SUDAN WATCH: U.N. Sudan Situation Report April 24, 2005

Thursday, April 28, 2005

U.N. Sudan Situation Report April 24, 2005

Apologies for the length of this post. Unlike at TypePad, this blog, courtesy of Blogger.com, has no facility for linking to a continuation page. Here below, beneath a few more items, is a copy of an email received today from Khartoum giving the latest situation report by UN personnel on the ground in Sudan as at 24 April 2005.

Please see in the report what has happened in Kalma, South Dafur - and note where, under the heading of "Military" it says "Government officials continue to hold meetings and planning relocation of IDPs without international and humanitarian community presence". In fact reading between the lines of everything under the headings of South Darfur, it's sickening to once again sense the attitudes and actions of Sudanese forces not matching Khartoum's promised efforts to protect its people and bring peace to Darfur. Khartoum's forces are not even turning up at important meetings. If Khartoum continues to say it is doing everything it can, then you have to wonder if they are losing control of their own army and militias and are too afraid to admit it. [Today, Khartoum made noises in the press about forbidding NATO troops into Darfur even though NATO's offer of help is re logistics]

Here is an AP photo of President Bashir gesturing during his speech in Khartoum, January 12, 2005, where he pledged to bring peace to Darfur.

Sudanese President Umar al-Bashir

An article in today's Sudan Tribune, April 28, quotes some words by President Bashir. He is an excerpt:

Sudanese president and Leader of the ruling National Congress (NC) party Omar Hassan al-Bashir has reiterated his solemn pledge that no Sudanese national will ever be handed over for trial at a foreign court, the officail SUNA reported yesterday.

"Some people think we are afraid of America, Europe and the UN; but we are not because we believe that nothing will ever touch us unless it is decreed by God Almighty," he said.

In his address on the occasion of the Prophet Birthday at the NC General Headquarters, he went on to say "arrogant powers have tried over the past 16 years to undermine Sudan by bringing political, economic and military pressures to bear". But, he adds, "all their past efforts have failed and that all their future efforts will also end in a failure".

"Sudan has come out of the war with the south in a stronger economic position, to the astonishment of whole world, thanks to its reliance on God," he added.

The president pointed out that the peace agreement with the south stipulated that the Shari'ah would be the main source of legislation in all the northern states.

And this is what the new constitution would say, he insisted.

He went on to say: work will continue until all the clauses of the peace agreement are implemented and that all the new state institutions are in place before 9 July 2005, the date by which the interim period must end.

Al-Bashir said furthermore that the government would able to resolve the Darfur problem without foreign meddling or tutelage.
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Update April 28: Snippets from a Reuters report today: Sudanese Justice Minister Ali Mohamed Osman Yassin said today Sudan should set up an independent court to try people accused of war crimes in Darfur. Last month's Security Council resolution left the door open for Sudan to hold its own trials provided these were credible. The Rome Statute which created the ICC says that suspects tried in credible and just proceedings in their own country cannot be tried again at the Hague-based tribunal. But legal experts say it would be hard for the government to convince the ICC that Sudan could hold such trials. "If they try officials and happen to find them innocent, I think they will still be sent to the ICC," said one UN source. Full Story.
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Back to the UN situation report, copied here below. It starts under the heading of 'political affairs'. First, though here is a copy of an email that accompanied the report [I have deleted names and email addresses]:

Forwarded - With great regret 28/04/2005 - Subject: End of Mission & Farewell

Dear Friends and Colleagues,

After nearly three years, my assignment with ECHO in Sudan has come to an end. Today is my last working day and my family and I will be leaving Sudan in about two weeks from now.

I would like to thank you for the excellent professional collaboration and friendship and I am confident that ECHO Sudan can count on your continued support to [---] who will replace me as of coming Sunday as Head of Office in Khartoum. As many of you know, [---] worked previously for ECHO in Khartoum from 1999 to 2002 and served until recently as our Nyala-based Darfur Coordinator. [---] will be replaced by two new permanent ECHO Darfur colleagues over the next few weeks and months. [---] email address is [---]. Whilst my current professional [---] email address may still be functioning for some time, I would prefer you use [---] for future private communication.

I would like to use this occasion to convey a special word of thanks to all our partner organisations, especially the ones working in remote, highly charged and often unstable field locations, for their tireless efforts to provide principled and technically sound humanitarian assistance and protection to populations affected by conflict and natural disasters. The following quote from [---] 'A Bed for the Night' is dedicated to them:

'Let humanitarianism be humanitarianism. Let is save some lives, whatever the compromises it has to make along the way, and let it tend to the victims and remind that corner of the world that is lucky enough not to be in agony of the incalculable suffering, misery, and grief that literally billions of people feel every day of their lives. Is that really so little?

(..........). Can we do more? Always. Can one do all the things one would like to do? No, not with the best will of the world. The tragedy of humanitarianism may be that for all its failings and all the limitations of its viewpoint, it represents what is decent in an indecent world. Its core assumptions - solidarity, a fundamental sympathy for victims, and an antipathy for oppressors and exploiters - are what we are in those rare moments of grace when we are at our best. But there are limits. If one has a terrible disease, one may wish for a cure. But if there is no cure, then no doctor should say, "I know what to do for you". One is stuck in one's time and with one's fate. Independent humanitarianism does many things well and some things badly, but the things it is now being called upon to do, such as helping to advance the cause of human rights, contributing to stopping wars, and furthering of social justice, are beyond its competence, however much one might wish it otherwise'.

Hang in there and take care.

Best regards.
[---]

ECHO - Directorate-General for Humanitarian Aid,
European Commission, Khartoum, Sudan.
For more information on ECHO and Sudan, please go to:
http://europa.eu.int/comm/echo/field/sudan/index_en.htm
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Finally, here is the UN Sudan Situation Report, April 24, 2005:

Political Affairs:

Both the GoS and SPLM have appointed their delegates to the National Constitution Review Commission. Because key members of the Commission were attending the AfricaAsia Summit in Indonesia, the first meeting of the NCRC was rescheduled from 23 April to 25 April.

An AU delegation arrived in Khartoum today to discuss the Darfur political negotiations, now expected to resume in Abuja later in May.

Military:

On 21 Apr the Force Commander, 2 DPKO officers, and the Chief of Staff JMCO Juba started a 2 day visit programme to Malakal, Juba and Wau. The objectives for the visit included ground familiarization, liaison with RAOs and local representatives of the Parties, review the progress on the camp-site preparation.

Elements of UNMIS military component deployed to El Obeid to prepare for the reception of the first TCC deploying in UNMIS - 6 personnel from the Nepalese Contingent along with Contingent Owned Equipment arriving by An-124.

Humanitarian:

West Darfur:

UNHCR reports an improvement in procedures from Chadian customs staff. More stringent procedures (on visas and reasons for crossing the border) have been put in place after the shooting incident involving the Chadian Consul in Geneina on 7 April.

South Darfur:

Government officials continue to hold meetings and planning relocation of IDPs without international and humanitarian community presence, the most recent being an agreement to enact a long-stated intent to return IDPs from West Darfur out of Kalma camp.

A meeting scheduled for 21 April with HAC West and South Darfur, the Committee for Voluntary Return, UNHCR, IOM and UNOCHA to discuss the need to adhere to the MDM and LoU was cancelled due to lack of participation from the HAC South Darfur and Return Committee, this meeting was rescheduled for 23 April and again South Darfur authorities did not attend.

Despite high level requests by the UN not to impose GOS army escorts on trucks carrying humanitarian goods from Ed Daein to Nyala and assurances from the Wali of compliance with the request, WFP trucks remain stranded in Ad Daein, detained by the military.

Returns

31 returnees left Mayo camp, Khartoum on their way to Kadugli and surrounding areas in Nuba Mountains.

256 returnees were registered passing through Kosti on 24 April to various locations in south Sudan.

An interagency emergency team composed of UNICEF, WFP, WHO, UNDP, SC UK, IRC and OCHA visited Bazia in Eastern Equatoria to monitor and review the response to the IDPs returning from Mabia through Bo. There are 550 IDPs currently at Bazia - 75% are women and children.

The team witnessed WFP's food distribution to the IDPs and reported that WHO carried out vaccination of children under five for BCG and Tetanus and Oral Rehydration Salts were distributed to returnees.

A temporary shelter is being constructed for the returnees and a medical assistant is attending to their needs. Safe water is being delivered daily to Bazia and Buserie.

OCHA has stationed a field monitor at Bazia and provided him with a Thuraya phone. The monitor will be the focal point for information collection and reporting daily on developments on the ground.

Protection Issues

North Darfur:

On 20 April, the North Darfur Protection Working Group (NDPWG) finished consultation with the IDPs and host community regarding the relocation from Abu Shouk to the new site (Abu Shouk II). According to the preliminary report released on 24 April, the IDPs are willing to move to the new site. However, many cited security as a concern over the proximity of the Kineen tribe located some two kilometres from the proposed site. Given that the Kineen tribe had been involved in displacing some of them from Tawilla, the IDPs stated that the area lacks sufficient firewood sources and they had reservations about security in the area.

In a parallel process, consultations with the host community in Kineen village revealed that residents would feel uncomfortable with the presence of the IDPs at the proposed site. The residents were concerned that conflicts would arise over firewood collection, water and scarce resources. Residents suggested possible solutions to resolve potential problems, such as frequent consultations with Sheiks, provision of material assistance for both IDPs and residents, improvement in garbage disposal, and provision of firewood to IDPs.

South Darfur:

During a recent UNICEF-UNFPA assessment to Manawashi, the agencies met with seven rape victims who have sought medical attention and discussed the effects of the conflict on women and traditional coping mechanisms for survivors of violent conflict. The agencies are conducting a study using Kass, Manawashi, Mukjar, and Feina (rebel-held) to examine the effects of war on women, and how they cope with sexual violence.

On 21 April, in Kalma camp, agencies reported a series of ‘interrogations’ of IDPs who were speaking to AU officials by National Security and military intelligence officers.

West Darfur:

On 24 April, the AU will deploy a force of 46 officers to their base in Mornei. This deployment will contribute to addressing security and protection concerns in the camp and the surrounding areas.

UNHCR reported that on 18 April, an abandoned village south of Masteri had been burned, allegedly by nomads who were trying to prevent IDPs from returning to the area.

South Darfur:

Salam Camp - The following agencies have expressed intent to commence activities immediately: Oxfam and ACF (Water); IRC (Sanitation); IRC and HAC (Shelter); MDM and MSF-H (Health); Care (Vector control); NRC (Camp coordination). Work should commence this week; there was a delay due to lack of police presence.

Food/NFIs

North Darfur:

On 20 April, 21 commercial trucks (UN fleets) loaded with food items left El Fasher town to the remote villages of Um Bayando, Al Fuda, El Halan and Oriri within Malha ocality.

Several INGOs are planning to distribute seeds and tools to 55,000 families in El Fasher, Kutum and Mallit localities during May and June 2005. However, there is a gap in seeds/tools to be distributed to Korma, northern and eastern parts of rural El Fasher area, Kebkabiya and Um Kedadda.

South Darfur:

Agencies are greatly concerned about the reduction of the WFP rations. WFP had to cut rations of non-cereals in order to provide the beneficiaries for the next few months. The reduction is caused by a pipeline shortage.

At the next food distribution in South Darfur, 1800 Kcal will be provided, which is 300 Kcal below the required emergency level of 2100 Kcal, according to MSF-H. The result of the diminished food basket is expected to result in an increase in malnutrition and the deterioration of the health situation in general.

West Darfur:

The price of millet (staple food in West Darfur) is soaring due to decreasing availability. The only source of supply is said to be in the Kreneik area and in very low quantity. This is a further indicator of the looming food shortage in this area as a combined result of the poor harvests of last year, the inability of displaced persons to farm their land, and the low rains received last season.

Shelter

West Darfur:

In Riyad camp, TDH reports that they have constructed 25 of the 44 shelters destroyed by the fire in late March.

WatSan

West Darfur:

ADRA reported a technical problem with their new rig and the UNICEF/WES rig will be at ADRA's disposal until the problem is rectified. ADRA is embarking on drilling wells in Sanidadi and Kulbus before the coming rains.

Civil Affairs:

On 19 April 2005, clashes between students in El Fasher University resulted in the burning of the University President's office, the student union, and other premises. Gunshots were heard, and some students were taken to the hospital, while others were arrested by national security forces. The cause of the clashes is still being investigated, and the University is now operating normally.

El Fasher Radio reported that the Wali of North Darfur formed The Noble Peoples Committee for Tribal Coexistence and Reconciliation (Kiram El Ghawm), Chaired by the Minister of Education and the Deputy Governor.

Assessments:

OCHA, FAO, UNDP, WFP and UNFPA are undertaking an interagency assessment to Umkedada (N. Darfur) from 23 April to 29 April.

Insecurity:

North Darfur:

On 19 April, a commercial truck hired by an INGO south of El Fasher was seized by SLM/A. The driver and assistant were released the same night but the truck remains with the SLM/A. A representative from the INGO attempted to negotiate the release of the truck but was unsuccessful. OCHA is following up on the issue.

On 21 April, students in El Fasher held a demonstration in their campus to protest against the detention of their colleague, accused of stabbing a National Security officer one week ago. The demonstration was considered illegal by the police and they sealed the campus, reacting with tear gas and live round shots.

At least two students were injured from gun fire. An AMIS protection force unsuccessfully tried to calm the situation. The students handed over a letter to AUCFC confirming that two students had been injured and demanding the immediate release of all students arrested throughout Sudan, more protection for students, and an immediate enquiry into the El Fasher case and the prosecution of those involved.

South Darfur:

Kalma:

On 21 April an IDP driving a vehicle towards the Kalma camp was stopped at the police checkpoint where he was demanded fuel. As he refused, he was shot and killed at close range.

On 22 April, police fired weapons over Kalma camp causing the displaced to scatter. No injuries were reported but one child was reported missing.

On 23 April, police began shooting directly towards Kalma camp itself. No further information available. [end of report]
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UPDATE: Darfur Legislation Now Before House and Senate Conferees

Save Darfur.org has just emailed with their latest news for American readers.

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