January 16: The Khartoum government and the SPLA have agreed to a three-month extension of the cease-fire in Bahr el Ghazal, the UN Secretary general's special envoy for humanitarian affairs in Sudan ambassador Tom Eric Vraalsen said in Nairobi. He added that Khartoum was equally concerned over the activities of a maverick warlord Kerubino Kwanyin Bol, who recently defected back to the government's side with a force of 600 men, and is believed to be heading towards Bahr el-Ghazal.
16: SPLA spokesman John Luk said in Nairobi the cease-fire would be unilaterally extended by the SPLA for the first time to cover Central Upper Nile help relief assistance.
17: The opposition National Democratic Alliance (NDA) has denied government accusations that Eritrea troops were massing on the border. An NDA statement said Khartoum's allegations were “designed to attract support from radical extremist organisations and their allies”. In a counter-accusation, the NDA said Khartoum had deployed 5,000 men close to “liberated”: territories in eastern Sudan.
18: A Khartoum government newspaper has reported that rebels abducted four civilians and three pro-government militiamen in eastern Sudan and took them to Eritrea. The 25 insurgents kidnapped the men from a government tax office in Shajarab area,. Al-Anbaa said. The report did not say which rebel group the insurgents belonged to and when the incident happened.
21: The government of Sudan attacked the northern Blue Nile area (Menza District) controlled by Sudanese opposition, Care/ Amal Trust, Human Rights Unit has reported. The reports said the government used aerial bombing by Antonov and artillery shelling to indiscriminately bomb civilian areas. Several villages including Abu Ghadaf, Abugenger, Elazaza, Matongiya and Mokla were destroyed and burned.
22: Committal documents for three Sudanese murder suspects have not been received, a Nairobi court heard. Mr. Justine Obute, Mr Kul Garang and Mr Amat Mulual have been charged with the murder of Mr James Monywir Dogi Bol, a supporter of Colonel Garang of the SPLA. Mr Bol's death occurred last year when a faction of the SPLA attempted to assassinate Col Garang in Nairobi.
22: An opposition radio monitored by the BBC said the SPLA repulsed an attack by government forces in the Nuba Mountains . The report said 13 government soldiers were killed in two days of fighting near the town of Lagowa.
23: Khartoum and Southern Sudanese rebels have denied Libyan media reports that both sides held peace talks in Tripoli earlier this month. Pro-government faction head Riek Machar told the Khartoum daily Al-Rai al-Am that Col. Garang had left Tripoli before a government delegation arrived on January 12. The official Libyan news agency had said Machar and foreign minister Mustafa Osman Ismail held talks with Garang “with a view to establishing a mechanism to settle the conflict”.
26: The Sudanese airforce bombed the southern town of Yei for the second time in three days, Norwegian People's Aid (NPA) reported. Five bombs landed close to the hospital run by NPA, but no casualties were reported.
27: Sudan government has confirmed the extension of a partial cease-fire for three months in Bahr el-Ghazal and Western Upper Nile. But according to foreign minister Ismail, “I hope this will be the last partial cease-fire”. He accused the SPLA of misusing previous truces to build up its military forces.
28: The police arrested several members of the Ansar sect for illegal possession of arms and membership of a banned organisation, AFP reported party officials as saying. The sect, the religious wing of the proscribed Umma Party, had been banned from holding celebrations marking the independence of the Sudan and the 19th century victory over the British at the Khartoum by Ansar's founder, Muhammed Ahmad al-Mahdi.
28: State TV reported the recapture of the Boing area of south-eastern Sudan. an army statement said 147 rebels were killed and weapons seized. It added that the region had been a base for attacks in southern Blue Nile.
29: The Sudanese health ministry is to target 5 million people in a meningitis immunisation drive. The ministry said the campaign was aimed at citizens below 30 years old, known to be most vulnerable group. The programme to be completed by the by the end of February is to cover most districts of northern Sudan with the support of International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC).
29: In mid January the ICRC organised a four-day course on the law of armed conflict which brought together 31 senior officers of the SPLA in Bahr el-Ghazal region. At the same time, some 230 members of Sudanese government armed forces and 180 policemen attended presentations on international humanitarian law in Bentiu in Western Upper Nile, an ICRC statement said.
30: Five people have been killed and more than 200 seriously injured in fighting between two Sudanese communities at Kakuma refugee camp in north western Kenya. More than 5,000 people from the Dinka and Didinga communities have been displaced since fighting broke out. Tension is said to have started following news of the killing of an SPLA commander, Mr Deng Akwang (a Dinka) in an ambush in Chukudum in Sudan, about 12 kilometres from the Kenya/Sudan border.
February 2: Administrative problems have delayed the arrival in Sudan of the special rapportuer on human rights, Leonardo Franco. A UN spokesman said Franco is now scheduled to leave Geneva for Khartoum on February 13. During his 12-day stay, he will investigate reports of slave trading as well as the general human rights situation.
3: Sudan's civil war is absorbing half the country's budget, President Omar el-Bashir has said. He was quoted by the Al-Rai Al-am newspaper as saying: “The government is not able to provide the minimum limits for survival for the Sudanese because of the spending on war”.
5: The UN special rapporteur on human rights in Sudan has arrived in the country. Franco is expected to meet senior government officials and visit prisons and detention facilities. He will also hold talks with the SPLA in Nairobi.
5: Tens of thousands of non-Muslim Sudanese live as slaves and are “branded, beaten, starved and raped at their master's whim”, Sen. Sam Brownback said. Joining the Kansas Republican at a news conference was Fran Wolf, who said the Clinton administration “has done zip...nothing” to ease the plight of repressed Sudanese.
5: The UN has launched a US$200 million inter-agency appeal for the Sudan for 1999. It covers the emergency and rehabilitation needs of more than four million war and drought-affected people in the south “transitional zone” and the displaced camps and settlement in the greater Khartoum area.
5: A breakaway faction of Sudan's Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) has become the first registered group since multi-party system was reinstated at the beginning of the year. Reuters quoted a leading newspaper as saying . Al-Usbua daily published a notice by the registrar saying “The DUP is registered as a political organisation which gives it the right to practice political activities and to compete in elections”.
6: A total of 108 people were killed in recent tribal clashes in western Sudan, a state governor said. West Darfur state governor Ibrahim Yahia Abdel Rahman told a press conference that the fighting in and around the state capital Ginaina town had left another 140 wounded and 50 villages razed to the ground. the fighting broke out after farmers accused nomads of allowing their camels on to the farmers' fields.
6: Sudan's assistant president Riek Machar has tendered his resignation from the National Congress party and kept his government posts after forming his own party. Mr Machar, who also chairs the South Sudan Co-ordination Council, was an ex-officio member of leading organs in the ruling NC.
10: According to the UNHCR, 4, 000 Sudanese have fled Western Darfur into Chad. They have settled in the Adre region and are in “a very precarious situation”, a UNHCR spokesman said. Arab and African communities clashed last month near the Darfur border town of al-Geneina in a dispute over grazing land.
11: A pro-government newspaper said that the Sudanese interior minister and his top police aide are likely to be sacked over failure to check a tribal conflict that has killed more than 100 people. Alwan, a well-informed Islamic-oriented daily, said the country's “political leadership is not satisfied with the performance of the ministry and the police” over the recent tribal clashes.
11: A conference of Sudanese human rights and civil society groups opened in Uganda aimed at reaching a “consensus for a democratic Sudan”. The five-day meeting organised by the Kampala-based Pan African Movement (PAM), has addressed issues of self determination, religion, gender and human rights abuses committed by both the government army and rebel groups.
12: The Sudanese government has pledged to prosecute slavers and has urged the population to report cases of slavery, Khartoum newspapers reported. The government Commission of Inquiry on Human Rights said in a communiqué yesterday that public prosecutors' offices across the country were open to all those who had information on slavery cases so that prosecutions could be started.
13: A local initiative to reconcile the Dinka and Nuer communities has been launched by the New Sudan Council of Churches. A delegation of Nuer chiefs from Western Upper Nile and Dinka chiefs from Rumbek were due to meet in Thiet, Bahr el-Ghazal, with the support of the local authorities.
Diocesan meetings held in Nairobi
The Diocese of Rumbek has since the beginning of the year held two diocesan gatherings
The first one was a Seminar on The Social Teachings of the Church and the Church in Africa
It was held at the Carmelite Fathers in Nairobi from January 23-28.
The second diocesan meeting was the Annual Assembly for the Sudanese see. It was held at Dimese Sisters, Nairobi, from February 1-6.
In announcing the dates for the meetings late last year, the Bishop of Rumbek, Monsignor Caesar Mazzolari described them as a, “a period of shared enrichment for our diocese''.
Bishop Mazzolari said: “Since much is given to us, much will also be asked of us and it is essential that we support one another and perceive the same vision as the Lord grants it to us.”
At the Annual Assembly, the participants expressed their gratitude to God for all his deeds for the Diocese of Rumbek in 1998, a time in which the people faced the most severe hunger, displacement and insecurity of the last 15 years of civil strife.
“We are likewise thankful to all who generously paid attention to the hunger crisis of the Sudan and made it possible for us to save a few more lives,'' they said.
Last year saw Sudan suffer from a severe famine that prompted a record United Nations Organisation relief operation. The famine affected an estimated 2.6 million people with the majority of them in the Diocese of Rumbek. It claimed thousands of lives and is yet to be over.
In the same year, the Diocese lost one of its priests, Fr. Jervas Manyuat after a long illness. Early this year, the diocese lost another priest, Fr. Remijo Lominong in a tragic road accident.
However, noted the Assembly's participants in one of their reports, “the Lord showed his powerful presence and saw the advancement of our work through additional four Comboni sisters, two Comboni priests and one brother”.
The report further noted that the four missions and the camp at Kakuma in north-western Kenya have been able to function and fulfil their pastoral work. “Our Pastoral Safaris have also been carried out, even though the Bishop was not able to do his visitation and confirmation from October onward.”
The diocesan catechists, particularly those in Western and Northern Bahr el-Ghazal were praised for their remarkable work of catechising, prayer leading, visiting and adult instruction. “We commend them for the spirit of community and team witnessing which they are giving to their Christians. We hope to establish a base in 1999 in Malwalkon for Pastoral Safaris.”
The Assembly cautioned the Sudanese faithful to be wary of other denominations seeking to convert them “Of late,” they noted, “in places like Panulit and other areas of Western Bahr el-Ghazal, there have been infiltration of foreign Protestant brothers and sisters, who through gift-giving, try to obtain apostasy of young and old from the Catholic faith to some Protestant denominations.”
As a solution to the above problem, the meeting recommended need for general alertness on the part of the Catholics, dialogue with the Protestant leaders involved and/or the intervention of the civil authorities to dispel this Christian or non-Christian raids and respect the traditional religion affiliation of the people.
OLS in plea for Sudanese
The ongoing civil war in Sudan has caused the deaths of upto two million people since 1983. Massive displacement, the collapse of the rural economy and local governance, increasing local instability and ethnic hostilities, and the collapse of political accountability of the government and rebel movements of the Sudan to their own citizens, are other destructive forces reigning throughout the war torn country.
While humanitarian relief has quelled mass starvation for the moment, to prevent another humanitarian crisis, relief aid has to be maintained until at least September 1999, after the next hunger gap.
OLS urges the international community to act to ensure all warring parties;
It is a fact that OLS will not be able to continue humanitarian operations at current levels for another 10 years and therefore emphasises that peace is the only hope for progress and to prevent further humanitarian catastrophe. Conflict and instability have been features of Sudan ever since its borders were drawn. The international community must unite to ensure:
- Extend the current cease-fire in time and scope;
- Adhere to cease-fire stipulations in agreed territories;
- Increase respect for humanitarian principles and increased accountability for the flow of aid;
- Increase and continue commitment of resources;
- Unrestricted access to all populations in need.
- Parties responsible for drawing those borders be involved in bringing together the warring parties to negotiate for sustainable peace;
- Thereby recognising their responsibilities for the support of the development of peace in Sudan
- Collaborate to build sufficient international consensus to generate a forceful and positive lobby for peace- as there is no possible military solution;
- Support a local solution to the conflict (fully incorporating all members of Sudanese society and regional powers state);
- commit to longer term assistance to ensure equitable re-construction of the basic of Sudanese society, in order to increase the motivation of local leaders to seek peace
- UN appoints a body to oversee humanitarian and political initiatives on a global level for Sudan.
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