UN ramps up appeal for South Sudan refugees

The new head of the World Food Programme (WFP) David Beasley attends a press conference about an updated aid appeal for South Sudan on May 15, 2017 at the United Nations Office in Geneva. (AFP)
Updated 15 May 2017
0

UN ramps up appeal for South Sudan refugees

GENEVA: UN agencies increased their 2017 appeal for South Sudan’s refugees on Monday, saying they needed at least $1.4 billion to help alleviate “unimaginable” levels of suffering.
The UN refugee agency and the World Food Programme had earlier asked for $1.2 billion to support more than 1.8 million people fleeing fighting. But even that was only 14 percent funded, the agencies said in a joint statement.
“The suffering of the South Sudanese people is just unimaginable ... They are close to the abyss,” WFP Executive Director David Beasley said.
Two years after its independence, South Sudan plunged into conflict in December 2013 after rivalry between President Salva Kiir and his then-vice president, Riek Machar, exploded into violence.
A 2015 peace deal was signed but the terms were never fully respected. Lingering suspicions between Machar and Kiir triggered a fresh bout of fighting in July 2016 and violence has since spread to large areas of the country.
The conflict has led parts of the oil-producing country into famine and paralyzed public services.
Other anti-government groups have also emerged since the conflict erupted. Some have fought each other.
On Saturday, seven opposition groups, including that of Machar, said they had agreed to work closely in their bid to oust Kiir’s government.
Last week, Kiir fired his army chief Paul Malong, raising fears of armed confrontation. Malong has said he had no intention of staging a revolt against Kiir’s government.
Beasley said the number of those displaced by fighting stood at 3.8 million, and that 5.5 million people are facing hunger, while the onset of the rainy season was expected to make many roads unusable, making it harder for help to reach them.
“I am deeply alarmed and saddened by the widespread hunger and misery suffered by the South Sudanese people due to the ongoing conflict. The situation in the country is bleak and getting frankly worse,” said Beasley, who added he would be returning to South Sudan later this week.
“This crisis is man-made and is fueled by violence. There is now a real danger that famine, which has already been declared in parts of the former Unity State, could spread to other areas.”


Beirut praises ‘progress’ on maritime border dispute

Updated 21 May 2019
0

Beirut praises ‘progress’ on maritime border dispute

  • Israel and Lebanon both claim ownership of an 860-square-kilometer area of the Mediterranean Sea.
  • Lebanon insists that the area lies within its economic zone and refuses to give up a single part of it

BEIRUT: Lebanon has hinted that progress is being made in efforts to resolve its maritime border dispute with Israel following the return of a US mediator from talks with Israeli officials.

US Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs David Satterfield returned to Lebanon following talks in Israel where he outlined Lebanese demands regarding the disputed area and the mechanism to reach a settlement.

The US mediator has signaled a new push to resolve the dispute after meetings with both Lebanese and Israeli officials.

Israel and Lebanon both claim ownership of an 860-square-kilometer area of the Mediterranean Sea. Lebanon hopes to begin offshore oil and gas production in the offshore Block 9 as it grapples with an economic crisis.

A source close to Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri, who met with Satterfield on Monday after his return to Lebanon, told Arab News that “there is progress in the efforts, but the discussion is not yet over.” He did not provide further details.

Sources close to the Lebanese presidency confirmed that Lebanon is counting on the US to help solve the demarcation dispute and would like to accelerate the process to allow exploration for oil and gas to begin in the disputed area.

Companies that will handle the exploration require stability in the area before they start working, the sources said.

Previous efforts by Satterfield to end the dispute failed in 2012 and again last year after Lebanon rejected a proposal by US diplomat Frederick Hoff that offered 65 percent of the disputed area to Lebanon and 35 percent to Israel. Lebanon insisted that the area lies within its economic zone and refused to give up a single part of it.

Satterfield has acknowledged Lebanon’s ownership of around 500 sq km of the disputed 850 sq km area.

Lebanon renewed its commitment to a mechanism for setting the negotiations in motion, including the formation of a tripartite committee with representatives of Lebanon, Israel and the UN, in addition to the participation of the US mediator. Beirut also repeated its refusal to negotiate directly with Israel.

Two months ago, Lebanon launched a marine environmental survey in blocks 4 and 9 in Lebanese waters to allow a consortium of French, Italian and Russian companies to begin oil and gas exploration in the area.