Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Sudan News Update: Groups Together for Historic Peace Talks; Chad-Sudan Talks

Sudan: UN Brings Sudanese Tribes Together for Historic Peace Talks

United Nations News Service
29 December 2009

The United Nations has paved the way for historic talks between clashing tribes to bolster the fragile peace in the disputed oil-rich area of Abyei, close to the border between Sudan’s north and south and where a referendum on its future is scheduled to be held in 2011.

Nearly five years after the signing of the peace pact ending more than two decades of north-south strife, one of Africa’s longest and bloodiest civil wars in which at least 2 million people were killed, tensions persist in Abyei, home to the Missiriya and Dinka Ngok tribes.

In July, the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague shifted some of the borders of Abyei, leaving control of the Heglig oil field with the national Government in Khartoum.

Although that ruling was welcomed by both the National Congress Party (NCP) and the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM), the two signatories to the 2005 peace agreement, the relationship between the Missiriya and Dinka Ngok tribes has been marked by clashes and inflamed tensions.

Recognizing the need for dialogue at this critical juncture, the UN Development Programme (UNDP), the UN peacekeeping mission in Sudan (UNMIS) and the Abyei Area Administration joined forces to bring the leaders of the two tribes together for the first time in the conflict’s history.

During the 14 December meeting, which kicked off to cheering, drumming and dancing, top officials from the tribes discussed border security, arms control and migration issues.

Over 2,000 people from both tribes attended the talks to accelerate reconciliation and to dispel misconceptions, such as the rumour that the Dinka intend to build a barrier to prevent the Missiriya from herding their cattle between pasture and water.

“Peaceful co-existence is not a matter of choice, but is prerequisite for the continued existence of the two communities because the Missiriya and the Dinka will always remain neighbours irrespective of the 2011 referendum results,” said Amir Kwol Arop Kwol, Paramount Chief of the Dinka Ngok tribe.

The dialogue was also the first in the history of peacebuilding in the Abyei area in which women took an active part in the talks.

“Women bear the heaviest burden during conflict situations,” according to Nyancuk Truk, a representative of the Dinka. “We not only lose our sons and husband in the fighting, but we also lose our dignity.”

UNDP stressed in a press release that “only through the support to community reconciliation dialogues in Sudan that bring together women groups, youth and traditional leaders will the region be able to ensure its hard-won peace.”

United States Department of State (Washington, DC)

Africa: U.S. Welcomes Chad-Sudan Engagement

29 December 2009
press release

The United States welcomes the continued engagement between Chad and Sudan to normalize relations as discussed during meetings last week with Chadian Foreign Minister Moussa Faki and Sudanese Presidential Advisor Dr. Ghazi Salahuddin.

The United States is encouraged by the decision of these two neighboring countries to implement their 2006 bilateral Security Protocol. We urge the parties to fulfill their commitments and set up an appropriate and effective border monitoring mechanism on their shared border as soon as possible.

The United States commends these steps and urges the Governments of Chad and Sudan to push forward with rapid implementation of the protocol. The meeting scheduled for January 7, 2010 in N'Djamena, Chad is a positive step toward implementation.

Full normalization of relations, including the ending of support for armed rebel groups on both sides, if fully implemented, remains a key element in advancing the Darfur Peace Process. The United States is fully committed to peace in Darfur and supports continued improvements in bilateral Chad-Sudan relations as an important step in that process.

Uganda: LRA Training Camps Now in South Darfur - SPLA

Angelo Izama
27 December 2009

The South Sudan People's Liberation Army has said the Lord's Resistance Army as well as other militias allied to the government of Omar El Bashir are training in Western Bahr-El-Ghazal.

Quoted in the Sudan Tribune the Spokesman for the southern army said its forces had engaged the LRA in Raja county in Western Bahr-El- Ghazal. This confirms earlier information (in September 2006) from Ugandan and western intelligence -sources that the LRA, which dodged a widely billed peace-deal with the Kampala government, had charted a course through DR Congo, Central African Republic and northbound to Bahr-E-Gazal.

At the time, sources had told this newspaper the plan was to find ground to set up camps and recuperate. "They would then be re-inserted into South Sudan in or around the time for the referendum for secession in 2011" the sources said.

The SPLA Spokesman Maj-Gen. Kuol Diem Kuol said they believed LRA fighters were receiving direct assistance from the Khartoum government. He said after a skirmish between SPLA troops and LRA combatants on December 19th they recovered food rations whose origin is northern.

"The LRA left behind a large quality of food, most of which are Dak, made in North Sudan," he said, adding that the rebels then fled toward CAR. "LRA is re-grouping and training in Sudan in Dimo in Southern Darfur. This is a fact known to the intelligence community - in the area of Kaskagi in the northwest of Darfur," he told the Tribune.

According to the Enough Project, an anti-genocide campaign group, this month that the LRA was planning end of year attacks on villages in DRC but warned that civilian protection was weak because the SPLA and other national and international forces were not equipped to deal with the rebel threat.

Uganda: LRA Kill 1,300 in Sudan, DRC

Hudson Apunyo
28 December 2009

1,300 civilians have died in Sudan and the Democratic Republic of Congo in 10 Months following Human Rights abuses allegedly committed by rebels of the Lord's Resistance Army, according to latest periodic reports by United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights.

One report on southern Sudan reveals attacks on civilians in Western and Central Equatoria States, between December 15 2008 and March 10 2009.

The report on the DRC states that at least 1,200 civilians were killed, including women who were raped before execution. According to the report, more than 100 people were wounded by gunshots and stabbing and about 1,400 people were abducted and some executed or are missing.

Sexual slavery"During their captivity, abductees were subjected to forced labour in fields, forced to carry looted goods or personal effects or recruited into the LRA. Women were forced to marry LRA members, subjected to sexual slavery, or both," the report released last week said.

It adds: "Thousands of homes, dozens of shops and businesses, as well as public buildings, including at least 30 schools, health centres, hospitals, churches, markets, and traditional seats of chiefdoms, were looted, set on fire and over 200,000 people were also displaced."

Describing harrowing experience from victims, the report called on the international community to co-operate with the ICC in investigating, arresting, and transferring all LRA leaders accused of international crimes.

The report also accused the DRC army, FARDC, of human rights violation of the displaced persons instead of protecting them.

"Soldiers of the Congolese armed forces, supposed to protect civilians, also committed human rights violations, including executions, rape, arbitrary arrests and detentions and illegal, cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment and extortion," the report said.

The report stated that attacks, systematic and widespread human rights violations carried out since mid-September 2008 against Congolese civilians may constitute war crimes and crimes against humanity.

The Sudan report on the other hand based on 27 confirmed attacks, reveals that at least 81 civilians were killed in attacks and many others injured.

"The evidence presented in this report suggests that LRA actions may amount to crimes against humanity," the report says. The reports recommended that the United Nation Mission in Sudan should exercise its protection of civilians since its mandated to prevent further loss of life.

"The international community, including governments, should cooperate with the ICC to search for, arrest and surrender the LRA leaders accused of war crimes and crimes against humanity. The international community should support meaningful peace efforts between governments in the region and the LRA," the report recommends.

Issues in report

Women were forced to marry LRA members, subjected to sexual slavery or both.

Thirty schools, health centres, hospitals, churches, markets, and traditional seats of chiefdoms, were looted, set on fire. Over 200,000 people were displaced.

The report describes the report as systematic and widespread human rights violations carried out since mid-September 2008 against Congolese civilians may constitute war crimes and crimes against humanity.

DRC army accused of violating rights displaced persons instead of protecting them.

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