SUDAN: IRIN News Briefs [19990915]

SUDAN: IRIN News Briefs [19990915]

SUDAN: IRIN News Briefs, 15 September

Government says flooding "out of control"

Sudan's presidential advisor for authentication affairs Ahmad Ali al-Imam on Monday said 75 percent of the northern town of Dunqulah was under floodwater. Sudanese radio quoted him as saying the flood situation in the town and surrounding areas was "beyond the control of individuals and institutions". He said the disaster in the town "could not be described", adding that the water had risen over two metres. He called for urgent shelter, food supplies and water tanks to provide drinking water, in addition to medicines to face health problems resulting from the situation. A 25-member committee has been formed in the area to put in place "urgent arrangements to salvage the situation and give necessary support to the affected".

Meanwhile, Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir also visited Dunqulah town on Monday and inspected residential areas affected by the floods, Sudanese television reported. He described the situation as "pre-destined by God" and urged citizens to be "patient with these afflictions". Expressing the government's concern, he said it would provide shelter for those affected.

Reconciliation meeting set for October

A meeting of the preparatory committee for a national accord between the government and the opposition has been set for October, Suna news agency reported. The agency quoted Foreign Minister Mustafa Uthman Ismail as saying this agreement was reached during a meeting between Sudanese, Libyan and Egyptian foreign ministers on the fringes of the recent OAU summit in Libya. The foreign ministers also discussed adequate procedures to make the initiative a success and agreed on further contacts with the Inter-Governmental Authority on Development (IGAD) and the IGAD Partners Forum to notify them the Egyptian-Libyan initiative was not a substitute to that of IGAD.

Up to four million Sudanese displaced

Up to four million Sudanese were internally displaced by the end of 1998, a US Committee for Refugees (USCR) report said. It termed this the "largest internally displaced population in the world". It also said a huge population of the exiles lived in Egypt and elsewhere, "many of whom considered themselves refugees although host governments did not give them official refugee status". The report further said that more than 350,000 Sudanese were refugees in seven countries - an estimated 170,000 in Uganda, 60,000 in Ethiopia, 45,000 in Kenya, about 35,000 in Central African Republic, some 30,000 in DRC, nearly 10,000 in Chad and 2,000 in Egypt. USCR noted that Sudan hosted approximately 360,000 refugees from neighbouring countries of which 320,000 were from Eritrea, 30,000 from Ethiopia, about 5,000 from Chad, 3,000 from DRC and 2,000 from Uganda.

Faction leader killed

News organisations reported that Sudanese militia leader Kerubino Kuanyan Bol was killed last Friday by Peter Gadet, an operations' officer of a pro-government militia group loyal to Paulino Mateb. Local news reports said Kerubino was killed in an ambush during a trip to Wahdah province at the invitation of his ally, Mateb. Gadet had reportedly rebelled against Mateb and was "disillusioned" by Kerubino's continued alliance with Mateb. Sudan People's Liberation Movement/Army (SPLM/A) spokesman Samson Kwaje distanced the movement from the incident, saying it was an "internal rebellion". He told IRIN on Wednesday the SPLM/A had had no forces in the area where Kerubino was killed since 1991. "This area has three contesting forces, the government, Riak Machar's and Paulino's. Each would like to take control of the oil fields," he said. "Fighting between the three has intensified since May. But this incident resulted from rebellion from within."

SPLA positioning forces

Meanwhile, the SPLA is positioning its forces in the south in readiness to respond to "likely" attacks from the government side. According to SPLM/A spokesman Samson Kwaje "repositioning" of troops in the area is not new. "We do this every year especially towards October at the end of the rainy season to make our army ready for attacks," he told IRIN on Wednesday. "There is usually a natural ceasefire from early March up to around October which is the rainy season in southern Sudan," he said. He denied claims by some news organisations that the SPLA was recruiting and mobilising troops in preparation for another round of fighting. Kwaje also denied allegations by Sudanese radio that government forces had repulsed a rebel attack in Bahr el-Ghazal, claiming it was the former who attacked the latter's forces in the area last Thursday and Friday.


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

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