Landmark Case of ‘Janjaweed’ Militia Leader Opens April 5
March 29, 2022 4:00AM EDT
(The Hague) – The International Criminal Court’s trial of Ali Kosheib, or Kushayb, will open on April 5, 2022, and offers the first opportunity to see a leader face prosecution for massive crimes committed in Darfur nearly 20 years ago, Human Rights Watch said today. Human Rights Watch issued a question-and-answer document and a video ahead of the trial.
“Kosheib’s trial is a long-awaited chance for victims and communities terrorized by the notorious Janjaweed militia and government forces in Darfur to see a leader held to account,” said Elise Keppler, associate international justice director at Human Rights Watch. “In the face of steep odds and no other credible options, the ICC is serving as the crucial court of last resort for Darfuris.”
The video focuses on the significance of the trial and on what else is needed by the Sudanese authorities for justice for atrocities committed in Darfur. The question-and-answer document covers:
Background on the accused, the Janjaweed militia group, and the conflict in Darfur,
How the trial will proceed and the participation of victims in the proceedings,
The significance of the trial and efforts to make it accessible to local communities,
Needed steps by Sudanese authorities to surrender former president Omar al-Bashir and three other fugitives, and
The current situation in Darfur and Sudan, including continued abuses.
“For all these years, those implicated in serious crimes and other abuses in Darfur and Sudan have largely suffered no consequences – and in some instances, have even been rewarded,” Keppler said. “Would-be abusers should take note that they can end up in court even if it is slow going. Now, Sudanese authorities should surrender the remaining fugitives, including former president Omar al-Bashir, so victims have the opportunity to also see them held to account.”
The member countries of Friends of Sudan have reiterated their strong support for the combined efforts of the UN Integrated Transition Assistance Mission to Sudan (UNITAMS), the African Union (AU), and the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD), to facilitate a Sudanese-led political process with the aim of restoring a civilian-led transition to democracy.
In a joint statement yesterday, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Saudi Arabia, the Netherlands, Norway, Spain, Sweden, United Arab Emirates, the United Kingdom, the USA, and the European Union applaud the ongoing efforts to consult with a broad range of Sudanese stakeholders.
“We look forward to the imminent launch of the next phase of the talks with the aim of building consensus around the structure of credible, civilian-led institutions that will lead Sudan through a revived civilian-led transition period, culminating in free and fair democratic elections,” the Friends of Sudan statement says.
“The urgency cannot be overstated. We, therefore, urge constructive engagement of all stakeholders in this next phase and underscore the importance of ensuring women, as well as youth, and other historically marginalized groups enjoy full, effective, and meaningful participation and inclusion throughout every stage of the process.”
The Friends of Sudan statement follows the briefing by the Special Representative of the UN Secretary General (STSG) for Sudan, and head of the UN Integrated Transition Assistance Mission in Sudan (UNITAMS), Volker Perthes, to the UN Security Council on Monday. Perthes pleaded the council that “the situation in Sudan has not improved”. He warned the UNSC, saying: “Time is not on Sudan’s side, and I speak to you today with a sense of urgency which is also increasingly felt by Sudanese stakeholders concerned about the stability and the very existence of their country.”
In a statement on March 1, the Friends of Sudan previously voiced that they were “committed to supporting the aspirations of the Sudanese people for a free, democratic, peaceful, and prosperous Sudan”.
At least 20 people have been reported killed in renewed clashes between Fallata and Rizeigat tribesmen in South Darfur on Monday and Tuesday, following the killing of an officer from the Rapid Support Forces on Thursday on the Singo – El Daein road.
Well-informed sources told Radio Dabanga that there were dead and wounded on both sides in El Muwailih, east of Sarqila and Habeel, near to Umm Balula. Tribal notables appealed to the government to intervene urgently to contain the crisis and prevent further bloodshed.
The sources reported that the security committee headed by Governor Hamid Hanun moved to the scene of the events to contain the matter.
In eastern Sudan, tribal clashes erupted in the Id Sidna area of Kassala on Tuesday, which saw several wounded transferred to Kassala Hospital.
These conflicts come after the decision to demarcate the borders between tribes issued by the Committee to Address the Situation in Eastern Sudan headed by Gen Mohamed ‘Hemeti’ Dagalo, Vice-President of Sudan’s Sovereignty Council.
Last Wednesday, Kassala State also witnessed the killing of two people by firing squad and the injury of seven others, in a tribal conflict in the Barma area in Aroma rural locality, and the authorities imposed a security cordon on The events areas and arrested eight of the accused.
The US State Department has issued a statement strongly condemning “the recent marked increase in violence in Sudan, particularly in Darfur and the Two Areas (South Kordofan and Blue Nile state)”, and calls for an immediate end to killings, sexual violence, forced displacements, and other human rights abuses.
The statement issued by the department spokesperson Ned Price yesterday, urges “an immediate investigation into the causes of this recent spate of violence in Darfur and the Two Areas and for those responsible for human rights abuses or violations to be held accountable. We remind the signatories of the Juba Peace Agreement of their commitments to provide security in these regions and work towards a durable peace.”
The US statement asserts that “these tragic incidents further demonstrate both the imperative for accelerated implementation of the provisions of the Juba Peace Agreement and that Sudan requires comprehensive, inclusive security sector reform as well as accountability measures to address longstanding and ongoing impunity. They also underscore the continued need for robust monitoring and reporting mechanisms through the UN’s High Commissioner for Human Rights, UN Security Council’s Panel of Experts on Sudan, and the UN Integrated Transition Assistance Mission in Sudan (UNITAMS).”
As civilian and military actors participate in Sudanese-led, internationally facilitated consultations about Sudan’s future under civilian rule, the US calls on the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement North – Abadalaziz Alhilu and Sudan Liberation Movement – Abdel Wahid Al Nur to engage constructively in this process.
“We urge all stakeholders to take seriously and address the drivers of conflict in the country’s peripheries,” the State Dept concludes.
On Monday, the US Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) sanctioned the Republic of Sudan Central Reserve Police (CRP, popularly known as Abu Tira) for serious human rights abuse yesterday. The Treasury listed the excessively violent repression of peaceful pro-democracy protests by the security forces as the main reason.
Two people were killed and seven others were wounded in a tribal conflict over a water project in Kassala State on Wednesday. In North Darfur, militiamen violently robbed a man of his rickshaw.
Two people were shot dead and seven others were wounded in a tribal conflict in the El Birma area in the rural Aroma locality of Kassala State on Wednesday. The injured were taken to hospitals in Kassala, while the families of the victims pledged to receive bury them whilst stressing the need to arrest the perpetrators.
The authorities imposed a security cordon in the affected areas and arrested 8 of the accused.
Residents from the area attributed the clashes to a dispute over a water project on the banks of the Atbara River, and some residents of El Sudeira village fenced off the site under the pretext of agriculture. The residents of another village opposed the fencing as they felt that the land belonged to them, which led to clashes during which bullets and knives were used.
North Darfur robbery
In North Darfur, militias robbed and looted a rickshaw using firearms and forced the driver to get out of the vehicle and hand over the keys after they stabbed him with a knife.
According to well-informed sources who spoke to Radio Dabanga from the scene of the accident, the accident occurred on the road linking Barakat Sayra and Saraf Omra state yesterday.
The sources explained that the driver of the rickshaw, whose name is Adam Matuka, was stopped by armed militiamen on motorcycles when he was on his way home.
The sources made it clear that militia members used heavy force to overtake the rickshaw and that the driver was hit in the eye and stabbed twice with a knife.
.US, Britain, Norway say Wagner Group engaged in illicit activities in Sudan BY LIBYAN EXPRESS MAR 23, 2022 – 07:04
The Sudanese government on Tuesday denied reports about the presence of Russian paramilitary Wagner Group in Sudan.
In a statement, the Foreign Ministry termed accusations by the ambassadors of the US, Britain and Norway on the Wagner’s activities in Sudan as “a blatant interference in Sudan’s domestic affairs.”
On March 21, the Troika for Sudan – the US, Britain and Norway – said the Wagner Group was engaged in illicit activities that undermine the rule of law in Sudan.
“In Sudan, the Wagner Group, a Private Military Company closely linked to (Russian President Vladimir) Putin, spreads disinformation on social media and engages in illicit activities connected to gold-mining,” the Troika said.
But the Sudanese ministry denied the claims, saying the three envoys are trying to drag Sudan into the ongoing conflict in Ukraine.
Russian private security companies such as Wagner, Patriot, Sewa Security Service and RSB are known to have a presence in Africa.
According to Bloomberg, the Wagner Group is engaged in military trainings and activities, as well as in protection of gold mines, in Angola, Libya, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the Central African Republic, Madagascar, Mali, Mozambique and Zimbabwe.
Egypt and Sudan continue to build on their military relations amid rising tensions with Ethiopia with the approaching third filling phase of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam despite the negotiations halt.
Mohamed Saied March 22, 2022
Egypt and Sudan held high-level military talks recently amid mounting tensions with Ethiopia over its giant hydroelectric dam on the Blue Nile, the main tributary of the Nile River.
Egyptian Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Osama Askar hosted his Sudanese counterpart, Lt. Gen. Mohamed Othman al-Hussein, in Cairo March 16, within the scope of the eighth meeting of the so-called Egyptian-Sudanese Military Committee.
The two generals and their delegations discussed boosting military cooperation, joint training and exchanging experiences, according to a statement by the Egyptian army.
Askar praised the converging visions between Egypt and Sudan, saying that he looks forward to more cooperation in all fields within the framework of the strong strategic bilateral relations. He noted that the two delegations agreed to work on preserving both countries’ security and stability.
The Egyptian army statement quoted Hussein as confirming the depth of the historical relations between the two countries. Othman said that he agreed with his Egyptian counterpart on formulating a joint strategy to achieve the interests of both countries.
The visit comes as Ethiopia began draining the middle passage of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD), according to recent satellite images, in a move asserting Addis Ababa’s intention to execute ramping works in the dam’s body in the lead-up to the third filling process.
The dam’s reservoir is filled during the rainy season, from June to September. The annual storage level depends on the height of the middle passage of the dam.
Relations between Sudan and Egypt, who are at loggerheads with Ethiopia over its construction of the GERD, have grown in an unprecedented manner recently, especially at the military level, since the overthrow of former Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir in 2019. The army chiefs of the two countries exchanged several visits that later culminated in the signing of a joint military agreement in the fields of training and border security in March 2021.
Further complicating the current scene, Ethiopia announced Feb. 20 the GERD’s partial operation through limited electricity generation for the first time, in a move condemned by the two downstream countries.
Egypt and Sudan bashed Ethiopia’s unilateral filling and operation of the dam, labeling the start of power generation a violation of the Declaration of Principles signed by the three countries in 2015. The agreement prohibits the three signatories from taking unilateral measures in the use of the Nile River’s water.
Despite the GERD crisis recently waning international momentum amid the West’s preoccupation with the Russian-Ukrainian war, the conflict is likely to resurface to the international spotlight with the kickoff of the third filling phase if this step is completed unilaterally by Ethiopia.
For years, Egypt and Sudan have failed to persuade Ethiopia to agree to a legal agreement regulating the process of filling and operating the dam and operating it during the dry years in which there is less rainfall, and during which the amount of water that Addis Ababa will be releasing toward the two downstream countries will be lower. The two countries also demand an effective and binding mechanism for settling future disputes, while Ethiopia insists on an agreement that includes nonbinding guidelines.
Ethiopian State Minister of Foreign Affairs Redwan Hussein said in an interview with Al-Hadath TV Feb. 10, “The completion of the dam cannot be stopped. We will move forward regardless of the position of the downstream countries and their illogical objections. No one can obstruct the project and we shall not compromise on our rights.”
Shinn pointed out that the GERD continues to pose a threat to the security of the region, especially if there are several consecutive years of serious drought that diminish water flow throughout the Nile River system.
However, he believes that the military cooperation between Egypt and Sudan will not reach further than it is now.
On July 19, 2021, Ethiopia had announced the completion of the second filling of the dam’s reservoir with a capacity of 13.5 billion cubic meters, in addition to the 4.9 billion cubic meters stored in the first filling in July 2020. Egypt and Sudan rejected these two unilateral steps.
Ethiopia’s measure came months after a diplomatic escalation that culminated in veiled Egyptian warnings to carry out military action against the dam, if development of the GERD proceeded with agreement among the three parties.
Despite few indicators of any imminent Egyptian military action toward the dam in the recent period, diplomatic statements exchanged between the two countries, Cairo has never waivered regarding the urgency of the crisis,
Egypt has been fostering its influence in the Nile Basin countries bordering Ethiopiam in addition to deepeneing miltiary ties with Egypt.
Cairo signed a series of joint military and economic agreements with Uganda, Kenya, Burundi, Rwanda and Djibouti.
Diplomatically, in the summer of 2021, Cairo and Khartoum succeeded in including the dam issue on the agenda of the United Nations Security Council, despite Ethiopia’s rejection. Subsequently, the Security Council president issued a statement calling on the three countries to continue their talks under the auspices of the African Union (AU), which has since sought to resume negotiations, but failed.
Talks held under the auspices of the AU since June 2020 have failed to reach a tripartite agreement on the filling and operation of the dam. Cairo and Khartoum demanded Addis Ababa to stop filling the dam’s reservoir until an agreement is reached.
The tripartite negotiations have been frozen since early April 2021, when the parties failed to achieve any progress during their meeting in Kinshasa, the capital of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. They rather exchanged accusations of obstructing the talks.
Shinn said, “Ethiopia has completed the first two fillings of the GERD without any harm to Sudan or Egypt. If the rainy season in the Nile Basin is again normal or better than normal, the downstream countries need not fear any harm this year either.”
Ethiopia argues that the dam — the largest in Africa — whose construction is more than 80% complete at a cost of $5 billion, is vital for its economic development and for providing energy. Egypt, for its part, sees it as a serious threat to its supplies of the Nile water, which depends almost entirely on it to meet its fresh water needs.
Sudan has a slightly different opinion. It believes the dam could regulate the distribution of the Blue Nile water and allow it to benefit from the electricity it would generate. However, it wants guarantees of its safe and appropriate operation in order to preserve its own dams, including the Roseires Dam, the largest of Sudan’s dams.
Cairo may have take stepped back from military threats for now, keeping the emphasis on diplomacy. A heavy rainy season in the past two years has mitigated any significant impact on its water supply. However, the Egyptian government still faces internal pressures to deal with the GERD crisis as a national security issue.
South Sudan is facing the aftermath of its worst floods since 1960. Over 835,000 people have been affected. Working with many partners, the Dutch embassy in Juba is working to bolster climate resilience. How can we minimise the impact of persistent flooding on the people who live there?
‘The climate change that’s been predicted for years is now happening before our very eyes,’ says Richard Aludra, climate specialist at the Dutch embassy in Juba. ‘Average temperatures have been rising since 1980. South Sudan is heating up rapidly, resulting in extreme weather conditions. Periods of drought are followed by heavy rainfall.’ 2021 was the third consecutive year of serious flooding. 835,000 local residents were affected by the rising waters. 200,000 people had to flee their homes and now live in camps.
The Netherlands contributed emergency aid, such as shelter, basic facilities and medical assistance. However, Bentiu – a city with a population of about 300,000 – is still covered in two metres of water. ‘And we’re just at the end of the dry season now and about to head into the rainy season again from April. We really have to work on climate resilience in South Sudan, so that floods have a less severe impacts on the people who live here,’ says Michiel Smet, water expert at the embassy in Juba.
Dikes also need to be maintained
The solution seems simple: build dikes to control the water. But that is not always the solution, as Michiel knows from first-hand experience. ‘After the floods in 2018, young people mobilised to fill sandbags, but the area still flooded again a year later, despite the dikes. Livestock had destroyed the sandbags in some areas, or dikes had been affected by erosion. You also need to be able to maintain dikes, and protect them. People can learn all sorts of technological solutions to make that possible, but it also has to be financially viable.’ What’s more, South Sudan is struggling with a humanitarian and political crisis.
Rising water levels in the White Nile
Bor is a low-lying city situated at the edge of the marshes along the White Nile. The floods grow worse here every year. According to Michiel, climate change is not the only cause. ‘It can also be attributed to the way people deal with water. Forests are being cut down and overgrazing loosens the topsoil. As a result, the water is no longer retained, flowing away faster and causing an increase in flooding. Neighbouring countries, such as Uganda, are also seeing more rainfall. This causes the water level to rise in Lake Victoria, which forces the hydroelectric dam in Uganda to release large volumes of water. This has led to rising water levels in the White Nile.’
The governments of the Netherlands and South Sudan have no formal development cooperation ties. How can the Netherlands make a useful contribution despite that? Richard: ‘We work with the International Organization for Migration (IOM), as well as civil society organisations and local authorities, which are directly accountable to the people. Before we start building dikes, drainage canals and irrigation systems, we jointly investigate the options for an efficient and feasible long-term solution.’
Working with many partners
South Sudan is learning from the water management expertise available in the Netherlands. Engineering firms like Euroconsult Mott MacDonald are giving their input on appropriate responses to flooding in the region. Students at the Dr. John Garang Memorial University of Science and Technology in Bor can apply for a grant to study water management in the Netherlands. The local population contributes ideas through disaster risk reduction groups, organised by the local Flood Management Initiative. ‘Wherever possible, we prioritise nature-based solutions,’ Richard says.
Room for the river
That starts with identifying the region’s natural waterways. According to Richard, ‘It’s crucial not to block these natural watercourses. People are currently building homes in places where water wants to move through during periods of heavy rainfall and flooding. We’re exploring whether people can move to higher ground. It is not only safer for them, but also creates room for the river to follow its natural course when the water rises, so flooding causes less damage.’
Essentially, a smarter approach to spatial planning is needed, and the project team is working to support local authorities in these efforts. For example, when new infrastructure is built, it is important to ensure that roads do not obstruct water drainage. The Netherlands is helping with environmental impact reporting, making it possible to identify how the new plans will affect the surrounding environment.
Although the Bor Flood Control Initiative kicked off in 2021, its official launch will be held in March 2022. There is still a lot of work to be done before local residents can be sure of keeping their feet dry. Even so, Richard is cautiously optimistic. Representatives of the South Sudanese Ministry of Environment and Forestry and Ministry of Water Resources and Irrigation will be attending the official opening. ‘Finally, the national government of South Sudan is looking at the consequences of climate change. It’s high time that work began on climate adaptation.’
Dubai – To showcase its potential to visitors at Expo 2020 Dubai, Sudan chose to highlight innovative citizens and companies. In the Mobility District, the pavilion of the Arab country at the world exhibition is divided into five galleries, including one focused on youth innovation. The space brings products and solutions from the public and private sectors, educational institutions, individuals, startups, and small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). The innovations follow the Expo’s sub-themes: opportunity, mobility, and sustainability.
One of the stories highlighted in the exhibition was Rawia Abed Awed Ali, a biomedical engineer. The researcher developed a method to screen for diabetic retinopathy based on telemedicine. Diabetic retinopathy is a complication caused by uncontrolled blood glucose in diabetics.
In innovation, Sudanese companies also have spaces. Enigma, a startup working with cutting-edge artificial intelligence (AI) technology, is featured in the pavilion. Aqua Gas, a startup, has created a system to separate water into hydrogen and gaseous oxygen for hydrogen therapy.
Agriculture and gum arabic
Another noteworthy gallery is dedicated to agriculture, livestock, and gum arabic. The country is displaying products such as organic fertilizers in the agriculture sector. One of the products presented was the compound by AFC Organic, a Sudanese brand that supplies for farms and domestic use in ornamental plants.
In the same space, Foga displays its products related to gum arabic. Among them is powdered gum for customers who prefer to prepare it instantly.
The pavilion also features a gallery dedicated to culture, antiquities, and tourism, another on industry and mining, and the last space on investment, trade, communications, and the private sector in Sudan.