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Locals in Otogo decry living conditions

By Opio Jackson

The residents of Otogo payam in Yei River County have deplored the living conditions in the area.

Alex Keny Lokosa, Paramount Chief of Otogo payam said since the beginning of December 2019 there has been multiple cases of human rights violations in the area by men in uniforms.

“Looting of properties, torturing of people and restriction of movement are among the violations taking place in the area,” he said.

“They are shooting down domestic animals such as goats and sheep for meat. Last Saturday they came to the market and started shooting bullets in the air and when people ran away they looted people’s properties from the market,” he said.

Kenyi said although people had started returning home since the ten states was announced, the ongoing human rights violation in the area was forcing them to return to where they had come from.

However, he did not disclose whether the armed forces terrorizing the people in the area belong to National Salvation Front or the national army.

Kenyi called for justice for the women who were raped in Otogo payam last year, “The perpetrator tors were taken to Yei prison but I don’t know how far their case have reached because since they were arrested we did not get any update whether they have been sentenced or not.”

Last year Government and the South Sudan Opposition Movement Alliance (SOMA) member of National Salvation Front signed Rome Declaration and the document has been adopted by the Council of Ministers.

Edmund Yakani Executive Director Community Empowerment for Progress Organization (CEPO) confirmed that they have received several reports of human rights violation in Otogo payam.

“We are appealing to the Ceasefire Transitional Security Arrangements Monitoring and Verification Mechanism (CTSAMVM) to response to those incidents and find out who are those forces,” Yakani said. 

“Are they the NAS forces or whose forces are those as nobody is qualified to identify those forces because both forces are having the same uniform,” he said.

He said Community Empower for Progress Organization has been closely following the on-going incidences targeting civilians’ population across Yei and Morobo besides the signing of the Roma Declaration between the Government and South Sudan Opposition Movement Alliance member National Salvation Front (NAS).

“A chief has been killed and two women abducted by unknown gunmen in Morobo,” the activist said.

“In Yei Otogo area men in military uniforms are harassing, intimidating and looting civilians’ population,” Yakani added.

He said all the incidences are happening while CTSAMVM is silent about them. “CTSAMVM is officially mandated to monitor, verify and report the observation of the Roma Declaration between the government and SSOMA,” he added.

The activist said they are worried that Roma Declaration is facing violations and the CTSAMVM is silent about that and this may drive the parts of Yei and Morobo back to worse situation like in the past.

Yakani stressed that Yei and Morobo are strategic locations for mobilization of voluntary return of Returnees.

When contacted for comment, the Spokesperson of the South Sudan People’s Defense Forces Major Gen. Lul Ruai said, paramount Chief of Otogo payam should be clear, saying men in uniform did not mean they were the SSPDF.

“He should be very clear, are they from the SSPDF, the NAS or other organized forces because the accusation is not clear,” Maj Gen Lul said.

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