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WHO provides lifesaving treatment for severely malnourished children with medical complication in South Sudan

To respond to the grave food security and address the alarming nutritional emergency in children, WHO has intensified its response focusing on inpatient therapeutic nutrition programs, through the distribution of essential medicines. In June 2017, WHO distributed 50 sever acute malnutrition (SAM) kits, to treat over 2 500 children suffering from SAM with medical complications. The SAM kits were dispatched to 13 hospitals, 25 primary health care centers and 2 health facilities in the Protection of Civilians (PoCs) supporting Inpatient Therapeutic Programs (ITP) in the Greater Equatoria Regions, Northern Bahr el Ghazal, Unity, Upper Nile and Jonglei and Counties with high prevalence of Global Acute Malnutrition (GAM) to provide sustainable lifesaving interventions.

“Severe acute malnutrition is the most extreme and visible form of under nutrition, which exposes  children to a high risk of mortality. Its face is a very frail child who need immediate care.” said Ms Marina Adrianopoli, Technical Officer for Nutrition at the WHO South Sudan. Children who have medical problems and do not have an appetite need urgent treatment to survive. The provision of SAM kit is a key  and innovative strategy to support stabilization centers with quality and standard set of medicines , to manage medical complications linked  to SAM in children. This ensures continuum of care in the context of Community Management of Acute Malnutrition, Ms Adrianopoli added.

The nutrition situation in many parts of South Sudan remains critical with a global acute malnutrition (GAM) rate above the WHO 15 per cent emergency threshold. Of greatest concern is Unity state, with central and southern Unity projected to experience extremely critical levels of acute malnutrition. As of June 2017, the number of people in need of humanitarian assistance (IPC phase 3 and above) is estimated to raise to 6 million, out of which 45 000 are facing catastrophic conditions and extreme food and nutrition insecurity, particularly in parts of Unity and Jonglei States.

WHO’s SAM kit is designed for the management of medical complications from severe malnutrition for 50 children for around 3 months. The kit meant to be used by trained health workers in health facilities, contains medicines including antibiotics, antimalarials, treatment for diarrhoea, diagnostic kits for diseases like malaria, and supplies including thermometers, gloves and syringes. South Sudan has been the first country in the world to introduce the use of the kit.

“SAM kits were provided thanks to funding from the South Sudan Common Humanitarian Fund (CHF) and Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF)” said Dr Abdulmumini Usman, WHO Representative to South Sudan. “SAM is a life threatening condition and requires urgent medical treatment to save the child’s life.  The provision of appropriate and cost effective SAM kits in conjunction with therapeutic food is vital to manage complications caused due to severe malnutrition.” Dr Usman underscored. WHO will continue to work with the Ministry of Health and partners to improve the health and wellbeing of the population, especially children with sever acute malnutrion.

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UNHCR trains Government officials on Human Rights and Refugee Protection

The United Nations Refugee Agency, UNHCR in cooperation with the Commission for Refugee Affairs (CRA), organised in Juba a two-day workshop with government officials in a bid to sensitise them on human rights and refugee protection. The 45 participants included representatives of the local Governments, County Commissioners, law enforcement authorities from the police and immigration, national security services, judiciary, the Human Rights Commission, CRA and UNHCR field offices.

The workshop brought together, likely for the first time, these high level government officials who constructively exchanged ideas and views which can hopefully address relevant issues especially at the refugee camp level.

It aimed at strengthening their knowledge and awareness further on the fundamentals of refugee protection, documentation issued to asylum-seekers/refugees, detention, court practices in South Sudan and others which impact the lives of refugees who are temporarily present in the country.

UNHCR has applauded the Open Door policy of the Government of South Sudan for refugees. Being at the helm of protecting refugees in the country, national authorities need to be effective in their responses to concerns that arise. It is hoped that the workshop have further equipped the participants in developing action plans that are in line with relevant international norms and standards, in particular, for ensuring the civilian and humanitarian character of refugee camps as well humanitarian settlements, and enhancing the rule of law in the latter.

The commitment to refugee protection is based on principles underpinning the 1969 Organisation of African Union (OAU) Convention, to which South Sudan is a signatory, as well as 1951 UN Refugee Convention and its 1967 Protocol.

“Protection of refugees is primarily the responsibility of states. This notwithstanding, UNHCR has supported and cooperated closely with states as partners in carrying out refugee protection. South Sudan is always responsive in carrying out its obligations on refugee protection”, said Maria Corinna Miguel-Quicho, UNHCR Assistant Representative for Protection in South Sudan.

It is hoped that the learning, sharing, and networking that took place during the workshop will contribute to enhancing protection of asylum-seekers and refugees residing in camp and urban locations in South Sudan.

UNHCR works with the Government of South Sudan and its partners in providing protection and assistance to over 270,000 refugees in Greater Upper Nile and Greater Equatoria.  It is also part of the inter-agency response to the needs of nearly 2 million internally displaced people in the country.

For further information, please contact:

Richard Ruati, Assistant External Relations Officer | Mobile +211 927 725 515 | Email ruati@unhcr.org

Photo Credit and caption: ©UNHCR/Richard Lou-Angelous – 45 participants of the two-day workshop at Juba Grand Hotel in Juba

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WHO in collaboration with the Ministry of health rolls out Mental Health Gap Humanitarian Intervention Guide to increase coverage of mental health care in South Sudan

The prolonged crises and displacement in South Sudan is negatively impacting the mental health and well-being of everyone affected and can have immediate as well as long-term consequences for individuals, families and communities.

To establish services for people with mental disorders at primary health care (PHC) level, WHO in collaboration with the Ministry of Health has initiated the process to roll-out and adapt Mental Health Gap Humanitarian Intervention Guide (mhGAP HIG) to the context of South Sudan.

mhGAP HIG  is a clinical tool that aims to support non-specialist health care providers to assess and manage mental, neurological and substance use conditions in areas affected by humanitarian emergencies where access to specialists and treatment options is limited.

The objective of the implementation of the mhGAP HIG is to scale up evidence based services and improve the quality of life of people with common and severe mental health conditions in South Sudan as well as strengthen the provision of mental health and psychosocial support in line with international standards.

“In emergencies, people are affected in different ways and require different kinds of support”, said Dr Abdulmumini Usman, the World Health Organization Representative to South Sudan. “Promoting and adapting the key principles in the field of mental health and psychosocial support (MHPSS) activities are vital to improve the psychosocial well-being of persons of concern”.

The crisis in South Sudan has exposed the limited capacity of the country’s mental health system.  The available resources are scarce and cannot meet the need of populations affected by the current emergency.

To provide clinical care with follow-up for both severe and common mental disorders, WHO in partnership with the Ministry of Health trained 25 health care workers from the Ministry of Health, national and international organizations on mhGA-HIG. The five day Training of Trainers (ToT) and supervisors strengthens their clinical skills and enables them, in turn, to provide on job training and supervise general health care staff across the country to assist people with mental disorders.

In a situation of overwhelming needs and scarce resources, “practice-oriented mental health trainings for general health workers and ongoing clinical supervision in the basic health care system will lead to substantially increased access to basic mental health care services”, Dr Usman added. As we progress, WHO will continue to provide technical support to the Ministry of Health to ensure that delivery of mental health services are strengthened to assist those who experienced mass violence and trauma due to the conflict.

People living with mental, neurological and substance use conditions are representing an extremely vulnerable group during crisis. It is estimated that less than 3% of those with severe mental disorders are able to receive services in South Sudan.

WHO is appealing to the international community for further resources to urgently scale up services for people with mental neurological and substance use conditions to various geographical locations across the country.

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For more information please contact:

Dr Joseph Lou Kenyi Mogga, +211 955 499 750, moggaj@who.int

Ms Jemila M. Ebrahim, +211 950 450 007, ebrahimj@who.int

JIP

South Sudan Celebrates First Graduation of 1,147 Joint Integrated Police

Photo: UNMISS

The Republic of South Sudan (RoSS), led by H.E. President Salva Kiir Mayardit, celebrated the first graduation of 1,147 Joint Integrated Police (JIP) at the Juba Stadium on Saturday 17 June 2017 to fulfill the Agreement on the Resolution of Conflict in the Republic of South Sudan (ARCISS), August 2015 Chapter Two, Article Five. The training programme included field and practical training by SSNPS, and a five-week training programme provided by the UN in theory and practical sessions on policing, human rights, trust and confidence building, policing strategies, community policing and trauma management.

President of the Republic of South Sudan H.E. Salva Kiir presided over the graduation ceremony, which was attended by the First Vice President H.E. Taban Deng Gai, Hon. Chief Justice Chan Reec Madut, Minister of Interior Hon. Michael Chiengjiek Gai, Special Representative of the Secretary General David Shearer, United Nations Development Programme Country Director Kamil Kamaluddeen, senior members of the diplomatic community, and senior security leadership of South Sudan.

Speaking to the general public during the graduation, H. E. Salva Kiir told the JIP graduates that their major responsibility is the security in Juba. “We want you to secure Juba because there is doubt from our civilians, and this is why we want it to have a national character by paying attention to Juba/Nimule road, and criminals who attack women in our communities,” the president stated.

“I take this opportunity to congratulate all the JIP personnel for successfully completing the training. You have the opportunity now to take these training aids and help build this nation in peace,” said First Vice President H.E. Taban Deng Gai.

The First Vice President stressed that the JIP is composed of personnel from all ethnicities and also has prioritized gender balance. They need to work together so that all people feel secure, and encourage female JIP officers who will be on patrol to protect women from sexual violence.

Speaking at the graduation the SRSG Mr. David Shearer said “the UN family in South Sudan has supported the development of the JIP in line with UN mandate and the mission to protect civilians and build a durable peace. For example, the UN engineers have assisted with road maintenance to Dr. John Garang Training Academy in Rajaf and renovated training facilities at the police academy. Importantly, UNMISS and UNDP have provided training to 1,147 JIP recruits on the most fundamental aspects of a professional and accountable police: human rights, trust and confidence building, community policing and trauma management.”

The SRSG emphasised that UNDP, with support from the Government of Japan, provided the JIP uniforms that JIP personnel proudly wear for display.

“This uniform is not just your work attire – it represents something larger and more fundamental: it distinguishes you from the civilian on the street, and from other security services. Your uniform signifies that you are a servant of justice, law and order,” said Mr. Shearer.

SRSG cautioned them as JIP officers, they are the vanguard of impartiality. Therefore, they must be impartial providers of safety, security and justice, because they have taken an oath to protect the sovereign rights of all the people of South Sudan.

The SRSG urged JIP officers to inspire confidence in the communities they will serve, to protect women at the market places, the shopkeepers and the school children should feel safe in coming to them for help as peace ambassadors.

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WHO strengthens surveillance, alert and response using an innovative electronic system in South Sudan

In collaboration with the Ministry of Health, the World Health Organization (WHO) has rolled out an electronic surveillance system called Early Warning, Alert and Response System (EWARS) to enhance the collection, management and analysis of Integrated Disease Surveillance and Response (IDSR) data.

The overall objective of the web based system is to overcome the reporting challenges of the transmission of paper-based standardized data tools and strengthen surveillance and response capacities and ultimately reduce morbidity and mortality from epidemic prone diseases as well as other public health events.

The system is designed for real-time information sharing using mobile phones and triggers automated alerts when disease thresholds are exceeded and are received by email, on the phone and within the application.  It allows prompt response and documents the results of risk assessments and outbreak investigations. The system also permits Epidemiological Bulletins and other information products to be published automatically.

“EWARS is a project led by the WHO Health Emergencies Programme (WHE). It can be deployed immediately after the onset of an outbreak and rapidly configured with minimal expertise,” said Dr Joseph Wamala, Epidemiologist, WHO Country Office South Sudan. “It is designed for frontline users, and built to operate in difficult and remote environments.”

Integrated Disease Surveillance and Response (IDSR) strengthening Since 2006, South Sudan has implemented the Integrated Disease Surveillance and Response (IDSR) strategy with WHO’s technical support and United States Agency for International Development (USAID) financial commitment.  The IDSR strategy provides a framework for strengthening the national disease surveillance system in compliance with the International Health Regulations (IHR) 2005 core capacity requirements. In 2015, the EWARS supported by the European Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations (ECHO), was introduced to complement and enhance IDSR effectiveness in the conflict-affected States.

“Strengthening surveillance is one of the key objectives of WHO’s strategic and operational response plan in South Sudan,” said Dr Abdulmumini Usman, the WHO Representative to South Sudan. “Since 2013, the implementation of the EWARS project in conflict affected areas supported the three key functions of IDSR: Surveillance, Alert and Outbreak Response,” Dr Usman added.

A total of 108 alerts were investigated in 2017, out of which 18 outbreaks were confirmed and effectively responded to. Theses outbreaks include cholera, measles and chickenpox.

To improve IDSR performance and roll-out the system to other States in the country especially famine and cholera affected areas, WHO in collaboration with the Ministry of Health trained 80 County (district) surveillance officers. Each was provided with a mobile phone with the EWARS application installed, allowing them to submit IDSR reports immediately to State and National level and verify any alerts that are triggered. Surveillance officers from 10 hubs were also trained on the laptop version of the application, so they can closely monitor performance in each county and support risk assessment and outbreak investigations where needed.

EWARS also supports active reporting during disease outbreaks, and is being used to report case-based cholera data in all counties affected by the ongoing outbreak.  With immediate effect, this allows counties to report cholera cases using mobile phones and then view and analyse the results in real-time at County, State and National level.

A single IDSR bulletin is now published by the system each week – integrating data from surveillance, alert and response, and presenting the results in automated tables, graphs and maps. This is crucial to permit Ministry of Health and WHO to effectively lead the response to the cholera outbreak and other health emergencies.

The second phase of the roll-out of the project is planned for August-September, where support will be decentralized further down to health facility level. It will also see the integration of the public health laboratory network as well as integration with other sources of data including nutritional surveillance, acute flaccid paralysis (AFP) and measles case-based surveillance; and community based integrated disease surveillance.

Related links:

More information on the EWARS project can be found at http://ewars-project.org or by writing to info@ewars.ws

For more information please contact:

Dr Wamala Joseph Francis, +211955036445, wamalaj@who.int

Dr Christopher Haskew, +41 22 791 32 36, haskewc@who.int

Ms Jemila M. Ebrahim, +211950450007, ebrahimj@who.int

Mingkaman (John Rae)

Joint Press Release: UNOPS and Japan launch river transport feasibility study

31 May 2017 – Juba, South Sudan – The Government of Japan and the United Nations Office for Project Services (UNOPS) South Sudan Operations Centre (SSOC) are working on a study to determine the potential of a river barge transport system in South Sudan, which could open up new and more cost-efficient avenues for emergency humanitarian aid.

The USD 1 million project, funded by the Government of Japan and implemented by UNOPS, was officially launched on 1 April 2017 and will run until March 2018. The feasibility study will assess the potential of full-scale river barge transport system through conducting surveys of major existing ports along the Nile basin including Juba, Malakal and Melut, as well as assessing environmental impact on the Nile River between Juba and Renk.

“There is grave humanitarian need in South Sudan but road access to key humanitarian hubs is limited. Therefore, we are driven to think not only about what aid to provide, but also how to get aid to reach the most needy via the most efficient method,” says Kiya Masahiko, Ambassador of Japan to South Sudan. “South Sudan’s waterways, furthermore, have the potential not only as an avenue for aid delivery but also a springboard for the country’s development and prosperity, when peace arrives.”

“We are delighted to have this opportunity to partner with the Government of Japan to explore how we can improve development and humanitarian aid transport in South Sudan,” says then-UNOPS South Sudan Country Director, Paul Cruickshank. “Compared to air transport at the cost of approximately $2,500 per metric ton, barge transport offers significant savings at an average of $390 per metric ton – thus more resources can be used to assist the people of South Sudan.”

Japan and UNOPS have previously collaborated on a number of infrastructure projects in South Sudan, including facilitating humanitarian access through construction of a USD $4.1 million port facility in Mingkaman, Awerial. The new port, inaugurated in April 2016, provides off-loading and storage capacity at one of the largest spontaneous IDP settlement sites in South Sudan.

For further information please contact:

Shinobu Mashima, Project Manager, UNOPS South Sudan Operations Centre
Cell: +211 (0)959 000 648 Email: shinobum@unops.org

Koji Ito, Economic Affairs & Development Cooperation, Embassy of Japan in South Sudan
Cell: +211 (0)956 481 145 Email: koji.ito-2@mofa.go.jp

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UN Country Team, Ministry of Finance and National Bureau of Statistics conduct a workshop on contextualization of the SDGs

On 29 May, the Ministry of Finance and the National Bureau of Statistics convened a workshop with the support of the UN Country Team in South Sudan on the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) endorsed by the United Nations General Assembly in 2015. The SDGs represent the global development aspirations of all countries in the world and call for an end to extreme poverty and hunger in the world by 2030 and significant progress in a range of other areas, including peace and inclusive governance. The SDGs replace the Millennium Development Goals that expired in 2015.

More than 60 people participated in the workshop from government ministries, civil society and UN agencies to discuss how to mainstream and adapt the SDGs to the context of South Sudan, and how to prioritize implementation of the SDGs as part of a new national development plan. Participants agreed that SDG number 2 on ending hunger and SDG number 16 on peace and inclusive governance were the most important for South Sudan today. They also agreed that more work and consultations would be needed to strengthen the knowledge of the SDGs, and to implement them to reach the goals in 2030 in a way that is well adapted to the challenges and the national context of South Sudan.

The workshop was part of the work on an inaugural national SDG report that will be ready later in 2017, and will become the basis for the continued work on implementing the SDGs in South Sudan.

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UN Country Team concludes a three day training for journalists in Juba

The United Nations Country Team (UNCT) through the United Nations Communications Group (UNCG) have completed a three-day training for 30 journalists from 8 different regions in South Sudan at Juba Regency in Juba from 23-25 May 2017. Participants were drawn from 17 television, radio, online and print media houses.

Building on a similar training that was conducted last year in November, this training aimed to promote journalistic competence in reporting, especially in the current context of South Sudan, promote regular publishing of accurate, timely, non-sensational, reliable, and objective UN oriented stories and to strengthen the relationship between the UN and national media houses in the country.

Speaking at the opening of the training, IOM’s Media and Communications Officer and the UNCG co-chair, Ashley McLaughlin, thanked the journalists for tirelessly working to disseminate information to areas that are very hard to reach in the country.

“We rely heavily on your skills and dedication to share information with communities that need assistance,” she said.

Facilitated by a media consultant from Kenya, Ms. Judie Kaberia and a national counterpart, Yokwe Silvano,this training brought together experts from different agencies including UNESCO, UNFPA, UNEP, and UNDP. Sessions included reporting on SDGs and business, sexual gender based violence, environment, investigative reporting and the role of the media in peacebuilding.

As a follow up to this training, the UNCG will continue working with the 30 participants throughout the year to monitor their progress since gaining more skills on reporting under the different thematic areas.

On 25 May, a media forum was conducted to discuss health issues affecting South Sudan and the efforts to prevent and treat cholera. Health experts; Dr Argata Guracha from WHO and Dr. Beldina Gikundi from IOM, made presentations and then facilitated a question and answer session with reporters from various media houses.

At the end of this event, participants socialized members of the communications group at a meet and greet in order to network among each other. They were also each awarded a certificate of participation. The communications group will be implementing two more media forums this year on pertinent issues that the UN is addressing in South Sudan.

Participants during the conference to counter hate speech in South Sudan

South Sudan holds first roundtable conference to counter hate speech

Under the theme “countering hate speech whilst defending freedom of expression and press freedom” and ahead of the World Press Freedom Day which is commemorated every 3rd of May, UNESCO office in Juba hosted the first roundtable conference on Countering Hate Speech for Peace in South Sudan. The conference took place at Juba Grand Hotel in South Sudan capital Juba on 2 May 2017.

More than 200 delegates who attended the conference were drawn from academia, CSOs, online activists, youth organisations, representatives of traditional media, media development organisations representatives, government representatives, UN agencies, diplomatic missions and various actors and stakeholders who have in different ways looked into various aspects of hate speech which is increasingly of concern and is associated with incitement of violence in South Sudan.

The Undersecretary Ministry of Information, Communication, Technology and Postal Services Mr.  Justine Alier De Mayen who officiated the event reminded the delegates that freedom of expression is a human right that everyone must enjoy but there is need to ensure that freedom of one must not infringe the right of others too.

He advised that South Sudanese should learn from the quote of Mahatma Gandhi that “an eye for an eye makes the whole world blind.” De Mayen made a reference that hate speech has destroyed many countries – citing examples such as Rwanda genocide. De Mayen noted that not only illiterate people spreading hate speech but also elite group and politicians are equally involved in spreading hate speech. He urges for the print media and broadcast to guard against all forms of hate speech.

The Undersecretary urged journalists to educate themselves and the masses on the dangers of hate speech.  “We are in a society with a big number of illiteracy rate, understanding the meaning of hate speech correctly would answer some of our questions and would enhance our national dialogue at this particular period the country is heading for it, “said De Mayen.

UNESCO representative to South Sudan, Mr. Sardar Umar Alam told the delegates that digital technologies have opened new avenues for freedom of expression, offering new opportunities to produce, consume and share content but also cautioned if not properly they can be used to facilitate the spread of online hate speech, extremist propaganda leading some to argue for tough and regulatory responses but combating these ills should not be at the expense of freedom of expression. “There is a fine line between free speech and hate speech.  Free speech encourages debate whereas hate speech incites violence” said Mr Alam.

Mr. Alam told the participants that UNESCO will facilitate a series of dialogues, capacity building workshops as well as conferences to assess the challenges of hate speech from different dimensions and see how best it can be countered.

Speaking  at the same occasion  was Mr. Christian Stephane  Mikala, a Senior Human Rights Officer at UNMISS Human Rights Division  who applauded  UNESCO for organising platforms which in the medium and long term will help contextualize the language, the expressions and help review their use and misuse based on facts, actions, impact and perceptions. Mikala said there is casual relationships s between online and offline hate speech and actual violence and human rights violations and urged actors to come up with home grown solutions applicable for South Sudan context.

Conference participants agreed that media can play a central role in conflict and crisis situations and that independent, objective, neutral media can help defuse tension, promote dialogue and counter hate speech in order to contain conflicts. Speakers tasked to interrogate the theme “Promoting the media potential as a catalyser of peace and mutual understanding” urged all media stakeholders in South Sudan and in diaspora to offer counter narratives to challenge violence incitement and urge the government of South Sudan to ensure proportionately responses to counter hate speech in a way that will not curtail freedom of expression and press freedom.

The conference also examined existing proactive and reactive responses to the proliferation of hate speech and offered  insights on attempts to provide structural answers to hate speech through education Community  Empowerment for Progress Organization (CEPO), Peace Tech Lab Africa and analysed series of countering hate speech initiatives targeting the youth by #defyhatenow and #Anataban campaigns.

Panellists and delegates concluded the conference by underscoring the importance of coming up with a comprehensive and systematic approach for all stakeholders to sensitise South Sudan communities about the danger of hate speech.

UNESCO organised the conference in partnership with the Association of Media Development in South Sudan (AMDISS), Association of Women Media in South Sudan (AMWISS) South Sudan National Editors Forum (NEF), Union of Journalists in South Sudan (UOJSS), Catholic Radio Network (CRN) Ministry of Information, Communication Technology and Postal Services, Peace Tech Lab Africa, #defyhatenow, CEPO,  #Anataban, US Embassy, USAID, German Embassy, Office of the President, Eye Radio, EBC TV/Radio, Radio Miraya,  Juba Monitor,  UN Human Rights UNMISS, South Sudan Broadcasting Corporation, Journalists for Human Rights, JMEC,  Center for Human Rights Lawyers, Ajo & Co Advocate, CEPO, South Sudan Law Society,  Sudd Institute and  UNESCO Regional Office for Eastern Africa with the generous financial support from the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency(SIDA) , Internews in South Sudan and Norwegian People’s Aid(NPA).

For information on how to join the working group on “Prevention and Countering Hate Speech whilst defending freedom of expression and press freedom in South Sudan, please contact:

Ms. Mwatile Ndinoshiho
Communication and Information Specialist
UNESCO Office in Juba
Tel: +211 922 000 563
Email: n.mwatile@unesco.org

 

Panellists discussing safety mechanisms for journalists during 2017 WPFD event in Juba

2017 World Press Freedom Day – Freedom of expression to promote peaceful, Just and Inclusive South Sudan

The Association of Media Development in South Sudan (AMDISS), Association of Women Media in South Sudan (AMWISS) South Sudan National Editors Forum (NEF), Union of Journalists in South Sudan (UOJSS), Ministry of Information, Communication Technology and Postal Services and local media stakeholders with support from UNESCO commemorated 2017 World Press Freedom Day (WPFD) on 3 May 2017 at Juba Grand Hotel  under the theme “Freedom of Expression to Promote Peaceful, Just and Inclusive societies”.

Speaking during the World Press Freedom Day celebration in Juba, Head of Delegation of the European Union (EU) to South Sudan, Ambassador Stefano De Leo affirmed the commitment of the EU to work in South Sudan as one of the development partners to promote media development.  He emphasised the need to support media in South Sudan in order to provide quality and independent journalism. He said that the EU commends the government of South Sudan of enacting three legislations to regulate the work of media in her three years of independence. At the same time, Ambassador De Leo condemned whatever form of threats against journalists while doing their work and called the authorities to ensure safe conditions for all media practitioners in South Sudan.

In his remarks UNESCO Representative to South Sudan, Mr. Sardar Umar Alam said that for a successful national dialogue and true reconciliation, combined efforts are critical to provide all South Sudanese with quality journalism which will enable citizens to make informed decisions about their society development. “This can only happen when there is enabling environment when journalists can work independently without interference and in safe conditions”, said Mr. Alam.

Offering an overview of the media landscape and safety of journalists in the country, deputy chairperson of the Association of Media Development in South Sudan (AMDISS) Ms. Mary Ajith stated that in line with the advocacy work, to ensure that the freedom of expression, press and speech is promoted, on the 31st of March 2017, her organization petitioned the President of the Republic of South Sudan, His Excellency Salva Kiir, to reopen the following closed media houses: The Citizen Newspaper; The Nation Mirror; Al aria Newspaper, Altabeer and Free voice, and appealed for the release of the journalists who were in detention.

“Today we are pleased to announce that His Excellency President Salva Kiir responded positively by ordering for the release of one Journalist John Pantheer just one week after AMDISS presented their petition”, acknowledged Ms. Ajith.  She called for the release of George Livio, a journalist who is still under detention and the reopening of the closed media houses for them to join the rest of the South Sudanese in the national dialogue.

However, AMDISS expressed worries about the trend of National Security Personnel deployed at newspapers printing companies to ensure that anything that criticize or doesn’t suit the government interest is removed. “We are in a very critical situation whereby some institutions of government are monitoring the media in support of the government interest of silencing the journalists in telling the truth and balancing the stories.” Ms. Ajith argued.

The event also provided an opportunity to present key findings of the survey “Supporting Safety of Journalists in South Sudan” – an assessment based on UNESCO Journalists’ Safety Indicators (JSI).  The research  commissioned by the Union of Journalists in South Sudan and carried out by the Africa Media Initiative (AMI) is divided  into five key indicator categories, namely: a broad overview of the safety situation in the country; findings on the roles and response of State and political actors; the roles and response of civil society organizations (CSOs) and academia; the roles and response of media and intermediaries; and the roles and response of the United Nations (UN) system and other extra-national actors with a presence in the country for the period 2015-2016.

According to research key findings, South Sudan has legal protection for the freedom of expression and the media and her Constitution guarantees media freedom. However, defamation is regarded as criminal in the penal code and there are clauses in National Security Service Act, 2014, and the Media Authority Act, 2013 that limit press freedom and freedom of expression.

Although the research pointed out falling levels of press freedom and increased state and media censorship as well as state and media houses failure to provide special protections to media practitioners, with South Sudan Media Authority now in place, its managing director Mr. Elijah Alier pledged his organisation support to all efforts to support safety of journalists and called media development donors stakeholders to support the operationalisation and full implementation of the Media Authority Act of 2013.

The Union of Journalists of South Sudan (UJOSS) says the safety of journalists in the country is of serious concern. “Journalists are not safe because the country is not safe. There is intimidation, there is harassment and there are arbitrary arrests of journalists but we look forward to work with all stakeholders for improved conditions of our journalists.” UJOSS Secretary-General Edward Terso said.

The event closed with awards to two journalists with best reports on human rights and corruption. Lasuba Memo from Eye Radio and Maura Ajak from CRN and their institutions were recipient of the awards organised over by CEPO and UJOSS.

Please see below links for coverage on 2017 WPFD activities in South Sudan.

http://www.unmultimedia.org/tv/unifeed/asset/1879/1879371/

http://www.unmultimedia.org/tv/unifeed/asset/1880/1880115/

http://www.theeastafrican.co.ke/news/South-Sudan-marks-World-Press-Freedom-Day/2558-3912092-b4xwc4z/index.html

http://communications.amecea.org/index.php/2017/04/28/south-sudan-south-sudan-to-mark-world-press-freedom-day-with-first-conference/