Juba, Sept 26 (AP/UNB) — South Sudan's civil war has caused nearly 400,000 "excess deaths" since fighting erupted in late 2013, a new report funded by the U.S. State Department said Wednesday after years of uncertainty.
The report by the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine estimates that "violent injuries" caused about half of those 382,900 deaths. Increased risk of disease and reduced access to health care contributed to others, it said.
The civil war's death toll has long been unknown, with estimates in the tens of thousands.
"To our knowledge this is the first comprehensive estimate of how many people have died because of the war," Francesco Checchi, a lead investigator on the study, told The Associated Press. "Every day that goes by, hundreds more lives may be lost."
"I think this figure is much more realistic than the 50,000 which has been used for so long," Klem Ryan, a former official with the United Nations mission in South Sudan who later served as coordinator of the U.N. panel of experts monitoring sanctions on the country, told the AP.
Counting the dead in the civil war is difficult as so much occurs in remote locations, Ryan said. "However, that's not justification for not compiling what we did know and pointing to the gaps."
The new report, based on statistical modeling and not peer reviewed, says the deaths appeared to peak in 2016 and 2017. Fresh fighting broke out in the capital, Juba, when a peace deal collapsed in July 2016 and the violence spread into other regions. Most of the deaths occurred in the country's south and northeast and among adult males, the report says.
The striking new estimate comes weeks after the warring sides signed what the government called a "final final" peace deal. It returns rebel leader Riek Machar to his role as vice president to President Salva Kiir, a situation that sparked the conflict when their supporters clashed along ethnic lines. Machar fled the post again during the 2016 fighting.
The United States and others have expressed skepticism that this new peace deal will hold and some fighting has been reported, with each side blaming the other.
A government spokesman, Ateny Wek Ateny, told the AP that he could not confirm or deny the new estimated death toll and blamed killings on the armed opposition. "You can't collect the data."
South Sudan's civil war also has sent more than 2 million people fleeing in Africa's largest refugee crisis since the 1994 Rwandan genocide.
The new report calls for a stronger humanitarian response in one of the world's most dangerous countries for aid workers. The U.N. has repeatedly called on the government to allow more access.
The report "should also spur warring factions to conduct war according to its rules, instead of attacking civilians and humanitarian actors," Checchi said.
One South Sudanese organization has taken on an even larger, perhaps more dangerous, task: Identifying every person killed in the civil war by name, as well as those killed in various conflicts dating back to 1955.
"This is a war of revenge, hate and anger and we have to address this. We are trying to humanize the loss," Anyieth D'Awol, who is involved with the Remembering the Ones We Lost organization, told the AP.
The group started collecting names in 2014. So far, it has 6,677. One day, it hopes to set up monuments to the dead.
United Nations, Sep 26 (AP/UNB) -President Joseph Kabila of Congo is stressing that holding elections on Dec. 23 is "irreversible" and denouncing any interference in the electoral process from foreign governments.
Kabila became Congo's leader in 2001 after the assassination of his father and by law could not run again after his mandate ended in December 2016. But he has remained in office because of delays in holding elections, which sparked deadly protests.
He told the annual gathering of world leaders at the U.N. General Assembly on Tuesday that "everything will be implemented to guarantee the peaceful and credible nature of these elections "
Kabila warned that the United Nations will not be "an organization for all if the intrusive interference of some governments in matters undoubtedly in the domestic policy of the states" continues. He did not name any countries.
He also called for an "effective and substantial" start to the withdrawal of the U.N. peacekeeping force in Congo.
Germany and Saudi Arabia have agreed to patch up their strained diplomatic ties, after Berlin's top diplomat expressed regret for recent "misunderstandings" that angered the kingdom.
Saudi Arabia pulled its ambassador from Germany last year after then German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel suggested Riyadh was engaging in "political adventurism" in the Middle East.
Current Foreign Minister Heiko Maas told reporters Tuesday that "our relations have witnessed misunderstandings which stands in sharp contrast to our otherwise strong and strategic ties with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. We sincerely regret this."
Speaking after the two met on the sidelines of the U.N. General Assembly, his Saudi counterpart Adel al-Jubeir responded by inviting Maas to visit the kingdom "at the earliest opportunity so that we may begin a new phase of close cooperation."
Smirks and smiles, but no signs of shock: German diplomats appeared bemused by President Donald Trump's latest swipe at their country.
In a wide-ranging speech Tuesday to the United Nations General Assembly, Trump took time to reiterate his criticism of Germany's planned undersea gas pipeline from Russia.
After the U.S. president's warning that "Germany will become totally dependent on Russian energy if it does not immediately change course," cameras showed German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas gently shaking his head, while senior diplomats smiled.
Nairobi, Sep 22 (AP/UNB) — A survivor has been found inside a capsized Tanzanian ferry two days after the disaster on Lake Victoria, an official said Saturday, while coffins arrived for at least 167 victims and counting.
An engineer was found near the engine of the upturned vessel, Mwanza regional commissioner John Mongella told reporters. The Tanzanian Broadcasting Corporation reported he had shut himself into the engine room. His condition was not immediately clear.
Search efforts continued around the ferry's exposed underside as families of victims prepared to claim the dead. No one knows how many people were on board the ferry, which had a capacity of 101. Officials on Friday said at least 40 people had been rescued.
The government's Chief Secretary John Kijazi announced the rising death toll to reporters after President John Magufuli ordered the arrests of those responsible.
"This is a great disaster for our nation," Magufuli said, announcing four days of national mourning.
The badly overloaded ferry capsized in the final stretch before shore on Thursday afternoon as people returning from a busy market day shifted and prepared to disembark. Horrified fishermen and other witnesses have expressed fear that more than 200 could have died.
Pope Francis, the United Nations secretary-general, Russian President Vladimir Putin and a number of African leaders have expressed shock and sorrow.
The MV Nyerere, named for the former president who led the East African nation to independence, was traveling between the islands of Ukara and Ukerewe when it sank, according to the government agency in charge of servicing the vessels.
Accidents are often reported on the large freshwater lake surrounded by Tanzania, Kenya and Uganda. Some of the deadliest have occurred in Tanzania, where aging passenger ferries often carry hundreds of passengers and well beyond capacity.
In 1996, more than 800 people died when passenger and cargo ferry MV Bukoba sank on Lake Victoria.
Nearly 200 people died in 2011 when the MV Spice Islander I sank off Tanzania's Indian Ocean coast near Zanzibar.
Kinshasa, Sep 22 (AP/UNB) — A Congolese woman who refused an Ebola vaccination and then disappeared has died of the virus near the heavily traveled border with Uganda, which is preparing to begin vaccinations as needed.
The confirmed Ebola death announced by local authorities highlights the challenges health workers are facing in a region of northeastern Congo that had never experienced an outbreak of the hemorrhagic fever before. Authorities have fought rumors and trained community members including traditional healers in efforts to calm and educate nervous residents.
The 32-year-old woman had assisted in the burials of other Ebola victims and health workers had followed her as a possible case, but she refused a vaccination and disappeared from the city of Beni, said the vice governor of Ituri Province, Pacifique Keta.
She died on Thursday at a hospital in Tshomia, on Lake Albert.
It is the closest a confirmed Ebola death in the current outbreak has been to Uganda, which has said it was making arrangements with the World Health Organization to vaccinate health workers and other high-risk populations as needed. Three thousand vaccine doses will be imported.
Congo's health ministry said that as of Friday there have been 116 confirmed cases, including 68 deaths, of Ebola in the outbreak that was declared on Aug. 1. More than 10,000 people have been vaccinated.
Ebola monitoring has been taking place at the border and Uganda is considered what WHO calls "very high risk."
"To date, health workers in Uganda have responded to over 100 Ebola alerts that have been found to be negative for the Ebola virus," WHO's country office there has said.
The U.N. health agency has not recommended travel restrictions.
Accra, Sep 11 (AP/UNB) — The body of former U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan has received a hero's welcome upon landing at Kotoka International Airport in Ghana's capital.
President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo was with Annan's widow and family members Monday as uniformed soldiers brought Annan's coffin down from the aircraft amid solemn music played by a detachment of Ghana's armed forces. Prayers followed.
To signify Annan's return home, the U.N. flag covering the coffin was replaced by a Ghanaian one.
Annan will lie at the Accra International Conference Center, where people can pay their respects in the days before Thursday's state funeral.
Annan died in August in Switzerland at age 80.
The grandson of tribal chiefs, he was the first black African to work as U.N. secretary-general, and was awarded a Nobel Peace Prize.