SUDAN WATCH: New tribal clashes, banditry and troop movements - access blocked to 150,000 - trouble may loom in east, south and far north of Sudan

Sunday, November 21, 2004

New tribal clashes, banditry and troop movements - access blocked to 150,000 - trouble may loom in east, south and far north of Sudan

Recently, John Garang, the leader of the largest rebel group in South Sudan, was quoted as saying that people in eastern Sudan and the far north may soon begin to feel marginalised and start up conflicts in bid for a share of resources and power.

Trouble looming in southern Sudan

In blackspots like Shilluk in southern Sudan where there was large-scale violence this year, a stream of rainy season floodwater, too deep for a pick-up filled with troops to cross safely, runs between the opposing frontlines. Analysts fear that when the dry season comes, later this month, government forces will return with a vengeance and seek to retake the territory they have lost.

Note, whenever news of peace talks and agreements come about, reports of the terrifying Ugandan rebel group led by Kony never fails to emerge. A few days ago, Kony had ordered his men to dig up a stash of hidden rifles and meet him in southern Sudan where he was pillaging villages.

Sudan rebels co-ordinate conflicts using satellite phones

During the past seven months, it's seemed obvious the rebels in Sudan are keen on the international community imposing sanctions on the government of Sudan.

Rebel groups use satellite phones and admit they have their ears glued to BBC radio news. In a bid to weaken and unseat their government, no doubt they could easily stir up trouble and goad the Janjaweed into violent actions. This would account for government's ferocious fight back and refusal to be the first to disarm. The rebels have even gone as far as to lay mines. One killed two British aid workers. It's a wonder how they get kitted out and receive their supplies over years - and decades.

3,000 AU troops in Darfur by February 2005

Yesterday, Reuters report AU troops will increase from about 700 to more than 3,000 "in the coming months". Other reports have said extra AU troops will be in Darfur by the end of this month. 196 Gabonese troops who were due to reach El Fasher yesterday have been delayed because of conflict in Ivory Coast.

7,000 UN troops in Sudan by February 2005

The UN will deploy thousands, probably 7000 troops from different countries in south Sudan a month after the final peace deal is signed," said special envoy Jan Pronk in Khartoum yesterday. It's been known since last May that UN peacekeepers would enter Sudan to monitor the peace agreements, after they were signed. Back then, December was mentioned as the target date. The original plan has slipped by a month or two. It's not easy to see how this will help Darfur. Sudan is huge. Experts estimate 44,000 troops would be needed for Darfur, a region the size of France.

Incentives to delay peace agreement December 31

Over the past six months, Sudan's rebels have accused Khartoum of dragging their feet to make more money from oil. Both sides say they hope to sign a peace agreement on December 31, when Khartoum will have to share Sudan's oil revenues.

Khartoum have incentives to delay - they don't have to pay out and the land for oil business continues to be cleared of its inhabitants.

The rebels also have an incentive. The longer they can keep fighting and goading Sudan's forces and loyalist militias into violent actions, the more pressure they know the international community will bring to bear on Khartoum to disarm their militias or suffer sanctions.

If both sides run out of delaying tactics, they still have one issue that remains to be ironed out. John Danforth, referred to it as "a math problem": about which side pays for rebel fighters who do not join regular government forces after the peace settlement.

All of what's happened on the diplomatic front over the past 3-4 years would make sense if it turns out the international community are supporting the rebels in a bid to weaken or oust the genocidal dictatorship in Khartoum.

New tribal clashes, banditry and troop movements

Yesterday, UN and AU officials confirmed tribal clashes, banditry and troop movements are blocking crucial deliveries of food aid in North Darfur despite recent peace agreements.

The AU said it was investigating reports that 14 people had been killed in two separate incidents since Thursday near the town of Tawilla, about 60 kilometres (40 miles) west of El Fasher, the capital of North Darfur state.

Access blocked to 150,000 people in need of aid

Tawilla sits along the main transit corridor westwards from El Fasher, but two weeks of escalating banditry and fighting in the area has turned the route into a "no-go zone" on U.N. maps, blocking access to some 150,000 displaced people.

A WFP convoy of 25 trucks carrying 250 tonnes of food was due to leave El Fasher on Monday, but was on hold until the situation improved, leaving many without their monthly rations of cereal, salt and other foodstuffs.

"It's a disaster to close that road because it prevents distribution of food to Tawilla and Kebkabiya, which are the main distribution areas for North Darfur," said Janse Sorman, an official with the U.N. World Food Programme in El Fasher.


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