Friday, 17 May 2013

The Forever War In Darfur

As a precaution, the UN has withdrawn 120 Sudanese civilians serving with various UN operations in Abyei. Ethiopian Army peacekeepers serving with the UN Interim Mission in Abyei (UNISFA) cited heightened tensions in the region as the reason for withdrawing Sudanese nationals.  The Sudanese have been taken to Kadugli (Sudan, South Kordofan state). Tensions between the Dinka tribe and the pro-Sudan government Misseriya tribe have climbed since Misseriya gunmen murdered the Abyei Dinka’s senior chief (paramount chief) on May 4. As it is, a number of Dinka have complained to UNISFA that the Sudanese nationals working with the UN are really Sudanese government agents. 

Diplomats are calling the murder of the chief the most serious incident to occur in Abyei since Sudanese military forces withdrew in May 2011. The UN is treating it that way. The African Union (AU) has called for a complete investigation.  The AU stated that the investigation must be credible, transparent and independent. The UNISFA peacekeeping force remains on high alert. The Dinka say they are still in mourning for the murdered leader.
May 16, 2013: South Sudan has launched a major investigation into a corruption scandal involving food procurement.  According to the World Bank, the government bought various grains from 290 companies, but the companies never signed contracts with the government.  There are indications that these companies never delivered any food. Investigators found that over 150 companies which did have contracts were likely overpaid for the grains they delivered.
May 14, 2013: Sudanese opposition political leaders have accused the government of assassinating senior Abyei Dinka tribal chief Kuol Deng Majok on May 4. The opposition leaders said the murderers must be caught or the already tense situation in Abyei will deteriorate.
May 13, 2013: The South Sudanese military (Sudan Peoples Liberation Army) claimed that the government of Sudan helped assassinate senior Abyei Dinka chief Kuol Deng Majok on May 4. The Dinka chief was killed by Misseriya gunmen who attacked a UN convoy in the disputed Abyei region. The UN has now confirmed that two Ethiopian soldiers serving with the UN Interim Security Force for Abyei (UNISFA) were also killed in the incident.
The Sudan Revolutionary Front (SRF) said that its forces had defeated a Sudanese Army counter-attack on its positions in the town of Abu Karshola (South Kordofan). The rebels claimed they killed over 400 government soldiers. The surviving government troops retreated to the towns of El Rahad and Um Rowaba.
In South Sudan’s Jonglei state, rebel leader David Yau Yau said that his group now wants its own separate state. The state would be for tribes and ethnic minorities that are discriminated against by the government. Yau Yau is a member of the Murle tribe.
May 12, 2013: The Darfur rebel group Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) engaged in a firefight with members of the JEM-Sudan faction. This group, also called the JEM-Bashar faction has signed a peace agreement with the Sudanese government.  JEM-Sudan’s leader, lMohamed Bashar was killed in the firefight along the Sudan-Chad border.
May 8, 2013: More clan battles have erupted in South Sudan’s Jonglei state. For two days the Walgak and Waat clans (Akobo area) have fought a series of battles. At least seven people have been killed. Medical relief agencies in the area reported that dozens have been wounded and that at least 16 of the wounded treated at one clinic had been hit by gunfire.
May 5, 2013: The UN called for calm in the disputed Abyei region. On May 4 gunmen from the Arab Misseriya tribe murdered the Dinka tribe’s senior chief in Abyei. 
The SPLM-N claimed that Sudanese Air Force Antonov transports dropped 13 bombs on the village of Kawalib (South Kordofan state, Nuba Mountains) and at least 16 civilians were killed.
May 4, 2013: The paramount Dinka chief of Abyei, Kuol Deng Majok, has been murdered. UN observers reported that attackers from the pro-Sudan Misseriya tribe attacked a UN convoy and killed the chief. Two other people were wounded in the attack. The chief was part of a delegation touring Abyei. The Misseriya group stopped the convoy in Abyei’s Baloom district and held the convoy for five hours. A firefight then broke out and the chief was slain. The government of Sudan condemned the murder. South Sudan’s government said it was in contact with Sudan and was acting to prevent the murder from igniting a tribal war between the Dinka and Misseriya.
May 2, 2013: South Sudan has condemned the attack on Um Rowaba in Sudan’s North Kordofan state. The government of South Sudan indicated that it supported Sudan’s position that the Sudan Revolutionary Front (SRF) had attacked a town that did not have any military targets.
April 29, 2013: The latest round of talks between the government of Sudan and the Sudan Peoples Liberation movement-North (SPLM-N) has failed. This was the third attempt to reach a political settlement that would either end the fighting in Blue Nile and South Kordofan states or at least get the warring parties to agree to an enforceable ceasefire. Ethiopia and the African Union have both acted as intermediaries. Diplomats had hoped that the recent South Sudan-Sudan agreement to settle border issues and export oil would nudge Sudan and the SPLM-N. It apparently did not. The Sudanese delegation claimed that it was willing to support delivery of humanitarian relief aid (medicine and food) to South Kordofan and Blue Nile but said that aid hinged on a comprehensive agreement. 

Sudan is opposed to what it calls temporary arrangements. The government claims the rebels use the food and medicine and then return to the battlefield.  In addition, Sudanese officials said that the Um Rowaba attack demonstrated that the SPLM-N’s real goal is to overthrow the current government.
April 27, 2013: The Sudanese government claimed that the SPLM-N is not sincere about negotiations. The government accused the SPLM-N of participating in the Sudanese Revolutionary Front (SRF) attack on Um Rowaba (or Rawaba, North Kordofan state). The government claimed that the town had no military targets. The government also claimed that the attackers arrived in a convoy of 20 trucks and began destroying civilian infrastructure, to include the town’s electrical generation facility. The attackers seized hostages and used them as human shields.
April 24, 2013: The Darfur war continues, despite claims by international agencies that it has ended. The UN estimates that there are still 1.4 million displaced people either in camps in Darfur or living as refugees (most of them in Chad).
April 21, 2013: The Sudanese government said that it is prepared what it called an offensive by SPLM-N rebels in South Kordofan state. The government also claimed that SPLM-N artillery had killed three people and wounded six in the capital of South Kordofan, Kadugli.
April 20, 2013: South Sudan wants to professionalize its national army, the Sudan Peoples Liberation Army (SPLA).  The government wants to improve training for officers and non-commissioned officers. It has to find money and foreign trainers for that. 
April 19, 2013: The UN confirmed the appointment of Ethiopian Army Major General Yohannes Gebremeskel Tesfamariam as the new commander of the  UN Interim Security Force for Abyei (UNISFA). UNISFA serves in the disputed Abyei region between Sudan and South Sudan.
April 17, 2013: South Sudanese officials claim they intend to reduce inter-tribal conflicts. Its critics reply the authorities need to quit favoring their own tribes or politically-powerful tribes. Relief workers in South Sudan have told authorities that one of the basic causes of tribal fighting has not been tribal hatred but hunger. The term the aid groups use is food insecurity. The term can mean many things, to include under-nourishment and starvation. However, in both Sudans, food security often relates directly to livestock security. There are not enough South Sudanese police and military units to protect herds from raiders.  Several tribes have claimed that the government provides more protection for politically-powerful tribes. This echoes other complaints that other government resources (new roads, for example) are not equitably distributed.

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