Tag Archives: Sudan

Sudan – lull in Darfur fighting in Jebel Marra

Radio Dabanga

 JEBEL MARRA
Mount Jebel Marra seen from Namuli village (Robert Lankenau, 2007)

Mount Jebel Marra seen from Namuli village (Robert Lankenau, 2007)

The attacks by government forces on Jebel Marra seem to have subsided as the rebel SLM-AW claims victory over military convoy in the western part.

No reports of ground-based military operations have been received from western and eastern parts of Jebel Marra on Saturday and Sunday other than aerial bombing.

Villagers reported that the convoys with government troops that attempted to enter Jebel Marra from the east and the west withdrew.

On Wednesday morning, two large forces of army soldiers and paramilitaries of the Rapid Support Forces (RSF), backed by intensive air bombardments, attacked a number of villages in Jebel Marra

One force attacked the area from the west, and the second from the north-east. They used heavy artillery and missiles and were accompanied by intensive air raids, the villagers reported. The attacks continued on Thursday and Friday.

The Sudanese government announced in October that its forces would “eliminate all rebel fighters during the next dry season”. Jebel Marra is a stronghold of the mainstream Sudan Liberation Movement (SLM-AW).

Battle

The SLM-AW claims that its fighters repelled an attack between Guldo and Golo in the western part of Jebel Marra, in a battle that lasted from Thursday until Friday morning.

Shahabeldin Jarrad, the military spokesman on duty for the SLM-AW, told Radio Dabanga on Sunday that they inflicted heavy casualties on the government troops. 20 soldiers and paramilitaries were allegedly killed. The rebels seized six Land Cruisers, one of which contained a 12-pipe launcher and 15 missiles, two Land Cruisers mounted with Dushka machine guns, large quantities of ammunition, and seven Kalashnikov rifles.

Jarrad said that the aerial bombardments on Jebel Marra were still ongoing. “The Antonov aircraft of the Sudanese Air Force are focussing on areas in the vicinity of Golo and Rokoro.

“The people in these areas sought refuge in the mountains and caves from the air raids. Large numbers of livestock were killed.”

‘Inner Jebel Marra’

The ‘inner Jebel Marra area’ (OCHA Jebel Marra Fact Sheet as of 30 September 2015)

The Jebel Marra massif lies in the centre of the Darfur region, bordering the state divisions of Central, South and North Darfur. It is a fertile region inhabited mainly by the Fur tribe and has since 2003 been the primary stronghold of the SLM-AW.

It is the only place in Darfur where armed opposition maintains prolonged control over territory and the only area in Darfur to which humanitarian organisations have had no access between 2011 and 2015.

Parts of the centre of the massif, the ‘inner Jebel Marra area’, are controlled by the Sudanese government [blue] and parts by SLM-AW rebels [orange].

Main obstacles to free and regular access to the area include restrictions by the parties to the conflict, preventing humanitarian organisations from entering both government and rebel-controlled areas.

According to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) in Sudan, there are about 365,000 people living in the greater Jebel Marra area. Approximately one third of them -120,000 people- live in the inner Jebel Marra.

Sudan – UNICEF warns of worsening malnutrition in east

Sudan Tribune

(KHARTOUM) – United Nation Children Fund (UNICEF) has warned against the worsening conditions of children in eastern Sudan due to malnutrition.

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UNICEF Deputy Executive Director, Omar Abdi, (C) speaks in a press briefing on November 15, 2015 (Photo UNICEF)

UNICEF deputy executive director Omar Abdi, expressed fear over the challenges facing the work of UNICEF in Sudan, particularly with regard to accessing all children.

He said that some areas are still suffering from children malnutrition despite the progress made in reducing the death rates of children below five years old from 83% to 68% together with increasing the number of children enrolled in schools and those who have access to water.

Abdi, who spoke at a press conference at the conclusion of his visit to Sudan Sunday, pointed that the budget allotted for Sudan amounts to $130 million, saying it only covers 60% of the actual needs.

He urged the partners to continue their support for UNICEF programs in Sudan, adding he discussed the work of UNICEF in Sudan with several officials including the First Vice-President Bakri Hassan Salih.

Abdi pointed the Sudanese government stressed commitment to cooperate with UNICEF to promote children’s welfare, saying he inspected the security situation and several IDP’s camps in North Darfur state.

For his part, UNICEF resident representative in Sudan, Geert Cappelaere said the malnutrition in eastern Sudan is worse than in Darfur, noting that UNICEF would open an office in eastern Sudan to strengthen its presence there.

“We would launch a call to provide a budget to address malnutrition issue particularly as the budget allotted to Sudan is limited,” he said

He said that 7% of the South Sudanese refugees in Sudan are children, pointing to high mortality rate among them due to malnutrition and lack of vaccination.

The director of the international cooperation department at Sudan’s foreign ministry Sirag al-Din Hamid , for his part, asked for UNICEF help to lift the unilateral economic sanctions imposed on Sudan in order to allow the implementation of programs pertaining to children and education.

He described the visit of UNICEF deputy executive director to Sudan as important, saying that Khartoum attaches great hopes to the visit which reflects the level of cooperation between UNICEF and Sudan.

(ST)

Sudan – Museveni to visit following Kenyatta-Bashir meeting

Sudan Tribune

(KHARTOUM) – Uganda’s President Yoweri Museveni will officially visit to Sudan next Tuesday for talks with his Sudanese counterpart, Omer al-Bashir, as Kenya’s Uhuru Kenyatta and Bashir discussed issues of mutual concern on Thursday.

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Sudanese president Omer Hassan Al-Bashir (L) shakes hand with Ugandan president Yoweri Museveni following the signing of a 1999 peace accord between the two countries as Kenyan president Daniel Arap Moi and former US president Jimmy Carter look on (Photo: Carter Center)

The visit comes amid strained relations between Khartoum and Kampala as the two countries trade accusation of support to rebel groups. Sudan accuses Uganda of harbouring rebel groups member of the Sudanese Revolutionary Front (SRF) while Uganda claims that the rebels of the Lord Resistance Army (LRA) are in western Sudan.

Last week a Sudanese presidential assistant accused Kampala’s representative in the African union Peace and security Council (AUPSC) of orchestrating a meeting in Addis Ababa last August between 15-member body and Sudanese opposition leaders.

The official Sudan News Agency (SUNA) said vice-president Hasabo Mohamed Abdel Rahman chaired on Thursday a meeting with executives of the concerned ministries to prepare for the visit.

State Minister for Foreign Affairs Obeid-Allah Mohamed Obeid-Allah said in a press statement that the meeting highlighted the importance of the visit on account of the fact that “Museveni is an African leader who has a major role in the region, and is keen on communicating with Sudan and playing a positive role on issues of mutual concern”

“We are confident that the Ugandan side has demonstrated good faith with respect to the security issues that will be discussed by the two sides,” the minister further said.

Since several months, SRF leaders stopped to hold their meetings in Uganda left the east African country.

The minister pointed out that Museveni will address a symposium on democracy and freedom in Africa, organized by the Strategic Studies Centre, and will visit Africa International University.

Observers in Khartoum point that the possible normalisation in ties between the two countries would help to bring stability in South Sudan which has strong economic relations with the two countries.

KENYATTA HOLDS BRIEF TALKS WITH AL-BASHIR

Kenyan president Uhuru Kenyatta stopped over at Khartoum airport on Thursday evening on his way back home from Italy. He was received at the airport by his Sudanese counterpart and a number of ministers and senior government officials.

Kenyatta held brief talks with the Sudanese leader during his visit to Khartoum.

He told reporters that they discussed bilateral relations and means of bolstering them for the mutual benefit of the two countries.

Kenyatta also praised the strong ties between Sudan and Kenya, stressing the need for building solid grounds for cooperation between the two countries on issues of mutual concern.

“Sudan and Kenya are neighbours and have mutual interests that should be protected and promoted,” he said.

He said he had discussed with al-Bashir a number of regional issues, particularly security and peace, noting that Sudan and Kenya were closely cooperating on many of those issues.

President Kenyatta said he would visit Sudan shortly for further consultation and exploration of areas of bilateral cooperation. He reiterated his country’s keenness on maintaining close cooperation with Sudan on bilateral and regional issues.

(ST)

Sudan – Darfur conflict changing and becoming more internecine but not getting better

ISS

In Darfur, things have changed, but not for the better
31 August 2015

The Peace and Security Council (PSC) undertook a field mission to Darfur and Khartoum this month amid growing concern about the situation in Darfur. The African Union (AU) has been involved in attempts to solve the Darfur conflict for over a decade, having started to send peacekeepers to the area in 2004.

In June 2015, the United Nations (UN) Security Council voted to extend the mandate of the UN–AU Mission in Darfur (UNAMID), citing a ‘significant deterioration of the security situation’.

The unanimous vote represented something of a defeat: an admission that after 11 years of international involvement, the region remains as dangerous and unstable as ever.

It is important not to underestimate the scale of the Darfur conflict, and its cost – in both human and financial terms. Since the fighting began in earnest in 2003, more than 300 000 people have been killed and an estimated 2.5 million more displaced (this from a population of around 6.2 million).

The AU has had a presence there since 2004, in the form of the AU Mission in Sudan (AMIS), which morphed into UNAMID in 2007. UNAMID’s mandate provides for 15 845 military personnel, 1 583 police personnel and 13 formed police units of up to 140 personnel each, which are drawn from 37 different countries. Its budget is currently US$1.1 billion per year. The International Crisis Group (ICG) estimates that the total international cost of the war in Darfur, including humanitarian aid, has exceeded US$20 billion since 2003.

Over the years, the conflict has changed, becoming ever more fractured and internecine
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This investment of money, personnel and diplomatic capital has failed to resolve the situation, however. Even though a high-profile peace deal – the Doha Document for Peace in Darfur (DDPD) – was signed in 2011 between the government of President Omar al-Bashir and various rebel groups, the fighting has intensified over the last 18 months. This has left policymakers wondering whether UNAMID is fit for purpose, and what it should be doing differently.

Changing nature of the conflict

Understanding the tangled web of alliances and motivations that underpin the conflict has never been easy, although when the fighting began it was possible to observe the broad trend, which pitted non-Arab tribes against government forces and government-sponsored militia groups (known pejoratively as the Janjaweed). It is on this basis that peace talks proceeded, and the DDPD reflects this understanding, even though several major rebels groups refused to sign the document.

Over the years, however, the conflict has changed, becoming ever more fractured and internecine. ‘Violence in Darfur has continually evolved. In 2003–2005, it was mostly due to attacks by pro-government, largely Arab militias targeting non-Arab communities accused of supporting the rebels. While those continued and intensified again in 2014, violence has mutated since 2006, with Arab communities and militias fighting each other and, to a lesser extent, non-Arab communities targeting non-Arab communities. Arab militias also turned against their government backers, while rebel factions fragmented and fought against each other as well,’ said the ICG in a report in April 2015 entitled ‘The chaos in Darfur’.

It is also important to note that the conflict has outgrown Darfur itself, especially with the occasional cross-border incursion by Chadian forces, and the deal between several major Darfuri rebel groups and the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-North in South Kordofan and Blue Nile states to form the Sudan Revolutionary Front (SFR).

This poses challenges for any effective peace talks (although the prospect of new peace talks remains illusory, as the Sudanese government resolutely refuses to renegotiate the DDPD). Where should the international community begin: With the rebels and the government? With the government and the Janjaweed, themselves increasingly resistant to Khartoum’s dictates? With the intra-Arab spat between the Salamat and Misseriya, or the resource-fuelled dispute between the Beni Husein and abbala Reizegat? With the long-standing tensions between the non-Arab Zaghawa and other non-Arab militias? With the faction fighting between fragmenting rebel groups?

Involving armed groups in parallel processes

‘Resolution of Darfur’s diverse conflicts requires many things, including a rethink by the international community, in particular the UN Security Council, of many aspects of its relationship with Sudan. One element of that resolution, however, must be to involve as many armed groups as possible in parallel peace processes, including local inter-tribal conferences; Darfur regional security talks; and the national dialogue. In particular, Arab militias need representation in all processes, and government and rebels must acknowledge that they do not fully represent those communities,’ concluded the ICG.

There are encouraging signs that the AU is cognizant of the need for a new, inclusive peace process, particularly in the wake of the PSC’s field mission to Darfur and Khartoum from 19–21 August. Following this visit, the PSC met to discuss the activities of the AU High-Level Implementation Panel (AUHIP) for Sudan and South Sudan, and issued a communiqué that emphasised the importance of national dialogue. Most significantly, the communiqué indicated that the PSC had extracted significant concessions from al-Bashir while in Sudan:

The PSC extracted significant concessions from al-Bashir while in Sudan
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‘[The PSC] notes the statement made by President Omar Hassan al-Bashir that the Government of Sudan is ready to observe a two-month ceasefire in order to create the necessary confidence for all stakeholders, including representatives of the armed movements, to join the National Dialogue process, and further notes the commitment made by President al-Bashir to grant amnesty to members of the armed movements to enable them to attend the National Dialogue in safety,’ said the communiqué.

This is a ‘big picture’ issue, however, and if it is to have any chance of success it will need a great deal of political will, and time. In the short term there is still an important role for UNAMID and the international community to play. But to do so they may need to focus on smaller, more readily solvable issues.

Room for improvement

In assessing the effectiveness of any peacekeeping mission, there are two distinct levels of analysis. Firstly, would the situation be worse without the presence of the mission? And secondly, what can the mission do better?

To the first point: almost certainly, Darfur and its beleaguered civilian population would be worse off without UNAMID. The mission not only provides protection to various camps for internally displaced persons but also conducts regular patrols and containment operations to minimise the opportunity for violence. According to the most recent report of the UN secretary-general on UNAMID, during the period from 26 February 2015 to 15 May 2015, the mission ‘conducted 10 376 patrols, comprising 5 567 routine patrols, 682 short-range patrols, 204 long-range patrols, 2 007 night patrols, 178 humanitarian armed escorts and 1 738 logistics and administrative armed escorts. A total of 5 008 villages were covered during these patrols.’

In addition to this, UNAMID provides protection and support for other humanitarian operations, and support for high-level mediation efforts. All these go some way towards improving the situation on the ground, even if only marginally.

‘What can UNAMID do better? This question can be answered by asking another question. What would Darfur look like if UNAMID was not there? Clearly, the situation without UNAMID would have been much worse than the situation on the ground now. It is not perfect, but I believe the mere presence of UNAMID contributes a lot,’ said Meressa Kahsu, a Researcher and Training Coordinator for the Institute for Security Studies who has visited Darfur recently.

UN spokesperson describes ‘conspiracy of silence’

Despite its obvious impact, UNAMID has not been immune to criticism that it could and should be doing more to fulfil its mandate, especially when it comes to protecting civilians. Most damaging were the revelations from former mission spokesperson Aicha el Basri, who resigned from her position to reveal what she described as a ‘conspiracy of silence’ to mask the mission’s shortcomings. She said that UNAMID troops had repeatedly failed to intervene to protect civilians, even when incidents happened before their eyes; and that the mission was also guilty of covering up the scale of these incidents. ‘I felt ashamed to be a spokesperson for a mission that lies, that can’t protect civilians, that can’t stop lying about it,’ she told the BBC.

Recognising shortcomings

The UN denied these accusations, but it is well aware of other shortcomings in the mission. In his report, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon outlined several factors that prevent it from fulfilling its mandate effectively. These included 60 attacks and hostile incidents against UNAMID personnel in the 90-day reporting period; other attacks against UN agencies and other humanitarian actors; restrictions on movement, access denial and denial of clearances imposed on UNAMID and humanitarian actors, most often by local government officials; and delays or denials of visas for UNAMID staff. These add up to an extremely hostile operating environment.

Despite its faults, Darfur’s civilians would be worse off without UNAMID
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‘The mission is like a prisoner who can’t move outside the jail. UNAMID can’t move outside the base without permission from the Government of Sudan. So how can it be effective in implementing its mandate? One example is the media reports on an incident of mass rape in the village of Tabit towards the end of 2014,’ said Kahsu. ‘UNAMID was unable to reach the village in a timely manner and investigate the alleged cases, only gaining access some days after the incident. This brings the credibility of the UNAMID report on the incident into question.

‘Consent of the host country is one of the principles of UN peacekeeping. In my view, this consent is no longer there,’ said Kahsu. In fact, things have become so bad that the government has demanded that UNAMID leave the country entirely. In response, UNAMID is examining possible options for an exit strategy.

If some of these challenges are beyond UNAMID’s control, it can work harder to address other criticisms. One that is well within the mission’s control is to improve cooperation between the UN and the AU, which is not always as good as it should be. The hybrid nature of the operation poses difficulties, but it also represents an opportunity: by leveraging the UN’s experience with the logistics of such missions and the AU’s political influence with the government in Khartoum, UNAMID should be able to punch well above its weight – and make a real difference. At the moment, Institute for Security Studies research shows that this is not happening.

The international community may not be able to solve the situation in Darfur in the near future. It can, however, take concrete steps to make UNAMID more effective, thereby allowing the peacekeeping force to better fulfil its mandate. Already, UNAMID’s presence is able to mitigate the worst effects of the violence for thousands of Darfuris, and there is no reason why it cannot play this role even more effectively. In fact, if it is truly to live up to its mandate, it must do so.

Relevant documents

Communiqué of the 539th meeting of the PSC on the activities of the AU High-Level Implementation Panel (AUHIP) for Sudan and South Sudan

Report of the Secretary-General on the African Union–United Nations Hybrid Operation in Darfur, 26 May 2015

UN Security Council Resolution 2228 (2015) [extending UNAMID’s mandate until 30 June 2016]

Sudan – Bashir and Turabi meet and discuss “successive regime”

Sudan Tribune
July 13, 2015 (KHARTOUM) – An official in Sudan’s ruling National Congress Party (NCP) revealed that president Omer Hassan al-Bashir held talks with the head of the Popular Congress Party (PCP) Hassan al-Turabi on the latter’s vision for what frequently describes as a “successive regime”.
  
Sudanese president Omer Al-Bashir shakes hands with Hassan Al-Turabi, leader of the opposition Popular Congress Party in Khartoum on 14 March 2014 (SUNA)

Hamid Mumtaz, NCP’s political relations secretary, told reporters on Monday that the previously unannounced meeting sought to unify the search of what he called “the unification of Ahlul-Qiblah (People praying to Mecca)” but he denied that it tackled the issue of bringing together the divergent Islamic movements.
He did not say when or where the meeting took place.
The NCP official said Ahlul-Qiblah would include “all Islamic movements, Sufis, Salafists, contemporary movements, Arab nationalists and leftist movements as well as a civil society”.
Mumtaz said Turabi spelled out his “successive regime” proposal in detail.
It is believed to be seeking to overcome what is widely viewed as the failure of Islamic parties in governance and establish a new organization for them along with the NCP and overlook the bitterness of the past and take into account the issue of freedoms and diversity in Sudan.
Turabi has asserted last week his confidence in the possibility of re-uniting the Islamic movement in Sudan “sooner or later”, emphasizing that it must be achieved within a year and called for praying towards this goal.
The PCP led by Turabi split from the NCP in 1999 in a major rift among Islamists and later al-Tayeb Mustafa split to form the Just Peace Forum (JPF) and most recently Ghazi Salah al-Din al-Attabani established the Reform Now Movement (RNM) in October 2013.
Turabi was the mastermind of the 1989 Islamists coup which brought Bashir to power. However, the two men fell out in a bitter power struggle ten years later. Al-Turabi was ousted from the NCP and he later moved to form the PCP and become one of the government’s most outspoken critics.
But since early 2014 he has effectively left opposition ranks saying they have failed in toppling the regime and spoke enthusiastically of the national dialogue launched by Bashir in January 2014.
(ST)

Sudan – preparation to deploy joint force in Darfur

Sudan Tribune
July 5, 2015 (KHARTOUM) – Sudanese government will deploy during the upcoming days a joint force from the army and police elements in the East Darfur state to curb tribal violence and restore security, the governor said.

  
East Darfur governor Anas Omer (Photo Ashorooq TV)

Hundreds were killed during inter-communal fighting between Rezeigat and Ma’alia tribes, despite reconciliation conferences and efforts by the local regular forces to prevent the armed confrontations.
Speaking to Sudan Tribune on Sunday, the new governor, Anas Omer, said the 1800-strong security force will be equipped with sophisticated weapons and will not include local elements in order to give it a neutral character.
He further underscored that the joint forces will not only deal with tribal clashes but will oversee the growing season, secure migration routes of pastoralists and protect Khartoum -Alnuhoud – Abu Karinka – Ed-Daein.
The government deployed troops in the conflict areas in August 2014 and May 2015; but the regular forces failed to contain violence and end the recurrent clashes between Ma’alia and Rezeigat..
However, the governor explained the failure of previous attempts by the presence of local elements in the regular troops.
“The joint force will be deployed in line with a new mandate and will not be based in one place, but will be able to move because it will be equipped with sophisticated weapons and new gears. Also there will be no local component and that means they will be neutral,” and added.
“We are counting a lot on these forces,” he added.
Following the deadly clashes last May, the government admitted the failure of traditional reconciliation conferences and said the regular forces will deal roughly with any party that attempts to carry out attacks and bring the culprits to justice.
The new governor who is from central Sudan, is appointed by the Sudanese president last June as part of his new government after his re-election in April 2015.
Just before April elections, the parliament abolished the election of state governors and adopted a constitutional amendment providing their appointment by the president. The move was taken after reports saying the election of governors contributed to the rise of tribalism particularly in Darfur region.
NEW STATE GOVERNMENT
Omer who was speaking to Sudan Tribune form Khartoum, said he is in the national capital to follow up the departure of the joint force and other new arrangements.
He further disclosed that the state government will be formed after Eid al-Fitr adding that its members will not be East Darfur in order to ensure government’s stability and provision of services and development in the troubled state.
The Ma’alia accuse the former governor and government officials in Khartoum including the vice-president Hasabo Abdel-Rahman of backing the interests of their tribe: Rezeigat.
They also say the army and government militia in East Darfur are composed mainly from the Rezeigat.
(ST)

Sudan – air force bombs central Darfur

Radio Dabanga

Several dead in second bombing in Central Darfur this week

June 12 – 2015 ROKORO
Fire in Kuma Garadayat, North Darfur (Albert González Farran/Unamid)

Fire in Kuma Garadayat, North Darfur (Albert González Farran/Unamid)

The Sudanese Air Force bombed Solo and Dalo, west of Rokoro in Central Darfur, on Thursday. According to an armed rebel group, three civilians were killed, including a child. A large number of livestock did not survive the explosions.

The military spokesman for the Sudan Liberation Movement led by Abdel Wahid El Nur (SLM-AW), Mustafa Tambur, told Radio Dabanga that an Antonov airplane was flying over the area since 6 pm. After about an hour, it dropped sixteen bombs on the villages of Solo and Dalo.

There were three casualties. One of them is a child under the age of five.

Tambur added that the aerial bombardment also killed about 236 cattle, including camels, and has forced hundreds of residents to flee to the nearby caves and valleys.

The SLM-AW reported an aerial bombardment in the same area on Tuesday. There were no casualties, but people fled from their homes into the surrounding valleys.