27 December 2013

South Sudan: IGAD Leaders in Nairobi for South Sudan Talks

Heavy fighting was raging Thursday in South Sudan's key oil-producing north, officials said, although neighbours Kenya and Ethiopia said they had made ... ( Resource: Progess in Efforts to Broker End of S.Sudan Civil War

Nairobi — Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) member states were on Friday morning expected to meet for an extraordinary session to discuss the situation in South Sudan and Somalia.

Heads of State from Djibouti, Ethiopia, South Sudan, Sudan and Somalia were to converge at State House Nairobi at 11am to discuss the security situation in the two countries.

"The communiqué should be expected much later," the IGAD Secretariat Communications and Media Advisor Brazille Musumba communicated.

On Thursday President Uhuru Kenyatta who is the East African Community Chairman held talks with South Sudan's President Salva Kiir in the company of the African Union Chairperson Hailemariam Desalegn.

It is unclear what the outcome of Thursday's peace talks were but the Kenyan Ministry of Foreign Affairs did say they were also looking to open communication lines with rebel leader Riek Machar.

"We are trying to talk to Riek Machar. Very few people in the world have managed to talk to him. But we have an envoy from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and we are trying," the Foreign Affairs Principal Secretary Karanja Kibicho said on Thursday as he received 236 Kenyans evacuated from the conflict zone.

By getting Machar to the negotiating table the Kenyan government hopes to ensure the safety of 1,200 Kenyans who are trapped in the rebel controlled region of Bor.

So far over 1,000 Kenyans have been evacuated by plane from South Sudan with charter planes being used within the two-year-old nation to transport Kenyans to Juba for their flight back home.

"I was working in a hotel in Bentiu on Sunday when they (she's not clear which faction) came in shooting. I was lucky I just got shot. The Eritrean women I was working with were raped," one of the returnees, Emily Wasike, recounted on Thursday.

Kenya Airways is expected to continue the evacuation exercise as more Kenyans make their way to the Kenyan embassy and the United Nations compound in Juba.

"We think the evacuation efforts will go on for a while because we understand that the numbers in Juba are continuing to increase and we are here to support the initiative for as long as it takes," Kenya Airways Chief Finance Officer Alex Mbugua pledged on Thursday.

And as the evacuation exercise continues the Kenyan government continues to transport food and medical supplies to South Sudan with 55,000 tonnes transported so far.

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