Sudanese Catholic Information Office
S C I O
P.O.Box 21102 - Nairobi - Kenya
Tel. 00254 - 2 - 562247
fax. 00254 - 2 - 566668
SCIO, June 15, 1999
Sudan monthly Report
June 15, 1999
2. Nuba determined to fight isolation
3. Attacks on relief workers worrying
May 17: Successive bombings of the Bahr el Ghazal villages of Akak
and Nyamlell have provoked concern among humanitarian agencies
working in the area. Humanitarian agencies said 24 bombs were
dropped in Akak and another six a few kilometres from Nyamlell. In
the former incident, a 10-year-old girl died and a boy was injured.
17: Eritrean President Isayas Afeworki has denied reports that Asmara
was evicting the Sudanese opposition National Democratic Alliance
(NDA) from Asmara in an effort to improve relations with Khartoum,
but admitted that Eritrea was looking for "practical and realistic ways
of resuming diplomatic ties" with Khartoum. Sudanese media reports
said the Eritrean government had ordered the NDA out of the
Sudanese embassy, which it has occupied since Eritrea broke off
diplomatic ties with Khartoum in December 1994.
18: UN secretary-general Kofi Annan has expressed concern over
fighting between government troops and rebels in southern Sudan and
particularly its potential impact on humanitarian operations in the
area. A statement from the secretary-general's spokesman said Annan
called on both sides to "respect fully" the cease-fire agreed upon in
April, and ensure the safe delivery of humanitarian assistance.
18: An estimated 1,275 new internally displaced persons (IDPs) have
recently arrived at Khor camp, Ad Da'ein, in south Darfur, according
to a report from the UN Humanitarian Co-ordination Unit in
Khartoum. They are reportedly arriving at a daily average of 35
families and entering via Safaha and Mairam from parts of northern
Bahr el-Ghazal and Gogrial.
20: Unidentified assailants attacked a Nile River boat bringing relief
aid to southern Sudan, killing the co-pilot of the barge, the UN
announced in Nairobi. WFP spokesperson Brenda Barton said 21
people aboard were wounded; a Kenyan working for the WFP was
shot in the leg and a Sudanese crew member was shot in the back.
21: The Sudanese opposition has warned the government over the
expected return to Khartoum of former president Gaafar al-Numeiry,
slamming the presidential pardon which paved the way for the
"butcher" to come back. The NDA issued a statement saying that the
agencies arranging for the return of "the butcher" to Sudan would
"bear the responsibility of the resulting consequences".
22: The main political body in south Sudan has accused Khartoum of
violating a peace accord reached in April 1997. "Repeated violations
of the peace agreement and failure by the government to abide by (its)
provisions "will be the focus of a forthcoming meeting between the
United Democratic Salvation Front (UDSF) and Khartoum officials.
23: Numeiry has returned to his homeland after 14 years in exile and
pledged to work for peace and democracy. "The government has given
political pluralism a chance by passing the Political Association Law,''
he said in a statement to state television.
24: Sudanese police were out in force as Numeiry landed in Khartoum
amid threats of protest demonstrations by the opposition, news
organisations reported. Presidential affairs minister Bakri Hassan Salih
led the government welcoming party. Numeiry was later met by
President El-Bashir who hoped his return would"support the process of
construction and development".
24: A Sudanese opposition leader has warned of legal action against
Numeiry for "crimes he committed" while in power, a day after he was
welcomed back home by president El-Bashir. Mr. Numeiry returned to
Sudan ending a 14-year exile in Egypt and was greeted at Khartoum
airport by government officials and thousands of supporters who
earlier formed a political party Numeiry is expected to lead.
25: The authorities in Khartoum last week demolished two Christian
church buildings and two schools at Hayy Barakah, a suburb of
Khartoum, in what displaced southern Christians claim is religious
victimisation, the BBC reported. The two schools owned by Episcopal
Church of Sudan (ECS) and the Presbyterian Church, had a combined
roll of 1,440 students. Four other Catholic schools in the area, with a
roll of about 2,500 pupils, were also served with a final notice of
demolition on 27 April, the BBC said.
25: The Sudanese legal authorities have turned down the first
complaint made against Numeiry on grounds he was granted a
presidential amnesty. According to Khartoum newspapers, Khartoum
attorney Islam Abdel Qadir rejected a lawsuit filed by lawyer
Mahmoud Shaarani, who was sacked by Mr. Numeiry from his
position as a judge, claiming damages for dismissal.
25: A prosecution council set up by the NDA has announced it is
presently considering applications it has received from individuals for
filing lawsuits against Numeiry, including one by the family of late
army officer Hassan Hussein, who was executed on orders by
court-martial following an abortive coup detat in 1975.
26: Sudan government told Numeiry before his return home that he
had been granted amnesty from prosecution, a government newspaper
reported. Al-anbaa said the amnesty had been granted in May 1998 for
crimes or alleged crimes Numeiry committed between seizing power
on May 25, 1969 and his overthrow on April 1985.
26: The Sudanese army and allied militias have said they destroyed a
number of camps belonging to the SPLA in the southern state of Unity
and "secured the oil area". They also claimed to have damaged Nhial
Boi airport in the state, denying the SPLA supplies "from foreign
organisations", and freed four Sudanese and one Chinese oil workers
kidnapped by the rebels, according to media sources in Khartoum.
26: The opposition Umma Party has denied a report in the
London-based Arabic-language Al-Hayat daily which said party leader
Sadeq al-Mahdi, a pillar of the NDA, had reached a secret deal with
speaker of parliament Hassan al-Turabi. "The Umma Party completely
denies the existence of such an agreement", a statement reported by
26: The official spokesman of the armed forces staff Lt-Gen Mohamed
Osman Yassin, has reported on Sudanese radio that government troops
were again in full control of the Adok area, between Malakal and Juba
in southern Sudan, where last week's attack on a food aid barge took
place. He added that troops had "secured the waterway for navigation."
27: A conference is currently underway in the capital of Western
Darfur state, al-Junaynah, to try and end years of conflict between the
African Masalit people and Arab tribesmen, the BBC reported.
Drought and desertification, which have made grazing land scarce, are
blamed for the tribal clashes in Darfur, although the Masalit, who are
farmers, claim the nomadic Arabs simply want to drive them from
June 1: A Sudanese party formed by former rebel factions has accused
a rival southern militia of detaining 75 government officials in the
oil-rich Unity State. Both sides are supposed to be fighting alongside
forces of the Islamist-led government in Khartoum against the SPLA
3: The SPLA and the Kenya government have both denied that the
June 16-17 had been set as a date for a long-delayed round of
Sudanese peace negotiations in Nairobi. In Khartoum, the official
Sudanese Al-Anbaa daily reported those dates had been decided by the
warring parties and the Kenyan government on behalf of IGAD.
3: Christian Solidarity International , a non-governmental organisation
involved in a controversy over Sudan's slave trade, said it had freed
almost 1,400 slaves in May. CSI has liberated a total of 9,112
Sudanese slaves since the start of its campaign in 1995.
5: Fifty Sudanese troops, including six officers, were killed when a
military plane crashed near Khartoum, the army said. A military
transport plane was flying Kassala in eastern Sudan to Khartoum when
it suffered technical problems, according to the statement from the
Sudanese armed forces general command.
5: Sudanese rebels said they killed more than 3,000 government
soldiers in this year's dry season battles of the 16-year-long civil war.
SPLA and the NDA carried out the offensive in three provinces in the
centre and east of the country- Southern Kordofan, Southern Blue Nile
and Eastern Sudan, the SPLA said in a statement released in Nairobi.
5: Riek Machar, the head of southern former rebels now allied to
Khartoum, is facing an internal challenge to his leadership. Some
members of the South Sudan Defence Force (SSDF), which groups six
faction which made peace with Khartoum in 1997, said they had
deposed Machar as SSDF leader and president of the co-ordination
council supposed to rule the south.
6: A Sudanese aircraft bombed a town held by rebels in northern
Congo, killing 24 civilians and wounding 19 others, a rebel leader
said. Mr. Jean Pierre Bemba, leader of the Congolose Liberation
Movement, one of two main rebel groups fighting to oust President
Laurent Kabila, said the Sudanese air force Antonov aircraft bombed
Binga , about 300 kilometres northwest of Kisangani, a port on the
8: Sudanese rebel commanders believe only a series of battleground
victories will push the government into serious peace talks but say they
need anti-aircraft missiles to tip the war in their favour. Based in the
strategic town of Yei, "capital'' of rebel-held territory in southern
Sudan, the military chiefs said diplomatic efforts to broker a peace
deal were bound to fail without rebel gains on the ground.
8: Sudanese security forces held 11 opposition politicians for several
hours and charged them with organising an illegal gathering before
freeing them on bail, their spokesman said. Outspoken lawyer Ghazi
Suleiman said that he and other opponents of the regime were holding
a press conference in Khartoum's twin city Omdurman to announce the
foundation of the new political party, the Democratic Forces Front,
when security agents burst in.
8: Three US Congressmen visiting war zones in southern Sudan have
said they would push for financial assistance to rebels fighting the
Islamic government in Khartoum. The three- two Republicans and a
Democrat- said the United States needed to help the SPLA and
demanded an end to government bombing raids against civilians in the
9: Sudan's foreign minister has indicated the time is right for dialogue
with the United States, signalling a slight shift in the hostile
relationship between the two nations . Mr. Mustafa Osman Ismail said
Sudan has been adopting realistic policies toward the US that are "now
in the stage of dialogue," the official Al -Anbaa daily reported.
10: Sudan has denied a report by Congolese rebels that its planes
bombed two towns in the north of the Democratic Republic of the
Congo, a newspaper reported. The independent Al-Rai al-Aam daily
quoted military spokesman General Mohammed Osman Yassin as
saying no Sudanese planes had carried out any such air strikes and
Khartoum did not interfere in the internal affairs of other countries.
10: Two army convoys in Sudan that attempted to recapture the
eastern town of Togan from the NDA have mutinied, rebel sources
said. A statement in Nairobi by the SPLA said that the convoys,
code-named Al-Shahid al-Tahir and Al-Gubush, rebelled after
sustaining a major defeat at the hands of the NDA forces on June 3.
11: A privatisation programme adopted by the Sudanese government
in 1992 will result in some 200,000 workers losing their jobs by the
time it is fully implemented in three years, a trade union official said.
Mr. Hashim Ahmed Al-Bashir, the secretary of work relations at the
Sudanese Workers Trade Unions Federation, said the studies show that
the privatisation will force the dismissal of some 10 per cent of the
work force in the country.
11: Sudan is ready to cooperate with the United States to ensure that it
is not engaged in acts that could be construed as supporting terrorism,
president Bashir was quoted as saying. The remarks appeared in this
week's Lebanese magazine al-Hawadith.
13: The directors of a hospital in Yei ordered the roofs of the pediatric
and outpatient wards to be painted forest green. It was a decision they
believe could save many lives. Until last month, both roofs featured a
large Red Cross on a white background- a paint job intended to tell
government bombers that this was a hospital and should not be
targeted, but which was having exactly the opposite effect.
14: A Sudanese opposition conference in Eritrea will not hamper the
normalisation of Khartoum's ties with Asmara, Sudan's foreign
minister said ahead of a meeting with Eritrean counterpart in
Doha.The NDA meetings in Asmara are "a violation of the Doha
agreement'' between El-Bashir and Eritrean leader Issayas Afeworki,
Mustafa Othman Ismail told state television.
15: The foreign ministers of Eritrea and Sudan have signed an
agreement to advance the normalisation of their ties, their Qatari
counterpart, Sheikh Hamad bin Jassem al-Thani announced. They
agreed to establish a joint reconciliation commission to oversee the
implementation of the reconciliation agreement signed on May 2 by
the Sudanese president El-Bashir and Eritrean president Isayas
15: Al-Turabi has left for a visit to Iran, an official at the Iranian
embassy in Khartoum said. The government-owned Al Anbaa
newspaper said Mr. Turabi would attend meetings aimed at setting up
a union of parliaments in the Muslim world.
15: Sudanese opposition leaders want democracy restored to the
country as a condition of opening a dialogue with the government, one
of them has said. "For a dialogue to be fruitful, it's necessary to return
to democracy and freedom of expression," communist Party official
Tigani al-Tayeb said from Asmara.
2. Nuba people determined to fight isolation
A journalist with an Italian monthly publication was this year part of
the foreign team that joined the Nuba people in celebrating the SPLA
day. He gives his impression of the region that has, for over a decade,
remained isolated from the rest of the world. He has requested for
anonymity for security reasons.
Nuba Mountains remain isolated; but the Nuba people continue
fighting not to be isolated. Last month (May) the troops of the
Khartoum government launched several attacks in the area. Their
military targets, according to the SPLA commander and governor of
Southern Kordofan, Mr. Yusuf Kuwa, were the airstrips, the only link
between the Nuba and the rest of the world.
Had their heinous dream been realised, Khartoum would have gone to
the Nairobi Inter-governmental Authority on Development (IGAD)
peace talks (supposed to have been held in Nairobi in mid May but
postponed) in a stronger position.
The definition of the Nuba Mountains remains one of the most
contentious issues in the IGAD talks. Though geographically not part
of the south, the Nuba people have chosen to be part of southern Sudan
in the protracted civil strife. Khartoum insists the Nuba must remain
part of northern Sudan. But Nuba soldiers are now used to the
machinations of Khartoum and have so far kept the enemy in check.
Sometimes the Khartoum troops come close enough to bombing the
airstrips forcing the Nuba to open alternative ones and igniting
sustained hard fighting for a long period.
The war in the isolated region can be traced back to July 1985 but it
intensified a little later with the official introduction of the SPLA.
In 1995, a human rights organisation, African Rights, published a
report that identified the war in the Nuba Mountains as genocide and
blamed it on the isolation of the region. Since then, not much has
changed. Nuba Mountains are still excluded from the Operation
Lifeline Sudan's mandate, which is responsible for the provision of
relief aid in the war-affected southern South Sudan.
Only a handful of Non-governmental organisations take relief to the
Nuba, of course at their own risk. The foreign NGOs work closely
with a local one, the Nuba Relief and Rehabilitation Society. Not even
journalists can access the Nuba Mountains easily to report about this
forgotten war. Despite all the difficulties, the month of May is a period
for celebration in the liberated areas of the Nuba Mountains. On the
16th of the month each year, thousands of people gather to
commemorate the birth of the SPLA.
Official speeches, songs, dances and traditional Nuba wrestling usually
mark such celebrations. Several meetings are also held to deliberate on
peace, food security and general education of civil society. It is the
occasion when the Nuba express their culture that has made them
famous the world over, courtesy of the daring cameramen who have
worked in the region. While maintaining strong links with the SPLA,
the Nuba are also determined to retain their identity.
As journalists and other guests walked to the airstrip from this year's
celebration, they heard sounds of bombing and gunshots, Khartoum's
ugly reminder that "we are aware that you sneaked in once again".
3. Attacks on relief workers worrying
Attacks on non-military targets in southern Sudan have become more
rampant in the recent past. What is most disturbing, however, is the
fact that the attackers seem to be particularly keen on relief agency
personnel and their positions.
Equally worrying is the fact that the raids are coming at a time when
both the Sudanese Peoples Liberation Army (SPLA) and the
government have committed themselves to a continued cease-fire to
facilitate the delivery of relief aid to the thousands of Sudanese still
counting their losses from the devastating famine of last year.
In the month of April, some four Sudanese working with the Red Cross
were murdered in Unity State, allegedly by the SPLA. Besides other
things, the incident was later to become one of the causes of the failure
of the Inter-Governmental Authority on Development (IGAD) talks
schedule for Nairobi later the same month.
Weeks later, two civilian relief centres in southern Equatoria state
were bombed by government forces. Two men and two women
reportedly lost their lives during the raid.
Days later, government planes dropped 24 bombs on the small town of
Akak in Bahr el Ghazal province, killing at least one child. Six other
bombs were dropped just outside the town of Nyamlell. Soon after,
unidentified assailants attacked a Nile River boat bringing relief aid to
the war-ravaged region, killing the vessel's co-pilot.
In a war situation, anything can happen. But there are universally set
rules that combatants in any situation should abide by and one of them
is steering clear of non-military targets.
In the case of the Sudanese civil war, the protagonists have been at it
for nearly two decades now. One thing they should have mastered by
now is the situation on the ground- which are the military targets and
which ones are not.
For the hundreds of the foreign humanitarian workers in the
war-ravaged country, the motivation should be seen to be much more
than the financial emoluments that anyone in gainful employment is
entitled to. There is definitely something of a call…a need to empathise
with fellow humans in an extremely difficult situation.
The least these selfless and courageous people can expect from the
perpetrators of the Sudanese civil strife is some semblance of an
enabling environment for their operations. After all, of what threat is a
humanitarian worker on a mission to distribute food to a gun-wielding
soldier, be he from the south or the north?
The likely consequences of this unmitigated aggression does not need a
genius to guess, and none other than the UN secretary general, Mr.
Koffi Annan, has said as much.
UN agencies, missionaries and non-governmental agencies have
continued to assist thousands of victims of a severe famine in southern
Sudan thanks to a humanitarian cease-fire in Bahr el Ghazal agreed to
by both the government and the SPLA.
Are these forces now convinced that the truce has outlived its useful?
The answer may not be readily available but many that are well versed
with the situation on the ground would agree that the opposite is the
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
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6/20/99 6:12 PM