An Open Letter to the Norwegian Foreign Minister Mr. Børge Brende Concerning the Plights of Nuer IDPs at UNMISS Compounds In Juba

Norwegian Foreign Minister Borge Brende. Photo credit: M.B. Haga/Ministry of Foreign Affairs

Dear Your Excellency,

March 14, 2014 (SSNA) — I am hereby sending to you this appeal for urgent consideration. Following the abrupt fighting in Juba which took place on the 15th December 2013, within the Presidential Guards at Tiger Barracks which later on ignited the ongoing war between the government of South Sudan and the SPLA – In Opposition under leadership of Dr. Riek Machar, former Vice President of South Sudan and subsequent massacres of over ten thousand Nuer civilians in Juba as from 16th – 19 December 2013, respectively. The three months old war in South Sudan has already caused untold miseries in terms of human and material loses mainly in the four affected states of Central Equatoria, Unity, Jongeli and Upper Nile. Whereasover thirty thousands or more have already perished mostly civilians killed deliverately by the warring parties or died as results of war related diseases.

The situation of IDPs in these four states mentioned above is very volatile and unbearable especially to the needy civilians who are displaced from their settlements and sought refuge in government held towns or in the rebels controlled areas. The numbers of IDPs scattered all over South Sudan is getting closer to one million people and are currently bearing the brunt of the war. They are lacking shelters, food, cooking utensils, clothing, sleeping materials etc. The most unfortunate group are the ones still residing in UNMISS compounds in Juba, Bentiu, Bor and Malakal. Their conditions are pathetic and needs urgent action to be taken by international community to avert more catastrophic conditions.

The IDPs in Juba alone which numbering forty thousands mainly from Nuer and are leading a destitute and hopeless lives as you can see from the pictures attached below where rains have been pouring on them recently three times consecutively while they lacked all basic human necessities. They are already displaced and deprived from going back to their homes in Juba because the government does not guarantee their security. Those are the remnants of the massacred Nuer civilians who luckily escaped the aftermath onslaughts by the so-called “Presidential Guards” of only Dinka recruited soldiers to UNMISS compounds for their protections.

The Nuer IDPsin UNMISS camps are extremely afraid and at the same time, unwilling to return back to their homes for fears of being killed by the same Dinka soldiers who are still looking after them. Their condition is very unfortunate and pathetic indeed. As a matter of urgency, as shown on the pictures where the said IDPs are standing in water in UNMISS compounds hopelessly waiting only for “Good Samaritans” to come to their rescue by relocating them to saver places for resettlements. The rainy season has already started in Greater Equatoria states and will last up to December 2013. If they are left unattained to most of them particularly children and elderly people will definitely not-withstand such conditions and eventually die of pneumonia and other water-bone related diseases.

Dear Your Excellency, in this regard, I am humbly appealing to your esteemed institution to urgently lobby for your western colleagues from European Union, Troika countries of USA, UK and Norway, AU, UN and NGOs agencies operating in South Sudan respectively to urgently relocate the Nuer IDPs in Juba to either Kenya or Ethiopia for resettlements where their children can go to schools and live freely from current captivity where they are in now at UNMISS compounds in Juba. Psychologically, most of the Nuer IDPs at UNMISS centres in Juba, Bentiu and Bor are terribly depressed and in state of despairs from such ordeals that sadly have befallen them in their own country.

Hence, the ongoing peace process in Addis Ababa being mediated by IGAD members state will not bear any much fruitful results due to lack of seriousness on the government of South Sudan and the mediators. The Cessation of Hostilitiessigned on 23rd January 2014, by the two parties namely the government of South Sudan and SPLM/A – In Opposition has never been honoured to its logical conclusion by the signatories of the agreement. This is because the demands put forward by the SPLM/A – In Opposition which include the released of four political detainees and immediate withdrawal of UPDF, JEM and SPLA-N forces that have been fighting alongside the government of South Sudan never been implemented as previously agreed upon by the parties and witnessed by principal mediators in the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa.The Ugandan, JEM and SPLA-N forces invited by the South Sudan government are still operational and being increased in numbers as the situation in the ground is concerned.

In addition to that, the IGAD countries have principally agreed to immediately deploy a deterrence force which will be tasked to guard oil installations and government infrastructures while neglecting the issue of IDPs in UNMISS compounds as well as the demands from the rebels side which include the immediate and unconditional withdrawal of all foreign forces invited by the government of South Sudan.

The outcome of IGAD heads of state’s “Joint Communiqué” of the 13th March, has been categorically rejected by Dr. Riek Machar, leader of SPLM/A – In Opposition simply because his demands have not been implemented by IGAD mediators and instead they want to urgently deploy IGAD deterrence forces from Ethiopia, Kenya, Rwanda, Burundi and Somalia. The opposition regards such hastily decision by IGAD countries as declaration of war against them in favour of the incumbent president Salva Kiir Mayardit whose human rights violation record is soared extremely.Their mission to South Sudan will definitely amount to regionlise the conflict whereas some invisible actors shall intervene on either side and this will aggravate more suffering of innocent civilians in the country. It will probably increase the number of death rates and massive displacements among the civilians. What is the use of over twelve thousands UNMISS forces operating in different parts of South Sudan if IGAD could also send an imperial army to side with the government against the SPLM/A – In Opposition? This act of aggression from some IGAD countries is completely a violation of the South Sudanese rights to address their grievances against despotic and tyranny leadership spearheaded by President Salva Kiir Mayardit. The IGAD action would definitely bring South Sudan on the same line with Somalia where Africa Union has a force of more then twenty thousands troops fighting Al Shabab rebellion movement.The root causes of the current conflict must be first and foremost be addressed adequately before rushing on external military option, which will be long and costly in terms of human and materials.

The only way to bring about a lasting peace in South Sudan is to avoid sending IGAD forces and only reinforce the UN peacekeeping force to oversee the implementations of cessation of hostilities as well as increasing humanitarian assistance to the affected IDPs in the country. Norway should discourage this decision of IGAD by table it to United Nations Security Council as matter of urgency. Otherwise South Sudan will soon end up like Somalia and even worst as far as the environment and attitudes of South Sudanese people is concerned. They will never succumb to IGAD pressure at all. The rebels will continue with their liberation war until President Kiir relinquishes power to South Sudanese people so that they can decide their own person of choice to lead them during the interim period and not by forced of arms from IGAD countries.

In conclusion, I am honestly appealing to Your Excellency once again to take this petition of IDPs relocation seriously as well as the IGAD intervention militarily. These two items are very crucial for you to act upon them. Hence, I am very thankful indeed for your unwavering and steadfast stand in addressing in press releases made by the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs,about the use of cluster bombs repeatedly by UPDF and SPLA forces in the areas around Bor against both the opposition forces and unarmed civilians which resulted to death of several hundreds lives and call for immediate withdrawal of Uganda troops in South Sudan soil. These are qualities of a leader who valued human dignity and life very much than material gains. I wish you all the best and success in your endeavour efforts to search for peace and harmony in the war ravaged country- South Sudan. May God Almighty help you individually and the country at large.

Norway had been investing enormous money in billions of Kroner to assist the needy people in South Sudan right from Addis Ababa Agreement of 1972 era to 21 years of Sudan civil war and CPA and even during this independence time. I really thank you very much for it. As somebody who have lived in Norway for 28 years and been actively involved in South Sudan struggle for quite along time, I really need to thank your country for continued support to my people in South Sudan.

Attached herewith are the pictures of the latest rains in Juba which portrayed the exact conditions of the IDPs at UNMISS compounds.

I hope you will take this petition seriously and put it into urgent consideration.

Yours sincerely,

Daniel Wuor Joak
Executive Director
African Centre for Human Advocacy (ACHA)
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