South Sudan’s refugee flow is often a children’s crisis

2018-04-15 12:00

The flood of South Sudanese refugees from the country’s 5-year civil war has been called a children’s crisis.

More than 60% of the well over one million refugees who have poured into neighboring Uganda are under the age of 18, government and United Nations officials say. More than two million people have fled South Sudan overall.

Amid the fighting, over 75 000 children have found themselves on their own in Uganda and other neighboring countries, according to the U.N. refugee agency, separated from their families in the chaos or sent by their parents to relative safety.

While many children have reunited with relatives after crossing the border, others are matched by aid workers with foster families in an effort to minimize the disruption in their lives. Without parents, some children are left vulnerable to exploitation and abuse, aid workers say.

 Some teenagers find themselves the head of their households, taking care of siblings. One 16-year-old boy now takes care of his younger brother. “My father was shot in the war,” he said. “And then my mother, I don’t know where she went.” He doesn’t know if she’s dead or alive.
More than 60% of the well over one million refugees who have poured into neighboring Uganda are under the age of 18, government and United Nations officials say. More than two million people have fled South Sudan overall.Amid the fighting, over 75 000 children have found themselves on their own in Uganda and other neighboring countries, according to the U.N. refugee agency, separated from their families in the chaos or sent by their parents to relative safety.While many children have reunited with relatives after crossing the border, others are matched by aid workers with foster families in an effort to minimize the disruption in their lives. Without parents, some children are left vulnerable to exploitation and abuse, aid workers say.

Some teenagers find themselves the head of their households, taking care of siblings.

One 16-year-old boy now takes care of his younger brother. “My father was shot in the war,” he said. “And then my mother, I don’t know where she went.” He doesn’t know if she’s dead or alive.

The two brothers fled to Uganda on the back of a car after seeing their father’s body on a street in their village. After arriving in Uganda they were taken to a reception center run by the U.N. refugee agency.

Efforts to support the children have been hurt by a recent scandal in Uganda in which officials were accused of inflating refugee numbers to siphon off aid money. That has shaken international donors.

Aid workers say resources are stretched thin as they try to place the unaccompanied children with foster families with close ethnic ties.

It’s crucial to place children with families that speak the same language, said James Kamira, a child protection expert with the World Vision aid agency.

One young mother of two, Beatrice Tumalu, now takes care of eight other children who are not her own.

“I feel pity for them,” she said, as she grew up under similar circumstances during the years that South Sudan fought for independence from Sudan. That independence was won in 2011, and South Sudan’s civil war broke out two years later.

The unaccompanied children have little of that aid workers call psychosocial support to help deal with trauma. In one refugee settlement just six case workers are available for 78,000 children, according to the Danish Refugee Council.

Another 16-year-old said his parents died three years ago in South Sudan. He walked into Uganda last year and later was placed with a foster family from another ethnic group.

“Staying there, it is not very well,” he said of the cultural and communication issues.

Sitting against a tree, he opened the Bible he carried with him and began to cry as he read one passage: “I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you.”

South Sudan’s many unaccompanied children need stability and education or “we can lose actually that generation,” warned Basil Droti, who is in charge of child protection at one settlement for the Danish Refugee Council.

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Actions of Lt. Col. Melanie Childs saved scores of South Sudan refugees

16 Apr, 2018 5:00am

As the attack helicopters buzzed over densely-packed city streets, and rotor-blades and machinegun bullets kicked up dust and fear, people ran for their lives.

The South Sudan civil war raged on the streets of the world’s newest country’s capital, Juba. Mortars exploded and RPGs rounds fizzed. Caught in the middle, were 30,000 internally-displaced civilians living in a ramshackle, rambling camp.

They began running to the nearby United Nations headquarters where 1800 international troops were stationed, with a clear mandate to protect civilians.

However, as the battle intensified, with hundreds dying, UN soldiers started turning away the refugees, carrying their lives with them – 20L containers of water, mattresses, babies – seeking safety and protection.

Inside the compound, New Zealand Defence Force Lieutenant Colonel Melanie Childs, who was attached to the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UMISS) as a deputy plans officer, was getting increasingly frustrated.

“It was a very challenging situation,” said the Christchurch-born East Timor and Afghanistan veteran.

“We had a number of troop contributing countries who didn’t react the way they needed to. There was widespread confusion over whether these civilians should be allowed in or pushed back.

“What resulted was a bunch of staff officers getting out on the ground, trying to explain to these different nations that, ‘This is our job, to protect them, this is why we are here’.”

While orders from the Joint Operations Centre were failing to be carried out, either through translation issues or the fog of war, Childs decided to take her own action.

Alongside a Dutch lawyer, she hit the chaotic streets and started corralling hundreds of refugees and convincing them to follow her inside the UN compound, which was a relatively safe zone. She was in radio contact with a British Royal Marine who was doing the same. Elsewhere, US police officers and Norwegian staff officers also rounded up refugees caught in the crossfire.

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600 Sudan orphans thank Qatar Charity’s largesse

April 16 2018

Snapshots of the celebration. Link to image.

More than 600 orphans participated in the Arab Orphans Day celebration organised by the Qatar Charity (QC) office in Sudan.

A number of activities and events were held on the occasion, which was attended by Dr Mustafa al-Sinari, deputy commissioner of humanitarian aid in Khartoum State, in addition to a number of QC’s partner organisations.

The celebrations included plays and performing arts presented by the orphans, which dwelt on issues of sponsorship and philanthropy. Besides, the orphans were able to express their wishes for the children of Palestine through paintings.

A variety of entertainment programmes for children were also presented by a specialist team as part of the celebration.
The attending guests expressed their gratitude to Qatar, QC and the sponsors for their efforts in the service of orphans in Sudan, Qatar Charity said in a statement.

The orphans sponsored by QC expressed their gratitude towards the charity and Qatar through drawings, colouring, wall paintings and clay games. Nine outstanding orphaned students were honoured during the celebration for their academic performance.

The celebrations were held as part of QC’s activities for its sponsored orphans in Sudan for this year. A number of sports, health, education, entertainment activities will be implemented with the aim of providing comprehensive social care to orphans, the statement noted.
QC sponsors around 10,000 orphans in Sudan, providing financial support as well as comprehensive education and healthcare. It also organises targeted activities for them.

The organisation said it “strives to develop its work and implement development projects for orphans in Sudan.” It had previously built the Sheikha Aisha Bint Hamad Bin Abdullah Al-Attiyah Model Orphans City, which was opened in mid-April last year, at a cost of more than $12mn in Al Damar, River Nile State.

The Model Orphans City has 200 houses, each consisting of two rooms, a hall, a kitchen and a bathroom, four schools for boys and girls, a kindergarten, a health centre with 18 doctors and nurses, a vocational training centre, a mosque with a capacity of 850 worshippers, playgrounds, a children’s park, two artesian wells, 28 water coolers, 32 shops and a sanitation system.

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SOUTH SUDAN IS HANGING ON TO HOPE

This article was first published by The Washington Examiner on April 14, 2018.

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News about my country, South Sudan, probably doesn’t make it very often to your social media feed. When it does, it’s for stories about deadly attacks, or refugees fleeing their homes, or the humanitarian emergency that keeps many of my compatriots in its grip.

Seven years ago, South Sudan was born into an atmosphere of optimism. My father’s generation had persevered through decades of war, relishing the promise of a new horizon to build prosperity. Finally, that possibility seemed close to becoming a reality, but the conflict that broke out in 2013 shattered it.

Since then, tens of thousands of South Sudanese have been killed. Half of the population is now food-insecure. One quarter has been displaced. We had momentary reprieves from violence, including the 2015 Agreement on the Resolution of Conflict, but South Sudan remains at war with itself. Today, violence is part of our everyday life.

If you think that there’s no hope for peace in South Sudan … well, it’s not your fault. After all, everything you hear is bad news. But my perspective is a bit different. I’m a 32-year-old South Sudanese development worker with Search for Common Ground, and I see daily evidence that hope is very much alive in my country when I go to work.

My organization runs programs that build relationships of trust between groups across ethnic and political divides. We call ourselves peacebuilders. We look at the drivers of conflict at the local level and bring everybody to the table to find resolutions. We find ways for communities to work together toward addressing shared needs, like safety, education, representation — the titular “Common Ground” in my organization’s name. In this way, we create bonds of mutual trust, even in the most polarized environments.

We then use media to reinforce these bonds by giving a voice to those at the margins of decision-making. Radio, the most popular medium in South Sudan, is an especially powerful tool to achieve that. Currently, we produce two radio programs in partnership with the Catholic Radio Network. The first is a talk show called Hiwar al-Shabaab, meaning youth dialogue; it provides a platform for young people to call in and discuss their issues. The second is a drama, Sergeant Esther, following the trials and triumphs of a female police officer who uses nonviolent methods to uphold the law.

I know what you’re thinking. Local peace initiatives and radio shows seem small in comparison with the daunting problem of interethnic conflict in South Sudan. However, the results we achieved are groundbreaking. In areas targeted by these projects, independent evaluators measured a staggering 200 percent growth in interactions between tribes, of which 90 percent were positive. They measured the increase in intertribal trust at 63 percent.

I see these accomplishments and I wonder — what would happen if we scaled these initiatives to target hundreds of communities across South Sudan? How would my country change?

Internationally, many efforts to end the war are taking place. In February, the High-Level Revitalization Forum held in Addis Ababa brought together the South Sudanese government, opposition parties, and other actors to revive the components of the 2015 Agreement. The Forum ended without major gains, but many saw it as a promising sign that future talks could bring about a new peace agreement.

I believe that these institutional efforts are critical to solving the crisis. But without grassroots peacebuilding efforts now, it will be difficult to rebuild the relationships needed for citizens to embrace the peace agreement when it comes. As the world’s largest dedicated peace-building organization, we know it from experience: in absence of local buy-in, ceasefires negotiated at the national level don’t last.

That’s why it’s so important to support and scale local, pragmatic, effective peacebuilding programs in South Sudan. Not only are they transforming violence into cooperation in local communities, they also are a promising avenue to build a national constituency for peace, which can serve as the backbone for future peace talks. The way to ending the horrific and hugely destabilizing crisis in my country goes through grassroots peacebuilding as much as it does through high-level efforts.

It’s time for the international community to recognize that the kind of local work we do as peacebuilders works. It’s time to invest in it and take it to a wider public. It’s time to link local experts with policymakers, so that any peace agreement is built on the needs of the people who are supposed to uphold it.

It’s time to embrace and cultivate the signs of hope that I see everyday as I do my job. When that happens, I bet you’ll start hearing different news about South Sudan.

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Deadly Yemen ambush stirs calls to withdraw Sudan troops

Although Sudan has vowed to remain in the Saudi-led coalition fighting rebels in Yemen, calls for Khartoum to withdraw its troops from the war-torn country have increased after a deadly ambush.

Sudanese soldiers patrol outside the west of the Yemeni coastal port town of Mokha. Link to image.

Dozens of Sudanese soldiers were reportedly killed by Huthi rebels in northern Yemen in an ambush last week, Yemeni military sources said. The insurgents reported the attack on their Al-Masirah website.

The losses are reported to be one of the heaviest suffered by Sudan since deploying hundreds of soldiers in 2015 as part of an Arab coalition fighting on the side of the Yemeni government.

Khartoum has neither confirmed nor denied the report.

But photographs, purportedly of soldiers killed in the ambush, have been posted on social media, making opposition leaders and analysts question President Omar al-Bashir’s decision to join the Saudi-led coalition.

“People ask… ‘What benefit have we got from this major decision?’ — and they have no answer,” Ghazi Salaheddin, a former minister of state for foreign affairs turned opposition leader, told AFP.

Before “we didn’t have a single drop of bloodshed between them and Sudanese … Now Sudanese are involved in combat with Yemenis.”

The ambush has triggered online outrage against the coalition, with activists and citizens taking to Twitter and Facebook urging Khartoum to withdraw its troops.

“Bring back our sons and brothers! Why are we fighting a war that is not ours?” activist Islam Saleh wrote on Facebook.

– Parliament sidelined –

A Sudanese soldier flashes a victory sign outside the Yemeni coastal port town of Mokha. Link to image.

Bashir’s decision to deploy troops came after a major foreign policy shift by Sudan that saw Khartoum break its decades-old ties with Shiite Iran and join the Saudi-led coalition.

Deploying troops means casualties and so a decision like this needs parliament’s backing, said Salaheddin.

“Which is not the case here,” he said, pointing to what he called a “lack of parliamentary support and… no clear political objectives” to the deployment of troops.

The alliance was launched to push back the Iran-allied Huthis, who seized control of much of Yemen including the capital Sanaa, and to restore the internationally recognised Yemeni government.

Bashir, who came to power in an Islamist-backed coup in 1989, has said that joining the coalition was an “ideological” move.

“From the beginning, they said it was an ideological decision aimed at protecting the holy sites in Saudi Arabia,” said Khaled al-Tijani, editor of Elaff newspaper, referring to Mecca and Medina.

“I don’t think it’s Sudan’s job to protect the holy sites.”

Sudanese also doubt the intentions of Saudi Arabia, Tijani said, as several high-ranking Saudi officials have visited neighbouring Cairo but not Khartoum.

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman visited Cairo last week and agreed on massive investments in Egypt, which is also a member of the coalition but has not deployed troops.

“Saudi Arabia helped Egypt with tens of billions of dollars but Sudan has received peanuts… People feel it’s a type of discrimination,” said Tijani.

“There is not enough compensation for Sudan from this strategic relationship as it is shedding blood in Yemen for this coalition,” he said.

For Tijani, the losses in the Yemen ambush were proof of a foreign policy “failure” by Khartoum.

– Foreign policy failure –

Khartoum has not disclosed how many troops it has deployed but insists it will remain in the coalition.

“I renew my commitment that our troops will continue with their mission within the Arab coalition until it achieves its noble goal,” Bashir said last week.

Foreign Minister Ibrahim Ghandour reaffirmed the pledge at a meeting with envoys of Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Egypt on Tuesday at which the diplomats offered condolences to families of Sudan’s “martyrs” in Yemen.

Some experts say Sudan will ultimately benefit.

“Sudanese troops are guarding borders between Saudi Arabia and Yemen, which is why Saudi Arabia is in need of the Sudanese military,” said columnist Ahmed Al-Noor.

“In the long term, Sudan will benefit.”

Link to article.

What it is like being the only doctor in war-torn Sudan’s Nuba Mountains

Apr 12, 2018

For residents living in the Nuba Mountains in Sudan running for their lives as planes dropped bombs on them was part of daily life.

Ravaged by civil war for decades, this is one of the world’s most isolated and dangerous countries. Its president continues to be wanted for war crimes, genocide and crimes against humanity.

And, as the death toll mounted, the injured and sick had only one place to go: Mother of Mercy Hospital. It’s the only hospital in the entire region and it has only one doctor: Tom Catena.

Ten years ago, Catena, who is from upstate New York, left his friends and family and moved to Africa. He first trained in Kenya, before landing in the Nuba Mountains, where he remains the only doctor.

For three weeks in 2014 and again in 2015, filmmaker Kenneth Carlson documented Catena’s daily heroics for his newly released documentary, “The Heart of Nuba.”

A film still from “The Heart of Nuba,” 2018. Link to image.

ABC News’ “Nightline” spoke to Catena and Carlson about the reign of terror in the region, what drives the doctor and how he and the people of Nuba turned the hospital into a symbol of their survival.

‘As close to a saint’

“I think I take my, my role model as Jesus Christ. I think Christ is really calling us to give up our baggage — whatever it is,” Catena told “Nightline.”

Catena is always on call. Even when he has worked all night, he wakes up at 5:30 a.m. without an alarm clock.

“Dr. Tom is as close to a saint that I’ve met on the face of this Earth,” Carlson told “Nightline.”

Dr. Tom Catena is the only doctor in Mother of Mercy Hospital, the only hospital serving the gravely injured and dying in Nuba Mountains, Sudan. Link to image.

The two go back a long way. They were classmates who graduated from Brown University in 1986. Catena walked away with a degree in mechanical engineering, but despite some high-paying job offers, he found his calling elsewhere.

“I turn to my brother Felix and I’m like, ‘Felix, I should go to medical school.’ He’s like, ‘Tom, what are you talking about? You’re an engineer. What are you talking about?’ And I said, ‘No, I think I should do it,'” Catena said in the film.

Instead of asking his family for money to go to medical school, Catena enlisted in the military. He earned his medical degree at Duke University, then served five years in the Navy before combining his real passions: medicine and mission work.

Few regions are as challenging and dangerous as the one he chose. Thousands of people living in the Nuba Mountains have been victims of the carnage unleashed by the country’s government since 2011, after the government’s split and the formation of South Sudan.

In the face of sanctions for many years, President Omar Hassan al-Bashir’s government banned journalists and international aid from reaching its own population. Meanwhile, many said, al-Bashir has engaged in wide-scale attempted genocide to gain total control of the naturally resource-rich country.

Filmmaker Kenneth Carlson documented the daily challenges and heroics of Dr. Tom Catena for his film, “Heart of Nuba.” Link to image.

“Omar Hassan al-Bashir is a genocider,” Carlson said. “This is all a program to discourage, to oppress these people and to push them out of this region.”

Targeted by the Sudanese government

Catena learned how to perform many surgeries on the job. He worked alongside different surgeons in Kenya, where he performed more than 2,000 operations. He read about other surgeries in books.

As a woman in the film pointed out, he is “the physician, the gynecologist, the surgeon.”

From cancer to war wounds, Catena treats everything without power or running water. He even treats a community of lepers, who he believes can and should be touched just like other human beings.

Some of his toughest cases have involved children, like 2-year-old Rita who was diagnosed with pediatric tumors of the kidneys.

It was a difficult operation that required taking out one entire kidney and part of the other. The grueling -– and miraculously successful -– operation was caught on camera by Carlson.

In the film, Catena acknowledged the role he plays in people’s lives in Nuba. Catena said he felt like if he were to leave, he would be implying that his life was more important than those he served. But sticking it out has meant facing the very real threat of bombardment.

Despite bombs repeatedly being dropped in communities nearby, the hospital had been largely safe. Then, one day, an aerial bomb narrowly missed the building and Catena’s house.

Catena filmed the incident himself. He could be heard telling everyone in the hospital to get down.

“You know the feeling is one of just intense fear. There’s no other way to describe it,” he said. “And, as you’re waiting, that moment everything just becomes crystal clear. You’re just thinking, ‘Is this the day I’m going to die?'”

One bomb landed near Catena’s house, destroying a fence about 100 yards away. In Carlson’s film, Catena said that the government was probably targeting him.

A film still from “The Heart of Nuba,” 2018. Link to image.

In the three years since the film’s production, the bombings have stopped, largely because the U.S. lifted economic sanctions against Sudan. Catena continues to build his life there. Two years ago, he married Nasima, a nurse at the hospital.

“I’m of use here. If I still feel there’s a big need for my services, then I’ll continue to stay,” he said.

He’s also training others to become doctors and nurses, so they can continue the work he started.

“If I can go to my grave — despite all my limitations, my faults, everything else — if I can say, ‘You know what? I think I did God’s work.’ I think I would die a happy man,” he said. “That’s my goal.”

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South Sudan Peace Forum: IGAD, civil society discuss outstanding issues

THURSDAY 12 APRIL 2018

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April 11, 2018 (JUBA) – IGAD special envoy for South Sudan discussed with the civil society groups the outstanding issues in the peace revitalization process as part of the ongoing preparation to resume the process by the end of this month.

The IGAD mediators suspended the second phase of the High-Level Revitalization Forum (HLRF) last February and worked on new proposals on the security arrangements and the power-sharing during the transitional period.

The process is scheduled to resume on 26 April, but through these separate consultations meetings, the mediation team hopes to narrow the gaps between the HLRF parties, prior to the next reconvening of the Forum.

In a statement released after the meeting, the IGAD said Special Envoy Ismail Wais met the representatives of the South Sudanese Civil Society Stakeholders to the HLRF to discuss key outstanding issues at the Forum, including positions of the various parties and possible compromises.

“The consultations meeting tackled the key areas of disagreements on governance and security arrangements at the HLRF,” said the statement.

Under governance, the meeting discussed: the composition of the transitional government; structure of the government; responsibility sharing; number of states and size and composition of the Parliament.

On security arrangements, the two sides examined: timeframe for reintegration/unification of forces and approach to the formation of one national army; security for Juba during the Transition; demilitarization of civilian centres; cantonment of forces and Security sector reform or establishment of new security services.

At the end of the meeting, “the representatives of the Civil Society and stakeholders at the HLRF made recommendations for considerations by the Parties at the HLRF”.

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Sudan vows to stay in Saudi alliance fighting in Yemen

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2018-04-10 19:57

Sudan vowed on Tuesday that it will remain in a Saudi-led coalition fighting rebels in Yemen, after a deadly ambush reportedly killed dozens of its soldiers in the war-torn country last week.

Khartoum has deployed hundreds of soldiers in Yemen since 2015 as part of the alliance battling on the side of the country’s government against Iran-backed Huthi rebels.

On Friday it suffered one of its heaviest losses when dozens of Sudanese soldiers were killed by insurgents in an ambush, Yemeni military sources and rebels said.

Sudan’s Foreign Minister Ibrahim Ghandour insisted his country would remain involved in Yemen at a meeting with envoys from Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Egypt.

“The minister affirmed Sudan’s position of continuing to be part of the coalition troops to bring back stability in Yemen,” the foreign ministry said.

Sudan has not officially confirmed or denied the deaths of its soldiers in the ambush.

But the ministry said the three ambassadors who met Ghandour “offered their condolences to families of martyrs and hoped for a speedy recovery of those wounded in operations in Yemen in recent days”.

The Huthi rebels hit a Sudanese military convoy in the northern province of Hajjah before dawn on Friday, according to military sources in Yemen.

The losses were reported to be the heaviest suffered by Sudanese troops in Yemen since they were deployed in the war-torn country.

The Huthis reported the attack on their Al-Masirah website, saying dozens of Sudanese soldiers had been killed and armoured vehicles destroyed.

Khartoum’s decision to join the Saudi-led coalition was part of a major foreign policy shift after it broke its decades-old ties with Tehran.

The Sudanese military has largely refrained from offering details of its operations within the coalition against the Shiite Huthis.

In a rare announcement in April 2017 the army said that five of its troops had been killed while fighting for the coalition.

President Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi’s government was driven from Yemen’s capital after the Huthis overran the city in 2014, sweeping southwards from their northern bastion.

Nearly 10 000 people have been killed since the coalition joined the Yemen war in 2015, triggering what the United Nations has called the world’s largest humanitarian crisis.

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Sudan’s president orders release of all political prisoners

Omar al-Bashir reported to be freeing those detained after unrest but details are unclear

Omar al-Bashir speaks to representatives of the ruling National Congress party on 2 April. Photograph: Ashraf Shazly/AFP/Getty Images. Link to image.

Sudan’s president, Omar al-Bashir, has ordered the release of “all political detainees” held in the country, state media said, weeks after mass arrests in a crackdown on anti-government protests.

Hundreds of opposition activists, leaders and protesters were arrested in January by security agents to curb demonstrations that erupted on the back of rising food prices, including bread.

“President Omar al-Bashir on Tuesday issued a decree to release all political detainees held across the country,” the official Suna news agency reported.

“The decision aims to promote peace and harmony among all political parties in order to create a positive environment for achieving national goals,” it said.

The January arrests came after sporadic protests erupted in the capital Khartoum and some other towns of Sudan after the price of bread more than doubled.

Some activists were later freed but many remained in detention, including top opposition leaders Khaled Omar of the Sudanese Congress party and Mokhtar al-Khatib, the head of the Sudan Communist party.

Sina did not say how many prisoners would be set free and did not identify any of them.

The US and European embassies in Sudan had called for the release of all detainees, with Washington’s mission saying many were being held in inhumane conditions.

Sudanese authorities had cracked down on protesters in a bid to prevent a repeat of deadly unrest that followed an earlier round of subsidy cuts in 2013. At that time, dozens of people were killed when security forces crushed demonstrations, rights groups said.

Sudan’s government parties back Bashir’s re-election in 2020

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April 9, 2018 (KHARTOUM) – The political parties of the National Consensus Government (NCG) have agreed to back the re-election of President Omer al-Bashir in 2020.

The announcement was made by Sudanese Information Minister Ahmed Bilal Osman following a meeting of an NCG delegation with the deputy chairman of the National Congress Party (NCP) Faisal Hassan Ibrahim on Monday.

“The coalition government’s parties agreed that the implementation of the outputs of the national dialogue ’process) should be achieved in the presence of the main guarantor of the dialogue, which is the President of the Republic,” said Osman. Monday.

“So they agreed to re-nominate him for a new term in the next elections,” added the information minister was also the spokesperson of the dialogue process which concluded its work in October 2016.

In addition to the ruling National Congress Party, the National Consensus Government includes all the forces that took part in the political process.

Osman further said the political forces, participating in the government, call on President al-Bashir to release all political detainees in order to create a suitable atmosphere for the formation of the Supreme Constitutional Committee tasked with the drafting of the permanent constitution.

Al-Bashir several times said that he would step down by the end of his current term in 2020. Even in November, 2017 he went to declare his support for the candidacy of the governor of Gezira state Mohamed Tahir Ayala.

But observers more and more are inclined to believe that al-Bashir who is indicted by the International Criminal Court would run for a new term despite what he says.

For his part, Ibrahim who is also a presidential aide welcomed the call of the allied forces to release political detainees, as the ruling party didn’t yet take an official position on al-Bashir probable candidature.

The security forces arrested opposition leaders after a series of protests against the austerity measures including the increase of bread price announced at the beginning of January 2018.

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