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
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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.”


Australia move on Jerusalem slammed

Israeli troops return after blowing up a Palestinian’s house in Ramallah on Saturday. (AFP)
Updated 15 December 2018
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Australia move on Jerusalem slammed

  • PM Morrison says committed to recognizing a future state of Palestine with East Jerusalem as its capital
  • The country became one of just a few to follow US President Donald Trump’s lead and recognize the contested city as Israel’s capital

RAMALLAH, SYDNEY: The Palestinian leadership on Saturday described as “irresponsible” Australia’s recognition of West Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, saying it violated international law.

Canberra earlier recognized West Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, but a contentious embassy shift from Tel Aviv will not occur until a peace settlement is achieved, said Prime Minister Scott Morrison. 

“We look forward to moving our embassy to West Jerusalem when practical, in support of and after final status of determination,” Morrison said, adding that work on a new site for the embassy was under way.

“All of Jerusalem remains a final status issue for negotiations, while East Jerusalem, under international law, is an integral part of the occupied Palestinian territory,” he added.

“Furthermore, recognizing our commitment to a two-state solution, the Australian government is also resolved to acknowledge the aspirations of the Palestinian people for a future state with its capital in East Jerusalem,” he added.

The country became one of just a few to follow US President Donald Trump’s lead and recognize the contested city as Israel’s capital.

Australia said it would open a defense and trade office in the west of the holy city and also committed to recognizing a future state of Palestine with East Jerusalem as its capital.

Both Israelis and Palestinians claim Jerusalem as their capital.

Most foreign nations avoided moving embassies there to prevent inflaming peace talks on the city’s final status — until Trump unilaterally moved the US Embassy there earlier this year.

Senior Palestinian official Saeb Erekat said in a statement that the Australian decision to open a trade office in the city violated a UN resolution.

“From the beginning, we’ve perceived the Australian government’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital as one wherein petty domestic politics steer irresponsible policies that contradict world peace and security,” he said in a statement.

Morrison first floated the shift in foreign policy in October, the move angered Australia’s immediate neighbor Indonesia — the world’s most populous Muslim nation. 

The issue has put a halt on years-long negotiations on a bilateral trade deal.

Canberra on Friday told its citizens traveling to Indonesia to “exercise a high degree of caution,” warning of protests in the capital Jakarta and popular holiday hotspots, including Bali.

Morrison pointed to Australia’s military history in the region, and the country’s interest in a “rules-based” order in the Middle East, to support the shift in foreign policy.