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JUBA - 12 Jun 2019

Ceasefire monitors laud parties for vacating some schools

South Sudan's ceasefire monitors have lauded the parties to the revitalized peace deal for vacating some schools they had previously occupied.

Desta Abiche Ageno, chairperson of Ceasefire and Transitional Security Arrangements Monitoring, Verification Mechanism (CTSAMVM), said the rival parties vacated some schools in Upper Nile and Equatoria regions.

“Regarding the vacation of civil buildings, we thank the SSPDF [South Sudan People’s Defense Forces] for vacating four schools in the Malakal area, including Pakang Basic School in Obai and Pio Yukwan Secondary School in Wadakona,” Abiche told a stakeholders' meeting in Juba on Tuesday.

 “We also thank the SPLM/A-IO [armed opposition forces] for vacating Gaderu Primary School in Gaderu in Yei area,” he added.

The official, however, pointed out that despite the progress made so far, the armed forces were still occupying 54 civilian buildings.

“Again, we strenuously urge the parties to treat this task as a matter of urgency and vacate civilian facilities immediately,” he stressed.

Abiche said there has been progress towards formation of a unified force of 83,000 personnel.

He added that the verification of cantonment is a priority of CTSAMVM during the extended pre-transitional period with the Joint Defense Board (JDB) having identified 35 cantonment areas.

“CTSAMVM found that 17 of the 20 assessed sites are suitable for cantonment with 1 not suitable and 2 disputed. We urge the joint defense board to quickly resolve the disputed cantonment sites,” said Adiche.

Meanwhile, Abiche noted that the financial challenges previously reported at the last CTSAMVM Technical Committee meeting continue.

“Despite our meetings with NPTC, they have yet to disperse funds to be utilized for CTSAMVM, the CTSAMVM Board meetings, and the CTSAMVM Technical Committee meetings,” he said.

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.