Sudan Monthly Report

Current issue
September 15, 1999


  1. Chronology
  2. Floods compound fight against famine
  3. Forum to discuss Sudan
  4. Church grows against many odds


August 16: A Libyan emissary is due to arrive in Khartoum to discuss a bid by Tripoli to reconcile the Sudanese government and the opposition, Sudanese foreign minister Mustafa Othman Ismail said. Mr. Ismail reiterated his government's acceptance of Libya's five-point initiative and called on the opposition to do likewise.

16: State-owned Sudan Airlines has resumed a once-weekly flight to Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa after a four-year suspension, thanks to improving relations between the two countries, officials said. Ethiopia cancelled all flights between the two countries in September 1995, as part of sanctions against the Sudanese government, which it accused of involvement in a June 1995 attempt to assassinate Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak in Addis Ababa.

16: Sudanese assistant president Riek Machar is ready to step down in protest at Khartoum's failure to implement a 1997-peace pact, an aide said. Dr. Machar, who is also set to quit his post as South Sudan Co-ordination Council (SSCC) chairman, has dissociated himself from responsibility for the “imminent collapse'' of the peace agreement signed between him, other rebel leaders and the government.

18: An independent Arabic daily, Khartoum's al-Rai al-Akhbar, has been suspended for one week with immediate effect by the national Press Council for running an opinion article critical of the internal policies of the government. The opinion, written by an advocate, Mr. Bedawi Tajo, accused the government of creating an atmosphere conducive to international intervention in Sudan's internal affairs.

20: The Sudanese government has demanded that the United States admit that its attack on a Khartoum pharmaceutical plant last year was a “mistake” based on false allegations it was producing chemical weapons. Information minister Ghazi Salah Edin Atabani also told a press conference on the eve of the anniversary of the missile raid that Khartoum was renewing a demand for an international fact-finding commission to examine the allegation.

23: The SPLA has accused the UN of laxity in finding the truth about Khartoum's alleged use of poisonous chemicals in air raids against rebels. “We have received reliable information that the UN headquarters in New York objected to the investigations taking place because of pressure from the National Islamic Front government,” the SPLA said in a statement.

23: The Sudanese government is planning a committee to organise national dialogue conference to promote reconciliation in the civil war-racked country, the independent newspaper Al-Rai Al-Aam reported.

24: The SPLA killed four policemen during a weekend attack on a police post near the Ethiopian border, an independent newspaper reported. “The police force at Khor Adar post, consisting of 47 policemen, repulsed the attack with courage,” the daily al-Rai-al Aam quoted police spokesman Major General al-Tayeb Abdel Rahman Mukhtar as saying. “Four policemen were martyred.”

24: A joint Sudanese Eritrean security committee set up to ease border tension began meeting in the eastern Sudanese border town of Kassala, the government-owned Al-Anbaa newspaper reported. Eritrea, a country preoccupied by its conflict with Ethiopia, is keen to end tension with neighbouring Sudan, which itself is trying to mend fences with several of its neighbours.

24: NDA secretary-general Mubarak al-Mahdi was quoted by Akhbar Al-Youm daily as saying that preparations for a dialogue with the government were progressing well. Mr. Mubarak said the way toward a dialogue had begun with a meeting in Geneva in May between opposition leader Sadek al-Mahdi, a former Sudanese prime minister, and National Congress (NC) secretary-general Hassan al-Turabi.

25: Sudan information minister Ghazi Salahuddin will lead a government-approved delegation in peace talks with opposition parties, a government newspaper reported. The meeting will aim to prepare for a national dialogue conference to promote reconciliation in Sudan's 16-year civil war.

26: A prominent northern Sudanese politician has urged president El-Bashir to end the country's 16-year-old civil war by letting the south secede, the independent Al-Sahafa newspaper reported. It quoted Mr. Musa Dirar, a member of the NC in parliament, as saying it would be better for the south and the north to live as good neighbours.

27: Sudan government and an opposition alliance will meet in Cairo on September 13 to prepare peace talks in Sudan, a Libyan diplomat said. “The upcoming preparatory delegation meeting in Cairo...will lay the basis for the national dialogue conference,” Mr. Suleiman al-Shahoumi, a leader of an Egyptian-Libyan team trying to end Sudan's 16-year-old civil war, said.

28: President Bill Clinton has named Harry Johnson of Florida special envoy to Sudan, a US-branded supporter of terrorism. Johnston, a Democrat, chaired the House Foreign Affairs Committee's subcommittee on Africa when he was in Congress. As envoy, he will press Sudan to improve its human rights record.

30: The Sudanese opposition has reportedly declared its adherence to the Egyptian-Libyan initiative to solve the crisis in Sudan, the Egyptian news agency MENA said. It said that during a meeting of opposition leaders Al-Mahdi of the Ummah Party and Garang of the SPLA) in Cairo, they had stressed that a "political solution" was one of the options for the Sudanese opposition to resolve the current crisis in Sudan.

September 1: The Executive Board of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) has lifted its 1990 declaration of non-cooperation with Sudan citing the country's commitment since February 1997 to a "schedule of payments" to the organisation and its progress in "implementing macroeconomic and structural policies." An IMF statement said the board also decided that it could consider lifting the suspension of Sudan's voting and related rights.

2: Sudan has sent an inaugural shipment of 600,000 barrels of crude oil to Singapore, news agencies said. BBC quoted president El-Bashir as saying the exports were a reward from God for "Sudan's faithfulness". He dismissed threats by rebels that they would blow up the newly-opened 1600-km pipeline.

2: Sudan's external relations minister Mustafa Uthman Ismail said his government was not in a hurry to issue a decision or statement on the recent appointment of US envoy to Sudan. Sudan "would monitor his movements and watch what happened in the corridors of the Congress and the American administration and would only then take appropriate measures in line with its national interests," Sudanese television reported..

3: The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies have appealed for funds and material support for more than 100,000 people in need of urgent assistance as flooding worsens in Sudan. A Federation statement received by IRIN said it had launched a 1.2 million-Swiss franc appeal to support relief operations.

3: Poor weather conditions reportedly continued to impede humanitarian operations in Bahr el Ghazal, an Operation Lifeline Sudan (OLS) report said. Distributions and assessments in Madhol, Marial Bai, Wuncum, Midel, Akon and Alek all in Bahr el Ghazal were cancelled due to heavy rains that have flooded drop zones. It also noted that the road from Kaya on the Ugandan-Sudan border northwards into western Equatoria remained closed to OLS agencies following bombings in that.

3: WFP will provide food aid for nearly 30,000 people in eastern Chad, including Sudanese refugees, WFP reported. The US $2.6-million project will provide 2,590 mt of cereals, beans and oil for distribution by UNHCR to 23,000 Sudanese refugees and 6,500 Chadians.

6: Increasing incidences of armed crime in Kenya could be linked to an illegal trade in weapons involving the SPLA, Uganda's pastoralist Karamajong warriors and Kenyan traders. The weapons, consisting mainly of AK-47 rifles, grenades and ultra-light G3A3 automatic guns, originating from the SPLA-controlled southern Sudan and are trafficked through Karamajo region in Uganda to West Pokot in north-western Kenya.

6: Sudan is fully committed to a Libyan-Egyptian initiative aimed at reconciling the government and its opponents, newspapers quoted information minister Salahuddin as saying. “We are prepared to participate in the preparatory meeting of the national dialogue conference at any time and place requested by the other side,” Mr Salahuddin said, according to the pro-government daily Akhbar Al-Youm.

8: Sudan's junta has complained that Washington had named a special envoy without consulting Khartoum, a move it said could “confuse” aid operations. In a statement, a government spokesman said that Khartoum had “voiced its reservation over the improper manner in which the US envoy has been appointed without consulting it”.

9: Kenyan presidential envoy to the Inter-Governmental Authority on Development (IGAD), Daniel Mboya, has left Khartoum for Norway to discuss issues relating to the next round of IGAD-mediated peace talks, scheduled for September 24 in Nairobi. An official at the Kenyan foreign ministry said Mboya received an invitation from the IGAD Partners' Forum in Norway requesting him to pass through Khartoum before proceeding to Norway.

9: Sudan's Energy Minister Awad Elijaz has invited foreign firms to invest in the development of the country's oil fields, news organisations reported. He reportedly told journalists that there are indications of oil in each of Sudan's 26 states. "These reserves could be large.

9: A joint needs assessment team comprising WFP staff from the northern and southern sectors have carried out a mission in five locations along the lower Sobat river corridor where they noted "fewer than expected" people in some locations, indicating recent population movement. An Operation Lifeline Sudan (OLS) southern sector report said the locations visited included Baliet, Adong, Abwong, Guel Achel and Dini in the Unity, Upper Nile and Jonglei areas.

9: The international NGO, Action by Churches Together (ACT), is appealing for some US $82,255 to assist over 100,000 people in urgent need of humanitarian assistance following the current floods in several parts of Sudan. ACT says the floods_which have resulted from the "unusually heavy" rains have damaged and destroyed more than 20,000 homes, drinking water sources and latrines. This was posing "serious health hazards", especially in the form of malaria and diarrhoeal diseases.

10: Two Sudanese MPs have concluded a five-day visit to Uganda in which they talked to victims of abductions by the rebel Lord's Resistance Army (LRA). The two were "physically shocked" at what they saw and heard, a UNICEF official told IRIN. "At the end of the visit, they were convinced that the humanitarian aspect of the insurgency should be separated from the political aspect," he said.

10: Col.Garang is ready to meet president El-Bashir to end 16 years of civil war, a top ruling party official has said. Mr Mutasem Abdul Rahim, the secretary of the NC in Khartoum, announced that Col. Garang sent a message to the government to say he was willing to hold talks.

10: A team of Sudanese Members of Parliament who have been in Uganda have offered to help in the retrieving and repatriation of Ugandan children held captive by the LRA in southern Sudan. The decision by the Sudanese MPs follows an on the spot assessment of the situation in northern Uganda.

14: Commander Kerubino Kuanyin Bol, the man who fired the first shot of the 1983 rebellion that gave birth to SPLA, has been killed by a rival group in southern Sudan, the pro-government Alwan daily reported. Quoting what it called its “special source”, the paper said Bol was killed at Wankai by an officer who had broken away from a government-supported militia headed by major General Paulino Matip.

14: The International Monetary Fund loaned its member states a record US$30.5 billion in the financial year that ended April 30, but now believes the worst of the world's economic problems are over. Sudan, with a gross national product of some US$7.9 billion, owed IMF some US$1.57 billion on April 30 and was the biggest single debtor in terms of overdue payments.

Floods compound fight against famine

Floods are wreaking havoc in the Southern Sudanese counties of Gogrial, Awil and Kuajok. Belated annual heavy rains have pounded the affected regions since the beginning of August, further compounding the fight against hunger in the expansive African State.

Speaking in Nairobi on arrival from Sudan on September 14, the Catholic Bishop of Rumbek Diocese, Monsignor Caesar Mazzolari, said hundreds of acres of farmland have been immersed in the flood waters, leaving no doubt about continued famine in the affected areas.

“Low crops like groundnuts, potatoes and vegetables are completely covered while the tall ones like maize and sorghum are sticking out of the flood waters with little or no promise of a good harvest,'' Bishop Mazzolari said.

Most of the affected crops were due for harvesting in October. The Comboni clergy said that relief operations have been greatly hampered, as the dirt airstrips have been rendered unlandable. “Relief organisations now have to airdrop food, which more often than not land in areas inaccessible to the people in need,'' explained the clergy.

So far, however, the flooding has not caused mass displacement of people since the villages are mostly on higher grounds.

Bishop Mazzolari said that though the rains were on the decline, the affected people still faced three to four weeks of very difficult times.

He said several monitors from different NGOs were on the ground and all people of goodwill should try to get in touch with them to explore ways and means of containing the situation.

Accompanying the Bishop were eight members of the Selesian Missionaries from Turin, Italy. The Selesians, Bishop Mazzolari said, have pledged to support education projects in the Southern Sudanese region.

Prospects for a repeat of last year's famine in Sudan became apparent in the first half of the year when delayed rains forced the local people to plant up to four times.

At some stage, the vicious armyworms invaded vast cropland, reducing everything to the ground. A worst famine in Sudan in a decade last year affected an estimated 2.6 million people. Though the disaster prompted the largest humanitarian relief operation in the history of the United Nations Organisation, it still claimed thousands of lives.

On security, Bishop Mazzolari said the situation was stable as the wet weather conditions had made it difficult for the warring factions to conduct any offensives.

He, however, pointed out that the horrifying effects of the civil war were apparent everywhere. “Tales of slavery, torture, hard labour and other forms of human rights abuses were commonplace,” he said. Charles Omondi

Forum to discuss Sudan

The Italian Campaign for Peace and the Respect of Human Rights in Sudan is organising an International Forum on the Sudanese situation. The Forum, Peace Perspectives For Sudan: A Rebirth of The Civil Society, will take place in Milan, about 600 kilometres north of Rome, on September August 17-18.

The September Forum aims at creating awareness on the role of the Sudanese civil society in the search for peace and the respect of human rights.

It will be organised in three working sessions to address different topics; analysis of the historical and geopolitical dimensions, action for the promotion of human rights and proposals for a sustainable solution to the conflict.

Each session will be introduced by a non-Sudanese keynote speaker followed by testimonies offered by representatives of the Sudanese civil society and members of associations and grassroots groups, operating for peace, inside and outside Sudan.

At the end of each session, there will be a debate with interventions of NGOs that operate in the country.

The forthcoming get-together is part of a wider initiative christened Sudan: People without Rights that will be concluded in a March for Peace from the Italian towns of Perugia to Assisi on September 26, after an Assembly of the United Nation of Peoples.

The campaign is promoted by a group of associations, Non-Governmental Organisations and Italian information organs (Pax Christi, Acli, Amani, Arci, Caritas, Cesvi, Cuore Amico, Mani Tese and Nigrizia) that have been for a long time involved in solidarity initiatives with the peoples of the South, particularly in Africa.

The campagin has been active since April 1995, with the aim of supporting the peace process and the respect of human rights in the African state that has been ravaged by war for decades. It has promoted a wider and better information on the Sudanese situation, to involve the public opinion, through the use of media and the collection of 50, 000 signatures on the initial document.

The Italian initiative has organised meetings to discuss the situation in Sudan, inviting, whenever possible, meaningful representatives of the Sudanese civil society.

At more concrete level, the campaign offers humanitarian help, supporting the people of the Nuba Mountains- an area which is excluded from any international humanitarian intervention.

Though geographically part of the North, the inhabitants of the Nuba Mountains have chosen to be part of the South in the protracted Sudanese conflict. Khartoum has refused to recognise the Nuba stand and has excluded the region from the jurisdiction of the Operation Lifeline Sudan, the UN agency that co-ordinates relief operations in the south.

Last June, Khartoum granted the UN permission to send a team to assess the humanitarian needs in Nuba Mountains regions held by the SPLA.

The team comprised officials from Unicef, the World Food Programme and the UN Co-ordinator's office. Charles Omondi

Church grows against many odds

On the occasion of the reception of His Lordship the Bishop of Diocese of Rumbek, Caesar Mazzolari, in Gogrial County, the local Christian community took the chance to express their gratitudes and update him on the progress the church had made in the face of numerous bottlenecks. Their speech is re-printed below:

We, the Christian communities in this county, have a great pleasure to congratulate you and members of your delegation for the accomplishment of your missionary journey to our land. We welcome you particularly to the Liet-Nhom of Toich Payam.

Your decision to visit us is highly appreciated as it is of great significance to our Christian life. First, no religious leader of your calibre has visited this part of our county since the first baptism of our elders in 1910. It is a glorious renewal of our lives received from Your Lordship.

We welcome and thank you and members of your delegation for coming to share with us in the numerous hardships that we face. The visit, coming at a time of the year when there are mosquitoes, heavy rains and other envrionmental hazards, demonstrates your commitment to nourishing your people both materially and spiritually.

Secondly, the missionary journey is an accomplishment of our Lord's desire to save lives of people still in darkness. The visit also confirms the sustainability of rehabilitation of souls and promotion of faith in the land.

Your Lordship, may we assure you that even though our lives have been threatened by the government-sponsored militias, we have never forget our Lord's saying that he gave up his life for us. In the light of this Your Lordship, we have undertaken the following in different parts of our county;

a) Pathuou Payam
Nine chapels have been constructed at Yiik-Adoor, Angeerngeer, Madiang Biong, Makuer, Mayom, Luonyaker, Mawut Anaiyer, Mayen Rual and Wun Abiei. Only two catechists serving at Yiik are trained..

b) Toich Payam
Eight chapels have been constructed at Liet-Nhom, Pan Acier, Ajogo, Thiek Thou, Ruot Tur and Tarweng. Untrained catechists serve all of them.

c) Kuajok Payam
Three chapels have been constructed at Ajiep, Weel and Mayang. These too are served by untrained personnel. The total manpower comprises 32 trained and untrained catechists. Those working with the Catholic Relief Service in the county are 13.

In the light of these Your Lordship, the churches in this county are requesting for services such as education , health, church library and humanitarian relief.

We remain Your Lordship with happiness you brought us in form of spiritual strength and soul enrichment.

Joseph Jok Manyok
Secretary, Catholic Relief Services
On behalf of Christian community
Diocese of Rumbek.

Bethany House, P. O. Box 21202, Nairobi, Kenya
tel. +254.2.577595 or 577949, fax 577327

For further information, please contact:
Fr. Kizito, SCIO, tel +254.2.577595 - fax +254.2.577327 - e-mail:

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