SUDAN WATCH: February 2010

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

"War in Darfur is over," says Sudanese president

Omar al-Bashir embraces Khalil Ibrahim

Photo: Agreement ... Omar al-Bashir, centre, embraces Khalil Ibrahim of the Justice and Equality Movement. (Reuters) See Reuters video and report by Robert Tuttle (Bloomberg; Telegraph, London) 25 February 2010: Darfur rebels win government posts in ceasefire deal

"War in Darfur is over," says Sudanese president
Ashraf Shazly, Agence France-Presse
Published: Wednesday, February 24, 2010 (via National Post)
EL-FASHER -- "The war in Darfur is over," Sudan's President Omar al-Beshir said on Wednesday in a speech in the war-torn region, adding that 57 members of a key rebel group, 50 on death row, had been freed.

Speaking in El-Fasher, the capital of North Darfur state, Mr. Beshir made the announcement a day after his government and the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) signed a ceasefire and agreed to work towards a full peace agreement.

"The crisis in Darfur is finished; the war in Darfur is over. Darfur is now at peace," he said of the seven-year conflict that devastated the region.

"The combat of arms is over, and the one of development now begins," added Mr. Beshir, the subject of an arrest warrant from the International Criminal Court for alleged war crimes in Darfur.

"We need to make more efforts to develop Sudan and Darfur," he said.

The prisoners freed on Wednesday represented half of JEM's members in jail, Justice Minister Abdel Basit Sabdarat said outside Kober prison on the outskirts of Khartoum.

"Today we free 57 people: 50 had been condemned to death, five to prison terms and two who were being investigated," he said.

In El-Fasher, Beshir confirmed the releases, saying: "We have just freed 50% of those detained" in connection with an unprecedented rebel attack on the capital's twin city of Omdurman in May 2008.

The fighting resulted in the deaths of 220 people and the capture of a large number of rebels. Special courts later condemned 105 to death.

Beshir had said the death sentences would be quashed and that 30% of JEM's militants would be freed after the ceasefire deal, which was signed on Tuesday in Doha.

Sudan and the JEM, Darfur's main rebel group, signed the agreement and a framework accord in the Qatari capital with a final peace deal due to be signed by March 15.

Mr. Beshir on Tuesday called the Doha agreement "an important step toward ending war and the conflict in Darfur."

On Saturday, government and JEM representatives inked a framework agreement in Chad proclaiming a "ceasefire" in the seven-year-old conflict.

The 12-point provisional deal offered the JEM, long seen as Darfur's most heavily armed rebel group, a power-sharing role in Sudan, where presidential and legislative polls are due in April.

Article three stated that Khartoum and the JEM agreed on "the participation of the JEM at all levels of power (executive, legislative...)," according to a copy of the accord seen by AFP.

The two sides also agreed on Saturday that the JEM would become "a political party as soon as the final agreement is signed between the two parties" by March 15.

JEM leader Khalil Ibrahim on Wednesday again urged that the April elections be put back, however, saying that thousands of displaced people would be unable to vote.

"Our position is to ask for a delay in these elections because there are numerous citizens of Darfur and (the western states of North, South and West) Kordofan who will not be able to take part because they are displaced."

The Darfur conflict has claimed about 300,000 lives and displaced 2.7 million people, according to UN figures, since it erupted in February 2003. Khartoum puts the death toll at 10,000.

Ethnic minority rebels took up arms against Khartoum and state-backed Arab militias, demanding greater access to resources and power.

The conflict also saw a splintering into small factions of rebel groups, making efforts to seal lasting peace a massive task.

The ceasefire with the JEM closed the most active front in Darfur, but smaller rebel groups such as the Sudanese Liberation Army of France-based exile Abdelwahid Nur have refused to talk to Khartoum.

Nur on Wednesday blasted the truce.

"What peace is it? A ceremonial peace... a struggle to get government posts, but one not interested in fundamentals: guaranteeing the security of the population."

The ceasefire accord "totally ignores the security of the Darfur population," Nur, who lives in exile in France, told AFP by phone.

One of the smaller factions, the JEM-Democracy, also rejected the accord, calling it biased.

However, on Tuesday four of the smaller groups announced they were merging to form the Liberation Movement for Justice and also hoped to agree a deal with Khartoum.

On Monday, Beshir said this year will "mark a new Sudan, stable and peaceful, a united Sudan, by the will of its people."
EU, Russia and USA at the signing ceremony of a framework agreement by the Sudanese government and rebel JEM in Doha, on Feb 23, 2010

Photo: Representatives from the EU, Russia and USA at the signing ceremony of a framework agreement by the Sudanese government and rebel JEM in Doha, Qatar on Tuesday, 23 February 2010 (QNA) (Source: Sudan Tribune report)

Latest news from SRS - Sudan Radio Service:

Sunday, February 21, 2010

JEM & Sudanese gov't agreed on March 15 deadline - JEM said deal would be formally signed Tuesday in Qatar, Doha

HERE below is a historic photo of Darfur's rebel JEM Kordofan Sector chief Ahmed Wadiay being welcomed on arrival at Khartoum Airport on Saturday, 20 February 2010 to sign a peace agreement with the Sudanese government.

Reportedly, JEM spokesman Ahmed Hussein said the peace deal would be formally signed in Qatar's capital, Doha, on Tuesday, 23 February 2010.

According to a report today at Sudan Tribune (see copy here below) Sudanese Presidential adviser in charge of Darfur dossier said yesterday they agreed with the JEM on March 15 as deadline for the signing of final peace agreement to end Darfur conflict in Doha.

Read more here below.

JEM Kordofan Sector chief Ahmed Wadiay

Photo: Darfur's rebel Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) Kordofan Sector chief Ahmed Wadiay is welcomed on arrival to sign peace agreement with government at Khartoum Airport, February 20, 2010. Sudan's government signed an agreement with Darfur's rebel JEM on Saturday that would help resolve the conflict in the western region, President Omar Hassan al-Bashir said. (Credit: Reuters)
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JEM said peace deal would be formally signed in Doha on Tuesday

JEM spokesman Ahmed Hussein said the deal would be formally signed in Qatar's capital, Doha, on Tuesday, 23 February 2010.

Source: BBC News online report at 00:03 GMT, Sunday, 21 February 2010 - Key Darfur rebels sign ceasefire deal - excerpt:
Jem spokesman Ahmed Hussein said the deal would be formally signed in Qatar's capital, Doha, on Tuesday.

"It's a significant step for peace in Darfur," he told the Associated Press. "It is a considerable achievement for both parties."

The BBC's James Copnall in Khartoum says the Jem is the most significant of the many rebel groups taking part in peace talks in Qatar, which aim to reach a final agreement by 15 March.

The Sudanese official in charge of the Darfur peace process, Ghazi Saleh al-Din, said other groups could also be included.

"It does not exclude other movements," he said. "I think we can try to emulate the agreement which we signed with Jem and try to speed up the process so that we can try to a final agreement as soon as possible."
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March 15 deadline for signing of final peace agreement in Doha

Sudanese Presidential adviser in charge of Darfur dossier said yesterday (Saturday, 20 Feb 2010) they agreed with the rebel Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) on March 15 as deadline for the signing of final peace agreement to end Darfur conflict in Doha.

Source: Sudan Tribune, Sunday, 21 February 2010 - Sudan, JEM to sign Darfur peace deal within three weeks - official - copy in full:
February 20, 2010 (KHARTOUM) — Sudanese Presidential adviser in charge of Darfur dossier said today they agreed with the rebel Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) on March 15 as deadline for the signing of final peace agreement to end Darfur conflict in Doha.

Ghazi Salah Al-Deen Attabani and Khalil Ibrahim, JEM leader, signed a preliminary framework agreement in Ndjamena including a temporary ceasefire, considered by Khartoum as most important issue in the deal. The framework agreement which should be developed in Doha outlined issues related to the power and wealth sharing and displaced and refugees.

A signing ceremony will be held in Doha likely a symbolic gesture to acknowledge the role of Qatar which hosted the talks between the two sides since last year.

Speaking at Khartoum airport following his return from Ndjamena, Ghazi said the two parties agreed complete negotiations and reach a final peace agreement on or before the 15th of March. The government had expressed keenness to sign a peace agreement before the general election scheduled for April 10.

The presidential adviser also stressed that Ndjamena agreement does not mean to exclude the other rebel groups in Doha who are expected to engage direct talks in addition to JEM with the government on Monday 22 February.

Gathered since January 24, the rebel groups — JEM, Sudan Liberation Movement Revolutionary Forces (SLM-RF) and Addis Ababa Group – failed to agree on the formation of a unified delegation to start talks with the government.

JEM which had signed a goodwill agreement with Khartoum on February 17, 2009, said the other two groups should merge under its leadership to avoid "chaos" and complications as it had been in Abuja where the rebel groups coordinated their positions. But the others rejected the proposition saying coordination is what they can offer to the powerful group.

Ndjamena breakthrough will allow holding peace negotiations in Doha as JEM reaffirmed its ascendancy over the two other groups supported by Libya and the US envoy to Sudan.

Ghazi told reporters that Ndjamena deal, which was secretly negotiated, does not mean to exclude the other rebel groups. He also said that the Joint Chief Mediator and the host country Qatar were aware of the talks in the Chadian capital. (ST)
JEM

Photo: JEM has been fighting the Sudanese government for seven years [File: EPA] Source: Aljazeera.net, Saturday 21 February 2010 - Darfur truce ahead of Sudan poll

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Darfur group JEM in Ndjamena, Chad signs temporary truce with Sudanese government

Quotes of the Day
"Today we signed an agreement between the government and JEM in Ndjamena and in Ndjamena we heal the war in Darfur" - Omar Hassan al-Bashir, Sudan's president, said in a speech on state television today, Saturday, 20 February 2010.

"We have just initially signed the framework agreement ... We will discuss of many issues - return of the IDPs [internally displaced persons], power and wealth sharing, compensation, detainees ... We are committed to a peaceful solution for Darfur" - Ahmed Hussein, a JEM spokesman, told the AFP news agency that the group would order its forces to stop military operations following the deal today, Saturday, 20 February 2010.
Source: (AGENCIES) Aljazeera.net
Darfur group signs temporary truce
Saturday, 20 February 2010; 20:04 MECCA TIME, 17:04 GMT.
Here is a copy of the report, in full, and a summary of related news reports.
Darfur group JEM signs temporary truce

Photo: The Justice and Equality Movement has been fighting the Sudanese government for seven years [File: EPA]

The Justice and Equality Movement (Jem), Darfur's largest opposition group, has signed a temporary ceasefire deal with Sudan's government.

Representatives of the group and the government signed the "framework agreement" setting out the terms for future peace talks in Ndjamena, Chad's capital, on Saturday.

"Today we signed an agreement between the government and Jem in Ndjamena and in Ndjamena we heal the war in Darfur," Omar Hassan al-Bashir, Sudan's president, said in a speech on state television.

Ahmed Hussein, a Jem spokesman, told the AFP news agency that the group would order its forces to stop military operations following the deal.

"We have just initially signed the framework agreement," he said.

"We will discuss of many issues - return of the IDPs [internally displaced persons], power and wealth sharing, compensation, detainees.

"We are committed to a peaceful solution for Darfur."

'Broader deal'

A broader agreement on security arrangements and refugees is expected to be discussed in the coming days in Qatar, which has been mediatating the talks.

The United Nations says that at least 300,000 people have died through violence, disease and displacement during the seven-year conflict in Sudan's western Darfur region.

But officials in Khartoum, the Sudanese capital, dispute the figures, saying that only 10,000 people have died since ethnic minority fighters rose up against the Arab-dominated government and its allies.

Al-Bashir, who faces an arrest warrant from the International Criminal Court on allegations of war crimes in Darfur, said death sentences against 100 Jem fighters had been quashed after the agreement's signing.

"I cancel all the sentences of hanging pronounced against members of the Justice and Equality Movement," he told an audience of members of women's associations.

"And tomorrow we will release 30 per cent of the prisoners."

A Sudanese court condemned 105 members of Jem to death after the group launched an assault in May 2008 that reached Khartoum's twin city of Omdurman, just across the Nile from the presidential palace.

Khartoum has agreed a series of ceasefires with the rebels, but some have fallen apart days after their signing and distrust between the warring parties remains deep.

Darfur's other main rebel group, the Sudan Liberation Army (SLA) is refusing to talk to the government, demanding an end to all violence before negotiations begin.

Source: Agencies
JEM in an armoured jeep on the Sudan-Chad border in northwest Darfur, October 2007

Photo: Sat Feb 20, 11:15 AM ET: Fighters with Darfur's most heavily armed rebel group, the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM), pictured in an armoured jeep on the Sudan-Chad border in northwest Darfur, October 2007. The group said on Saturday that it had signed a framework agreement with the Sudanese government in Chad that provides for a ceasefire. (AFP/AMIS/File/StuartPrice)

Related reports

Sudan signs deal with Darfur JEM rebels
The Financial Times - Sat, 20 Feb 2010; 18:02

Sudan signs ceasefire with Darfur JEM rebels
Reuters - Andrew Heavens (KHARTOUM) - Sat 20 Feb 2010; 2:49pm EST

Darfur rebels sign truce with Sudan
(UKPA) – Sat, 20 Feb 2010; 19:36 GMT

Darfur rebels sign truce deal with Sudan
(AP) The Washington Post - By Dany Padire The Associated Press, Sat, 20 Feb 2010; 2:05 PM

Rebel group says Darfur peace talks accord imminent
(AFP) France24 - Sat, 20 Feb 2010 - ‎2 hours ago‎

Key Darfur rebels sign ceasefire deal
BBC News at 16:49 GMT, Sat, 20 Feb 2010 - ‎2 hours ago‎

Sudan Government, Rebels Sign Truce
Voice of America - ‎3 hours ago‎

Sudan Signs Ceasefire With Darfur JEM Rebels
New York Times - ‎8 hours ago‎

Darfur rebels say ready for temporary ceasefire
Reuters - Andrew Heavens, Tim Pearce - ‎9 hours ago‎

Sudan close to deal with Darfur rebels: state TV
AngolaPress - ‎9 hours ago‎

Darfur rebels to sign peace deal with Sudanese gov't
People's Daily Online - ‎9 hours ago‎

Darfur JEM in talks with Khartoum on agreement as Bashir promises imminent peace
Sudan Tribune - ‎12 hours ago‎

Sudan's president expects progress in Darfur peace talks in Doha
People's Daily Online - ‎18 hours ago‎ - 08:30, Sat, 20 Feb 2010

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NATO TV Channel: AU to develop co-operation with NATO

A GROUP of high level officials from the African Union (AU) visited NATO’s Headquarters and the Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe (SHAPE) in Belgium on Thursday and Friday.

NATO and the AU have developed an increasingly fruitful practical cooperation since 2005. NATO supported the AU Mission in Sudan and is currently assisting the AU mission in Somalia in terms of air- and sea-lift, but also planning support.

NATO is also providing training opportunities and capacity building support to the AU’s long term peacekeeping capabilities, in particular the African Standby Force. This reflects the shared objective of bringing security and stability to Africa, added the statement.

Full report here below.

AFRICAN UNION TO DEVELOP COOPERATION WITH NATO
(NNN-KUNA) via NAM News Network, Saturday, 20 February 2010:
BRUSSELS, Feb 20 (NNN-KUNA) — A group of high level officials from the African Union (AU) led by Sivuyile Thandikhaya Bam, head of the Peace Support Operations Division of the AU, visited NATO’s Headquarters and the Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe (SHAPE) in Belgium on Thursday and Friday.

“Our visit here is to take forward some discussions that we had with NATO on how to improve the African Unions ability to provide better management support to peace missions,” Bam told the NATO TV channel.

On its part, the 28-member Alliance said in a statement Friday night that the visit provided a good opportunity for an open and constructive dialogue on a variety of issues, particularly NATO’s role in the new security environment and the further development of practical cooperation between NATO and the AU.

NATO and the AU have developed an increasingly fruitful practical cooperation since 2005. NATO supported the AU Mission in Sudan and is currently assisting the AU mission in Somalia in terms of air- and sea-lift, but also planning support.

NATO is also providing training opportunities and capacity building support to the AU’s long term peacekeeping capabilities, in particular the African Standby Force.

This reflects the shared objective of bringing security and stability to Africa, added the statement. — NNN-KUNA

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S. Kordofan, Sudan - On Mon Feb 15: Kiir, Haroun Discuss Census, Elections, Border Demarcation

THE Governor of South Kordofan, Ahmed Haroun announced that the Conference of the Bordering Northern and Southern States will be held during February 27 - 28, with participation of ministers of the federal and south Sudan governments. Full report here below.

Kiir, Haroun Discuss Census, Elections, Border Demarcation,
From Sudan Vision Daily.com, Wednesday, 17 February 2010:
Neighbouring States Conference

(SUNA ) - The First Vice-President of the Republic and President of the Government of South Sudan (GoSS), Gen. Salva Kiir, Monday discussed with a high-level delegation headed by the Governor of South Kordofan, Ahmed Haroun, a number of issues pertinent to the census and its relation with the elections, work of the election commission, the post-referendum situation, demarcation of the border and the specialty of South Kordofan State in the coming elections.

Haroun announced that the Conference of the Bordering Northern and Southern States will be held during February 27 - 28, with participation of ministers of the federal and south Sudan governments.

The Minister of Information and Broadcasting in the Government of South Sudan, Paul Akej, said that the delegation's visit aims to discussing a number of issues that will be reviewed at the coming visit of the Presidency.
CPA Partners in South Kurdofan Affirm Peace, Elections Sustainability
From Sudan Vision Daily, Wednesday, 17 February 2010:
(Khartoum – Al-Sammani Awadallah) - South Kordofan Governor, Ahmed Haroun and his deputy Abdul Aziz Al-Hilu affirmed that the NCP and the SPLM are working jointly and seriously to develop constructive options over the disputes in the State to enable the Presidency issue the convenient decisions to resolve the disputes in its meeting of next Saturday.

Haroun and Al-Hilu said in a joint statement that the partnership spirit and the constructive coordination dominated the work in the state in the last six months represents a supply for resolving the existing problem over the elections in the state.

The governor and his deputy affirmed that they will concentrate in dealing with the problem in peace issue as it is the essential issue and that the elections are a fruit of peace process and one of the important stations for peace sustainability.

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Red Crescent Monitors HIV Rates in Eastern Sudan

SPEAKING to SRS at Wad Sharifay refugee camp on the outskirts of Kassala town on Wednesday, the Health Coordinator of the Sudanese Red Crescent Society, Dr. Badaradeen Badawi Mohammed, says that out of 600 tested people only 3 cases of HIV infection were reported. Full report here below.

Red Crescent Monitors HIV Rates in Eastern Sudan
From Sudan Radio Service (SRS) on Thursday, 18 February 2010:
(Wad Sharifay) - The Sudanese Red Crescent Society says that the rate of HIV infection in the refugees’ camps in Eastern Sudan is lower than the rates of towns like Kassala.

Speaking to SRS at Wad Sharifay refugee camp on the outskirts of Kassala town on Wednesday, the Health Coordinator of the Sudanese Red Crescent Society, Dr. Badaradeen Badawi Mohammed, says that out of 600 tested people only 3 cases of HIV infection were reported.

[Dr. Badaradeen Badawi Mohamed]: “At the VCT centre here more than 600 people have come to us and there are only three cases that were positive. There is cooperation between us and the Ministry of Health. If there are cases that need solutions, for example, a person may need antiretroviral drugs, we would refer them to the teaching hospital in Kassala where they receive treatment regularly. In fact now we need to carry out a survey in order to know the magnitude of the problem. Also we have a surveillance program where pregnant women come to the clinic and we take their blood samples and send it to the Federal Ministry of Health in order to test and record the rate of infection and truly we found out also that the rate was much lower than one percent in our camps. The rate of infection in camps is lower than in the city.”

Dr. Badawi denied accusations that the presence of refugees in Eastern Sudan is the cause of high rates of HIV prevalence in Kassala state.

[Dr. Badaradeen Badawi Mohamed]: “It is not true because refugees have been in camps years before HIV and AIDS were discovered. These refugees have been here in this area for more than thirty years. So they have been here before the disease was discovered but there are indicators among recent refuges and there was a need to carry out a survey amongst them in order to find out the prevalence rate. Of course the prevalence rate of HIV in Eritrea is higher than Sudan. Perhaps the new arrivals may have an impact but there is supposed to be an additional program for the new arrivals of refugees and they are now at the Shagarab area. There is an awareness programs and condoms are available at Shagarab."

He said the World Bank supports the HIV and AIDS awareness campaign amongst refugees in camps in Eastern Sudan through the Inter-Governmental Authority on Development, IGAD.

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Trainers from Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) are training Hamas activists in Sudan?

Report: IRGC Training Hamas Operatives In Sudan
From The MEMRI Blog, Thursday, 18 February 2010 - copy in full:
The Al-Qanat website reports, citing Western intelligence sources, that trainers from Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) are training Hamas activists in firing surface-to-surface missiles in Sudan, and that 14 activists from Gaza were part of the first group of trainees, two months ago.

To View The Full Report, Click Here.

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Posted at: 2010-02-18
Note, JTTM Consulting is a Division of MEMRI (The Middle East Media Research Institute). Click here for more about MEMRI.

UPDATE Sat 20 Feb 2010 - Note this snippet from Taiwan News.com NEW THIS DIGEST by Associated Press, 20 Feb 2010:
RUSSIA-IRAN
MOSCOW - Russia's foreign minister says he is "very alarmed" over Iran's failure to prove its nuclear program is peaceful, suggesting Moscow may be closer to acceding to Western demands for new U.N. sanctions against Tehran. By David Nowak and Edith M. Lederer.

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Eritrean President Afwerki holds special US interest groups responsible for imposing UNSC sanctions against Eritrea

Quote of the Day
"If Sudan is peaceful and prosperous, I benefit. If Ethiopia is peaceful and prosperous, I benefit. If Somalia is peaceful I benefit." - Eritrean President Afwerki, February 2010.
Source: News report from Sudan Vision Daily by Massawa, Editor-in-Chief - SV, Saturday, 20 February 2010 @ 00:20:00 GMT. Full copy:
Eritrean President Refutes Claims of Supporting Somali Islamic groups - Describes Sanctions as Unjustifiable. Afwerki Criticizes ICC Move towards Sudanese President as baseless Legally, Politically

Eritrean President rejected categorically claims that his country supports Somali Islamic groups, describing UNSC sanctions against Eritrea as of no legal or political justification.

"Our position has always been that we cannot support one (group) against the other", says Afwerki.

While he declined to directly accuse US administration, Afwerki holds special US interest groups responsible of imposing the resolution on the UNSC members. "It was (the sanctions) a result of the frustrations of United States special interest groups who have for the last twenty years failed to achieve their goals in Somalia and horn of Africa," he added.

In an interview with Sudan Vision last Saturday in Massawa, Afwerki regretted the move of IGAD, AU to recommend sanction against his nation. "How can Africa recommend sanctions against one member-nation without any evidences or even justification for that action?" he said affirming the necessity of regional peace. "If Sudan is peaceful and prosperous, I benefit. If Ethiopia is peaceful and prosperous, I benefit. If Somalia is peaceful I benefit."

Asked about the Sudanese Eritrean relation, Afwerki said that it's at its best. On Saturday the Eritrean people celebrated the 20th anniversary of Fenkil Operation which is considered as one of the historic victories in the 30 year-long Eritrean struggle for independence. A Sudanese official delegation headed by Red Sea State governor, Dr. Mohammed Tahir Ella represented Sudan in Massawa celebrations. Last Thursday both Red Sea state governor, and Sudan Airways general manager inaugurated a new flight connecting Port Sudan with Asmara.

The Eritrean President reaffirmed his position in rejecting the ICC move against the Sudanese President. "This is not justified legally and politically. Now, even the United States is not a signatory to the Rome Convention or what they call it. What are the concrete evidences?" he asked pointing out to the conflicting reports about deaths in Darfur. "How can you rely on those who provided these evidences in the names of NGOs, in the names of humanitarian organizations and in different organizations and witnesses to have come with evidences to indict the President to the ICC," said Afwerki.

President Afwerki indicated that the border conflict between Eritrea and Ethiopia is the main issue behind the current developments. "Even when we went to arbitration and a verdict was given on the border conflict eight years ago they bogged every possibility of solving this problem because they want to keep Eritrea and Ethiopia hostage with a border dispute pending without any solution and they can easily manipulate the whole situation here."

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Friday, February 19, 2010

Eastern Sudan: Kassala State Poorest in Sudan - UNHCR

Kassala is a state in Eastern Sudan. Comparing life in Kassala state with life in the refugee camps, the Head of UNHCR’s Kassala office, Dr. Mohamed Dualeh claims that refugees in camps in Eastern Sudan receive better services than the host communities. Click here for a WHO Briefing Map showing Sudan States & States Capitals February 2006.

Kassala State Poorest in Sudan - UNHCR
From Sudan Radio Service (SRS), Thursday, 18 February 2010:
(Kassala) - The United Nations Refugee Agency, the UNHCR, says Kassala state is one the poorest states in Sudan because it has been neglected by both the government and the international community.

In an interview with SRS in Kassala town on Wednesday, the Head of UNHCR’s Kassala office, Dr. Mohamed Dualeh explains why he thinks Kassala is the poorest state in Sudan.

[Dr. Mohamed Dualeh]: “Kassala state is one of the poorest in Sudan. It is poorer than some parts of Darfur and a lot of the south. But, if you look at all the indicators, it is a neglected part of the country. Neglected by the international community, neglected by the UN, neglected by UN agencies, there was little aid coming in as a peace dividend after the signing of the Eastern Peace Agreement. Therefore, I think there is no justification now not to provide the assistance the east needs. We are waiting to see it happen. Not just words, but action. Action from the UN, action from the donors, and action from the government.”

Dr. Dualeh describes the indicators that he says suggest that Kassala the poorest state in Sudan.

[Dr. Mohamed Dualeh]: “Maternal mortality is very high, child mortality is very high and illiteracy is also very high. I think 57% of people who live in Kassala state do not read and write. Unemployment is very high but at the same time, this is a border state. In the last few years the rains were very erratic, there were less rains. Therefore, there is a drought looming. If there is a failure in terms of agricultural production as well as unemployment, with all other indicators, I think we may run into emergencies in the long term unless we can prevent it now.”

Comparing life in Kassala state with life in the refugee camps, Dr. Dualeh claims that refugees in camps in Eastern Sudan receive better services than the host communities.

[Dr. Mohamed Dualeh]: “Refugees receive better services than the neighboring Sudanese villages. They receive better water systems, they receive better education, they receive better health care than the neighboring villages and I think if we want to do justice, we should be doing justice for those Sudanese living in the surrounding villages. I wish you had gone to Umgargora Refugee camp and the next village, Karkora they are identical villages. Umugargora receives everything, the other one does not receive anything. Therefore, if you want to do justice, I think we should be doing justice for the local population in the area.”

Dr. Mohamed Dualeh was talking to SRS in Kassala.

More News from SRS - Sudan Radio Service:

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Sudan Armed Forces (SAF) refuses to confirm Ukrainian tank deal

A Russian newspaper, Vremya Novostei, reports that Ukraine is selling the Sudanese government 100 T-72M tanks via the Ukrainian company, Ukrspetsexport.

SPLA are not allowed to buy weapons from abroad, according to the CPA.

UN Security Council resolutions 1556 and 1591 prohibit the sale of arms to warring parties in the Darfur region where SAF is combating armed anti-government groups.

Source: SRS report here below.

SAF Refuses To Confirm Ukrainian Tank Deal
From SRS - Sudan Radio Service, Thursday, 18 February 2010:
(Khartoum) - A Russian newspaper, Vremya Novostei, reports that Ukraine is selling the Sudanese government 100 T-72M tanks via the Ukrainian company, Ukrspetsexport.

Afrik website reports that the weapons company is shipping the tanks to Port Sudan as part of a 70 million USD contract.

The Sudan Armed Forces said that they deal openly with Russia in purchasing different types of weapons and ammunitions, but they weren’t prepared to confirm the Ukrainian tank contract.

SAF office spokesperson Lieutenant-Colonel Al-Sawarmi Khalid, spoke to SRS from Khartoum on Thursday.

[Lieutenant-Colonel Al-Sawarmi Khalid]: “We will not talk about the type of weapons that come to Sudan or the type of weapons we are arming SAF with, but trade and co-operation between us and Russia is open, whether it is in the field of airplanes, tanks or other equipment. There is no problem with that, but what the report says about the tanks particularly, we can’t confirm that.”

Khalid says that neither the international treaties nor the CPA bans SAF from buying weapons.

[Lieutenant-Colonel Al-Sawarmi Khalid]: “According to international treaties, or the agreement between us and the SPLM, there is nothing indicating that SAF is banned from buying or dealing in weapons. But the SPLA are not allowed to buy weapons from abroad, according to the CPA.”

UN Security Council resolutions 1556 and 1591 prohibit the sale of arms to warring parties in the Darfur region where SAF is combating armed anti-government groups.
Click on blue FAINA label here below for related reports.

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ICC WAR CRIME ALERT: On Tue Feb 16 - Gunmen armed with AK-47 rifles opened fire on peacekeepers close to El-Sherif camp, nr Nyala, S. Darfur, Sudan

THIS is a war crime alert to the ICC. Gunmen armed with AK-47 rifles opened fire on a police patrol from the joint U.N./African Union UNAMID peacekeeping force near the South Darfur capital Nyala in western Sudan on Tuesday afternoon (16 Feb 2010), the latest in a series of attacks on the mission.

The attackers waited for the patrol close to El-Sherif refugee camp, 17km (10 miles) south of Nyala, and the peacekeepers were wounded as they returned fire, said UNAMID.

UNAMID initially said two of the police were in a critical condition but on Thursday said that had risen to four.

The spokesman, Noureddine Mezni, said Thursday government troops captured the two suspects outside the south Darfur capital of Nyala a day earlier. Authorities also recovered one of two U.N.-AU vehicles stolen in the attack.

The gunmen escaped in two UNAMID vehicles, one of which was recovered by the Sudanese authorities who made Wednesday's arrests, Mezni said. U.N. officials said it was unclear whether they had set out to shoot peacekeepers or to steal vehicles.

"Any attack on peacekeepers is tantamount to a war crime," said UNAMID mission head Ibrahim Gambari in a statement late on Wednesday after he visited the police in hospital.

AS NOTED here many times before, the targeting of peacekeepers is a war crime under article 82C1 of the Rome Statute.

Here is a copy of some recent news reports, starting with latest.

Two Arrested after UNAMID Shootings in Nyala
From Sudan Radio Service (SRS), Friday, 19 February 2010:
(El Fashir) - Sudanese authorities have arrested two men in connection with the shooting of the seven Pakistani peacekeepers in Darfur on Tuesday.

Unknown gunmen armed with AK-47 rifles opened fire on a UNAMID police patrol near Nyala, in South Darfur. Seven peacekeepers were injured.

UNAMID spokesperson Nouraddine Mezni spoke to SRS on Friday from Darfur.

[Nouraddine Mezni]: “Two suspects were arrested outside Nyala, in an area called Kass. Sudanese military also found one of the two vehicles which were hijacked and we are working with the Sudanese authorities on the investigation and we want a rapid trial for these responsible so that they will serve as an example for the future to those who even think of attacking UNAMID personnel. There is an improvement in the condition of the seven UNAMID police injured during the ambush. Four of them are still in a critical condition. Three are stable but in a serious condition. We are strengthening the security measures everywhere in Darfur. We also have 5 tactical helicopters which will help us in similar cases in the future.”

Twenty-two UNAMID police and soldiers have been killed in carjacking, attacks and ambushes since the force was deployed in 2008.
Sudan condemns attack on Darfur peacekeepers
From Sudan Tribune, Friday 19 February 2010:
February 19, 2010 (KHARTOUM) — Sudanese government has strongly condemned the attack on UNAMID police patrol on Tuesday in South Darfur, wounding seven Pakistani soldiers.

[Photo] An Indonesian police officer talks to children as he patrols Zamzam refugee camp in North Darfur Feb 8, 2010. (Reuters)

The Sudanese government arrested two people suspected of taking part in the attack. Noureddine Mezni, the UNAMID spokesperson said today the Sudanese authorities captured one of the two vehicles carjacked by the gunmen.

In a statement released Thursday the foreign ministry denounced the attack saying it would spear no effort to bring the perpetrators to justice.

The government further pledged to intensify cooperation with the hybrid operation to prevent such attack on the future against the UNAMID and its personnel.

Ibrahim Gambari the new head of UNAMID met today with Mutrif Siddig, Undersecretary of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to discuss the attack.

Qmbari stressed the continued consultation and cooperation between the government and UNAMID in order to enable the hybrid operation to carry out its duties in the best conditions. For his part, Mutrif Siddig, stressed the Government’s commitment to support and facilitate the task of UNAMID in Sudan. (ST)
Sudan arrests two assailants of Darfur peacekeepers
From Sudan Tribune, Thursday, 18 February 2010:
February 18, 2009 (KHARTOUM) —Sudanese army arrested today two persons suspected of attacking Pakistani peacekeepers in near Nyala, South Darfur state, two days ago.

Nourredine Mezni, UNAMID official spokesperson told Sudan Tribune by telephone today from El-Fasher that two men suspected to be involved in an attack on Pakistani peacekeepers in Sudan’s Darfur region.

The assailant wounded seven soldiers one of them in critical condition transported to Khartoum.

The head of the Mission, Ibrahim Gambari travelled yesterday to Nyala to visit the wounded police officers at the UNAMID’s hospital. He was accompanied by the Mission Force Commander Lt Gen Patrick Nyambvumba.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon urged the Sudanese government to immediately probe the incident and to ensure that the perpetrators are swiftly identified and brought to justice. (ST)
2 arrested for ambush on UN-AU Darfur peacekeepers
(AP) – Thursday, 18 February 2010:
KHARTOUM, Sudan — A spokesman for the international peacekeeping mission in Darfur says Sudanese authorities have arrested two people in connection with an ambush earlier this week on joint U.N.-African Union forces.

Noureddine Mezni said Thursday government troops captured the two suspects outside the south Darfur capital of Nyala a day earlier. Authorities also recovered one of two U.N.-AU vehicles stolen in the attack.

The arrests come after gunmen attacked a police convoy outside Nyala on Tuesday, wounding seven Pakistani police officers serving with the U.N.-AU force. Four of them are in critical condition. [...]
Sudan arrests two over Darfur peacekeeper shooting
From Reuters, Thursday, 18 February 2010; 2:54 AM
(Reporting by Andrew Heavens; Editing by Louise Ireland):
KHARTOUM (Reuters) - Sudanese authorities arrested two men in connection with the shooting of seven Pakistani peacekeepers in Darfur, officials said on Thursday.

Gunmen armed with AK-47 rifles opened fire on a police patrol from the joint U.N./African Union UNAMID peacekeeping force near the South Darfur capital Nyala on Tuesday afternoon, the latest in a series of attacks on the mission.

UNAMID initially said two of the police were in a critical condition but on Thursday said that had risen to four.

"The Sudanese authorities have arrested two people in connection with the attack," UNAMID spokesman Noureddine Mezni told Reuters. "This will serve as a lesson to anyone who even thinks of attacking us in the future."

A total of 22 UNAMID police and soldiers have been killed in carjackings, attacks and ambushes as law and order has collapsed in the remote western region, where mostly non-Arab rebels took up arms against the government in 2003.

The gunmen escaped in two UNAMID vehicles, one of which was recovered by the Sudanese authorities who made Wednesday's arrests, Mezni said. U.N. officials said it was unclear whether they had set out to shoot peacekeepers or to steal vehicles.

"Any attack on peacekeepers is tantamount to a war crime," said UNAMID mission head Ibrahim Gambari in a statement late on Wednesday after he visited the police in hospital.

The attackers waited for the patrol close to El-Sherif refugee camp, 17km (10 miles) south of Nyala, and the peacekeepers were wounded as they returned fire, said UNAMID.

Seven years of fighting in Darfur has forced an estimated 2.7 million to flee their homes and killed up to 300,000, according to the United Nations. Khartoum, which accuses Western media of exaggerating the conflict, puts the toll at 10,000.

UNAMID says it is still short of vital equipment, including military helicopters, needed in its efforts to keep the peace in a region the size of Spain.

More than two years after UNAMID arrived, the mostly African force only has about 80 percent of its full deployment of 26,000 police and soldiers on the ground.
Seven UNAMID Peacekeepers Wounded Near Nyala
From SRS - Sudan Radio Service, Wednesday, 17 February 2010:
(Nairobi) - Seven UNAU peacekeepers in Darfur were injured and two vehicles were looted by an unknown armed group in southern Darfur.

In an interview with SRS on Wednesday, UNAMID spokesman Noureddine Mezni said that the attackers shot at an armed UNAMID police patrol near Nyala.

[Noureddine Mezni]: “The attack was against UNAMID police while they were returning from a routine patrol around Nyala town in South Darfur. They were ambushed and fired at by an unknown group. Because of this, seven UNAMID personnel were injured. Two of them are in a serious condition and the other five are in a stable state. One of the injured was airlifted to Khartoum.”

The head of UNAMID, Dr. Ibrahim Gambari, is expected to visit the wounded police officers in Nyala town on Wednesday.

About 22 peacekeepers have been killed in separate incidents in Darfur since the mission took over from the African Union force in 2008.
U.N. calls on Sudan to probe attack on peacekeepers
From Reuters, Wednesday, 17 February 2010 2:13pm EST:
UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon called Wednesday for the Sudanese government to investigate an attack on peacekeepers in Darfur, a U.N. spokeswoman said.

"The secretary-general calls on the government of Sudan to launch an immediate investigation into this incident and to ensure that the perpetrators are swiftly identified and brought to justice," spokeswoman Marie Okabe told reporters.

Unidentified gunmen opened fire on Pakistani peacekeepers in Sudan's Darfur region Tuesday, wounding seven, two of them seriously, in the latest in a string of attacks on the U.N./African Union force, or UNAMID, officials said.

The ambush of the unarmed police patrol near Nyala, capital of South Darfur, followed reports of a resurgence of fighting in Sudan's violent west that has forced thousands to flee, according to UNAMID.

Twenty-two UNAMID soldiers and police have been killed in ambushes, carjackings and other violent incidents since they took over from a beleaguered African Union force at the beginning of 2008.

The conflict in Darfur flared in 2003, when mostly non-Arab rebels took up arms against Sudan's government, accusing it of neglecting the region. Estimates of the total death count range from 10,000 according to Khartoum, to 300,000 according to the United Nations.
Gunmen injure seven peacekeepers in Sudan's Darfur
From Reuters by Andrew Heavens in Khartoum (Editing by Michael Roddy)
Tuesday, 16 February 2010 3:41pm EST - excerpt:
KHARTOUM (Reuters) - Unidentified gunmen opened fire on Pakistani peacekeepers in Sudan's Darfur region on Tuesday, injuring seven, two of them seriously, in the latest in a string of attacks on the force, officials said.

The ambush came just hours after the joint U.N./African Union UNAMID mission took delivery of its first five military helicopters, ending a wait of more than two years for air support in Sudan's rebellious west.

The attackers shot at an armed UNAMID police patrol near Nyala, capital of South Darfur, escaping with two police vehicles, UNAMID spokesman Noureddine Mezni told Reuters.

"It was an ambush this afternoon. Two of the seven were critically wounded ... This is very serious. We are a peacekeeping mission but we do not have a comprehensive peace to keep," he said.

A total of 22 UNAMID soldiers and police have died in ambushes, carjackings and other violent incidents since they took over from a beleaguered African Union force at the beginning of 2008.

Mezni said one of the critically injured men was evacuated to Khartoum, while the other was too seriously injured to move from hospital in Nyala, where the five others were being treated.

A U.N. official said the injured men came from Pakistan. [...]

More News from Sudan Radio Service:

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