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Squatters Ordered to Vacate SSudan School Lands

FILE- South Sudan V. President Wani Igga (M) at Nyakuron Cultural Center during the third 'Made in South Sudan' exhibition in Juba, 02-14-2014.

South Sudan’s Vice President in charge of Service Cluster, Hussein Abdelbagi Akol has warned individuals or groups occupying schools in Juba, Wau, Rumbek and Yambio of arrest and persecution, if they do not leave school lands, in four week.

Occupants of illegal structures on school lands in Juba, Wau, Rumbek and Yambio have four-weeks to vacate the premises or face persecution, South Sudan’s Vice President for Service Cluster, Hussein Abdelbagi Akol, has warned.

''I wish to inform the general [public] that all the illegal occupants of school lands are hereby notified to vacate the school lands within four weeks,” said Akol.

Addressing reporters in Juba, Monday, Akol said illegal occupants who disobey the directive and don't vacate as ordered within the stipulated tiem, will have to answer to the law.

“The government will apply the laws against those who refuse to adhere to the stated order,” Akol said, adding that demolitions will be lawful.

“Demolition of illegal buildings across the country will be carried out in compliance with the court directives. State authorities are hereby directed to provide details information of squatters in their territory,'' he said.

The vice president said some individuals, who he did not name, have allegedly grabbed school lands in several states across South Sudan.

''We have identified them,” he confirmed. “Most of them are in Juba, some are in Western Equatoria [state], Wau, Aweil and many major towns in the country. The practice has been carried out long ago and we have put it to an end,” Akol said.

He further explained that an increase in the use of shisha, spurred the urgency to stop the encroachment of illegal structures and occupants onto school lands, as it was a threat to pupils.

“Last week in Akon, one of the towns in Warrap State, we got in front of the school entrance people have shops and others smoking shisha,” said Akol, adding that, “this is very dangerous for our kids.''

In 2015, Human Rights Watch urged South Sudanese leaders to help end widespread military use of schools by both government and opposition forces. South Sudan’s army issued a military order prohibiting the soldiers from using the school for military purposes, but these orders were never followed.

Akol vowed to personally oversee the removal of squatters from school lands, because he said soldiers ignored previous directives from governors.

''This time will be different because I am going by myself to supervise the demolition of these [structures on] school lands, which are used as markets and business places, said the vice president.