Sudan declares states of emergency after protests over soaring food prices

As famine warnings are triggered and food is stolen from markets, the government blames supporters of ousted president al-Bashir

Protesters build a brick barrier on a main road in the capital Khartoum, during a demonstration against rising prices on 24 January. Photograph: Ashraf Shazly/AFP/Getty Images

Seven regions of Sudan have declared states of emergency following violent protests against food price rises. Curfews have been imposed and schools have been forced to close in 10 cities across Darfur, North Kordofan, West Kordofan and Sennar. Buildings were looted and burned, and food was stolen from markets and shops. The regions are among the poorest in Sudan.

The joint military-civilian government believes supporters of the former president, Omar al-Bashir, are behind the protests. The government recently ordered the prosecution of members of Bashir’s party.

Millions of people in the country are struggling as the cost of living continues to rise amid economic difficulties. The Sudanese pound dropped against the dollar from 260 pounds (£3.40) in November to 315 pounds last month. The annual rate of inflation increased to 269% in December, up from 254% in November, according to the Central Bureau of Statistics.

The Famine Early Warning Systems Network (Fewsnet) has said food insecurity could reach crisis levels in parts of Kordofan and Darfur in the coming months. The price of bread has soared. The cost of subsidised loaves, which have become scarce, have increased from 2 pounds to 5 pounds, while unsubsidised bread is being sold in some areas of Khartoum for 15 or 20 pounds, and up to 50 pounds in Darfur and Kordofan. In January, the price of 1kg of sugar was 220 pounds, up from 150 pounds in 2020. Sudan is being encouraged by the international community to devalue its currency in order to get loans.

Mohamed Babikir, an activist who took part in the protests that led to Bashir’s downfall in 2019, said protests had not stopped since 2019. “People are always protesting here and there, demanding justice for those who have been killed, or demanding better politics by having freedoms and the civilian transmission in governance.”

Bashir el-Sadig, a teacher at a girls’ secondary school in the capital of North Kordofan, El-Obeid, which has seen large protests, told the Guardian that more than half of his pupils need help buying food, adding: “Many of them work as cleaners as well, to help themselves and their families. People really are struggling and that’s the mistake of the government in the centre, they didn’t provide enough subsidised food.”

Abdulraheem Ahmed, a teacher at a boys’ high school in Er Rahad, a city to the south of El-Obeid, said: “My wife and I are only two, and we used to eat fruit every two months, now we stopped having fruit, because it is too expensive. I also walk to school instead of taking transportation, which costs me about 100 pounds. I think I should buy something to eat instead of wasting that on transportation.”

Link to web article.

Sudan: Thousands Flee Attacks in Darfur’s Jebel Marra!

27 JANUARY 2021Radio Dabanga (Amsterdam)

Village in East Jebel Marra, Darfur, Sudan (By Joshua ...
Village in Jebel Marra, Dafur (Google images)

Jebel Marra / El Geneina / Khartoum — More than 3,000 people have fled their villages east of Jebel Marra and sought refuge in valleys and caves higher in the mountains in the past three days. On Sunday, groups of gunmen attacked villages in the area at the South and North Darfur border. An initial report mentioned six people killed. The attackers are still roaming the area.

Spokesperson for the Darfur Displaced and Refugees General Coordination Adam Rujal reported yesterday that the villages Falouja, Kebe, Rogola, and Hillet El Faki Ahmed Zakariya in eastern Jebel Marra were raided on Sunday and Monday (January 24 and 25).

“Eight people were killed on the first day, and three on the second day. Dozens of others were injured and went missing,” he stated.

Part of the villagers fled to the area of Dubo El Omda in Tawila locality, North Darfur, where a number of them took refuge in a school, others are hiding in caves in the mountains. They lost all their property, their homes, food stocks, and their livestock, spokesperson Rujal said.

Rujal criticised that the attack on the villages, which began on Sunday morning at 6 am, lasts until now. The Sudanese security forces stationed in the area did not do anything to protect the people, he said.

Activist Hasan Adam told Radio Dabanga yesterday that the gunmen are still roaming the area. They control all roads, which led to the displacement of more villagers.

The villages that were attacked and plundered are Falouja and Kebe in South Darfur’s East Jebel Marra, and Marra, Debbat Nayra, and Rogola in Tawila, North Darfur, Adam said.

The displaced people are living in tragic humanitarian conditions due to lack of food and medicines, Adam reported. A number of the wounded in the attack were unable to reach clinics or hospitals in the surrounding areas because the gunmen control the main roads.

Adam called on the United Nations and the international community to intervene and protect the newly displaced.

Arab tribesmen sit-in

The sit-in of Arab tribesmen continued in the Naseem neighbourhood of El Geneina for the third day in a row.

The protestors said that that no officials have contacted them so far. They adhere to their demands: Dismissal of the state governor, the appointment of a new governor “coming from outside the state”, the removal of the camps for the displaced outside El Geneina, and the transformation of these camps into residential villages.

The protestors also demanded “impartiality” from the security forces in West Darfur.

West Darfur is home to the Masalit, a non-Arab sedentary tribe, and the governor and local government employees belong to this tribe.

Last week’s excessive violence in El Geneina was triggered by the killing of an Arab herdsman by a member of the Masalit. Though the perpetrator was arrested, the relatives of the victim sought revenge by themselves. In the early morning of January 16, large groups of Arab tribesmen attacked El Geneina and the two Kerending camps “from all directions”. In the violence that continued the next days, at least 163 people were killed.

The protesting Arab tribesmen are reportedly also angry because the governor claimed that the Arab tribesmen who attacked the city and the camps were supported by groups from North and Central Darfur and from the border area with Chad.

West Darfur governor Mohamed El Doma said that the media play a major role in both the peace process and peaceful coexistence in the state. The media should, El Doma said, not use “a discourse of racism and regionalism, but counter negative stereotypes and refute malicious rumours that are meant to destabilise”. He called on the state media to create an “atmosphere for peace”. The governor deeply regrets recent hate speech on social media.

Blood donation campaign

Activists in Khartoum organised a major campaign at the tennis courts on Airport Road to donate blood for the victims of the recent violence in El Geneina, capital of West Darfur, in which at least 163 people were killed.

Radio Dabanga’s editorial independence means that we can continue to provide factual updates about political developments to Sudanese and international actors, educate people about how to avoid outbreaks of infectious diseases, and provide a window to the world for those in all corners of Sudan. Support Radio Dabanga for as little as €2.50, the equivalent of a cup of coffee.

Read the original article on Radio Dabanga.

Sudan: UN Independent Experts Call for ‘Justice, Accountability and Reparation to Victims’ in Sudan!

Intercommunal violence in Darfur has left millions in need of assistance. Pictured here, an IDP settlement in Sortoni (file photo).

Recent intercommunal violence and deadly attacks in Darfur have prompted two independent UN human rights experts on Monday to urge the Government of Sudan to urgently implement strong measures to ensure the safety of civilians, including the internally displaced.

“We urge the Government of Sudan to step up its efforts to protect civilians, including those internally displaced, prevent further displacements and advance solutions to internal displacement by promptly and fully implementing its National Plan for the Protection of Civilians,” said Cecilia Jimenez-Damary, Special Rapporteur on the human rights of internally displaced persons, and Agnes Callamard, Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions.

On 18 January, clashes between the Rezigat and Falata communities in El Gereida locality, in South Darfur, reportedly left 72 people dead, more than 70 injured and about 100 families displaced.

And intercommunal violence on 16 and 17 January led to clashes between Arab nomads and the non-Arab ethnic Masalit in West Darfur, which reportedly affected the Krinding and Abu Zar camps for internally displaced persons. Some 163 people were reported killed, 217 injured and 50,000 people displaced.

Moreover, civilian property was damaged and looted.

The UN experts upheld that a thorough investigation be conducted and the perpetrators be brought to justice.

Darfur concerns

While welcoming the establishment of a committee to investigate the recent West Darfur attacks, the UN experts encouraged the Government to also investigate the violence in South Darfur.

“Justice, accountability and reparation to victims are essential to address insecurity, prevent further violence and displacement, and support durable solutions for internally displaced persons”, they said.

The experts also expressed grave concern for the internally displaced persons in the Darfur region, particularly the long-term displaced.

“Many have been living in protracted displacement in dire conditions, and the challenges they face to achieve durable solutions, in particular due to insecurity and land disputes, are disturbing”, the Special Rapporteurs spelled out.

The independent experts are currently in contact with the authorities.

Special Rapporteurs are appointed by the Geneva-based UN Human Rights Council to examine and report back on a specific human rights theme or a country situation. The positions are honorary and the experts are not paid for their work.

Read the original article on UN News.

Hemedti to Visit Qatar in First Sudanese Official Trip Since Bashir’s Ouster!

Sunday, 31 January, 2021 – 09:00

The Vice President of the Sudanese Transitional Sovereignty Council Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo (file photo: Reuters)

Khartoum – Ahmad Youness

Sudanese Vice President of the Transitional Sovereignty Council Lt. Gen. Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo, commonly known as Hemedti, arrived Saturday in Doha marking the first visit of a Sudanese top official after the overthrow of Omar al-Bashir.

Hemedti was accompanied by Foreign Minister Omer Gamereldin and head of the General Intelligence Service Gamal Abdel-Majid to hold talks with Qatari officials on bilateral relations and Sudan’s position on the border dispute with Ethiopia.

The VP announced his arrival to Doha on his Facebook page, indicating that the visit will address the bilateral ties and promotion of cooperation in a way that serves the interests of both states.

The visit aims to highlight the Sudanese position on the border dispute with Ethiopia and the negotiations concerning the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD), as part of a government’s diplomatic campaign to explain its stance to brotherly and friendly countries.

The Sudanese-Qatari relations were strained after the Transitional Military Council, which took power after Bashir, refused to receive the Qatari Foreign Minister in April 2019.

The Council did not grant permission to the official’s plane to land after it arrived in Sudanese airspace. The incident took place less than a week after the Sudanese revolution which toppled the Islamist regime.

Earlier, the Sudanese delegation visited Saudi Arabia, Eritrea, Chad, South Africa, and Kenya, and discussed with the participating states in the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region (ICGLR), the dispute with Ethiopia after Sudan retrieved control over al-Fashagah area.

The ICGLR is an inter-governmental organization of African countries in the African Great Lakes Region and was established in 1994 to resolve peace and security issues.

In 2020, ICGLR held its ordinary summit of heads of state and government meeting in Angola via video link.

Sudan to Form Partisan Power-Sharing Government!

Saturday, 30 January, 2021 – 08:45

Sudanese Prime Minister Abdallah Hamdok. AFP file photo

Khartoum – Ahmed Younis

Sudan is expected to form the new transitional government after a nearly six-month standstill over differences between political parties.

The nominated candidates are undergoing security scrutiny, a Sovereign Council source told Asharq Al-Awsat.
The delay in forming the new government has exacerbated living, economic and security conditions in the country.

The Forces of Freedom and Change (FFC) have held technocrats responsible for these failures.
Accordingly, the ruling coalition announced nominating politicians to become members of the new cabinet.

FFC members have been disputing for months over power-sharing, leading to the delay in government formation.

Following popular demands, the ruling coalition and its peace partners announced the cabinet will be formed on Feb. 5. It also announced the appointment of state governors and reshuffle the Sovereign Council on Feb. 11, in addition to the completion of the formation of the Legislative Council (transitional parliament) on Feb. 25.

The FFC nominated 51 candidates for 17 portfolios, three for each ministry for Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok to choose one.

The Sudanese Revolutionary Front (SRF) nominated seven candidates for its seven portfolios, provided that the military members in the Sovereign Council choose the defense and interior ministers.

The National Umma Party received the highest share in the new government, which is expected to be announced on Sunday.

Since August 2019, a transitional government — comprised of civilians and military officials — has taken over the reins of power in Sudan.

The government was formed under a 39-month power-sharing agreement between the military and civilian groups, following the removal of long-time president Omar al-Bashir.

The Transitional Military Council (TMC) and the FFC signed the agreement, which provided for the establishment of a joint civilian-military sovereign council that would rule Sudan while elections are organized.

A military leader would head the 11-member Sovereign Council for the first 21 months, followed by a civilian leader for the next 18 months, the declaration read.

According to the agreement, the opposition coalition is allowed to choose five members of the council and the military another five, with the two sides jointly choosing a civilian as an eleventh member.

The constitutional declaration also gave the FFC the power to form the government and choose 67 percent of the 300 members of the Transitional Legislative Council.

The country also has a civilian cabinet of technocrats led by Hamdok, in response to popular demands to refrain from forming a partisan power-sharing government during the transitional period.

However, many ministers were slammed and faced popular demands to be dismissed for failing to carry out their duties during the transitional period.

In July 2020, Hamdok replaced seven senior cabinet post-holders as part of a sweeping reshuffle.

He named interim replacements to lead these ministries until the FFC, which is the current political reference of the interim government, appoints new ministers.

Nevertheless, many parties postponed naming these ministers, pending the peace partners who signed the Juba Peace Agreement in October 2020.

The peace agreement was signed by the government and several armed groups affiliated with the SRF.

Under the agreement, armed movements will be granted 25 percent representation in the cabinet, two portfolios (defense and interior) to be headed by the military component, 17 seats for the FFC, and three seats were agreed to be allocated to the Transitional Sovereign Council, while the Transitional Legislative Council was granted 75 percent representation.

Therefore, the new cabinet is expected to include 26 ministries instead of 20.

As a fragile peace takes hold, some South Sudanese refugees head home.

News and Press Release Source 

 Posted 29 Jan 2021 Originally published 29 Jan 2021

By Aoife McDonnell and Linda Muriuki in Bentiu, South Sudan | 29 January 2021

When Mary Nyekuola first returned to South Sudan after fleeing conflict four years ago, she wept. The land she left behind had been occupied and her husband had died while a refugee in Khartoum after a long illness. She had to start from scratch, but still, it felt good to be back.

“I had mixed feelings. It was painful but at the same time I was happy to be home,” she said as she spread a mat on the ground outside her sister’s house in Bentiu, a small town in Unity State near the border with Sudan.

Mary is among more than 200,000 South Sudanese refugees who have returned from countries of asylum in the last two years, encouraged by news from friends and family that peace is slowly returning to their country.

The 30-year-old mother lives with a disability and moves around with the aid of a wheelchair and her niece. Her young children sometimes push her along an uneven, dry and dusty path to look for water.

“When I left, it was because I could not walk and I would not have been able to run from fighting, but things are better now,” she said.

South Sudan seceded from Sudan to become the world’s youngest nation in 2011 after decades of war, but plunged back into conflict in 2013. More than four million South Sudanese have been displaced across the region and within their own country in one of Africa’s largest displacement crises.

A renewed agreement on the resolution of the conflict in the Republic of South Sudan’ signed in September 2018 by warring parties cautiously revived hopes of long-term stability, a necessity for lasting solutions to displacement, including return and local integration.

Visiting the country to observe the opportunities and challenges of the fragile peace process, UN High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi met with government officials, refugees, internally displaced people, host communities and those who have recently returned, like Mary.

“We have seen an increase in numbers of people returning, there has been a decline during the peak of the pandemic but now it is picking up again,” he said.

At Panakuach, a border point between Sudan and South Sudan, he met returning refugees travelling in buses packed high with beds, mattresses and other belongings accumulated during their time in Khartoum, Sudan’s capital. UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, has a non-return advisory in place as the conditions in South Sudan are not yet in place for safe and lasting return, but Grandi urged more strategic thinking by the government to help returnees and the communities they settle in live in safety and dignity.

“There is a slow paradigm shift linked to the peace process to a better situation, but the challenges are enormous … authorities must firmly commit to security, rule of law and good governance.” Grandi also called for the international community to help strengthen development efforts to make sure schools, health services and work opportunities are serving the people.

Years of conflict in South Sudan have severely damaged basic infrastructures and stretched humanitarian aid. He called for special attention to be paid to the security and needs of the country’s women, like Mary, who have borne the brunt of horrific violence and trauma during the country’s civil war.

“Women have suffered enough in this country, “said Grandi. “We met many women who told us they are the ones who are leading ther families back to returning home, they’re the ones who need more reassurance about security, about education of the children, about health and about their own livelihoods, wondering how they will live.”

The High Commissioner’s visit comes at a time of gathering momentum for a push by the Intergovernmental Authority on Development – an eight-country regional trade bloc – to identify lasting solutions for some seven million forcibly displaced people originating from and within South Sudan and Sudan.

Grandi praised South Sudan’s open-door policy for refugees and the continued display of generosity and solidarity toward the nearly 300,000 refugees currently present on its soil, especially at a time when the country is experiencing enormous socio-economic, security and political challenges.

The coronavirus pandemic has further deepened the plight of people fleeing war, conflict and persecution and vulnerable South Sudanese, and UNHCR’s humanitarian support will continue. Asked whether she is concerned that conflict could return to her hometown, Mary says she worries, but for now is willing to take a chance.

“I am still afraid, I am with my children, I don’t know if the peace will last. If fighting starts again, we will run away. But it has only been a few months, maybe after a year or two years we will see.”

She wants to start a business so she can take care of her family and needs capital. “If I am given a tea shop with items like sugar, sweets and others. My niece and I can run the shop.”

UN refugee chief urges support for South Sudan refugees who choose to return home

Israel, Sudan to Finalize Diplomatic Deal in Spring!

Thursday, 28 January, 2021 – 09:45

Israeli Intelligence Minister Eli Cohen (L) elbow-bumping Sudanese Defense Minister Yassin Ibrahim in Sudan’s capital Khartoum on January 25, 2021. (Arye Shalicar/Israel Intelligence Ministry/AFP)

Tel Aviv – Asharq Al-Awsat

Israeli Intelligence Minister Eli Cohen said that Sudan’s Head of State General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan and Defense Minister Yassin Ibrahim expressed their wish to reinforce normalization ties with Israel even after the change of the US administration.

He said that the exchange of embassies will probably take place after the signing of the normalization deal in the spring.

Israel and Sudan will finalize a diplomatic deal to normalize relations at a signing ceremony in Washington, Cohen said.

He revealed that Khartoum took the initiative, while usually it’s Israel that exerts pressure to enhance ties with Arab counterparts. Cohen described these moments as “historical.”

He said he was delighted to be the first Israeli minister to make a peace visit to Sudan.

According to his statements, Sudan is not a regular country but the third biggest country in Africa and is an Arab country with deep roots.

Cohen said he brought his hosts oil and fruit from the Israeli farms and as a parting gift received an M16 rifle.

Furthermore, Cohen and Burhan agreed on a detailed plan to return the Sudanese asylum seekers in Israel (a total of 6,500). First, a Sudanese law will be passed to abolish the sanctions against Israel. Second, there will be economic, agricultural, industrial, and commercial projects for Israel in Sudan.

These asylum seekers will be hired in these projects, given that Israel has commenced training and qualifying them to join the labor market.
They also agreed on preeminent intelligence and security cooperation to curb the terrorist organizations and activities — the parties signed the first memorandum of understanding on security.

New parties emerge to try to break deadlock in Nile dam negotiations !

New countries are seeking a mediation role in the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam crisis as negotiations sponsored by the African Union between Egypt, Sudan and Ethiopia stumble.

Hagar Hosny

Democratic Republic of the Congo’s President Felix Tshisekedi speaks during a videoconference meeting at the One Planet Summit, part of World Nature Day, at the Reception Room of the Elysee Palace, in Paris, on Jan. 11, 2021. Tshisekedi is taking over as head of the African Union, which has been sponsoring negotiations on the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam. Can he make a difference where others have not?  Photo by LUDOVIC MARIN/AFP via Getty Images.

Jan 31, 2021

CAIRO — Several countries are seeking a mediation role in the faltering negotiations over the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam. The Democratic Republic of the Congo is set to assume in February the chairmanship of the African Union, with Congo President Felix Tshisekedi succeeding his South African counterpart. Among the chairmanship’s duties is sponsorship of the ongoing dam negotiations between Egypt, Ethiopia and Sudan. 

On Jan. 21, the ambassadors of the United States and Italy to Sudan praised Khartoum’s position in the talks on the dam. During their meeting with Sudanese Irrigation Minister Yasser Abbas, the two ambassadors stressed the need to establish an exchange data mechanism to ensure Khartoum’s right to secure its dams, water facilities and the safety of its citizens during the operation of the Renaissance dam. 

Meanwhile, the British ambassador to Khartoum, Irfan Siddiq, stressed during his meeting with Abbas on Jan. 18 his country’s support for reaching an agreement on the dam that is satisfactory to all concerned parties, namely Egypt, Sudan and Ethiopia. 

The Sudan News Agency reported Jan. 13 that the United Arab Emirates is seeking to converge the views of Egypt, Sudan and Ethiopia with the aim of breaking the deadlock in the dam negotiations, following a one-day visit by a delegation from the UAE Foreign Ministry to Sudan. 

The recent actions come as the latest round of dam negotiations between Egypt, Ethiopia and Sudan, sponsored by the African Union, have faltered. On Jan. 10, the six-party meeting of water and irrigation ministers and foreign ministers from Egypt, Sudan and Ethiopia failed to reach a binding and legal agreement on the filling and operation of the dam. The failure was ostensibly due to disagreements over how to resume negotiations and the procedural aspects related to managing the negotiation process.

Abbas said in a statement issued Jan. 11 that his country asked the African Union experts to play a greater role in facilitating negotiations and bridging the rift between the conflicting parties. The day before, Egypt and Ethiopia expressed reservations about the Sudanese proposal to expand the role of African Union experts. 

Cairo University political scientist Tarek Fahmy told Al-Monitor over the phone that any attempt to mediate “is a noble and welcome attempt. The UAE efforts are the most prominent and tangible. Yet they come at a critical time, a few months before the scheduled start of the second filling” of the dam in August

He added, “The UAE’s mediation could have two scenarios. The first consists of stalling until the second filling of the dam is done. The second aims to succeed in the negotiations, which is difficult to achieve in light of the approaching second filling stage and the absence of a specific agenda for this mediation.” 

Fahmy said, “Egypt wants the African Union to officially declare the failure of the negotiations and inform the negotiating parties that it no longer will play the role of mediator in the negotiation process in its capacity as the relevant regional organization. In this case, Egypt would be able to internationalize the file by referring it to the UN Security Council.”

Since the construction of the dam began on the Blue Nile in 2011, Egypt and Sudan (two downstream countries) have been striving to reach a binding legal agreement with Ethiopia (an upstream country) through negotiations on the rules for filling and operation of the dam. The three countries signed on March 23, 2015, the Declaration of Principles in Khartoum. The declaration stipulates fair and appropriate use of water, non-harm, cooperation and regional integration, as the dam raises concerns in Egypt and Sudan about their historical shares of Nile water. 

Egypt, which suffers water scarcity, fears a decrease in its Nile water share amounting to about 55.5 billion cubic meters. The $4.6-billion dam is located near the Ethiopian-Sudanese border, with a maximum capacity of 74 billion cubic meters. For its part, Sudan fears the dam will affect its agriculture by retaining silt (sediment) and reducing water levels, which would consequently undermine its fish wealth. Ethiopia says the dam is necessary for economic development, as the dam will provide Ethiopia and other countries with large quantities of electricity. 

Hani Raslan, head of the Sudan and Nile Basin Countries Unit at the Al-Ahram Center for Political and Strategic Studies, told Al-Monitor the most important stance regarding the negotiations currently is the US position. “The US has experience and is well aware of the details of the dam crisis and its points of disagreement. It is also well aware that the Ethiopian position contradicts international law and that Ethiopia’s intransigence on the negotiations threatens Egypt and Sudan.” 

He added, “Washington had previously submitted a document containing a set of items on filling and operating the dam. This means the US is the most equipped to make an efficacious intervention” when it comes to the dam, “especially since the US does not want the region to slip into any spiraling conflict.” 

Raslan said the UAE, UK, Italy and even the Democratic Republic of the Congo may play auxiliary roles in resolving the crisis, but they will not be able, alone, to reach an acceptable settlement. 

A former Egyptian irrigation minister, Mohamed Nasr Allam, does not expect progress in the negotiations during the coming period. He told Al-Monitor, “The interference of some new parties may push the negotiations forward, but only if this is done within the framework of enforcement of international law.” 

Allam added, “These efforts will not result in any solution unless Ethiopia shows flexibility; it has so far rejected any mediation, whether regional or international. This is something that falls neither in its favor nor in its interest.”