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/

Humanitarian Needs Spike for Thousands Displaced in Wau, South Sudan

The International Organization for Migration (IOM) and partners are responding to an influx of more than 22,000 displaced persons in and around Wau town, South Sudan, since the upsurge of violence on 10 April 2017. The influx is stretching existing humanitarian resources, and space to shelter displaced families is running out. Needs in the area have remained high since clashes in mid-2016 displaced more than 42,000 people.

A population count on 21 April identified over 16,400 new internally displaced persons (IDPs) sheltering at the UN protection of civilians (PoC) site adjacent to the UN Mission’s South Sudan base, bringing the site’s total population to over 41,700 people. New arrivals are living in very crowded conditions in service areas, along roads and near drainage and sanitation facilities.

Over the weekend, IOM constructed emergency shelters in a contingency area to relocate families living in the most vulnerable areas. Additional water points and emergency shelters will be constructed in an area previously designated for food distributions, where most new arrivals have settled and built makeshift shelters.

Asunta and her family of five, including three children and her disabled mother, are one such family who, since last week, live in a shelter covered only by a bed sheet and along a crowded access road. “It took us two hours to walk here, carrying only a few things with us as we fled from our house,” she said.

Asunta’s family had been living in the PoC site from the beginning of fighting in late June 2016 until February 2017 when they decided to return to their house in town. However, fearful of the violence that occurred on 10 April, they once again left their home to seek protection at the PoC site.

The Cathedral collective centre also saw a large influx of IDPs over the past two weeks, with as many as 5,000 to 7,000 new arrivals moving to the site. An estimated 15,000 people are currently sheltering in the site.

Amid increased levels of need, relief agencies continue to provide safe drinking water, sanitation facilities, health care and psychosocial support across the six displacement sites in Wau town. IOM’s primary health care clinics at the PoC site and Cathedral and Nazareth collective centres have seen a 46 per cent increase in consultations over the past week alone.

Of the more than 7.5 million people in South Sudan in need of humanitarian assistance, more than 4.9 million of them face severe food insecurity due to displacement, conflict and economic decline. Since the crisis erupted in December 2013, 3.4 million people have been displaced from their homes, including an estimated 1.9 million IDPs across the country.

For further information, please contact Ashley McLaughlin at IOM South Sudan, Tel: +211 912 379 793. Email: amclaughlin@iom.int.

Peace Marathon

Vice President James Wani Igga Calls for Women’s Participation in Building Peace During a Peace Marathon in South Sudan

With support from the government of Germany, Japan and Sweden, UN Women in collaboration with the Ministry of Culture, Youth and Sports, the Grand Debaters Association, the UN Country Team and the private sector, MTN, organized a Grand Peace Marathon under the theme “Running for Women’s Participation in Peacebuilding.”

The event, whose aim is to promote peace and advocate for active women’s participation in peacebuilding, brought together 4,410 participants from diverse political affiliations, gender and ethnic backgrounds to compete in 5km and 10km races.

Speaking during the awards ceremony, H.E. James Wani Igga, the Vice President of Republic of  South Sudan, commended UN Women and partners for supporting sports as a vehicle for promoting peace and social cohesion. Sports overcomes mistrust, reduces tension and unites conflicting parties to rally around common purpose, Vice President Igga noted. He also said, “Peace is a concern for all of us and giving women the space for active participation will be meaningful in rebuilding peace in South Sudan.”

On her part, the Country Representative of UN Women, Ms. Funmi Balogun, indicated that women’s leadership and participation in peacebuilding is one of UN Women’s core mandate. She said, the UN Security Council Resolution 1325 on Women, Peace, and Security highlights clearly the need for the UN, governments and development partners to support women’s leadership and their active participation in building peace and security, and helping their countries to recover from conflict.

“We have heard too many stories of women being the most affected by conflict, and while this is true, our intent here is to change that narrative of South Sudanese women as victims but as active participants in the affairs of their country,” Ms. Balogun added.

Hon. Minister of Culture, Youth and Sports, Dr. Nadia Arop Dudi, in her a brief remarks indicated that sports is a powerful  tool for promoting peace, and urged UN Women and partners to extend similar interventions in the counties to create awareness of the tremendous role women can play in building peace in South Sudan.

The Founder and CEO of Grand Debaters Association, Philip Malaak Chol, noted that women’s leadership and active participation in peacebuilding, including in the upcoming national dialogue is not only a smart idea but also the right thing to do to accelerate and sustain peace in South Sudan.

Susana Luka from Wau, who won the 5km race said “I am proud to lead the 5 km race. I hope more competitions would be organized in other parts of the country to give women and girls the opportunity to participate and identify their talents both in sports and peacebuilding.”

News Release: WFP Condemns Killings of Three Workers in South Sudan

JUBA – The World Food Programme was horrified to learn tthat three workers contractedas porters by WFP’s office in Wau, South Sudan, were killed during violence that wracked the city earlier this week.

The three men – Daniel James, Ecsa Tearp and Ali Elario, all citizens of South Sudan –appear to have been killed on Monday as they tried to make their way to a WFP warehouse, where they worked as porters. Two died of machete wounds and the third was shot.

“We are outraged and heartbroken by the deaths of our colleagues, who worked every day to help provide life-saving food to millions of their fellow countrymen,” said WFP Country Director Joyce Luma. “Our sympathies and condolences are with their families. Their dedication will not be forgotten, and we call on the South Sudanese authorities to hold those responsible for this unspeakable violence accountable for their actions.”

WFP learned of the workers’ deaths on Thursday from the company that employed them, which is contracted by WFP to provide loading and unloading services at the Wau warehouse.

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WFP is the world’s largest humanitarian agency fighting hunger worldwide, delivering food assistance in emergencies and working with communities to improve nutrition and build resilience. Each year, WFP assists some 80 million people in around 80 countries.

Follow us on Twitter @WFP_SouthSudan @wfp_africa @wfp_media

For more information please contact (email address: firstname.lastname@wfp.org):

George Fominyen, WFP/Juba, Mob. +211 922 465 247
Challiss McDonough, WFP/Nairobi, Tel. +254 20 726 2179, Mob. +254 707 722 104

Humanitarian Coordinator demands immediate end to attacks on civilians, aid workers

Following a week which saw attacks against both aid workers and civilians, the Humanitarian Coordinator for South Sudan, Eugene Owusu, demanded that parties to the conflict uphold their responsibilities to protect civilians and ensure the safety and security of humanitarians.

“Over the past week, we have received reports of outrageous abuses against humanitarians by both state and opposition actors in Upper Nile, as well as reports of horrific attacks against civilians in Eastern Equatoria,” said Mr. Owusu. “These attacks are reprehensible and unacceptable. I call on those in power to take swift action to end the targeting of innocent people in this conflict and to hold those responsible to account.”

Two serious attacks were carried out against aid workers in Upper Nile since 31 March. In Aburoc, humanitarians were harassed and beaten by members of armed opposition forces, while in Melut, state security officials detained and beat two aid workers before releasing them.

“I condemn these attacks in the strongest terms,” said Mr. Owusu. “I demand that the leadership on both sides investigates these incidents with a view to holding the specific perpetrators to account, as well as ending the targeting of humanitarians in the future. Humanitarians are in this country to save lives. It is beyond reckoning that they continue to be killed, harassed and abused despite our repeated calls for action.”

Elsewhere, in Pajok, Magwi County, Eastern Equatoria, at least 6,000 people have been forced to flee to Uganda and reportedly several dozen have been killed, following an attack by government forces on the town. Thousands more are thought to be sheltering in the bushes in areas surrounding the town, which was estimated to be home to up to 50,000 people.

“I am appalled by the reports surfacing from people fleeing Pajok of their loved ones being killed and their homes being destroyed,” said Owusu. “I implore the leadership in South Sudan to rapidly investigate these allegations and to end all attacks against civilians.”

The humanitarian situation in South Sudan continues to deteriorate. More than 3.5 million people have now been forced to flee their homes, including nearly 1.9 million people who are internally displaced and more than 1.7 million who have fled as refugees to neighbouring countries. An average of 2,000 South Sudanese refugees are arriving into Uganda each day, over 62 per cent of whom are children.

Download the press statement here.

For more information, contact the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) in South Sudan:
Frank Nyakairu, nyakairu@un.org / +211 922406012
Guiomar Pau Sole, pausole@un.org / +211 920100411

Minister of Labour Opening Doors Launch

Ministry of Labour and United Nations Launch “Opening Doors: Building Careers Together” Joint Human Resource Initiative

The Ministry of Labour, Public Service and Human Resource Development and the United Nations jointly launched the new “Opening Doors: Building Careers Together” initiative, which aims to educate and sensitize South Sudanese nationals on employment in the United Nations system, at the Ministry of Labour on Thursday 06 April 2017.

The launch was presided over by officials from the Ministry of Labour, Public Service, and Human Resource Development, including Honourable Minister Gathoth Gatkuoth Hothnyang, Honourable Deputy Minister David Yau Yau, and Honourable Undersecretary Mary Hillary Wani Pitia. Joining the government representation was Undersecretary of the Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs and Disaster Management Honourable Gat Kouth Peter Kulang and Undersecretary of the Ministry of Youth, Culture and Sports Honourable Agum Riig Maban.

“The collaboration that we are having now with the UN family agencies aiming to sensitize and educate our jobseekers on the UN and other NGO job market is greatly welcome. The activities that will be carried out will enhance the chances of employment for our job seekers and with time they will be able to take over the labour market in the country and contribute effectively to the development of the economy,” said Hon. Minister Gathoth Gatkuoth Hothnyang in his remarks.

The United Nations was represented by the Humanitarian and Resident Coordinator a.i. Dr. Abdulmumini Usman, Country Representative for the World Health Organization. Country Representatives and members of the Inter-Agency Human Resource Network were in attendance from UNMISS, UNV, WFP, UNICEF, UNFPA, UNDP, FAO, UNWOMEN, UNEP, IOM, UNOCHA, UNMAS, UNESCO and UNHCR.

“To be successful in our mandates, the United Nations, agencies, funds and programmes, all need the unique expertise, perspective, and skills that South Sudanese national staff bring to the table. We are also aware that our systems can sometimes appear to be complex or unclear, especially from the outside looking in. We want this new initiative to be a resource for all interested in making their mark – and this goes beyond simple job and volunteer vacancies. We want the public to know that the UN is not operating in a closed-door environment, and we are here to help everyone, at all levels, understand how they can join us,” said Dr. Usman, delivering remarks on behalf of Deputy Special Representative of the Secretary General and UN Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator Mr. Eugene Owusu.

A series of radio and public outreach activities, including a career fair scheduled for Thursday, May 25th in Juba, were also announced at the launch event.

The United Nations Human Resources Inter-Agency Network is supporting the Ministry of Labour, Public Service and Human Resource Development to lead the “Opening Doors: Building Careers Together” initiative.

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For more information please contact:

Kymberly Bays, kymberly.bays@undp.org, +211 954 396 893

Maya Janet Logo, janet.logo@one.un.org, +211 926 592 713

The incredible resilience of the people of South Sudan

Conflict has forced more than a quarter of the population of South Sudan to flee their homes, disrupted crop production and destroyed livestock. On 20 February 2017, famine was declared, which is already affecting 100 000 people, with a further 1 million people on the verge of famine. According to the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, some 1.9 million people have become internally displaced and another 1.6 million people have crossed the borders as refugees.

One of the regions most affected by the crisis is Equatoria, which is also the region with the highest burden of HIV in South Sudan. Around 90% of the 20 000 people on antiretroviral therapy in South Sudan live in Equatoria, where conflict and food insecurity are pushing people across the border to Uganda and the Democratic Republic of the Congo in their thousands daily, and out of reach of essential health services.

Many people living with HIV are among the refugees. Even when medicine is available, food insecurity is affecting their ability to take it regularly, as humanitarian agencies are struggling to meet the needs of hundreds of thousands of people with very little funding.

The resilience of people living with HIV affected by the crisis is incredible, even in the most difficult of situations. John* is a refugee in a camp near Ajumani in Uganda and a member of the South Sudan Network of People Living with HIV.

“A number of us were running out of antiretroviral medicines, and where we are settled there are no health facilities providing HIV treatment,” said John. “So we put together the little money we had and sent one of us back to Nimule in South Sudan to collect medicines for all of us. Luckily the doctor allowed and we now have some medicines, but when they finish, what do we do?”

Whether displaced or not, the main problem facing people living with HIV in South Sudan is food insecurity. People in towns and cities are also affected, with the majority of vulnerable families only eating one meal a day, and some going without food for days.

Stigma and discrimination is making the situation even more acute, as women living with HIV are often abandoned and left destitute because of their HIV status. Jane, a young mother of three living with HIV in Juba, the capital of South Sudan, found out her HIV status when she was pregnant with her third baby. Her husband and family abandoned her and her children, two of whom are also living with HIV. Jane does not have full-time employment and is struggling for her and her children to have just one meal a day.

“These days we have to insist on one pill a day, as we only eat once a day, if we get food that day, and we cannot take these medicines on an empty stomach. Others have stopped taking the medicines because they have no food,” she said.

Despite facing numerous challenges in her life, Jane volunteers as a “mentor mother” to support prevention of mother-to-child transmission of HIV services. She says of her work, “I like doing this, because we are many out there, but we fear discrimination if we disclose our HIV status. But with counselling, some of us are disclosing our status.”

In the 2016 United Nations Political Declaration on Ending AIDS, Member States committed to pursuing the continuity of HIV prevention, treatment, care and support and to providing a package of care for people living with HIV, tuberculosis and/or malaria in humanitarian emergencies and conflict settings, as displaced people and people affected by humanitarian emergencies face multiple challenges, including heightened HIV vulnerability, risk of treatment interruption and limited access to quality health care and nutritious food. UNAIDS is working with countries to ensure that the commitment is met.

* Names have been changed.

Follow this story on UNAIDS website: 

SRSG Ellen Margrethe Loj, Deputy Minister of Finance Hon. Mary Jervis Yak (center) and D/SRSG Eugene Owusu at the launch in Juba.

Humanitarian Coordinator condemns killing of six aid workers

(Juba, 26 March 2017): The Humanitarian Coordinator for South Sudan, Eugene Owusu, has strongly condemned the killing of six aid workers in an ambush on 25 March. The aid workers were travelling from Juba to Pibor.

“I am appalled and outraged by the heinous murder yesterday of six courageous humanitarians in South Sudan,” said Mr. Owusu. “At a time when humanitarian needs have reached unprecedented levels, it is entirely unacceptable that those who are trying to help are being attacked and killed.”

The ambush – which represents the highest number of aid workers killed in a single incident since the conflict began – comes after two other grave attacks on aid workers this month. A humanitarian convoy was attacked in Yirol East on 14 March, while responding to a cholera outbreak in the area. Tragically, one health worker and one patient were killed and at least one other health worker was injured. Separately, during fighting in Mayendit town on 10 March, local staff of an international NGO were detained by non-state armed actors and released four days later. Already in March, there have been multiple instances of looting of aid supplies, including in two areas in Mayendit which are top priority locations for the famine response.

“These attacks against aid workers and aid assets are utterly reprehensible,” said Mr. Owusu. “They not only put the lives of aid workers at risk, they also threaten the lives of thousands of South Sudanese who rely on our assistance for their survival. For us to continue to provide life-saving relief to the civilians suffering immensely across this country, the safety and security of aid workers must be upheld, the impunity that has prevailed to date must end, and perpetrators must be held to account.”

At least 79 aid workers have been killed in South Sudan since the beginning of the December 2013 crisis, including at least 12 killed in 2017, and at least eight humanitarian convoys have been attacked already this year. Under International Humanitarian Law, intentional attacks against humanitarian relief personnel may constitute war crimes.

“I send my deepest condolences to the families, friends and colleagues of those impacted by these abhorrent incidents,” said Mr. Owusu. “Every time an attack of this nature happens, we say that it must never happen again. And yet it does. I implore all those in positions of power to step up to their responsibilities and stop this, as they are ultimately accountable for what happens under their watch. There is no safety when attacks are met with silence and inaction.”

More than three years of conflict have taken a devastating toll on the people of South Sudan. Around 7.5 million people across the country are in need of humanitarian assistance and protection and localized famine has been declared in parts of Unity.

Download the press statement here.

For more information, contact the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) in South Sudan:
Frank Nyakairu, nyakairu@un.org / +211 922406012
Guiomar Pau Sole, pausole@un.org / +211 920100411

Bentiu PoC site

Helping Treat Tuberculosis for South Sudan’s Displaced: Nyayian’s Story

Communicable diseases, such as tuberculosis (TB), present huge risks to communities living in crowded displacement sites or on the run from conflict in South Sudan. For women like Nyayien, who has lived at the protection of civilians (PoC) site in Bentiu since May 2016, diseases are so rampant they often become more severe with the strain of displacement.

“I walked five days from my home in Koch with little food for the long journey. I was already feeling sick before I left; I was treated for malaria before I left but my cough persisted,” Nyayien recounted. By the time she reached the PoC site, she was severely depleted.

Nyayien was quickly referred to the IOM clinic, where technicians operate a TB testing and treatment laboratory. After she tested positive, she immediately began a six-month treatment, which involves daily visits to the IOM clinic for two months and then weekly for the next four months.

“I successfully completed my treatment thanks to my sister’s support and the good counselling given to me by IOM staff. They both gave me strength while coping up with treatment,” she said.

While sick, she worried that she would not be able support her family and was concerned about spreading the disease, as she lived with 12 family members in one single shelter. With good hygiene habits, she was able to mitigate this risk and is now feeling well enough to begin contributing financially to her household.

IOM health promoters canvas the site every day, urging IDPs with TB symptoms to not be apprehensive to visit health care providers in the site, as TB is a curable disease with consistent treatment.

Since IOM opened the TB treatment centre in January 2016, over 200 people have tested positive and begun the Directly Observed Treatment (DOT) course, with over 60 TB patients have successfully completed the treatment.

With over 118,000 internally displaced persons (IDPs) sheltering in the PoC site, the spread of TB is a major concern for public health. Aggressive health and hygiene messaging, along with timely medical care, are absolutely critical to mitigating the spread of the disease and reducing the stigma.

IOM also offers TB testing and treatment for the community in Bentiu town and surrounding areas.

More than 7.5 million people in South Sudan are in need of humanitarian assistance, including more than 1.9 million IDPs and millions facing severe food insecuiry. IOM migration health programmes aim to reach the most vulnerable populations across the country, including displacement sites and remote locations.

For further information, please contact IOM South Sudan. Ashley McLaughlin, amclaughlin@iom.int.

UNESCO Picture

UNESCO workshop raises awareness of the role of culture in peacebuilding and sustainable development in South Sudan

On 14 March 2017, UNESCO invited a broad range of participants from the culture sector in South Sudan to an awareness-raising workshop on the three UNESCO Conventions ratified by South Sudan in 2016, namely: 2005 Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions , 2003 Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage, and the 1972 Convention concerning the Protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage.

Convened at the UNESCO Office in Juba, the workshop gathered academia from Juba University, NGOs, and Ministry staff responsible for culture, environment and archives to learn more about the guidance and resources offered by these normative instruments for intercultural dialogue, peace building, and sustainable development in South Sudan.

The workshop was opened by the Head of the UNESCO Juba Office, Mr. Sardar Umar Alam, who highlighted the challenges posed by the conflict situation in South Sudan to the safeguarding and promotion of its culture. He underscored the importance of culture for national identity and nation building, and the need to promote culture for peace-building and dialogue—especially among the 64 different ethnic groups in South Sudan. Acknowledging the numerous NGOs successfully promoting culture in South Sudan, he recognized the strong local appetite to engage in culture activities. In view of the upcoming submission South Sudan’s Tentative List of World Heritage sites, Mr. Alam urged the national team to maintain the determination needed to finalize the required forms, and called on participants to create a workplan for priority culture actions in South Sudan.

The Culture Programme Specialist from the UNESCO Regional Office for Eastern Africa, Ms. Karalyn Monteil, led detailed presentations on the 1972, 2003 and 2005 Conventions, which provided an introduction to each Convention as well as guidance on developing policies and legislation as well as undertaking inventories of cultural heritage and the creative industries in South Sudan. The funding mechanisms linked with each of the Conventions was also explained in detail, and participants were encouraged to prepare International Assistance requests for policy development, the elaboration of inventories and capacity building.

During the discussions, the participants noted the strong need for awareness-raising of the three Conventions among local populations. The need to mobilize media in South Sudan to help spread the word about the unifying role of culture in South Sudan and to open the discussion to a wider range of stakeholders was widely agreed upon. Lastly, the participants embraced the use of United Nations’ National Days to raise awareness of the potential role of culture in South Sudan and suggested celebrating African World Heritage Day on 5 May, International Museum Day on 18 May and the World Day for Cultural Diversity for Dialogue and Development on 21 May.

Expressing her satisfaction with the workshop, Dr. Nadia Arop Dudi, Minister of Culture, Youth and Sports stated: “It is important to raise awareness about the role of culture in building our national identity in South Sudan and promoting our cultural diversity. The Government of South Sudan is counting on UNESCO’s continued support to increase our national capacities to use the Culture Conventions to sustainably develop the culture sector in South Sudan.”

Following the workshop, UNESCO shall accompany national authorities and experts in South Sudan with the preparation of International Assistance requests to the various funding mechanisms linked with the UNESCO Culture Conventions in view of strengthening their implementation in South Sudan. UNESCO also plans to continue supporting South Sudan with their efforts to create a National Museum and a National Archive in the capital.