopen Border, Business Thrives

Cameroon and Equatorial Guinea have reopened their border six months after it was sealed to stop the movement of armed groups that fought to overthrow President Teodoro Obiang Nguema, who has led Equatorial Guinea since 1979. Strict controls remain on movement across the border.

It is a busy Wednesday morning at the main bus station in Ebebiyin, a north eastern town in the part of Equatorial Guinea that is on the African mainland. Business persons from neighboring Cameroon and Gabon are transporting goods to and from the tiny central Africa state. Ephraim Mukwah, a 43-year old Cameroon-born truck driver, said they are happy Equatorial Guinea officials have finally authorized them to have access to Cameroon.

He said people are very grateful and happy as the town’s taxi business is picking up and buses and trucks can now freely circulate between Cameroonian border towns right to Bata, the economic capital city of Equatorial Guinea.

Cameroon supplies food items, building material and motor spare parts to Equatorial Guinea while Equatorial Guinea delivers beverages, and vegetable oil to Cameroon.

Forty-year old Equatorial Guinean business woman Rosaline Avah said there has been a huge movement of goods and people to and from Ebebiyin within the past two weeks after Equatorial Guinea officials announced that the borders had been completely reopened. She said she is just returning from the first business trip to Cameroon in five months.

She said they went to the Cameroonian border town of Kiossi with nine trucks of wine, whiskies and vegetable oil on Friday last week with the hope of returning after two days. Instead, she said, they spent three additional days waiting for farm produce they bought from Cameroon to supply to their clients in the Equatorial Guinea border town of Ebebiyin and the country’s economic capital Bata. She said she is happy they are doing brisk business after a long period of no trading.

Rosaline, however, complained that the military checked them seven times between Bata and Ebebiyin, with all passengers asked to get out of their vehicles and pass through security checks. She said some people who did not have all of their identification papers were arrested.

Equatorial Guinea closed its border with Cameroon on December 24, following a failed coup attempt in the oil-rich Central African state.

On December 29, Equatorial Guinea’s leadership said its forces had arrested a number of people moving towards the Cameroon border in possession of rocket launchers, rifles and a stockpile of ammunition. Officials alleged the group had accumulated the weapons to destabilize the government of President Teodoro Obiang Nguema, who has ruled the Spanish-speaking country since 1979 and is the longest-serving leader in Africa. His critics have historically characterized his government as authoritarian and corrupt.

Cameroon said it arrested 40 heavily armed men on its side of the border and had strengthened security along the 290-kilometer boundary.

The security measure, traders said, crippled economic activities.

Handerson Quetong Kongeh, the highest-ranking government official in Ntem valley Cameroon border administrative unit, said the decision to reopen the border was taken following a series of meetings in which both countries agreed the threat to Obiang Nguema’s presidency had passed.

“Progressively serenity, peace, order and discipline reigns along the borders. So the Guinean authorities have judged for themselves that it was necessary to relax the exchanges and we think that if it continues in this way, the barriers will be completely uplifted,” said Kongeh.

Two months ago, the border was opened only two days every week and movement was under strict control of the Equatorial Guinea military. But today, movement is allowed daily, with impromptu and spontaneous checks by the country’s police force.

Cameroon and Equatorial Guinea are members of the six-member Economic Community of Central African States, CEMAC.

Obiang, who celebrated his 76th birthday on Tuesday, was elected to a fifth seven-year term in 2016 in polls the opposition said were rigged in his favor. Equatorial Guinea, a former colony of Spain, is a tiny oil rich state with 1.2 million people.

Source: Voice of America

Cameroon, Equatorial Guinea Reopen Border, Business Thrives

Cameroon and Equatorial Guinea have reopened their border six months after it was sealed to stop the movement of armed groups that fought to overthrow President Teodoro Obiang Nguema, who has led Equatorial Guinea since 1979. Strict controls remain on movement across the border.

It is a busy Wednesday morning at the main bus station in Ebebiyin, a north eastern town in the part of Equatorial Guinea that is on the African mainland. Business persons from neighboring Cameroon and Gabon are transporting goods to and from the tiny central Africa state. Ephraim Mukwah, a 43-year old Cameroon-born truck driver, said they are happy Equatorial Guinea officials have finally authorized them to have access to Cameroon.

He said people are very grateful and happy as the town’s taxi business is picking up and buses and trucks can now freely circulate between Cameroonian border towns right to Bata, the economic capital city of Equatorial Guinea.

Cameroon supplies food items, building material and motor spare parts to Equatorial Guinea while Equatorial Guinea delivers beverages, and vegetable oil to Cameroon.

Forty-year old Equatorial Guinean business woman Rosaline Avah said there has been a huge movement of goods and people to and from Ebebiyin within the past two weeks after Equatorial Guinea officials announced that the borders had been completely reopened. She said she is just returning from the first business trip to Cameroon in five months.

She said they went to the Cameroonian border town of Kiossi with nine trucks of wine, whiskies and vegetable oil on Friday last week with the hope of returning after two days. Instead, she said, they spent three additional days waiting for farm produce they bought from Cameroon to supply to their clients in the Equatorial Guinea border town of Ebebiyin and the country’s economic capital Bata. She said she is happy they are doing brisk business after a long period of no trading.

Rosaline, however, complained that the military checked them seven times between Bata and Ebebiyin, with all passengers asked to get out of their vehicles and pass through security checks. She said some people who did not have all of their identification papers were arrested.

Equatorial Guinea closed its border with Cameroon on December 24, following a failed coup attempt in the oil-rich Central African state.

On December 29, Equatorial Guinea’s leadership said its forces had arrested a number of people moving towards the Cameroon border in possession of rocket launchers, rifles and a stockpile of ammunition. Officials alleged the group had accumulated the weapons to destabilize the government of President Teodoro Obiang Nguema, who has ruled the Spanish-speaking country since 1979 and is the longest-serving leader in Africa. His critics have historically characterized his government as authoritarian and corrupt.

Cameroon said it arrested 40 heavily armed men on its side of the border and had strengthened security along the 290-kilometer boundary.

The security measure, traders said, crippled economic activities.

Handerson Quetong Kongeh, the highest-ranking government official in Ntem valley Cameroon border administrative unit, said the decision to reopen the border was taken following a series of meetings in which both countries agreed the threat to Obiang Nguema’s presidency had passed.

“Progressively serenity, peace, order and discipline reigns along the borders. So the Guinean authorities have judged for themselves that it was necessary to relax the exchanges and we think that if it continues in this way, the barriers will be completely uplifted,” said Kongeh.

Two months ago, the border was opened only two days every week and movement was under strict control of the Equatorial Guinea military. But today, movement is allowed daily, with impromptu and spontaneous checks by the country’s police force.

Cameroon and Equatorial Guinea are members of the six-member Economic Community of Central African States, CEMAC.

Obiang, who celebrated his 76th birthday on Tuesday, was elected to a fifth seven-year term in 2016 in polls the opposition said were rigged in his favor. Equatorial Guinea, a former colony of Spain, is a tiny oil rich state with 1.2 million people.

Source: Voice of America