Sudan Update Vol 9 No 8

Sudan Update Vol 9 No 8


Blast victims / Conscript's tale / Starvation looms / Coca Cola / Iran-Uganda /

Children / Great Lakes churches / Car bomb / Gold / IMF / ILO / Pollution /

Jonglei canal / Nubian dam


TENT HOSPITAL TREATING THOUSANDS: `She looked much younger than her nine years,

short and thin, with burns in the left face, and bandages wrapped around the whole back and upper legs,' reports Xu Jianmei for Xinhua on 3 April.

`She was lying prostrate, like a silent lamb, never groaning during our nearly 20-minute stay at her bed. Her mother lies on the next bed, suffering from a bomb wound in the head.

`The bomb, which blasted the house little Ayual Thiep lived in in Adet village in southern Sudan on March 19, killed her grandmother on the spot. Ayual and her mother were [flown] to the Lopiding Hospital last week.

`The tent hospital, located in dry and hot northern Kenyan town of Lokichokio, some 25km away from southern Sudan's vast swamp, was set up by the International Committee of Red Cross (ICRC) in 1986 mainly to receive war-wounded Sudanese.

`From 1987 to 1997, the hospital, the largest set up by the Red Cross worldwide, has treated more than 14,000 people, most of them Sudanese hurt by gun shots, bombs, grenades or landmines. In 1997 alone, there were nearly 5,000 surgical operations done in the hospital.

`"Bombing is quite frequent in my village, two or three times within one week recently. Many people in the village lost their family members like I did," said Ayual's mother.

`"Now my home was totally destroyed. My husband and other children have to sleep under the trees and eat leaves and tree fruits. Maybe after Ayual and I go back, we will have to build a new house," she went on.... "The war has lasted so long that it becomes part of our daily life. We get used to it."

`"The warring sides are not ready for either negotiations or peace. They just want to gain time," sighed Gerald Bessen, the ICRC chief in the hospital, adding that fightings even became heavier ahead of or during the peace negotiations.

`It was said that in Yei, a strategic town in southern Sudan, residents dare not walk one mile away from home to cultivate crops in fear of landmines. UN data estimate that at least one million landmines are yet to blow up across southern Sudan's extensive savanna.

`Most of the patients' wounds had been infected before they arrived at the Lopiding hospital, said Head Nurse Toril Parelius. She noted that it often took the wounded at least one week or even up to two months to be taken to the hospital by rescue planes.

`Nonetheless, most of the hospital inmates, many of them amputees, still yearn to return home, instead of being sent to [Kakuma] refugee camp some 100km away from Lokichokio, said the Norwegian nurse. Usually the Red Cross sent the discharged Sudaneses back by air. But such flights have been suspended for 15 months due to insecurity, which has held up about 100 discharged in the tent hospital, she said.

`The Red Cross is expecting to have the flights resumed in mid-April with access to 14 locations, including seven in the south, if a final agreement is reached between ICRC, Khartoum and SPLA, said Bessen.' (Xinhua 3/Apr/98)

ARMY "MOPPING UP": Army spokesman Abd al-Rahman Sirr al-Khatim said on 15 April that "heavy casualties" had been inflicted on the SPLA in "extensive mopping-up operations conducted in the past two days by government troops in the Bahr el-Ghazal region".

"Bahr al-Ghazal is stable and calm," Khatim told the official daily al-Anbaa, adding that food supplies were "flowing satisfactorily" along railway lines and "recently opened" land roads. He added that airports at Aweil and Wau were operating efficiently, receiving planes every day. (al-Anbaa / AFP 15/Apr/98)


RELIGIOUS SCHOLAR DENOUNCES CONSCRIPTION: A renowned Islamic scholar bitterly criticised the "harsh, relentless" implementation of the compulsory national service, which he blamed for "the catastrophe in which 60 young men have died."

Tayeb Zein al-Abdin, a political science lecturer at the University of Khartoum, in an interview published by al-Rai al-Aam, lamented that: "Not a single official bothered himself with going to the scene to see how the catastrophic accident occurred."

Abdin said the National Service Administration had made a habit of rounding up youths from the streets for short periods of training and taking them to the war front "without the knowledge of their families." He charged that conscription had been extended to include high school students who, though young and inexperienced, were made to participate in "a fierce war that the army itself has failed to resolve for decades."

Abdin said compulsory conscription of young people was an "unprecedented violation of fundamental rights." (al-Rai al-Aam / AFP 13/Apr

SURVIVING CONSCRIPT'S TALE OF TERROR: `A youth who identified himself as one of the conscripts who fled from a Sudanese military camp earlier this month said [in Cairo on 14 April] that Sudanese soldiers massacred his comrades as they tried to escape,' says AFP.

`Ibrahim Hamed Abdallah Khalil, 19, a student from Khartoum, said he "fled the April 2 massacre at the [Ailafoun] camp and managed to get to Wadi Halfa in northern Sudan and take the ferry bound for Aswan, southern Egypt." He said he arrived in Egypt last week and went to stay with a relative in Cairo.

`Khalil said he had been "kidnapped more than three weeks ago by military recruiters at Khartoum-Bahari and taken to a conscription center." He said he was sent to al-Slait camp near the town of Ailafoun, 30km (19 miles) outside Khartoum.

`"On Thursday at sunset the 1,418 conscripts at the camp decided to escape en masse from the camp and climbed the wall to get to the Blue Nile, but camp officers ordered the soldiers to fire on us with automatic weapons, killing a lot of conscripts," he said.

`"One group that succeeded in getting over the wall piled into a fishing boat to get to the other side of the Nile. But most of them then plunged into the water to avoid shots fired by

pursuing soldiers," Khalil said.

`"With four other comrades, I jumped from the boat and swam to the other shore where a man picked us up, gave us something to eat and some money so we could get away. But I decided to get out of Sudan," he said.

`Khalil took part in a sit-in [on 14 April] at the headquarters of the Sudanese opposition Umma Party in the Cairo suburb of Heliopolis, organised by the National Democratic Alliance...

`About 700 Sudanese residing in Egypt took part in the five-hour sit-in which ended with a Muslim prayer for the souls of the slain conscripts. Umma Party leader Sadiq al-Mahdi also attended.

`According to the Sudanese authorities, the recruits drowned when their boat sank as they tried to escape from the camp. The Sudanese embassy in Cairo published a statement Tuesday saying that not a single bullet had been fired at the conscripts and that autopsies showed that "drowning was the cause of their deaths." The statement also accused "the opposition of trying to use the massacre" for political ends.

`By the official count, 55 bodies were fished from the Blue Nile after the incident. However, Mahdi said that 129 conscripts were killed, including 74 who died from broken necks or gunshot wounds inflicted by instructors and guards at the camp. Another 55 conscripts drowned, he said.' (AFP 14/Apr/98)

BASHIR OFFERS POSTPONEMENT FOR HIGH-FLYERS: Lt-Gen al-Bashir said on 9 April `that students who do well on university entrance exams can suspend their compulsory military service or finish it later in order to attend university,' says Reuter. `Sudan had previously required students to sit for entrance exams and then go straight into compulsory military service for two years, after which they enrolled in university.'

`All students of the Sudan school certificate will be absorbed into the national service. The results of the exams and the certificates will be handed out through the channels of the national service,' said SUNA. `Only those who are regulars in the service camps will receive their certificates.'

A a high-scoring student could interrupt military service to go to university, `provided that he finishes the remaining period of his national service during the time of the study or after graduation and in accordance with the circumstances of the homeland.'

SUNA earlier quoted Higher Education Minister Ibrahim Ahmed Omar as saying that Bashir's decision would apply to the coming academic year, for which students start to sit exams this month.

In 1997, 65,000 male students who sat admissions exams were unable to attend until they completed their service. (SUNA / Reuter 9/Apr/98)


GREAT LAKES CHURCH COUNCILS CALL FOR PEACE: `Leaders of the Great Lakes region

and Horn of Africa church councils ended their two-day consultative meeting on Sudan with a rallying cry for an end to the bloodletting. The meeting (7-8 April in Nairobi) expressed concern over the deteriorating humanitarian situation in Southern Sudan, and appealed to the warring parties to hold "peace discussions without pre-conditions, based on the IGAD Declaration of Principles".

`Earlier, the Sudanese Church had appealed to the regional church councils to pray, lobby and advocate in their respective countries for peace in Sudan. They also drew their attention to the plight of the Sudanese refugees in the neighbouring countries and the urgent need for humanitarian assistance for those who are internally displaced inside the country.

`The meeting, the first of its kind, was jointly organised by the All Africa Conference of Churches (AACC), New Sudan Council of Churches (NSCC), National Council of Churches of Kenya (NCCK), was supported by the World Council of Churches (WCC). It brought together over 50 participants from Ethiopia, Rwanda, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Eritrea, Tanzania and the host country, Kenya, with apologies from Burundi and Uganda church councils. The Sudan Council of Churches (SCC) representatives were also present, as well as the representatives of Sudan Government and SPLM.' (AACC 15/Apr/98)


GEDAREF CONVOY AMBUSHED: The National Democratic Alliance said on 11 April its forces had ambushed a convoy in the Gedaref area and that the commander of the government's Sondonse camp near Gallabat, Capt al-Rashid, was among 12 killed. The ambush was "retaliation" for Khartoum's "massacre" of conscripts on 3 April. (NDA / AFP 11/Apr/98)

KASSALA CAR BOMB: A time bomb went off in front of the house of police officer Maj al-Hissein Khamis in Kassala, destroying his parked car, said al-Sharie al-Siyasi. The army said further investigation was planned. (al-Sharie al-Siyasi / AFP 13/Apr/98)


IRAN MEDIATES WITH UGANDA - AGAIN: `Iran's deputy foreign minister for African and Arab affairs, Sayed Mohammad Sadr, visited Kampala on 10 April to try to restart peace talks between Uganda and Sudan,' reports Reuter.

`In November 1996, foreign ministers of Uganda and Sudan signed a draft peace agreement in Tehran in which they agreed to expel rebel groups fighting their respective governments. The two parties were to meet in December 1996 to fine-tune the agreement but the meeting never took place.' (Reuter 11/Apr/98)

TORPEDOING NEGOTIATIONS? President Bashir accused the United States of attempting to torpedo Sudan's peace negotiations, in an interview with Lebanese magazine La Revue du Liban: "America is only interested in Uganda because this country is fighting against Sudan and backs the rebel movement," he said. (La Revue du Liban / AFP 8/Apr/98)


UNICEF DENOUNCES UGANDAN REBELS: `The UN Children's Fund (UNICEF) has called for help in halting the "barbaric" abduction of children to Sudan by the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) in northern Uganda. UNICEF's deputy executive director, Stephen Lewis, said 14 children and three adults who escaped from their rebel captors were returned home this week from Sudan to Uganda.

`In a speech to the UN Commission on Human Rights in Geneva, he expressed appreciation to both countries' governments for their help in making possible the first such repatriation.

`He said he hoped that, with further help from Sudan's government, it would be possible to locate and send home up to 2,000 Ugandan children believed to be held in captivity in Sudan by the Lord's Resistance Army.

`US First Lady Hillary Clinton on Wednesday pledged further American support for efforts to end the rebel violence in northern Uganda.

`"The US government and my husband will continue to pressure Sudan to cease its support of the Lord's Resistance Army... We will work with you to end this terror," she told 4,000 students and staff at Kampala's Makerere University.

`The 17 abductees were located after a 15-year-old boy who escaped the rebels approached UNICEF in Juba last November. With the help of the UNHCR, they were flown to Khartoum on March 26 and were being taken to their native region, the northern Ugandan town of Gulu, for trauma counselling.' (Reuter 2/Apr/98)



Nile river is responsible for an increase of infectious diseases among the people and wildlife of Sudan, the newspaper al-Rai al-Aam said. A forum of the Sudanese Environment Conservation Society (SECS) said burnt engine oil dumped into the Nile by an electricity generating station in Khartoum was affecting fish, vegetables and fruits grown along the river. It also attributed a rising incidence of allergy, skin diseases, stomach infections and cancer to the pollution, particularly in areas north of Khartoum.

`The newspaper quoted the commissioner of Khartoum, al-Sadik Mohamed Salim, as urging the government to enforce the law on environmental conservation and carry out an information campaign to enlighten people about the need to keep the environment clean. Sudan has special courts to try cases related to environmental degradation.

`The commissioner also demanded that environmental studies should be included in the curricula of all levels of schools beginning from the next academic year.

`The forum listed other sources of Nile water pollution such as car washing by the riverside, bathing in the Nile, industrial waste and waste from boats which are used for transport on the river.' (al-Rai al-Aam / DPA Apr/98)

NUBIANS CAMP ON DAM SITE: `Sudanese Nubians... fear the extinction of their heritage if a giant dam is built at Kajbar in northern Sudan at the Nile's third cataract. The Khartoum government says the dam will boost the economic development of the region ... by producing 200 megawatts of electricity and irrigating one million hectares of wheat fields.

`But the project has run into fierce opposition from the Nubians, who [in early March] camped at the dam site and drove away a team of Chinese engineers, blocking any surveying of the area ahead of construction.'

A protestor, Haidar al-Haj al-Nour, writing in al-Sharie al-Siyasi newspaper, said the people responsible for the dam were ignorant about the area. The government had no facts or figures to back up their claim about economic development.

`Abdel-Hafiz Yassin Khairi, the secretary of a committee set up to study the negative effects of the dam, said government bodies mandated to study the project had not done any work, yet there were indications the project was set to begin early next year.

`The Sudanese government has been playing down the Nubian opposition to the Kajbar project... although one official speaking on condition of anonymity told the Wifaq daily that it would bring more advantages than disadvantages to the region. As an example, he said, Egypt would be able to buy surplus electricity power at competitive rates and would also have access to the extra Sudanese wheat that the project would produce.

`"Instead of Egypt forfeiting its independence to the United States in exchange of food, they will honourably get it from us," the official said. If a small country like Sweden had dozens of dams and the United States and China have hundreds, why shouldn't Sudan have a few dams on the river Nile? he asked.' (al-Sharie al-Siyasi / Wifaq / DPA /Mar/98)

JONGLEI AND CONFLICT: `The Jonglei Canal project ... would never have got off the ground without the ten years of relative peace following the 1972 Addis Ababa Accords. The intention was to dig a canal which would drain the Sudd and allow more water to flow down the White Nile and eventually into Egypt. The benefits of the project to the South were entirely spurious and studies pointed to grave ecological and environmental damage in the South. In spite of this, Southern leaders within the then Nimeiri regime, gave their support to the project.

`Southern students protested against the canal and a few died as demonstrations were roundly broken up by the security forces of the then semi-autonomous government of the South. That the project now lies in ruins, a permanent scar on the face of Southern Sudan, has little to do with those Southern leaders and everything to do with the outbreak of the present conflict in 1983. It is a reminder of the negative politics of domination which Egypt encourages. It can only be hoped that a more unified and better organised Southern Sudan will prevent any future Egyptian attempts to interfere.' (Sudan Democratic Gazette Apr/98)


AID COMMISSIONER UPBEAT: Massive food aid is reaching southern Sudan overland and more is on its way through airdrops, a senior [Sudan government] relief official was quoted as saying Monday.

Some 34 truckloads of food arrived recently at Raja, in Bahr el-Ghazal, for distribution in the troubled region, Humanitarian Aid Commissioner Hussein al Obeid told the official al-Gamhouria newspaper.

"Efforts are continuing for delivery of the largest possible quantity of food" before seasonal rains begin, he added.

Dr Obeid said the Khartoum government had agreed to a UN plan to airdrop relief to 22 districts, "most of which" are controlled by southern rebels, "in appreciation of the humanitarian conditions experienced by the citizens in those areas."

Obeid said that government-held areas in southern Sudan "do not suffer any food shortage or famine." (al-Gamhouria / AFP 13/Apr/98)

ACUTE SHORTAGES IN ALIAB: Aliab district in Yirol province of Lakes (al-Buheyrat) State is facing an acute shortage of food and medicine, governor Nicanora Mager said on 15 April. His state government had managed to provide 100,000kg of sorghum, he said. Khartoum newspapers said First Vice President Ali Osman Mohamed Taha had ordered an immediate shipment of aid.

AFP notes that Aliab district is under government control, while other parts of Buheyrat state, including its capital Rumbek, are held by the SPLA. (al-Anbaa / AFP 15/Apr/98)

POTENTIAL DISASTER: `"We are dealing with a potential disaster and we expect it will get worse," World Food Programme (WFP) field supervisor Claude Jibidar told Reuters on 14 April.

`Efforts to help those in need are being hampered by the Sudanese government's insistence that all aid flights - even to areas which have been in rebel hands for years - be cleared by Khartoum a month in advance. "We want Sudan to give us unconditional access to the areas that need food aid," said Jibidar. "The only condition should be need."

`Lack of resources is also a problem: "The WFP thinks it should be delivering 6,000 tonnes a month and we probably will only be able to deliver 2,000 tonnes a month if we don't get extra aircraft," said Brenda Barton, spokeswoman for WFP.

`"At this point, given capacity that we have in terms of aircraft ability, we will only have hit 30 % of the 350,000 needy population in Bahr el Ghazal by the end of April."

`At Pan Thou, a nutrition centre staffed by the international aid agency Medecins sans Frontieres (MSF) was feeding over 650 children who officials described as being "severely malnourished." Thousands others were turned away, having been diagnosed as malnourished but not in immediate danger.

`"Less than 10 % of the children (we see) are of normal weight for their age," said MSF nurse Hanne Wurtz.

`Operation Lifeline Sudan managed to give a half ration - enough food for an adult to last two weeks - to over 30,000 people who gathered at the town at the weekend.'

AFP adds: `Barton said the WFP was able to supply only half-rations, using road transport and eight aircraft. She said the agency needed one or two more C-130 aircraft to supplement its fleet to deliver food before the onset of the rains next month.' (Reuter, AFP 14/Apr/98)

NOTHING TO FALL BACK ON: `Several thousand hungry Sudanese gathered at Pakor, around 75 miles north of the south's second biggest town Wau, to await the delivery of food at an airstrip. Some of them had walked for up to five days to reach the collection of dusty mud and grass huts, only to be told there would be no food deliveries for at least a month.

`"I don't think I can walk back ... I am too tired and hungry," said Makol Ebil, a wizened grandmother who had trekked more than 60 miles to reach Pakor.

`Surrounded by her seven daughters and their 19 children, Ebil described how her family had survived for the past month on tamarind fruit, the bitter kernels of a date-like nut and wild grass.

`"When times are hard we have always had these to fall back on," she told Reuters, "but even these are running out. We have nothing left ... nothing."

`Aid agencies say they cannot begin delivering seeds to south Sudan until they have taken care of the immediate food needs of the population.

`"If we deliver seed when the people are still hungry, they will eat the seed," said [Michelle] Quintaglie. "It is a losing battle."

`But there is no evidence on the ground that even immediate food supplies are reaching those in need.

`The WFP says it has just two vehicles in the province of Bahr el Ghazal - an area bigger than France but without a single tarmac road - for its 10 field staff to assess the food needs of hundreds of thousands of people.

`Dan Eiffe of Norwegian People's Aid - which operates outside the OLS umbrella - argues for a more radical solution. "There has to be greater international pressure brought to bear for a proper, permanent solution... These people need immediate help, but unless we find a long-term solution we are pouring good money after bad." (Reuter 6/Apr/98)


I.M.F. WARMS TO "PROGRESS": The International Monetary Fund (IMF) hopes to open an office in Khartoum, SUNA reported on 14 April, saying a message from the IMF was sent recently to President Bashir.

Reuters notes: `"Substantial progress has been achieved in the design and initial implementation of structural reforms in the fiscal, monetary and exchange rate areas," the IMF said in its annual review of the Sudan economy.

`IMF directors said firm implementation of the reform program would lay the foundation for sustained economic growth and help heavily indebted Sudan normalize relations with its creditors. They urged [it] to do more to pay off its arrears to the [IMF] and welcomed a government commitment to pay $21 million of arrears this year.

`The latest IMF World Economic Outlook, published on 13 April, said Sudan's economy would grow by 6.5 % this year, up from 5.5 % in 1997. It expected inflation to fall to 15 %, from 32 % in 1997 [and 114 % in 1996].' (SUNA/AFP, Reuter 14/Apr/98)

CHINESE OIL COOPERATION: Chinese Vice-Premier Wu Bangguo met with Awad Ahmad al-Jaz, Sudan's minister of Energy and Mining, in Beijing on 15 April. Wu said that he is pleased to see that bilateral oil cooperation is progressing smoothly, believing that Jaz's current visit to China will boost bilateral cooperation in energy.

The two countries have much in common in international affairs, and they have understood and supported each other, said Wu, expressing his appreciation for Sudan's support for the "one China" policy. (Xinhua 15/Apr/98)

PRECIOUS METALS: Sudan has signed agreements with 11 companies to prospect for gold and is seeking further deals. Energy and mining minister Awad Ahmad al-Jaz said Sudan would sign a copper prospecting deal with a South African company in April and that annual gold production has reached a record high of five tons. Most is from a joint venture with the French-owned company Ariab in the Red Sea hills. Al-Jaz said: "We have all sort of minerals here, and the door is open..." (SUNA / AP /Mar/98)

NOT ALWAYS COCA-COLA: `When the US government announced sanctions against Sudan

four months ago, officials here shrugged their shoulders,' reports IPS. `Trade between the countries was low, they said, so the measure would hardly affect the economy. Now, however, the effect is being felt: Coca Cola, for example, pulled out of the country this week and, as a result, at least 7,000 workers and technicians have lost their jobs, according to the Sudan Standard, an official weekly. Coca Cola Ltd was one of the leading employers in Sudan, economists here say.

Sudan Standard said that Coca Cola International had requested that Egyptian industries stop shipping concentrate and chemical mixtures needed to manufacture Coca Cola drinks to its subsidiary in Sudan. The paper quoted company authorities as saying that they had not received permission from the US government to ship the inputs to Sudan.

`Companies that used to import computers from United States are now closing their doors. Computers are now scarce and the few that were imported from United States before the sanctions have doubled in price.' (Sudan Standard / IPS 9/Apr/98)


TRADE UNIONISTS SUFFER ABUSES: The International Labour Organisation (ILO) Committee on Freedom of Association said trade unionists in Sudan were frequently imprisoned, tortured or killed in a pattern of widespread violation of their rights. It urged the government in Khartoum "to open an inquiry into the arrests and torture of a number of trade unionists and the deaths of two others and to take legal proceedings against those reponsible."

It based its appeal on allegations of government interference in trade union activity by the legal Federation of Workers' Trade Unions. The Committee expressed regret that the government had failed to respond... (Reuter 26/Mar/98)

SUDAN UPDATE can accept no responsibility for the truth or accuracy of the original reports reviewed herein nor any claim for defamation or infringement of copyright arising out of their publication. Single quote marks `...' enclose source texts; double quotes "..." indicate direct speech. Information added for clarity by the editors is signalled by square parentheses [SU].

FREQUENT SOURCES: AC = Africa Confidential / AI = Amnesty International / HRA = Human Rights Watch Africa / ION = Indian Ocean Newsletter / MEI = Middle East International / MENA = Middle East News Agency (Egypt) / RSR = Republic of Sudan Radio / SEB = Sudan News (Sudan Embassy Bulletin) / SUNA = Sudan News Agency / SWB = Summary of World Broadcasts (BBC Monitoring Service)

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Sudan Update, PO Box 10, Hebden Bridge, West Yorkshire HX7 6UX England Tel/Fax: +44-1422-845827 E-mail: ISSN 1352-0393

Peter Verney (


Date: Fri, 15 May 1998

From: (Peter Verney) Subject: Sudan Update Vol 9 No 8

Editor: Ali B. Ali-Dinar

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