Tag Archives: Sudan

Sudan – Minni Minnawi groups claims to have killed over 200 troops in Darfur

Sudan Tribune

Darfur groups say they killed 214 government troops in recent clashes

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May 21, 2017 (KHARTOUM) – The Sudan Liberation Movement – Minni Minnawi (SLM-MM) and a splinter group from the SLM- Abdel Wahid said they killed 214 government troops in recent clashes in North and East Darfur states on Friday 19 May.

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In this handout photo provided by the SLM-MM, Minni Minnawi (L) and Nimir Abdel Rahman sign a coordination agreement between the two SLM factions in undisclosed area on 20 February 2015 (ST Photo)

In a joint statement, the SLM-MM and the SLM-Transitional Council said the enemy suffered heavy losses in lives and equipment in the battles that extended from the far north of Darfur to south and east Darfur.

The enemy lost 214 people of different ranks including the Rapid Support Forces Deputy Commander Hamdan al-Samih, who is also the cousin of SRF commander. he was killed in East Darfur Wadi Hawar battle, added the statement.

The joint statement issued 24 hours after the clashes indicate for the first time the participation of the SLM Transitional Council in the fighting. The group is led by Nimir Abdel Raman a former spokesperson of SLM-AW faction.

The SLM-MM and Transitional Council which is not part of any political process signed a coordination agreement in early 2015 but this is the major joint operation against the Sudanese government.

The government and SLM-MM traded accusation following Friday’s clashes of breaching a cessation of hostilities declared unilaterally by the two sides.

The government says the rebels who came from Libya attacked its forces on the border with the north African troubled country. It also says they attacked its forces in East Darfur.

However, the SLM-MM called to condemn the Sudanese government stressing it aggressed its fighters, pointing that RSF spokesperson said that their attack on the armed groups “was designed to curtail any move of the rebel forces including administrative or whatsoever”.

The UNAMID, the only neutral observer on the ground, did not issue a statement on who launched the attack.

(ST)

Africa and Europe – wall against migrants almost complete

The Conversation

May 3, 2017 11.00am SAST

Migrants abandoned on the Sudan-Libya border by smugglers in 2014. STR/EPA

A deal signed in Italy with tribes operating in southern Libya may be the last element of the barrier the EU has been constructing to exclude Africans from Europe. “To seal the southern Libyan border means to seal the southern border of Europe,” declared Italian foreign minister, Marco Minniti, following the signing ceremony in early April.

The deal, negotiated in secret with leaders of the Toubou and Awlad Sulaiman ethnic groups, holds real benefits for European politicians under pressure to halt the arrival of more African migrants and refugees. Minniti explained to the Italian newspaper La Stampa that:

The Libyan border guard service will be active all along the 5,000km [3,106 mile] long south Libyan border. And in the north, migrant sea traffickers will be dealt with by the Libyan coast guard which was trained by Italian experts, and which will be equipped with 10 motor boats from April 30.

The Libyan deal is the latest part of a barrier constructed to protect Europe’s soft southern underbelly – the Mediterranean. It may not be a physical barrier comparable to Donald Trump’s wall along the US-Mexican border, but it is nearly in place.

Avenues closing

The routes that Africans have used in the past to reach Europe are fast being sealed. There is currently next to no transit by sea from West Africa through the Canary Islands. Just 144 people made it to Spain by this route between July and September 2016 according to the most recent statistics from the EU’s border force, Frontex. More crossed from the Spanish enclaves of Ceuta and Melilla on Morocco’s northern coast, but they numbered just under 3,000.

The route through the Sinai and Israel also has been closed. The brutal treatment of Eritreans and Sudanese in the Sinai by mafia-style Bedouin groups, who extracted ransoms with torture and rape, was certainly a deterrent in the past. But this route was fully sealed in December 2013 when the Israeli authorities built an almost impregnable fence, blocking entry via the Sinai.

Libya and Egypt have remained possibilities for migrants, but both are now becoming increasingly difficult to cross. The latest African Intelligence report from Frontex makes this clear.

Egypt became more attractive following the brutal killing and enslavement of Africans attempting to use the Libyan route. Many are Ethiopian and Eritrean Christians, who are subjected to the most appalling abuse by members of so-called Islamic State (IS).

But even Egypt has its drawbacks. As Frontex makes clear, many refugees dodge the authorities to avoid being forcibly repatriated to their countries of origin. This has left Libya – dangerous as it is – as one of the few viable routes into Europe. Blocking this has been critical to the success of the EU’s strategy, as a recent official assessment by the European Commission made clear:

Libya is of pivotal importance as the primary point of departure for the Central Mediterranean route.

This is why the deal signed in Italy is so important. As Frontex has explained, having the co-operation of the tribes in the area is vital if the route through the southern Libyan border is to be sealed:

The Tuareg and Toubou groups dominate the local human smuggling business thanks to the fact that their clansmen are spread on both sides of the border.

Questionable co-operation

The Italian proposals are very much in line with agreements the EU reached with African leaders during a summit held in Malta, in late 2015.

Libyan prime minister Fayez al-Sarraj in Italy for diplomatic talks in late March 2017. Angelo Carconi/EPA

The two sides signed a deal to halt the flight of refugees and migrants. Europe offered training to “law enforcement and judicial authorities” in new methods of investigation and “assisting in setting up specialised anti-trafficking and smuggling police units”. The European police forces of Europol and Frontex will assist African security police in countering the “production of forged and fraudulent documents”.

This meant co-operating with dictatorial regimes, like Sudan, that’s ruler, Omar al-Bashir, is wanted for war crimes and crimes against humanity by the International Criminal Court. But al-Bashir is now seen as a friend to the West, despite his notorious record. One of Barack Obama’s last acts as president of the US was to lift sanctions against Sudan.

It is clear that Europe is determined to do all it can to reduce, and finally halt, the African exodus. But one point needs to be emphasised: the EU’s “wall” is by no means the only barrier Africans have to confront.

As Frontex makes clear, several African states have their own system of fences, or are planning to build them. These include the Moroccan wall (or “berm”) to halt the Sahrawis crossing from Algeria, as well as fences along the borders between Niger and Nigeria, Tunisia and Libya and a planned fence between Kenya and Somalia.

The obstacles confronting African migrants and refugees en route to Europe are becoming ever more severe.

African migrants sold in Libyan “slave markets”

BBC

Gambian migrants who returned voluntarily from Libya stand in line with plastic bag from the International Organization for Migration (IOM) as they wait for registration at the airport in Banjul, Gambia April 4, 2017Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Reports of African migrants being bought and sold mark a new low in the crisis

Africans trying to reach Europe are being sold by their captors in “slave markets” in Libya, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) says.

Victims told IOM that after being detained by people smugglers or militia groups, they were taken to town squares or car parks to be sold.

Migrants with skills like painting or tiling would fetch higher prices, the head of the IOM in Libya told the BBC.

Libya has been in chaos since the 2011 Nato-backed ousting of Muammar Gaddafi.

Hundreds of young sub-Saharan African men have been caught up in the so-called slave markets, according to the IOM report.

A Senegalese migrant, who was not named to protect his identity, said that he had been sold at one such market in the southern Libyan city of Sabha, before being taken to a makeshift prison where more than 100 migrants were being held hostage.

Women, too, were bought by private Libyan clients and brought to homes where they were forced to be sex slaves, the witness said.

Map showing Central Mediterranean migrant routes

The IOM’s chief of mission for Libya, Othman Belbeisi, told the BBC that those sold into slavery found themselves priced according to their abilities.

“Apparently they don’t have money and their families cannot pay the ransom, so they are being sold to get at least a minimum benefit from that,” he said.

“The price is definitely different depending on your qualifications, for example if you can do painting or tiles or some specialised work then the price gets higher.”

A migrant hangs from a boat as they wait to be rescued as they drift in the Mediterranean Sea, some 12 nautical miles north of Libya, on October 4, 2016.Image copyright AFP
Image caption Many thousands of migrants each year try to reach Europe by crossing the Mediterranean

An IOM staff member in Niger said they confirmed the reports of auctions in Libya with several other migrants who had escaped:

“They all confirmed the risks of been sold as slaves in squares or garages in Sabha, either by their drivers or by locals who recruit the migrants for daily jobs in town, often in construction.

“Later, instead of paying them, [they] sell their victims to new buyers.”

Some migrants, mainly Nigerians, Ghanaians and Gambians are forced to work “as guards in the ransom houses or in the ‘market’ itself”, the IOM employee added.

The organisation has called the emergence of these markets “a disturbing new trend in the already dire situation for migrants in Libya”.

Sudan – foreign nationals arrested as police investigate Khartoum explosions

Sudan Tribune


A picture of a yellow building where foreign nationals fabricated a bomb in Arkawit suburb, south of Khartoum on 12 February 2017 (ST Photo)
February 12, 2017 (KHARTOUM) – Sudanese police on Sunday has arrested several foreigners from some Arab countries after an explosion at a residential building where it uncovered base ingredients for fabricating a bomb.

Police official spokesperson Lt. Gen. Omer al-Mukhtar earlier Sunday stated that “police investigations are underway to find out the details and motives of the crime”.

Also Sky News TV, reported the police apprehended foreign Arab nationals and seized quantity of weapons and explosives.

In a statement on Sunday night, Sudanese police confirmed the explosion, saying a police officer who was stationed near the incident’s site informed the rescue police that he “heard a small blast at Arkawit suburb, south of Khartoum,”. The police underscored that it was later made certain that it came from one of the buildings in the area”.

The statement added that “police force backed by forensic and explosive specialists besides a dedicated team from the National Intelligence and Security Service was dispatched” to the incident’s scene, pointing the teams “stormed the apartment and found local materials used in making crude explosives and foreign passports”.

“The investigations revealed that a suspect began to make an explosive device but it detonated and caused him minor injury that forced him to seek treatment in a nearby hospital. [However] they refused to treat him without informing the police which made him leave without treatment,” read the statement.

The statement said that the police would resolve the case and captures the suspects within hours, stressing the seized materials are not highly explosive.

It is noteworthy that the police on Sunday morning has closed down a street in the 46th neighbourhood of Arkawit area and set up blocks 80 meters along the street and positioned its vehicles on both sides of the street.

Eyewitnesses told Sudan Tribune that police found explosives in an apartment at the residential building; saying one of them exploded on Sunday morning and hit one of the residents, where traces of blood were seen at the scene.

According to the eyewitnesses, the police evacuated large number of yellow paper bags containing holdings that have been collected from the apartment.

They pointed out that they heard gunshots at 2:00 am (local time), saying the area was then cordoned off by police with sniffer dogs.

The same eyewitnesses added that the four-story building includes a number of apartments inhabited by Arab nationals.

Khartoum has remained a safe place for foreign diplomats and organisations also there was no terrorist attacks on the Sudanese government institutions despite the regional troubles, its collaboration in the war against Daesh and involvement in the Yemeni war.

The last terrorist attack in Khartoum was in 1993 when the Palestinian Black September Organization carried out

African Union backs mass withdrawal from international court – despite opposition from Nigeria and Senegal

Impunity rules – is the African Unionh turning back into the bad old days of the OAU, when it was a trades union for autocrats and dictators? KS

BBC

ICC in Ivory Coast in 2013GETTY IMAGES Africa has 34 signatories to the Rome Statute, the treaty that set up the court

The African Union has called for the mass withdrawal of member states from the International Criminal Court (ICC).

However, the resolution is non-binding, with Nigeria and Senegal opposing a withdrawal.

South Africa and Burundi have already decided to withdraw, accusing the ICC of undermining their sovereignty and unfairly targeting Africans.

The ICC denies the allegation, insisting it is pursuing justice for victims of war crimes in Africa.

The AU took the decision on Tuesday following a divisive debate at its annual heads of state of summit in Addis Ababa.

Part of the resolution also said the AU would hold talks with the UN Security Council to push for the ICC to be reformed.


Analysis by Emmanuel Igunza

After being discussed in several previous summits, this was a huge announcement showing how frustrated the AU was with the international court. But the debate itself showed how divisive the whole issue is.

The resolution isn’t as strong as many who are opposed to the court would have liked. It only calls on countries to consider how to implement the decision but does not bind them to it. It’s a victory for human rights activists who insist the court still has a very important role to play in the continent where many countries have weak judicial systems.

The resolution also calls for African countries to continue pushing for reforms of the court – another clear indication that ditching the court en masse isn’t such a popular decision. The likes of South Africa and Kenya, which have pushed for withdrawing, will be disappointed that the discussions about completely severing ties with the ICC will have to wait another six months for the next summit.


Sudan’s President Omar al-Bashir, who is wanted by the court on charges of genocide in Darfur, was at the summit.

In 2015, a South African court criticised President Jacob Zuma’s government for failing to arrest Mr Bashir when he attended an AU meeting in the main city, Johannesburg.

The government later announced that it was withdrawing from the ICC because it did not want to execute arrest warrants which would lead to “regime change”.

A total of 34 African states are signatories to the Rome Statute, which set up the ICC.


The ICC and global justice:

  • Came into force in 2002
  • The Rome Statute that set it up has been ratified by 123 countries, but the US is a notable absence
  • It aims to prosecute and bring to justice those responsible for the worst crimes – genocide, crimes against humanity, and war crimes
  • Only Africans prosecuted so far

Lord’s Resistance Army – “you belong to Kony”

African Arguments

“You belong to Joseph Kony”: How Dominic Ongwen and others became child soldiers

Testimony from a former child soldier of the Lord’s Resistance Army highlights the moral and human complexity of Ongwen’s case at the ICC.

The Lord's Resistance Army terrorised northern Uganda for several years. Credit: Martin Bekkelund.

Earlier this month, one of the most morally complex cases to face the International Criminal Court (ICC) resumed. In it, Dominic Ongwen stands accused of crimes against humanity and war crimes committed as a commander in the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA).

In December 2016, Ongwen pleaded not guilty to the charges, arguing that since he was abducted by the LRA as a child, he is a victim of the rebel group.

Ongwen is the only LRA member out of the five indicted by the ICC who was abducted as a child. The other four reportedly joined voluntarily, including the still-at-large Joseph Kony, who founded the LRA in the late-1980s and is the only other surviving indictee.

The prosecution argues that Ongwen’s status as a former child abductee should not absolve him of responsibility for alleged crimes though the Chief Prosecutor conceded it might be a mitigating factor in his sentencing. The defence insist Ongwen was traumatised by the LRA and should be seen as a victim.

If accounts of other former LRA members can act as a guide, entrance into the group would certainly have had a profound effect on Ongwen. His abduction and daily existence in the LRA would have been characterised by extreme violence, both targeted at him and forcing him to target others, all in ways specifically designed to recondition him into a loyal fighter.

This is clear from the following vivid testimony of Okello, another LRA fighter who was also abducted as a child in early days of the brutal rebel group. His traumatic story reflects the experiences of many children forcibly conscripted. Without providing any answers, it highlights the complexity of the questions around responsibility and blame raised by Ongwen’s case.

It is excerpted from my 2016 book, When The Walking Defeats You: One Man’s Journey as Joseph Kony’s Bodyguard.

LRA child soldiers. Mid 2015, Democratic Republic of Congo. Photo obtained by Paul Ronan.

Okello’s story

Okello started to talk about his life, as people usually did around the fire in LRA camps, following the Acholi tradition known as wang oo. Okello started his speech by lamenting the fact that he had no family of his own left, and that the LRA government was now his family, and Joseph Kony his father.

“My own father died when I was born, or that is what my mother told me. I had an older brother named Paul. People said he was crazy but Paul was not crazy, I knew him well. Paul had a sickness that made it difficult for him to understand others, but he was nice and always helped my mother and me. We lived in Minakulu, by the big road that links Gulu with Kampala.

The holies [LRA fighters] came to our village in 2003 when I was thirteen. It was early in the morning but it was still dark outside. Kidega was the commander, I know him well now. They kicked our door and grabbed us while we slept.

One of the youngus [child soldiers] held a razor blade to my neck and told me to go out. Someone grabbed mother and Paul. Paul was only sixteen, but he was tall and strong. He refused to be dragged and ran towards mother, who was being whipped by Kidega. She was too scared and confused to sit on the floor like Kidega asked her.

Kidega’s guard yelled at Paul to drop on the floor but Paul did not understand. He tried to help our mother so Kidega’s guard shot him in the stomach. Then they all beat Paul in front of us and let him bleed to death. We saw him die slowly, his blood just poured until he dried out, like a sheep being prepared for cooking. Kidega said mother was stupid for not controlling Paul, who now was dead because of her. ‘You are a bad woman,’ he said, and slit her throat.’”

Okello continued, his voice quivering when mentioning his mother.

“I was scared. When I saw Paul and my mother dead on the ground covered in blood, I could not move my hands or feet. It was like an evil spirit pinned me down. I was sure I was going to die and I wanted to. Kidega pointed his knife at my head and said, ‘You are now with the LRA, forget your family.’ The others pulled me up as I could not stand up and tied me with other children from Minakulu, also taken that night. We walked for hours until we reached the bush. I did not think I would live.

But these people here teach you to be strong. You have no choice but to obey and be strong or to die weak. The day after I was taken as we walked towards Kitgum, one kid called Olweny, whom I knew very well because we played ‘nine-stones’ together, tried to escape but they caught him and brought him back to where we stopped. Kidega then ordered all abducted children from Minakulu, thirteen of us, to pick up sticks and beat Olweny to death.

We were all in a circle around Olweny, who was really scared. He was small bodied and young, maybe eleven years old. He asked us not to kill him and started crying. Kidega made fun of him because Olweny pissed his pants. Kidega said, ‘If you don’t kill him, we will kill you.’

I picked my stick and hit him in the face, then everyone else hit him many times until he stopped moving and his brain came out of his head. I felt bad but I knew I had become a man then, a soldier.

Kidega told us to throw Olweny’s body in the bush, warning us that anyone who tried to escape would suffer the same fate. ‘You are now real soldiers of the Lord,’ Kidega said, ‘and you belong to Joseph Kony, our father.’

This is how I ended up here. This is now my family because God wanted me to be Kony’s child.”

Ledio Cakaj is the author of When The Walking Defeats You: One Man’s Journey as Joseph Kony’s Bodyguard (Zed books, 2016).

Sudan – Amnesty International accuses Khartoum of using chemical weapons in Darfur

Reuters

Sudan’s government has carried out at least 30 likely chemical weapons attacks in the Jebel Marra area of Darfur since January using what two experts concluded was a probable blister agent, Amnesty International said on Thursday.

The rights group estimated that up to 250 people may have died as a result of exposure to the chemical weapons agents.

The most recent attack occurred on Sept. 9 and Amnesty said its investigation was based on satellite imagery, more than 200 interviews and expert analysis of images showing injuries.

“The use of chemical weapons is a war crime. The evidence we have gathered is credible and portrays a regime that is intent on directing attacks against the civilian population in Darfur without any fear of international retribution,” said Tirana Hassan, Amnesty International’s director of Crisis Research.

Sudanese U.N. Ambassador Omer Dahab Fadl Mohamed said in a statement that the Amnesty report was “utterly unfounded” and that Sudan does not possess any type of chemical weapons.

“The allegations of use of chemical weapons by Sudanese Armed Forces is baseless and fabricated. The ultimate objective of such wild accusation, is to steer confusion in the on-going processes aimed at deepening peace and stability and enhancing economic development and social cohesion in Sudan,” he said.

Amnesty said it had presented its findings to two independent chemical weapons experts.

“Both concluded that the evidence strongly suggested exposure to vesicants, or blister agents, such as the chemical warfare agents sulphur mustard, lewisite or nitrogen mustard,” Amnesty said in a statement.

Sudan joined the Chemical Weapons Convention in 1999 under which members agree to never use toxic arms.

A joint African Union-United Nations force, known as UNAMID, has been stationed in Darfur since 2007. Security remains fragile in Darfur, where mainly non-Arab tribes have been fighting the Arab-led government in Khartoum, and the government is struggling to control rural areas.

Some 300,000 people have been killed in Darfur since the conflict began in 2003, the U.N. says, while 4.4 million people need aid and over 2.5 million have been displaced.

The International Criminal Court issued arrest warrants for Sudanese President Omar Hassan al-Bashir in 2009 and 2010 on charges of war crimes and genocide in his drive to crush the Darfur revolt.

(Reporting by Michelle Nichols; Editing by Tom Brown)