Many areas flooded since July, river levels still rising, making crisis worse, says Medecins Sans Frontieres
Severe flooding in South Sudan is affecting the lives of roughly 800,000 people, leaving them without adequate food, water or shelter, Medecins Sans Frontieres said Tuesday.
“Many areas [in South Sudan] have been flooded since July, while river levels are continuing to rise, worsening the crisis,” the Medecins Sans Frontieres, or Doctors Without Borders — an international humanitarian medical non-governmental organization — said in a statement.
Putting efforts to provide medical care in the affected areas of Upper Nile, Jonglei, Greater Pibor, and Unity states, the MSF said the need for medical care in South Sudan “are increasing with a sharp rise in malaria cases and fears of outbreaks of other diseases.”
“This year’s floods are happening against the backdrop of multiple emergencies including COVID-19, increased violence and fighting, a growing economic crisis, and high levels of food insecurity,” Ibrahim Muhammad, the MSF head of mission in South Sudan, was quoted as saying in the statement.
“Now, we are preparing for an increase in diseases in all flood-affected areas, such as diarrheal diseases and malaria, given the high risks caused by displacement and crowding, poor hygiene conditions, and a lack of functioning latrines,” he added.
The floods also prevented residents from reaching health care facilities, according to the MSF.
“In the MSF hospital in Lankien, in Jonglei State, the MSF has seen fewer patients since high floodwaters made it nearly impossible for people to travel from surrounding areas,” the statement read.
“The local airstrip has flooded, making it more difficult to deliver medical supplies or refer patients to other medical facilities when needed,” it added.
Khartoum — Religious leaders and heads of Sufi orders in Sudan signed the International Religious Freedom Round Table Declaration in Khartoum on Monday, “inspired by the spirit of peace and prosperity for the people of Sudan and all those of goodwill in the world.”
In his speech after the signing, Siddig Tawir, member of the Sovereign Council, called for the importance of avoiding a deadlock in the religious discourse and devising new means of advocacy to the public to discuss issues of the heart of religion in a modern language.
Muslim scholars should pay attention to renewing the fundamentals of jurisprudence and addressing major conflict issues of a tribal and family nature that require wisdom, patience, and forgiveness, Tawir said.
Following the overthrow of the Islamist Al Bashir regime, reforms are being implemented at many levels in Sudan.
Islamic laws repealed
Sudan has abolished legislation that made apostacy punishable by death and allowed the Public Order police to publicly flog people. Non-Muslims will be permitted to drink, import, and sell alcohol, following the passing of a 2020 bill regarding reform of the legal system.
Under the Islamist rule of ousted President Omar Al Bashir, apostacy laws were used to target Muslims denouncing their belief, or marrying a non-Muslim.
The new laws will also allow non-Muslims, an estimated 3 per cent minority in Sudan, to drink, import and sell alcohol. Muslims can reportedly still be punished if they are caught drinking alcohol. Drinking alcohol was strictly forbidden in Sudan since September 1983, when President Jaafar Nimeiri imposed the Islamic law (Sharia) in the country and the Juba Peace Agreement has defined the relationship between religion and state.
In its latest annual report, the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) welcomed the “positive trajectory” in Sudan, and recommended the country for the US Department of State’s Special Watch List a category lower than before.
A brave, grassroots protest movement brought down the Islamist-led regime of former president Omar Al Bashir in April , followed by the establishment of a joint civilian-military transitional government four months later, the USCIRF states in its introduction.
The transitional constitution no longer identifies Islam as the primary source of law, and it includes a provision ensuring the freedom of belief and worship.
The transitional government, which has engaged closely with USCIRF on religious freedom concerns, repealed the repressive Public Order laws that the former regime used to punish individuals, particularly women, who did not conform to its interpretation of Sunni Islam.
KHARTOUM (Reuters) – The military leader of Sudan’s ruling council sought to defend on Monday a U.S.-backed agreement to establish relations with Israel, saying the deal was yet to be concluded and could benefit Sudan as it struggles with a profound economic crisis.FILE PHOTO: Sudan’s Sovereign Council Chief General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, arrives for the signing of peace agreement between the Sudan’s transitional government and Sudanese revolutionary movements to end decades-old conflict, in Juba, South Sudan October 3, 2020. REUTERS/Samir Bol
In his first public comments on the deal, Abdel Fattah al-Burhan said he had consulted the prime minister and most political forces before the agreement was announced on Friday in a call with U.S. President Donald Trump and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
The move is controversial in Sudan, once a staunch enemy of Israel, and has stirred opposition from some prominent political factions.
“I always prefer to call it reconciliation instead of normalisation,” Burhan said in a televised interview. “So far, we have not concluded an agreement. We will sign with the other two parties, America and Israel, on the aspects of cooperation.”
Burhan leads a military-civilian sovereign council that took charge after the ouster of former president Omar al-Bashir last year following popular protests.
A government of technocrats has been grappling with an economic crisis that includes rapid inflation, a weakening currency, and shortages of essential goods.
Sudan won the prospect of some relief last week when the United States confirmed it would lift Khartoum from its list of state sponsors of terrorism, a designation that had blocked international funding and debt relief.
Many Sudanese saw the move as unduly delayed and deployed to pressure Sudan into accepting the deal on Israel.
“We were not subjected to blackmail,” said Burhan. “We lay down our interests and we found benefits, and it could be that we gain more than the other parties.”
Burhan said tense relations with the civilian component of the sovereign council had improved recently, and that he had agreed with civilian political leaders that the deal on Israel should be approved by a yet-to-be formed legislative council.
WASHINGTON(Sputnik) – US President Donald Trump has sent Congress a letter formally informing the lawmakers that his administration has rescinded Sudan’s designation as a state sponsor of terrorism.
Trump also said that Sudan has provided assurances it will not support acts of international terrorism in the future.
“I hereby certify, with respect to the rescission of the determination of 12 August 1993, regarding Sudan that: the Government of Sudan has not provided any support for acts of international terrorism during the preceding”, Trump said in the letter on Monday.
Last week, Trump announced that the United States was going to remove Sudan off its State Sponsors of Terrorism list after Khartoum paid $335 million to US terrorism victims and their families.
In late September, Khartoum and Washington reportedly reached a deal that Sudan would sign a peace treaty with Israel in exchange for being excluded from the US State Sponsors of Terrorism list.
On Friday, Trump said that Israel and Sudan agreed to normalize relations in the latest step toward building peace in the Middle East.
ABU DHABI, 26th October, 2020 (WAM) — Mohammed Saif Al Suwaidi, Director-General of the Abu Dhabi Development Fund, stated that the fund, in cooperation with the Sudanese Government, recently implemented an aid package worth around US$556.5 million to support Sudan’s financial, economic, health, education, nutrition and agriculture sectors, as part of an overall Emirati grant worth $1.5 billion.
In his statement to the Emirates News Agency, WAM, Al Suwaidi stressed that the aid was provided to the Sudanese people upon the directives of the UAE’s leadership, which is keen to achieve the financial and economic stability of the country.
The UAE is committed to providing an overall aid package worth $1.5 billion, to fulfil the basic needs of the Sudanese people, he added.
In April 2019, the UAE pledged to provide Sudan with a package of economic aid to achieve financial and economic stability and support its health, education, nutrition and agricultural sectors.
Under this framework, the UAE, represented by the fund, deposited $250 million in the Central Bank of Sudan and supported the Sudanese Government’s budget with $119.8 million. The fund also sent 540,000 tonnes of wheat worth $144.7 million, in addition to wheat packaging packs worth $10.8 million.
Hazem Hussein The aid included 136 tonnes of medicine and medical supplies worth $19.75 million, in addition to school supplies covering the needs of 400,000 students worth $11.4 million.
[The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Townhall.co.]
There’s euphoria in Israel this week over the announcement of the establishment of diplomatic relations with Sudan, the latest Arab country formally to end its state of war with Israel. Peace with any Arab state is significant, but all the more so given Sudan’s recent turn away from a decades-long dictatorship that was hostile to Israel, and the infamous pan-Arab declaration made in Khartoum following the 1967 Six Day War where the Arab League’s strident no negotiation, no recognition, and no peace with Israel.
Having five Arab countries placing peace and prosperity ahead of hate and war is a good thing. That’s nearly 25% of the entire membership of the Arab League, with reportedly as many as five more countries planning to do so.
Considering that many of the remaining Arab states are emersed in bloody civil and regional wars, making them incapable of governing themselves much less establish relations with others, the total actual number of countries making peace is all the more significant.
External non-Arab players such as Iran and Turkey, competing for hegemony in the Moslem and Arab world, are creating havoc, unrest, and instability. They also have united many Arabs in realizing that the path to prosperity is not through the brands of extremist Islam that these non-Arab Moslem states proclaim.
There’s also a clear and growing understanding that Israel is not only not the cause of intractable conflict, but that Israel is a cornerstone to peace. In parallel, a growing number of Arab states, and the Arab street, realize that they have been part of a failed formula, enabling Palestinian Arab intransigence through an endless flow of funding to the (criminal/mafia-like) Palestinian Authority, and propping them up as if Middle East peace rested on their shoulders.
In a now infamous and notoriously idiotic video that has resurfaced over and over in the past few months, former US Secretary of State John Kerry prophesied that there would be no separate peace between Israel and the Arab world without peace with the Palestinians. “No, no, no and no,” he preached.
As if they are still reading from John Kerry’s script as if it were gospel, there is no shortage of rejectionists who have condemned Sudan (along with the UAE and Bahrain) for the warming of relations with Israel. It’s to be expected that the Palestinian Authority would be at the forefront of this. For generations, they have shown they have no hand to play but victimhood, rejection of Israel’s right to exist, and continued “armed struggle.” Sadly, they are so entrenched in this historical failure most famously branded in Khartoum’s “Three No’s” that they can’t see the world around them is changing and they are getting left behind.
Rejection has also come from Israeli Arab leaders, particularly the Israeli Arab “Joint List” that serve in Israel’s Knesset, making up more than 10 percent of the Israeli parliament. Sadly and shockingly, while they may not speak for the average Israeli Arab, their leaders’ rejection of peace between their country and major Arab states underscores to many Israelis that they are a pillar of society that rejects peace and delegitimizes even their own country and its well-being at all costs.
Because of Sudan’s recent history, deposing a corrupt dictator responsible for death and suffering, and seeking to build for their future under an interim government that’s divided, not everyone in Sudan celebrates peace with Israel. Major Sudanese leaders have spoken out against it, and it’s intuitive that average Sudanese may not be able to put aside generations of hostility toward Israel, much less understand how and why that benefits them.
This was depicted in my reaching out to someone from Sudan on social media. I didn’t intend to play a formal part in public diplomacy, but I couldn’t resist sharing my enthusiasm. I wrote, “Shalom from Jerusalem.” In what seemed as an innocent chat, my Sudanese counterpart feigned not knowing what Israel was, then let it out that Israel was a usurper of the “Palestinian people,” and then railed into Israel with a hateful diatribe.
He was so blinded by hate, he claimed that “as a people, we prefer to die of starvation,” condemning Sudan to the ongoing suffering it endured for decades, rather than accept or partner with Israel in building a future together.
I am no less happy about the prospects for peace with Sudan than anyone. Unlike the other recent Arab states to make peace with Israel, and those that may do so shortly, Sudan’s situation is different. It’s understandable how there would be more rejection from Sudan if they’ve not spent the past months preparing their people for peace and reconciliation, this must come as a shock and an unwelcome one to many.
If for most of their lives Israel has been depicted as evil, making a pact with “the usurper of the land and murdered of children and women” is similarly evil. That’s especially the case among people who do not understand the biblical injunction to bless Israel and be blessed, or the consequences of cursing Israel and being cursed. They’re still living in the shadow of Khartoum rather than the hope for the future.
Sudan surely does not need to be cursed any more than it has been since 1967. My concern for Sudan is that if in a push to be removed from the list of terrorist states, Sudan is sprinting ahead in a way that’s leaving its people behind. I worry that peace with Israel will be a catalyst for forces of evil within Sudan to foment violent and hostile rejection, threatening not only peace with Israel, but the stability and prosperity that those leading the push for peace to which they no doubt aspire.
Israel’s immediate response to confirming normalization with Sudan was to announce sending $5 million of wheat. That’s a blessing indeed. May Sudan see the potential and peace with Israel and let it be a harbinger of peace throughout the Arab and Moslem world.
Until 2016, Sudan stood as a strong ally of Hezbollah and was under U.S. sanctions since the 1990s for aiding terrorist groups, including harboring al Qaeda’s then-leader, Osama bin Laden.
In a deal, brokered by the U.S. to normalize relations with Israel, Sudan, which is one of Africa’s largest countries, joins “a broader realignment in the Middle East,” ending years of hostilities, to emerge from its international isolation.
As a part of the deal, the African country is set to designate Hezbollah as a terrorist organization while Washington just agreed to remove Sudan from its list of “state sponsors of terrorism.”
That designation has, up to now, isolated Sudan from receiving financial support from international institutions like the IMF to help it with its collapsing economy.
The joint statement of the US, Sudan, and Israel stated: “After decades of living under a brutal dictatorship, the people of Sudan are finally taking charge.”
The countries will soon meet to start working on the normalization and “negotiate cooperation agreements in agriculture, technology, aviation, migration, and other critical areas,” according to Trump.
And while neither one of the three countries mentioned Hezbollah in their statements, a senior US official confirmed to Al-Arabiya that Sudan will indeed make the move towards the designation.
Sudan is the third country this week to take a decision against Hezbollah, right after Estonia and Guatemala, and the eighth this year, as the international pressure against the Iran-backed Lebanese group continues to unfurl, along with new sanctions from the United States.
Hundreds of Israeli and Sudanese citizens marked the normalization of relations between the countries on Thursday, as nearly 400 people from both countries met online to compete in a game of chess. The friendly competition was enjoyed by both amateurs and professionals from Israel and Sudan, and was carried out on lichess.org, which has become a popular platform for playing chess online in recent months.
The competition included celebratory ceremonies that participants were welcome to join and enjoy through the video chat app ZOOM, as well as professional commentary that was live-streamed throughout the competition, according to Israel Hayom. “It is the first time I think for Israeli players and Sudanese players to interact socially in sports,” said one of the participants. “The initiative is to bring those from different religions of Judaism, Islam and Christianity together through sport.”
“I was born a Sudanese, knowing that I can travel all over the world with the exception of Israel,” he added, emphasizing how much it meant to him to be able to meet with Israelis for the first time, even if through a screen – for now. Several excited participants said that once the coronavirus pandemic is over, they will be arranging real-world chess tournaments among players from Israel and Sudan.
The initiative was the result of the hard work of “Chess for all” – an Israeli club that has been operating for years in an attempt to bridge political and cultural gaps through sports, and chess specifically.
Lior Eizenberg and Alon Cohen who organized this latest event, held a similar event several months ago, when they brought together 65 chess players from ten different countries including Syria and Israel, Israel Hayom reported.
KHARTOUM (Reuters) – Sudan’s Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok is ready to proceed with normalizing relations with Israel once a yet-to-be-formed transitional parliament has approved the step, two Sudanese government sources told Reuters on Thursday.
The comments are the clearest sign that Hamdok, under pressure from the United States, is willing to contemplate Sudan establishing ties with former adversary Israel.
Such a move would not be imminent, because the council still needs to be established under a power sharing deal between the military officers and civilians who have been running Sudan jointly since the overthrow of autocrat Omar al-Bashir in 2019.
It is unclear when the assembly will be formed.
There was no immediate response from the government to requests for comment.
Hamdok’s technocratic government has so far rebuffed U.S. advances aimed at pushing Sudan to follow the lead of the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain, both of which signed agreements to establish formal ties with Israel at the White House last month.
In contrast, military figures leading Sudan’s political transition have appeared open to normalising ties, although civilian groups including left-wing and Islamist politicians are more reluctant.
“The prime minister will proceed in the steps taken by Transitional Council Head Abdel Fattah al-Burhan to establish ties with Israel if the legislative council, after it is formed, approves the decision to normalise ties,” a senior source said.
The subject is sensitive in Sudan, which used to be among the hardline Arab foes of Israel.
Khartoum’s caution reflects concerns that such a major foreign policy move at a time of deep economic crisis could upset the delicate balance between military and civilian factions, and even put the government at risk, two senior Sudanese government sources said.
But an agreement between Sudan and Israel may have edged closer on Monday when U.S. President Donald Trump signalled that Washington would remove Khartoum from its list of state sponsors of terrorism, hindering Sudan’s ability to get debt relief.
Reporting by Khalid Abdelaziz; Writing by Nadine Awadalla and Ulf Laessing, Editing by William Maclean
Severe flooding is affecting an estimated 800,000 people across a wide swathe of South Sudan, inundating homes and leaving people without adequate food, water or shelter. Many areas have been flooded since July and rising river levels are worsening the crisis.
Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) is providing medical care in flood-affected areas of Greater Pibor, Jonglei, Upper Nile and Unity states. Medical needs are increasing as the number of people with malaria rises amid fears of other disease outbreaks.
“This year’s floods are happening against the backdrop of multiple emergencies including COVID-19, increased violence and fighting, a growing economic crisis, and high levels of food insecurity,” said Ibrahim Muhammad, MSF head of mission in South Sudan.
“Now, we are preparing for an increase in diseases in all flood-affected areas, such as diarrhoeal diseases and malaria, given the high risks caused by displacement and crowding, poor hygiene conditions, and a lack of functioning latrines.”
In Greater Pibor, one of the worst-affected areas of South Sudan, we are running mobile clinics in five villages and an emergency clinic in Pibor town. In the past two months, we have treated more than 13,000 patients in and around Pibor, including more than 5,000 children under five years old. Around half these patients received treatment for malaria and more than 160 children for measles.
Malnutrition is rapidly increasing in the Pibor area, and our mobile clinics are preparing to provide additional nutrition treatment for young children, alongside MSF’s inpatient therapeutic feeding centre in Pibor town. We are also distributing 60,000 litres of drinking water per day in Pibor where floodwater has contaminated wells. With water levels still rising, we are concerned about the viability of our clinic in Pibor and are looking for alternative sites on higher ground outside the town.
In Old Fangak, a town with around 30,000 inhabitants in a wetland area of Jonglei state, flooding began in July and water levels are continuing to rise.
“Many houses are affected on a daily basis,” said Dorothy I. Esonwune, MSF project coordinator in Old Fangak. “The focus of everybody in Old Fangak is on scooping out water from around their homes and building dikes with mud.”
An additional 3,000 people arrived in Old Fangak in late September after heavy rains flooded their homes in the surrounding villages. MSF teams at Old Fangak hospital have provided care for around 70 displaced people, including for respiratory tract infections and acute watery diarrhoea. Most of the town’s latrines have flooded, raising the risk of waterborne diseases.
In MSF’s hospital in Lankien, Jonglei state, staff have seen fewer patients since high floodwaters made it nearly impossible for people to travel from surrounding areas. The local airstrip has flooded, complicating deliveries of medical supplies and referrals of patients to other medical facilities if necessary.
Some people who have managed to reach MSF facilities have described their harrowing journeys. When 13-year-old Yoel fell ill, his father Stephen Manyang Chan, a widower, carried him through chest-high waters for two hours before arriving at our clinic in Leer, Unity state.
“There are no roads to the hospital, only water,” he said.
When waters flooded two MSF outreach sites and threatened to flood the general healthcare centre in Leer, Unity state, our teams salvaged medical supplies and found alternative locations to continue to provide services.
Upper Nile state
In Upper Nile state, we set up an emergency clinic serving the towns of Canal and Khorfulus, which can only be reached by boat from Malakal town. One of our teams treated people for malaria and diarrhoea, conducted rapid nutrition screening and provided psychosocial support. Our colleagues also distributed essential items to 545 households.
n areas where walking is impossible because the floodwaters are too high, people are using makeshift rafts constructed with plastic sheeting or large plastic water tanks reshaped as canoes, with a shovel for an oar, to move around. Those who stay in their homes are trying to protect them with sandbags or mud walls.
“The water rose surprisingly fast,” said 39-year-old Tbisa Willion from Canal town, Upper Nile state. “We left, without thinking, to save our lives. We found shelter in a school, but it was destroyed too. We went to our neighbour. We took a canoe to return to our house and tried to save some belongings, but we found only a few plates. I lost my chickens, my 10 goats. I have nowhere to live.”
As the floods continue to impact people across South Sudan, MSF is conducting a series of aerial and ground assessments in Jonglei, Upper Nile and Unity states to identify how to help the worst-affected communities.