Monthly Archives: March 2017

La Fondation Jeffrey Modell va déployer le premier réseau ...

CSL Behring sponsorise le premier réseau de ce genre sur le continent africain

LIVINGSTONE, Zambie, 31 mars 2017 /PRNewswire/ — Le leader mondial des produits biothérapeutiques CSL Behring a confirmé aujourd’hui son intention de sponsoriser le réseau nord-africain Jeffrey Modell, qui établira un centre de diagnostic et de recherche en Afrique du Nord. CSL Behring devient donc la première société à prendre en charge les patients atteints d’immunodéficience primaire (IP) en Afrique.

Comme les autres 253 sites qui font partie du réseau des centres Jeffrey Modell, le centre d’Afrique du Nord offrira une évaluation diagnostique de pointe aux patients chez qui on suspecte une immunodéficience primaire. Cette condition recouvre plus de 200 désordres dus à un déficit du système immunitaire véhiculé par les gènes et caractérisé par des infections qui peuvent être persistantes récurrentes, débilitantes, chroniques et mortelles.

Vicki Modell, cofondatrice de la Fondation Jeffrey Modell a déclaré : « Fred et moi rêvons depuis longtemps de créer un réseau Jeffrey Modell en Afrique du Nord. La Fondation Jeffrey Modell est honorée et enthousiaste de collaborer, immédiatement et à long terme, avec CSL Behring pour mettre en œuvre notre vision et mission communes, et lancer des initiatives visant à sauver des enfants africains ».

L’ouverture du centre a été annoncée lors du 5ème congrès biannuel de la Société africaine des déficits immunitaires (ASID) dont CSL Behring est le sponsor principal.  « Ici en Afrique, on estime que le taux de diagnostic d’IP, une condition qui menace le pronostic vital, est seulement d’environ 0,3 %. C’est pourquoi nous restons fidèles à notre promesse d’améliorer les soins thérapeutiques, en particulier dans les zones de grand besoin. Nous voulons aussi, en partenariat avec JMF L’ASID, améliorer la prise de conscience, le diagnostic et le traitement de l’IP dans tous les pays du monde », a ajouté Markus Staempfli, vice-président et directeur général des opérations commerciales intercontinentales, chez CSL Behring.

Le centre nouvellement créé sera géré par des experts de 4 pays :

  • Le professeur Rachida Boukari, CHU Mustapaha Bacha, Faculté de médecine, Alger, Algérie
  • Le Dr. Aisha El- Marsafy et le Dr Jeannette Boutros, Faculté de médecine Université du Caire, Le Caire, Égypte
  • Le Dr. Aziz Bousfiha, Université du Roi Hassan II, Casablanca, Maroc
  • Le Dr. Ridha Barbouche, Institut Pasteur de Tunis, Tunis, Tunisie

À propos de la Fondation Jeffrey Modell

Vicki et Fred Modell ont créé la Fondation Jeffrey Modell (JMF) en 1987, en mémoire de leur fils Jeffrey, qui est mort à quinze ans, des complications de l’immunodéficience primaire, une maladie génétique chronique, grave, et souvent fatale.

JMF est une organisation à but non lucratif mondiale dédiée au diagnostic précoce, et aux traitements sérieux. Elle promeut les guérisons par la recherche, la formation des médecins, la sensibilisation du public, le plaidoyer, le soutien des patients et le dépistage néonatal. Le réseau des Jeffrey Modell Centers (JMCN) relie plus de 600 médecins experts de 250 institutions universitaires dans 206 villes et 84 pays. Il couvre les 6 continents et continue de s’étendre.

À propos de CSL Behring

CSL Behring est un leader mondial des produits biothérapeutiques dont la mission est de sauver des vies. Dans le but de prendre en charge les patients par le biais des technologies les plus récentes, nous développons et offrons des thérapies innovantes visant à traiter les conditions suivantes : troubles liés à la coagulation, déficiences immunitaires primaires, angio-œdèmes héréditaire, maladies respiratoires héréditaires, et désordres neurologiques. Les produits de la Société sont également utilisés en chirurgie cardiaque, ainsi que pour transplanter des organes, traiter des brûlures et prévenir la maladie hémolytique du nouveau-né. CSL Behring gère l’un des plus grands réseaux de collecte de plasma au monde, CSL Plasma. La société mère, CSL Limited (ASX : CSL), dont le siège est à Melbourne, en Australie, emploie plus de 17 000 personnes, et offre des thérapies qui changent et sauvent des vies dans plus de 60 pays. Pour plus d’informations, consultez le site www.cslbehring.com et suivez-nous sur www.Twitter.com/CSLBehring.

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Jeffrey Modell Foundation to Open the First North African Network for ...

CSL Behring Sponsors the First Network of its Kind on the African Continent

LIVINGSTONE, Zambia, March 31, 2017 /PRNewswire/ — Global biotherapeutics leader CSL Behring today announced its commitment to sponsor the Jeffrey Modell North African Network, which will establish a diagnostic and research center in Northern Africa, making it the first enterprise dedicated to helping primary immunodeficiency (PI) patients in Africa.

Like the other 253 sites that comprise the Jeffrey Modell Centers Network, the North African Network will offer advanced diagnostic evaluation to patients with a suspected primary immunodeficiency, a group of over 350 disorders arising from defects in the immune system carried by the genes and characterized by recurring infections that can be persistent, debilitating, chronic and life-threatening.

Vicki Modell, Co-Founder, Jeffrey Modell Foundation shared, “Fred and I have dreamed about creating a Jeffrey Modell North African Network for a very long time. The Jeffrey Modell Foundation is honored and enthusiastic to work with CSL Behring now and well into the future to partner in our mutual vision, mission and life-saving initiatives for children in Africa.”

The opening of the Network was announced at the 5thAfrican Society for Immunodeficiencies (ASID) biannual congress where CSL Behring is the main sponsor.  “Here in Africa, it’s estimated that the diagnosis rate of PI, a life-threatening condition, is only about 0.3%.  This is why we remain committed to our promise of improving patient care, particularly in areas of great need, and to partnering with JMF and ASID to increase the awareness, diagnosis and treatment of PI in countries throughout the world,” adds, Markus Staempfli, Vice President & General Manager, Intercontinental Commercial Operations, CSL Behring.

The newly founded center will be managed by leading experts in 4 countries:

  • Dr. Rachida Boukari, Mustapha Pacha Children’s Hospital, Faculty of Medicine, Algiers, Algeria
  • Dr. Aisha El- Marsafy and Dr. Jeannette Boutros, Faculty of Medicine Cairo University, Cairo, Egypt
  • Dr. Aziz Bousfiha, King Hassan II University, Casablanca, Morocco
  • Dr. Ridha Barbouche, Institut Pasteur de Tunis, Tunis, Tunisia

About the Jeffrey Modell Foundation
Vicki and Fred Modell established the Jeffrey Modell Foundation (JMF) in 1987, in memory of their son Jeffrey, who died at the age of fifteen from complications of Primary Immunodeficiency — a genetic condition that is chronic, serious, and often fatal.
JMF is a global nonprofit organization dedicated to early diagnosis, meaningful treatments and, ultimately, cures through research, physician education, public awareness, advocacy, patient support, and newborn screening. The Jeffrey Modell Centers Network (JMCN) includes over 600 expert physicians at 250 academic institutions, in 206 cities, 84 countries, spanning 6 continents and growing.

About CSL Behring
CSL Behring is a global biotherapeutics leader which is driven by its promise to save lives. Focused on serving patients’ needs by using the latest technologies, we develop and deliver innovative therapies that are used to treat coagulation disorders, primary immune deficiencies, hereditary angioedema, inherited respiratory disease, and neurological disorders. The company’s products are also used in cardiac surgery, organ transplantation, burn treatment and to prevent hemolytic disease of the newborn. CSL Behring operates one of the world’s largest plasma collection networks, CSL Plasma. The parent company, CSL Limited (ASX: CSL), headquartered in Melbourne, Australia, employs more than 17,000 people, providing its life-saving, life-changing therapies to people in more than 60 countries. For more information visit www.cslbehring.com and follow us on www.Twitter.com/CSLBehring.

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President Jacob Zuma: Launch of the Mbizana Rural Enterprise ...

Remarks by President Jacob Zuma at the official launch of the Mbizana Rural Enterprise Development RED Hub

Premier Phumulo Masualle,

Minister Gugile Nkwinti and Deputy Ministers present,

MEC Qoboshiyane and all MECs, Executive Mayors, Mayors and Councillors,

Our esteemed Traditional Leaders,

Abalimi noMphakathi wonke,

Molweni!

Siyathemba niyaphila lapha eMbizana.

It gives me great pleasure to be part of this celebration in the Eastern Cape Province, the home the legends.

Today we mark great strides made by government in improving the lives of the people by bringing industrialisation to the rural areas.

We are happy to meet in Mbizana, the hometown of the longest serving ANC President, the late uTata Oliver Reginald Tambo.

As you know, we have declared this year as The Year of Oliver Reginald Tambo: Unity in Action Together Moving South Africa Forward and it is therefore befitting that we launch a Rural Enterprise Development (RED) hub here today. We are celebrating the life of OR Tambo who worked for a better life for all including the people of Mbizana and surroundings.

At the beginning of this week, we lost one of the big stalwarts of our movement, Isithwalandwe Comrade Ahmed Kathrada.

May his revolutionary soul rest in peace! His spirit will always be with us.

Ladies and gentlemen,

We have committed ourselves to developing our rural areas. We want all our rural areas to have economic activities so that our people can have jobs and also be able to make a living from the land and from small businesses in rural areas.

It cannot be that we must all go to the cities to earn a living.

We are therefore much pleased with the creation of this RED Hub, as one of government's efforts to stimulate growth through agriculture and agro-processing.

This development will alleviate poverty and address low levels of development in the District.

We are aware that agriculture is the third highest contributor to the Alfred Nzo District's economy.

There is an urgent need for major new private sector investments to create jobs and improve livelihoods in the area.

The establishment of the RED Hub will thus stimulate local economic development as well as the investment drive to expand beyond agriculture and traditional subsistence farming.

Farmers will also move from subsistence to commercial farming.

Our people must make a living from the land, and must also not go hungry when they can produce food from the land. We are thus happy with the partnerships between the local municipality and other stakeholders to embark on massive grain production with the aim of addressing high level of poverty in the area.

Government has also entered into a partnership with the Grain Farmers Development Association to plant maize in the Matatiele local municipality. Government has contributed an amount of six million eight hundred and eighty thousand rand as production inputs.

Fourteen farmers who own the land will also be assisted with soil correction and crop insurance.

We also appreciate the public private partnerships to help small holder farmers. GrainSA, through the Jobs Fund, has also been assisting communal farmers in the district.

Government has also supported about twenty three thousand households with production inputs to promote household food security over the term.

Furthermore, three thousand smallholder producers were supported with infrastructure, agricultural advice and inputs to increase sustainable food production in support of agrarian transformation.

Most importantly, the national Government has spent one hundred million rand on the Ilima/Letsema national conditional grand projects aimed at eradicating poverty and stimulating the economy.

In addition, the provincial government has spent over 500 million rand on agricultural infrastructure development projects, thus contributing to increased agricultural production.

The projects included dams revitalisation and irrigation scheme development, stock water enhancement, livestock handling and dipping facilities, hydroponics infrastructure and fencing of arable land.

It is clear that the ANC government is funding agriculture and is investing in food security and economic development in rural areas.

The creation of the RED Hubs which we are celebrating today, is another effort to stimulate primary and agro-processing as well as the marketing of products from the rural areas.

It is an important intervention indeed.

In addition to this RED Hub, the province has other three RED hubs; in Mqanduli in the King Sabatha Dalindyebo Municipality, Ncora at Intsika Yethu Municipality and Lady Frere in Emalahleni Municipality.

The total amount invested by government in the RED Hubs over the past three years is one hundred and ninety million rand.

Of the four existing RED Hubs, this Hub we are launching today leads the pack in terms of investment as government has invested fifty three million rand for the state-of-the-art structure.

It is with great pleasure to note that the communities where the RED Hubs have been established, have responded actively to the clarion call that government has been making over time for our people to establish cooperatives.

A case in point is the fourteen primary co-operatives that have been formed, which in turn formed a secondary co-operative which is a structure that owns this RED Hub.

As we are celebrating this milestone, I am also very pleased that the province's Rural Development and Agrarian Reform has dedicated this year to Radical Economic Transformation and Youth Empowerment.

This is in line with our drive for radical socio-economic transformation. Initiatives like this need young people who still have energy and fresh minds.

This is important as sixty percent of the population of the Eastern Cape is under 35 years of age.

In addition to the planned programmes of youth development, we welcome the fact that the provincial government has set aside 20 million rand to develop young people that are already in the agriculture sector.

We hope that more young people will be provided with poultry and piggery structures to create vibrant enterprises for them.

We are really happy with the efforts of the provincial government to deal with unemployment in the province and reverse the inequalities of the past through such investments and projects.

Through such efforts, the Eastern Cape should no longer be a labour sending province but should become a green hub that creates its own jobs through rural development initiatives like these.

We urge the whole of government to support local farmers by increasing public procurement of agricultural products from our own primary producers.

Let us buy from our farmers especially our smallholder farmers so that they can grow and develop.

Honourable Premier I have noted that on the Eastern Cape Province citrus is the second largest fruit crop after grapes in terms of production volumes.

The province is therefore the powerhouse of the southern African citrus industry and accounts for 28% of citrus production in South Africa.

The province also boasts the most progressive and successful black citrus growers in the country, with over a third of South Africa's exports, and home to 50% of South African lemons.

The province also produced last year's National Female Entrepreneur of the year overall winner, Ms Venecia Janse from Koukamma Municipality.

Ms Janse was supported by government through its interventions to develop commercial farmers from previously disadvantaged communities, especially women who produce deciduous fruit.

This empowerment of female farmers is very important.

I am really happy with this project!

We congratulate the farmers, the traditional leaders and our communities for allowing government and its partners to bring about this radical economic transformation in their communities.

I would like to ask each and everyone in this community to look after this mega economic hub which aims to stimulate local economic development.

Together, we can grow our local agricultural economies to greater heights.

Working together we will make this project yield desired results and push hunger and poverty away.

I thank you.

Source: Government of South Africa

Bold actions needed to reduce HIV infections

Mangaung � Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa says government is close to reducing the number of HIV infections by 60% by 2022 and that no stone will be left unturned to achieve this target.

We as community members and South Africans, we must join hands to defeat this pandemic. It can be done and the achievements of the past few years are a proof of that, the Deputy President said in Mangaung on Friday.

He launched the new National Strategic Plan (NSP) for HIV, TB and STIs for the period 2017 to 2022. Present at the event held at Clive Solomon Stadium were Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi, Health MECs from Gauteng and Free State as well as members of the National Aids Council, among others.

The purpose of the NSP is to enable the many thousands of organisations and individuals who drive the response to HIV, TB and sexually transmitted diseases to work as a concerted force and moving towards the same direction. It is a third NSP to be unveiled following the first one 10 years ago.

The document sets out intensified prevention programmes that combine biomedical prevention methods such as medical male circumcision and the preventative use of antiretroviral drugs and TB medication, with communication designed to educate and encourage safer sexual behaviour in the case of HIV and STIs.

The goals of the NSP 2017-2022, among others, are to:

Accelerate prevention in order to reduce new HIV and TB infections and new STIs

Reduce illness and deaths by providing treatment, care and adherence support for all infected

Address social and structural drivers of HIV and TB infections

Ground the response to HIV, TB and STIs in human rights principles and approaches

Mobilise resources to support the achievement of NSP goals and ensure sustainable responses

Strengthen strategic information to drive progress towards achievement of NSP goals

Government is of the view that the health of individual South Africans is shaped by economic, social and environmental factors such as poverty, gender discrimination, and substance and alcohol abuse. The NSP identifies social and structural factors that increase the risk of people acquiring HIV, TB and STIs and describes multi department and multi sector interventions to address these factors.

Deputy President Ramaphosa said South Africa has made major gains in the fight against HIV and Aids in the past 10 years with infections dropping from 681 434 in 2006 to just 150 375 in 2016. Deaths due to TB dropped from 69 916 in 2009 to 37 878 in 2015.

By launching this NSP today we are here to show our resolve to build a world free of preventable diseases like HIV and TB. Today we know that if a person is infected with TB and HIV, it is not a death sentence. It used to be the death sentence but today it is no longer the death sentence, said the Deputy President.

We know that our best chance to defeat the spread of HIV and TB lies in behavioural change to stop the spread of infection. This is the reality that we know and are aware of.

Deputy President Rampaphosa challenged leaders in society not to be shy in talking about HIV and sex.

Many our leaders don't talk about HIV, they are not spreading the message about prevention. We don't talk about condoms, we don't talk about abstaining and that needs to change.

Deputy President Ramaphosa called on all South Africans to own the plan launched today.

Our new NSP emphasises the need of leadership participation and accountability at all levels so that we can achieve our targets. It is going to rest on our shoulders, all of us to defeat this pandemic.

He advanced for an end to discrimination against people who live with HIV and those infected with TB.

We also call on young people to avoid drugs and stay away from alcohol and dangerous behaviour. We should all act at minimal to make sure we reach our targets of reducing HIV by 2020. It was also the responsibility of labour and business to fight the virus.

We have a fight in our hands, let us come together and fight this pandemic until we have defeated it.

Also speaking on the side-lines of the event was UN AIDS Executive Director Michel Sidibe, who applauded South Africa, particularly in the fight against TB infections and related deaths. Deaths due to TB dropped from 69 916 in 2009 to 37 878 in 2015 in the country.

South Africa has demonstrated that by combating HIV, we should not forget about TB and this is something that many countries can learn from. It is an outrage that many HIV positive people are dying from TB, he said.

Source: South African Government News Agency

TRADE UNIONS WORRIED OVER JOB LOSSES IN AFRICA

HARARE, Global trade union IndustriAll has voiced concern over what it describes as voluntary slavery which workers in Africa continue to face amid st loss of jobs by millions of employees on the continent in the past year.

The executive committee of IndustriAll's sub-Saharan Africa unit met here this week to discuss various issues affecting workers on the continent. Established in 2012 and representing more than 50 million workers in over 140 countries, IndustriAll is a global federation of trade unions, with representation all over the world.

The meeting here noted that Nigeria led the pack with an estimated 1.9 million workers having lost jobs in the past nine months, with Kenya, Uganda, Senegal, Ghana, South Africa, Botswana, Mauritius and Zimbabwe among top member countries were employees were sacked for various reasons, including company closures and retrenchments.

IndustriAll vice-president Issa Aremu called for intensive recruitment of workers to join trade unions and ensure representation. It is clear that in spite of what we have done so far, there are still a lot of challenges. We still have low union density in Africa. We need to do more to recruit more members to our unions.

Aremu said it was imperative for African governments to continue spearheading inclusive development while criticizing privatization. He also slammed xenophobic attacks on migrant workers, calling for unity of purpose in Africa.

Africa needs inclusive development based on a common market and common citizenship as well as common solidarity, he said. We must return to the vision of the founding fathers of our continent for a common Africa.

Sub-Saharan Africa region co-chair Angeline Chitambo expressed concern over growing job losses and exposure of workers to casualization of labour, incomes insecurity, precarious work and no social security".

The whole sub-region is reeling under the excesses of global capital manifesting itself in company closures, retrenchments, downsizing by companies, diminishing incomes and job insecurity to mention but a few, she said.

Chitambo said some investors being given preferential treatment by African governments, were subjecting workers to unbearable working conditions. The economic and political instability in some countries, without our sub-region, has also caused labour migration to countries deemed to have more stable economies, she said.

Source: NAM NEWS NETWORK

South Africa’s Embattled Zuma Fires Ministers Who Challenged Him

JOHANNESBURG � South Africans woke up Friday to learn that President Jacob Zuma had overhauled his Cabinet, firing, among others, a well-regarded finance minister who had been critical of him. The move prompted widespread outrage and renewed calls from the opposition for the increasingly unpopular president to resign.

Zuma says he reshuffled his Cabinet because he wants to bring in people who can bring energy, experience and expertise to the job.

His middle-of-the-night announcement sidelined a public works minister who started his career as an activist, a tourism minister with decades of political experience and a finance minister who has served in the position on two separate occasions.

All three former ministers had challenged the president directly in the last year, as Zuma sunk deeper in national opinion polls over a series of corruption scandals.

Zuma has been asked to resign by the opposition, by some high-ranking members of his own party and by a recently deceased anti-apartheid icon who was close friends with former president Nelson Mandela.

Zuma's spokesman did not respond to multiple calls from VOA Friday for comment on the reshuffle. In separate statements, both the women's league and the youth league of the ruling African National Congress said they welcomed the reshuffle.

The ANC Youth League is excited, happy, overjoyed and jubilant at the announcement by President Jacob Zuma on the cabinet reshuffle, the league said. ...we have consistently said, and maintain, the belief that no one is above the ANC, and no one is irreplaceable. The constitution grants the president, and the president alone, the powers to appoint the Cabinet.

Move draws mixed reactions

Independent political analyst Ralph Mathekga says Zuma's move is sure to strengthen his tenuous political position.

You could say that this is a master stroke from Jacob, from President Jacob Zuma, he told VOA. He has strengthened himself, he has actually sent a message, even to the branches of the ANC, that he is still firmly in charge and that they shouldn't listen to anyone else but they should look his direction for leadership.

But the opposition Democratic Alliance party says they will fight the move by bringing a no-confidence vote against Zuma in parliament.

Opposition party spokesman Mabine Seabe says the Cabinet changes don't serve South Africans, but only help Zuma.

The only qualification is that these are people who are beholden to the president and will do whatever he says, even if it's not in the interest of the constitution of the people of South Africa, said Seabe, who told VOA he was jolted awake in the middle of the night by the news and had not slept. We are in a troubled space in the moment for as long as he sits in the Union Buildings and continues to administer South Africans' affairs.

Previous no-confidence measures against Zuma have failed, due to the ANC's majority in parliament.

And so, activists like Mark Heywood of protest movement Save South Africa say they need to make their outrage heard by lawmakers. Heywood spoke to VOA as he headed to a march Friday in Pretoria, the capital, opposing the Cabinet changes.

It is not a Cabinet reshuffle, he said. It is a coup. That is the best term for it. The president has abused his legal powers to appoint to the Cabinet not people who are going to serve the interests of South Africa but people who are going to serve his interests to gain control over the finances, over the banks of this country.

The last time Zuma made a significant change to his Cabinet - in late 2015, when he suddenly and inexplicably fired another highly regarded finance minister and then went through two finance ministers in three days -- the South African currency took a hit.

On Friday morning, the rand went into freefall again, showing the most severe percentage drop since that 2015 reshuffle.

Source: Voice of America

President Jacob Zuma public engagement activities

President Jacob Zuma will officiate in public engagements in the Eastern Cape, KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng provinces as part of government's programme of promoting radical socio-economic transformation, enhance service delivery and promote social cohesion.

Today, Friday, 31 March 2017, President Zuma will officially launch the Mbizana Rural Enterprise Development (RED) Hub, which is an OR Tambo Centenary Project at Dyifani village in Mbizana, in the Eastern Cape Province.

The RED Hub will service 14 villages 14 in the Mbizana Local Municipality and Alfred Nzo District Municipality with a strong focus on value addition of grain as well as Hub primary production, mechanisation and establishment of a trading centre for farmers to assist cooperatives in growing the local rural economy to create jobs and sustainable livelihoods.

On Saturday, 1 April 2017, the President will launch the country's biggest social housing project in Imbali Township, in Pietermaritzburg, KwaZulu-Natal Province.

The Westgate Social Housing project will provide decent and affordable accommodation to more than three thousand people is a direct positive response to the housing needs of those who neither qualify for the fully subsidised housing programme nor qualify for the bonded houses affectionately known as gap market.

President Zuma will also on Tuesday, 4 April 2017, officially launch of the Trans Africa Locomotive Prototype at the Transnet Engineering Factory Site in Koedoespoort, Pretoria.

On Thursday, 6 April 2017, President Zuma will open the 3rd Local Government Presidential Summit and the launch of the Integrated Urban Development Framework at the Gallagher Conference Centre, in Midrand, Johannesburg.

Source: Government of South Africa

Rebels Vow to Stop South Sudan Oil Production

WASHINGTON � The main rebel group in South Sudan is threatening to disrupt oil production in the country, a day after it released three foreign oil workers it kidnapped earlier in the month.

An official of the Sudan People's Liberation Movement in Opposition (SPLM IO) said the government is using oil revenue to purchase weapons and kill civilians.

People in South Sudan are not receiving their money (from oil revenue). This money is going to their pocket (of government officials) and for buying arms for killing our people. If we have chance to stop the oil production, we will do it, said Dak Duop Bichok, the head of the SPLM IO's committee for energy and mining

Oil workers released

Duop confirmed the rebel group has released three foreign oil workers it abducted in the Adar fields of oil-rich Upper Nile State earlier in March.

VOA's South Sudan In Focus obtained a letter dated March 28 ordering the release of two Indians, Muthu Vijaya Boopathy and Ayaz Hussein Jamali, who work with a Chinese-led consortium, and Ambrose Edward, a Pakistani employed by a South Sudanese company.

Duop said the three were released after officials from their countries spoke with rebel leader Riek Machar. He said the freed oil workers were flown to Khartoum via Addis Ababa on Thursday and taken to their countries' embassies in Khartoum.

Ransom demand denied

South Sudan's Information Minister Michael Makuei said early this month the government received reports that rebel forces were demanding a $1 million ransom for the oil workers. He said South Sudan's Transitional Government of National Unity does not deal with what he called terrorists.

Duop denied his group demanded ransom for the oil engineers. We didn't demand anything, we released them without any deal, he told VOA's South Sudan in Focus.

Duop said the SPLM IO is not a terrorist group, but fights for the rights of South Sudanese.

Repeated warnings

At the same time, he said the SPLM IO has given repeated warnings to national and international oil companies to abandon the oil fields.

You please, evacuate the place. The government is producing oil, and is getting money and is buying (arms), he said.

South Sudan's Minister for Petroleum, Ezekiel Lol Gatkuoth said early this month that his government has learned a lesson and will increase measures to protect oil workers in the area.

Source: Voice of America