SUDAN: IRIN News Briefs [19991102]

SUDAN: IRIN News Briefs [19991102]

SUDAN: IRIN News Briefs, Tuesday 2 November


Canada to examine oil venture's links to conflict Northern opposition proposes "enlarged" IGAD initiative WFP barges turn back Flooding in Kadugli UN report details "perpetual" battle against misery Equatoria frequent target of government bombing Demobilised child soldiers missing No repatriation for Eritrean refugees

Canada to examine oil venture's links to conflict

Saying it was "deeply concerned" that oil extraction in Sudan may be contributing to the forced relocation of civilians, Canada last week announced it would field a mission to examine allegations of human rights abuses in the country. "If it becomes evident that oil extraction is exacerbating the conflict in Sudan, or resulting in violations of human rights or humanitarian law, the government of Canada may consider, if required, economic and trade restrictions," Foreign Affairs Minister Lloyd Axworthy said in a press release last week. The Canadian company Talisman Energy is a partner in the Greater Nile Oil Project, which includes a new 1,600 km pipeline from the oil fields to Port Sudan.

"Canadians want assurances that the operations of Canadian enterprises are not worsening the conflict or the human rights situation for the Sudanese people," Axworthy said. He was scheduled to meet with the head of Talisman on Tuesday to discuss the government's concerns. A Talisman statement said the company would respond "seriously and constructively" to the initiative. "There is a lot of misinformation surrounding Sudan," Talisman said. Canada last week also appointed Senator Lois Wilson as its special envoy to the Sudanese peace process, Axworthy announced.

Northern opposition proposes "enlarged" IGAD initiative

The US special envoy to Sudan, Harry Johnston, has invited leaders of Sudan's northern opposition groups to Washington to discuss the country's internal situation, news agencies reported. AFP quoted officials of the umbrella National Democratic Alliance (NDA) as saying opposition leaders last Thursday proposed to Johnston that the OAU-mandated mediation group of the Inter-Governmental Authority on Development (IGAD) - currently comprising Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya and Uganda - be enlarged to include Egypt and Libya, which have jointly proposed a separate peace and reconciliation initiative for Sudan. "We're proposing forming a 'four plus two' group," Umma party spokesman Salah Galal told AFP. Meanwhile, the Sudanese government is to decide this week whether or not to "receive" Johnston, AFP reported on Saturday, citing a senior foreign ministry official.

WFP barges turn back

WFP barges have started returning to Kosti from Malakal because insecurity has prevented the food aid convoy from proceeding towards Juba, WFP said on Saturday. The barge convoy, which arrived in Malakal on 21 September carrying food for over 300,000 beneficiaries in rebel- and government-held locations along the Nile river corridor, had been unable to continue its journey upstream due to insecurity in Unity State, WFP said in its latest Sudan bulletin received by IRIN on Monday.

Flooding in Kadugli

Torrential rains in the southern Kordofan capital of Kadugli have affected over 18,000 people, including some 8,300 children, according to a report from the UN Humanitarian Coordination Unit (UNHCU) in Khartoum. It said a government/UN assessment mission to Kadugli had found that over 900 houses were completely destroyed and some 1,900 were damaged. Fifty hand pumps and 621 latrines were also destroyed. The mission recommended that food aid for three months, shelter materials and water treatment chemicals be provided for the affected population.

UN report details "perpetual" battle against misery

Operation Lifeline Sudan (OLS) will be "condemned to fight a perpetual uphill battle against human misery and deprivation" without the full and uninterrupted cooperation of the warring parties, UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan said in his annual report on emergency assistance to Sudan. The report, issued at UN Headquarters on Friday, said the worst effects of the 1998 humanitarian crisis in Sudan - the most serious in 10 years - were in large part contained thanks to "unprecedented" levels of donor support. However, Annan noted that the crisis had been exacerbated by a temporary ban on OLS flights. While cooperation in support of OLS subsequently improved, the initial cause of the tragedy was a breakdown in that cooperation "for reasons of a non-humanitarian character", the report said.

"It is imperative to emphasise once again that the underlying principles and instruments defining cooperation within Operation Lifeline Sudan must be respected," the report concluded. During the 1998 crisis, WFP provided more than 112,000 mt of food to approximately 1.5 million beneficiaries using a combination of road, river and air corridors, while OLS agencies provided supplementary and therapeutic feeding to more than 100,000 people and conducted a major measles and polio vaccination campaign to prevent disease outbreaks, the report said.

Equatoria frequent target of government bombing

Over 55 incidents of bombardment were reported by relief agencies in southern Sudan during the period, Annan's annual report stated. Eastern Equatoria in particular was a repeated target of bombing by the government since the attempted takeover of Torit by the rebel Sudan People's Liberation Army (SPLA) in September 1998, the report said. "Yei, Kajo-Keji, Ikotos, Labone, Chukudum and Narus were bombed several times," it said, adding that NGO-supported hospitals had been hit. Meanwhile, raids by 'Murahaleen' militia in the first half of 1999 added to the fragile humanitarian situation in southern Sudan. The raids led to "a number of deaths, theft of livestock and the abduction of women and children", it said.

Demobilised child soldiers missing

OLS agencies were investigating the disappearance of approximately 100 demobilised child soldiers who had been cared for in a transit camp in western Upper Nile, Annan said in the report. They went missing following fighting in the area in May-June. "It is feared that the missing children may have been recruited into the various armies and militias," he stated. About 350 out of 500 child soldiers registered in the first three months of 1999 were demobilised, the report said, adding that over 50 had already been reunited with their families.

No repatriation for Eritrean refugees

Arrangements to repatriate Eritrean refugees in Sudan had not materialised over the past year because of the Eritrea-Ethiopia border conflict, the prevailing state of relations between Sudan and Eritrea, and the "unwillingness" of Eritrea "to take back its nationals", the Secretary-General's report said. During the period, UNHCR assisted 147,302 Eritrean and 11,889 Ethiopian refugees living in camps in eastern Sudan, it said. An estimated 232,000 urban refugees also received limited assistance. Meanwhile, some 8,865 Ugandan and Congolese refugees were estimated to be living in southern Sudan. The Congolese refugees included 334 people, mainly women and children, who arrived in Juba in early 1997, the report added.


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Editor: Dr. Ali B. Ali-Dinar, Ph.D

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