Sudan Monthly Report

Current issue
February 15, 2001


  1. Chronology
  2. Food deficit alarm sounded
  3. Bishops in plea for more personnel


January 16: Sudan s Islamist government refuses to ratify an international treaty on women s rights as it contradicts national traditions, President Omar el-Bashir said in remarks published. President Bashir told a rally held in Khartoum to celebrate his re-election as president last month that he found parts of the treaty contradicted Sudanese values and traditions, the official Suna news agency reported.

16 The British Archbishop of Canterbury has protested to the government about the destruction of the Episcopal Church Cathedral in Lui, Western Equatoria, southern Sudan. In a letter to the Sudanese ambassador in London, he said the bombing of the church "highlights the continued targeting of undoubted civilian centres by the government of Sudan."

16 The European Commission has approved Euro 15 million (US$14.1 million) to maintain delivery of humanitarian assistance to Sudan. A statement posted on January 15 by the European Community Humanitarian Office (ECHO) said the assistance would aim to reduce morality rates among the most vulnerable sections of the population and to promote increased self-reliance in the war-affected society.

16 The main peace forum for halting Sudan's 18-year-old civil war is not enough by itself to end the suffering of Africa's largest country, Egypt's foreign minister Amr Moussa has said. "Everyone should know that the Sudanese problem will not be solved via the IGAD initiative alone, or IGAD's partners in European and world capitals," Moussa told a seminar at Cairo University.

16 Six Sudanese opposition leaders accused of conspiring with the US to destabilise the Khartoum government are soon to face trial, justice minister Ali Osman Yassin announced. On December 6, 2000, Sudanese state security said in a statement it arrested six members of the opposition National Democratic Alliance (NDA) at a meeting they were holding with Glenns Warren, a diplomat in the US Embassy in Khartoum. The six were identified as Ali el Sayed of the Democratic Unionist Party, Mohammed Suleiman of the out-lawed Higher Council of Trade Unions, Joseph Okelo, the NDA Secretary, Mohammed Mahjoub of the Sudanese Communist Party, Mohammed Widatalla of the Arab Ba'ath Party, and Stance Jimmy, an assistant to the NDA Secretary.

17 A Sudanese has been arrested in Nairobi, Kenya, over the smuggling of Kenyans to Saudi Arabia. He is alleged to have airlifted hundreds of Kenyans to the Middle East to work in dubious jobs.

18 Seven Sudanese opposition members risk the death penalty if they are found guilty of charges of espionage and plotting violence against the government in Khartoum, Sudan s top prosecutor said. The seven members of the NDA were arrested when the authorities raided a meeting in Khartoum with the US diplomat Warren, who was expelled amid renewed tension with the US.

19 Hundreds of horseback militia have looted a Red Cross clinic in an attack on a village in southern Sudan, a spokesman for the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) said. The Arab militia known as Murahaleen, loyal to the government, attacked the village of Chelkou in the far north of Bahr el Ghazal province on January 12, the ICRC's Nairobi-based spokesman Michael Kleiner said.

19 Sudan's judiciary has temporarily freed a newspaper editor jailed for refusing to publish an apology for an article deemed "defamatory", her newspaper Al-Rai Al-Akher reported. "The judiciary ordered the release of Ms (Amal) Abbas temporarily until the appeals court hears the case", said the paper, adding that she was freed after spending a day in Omdurman women's prison near Khartoum.

19 Amid the thunder of outdated mechanical presses, journalists at a Sudanese newspaper hunch over computers to pick foreign news off the Internet. While technology has lagged in some areas, growing access to the Internet, mobile telephones and satellite dishes means Sudan's radical Islamic government cannot hope to keep educated people from peering through new windows on the world.

19 A leading South Sudanese opponent has warned that the South would break away if Khartoum continued the Islamist policies of the past 10 years. Mixing religion with politics is not conducive to the unity of Sudan," former vice president Abel Alier said during a panel discussion at the University of Khartoum.

24 Three passports were seized from one of the eight people alleged to be trading in humans, a Nairobi court heard. The passports were issued in 1979, 1986 and 1996 to Mr. Ali Ahady, his lawyers told the court.

25 The UN under secretary general for humanitarian affairs Tim Franklin has arrived in Khartoum for a five-day official visit to Sudan. He will attend the meetings of the UN- Sudanese technical committee pertaining to the "life line" programme in southern Sudan.

23 Stung by criticism for its role in Sudan s nascent oil industry, Canadian oil company Talisman Energy is turning its attention to providing basic amenities and monitoring human rights abuses in the country s southern war zone. Talisman executives see activities such as providing schools, clinics and water wells as frontline defences against maraunding rebels as well as answering critics at home.

25 Kenya s high court has dismissed a plea by four suspected Sudanese criminals to block government orders requiring them to leave Kenya. Justice J. K Mitey said he was satisfied that the commissioner of police had complied with court orders requiring him to produce in court eight suspects alleged to have been involved in slave trade.

25 The four remaining Sudanese accused in Kenya of trafficking in human beings will now be deported. They lost their bid to be released pending their filing briefs challenging the deportation.

25 Sudan's production of oil would increase to 400,000 barrels per day in the year 2005, compared to the current production of 200,000 barrels daily, said the secretary-general of the ministry of energy and mining, engineer Hasan Ali al-Tawm. He made the remark in a lecture he gave at the University of Khartoum, within the context of a cultural week organised by the faculty of economic studies. Engineer Al-Tawm announced that Sudan's share of oil, which is currently ranges between 40-50 per cent, will increase to 65 per cent by doubling of the oil production

26 US president George Bush has sent a message to Sudanese president Bashir, signaling a possible thaw in relations, a Sudanese newspaper said. The message, due to be presented to Bashir by US charge d affaires in Khartoum, comes in response to goodwill message Bashir sent Bush after he was named US president-elect, the independent al-Rai al-Aam said.

26 Some organisations hostile to Sudan are currently staging a campaign against the country, Sudan s minister of external relations, Dr Mustafa Osman Isma'il, says. He indicated in a press statement that these circles are now reactivating their hostile campaign against Sudan due to a number of reasons, including their intention to distort the image of Sudan before the new American administration and to pave the way for a visit by SPLA leader John Garang to Europe for raising funds for his movement.

26 Ugandan president Yoweri Museveni has said he had been right to send soldiers into Democratic Republic of Congo and he was prepared to send them into Sudan too if necessary. In a speech to mark the 15th anniversary of his rise to power after a lengthy civil war, Museveni said Uganda's military presence in Congo was needed to defeat rebels opposed to his government operating along the border between the two countries.

28 The SPLA has said its forces destroyed three oil wells, a drilling rig and three army camps and killed dozens of government troops in southern Sudan. It said in a statement that its forces had fought government troops in the Altimish district between Wangkai and Miyoum on the Heglig_Miyoum road in western Upper Nile state.

29 Sudan has denied a claim by SPLA that they had destroyed three oil wells and killed dozens of government troops in an attack on southern oil fields. An oil industry source said four government soldiers and 13 rebels had been killed in the fighting.

29 Sudanese minister of state at the ministry of external relations, Gabriel Roric Jur, said there would be a referendum over the status of the south. He told Radio France Internationale, in a broadcast monitored by the BBC on January 27, that a referendum would improve relations between north and south, whatever the outcome.

30 Police fought off an attack by Sudanese rebels on a major highway linking Khartoum with the Red Sea town of Port Sudan, a newspaper reported. Police units guarding the strategic 1,200 km (745-mile) road lost three men and sustained one injury in the attack; the independent al-Sahafa quoted a police spokesman as saying.

31 A federal advisory panel on religious freedom overseas is hoping its findings of mass murder and rape of black Christians in Sudan will prompt the Bush administration to impose tougher sanctions on the East African nation. In its first recommendation to the new administration, the US Commission on International Religious Freedom urged the United States to clamp down on the Sudanese government for atrocities allegedly committed against the country's black Christian minority by the Islamic majority.

February 2 After the presidential and legislative elections, which took place in December 2000, Sudan is preparing for the trade unions elections. In this regard, the leading bureau of the national congress party, led by president Bashir discussed preparations for the trade unions elections and sub committees were formed to follow up this matter.

2 The leader of al-Ummah Party Sadeq al-Mahdi has stressed that his party studied the possibility of taking part in the elections but he postponed taking a decision to this effect until he makes sure of the nature of the elections. The People's Congress party took a similar decision.

2 Canada has sharply protested Sudan's amputations of the right hands and left legs of at least five men convicted of criminal offences. Foreign affairs officials called in Sudan's charge d'affaires in Ottawa, and also expressed concern to the Sudanese government, after human rights groups launched a protest against the five amputations, and 19 more that were on scheduled.

4 A group of 30 Christian Missionaries working in the non-government-held areas in southern Sudan has denounced the war in the region as "immoral and tragic," and appealed for the fighting to stop. "We have come to the unanimous conviction that the situation of war in Sudan at the present stage has become immoral and a tragic farce," the Comboni Missionaries said in a statement after their recent meeting in Nairobi, Kenya, on February 19, 2001.

5 A delegation from the New Sudan Council of Churches (NSCC) has completed a weeklong tour of South Africa, during which they appealed to the South African government to play a greater role in the Sudan crisis. The Catholic Bishop of Diocese of Torit, Paride Taban, led the delegation.

6 A Sudanese defector from the militant Islamic group founded by Osama bin Laden has testified in the trial of four men charged in the 1998 bombings of two US embassies in East Africa. The identity of Jamal Ahmed al Fadl, one of bin Laden's first recruits, was kept secret by prosecutors until his testimony.

8 A Sudanese court imposed crippling fines on two journalists and, when they could not pay them, sentenced them both to prison terms. On February 4, 2001, Amal Abbas and Hassan Ibrahim, editor-in-chief and journalist respectively with the independent daily newspaper Al Rai el Akhar, were fined 15 million Sudanese pounds (approx. US$5,800) each for an article that accused the local authorities in Khartoum state of squandering

8 A former aide to bin Laden testified in the 1998 East Africa embassy bombing trial he was dispatched in 1993 to try to buy uranium, which prosecutors say the terrorist leader wanted for a nuclear weapon. Jamal Ahmed Al-Fadl told jurors that bin Laden was prepared to spend $1.5 million for black-market uranium as part of his holy war, or jihad, against Americans.

9 Russian oil companies have been given the go-ahead in principle to look for oil in eastern Sudan, a press report said. The independent Al Rai Al Aam daily quoted Sudanese energy and mining minister Awad Ahmed al-Jaz as saying a memorandum of understanding has been reached with Russian companies granting those unnamed firms licences to look for oil in two areas of the country, which has an outlet to the Red Sea.

9 An American Muslim leader of Sudanese heritage has been denied the right to attend a meeting on Capitol Hill designed to "galvanise US policy on persecution in Sudan." (The Washington Times, February 8, 2001 A representative of Rep. Frank Wolf (R-VA) told Imam Mohamed Magid of Herndon, Va., that his request to join the meeting in the congressman's office had been denied.

12 Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi has arrived in Khartoum to participate in a two-day third summit of the community of the Sahelian-Saharan states. He told reporters on arrival that he expected the summit to consolidate the projected African union as well as the Sahelian- Saharan community.

13 Armed robbers attacked a bus in western Sudan, killing seven people and wounding five, the independent al-Ayam newspaper reported. The daily said the gang intercepted the bus about 60 km (38 miles) west of al-Fasher, the capital of Northern Darfur state, near the border with Chad.

14 Leaders from the Community Sahelo- Saharan States (COMESA) rose from their third summit meeting in Khartoum, with a declaration supporting moves towards an African union. The "Khartoum Declaration" stressed the importance of the Syrte Declaration adopted by the 36th OAU Summit in Lome, and launched a vibrant appeal to all African states not yet up-to- date with the Union Treaty to sign and ratify it before the next Syrte confab due early next month.

15 Five Sudanese had limbs amputated for armed robbery as the Islamist government resumes a practice applied only once in its 12 years in power, a human rights group and diplomats said. The five men each had their right hand and left foot cut off on January 25 and January 27 at Khartoum s Kober prison where another 19 prisoners were awaiting the same fate, the sources said.

15 African leaders left Khartoum after trumpeted support for Libya, but paid little attention to drought threatening their religion. A closing statement called for Libya to be compensated for years of UN sanctions, which it said should be lifted immediately because the Lockerbie trial has come to a close.

Food deficit alarm sounded

Just slightly over two years since a deadly famine devastated vast parts of southern Sudan, fears abound that a similar scenario could be in the offing again this year.

According to a joint report by the UN World Food Programme and Save the Children (UK) Technical Support Unit (TSU), 62, 000 metric tones (MT) of food aid are required in southern Sudan to save approximately 1.8 million people from starvation.

The report titled; The Food Security Situation in Southern Sudan, stresses that it is very important that the tonnage is provided if the situation is to be kept under control and, hopefully turn things around.

The joint report is a summary of data collected during the 2000-1 Annual Needs Assessment (ANA). The ANA is conducted by WFP Sudan, Southern Sector each September through November in order to capture information about harvest with the aim of appraising the food security situation and projecting the proportion of households and the areas that are likely to be food insecure.

The main objectives of the ANA are

  • Identifying those areas and categories of populations most likely to be food insecure and predict the extent and intensity of food shortage in the coming year.
  • Identifying those populations that will need to enact distress strategies that will harm their productive capacity.
  • Identifying areas of potential surplus and the expected amounts.
In 1998, a famine described as the worst in Sudan in a decade, claimed an estimated 200, 000 lives. Early warnings about an impending disaster, especially from the church circles, largely went unheeded. It was not until July 1998, when the United Nations put the affected population at 2.6 million out of 27 million Sudanese that serious action began.

A major turning point in the 1998 famine revolved around former Dinka warlord Kerubino Kuanyin Bol. Kerubino, who was later killed in mysterious circumstances in Western Upper Nile, had for years been armed and supplied by the government to unleash terror on fellow Dinkas He rejoined the SPLA in January 1998, and tried unsuccessfully to capture Wau, the second largest town in the south.

Fearing that Khartoum would take revenge on them, some 100,000 Dinka and Jur fled Wau and the surrounding areas, heading straight into rural areas where some 250,000 people were already at risk of famine because of drought and effects of war.

In a characteristic style, Khartoum government went ahead and slaughtered hundreds of civilians who did not flee Wau in the days following the fighting. To further punish these perceived enemies of the government and their sympathisers, Khartoum on February 4, 1998 slapped a ban on all relief flights into Bahr El Ghazal, worsening an already bad situation.

It was not until after two months, on March 31, 1998, that Khartoum succumbed to international pressure and lifted the ban. By this time, the victims of famine were no less than one million.

In a desperate attempt to contain the situation, the world embarked on the largest food delivery system programme in history. The Sudan operation surpassed the famous 1948 Berlin airlift, which sustained the then West Germany city during an 11-month Soviet blockade. At that time, aircrafts sometimes landed or took off every 90 seconds.

The efforts were, however, encumbered by a host of obstacles, including soldiers who diverted the relief food and redistributed it as they pleased.

The causes of the current food deficit, according to the joint report, are mostly human and are largely the same as the ones behind the 1998 disaster.

The overall food security situation in southern Sudan has deteriorated as the ravages of the war, causing displacement, raiding, looting and hindering humanitarian access continue, the report says.

The imminent famine is further blamed on prolonged drought that affected the Greater Horn of Africa (GHA) region. Late and erratic rainfall led to poor harvests especially of sorghum, the staple food in southern Sudan.

In case of Sudan, the drought experienced in Ethiopia and northern Kenya, affected mostly the southeastern corner, causing serious food shortfalls in Eastern Equatoria. Another part of Sudan with a precarious food situation is Western Upper Nile where fighting near the oil fields led to massive displacement of populations, mainly members of the Nuer ethnic group.

In Bahr el Ghazal region, the food crisis is mainly attributable to the insecurity most rampant along the railway line that passes between Aweil West and East. To facilitate the movement of the train from Khartoum to Wau and back, the government usually arms Arab militias to protect it by driving away the native populations from the areas bordering the railway line. The militiamen usually kill and plunder the people and capture some of their children, women and girls as war booty.

On a more positive note, the report takes cognisance of gains made in some areas. It points out Many households in Gogrial and Twic counties, for example, have been able to acquire assets thus improving their long term food security.

The traditionally food secure Western Equatoria is again expecting surpluses in the range of 40-000-50,000 MT. Several co-operatives, the report says, have been set up in the area to help the farmers market part of their bumper harvest grain. Purchase of part of this surplus, the report points out, would boost the local economy and encourage further development in the region.

Equally encouraging is the significant increase in markets and market activity in southern Sudan. According to the report, the increase is especially true in Bahr el Ghazal region. Specific areas that recorded increased market activity are identified as Warawar in Aweil East, Mayen Rual in Gogrial County and Rumbek Town.

Rise in commercial activity in Rumbek is attributed to the increased UN presence that has worked to link Uganda with southern Sudan and help move some of the grain surpluses from Western Equatoria to deficit areas. Warawar on the other hand, links Northern Bahr el Ghazal with the government towns in the North, two regions with a lot of products to exchange.

In the Upper Nile, however, market activities continued to be encumbered by the insecurity revolving around the exploitation of oil.

Bishops in plea for more personnel

The Catholic Bishops serving in the non-government controlled parts of Sudan have appealed for more pastoral agents to help them serve their flock more effectively.

The appeal was contained in the pastoral priorities spelt out during the six bishops week-long annual meeting in the Kenyan capital, Nairobi.

Bishop Joseph Gasi Abangite, of Tambura Yambio, who is also the president of the Sudan Catholic Bishops Regional Conference (SCBRC), chaired the meeting. Bishop Macram Max Gassis of El-Obeid assisted him. Bishop Macram is SCBRC s vice president.

Other bishops in attendance were Paride Taban of Torit, Erkolano Lodu Tombe of Yei, Caesar Mazzolari of Rumbek and Johnson Akio Mutek, who is the Auxiliary Bishop of Torit.

They noted that inadequacy of pastoral agents has continued to stunt the growth of Christianity in their vast territory, several parts of which remain with neither a priest nor a catechist.

The Catholic bishops further appealed for additional funding to help them train more Sudanese for various pastoral ministries.

The bishops also identified as a priority the need to embark on an all-encompassing catechetical programme, reaching out to children, the youth, adults, military personnel, intellectuals, politicians, people in their traditional settings, the sick and all the marginalised groups.

The January 22-27, 2001 meeting brought together all the bishops ministering in the war zone for the first time since last October when they took part in the canonisation of Josephine Bakhita, the first Sudanese saint, in Rome, Italy. Saint Bakhita, a Sudanese slave girl, who took her vocation in Italy, was canonised by Pope John Paul II, on October 1, 2000.

Other matters discussed at the Nairobi meeting included the controversial issue of slavery in Sudan, the on-going resettlement of thousands of Sudanese youngsters in the USA, the bombing of civilians in the non-government territory and the exploitation of Sudan s oil resources. These, observed the bishops, have serious implications and need to be addressed with more devotions by all the stakeholders.

Last year, Khartoum attained an all-time high record in bombardment of civilian targets in the 18-year-old civil war. Analyst attributed the development that claimed many lives and caused much destruction to property, to the government s newly acquired wealth from oil exports.

The bishops had a chance to exchange views with representatives of the major Catholic agencies with programmes in Sudan.

Ambassador Daniel Mboya, the special envoy for regional Inter-Governmental Authority on Development (Igad), briefed the bishops on the progress attained so far in the peace negotiations between the Khartoum government and the SPLM/A.

For inquiries, contact

The Editor,

Sudan Catholic Information Office (SCIO)

Tel 254-2-577949/ 577616/ 577595
Fax 254-2-577327


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