Sudan Monthly Report

Current issue
February 15, 1998


  1. Chronology
  2. Succour our People
  3. Diocesan Assembly held in Nairobi
  4. Why the Nuba are part of Southern Sudan


January I6: The US Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan is expected in Khartoum today for a two-day visit and talks with Sudanese President Omar el Bashir, Islamic leader Hassan al Turabi and other officials.

16: The Sudanese army said yesterday that 150 rebels had surrendered to government troops in East Equatoria province in the south of the country.

16: A Sudanese government delegation is holding talks with opposition leader Sadeq al-Mahdi in Tripoli, Libya, the independent Khartoum newspaper Al Rai Al-Aam reported today. The talks were part of a Libyan government initiative to broker a reconciliation between the Sudanese government and opposition, the paper said.

17: State television said yesterday that Gen. Bashir had appointed Major General Kerubino Kwanyin Bol as deputy president and minister for local government and public security in the mainly Christian and traditionalist south. The president of the south is Dr Riek Machar.

22: A Sudanese opposition lawyer, Ghazi Suleiman, has been arrested, jailed for five months and fined 500,000 Sudanese pounds (about $300) for anti-government activities, press reports said today.

24: Some 1,600 rebel fighters have defected to Sudanese government ranks in East Equatoria province in the south, the state's governor, Abdallah Kafelo, said yesterday. Mr Kafelo, quoted by the official SUNA news agency, said his state "still receives returnees daily as a result of the peace agreement (of last April) which has met all demands of the southerners". 26: Sudan's year-on-year inflation rate rose to 34 per cent in December, up from 27 per cent the previous month, Finance Minister Sabir Mohammed Hassan was quoted as saying today. Mr Hassan blamed the increase on the failure of unidentified financial institutions to adhere to government spending and financial controls, the daily Al Rai Al Aam, said.

26: Farrakhan left behind a trail of anger and bitterness when he urged Sudan's non-Muslim minority to refrain from consuming alcohol, eating pork and smoking cigarettes to avoid hurting Muslim sentiments.

27: Sudan's constitution forum has held a heated debate over the country's future political system, with a majority of members in favour of pluralism, but no vote was taken because of lack of quorum.

28: Top Sudanese officials have criticised an Ethiopian demand for review of a nearly four-decade-old treaty between Sudan and Egypt on the use of the Nile water supplies, the daily Al-Usbu reported today. Mr Adam Derousah, chairman of the agriculture and water resources committee in the Sudanese national assembly, charged that the United States and Israel were exercising pressure on Ethiopia in what he alleged to be the "Zionist" interest.

29: In a surpise announcement, the SPLA affirmed this evening that its forces have taken Wau, the capital of Bahr el Ghazal and by size the second town of Southern Sudan.

30: Rebels captured southern Sudan's second largest city by pretending to defect to Kerubino Kwanyin Bol, so they could attack from within the garrison town, a SPLA spokesman said today. The SPLA seized Wau and the terminus of a railway linking southern Sudan to Khartoum in a hard-fought battle, rebel spokesman Justin Arop said in the Kenyan capital, Nairobi.

February 1: The Sudanese army attacked an airport in Wau today in a bid to wrest control from rebels, a rebel spokesman said. The SPLA seized the airport in Wau on Thursday, after thousands of fighters pretended to defect, then began to attack the heavily fortified town from within.

2: A Sudanese court has sentenced a prominent Muslim cleric to five months in jail for criticising the government during his sermon at a prayer meeting in Khartoum, a report said today. Sheikh Abdul Mahmoud Abbo, who is imam at the Al Mahdi mosque, was also fined 500,000 Sudanese pounds US$300.

2: Sudanese rebels said today they had captured the south-western town of Aweil and that fighting in Wau continued for a fourth day. The SPLA said its forces had captured Aweil, 150 km north-west of Wau and were moving towards a government garrison just west of the town. Members of the local business community had gone to the base for military protection.

3: Sudanese rebels acknowledged today that they had lost control of the airport and military garrison at Wau. On Saturday, an official of the SPLA told AFP the rebels held both the airport and the garrison, but that the government troops were attacking with artillery and that fighting was "very heavy".

3: A Sudanese opposition commander said in Cairo today that his forces had launched a dry season offensive and this week killed 60 Sudanese soldiers in an attack on an army camp near the Eritrean border. Brigadier Isam Mirghani, deputy commander of the Sudan Alliance Forces (SAF), said the army camp assault yesterday was part of an offensive launched last week in co-ordination with the SPLA .

3: A Sudanese army spokesman, Gen. Sir al-Khatim was quoted in Khartoum by Sudan's al-Rai al-Aam newspaper today as saying Eritrea had shelled areas in eastern Sudan recently. The Sudanese military said earlier that Eritrea artillery had shelled border areas near the town of Abu Gamel on Friday, killing three people and wounding 21.

4: Sudan's draft constitution adopted by a commission will include provisions enshrining a multi-party system and freedom of assembly, press reports said today, though the text faces further hurdles. The government-appointed constitutional commission, after a heated debate on Monday, passed the provision with an overwhelming majority, contradicting past avowed policy of the current junta and its Moslem fundamentalist backers.

4: Aid agencies have expressed concern over the growing humanitarian crisis in southern Sudan. According to a statement issued in Nairobi by Operation Lifeline Sudan (OLS), which groups UN and non-governmental organisations (NGOs), more than 100,000 displaced people have fled the battle area in and areound Wau.

4: Fighting has escalated on the Sudan-Eritrea border, where the Sudanese military junta claimed on Monday that Eritrean troops are directly backing Sudanese rebels. The junta said its troops had repelled three attacks by Eritrean troops and recaptured the southern town of Aryath from rebel forces.

4: Sudanese rebels in Asmara, today said they killed 60 government soldiers and wounded another 60 in an attack on an army garrison in eastern Sudan. The SAF attacked Al Garda, the largest of six garrisons guarding the town of Kassala, near the Eritrean border, spokesman Fatehi Abdul Aziz said in the Eritrean capital.

5: Sudan's government banned aid flights to its Bahr el-Ghazal region today a day after an operation started to assist up to 150,000 people displaced by fighting, the UN food agency said. The government refused permission for the UN's Operation Lifeline Sudan (OLS) to fly to Bahr el-Ghazal, around Wau and other towns for a week.

7: The Eritrean government today categorically rejected allegations by the Sudanese government that its troops have entered Sudan and are fighting there on the side of Sudanese rebels.

8: Sudanese officials have urged civilians to join the armed forces after an attack on an army camp in the east in which rebels said they killed 91 government soldiers. "Within the context of the conspiracy which targets the country's eastern border, agents and mercenaries yesterday morning launched an attack on the eastern border in Gedaref from inside Ethiopia," Alwan newspaper reported today.

9: The WFP told Inter Press Service the food was being airdropped to people in Bahr al Ghazel region who have fled the government-held town of Wau.

10: Sudanese authorities are closing the Sudan-Eritrea border to prevent infiltration by anti-government forces into Sudanese territory, according to a report from the region.

12: Sudanese authorities stated today that calm had been restored after battles for the strategic southern town of Wau. The Al-Usbu daily, reporting from Wau, the capital of west Bahr el-Ghazal state in the south, reported that Khartoum's soldiers had infiltrated a rebel position outside the town and captured a missile launcher and its five-man crew.

13: Sudan's First Vice-President, Lieutenant-General Al-Zubeir Mohammed Saleh, and seven other government officials were killed when their plane crashed in the Sobat river. when trying to land in Nasir, near the Ethiopian border. Among the dead there are Timothy Tolam, governor of the Upper Nile state and Arok Thon Arok, a prominent Dinka leader who was among the SPLA founders and later, after being imprisoned by the SPLA itself for several years, turned to Khartoum and was among the signatories of the peace agreement in April last year. SPLA claimed in Nairobi last night that its forces shot down the plane.

13: Sudanese rebels today accused the government of dropping bombs on civilians in southern areas under their control. "They've been dropping bombs all around the area where civilians are concentrated," said Nairobi-based SPLA political affairs secretary Justin Arop.

13: Ugandan Foreign Minister Eriya Kategaya denied point-blank today that his country was massing troops on the border to invade Sudan. "Why should we?' he retorted to AFP when told that the Sudanese press was quoting Mr Machar as saying that Uganda was preparing for an attack on Sudan in support of SPLA.

14: Sudan government has disclosed that there were a total of 57 people aboard the aircraft that crashed in Nasir on the 12, and 26 of them died. Non confirmed rumours in Nairobi say that on the plane there was also Dr. Lam Akol, leader of the SPLA-United, who had made an agreement with the government last September, and he survived the crash with minor injuries. In the meantime the SPLA has withdrawn their previous claim of having shot down the plane.

Succour our people

On 15 February 1998, the Catholic Bishops operating in the non-governmental controlled areas of Sudan have launched the following appeal. We, the Bishops of the Sudan Catholic Bishops Regional Conference, make this appeal to the international agencies to assist our people who are facing a tragedy of enormous proportion.

  1. The war has recently intensified around the town of Wau. The SPLA is still pressing ahead with its "full-scale offensive" in northern Bahr el Ghazal, launched two weeks ago. Fighting is heavy, and there is no reason to believe it will diminish in the coming days.
  2. The Sudanese government refused permission for Operation Lifeline Sudan and WFP to drop food to more than 100,000 people displaced by fighting in Bahr el Ghazal. WFP and Operation Lifeline Sudan have been denied flight access by the government of Sudan on security grounds. UN spokesman Juan Carlos Brandt said the ban is putting the lives of vulnerable people at great risk. Operation Lifeline Sudan was in close contact with the authorities to resolve the issue. He said an estimated 100,000 displaced people are fleeing the conflict around Wau, Aweil and Gogrial and are "flood ing" into safer areas such as Mapel, Acumcum, Pathou, Ajiep, Lietnhom, Akuen, Lunyaker, Turale, Agok and Mayen Abun.; and in Western Equatoria: Diaianga, Maringindo and Tombora. Instead the Nuba Mountains are totally isolated with no assistance given to them. They are weak, hungry and in urgent need of food, medicine and shelter. Many people fled without anything. Other humanitarian sources described displaced people as "exhausted" and arriving in communities unable to cope with the influx. Relief supplies were last delivered by air on 3 February. UN and NGO teams in the region are distributing available food and non-food stocks such as blankets to affected people, but supplies are fast running out.
    All humanitarian personnel on the spot have warned of a looming "human tragedy". The call to Khartoum government to cancel what has been described as "abominable, criminal and unacceptable flight ban" has not been heeded.
  3. The assessment of our own church personnel is similar to the above, sometimes even more dramatic. In the whole of Bahr el Ghazal, Eastern Equatoria, Upper Nile and the Nuba Mountains we were already preparing for the consequences of last year drought. There is already a severe food shortage which was expected to increase in the coming months. The influx of displaced will make the situation to deteriorate even faster than expected and real famine will start in matter of a few weeks.
  4. The famine is rendered more serious by a shortage of drinking water in vast areas. Wells, even perforated ones, do not yield any water. In the Nuba Mountains there is no water sanitation at all.
  5. As a consequence of all the above, an exodus has started even in areas that in the last year had been relatively peaceful. Many people have moved from the Boma area to Ethiopia, fleeing hunger and thirst. Others have walked to Uganda where they find themselves in areas where insecurity reigns, because of the local rebels, and some have been massacred.
  6. Most of the areas where famine and thirst are building up are of very difficult access, both by road or by aircraft's. This raises tremendously the cost of transport, and makes it difficult for us to intervene with a real positive impact. We need help from the international community.
    Our appeal to you is to come to the succour of our people without delay. We need essential food and the means to transport it. The Church cannot now abandon these brothers and sisters of ours who are in grave suffering.

Bishop Joseph Gasi Abangite
SCBRC Chairman

Diocesan Assembly held in Nairobi

The second annual assembly of the Diocese of Rumbek (DOR) was held in the Kenyan capital, Nairobi, from January 26-30.
The gathering that brought together some 38 participants, identified four priority areas that the Diocese will focus on in the coming years. The priority areas identified were primary evangelisation, education and formation of girls and women, justice peace and reconciliation and community-based development.

Under primary evangelisation, the diocese intends, among other things, to concentrate on the revision of the existing Dinka catechism and the use of RCIA, collecting the parts of the Bible which have already been translated into Dinka as well as translating parts most needed for the liturgy.
Regarding education and formation of girls and women, the DOR will stress on the education and general enlightenment of the girl child and women. Towards this goal, church personnel will be required to encourage parents to see their daughters through primary education, women will be trained as catechists and teachers at the Blessed Josephine Bakhita Formation Centre (BJBFC) in Kitale, Kenya, and women will be recruited into the Parish council.

The DOR intends to participate more actively in the programmes of the New Sudan Council of Churches to enable it realise its justice, peace and reconciliation objective. In addition, it intends to make the subject a part of adult catechisis as well as one of the subjects at the BJBFC. Sudan Catholic Information Office (SCIO), the information division of the diocese, will also be used actively towards the promotion of justice, peace and reconciliation. SCIO will be expected to offer a course to potential information officers on how to report on pastoral life.

The DOR hopes to promote capacity training and its community-based development under health and education priority. Efforts will also be made to improve the health services the diocese is already providing to the people of Sudan.

The Nairobi conference discussed the possibility of relocating Rumbek Mission to Wulu, somekilometers to the south. This Monsignor Caesar Mazzolari, the Apostolic Administrator of Rumbek noted, was because reconstruction of Rumbek had proved too costly and to move back into Rumbek. The Sudanese People's Liberation Army (SPLA) capture Rumbek from the government forces last year.

Marial Lou Mission too may be relocated if the water crisis the mission has been experiencing is not resolved by May of this year.
While expressing their gratitude to the donors who have seen them go this far, the conference felt that there was a need to expand the donor base to enable them cope with the challenges of the time. The conference noted, for instance, that the desirable expansion of Blessed Bakhita Formation Centre in Kitale was held up because of insufficient funds.

Among Rumbek leading donors are Miserior, Mission Aachen and Kindermissionment (all of Gerrmany), Caritas Italiana, the Italian Episcopal Conference, the Sisters of St Peter's Claver (Italy), DKA of Austria and Our Lady of Sacred Hearts.

Charles Omondi

Why the Nuba are part of Southern Sudan

Yousif Kuwa, the SPLA governor of Sudan's Southern Kordofan region, explains in an interview with Charles Omondi the plight of the Nuba and why they have allied themselves with the south in the Sudanese crisis.

What is your background?
I was born in the Nuba Mountains in 1944. My father was a soldier. I had my elementary education in the same area before proceeding to eastern Sudan's Beja area for intermediate studies, then higher education in Khartoum. I then worked as a teacher for several years before joining Khartoum University's College of Economics in 1977. I graduated in 1980 then taught in higher secondary school in Kadguli in the Nuba Mountains. I was elected to the regional assembly in 1981 to represent Kadugli and the surrounding rural areas. I joined the SPLA in 1984.

The Nuba Mountains is geographically not part of southern Sudan, yet the Nuba have chosen to be part of the south in the Sudanese crisis. Why?
Let me clarify this issues of north, south, west and the rest. These are mere geographical expressions. I think I can divide the room where we are seated right now into similar divisions. But unfortunately, these geographical tags are being used to divided the people of Sudan. Earlier, the terms were used to refer to Sudan's three provinces. Demographically, however, there are all kinds of people in different parts of Sudan. What I know is that Sudan is an African country with the majority of the population being Africans. According to the census conducted by the British in 1955, the so-called Arabs form only 30 per cent of Sudan's population.
What really made the Nuba ally with what people call the southern Sudan is what the SPLA stands for... a united Sudan. The SPLA is championing the cause of all the marginalised areas of Sudan. During the colonial era, development was concentrated in Khartoum and central Sudan. The rest of the country, even further north, was neglected and they remain backward to date. The people who have joined the SPLA are from different parts of Sudan. Our aim is to change the policy structure created for the old Sudan to one that is acceptable to all. In fact, in 1965, the government declared Sudan an Arabic and Islamic country, essentially shutting out all other cultures and religions. I think we should all be Sudanese while maintaining our diversity. Let their be no forced Arabisation or Islamisation for that matter, for it is this that is causing conflicts among Sudanese.

There have been conflicting reports about landmines in the Nuba Mountains. Can you explain what the situation is like on the ground.
The use of landmines is a recent development on the government side. During the last dry season offensive, government forces occupied some villages, believing that by so doing, all civilians from the surrounding areas would be forced to join them. But instead the people went higher up the mountains, from where they ventured out in search of food and other necessities.
The government then resorted to mining the region to restrict the movements hence the increase in the number of casualties in the recent past. Today, there are several amputees as a result. Several others are being attended to at the International Committee of the Red Cross hospital in Lokichoggio in northern Kenya.

The Nuba are actually a collection of different language groups. Has this undermined their position in the liberation struggle in any way.
It is true that the Nuba are a combination of different tribes. In fact, one can never know that he is a Nuba unless he goes out of the Nuba Mountains. In the Nubaland, everybody knows his tribe. It is to the rest that we are just Nuba. We started to come together in 1969 after the revolution that brought to power a military government in Khartoum. The Nuba consciousness was realised as a result of their uniformity in backwardness. With increased enlightenment, this consciousness has been cemented over the years. Today, there are a lot of inter-tribal marriages, the Nuba confidence has risen and so has their pride. Joining the liberation struggle has made the Nuba nationalism even stronger.

Huge Nuba populations have been uprooted from their homes and relocated to what the government calls peace camps. Why peace camps and what is life like in such settlements.
Since we resorted to an armed struggle in 1989, the government thought that they could dislodge us easily. But by 1992, the government realised that we were quite a formidable force. As a result of the split in the SPLA in 1992, which cut us off the mainstream body, the government moved in expeditiously to finish us once and for all. This failed to work, prompting the new scheme of rounding villagers and taking them to Kadugli. At first, they were taken to other regions in southern Kordofan, where the environment proved almost unbearable, prompting international outcry. The aim is to culturally re-orient the people and keep them off the liberation activities.
In the peace camps, children are taken to schools where they are brainwashed, taught Arabic and so on. Women are used as servants in homes, young men are used as militia, while some work as labourers in government agricultural schemes. Rape of women is commonplace and there is generally a lot of atrocities committed to the people. All this information is readily available from the many people who have managed to flee the camps.

What is your assessment of the international community's involvement in the plight of the Nuba people
Unfortunately, we have been talking a lot about the Nuba and their plight without attracting much attention. At the beginning, we were very optimistic that international intervention would be forthcoming. Our major concern to date is that the Sudan government allows relief to go to the south but not to the Nuba Mountains and of course they have their reasons for that. Only a handful of Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) and lately a few governments are beginning to grasp the Nuba problem. On the battlefield, you can easily find a gun, ammunition or even a tank, but not relief aid, making calamities such as famine among our main enemies. By Khartoum government denying relief entry to the Nuba Mountains, it is committing genocide. We hope that there will be more pressure on the government to let relief aid reach the Nuba.

What do you regard to be the significance of the latest US stand on Sudan in as far as the war is concerned
Well, any efforts geared towards getting rid of the government is highly commendable since it is a fundamentalist government that believes that not only Sudan, but the entire world should be governed by the sharia law. I think the world has seen in Algeria what fundamentalism can do. I wonder whether God really can allow this kind of thing to be done in his name.
I think what the US government is doing is quite in order. Though it is a bit late, it is better late than never. The latest stand is definitely a good step forward.

Do you regard as viable the peace deal signed last year between the government and a host of rebel factions
Not quite. It was signed in April and yet we have continued to score a series of impressive victories. However, such developments are characteristics of liberation struggles the world over. When we came up as a movement, we had certain set objectives. Now, for anybody to cross over to join the enemy before these are realised can only be an act of opportunism. The end of this year will show the world just how faulty that deal was.

What is your position on the government's recent proposal that the Inter-Governmental Authority on Development (IGAD) peace forum be expanded.
I was one of the members of the SPLA delegation at the last round of talks in October in Nairobi. We support fully IGAD because of the Declaration Of Principles (DOP) and we believe that the initiative is the best way to solving the Sudanese crisis. The question should never be whether or not to expand the forum. It should be whether the participants believe in the DOP or not. Mere expansion or contraction of the forum cannot make any difference.

Will you be around for the next round of talks
I would not know at this stage.

What is your stand on the division of Sudan into two separate states as a lasting solution to the civil strife
I joined the SPLA because in its manifesto, it calls for a united Sudan, devoid of discrimination on whatever grounds, where their is power sharing and all diversities accommodated. I am strongly for unity of Sudan. If division is the solution, then we may have to divide the country into several states.

Comment on the defection of key personalities from the SPLA.
As I said earlier, a movement usually has certain set objectives. However, not all its members can have similar level of patience and commitment. So if people defect, that is a natural thing. Besides, there have been defections from both sides. I am not aware of any movement that remained intact from day one to the day it accomplished its mission.

Do you have any other comment on the Nuba in particular and Sudan in general.
Most media organisations always talk of the war between the south and the north. That is not the truth as we in the Nuba Mountains are part of the north but we have joined the south. There are the Beja people, the Blue Nile communities, all fighting against the government. Even in the north, there is a lot of dissent and there is need for relief aid which unfortunately the government does not allow.

Bethany House, P. O. Box 21202, Nairobi, Kenya
tel. +254.2.562247 or 569130, fax 566668

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

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