Sudan: Seeking Unity And Trust


August 2, 2017: In the United States a federal court recently ordered Sudan to pay $7.3 billion in damages to the families of American victims of the 1998 terrorist bombings of the U.S. embassies in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania and Nairobi, Kenya. These attacks killed 200 people, 12 of them U.S. citizens. Several American courts agreed that Sudan has liability for the bombings while Sudan insisted the case should have been dismissed. The case has been in the courts for over 15 years but Sudan did not begin contesting the lawsuit until 2004. Al Qaeda leader Osama Bin Laden lived in Sudan until 1996. Sudan did kick Bin Laden out of the country but evidence judged admissible in court proved the Sudan continued to provide Al Qaeda with financial support.

August 1, 2017: In South Sudan the government ordered that foreign aid organizations (NGOs, non-government organizations) must post public announcements via the government controlled media (especially radio stations.) The government is trying to control NGOs that report things that are usually true but that the government would rather not see made public.

July 31, 2017: In South Sudan the government has ordered senior officials using members of the military as bodyguards must stop doing so and send these men back to their units. This was another form of corruption as the troops involved earned some more money and enjoyed safer and more comfortable duty.

July 30, 2017: Foreign suppliers, especially those from neighboring countries, are complaining that the corruption in South Sudan is delaying payment for goods and services and some of the suppliers fear they won’t be paid at all.

July 28, 2017: Several of the SPLM (Sudan People Liberation Movement) factions that won independence for South Sudan.have signed an agreement to reunify the SPLM. The agreement is being called the Entebbe Declaration since Uganda is mediating the deal. The agreement brings together elements of three SPLM factions, including a faction that joined the rebels. The problem is that the government is still controlled by the Dinka which has always been the largest tribe in the SPLM (and South Sudan). It was always believed that if you could reconstitute the SPLM as a unified political party, you could begin to bridge tribal divisions. Many people are skeptical.

July 27, 2017: Several foreign aid groups report that the Sudan government is giving them easier access to displaced people in Darfur's Jebel Marra area. The mountain region extends into three Sudanese states, South Darfur, North Darfur and Central Darfur states. Ceasefires declared by the government and rebel groups in the Jebel Marra appear to be holding. In June the UN reported that there was severe malnutrition in part of the Jebel Marra. The Sudan government contests that claim. The UN continues to report that around three million people in the entire Darfur region need humanitarian assistance in order to survive.

A battle erupted between South Sudan government forces and rebels in the city of Maiwut (Upper Nile state). Government forces claimed they drove the rebels from Maiwut. Meanwhile, South Sudan is urging the army commander to combat tribalism in the country. This new policy is called "Our Loyalty and Service to the Nation not Tribes or Parties."

July 26, 2017: The South Sudan government is being criticized for for excluding the rebel leader (Riek Machar) from a new regional peace process. They argue that this exclusion insures that the civil war will continue.

July 23, 2017: In Sudan's East Darfur state two Moslem tribes, the Maaliya and the Rizeigat, fought a battle that left ten people dead and 18 wounded. A Maaliya leader claimed that Rizeigat gunmen ambushed Maaliya who were pursuing cattle thieves. The Rizeigat claimed Maaliya gunmen had attacked Rizeigat villages. Peacekeepers are investigating.

July 21, 2017: Major donor nations (U.S. and European) now say they will no longer provide financial aid and other support to South Sudan until South Sudan government and rebel leaders, and the East African community, find a way to implement the August 2015 peace agreement. The government says it will no longer negotiate with rebel leader Riek Machar.

July 18, 2017: Over 8,100 new South Sudanese refugees arrived in Sudan during June, making it 160,023 South Sudanese refugees arriving in Sudan so far in 2017. That brings the number of South Sudanese in Sudan to almost 410,000.

July 15, 2017: The UN is considering establishing a peacekeeper base in South Sudan's Yei region. This comes after UN concluded that pro-government forces killed 114 civilians in Yei, from July 2016 to January 2017.

July 14, 2017: The South Sudan claimed it forces in Upper Nile state were moving toward a major rebel base located in the town of Pagak.

July 13, 2017: South Sudan fired 12 judges who began a strike for better pay in May. The judges had also demanded better working conditions.

July 12, 2017: The U.S. has decided to delay for three months its decision on removing economic and political sanctions from Sudan. Some sanctions were temporarily lifted in January but none since then. The U.S. insists Sudan observe regional ceasefires, allow humanitarian aid organizations to have access to contested areas and to cooperate on counter-terrorism efforts.

July 8, 2017: Today is the sixth anniversary of South Sudan's independence from Sudan. A civil war erupted in South Sudan in December 2013. Now from five to six million people (half the population of around 11 million) in South Sudan suffer from malnutrition and are on the edge of starvation.

July 6, 2017: The Sudan president (Omar al Bashir) is still wanted for genocide and various other war crimes against civilians in Darfur. In 2009 the International Criminal Court (ICC) issued a warrant for Bashir's arrest on these charges. The ICC is now criticizing South Africa for failing to arrest Bashir when he visited South Africa in 2015. The ICC ruled that Bashir is not immune from arrest. ICC prosecutors accused the Sudan government if supporting militia gangs that systematically attacked villages. Over 300,000 people were slain in Darfur.

July 4, 2017: Foreign observers accuse South Sudan of using pro-government militias to attack civilians in the Equatoria region. Apparently the South Sudan army attacked several villages with the village of Payawa attacked five different times.

July 1, 2017: South Sudanese refugees continue to flee to Uganda. The Ugandan government says it has taken in 1.3 million refugees since June 2016, most of them from South Sudan. Aid agencies say that is the single most taken in by any country in the world. Of the 1.3 million refugees now in Uganda, the UN estimates 300,000 are undernourished and need immediate food aid. The refugee camp in Palabek, Uganda has over 150,000 people. The Bidi Bidi camp is the world's largest, with 260,000 refugees.

June 30, 2017: The United States reminded Sudan that government-related atrocities must be greatly reduced before sanctions are lifted. In January 2017 the U.S. gave Sudan six months to improve its record before some of the sanctions imposed in 2006 were lifted. The sanctions were imposed because of the government's direct involvement in war crimes and genocide in the Darfur region. The U.S. points out that Sudan continues to restrict religious freedom and freedom of the press. The U.S. also opposes indiscriminate aerial bombardment, which has occurred repeatedly in South Kordofan state.

The UN has decided to reduce its peacekeeping force in Darfur from 15,485 soldiers and 3,403 policemen to to 11,395 soldiers and 2,888 police by the end of 2017 and by mid-June 2018 to 8,735 soldiers and 2,500 police.


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