Sudan Catholic Information Office
P.O.Box 21102 - Nairobi - Kenya
Tel. 00254 - 2 - 562247
fax. 00254 - 2 - 566668
SCIO, April 15, 1999
Sudan Monthly Report
April 15, 1998
2. Dinka, Nuer in peace and reconciliation deal
3. Sudanese Christian tradition deserves respect
March 16: A Sudanese official dismissed as "unfounded" allegations
by the UN Children's Fund of continued slavery in Sudan and
challenged Unicef to provide names of sellers, buyers and victims.
Mr. Ali Ahmed al-Nasry, the chairman of a government-appointed
committee investigating allegations of women and child
enslavement, said Unicef was seeking to weigh in on UN human
rights rapporteur who is preparing a report on Sudan, according to
the Suna news agency.
19: Sudan has protested a UN agency claim that slavery is
increasing in the African country, the official news agency reported.
The foreign ministry summoned Unicef"s representative in
Khartoum after Carol Bellamy, head of the UN children's fund, said
Sudan's 16-year civil war led to an upsurge in "grotesque practices"
such as slavery, it said.
20: Sudan's adherence to Islam is in the root of many of its
problems, president Omar el-Bashir has said at a recruitment rally,
while vowing that Khartoum would continue to defend the faith at
all costs. "Sudan bears all forms of sanctions, problems and wars
due to its raising the banner of la ilah alla Allah (there is no god but
Allah)," Gen. Bashir said at Marinu in Sennar State, according to
23: Ugandan president Yoweri Museveni and Rwandan leaders
have said their adversaries are Sudan and the Rwandan
interahamwe militia. At a press conference following Museveni's
visit to Kigali, the Ugandan president said the "crucial element" in
the Great Lakes conflict was "Sudanese terrorism and the
24: Sudan has said it wanted to see Egypt admitted to the
international forum, which is attempting to resolve the conflict
between the government and the SPLA. Sudanese junior foreign
minister Ali Abdel Rahman Nimeiri told the official Suna news
agency his government would seek to admit Egypt into the
Inter-Governmental Authority on Development (IGAD), in view of
the "common interests" of Sudan and Egypt.
24: President Bashir has left Khartoum for Saudi Arabia to take
part in the hajj, or Islamic pilgrimage, to Mecca, palace officials
said. President Bashir was accompanied by his presidency affairs
adviser Mr. Ahmed Ali el-Imam, they said.
24: The Sudanese government relief workers have distributed more
than 10, 000 tonnes of relief food to displaced people in Sudan so
far in March, according to Humanitarian Aid Commission (HAC).
A commission official, Mr. Khalid Faraj, said more than 6,000
tonnes were distributed to more than 245,000 beneficiaries in the
25: A Sudanese government official who once supported
independence for the south of the country has accused guerilla
leader John Garang of "brutal dictatorship" and mass human rights
violations. David de Chand, a Christian from southern Sudan who
broke with Garang's SPLA movement in 1991, also said that
Western groups campaigning against alleged slavery were trying to
provoke US intervention in favour of rebels.
25: The US and 19 other nations providing aid to Sudan want help
jump-start the peace process in Africa's largest country, a Clinton
administration official has said. J. Brian Atwood, head of the
Agency for International Development, said the US was working
with these nations to "increase the pressure on both sides to extend
the cease-fire scheduled to expire in April 15.
26: WFP urgently needs funds to prevent its emergency food
supplies for Sudan from running our in June, a statement from the
UN food agency said. An additional US$63.8 million is urgently
required to provide food for the rest of 1999. Some 2.3 million
Sudanese rely on WFP food for their survival.
26: The United States Agency for International Development has
warned those Sudan risks becoming a "forgotten tragedy".
Announcing aid to Sudan worth over $130 million to date in the
1999 financial year, USAID's administrator Brian Atwood said:
"Sudan continues to be the world's greatest humanitarian crisis but
tends, due to the ever growing number of disasters, to be what has
come to be called forgotten tragedy". He told a US sub-committee
on African affairs.
26: The European Commission has approved humanitarian aid
worth $14.7 million for victims of conflict in Sudan. The aid
managed by European Community Humanitarian Office (ECHO)
will support about 30 health water and food security programmes
over the next year, according to an ECHO statement.
30: Ugandan authorities have detained 104 rebels of the SPLA for
selling firearms in northern Uganda, a newspaper reported. The
rebels are being held in northern district headquarters of Kitgum,
420 kilometres north-east of the Ugandan capital, Kampala,
according to the independent daily, The Monitor.
April 1: Sudan's national assembly speaker Hassan al-Turabi has
said Sudanese opponents abroad, including former prime minister
Sadek el-Mahdi, will be welcome back home to practice politics. "I
do no see any reason that makes the opponent remain abroad after
the constitution has been passed…It is their right to return to
Khartoum and participate in politics," Mr. Turabi said, according to
Akhbar al Youm daily.
1: Humanitarian agencies working in the Malakal area of Sudan's
Upper Nile region have reported a decrease in the number of
patients suffering from an outbreak of watery diarrhoea and
vomiting that killed some 213 people over the past month. Since
March, 2,746 cases had been recorded, aid workers said.
1: SPLA said it inflicted massive human and material losses on
Khartoum forces during a three-day battle in southern Blue Nile
state, a claim rejected by Sudanese government. Intensive fighting
was reported between the two sides around the town of Ulu.
2: The ICRC has said it was appalled by the deaths of a Sudanese
Red Crescent worker and three government officials who had
accompanied an ICRC team in southern Sudan. In a press release,
the organisation said the four were killed by SPLA who had
detained them since February 18 when they strayed into SPLA/M
territory near Bentiu.
6: The Sudanese government, reacting to the deaths of four
Sudanese hostages last week, said it would review accords made
with the SPLA. All necessary measures including military, security,
administrative and legal steps would be taken to prevent a
re-occurrence (of the deaths of the hostages)," said foreign minister
Mustafa Osman Ismail, adding he was setting up a committee to
review the accords.
7: President Bashir has said he was prepared to extend a partial
cease-fire in Bahr el-Ghazal and Western Upper Nile to all of
southern Sudan. Gen. Bashir called on the SPLA to respond to the
call for the extension of the cease-fire, which expires on April 15.
8: President Bashir has unilaterally extended a cease-fire in southern
Sudan and urged the rebels to reciprocate. Speaking in parliament,
Bashir said the cease-fire would take effect on April 15. He did not
say how long the truce would last, nor did he define the operational
9: SPLA has dismissed Khartoum's "comprehensive cease-fire"
offer and instead announced a three-month extension of the
"humanitarian cease-fire" in Bahr el Ghazal western and central
Upper Nile. The SPLA acknowledged that a comprehensive
cease-fire was "part and parcel of overall solution" to the present
conflict in Sudan.
10: Sudan's foreign minister has rejected assertions by a UN
investigator that Khartoum allowed Arab tribesmen to seize
civilians in the war-torn south and sell them as slaves. Mr. Ismail
told a news conference the investigator, Argentine lawyer Leonardo
Franco, had presented no real evidence to support his allegations in
a report to the UN's Human Rights Commission which is now in
session in Geneva.
12: The first few hundred of an anticipated influx of thousands of
Sudanese refugees have crossed into Uganda from north eastern
parts of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), joining other
Sudanese refugees in camps and settlements in the Ugandan district
of Arua, according to WFP weekly report. With insecurity having
dispersed many of an estimated 30,000-50,000 Sudanese refugees
in eastern DRC, aid agencies are preparing for up to 10,000 of
them to enter Uganda.
12: Sudanese rebels have overrun two camps of the
pro-government militia, killing more than 120 militia fighters and
wounding about 300, their spokesman said. The battle took place
when guerrilla of the SPLA stormed camps of the Islamic Front in
the eastern province of Blue Nile, SPLA spokesman Yasser Armsan
said in a statement.
2. Dinka, Nuer seal peace and reconciliation deal
The age-old animosity that has been the hallmark of relations
between the Dinka and the Nuer could be headed for a thaw. In an
unprecedented move that could have national implications, the two
largest southern Sudanese communities early last March signed a
covenant in which they vowed to commit their energies towards
reconciliation and lasting peace in the war-ravaged country.
Dubbed the Wunlit Dinka-Nuer Covenant, the milestone agreement
was the culmination of week-long deliberations (February 27-
March 8) brokered by the influential New Sudan Council of
Churches (NSCC). It was signed by more than 300 Dinka and Nuer
chiefs, community and church leaders, women and youth.
The presence of Commander Salva Kiir, the number two man to
Colonel John Garang, the leader of the Sudan Peoples Liberation
Army (SPLA), was of particular significance as it was an indication
that the move had the backing (at least in part) of the SPLA, the
largest rebel group fighting against the Khartoum government.
Commander Kiir himself is a Dinka from Gogrial region. In
attendance also was the Bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Rumbek,
Monsignor Caesar Mazzolari. The majority of the slightly over two
million Dinkas live in Msgr Mazzolari's see.
In an act that rekindled the memories of the Biblical covenants, a
large white bull (mabior thon/ tu-bor) was slaughtered and a stern
declaration made that anyone going against the vows of the
occasion, would go the white bulls' way.
Amnesty was granted for offences committed prior to January 1,
1999, freedom of movement across the lines of conflict was
affirmed and inter-communal commerce, development and services
Other resolutions reached were:
-All hostile acts shall cease between Dinka and Nuer whether
between their respective military forces or armed civilians.
-Border grazing lands and fishing grounds shall be available
immediately as shared resources.
-Displaced people are encouraged to return to their original homes
and re-build relationships with their neighbours.
-The spirit of peace and reconciliation of the covenant to be
extended to all communities in southern Sudan.
The Dinkas and Nuer, both of whom are cattle keepers, have since
time immemorial fought almost innumerable battles over livestock
and grazing land. The Nuers, like most other southern Sudanese
communities, accuse the Dinkas of seeking to establish a tribal
hegemony, courtesy of their numerical superiority and imagined
"cultural superiority". Other southern Sudanese groups include the
Shilluk, Lotuko, Alur, Azande, Toposa, Mudu, Kakwa, Jur and
Since the outbreak of the current phase of the Sudanese civil war in
1983, the tribal animosity 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 same seven and a half years' period that the
Dinka-Nuer animosity has been most vicious.
In 1997, a former leading 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 the Khartoum. Dr. Machar also holds the portfolio of Sudan's
second vice-president. He remains an avowed enemy of Col.
Garang. Another faction leader, Dr. Lam Akol, a Shilluk, also holds
a cabinet position in the Arab-dominated government of President
Hassan Omar el-Bashir. Like Machar, he quit the mainstream SPLA
in 1992 to form a faction to which he remains the leader to date.
Besides the NSCC, the Sudanese Women's Voice for Peace has
been instrumental in fighting inter-ethnic conflict in southern Sudan.
The group has held several conflict resolution workshops for
women. They focus on the central role women play in society and
reinforce women's capacity to stabilize and unify their communities.
3. Sudanese Christian tradition deserves respect
There is a genuine Christian tradition in Southern Sudan that has
sunk its roots into the lives of Sudanese people for over a century.
Christianity has gradually been inculturated into the traditional
culture, indigenous religiosity and moral standards and into the
vernacular of the people.
Christianity has its distinctive physiognomy in Sudan due to unique
indigenous character of its people. This distinctive Sudanese life
expression of Christianity must be jealously protected.
Of late, under the pretexts of redeeming Sudanese slaves,
terminating hunger and war, or to explore more fully health
conditions, several little-known foreign religious groups have
collected large sums of money from their churches in western
countries with which they have easily bought their way into
Once there, they lure the young and the old into their following
with material goods which the southern Sudanese are desperately in
Blankets, clothes, soap, salt, gold watches, earrings, bracelets, toys
of all kinds, sweets and electronic items are all used as baits.
For the first time in my 19 years of service in Southern Sudan, on
March 14, I found myself celebrating mass in a crowded catholic
church with children caressing dolls, dropping rubber toys to the
ground, stringing yoyos up and down and blowing bubbles of
chewing gum right under my nose. Young girls wore the most
elegant ornaments in their hair and costly earrings.
This made me ask my people as I held my large crucifix up high:
"Did Jesus win you to himself with blankets, new clothes, soap, salt
or many beautiful things such as watches, bracelets and toys? NO!
He gave his very life on the Cross for you and me!''
I went on: "Know that your Bishop has a deep concern as your
Christian Shepherd. You are allowing strangers to buy you away
from your faith in the real Christ, the Son of God, with mere
blankets, golden objects or amusing gadgets or toys. I beg you, my
people, hold on to your greatest treasure, your faith!"
In the name of Ecumenism and sound Christianity, no foreign group
that has inadequate knowledge of Christian living in Sudan should
come and raid Christians away from their respective churches then
It is an opportunistic approach in a time of abject poverty, hunger
and never-ending war to come and weaken the time-tested
Christian faith by offering what they most desperately need. This
causes confusion to many of our Christians who may be weak in
These less-known groups divorce Christians away from a
Christ-centered religion and instill into our naive people the
misconception that theirs (the less-known groups') is indeed the
best solution out of their (Sudanese's) desperate situation.
This is desecration, contamination and institutionalised spiritual and
All of these pave the way for the simplistic acceptance of any
religion. What these groups create is the best setting for
non-Christians to buy confused and needy people away from us
spiritually and morally in a country that is at war.
Some non-Christian religions have the richest and most abundant
resources to buy out our Christians and there is no better time to do
it than when our faithful are confused, mystified and desecrated
from the true concept and vision of Christian religion.
There is an on-going reconciliation process alive in Southern Sudan
to avert raiding and misappropriation between tribes. We must
come to a climate of reconciliation among the traditional Christian
churches of Sudan. More specifically, we must define our genuine
Christian physiognomy as Sudanese Christians and prevent raids
and contamination of this well-established image from any external
We can't sit back and wait. The time is now, before the
All Christian leaders in South Sudan must stand firm and support
their flocks so that they are NOT derailed from their faith and then
deserted. Let us teach, govern and sanctify Christians in Sudan with
more church personnel who are dedicated to preserve the
Christianity that has become typically traditional to the people.
The Sudanese beautiful physiognomy of Christianity cannot be
menaced or disrespected by unenlightened foreign infiltration.
Sudanese Christianity deserves respect!
Bishop of Diocese Of Rumbek
For further information, please contact:
Fr. Kizito, SCIO, tel +254.2.562247 - fax +254.2.566668 -
SUDAN CATHOLIC INFORMATION OFFICE
Bethany House, P. O. Box 21202, Nairobi, Kenya
tel. +254.2.562247 or 569130, fax 566668