Sudan :IRIN News Briefs, 5/11/99

Sudan :IRIN News Briefs, 5/11/99

SUDAN: IRIN News Briefs, 11 May

SPLM claims government bombing killed civilians

The rebel Sudan People's Liberation Movement/Army (SPLM/A) on Monday claimed four civilians were killed in the government bombing of two relief centres, "with no presence of soldiers of the SPLA", in Loka and Lainya, Yei county, on Saturday.

A press statement from SPLM spokesman Dr Samson Kwaje said the bombings "made a mockery" of the government's stated ceasefire and had driven the population of the centres into nearby forests with neither food nor medicines, as if "deliberately planned in order to depopulate all SPLM-administered territories".

State and rebel troops battle for southern oilfields

Calm had returned to the southern Unity state by the weekend after clashes between state troops and armed militias for control of its oilfields, according to media reports on Sunday. AFP quoted armed forces spokesman Lt-Gen Mohamed Osman Yassin as saying that local security issues were "squarely resolved" and the oilfield areas were now "fully secured".

A rebel militia - ostensibly part of the pro-government South Sudan Defence Forces (SSDF) - under the leadership of Tito Byel attacked oilfield areas in Unity state and took 23 Chinese oil workers captive late last week, the opposition Voice of Sudan radio reported. The attacks on oil installations and government troops by the SSDF splinter were due to a dispute over responsibility for the security of oil operations, according to Sudanese Vice-President Riak Machar, quoted by AFP on Saturday.

The SPLM/A spokesman in Nairobi, Samson Kwaje, told IRIN on Monday the attacks were carried out by the Southern Sudan Independence Movement (SSIM) - a disillusioned faction of the SSDF - which has the moral, but not practical, support of his movement. He said the situation had not been "settled" on Saturday and that there was little chance it would be quickly quelled.

Khartoum claims rebel defections

State-run Omdurman Radio on Sunday alleged that more than 250 rebels and some 800 civilians had fled to the government-held town of Kapoeta from "appalling conditions" in the rebel movement and the alleged torching of villages in East Equatoria. The civilians and rebels were received in Kapoeta by acting East Equatoria governor Bili Labida, who appealed to the government to send aid for them, AP reported.

SPLM spokesman Samson Kwaje told IRIN he had no knowledge of such a defection, or such mistreatment of civilians, and that it was most likely "propaganda from Khartoum". He said the government was so worried that the Port Sudan-Kassala highway had been cut off by opposition National Democratic Alliance (NDA) forces, it was trying to deflect attention from its troubles in the east. Humanitarian sources described the security situation in the area as "tense and volatile". The Kassala state authority has reportedly imposed a curfew along the road between Gedaref and Port Sudan from 1800 to 0600 hours.

President holds weekend talks with Ethiopia

President Omar Hassan al-Bashir of Sudan and Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi of Ethiopia took advantage of Saturday's inauguration of Djibouti's new president, Ismail Omar Guelleh, to hold talks designed to improve cool relations between their two countries, Radio Omdurman reported on Sunday. The two men stressed the importance of restoring normal relations - soured by accusations that each has helped the other's rebel movements - for the stability of the Horn of Africa.

Gaddafi briefed by exiled opposition leader

Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi met at the weekend with opposition leader and former Sudanese prime minister Sadeq al-Mahdi as part of his mediation role between Khartoum and opposition groups, AP reported. Al-Mahdi, leader of the Umma Party - which is part of the opposition umbrella NDA - briefed Gaddafi on his talks earlier this month with Sudan's Parliament Speaker Hassan al-Turabi.

Relapsing fever epidemic strikes Rubek

Research by a team of international health workers has confirmed an epidemic of malaria-like relapsing fever among semi-nomadic populations in the Lakes region of the south. Surveys at five centres in Rumbek county - coordinated by WHO and OLS - during March and April showed the attack rate during the last three months to range from 20 percent to a high of 67 percent. "In the village with the highest mortality rate, 29 out of 30 surveyed households had at least one family member dead", the survey report noted. Though the number of incidents of the fever is falling, the report noted the danger of large outbreaks due to "close contact of large numbers of people under circumstances of poor personal hygiene".

WFP says "food pipeline" running dry

The WFP "pipeline" of food aid in Sudan will dry up substantially in August, at the peak of the hunger gap when supplies of locally-produced foods are unavailable, with the level of funding currently available, a situation report from the agency warned on Monday. The agency reported that while the overall nutritional situation has improved in many parts of southern Sudan, that could easily be reversed by a deterioration in the security situation.

Agencies probe reports of high malnutrition in Bahr el-Ghazal

An emergency nutritional assessment is being carried out in Bahr el-Ghazal in the south to investigate reports of high malnutrition at the start of the hunger gap, an OLS report stated on Monday. The team, lead by the Emergency Preparedness and Response Unit, includes WFP, Oxfam, the SPLM and the Sudan Relief and Rehabilitation Association: the humanitarian body of the SPLM.


Date: Tue, 11 May 1999 11:27:57 +0300 (EAT) From: IRIN - Central and Eastern Africa <> Subject: SUDAN: IRIN News Briefs [19990511]

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

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