South Sudan: Deployment of UN-mandated regional protection force begins

The arrival of a UN regional force in South Sudan will enable the UN Mission in the country, UNMISS to free up additional peacekeepers to mount more “patrols along insecure roads,” the head of the Mission, David Shearer has said.

Mr Shearer, who is also the Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General in South Sudan was speaking in Juba following the arrival, over the weekend, of the first 120 soldiers of the Rwandan battalion of the Regional Protection Force (RPF).

The RPF was mandated by the UN Security Council with a maximum troop strength of 4000 and will bolster the Mission’s capacity to deter violence and protect civilians in the South Sudanese capital, Juba.

The 15-member Council authorized the force in the wake of the violence in Juba in July 2016.

A Nepalese High Readiness company and over 100 Bangladeshi engineers have already arrived in the Mission area as part of the force.

Mr Shearer said the arrival of these contingents “marks the beginning of the phased deployment of the RPF” in Juba.

Some 600 additional Rwandan peacekeepers will arrive in next few weeks while the “arrival of Ethiopian troops is imminent,” Mr Shearer added.
RPF troops will be based in Juba and will operate if necessary, in surrounding areas.

UN Photo: Isaac Billy

8 August 2017 – The phased deployment in South Sudan of the United Nations-authorized regional protection force has begun, freeing existing peacekeepers to extend their presence to conflict-affected areas beyond the capital, Juba.

“Having additional troops means we can carry out more tasks related to our mandate, to protect civilians and build durable peace,” the Secretary General’s Special Representative and the head of UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS), David Shearer, told a news conference today in Juba.

Despite the August 2015 peace agreement, South Sudan slipped back into conflict due to renewed clashes between rival forces – the Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA) loyal to President Salva Kiir and the SPLA in Opposition backing former First Vice-President Riek Machar.

The deployment of the 4,000-strong regional protection force was authorized by the UN Security Council in its Resolution 2304 (2016). UNMISS says the force will provide protection to key facilities in the nation’s capital, Juba, and the main routes into and out of the city. It will also strengthen the security of UN protection of civilians’ sites and other UN premises.

Mr. Shearer said the arrival of the first company of Rwandan soldiers, in addition to a Nepalese High Readiness company and more than 100 Bangladeshi engineers already in the mission area, marks the beginning of the phased deployment of the regional protection force.

This will allow the existing UNMISS troops based in Juba, to be reassigned to different locations across the world’s youngest country to protect civilians, support humanitarian assistance, and monitor and report on human rights abuses.

“For example, it would enable us to put more patrols along insecure roads where there have been attacks on civilian convoys – such as the Juba-Nimule and Juba-Bor roads,” Mr. Shearer said.

He went on to explain that the Juba-based regional protection force comes under the command of UNMISS.

“While it is separate in a sense of its mandate and its delivery here, it remains under one command which is the UNMISS Command, so it will be commanded by a brigadier general, but ultimately it comes under the force commander who ultimately comes under me, so it is part of UNMISS, it is not a separate stand alone,” he said.

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UN investigating South Sudan killings

The United Nations is investigating reports of 25 people killed in South Sudan’s central Gok state in clashes between tribal factions.

Thousands of people have died in South Sudan during a four-year civil war pitting forces loyal to incumbent President Salva Kiir against his former deputy, Riek Machar.

A quarter of the country’s population of 12 million has been uprooted and displaced by violence largely along ethnic lines.

A UN official in Juba, who spoke on condition he should not be named, told Reuters they received reports on Saturday that 25 civilians were killed and 27 wounded in clashes between Waat and Ayiel, two ethnic groups that are part of South Sudan’s Dinka Gok tribe.

He did not say what triggered the clashes, but said they occurred in the state’s Cueibet county and they also received reports South Sudan’s military was deployed in the area to restore order.

“UNMISS is planning to conduct a patrol to Cueibet to assess the situation,” he said, referring to the UN mission in South Sudan.

Reuters attempted to contact the government spokesman, but he could not be reached.

Baipath Majuec Riel Puop, a legislator from Gok State told UN local radio, Miraya, the clashes began with the killing of a member of one of the two groups by another, which then set off retaliatory attacks.

He did not name the group that killed first but said violence was exacerbated by authorities’ failure to arrest the perpetrators.

“The role of the state is protect people and when something like that happens, they have to arrest,” he told the radio.

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Rwandan Soldiers Arrive in South Sudan Ahead of Thousands More Extra UN Troops

Rwandan peacekeepers from the Rwanda Defence Force (RDF) check their armored personnel carriers (APC) before a parade in Juba, South Sudan, August 8, 2017.

About 120 Rwandan peacekeepers have arrived in South Sudan, United Nations said on Tuesday, the first detachment of 4,000 extra troops approved by the U.N. last year to help protect the capital of Africa’s newest country.

The U.N. approved the deployment in August after days of heavy fighting in Juba between troops loyal to President Salva Kiir and those backing former Vice President Riek Machar. There are already 13,000 U.N. peacekeepers in South Sudan.

South Sudan four-year civil war triggered by Kiir’s sacking of Machar as his deputy. The men come from rival ethnic groups and the fighting, which has uprooted a quarter of the country’s 12 million people, has been largely along tribal lines.

The U.N. Secretary General’s special representative in South Sudan, David Shearer, told a news conference that the recruits, who arrived this weekend, would join a battalion from Nepal and Bangladesh attached to the regional protection force (RPF).

The arrival of this contingent … marks the beginning of the phased deployment of the RPF,” Shearer said. More troops were also expected to be deployed from Ethiopia, he said.

The RPF is mandated to enforce peace in Juba and protect the capital’s sole international airport and other important facilities as well as stopping anyone “preparing attacks, or engages in attacks” against U.N. sites, aid workers or civilians and would confront South Sudanese government troops if needed.

“Having additional troops means we can carry out more tasks related to our mandate to protecting civilian and build a durable peace,” Shearer said.

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IGAD to restore permanent cease fire in South Sudan

Ethiopian FM and Chairperson of the IGAD Council Workneh Gebeyehu shakes hands with President Salva Kiir in Juba following a meeting with the IGAD foreign ministers on 24 July 2017 (IGAD photo)

August 5, 2017 (JUBA) – The newly appointed Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) special envoy to South Sudan, Ismail Wais has vowed to restore a permanent ceasefire in South Sudan.

The ceasefire, according to a statement extended Sudan Tribune, is to be achieved through the High-Level Revitalization Forum (HLRF).

The HLRF, it says, aims to bring together Parties to the Agreement on the Resolution of the Conflict in South Sudan (ARCSS) and other stakeholders including estranged groups to discuss concrete measures of restoring the permanent ceasefire.

“During the two-day mission, the special envoy met with key officials from the Transitional Government of National Unity, the UN Mission in South Sudan and the Joint Monitoring and Evaluation Commission,” it reads.

The HLRF is also expected to develop a revised and realistic timeline and implementation schedule towards a democratic election at the end of the transition period.

The convening of the HLRF was authorized by the extraordinary summit of IGAD Heads of State and Government, which was held in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa on 12 June 2017.

“The Summit mandated the IGAD Council of Ministers to urgently facilitate the convening of the Forum,” further noted the statement.

As such, however, the IGAD Council held two extraordinary sessions on 2 and 24 July 2017 in Addis Ababa and Juba respectively, which led to the eventual convening of the forum due next month.

Last month, regional leaders at a summit meeting held in Addis Ababa called for the revitalization of the 2015 South Sudan peace accord, saying the agreement was the only solution to end its civil war.

IGAD is an eight-member economic bloc that brings together Ethiopia, Djibouti, Somalia, Sudan, Eritrea, South Sudan, Kenya and Uganda.

Over a million people have fled South Sudan since conflict erupted in December 2013 when President Salva Kiir sacked Riek Machar from the vice-presidency. Tens of thousands of people have been killed and nearly two million displaced in South Sudan’s worst ever violence since it seceded from Sudan in 2011.

(ST)

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South Sudan: Time for humanitarians to get tough

Simon Little

A freelance consultant who has worked for the Department for International Development, the UN and the Red Cross

Opinion

As a humanitarian at what point does one start to think the unthinkable? To question the impact of the aid provided, or perhaps even wonder if it’s doing more harm than good? Having served as an aid worker for over 20 years, deploying to countless emergencies, I’ve rarely had cause to question the primacy of humanitarian aid.

However, South Sudan turns logical thinking on its head. It blurs the distinction between right and wrong. It raises serious questions as to whether some of the $2 billion of humanitarian assistance delivered over the past 18 months is simply fuelling the war economy and prolonging the conflict.

Before outlining the challenge of working in an environment where aid is routinely co-opted or misused, it’s worth reiterating the appalling dimensions of the crisis in South Sudan.

An increasing number of people (roughly six million or half the population) are considered acutely food insecure. Of these, 1.7 million are thought to be on the brink of famine. One-third of the population has been displaced, either internally or across the region as refugees and 17,000 cases of cholera have been reported in the worst and most prolonged outbreak since independence in 2011.

The humanitarian crisis has been caused and compounded by a vicious conflict in which the protagonists flagrantly disregard humanitarian law, principles and space. The upshot is a conflict characterised by industrial levels of killing and the use of rape as a weapon of war.

The gratuitousness of the conflict translates into appalling levels of need. In global terms, the $1.6 billion sought through the 2017 Humanitarian Response Plan is third only to Syria and Yemen.

In 2017, more than $850 million has already been committed by the international community and delivered as food, medical, nutritional and water and sanitation support.

Without such levels of support the number of acutely malnourished children, or cases of cholera, may well have been far higher.

But, conversely, had parties to the conflict not deliberately interfered with the flow of aid, or targeted humanitarian workers and assets, the situation may have been significantly better.

Most dangerous place for aid workers

Here’s the rub. South Sudan is the most dangerous place in the world to be an aid worker. Fifteen humanitarians have been killed this year and 84 since the conflict erupted in 2013.

The UN’s emergency aid coordination body, OCHA, has catalogued 492 “access” related incidents so far this year. Half of all incidents have been accompanied by violence directed against either personnel or assets.

June was the most brutal month yet with threatening letters written to national aid workers, and 24 humanitarian compounds broken into and goods looted.

This disregard for humanitarian action follows a depressingly familiar pattern which culminated in the criminal attack by government forces on aid workers sheltering in the Terrain hotel, Juba during fighting in July 2016.

In this terrible incident female aid workers were raped, others were mock executed, most were beaten and, tragically, a South Sudanese journalist working for the Internews agency was killed. The Terrain incident was the devastating low point in a conflict where there is little safe ground for humanitarians.

The targeting of humanitarian workers and assets is compounded by a raft of ever changing and venal bureaucratic impediments whose express purpose is to exact tribute from the very agencies seeking to offer lifesaving assistance.

This is nothing new. The co-option and misappropriation of aid has a long history in South Sudan with supplies delivered through Operation Lifeline Sudan routinely diverted and/or redirected by the then rebel Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA).

UN Photo/JC McIlwaine/Flickr

Aid as a resource

In the years either side of independence, the aid budget was largely overlooked in favour of more sizeable oil revenues that offered the means to lubricate and control influential patronage networks.

Petro-dollars propped up the state post-independence and afforded it the shard of economic legitimacy. But the fall in global oil market prices led to the tanking of the South Sudanese economy.

Attenuating oil revenues prompted rent-seekers to look elsewhere, and with few areas of the economy open for exploitation, the aid budget once again became an attractive option.

As part of this, government and opposition has sought ingenious ways to raise revenue by taxing humanitarian partners. A notorious recent example was the proposed introduction of a $10,000 work permit fee per individual aid worker which was only abandoned following strong diplomatic pressure.

No matter, the government changed tack and swiftly introduced a sevenfold increase in international NGO registration fees obliging partners to pay a $3,500 levy to maintain their lifesaving operations.

Further problems stemmed from the re-division of the state apparatus in December 2015, which increased the number of states from 10 to 28. While most commentators agree this was primarily an attempt to shore up the political centre (and with it patronage networks), it also provided the framework for poorly funded state administrations to raise revenue through opportunistic subnational taxation.

This continues with humanitarian agencies regularly requested to pay taxes on the movement of goods and personnel.

Impact on response

The movement and flow of humanitarian aid continues to be co-opted by parties to the conflict and appropriated in the interests of military objectives. The government’s National Security Service has repeatedly blocked the delivery of humanitarian supplies to Kajo Keji in Central Equatoria state thereby denying potentially lifesaving assistance to a population that it considers supports the opposition.

Similar examples of aid being diverted or denied have been recorded in opposition-controlled areas.

The humanitarian situation in South Sudan is the worst I’ve known in two decades, and unless assistance can be predictably and safely delivered, the return of famine cannot be discounted.

However, the insecurity of the operating environment, coupled with the direct targeting of humanitarian action, and predatory bureaucratic processes, compromises the pace, scale and effectiveness of the overall response.

This is of course entirely unacceptable. Humanitarian partners deserve the protection and support of those they are seeking to assist, and government and opposition forces have responsibilities under International Humanitarian Law to both protect civilians, and facilitate the delivery of lifesaving assistance.

We need to toughen our political posture and defend humanitarian principles and space, so that dedicated humanitarian partners are able to get on with the job without fear for their safety.

sl/oa

TOP PHOTO: Collecting food aid after an air drop in Leer, Unity State. CREDIT: ICRC/Flickr

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Cholera reaches Central Darfur, ‘becomes endemic disease’ in Sudan

August 6 – 2017 SUDAN
Sudanese demand the federal Ministry of Health to declare cholera in White Nile state, Khartoum, 25 May 2017 (RD)

Sudanese demand the federal Ministry of Health to declare cholera in White Nile state, Khartoum, 25 May 2017 (RD)

 

The first cases of cholera have appeared in Zalingei, capital of Central Darfur, where two patients died last week. The infectious disease is still spreading in North, West, and South Darfur. In eastern Sudan, hundreds of cholera patients are being treated.

“Cholera has become an endemic disease in Sudan, in addition to malaria, typhoid, and other endemic diseases that can only be eradicated by accelerated efforts and awareness raising campaigns,” a medical doctor in Nyala, capital of South Darfur, told Radio Dabanga on Friday.

He said that the disease is spreading again in the city. “The El Wehda district recorded three cases within one family, while an entire family was infected in El Wehda East. The Health Insurance Centre in Nyala’s El Sad El Aali district of Nyala received three cholera patients.”

Zalingei

El Shafee Abdallah, Coordinator of the Central Darfur camps reported that the Royal Hospital of Zalingei received its first cholera patients on Wednesday.

“The eight patients came from villages in the eastern part of Zalingei locality and from the camps for the displaced near the capital,” he said.

“Two patients from Hamidiya camp died at the hospital on Wednesday and Friday. The other six patients being treated at the hospital’s isolation centre come from the Hamidiya and Hassahisa camps, and the villages of Kedbo, Kala, and Kalgo.”

El Sareif, Murnei

In North Darfur’s El Sareif Beni Hussein locality, three villagers were infected in Ghurra Farajawiya, 30 km west of Kabkabiya.

An activist told Radio Dabanga from Ghurra Farajawiya village that one of the three cases is stable. The other two were transferred to the isolation centre in the neighbouring village of Ghurra El Zawiya, bringing the number of cases at the centre to 25.

“The isolation unit in West Darfur’s Murnei received 57 new cholera patients last week,” a Murnei camp sheikhs told Radio Dabanga. “37 patients are coming from the camp, 21 from the surrounding villages.”

Eastern Sudan

Between 15 July and 3 August, 12 people died of cholera, and 412 others contracted the disease in El Dindir and villages in the southern part of Sennar.

A medical source told this station that no new cases were recorded in the isolation units in the villages of Bardana, Abu Hasheem, and Daraba in Sennar locality, and the isolation centre of El Dindir on Wednesday and Thursday.

On Tuesday, more than 10 cases were transferred to the isolation centre of El Dindir.

The source said the epidemic is expected to spread in the northern part of El Dindir. “An isolation unit is established at Deberti village in El Dindir, and a health awareness team has been sent to El Bir El Hamda village which witnessed one death last week,” he said.

The Hospital of Tokar in Red Sea state received one new cholera patient from Garora village in Ageeg locality on Friday.

According to journalist Osman Hashim, the isolation centre at the hospital is currently treating 60 cholera patients. Most of them come from the outskirts of Tokar town.

He considered the arrival of a case from the area of Garora an indication of the spread of cholera in the area south of Tokar “that does not have any health facilities”. He further pointed to the dire conditions in the Tokar Hospital, “where basic requirements such as beds and fans are lacking”.

Northern State

Parents in Delgo in Northern State have threatened to withdraw their children from the schools in the area if the authorities do no take precautionary measures to halt the rapid spread of cholera in the gold mining areas in the locality.

Nubian activist Ashraf Abdelwedoud told Radio Dabanga that the locality residents gave the locality commissioner time until Sunday to move the isolation centre from Delgo hospital to the mining areas, to prevent transmission of the infection to the residents of the area.

“Already one cholera case was recorded in the village of Delgo,”he said. “The total number of cholera patients in the hospital rose to more than 80 last week.”

South Kordofan

The Hospital of Kadugli, capital of South Kordofan, admitted eight cholera patients last week.

A health source told Dabanga Radio that five of them recovered. Three of them are still receiving treatment.

“The infections come from districts of Kadugli and the nearby areas of Kuweik, Bajaya, and El Hamra,” he said.

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Sudan plans to split South Sudanese refugee camp

File: About 416,000 South Sudanese refugees have arrived in Sudan since a brutal civil war erupted in their country in December 2013. Photo: Albert Gonzalez Farran / Albert Gonzalez Farran – AFP / AFP

 

KHARTOUM – Sudan is planning to split a camp housing tens of thousands of South Sudanese refugees into three separate units after a wave of violence, a minister said Sunday.

A group of youths went on a rampage this week at the Al Waral camp in Sudan’s southern White Nile state  — the country’s biggest camp, which houses more than 50,000 South Sudanese refugees.

They burned down administrative buildings and looted warehouses, UN refugee agency UNHCR said.

The violence started Tuesday after reports that a refugee youth had died in police custody, the agency said in a statement on Sunday.

At least 78 people were arrested in connection with the violence, according to the Sudanese Media Centre (SMC) which is close to Sudan’s powerful intelligence agencies.

Minister of State for the Interior Babikir Digna told SMC the detainees would face trial, and that his ministry was planning to divide the camp into three units.

Authorities have identified three locations for the smaller camps, he said, adding that the move would help authorities monitor the camps.

Digna said new refugees would be required to register with the authorities before being allowed into the camps.

Noriko Yoshida, UNHCR’s Sudan representative, appealed for calm and urged refugees at the camp to use appropriate, legal channels to express their concerns.

“Refugees, like everyone else, are subject to obey the law,” she said, adding that South Sudanese refugees were “themselves victims of conflicts and violence seeking safety in Sudan”.

About 416,000 South Sudanese refugees have arrived in Sudan since a brutal civil war erupted in their country in December 2013.

South Sudan gained independence from Sudan in 2011, but has been engulfed by war since 2013 after President Salva Kiir accused his rival and former deputy Riek Machar of plotting a coup.

AFP

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‘Khartoum is creating an illusion of stability’: Sudanese think tank

July 23 – 2017 KAMPALA

A meeting of the Darfur Displaced and Refugees Association (file photo)

According to a new report by the Sudan Democracy First Group (SDFG) the ruling National Congress Party (NCP) and its international supporters are working hard “to obscure the violence and political unrest which continue to convulse Sudan, and are accelerating the economic, social and cultural deprivation of its people”.

Cover page of the 70 PAGE Report Manufacturing the Illusion if Stability in Sudan.

In the English version of SDFG’s latest 70-page report, Manufacturing the Illusion of Stability in Sudan, the Kampala-based think tank deals with “the dynamics behind, and impact of, the campaign orchestrated by the NCP and its international supporters.

The 70-page report “exposes the external and internal partners of the regime who have participated in projecting an illusion of regime functionality at the expense of a genuine resolution of Sudan’s multiple crises,” the SDFG says in a press release today.

It also challenges the political opposition to engage in deeper consultation with Sudanese citizens and develop “a genuine grassroots movement for change”.

The Group warns that if the United States economic sanctions on Sudan will be lifted after three months, increased oversight of Sudanese financial flows will be vital.

“The biggest beneficiary of any lifting of sanctions will be the ruling party, its security institutions, and its private companies,” the report reads. “Mechanisms must be established to prevent increased weapons flows, support for militias and expansion of the architecture of state corruption.”

Political solution

According to the SDFG, “a just peace and lasting stability” cannot be achieved “through fragmented responses to Sudan’s various conflicts and political challenges.

“The biggest beneficiary of any lifting of sanctions will be the ruling party, its security institutions, and its private companies.”

“Ignoring the common roots of these conflicts, and responding to them through separately negotiated agreements, or through military means, will only add to the accumulation of grievances and exclusion. Only a comprehensive political solution will end the cycle of violence,” the think tank states.

The situation of the Sudanese refugees and displaced people in the country must be resolved through genuine consultation with the communities. “A conference of Sudanese refugees and displaced persons might be considered.

“All parties involved in the Sudanese crisis should put the situation of displaced people and refugees at the heart of their political proposals and discourse.”

As for the Sudanese opposition, it “must develop its discourse and working tools and strengthen its understanding and response to the basic issues in people’s daily lives.

“To do this, forces working for civil and political change must continue efforts to unify around a common platform, refine the clarity of their discourse and develop detailed alternative policies for the transition period; support the restoration of a genuinely independent political role for civil society by encouraging its active participation in the process of change and building bridges with political forces,” the Group recommends.

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Archbishop of Canterbury declares Sudan new Anglican province

Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby (second left) and his wife Caroline meet with Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir (right) in Khartoum on July 30, 2017. Welby declared Sudan the 39th province of the worldwide Anglican Communion, six years after the predominantly Christian south gained independence from the north. AFP PHOTO | ASHRAF SHAZLY

KHARTOUM

Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby on Sunday (30 July 2017) declared Sudan the 39th province of the worldwide Anglican Communion, six years after the predominantly Christian south gained independence from the north.

The Anglican Church in Sudan, a majority Muslim country, has been administered from South Sudan since the 2011 split which followed a civil war that left more than two million people dead.

Sunday’s ceremony in Khartoum added Sudan to the 85 million-strong worldwide Anglican Communion’s 38 member churches — known as provinces — and six other branches known as extra provincials.

Welby said that creating a 39th Anglican province with its own Khartoum-based archbishop was a “new beginning” for Christians in Sudan.

FIRST ARCHBISHOP

He installed Ezekiel Kondo Kumir Kuku as the country’s first archbishop and primate at a ceremony in the capital’s All Saints Cathedral attended by American, European and African diplomats as well as hundreds of worshippers.

“We welcome the new primate with jubilation,” Welby announced to a cheering crowd as he handed a cross to Kuku.

Welby, spiritual head of the Church of England and of the global Anglican Communion, said it was a rare opportunity for an archbishop to declare a new primate.

“It is a responsibility for Christians to make this province work, and for those outside (Sudan) to support, to pray and to love this province,” he said.

“The church must learn to be sustainable financially, to develop the skills of its people, and to bless this country as the Christians here already do.”

SOUTH’S SECESSION

The idea of a separate Anglican province in Sudan was first discussed in 2009 as it became clear that the south would secede.

Previously, the Episcopal Church of Sudan and South Sudan administered the region, Reverend Francis Clement of All Saints Cathedral told AFP.

“But after the split it was decided to have a separate, autonomous Episcopal Church of Sudan,” he said.

“Today, we inaugurated that. It will have its own autonomous administration to take its own decisions.”

There is no central Anglican authority such as a pope, with each member church making its own decision in its own ways guided by the Archbishop of Canterbury.

PERSECUTION

Human rights and Christian campaign groups have regularly accused the Sudanese authorities of persecuting Christians and even destroying churches in the capital since the north-south split.

About three years ago two South Sudanese pastors, Yat Michael and Peter Yen, were arrested in Sudan on charges including spying and crimes against the state.

The two, arrested by agents of Sudan’s powerful National Intelligence and Security Service (NISS), were released by a Khartoum court in August last year.

Since the 1989 coup that brought Islamist backed President Omar al-Bashir to power, authorities in Khartoum have pursued Arabising and Islamising policies in a bid to unify the country.

This has stirred resentment and helped trigger a devastating civil war that ended with the secession of the mainly Christian south.

WELBY MEETS BASHIR

Later on Sunday, Welby met Bashir with whom he discussed issues concerning “protection” of Christians and churches in Sudan.

“We talked of how in England we seek to help mosques in ensuring that they are able to function well and freely,” Welby said.

“In England, the Church of England often seeks to protect Muslims when they are under pressure,” he said, indicating that he expected the same in Sudan when it came to protecting Christians.

Christian communities in Sudan today are mostly found in the Nuba Mountains of South Kordofan state. Experts say that between three and five percent of Sudan’s about 25 million population are Christian.

US President Donald Trump is to decide on October 12 whether to permanently lift sanctions imposed in 1997 over Khartoum’s alleged backing for Islamist militant groups.

Several campaign groups have urged Washington to maintain the sanctions or formulate new ones to address concerns over human rights violations, including alleged religious repression.

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