December 21, 2009

Limited rain in East Africa causes drought

Rainfall has been very limited in East Africa this year. The United Nations and aid agencies are calling for funds to prevent starvation among people in southern Ethiopia, Somalia and Kenya. Malnutrition rates are up, cholera has been reported, millions of animals have died. A map created by Oxfam shows how little rainfall there is compared to normal amounts.
In the north of this map, the little rain may not be so problematic since rains were adequate earlier this year.

Analysis. Will the south vote to leave?

Various news reports examine the rising tensions in the south, and the upcoming referendum in 2011.
The Sudanese government passed a bill that appears to reserve the right to allow the south to proclaim its own independence.

Here's the key quote:
Meanwhile, the parliament endorsed in its evening session the referendum draft law of south Sudan for the year 2009 in the general feature stage.
Parliament speaker affirmed the importance of the said law indicating that the application not an easy thing calling for enlightening the southerners with regard to the said law.
Ghazi Salahuddin affirmed that the secession will have its impacts on the region saying that we are looking for the unity of all Africa and not the unity of Sudan only.
He said that the said the referendum is a national affair affirming that there are procedures required for secession indicating that it should be recognized by the mother state with accordance to the international law.

Other recent articles in the media.
From World Net Daily

From All Africa

Analysis: Sudan - Preventing Implosion
Sudan is sliding towards violent breakup. The main mechanisms to end conflicts between the central government and the peripheries – the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA), the Darfur Peace Agreement and the East Sudan Peace Agreement – all suffer from lack of implementation, largely due to the intransigence of the National Congress Party (NCP)....

The Government of South Sudan now has their own website.

Eastern Front members walk out of parliament

The Beja Congress members walked out of parliament to abstain from voting on a National Security Act of 2009 that gives greater powers of arrest to authorities. Other minority groups in parliament like the SPLM and Darfur Peace Faction also walked out. They held a press conference explaining their decision to boycott the voting.
[Officially there are no members of the Beja Congress in parliament. Instead they are considered members of the Eastern Front, which is a joint party of both Beja and Rashaida tribesmen. Most members of the Eastern Front acting in parliament are from the Beja tribe, though.]

More details here: 

December 14, 2009

OT. Brief business analysis of goat herding in Mongolia

Off Topic. Low prices for cashmere wool cause herders to raise more goats to fill up the lower income. More goats consume more grass, and their greater numbers break the fragile soil crust, which increases the dusty sand in the area, which reduces the plants and grass. Compound this with an extended multi-year drought. Some scientists think the rivers and lakes have disappeared because of the lack of rain, but also the lack of rivers and lakes may make the rain less frequent.

It's a complex system that may be spiralling out of control. But what can one farmer do?

Find it in the New York Times

Sourced on December 14, 2009 from

December 12, 2009

OT. Wild camels invade Australian town

Off Topic News. Reported in late November, the small Australian town of Docker River has been invaded by about 6,000 camels looking for water, because of a regional drought. People are afraid to go outside because of the large animals. They arrived over the course of a few weeks, and have been wrecking fences in their search for water. The government has authorized a hunt from helicopter, which will allow hundreds of these animals to be shot. Their bodies will be allowed to rot in the countryside. Some animal rights groups are protesting this cull.

Camels were imported into Australia in the 1800s, and there are an estimated 1,000,000 wild camels in the outback.

Some Australian farmers raise camels and race them. Here's a video slideshow [about 25 pics] and radio interview with a small Australian woman who is a camel jockey.

December 10, 2009

Beja Congress leader stopped at border

Beja Congress leader and Presidential Advisor Musa Ahmed was stopped at the Sudanese-Egyptian border when he tried to go into the Halaib region to “assert the sovereignty over the [Halayeb] triangle and inspect the situation of the people and provide moral and financial support to the members of the Sudanese army unit trapped inside since the [Egyptian] occupation began”

The Sudan Tribune has the source article. Read it now.

COMMENT: This is a very strong statement by Egypt. They have prevented an authorized representative of the Sudanese government access to land claimed by Sudan. Mind you, if they are holding some soldiers as 'defacto' prisoners, the Egyptians have already made a strong statement of land ownership. See posts below for more info about the dispute over the Halaib Triangle.

UPDATE- December 17.
Beja Conference [sic] welcomes arbitration on Halaib Sudanese Beja Conference [A Sudanese political party from the eastern region of Sudan] announced that it welcomed the transfer of the dispute on Halaib between Egypt and Sudan to the International Court of Arbitration, in order to settle the issue. Chairman of the Party, Abdullah Mousa commended Egypt on accepting to address the issue through legal channels. He also urged the Sudanese government to respect political and geographical borders. (The Democrat)

December 7, 2009

Tour the border lines between Egypt and Sudan

Google Sightseeing reviews the odd borderline between Egypt and Sudan in a recent blog entry. They explain some background, and note that there is a border post on the 22°N latitude line, but not on the administrative border.

Have a look.


December 5, 2009

US talks about what to do in Sudan

The US House Committee on Foreign Relations brought in four experts to give their ideas on what is needed in Sudan to help ensure a smooth election in April 2010, and referendum in 2011. The text of each presentation is online. Randy Newcomb mentioned the possible dangers in the east of Sudan.

He said, " I want to mention one final area that has been neglected, but that represents another potential powder keg: Eastern Sudan. Despite being a recent conflict area and struggling to implement the 2006 Eastern Sudan Peace Agreement, we were disappointed that Eastern Sudan went unmentioned in the Obama Administration's recent review of Sudan policy. We encourage increased attention to this and other conflict areas in the North. While Darfur and the CPA often steal the limelight, center?periphery conflict exists across Sudan and demands a comprehensive approach."

Randy Newman

Enrico Caarisch

John Prendergast

Jonathan Gration 

December 4, 2009

April 2010 Elections - getting ready

 The National Elections Commission (NEC) has released a new election schedule. Campaigns for all levels of elections shall take place within a 57 day period, from 13 February to 9 April 2010. Voting begins on April 11.

The final lists of candidates would be released on 10 February.

Counting votes, and the release of results will be done within 8 days of voting- by April 19, 2010.

Currently, local dailies report nearly 11 million voters have so far been registered across the country. Registration was initially scheduled to end on Monday, November 30, but was extended for another 7 days until December 7.

The states with the highest percentage of registration is Unity State [south], followed by Western Bahr el Ghazal state [south], Kassala [north], and Khartoum [north]. Percentages were not released. The states in which the registration turnout has failed and ranked the least are Jonglei and Eastern Equatoria.

The Sudanese electoral board has also announced that it has so far registered more than 11
million voters in the 15 Northern states and 2.6 million voters in the 10 Southern states.

November 26, 2009

Eritrean refugees in east Sudan suffer

UNHCR cites lack of services and abduction, trade in and use of young girls as sex slaves as  among the key difficulties encountered in the refugee camps in Sudan, Akhbar Al-youm reports. 

UNHCR Regional Director George Okoth-Obbo told a press conference at UNMIS on November 25 that the main tasks of the agency at the moment is to received the influx of refugees from Eritrea and to provide protection, services and counseling. He notes that some18,000 refugees pour into eastern Sudan from Eritrea each month and that 66,000 refugees are currently facing hard conditions in eastern Sudan such as poverty, drought, lack of services and unemployment.

Okoth-Obbo further pointed out that the refugee agencee is now working with local and ste authorities and relevant parties to develop programmes to improve the conditions of these refugees and their host communities.
{United Nations High Commission for Refugees}

UNMIS media monitoring report - November 26

UPDATE: A more complete report, with pictures, was published a week later, on December 3, 2009.


November 24, 2009

Sudan Election- not in Hala'ib Triangle

Al-Intibaha reports that Egyptian authorities asked tribal chiefs in Halaib Triangle to urge their members not to register their names. The chiefs said Egyptian authorities told them that the Triangle belongs to Egypt and that residents have no right to register or vote in Sudanese elections.

You tube video "Halaib Triangle belongs to Sudan" [in Arabic]

November 15, 2009

More details please - reconstruction of east

This appears to be good news for inhabitants of the Red Sea State etc., but it's more polish than leather, more sizzle than steak. 

From Sudan Vision
East Reconstruction Fund to Implement 12 Projects
Khartoum- Neimat Al- Naeim
East Development and Reconstruction Fund, three Chinese companies have signed yesterday detailed memos of the Chinese loan projects to implement 12 development projects at the three eastern states: Red Sea, Kassala and Al-Gedarif at $43 million in the context of the Chinese loan.

The Presidential State Minister, Executive Director of the fund Engineer Abu Obeida Mohammed Duj explained, in a press conference, the details of the memos and the achievements of the fund which, by signing the memos, approaches a new stage in implementing the signed contracts with the Chinese companies.

He described the said projects as a leap in kind for the east indicating that the current stage comes following the completion of the 282 relief projects.

Duj affirmed the commitment of the Finance Ministry towards the development projects in Eastern Sudan indicating that SDG 375 million was allocated for the said fund in the budget of the year 2010 affirming that the fund represents a real addition to Eastern Sudan Agreement.

= = = = = =

Here at, we would like to know about  the 12 development projects.
What are they?
Where are they located?
What's their value? Each one might be valued at about $3.5 million. [or not].
Why is there a loan involved? The ESPA promises were going to paid out of general Sudanese revenues, right?

Can we see a list of the completed 282 relief projects, and their costs?
Is the budget for 2010 actually being expanded from what was agreed to in the ESPA?
Why expand the budget if the previous years payments haven't been received?


November 12, 2009

Has Sudan signed too many agreements?

OPINION. Mohamed Ibrahim Nugud, the Political Officer at the Communist Party of Sudan, says that the whole of Sudan is being bogged down and held hostage by a number of unimplemented agreements, reports Al-Ahdath. Speaking at a campus rally in Khartoum, he said that it would be very difficult for the country to come out of the quagmire it is in.

[We've previously drawn attention to the fact that the ESPA has not been fully implemented.]

November 5, 2009

Sudan peace debated in British parliament

Parliamentarians in the British House of Lords explored the peace agreement, voter registration, the upcoming elections and the referendum of 2011 in an hour long session on Wednesday, November 4. The complete text runs about 4 pages.

It seems that the purpose of the debate was to "call for further efforts by Her Majesty’s Government as a guarantor of the CPA to avert an unimaginable disaster among our friends."

The text provides an excellent review of the current situation. Many problems are identified.
Crucial to the implementation of the CPA is the national census. On its basis constituencies will be decided, the internal border drawn, and any referendum about secession taken. Yet this census was conducted a year late in 2008 and the results, released in June this year, were rejected outright by the Government of Southern Sudan, all the state governors and the Sudan People's Liberation Movement, following its claims that south Sudanese make up only 21 per cent of the population. SPLM officials have said that they estimate Southern Sudan to account for a third of Sudan's population and that they will not accept figures less than that. The 92 per cent increase in south Darfur's population is also considered fraudulent.
The role of church leaders in trying to win a peace is noted.
John, the Bishop of Ezo, has pushed ahead with his school-building programme, gaining with the DfID funders a significant reputation for the Episcopal Church in Sudan, as almost the only body that sticks with people when other NGOs have pulled back to Yambio.
Archbishop Daniel Deng  has been criss-crossing the country since his enthronement, witnessing at first hand the suffering that the people are experiencing, especially in the south. At Easter he visited the Nuer area of Ayod. He was one of a group of Dinkas. He spoke of love and peace between the tribes and discovered, after he had returned to Juba, that the trouble between the two tribes—the cattle rustling and the violence—had stopped.
Baronness Cox offered five concerns, one of which was that southern leaders have suffered under the current unified Sudan, and feel that their only hope for freedom and justice lies in independence.

She ended her comment with this paragraph.
The comprehensive peace agreement is the only hope on the horizon for peace and alleviation of suffering for the people of Sudan who have suffered too much, too long. But it is fragile and inevitably some do not wish it to proceed. The Sudanese look to the United Kingdom as a special friend, but also as the nation which has a historic responsibility to help them in these critical times. I trust that history will show that we fulfil that responsibility honourably.

November 3, 2009

Southern politician undermines unity of Sudan

[NOTE: We generally try to avoid North South Sudan issues here at, but the north/south views are so different that we need to address them now and again. Vice President Kirr boldly spoke about some of the implications of a vote for separation in a recent speech.]

A leader of southern Sudan called on his people to vote for secession in an upcoming referendum if they do not want to end up as second class citizens, as voter registration began Sunday November 1, for elections across the country.

Read it all.

October 29, 2009

Churches are highly thought of

The Government of Southern Sudan (GOSS) has called on churches to assist the regional administration in preaching peace building, reconciliation initiatives and development related messages.

The government says the church, like in the past wars should continue preaching peace and reconciliation initiatives particularly in tribal stricken areas across the regions, said GOSS minister of information and broadcasting, Paul Mayom.

more at:

October 21, 2009

Beja Congress rep interviewed about ESPA implementation

Eastern Sudan Front Central Committee Member, Beja Conference Spokesman, Salah Barkwein, stated that the Eastern Sudan Peace Agreement (ESPA) Security Arrangements file leads other Agreement' files in terms of implementation.

He demanded commitment to availing the sum of $600 million earmarked to Eastern Sudan Reconstruction and Development Fund (ESRDF) as one of the components of the Wealth Sharing Protocol of ESPA, regretting that the ESRDF has received only $30 million yet. 

On the occasion of the 3rd anniversary of ESPA sealing, Barkwein attributed the slow implementation of the Agreement to the fact that the return home of the Eastern Front troops was one year late accusing parties he refused to name of procrastinating on that process for special agenda. He uttered the statement without excluding the adverse impact of the international financial crisis on oil prices, public budget, hence implementation of the peace agreement. 

The Beja Conference spokesman believes that the current stage dictates a huge political work that requires collaboration of efforts for expediting completion of pending issues and files.

Responding to Sudan Vision interview, he called on political entities and parties that have emerged in Eastern Sudan Region to work for the welfare of the people, rather than being tools for foreign parties targeting fragmentation of the country.

He further pointed to the pioneering role played by the Beja Conference ever since its establishment in 1958 and its devotion to life promotion in the region and alleviation of grievances.

In that context, Eastern Front Chief in Kassala reported efforts exerted for implementation of development projects beyond the framework of the ESPA, speaking high of Qatar and China contributions in that respect.

Moreover, he stressed the criticality of assigning more emphasis on Seitiet project for its high potential contribution to Sudan economy at large, calling on rehabilitation of war-ravaged area and de-mining of areas which were battlefields for over 20 years.

Eastern Sudan Peace Agreement was signed between the Government of National Unity and Eastern Sudan Front in Oct. 14th, 2006.
COMMENT: The federal government promised to allocate $100 million per year, and it now 3 years since signing and only $30 million has been distributed.  The math is simply that $300 million should have made it's way to helping redevelop the east, and yet only one tenth of that has been paid.  Looks like the government made big promises in order to shut down a rebellion, and low level insurgency. Having got what they wanted, they now feel no compulsion to deliver anything more, though they promised in point 80, on page 20 of the Eastern Sudan Peace Agreement. You can get your own copy here.

UPDATE: Nov 2011. Found an article written this week in 2009, in Arabic, that calls for accountability for the funds. Where's the money? How has it been spent? Has it been spent wisely?
Read it in English [machine translated].

Read it in Arabic

Red Sea governor meets with UNICEF reps

The Deputy Wali (governor) of the Red Sea State, Eissa Kabbashi, and the General Director of the Ministry of Education in the state met with UNICEF and Italian Embassy representatives. 

The meeting reviewed the implementation of educational and and environmental hygiene projects in the Red Sea State through funding from the UNICEF and the Italian Embassy.

ANALYSIS: Separation of North and South?

Sudan stands on a precipice - of partition, and perhaps a return to all-out war. The next 18 months will determine not only the future of Sudan, but also what the coming decade will look like across the Horn of Africa.

Read it all.

Graphic of a T-72 Tank.
about the tanks being delivered to South Sudan.

October 20, 2009

Picture book about the Eastern Desert

Dutch desert traveller and researcher Arita Baaijens had her book of photographs published late this summer. She travels in west and north Sudan, but has interesting experiences as a nomadic traveller. The book is available at

Her own website is here

She has been profiled in an Egyptian newsmagazine.

How hot can it get?

Revisit the past for a moment. In a 1960 tour of the region northwest of Port Sudan, geological researchers measured the temperature of the ground.

Autumn Temperatures in the Red Sea Hills

University of Khartoum, Sudan.

DURING the autumn vacation, we made geomorphological and biological surveys in the Red Sea hills and coastal plain north of Port Sudan. Details of these will be published later. While trekking among uncharted jebels in the area 36.50° E., 21.00° N., high surface temperatures were recorded, especially on wind-blown sand. 

For example, on September 24, 1960, at 1300h. local time, when the air temperature varied between 40.5 and 43.5° C. (105–110° F.) the surface sand temperature was 83.5° C. (182.5° F.)as measured with an electrical resistance thermometer employing thermistors.  Four hours later, when the temperature had fallen to 32.0° C. (90.0° F.), the sand temperature had dropped 45.5° C. to 38.0° C. (100.5° F.).

October 16, 2009

President of Sudan given information about the needs of the east

From Sudan Vision Daily

Al-Bashir Calls for more Concern with Socio-Economic Development in East Sudan
Posted on Thursday, October 15 @ 11:29:56 BST by admin

  Khartoum - SUNA
President of the Republic, Field Marshal Omer Al-Bashir, has called for concern with the socio-economic development in east Sudan. This came when he received in his office Tuesday the Presidential Advisor, Dr. Amina Dirar, who acquainted him on the implementation of East Sudan peace agreement.

In a statement to SUNA after the meeting, Dr. Amina Dirar referred to preparations to hold a donors conference toward pushing ahead the economic development process, combating poverty and providing basic services such as education, health and water in east Sudan.

Comment: The East Sudan Peace Agreement was signed in November 2006, between the national government and representatives of the Eastern Front, in Asmara, Eritrea. One of the items in the Agreement was that an Eastern Front person [preferably a Beja] would be appointed as Presidential Advisor. Another was that $600 million would be made available for development in the east, spread over a few years.

Do Eastern Front representatives actually have capacity for spending $100 million per year?

Now it appears that a donors conference is being developed. If it is about recruiting more funds, that would difficult to justify unless clear accounts of previous expenditures were made known. If it is about donors offering expertise and resources to fulfill the plans for removing the marginalization of the East, that may be of real value in bringing people and organizations together that could make a real difference.

It is certainly good news that President Bashir is calling for action.

The very question of fulfilling the ESPA has been raised previously on this blog


October 15, 2009

Demining finished in Al-Lafa, Kassala region

UNMAO 14/10/09 - The people of Al-Lafa can now look forward to the reconstruction of their community, after UNMAO and its partner Mines Advisory Group (MAG) cleared over 44,000 m2 of land in the eastern state of Kassala. 

The town of Al-Lafa has been a key priority for the government of Sudan, since it hosted an official visit from the President last November. Al-Lafa will house 2,500 displaced persons who were affected by the conflict in the area, and a new access road to an official border crossing between Sudan and Eritrea will be built. 

However, the heavy presence of anti-tank and anti-personnel mines and explosive remnants of war was hampering the reconstruction efforts in the area. At the request of the National Mine Action Centre (NMAC), UNMAO tasked its partner Mines Advisory Group (MAG) to survey and clear the area. 
NMAC was able to provide MAG with the minefield record for the suspected area, which allowed the team to reduce the time spent chasing suspected areas and move right onto the real hazardous areas instead. 

Once the technical survey was completed and two minefields were registered, MAG moved on to clearance operations and over a two-month period released 44,000 m2 of land and destroyed an impressive amount of 430 mines.

October 14, 2009

Port Sudan water reservoir full

Good rains through the summer of 2009 have provided a complete collection of water, and the reservoirs that provide water to Port Sudan are full. The Khor Arba'at is dammed about 15 km east of the Red Sea and 25 km north of Port Sudan. It is the only permanent water source in the Red Sea Hills.
The seacoast of Sudan is bordered by a flat sandy hinterland that runs parallel to the coast and the inland hills. This region is typically 10 km across. Rainfed rivers in the hills are temporary, and do not flow all the way to the coast. A good supply of water for port towns on the Red Sea has always been problematic.

Population growth in Port Sudan and on its outskirts have increased demand for basic services such as water and electricity. Authorities have explored the idea of building a water pipeline from the Nile across the Nubian desert to provide a stable supply of water. 

Seasonal migration during the summer months reduced the population of the city, and reduced the demands on electricity, so it was stable then. During the rest of the year, electricity supply may not always be secure.

No access to Halayeb Triangle for Election

Election impossible in Halayeb area, says Beja Congress
Khartoum Monitor reports that Beja Congress Spokesperson, Salah Barukin, has ruled out the possibility of conducting elections in the disputed Halayeb Triangle in northern Sudan. He reportedly told Miraya FM that the area is totally under the control of Egyptian authorities and that no Sudanese citizen could go in.

In March 2009, a Egyptian naval patrol boat, guard tower and 5 large shore-based military cannons were in place.
UNMIS media: MMR 14Oct09

About the Halayeb Triangle.
This area is just north of the Egyptian border line, by the Red Sea, and is named after a seacoast town in the area. The administration of this area was given to Sudan [rather than Egypt] in the first two decades of the 20th century, before Egypt was an independent country. Access was easier from Sudan than Egypt. The line also followed tribal territories. The Beja Bisharin live south, while the Beja Ababda live north of the line. Being mostly desert this hasn't mattered for a century or so.

In the past few years, oil companies have begun to search in the area, and so national interests have become important.

The Sudanese National Electoral Commission recently listed the area as an electoral consituency, and the residents have welcomed the opportunity to vote in Sudan elections. The Egyptian authorities have not agreed to such a plan, and have argued against the participation of local residents to vote in Sudanese elections.

Beja herdsmen drive camels along the historic route up the coast to sell in northern markets, so there is an interest in using the Halabyeb triangle as a trade route between Sudan and Egypt.

For information about the first ever locust survey in the Halayeb Triangle, visit
[very slow to load]

October 12, 2009

Tourist project established at Suakin

The Government of Sudan's Ministry of Tourism and Wildlife has established a Village Project designed to accommodate 150 tourists. A diving centre, provision of boats to access local coral reefs and a handicraft centre are features of the $2 million [US] project.

September 12, 2009

Gold reserves expand after exploration

La Mancha is a Canadian gold producer that has a 40% interest in the Hassai open pit mine located 450 km north east of Khartoum. That's east of the Nile in the Nubian desert, about 50 km north of Musmar. Some Beja are labourers there.

A news release on September 10 announced a reserve of over 1 million ounces of gold, and confirmed a very rich zone of minerals near the bottom of the current pit.

Investors greeted the news with excitement, and the price of the stock rose almost 20% the same day.

La Mancha trades on the Toronto stock exchange under the symbol LMA.

News Release

Stock Chart

UPDATE: October 16 - stock price has doubled since beginning of August.
UPDATE Feb 2010 - video describing gold production at the Ariab mine. Very good! 15 minutes.

September 7, 2009

Tourism in Red Sea Sate- big plans!

From. Khartoum- Neimat Al Naiem

Red Sea State is planning to launch the activities of the Third Tourism Festival in the period the 5th of Nov. 2009 to early Jan. 2010. Tourism Director in the State, Mohammed Tahir Awadab, stated that the Festival would include folkloric exhibition, general exhibitions, camel race, car rally, motor and traditional boats contests. He added that some companies would participate in the occasion through sponsorship and organization.

He revealed that Eritrean music bands would participate in the festival through the Eritrean-Sudanese Tourism Week noting that the Egyptian Circus would also participate.

Awadab believes that the festival will activate tourism in the state hence sustains its economy.

He reported that the Festival activities will be conducted in Port Sudan, Suwakin and Sinkat with the expectation that Presidents Al-Bashir of Sudan and Isaias Afwerki of Eritrean might honor the occasion by their presence.


September 6, 2009

Online Tour of Kassala

Maykal has published a walking tour of Kassala on the bluewalks blog. It uses the power of google maps to associate comments with locations. Just click on a marker.

Includes quick comments on the various cafes, markets and tourist-type attractions in town.


September 5, 2009

Development Projects Contracts to be Signed in Eastern Sudan

Khartoum-Neimat Al Naiem
Information Official in the Eastern Sudan Reconstruction and Development Fund (ESRDF), Kassala State, Mohammed Mahmoud reported that arrangements are completed for signing development projects contracts expected to be effected during current month.

He reported that projects include 52 basic level schools, teachers hostels, health centers and units to be implemented throughout the 11 localities of the state. Other projects include water wells and rain water reservoirs.
He said numerous projects have been implemented since the establishment of ESRDF in 2007.

The Eastern Sudan Reconstruction and Development Fund is a key component of the Wealth Sharing Protocol of the Eastern Sudan Peace Agreement signed on 14, October, 2006.
The Fund is under the chairmanship of the Federal Minister of Finance, and membership of Eastern Sudan States' governors, as well as Eastern Sudan Front.

September 2, 2009

News Sources

Official government site

United Nations daily report [pdf file]



State Governor commended

In a September 1 editorial, the Governor of the Red Sea State was pointed out as a good example of a politician who is concerned for development in his region.

"The other sample to be commended for the effort it is exerting on development projects is the Red Sea State. Its Governor has launched huge infrastructural projects and is continuously encouraging local and international investors and other economic ventures in the State.

"The Governor, Mohammed Tahir Eilla is stationed in the State capital, Port Sudan and he rarely visits Khartoum and is always staying within his state for further supervision and following up of the execution of the projects. Red Sea State is ideal for investment projects and the Governor and his team have a broad vision in their state and have made allocation of infrastructure projects including roads, electricity and water network.

"The State has constructed 30 model villages equipped with all the basic services. The State Government has also succeeded in establishing 5 hospitals besides noticeable projects within the state. One of the most renowned projects is a regional highway which connects the State with Egypt and this road has reached its final stage of construction and another is the water network and is aimed at connecting the State with River Nile as sustainable source for the State.

"Port Sudan city has witnessed many projects from infrastructure to services, tourism and recreation and now many visitors come to Port Sudan and this suggests that the city is flourishing rapidly thus gaining the pride of the modern cities."

August 25, 2009

Coming war over oil in South Sudan?

COMMENTARY: South Sudan faces new war over oil
(Telegraph) The gunmen who raided the cluster of mud huts beside the White Nile struck with
merciless efficiency. By the time they vanished into thenight, hundreds of homes had been
razed, 11 people lay dead and the village's inhabitants faced starvation, having lost all their
precious cattle.
"Everyone is on his own now," said Jamuth Nyading, a 42-year-old Sudanese herdsman, who
gathered his two wives and 12 children and fled to the nearby town of Malakal. "You
cannot cultivate, you cannot herd cattle, and youcannot go fishing in the Nile without risk of being killed. We can't go back, not only because of fear, but also lack of food."
Mr Nyading's ordeal would be grimly familiar had it taken place in Darfur, the region of western Sudan blighted by civil war and awarded the dubious blessing of world attention for the last six years.
Instead, he abandoned his home in southern Sudan, an area supposedlyat peace since a
landmark agreement four years ago ended decades of fighting. Struck in January 2005, this "comprehensive peace agreement" was hailed as a moment of genuine hope. A rapturous signing ceremony brought down the curtain on the longest and bloodiest civil war in African history. The south had bitterly resented Khartoum's rule, claiming the northerners' attitudes had changed little since the days of slavery - when southerners were seen as heathens fit only for serfdom.
Entirely separate from Darfur's troubles, this ethnic and religious faultline inflicted suffering on a scale that almost defies comprehension, claiming two million lives during two spells of conflict, the first of which began a few weeks before Sudan won independence from Britain in 1956. The second round of this war between north and south, lasting from 1983 until 2005, started when an earlier peace deal collapsed.
Today, people in southern Sudan fear that history is repeating itself. The calm that has prevailed since 2005 is breaking down, while the "comprehensive peace agreement" is steadily unravelling.
This year, more people have been forced from their homes in the south - and more have died violently - than in Darfur. Some 214,000 refugees have fled their villages across the 10 southern states, while the death toll probably runs into the thousands. Only a fortnight ago, some 185 people were shot and speared to death in Jonglei State in a single morning.
The central question is why all this fighting has suddenly begun. The south has always suffered tribal skirmishing, generally over cattle and grazing. Mr Nyading is from the Shilluk tribe, while the raiders who destroyed his village in Upper Nile state were from the Dinka people, their traditional rivals. But this time, observers claim to detect a hidden hand, stirring tribal enmity with much bigger stakes in mind. The renewed hostilities may be aimed at sabotaging a referendum set for January 2011 over independence for the south. The region's future has wider importance, for large oil reserves lie beneath its lush plains. Those reserves are coveted
by the north as a resource to sell to China, whose appetite for Sudan's oil has given Khartoum a financial and diplomatic windfall.

During the civil war, when rebels from the Sudan People's Liberation Army (SPLA) fought President Omar al-Bashir's regime, the north deliberatelyignited ethnic conflict in the south, arming some tribes to fight others. Ministers in the Government of Southern Sudan, which has enjoyed autonomy since the 2005 peace agreement, believe Khartoum is back to its old tricks.
"We suspect with some evidence that our partners in the north are still training, arming and sending to southern Sudan the former militia groups who fought alongside them during the war," said General Oyay Deng Ajak, a former SPLA chief of staff who now serves as the south's regional cooperation minister.
"There is an increase in weapons and supplies coming into southern Sudan from the north. Somebody, somewhere is coordinating this operation and we very much suspect it is our brothers in Khartoum."
Both north and south know the clock is ticking. If the referendum goes ahead in January 2011, as laid down in the peace agreement, few doubt the south will choose to break away and a new country will emerge in the heart of Africa.
But the south has about 75 per cent of Sudan's 6.3 billion barrels of proven oil reserves, giving the north a vital interest in preventing it from seceding. One way would be to stir violence across the south, to the point where the situation is too unstable for the referendum to be held.
"They want to make southern Sudan ungovernable," said Gen Ajak. "They want to discredit us and tell the international community 'these people cannot govern themselves and if they become independent, they will be a failed state'."
China's interests are closely aligned with Mr Bashir's. Beijing has invested heavily in developing Sudan's reserves, which provide beween seven and ten per cent of China's imported oil. The China National Petroleum Corporation, a state energy giant, is exploiting the most productive fields, including those in the south, and Beijing has also built a 900-mile pipeline linking these reserves with Port Sudan on the Red Sea.
To guarantee these supplies, China needs Sudan to stay united. President Hu Jintao has duly sold weapons, including jet fighters, to Sudan's armed forcesand given Mr Bashir consistent diplomatic support.
Either way, the referendum carries huge risks. If the poll is delayed or cancelled, Gen Ajak said that people in the south would feel cheated and another war could start. If, however, the referendum goes ahead and the south chooses independence, the north may launch a war to hold onto the oil.

Some believe the recent violence amounts to the opening shots of this new conflict. The claim of a "hidden hand" behind at least some of the killing is supported by independent evidence.
A ship recently arrived in Malakal having travelled up the Nile from Khartoum. A 30-year-old man, who saw the vessel being searched, told the Sunday Telegraph that it contained Kalashnikov assault rifles and ammunition, hidden beneath a cargo of food.
Another 20-year-old man said the national army had tried to recruit him for a monthly salary of £200. Those who sought to entice him said they had been ordered to sign up 400 southerners in Malakal alone. These recruits, once in Khartoum's pay, could be used to destabilise their homeland.
The bitter mistrust between the SPLA and their old enemies in Khartoum has already cost lives in Malakal. The town's muddy streets were pounded by heavy artillery and tanks in February when a day of fighting between the two sides left at least 60 dead. A school was bombarded, killing about a dozen children. The United Nations is now digging shelters for its staff in Malakal.
However, there is no conclusive proof of a high-level decision in Khartoum to cause turmoil in the south. The region, which covers an area three times the size of Britain, possesses less than 13 miles of tarred road and is one of the poorest places on earth. Yet the Government of Southern Sudan chooses to spend 30 per cent of its budget on the military - independent estimates say this figure may be nearer to 60 per cent - while health, education and development get only 28 per cent.
These priorities suggest the south is arming for war, leaving foreign aid agencies to conduct development work. But the recent violence has disrupted even the aid workers' efforts. "We're looking to do longer term, more sustainable interventions," said Maya Mailer, a policy adviser for Oxfam. "But when this insecurity takes place and people are displaced as a result, we're pulled back into doing emergency programming."
In Malakal, many fear that another war is inevitable. A local chief, who asked not to be named, said his people were caught between the SPLA and Khartoum. "Every community is being divided by the two governments, so people who are on one side are encouraged to attack the other side," he said.
The chief's own village was raided in December, an incident he blames on Khartoum's allies. "The people are bribed with money and guns to attack their own people. They are our own relatives who attack us," he said.

SOURCE : UN Media Report

August 24, 2009

Peace Book Published

Norwegian researcher and writer Leif Manger has published a book that reviews the outcome of the 2006 peace agreement between the Eastern Front and the national government. It costs 25 euros.

Peace in Eastern Sudan
Some Important Aspects for Consideration

by Abdel Ghaffar M. Ahmed and Leif Manger 2009

The 2006 peace agreement brought an end to the fighting in Eastern Sudan. However, the process that was meant to follow has been slow to bring tangible results. The situation is complex with unresolved issues related to land use, irrigation schemes, access to the Red Sea, a growing urban population, and refugees from Ethiopia and Eritrea which all affect the political situation.

The book provides insight into the process of regional development that will come in the wake of the current peace agreement. This collection of papers, sponsored by the Norwegian MFA, draws on the competence built up through the Red Sea Area Programme (RESAP) - a research collaboration between institutions in Sudan and Norway.

Order the book here.

July 16, 2009

Sorghum harvest expectations

ReliefWeb has published a map that suggests better than average sorghum harvests in East Sudan. Note the colours green and blue in the Red Sea Hills.] Their analysis for the country is less positive. "
In Burundi, Eritrea and Sudan the growing season has been normal to dry and average or slightly below average sorghum/millet yields up to -5% are expected."

This is good news for Beja people, and contrast somewhat with earlier reports that the rains will be late. [see blog entries below]

Drought is occuring in Ethiopia, and reports exist that identify malnutrition rates at higher than 20% for regions there.

July 6, 2009

Recent Census Results Disputed

Political parties in Red Sea State have rejected the results of the 5th National Population and Housing Census on the grounds the results give inaccurate figures of their population, reports Al-Ahdath. The parties demand that the 1993 census results be used as reference for the forthcoming elections. In a statement issued at a ceremony in Port Sudan yesterday [July 4] to mark the signing of a “Charter for Political Forces and Civil Society Organizations”, representatives of political parties called on the State Elections Commission to coordinate with them in monitoring
and overseeing all stages of the electoral process.

Signatories of the Charter included the SPLM, the Popular Congress Party, the Communist Party of the Sudan, the National Umma Party, the Beja Congress, amongst other parties and that the event was hosted by the Popular Congress Party, Port Sudan Chapter.

Rai Al-Shaab also reports that nine political parties (including the main parties mentioned above) have called on authorities in Red Sea State to lift the state of emergency imposed earlier on the Akeek area in South Tokar.

Source : UNMIS media compilation July 5, 2009

July 5, 2009

Sudan comes in Third

Research group "The Fund for Peace" has come out with its fifth annual list of failed states. 177 countries are listed, and classified on twelve indicators that attempt to measure success or failure as a nation. Factors for all nations include demographic pressures, complex humanitarian emergencies, uneven economic development, suspension of the rule of law, the intervention of other states, etc etc.

Sudan comes in third worst, just behind of Somalia and Zimbabwe. Eritrea comes in at 36, Egypt at 43. South Africa 122. USA 159. Canada 166. Best state on the 2009 list is Norway.

View all country results here.

View Sudan results!

June 29, 2009

Rain delayed in central and north Sudan

The arrival of the rainy season in Sudan is slower this year than in previous years. The centre horizontal line on the map shows the average stage of rains for the past 30 years. This year the rains are further south [red line]. The implication of this is that rains will be shorter and have less volume this year.

Source- ReliefWeb:

Further weather info for Africa

UPDATE: July 14, 2009.
Another report from Relief Web states that "According to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), poor rains had prolonged a severe dry spell across most of Southern Sudan.

"The Famine Early Warning Systems Network, in its June update, warned that below-normal rains in May and mid-June had affected output during the April-July cropping season in areas such as Greater Equatoria.

"Poor rains from May to mid-June could also signal possible planting delays in many of the June-September-November cropping areas in the eastern/western flood plains and in the Nile-Sobat livelihood zones, the network noted.

More here>

June 6, 2009

Open letter to US president Obama

President Obama was in Egypt to make a speech to the Muslim world on June 4, 2009. In advance of his visit the Beja Congress released this open letter, appealing to Obama to help end the Egyptian occupation of traditional Sudanese land.

An Open Letter to President Obama About the Egyptian Occupation Of The Sudanese Halayeb Triangle

Barack Obama, President of the United States

Dear Mr. President Obama:
We, the Beja people from north-eastern Sudan and inhabitants of Halayeb triangle, would like to appeal to you to help to liberate the triangle from foreign occupation. 

Beja people are a separate ethnic group, living throughout North East Africa since thousands of years including the region Halayeb. This part of our country is an integral part of Sudan and belongs to the tribe of the Beja-Bisharien for centuries. The tribal administration of this ethnic group is situated in Baaluk town on the Atbara River far deep in the centre of Sudan.

All old travellers, Europeans and Arabs, who visited this region several centuries back, found this triangle under the the Bisharien-Beja tribal administration and its inhabitants to be mainly Bisharien.
It is an area of land measuring 20,580 km² located on the Red Sea coast, between the Egypt and Sudan 

The British administration unlawfully annexed this area to Egypt in 1899 treaty in a political deal without the consent of its people, and in 1902 returned the administration to the Sudanese authorities.

Halayeb is considered as an integral part of Sudan and used to take part in all parliamentary elections after independence and used to send its representatives to the Sudanese parliament regularly until very recently. Tribal ownership of the Bisharien-Beja of this area has never been questioned before.
It is undisputable.

But recently the region proved to be rich in mineral resources, especially gold and oil and its attractive sea shores drew the Egyptian attention. So they sent military troops, attacked the Sudanese military unit at Halayeb and occupied the area and kept it under the control of Egypt army since 1992.

Back in 1958 Jamal Abdel Nasser sent Egyptian troops into the region but withdrew them immediately after discovering his grave mistake.

Egypt, pretending to punish the Islamic regime of Khartoum for supporting Egyptian Jihad movement and for the attempt of the assignation of the Egyptian president in 1995 in Ethiopia, occupied our territory. But it punished the Beja people instead.

After the occupation the Egyptian authorities threw the original population out of the triangle and imposed visa regulations in case they want to enter their homes. This is pure racial cleansing, which contradicts the right of the original people to their land.

We consider the military occupation of our land and its forcible annexation to Egypt an act of aggression, which contradicts basic fundamentals  of the international law.

We would like to appeal to you to take all necessary steps to help to put an end to this aggression, restore our territory, put an end to the racial cleansing and discrimination to the original inhabitants of Halayeb.

Best regards,   Beja Congress

Source Same source.

April 2, 2009

Change inside the Beja Congress

The Beja Congress has relieved Shiba Dhirar from the position of Vice President and Member of the Beja Congress’ Central Committee, reports Al-Akhbar.

Dhirar had issued statements earlier accusing the party leadership of embezzlement.

April 1, 2009

Ex militants being rehabilitated

In a three month review of the humanitarian situation in Sudan, the UN OCHA noted that many ex-combatants are returning to civilian life. Here's the text of the article.

The Support to Human Security in Eastern Sudan project has
succeeded in collecting some 750 small arms, and demobiliz-
ing 1,700 ex-combatants from the Eastern Sudan Front as of
February 2009. This achievement is part of the Disarmament,
Demobilization and Reintegration (DDR) process that included
registration, medical screening, HIV/AIDS counselling of all
disarmed and demobilized persons. Reinsertion packages
such as food, clothing and USD 400 per demobilized ex-
combatant were also provided to each eligible beneficiary as
part of the reintegration support services. 

The UN Development Programme (UNDP), in partnership with
North Sudan Disarmament, Demobilisation and Reintegration
Commission (NSDDRC) also trained 1,251 ex-combatants
on veterinary and basic business management skills and pro-
vided a number of goats, sheep and commodities to help
those who are ready to start up small businesses.  The remain-
ing caseload was provided with micro-business start up pack-
ages and vocational training. UNDP also trained NSDDRC staff
in the east, which enabled them to conduct with ex-
combatants the orientation and one-on-one counselling proc-
ess. This demobilization of ex-combatants is part of a larger
DDR in Eastern Sudan that started in June 2007 in contribu-
tion to the implementation of the 2006 Eastern Sudan Peace
Agreement that ended a decade-long conflict between the
Government of Sudan and the Eastern Sudan Front.

In 2007 UNDP launched the Support to Human Security in
Eastern Sudan project in partnership with NSDDRC. Currently
the Food Agriculture Organization and several NGOs are sup-
porting the project as implementing partners, providing partici-
pants with economic reintegration packages and training.  

Plans for the demobilisation of an additional 2,254 ex-
combatants from Sudan Armed Forces and Popular Defence
Forces and other armed groups are underway.

March 15, 2009

Aid Agencies expelled from Sudan

Services to poor people disrupted
The decision by the federal government to revoke the registrations of 13 NGOs in March 2009 caused major breaks in service to the marginalized in Darfur. About 6,500 aid workers had to leave, about 40% of the total. Agency offices were stripped of computers and supplies, vehicles were impounded, bank accounts were confiscated.

Reasons for this action
On March 5, 2009, from Europe, the International Criminal Court (ICC) issued a warrant for the arrest of the President of Sudan, for his alleged responsibility for crimes against humanity and for war crimes committed in Darfur. Some of the evidence leading to the warrant included information collected by aid agencies. This included children's drawings of bombs falling from planes and men with guns who killed people.

The ICC said they did not use aid agencies as sources of information, but the Sudan government acted anyway to expel some agencies. They ended up increasing the pressure on themselves to care for citizens in Darfur.

At the time, Darfur was the largest humanitarian emergency in the world. There were over 2,600,000 internally displaced people (IDP) living in camps and dependent on aid from various agencies. The United Nations, along with partnering governments and aid agencies, had established a budget of $2.2 billion for 2009 for relief and development in Sudan. Almost half of that was for relief and early recovery in Darfur.

Agency List
The agencies that were expelled included:
    Save the Children -UK
    Save the Children -USA
    Care International
    Oxfam -Great Britain
    Mercy Corps
    International Rescue Committee
    Medecins Sans Frontieres-Netherlands
    Medecins Sans Frontieres-France

January 20, 2009

Port Sudan worker's union troubled

Sea Ports Trade Union rejects privatization

(The Sudan Vision) Sea Ports Trade Union's Central Committee announced its rejection to any form of partial or complete privatization of Port Sudan Harbour. The Union issued a statement yesterday in this concern considering the protection of the workers' interests.

For its part, the Executive Office of Sudan Workers Trade Union announced during its yesterday's meeting its support to Sea Ports Trade Union considering that privatization will lead to dismissal of workers.

- - -
There are thousands of Beja workers in Port Sudan Harbour. In the past few years, there have been various modernization efforts at the harbour. China invested $79 million [US?] to deepen the channels and install a container handling facility. This put thousands of stevedores out of work. Most labouring gangs of dockworkers who would unload ships are from Beja tribes.

The pic is probably from mid 1990's


January 19, 2009

Fishermen attacked

The report does not state that the fisherman were Beja, or, perhaps Beni Amer. There are not many Beja fishermen, but there are some. Beja may hold that bad spirits are in the water, and generally avoid seagoing activities.

AFP, Khartoum -- At least 25 people were injured when around five fishing boats were attacked
by unknown assailants in the Red Sea off Sudan on Friday, a security official said. The fishing
craft came under attack in Sudanese waters in the Red Sea from assailants whose identity and
method of operation have yet to be established, the official told AFP. The injured were taken to
hospital in Port Sudan, the main coastal town, north of where the attacks took place. Ten of the
fishermen were seriously wounded, an official at a local hospital said, noting that six are