SUDAN WATCH: UNAMID: Tense security situation in N. Darfur - Reports of increased gov't troops & JEM in Shangil Tobay. Red Cross may suspend aid (Update 1)

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

UNAMID: Tense security situation in N. Darfur - Reports of increased gov't troops & JEM in Shangil Tobay. Red Cross may suspend aid (Update 1)

UNAMID (the joint African Union/United Nations Mission in Darfur) said in a statement published late yesterday evening (Tuesday, 11 May) that the security situation in North Darfur, western Sudan is tense following reports of an increase in the presence of Sudanese army troops and heavily armed anti-government group JEM in the Shangil Tobay region.

Shangil Tobay is a settlement 70km (43 miles) south of the capital of North Darfur El Fasher, a government stronghold and hub for aid workers and peacekeepers. The area sits between JEM's current stronghold in West Darfur and South Kordofan.

News just in from SRS today (Wednesday, 12 May) confirms JEM has announced its total withdrawal from the two agreements signed between JEM and Sudan's Government of National Unity. The head of JEM’s negotiating team, Ahmed Togud Lisan, told SRS today that they have reached a deadlock in the two agreements and are prepared to attack government forces in Darfur.

Also, a spokesperson for the Sudanese army forces (SAF) told SRS that SAF is ready to retaliate if JEM strikes. The Sudanese government announced today that they would stop peace negotiations with JEM because JEM does not respect the framework agreement.

The head of the JEM negotiation team, Ahmed Togud Lisan, told SRS today that they are not scared by the government statements.

Yesterday, a leading member of Sudan’s ruling National Congress Party (NCP) told VOA News that President Omar Hassan Al-Bashir’s government will not kowtow (submit) to threats of all-out war issued by JEM.

Meanwhile, the Red Cross' representative in Sudan told SRS today in Khartoum that the International Red Cross (IRC) will cease providing health services in three states of Darfur unless the conflicting parties stop targeting its staff.

"Approximately 70 percent of (people) living in the New Shangil Tobay Camp have left fearing clashes," UNAMID said in a statement. UNAMID said 2,000 people lived in the camp.

Further details in reports from SRS, Reuters and VOA noted here below. Click here for a larger view of the following map showing North Darfur, West Darfur and southern Kordofan.

USAID 2001 SudanOil & Gas Concessions Map

Red Cross Threatens to Suspend Activity in Darfur
From SRS (Sudan Radio Service) - Wednesday, 12 May 2010:
12 May 2010 (Khartoum) – The International Red Cross Committee (IRC) has threatened to suspend its activities in three states of Darfur.

The IRC representative in Sudan, Saleh Dabaka, told SRS on Tuesday in Khartoum that the IRC will cease providing health services in Darfur unless the conflicting parties stop targeting its staff.

[Saleh Dabaka]: “Following the kidnappings which took place in October and November of last year, the IRC suspended all its activities in Darfur due to the danger represented by the arrests, kidnapping and detention of two of our international staff. If the IRC is not guaranteed security by all the parties participating in the conflict, we won’t continue doing our work, because we don’t want to subject our staff to any danger which may affect their lives or our work.”

Dabaka added that the IRC’s work has been reduced in parts of southern Darfur and other areas due to clashes between government troops and anti-government groups.

The IRC’s representative in Sudan, Saleh Dabaka, was speaking to SRS in Khartoum on Tuesday.
JEM Withdraws From Doha Talks And Renegades On Agreement
From SRS (Sudan Radio Service) - Wednesday, 12 May 2010:
12 May 2010 (Nairobi) – The Darfur anti-government group, the Justice and Equality Movement, has announced its total withdrawal from the two agreements signed between JEM and the Government of National Unity.

JEM and GONU signed a goodwill agreement last year and a framework agreement this year in Qatar.

The head of JEM’s negotiating team, Ahmed Togud Lisan, said that they have reached a deadlock in the two agreements. He threatened that JEM is prepared to attack government forces in Darfur.

He spoke to SRS from Doha on Tuesday.

[Ahmed Togud Lisan]: “Following the goodwill agreement, the government clearly does not have any intention of achieving peace. The framework agreement doesn’t exist and has no effect on the ground. This shows that there is no kind of agreement between the government and JEM, regardless of any procedures carried out before. We are not committed to it anymore and we don’t care about any agreement with the Sudanese government. It’s because of the Sudanese government that we reached this decision to suspend the negotiations and all communication. Therefore JEM will continue attacking the government in any position.”

The spokesperson for SAF, Lieutenant-Colonel Al-Sawarmi Khalid, said that SAF is ready to retaliate if JEM strikes.

[Al-Sawarmi Khalid]: “If JEM does not follow the agreement then they will be regarded as abandoning the agreement. On the other hand, we are completely ready to retaliate at any time and any place where they may try to attack SAF or civilians. They have not attacked any SAF positions, but only small villages where they loot markets. We have already welcomed the agreement and we hope it will move forward. We hope JEM will be completely committed with what is stipulated in the framework agreement and continue the negotiations, already the negotiation is continuing with the rest of the other movements, but we hope JEM will retreat from this position and join others in Doha.”

The Sudanese government announced on Tuesday that they would stop peace negotiations with JEM because JEM does not respect the framework agreement.
Sudan Unfazed by Rebel Threats
From VOA - Tuesday, 11 May 2010 by Peter Clottey:
A leading member of Sudan’s ruling National Congress Party (NCP) says President Omar Hassan Al-Bashir’s government will not kowtow (submit) to threats of all-out war issued by the Darfur-based Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) rebel group.

Rabie Abdulatti Obeid said the government has asked the international police agency Interpol to arrest rebel leader Khalil Ibrahim after he refused to abide by a recent ceasefire agreement.

“The warrant of arrest that was issued by the minister of justice of the government of national unity mentioned that Dr. Khalil Ibrahim and his movement committed a lot of crimes in Darfur, as well as the crimes that were committed during the invasion of Omdurman,” he said. [...]

The JEM rebel group threatened an all-out war if their leader, who is believed to be hiding in neighboring Egypt, is arrested.

But, Abdulatti said the government is unfazed by the rebel threats.

“I don’t think that the statement will threaten the government of Sudan as this movement has no capacity to defeat the government’s military. And, even in Darfur, I think that the people of Darfur they hate the Justice and Equality Movement and are not in a position to accept that violation committed against civilians in Darfur,” Abdulatti said.
GONU Justice Minister Calls on Interpol to Arrest Khalil Ibrahim
From SRS (Sudan Radio Service) - Wednesday, 12 May 2010:
12 May 2010 (Nairobi) – The Sudanese minister of justice, Abdulbasit Sabdarat, has requested Interpol to arrest the leader of the Darfur anti-government group, the Justice and Equality Movement.

He requests that Dr. Khalil Ibrahim be handed over to the Sudanese authorities for attack on Omdurman in May 2008.

The head of the JEM negotiation team, Ahmed Togud Lisan, said that they are not scared by the government statements.

[Ahmed Togud Lisan]: “These statements were made for political purposes. It isn’t related to legal procedure. For that reason, they are just trying to increase the psychological pressure on the movement and its leadership by launching statements which exhibit the childhood and adolescence of the ministry. The movement attacked Omdurman and will continuing attacking Omdurman several times if this case is not resolved. We are not paying any attention to statements by Sabdarat. These statements just show the Sudanese government’s inability to face JEM politically and militarily - it has lost touch with reality.”

Ahmed Togud was speaking to SRS from Doha on Tuesday.
Peacekeepers warn of Darfur rebel, Sudan army build-up
From Reuters (Khartoum) Wednesday, 12 May 2010; 09:49:09 GMT:
* Security deteriorates after peace talk stalemate

* Separate tribal clashes killed 107 since March

12 May 2010 (Khartoum) - Peacekeepers have warned of a build-up of Sudanese army and rebel troops near a strategic town in Dafur, where the security situation has deteriorated after peace talks between the government and rebels stalled.

Separately, long running tribal rivalries in the remote western region had led to clashes, killing 107 people since March, they said.

"The security situation in North Darfur is tense following reports of an increase in the presence of government troops and Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) forces in the Shangil Tobay region," the joint U.N./African Union UNAMID peacekeeping force said in a statement published late on Tuesday.

JEM was one of two rebel forces that launched a revolt against Sudan's government in 2003, accusing it of starving Darfur of funding and marginalising its population.

Sudan's president Omar Hassan al-Bashir, who mobilised militias to crush the uprising, is facing International Criminal Court charges of masterminding war crimes in the region.

Two international sources, speaking on condition of anonymity, said there were signs JEM was moving south east through Darfur towards the neighbouring oil-producing region of South Kordofan, where JEM has claimed support in the past.

UNAMID said it was monitoring the situation and called on both sides to avoid "further acts of violence".

Shangil Tobay is a settlement 70km (43 miles) south of the capital of North Darfur El Fasher, a government stronghold and hub for aid workers and peacekeepers. The area sits between JEM's current stronghold in West Darfur and South Kordofan.

No one was immediately available from Sudan's army or JEM to confirm the reports of the build-up.

Khartoum has accused JEM of attacking villages in West and North Darfur states in recent weeks to expand its territory.
Both sides signed a ceasefire and initial peace deal in February but talks soon reached stalemate.

UNAMID said fighting broke out between the rival Misseriya and Rizeigat Nawaiba tribes in West Darfur in March.

The U.N. said it appeared a violent incident had sparked a cycle of revenge attacks.

"It is spiralling retribution over a killing... the retaliation just cycles out of control," said Samuel Hendricks, spokesman for the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA).
He said rivalries had been exacerbated by competition for pasture, water and other resources.

An initial settlement broke down last week when new fighting broke out in the Mukjar region of West Darfur, said UNAMID.

"It is estimated that since March, the clashes have claimed the lives of 107 people on both sides and have caused many more to flee their homes," it added.
Hundreds flee Sudan army, Darfur rebel buildup
From Reuters (Khartoum) - Wednesday, 12 May 2010; 3:12pm EDT
(Reporting by Andrew Heavens; editing by Philippa Fletcher) - excerpt:
UNAMID said it had reports government troops and forces from the insurgent Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) had been massing in North Darfur state's Shangil Tobay area.

"Approximately 70 percent of (people) living in the New Shangil Tobay Camp have left fearing clashes," it said in a statement. UNAMID said 2,000 people lived in the camp.
News from SRS (Sudan Radio Service)

12-May-2010


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Photo: By Lynsey Addario for The New York Times (NYT Topics page on Sudan)
P.S. The album "Sudan Votes Music Hopes" is available on www.sudanvotes.com/musichopes.

UPDATE on Thursday, 13 May 2010

Sudan rejects claims of new Darfur troops buildup
From Daily Nation by Peter Mwa, Nation Reporter
Thursday, May 13 2010 at 18:21:
Sudan on Thursday dismissed reports by UNAMID peacekeepers that there has been build-up of Sudanese army and rebel troops in the troubled Darfur region.

The spokesman for the Sudanese armed forces said the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) has no power to mobilise in the area.

“The UNAMID warning is an unjustified exaggeration of the power of (JEM),” said Alsoarmi Khaled Saad in a statement.

The joint United Nations/African Union peacekeeping mission had warned of a build-up of Sudanese army and rebel troops near Shangil Tobayi, a strategic town in North Darfur.

The security situation in the area has deteriorated after peace talks between the government and rebels stalled.

According to the mission, long running tribal clashes in the remote western region have killed 107 people since March.

“The security situation in North Darfur is tense following reports of an increase in the presence of government troops and Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) forces in the Shangil Tobay region,” UNAMID said in a statement on Tuesday.

Dismissing the warning, the armed forces spokesman termed the reports by the mission inaccurate.

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