August 16: The United Nations Commission on Human Rights has named several human rights investigators, including one for Sudan, where both sides in Africa's longest-running civil war are accused of violations. Leonardo Franco, an Argentinian expert who headed the UN Human Rights mission in Guatemala, replaces Gaspar Biro, who resigned last April after serving for five years as UN special rapporteur on human rights in Sudan, a statement said.
16: Sudan has criticised Egypt for allowing Sudanese groups trying to topple the Islamic government in Khartoum to meet in Cairo for the first time. Egypt's move was "against the Sudanese People, its constitutional institutions and legitimate set-up," state-owned al-Anbaa daily quoted a senior official as saying.
16: Sudan's umbrella opposition group, the National Democratic Alliance (NDA), has said it was close to overthrowing the Islamic government in Khartoum. "The NDA is getting close to its ultimate goal: overthrowing the government... and restoring multiparty democracy in Sudan," spokesman Mr Faruq Abu Issa said.
16: A former Sudanese rebel-turned senior government official has accused Egypt of seeking to overthrow the Islamic-led regime in Khartoum by force, an official newspaper reported. "There are covert objectives being adopted and discussed by Egypt and the (Sudanese) forces presently meeting in Cairo," said Riek Machar, who last year left the South Sudanese rebel movement to become a key ally of the Khartoum government.
17: The only solution to Sudan's 15-year civil war is the overthrow of the country's Islamic government, the main Sudanese rebel leader has said.. "This is a regime with which we cannot do business. It terrorises Sudanese people, it has run down the Sudanese economy, it is killing people," John Garang, who heads the Sudanese People's Liberation Army said.
18: Sudan has accused Egypt of "plotting" against it, as leaders of NDA again declared their determination to overthrow the Khartoum regime. Mr Mutesim Abdel Rahim, secretary of Sudan's ruling party; said a meeting between NDA leaders and Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak was "shrouded'' in secrecy and "indicates that Cairo is plotting something against Khartoum'', according to Al-Rai Al-Aam newspaper.
19: Sudanese rebel leaders have vowed to continue their war against the Khartoum government while maintaining the country's unity. The announcement was made after rebel leaders wound up a three-day meeting in Cairo which was convened at the behest of the Egyptian government.
20: Sudan's ruling party accused Egypt of "interference" and "enmity" after Cairo hosted a conference by the Sudanese opposition. An official from Sudan's National Congress Party, Mr Mohammed al-Hassan al-Amin, read a statement saying the conference was 'an odd precedent in the neighbourly relations and norms and a flagrant defiance of the Sudanese nation."
21: Floods have destroyed homes in eastern Sudan and cut electricity supplies to the capital, the press reported. Almost 1,000 houses were destroyed in the eastern town of Kassala, reports said.
22: Angry Sudanese stormed the empty US embassy compound in Khartoum and pulled down the American flag to protest a US missile attack on a pharmaceutical plant in the Sudanese capital. Sudanese government officials termed the missile attack "a criminal act" and charged that it had been ordered by president Clinton to draw attention away from the investigation into his relations with former White House intern Monica Lewinsky.
22: In the two weeks ahead of the US air strikes in Sudan and Afghanistan, Israeli intelligence agents provided their US counterparts with considerable information on Islamic militant groups, an Israeli newspaper said. Prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu was evasive when asked whether Israel helped the US select the targets in air raids, which came in retaliation for the US embassy bombings in East Africa earlier this month.
22: President Yoweri Museveni received a telephone call from secretary of state Madeleine Albright to inform him about US missile strikes launched against targets in Sudan and Afghanistan, and he supported the action, a statement from his office said. The statement said Mrs Albright told Mr Museveni the actions were carried out "because those sites accommodated factories that make explosives with which the terrorists make bombs."
23: About 10,000 Sudanese shouted for the downfall of the US at a Khartoum demonstration against American air strikes on Sudan. "Down, down USA, we won't be ruled by the CIA," The crowd chanted in the central Matyr's Square as they waved banners emblazoned with more anti-American slogans.
24: America's missile barrage on a pharmaceutical plant in the outskirts of Sudan's capital was called a strike against terrorists operating from outlaw states. For Sudan's government, it has provided an opportunity, one that has become a woefully rare, to rally its weary people around the flag.
24: Egypt's foreign Minster has said his country had nothing to do with US strikes against Sudan despite its strained relations with Khartoum. "This American action has nothing to do with Egyptian interests," foreign minister Amr Moussa said.
24: The US reiterated that it had credible evidence linking a pharmaceuticals plant in Sudan to chemical weapons, and said the Islamic world strongly supported its missile strikes. Sudan denies the plant was engaged in chemical weapons-related production and many Muslim nations have expressed outrage at Washington's cruise-missile strikes.
25: Islamic states at the United Nations have backed Sudan's demand for an urgent Security Council meeting and a UN inquiry into the American attack that destroyed a pharmaceutical factory near Khartoum. But the League of Arab states, in its own formal letter to the Security Council, did not call for any specific action except for the US to "refrain from such acts which constitute violations of national sovereignty".
25: Sudan wants a public apology from Washington for its missile strike against a factory in Khartoum, and has asked the UN to investigate US allegations that the factory produced ingredients for chemical weapons. Sudan would welcome a UN inspection of the factory that US missiles destroyed, but would not allow the team to inspect any other alleged chemical weapons sites, information minister Ghazi Salahel-Din told a press conference.
25: Sudan's president has said that if the US truly believed a Khartoum factory made chemical weapons, it committed "an ugly crime" by bombing in the midst of a city and endangering thousands of lives. President Hassan Omar el-Bashir argued that there was evidence US officials knew the Khartoum plant made only medicines as Sudan maintains.
25: The Arab League has urged the UN to send a team to Sudan to show that the medicine factory bombed by the US did not produce chemical weapons components. "The Arab League urges the Security Council to consider its responsibilities in keeping international peace and stability," the Cairo-based organisation said in a statement.
26: Despite an American attack last week that wrecked Sudan's largest pharmaceutical plant, troubled relations between the two countries that soured almost a decade ago, will soon become better, Sudan's parliament speaker says. The remarks of Mr Hassan Turabi, the man considered the real power behind the Islamic government, stand in sharp contrast to several days of rallies and protests in Khartoum, where demonstrators have denounced the US and president Bill Clinton.
28: Declaring it will continue supporting US attacks against terrorists, Britain announced it is withdrawing its ambassador and other diplomats from Sudan following the American bombing of a suspected chemical weapons plant there. Foreign secretary Mr Robin Cook warned Britons not to go to Sudan following the departure of ambassador Alan Goulty and the eight other British staff at the embassy.
29: The Organisation of African Unity (OAU) has said it supported sending a fact-finding mission to Sudan to verify Washington's claim that a Khartoum pharmaceutical factory attacked on August 20 was producing ingredients for chemical weapons. At a meeting convened at the request of Khartoum, the OAU executive expressed its "deep concern" about the attack on the Al-Shifa plant, north of Khartoum and also about the bombings on August 7 of the US embassies in Nairobi and Dar es Salaam, which left a total of 257 dead, most of them Africans.
30: Sudan's vice president concluded a three-day West African diplomatic tour to press for African condemnation of a US missile attack on a Sudanese factory. George Kongor Arop told reporters he hoped to convince the 53-member pan-African organisation to join the Arab League in roundly condemning the attack and giving political support to Sudan's government.
31: Sudan has hinted that a relief plane from a UN umbrella group may have spied on behalf of the US, carrying out surveillance just before the American missile strike on a Sudanese factory. The Sudanese foreign minister, Mr Mustafa Osman Ismail, said in Nairobi that Sudanese suspicions were aroused by the fact that a plane from Operation Lifeline Sudan (OLS) had been cleared to land just prior to the August 20 US raid, but instead circled the airport and then flew off.
31: The Sudan government has stressed that it has no links with Saudi Arabia-born Osama bin Laden, the alleged leader of an international terrorist group. Sudan has in fact appealed to the UN Security Council to send a fact finding mission to investigate the US bomb attack on the Al-Shifa pharmaceutical plant outside Khartoum.
31: Khartoum expelled terrorist leader Bin Laden in 1995 due to pressure from other governments which considered him a security threat, the Sudanese external affairs minister has said. "Although there is no concrete evidence linking him to actual cases of terrorism, we asked him to leave because his name was being mentioned in connection with acts of terrorism," said Mr Ismail.
September 1: Sudan has urged the 113-nation Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) to support its call for a UN probe into the August 20 US missile attack on a Sudanese factory. Sudanese foreign minister Mustafa Osman Ismail, speaking before a meeting of NAM foreign ministers in Durban, South Africa, reiterated his call "for the UN Security Council to send an investigation team''.
1: The OLS has vehemently denied any involvement in the US air strike on Sudan. OLS information officer Gillian Wilcox said in a press release that OLS does not, nor has it ever, been involved in surveillance for anyone. "OLS is strictly neutral, humanitarian operation which provides emergency assistance to the civilian victims of the Sudanese war," said Wilcox.
1: Sudan's president Omar Hassan al-Bashirt has formed a committee to investigate the ownership of the factory bombed by the US, a Khartoum newspaper reported. The privately-owned Al-Jumhouria daily said the committee would be headed by a senior judge Abdallah Ahmad Abdalla.
2: Floods in northern and eastern Sudan may have affected up to 100,000 people in the past few days, the head of the Sudanese Red Crescent Society has said. Mr Omar Osman Mahmoud said the Gash river had broken its banks and flooded western parts of the city of Kassala, about 450 kms east of Khartoum.
7: Sudan has appealed to the international community for urgent aid to help it deal with flood damage in the north and east of the country, the official Sudan News Agency (SUNA) reported. Suna quoted Mr Hussein al-Obeid, Sudan's commissioner for humanitarian aid, as telling ambassadors, UN officials and non-governmental organisation that his country needed US$19.5 million to provide shelter, food and health services for the people affected by the floods.
8: A Sudanese court has sentenced to jail six people who tried to join a group opposed to the Khartoum government, a newspaper said. The privately-owned Al-Rai al-Aam daily said the six were given two-year jail terms .
8: Troops of the pro-government South Sudan Defence Force (SSDF) have recaptured Bentieu, the chief town of Al-Wihda state, and two other towns from a rival faction, an SSDF source said. The military source, who asked not to be named, told reporters that SSDF forces had launched an offensive on Bentieu, Matkenj and Nekai, where they "defeated and drove out the men of Paulino Mateb, who took full control of the town".
8: One person was killed and 25 others seriously injured when fighting broke out between Sudanese and Somali communities at the Kakuma refugee camp in north western Kenya. Police sources at the camp said the fighting started after a scuffle between a Sudanese and a Somali refugee, which spread to their families and later involved the two communities.
10: The rains have fianlly arrived in Bahr el Ghazal, the area of south Sudan worst affected by famine, transforming the region from an unforgiving dustbowl into what looks like an oasis. But while the rain may have washed away the dust, it has come too late to save most of the September harvest, residents, say.
11: Residents of Tuti islands, cut off from Khartoum by the Nile river, closed their shops and stacked sandbags to prepare for more of the country's worst floods in years. Officials at Sudan's ministry of irrigation and water resources said the Blue Nile was due to rise in the next two days from torrential rains in the Ethiopian highlands.
14: Relief supplies from at least three Arab countries have started to arrive in Sudan where officials say floods spilling into 12 of the country's 26 states of the country's 26 million people, newspapers said. The privately-owned Al-Rai Al-Aam daily said an Egyptian plane arrived at Khartoum airport carrying 32 tonnes of tenets and jute sacks for making sandbags.
12: The Sudanese plant bombed by the US last month was funded by the Preferential Trade Area (PTA) Bank. The bank financed El Shifa factory to the tune of $6 million. The PTA's 1997 annual report lists the plant as one of the 18 firms whose projects had been approved for financing in 1997.
12: The first secretary at the Sudanese embassy in Kenya, Mr. Almamnsour Bolad, said that the people of Sudan had suffered immense losses as a result of the "unjustified American act of aggression". Speaking at the embassy in Nairobi, Mr. Bolad said that while Sudan had not only lost a facility that produced over two-thirds of its pharmaceutical needs, 350 people had been put out of employment.
14: Some 2,800 Rwandan and Ugandan rebels are being trained at secret camps in Sudan and could be unleashed as part of Khartoum's support for president Laurent Kabila in Congo, Uganda's top intelligence official has claimed. But the claims were dismissed as "baseless" by the first secretary at Sudan's embassy in Nairobi.
15: At least 400 people have been killed in fighting in oil-rich province of southern Sudan, news reports and sources in the region said. James Marbour Gattkoth, an official at the Southern States Coordination Council, said in Akhbar al-Youm that since August fighting had led to "serious human losses and material damage".
Fight against famine goes on
Armed with bowls, calabashes, sauce pans and whatever else could hold some food, the well over one hundred naked children, most of them pot-bellied, queued to be served with their daily ration of the unimix, a high nutrition porridge provided by the Catholic Church to help fight famine in southern Sudan.
One after another, they got their share and retreated to a safe corner to have a go at the long-awaited only meal for the day. Though steaming hot, the little ones had minimal difficulty consuming, with their bare hands and improvised spoons, the gruel that would have, under normal circumstances, burned their mouths into wild screams.
The equally malnourished and scantily dressed adults waited patiently in the background. The hunger in their eyes was crystal clear as, like the children, they had had to endure a long wait since the previous day's ratio at a similar time.
Some had no containers and had to wait for their children to clear their food so that they could use the same.
The third lot, consisting the more energetic adults (by southern Sudan standards), had to wait even longer. Unlike the first two groups, they were not entitled to ready made food but a tin of dry maize to carry home and prepare a meal on their own.
For most visitors, even those from other third world countries where poverty has become part and parcel of life, it was a scene difficult to bear.
"The situation now is much better," said Fr. Benjamin Madol, a Catholic priest at Rumbek helping with the supervision of the process. "Not so long ago, we used to bury many on almost daily basis.''
Similar sentiments were expressed by Fr. Madol's colleague, Fr. Raphael Riel and Justin Makwach, the peace co-ordinator for the Catholic Diocese of Rumbek.
With the long rains now on, the local people are supplementing whatever little they are provided with by the international community with wild vegetables and a little of their farm produce. Their livestock too are having a good time feasting on the lush vegetation.
However, the rains have also compounded the hunger situation in a way. Vast areas are now flooded, making them inaccessible to relief delivery planes and vehicles. The floods have also destroyed some crops, and a famine in future cannot be ruled out unless there is further international intervention.
Vast areas of Rumbek county remain fallow as most local people have neither the energy, seeds, nor tools to enable them make optimum use of the land.
Captured by the Sudanese Peoples Liberation Army (SPLA) only a year ago, Rumbek is still bearing the brunt of the one decade of destruction set in motion since the government take over in 1986.
Rumbek has two feeding centres catering for about 700 people. One is run by the Catholic Church and the other by UN relief agencies.
The 700 are part of the estimated 2.6 million southern Sudanese threatened by what has been described as Sudan's worst food crisis in decades.
The once flourishing commercial, agricultural and religious centre, is hardly recognisable today. Former shops, residential houses, churches, bank, post office, prison, play grounds and everything else to do with modern day civilisation, are today ugly ruins and an eyesore.
Nearly all the modern buildings whose walls have withstood the vagaries of weather, have no roofs. Yet it is such structures that are homes to hundreds of returnees. A good number of people live under trees while others have managed to put up some huts. How they cope with the heavy rains now falling in the region is anybody's guess.
Those interested in rebuilding the town are moving with caution. It is still a war zone and no one can tell for sure when the next bombardment will be.
How long this human misery will continue, is a question many have asked.
While appreciating the response from the international community, the UN secretary-general Koffi Annan maintains that "such an effort cannot, and should not have to be sustained indefinitely. Only peace can bring a solution to this crisis".
1999 may not be any better in Southern Sudan
Hunger in Southern Sudan is far from over. In fact, it will not be over this year. On my recent visit of Bahr el Ghazal region from August 23-27, I came to grips with the alarming factors that are frustrating local food production and threatening the survival of enough cattle in Southern Sudan.
In Western Bahr El Ghazal, rains came late in July and the first planting was a total failure. People then planted in low lands hoping that the preserved moisture would see their crops through to the beginning of the rains.
In August, rains came in excessive amounts (never seen in recent years) and the crops were submerged. Maize, simsim, groundnuts and beans rotted away as several people were displaced from their homes in low lands. It is a tragic disaster. The sorghum is far from mature and only time will tell how its crop will be
The 150, 000 displaced people from Wau were not able to prepare their fields during their roaming through Bahr el Ghazal in 1998 due to several reasons:
First was malnourishment which cut down almost totally on cultivating energy.
Secondly, having been away from cultivating for the last 12 years, they had become city dwellers to whom cultivation was alien. They relied on buying food from the Wau market even though at prohibitive costs. They were not prepared to make fields in 1998.
They are likely to settle down to meaningful cultivation next year.
Thus, for the rest of this year, most of the displaced people from Wau will not have any harvest. Consequently, the problem of hunger is likely to be worse next year than this year.
Traditional granary areas of Western Bahr el Ghazal such as Nyamlell and Marial Bai have this year experienced crop failure.
Hunger has also forced the pastoral people of Bahr el Ghazal to sell their cattle for meagre prices. Veterinary experts in Bahr el Ghazal reckon that cattle is being slaughtered and sold in the most indiscriminate ways. Young animals and even pregnant cows are slaughtered and sold at meat markets.
Generally, cattle in Bahr el Ghazal is presently as valueless as the Sudanese pound. All you can get for a cow is 30,000 to 40,000 lbws in southern Sudan, while in the North they are still worth 1/2 million Sudanese pounds a head. Yes; a cow is barely worth a sack of beans. A cheap sale in deed.
In addition, diseases are rampant among cattle for lack of adequate feeding and vaccination. Animal gradual extension is a factor to keep in mind in the global estimation of food for Sudan in 1999.
All present indications are very decisively pointing to a hunger situation in 1999 worse by far than that of 1998.
It will take the efforts of the combined internal and external resources and international agencies to face the hunger of 1999 in a way that will be honourable for the starving Sudanese.
Monsignor Caesar Mazzolari
Diocese of Rumbek
SUDAN CATHOLIC INFORMATION OFFICE
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: SCIO@MAF.Org