July 16: The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) said that it has withdrawn its representatives from a clinic in a southern Sudan village after one of its planes was damaged by a bomber. Juan Martinez, spokesman for the ICRC, said he was unable to confirm allegations that the bomber belonged to the Sudanese military or that the Red Cross clinic nearby was severely damaged.
16: Sudan has been selected to represent Africa as a non-permanent member of the UN Security Council, amid strong opposition from Washington. The 53 African nations picked Sudan over Mauritius and Uganda, to succeed Namibia on the Council for a two-year term beginning January.
17: Sudanese and Ugandan delegations are expected to hold reconciliation talks in the US city of Atlanta under the auspices of former US president Jimmy Carter, foreign ministry officials said. The Sudanese delegation led by Junior Foreign Minister Ali Abdel Rahman Nimeiri left for Atlanta in the southern state of Georgia, Carter's home state, they added.
17: President Hosni Mubarak has received a message from his Sudanese counterpart Omar el-Bashir on the present situation in Sudan especially in the eastern and southern regions, said Sudanese foreign minister Dr Mustafa Uthman Ismail following his meeting with the president. President Mubarak asserted the importance of promoting bilateral relations and of good preparations for the joint ministerial committee meeting to be held in September.
17: SPLA leader John Garang says the Sudan government is “in a crisis” after failure of a three-month offensive against rebels in the south and part of the north. In a telephone interview from southern Sudan, Garang said the crisis in the government had led to the dismissal of two key ministers and prevented President Bashir from travelling to an OAU summit in Togo.
18: Thousands of Sudanese are fleeing into neighbouring Uganda to escape fighting in their country's civil war, the UN refugee agency said. Since mid-June, when fighting intensified in the 17-year conflict, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees has registered at least 5,0000 refugees from Africa's largest nation, said Ms Bushra Jofar , the agency's spokeswoman in Kampala.
19: President Bashir has met top security and defence officials to launch a stronger government response to recent attacks by southern rebels, a newspaper said. The daily Al-Anbaa said Bashir chaired a joint meeting of the security and national defence councils to raise the level of mobilisation around the country following gains by the SPLA.
19: The government in Khartoum has “concrete evidence” that Eritrea is helping Sudanese rebels plan an offensive in eastern Sudan, a Sudanese official charged in remarks published in Khartoum. The Eritrean government “is involved in a military plan targeting east Sudan” in reprisal for Khartoum's alleged support for Ethiopia in its war with Eritrea, eastern Sudan's Kassala State governor Ibrahim Mahmud Hamid said.
19: Intermediate Technology Development Group's (ITDG) Shambob Brick Producers Co-operative Society (SBPCOOP) of Kassala, Sudan, has been selected as one of the winners of this year's Dubai International Award for Best Practices. The award is given to successful programmes and projects that have made positive contribution to improvement to the quality of life in cities and communities around the world.
24: President Bashir has accused aid organisations of helping southern rebels and has threatened to end their operations, newspapers reported. “The Sudanese government is to reconsider the operations of the Lifeline programme and all the international organisations working in the field of relief in the south and to close Sudan's airspace to relief planes specialising in providing support for the rebel movement,” he was quoted as saying.
24: China's largest oil producer, China National Petroleum Corp. (CNPC), has completed oil exploration and construction projects valued at USD 1.5 billion in the Sudan, which is the largest ever oil projects constructed outside China by China, an official with CNPC, confirmed. The oil projects in the Sudan include oil exploration projects, construction of oilfield infrastructure and refinery, and building pipeline for crude oil transmission.
26: Sudanese rebels have said the government had stepped up bomb attacks on rebel-held areas of the south after a limited cease-fire accord came to and end. The main rebel group, SPLA, said government bombers had raided a string of towns and villages in the southern province of Bahr el-Ghazal, where a two-year-old truce expired.
26: The Sudanese government has made it mandatory on planes working for relief organisations and agencies and the Operation Lifeline Sudan to obtain clearance from the government to allow them transport relief supplies to the affected people in the south. The move is seen as a measure that would step up the surveillance of relief organisations and settle the issue of how the government should relate to them.
26: Sudanese finance and national economy minister Dr Muhammad Khayr al-Zubayr left for Washington to take part in the meetings of the board of directors of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) from July 28-31. He will also attend the meetings of the executive directors of the fund. Dr Zubayr pointed out that the meetings of the board of directors would look into the issue of restoring the membership of Sudan.
27: The foreign minister of Sudan, Mustafa Ismail, and his Vatican counterpart Jean-Louis Tauran have discussed the peace process in the African country, a Vatican spokesman said. Democratisation and the introduction of a multi-party system were also on the two leaders' agenda, said spokesman Joaquin Navarro Valls.
27: The Sudanese government has decided to immediately begin contacts with all international organisations and donor countries with a view to discussing the violations and lack of commitment to the agreed upon conventions governing humanitarian operations which have had the negative effects of prolonging the war and undermining confidence in humanitarian operations in Sudan. In an important meeting held at the Republican Palace, the government decided to implement several special measures to correct the overall course of relief and humanitarian operations in Sudan in the future.
27: The SPLA has accused Khartoum of murdering dozens of civilians in oil-producing regions of southern Sudan as part of a policy of "ethnic cleansing." An SPLA statement received in Cairo said government forces had taken control of the Nayal Dio region, "killing tens of civilian residents and looting a large number of cattle."
28: The repatriation of the first of more than 90,000 Eritreans who fled to Sudan during recent fighting with Ethiopia began with 574 refugees going home. The UN refugee agency said that the next year it would look at the possibility of returning up to 160,000 more Eritrean refugees in Sudan, whose repatriation was suspended when Eritrea went back to war in May.
30: One person was injured in an attack by SPLA on a Unicef boat in southern Sudan, the official Sudan News Agency (SUNA) reported. “A group of infiltrating rebel elements attacked a boat belonging to Unicef at Nagotar on the Sobat River, some 40 km south-east of Malakal,” the official Humanitarian Aid Commission said in a statement released to SUNA.
August 2: Sudan has accused aid groups of providing funds and supplies to rebels fighting the Khartoum government and said it had asked the UN to move its relief operations from Kenya to southern Sudan. The independent al-Ayam newspaper reported that Mr. Gutbi al-Mahdi, minister of social planning, had “notified the UN representative in Khartoum on the government's wish to transfer the activities of the southern sector of OLS which is launched from Lokichoggio airstrip in Kenya to within Sudan”.
5: The SPLA has captured the strategic southern Sudanese railway town of Maker in the Bahr el-Ghazal region, SPLA spokesman Samson Kwaje said. Mr. Kwaje said that Maker, a strategic garrison railway town north of Aweil near the Southern Kordofan region, fell to SPLA forces on August 3, 2000.
5: Two Sudanese army officers were killed in fighting with SPLA, the SPLA said in a statement faxed to The Associated Press in Cairo. The SPLA said its fighters repulsed a government attack on the rebel-held town of Mabaan near the Ethiopian border when it ambushed an army column.
7: Sudanese foreign minister Mustapha Ismail has reaffirmed both the government's opposition to any eventual secession by the southern part of the country and its determination to retain a unified federal system. “The government strongly opposes the secession of the southern part of the country and is determined to keep Sudan a united state based on federal system and a just distribution of wealth and power,” Mr. Ismail told reporters.
7: Uganda has accused Sudan of undermining the December 8, 1999 Nairobi peace accord, and charged that its neighbour had handed over its own nationals disguised as Ugandan children abducted by the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) rebels of Joseph Kony. "These people who were released by Sudan and whom we received with fanfare were mostly Sudanese and they are now living in Sudanese camps,” said Mr. Amama Mbabazi, the minister of state for regional cooperation.
7: An influx of displaced people into Bentiu, the capital of Unity state in war-torn southern Sudan, has greatly strained humanitarian and food aid in the town, government and aid officials said. World Food Programme (WFP) official Makena Walker told Reuters about 20,000 people displaced by recent fighting had reached Bentiu in the last three weeks with thousands of cattle.
7: A Sudanese businessman who has been linked by the American CIA to the world's most wanted terrorist is the leading shareholder in a company that provides security systems to the Houses of Parliament.
Salah Idris, 48, whose pharmaceutical factory in Sudan was flattened by American cruise missiles after it was linked to Osama Bin Laden, the Saudi terrorist, owns 25% of IES, a company specialising in high-technology surveillance and security management.
7: Since 1994 the Sudan-backed LRA has abducted more than 12,600 children in its guerrilla war against Uganda's government. While half of those children are now free, more than 6,000 remain unaccounted for, according to the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF). Four thousand are presumed dead, and reports from returning abductees lead officials to believe 2,000 children remain with the LRA.
8: In recognition of Sudan's progress since 1997 in implementing appropriate macroeconomic and structural policies under staff-monitored programmes, and in making payments to the IMF, the IMF's executive board has lifted the suspension of Sudan's voting and related rights in the IMF, which had been in place since August 9, 1993. The executive board's decision is the second step in the process of de-escalation of the remedial measures that were applied earlier to Sudan.
8: China's state oil giant China National Petroleum Corp (CNPC) is expected to more than double its overseas oil output to around 120,000 barrels per day (bpd) this year, Chinese industry sources said. CNPC produced about 2.5 million tonnes of crude oil in 1999, or 51,000 bpd, up one third from the previous year. Overseas production increases this year would come primarily from the company's operations in Sudan where it is expected to reach 60,000 bpd, from Kazakhstan at 30,000 bpd, and Venezuela at 24,000 bpd, the sources said.
9: Sudanese government warplanes have bombed two rebel-held towns in the south of the country, killing at least seven civilians and narrowly missing a UN relief plane. Russian-built Antonov bombers circled over the towns of Tonj and Mapel in Bahr el Ghazal province and dropped more than a dozen bombs on each location, said Samson Kwaje, spokesman for the SPLA.
9: Sudan, which became a crude oil exporter last year, has begun exporting natural gas, the official Suna reported. It quoted Hassan Ali al-tom, under-secretary at the ministry of energy and mining, as saying the first consignment of the 2,600 tonnes left Port Sudan, the country's main sea outlet, for the international market.
9: The UN announced it had suspended relief flights in southern Sudan, where humanitarian agencies accused the government of stepping up bombing raids on civilian targets. In a statement through its spokesman, UN secretary general Kofi Annan said he was “deeply concerned over the security of humanitarian personnel and facilities belonging to OLS.
10: Khartoum has urged UN secretary-general Kofi Annan to intervene for the resumption of UN relief flights to southern Sudan. Minister of state for social affairs Chuol Deng warned that the UN's decision to suspend relief flights would “add to the suffering'' in the south, where a 17-year civil war is being waged.
10: A statement released by the US Committee for Refugees
condemned the US government for failing to speak out against the government bombing campaign in southern Sudan. It said that the US government had been silent over the bombings because it was working towards increasing diplomatic relations with the Sudan government.
10: The US intelligence community fears new reports may indicate Iraq is financing construction of a Scud missile assembly plant in Sudan, enlisting North Korea's help, ABCNEWS has learned. Sources say North Korean personnel would build and run the plant, with the assembled Scuds to be held in Sudan for Iraq's future use - a prospect that worries US officials.
10: Canadian foreign affairs minister Lloyd Axworthy and minister for international co-operation Maria Minna have condemned the recent escalation of the conflict in Sudan as evidenced by the Government of Sudan's aerial bombing of civilian targets, including aid operations, and the breaking of a humanitarian cease-fire in Bahr el Ghazal by the SPLA.
11: Churches in southern Sudan have strongly condemned Khartoum government's bombardments of civilian targets describing the acts as a “direct violation of international law”. A statement issued jointly by the New Sudan Council of Churches (NSCC) and the Sudan Catholic Bishops' Regional Conference (SCBRC) in Nairobi said they firmly supported the latest condemnation of the Government of Sudan (GOS) by the UN.
11: Sudanese rebels accused the government of launching “terrorist” campaign against civilians in the rebel-held south and said this could cause a humanitarian disaster. The repeated bombing of civilian targets by government warplanes over the last few weeks has forced aid agencies to suspend their operations in southern Sudan.
11: The WFP accused the Sudanese government of deliberately bombing relief facilities in the rebel-held south and said two fresh attacks were carried on August 9. A spokesman for WFP headquarters in Rome said low-flying aircraft had attacked relief facilities at Mapel twice during the day, dropping nine bombs the first time and 11 in the second raid.
13: President Bashir is due to lead Sudan delegation for the Millennium Summit of the UN General Assembly, which is scheduled to be held in New York during September 6 - 8. Sudan permanent envoy to the UN, Al-Fatih Errwa, said in a statement to SUNA that the Millennium Summit, in which more than 120 world leaders are expected to take part, would focus on the report of the UN Secretary General concerning the international organisation's role in the 21st century, challenges facing the international community such as the globalisation issue, environment and combating poverty as well as modernisation of the United Nations.
15: Efforts to provide relief to Sudan will continue despite the suspension of UN flights to the region, Catholic Relief Services said. “Because the areas in which we work can all be reached by road from Kenya and Uganda, CRS can still meet 100 per cent of our programming needs without air support,” said Mr. Thomas Wimber, acting country representative for the group's Sudan office based in Nairobi
Government takes war to the people
The 17-year-old civil conflict in Sudan is assuming an extremely dangerous dimension. The Sudan government has taken the war to the defenceless civilians and there seems to be no room for escape.
Since the beginning of the year, almost innumerable bombs have been dropped in the vast territory held by the Sudan People's Liberation Army (SPLA) in southern Sudan and the Nuba Mountains, killing and maiming defenceless people in their droves and causing massive destruction to property in an environment where deprivation reigns supreme.
Those who have so far been lucky to escape unscathed, have nevertheless had their lives turned upside with their full time engagement now being agonising over the possible next target and how best to dodge the shrapnel-laden monsters.
As you read this, there are thousands of children, women, men and the aged Sudanese who cannot do anything but keep their ears and eyes wide open for the slightest sound of the now very familiar Antonov aircrafts synomous with the crudely-assembled but nevertheless very lethal military hardware. Cultivation, schooling and virtually everything that would pass for a productive engagement in modern day life have ground to a halt- a sure recipe for a severe famine in the months to come.
Domestic animals, dogs, cats and chickens caught in this human tragedy of our century, are equally terrified by the Anotonov and always lead the way to the bunker (specially dug underground bomb shelters) at the critical moment.
Southern Sudanese in exile, and they are in legions, now more than ever before, have to religiously monitor every bit of information filtering from their motherland to be up to date on the latest places to be hit and the casualties.
In the face of all this, the reaction from the rest of the world, and in particular those powerful nations often adept at playing self-appointed prefect role, has been lukewarm, to put it mildly.
In the month of July alone at least 250 bombs were dropped on at least 33 separate attacks on defenceless civilians. Villages, churches, market places, hospitals and schools have all had more than their fair share of the bombs. Not even the compounds hosting the international and indigenous Non-Governmental Organisation (NGOs) have been spared. Perhaps a message by Khartoum to all and sundry that “we are killing our people and you have no business poking your nose”.
Can a military government that has been fighting this war for more than a decade be so consistent in inaccuracy as to keep dropping bombs on the wrong targets? Is it a question of misdirected revenge against a series of humiliating defeats that the government has suffered on the ground? The loss of strategic town of Gogrial in Bahr el-Ghazal region, on June 24, 2000 was a particularly bitter experience to the military regime. It not only reduced the government's territory but also left Wau, the southernmost town with a railway connection with Khartoum, hopeless exposed to the SPLA. Aweil, about 40 kilometres north of Wau, is equally vulnerable now, causing Khartoum sleepless nights.
Could it also be matter of a government trying to divert attention from internal wrangles now threatening its very existence? The ruling clique, led by President Hassan el-Bashir, has since last December been at war with their mentor and Sudan's kingmaker and Islamic ideologue Mohammed Hassan al-Turabi. The wrangles have seen the latter form his own political party, greatly weakening the ruling National Islamic Front. Government's friendly overtures to the opposition in the north seem to have done little to strengthen the government's position.
How about the NGO compounds and aircrafts on humanitarian missions? Have they been hit by accident or by design? On at least four occasions in July, planes on purely humanitarian mission were caught in the crossfire with bombs landing either while they were on the airstrip or just as they were taking off.
Even the most daring pilots are now forced to think twice before venturing into the SPLA territory. Equally apprehensive are the owners of the airlines that have sustained relief operations in the isolated region. The inherent risks on any flight far outweigh the potential gains.
One aircraft was on July 15, 2000 damaged on the ground at Chelkou. An aerial attack on Billing on July 27, 2000 took place when an aircraft on humanitarian mission was on the ground. A day later, a bomb landed 75m from another aircraft that was taking off at Malualkon. In the incident at Billing on July 27, 2000, a pilot jumped off the wing of the aircraft he was refuelling in panic as the bombs dropped. He broke his ankle.
Khartoum has never hidden its discomfort with the humanitarian missions and churches launching their operations from the neutral Kenya ground. However, perhaps apprehensive of the likely world reaction, the government has learned to tolerate them rather than slap a blanket ban on their activities. The government now seem to have found a way out…instilling great fear on any outsiders intending to assist the victims of the war in the south.
The month of August began on a “bombardment” note with Tonj being hit thrice in as many days between August 7-9. At least five lives were claimed in the raids on Tonj. Mapel in the neighbourhood of Tonj has also been hit and so have Lunyaker and Wicok Mankien and Buoth in the Upper Nile region.
Is the world totally helpless before a rogue government out to decimate its own people? Has the world become so used to the Sudanese war that even the most heinous acts in it no longer make any difference? Or is it that those of us charged with the responsibility of informing the world are not shouting loud enough?
For those who may not be aware, Africa's most expansive state has borne the brunt of different phases of a civil war since her independence from the British in 1956. The current phase alone, dating back to 1983, has claimed an estimated 2 million lives, more lives than the Rwanda and Bosnia tragedies combined. Thousands have been dispatched into exile as refugees while an estimated 4 million others eke out a living in their motherland as internally displaced population (IDPs).
Clergy initiate 40-day prayer period
The head of the USA-based National Black Catholic Clergy has initiated a 40-day period of prayer for the African slaves and victims of genocide in Sudan.
Franciscan Father James Goode, who is also the President of the National Black Catholic Clergy Caucus, called on all people of good will to join his prayer service for revival in Sudan which began on August 6 and will end on September 14. The dates correspond to the Feast of the Transfiguration and the Feast of the Triumph of the Cross on the Catholic calendar.
Fr. Goode said in an e-mail message to the Sudan Catholic Information Office in Nairobi: "Our sisters and brothers in Sudan are hurting, oppressed, dying. Many are slaves ...and they are crying out for our help and assistance. We as African American Clergy and Religious and will not remain silent."
Sudan, Africa's most expansive state, remains the scene of a brutal civil war that
has claimed two million lives and has witnessed the rekindling of the black slave trade. A minority regime in Khartoum has been for years trying to Arabise and Islamise the Africans in Sudan who are Christians, moderate Muslims, and practitioners of traditional faiths. As part of its war effort, Khartoum's forces storm African villages, kill the men and take women and children as slaves. The boys tend cattle; the women and girls are raped. Slaves are typically forced to become Muslims.
In July, Father Goode met with Bishop Macram Gassis whose diocese in the Nuba Mountains has been the scene of slave raids and bombings. He read the Bishop's prayer for Sudan to gatherings of the National Black Sisters' Conference and the National Black Catholic Clergy Caucus, who joined his effort. Fr. Goode adopted the idea of a 40-day prayer from a Christian movement for Sudan in South Africa.
Fr. Goode is the founder and president of the National Black Catholic Apostolate for Life. He serves on the board of The Sudan Campaign, a national coalition of rights and religious groups - including the Salvation Army, the Family Research Council, and chapters of the Urban League and the American Jewish Committee. He is also a Board Member of the
American Anti-Slavery Group, which has been credited with placing slavery in Sudan on the national agenda.
On September 9, Fr. Goode will address a gathering at the UN organised by New York City churches and rights groups in memory of those who have perished in Sudan and to protest the West's silence on the genocide of Africans there.
SUDAN CATHOLIC INFORMATION OFFICE
Bethany House, P. O. Box 21102, 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: SCIO@MAF.Org