Sudan Monthly Report

Current issue
July 15, 1999


  1. Chronology
  2. Diocese of Rumbek establishes school at Wunlit
  3. Famine still rampant in southern Sudan


June 16: Sudan and Eritrea have agreed on regular meetings to try to resolve disputes between the Red Sea neighbours, Sudanese State Radio Omdurman said. "The joint ministerial committee will hold its first meeting in August," the radio quoted Sudanese foreign minister Mustafa Osman Ismail as saying.

16: Sudanese opposition leaders will meet Egyptian and Libyan officials next month as part of a bid to reach a settlement with the Islamic -backed government in Khartoum, spokesman said. The decision to seek Egyptian and Libyan support was contained in a resolution adopted in Eritrea capital, Asmara, at the end of a five-day meeting of the National Democratic Alliance (NDA).

18: An adviser to Sudan's president said in remarks published that the government and rebels had agreed to defer peace talks aimed at ending a conflict that has killed more than 1.5 million people. A fourth round of negotiations was to have started between the Islamist government and the SPLA.

19: Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi begins a three-day visit to Sudan during which he will have talks with president Omar el-Bashir, Khartoum newspapers said. The privately-owned newspaper Al Rai Al-Aam said Col Gaddafi's talks with Gen. Bashir will cover bilateral relations and regional and international issues.

19: Sudanese army spokesman Mohamed Osman Yassin has denied allegations that opposition forces had taken over Dinder national park in Blue Nile. News organisations quoted him as saying the claim was "a tactic to raise the morale of their fighters" who had "suffered great losses" in the war in the eastern front.

19: The SPLA has confirmed that it had received official word from Kenya's foreign ministry indicating that the next round of peace talks mediated by the Inter-Governmental Authority on Development (IGAD) was scheduled for July 19-24 in Nairobi. President Bashir's advisor for peace affairs Nafi Ali Nafi told the Sudanese News Agency (SUNA) that the postponement of the peace talks with the rebel movement was intended to allow for a broader opportunity for the attainment of peace.

19: The UN World Food Programme (WFP) provided food to nearly 1.5 million beneficiaries throughout Sudan in May to prepare for the beginning of the "most difficult" stretch of the "traditional hunger gap" period, WFP's latest weekly emergency report said. The report said June marked the beginning of the period when the food supply was low and WFP-assisted beneficiaries were "most vulnerable."

June 20: A cholera outbreak has been reported in Nimule and Mogale displaced camps in eastern Equatoria. Forty cases were reported on June 16 but increased to 81 cases and four deaths on June 18.

20: Gaddafi held talks with Sudanese leaders in Khartoum and was due to visit a pharmaceutical factory destroyed by US missiles last year, state radio Omdurman said. Gaddafi said he had come to Sudan to "visit the bunkers of confrontation", the radio said.

21: Gaddafi toured the ruins of El-Shifa pharmaceutical factory, which was destroyed nearly a year ago by US missiles. Gaddafi walked through paved lower areas of the destroyed factory beside President Bashir, who explained what various pieces of debris once had been.

21: The SPLA has dismissed as "propaganda" a report in 'The Indian Ocean Newsletter' that claimed a planned SPLA offensive against the government had been "fine-tuned" by several Rwandan, Burundian and Ugandan officers. The newsletter, dated June 12, also said some SPLA troops were under the supervision of Rwandan, Burundian and Ugandan commanders.

21: WFP has provided food relief to more than 10,200 internally-displaced persons (IDPs) who were recently displaced again as a result of the demolition of their shelters in four Khartoum squatter areas, a recent WFP report said. The food was distributed through the NGO, ADRA.

21: The Saudi-based Islamic Development Bank (IDB) and Sudan have signed agreements that will provide US$ 9.5 million to help address the effects of last year's serious floods in Sudan. SUNA said the IDB will provide a US$ 8.5 million loan to help overcome the effects of the floods while US$ 1 million will finance a project to rehabilitate flood-affected schools, SUNA said.

22: Commuters, politicians and religious leaders in Khartoum are protesting hefty increases in public transport fares, press reports said. Workers and student unions have issued statements protesting the 50 to 75 per cent increases, while some members of parliament are threatening to open debate on the issue in the national assembly if the fare hikes are not dropped.

24: The UN has launched its first humanitarian mission to Sudan's Nuba Mountains region in more than a decade, hoping to assess the needs of people in the rebel-held territory. The team includes officials from UNICEF, the WFP and the UN Humanitarian Co-odinator's Office.

25: A joint Sudanese-Eritrean committee on security is to meet the first week of July in a first round of discussions on normalising bilateral relations, a press report said. The two countries broke off relations in 1994, with Khartoum and Asmara each sheltering the other's opposition groups.

28: Sudan and Britain have agreed to partially restore diplomatic relations after a 10-month hiatus caused by an American missile strike on a Khartoum medical factory, a Sudanese newspaper reported. The state-owned Al-Anbaa newspaper quoted foreign minister Mustafa Osman Ismail as saying the two sides had agreed to re-open their embassies at the level of charge d'affaires.

28: Sudanese political circles regard a recent US Congress report on alleged genocide and ethnic cleansing in southern Sudan a prelude to armed foreign intervention, a newspaper reported. The Al Rai Al-Aaam daily said the ruling National Congress, the pro-government Political Association (Tewali) and an opposition group agreed that the report was "a preparation for a direct international intervention and invasion like what has happened in Kosovo".

28: Iranian foreign minister Kamal Kharazi has indefinitely postponed a planned visit to Sudan.

29: Forces allied to government troops have recaptured a border town in southern Sudan, the pro-government's Alwan newspaper said. "Forces in Jonglei State allied to the armed forces recaptured the strategic town of Akobo on the Ethiopian border."

29: The UN Committee on NGOs has withdrawn the accreditation of a Swiss-based NGO, Christian Solidarity International (CSI), after accusing it of hosting SPLM leader John Garang at the UN Human Rights Commission's annual session in Geneva. CSI earlier this year announced that it had bought the freedom of some 1,050-child slaves in southern Sudan at US $50 per person.

29: The US House of Representatives has approved a resolution condemning the Sudanese government for its "genocidal war in southern Sudan." The resolution was passed by the full House by a vote of 416 to 1. "It is the first time in six years that the full House has passed legislation exclusively on Sudan," a statement from the US Committee for Refugees (USCR), said.

30: The NGO Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW) has said the cease-fire in southern Sudan had been broken in a series of attacks designed to gain control of the area's oil fields. The organisation said that, in the last month, government forces swept through Ruweng County in western Upper Nile region, killing scores of civilians, abducting hundreds and burning over 6,000 homes.

30: Four bombs were dropped on Kajo Keji, of which one fell inside the MSF-Switzerland compound and another on hospital grounds. The bombs, which did not explode, were believed to have been cluster bombs, a UNICEF/OLS report said. Another six bombs were dropped on Yei on the same day, but no casualties were reported.

July 1: Kenya and Sudan are set for a major trade war if Kenya carries out a threat not to allow a consignment of 3,000 metric tonnes of Sudanese sugar into the country. Dr Ali Mansour, a business development consultant for the importers, Sinnar Trading Company, warned that should the consignment of white sugar be re-exported to Sudan, it would initiate a chain of reactions that would lead to a "definite" retaliatory action from the Sudanese government.

1: President Bashir, completing a troubled decade in power, has offered a dialogue with his political opponents and renewed an amnesty offer to rebels. In a televised address, President Bashir reversed the government's previous refusal to summon a national conference on the country's future.

2: Northern Ugandan officials were planning to meet with the Sudanese government over its support for rebels of the Lords' Resistance Army. The semi-official New Vision newspaper of Uganda, quoted Gulu district chairman Walter Ochola as saying his team would travel to Sudan to meet National Assembly speaker Hassan al-Turabi "and tell him to stop supporting rebel leader Joseph Kony's war which is killing innocent people in Acholi".

5: Sudan's central bank, The Bank of Sudan, has stopped dealings in the pound, saying the Dinar was the official currency, the pro-government Akhbar Al-Youm newspaper said. Ten pounds equal one Dinar. "The Bank of Sudan has announced the cancellation of the Sudanese pound," the daily said.

7: Heavy fighting has raged between two pro-government factions in the oil-richUnity State in southern Sudan, both sides have reported. The fighting pits the South Sudan Defence Force (SSDF), led by Riek Machar, chairman of a council ruling the south, against forces of rival warlord Paulino Matip.

8: The Ugandan government and SPLA have denied accusations by Khartoum that they were planning an offensive, along with "allies", against Sudan. "These are the usual lies about Uganda," Uganda's Presidential Press Secretary Hope Kivengere told IRIN. The SPLM termed the accusations a "big propaganda network" and "pure lies".

8: The United Arab Emirates and Sudan have agreed to upgrade diplomatic relations to ambassadorial level after a seven-year gap, the official WAM News Agency reported. It quoted Sudan's foreign minister Mustsafa Osman Ismail as saying that "meetings with officials resulted in an agreement to return the level of diplomatic representation between the two states to ambassadorial level."

10: Sudan said government troops had killed 30 rebels and repelled an attack southeast of the capital of Khartoum, the state Akhbar al-Youm newspaper reported. "At dawn the day before yesterday, outlaw forces attacked the area of Um al-Kheir, west of the Dinder River, and the armed forces repulsed them, forcing them to flee," the daily quoted army spokesman Mohammed Osman Yassin as saying.

12: Sixteen civilians were injured when a group of soldiers attacked customers at a club in Wadi Halfa Town in northern Sudan, a newspaper reported. The Alwan daily said an army lieutenant had a quarrel with a youth in the club, returned to his garrison just outside town and came back with a group of soldiers, who blocked the club's entrance and beat up customers at random with canes and belts.

12: A Sudanese rebel leader said the government wanted to torpedo the opposition's unity as part of its strategy in the country's civil war. "The regime's keenness to talk to several mediators at several fora proves …a desperate attempt to break up our ranks," said Col. Garang.

14: Sudanese troops repulsed an attack by rebel fighters in eastern Sudan killing 47 of them, an army spokesman claimed in published remarks. The clashes took place in the eastern state of Gedaref, some 350 km east of Khartoum, the pro-government daily newspaper, Akhbar Al Youm, quoted the spokesman, Gen. Mohammed Osman Yassin as saying. The claim could not be confirmed independently.

Diocese of Rumbek establishes school at Wunlit

The Diocese of Rumbek has established a primary school in Wunlit, the scene of the recent Dinka/ Nuer Peace Covenant.
The school, initiated in May, is now fully operational and is meant to help boost the spirit of reconciliation set in motion by the covenant signed in March between the two largest southern Sudanese communities. The Wunlit Comboni School, says the Bishop of the Diocese of Rumbek, Caesar Mazzolari, is one of the see's efforts in ensuring lasting peace and reconciliation in the entire southern Sudan.

So far, says the Bishop, the school has only Dinka students but the Nuer are most welcome as it is situated at a common border. The Diocese of Rumbek's other contribution towards the initiative is the admission of both the Dinka and the Nuer to it's Formation Centre in Kitale, Kenya.

The Kitale institution (about 400 kilometres north-west of Nairobi), christened Blessed Josephine Bakhita Formation Centre, is at the exclusive service of the Sudanese. It trains prospective priests, catechists and teachers. The Kitale centre also runs a secondary school programme based on the Kenyan 8-4-4 system of education. Bishop Mazzolari commended the New Sudan Council of Churches for setting in motion the bold move to reconcile the Nuer and the Dinka. The historic Wunlit peace deal was the culmination of a conference held from February 28 to March 8.

A recent press release by the NSCC says the implementation of the covenant "has been quick and extensive on the ground.'' "Thousands of Dinka and Nuer have welcomed each other into shared grazing areas and fishing sites, re-established trade and commerce and erased a no-man's land along their borders,'' adds the press release. Another significant development since the signing of the covenant was the recent NSCC Women's Peace workshop held on June 11-15 in Lokichoggio, Kenya.

The symposium took the participants through the training of the process of reconciliation and conflict resolution. The women expressed their willingness to commit themselves to the already agreed upon resolutions in Wunlit.
The Dinkas and Nuer, both of whom are cattle keepers, have since time immemorial fought almost innumerable battles over grazing land and other grievances.

The Nuers, like most other southern Sudanese communities, accuse the Dinka of seeking to establish a tribal hegemony, courtesy of their numerical advantage and "imagined cultural superiority''. Other ethnic groups in the south include the Didinga, Shilluk, Lotuko, Alur, Azande, Toposa, Mudu, Kakwa, Jur and Bakaa. Since the outbreak of the current phase of the Sudanese civil war in 1983, the tribal animosity between the Dinka and the Nuer has assumed a political angle, with Khartoum tacitly fuelling it to make the southerners perpetually vulnerable pawns.

Besides other consequences, the Khartoum intrigue has occasioned splits and counter-splits in the SPLA since 1992. It is in the same seven-and-a-half years' period that the Dinka-Nuer animosity has been most vicious.

Two years ago, a top SPLA leader, Dr Riak Machar (a Nuer) led a host of disenchanted SPLA factions in re-joining Khartoum. Dr Machar, who now heads the South Sudan Independent Movement, has since been declared the president of southern Sudan by Khartoum. Dr Machar also holds the portfolio of Sudan's second vice-president. He remains an avowed enemy of SPLA supremo John Garang.

Charles Omondi

Famine still rampant in southern Sudan

Though not as grave as last year, the hunger situation is still prevalent in most parts of southern Sudan, the Bishop of the Diocese of Rumbek Caesar Mazzolari says.

Speaking in Nairobi on return from an extensive tour of the Sudanese Catholic see, Bishop Mazzolari said rainfall has been scanty this year, leading to crop failure in the Bahr el Ghazal region. The situation, he added, has further been compounded by the invasion of army worms.

The army worms are a type of caterpillars, which travel in vast hordes and are a serious pest of cereal crops. They thrive best in dry conditions and have this year affected several parts of Eastern Africa.
The Bishop said the UN relief organisations in the region were doing a commendable job trying to keep hunger at bay.

About the army worms, the Comboni clergy said he was not aware of any organisation that was involved in stemming their invasion but hoped that soon action would be taken.
Last year, famine in Sudan put about 2.6 million people at risk of starvation. Though largely blamed on a two-year drought caused by the El-Nino phenomenon, analysts hold that the famine had a lot to do with human action.

The Bishop observed that the Diocese had on the whole experienced tremendous growth. The school at Rumbek for instance, now has a population of 750 from an initial number of 250.He said arrangements have had to be made to accommodate learners from more distant locations.
This, Bishop Mazzolari attributed to the closing down of several public schools.

“At Marial Lou, we have had to stop any further admissions, as our school can no longer cope,'' he said.
Other places with the diocesan schools include Yirol, Majak and Wunlit.

The diocese has also expanded its health provision facilities. At Rumbek, the Malteser Camp hospital is operational, leprosy and TB patients are now being attended to at Marial Lou, two dispensaries have been opened at Yirol while plans are underway to open another centre at Angagrial.

The Diocese of Rumbek has opened a new base at Malwal Kon where it hopes to open a school soon.
Between June 14-18, Bishop Mazzolari confirmed 1,500 children in western Bahr el-Ghazal. He says his journey was of immense enrichment for the church as he was accompanied by the representatives of two congregation- Salesian of Don Bosco and Our Lady of the Trinity.

A member of the Salesian, Fr. James Pulickal, is expected to establish a mission at Tonj.
Our lady of the Trinity group sent a sister, a priest and a lay woman to assess the needs at Malwal Kon. They are expected to send one member of the congregation to work in the diocese.
The Bishop was full of praise for the spirit of co-operation that now exists between the church and the civil authority. “Everywhere I visited, I was warmly welcomed by the civil authority who spent much time to discuss with me the hopes and the problems in their respective areas.
The governor of Bahr el Ghazal Cdr. Abraham Nhial Deng and commissioner for Rumbek Paul Mayom, for instance, attended the dedication of the Malteser Camp hospital.''

Charles Omondi

July 13, 1999

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