As the deadly Ebola virus outbreak in the Democratic Republic of Congo continues, with the first cases emerging in neighbouring Uganda this week, the EU has announced further emergency funding of €3.5 million, of which €2.5 million is for Uganda and €1 million for South Sudan. The aid package will strengthen rapid detection and reaction to Ebola cases. Today’s funding comes on top of the EU support for the Ebola response in the Democratic Republic of Congo and prevention and preparedness actions in Uganda, South Sudan, Rwanda and Burundi.
Christos Stylianides, Commissioner for Humanitarian Aid and Crisis management and EU Ebola coordinator said: “We are doing all we can to save lives and stop further Ebola cases. Today, our main task is not only to help the Democratic Republic of Congo, but also assist neighbouring countries like Uganda. Here, our funding is helping with surveillance, work with local communities, and boosting local capacities for these countries to take timely and effective action. We are committed to continue our assistance to bring this outbreak to an end, for as long as it takes.”
In co-ordination with other international donors and in line with the World Health Organization’s Regional Strategic Ebola Response and Preparedness Plans, EU funding is contributing towards measures that include mainly:
- the strengthening of disease surveillance at community level, health facilities and points of entry (border crossing points);
- the training of rapid response teams;
- the training of healthcare and frontline workers on contact-tracing, infection prevention and control measures, psychosocial support, and safe and dignified burials;
- local capacity-building by equipping medical treatment facilities; and
- community awareness-raising.
EU humanitarian health experts in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Uganda and the region are coordinating the response and they are in daily contact with the health authorities in these countries, the World Health Organization and operational partners.
Uganda helped to deliver European arms and ammunition to South Sudan at the height of its civil war, circumventing a European Union arms embargo on the East African country, a weapons monitoring group said.
The Conflict Armament Research (CAR) said South Sudan arranged for the Ugandan government to provide end-user assurances for purchases of weapons and ammunition from Bulgaria, Romania and Slovakia.
“We have a paper trail from point of manufacture, through export to Uganda, through diversion to South Sudan, and to the recovery of the weapons on the battlefield,” said James Bevan, head of CAR.
The weaponry, delivered to Uganda in 2014 and 2015, was then transferred to neighboring South Sudan, CAR said in a report based on four years of research.
The EU gave positive evaluation of the initial steps taken towards the implementation of the ‘Revitalised Agreement on the Resolution of the Conflict in South Sudan’, signed on 12 September under the auspices of the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD)’, but Europe expects it should be followed by other actions in the same direction.
“In Juba South Sudanese parties reconfirmed their commitment to the The initial steps taken towards its implementation, are going in the right direction and should be followed by others”, the text of the European Action Service statement says.
“However fighting continues in some areas of the country. It is important that all parties immediately observe the provisions of the Cessation of Hostilities Agreement of December 2017 and disengage and separate their forces in close proximity as agreed by them. Full and unimpeded humanitarian access throughout the country is equally paramount. Recent reports have documented grave human rights violations and abuses in South Sudan, some of which may amount to war crimes and crimes against humanity. We expect all parties to hold perpetrators of violence to account, and ensure that transitional justice and accountability mechanisms are in place for the people of South Sudan.
“The full implementation of actions, such as releasing all prisoners of war and political detainees, would build confidence among South Sudanese parties and with the international community and is critical for an effective peace process, with political and economic inclusiveness, transparency and accountability.
“IGAD and its member states have a central role to ensure that the Agreement is implemented by the parties.The European Union will continue to support the region and to show solidarity with the people of South Sudan and remains committed to accompanying them on their journey towards peace, reconciliation, stability and resilience.
Government and rebel forces in South Sudan abducted hundreds of women and girls this year and many have been raped and forced into sexual slavery, the UN mission to the country informed.
Other young people were forced to become child soldiers, according to a report by the UN Mission in South Sudan, which said that many of those abducted remain in the hands of their captors.
The abuses were committed during a civil war by forces loyal to the government of President Salva Kiir and rebels fighting for Riek Machar. The abductions violate international law and may amount to war crimes, the report said.
“The girls are sometimes only 12 years old and were chosen as wives for the military. They had to parade in front of them and they (soldiers) could choose whomever they wanted. They used them and of course they were raped and (subjected to) sexual slavery,” the report said.
South Sudan’s rebel chief Riek Machar on Tuesday, August 28, refused to sign a final peace deal, which aims to end a brutal civil war, with the government, according to a Sudanese mediator.
The main opposition groups, including the SPLM-IO (Machar faction), refused to sign the final document, demanding guarantees over their reservations, Sudanese Foreign Minister Al-Dierdiry Ahmed said. “South Sudan will not have peace unless these groups sign,” the mediator added. The warring South Sudanese parties have held weeks of talks in Khartoum in search of a comprehensive peace deal to end the conflict that has killed tens of thousands of people and displaced millions in the world’s youngest country since it erupted in December 2013, AFP said. Machar and his arch foe, President Salva Kiir, have already inked several agreements, including a permanent ceasefire and a power-sharing deal.
The UN. Security Council has narrowly approved drafted by the United States resolution imposing an arms embargo on South Sudan over objections that it could damage African efforts to end the five-year conflict in the world’s newest state.
The resolution received the support minimum of nine votes on Friday, July 13, with the six other council members, including Russia, abstaining.
This week the European Commission has announced €68 million in humanitarian assistance for vulnerable communities in Sudan and South Sudan.
The funding comes as millions of people across both countries are in need of assistance, with the conflict in South Sudan triggering an influx of refugees into neighbouring Sudan.
“The EU is stepping up its support as many people in Sudan and South Sudan face massive humanitarian needs. Our aid will provide essential supplies such as food and healthcare and allow our partners to continue their life saving work on the ground. Above all, it is crucial that humanitarian workers can deliver aid safely so they can help those most in need. Aid workers are not a target” – said Commissioner or Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Management Christos Stylianides.
In South Sudan, €45 million will primarily target internally displaced persons and host communities, providing emergency food assistance, health, nutrition, shelter, water and sanitation as well as protection from gender based violence. Funding will also support measures to protect aid workers.
In Sudan, €23 million will ensure protection of displaced communities, treatment of undernutrition in the most affected areas, as well as food assistance and improved access to basic services such as health, shelter, water and sanitation.
To date, the Commission has mobilised more than €412 million in humanitarian aid for South Sudan since fighting erupted in December 2013. Since 2011, the EU has provided almost €450 million in humanitarian aid in Sudan for those affected by conflict, natural disasters, food insecurity and malnutrition in the country.