More than 600 orphans participated in the Arab Orphans Day celebration organised by the Qatar Charity (QC) office in Sudan.
A number of activities and events were held on the occasion, which was attended by Dr Mustafa al-Sinari, deputy commissioner of humanitarian aid in Khartoum State, in addition to a number of QC’s partner organisations.
The celebrations included plays and performing arts presented by the orphans, which dwelt on issues of sponsorship and philanthropy. Besides, the orphans were able to express their wishes for the children of Palestine through paintings.
A variety of entertainment programmes for children were also presented by a specialist team as part of the celebration.
The attending guests expressed their gratitude to Qatar, QC and the sponsors for their efforts in the service of orphans in Sudan, Qatar Charity said in a statement.
The orphans sponsored by QC expressed their gratitude towards the charity and Qatar through drawings, colouring, wall paintings and clay games. Nine outstanding orphaned students were honoured during the celebration for their academic performance.
The celebrations were held as part of QC’s activities for its sponsored orphans in Sudan for this year. A number of sports, health, education, entertainment activities will be implemented with the aim of providing comprehensive social care to orphans, the statement noted.
QC sponsors around 10,000 orphans in Sudan, providing financial support as well as comprehensive education and healthcare. It also organises targeted activities for them.
The organisation said it “strives to develop its work and implement development projects for orphans in Sudan.” It had previously built the Sheikha Aisha Bint Hamad Bin Abdullah Al-Attiyah Model Orphans City, which was opened in mid-April last year, at a cost of more than $12mn in Al Damar, River Nile State.
The Model Orphans City has 200 houses, each consisting of two rooms, a hall, a kitchen and a bathroom, four schools for boys and girls, a kindergarten, a health centre with 18 doctors and nurses, a vocational training centre, a mosque with a capacity of 850 worshippers, playgrounds, a children’s park, two artesian wells, 28 water coolers, 32 shops and a sanitation system.
Although Sudan has vowed to remain in the Saudi-led coalition fighting rebels in Yemen, calls for Khartoum to withdraw its troops from the war-torn country have increased after a deadly ambush.
Dozens of Sudanese soldiers were reportedly killed by Huthi rebels in northern Yemen in an ambush last week, Yemeni military sources said. The insurgents reported the attack on their Al-Masirah website.
The losses are reported to be one of the heaviest suffered by Sudan since deploying hundreds of soldiers in 2015 as part of an Arab coalition fighting on the side of the Yemeni government.
Khartoum has neither confirmed nor denied the report.
But photographs, purportedly of soldiers killed in the ambush, have been posted on social media, making opposition leaders and analysts question President Omar al-Bashir’s decision to join the Saudi-led coalition.
“People ask… ‘What benefit have we got from this major decision?’ — and they have no answer,” Ghazi Salaheddin, a former minister of state for foreign affairs turned opposition leader, told AFP.
Before “we didn’t have a single drop of bloodshed between them and Sudanese … Now Sudanese are involved in combat with Yemenis.”
The ambush has triggered online outrage against the coalition, with activists and citizens taking to Twitter and Facebook urging Khartoum to withdraw its troops.
“Bring back our sons and brothers! Why are we fighting a war that is not ours?” activist Islam Saleh wrote on Facebook.
– Parliament sidelined –
Bashir’s decision to deploy troops came after a major foreign policy shift by Sudan that saw Khartoum break its decades-old ties with Shiite Iran and join the Saudi-led coalition.
Deploying troops means casualties and so a decision like this needs parliament’s backing, said Salaheddin.
“Which is not the case here,” he said, pointing to what he called a “lack of parliamentary support and… no clear political objectives” to the deployment of troops.
The alliance was launched to push back the Iran-allied Huthis, who seized control of much of Yemen including the capital Sanaa, and to restore the internationally recognised Yemeni government.
Bashir, who came to power in an Islamist-backed coup in 1989, has said that joining the coalition was an “ideological” move.
“From the beginning, they said it was an ideological decision aimed at protecting the holy sites in Saudi Arabia,” said Khaled al-Tijani, editor of Elaff newspaper, referring to Mecca and Medina.
“I don’t think it’s Sudan’s job to protect the holy sites.”
Sudanese also doubt the intentions of Saudi Arabia, Tijani said, as several high-ranking Saudi officials have visited neighbouring Cairo but not Khartoum.
Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman visited Cairo last week and agreed on massive investments in Egypt, which is also a member of the coalition but has not deployed troops.
“Saudi Arabia helped Egypt with tens of billions of dollars but Sudan has received peanuts… People feel it’s a type of discrimination,” said Tijani.
“There is not enough compensation for Sudan from this strategic relationship as it is shedding blood in Yemen for this coalition,” he said.
For Tijani, the losses in the Yemen ambush were proof of a foreign policy “failure” by Khartoum.
– Foreign policy failure –
Khartoum has not disclosed how many troops it has deployed but insists it will remain in the coalition.
“I renew my commitment that our troops will continue with their mission within the Arab coalition until it achieves its noble goal,” Bashir said last week.
Foreign Minister Ibrahim Ghandour reaffirmed the pledge at a meeting with envoys of Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Egypt on Tuesday at which the diplomats offered condolences to families of Sudan’s “martyrs” in Yemen.
Some experts say Sudan will ultimately benefit.
“Sudanese troops are guarding borders between Saudi Arabia and Yemen, which is why Saudi Arabia is in need of the Sudanese military,” said columnist Ahmed Al-Noor.
For residents living in the Nuba Mountains in Sudan running for their lives as planes dropped bombs on them was part of daily life.
Ravaged by civil war for decades, this is one of the world’s most isolated and dangerous countries. Its president continues to be wanted for war crimes, genocide and crimes against humanity.
And, as the death toll mounted, the injured and sick had only one place to go: Mother of Mercy Hospital. It’s the only hospital in the entire region and it has only one doctor: Tom Catena.
Ten years ago, Catena, who is from upstate New York, left his friends and family and moved to Africa. He first trained in Kenya, before landing in the Nuba Mountains, where he remains the only doctor.
For three weeks in 2014 and again in 2015, filmmaker Kenneth Carlson documented Catena’s daily heroics for his newly released documentary, “The Heart of Nuba.”
ABC News’ “Nightline” spoke to Catena and Carlson about the reign of terror in the region, what drives the doctor and how he and the people of Nuba turned the hospital into a symbol of their survival.
‘As close to a saint’
“I think I take my, my role model as Jesus Christ. I think Christ is really calling us to give up our baggage — whatever it is,” Catena told “Nightline.”
Catena is always on call. Even when he has worked all night, he wakes up at 5:30 a.m. without an alarm clock.
“Dr. Tom is as close to a saint that I’ve met on the face of this Earth,” Carlson told “Nightline.”
The two go back a long way. They were classmates who graduated from Brown University in 1986. Catena walked away with a degree in mechanical engineering, but despite some high-paying job offers, he found his calling elsewhere.
“I turn to my brother Felix and I’m like, ‘Felix, I should go to medical school.’ He’s like, ‘Tom, what are you talking about? You’re an engineer. What are you talking about?’ And I said, ‘No, I think I should do it,'” Catena said in the film.
Instead of asking his family for money to go to medical school, Catena enlisted in the military. He earned his medical degree at Duke University, then served five years in the Navy before combining his real passions: medicine and mission work.
Few regions are as challenging and dangerous as the one he chose. Thousands of people living in the Nuba Mountains have been victims of the carnage unleashed by the country’s government since 2011, after the government’s split and the formation of South Sudan.
In the face of sanctions for many years, President Omar Hassan al-Bashir’s government banned journalists and international aid from reaching its own population. Meanwhile, many said, al-Bashir has engaged in wide-scale attempted genocide to gain total control of the naturally resource-rich country.
“Omar Hassan al-Bashir is a genocider,” Carlson said. “This is all a program to discourage, to oppress these people and to push them out of this region.”
Targeted by the Sudanese government
Catena learned how to perform many surgeries on the job. He worked alongside different surgeons in Kenya, where he performed more than 2,000 operations. He read about other surgeries in books.
As a woman in the film pointed out, he is “the physician, the gynecologist, the surgeon.”
From cancer to war wounds, Catena treats everything without power or running water. He even treats a community of lepers, who he believes can and should be touched just like other human beings.
Some of his toughest cases have involved children, like 2-year-old Rita who was diagnosed with pediatric tumors of the kidneys.
It was a difficult operation that required taking out one entire kidney and part of the other. The grueling -– and miraculously successful -– operation was caught on camera by Carlson.
In the film, Catena acknowledged the role he plays in people’s lives in Nuba. Catena said he felt like if he were to leave, he would be implying that his life was more important than those he served. But sticking it out has meant facing the very real threat of bombardment.
Despite bombs repeatedly being dropped in communities nearby, the hospital had been largely safe. Then, one day, an aerial bomb narrowly missed the building and Catena’s house.
Catena filmed the incident himself. He could be heard telling everyone in the hospital to get down.
“You know the feeling is one of just intense fear. There’s no other way to describe it,” he said. “And, as you’re waiting, that moment everything just becomes crystal clear. You’re just thinking, ‘Is this the day I’m going to die?'”
One bomb landed near Catena’s house, destroying a fence about 100 yards away. In Carlson’s film, Catena said that the government was probably targeting him.
In the three years since the film’s production, the bombings have stopped, largely because the U.S. lifted economic sanctions against Sudan. Catena continues to build his life there. Two years ago, he married Nasima, a nurse at the hospital.
“I’m of use here. If I still feel there’s a big need for my services, then I’ll continue to stay,” he said.
He’s also training others to become doctors and nurses, so they can continue the work he started.
“If I can go to my grave — despite all my limitations, my faults, everything else — if I can say, ‘You know what? I think I did God’s work.’ I think I would die a happy man,” he said. “That’s my goal.”
Omar al-Bashir reported to be freeing those detained after unrest but details are unclear
Sudan’s president, Omar al-Bashir, has ordered the release of “all political detainees” held in the country, state media said, weeks after mass arrests in a crackdown on anti-government protests.
Hundreds of opposition activists, leaders and protesters were arrested in January by security agents to curb demonstrations that erupted on the back of rising food prices, including bread.
“President Omar al-Bashir on Tuesday issued a decree to release all political detainees held across the country,” the official Suna news agency reported.
“The decision aims to promote peace and harmony among all political parties in order to create a positive environment for achieving national goals,” it said.
The January arrests came after sporadic protests erupted in the capital Khartoum and some other towns of Sudan after the price of bread more than doubled.
Some activists were later freed but many remained in detention, including top opposition leaders Khaled Omar of the Sudanese Congress party and Mokhtar al-Khatib, the head of the Sudan Communist party.
Sina did not say how many prisoners would be set free and did not identify any of them.
The US and European embassies in Sudan had called for the release of all detainees, with Washington’s mission saying many were being held in inhumane conditions.
Sudanese authorities had cracked down on protesters in a bid to prevent a repeat of deadly unrest that followed an earlier round of subsidy cuts in 2013. At that time, dozens of people were killed when security forces crushed demonstrations, rights groups said.
April 9, 2018 (KHARTOUM) – The political parties of the National Consensus Government (NCG) have agreed to back the re-election of President Omer al-Bashir in 2020.
The announcement was made by Sudanese Information Minister Ahmed Bilal Osman following a meeting of an NCG delegation with the deputy chairman of the National Congress Party (NCP) Faisal Hassan Ibrahim on Monday.
“The coalition government’s parties agreed that the implementation of the outputs of the national dialogue ’process) should be achieved in the presence of the main guarantor of the dialogue, which is the President of the Republic,” said Osman. Monday.
“So they agreed to re-nominate him for a new term in the next elections,” added the information minister was also the spokesperson of the dialogue process which concluded its work in October 2016.
In addition to the ruling National Congress Party, the National Consensus Government includes all the forces that took part in the political process.
Osman further said the political forces, participating in the government, call on President al-Bashir to release all political detainees in order to create a suitable atmosphere for the formation of the Supreme Constitutional Committee tasked with the drafting of the permanent constitution.
Al-Bashir several times said that he would step down by the end of his current term in 2020. Even in November, 2017 he went to declare his support for the candidacy of the governor of Gezira state Mohamed Tahir Ayala.
But observers more and more are inclined to believe that al-Bashir who is indicted by the International Criminal Court would run for a new term despite what he says.
For his part, Ibrahim who is also a presidential aide welcomed the call of the allied forces to release political detainees, as the ruling party didn’t yet take an official position on al-Bashir probable candidature.
The security forces arrested opposition leaders after a series of protests against the austerity measures including the increase of bread price announced at the beginning of January 2018.
Abdala Abdel Algyoum Abddalias, 54 year old father of four, and founding member of El Gedaref Salvation Initiative, told Amnesty International last year how he was abused by agents of Sudan’s National Intelligence and Security Services (NISS).
“I was taken to a courtyard and made to stand facing the wall until sunset. Then seven NISS agents holding sticks and whips started to beat me. When I resisted their instruction to take off my clothes, they ripped off my shirt and trouser and threatened to rape me with a stick. They beat me until the evening prayer time. They went to pray and promised to come back to continue their torture,” he said.
Another victim is Mohamed Salah Mohammed Abderhman. He was a 5th year student at the University of Khartoum when he and others were arrested by heavily armed agents of the NISS in June 2012 from a restaurant in Khartoum with no court order, or any due process.
“They took us to the NISS political offices where they began beating and abusing us. They tried to make us feel as if it was the end of our lives. The humiliation and vulgar words continued [for days] …”
“They took us to the NISS political offices where they began beating and abusing us. They tried to make us feel as if it was the end of our lives. The humiliation and vulgar words continued [for days] then high-ranking officials began to threaten us,” he said in video testimony. His ‘crime’ was taking part in peaceful protests calling for a change in government. He was held in detention for eight weeks.
Mohammed and Abdala are among many thousands of people, including both local and foreign journalists, who are arbitrarily arrested, abused and tortured in Sudan. Amnesty International has documented and reported many disturbing cases of arbitrary arrest and torture of journalists, lawyers, human rights defenders, doctors, political activists and students. In a hopeful turn of events, in February 2018, the government released 79 political prisoners but at least another 61 remain in detention.
The NISS has broad powers of arrest and detention under the National Security Act 2010. This Act has systematically been used as an instrument to intimidate, silence, and punish political opponents. NISS has the power to detain suspects for up to four-and-a-half months without judicial review. The same law also shields NISS agents from prosecution for any offence they commit in their work. This has resulted in a pervasive culture of impunity.
In 2016 and 2017, Amnesty International documented testimonies from victims and their families on the systematic and widespread use of torture in Sudan. Most victims are kidnapped from their homes, offices, or the streets.
“Some are subjected to electric shocks, whippings, solitary confinement, or they are forced to stand facing a wall, and not to talk to each other. Some have fainted during the torture. Some have been raped.”
Armed security forces in plainclothes, forcefully handcuff, blindfold and shove victims into their cars. Victims are beaten with sticks, iron bars, gun butts, or kicked, and verbally abused. Several victims told Amnesty International that they were severely beaten for hours by several NISS agents. Some are subjected to electric shocks, whippings, solitary confinement, or they are forced to stand facing a wall, and not are to talk to each other. Some have fainted during the torture. Some have been raped.
People from the conflict areas of Darfur, South Kordofan and Blue Nile are subjected to even worse treatment and spiteful racial insults.
“Before they ask you your name, they ask you where you are from and your tribe. If your tribe is not a tribe they approve of, you get tortured for your tribe, then you get tortured for your political affiliation, or group, or for being in a protest,” Mohamed Salah affirmed.
The unlawful detentions last for months, even over a year, without access to a lawyer, with very few family visits, and limited access to medical care. Some are released after they are made to sign a commitment not to oppose the government.
Sudan signed the UN Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment in 1986 but it is yet to ratify the Convention more than 30 years later. In the periodic reviews of its human rights record by the UN Human Rights Council, the Sudanese government has been accepting recommendations to ratify the Convention.
In 2017, the government stated that it was taking steps to ratify the Convention. Amnesty International is hopeful that this will come to pass soon. It is high time Sudan turned a page in history by ratifying the Convention against Torture, and repealed its domestic laws and practices ended torture.
This article was first published in the East African on 31 March 2018.
President Omar al-Bashir vowed on Monday to launch a “war on corruption” in a bid to revive Sudan’s ailing economy and curb food price rises.
In a strongly worded address to parliament, Bashir said a nexus between foreign currency traders, bankers and smugglers had damaged the economy, already weakened by US sanctions, conflicts and loss of oil revenues since a north-south split in 2011.
“It is clear to us that there is no shortage of foreign currency, but it is the illegal activities of currency dealers and gold and food smugglers that have impacted the economy,” Bashir told lawmakers.
“These few people are controlling everything and they have networks in the banking system.”
It was this nexus that had caused a sharp fall in the value of the Sudanese pound against the dollar earlier this year, he said. Fluctuations on the foreign currency black market forced the Sudanese central bank to twice devalue the pound since January.
The pound hit an all-time low in January when it was selling for between 43 and 45 to the dollar, even as the official rate was 28 to the dollar.
“This corrupt network is aiming to destroy our economy by stealing people’s money,” said Bashir, adding that the government had taken measures to control foreign exchange fluctuations and smuggling.
“We have punished banks and companies who indulged in corrupt practices, and we will continue with our measures… until we get people’s money back.”
“This is a war on corruption. This war will not stop until the goal is achieved.”
Sporadic protests broke out in Khartoum and some other parts of Sudan when food prices surged in January as inflation touched 52%.
For decades the Sudanese economy suffered from US trade sanctions that were lifted on October 12.
The sanctions were imposed in 1997 over Khartoum’s alleged backing for radical Islamist groups and over the conflict in the western region of Darfur.
Officials say international banks remain wary of transactions with Sudan despite the lifting of sanctions because Washington had still kept the country on its list of “state sponsors of terrorism”.
Sudan’s economy was also hit by the loss of 75% of oil earnings following the north-south split, in turn impacting the country’s key source of foreign currency used for food and other imports.
April 2, 2018 (KHARTOUM) – The price of the US dollar has increased on the black market in Khartoum on Monday, settling at 34.00 Sudanese pounds despite the strict security measures put in place by the government.
Following an unprecedented increase in dollar price, the Sudanese authorities in November 2017 introduced new measures allowing for10-year prison term for anyone caught trading on foreign currency outside the banking system or approved institutions.
In February, the dollar price hit an all-time high on the black market as the Sudanese pound (SDG) declined to 42.00 per dollar. However, the dollar price declined after the crackdown on the Forex traders and stood at 32.00 for several weeks.
Money traders in Khartoum told Sudan Tribune that the increase in the dollar price was due to high demand caused by the travel of thousands of Sudanese abroad to perform Umra (little pilgrimage) and spend the summer vacation.
The Sudanese pound has lost more than 100% of its value since South Sudan’s secession in 2011, pushing inflation rates to record levels given that the East African nation imports most of its food.
The most recent International Monetary Fund (IMF) report indicated that Sudan’s gross international reserves remained very low in 2017 ($1.1 billion, 1¾ months of imports).
KHARTOUM, April 2 (Xinhua) — Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir on Monday announced a presidential initiative for dialogue on the country’s permanent constitution, urging political forces to take part in the initiative.
Al-Bashir made the announcement when addressing the Sudanese National Assembly, the parliament, saying the move is for the “second phase of our national dialogue.”
“We call on forces of the national dialogue, including parties, political organizations, movements, active forces of society, civil society organizations, personalities and national figures to take part in the initiative,” he added.
Al-Bashir further vowed to present the new constitution to the Sudanese people for referendum.
Sudan is currently working with a temporary transitional constitution that was approved in 2005 in accordance with the Comprehensive Peace Agreement, signed in January 2005 by Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM) and the Sudan government.
The national document for dialogue, which was approved at the conclusion of the national dialogue conference on Oct. 10, 2016, stipulated formulation of a permanent constitution for the country to be agreed on by all the political forces and parties in Sudan.
In January 2014, al-Bashir declared an initiative calling on opposition parties and armed groups to join a national dialogue to end the country’s crises.
The dialogue kicked off in October 2015 in a bid to resolve the country’s political and social issues, and was concluded one year later.
In his addressing, al-Bashir also pointed out that no armed group would be allowed in political realm.
“Under the constitutional commitment, we will never allow combining the military work against the state with political work,” he said.
He further reiterated the government commitment to achieve peace at all Sudan’s conflict zones, saying that renewal of the cease-fire reaffirms the government’s seriousness to reach peace.
Last March, al-Bashir issued a decree extending the cease-fire at all conflict areas for another three months.
In June 2016, the president declared the first cease-fire for four months for the rebel movements to join the national dialogue and then extended it for many times.
The Sudanese government has been fighting the rebel SPLM/northern sector in South Kordofan and Blue Nile areas since 2011.
Many rounds of peace talks held in the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa failed to end the conflict.
The government has also been fighting armed groups in the Darfur region since 2003.