August 15 1996



July 15: Khartoum University, in financial crisis, has decided to admit students who have not made the grade to enter, but who can pay hard currency. The university's executive council, citing lack of funds from the government budget, decided to accept students if they pay from $1,000 to $4,000, depending on their faculty.

July 16: Uganda rebels slaughtered 91 Sudanese refugees in separate attacks last week, United Nations relief workers said today. The assailants injured at least 20 refugees and abducted four in the attacks on Acholpii camp in northern Uganda on Friday night and Saturday night.

July 16: Sudan and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) held talks in Khartoum last week but disagreed on three main issues- government borrowing, exchange rate liberalization and the government's arrears to IMF. The official Sudan News Agency (SUNA) said the IMF mission evaluated the performance of Sudan's economy in the last six months and reviewed a program for the next six months. Sudan owes the IMF $1.7 billion in arrears and has come closer than any other country from expulsion from the fund.

July 17: The death toll in rebel attacks on Sudanese refugees in northern Uganda has risen to at least 107, aid officials said today. The victims had been shot at close range and slashed with machetes.

July 17: The Lord Resistance Army has denied its forces carried out a raid on Acholpii.

July 18: The Uganda government has accused Sudan of masterminding the slaughter of the Sudanese refugees in Acholpii. The Minister of Defence said in a statement that, "it is clear, the rebels were executing a mission on behalf of the Sudanese government which has in the recent past stepped up its support for the destabilisation of northern Uganda with particular emphasis on disorganising and putting in disarray refugee camps inside Uganda".

July 18: Two people were killed and 23 seriously wounded when Sudanese war planes bombed Maridi town in southern Sudan this week, aid workers said here today. The two civilian victims died when one of the bombs exploded inside a relief centre run by the UN Children's Fund (UNICEF) on Monday, said the aid workers, who did not want to be identified.

July 20: Sudan asked the United Nations yesterday to take steps to protect Sudanese refugees in Uganda after the attack at Acholpii. The UN "should live up to their responsibilities for maintaining safety of the refugees," Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Mustapha Osman Ismail said, quoted by the state news agency SUNA.

July 21: The Sudanese UMMA party has issued a press statement condemning the recent massacre of Sudanese refugees. The UMMA party said the government of Sudan continues to give support to the LRA rebels and instigated the raid on Acholpii.

July 21: Three Muslim militants accused of attempting to assassinate Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak admitted in an interview today that they had received support from Sudan. The Arab daily Al-Hayat interviewed the Egyptians, Abdel Karim Al-Nadi Abdel Radi, Safwat Hassan Abdel Ghani and Siddiq Hafez Muhammed in Ethiopia, where they are on trial for the June 1995 attack on President Mubarak in Addis Ababa.

July 22: Sudan said today it was not obstructing the flow of humanitarian aid to the war-torn south as charged by UN Secretary General Boutros Boutros-Ghali last week. In a statement in the al-Sudan al-Hadith newspaper, the Sudanese Foreign Ministry said the United Nations could increase aid to the south if it relied less on air and more on land and river routes.

July 22: The Sudanese government promised last week to lift restrictions which prohibit women from leaving the country without permission from a male authority. The Minister of Justice, Mr Abdel Basit Sabdarat, said a committee comprising the relevant legislative, executive and political bodies had been formed to discuss amendments to the regulation.

July 23: Eritrean President Issias Afeworki ruled out the possibility of an armed conflict between his country and Sudan despite their differences and troubles along their border. "We will not enter into a military conflict with the Khartoum regime. These are only unfounded speculations," President Afeworki told the Monday issue of the Arab weekly Al-Wasat, received in Cairo. "Our countries can get beyond such confrontations," he said.

July 29: Sudan's Finance Minister said raising workers' wages would not improve their situation amid union demands for a wage hike to face the rising cost of living, the daily Akhbar al-Youm reported on Sunday. "Salary hikes do not solve problems of wage earners because they usually just lead to the rise of prices in the market," Mr Sabir Mohammed al-Hassan said, quoted by the paper.

August 1: After 10 months, the Khartoum government lifted the ban on the World Food Programme (WFP) to use a C-130 aircraft for food deliveries in Southern Sudan. The WFP this week resumed using the C-130. Some 700,000 people in Southern Sudan need emergency aid, the WFP says.

August 5: Sudan has declared mobilisation in eastern areas on the border with Eritrea for fear of further attacks by dissidents operating in the neighbouring country, a government daily reported on Saturday. Mr. Mahmoud Abdeen, the governor of Gedarif Province, described the move as "a state of readiness to face any threats coming from Sudan's eastern neighbours, " the political daily Al-Sudan al-Hadith said.

August 6: A Southern Sudanese rebel group has accused a Canadian company and its British financiers of colluding with Khartoum and warned them to leave southern Sudan. The SPLA-United said in a statement it would not allow the Khartoum government to "steal" oil from the Adar-1 field and move it by barges on the White Nile river . "The SPLA-United once more warns he Canadian company Arakis Energy and its British financier, Venture Guarantee Limited which are colluding with the National Islamic Front in this unlawful and dangerous game to pull out immediately," it said. "Otherwise they will have nobody but themselves to blame for the consequences of their hostile stance against the people of southern Sudan.

August 8: A Khartoum newspaper today quoted UN human rights rapporteur Gasper Biro as saying there were no signs of slavery being practiced in Sudan. Mr Biro, visiting Sudan for the first time after a two-year ban on charges that he insulted Islam, was quoted by the state-owned Al-Sudan Al-Hadith as saying there was "no existence of practices of slavery in Sudan".

August 9: A worldwide Christian group told a United Nations panel today Sudan's Islamic government was not only persecuting Christians in the south of the country but also waging war against a Muslim minority in the north. Mr John Eibner of the London-based Christian Solidarity International (CSI) said he and British baroness Caroline Cox had witnessed oppression of the Muslim Beja tribe during a clandestine visit to the Sudan at the start of the month.

August 10: After denying it for two months, the Sudan government has given permission to United Nations agencies to send relief flights to the flood- stricken area of Pochalla in southern Sudan, the agencies said today. Operation Lifeline Sudan (OLS), which co-ordinates UN aid to southern Sudan, said in a statement Khartoum gave permission yesterday and the first flight would be sent in on Sunday to assess needs.

August 12: Some Nuba announced today they have withdrawn from SPLA and are holding peace talks with the government. The announcement was made at a news conference in Khartoum by Mohamed Haroon Kafi and Domi Yunis.

August 14: Two days of heavy rain and floods have destroyed 326 houses, primary and secondary schools, government buildings and water supply stations in a central Sudanese province, a government newspaper reported today. Al-Sudan al- Hadith said rain and floods in the Gezira area wiped out eight villages in the Gitena province, some 70 km (45 miles) southwest of Khartoum.

August 14: Villagers in the eastern Sudanese state of Kassala caught and handed over to the authorities a man they believe had planted landmines in the area. Al-Ingaz al-Watani said the man was arrested yesterday, a day after a driver and five people were killed when a landmine exploded under a lorry.


by Renato Kizito Sesana

The Khartoum regime is implementing a slow genocide of the Nuba people. In spite of the fact that the Sudan government tries to seal off the Nuba Mountains from any contact with the outside world. Our staff visited the area and we challenge the international community to come to the assistance of these people victimized by their own government.

In the course of last year I visited the Nuba Mountains five times. All the trips were of humanitarian and pastoral nature. I brought relief items and visited the Catholic communities. I encouraged people in their difficulties and shared with them thoughts of peace, and of how it is possible for Christians to co-exist in peace and justice with their Muslim brothers.

From June 15 to July 6, this year, I visited the Nuba Mountains again on a similar mission. However, my trip ended abruptly when the Sudanese army tried to capture the group of which I was part (another priest, a brother and two journalists), and at the last minute, they shelled the plane that came to rescue us.

From a certain point of view, they had a right to do so: We had entered Sudan "illegally". From a different perspective, my party had not only the right, but the duty to go there.

This small episode can highlight that there are very different understandings of the principle of national sovereignty and the right to humanitarian assistance by the civilian population.

For the Sudanese government, the sovereignty of the state is supreme. Accordingly, the United Nations' operation that was set up in 1989 with the mandate of taking relief food to the civilian population victims of the civil war called Operation Lifeline Sudan and its member agencies, must respect the Sudanese sovereignty and abide by the prohibition to fly over or to land, or in any way operate in areas to which access is forbidden by the Khartoum regime, even if those areas are controlled by the SPLA.

While up to this point the interpretation of the Sudan government of its sovereignty cannot the challenged, the problem starts when the same government denies access, as it is presently doing, to areas where civilians are in danger of death because of lack of food and medical assistance. For instance, Khartoum is these days denying access to humanitarian aid not only to the Nuba Mountains but also to the cholera affected areas of the Bahr el Ghazal. Khartoum is even denying the existence of cholera, calling it "watery diarrhoea". The Pochalla area, next to the Ethiopian border, where thousands of civilians are in danger of starvation because floods have covered the fields since May, was denied access, without any explanation, for several weeks, and permission was given only on August 8, causing death and incredible suffering to the people.

According to a growing number of observers who reason more from a humanitarian perspective than from a legalistic stand, there are situations where the principle of sovereignty can be overruled by the human rights of the civilians. The most fundamental human right is the right to live, to have access to food and medical assistance. From this viewpoint, the concept of sovereignty as it is upheld by Khartoum is outdated, coming from ages when there was little awareness of the human rights, and when there was no attention to issues that cut across boundaries and national sovereignty like ecology.

In the particular case of Sudan, how can we take seriously the sovereignty of a state which does not care for the most basic needs of its citizens? Why doesn't Khartoum allow humanitarian agencies to take relief to the sick Nuba and to the cholera affected areas? One cannot help but think that the Khartoum regime is actually taking advantage of the natural calamities in order to punish the civilians of those areas. A friend from the Southern Sudan told me recently: "Khartoum wants our destruction, they are happy if cholera kills us, they can spare money and bullets". While this could be an exaggeration, is the international community bound to abide by such an inhuman attitude?

We live in a world where people accept that some items have a value that goes beyond the national boundaries, so the towns of Salvador de Bahia, Venice and Zanzibar, just to mention some, and even the stones lying at the bottom of the ocean have been declared "common heritage of humanity". Are the Nuba people less valuable than those stones? Can't they claim to be considered at least at the same level?

Unjustly punishing its civilian citizens, the military and clerics who control the Khartoum regime will most probably achieve the opposite of their aim. Instead of affirming and strengthening their sovereignty, they are proving to be illegitimate rulers of their people. They are behaving like parents who badly mistreat their children and demonstrate their being unfit to take care of them, so the tribunal removes their offspring from their care.

International Outcry

That Khartoum grossly violates the human rights of its own civilian has been denounced more than once by the United Nations observers, like Gasper Biro, and by the United Nations General Assembly. Khartoum lives in a situation of diplomatic and economic isolation, even at regional level. July 15, 1996, the Secretary General of the United Nation, Boutros Boutros-Ghali, said in a strongly worded statement, unusual in the circles of international diplomacy: "The Secretary General is deeply concerned by the recent serious deterioration in the humanitarian situation in Sudan, as a result of the unilateral and unjustified obstruction by the Government of Sudan of urgently required humanitarian assistance to the affected population in Southern Sudan, including Pochalla and cholera-affected areas, as well as areas of the Nuba Mountains. The Secretary General expresses the hope that the Government of the Sudan will continue its co-operation and fully abide by the humanitarian principles of neutrality, impartiality and transparency upon which Operation Lifeline Sudan was founded in 1989, as well as adhere to its commitments to the General Assembly to assist all persons in need throughout the country."

The United Nations and their humanitarian agencies are normally bound by the respect for the national sovereignty of the member countries. Yet some people think that there is a basic human right to humanitarian assistance not yet codified as a law by the international community, and such right can, and should, overrule any other consideration. The former French President, Francois Mitterand, at the time of the Gulf War had proposed to include in the international law "... the right of humanitarian intervention in the internal affairs of a country, when part of its population is victim of a persecution". It is exactly the case of the Nuba in Sudan. But this basic human right, courageously proposed and defended in front of the United Nations by Mitterand, has not yet been accepted, even if there are some examples of humanitarian intervention.

Resolution 688 of the Security Council is a step in that direction when it establishes its competence when human rights violation reaches such proportion as to endanger international relations and is a threat to peace. Resolution 43/ 131, adopted by the General Assembly under French initiative, regards humanitarian assistance to the victims of natural catastrophes, and stresses the need for establishing the right of freely accessing the victims. Maybe the time is not too far when the right of intervention in case of political catastrophes, like civil wars, will be sanctioned.

There are only two examples of United Nations interventions against the will of a national government. One is the action in favour of the Curds, in 1991, when they were victimised by the Iraq government and the United Nations went ahead with humanitarian relief without the consent of the legitimate government (though, again, it is doubtful that a government victimising its own citizens could be considered legitimate). The case of the UNOSOM operation in Somalia is different because at the time there was no government whatsoever in Mogadishu, however, it also proves that when the international community really wants to intervene in favor of civilian victims, it can find the appropriate ways.

At a time when the mass media offer the possibility of transforming the world into a global village, we cannot use them only for singing the same tunes, but for creating that unity of action reclaimed by the human needs of the time.

A Challenge From The Young at Heart

Those who believe in the right of intervention in spite of the opposition of the national government, base their conviction on the fact that there are social principles and moral laws that, even if not written and part of an international agreement, bind peoples and governments. Moreover they are convinced that the "international community" and the international law are not an accomplished reality, but a reality in constant progress. Part of this progress is the emergence, with the passing of the years and the increasing awareness on human rights issues, of more and more precise and effective laws for the protection of the individual persons and of the peoples.

Personally I do not feel guilty of breaking any Sudanese or international law because I brought medicines and clothes to the Nuba people. On the contrary I think that the Sudanese government is guilty of oppressing and killing its own citizens by denying them access to humanitarian relief.

I am also deeply dismayed by the attitude of some Western governments, like the USA and Britain: They have made a big issue of the three terrorists who attempted to kill Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, and threatened sanctions against Sudan for protecting them. What the Sudanese government is doing to the Nuba is genocide, the cultural and genetic annihilation of the Nuba. And yet for this the USA is not ready to raise an eyebrow.

The humanitarian agencies working in difficult situations like on the Nuba Mountains, have different guiding principles. Some would accept to work there only if they can do so in neutrality, like, for instance, for the International Committee of the Red Cross. For others, the principle is commitment to justice. For others again, the basic principle is solidarity, sharing risk and suffering with the people, even assisting them with lobbying and advocacy.

For the Christian action, the basic principle is incarnation. It is the principle of Jesus, the God, who for our sake became "incarnate", took up human flesh. The Christian community is as such not involved in power politics, in theoretical problems of law and rules, or in academic discussions. The Christian identity shines in the sharing and identification with the poor and the oppressed.

For this reason the Khartoum regime can be sure that in spite of shelling, bombing, and the permanent upheaval created by their action, the missionaries will continue to be present with the suffering civilians, in the South and in the North. Some missionaries have built their huts next to the huts of the people and nothing will move them. A missionary priest with a long, flowing beard, who at his next birthday will be 70, has made the plains of the devastated Dinkaland in Southern Sudan his home. He was recently asked by a visiting journalist: "Aren't you afraid to live here in a tent and in Spartan conditions, under the constant threat of a military incursion?". He looked back astonished and said: "But if I do not do this while I am still young, when do you expect me to do it?".

I wish there were more "young" people like him, even in the high responsibility level in the United Nations structure, ready to defy the rules in order to identify with and assist the sick and starving civilians of Southern Sudan.


According to a statement dated 10 August 1996 by the Fashoda Relief and Rehabilitation Association (FRRA), the humanitan branch of SPLA-United, "a disaster of great proportion is looming in the northern sector of Mid-West Upper Nile Zone," courtesy of the most recent fighting between SPLA-United and government forces. FRRA, which has its head office in Nairobi, was recently recognised by the United Nations' agency, Operation Lifeline Sudan.

The report points out that the most recent clashes between the opposing troops at the Wathikwoc chieftaincies, "caused displacement of entire civil population in area". The worst hit areas, says the FRRA report, were the villages of Nhon, Arumbuoth, Delal-Ajak, Nyiwudo and Aweth, whose combined population is estimated at 20, 000 people. "Most of them have moved southwards and are now gathering in Athidhwoy chieftaincy," it says.

The situation is further compounded by the fact that the government forces and their militia men mowed down all the crops still in the fields. Under normal circumstances, the crop would have been harvested in September. The Islamic regime based in Khartoum has been accused several times of employing the scorched earth method in its military offensives in order to force the survivors into the government controlled towns.

Currently, says the FRRA report, the conditions of the displaced people is distressing. Hunger is not the only problem: people lack shelter and are exposed to rain and mosquitoes. "It is difficult to tell what fate awaits the children and the elderly if nothing comes in their way to help arrest the situation."

The document notes with a lot of concern that even before the military offensive, hunger was taking its toll in the area of Mid-West Upper Nile yet the Sudanese government did not seem to be in a hurry to clear the World Food Programme/OLS barge carrying relief food. By the end of May the barge was still docked at Kosti, fully loaded because the National Islamic Front (NIF) was "dragging its feet in giving permission for it to move, probably awaiting the outcome of their military offensive". "It is ironical that while the NIF regime was delaying the departure of the UN barge, it made the WFP to pay for everyday the barge spent waiting in Kosti".

The report also appealed to "the conscience of the world community to heed the plight of these civilians who are victims of the NIF policies of extermination. These displace people are in urgent need of food, medicines, tents and blankets, among other things".

For further information, please contact:
Fr. Kizito, SCIO, tel +254.2.562247 - fax +254.2.566668 - e-mail:


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