UN Secretary-General António Guterres says peace in South Sudan is “a must”


UN Secretary-General António Guterres says peace in South Sudan is “a must”

UN Secretary-General António Guterres says peace in South Sudan is “a must”

22 Jun2017



Peace in South Sudan is “a must”, for these people to be able to have a future, the UN Secretary-General Mr. Antonio Guterres has said.

Secretary-General António Guterres was speaking to journalists in Arua Uganda, shortly after he visited Imvempi Refugee camp on Thursday. The camp currently hosts more than 100 thousand South Sudanese refugees.

He made a direct appeal to the donor community, saying the generosity and solidarity shown by Uganda should be reciprocated.

“What we all have seen, he said “is a demonstration of extra-ordinary generosity of the people and the government of Uganda receiving so many hundreds of thousands, almost one million South Sudanese as sisters and brothers and sharing with them their land and everything they have.” Guterres.

Mr. Guterres will preside over a pledging conference in Kampala this Friday, which seeks to raise $2 billion US dollars to meet the humanitarian needs of refugees and to support the hosting communities over the next four years.

Link to web article here.

Sudan Sanctions July Deadline “Won’t Work”: Trump Administration Should Delay Decision

Photo: dabangasudan.org/Getty Images/File

“July Deadline Won’t Work”: Trump Administration Should Delay Decision on Sudan Sanctions

Washington, DC, June 22, 2017 — The Trump administration should delay a July decision on U.S. sanctions on Sudan, according to a report published today by the Enough Project.

The report, “The July Deadline Won’t Work: Why the U.S. needs to delay the decision on Sudan sanctions,” highlights serious questions about progress by Sudan on the “five tracks” under U.S. review, including humanitarian access and a cessation of hostilities. The report also highlights that the senior U.S. government officials responsible for Africa policy who would typically play central roles in such an important decision are not yet in place, and thus are unable to weigh in on this critical decision.

John Prendergast, Founding Director at the Enough Project, said: “Given inconclusive evidence concerning multiple tracks and the fact that senior Africa policy posts have not yet been filled, the Trump administration should defer for at least six months the mid-July decision on what to do about the sanctions. This five-track policy initiative is deeply flawed and incomplete, undermines U.S. foreign policy objectives, and gives away a major point of U.S. leverage for little beyond potential short-term counter-terrorism gains while doing nothing to address the structural issues in Sudan that have led to increased refugee flows to Europe, further repression of Sudanese Christians and other minority groups, and continued war and authoritarian leadership. A six month delay in the decision would give the Trump administration time to pursue a separate, new and independent track for peace and human rights in Sudan. Incorporating modernized and focused financial pressures tools, as well as new incentives, this new track could seek to advance human rights, religious freedom, essential democratic reforms, anti-corruption efforts, good governance, and a comprehensive peace in Sudan.”

In an associated report released last week, the Enough Project presented the case for a new framework of U.S.-Sudan engagement focused on peace and human rights issues that would be underpinned by strong financial pressures.

Omer Ismail, Senior Policy Advisor at the Enough Project, said: “The Trump administration lacks the verifiable information that it needs to confirm that the government of Sudan has sustained these positive actions on all five tracks. There are multiple public reports to suggest the contrary related to at least two of the tracks.  There is little evidence of a recent “marked reduction in offensive military activity” in Darfur. Instead there is ample evidence of the Sudanese government’s disregard of the safety of civilians or outright targeting of civilians, with numerous reports of violent attacks in Darfur by Sudanese government forces, integrated militia known as the Rapid Support Forces, and other government-armed ethnically-based militias in Darfur.”

In a related development, this week the U.N. Security Council is considering decimating the capacity of the U.N. peacekeeping mission in Sudan (UNAMID) based on a strategic review conducted by the United Nations.

Ismail added, “The UNAMID review is based on a fundamentally flawed analysis of the situation in Darfur, an analysis undermined by the violence that took place shortly after the report was submitted to the Security Council. While it’s hard to predict the immediate effect these cuts would have on civilian protection, we know the risk of conflict is high in many of the areas where bases are to be closed and military contingents are to be withdrawn. The withdrawal of these UNAMID military forces and the closure of bases will make several key areas unsafe for humanitarian operations, likely leading to closures of programs upon which tens of thousands of conflict-affected people rely.”

Read the full report: http://eno.ug/2sQXja7

http://eno.ug/2suc56d : الملخص التنفیذي

Read Enough Project’s Recent Reports on Sudan:

Recent Congressional Testimonies:

  • Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission’s hearing on Sudan: Human Rights and SanctionsTestimony of Enough’s Omer Ismail (April 2017)
  • House Foreign Affairs Committee, Subcommittee on Africa, Global Health, Global Human Rights, and International Organizations The Questionable Case for Easing Sudan SanctionsTestimony of Enough’s Brad Brooks-Rubin (April 2017)

Recent Op-eds:

For media inquiries or interview requests, please contact: Greg Hittelman, Director of Communications, +1 310 717 0606gh@enoughproject.org.

About THE ENOUGH PROJECT: The Enough Project supports peace and an end to mass atrocities in Africa’s deadliest conflict zones. Together with its investigative initiative The Sentry, Enough counters armed groups, violent kleptocratic regimes, and their commercial partners that are sustained and enriched by corruption, criminal activity, and the trafficking of natural resources. By helping to create consequences for the major perpetrators and facilitators of atrocities and corruption, Enough seeks to build leverage in support of peace and good governance. Enough conducts research in conflict zones, engages governments and the private sector on potential policy solutions, and mobilizes public campaigns focused on peace, human rights, and breaking the links between war and illicit profit. Learn more – and join us – at www.EnoughProject.org.

Link to web article here.

Is It Time to Repeal U.S. Sanctions On Sudan?

The clock is ticking for President Trump who must decide by July 12 whether to lift decades-long U.S. sanctions on Sudan.


As a July decision approaches on whether to permanently remove most sanctions on Sudan, the Trump administration should properly evaluate progress, or lack thereof, on each of the five tracks on which progress is required, and the administration should not privilege any single track over others. Enough’s view is that the evidence available concerning multiple tracks is inconclusive. Combined with the fact that key senior Trump administration officials responsible for Africa policy are not yet in place, this calls for a six-month delay on the decision, during which time the Trump administration should assign the additional staff needed to gather credible information and assess progress on each of the five tracks. While properly assessing progress on the five tracks, the Trump administration should also pivot to pursue a separate new track of engagement focused on advancing peace and human rights in Sudan.

A convoy of WFP trucks in North Darfur (file photo).


This past January, the outgoing Obama administration conditionally eased almost all U.S. sanctions on Sudan, arguing that the Sudanese government had made improvements in five tracks of engagement: (1) cooperation on counterterrorism; (2) cooperation in countering the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA); (3) commitment to a cessation of hostilities in Sudan’s conflict areas; (4) ending support to South Sudanese armed opposition actors; and (5) providing humanitarian access to populations in need. The Obama administration asserted that the prospect of full sanctions removal created incentives for the Sudanese regime to improve conditions for the Sudanese people. The executive order initially easing U.S. sanctions in January provided that the sanctions would be lifted altogether in mid-July 2017 if the Sudanese government verifiably “sustained the positive actions that gave rise to this order.”

There are four major problems with the executive order and the way it was implemented by the Obama administration. First, it removed one of the biggest points of leverage the United States has to achieve its policy objectives at the very time the sanctions were beginning to bite more effectively, mostly because of enforcement of Iran sanctions that led to enforcement actions related to Sudan. Second, the Trump administration is just now putting in place the personnel needed to properly track and make use of the potential opportunity provided by the conditional easing of sanctions. Third, at the time of the issuance of the executive order in January, the Sudanese regime in fact had not made such meaningful progress on at least two of the five tracks as to warrant the easing of sanctions at that time. Fourth, the five tracks do not by themselves address the core human rights and governance issues that are at the center of the ongoing crisis. This policy initiative is therefore deeply flawed and incomplete, undermines U.S. foreign policy objectives, and gives away a major point of U.S. leverage for little beyond potential short-term counterterrorism gains while doing nothing to address the structural issues in Sudan that have led to increased refugee flows to Europe, further repression of Sudanese Christians and other minority groups, and continued war and authoritarian leadership.

Link to web article here.

S Sudan to lift ban on foreign journalists: media official

2017-06-22 21:04

Juba – South Sudan’s media authority will lift a ban on around 20 foreign journalists who had been refused access to the country, a top media official said on Thursday.Earlier this month the government’s media regulatory authority said it had banned the journalists over “unsubstantiated and unrealistic stories”.

The National Dialogue Steering Committee – tasked with leading consultations to restore peace in the country – put pressure on the Media Authority to lift the ban.

“They are going to allow any journalists to come. They were preventing some journalists because they said some journalists are fond of criticism of what is happening in the country,” said Alfred Taban, the committee’s chief of media affairs.

 “They were in other words skeptics. I said whether skeptic or not, they must be allowed to come to the country. So now if the BBC wants to come there is no question of somebody being denied a visa.”
Media Authority chief Elijah Alier Kuai said permits would be granted to all foreign journalists and there was “no problem” with the reporters coming to South Sudan.A report by Juba-based Eye Radio two weeks ago said those banned were deemed to have produced stories with “the potential to incite hate and violence” or that “do not have reliable sources or specific locations” or “that insult or degrade the country and its people”.

Alier told the radio station: “You need to respect also the country, you can’t just label the country as crazy.”

Taban said Alier had since “promised that he will facilitate entry to the foreign journalists.”

The civil war that began in South Sudan in December 2013, when President Salva Kiir fell out with his former deputy Riek Machar, has been characterised by ethnic massacres, attacks on civilians, widespread rape, the recruitment of child soldiers and other forms of brutality and human rights violations.

Both government and rebel forces are accused of what many commentators regard to be war crimes.

According to the Foreign Correspondents’ Association of East Africa, journalists from leading news organisations – most of whom had previously reported in South Sudan – have been refused visas or accreditation over the past six months.

Last month Al Jazeera English staff were banned from working in South Sudan after airing a report from a rebel-held part of the country.

EU pledges €85m to Uganda for South Sudan refugees

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres addresses the media after his tour of Imvepi, where South Sudanese refugees have settled, in northern Uganda on Thursday. Picture: REUTERS

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres addresses the media after his tour of Imvepi, where South Sudanese refugees have settled, in northern Uganda on Thursday. Picture: REUTERS


Arua, Uganda — The European Union (EU) pledged €85m ( ($95m) to Uganda on Thursday as UN chief Antonio Guterres urged donors to give 20 times that amount to help the country deal with nearly 1-million refugees from South Sudan.

Guterres visited a refugee camp in Uganda’s remote north where he met with South Sudanese who fled civil war in their country, a day before a summit in Kampala aimed at raising at least $2bn to deal with the world’s fastest growing refugee crisis.

“In a world in which so many people are selfishly closing their doors, closing their borders not allowing refugees to come (Uganda) deserves praise and admiration from the whole of the international community,” he said.

He urged the international community to express solidarity with the refugees by offering financial support for humanitarian aid as well as schools, healthcare and infrastructure to help Uganda “cope with such an enormous challenge”.

Picture: REUTERS

Picture: REUTERS

EU aid commissioner Christos Stylianides and UN refugee chief Filippo Grandi also visited the Imvepi settlement earlier in the day, ahead of the summit.

“To help Uganda deal with this unprecedented situation and support the most vulnerable refugees, the European Commission has today announced €85m in development assistance,” said Stylianides.

However, the massive sum still falls far short of what is needed. While the stated goal of the summit is to raise $2bn for the coming year, organisers say $8bn is needed to deal with the crisis for the coming four years.

According to the UN refugee agency more than 947,000 South Sudanese refugees are sheltering in Uganda, bringing the total number of refugees in the east African nation to more than 1.2-million.

South Sudan, the world’s youngest nation, achieved independence in 2011.

Civil war broke out in 2013 after President Salva Kiir accused his rival and former deputy Riek Machar of plotting a coup against him.

An August 2015 peace deal was left in tatters when fighting broke out in Juba in July last year, spreading violence across the country.

It was this outbreak of fighting that led to the biggest exodus, with about 743,000 South Sudanese arriving in Uganda since July 2016, about 2,000 a day.

More than 270,000 are housed in Bidibidi settlement, which overtook Kenya’s Dadaab earlier this year as the biggest refugee camp in the world.

Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni has been hailed for a progressive refugee policy in which refugees are allowed to work and access public services.

However, the situation on the ground has been overwhelming for locals and aid workers, with not enough food and water to go around.

“We are facing hunger problems. We need more food for the refugees and the Ugandans,” Sene Alex, told Guterres.

The UN estimates that another 500,000 South Sudanese will arrive in Uganda this year.

The summit will not include discussions on how to end the ongoing fighting, and there is no peace process in sight.

“We are treating the symptoms but the real root cause of this violence should be addressed. That is what is forcing people to run from their land,” said Wadri Sam Nykua, the top government official in Arua, Uganda, welcoming the EU and UN officials to the refugee settlement.

Guterres recalled accompanying refugees back across the border to South Sudan around the time of independence, many filled with hope that their new country would be at peace.

“Unfortunately, the leaders of the country have not deserved the people they have and the people are suffering enormously.… It is time for the war to end,” he said.


South Sudan famine eases but scores still going hungry

Women and children wait to be registered prior to a food distribution carried out by the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) in Thonyor, Leer state, South Sudan, February 26, 2017. Photo: Reuters
JUBA, South Sudan – A famine that was declared in parts of South Sudan four months ago is over, UN aid agencies said Wednesday, but extreme hunger has increased to its highest levels ever across the war-torn country.”The accepted technical definition of famine no longer applies in former Unity State’s Leer and Mayandit counties where famine was declared in February,” according to a joint statement from the UN children’s agency UNICEF, the World Food Programme (WFP) and the Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO).

READ: South Sudan buys weapons during famine: UN report 

The manmade famine, due to three years of conflict, has affected 100,000 people. The term famine is used according to a globally agreed scale determined by levels of access to food, acute malnutrition and daily deaths due to hunger.

But while the famine has eased, the number of people struggling to find food each day has grown to six million from 4.9 million in February, in what the agencies said was the “highest level of food insecurity ever experienced in South Sudan.”

: Africa country in crisis: Tunisia,Egypt,Mali,Sudan,CAR,South Sudan,Niger. That’s over 250 million lives at risk,hunger and famine.

And the number of people facing emergency levels of hunger — one step below famine — has increased to 1.7-million from one million in February. “The crisis is not over. We are merely keeping people alive but far too many face extreme hunger on the edge of a cliff,” said the FAO’s director of emergencies Dominique Burgeon.

READ: South Sudan declares famine in parts of war-torn country 

“The only way to stop this desperate situation is to stop the conflict, ensure unimpeded access and enable people to resume their livelihoods.”

Fields empty as war rages

South Sudan, the world’s youngest nation, was plunged into civil war in 2013 after President Salva Kiir accused his rival and former deputy Riek Machar of plotting a coup against him.

The violence — initially between ethnic Dinka supporters of Kiir and ethnic Nuer supporters of Machar — has since spread to other parts of the country, engulfing other ethnic groups. An August 2015 peace deal was left in tatters when fighting broke out in Juba in July last year.

The United Nations has warned of potential genocide and ethnic cleansing in the country, where there seems to be no prospect of peace in sight. Farming communities have been driven from their homes, leaving fields unharvested and markets disrupted, and food prices have soared.

More than 3.5-million people have been displaced by the conflict, and tens of thousands killed. The UN agencies warned that gains made in the famine-struck areas must not be lost and that emergency food aid was still crucial to prevent a return to crisis situations.

“Food insecurity is a key issue, but so is lack of health care, poor water and sanitation and, most crucially, access to those children in need of treatment. At present, too many parts of the country remain cut off due to insecurity, leaving hundreds of thousands of children on the cusp of catastrophe,” said Mahimbo Mdoe, UNICEF’s Representative in South Sudan.

Severe drought across eastern Africa has left millions hungry in Somalia, Ethiopia and Kenya, and with yet another poor rainy season just ending, humanitarians have warned the situation could grow even worse.


Sudan, Libya, and Support for Radical Islamic Militants: A Vignette

Link to web article here.

“General and First Vice President, perhaps the most powerful man in the Khartoum regime—certainly he is essential to President al-Bashir’s grip on power. He was director of the National Intelligence and Security Services for a number of years follow the National Islamic Front military coup of June 1989.” Photo: sudanreeves.org/File

In October 2014, I analyzed some of the implications of minutes reflecting the deliberations of the most senior military and intelligence officials of the National Islamic Front/National Congress Party regime during a “Joint Military and Security Committee Meeting held at the National Defense College on 31/08/2014” (see | http://wp.me/p45rOG-1wk ). These minutes have been repeatedly and authoritatively confirmed by a wide range of sources (see | http://wp.me/p45rOG-1w5 ). They were leaked to me by a Sudanese source of unimpeachable character and honesty, although his identity—and those who assisted him in this extremely dangerous undertaking—must remain confidential for obvious reasons.

The minutes are highly revealing on various counts, including what at the time was the vehement insistence that Iran was Khartoum’s singularly vital ally in the region. This insistence is a virtual refrain, appearing in the comments of nearly every senior official present, including First Vice President Bakri Hassan Saleh, who presided at the meeting. The ongoing implosion of the Sudanese economy has forced that Khartoum regime to abandon Iran and side with Saudi Arabia and the Gulf States; but ideologically—as the minutes clearly reveal—the regime is very much on the side of Tehran. Only the possibility of immense financial assistance from the Saudis and Gulf States compelled the abandonment of Iran. Notably, the Iranian-backed Houthis in Yemen, mentioned in the minutes as recipients of aid from Khartoum, are now being targeted by Sudan Armed Forces in concert with the Saudi-led campaign.

This is the context in which to see the import of a dispatch in today’s Sudan Tribune, concerning the repatriation of Sudanese nationals who had gone to Libya to fight with ISIS (Sudan Tribune, June 21, 2017). This is obviously a delicate issue for Khartoum’s security services, something reflected clearly in the Sudan Tribune analysis.

But let’s return to the views of the Khartoum regime in late 2014, and the question of how that regime saw the opportunities presented by Libya in chaos. I offered contemporaneous commentary on particular passages from the minutes, reproduced here without change or editing. The leaked minutes obviously put Khartoum in an extremely awkward position in communicating with recognized Libyan authorities, and this is where I began. Although reflecting only one issue in a very wide-ranging set of topics covered in the meeting of senior officials, let us remember that there is not a shred of evidence that ideologically the NIF/NCP has changed its views about radical Islamic militants:

(Speakers in each case are identified; all bold emphases in the quoted texts have been added; my commentary is in blue italics followed by my initials, ER; important dates are in bold red)

Traveling to Khartoum this month [October 2014], the Libyan Prime Minister Abdullah al-Thani undoubtedly had the August 31 minutes much on his mind when meeting with regime officials. Libya comes up frequently in these minutes, and at several points in ways that must be deeply disconcerting to the struggling Libyan government, and reveal yet again the depth of the mendacity that characterizes the regime. On 7 October 2014 Sudan Tribune reported:

The head of the Libyan government, Abdullah al-Thani, will visit Khartoum in response to an invitation extended by Sudanese president Omer al-Bashir, a government source disclosed this week. “The Libyan government welcomes the invitation received from president al-Bashir. (The government) considers it as a step in the right direction and a confirmation of Sudan’s support to the democratic process in Libya,” a Libyan official told the Libyan Bawabat Alwasat on Monday.

The official further said that al-Thani accepted the invitation after Khartoum’s full recognition of the House of Representatives as the sole legitimate body representing the will of the Libyan people. Observers in Khartoum says the public acceptance of the invitation is seen by the Sudanese government as the first positive signal from Tripoli after repeated Libyan accusations of supporting extremists groups in the north African nation. On 2 October, Sudan’s foreign ministry for the second time within a less than three weeks summoned the Libyan ambassador in Khartoum to protest against these accusations.

Earlier, on 2 October 2014, the Sudan Tribune reported more particularly on the accusations by Libya against Khartoum:

The Sudanese foreign ministry announced on Thursday that it summoned the Libyan charge d’affaires to protest recent remarks by an army general in which he accused Khartoum of backing extremist groups in the North African nation. This follows a similar move on September 15th by the ministry in which the acting Libyan CDA was summoned to complain over same allegations made by Prime Minister Abdullah al-Thinni. The latter warned that Tripoli may sever ties with Khartoum as well as Doha if they continue aiding these militias. Sudan’s foreign ministry reiterated its denial of meddling in Libyan internal affairs or taking sides in the ongoing conflict.

“The misleading information transmitted by media that is attributed to Libyan [army] officer claimed Sudan’s interference in the internal affairs of his country,” the ministry said in a statement adding that this information is “unfounded.” It denounced attempts seeking to involve Sudan in the Libyan conflict and noted the Sudanese government’s recognition of the legitimacy of the elected Council of Representatives, which meets in Tobruk.

So Khartoum would appear to be ready to bluster with denial of what is revealed clearly in the minutes of the 31 August 2014 meeting of senior regime officials:

“We have intensified the work to train and graduate Libyan [Islamist rebels] Military Intelligence cadres. Currently, they are doing an advanced course on Internet operation, deciphering of codes, interception of telephones and wireless radios. Their leadership requested us to train and establish for them a strong Military Intelligence system.” (General Siddiq Amer, Director General of Intelligence and Security)

“Our intelligence and security files can play a role in the improvement of our economy [how is never explained—ER] and diplomatic relations. They can also be used to abort the conspiracies of the rebellion against us. The victory of our people [Islamists of the Libya Dawn rebel movement—ER] in Libya is an indication that we will also achieve victory over the New Sudan Project [“New Sudan Project” is Khartoum’s catch-all phrase for any movement toward democratization, press freedoms, equality in citizenship, and secular governance—ER]

And there seems no way to deal with this assertion by General Imad al-Din Adawy, Chief of Joint Operations:

“The Libyan border is totally secured, especially after the victory of our allies [Libya Dawn forces] in Tripoli. We managed to deliver to them the weapons and military equipment donated by Qatar and Turkey and we formed a joint operations room with them under one of the colonels in order to coordinate and administer the military operations. Turkey and Qatar provided us with information in favor of the revolutionaries on top of the information collected by our own agents so they can control the whole country.”

Radio Dabanga reported very recently (28 October 2014) on further details of the Libyan accusations:

[In] late September, Libyan army officers intercepted a Sudanese convoy with Yemeni fighters at El Kufra on the Sudanese-Libyan border. On 6 September, a Sudanese military aircraft was grounded at El Kufra airport, “laden with weapons bound for [Libya Dawn] rebels.” The week before, the Sudanese military attaché in Tripoli was declared persona non grata, after being accused of supporting Libyan militia groups.

Libya has expelled the Sudanese military attaché after accusing Khartoum of flying weapons to Islamist rebels in Tripoli, raising fears of a widening regional conflict. The government, which has fled Tripoli for eastern Libya, accused Khartoum of sending a transport plane loaded with munitions for the Islamist-led Libya Dawn militias who control the capital.

“Sudan is interposing itself by providing arms to a terrorist group that is attacking the headquarters of the state,” said a government statement. “This also represents a clear violation of international resolutions, and the latest UN Security Council resolution.” The government said the plane entered Libyan airspace without permission on Thursday, making a refueling stop in the southern oasis town of Kufra, where the weapons were discovered. It said the weapons were destined for the Tripoli airport of Mitiga, controlled by Libya Dawn. Sudan, which is sympathetic to Libya’s Islamists, confirmed sending the plane but insisted the weapons were intended for legitimate border forces patrolling the southern desert.

This is who the NIF/NCP was and remains. And if we want to know the face of radical Islam in Libya in 2014, I can think of no more telling image than one showing some twenty Egyptian Coptic Christians being led to their beheadings on a beach near in November 2015:

Sudan and Terrorism

In Senate testimony of July 2009, the Obama administration’s first special envoy for Sudan, Air Force Major-General (ret.) Scott Gration, declared that:

“There’s no evidence in our intelligence community that supports [Sudan] being on the state sponsors of terrorism. It’s a political decision,” Gration said.

At the same hearing, former Senator Russ Feingold, chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee subcommittee on Africa rightly pushed back:

Gration said Sudan, once home to Osama Bin Laden, has been helpful in counterterrorism efforts. However, Sen. Russ Feingold, a Democrat from Wisconsin, said Sudan’s cooperation is always overstated in this area. 

More fully, Feingold had issue a strong statement in May of that year (2009):

“I take serious issue with the way the report [on international terrorism by the U.S. State Department] overstates the level of cooperation in our counterterrorism relationship with Sudan, a nation which the U.S. classifies as a state sponsor of terrorism. A more accurate assessment is important not only for effectively countering terrorism in the region, but as part of a review of our overall policy toward Sudan, including U.S. pressure to address the ongoing crisis in Darfur and maintain the fragile peace between the North and the South.” (Statement by Senator Russell Feingold, Chair of the Africa Subcommittee of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and member of the Senate Intelligence Committee, May 1, 2009)

Gration was spectacularly ignorant about Sudan and was simply wrong in his claim about what U.S. intelligence knew at the time—and on multiple counts, including Khartoum’s assistance in Iran’s movements of weapons to Gaza—well reported at the time in The Guardian (December 6, 2010)—and the bald fact that Hamas was allowed to operate freely in Khartoum, despite being on the list of terrorist organizations compelled by a wide range of countries besides the U.S. There were many other examples as well that Gration simply chose to ignore. Rightly, Sudan remains one of only three countries on the State Department’s list of “state sponsors of terrorism,” including Syria and “best-strategic-ally-for-life” Iran.

All this becomes particularly important as a Trump administration, easily as ignorant as former special envoy Gration and even more cynical, approaches a decision about whether or not to lift U.S. economic sanctions on Khartoum permanently (the deadline for a decision is July 13, 2017). The terribly misguided and mendaciously justified decision by the Obama administration in January 2017 provisionally to lift sanctions can still be reversed. But depending on the administration of a xenophobic, pathologically narcissistic, and profoundly ignorant President Trump seems to make reversal a distinct long shot. And although the Trump administration that will make the decision, it was President Obama that set the clock ticking. In rewarding Khartoum’s génocidaires, he is a disgrace to the campaign statement he made in running for the presidency in 2008—“that genocide in Darfur was a “stain on our souls” and that he would not “avert his eyes from human slaughter” (see | https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QEd583-fA8M ).

Unctuous words that meant nothing for the eight years of his administration, which concluded with Obama’s decision to begin the process of lifting longstanding U.S. economic sanctions on a regime guilty of serial genocides.

Eric Reeves is a Senior Fellow at Harvard University’s François-Xavier Bagnoud Center for Health and Human Rights.

I Spent 4 Days In Jail In South Sudan. I Won’t Stop Reporting On The Crisis There

Link to web article here.

Internally displaced people gather by a water collection point in a United Nations site outside South Sudan’s capital city Juba in January. South Sudan’s civil war has killed tens of thousands and driven out some 1.8 million people.

There is a certain peace that comes with being surrounded by a bunch of men with big guns.

As much as you want to run or fight or scream, there’s not much you can do — except whatever they say.

On a Friday afternoon in April, I was sitting in a restaurant in Juba, South Sudan’s capital, trying to convince two government officials to issue me press credentials so I could report there. I had tried and failed to do this over the phone from my home base in Nairobi, and so my bosses and I made the decision that an in-person appeal would be best.

I flew to Juba, and this was the moment of truth. The two government officials and I made small talk for a while, and then I sheepishly said, “So…”

One of them grinned.

“We’ll give you the credential. You can come pick it up on Monday,” he said.

NPR’s Eyder Peralta

We were mid-celebration, in the middle of our beers, when half-a-dozen men with guns showed up. They were in plain clothes, carrying assault rifles.

“I need you to come with me quietly,” one of the men said.

“I’m not coming with you; I don’t even know who you are,” I protested.

“National security,” he said, as the guys with guns stepped closer.

I looked at the government officials still sitting at my table and they looked as shocked as I was. I knew then that I was going with these guys wherever they wanted to take me.

So we walked down a dark hallway, out a back door, into the hot afternoon and an alley crawling with more men with weapons. They were all young, some of them in military uniforms. They looked like teenagers hanging in the alley behind a movie theater. But as they saw us coming out, they all clutched their old AK-47s and moved toward me.

When I prepare for assignments like these, I think through the risks. In this case, the South Sudanese media authority was not pleased with my previous coverage of the dire refugee situation in neighboring Uganda, so they did not want to grant me a press pass before coming to their country. But sometimes as a journalist, you have to insist and show up anyway. You have to try. You have to tell an unsympathetic government official, “Look, I’m here in search of an explanation for one of the worst conflicts in the world and I want you to let me tell these stories.”

When I ran through that scenario, I thought the worst case would be that the official would laugh. He would tell me, “You’re not welcome in South Sudan” — and I’d be escorted to the airport to catch the next plane out.

Just a few minutes earlier, in the restaurant, everything seemed to be turning out much better than I’d expected.

But now, the young men with guns forced me onto the back of a pickup truck. I was on my back, caged in by two benches above me. The bed was soaked in gasoline. I could smell it. I could feel it soaking through my shirt. I could feel the vibration of the engine in my body and I could see the tops of buildings zoom past.

Every once in a while, the guys with weapons, who were sitting on the benches above me, took a peek at me. I tried to keep track of the turns we were making and tried to look for landmarks. But it felt like we were driving in circles. We accelerated. I felt the bed of the truck turn hot, and suddenly, the top of buildings disappeared.

I tried to keep my mind from going to dark places. But it did anyway. Maybe these guys were driving me to some field somewhere, where I’d be forced to kneel and I’d feel the muzzle of one those weapons on the back of my head.

A burgeoning humanitarian crisis

In July 2011, South Sudan became the darling of the international community. With a referendum, it ended the longest-running war on the African continent and the 10 southern states of Sudan formed their own independent country.

On the streets of Juba, there was elation. The two biggest tribes split leadership: Salva Kiir, a Dinka, won the presidency and Riek Machar, a Nuer, was his vice president.

The hope was that the South Sudanese, who had for so long suffered under the oppressive regime of Khartoum, could finally build their own country — in peace.

But that was not to be. In 2013, Kiir accused Machar of organizing a coup. He fired him, and a civil war erupted.

In the summer of 2015, the international community helped broker a deal that called for a ceasefire and for Machar to come back to Juba and resume his vice presidency.

By the spring of 2016, Machar had returned, but by summer, a fresh war broke out. Machar was injured and close to death as he was carried across the border into the Democratic Republic of Congo. Eventually, with the help of the United Nations, he went into exile in South Africa, where he still lives.

Families wait for a food aid delivery at Uganda’s Bidi Bidi refugee camp in February. Bidi Bidi is home to more than 270,000 people who’ve fled South Sudan’s civil war and is the biggest refugee camp in the world.

Since then, the conflict has spread, sparking famine and a mass exodus. More than 50,000 have been killed since 2013. This year, precipitated by war, South Sudan surpassed Syria to become the fastest growing humanitarian crisis in the world. There are now some 1.8 million South Sudanese refugees. Salva Kiir remains in power.

‘You’re an Arab’

After the truck stopped, the men escorted me into a two-story building. The power was out so they pointed at me with flashlights, accusing me of being a spy.

“You’re an Arab,” one of them told me.

The South Sudanese won their independence after a bloody fight with the Arab north. I knew the implication, and it scared me.

I told them I was Latino, born in Nicaragua, raised in the U.S.

“You’re an Arab and you don’t even know it,” the man responded.

He took me out of the office and up some stairs, where I saw some men gathered behind iron bars. It was the first time I realized I was in a prison.

The place was hot and the air felt completely still. I could see only what the officer pointed at with his flashlight — fragments of tile floor, dirty walls, a wooden door. I could smell sweat mixing with the gasoline on my shirt and I could hear the clatter of the prisoners as they clamored to get a look at me. The officer barked at them to get back in their cells and they scattered in seconds.

My heart was racing. Before I knew it, the officer was pushing me into a cell toward the back of the prison.

“There’s some water,” he said, closing the door.

And then everything went black, as if my eyes had suddenly closed. I felt my way to the ground and touched the concrete with my palms. It was warm. Somehow the sun had worked its way through steel and concrete and onto this floor. I ran my hands across the water bottles but they felt gritty, like they had been dragged through dirt.

In the distance, I could hear tracked vehicles, probably tanks, moving across the terrain and every once in a while, a helicopter zooming past. Just outside my cell, I could hear the prisoners talking and playing dominoes.

If there is one thing darkness does, it lights up your mind. I thought of Miami, where I was raised. I thought of my wife and my little girls. I thought about all of the brutality that this government had inflicted on civilians.

Three days, I thought. That’s how long I’ve heard humans can survive without water and there’s no way they’d let me die in here.

‘I think we made a mistake’

One of the defining characteristics of the South Sudanese conflict is its brutality. A few months ago, I flew to Uganda and drove up to the border with South Sudan. Thousands of people crossed over each day, fleeing the violence.

Each one brought harrowing stories: They saw women being gang-raped. They described government soldiers going door to door and killing civilians because of their tribe. One woman told me that as she fled her village, she saw the bodies of her neighbors thrown near a ditch.

The violence is systematic and widespread. The United Nations, Human Rights Watch and a monitor set up by East African states have all documented government atrocities.

A report by the United Nations peacekeeping mission in South Sudan documented the torching of an entire village. Satellite images had tipped off investigators to the events taking place, and when they finally made into Yei, just southwest of Juba, they found a breakdown of humanity.

In one case, they found that government soldiers had disrupted a funeral. According to residents, the soldiers claimed the deceased was a rebel. They assaulted mourners and when a man and woman suggested the man was just old and died of natural causes, soldiers took them outside. The woman was raped before both of them were shot dead.

Not far away, investigators found that pro-government militias had tied up six civilians, threw them inside a hut and set it on fire.

South Sudanese people in Unity State wait to receive medical treatment at a village clinic on Feb. 17.

The South Sudanese government has refuted reporting from refugee camps and these official investigations, saying the refugees fleeing the conflict are lying and the president has ordered soldiers who perpetrate atrocities to be punished. But a panel of experts commissioned by the United Nations Security Council found that the government’s inability or unwillingness to prevent or punish abuses is “a key driver of the war.”

The panel of experts also found that as the conflict drags on, it has taken an increasingly tribal dimension. Last December, the U.N.’s Commission on Human Rights in South Sudan warned that the country was in a process of “ethnic cleansing … using starvation, gang rape and the burning of villages.”

At a refugee camp in Uganda, a South Sudanese Nuer man named John told me that in his village, government soldiers walked door to door. If you didn’t speak Dinka, the language of the ruling tribe, you were killed.

“It was the national soldiers, the ones who started this,” he said. “Slaughtering people, shooting people, tying people.”

He told me he remembered independence day in 2011 vividly. People, he said, walked for hours to get to Juba to celebrate the birth of a new nation.

But underneath that mango tree, in the middle of that refugee camp, he was doubting all that joy. He was questioning whether the people of South Sudan were better off now than they had been under brutal Sudanese rule.

“I think we made a mistake,” he said.

A shared dinner, a sense of familiarity

At some point, the prisoners outside my cell went completely quiet, but the helicopters and tracked vehicles kept going all night. No one came to check on me. I felt completely alone trying to find comfort on a bare concrete floor and trying to quiet my mind.

At some point, I closed my eyes. When I opened them, I saw a sliver of light sneaking in through a tiny hole near the ceiling. A couple of prisoners came by to peer through a tiny window in the door. They asked if I was OK, and one of them came back a few minutes later.

Soldiers cheer at a ceremony marking the 34th anniversary of the Sudan People’s Liberation Army, attended by President Salva Kiir, in Juba on May 18.

“Don’t tell anyone we spoke to you,” he said.

It was hours after I saw that sliver of light that a soldier opened the door to my cell. Honestly, I was scared. Who else was the government keeping in this place? What would they do to me?

I walked out cautiously, but into brightness. The prison was all concrete. There were prisoners sleeping along the hallways. Dozens of plastic bottles filled with dirty water were neatly stacked in every corner.

Just outside my cell, an old man was lying on a frail mat. He stood up with a bowl in his hand. He looked sad, skinny; but offered me some posha, corn flour that has been boiled into a kind of dough.

The last 15 hours had been miserable and isolating, but all of sudden, I felt like I was stepping into humanity. The prisoners stopped by, introducing themselves one by one. They shared tips — you’re free to use the shower shoes outside the toilet; don’t talk to the man three doors down in solitary. They offered to wash my gasoline-soaked shirt. At one point, the guards gave me back some of my money and told me I could order anything I wanted from the market.

I ordered bread, Cokes, shawarmas — enough for everyone. It was delivered within hours by one of the prison officials. The other prisoners and I shared dinner on the floor. Some of them told me they had been held for two years, others for three. They said that they had never been charged and that they had never appeared before a judge.

George Livio was one of them — a South Sudanese journalist for a United Nations-funded news outlet who reported on corruption. He’d been held since August 2014. Every morning, he woke up thinking this was the day he would finally be released. But by now, he had missed watching his three young children grow up.

Justine Wanawila was another prisoner — a former Catholic priest. He said authorities accused him of feeding rebels. They threw him on a plane and brought him to Juba. On a couple of mornings while I was there, he led the prisoners in praying the rosary.

I listened from my cell and told him it reminded me of my grandmother. I thanked him for the familiarity.

“You came to South Sudan to report on what the government is doing to innocent people,” he told me. “You can still do that from here.”

‘We all want peace’

When NPR informed the U.S. embassy of my detention in Juba, the embassy sent consular officers to come check on me daily. It was a relief to be walked out of the prison and into another building and to know that my family, my country, my place of work knew where I was.

But every time I made that walk, a South Sudanese officer would pull me into his office after the U.S. officials had left. He was a lean, angular guy, and he sat on his chair thumbing through a Bill Nye book. Sometimes he would just stare at me for minutes at a time. I wouldn’t break eye contact because I wanted to show him that I had nothing to hide.

He asked questions — “Is it fair that your country is slaughtering civilians? Is it fair that they keep prisoners in secret prisons?” — but every time I tried to talk, he’d interrupt with warnings and boasts about how South Sudan could kill me and my family if it wanted us dead.

I remember when he said that, another officer in military fatigues was in his office. He smiled. It was gentle, but also clear that he found this whole scene a little entertaining.

“Eyder,” he said. “Have you ever been a soldier?”

I chuckled.


He wanted to know what life was like in New York City, how kids went to school. He wanted to know what life would be like if you didn’t have to be on the run. Most South Sudanese have had to flee multiple times in their lives. Some of the refugees I spoke with in Uganda could remember hiding in the bush with their parents when they were attacked by Sudanese troops. Now they had fled with their own kids.

Before we could talk, the first officer sent me off. The next day, he called me back to his office and he shouted that the United States was undermining the independence of South Sudan. He was agitated, belligerent.

I lowered my voice and I told him that he had to listen to me.

A person, I told him, is not a country, and also, he didn’t know me. I told him I was a child of war, born during the civil war in Nicaragua. Like so many of his people, my family fled. We found peace and a home in the United States.

It’s not a perfect country, I told him, but it was instrumental in supporting South Sudanese independence — and it was also, right now, paying for more than half the food that is being dropped out of airplanes in famine-hit areas.

His demeanor changed. His voice became softer.

“Eyder,” he said. “When you go back to your country, I want you to tell your people that we all want peace.”

He pointed out the window. He said in that direction was the first paved road most South Sudanese had ever seen.

“We’re trying to build a country,” he said.

This war, this killing, he said, is necessary to emerge a stronger country.

At that moment, I had no doubt he believed it. I nodded. But I also suspected that to the millions of South Sudanese who have been forced from their homes and to those who have lost children, mothers, fathers, husbands, wives, those words would sound hollow.

I was released from jail without charges on May 1, four days after I was picked up. George Livio, the United Nations journalist, was released without charges on May 26, after two years and nine months.

A government official drove me to the airport for my deportation to Kenya.

“You are welcome in South Sudan,” he said. “This was all a misunderstanding.”

South Sudan is the biggest tragedy unfolding on the continent today. It’s not a story you just let go. I told him that maybe someday, I would test that invitation.

Sudanese scientist battles climate change in Africa

Link to web article and video(s) here.

Balgis Osman-Elasha is renowned for studying climate change effects in the Horn of Africa and seeking solutions.

Sudanese climate researcher Balgis Osman-Elasha delivers a speech after receiving the UNEP Champion of the Earth award in 2008 [How Hwee Young/EPA]

Khartoum, Sudan – She’s seen it before. The images of dry cracked-lands, dead trees, animal corpses, hungry children, and lines of people waiting for food assistance are not new to her.

The current drought and resulting food crisis affecting millions across the Horn of Africa are painful reminders of the importance of her work.

But that’s not all that bothers her. Across the Atlantic, the Trump administration’s decision to withdraw from the Paris Agreement and proposed polices to reverse the United States’ contribution to the fight against climate change dishearten her. They add insult to injury.

“This is the problem with climate change: it’s caused by the large emissions of industrialised countries, so they are more responsible for the climate change phenomenon,” said Balgis Osman-Elasha, a climate change expert with the African Development Bank in Abidjan, Cote d’Ivore.

“We are being impacted by something we have not contributed to,” she said.

A recognised scientist on global warming from Sudan, Omsan-Elasha helps promote climate change adaptation efforts in Africa, which more than any other continent has bore its brunt.

This year its eastern region is witnessing a third year of consecutive drought that scientists link to climate change. The UN has issued a call to action for the Horn of Africa seeking to raise funds to address the unfolding humanitarian crisis that includes food shortages, human displacement, and refugees.

Osman-Elasha’s work has received global attention. A lead author of the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change reports, she was among a select few to represent the group in 2007 in Oslo to receive the Nobel Peace Prize, next to Al Gore.

The following year, she was awarded the UN’s Champions of the Earth Prize. The US State Department invited her to the United States in 2008 to take part in a science diplomacy programme, where she gave lectures on climate change at several American universities.

Her achievements were the result of years of hard work and persistence. Like women studying the sciences everywhere, she was among a small group at her university.

“There were a few female students in the faculty of agriculture, even fewer in the forestry department,” she said of her days at the University of Khartoum in the early 1980s.

Marveled by nature and trees as a child, she spent weeks as a university student camping and studying the forests of Sudan. Her research took her all over the country from one village to another, where she helped spread awareness of the importance of forests, preserving and planting trees, and conserving energy.

After years of working on forests, she joined a local government agency that provided the UN with reports on the effects of climate change in Sudan. She helped identify the sources of greenhouse gas emissions in the country, such as deforestation and land degradation, and recorded the signs such as increasing drought and floods.

“Sometimes there are droughts that come in the middle of the rainy season that have an impact on agriculture,” she explained.

“The rain now comes later, it’s not the usual pattern. It can now come all suddenly and in one day you can have the whole quota of the season, so there’s a shift in the timing, a change in the pattern,” Osman-Elasha told Al Jazeera.

Balgis Osman-Elasha has raised awareness about worsening climate change in the Horn of Africa [How Hwee Young/EPA]

Drought and shifting rain patterns have impacted the lives of farmers and nomads, reducing fertile farms and grasslands and sometimes causing conflicts. One place that attests to this is Darfur, which former UN chief Ban Ki-moon described as the first modern conflict caused, in part, by climate change.

“There are many factors that escalated the conflict, but the triggering factor is climate change, the changing weather conditions,” Osman-Elasha said.

The same signs exist across the region of the greater Horn of Africa, where droughts have become more frequent, associated with famine, food insecurity, displacement and migration in places such as Sudan, Ethiopia, Somalia and Kenya. That’s why she thinks long-term solutions are needed.

“The problem with the Horn of Africa is that previous solutions have not targeted the real causes of the problem: trying to create an environment for sustainable development. It’s always relief and short-term solutions,” she added.

Today, Osman-Elasha helps African countries adapt to climate change by initiating “climate proof development”. She gives advice on how to plan development projects, such as hydroelectric dams and roads while taking into account climate variables such as drought and flooding.

While she admits there are ways to go, she believes many African countries are on the right track. The global dimension of climate change and the efforts to combat it also concern her.

According to the World Resources Institute in Washington DC, greenhouse gas emissions caused by the energy sector in industrialised nations are the major “culprit” behind global warming with China, the United States, and the European Union being the “top three greenhouse gas emitters”.

Osman-Elasha has participated in dozens of conferences to discuss global efforts to combat climate change, including recent UN conferences in Lima, Paris, and Marrakesh.

Having stayed up late in the night following efforts to convince all parties, she recalled the sense of victory that scientists and activists felt in Paris in late 2015 when governments signed The Paris Agreement.

So the Trump administration’s views and actions on climate change “disappointed” her, but were not a surprise.

“The decision in the US is heavily influenced by industrial companies, especially in the energy sector,” she said with a sigh. “It is in their interests to continue in their dirty work polluting the environment and making profits.”

Nevertheless, the mother of three who completed her masters and doctorate after giving birth to her children, Osman-Elasha’s nearly two decades of work continues to attract admiration and inspire a new generation of women in Sudan and elsewhere.

“When girls and young women see successful scientists like Dr Osman-Elasha, there is no greater illustration of how science is a career that belongs to women as much as it does to men,” said Naysan Sahba, UN environment spokesperson.

One person inspired by Osman-Elasha’s work is Ne’mat Allah Shawki, 25, a national coordinator with the Arab Youth Climate Change Movement in Khartoum.

“She has become my role model,” said Shawki, who also studied forestry at the University of Khartoum.

“Dr Balgis’ work has influenced me greatly by encouraging me to hold on this track and keep being an environmental activist,” she said.

Despite the many challenges of climate change, Omsan-Elasha remains optimistic that Trump’s stance will not prevail.

“I’m happy to know that many scientists in the US are working hard on climate change and I’m confident that they will not accept this,” she said.

Refugee brings taste of Sudan to Utah, leaves behind pain, destruction, death

Link to web article and video here.

A smile lights up Kaltum Mohamed’s face as she readies the ingredients for a dish called moshakl she often cooked in Nyala, her hometown in the war-torn Darfur region of southwest Sudan.

She loves cooking African dishes and takes pride in her craft.

Kaltum, her husband, Ahmed, and their two children escaped the genocidal slaughter in Darfur in 2004. They fled to Libya, where things later turned deadly as well.

Recently, in the comfort of their South Salt Lake apartment, Kaltum sliced zucchinis, eggplants, potatoes and onions to prepare the dish, a fried and seasoned medley of vegetables. To accompany it, she would create asida, a boiled flour pudding served with dagareda, a meat and tomato sauce seasoned with garlic, cumin, black pepper, dill weed and parsley.

It’s a lot of work, but she dove into it with a sense of purpose.

Fighting in Darfur continues — ethnic cleansing supported by leaders in Khartoum, the capital in the eastern part of Sudan. Khartoum and the surrounding area are dominated by Arab Muslims. Darfur, by contrast, is made up primarily of black Muslims, while South Sudan is predominantly black Christians.

“In Darfur, people would come and kill everything they see,” Kaltum said. “We were so afraid we would lose our kids.”

Some of her extended family members, she lamented, were killed.

They escaped to Benghazi, Libya, in 2005, where Kaltum and Ahmed had three more children before that country disintegrated into civil war. In 2011, they retreated again, this time seeking shelter in a dusty and precarious refugee camp on the Libyan-Egyptian border.

“It was a very harsh time for us in the camp,” she said. “Thank God for the U.N. peacekeepers.”

Their luck changed in April 2013, when the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees selected them for immigration to the United States.

Refugees do not get to choose where the U.N. will send them. Under the Obama administration, this country accepted 110,000 refugees each year. President Donald Trump said he will cut that number in half.

The Mohamed family members were sponsored by the International Rescue Committee. Kaltum also gets support from Women of the World (womenofworld.org), a Salt Lake City-based nonprofit that seeks to help refugees assimilate into American culture. Four years after their arrival, they seem at peace in Utah.

Kaltum’s kitchen is stocked with large pots and pans. She is used to cooking for big gatherings, she explained, stirring and seasoning the vegetables.

Memories flood back as she fixes the asida, a dish she regularly made in Sudan. “It reminds me of my [extended] family,” she said. “We often gathered to eat together.”

Her hometown, Nyala, is a trading center known for its textiles and leather goods. Ahmed owned a small clothing shop there. The couple had a comfortable home in the bustling city of half a million. Life was good, Kaltum said.

She recalled her childhood, when she and her schoolmates dressed in nice uniforms and grew up in tranquility. At soccer games, they cheered and sang glorious songs about their country.

“It was beautiful and peaceful,” she said. “But then we lost everything.”

Ahmed was ordered out of his store at gunpoint. There was no going back.

The unrest in Sudan and the accompanying genocide are the products of ethnic prejudices, oil money and the expansion of the Sahara that is making arable land scarcer in Darfur.

South Sudan is rich in oil. But most of the profits were kept in Khartoum, near the northern ports on the Red Sea, where it is exported, mostly to China. That is chief among reasons why South Sudan broke away from Sudan in July 2011.

The oil money financed Khartoum’s aggression in Darfur. It paid for bombers, helicopter gunships and financed the Janjaweed, the Sudanese Arab militias made up of herdsmen who raid towns and villages on horseback, burning houses, raping and killing the black Muslim residents.

An estimated 480,000 people have been killed in Darfur, according to the U.N. Some 2.8 million have been displaced.

Despite those horrors, Kaltum and her family have been able to move on.

Their eldest daughter, Masagid, 19, shares her mother’s sunny disposition and infectious smile. She attends Salt Lake Community College training to become a dental hygienist.

Her other daughters, Maazah, 7, and Manra, 8, attend public school, as do sons, Abdul,11, and Mohamed, 16. They act like regular, fun-loving kids.

Ahmed works at a chocolate factory, and Kaltum has a fledgling Sudanese catering business called Mother of All. Recently, she began operating a food truck and sells Sudanese dishes around the valley.

“We are happy to have a new life,” Kaltum said. “We are happy to be safe in America.”

Traditionally, Sudanese eat with their fingers, as do the people of many other African countries. The asida (flour pudding) and dagareda (tomato meat sauce) are served in a common bowl. Diners use their fingers to pull away a piece of asida and swipe it through the dagareda. The combination yields a full-bodied taste sensation. The moshakl ­(seasoned vegetables) compliments it with a fresh, light touch; spicy but not overbearing.

Her food truck brings a taste of Sudan to Utah. Kaltum loves that thought.