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YEI - 8 Sep 2019

Forces occupying schools hindering support delivery in Yei

Soldiers occupying schools are hindering the delivery of scholastic materials in rural schools within Yei River State, a local official said.

Speaking to Radio Tamazuj on Thursday, the state education minister, Peter Butili Farrajallah said government and opposition forces haven’t vacated schools, despite the orders issued by their senior commanders.

He said the presence of armed forces in the area is also hindering the return of the civil population and reopening of schools.

“People are returning and children are ready to return to their classes. Also, NGOs are ready to deliver scholastic materials, but are finding it difficult because the armed forces are still occupying the schools and time is running out for the learners to be in class,” Butili explained.

Morris Taban, a resident, said that some schools in his village are still occupied by government and opposition forces.

“Most of the schools are being occupied by the soldiers in villages and pupils are finding it hard to attend classes. We want the soldiers to vacate these schools so they can reopen,” Taban said.

On his part, spokesman of the opposition SPLA-IO in the state, Wayi Godwil said their forces started vacating schools.

“It is in the revitalized peace agreement that all the schools occupied by the armed forces should be vacated and our forces have started vacating them by going to the cantonment sites,” he said.

The SSPDF spokesman could not immediately be reached on the same matter.

On Thursday, however, the chairperson of the ceasefire monitoring body (CTSAMVM), Maj. Gen Abiche Ageno expressed concerns over what he described as the slow pace at which South Sudan’s parties were vacating civilian building and schools in various parts of Yei.

The CTSAMVM is mandated by the regional bloc IGAD to monitor and verify the implementation of the Agreement on the Cessation of Hostilities as per the peace deal.

Steps toward key benchmarks in the peace deal – unifying armed forces and drawing boundaries – are lagging far behind schedule due to lack of funds.