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Report: South Sudan Armed Opposition Seized Girls As ‘Wives’

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UN, AU Ask South Sudan's Warring Sides To Deliver On Peace Deal

South Sudan’s armed opposition abducted women and girls as young as 12 and lined them up so commanders could choose “wives,” and those not selected were left to be raped repeatedly by other fighters, a new UN report said on Thursday.

The report , based on victim and witness accounts, gives new details on the surge in violence and abuses that occurred even as South Sudan’s rivals negotiated the latest agreement to end a five-year civil war.

“Most of the abducted civilians are, as far as we know, still being held captive,” new UN human rights chief Michelle Bachelet said in a statement.

The report focuses on the Western Equatoria region between April and August, saying 900 people were abducted and some 24 000 people forced to flee their homes as fighting surged after months of relative calm. It says opposition forces attacked at least 28 villages and a refugee camp, and abducted young men and boys were made to be fighters or porters.

One survivor said she was “tied to a tree and raped by two fighters until she passed out due to pain and bleeding. When she regained consciousness, she was threatened with rape again.”

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While the report also notes “harm to civilians” by South Sudanese troops, it focuses on the armed opposition led by Riek Machar. It notes that the human rights division of the UN peacekeeping mission in South Sudan has identified three opposition commanders “who allegedly had effective command and control of the forces committing these abuses, which may amount to war crimes.” The report does not name them.

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There was no immediate response on Thursday from the armed opposition.

This is just the latest in a series of reports by the UN and others that have described civilians being raped, shot, hung, tortured and burned. Often the reports say South Sudanese government troops are largely to blame but opposition forces also have been accused.

South Sudan’s latest attempt at a peace deal returns Machar once again to his post as deputy to President Salva Kiir, an arrangement that more than once has led to deadly violence. The civil war erupted in late 2013, just two years after the world’s youngest country won independence from Sudan, when fighting broke out between supporters of Kiir and Machar largely along ethnic lines.

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A report last month estimated that the civil war has caused more than 380 000 deaths either through violence or disease as humanitarian efforts struggle in what has been called the world’s most dangerous country for aid workers.

“The abuses in the UN report are horrendous and stress the devastating impact that the continued impunity by forces has had on civilians, especially women and girls,” Nyagoah Pur, a researcher in the Africa division of Human Rights Watch, told The Associated Press, calling for the speedy establishment of a long-promised hybrid court in South Sudan to prosecute abuses.

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African News

Zimbabwe: Government, Civil Servants Agree Salary Deal

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Zimbabwe: Government, Civil Servants Agree Salary Deal

Zimbabwe government and civil servants have finally agreed to a salary accord after the government increased its offer to four hundred million dollars, up by fifty million.

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This means government workers and civil servants will each receive an increment of a hundred twenty-nine dollars effective on April the first.

Negotiations for a further salary review, possibly in June, will continue with consideration of other non-monetary incentives.

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Apex council chairperson, Cecilia Alexander, says the welfare negotiations will continue until the welfare of civil servants improved.

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Niger’s Top Court Outlaws ‘Fifth Wife’ Sex-Slave Maids

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Niger's Top Court Outlaws 'Fifth Wife' Sex-Slave Maids

Niger’s top court has outlawed the practice of keeping women as maids and sex slaves known as “fifth wives.”  This ends a decade-long legal battle by one victim that lawyers say could inspire others in the West African nation to seek justice.

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UK-based anti-slavery international, says the “fifth wife” custom, also known as “wahaya,” is when, in addition to the four wives permitted by Islam, rich men take on other, unofficial wives who live as domestic and sexual slaves.

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Thomson-Reuters Foundation says a Nigerien court had initially ruled in favor of the victim’s master, but she appealed the decision.  Last month, the Niger court of appeals ruled that her first marriage was never valid and that all “fifth wife” marriages are illegal.

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African News

Gunmen Abduct Student Football Team In Cameroon

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Gunmen Abduct Student Football Team In Cameroon

Gunmen have abducted twenty University of Buea male football team members in Cameroon’s southwest. A report says university Vice-Chancellor, Ngono Horace Manga, has confirmed the incident.

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The Vice-Chancellor is quoted as saying armed men stormed the university’s football ground and ordered the players who were training for an upcoming competition to leave with them.

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Manga also said the kidnappers contacted university authorities and demanded a ransom.  He did not disclose the amount for which they were asking.

No group has claimed responsibility for the kidnapping.

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