Sudan armed groups still deploy child soldiers: UN

Olof Skoog, chairman of the UN Security Council’s working group on children and armed conflict, said armed groups including rebel factions were not implementing international regulations on children in conflict. Link to image.

Olof Skoog, chairman of the UN Security Council’s working group on children and armed conflict, said armed groups including rebel factions were not implementing international regulations on children in conflict.

“We have made very strong appeals to the armed groups that they fully subscribe to international law when it comes to respecting children,” Skoog told reporters in Khartoum during a trip by the working group to Sudan.

He said getting information on children in Sudan’s conflict zones of South Kordofan and Blue Nile was particularly difficult, but that his group had met former child fighters who painted a worrying picture.

“They have told me that they know of some other children who are still locked into these armed groups and with the rebel groups,” he said.

“I can’t give you any number but that makes me worried.”

Children caught in conflicts faced grave violations such as killing, maiming, rape and other forms of sexual violence, attacks on schools and hospitals, and abductions, Skoog said.

He said Khartoum had made efforts to prevent recruitment of children into its armed forces since it signed an “action plan” with the UN in March 2016 to prohibit such recruitment.

Some rebel groups also had signed the plan but have failed to implement it fully, Skoog said.

“In spite of action plans signed by some of these groups, there are or have been… child soldiers deployed, which is a clear violation of their commitments,” he said.

Skoog urged Khartoum to ensure that children who have given up arms be quickly reintegrated into society.

Last year Sudan freed 21 child soldiers who were captured in Darfur in 2015 during fighting between government forces and the rebel Justice and Equality Movement group.

“In any conflict children are the worst off, unfortunately that has been the case… in Sudan,” Skoog said.

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UNSC urged to support peace process revitalization in S. Sudan

Bintou Keita, Assistant Secretary-General for UN Peacekeeping Operations, addresses the Security Council (UN Photo). Link to image.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

November 29, 2017 (JUBA) – A United Nations official has urged members of the Security Council to “unanimously” express its support to the urgent revitalization of the peace process so that the suffering of all South Sudanese can come to an end.

The revitalization is being led by the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD), with support from the neighbouring countries, to revive the implementation of the 2015 peace accord and bring all the warring parties together.

Addressing the Council on the security situation in the war-torn nation, the UN Assistant Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations on Tuesday, Bintou Keita also raised concerns about the growing number of incidents targeting humanitarian actors and restrictions on movement of the UN Mission in South Sudan personnel.

“The humanitarian situation in South Sudan continues to be dire, compounded by widespread armed conflict, inter-communal violence, large displacements of the civilian population and access restrictions which prevents the delivery of humanitarian assistance,” said Keita.

According to the world body, an estimated 4 million South Sudanese have been forced to flee their homes in the conflict that erupted nearly four years ago following a political dispute between President Salva Kiir and ex-Vice-President, Riek Machar.

Despite an August 2015 peace agreement, however, the violence has continued.

Keita further warned that the arrival of the dry season in South Sudan could lead to more fighting that would undermine the political process and cause additional civilian casualties and displacement.

According to UN figures, nearly half of the country’s 12 million people are hungry, including about 1.7 million on the brink of famine.

“The situation is likely to get worse with onset of the dry season”, said Keita.

She added, “The government’s push to assert military dominance across the country, notably when faced with continued resistance by armed opposition groups.”

The conflict in South Sudan, the senior UN official emphasized, can only have a political solution and urged the international community to provide unified and unconditional support for the peace process.

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Aiming for Sudan’s integrated & sustainable water management

H.E. Mr. Mutaz Musa Abdalla Salim — Sudan’s Minister of Water Resources, Irrigation and Electricity (left) — and Mr. Atila Uras, UN Environment Sudan Country Programme Manager, at the three-day water conference in Khartoum. – Photo credit: Yassir Abughadeer / 21 November 2017. Link to image.

November 2017, Khartoum – As the effects of climate change continue to impact the people of Sudan, greater efforts are being made to understand and manage water. Sudan is heavily reliant on the Nile River for its water needs, but attention is shifting towards the multitude of alternative sources to help support livelihoods which are becoming increasingly threatened by climate change. This is especially true in areas that are further from the Nile where people rely, almost exclusively, on seasonal wadis or streams and underground water sources for subsistence. The uncontrolled and unplanned use of such non-Nile resources can result in either displacement of communities away from areas of depleted water or tension between competing communities, often leading to conflict over limited resources.

These provoke a negative cycle of environmental degradation and relapse for the people of rural Sudan. With the proper management of non-Nile sources, a sustained and most optimal consumption of water can help avoid instability and promote peace.

To help address these challenges, a three-day conference was held in Khartoum this November called “Integrated and Sustainable Management of non-Nile Water in Sudan”. Among the many aims of the event, initiating an open dialogue that targets different Sudanese ministers and stakeholders was only one. The event also aimed to nurture a cross sectorial engagement drawing in those that, until recently, have not been fully exposed to integrated water resource management principles. It did so by defining the IWRM approach and showcasing lessons and best practices such as Wadi Elku projects implemented all over the country – most of which bear positive outcomes for people in rural parts of Sudan. Advocating the intrinsic role water plays in economic development and prosperity, given the strong institutional presence at the conference, will contribute to leveraging interest among decision-makers towards long lasting and cohesive water resource management.

Entities and individuals numbering in the hundreds concerned with Sudan’s non-Nile water issues were present. Over thirty-six presentations, intercepted with engaging panel discussions, question and answer sessions in addition to demonstrations were given at the conference. The event’s program focused on matters related to show casing best practice, governance, water data and monitoring, institutional arrangements including community participation in decision making as well as the strengthening of the Sudan IWRM Net established under the UNESCO Chair for Water at the Omdurman Islamic University.

Attracting heads of UN agencies in Sudan and high-level government officials, such as Sudan’s Assistant to the President, Major General Abdelrahman Sadig Al Mahdi, speeches were also given by diplomatic leaders – like the EU Head of Delegation, Mr. Jean-Michel Dumond as well as UK Ambassador, Mr. Michael Aron – all of whom expressed the importance of developing partnerships around a unified vision on water management and sustainability in Sudan.

The Integrated and Sustainable Management of Non-Nile Water in Sudan Conference was a joint venture organised by UN Environment and the UNESCO Chair of Water Resources in Sudan. Key sponsors included The European Union, Sudan government partners, UNESCO Sudan Office, UNICEF, UK Department for International Development (UKaid), UNOPS and The Global Water Partnership.

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New cholera cases emerge in Port Sudan

Published on 29 Nov 2017

Despite reports of the cholera epidemic abating in Sudan, medical sources continue to note the emergence of new cases of cholera in Port Sudan.

Journalist Osman Hashim told Radio Dabanga that according to medical sources “on Friday the Ministry of Health opened two isolation wards at both Port Sudan Hospital and the Children’s Hospital”.

He said that on Friday the wards received 12 cholera patients; seven at Port Sudan Hospital and five at the Children’s Hospital.

The sources expect the cholera rate to increase due to the dire deterioration of the environment, and called on the government to chlorinate water and initiate environmental sanitation campaigns to prevent the spread of the disease.

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50 dead in S Sudan tribal raids: officials

29/11/2017

Juba – At least fifty people were killed in two raids by a tribal militia in eastern South Sudan, with about 60 women and children abducted, officials said on Wednesday, the latest in a series of attacks between rival communities.

Dut Achuek, a state minister, said eight people died in an attack on Monday in Jonglei State, while a follow-up raid on Tuesday left “23 women killed and… 19 men killed.”

Most of the victims were civilians whose homes were burned and livestock stolen, Achuek said.

Both attacks, by armed men from the Murle ethnic group, targeted Dinkas living in villages about 150km north of Bor, the state capital.

 Kudumoc Nyakurono, information minister for the neighbouring Boma State, confirmed the involvement of Murle militia members from the area.

“We know that these youth went there from Boma State,” he said, adding that investigations were underway to work out the exact circumstances of the attacks.

David Shearer, head of the UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS), condemned the killings “and the abduction of some 60 women and children which accompanied these attacks.”

“I urge the leaders of both communities to rein in the youth, show restraint and to put an end to the cycle of revenge killings,” he said.

Rival pastoralist communities in South Sudan have a long and bloody history of tit-for-tat raids in which cattle are rustled and property looted. Women are commonly raped and children abducted, adding fuel to revenge attacks.

In one of the worst such cases, over 3 000 people were killed when members of a well-armed Nuer militia attacked the Murle in 2012.

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“HORRIFIC KILLING OF INNOCENT CIVILIANS” IN SOUTH SUDAN CONDEMNED BY UN SPECIAL REPRESENTATIVE

29 Nov 2017

The killing of “innocent civilians” in the Jonglei region of South Sudan has been condemned as “horrific” by the Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General for the country, David Shearer.

Reports suggest that around 45 people were killed and 19 injured when members of the Murle ethnic group attacked a Dinka village on Tuesday.

“I utterly condemn these killings and the abduction of some 60 women and children which accompanied these attacks,” said Mr Shearer. “I urge the leaders of both communities to reign in the youth, show restraint and to put an end to the cycle of revenge killings. It is crucial that the national and local authorities support the community leaders and work to bring the perpetrators of all attacks to account,” he added.

The Murle and Dinka communities in Jonglei have been engaged in long-standing inter-ethnic violence, which has operated outside the wider political conflict that has affected South Sudan since 2013.

“The perpetrators of this violence have undermined the ongoing peace and reconciliation efforts that the UN Mission in South Sudan, UNMISS, has supported in Jonglei,” Mr Shearer said. “The engagement that UNMISS has had with both communities has shown that the vast majority of people want to end the destructive pattern of revenge attacks.”

The dead included humanitarian workers who according to Mr Shearer were “working selflessly for the people of Jonglei.” Their deaths, he added, are “pointless and utterly contemptible.”

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Sudanese parliament says claims about lack of religious freedoms “exaggerations”

 

 

 

 

 

 

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November 28, 2017 (KHARTOUM) – The Sudanese parliament has described claims of rights groups and some opposition parties over religious coexistence in the country as “mere exaggerations”.

During his visit to Khartoum earlier this month, The U.S. Deputy Secretary of State John J. Sullivan, called to hold a roundtable conference on religious freedoms and coexistence to promote the dialogue between Muslim and Christian clerics in Sudan.

He also expressed his country’s concern over the situation of religious freedoms in the country, especially pointing to the “destruction of churches and the arrest of priests.”

However, Sudan’s parliamentary subcommittee on legislation, justice and human rights on Wednesday has expressed keenness to promote and protect human rights, saying it seeks to reconcile between the local laws and the regional and international conventions in this regard.

The semi-official Sudan Media Center Wednesday quoted the head of the committee Osman Adam Nimir as saying Sudan has amended local legislation pertaining to human rights to be compatible with the international conventions.

He described claims of some opposition parties and rights organizations regarding religious coexistence in the country as “exaggerations”.

Nimir added Sudan hasn’t experienced any problems regarding coexistence between Muslims and the other religious minorities.

He stressed that human rights in Sudan are maintained according to the constitution and the laws as well as the existing beliefs and traditions.

The Sudanese government has been accused of restricting the religious freedom of Sudanese Christians.

Last June, the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom, accused Sudan of continuing to arrest religious leaders and to demolish churches. Following what President Donald Trump delayed the permanent revocation of economic sanctions for three months.

Also, seven U.S. groups in June called on the Secretary of State Rex Tillerson to take into account the lack of religious freedoms and the persecution of religious minorities in Sudan before to take a decision to lift the economic embargo imposed on the East African nation.

Last week, Sudan’s main clerical authority, the Sudan Scholar Corporation (SSC) denied the existence of religious conflicts in the country saying followers of various religions have lived together in peace and harmony for a long time.

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Wau state commemorates 16 Days of Activism

TUESDAY 28 NOVEMBER 2017

Security Council Meeting on Reports of the Secretary-General on the Sudan and South Sudan. Link to image.

 

 

 

 

 

 

November 27, 2017 (WAU) – Civil society groups and international non-governmental bodies joined local non-governmental entities to and students to commemorate the16 days of activism against gender based violence in South Sudan’s Wau state on Monday.

The education ministry, in a statement, said the aim of commemorating global event was mitigate risks associated with all forms of gender based violence such as early and forced marriages and advocate for better policies among women and young girls.

“Beyond the launch, there will be several activities and engagement at all levels on ending child marriage, girls education, access to justice for women, peace and leadership as well as women’s safety and security,” reads the ministry’s statement.

The chairperson of Wau state women association, Bhaja Mohamed el Alimin, said ending violence against women and girls in the community should be the collective responsibility of all stakeholders.

She urged government to ensure all those who commit violence against women face the law and account for all crimes committed.

“We are calling on the government to always arrest the criminals behind crimes against women and girls and we are calling for a review on the provisional law that could add heavy punishment on those committing these crimes,” explained Mohamed.

“Early marriages also affect young girls’ education. After losing their education, they also adopt many difficulties during labor, which ranges from developing fistula cases,” she further added.

Mary Gurance, a field officer for the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) in Wau state, said over a million women and girls in South Sudan are subjected violence and harmful practices such as female genital mutilation, which affects about 200 million of them globally.

“Child marriages affect one in every three girls in developing countries, including South Sudan where many marry before 18 years,” she said, citing permanent disability, psychological trauma, unwanted pregnancies and complications associated with forced or unsafe abortion, among other as some of the challenges they face.

State officials, lawmakers and religious leaders attended the event under the theme, “stop the violence against women and girls now and allow young girls to go to school”.

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Although persecuted, Sudan’s Christian population is growing

Rendering unto Bashir.

Life may be awful in Muslim Sudan, but it is even worse in largely-Christian South Sudan. Link to image.

“IF SOUTH SUDAN secedes,” Omar al-Bashir told supporters at a rally in 2010, “we will change the constitution”, paying no attention to “diversity of culture”. The Sudanese president revisited the subject two years later. “Our template is clear: a 100% Islamic constitution,” he said in a speech to Muslim leaders in the capital, Khartoum. As for non-Muslims: “Nothing will preserve your rights except for Islamic sharia.”

The south seceded in 2011, taking with it most of Sudan’s Christians. After the split churches in the north were burned. Then came demolitions: at least 20 since 2011. Four took place in August this year. About 27 other churches are listed for bulldozing. The government says it is merely removing unlicensed buildings. But only churches seem to be getting knocked down. In any case, the government announced in 2013 that it would no longer grant licences for the construction of new churches. “Christians have no rights here any longer,” says Reverend Kuwa Shamal of the Sudanese Church of Christ, one of several church leaders who have been arrested on specious charges of spying and undermining the constitution.

Sudan’s treatment of Christians has long been dire. Forced assimilation in the 1980s and 1990s helped spark its decades-long civil war. “Denial of religious freedom” was cited by Bill Clinton, then America’s president, among his reasons for imposing sanctions on Sudan in 1997. A peace agreement with southern rebels in 2005 brought some respite, but “after the independence of South Sudan the government decided there was no space for Christians,” says Muhanad Nur, a human-rights lawyer in Khartoum.

Many Western observers agree. On November 17th America’s deputy secretary of state, John Sullivan, told Sudan to stop smashing churches. Open Doors, an NGO, ranks Sudan as the fifth-worst country in the world for the persecution of Christians. In June, American congressmen from both parties wrote to President Donald Trump urging him to delay lifting sanctions for another year, citing in particular “state-sanctioned persecution of Christians”. (They were lifted anyway on October 12th to prise Sudan from the orbit of Iran, a long-standing ally.)

Although foreigners focus on Sudan’s central government, much of the repression is happening locally and sporadically. Church demolitions in Khartoum, for instance, are carried out by local authorities. Many suspect they are more interested in grabbing valuable land than in suppressing religious minorities. The governor of Khartoum, Abdel Rahim Muhammad Hussein, has threatened to kick out tens of thousands of South Sudanese refugees, many of whom are Christian. He claims they cause insecurity and spread disease. Such words are worrying when coming from a man who, like Mr Bashir, is wanted by the International Criminal Court on charges of crimes against humanity.

Yet Sudanese citizens are far more welcoming. Sudan still has many Christian schools, most of whose pupils are Muslim. And many of the Christians that Sudan lost when the south broke away have since returned: about half a million South Sudanese have crossed the border since the start of a civil war there in 2013. Father Juma Charles of St Matthew’s Catholic Cathedral in Khartoum says that so many of his flock have returned that prayer centres that were closed in 2011 are open again.

This article appeared in the Middle East and Africa section of the print edition under the headline “Rendering unto Bashir”
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Al-Bashir wouldn’t stand for Sudan’s 2020 elections, says NCP leading figure

SUNDAY 26 NOVEMBER 2017

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November 25, 2017 (KHARTOUM) – A leading figure at Sudan’s ruling National Congress Party (NCP) has ruled out that President Omer al-Bashir would agree to amend the constitution in order to run for the office again.

Al-Bashir’s term ends in 2020 and he couldn’t run for office again according to the constitution. However, some voices within the NCP and the government have recently called for amending the constitution to allow him to run for the presidency again.

Also, earlier this month, Sudan’s Sufi orders announced support for al-Bashir’s reelection for another term in 2020 praising his significant efforts to unify Muslims in Sudan.

Al-Bashir who came to power through a coup d’état in June 1989 will have ruled Sudan for 31 years by the year 2020.

In March 2012, al-Bashir said he wouldn’t seek his re-election in April 2015 but he ran and won in an election that was boycotted by the major opposition parties.

In August 2016, he said “I’m not a dictator and I don’t want to cling to power. I won’t run for another term, my term will end by 2020 and I won’t be able to run again according to the constitution and the constitution won’t be amended”.

NCP leading figure and Presidential Envoy for Diplomatic Contact and Negotiation for Darfur Amin Hassan Omer told Sudan Tribune that al-Bashir wouldn’t submit to the calls for his reelection, saying the latter seeks to strengthen the national unity and build the NCP and its new leadership.

“Neither the party constitution nor the state constitution allow for more candidacy for the president,” he said.

He pointed out that the initiative to amend the constitution rests at the hands of the president, saying “I don’t think the president would seek to amend the constitution to allow himself to run again because he said he wouldn’t stand for reelection”.

Omer added the NCP Reform Document has laid out the approach to renew the leadership and to trade responsibilities within the party and the state, saying al-Bashir is among the strongest supporters of the document.

It is noteworthy that Omer had objected to al-Bashir’s candidacy in 2015 elections, accusing former Vice-President Ali Osman Taha of exercising “moral coercion” to influence members of the NCP Shura and Leadership Councils to nominate al-Bashir for a new term.

He ruled out that any party could put pressure on al-Bashir to force him to accept running for office again, saying “no one could force the president to take any decision let alone such decisions as amending the constitution or candidature”.

Speaking before large crowds in the Gazira State in central Sudan last week, al-Bashir said he is ready to support the candidacy of the governor of Gezira State Mohamed Tahir Eila for the presidency in 2020.

However, Eila was quick to respond to al-Bashir’s gesture by announcing his full support for the latter’s reelection in 2020.

Also, during the visit to Gazira State, al-Bashir received a document titled “covenant and charter” signed by the Gazira State people supporting his running for office in 2020.

Al-Bashir’s candidacy for the 2020 elections must be formally adopted by the NCP institutions including the Shura Council and the General Conference which is expected to be held in October next year.

Also, the amendment of the constitution must be approved by the political parties participating in the National Dialogue and the Government of the National Accord.

For his part, the political secretary of the Popular Congress Party (PCP) Al-Amin Abdel-Rzig has warned against any breach of the national dialogue outcome which calls to draft a permanent constitution to be approved by an elected parliament in 2020.

He told Sudan Tribune that al-Bashir candidacy is limited to those who called for his reelection, saying “al-Bashir is currently the head of the Government of National Accord and not the head of the NCP government”.

On the other hand, member of the Reform Now Movement (RNM) Leadership Council Osama Tawfiq told Sudan Tribune he is convinced the constitution would be amended to allow al-Bashir run for office again.

“Al-Bashir wouldn’t agree to be a former president, he is either be a sitting president or a late president,” he said.

“As long as al-Bashir continues to be wanted by the International Criminal Court (ICC), he wouldn’t allow anyone to run for presidency because no matter who that person is he might hand him over to the tribunal,” he added.

Tawfiq said the ICC decision has paved the road for al-Bashir to rule “forever”, saying the international community seeks to maintain the status quo in Sudan to serve its own interests.

The ICC issued two arrest warrants against al-Bashir in 2009 and 2010 for alleged war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide committed in Darfur.

However, member of the Democratic Unionist Party and Minister of Information Ahmed Belal Osman has expressed intentions to amend the constitution to allow al-Bashir to run for elections in 2020.

He told the Khartoum-based Al-Jareeda newspaper on Friday “if no consensus was reached, we would amend the constitution. The constitution is not the Quran and we will approve an amendment that meets our desire to nominate the president for a third term.”

“Our demand to nominate al-Bashir for a third term was not meant to appease him, we actually need al-Bashir to stay in power because we aspire to implement further reforms,” he said.

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