Sunday, October 11, 2009

How Kenya's 'Little Mogadishu' became a hub for Somali militants

The Christian Science Monitor (US)
26 August 2009
The streets of Eastleigh, a Somali enclave of Kenya's capital, Nairobi, are crowded and dirty. Sewage and rotting garbage flow through gullies. Police are virtually nonexistent; restaurants are locked, even when open, for safety reasons; and guns are readily available for sale at the market.

No one ever said "Little Mogadishu" was paradise, but now the sprawling neighborhood has become a hub of financing and recruiting for militant Islamists waging holy war in neighboring Somalia, according to residents, security analysts, and diplomats.

"Those who kill people in Somalia are also here – scattered all over the place," says an elderly Sufi Muslim sheikh matter-of-factly. "This is the hotspot of the Somali fundamentalism.... They are recruiting right here in Nairobi."

In the latest chapter in a civil war that has raged since 1991, Somalia's radical insurgents this week rejected the Western-backed transitional government's call for a cease-fire during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.

Militant and moderate Islamists are battling for control of the rubble-strewn streets of Somalia's capital, Mogadishu, fighting that has forced more than 1.4 million people to flee their homes and caused what the United Nations on Wednesday called the country's worst humanitarian crisis in 18 years of war.

But here in Eastleigh, the war takes a different form.

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How one youth was drawn to jihad in Somalia

The Christian Science Monitor (US)
19 July 2009


A smattering of wispy clouds dots the blue sky as white-robed worshipers trickle into Taqwa mosque for Friday prayers. Our car is parked outside the mosque, slightly hidden by a hedgerow of tangled savannah brush that defines the mosque's perimeter. A cool, dry wind blows across this arid town – refreshing against the equatorial heat, but leaving a blanket of dust on the whitewashed buildings.

The car's tinted windows are rolled up to protect against the fine film of dust – and to conceal me from sight.

Isiolo is smack in the center of Kenya, far from Somalia. But the sermon pouring out of the mosque's loudspeakers is in Somali. We listen for a few minutes before the driver abruptly pulls away.

"If they catch us spying on them, we'll be stoned," he says.

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Recruiting Somalis in Kenya

Public Radio International's "The World"
14 July 2009

Milgo Ahmed worries other young men will follow her cousin's path.

ISIOLO, KENYA -Somalia has experienced almost constant conflict since the collapse of its central government in 1991. The long-running instability has created misery for its people. And it’s spilled over into its east African neighbor, Kenya, home to many ethnic Somalis.

Heba Aly has the story of one Kenyan community – hundreds of miles from the border – that’s lost one of its young men to the insurgency.

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Thursday, May 28, 2009

In Somalia, African Union takes the offensive in information war

The Christian Science Monitor (US)
27 May 2009

NAIROBI, KENYA - No sooner do officials from the African Union stabilization force arrive in Somalia's battlefield of a capital, Mogadishu, than Islamist insurgents send them a warning.

"AMISOM," reads the text message on their phones, "we're going to kill you."

Fighting in Mogadishu has escalated in the past month, and the undermanned and underfunded African peacekeeping force known as AMISOM is increasingly bearing the brunt of the ugly conflict, which pits extremist Islamist insurgents against a new, more moderate, transitional government.

Analysts say the mission has held up well, given the circumstances. But AMISOM officials say they – and the fragile government they aim to protect – are losing on one important front: the information war.

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Darfur Peacekeepers Call for Aid for Civilians After Battle

Bloomberg News
25 May 2009

NAIROBI - United Nations-led peacekeepers in Sudan’s western Darfur region called for “urgent humanitarian aid” after a rebel attack on a garrison town left 63 people dead, according to the Sudanese army.

“Urgent humanitarian aid, particularly food, water, medical supplies and tents, is needed to help civilians displaced by the fighting,” the joint UN-African Union force, known as Unamid, said today in an e-mailed statement.

Sudanese forces said they repelled a rebel attack yesterday on Um Baru town in northwestern Darfur, killing 43 rebels, injuring 54 others and destroying 32 vehicles, the Khartoum- based Sudanese Media Center said, citing army spokesman Osman al-Agbash.

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Radio Interview on Sudan

The Graham Bensinger Show (US)
29 March 2009

The Foreign Correspondent calls in from Kenya to discuss Darfur and being kicked out of Sudan by the government.

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Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Sudan: Peace in Darfur - one step forward, two steps back

UN Humanitarian News Service (IRIN East Africa)
18 May 2009

NAIROBI - Rebels in Sudan’s Darfur region are showing signs of unity, but it has not brought their region any closer to a comprehensive peace, analysts said, as the government wrapped up another round of unsuccessful discussions with the most active rebel group.

Since the indictment on 4 March of President Omar al-Bashir for war crimes, the Justice and Equality Movement claims to have made big strides towards uniting fractious rebels by bringing other groups under its umbrella.

“We are quite hopeful that by mid-June [at the latest], we will have one organisation,” Gebreil Ibrahim, JEM’s economic adviser and brother of the group’s leader, Khalil, told IRIN. “Now we have started calling it the New JEM.”

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Aid Agencies Expelled by Sudan Could Return, Diplomat Says

Bloomberg News
8 May 2009

NAIROBI - Thirteen international relief agencies expelled by Sudan in March may be able to return if they operate under different names, a Sudanese diplomat said.

“The situation has arisen now in which some people would take off one hat, say Oxfam U.K., and wear another hat, which is Oxfam U.S.A., and carry on working,” Khalid Almubarak, spokesman of the Sudanese Embassy in London, said yesterday in a telephone interview. “No individuals were actually mentioned by name.”

Sudan accused the aid agencies, including U.K.-based Oxfam, U.S.-based CARE and the French and Dutch arms of Médecins sans Frontières, or Doctors Without Borders, of spying for the International Criminal Court. The court issued an arrest warrant for President Umar al-Bashir on March 4, accusing him of war crimes in the conflict in the western region of Darfur.

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Saturday, May 2, 2009

Kenyan cure for chaos: no sex tonight

The Globe and Mail (Canada)
2 May 2009

NAIROBI -- Off a main road in a suburb of Nairobi, two young women wearing high heels, hoop earrings and tight Western clothes discuss the latest gossip in Kenya: a sex strike.

"For me, I can't strike!" says 25-year-old student Vivian Nachii, laughing nervously at the question while leaning against a Toyota, rap music spilling out.

"Politics and marriage should not mix," says 23-year-old Arthur, from inside the car. "If my wife refuses to have sex with me," he says, "she goes back to her mother. That is my right."

"In any case, it's not African," Ms. Nachii's friend Liz Aywak pipes in. "We don't discuss sex in public."

But that's just what some Kenyan women are doing. On Wednesday, a coalition of more than 20 women's groups began a weeklong boycott, withholding sex from their husbands in protest against what they call poor leadership in a patriarchal society that risks plunging their country back into chaos.

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Sudan Gunmen Say They Freed Two Western Aid Workers

Bloomberg News
29 April 2009

NAIROBI - Gunmen said they freed two Western aid workers who were kidnapped in Sudan’s Darfur region on April 4, and a Sudanese foreign ministry official confirmed the claim.

“We released them,” a man identifying himself as Abu Mohamed El-Rizeigi, a spokesman for a group calling itself the Falcons for the Liberation of Africa, said in a satellite telephone interview from Darfur. “They are free.”

The women were released today “for humanitarian reasons” and “to give France a chance,” El-Rizeigi said.

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Sudan Holds Aid Workers 'Hostage' Over Severance Pay, NGOs Say

Bloomberg News
24 April 2009

CAIRO - Two aid agencies expelled from Sudan said the government refused to allow some of their workers to leave the country until they paid “illegal” severance packages to domestic staff amounting to millions of dollars.

Employees of the French and Dutch arms of Médecins Sans Frontières, the Geneva-based medical charity known as Doctors Without Borders, were “held hostage” until the funds were paid, Jane Coyne, head of mission for the French arm of MSF, said in an interview yesterday from Paris.

“It was really an act of intimidation,” Coyne said. “It’s hostage taking.”

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Sudan: NGOs accuse government of "extortion"

UN humanitarian news service (IRIN East Africa)
24 April 2009

CAIRO - Staff of some of the NGOs expelled from Sudan last month have accused the government of “extorting” large sums of money from them. Khartoum has defended its demands, saying those who failed to pay what it called “compensation” might be jailed.

“They asked us to pay an exorbitant amount of money... [and said]: ‘We have your passports. Once you agree to pay, you can leave the country’,” said Jane Coyne, head of mission for Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF)-France, one of 13 aid agencies ordered to leave Sudan for their alleged provision of information to the International Criminal Court. On 4 March the ICC indicted Sudanese President Omar el-Bashir on charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity.

On 19 March, Sudan’s Labour Ministry ordered all of the expelled agencies to pay their local staff members six months’ severance pay, rather than the one month in lieu of notice that the law stipulates in most cases.

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Hostage Darfur Aid Worker is Sick, Colleague Says

Bloomberg News
22 April 2009

CAIRO - Two women aid workers taken hostage in Darfur on April 4 are being fed one meal a day and spend most of their time sleeping as they wait to learn the outcome of negotiations for their freedom, one of them said.

Claire Dubois, a French nurse who had arrived in Darfur just two weeks before she was kidnapped, is suffering from diarrhea, her Canadian colleague, Stéphanie Jodoin, said yesterday in a satellite telephone interview arranged by the kidnappers.

“We don’t have anything here,” said Jodoin, of Montreal. “My NGO tried to send things, but it did not arrive -- drugs, food, water.”

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Without Food, Darfuris Go Hungry

The Christian Science Monitor (US)
21 April 2009 During his visit to Sudan last week, Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman John Kerry (D) of Massachusetts visited the conflict-ridden region of Darfur, calling it a "humanitarian tragedy" that remains a "high priority."

More than a month and a half after13 major international aid agencies were expelled from Sudan for allegedly spying on the government, the situation on the ground is ever more grim in a region that was – before the expulsions – home to the world's largest humanitarian aid effort.

Concerns about the humanitarian situation in the semi-arid western Darfur region – where 2.7 million people live in camps for the displaced – come amid increased insecurity for aid workers in the region and claims that rebel groups are uniting in preparation for "change."

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Monday, April 6, 2009

Adopting Fadi

World Vision Report
Week of 28 March 2009

In Sudan's capital, Khartoum, scores of babies are abandoned every year. Most are born out of wedlock, but, for some, their parents simply can't afford to keep them.

Muja Kadeeb, a 29-year-old doctor, wanted to give one of those babies a chance. Here is the story, in her own words, of her fight to adopt a boy named Fadi.

Reporter Heba Aly produced this story.

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Sudan's Bashir, Wanted for War Crimes, Meets Mubarak

Bloomberg News
25 March 2009

CAIRO - Sudanese President Umar al-Bashir visited Egypt in a show of defiance after the International Criminal Court issued a warrant for his arrest on charges of war crimes in Darfur.

Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak greeted al-Bashir at Cairo airport today, the state-run Middle East News Agency reported. Al-Bashir made his first trip abroad after the court’s decision, to neighboring Eritrea, on March 23.

“He is back safely,” Osman Nafie, the director of the political department at the Sudanese presidency, said in a telephone interview. “He arrived at Khartoum International Airport around 6:30 p.m.”

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Al-Qaedas Al-Zawahiri Calls for Sudan Guerrilla War

Bloomberg News
24 March 2009

CAIRO - Al-Qaeda’s second-in-command, Ayman al-Zawahiri, urged the Sudanese people to prepare for a “long guerrilla war” following the International Criminal Court’s decision to charge President Umar al-Bashir with war crimes.

In a video released today, al-Zawahiri urged the Sudanese to defend their country against attempts to eliminate Islam, the Alexandria, Virginia-based IntelCenter said in an e-mailed statement. The new video, featuring a still photograph of al- Zawahiri and an audio message with English subtitles, was the fourth released by al-Zawahiri this year, IntelCenter said.

“The Sudanese regime is too weak to defend the Sudan, so you must do what was done by your brothers in Iraq and Somalia,” IntelCenter, an intelligence group that monitors terrorist Web sites, cited al-Zawahiri as saying. “So make preparations -- by training, equipping, storing and organizing for a long guerrilla war, for the contemporary Crusade has bared its fangs at you,” he added.
Al-Zawahiri used the tape to criticize

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Darfur Displaced Refuse Aid, Demand NGOs' Return, UN Says

Bloomberg News
24 March 2009

CAIRO - Leaders of some civilians displaced by the war in Sudan’s Darfur region are refusing humanitarian aid until foreign agencies expelled by the government are allowed back, a United Nations official said.

Sudan’s government ordered out 13 international aid groups, including Oxfam and Médecins Sans Frontières/Doctors Without Borders. after the International Criminal Court issued an arrest warrant for President Umar al-Bashir on March 4 for alleged war crimes in Darfur. The government said the agencies were spying for the ICC, a charge the aid groups have denied.

Since then, leaders of the 86,000 residents of Kalma camp in southern Darfur have refused aid from Sudanese authorities, the UN and other non-governmental organizations, said Eddie Rowe, the UN World Food Programme coordinator in the region.

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Sudanese Aid Worker for Canadian Charity Shot Dead

Bloomberg News
24 March 2009

CAIRO - A Sudanese aid worker for a Canadian charity was killed yesterday in the western region of Darfur by unidentified gunmen who demanded his satellite phone, his employer said.

“They shot him in front of his family,” Mark Simmons, the Sudan director for Fellowship for African Relief, said in a telephone interview from Khartoum, the capital. “He died on the spot.”

Adam Khatir, 39, ran agricultural programs for the organization in the village of Kongo-Haraza in western Darfur along the border with Chad, Simmons said. “It’s a very tense area at the moment,” he said.

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Sudan: Fallout scenarios

UN humanitarian news service (IRIN East Africa)
20 March 2009

CAIRO - The expulsion or closure of 16 aid groups in Sudan could worsen North-South relations, stall the Darfur peace process and deter future humanitarian action, analysts said.

The decision, and the 16 March announcement that Sudan would "nationalise" all humanitarian work within one year, have attracted condemnation from the highest levels of the UN and the US.

"The ICC [International Criminal Court] row in general, and the expulsion of the aid agencies in particular, certainly have the potential to destabilise North-South relations," says Wolfram Lacher, a Sudan analyst with the London-based Control Risks Group consultancy.

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Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Kidnapping aid workers: part of Sudan's strategy?

The Christian Science Monitor newspaper (US)
16 March 2009

CAIRO - The kidnapping of three Western aid workers in Sudan's Darfur region marks a significant escalation of insecurity for relief agencies deployed in the conflict-ridden area.

Canadian nurse Laura Archer, Italian doctor Mauro D'Ascanio, and French coordinator Raphaël Meunier, as well as their Sudanese watchman Sharif Mohamadin, all working for Médecins Sans Frontières, or Doctors Without Borders, were safely released Saturday by unknown gunmen after three days in captivity.

A rebel leader and analysts say the kidnapping and recent expulsion of 13 aid groups are part of a government strategy to scare away remaining aid workers and break up camps housing Sudanese civilians who have fled the war.

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Sudan Plans to 'Nationalize' Aid Effort, Exclude NGOs

Bloomberg News
16 March 2009

KHARTOUM - Sudan plans to take over all humanitarian aid work in the country within a year and foreign non-governmental organizations may have to leave, an official at the presidency said.
“If the Sudanese government is doing the job, then automatically there will be no reason for these NGOs to exist in the country,” Osman Nafie, head of the political department at the presidency, said in a telephone interview from the capital, Khartoum. “We will say ‘Thank you. You did your job.’”

President Umar al-Bashir outlined his plan for what he called the “Sudanization” of humanitarian relief in a speech at a rally today on the outskirts of Khartoum, Nafie said. The decision doesn’t apply to the United Nations or the International Committee of the Red Cross, Nafie said.

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Three Aid Workers Abducted in Sudan's Darfur Region Are Freed

Bloomberg News
14 March 2009

KHARTOUM - hree Western aid workers were released three days after their abduction in Sudan’s Darfur region, the government and their organization said.

“They have been released,” Mutrif Siddig, undersecretary at the Sudanese foreign ministry, said today in a telephone interview from the capital, Khartoum. “We have negotiated. We have settled this issue, and we hope that it will not be repeated.”

Siddig refused to say if a ransom had been paid.

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'I just sit there. Nobody talks to me'

The Globe and Mail newspaper (Canada)
13 March 2009

KHARTOUM -- Late at night, from the quiet guardhouse at the Canadian embassy in Sudan's dusty capital, Khartoum, Abousfian Abdelrazik makes a call. He asks if the person on the line will be coming to see him. He sounds desperate.

More than 10 months into his unusual stay at the high-walled embassy, Mr. Abdelrazik's contact with the outside world has been reduced to small talk with embassy staff and strangers in the waiting room and increasingly occasional visits from some members of his extended family still living in Sudan.

The phone call to this Canadian journalist in Khartoum is short. Mr. Abdelrazik is told the previously planned visit will have to be cancelled. He sounds disappointed. Few people have shown interest in his life; he has few threads left to hang on to.

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Sudan Says It's Negotiating with Kidnappers

Bloomberg News
13 March 2009

KHARTOUM -The Sudanese government says it is negotiating with a group of armed men who are holding three Western aid workers hostage in the conflict-ridden Darfur region.

“We think it is done by a group who has asked for a ransom, and we are negotiating with them,” Ali Yousif, the Foreign Ministry’s director general of protocol, said today by telephone from the Sudanese capital, Khartoum. He refused to give any details about the ransom and said the government wouldn’t take any military action that endangered the hostages’ lives.

Aid agency Médecins Sans Frontières/Doctors Without Borders, or MSF, yesterday said it was evacuating almost all its staff from Sudan after a Canadian nurse, an Italian doctor and a French coordinator working for its Belgian branch were kidnapped March 11 from their residential compound in northern Darfur. Today, Fabienne de Leval, deputy general-director of MSF-Belgium, said the evacuations would be out of Darfur only.

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MSF Evacuates Aid Workers From Sudan After Abductions

Bloomberg News
12 March 2009

KHARTOUM -- Médecins Sans Fronti‘eres/Doctors Without Borders said it was evacuating almost all its staff from Sudan after three workers of its Belgian branch were kidnapped yesterday in Darfur, in the western part of the country.

“We’re evacuating out of Khartoum to the countries of residence,” said Fabienne de Leval, deputy general-director of MSF-Belgium. “We will be leaving a skeleton team” to try to resolve the kidnappings, she said by telephone from Brussels.

Unidentified gunmen kidnapped a Canadian nurse, an Italian doctor and a French coordinator working for MSF-Belgium yesterday in north Darfur. Two Sudanese colleagues were freed after being held briefly. The kidnappers have demanded a ransom, the state-controlled Sudan Media Centre reported, without citing anyone. MSF has received no ransom demands, de Leval said.

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Millions of Darfuris at greater risk with aid groups' removal

The Christian Science Monitor newspaper (US)
11 March 2009

Sudan's expulsion of more than a dozen international aid groups not only puts the lives of at least 1 million displaced Darfuris at risk of starvation, it could also set off a series of regional conflicts.

The world's largest humanitarian aid effort is being cut in half overnight. With the biggest groups, such as Doctors Without Borders, Care International, and Oxfam leaving, Darfur watchers expect an exodus of hundreds of thousands of Darfuris from camps in Sudan for havens in neighboring Chad and the Central African Republic. But there's also a rising risk of more armed conflict within Sudan.

Rebel groups fighting with the Khartoum government see an opportunity to recruit more fighters from the current camps, as the hungary turn to them for food and water. And aid groups that have acted as important community bridge builders in fractious towns along the north-south Sudan divide, are leaving. Analysts say their removal threatens the four-year-old north-south peace agreement that ended Africa's longest civil war.

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U.S. Embassy in Sudan Allows Some Staff to Leave

Bloomberg News
10 March 2009

KHARTOUM - The U.S. Embassy in Sudan’s capital, Khartoum, said it’s allowing some staff to leave the country and warned its citizens of potential violence after the northeastern African nation’s leader was indicted for war crimes.

“The Department of State has authorized the departure of non-emergency personnel and family members at the U.S. Embassy in Khartoum until further notice,” the mission said in a warden message to U.S. citizens posted on its Web site. Spokeswoman Judith Ravin said by phone from Khartoum that “non-emergency personnel” would include anyone whose absence wouldn’t harm the functioning of the Embassy.

Sudan expelled 13 international aid agencies after the International Criminal Court indicted President Umar al-Bashir on March 4 on seven counts of war crimes and crimes against humanity allegedly committed by his government in its six-year-old counterinsurgency war in Darfur.

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Sudan President Al-Bashir Sought Over Darfur

Bloomberg News
4 March 2009

The International Criminal Court issued an arrest warrant for Sudanese President Umar al-Bashir over his alleged role in crimes against humanity and war crimes in the western region of Darfur.

Al-Bashir, the first sitting head of state to be indicted by the court, faces five counts of crimes against humanity, including responsibility for murder, rape and torture, and two counts of war crimes, court spokeswoman Laurence Blairon told a news conference at The Hague.

“The judges decided today that al-Bashir shall be arrested to stand trial for crimes committed against millions of civilians in Darfur,” ICC prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo told reporters. “His victims are the very civilians that he, as president, was supposed to protect.”

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"They asked me why I was asking about arms. Then they said they wanted me to leave the country."

Reporters Without Borders
11 February 2009

Canadian-Egyptian journalist Heba Aly, who worked in Khartoum for several international media from June 2008 was expelled by Sudanese authorities on 2 February 2009. One week after her removal, the latest incident in a long series, she spoke to Reporters Without Borders about her period in Sudan and about her untimely departure.

“The administrative harassment dealt out to this journalist during the six months she was in Sudan reminds us, if ever it was needed, that obtaining official accreditation in this country amounts to a veritable assault course and that practising journalism there is particularly difficult. Her expulsion is revealing about the government’s desire to strictly control news and the media. We urge the Sudanese authorities to stop using these absurd and pointless procedures”, said Jean-François Julliard, secretary general of Reporters Without Borders.

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Canadian journalist recounts days leading to expulsion from Sudan

Sudan Tribune
8 February 2009

Sudanese national security forces expelled a Canadian-Egyptian journalist, Heba Aly, just days after she made an inquiry about domestic arms production.

Heba Aly, a freelance reporter for several news organizations including the Bloomberg News; IRIN, the UN humanitarian news service; Public Radio International; and the Christian Science Monitor worked in Sudan since June 2008.

Speaking with Sudan Tribune, Aly recounted the difficulties she experienced as a foreign journalist and the fears she felt in the days leading up to her expulsion.

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Journalist told to leave Sudan

Public Radio International's "The World"
6 February 2009

Anchor Marco Werman speaks with journalist Heba Aly, one of the few foreign journalists allowed to report from inside Sudan...until now. She was just told to leave the country. The International Criminal Court is deciding whether to charge Sudan's president with war crimes, and his government has launched a massive security crackdown.

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Expelled from Sudan

Global Post
2 March 2009

CAIRO — In 2005, a historic peace agreement ended more than two decades of civil war between north and south Sudan. It was Africa's longest civil war, killing some two million people, sending four million others fleeing and literally burning southern Sudan to the ground.

The long-awaited peace came with a vision for a new Sudan. A democratic Sudan. One where the Sudanese people would live with rights and freedoms, enshrined in a new constitution.

The leader of the rebel movement in the south, John Garang, was the man behind that dream. He died in a helicopter crash just a few months after the deal was signed. And his vision seems to be slipping further and further by the day.

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War Correspondence

Walrus Magazine
March 2009 issue

The conflict between the Sudanese government, supported by militias collectively known as Janjaweed, and armed opposition groups in the country’s Darfur region has resulted in the deaths of more than 200,000 people and the displacement of close to three million people since 2003. Last year, the Canadian International Development Agency donated $1.5 million to relief efforts of the International Committee of the Red Cross in Sudan. One vital initiative, given unreliable postal services and cellphone networks, involves tracking down and delivering messages to family members separated or cut off from one another by the war. Each month, the icrc in Sudan receives up to fifty tracing requests for missing persons and carries up to 2,000 messages in and out of the country.

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No Electricity

World Vision Report
Week of 14 February 2009

Have you ever spent an afternoon at home without turning on the TV, using the computer or opening the fridge? Have you ever thought about what life would be like without electricity? One and a half billion people around the world don’t have to wonder. That's how they live every day.

Among them are the people of a small village in northern Sudan. Reporter Heba Aly brings us this look at a day in their lives.

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To read my blog on this story, or hear the story while watching a slideshow, click here.

Darfur Rebels Skeptical About Talks with Sudan's Government

Bloomberg News
10 February 2009

KHARTOUM - The most powerful rebel group in Sudan’s Darfur region said it is skeptical about the success of peace negotiations with the government scheduled to begin today in Doha, Qatar.

“We have a lot of doubts that the other party is serious and coming in good faith,” Gebreil Ibrahim, economic adviser for the rebel Justice and Equality Movement, said yesterday in the Egyptian capital, Cairo, “There is a lot of barriers of trust between the two parties.”

Ibrahim met with Egyptian government officials before leaving for Doha for what is the first attempt to hold talks in almost 18 months.

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Sudan: Darfur suffers "worst violence in a year"

UN Humanitarian News Service (IRIN East Africa)
28 January 2009

KHARTOUM -The recent aerial bombardment by the Sudanese government and ground offensive against the rebel Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) marks the worst violence in Darfur in a year, an analyst said.

"Sudan is in a state of high tension at the moment, and we face a dangerous month ahead," Sudan expert Alex de Waal, said. "Parts of Darfur are again in flames, with the worst fighting in the region since the beginning of 2008."

The fighting, which started in mid-January around Muhajiriya in South Darfur, has forced thousands of civilians to flee their homes, with many heading north of the town, according to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA).

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Darfur Fighting Displaces Thousands of Sudanese, UN Agency Says

Bloomberg News
28 January 2009

KHARTOUM - More than 9,000 people have been displaced in Sudan’s Darfur region as a result of aerial bombing and fighting in the past two weeks, the United Nations said.

Sudanese government aircraft have been bombing rebel positions near the northern state capital of El-Fasher and the southern town of Muhajiriya for the past few days, the UN-led peacekeeping mission in Darfur, Unamid, said in statements. Ground battles between government forces and rebels from the Justice and Equality Movement have also taken place in both locations, it said.

“The security situation in Darfur remains tense,” Unamid said in an e-mailed statement today. “The Unamid camps in Gereda and Muhajiriya, South Darfur, continue to face an increase in the number of civilians seeking refuge as a result of recent clashes.”

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Darfur Rebels Claim Gains; Government Resumes Bombing

Bloomberg News
27 January 2009

KHARTOUM - Rebels in Sudan’s western Darfur region said they have taken control of two southern towns while the United Nations reported that the government resumed aerial bombardments in the north.

The Justice and Equality Movement, the most powerful rebel faction in Darfur, said today its fighters captured the towns of Sheiria and Khazan Djedid after clashes with government forces 25 kilometers (15 miles) northeast of Muhajiriya, which the rebels occupied this month. The insurgents shot down a helicopter and destroyed 25 vehicles, a spokesman said.

“We control Sheiria and Khazan Djedid -- in the towns and all the surrounding areas,” Ahmed Mohamed Tugod, JEM’s chief negotiator, said by satellite phone from eastern Darfur. “Many people have been killed. We have some detainees.”

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One Soldier's Story

Esprit de Corps military magazine
26 January 2009

Operation Safari: The challenges of being a military observer in Sudan

Darfur Clash May Have Killed 17, United Nations Says

Bloomberg News
26 January 2009

KHARTOUM - At least 17 people may have died in Sudan’s western Darfur region earlier this month in a battle between rebels and fighters allied to the government, United Nations peacekeepers said.

A further 27 people were injured in clashes between the renegade Justice and Equality Movement and a faction of the Sudan Liberation Army led by Mini Minawi that took place near Muhajiriya on Jan. 15, Noureddine Mezni, spokesman for the United Nations-led mission in Darfur, or Unamid, said by phone yesterday. The figures were provided by an unidentified non- governmental organization and haven’t been confirmed, he said.

JEM spokesman El-Tahir El-Faki said those killed in Muhajiriya died as a result of a government aerial assault on the town nine days later and not on Jan. 15, when fighting with Minawi’s forces resulted in two deaths.

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Sudan Violated International Law in Attack on Darfur, UN Says

Bloomberg News
24 January 2009

KHARTOUM - Sudanese security forces violated international human rights laws when they attacked a camp for displaced people in the Darfur region, the United Nations-led peacekeeping mission, UNAMID, and the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights said in a report.

The National Intelligence and Security Service, police forces and Sudan Armed Forces “used lethal force in an unnecessary, disproportionate and therefore unlawful manner” when they opened fire on a crowd in Kalma camp in southern Darfur on Aug. 25, the report released yesterday said.

Security forces killed 32 civilians and injured at least 108, according to the report.

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Sudan's "Barack Obama Salon"

Public Radio International's "The World"
22 January 2009

Reporter Heba Aly visits a barbershop near Khartoum, Sudan that's renamed itself the "Barak Obama Salon." Business is apparently booming.

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Click here for more pics and a script

Sudan: "Anything is possible" if ICC indicts president

UN Humanitarian News Service (IRIN East Africa)
22 January 2009

KHARTOUM - The issuing of an arrest warrant for Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir by the International Criminal Court (ICC) on charges of genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity in Darfur – accusations the government rejects – would be an unprecedented event in the history of international justice. The court is expected to decide on the warrant in the coming weeks. What will be the ramifications in Sudan? Here are some possible outcomes being discussed by observers and analysts contacted by IRIN. As one western diplomat put it, "anything is possible".

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Sudan Army Planning to Recapture Darfur Town, Rebel Group Says

Bloomberg News
22 January 2009

KHARTOUM - Sudan’s army is preparing to recapture the southern Darfur town of Muhajiriya, seized by rebel forces last week, after attacking the area for eight straight days, the renegade Justice and Equality Movement said.

“The Sudan government is trying to attack the area from four sides,” El-Tahir El-Faki, JEM’s London-based spokesman, said in a telephone interview today. “There will be a lot of fighting in the next few days. We don’t know when they will attack, but we know there is movement.”

JEM took control of Muhajiriya after a battle on Jan. 15 with former rebels who made peace with the government in 2006, the United Nations-led peacekeeping mission in Darfur, or Unamid, said on Jan. 18. The Sudanese Media Center late yesterday cited South Darfur Governor Ali Mahmoud as saying the army will retake the town “at any time.”

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UN Warns of Looming Battle Between Rebels in Sudan's Darfur

Bloomberg News
19 January 2009

KHARTOUM - The United Nations-led peacekeeping mission in Sudan’s western Darfur region yesterday said former rebels may attack a southern town, where 30,000 civilians are at risk.

This comes after a battle on Jan. 15 for control of the town of Muhajariya in South Darfur between a faction of the Sudan Liberation Army led by Minni Minawi and the Justice and Equality Movement, which is also fighting the Sudanese government.

A “catastrophic humanitarian situation” may develop if the fighting continues, Unamid said in an e-mailed statement yesterday. “Recent reports indicate that the SLA is regrouping for a counterattack to regain control of Muhajariya, which was their stronghold for a long time.”

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War crime charges rattle Sudan

The Christian Science Monitor newspaper (US)
16 January 2009

KHARTOUM - The arrest late Wednesday night of veteran Sudanese opposition leader Hassan al-Turabi, days after he called on Sudan's President Omar al-Bashir to turn himself in to face war crimes charges, is an indication of what may lie ahead in the capital, Khartoum.

The mood here has been growing increasingly tense since July, when the chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC) sought an arrest warrant for Mr. Bashir on charges of genocide, war crimes, and crimes against humanity for his role in the Darfur conflict, which has killed up to 300,000 people and displaced close to 3 million others, according to United Nations estimates.

People here have been bracing themselves for a number of possible outcomes if the court decides to grant the warrant, as expected, in late January or February. "Anything is possible," as one Western diplomat put it.

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Co-existence in Northern Sudan

World Vision Report
Week of 20 December 2008

Sudan has become synonymous with war, due to the five-year conflict raging in Darfur. The UN estimates that 300,000 people have died and close to 2.5 million others have been displaced. The vast majority have been indigenous Africans.

Darfur's war is often portrayed as a racial one, pitting Arabs against Africans. But in northern parts of the country, many Sudanese are defying stereotypes. Heba Aly files this report from Dongola, a town in northern Sudan where Africans and Arabs have been living together harmoniously for decades.

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Sudan: IDPs in the cold as slum demolished

UN Humanitarian News Service (IRIN - East Africa)
4 December 2008

MANDELA - Thousands of people in a slum 20km south of Khartoum are living in makeshift shelters made of sticks and cloth after their homes were razed by the government.

Local officials said 4,000 homes were destroyed as part of a government plan to reorganise the Mandela settlement to make it more habitable. Another 6,000 are due to be demolished.

"When this is over, people will move back, build and live in peace," said Madut Wek, secretary to the local administrative unit, the Mandela popular committee, which is aligned to the government.

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United Nations Sends Team to Subdue Violence at Darfur

Bloomberg News
3 December 2008

KHARTOUM - The United Nations sent a team of armed peacekeepers to a camp for people displaced by war in Sudan’s western Darfur region to calm violence between residents and militia members.

A “quarrel” erupted on Dec. 1 between two so-called Janjaweed militiamen armed with a rifle and residents of the Hassa Hissa camp near the western Darfur town of Zalingei, the UN-led mission, known as Unamid, said in an e-mailed statement yesterday. One camp resident was injured, a militiaman was severely beaten and later died, while the surviving militiaman was taken into police custody, Unamid said.

“As a result of the incident, about 30 armed Janjaweed marched toward the camp today, shooting sporadically in the air,” Unamid said. The militia set ablaze five water pumps supplying the camp. Another camp resident received a minor injury during the second incident.

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United Nations Darfur Force to Investigate Claims of Bombings

Bloomberg News
18 November 2008

KHARTOUM - The United Nations-led peace peacekeeping mission in Sudan's troubled Darfur region is investigating claims that the government has been bombing rebel positions in defiance of a newly announced ceasefire.

``I know definitely that there have been bombings,'' said Kemal Saiki, director of public information for the mission, known as Unamid. He called the information secondhand and said it came from various sources, not only rebels.

The claims of fresh attacks come less than a week after Sudan's President Umar al-Bashir declared and called for the disarmament of rebels in the country's western region to quell a conflict that has killed 300,000 people.

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Tensions between Sudan's north and south

Public Radio International's "The World"
13 November 2008

Growing tensions between Sudan's north and south in Sudan could potentially plunge the country back into a north-south civil war. Heba Aly reports from southern Sudan.

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Sudan: Cautious optimism over Darfur ceasefire call

UN Humanitarian News Service (IRIN - East Africa)
13 November 2008

KHARTOUM - The Sudanese government’s announcement of a ceasefire in Darfur would not alone solve a crisis that has lasted nearly six years and left hundreds of thousands of people dead - but it offered a glimmer of hope, analysts said.

President Omar el-Bashir announced an "immediate, unconditional ceasefire" in Darfur on 12 November. He called for an immediate campaign to disarm militias accused of committing some of the worst atrocities during the conflict.

The pronouncements were among the recommendations of the Sudan People's Initiative, bringing together government, political opposition parties and civil society to brainstorm solutions to the crisis.

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Arms race, uneasy peace in Sudan

The Christian Science Monitor newspaper (US)
12 November 2008

JUBA - Although the Arab-dominated government of Sudan and the semiautonomous region of Southern Sudan have been at peace for three years, there are signs that both sides are stepping up the pace of a cold war-style arms race.

In September, pirates off the coast of Somalia hijacked a shipment of Russian tanks reportedly destined for Southern Sudan. A month later Sudanese authorities seized an Ethiopian cargo plane they say was carrying ammunition and light armament in Juba, the capital of South Sudan. Later in October, Sudan recalled its ambassadors from Kenya and Ethiopia because the two nations were allegedly shipping arms to the south.

After a 21-year civil war, both the north and the south Sudan are not only reluctant to disarm, but reports indicate that both sides are actively preparing for the possibility of a renewed outbreak of fighting. Decades of conflict have left many in the north and the south unable to fully trust one another, leaving many analysts wondering if the current peace will endure.

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Sudanese President Calls for Cease-Fire in Darfur

Bloomberg News
13 November 2008

KHARTOUM - - Sudan's President Umar al-Bashir declared an immediate cease-fire in Darfur and called for the disarmament of militias active in the western region to quell a conflict that has killed about 300,000 people.

``I hereby announce our immediate unconditional cease-fire between the Armed Forces and warring factions'' in Darfur, Bashir said in a speech today in the capital, Khartoum. He called on rebel groups to begin peace negotiations.

Bashir made the cease-fire announcement at the close of the Sudan People's Initiative, a forum of political parties and civil society organizations brought together to try to find a solution to the conflict in Darfur. Rebel groups boycotted the initiative, calling it a public-relations effort.

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Canadian Content in Sudan

Intercultures Magazine (Canadian Department of Foreign Affairs)
November 2008 issue

JUBA – In a crowded United Nations conference room in a southwestern Sudanese town called Wau, an exchange of sorts took place between two men of very different worlds who had more in common than they might have thought.

At the front of the room was Constable Charles Obeng, a Canadian originally from Ghana, on Africa’s west coast. Seated among dozens of students was a young Sudanese man.

Obeng was a UN peacekeeper, deployed with five other members of the RCMP to help Sudan’s southern police force build its capacity after more than two decades of civil war between the Muslim north and the mostly animist south.

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Sudan's Rebel JEM Movement May Negotiate Alone with Government

Bloomberg News
8 November 2008

KHARTOUM - Sudan's rebel Justice and Equality Movement says it is ready to negotiate alone with the government if it can't reach a common stance with other rebel groups from the Darfur region.

If rebel groups ``fail to come to a common position, then JEM cannot wait,'' said Ahmed Hussain Adam, spokesman for the group commonly know as JEM, which has been waging a rebellion against Sudan's government for almost six years. ``Peace is our objective. We cannot wait while our people are suffering,'' he said in a telephone interview from Sweden.

The group's chairman, Khalil Ibrahim, and members of his top leadership met in Darfur on Nov. 6 with the Qatari state minister for foreign affairs to outline their criteria for accepting a Qatari-led initiative for peace. Qatar also offered to organize negotiations between the Sudanese government and other rebel factions.

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Sudan concerned over Obama stance

Public Radio International's "The World"
6 November 2008

People in Sudan have mixed feelings about an Obama presidency. There's pride that a man of African descent has reached the White House. But as Heba Aly reports from Khartoum, there's also concern about the president-elect's aggressive talk about Darfur.

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Sudan Makes Progress on Darfur UN Force Deployment, U.S. Says

Bloomberg News
3 November 2008

KHARTOUM - Sudan has made progress in easing the way for a quicker deployment of United Nations-led peacekeeping forces in the troubled Darfur region, the U.S.'s top diplomat for Africa said today.

The government has increasingly been providing entry visas for peacekeepers and has shown a ``greater flexibility'' to support their mission, Jendayi Frazer, assistant secretary of state for African affairs, told journalists in the Sudanese capital Khartoum.

``There's been important progress, even since September,'' Frazer said after meetings with Salva Kiir, president of Southern Sudan, Vice President Ali Osman Taha and Foreign Minister Deng Alor. ``We've had about a new 700 or so both military and police units on the ground in Darfur.''

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UN Peacekeeper Killed, Another Wounded in Sudan's North Darfur

Bloomberg News
30 October 2008

KHARTOUM - A South African soldier serving with the United Nations-led peacekeeping mission in Sudan's Darfur region was killed yesterday, bringing the death toll among the force's members to 11 since July, the UN said.

Gunmen yesterday attacked peacekeepers in the Kutum area of northern Darfur, Noureddine Mezni, spokesman of the UN-African Union mission, known as Unamid, said by phone from El-Fasher. One male soldier died of his injuries, while a female South African trooper was wounded, he said.

``With this South African soldier, we have now lost 11 peacekeepers since the beginning of the mission,'' Mezni said.

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Will killing of oil workers harden China's Darfur policy?

The Christian Science Monitor newspaper (US)
29 October 2008

KHARTOUM - At least three Chinese oil workers were killed by Darfur rebels Monday, according to the Sudanese government.

But the accused rebel group, the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM), which has been fighting the Sudanese government for close to six years in Darfur, said it had nothing to do with the incident, accusing the government of trying to distract the international community from its own crimes in Darfur.

Nine employees of the China National Petroleum Corp. were kidnapped on Oct. 18 while working at an oil field in the central Sudanese state of South Kordofan, which neighbors the troubled Darfur region and straddles the contested border between Sudan's north and south.

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Monday, March 16, 2009

Five Seized Chinese Petroleum Workers Killed in Sudan

Bloomberg News
27 October 2008

KHARTOUM - Five Chinese oil workers kidnapped in central Sudan nine days ago have been shot dead, Sudan's Foreign Ministry said.

The five were among nine employees of China National Petroleum Corp. who were abducted on Oct. 18 while working at the Heglig oil field in South Kordofan state, Ali Sadig, a ministry spokesman, said by phone yesterday from Khartoum, the capital. Two workers escaped and were being treated for injuries, while the other two are still being held by their captors, he said.

``What happened was very unexpected,'' Sadig said. ``What is strange is that it happened at a time when the government, especially the army and the police, were not involved. There was no direct confrontation with the abductors.''

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Q&A about Chinese Oil Workers Killed in Sudan

France 24 radio
27 October 2008

Adam: "They shot me in the back"

UN Humanitarian News Service (IRIN - East Africa)
22 October 2008

ZAMZAM - Adam, who prefers to be known by this one name, is an internally displaced person (IDP) in an IDP camp in Zamzam, North Darfur. He fled there from his village of Um Hashaba in the same province in 2003, hoping finally to find safety. But last month, even this sanctuary was violated. He told IRIN what happened:

"Four vehicles entered the camp filled with men wearing police khaki uniforms. They didn't say a thing. They just entered and started shooting.

"They called to me. I started running. They shot me in the back before I got the chance to escape."

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Darfur Violence Displaces 1,000 People a Day, UN Chief Ban Says

Bloomberg News
22 October 2008

KHARTOUM - Fighting in Sudan's Darfur region is displacing 1,000 civilians a day and the United Nations-led peacekeeping force is unable to quell the violence, UN Secretary- General Ban Ki-moon said.

More than 230,000 civilians have fled their homes in 2008 due to violence in Darfur, where fighting between rebel and government troops has raged for almost six years, Ban said in his latest report to the UN Security Council, released yesterday. The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs in the Sudanese capital, Khartoum, puts that number at 300,000.

The joint UN-African Union peacekeeping mission, known as Unamid, is being hampered by the government through multiple customs checks, long delays at checkpoints and bureaucratic constraints in issuing visas, Ban said. The Sudanese armed forces threatened to shoot down UN aircraft that do not comply with flight timetables, he said.

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Sudan: Plight of Darfur's displaced worse than ever

UN Humanitarian News Service (IRIN East Africa)
21 October 2008

TAWILA - As Sudan lobbies the international community for support in its fight to ward off looming charges of genocide against its president, arguing they would endanger the "great strides" the government is making towards peace, people displaced by more than five years of fighting in Darfur tell a different story.

"Since 2004 until today, there has been no resolution. The problems have only gotten worse," said a sheikh at a camp for displaced people in Tawila, 50km west of El-Fasher, state capital of North Darfur. At the beginning of the conflict, he told IRIN, attacks – if intense – were few and far between. "But now, weekly, there is a problem here. Weekly, janjaweed [government-sponsored militias], weapons, rape, looting."

The UN/African Union hybrid peacekeeping mission's base in Tawila is a prime example. A metre-wide gap in its barbed razor wire is a constant reminder of the day in May when the ruined town and the nearby camp that houses most of Tawila’s residents came under attack. Desperate residents forced their way onto the base's buffer zone, seeking the UN's protection.

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Darfur peacekeepers offer no protection - IDPs

UN Humanitarian News Service (IRIN East Africa)
20 October 2008

DALI - It is an ordinary morning at the water pump in Dali town, North Darfur. Children splash around in the water; women argue over whose turn is next. An armoured personnel carrier makes its way through the sand, six other UN vehicles following closely behind.

The convoy stops in this quiet clearing. Armed peacekeeping troops pour out of their trucks, forming a large circle around the water pump. Unarmed military and police approach the locals.

"What is the situation here? Any incidents in the last week?" Nepalese Maj. Prem Thapa, a military observer with the African Union/UN Hybrid Operation in Darfur (UNAMID), asks one villager through a translator.

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Saturday, February 7, 2009

No news is bad news

Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC Radio) - "Dispatches"
20 October 2008

Villagers in northern Sudan are far from the rebels fighting for development in the western Darfur region. But the conditions in which northerners live are not much better. In this dispatch, Heba Aly watches as they sit, sweat & wait for progress in the north.

Chinese Oil Workers Abducted in Sudan

Bloomberg News
20 October 2008

KHARTOUM - Nine Chinese oil workers were kidnapped in central Sudan on Oct. 18 by unidentified gunmen, the Chinese Embassy in Khartoum said. The Sudanese government blamed rebels in the area for the abductions.

The nine employees of China National Petroleum Corp., or CNPC, were seized while working at the Heglig oil field in South Kordofan state, an embassy official who identified himself only as Yu said by phone today from the capital.

Sudan's government said the rebel Justice and Equity Movement carried out the attack, the Sudanese Media Center news service reported today, citing Mohammed Al Dorak, commissioner of the Abyei locality. The group has been fighting government forces in the western region of Darfur for the past five years.

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Chinese Oil Workers Kidnapped

Q&A with Radio France Internationale
19 October 2008

Sudan: Darfur peace conference opens without rebels

UN Humanitarian News Service (IRIN - East Africa)
17 October 2008

Vice President Salva Kiir (left) and President Omar al-Bashir (right)

KHARTOUM - The United States, Darfuri rebels and Sudanese opposition parties have greeted a new initiative to solve the Darfur crisis with scepticism and boycotts, while Khartoum, the Arab League and the UN say it’s the region’s best hope.

Widespread doubts about the credibility of the process prevail ahead of deliberations expected to last three days. "The purpose is not to solve the problem of Darfur but to give sanctuary to [President Omar al-] Bashir from the International Criminal Court (ICC)," said Bashir Adam Rahma, of the opposition Popular Congress Party, led by Hassan al-Turabi.

In July, ICC Prosecutor, Luis Moreno-Ocampo, called on the court’s judges to issue an arrest warrant against Bashir for allegedly orchestrating a campaign of genocide in Darfur, where an estimated 300,000 people have been killed and 2.5 million driven from their homes since 2003.

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Sudan makes case abroad while still bombing Darfur

Christian Science Monitor newspaper (US)
9 October 2008

President Omar al-Bashir says international interference will hamper peace. Darfuris ask: 'What peace?'

Women displaced by fighting in Darfur arrive at Zamzam camp for displaced people

TAWILA, DARFUR - During the US vice presidential debate last week, Sen. Joe Biden (D) and Gov. Sarah Palin (R) found common ground on at least one topic: Both support imposing a no-fly zone in Sudan's troubled Darfur region.

Some 6,000 miles away, Darfuris fleeing their homes welcome such talk, especially after a recent spate of indiscriminate government bombings.

"The government said it was only looking for rebels. It said it didn't want to harm the people," says villager Abdullah Isshac, who spent one week hiding in the countryside after a government attack on the village of Khazan Tungur. "But the rebels are out in the mountains, not in the village."

To the outside world, Sudan's government sings a different tune, claiming since July – when the International Criminal Court (ICC) sought an arrest warrant for President Omar al-Bashir on charges of war crimes, crimes against humanity, and genocide for his role in the Darfur conflict – that the prosecution of its leader would jeopardize the peace process. But as the situation on the ground here grows worse, Darfuris are asking: "What peace process are you talking about?"
Among the many symbols of war in Darfur – sprawling five-year-old camps for displaced people and an ever-growing African Union and United Nations peacekeeping mission – the bumpy road between Tabit and Tawila, two small villages in northern Darfur, offers a striking reminder that this conflict is still going strong.

The hour-long route passes through vast plains and mountain chains and is dotted with small villages – each telling its own story.

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Sudan: Fears of violence as land tensions increase

UN Humanitarian News Service (IRIN - East Africa)

NIMULE - Nimule, a Southern Sudanese town on the border with Uganda, has boomed since war ended three years ago, but tension is brewing over land between returnees who fled the area years ago and more recent settlers.

"They chased me away," said Cizarina Lindio, who returned after two decades only to find people from a different community living on her land. "They said, 'We liberated this place [Southern Sudan] with guns and I will use this gun on you if you don't go'," she said, sitting on a plastic bag outside a mud home built on a small patch of land given to her by relatives.

Ongoing violence in Darfur during Sudan's diplomacy

Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC Radio) - "The World This Weekend"
4 October 2008

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Sudan: IDPs out of reach as violence hinders agencies

UN Humanitarian News Service (IRIN - East Africa)
2 October 2008

A Darfurian points to his home, burned during fighting, in North Darfur.

EL-FASHER - Weeks after fighting between government and rebel forces in North Darfur, aid workers have yet to reach thousands of displaced civilians who sought refuge in nearby mountains and forests.

The clashes took place more three weeks ago, but violence has continued in North Darfur. Last week, there were four armed robberies and three hijackings targeting aid compounds and vehicles. The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), which sent a team to areas north and west of Disa and Birmaza, found that the majority of those displaced had gone to villages where they had access to some food and shelter.

"But there are some who are in the middle of nowhere - not a village, not a well, not a field, nothing," Giuliano Vascotto, head of the ICRC in North Darfur, told IRIN. "This is the worrying minority."

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Thursday, January 22, 2009

Sudan's Neglected North

Public Radio International - "The World"
1 October 2008

Correspondent Heba Aly reports on a village at the edge of the Nubian Desert in northern Sudan. Sudanese people there say they're being marginalized by their government.

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Women in Al-Taitti village, Sudan (photo: Heba Aly)

Sudan: Mounting criticism against govt for crackdown after rebel attack

UN Humanitarian News Service (IRIN - East Africa)
23 September 2008

KHARTOUM - Fresh accusations of large-scale summary executions and arbitrary arrest have been levelled against Sudan’s government over its reaction to an attack by Darfur rebels on Khartoum in May - charges the government has rejected.

“It is estimated that at least 500 individuals from Darfur, both civilians and presumed JEM [Justice and Equality Movement] combatants, were summarily executed or extra-judicially killed in the three days that followed JEM’s attack against Omdurman on 10 May 2008,” the Darfur Relief and Documentation Centre (DRDC), an NGO based in Geneva, said in a report released mid-September.

The report also said that more than 4,000 people – mostly civilians with no ties to the rebel movement – were arbitrarily arrested after the attack on Omdurman, a city lying across the Nile from Khartoum...

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Sudan: South Kordofan the next flashpoint?

UN Humanitarian News Service (IRIN - East Africa)
29 August 2008

KHARTOUM - Long overshadowed by conflict in Darfur and a recent outbreak of fighting in oil-rich Abyei, Southern Kordofan is likely to be the next flashpoint in Sudan, said a new report by a Geneva-based independent research project.

The Nuba Mountains region in the central Sudan's South Kordofan State is home to a minority of Arab nomads and a majority of settled communities of various indigenous African Nuba tribes. It lies near the contested north-south border and has long been embroiled in the north-south civil war that consumed Sudan for close to two decades, until the signing of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) in 2005.

"The Nuba Mountains region is a microcosm of the tensions surrounding CPA implementation. Many local residents feel ignored - with good reason - by the international community and neglected by the UN system," said the August 2008 Small Arms Survey report, The Drift back to War. "Growing ethnic insecurity in the region has the potential to deteriorate significantly over the coming months and needs urgent attention to prevent it from spiralling out of control."...

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Sudan: Volatile IDP site needs a lasting solution, UN

UN Humanitarian News Service (IRIN - East Africa)
26 August 2008

KHARTOUM - Sudanese police continued to surround one of the largest sites for internally displaced people (IDPs) in Darfur on 26 August, a day after gunfire caused dozens of injuries and, according to some sources, numerous fatalities.

"As I speak with you now, there are 30 dead bodies in front of me," Salah Abdullah Hassan, an official inside Kalma camp, told IRIN by telephone. Hassan read out a list of names of people he said had been killed the previous day by police. They ranged in age from 11 to 60, he said.

Sudanese authorities said nobody was killed in Kalma and the police had entered the camp to confiscate illegal arms and had only used their own weapons when they had come under fire from camp residents...

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Sudanese: ‘What Arab-African Rift?’

Christian Science Monitor newspaper (US)
22 August 2008

DONGOLA - Ask Abbas Adam Ibrahim whether he is Arab or African, and he does not quite know how to respond. "Both," the Sudanese man says, after slight hesitation.

Mr. Adam comes from the Fur tribe, of Darfur – commonly understood to be an African tribe, under persecution by Sudan's Arab-dominated government.

Last month, the International Criminal Court's chief prosecutor indicted Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir for genocide and crimes against humanity in Darfur, saying "evidence shows that al-Bashir masterminded and implemented a plan to destroy in substantial part the Fur, Masalit, and Zaghawa groups, on account of their ethnicity."

But for Sudanese Arabs and Africans coexisting peacefully outside Darfur, these racial distinctions are not so clear...

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Ottawan in Sudan

Canadian Broadcasting Corporation - "Ottawa Morning"
18 August 2008
No longer available online

When Canadian RCMP officer Wayne Hanniman arrived in southern Sudan as part of a United Nations peacekeeping mission, what he found was not quite what he expected.

Sudan: From Rebels to Soldiers - the SPLA's transformation

UN Humanitarian News Service (IRIN - East Africa)
6 August 2008

JUBA - At the new headquarters of the Sudan People's Liberation Army (SPLA), some 10km north of Juba town, signs mark the finance, administration and operations directorates.

Laminated name plates with Southern Sudan's official colours line the desks in the new air-conditioned offices. Laptops and internet service are coming soon.

It is a new look, and a new way, for the former rebel movement that fought for liberation in the forests of Southern Sudan for two decades.

"When we started as guerillas, we walked from Sudan to Ethiopia, carrying food and ammunition on our heads," said Col Kamilo Tafeng of the SPLA's new directorate for political and moral orientation. "Now, with the signing of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement, the SPLA has been transformed into a conventional army ... There is a tremendous change." ...

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Sudan: Cattle raids still plague Jonglei

UN Humanitarian News Service (IRIN - East Africa)
5 August 2008

BOR - Forced by civil war to flee her village in Southern Sudan, Rebeka James Galwak found her way to the northern capital of Khartoum and lived there until the conflict formally ended.

With a peace agreement signed in Nairobi in January 2005, Galwak thought her Nuer village in Jonglei state would be safe enough for her to return but within a year of returning, she said, fighters from the Murle community attacked her home.

"They abducted six children, killed six men in my family and stole cattle," Galwak told IRIN. "We haven't seen those children since. It was a very sad day."

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Genocide in Darfur? What genocide?

Globe and Mail newspaper (Canada)
19 July 2008 (locked)
Also available at:

KHARTOUM -- In an upper-class neighbourhood of the Sudanese capital, three men sit on a rooftop patio, talking politics between spoonfuls of ice cream and sips of espresso. "I see the government as good - among the best governments we've had," one says...