China is swapping its reserved diplomacy for a hands-on approach to help resolve a more than five-month-old rebellion in South Sudan that threatens Beijing’s oil investments.
The subtle change has been evident in months of faltering peace talks in the Ethiopian capital, where Chinese officials have been in regular contact with Western diplomats to help regional African mediators push for a halt to fighting.
A three-day multi-stakeholder symposium on the South Sudan crisis gets under way at the African Union headquarters in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa, on Thursday as the latest round of peace talks fail to resume.
Health officials are warning that a cholera outbreak in South Sudan’s capital, Juba, which has left 23 people dead and forced more than 670 others to seek treatment, could be getting worse. Laboratory tests have confirmed that at least one person living in a Juba displacement camp has contracted cholera and there are fears the disease could spread rapidly within the crowded site.
Officials are setting up new treatment centres across the city and treating the water sources they believe are responsible for spreading the disease, but said they anticipate at least 1,000 more people might need to be hospitalised before the outbreak ends – and that is only if cholera does not spread to other areas of the country.