An armed individual in the town of Pibor, in Jonglei state, South Sudan. Pibor has seen violent clashes and confrontations that have resulted in displacement as well as destruction of livelihood and property. Photo OCHA/Cecilia Attefors


Highlighting a continuing lack of local and national infrastructure almost a year since the formation of the Revitalized Transitional Government of National Unity in South Sudan, Yasmin Sooka, Chairperson of the Commission on Human Rights in the country noted that although the signing of the Revitalized Peace Agreement two years ago had “led to a reduction in hostilities at the national level”, the country seen “a massive escalation in violence” locally. 

Power vacuum filled by fighting 

Echoing that finding, Commission member Barney Afako explained that signing the cessation of hostilities ceasefire had left “a vacuum” at the community level. 

“There are no governors in place or no county commissioners in place. So, there is nobody to deal with those cleavages which had remained. Instead what we saw, was that the weaponry that have been left in the community as well as that which is now supplied by others fuelled this communal violence”, he said. 

Other worrying developments include restrictions and self-censorship among journalists and pressure groups. 

New level of fear 

“The level of State suppression and inability of civil society or journalists to operate is now completely different”, said Commission member Andrew Clapham. “There is sort of levels of fear and the State suppression and the fact that you can be picked up and tortured and killed is rather different”. 

In its latest report, the Commission describes “waves of attacks and reprisals” that have left hundreds of South Sudanese women, men and children dead, maimed or destitute in Jonglei State and the Greater Pibor Administrative Area. 

Ms. Sooka told journalists via video conference that the armed groups and militias had mobilized along ethnic lines, often with the support of armed State and opposition forces.  

She highlighted clashes last year between allied Dinka and Nuer militias and Murle pastoralist militias with massive violations against civilians, including killing and displacement. 

“We have documented the new levels of militia violence engulfing more than three-quarters of the country at a localized level in which children carry weapons and women are traded as spoils of war like chattels”, Ms. Sooka said. 

‘Children all have guns’ 

The Commission Chairperson said that civilians described combatants using weapons that they had never seen before.  

“One man told the Commission, ‘I went to Pibor town and I saw guns being sold there. There the black guns used by the NSS were being sold for 25,000 South Sudanese shillings, each less than a few hundred dollars.’ He also said that children all have guns”, she recounted. 

Ms. Sooka also described as “shocking” the high number of fighters involved in localized conflicts and highlighted that women were traded as “spoils of war”. 

Moreover, children carry weapons and the levels of violence “have already surpassed” those documented in December 2013, when civil war erupted. 

Forced to fight, identities erased 

Describing attacks in Jonglei and the Greater Pibor area, she pointed to “systemically and deliberately torched” homes, murders, forced displacements, abductions, rapes, sexual enslavement and, in some instances, forced marriages to captors. Abducted boys have been forced to fight and, sometimes “forcibly assimilated into rival armed groups”. 

These victims have had their ethnic and other identities “completely erased”, according to the Commission’s report, which noted that as of December 2020, hundreds of abductees were still missing, with hundreds of thousands displaced by the violence and recurrent flooding. 

The Commission on Human Rights in South Sudan is due to present its report to the Human Rights Council in Geneva on 10 March. - United Nations

President Uhuru Kenyatta, yesterday, warned senior government officials who are not keen on working with him to resign and join their preferred political outfit.

In a message, many political analysts have interpreted as being directed to his deputy William Ruto, the President warned that he was ready to replace officers not loyal to him.

“He said he was only keen to work with a strong united team and warned those with their loyalties elsewhere that they were free to leave and he would readily replace them. He said it is either you are with him or not,” a source at the meeting said.

Uhuru met senior government officials in the rank of Executive at State House on Thursday afternoon. They included Cabinet Secretaries, Cabinet Administrative Secretaries, and their Principal Secretaries.

Though the meeting was to discuss the Big 4 Agenda, Building Bridges Initiative, and Vision 2030, it was overshadowed by the absence of DP William Ruto. 

Those who attended the State House meeting intimated to a local daily that the President asked them to go to the grassroots and change the perception of BBI. According to Uhuru, the BBI proposals will unite the country.

Read Also: Ruto Will Arrest Moses Kuria when he Becomes President

Ruto’s office insisted that the DP was not invited to State House and worked from his Karen residence.

Last week, Uhuru dared his deputy to resign from the government instead of criticizing it when it matters and celebrating some of its achievements when it favors him. Ruto publicly fired back at the President, saying he will not resign.

The UK’s Supreme Court has ruled that Uber must classify its drivers as employees rather than self-employed contractors, dealing a huge financial blow to the ride-hailing app and potentially rewriting the rules on the gig economy.

Although the decision will directly apply only to the 25 drivers who brought the claim against Uber, it sets an important precedent for how millions of so-called gig-economy workers are treated in the UK. There are 45,000 Uber drivers in London alone, with thousands more working for the company across Britain.
The UK’s GMB trade union has hailed the decision as historic. 

The top court’s ruling effectively ends a five-year dispute and means Uber drivers are now classified as workers, and entitled to holiday pay and the minimum wage – currently £8.72 ($12.20) an hour.

Uber said on Friday that it will now start a nationwide consultation: “This process will seek the views of all active drivers to help us shape the future of flexible work.”

They won an employment tribunal against Uber in 2016, but the company appealed three times, the case finally reaching the Supreme Court and losing its final appeal.The case against the San Francisco-based ride-hailing app, which currently operates in some 900 cities worldwide, was initiated back in 2015 by two London drivers, Yaseen Aslam and James Farrar, with other drivers later joining them.

Lawyers who acted for the Uber drivers think tens of thousands of Uber drivers could be entitled to an average of £12,000 ($16,800) in lost-pay compensation, and say the ruling will have implications for other workers in the gig economy.

The Trade Union Congress estimates that there are 5 million working at least part-time in the UK in the gig economy. RT


The UN mission in Somalia on Friday said it is "deeply concerned" by clashes between security guards of Somali opposition leaders and government forces in the capital Mogadishu.

"The @UN in #Somalia notes that the clashes in #Mogadishu underscore the urgent need for Federal Government and Federal Member State leaders to come together to reach political agreement on the implementation of the 17 September electoral model", the UN Assistance Mission in Somalia (UNSOM) said on Twitter.

Earlier on Friday, several people were killed and injured in a firefight between the government forces and security guards of opposition leaders near the presidential palace, a police official told Anadolu Agency on condition of anonymity due to restrictions on speaking to the media.

The government forces also dispersed protesters led by opposition presidential candidates -- including former Prime Minister Hassan Ali Khayre.

The opposition has called on President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed to step down, saying his constitutional mandate expired on Feb. 8.

However, the country’s parliament approved a resolution last December, allowing the president to remain in office until his successors are elected.

Meanwhile, immigration officials told Anadolu Agency that a suspected mortar shell fired during the clashes landed at Adan Adde international airport.

Local media reported that a hotel inside the airport was destroyed and at least three people were injured.

Several flights have been delayed following the incident.

The security forces have also closed major roads -- including Mogadishu's busiest Maka al-Mukarama Street -- preventing the protesters from reaching their planned venue of Daljirka Dahsoon, a memorial of the unknown soldier. AA

In the 2016 referendum, the Scottish public voted to remain in the EU by a margin of 62 to 38 per cent - Jane Barlow/PA

Nicola Sturgeon has ordered that the EU flag is flown from Scottish government buildings every day, despite Britain no longer being a member of the bloc.

Opponents of the First Minister said the demand showed her "obsession" with constitutional issues and "makes no sense" in light of Brexit.

The request was included in updated official guidance over which flags should be flown from buildings run by the Scottish government and its agencies.

While the Union Jack is to be flown on only one day a year –Remembrance Day – Ms Sturgeon "instructed that the European flag is flown from Scottish government buildings on a daily basis except for specific flag flying dates", the guidance says.

Dean Lockhart, the constitution spokesman for the Scottish Tories, said: "The UK has left the EU, so Nicola Sturgeon's personal decision to order the flying of the EU flag on Scottish government buildings makes no sense.

"It reconfirms the SNP's refusal to accept referendum results and their ongoing focus on constitutional issues at the expense of more important priorities. But we should not be surprised. Like all nationalists, Sturgeon is obsessed with flags." 

Last year, the SNP narrowly won a vote to keep the EU flag flying outside the Scottish parliament despite fears that the move compromised the neutrality of the parliamentary estate.

A Scottish government spokesman said: "The EU flag is flown to reflect the overwhelming vote of the people of Scotland to remain in Europe, and as a mark of solidarity with the hundreds of thousands of EU citizens who continue to call Scotland home despite Brexit."

In the 2016 referendum, the Scottish public voted to remain in the EU by a margin of 62 to 38 per cent. By Dan Sanderson, Telegraph/Yahoo News

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