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Posts tagged ‘Juba’

UN Sending Thousands of Peacekeeping Troops to South Sudan.


The United Nations Security Council voted to bolster the UN’s peacekeeping mission in South Sudan and help end the worsening conflict that has created at least one mass grave and forced tens of thousands to flee their homes.

The council unanimously approved U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s request to add up to 5,500 soldiers and 423 police officers to the force of 7,900 uniformed personnel already authorized for the U.N. mission in South Sudan.

“Political dialogue is the only solution to this crisis,” Ban told the council after the vote. “Now is the time for South Sudan’s leaders to show their people and the world that they are committed to peace.”

The world’s newest country, founded in 2011, South Sudan is at risk of breaking apart because of fighting that erupted on Dec. 15 between supporters of President Salva Kiir, an ethnic Dinka, and his deposed vice president, Riek Machar of the rival Nuer group.

At least 500 people have been killed, with some 100,000 internally displaced and about 45,000 civilians seeking protection at U.N. camps in the country.

Troops and police from five other U.N. peacekeeping missions — in Liberia, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Ivory Coast, and the Abyei and Darfur areas of Sudan — will be transferred to South Sudan, says the council’s resolution, which also authorizes Ban to generate “complementary force and asset.”

Ban on Monday recommended sending three attack helicopters, three utility helicopters and one Lockheed Martin Corp. C-130 Hercules transport plane.

West Texas Intermediate crude oil rose for the fourth time in five days as the conflict in South Sudan forced a partial shutdown of its oil production facilities. South Sudan exports about 220,000 barrels a day of crude, pumped mainly by China National Petroleum Corp., Malaysia’s Petroliam Nasional Bhd., and India’s Oil & Natural Gas Corp.

The Obama administration has stepped up preparations for a possible evacuation of U.S. personnel from South Sudan by positioning about 150 Marines in nearby Djibouti,  Benjamin Benson, a spokesman for U.S. Africa Command, said in an email Tuesday.

U.S. envoy Donald Booth met Monday with Kiir in the capital, Juba. The president expressed a willingness to begin talks with Machar “without preconditions, as soon as his counterpart was willing,” Booth said.

“The United States emphasizes the urgency of the situation and stands ready to support these efforts,” Booth said on a conference call.

Fighting broke out in South Sudan when gunmen attacked the presidential palace in Juba.

Machar, who is being hunted by government security forces, has demanded that Kiir step down for failing to unite the nation. Kiir fired Machar and the rest of his cabinet in July.

The two sides have agreed to an offer by neighboring Kenya to host peace talks, Kenyan Foreign Ministry Principal Secretary Karanja Kibicho said Monday in Nairobi.

Rebel forces loyal to Machar said they have captured crude-producing Unity state as the government evacuated some oil workers and plans a partial shutdown of facilities.

Fighters led by General James Kong Chol seized Bentiu, the Unity state’s capital, and other parts of the northern region on Saturday, and have aligned themselves with Machar, Chol said in a phone interview Sunday.

It was the second state to fall to anti-government forces since Kiir’s administration lost control of Bor, the capital of Jonglei province, to a group headed by Gen. Peter Gatdet Yak last Wednesday. Chol and Yak previously headed government forces in the two states.

“We’re controlling the area of Unity state,” Chol said from Bentiu. “My government planned to kill me, and I have nowhere to go. I decided to join Riek Machar.”

The U.N. discovered a mass grave in Bentiu amid reports of at least two others in  Juba, Navi Pillay, the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights, said in an emailed statement Tuesday.

A U.N. official who visited the Bentiu site reported at least 75 bodies, Pillay’s spokeswoman Elizabeth Throssell said in an email Tuesday, adding that the U.N. is working to verify reports of two other graves in Juba.

Pillay also expressed serious concern over reports that several hundred civilians were arrested during house-to-house searches and from various hotels in Juba. There also were reports that hundreds of members of the South Sudan National Police Service were ordered to be disarmed and arrested at police stations across Juba, according to the U.N. statement.

South Sudan’s oil-producing Upper Nile state is also facing tensions after gunmen attacked government forces in Nasir county, Philip Aguer, a spokesman for the national army, said by phone Sunday. He said he had no further information.

Kiir said yesterday he agreed to a request by the six-nation Intergovernmental Authority on Development to help mediate an end to the crisis.

“We’re ready for any dialogue, but Dr. Machar must come to the table without any preconditions,” he told lawmakers in Juba. “Through dialogue I think we can resolve this misunderstanding very quickly.”

South Sudan seceded from neighboring Sudan in July 2011 and took three-quarters of the formerly united country’s oil output. The landlocked country’s oil provides more than 95 percent of government revenue.

South Sudan has sub-Saharan Africa’s biggest oil reserves after Nigeria and Angola, according to BP Plc data. Its low-sulfur crude is prized by Japanese buyers as a cleaner-burning fuel for power generation.

ONGC repatriated its 11 employees, and the company’s joint venture has shut down oilfields in South Sudan that were producing about 40,000 barrels per day, Finance Director S.P. Garg said in a phone interview.

Chol said there is “no interruption to oil” production in the country. “Oil is still flowing,” he said.

Petroleum Minister Stephen Dhieu Dau said on Sunday that the evacuation of oil workers from the country was temporary and oil output from Upper Nile was flowing normally.

U.N. Assistant Secretary-General Toby Lanzer estimated the country will need $1.1 billion of humanitarian aid in 2014 because 62,000 people were displaced in the past week’s violence.

Four U.S. service members suffered gunshot wounds on Saturday while on flights to evacuate Americans from Bor. The United Nations had previously sent helicopters to evacuate staff from South Sudan, and one was hit and forced to land on Friday, The Associated Press reported.

About 380 U.S. officials and private citizens have been evacuated to Nairobi and other locations, along with about 300 others, U.S. State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said in an emailed statement Sunday.

President Barack Obama sent a letter to Congress on Sunday saying he “may take further action to support the security of U.S. citizens, personnel, and property, including our embassy” in South Sudan.

© Copyright 2013 Bloomberg News. All rights reserved.

Source: Newsmax.com

US, UN to Send Troops to South Sudan.


The U.S. and the United Nations are preparing to make more peacekeeping troops available for the growing conflict in South Sudan, as President Salva Kiir opened the door to talks with his deposed vice president.

U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon asked the Security Council for 5,500 soldiers to add to the peacekeeping mission of 7,000 already there. The U.S. is positioning troops in the Horn of Africa region to assist in any additional evacuations in South Sudan, Pentagon spokesman Colonel Steve Warren said yesterday.

At an emergency meeting yesterday in New York, all 15 members of the U.N. Security Council showed a “positive reaction”to Ban’s request for the troops, plus 423 police personnel, said Gerard Araud, French Ambassador to the United Nations and president of the council this month. The council may authorize the boost today, he said.

The military maneuvering underscored what Ban called the “mounting urgency”in South Sudan, where fighting that began Dec. 15 has killed at least 500 people. About 100,000 have been internally displaced and about 45,000 are seeking protection in and around at UN camps in the country, Araud said.

U.S. special envoy Donald Booth, who met yesterday with Kiir in the capital, Juba, said the president expressed a willingness to begin talks with former Vice President Riek Machar “without preconditions, as soon as his counterpart was willing.”

“The United States emphasizes the urgency of the situation and stands ready to support these efforts as necessary,” Booth told reporters on a conference call.

Rebel Leaders

Fighting broke out in South Sudan when gunmen attacked the presidential palace in Juba. The violence has been largely along ethnic lines, with Machar’s Nuer group pitted against the Dinka people of Kiir.

Machar, who is being hunted by government security forces, has demanded that Kiir step down for failing to unite the nation. Kiir fired Machar and the rest of his cabinet in July. The two sides agreed to an offer by neighboring Kenya to host peace talks, Kenyan Foreign Ministry Principal Secretary Karanja Kibicho told reporters yesterday in Nairobi.

Booth said he also met with 11 members of the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement who are detained in Juba. He said they expressed a readiness “to play a constructive role in ending the crisis through peaceful political dialogue and national reconciliation.”

Rebel forces loyal to Machar said they captured crude-producing Unity state as the government evacuated some oil workers and plans a partial shutdown of facilities.

Oil-Area Tensions

Fighters led by General James Kong Chol seized Bentiu, the state capital, and other parts of the northern region on Dec. 21 and have aligned themselves with Machar, Chol said in a phone interview Dec. 22. It was the second state to fall to anti-government forces after Kiir’s administration lost control of Bor, the capital of Jonglei province, to a group headed by General Peter Gatdet Yak on Dec. 18. Chol and Yak previously headed government forces in the two states.

“We’re controlling the area of Unity state,” Chol said from Bentiu. “My government planned to kill me and I have nowhere to go. I decided to join Riek Machar.”

South Sudan’s oil-producing Upper Nile state is also facing tensions after gunmen attacked government forces in Nasir county, Philip Aguer, a spokesman for the national army, said by phone Dec. 22. He said he had no further information.

Kiir said yesterday he agreed to a request by the six- nation Intergovernmental Authority on Development to help mediate an end to the crisis.

Japanese Bullets

“We’re ready for any dialogue, but Dr. Machar must come to the table without any preconditions,” he told lawmakers in Juba. “Through dialogue I think we can resolve this misunderstanding very quickly.”

South Sudan seceded from neighboring Sudan in July 2011 and took three-quarters of the formerly united country’s oil output. The landlocked country exports all its crude, about 220,000 barrels a day, through pipelines across Sudan. The oil provides more than 95 percent of government revenue.

South Sudan has sub-Saharan Africa’s biggest oil reserves after Nigeria and Angola, according to BP Plc data. Its low- sulfur crude is prized by Japanese buyers as a cleaner-burning fuel for power generation. Japan will supply 10,000 bullets for UN peacekeepers in South Sudan, marking the first exemption under the Asian nation’s self-imposed curbs on arms exports, Kyodo News reported, without citing anyone.

South Sudan’s crude is pumped mainly by China National Petroleum Corp., Malaysia’s Petroliam Nasional Bhd. and India’s Oil & Natural Gas Corp.

‘No Interruption’

ONGC repatriated its 11 employees and the company’s joint venture has shut down oilfields in South Sudan that were producing about 40,000 barrels per day, Finance Director S.P. Garg said in a phone interview.

Chol said there is “no interruption to oil”production in the country. “Oil is still flowing,”he said.

Petroleum Minister Stephen Dhieu Dau said on Dec. 22 the evacuation of oil workers from the country is temporary and oil output from Upper Nile is flowing normally.

UN Assistant Secretary-General Toby Lanzer estimated the country will need $1.1 billion of humanitarian aid in 2014 after 62,000 people were displaced in the past week’s violence.

Four U.S. service members suffered gunshot wounds on Dec. 21 while on flights to evacuate Americans from Bor. The UN had previously sent helicopters to evacuate staff from South Sudan, and one was hit and forced to land on Dec. 20, according to the Associated Press.

Evacuation Requests

The U.S. military is positioning forces to respond to any requests from the State Department to evacuate personnel, said Warren, the Pentagon spokesman. He offered no details on troop numbers or whether any U.S. troops were entering South Sudan.

Three of the four U.S. troops injured earlier were stable enough to be taken to the military hospital in Landstuhl, Germany, he said. The fourth will continue to receive care from U.S. forces in Nairobi, he said.

About 380 U.S. officials and private citizens have been evacuated to Nairobi and other locations, along with about 300 others, U.S. State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said in an emailed statement Dec. 22.

President Barack Obama sent a letter to Congress Dec. 22 saying he “may take further action to support the security of U.S. citizens, personnel, and property, including our embassy” in South Sudan.

© Copyright 2013 Bloomberg News. All rights reserved.
Source: Newsmax.com

Sudan border rebellion risks unraveling South Sudan deal: UK envoy.


By Hereward Holland

JUBA (Reuters) – Sudan’s simmering border rebellions could yet unravel a freshly signed deal withSouth Sudan and jeopardise the expected resumption of the South’s oil flows through Sudan, a British envoy said on Friday.

Sudan and South Sudan, long-time foes, agreed last week on a timetable to create a demilitarised buffer zone along their contested 2,000-km (1,250-mile) border, capping months of acrimonious negotiations.

That move to secure the shared boundary cleared the way for landlocked South Sudan to order oil companies to resume pumping its crude oil through Sudan to the Red Sea, ending a 15-month shutdown that had hit both economies.

Diplomats who brokered the deal had to overcome deep distrust between both sides – and Khartoum’s repeated accusations that Juba was supplying weapons to rebels fighting in the Sudanese border states of Blue Nile and South Kordofan.

“A lot of (the deal) risks being undermined if Sudan believes that South Sudan is continuing to support what they see as their rebels,” said Alastair McPhail, the British Ambassador to South Sudan.

“They don’t have to be good friends, they just have to be good neighbours.”

Relations between Sudan and South Sudan remain deeply troubled following decades of fighting fueled by oil, ethnicity, religion and territorial disputes.

The 1983-2005 civil war between Khartoum and southern rebels ended in a peace deal that paved the way for the South to declare independence from Sudan in July 2011.

But border skirmishes brought both countries’ armies close to war in April last year – and Sudan has continued to clash with the border state rebels, many of whom sided with the south during the civil war and say they want to overthrow the Khartoum government.

“If there is no agreement in Southern Kordofan and Blue Nile there will always be tension because the border is so important at the moment,” McPhail, who is leaving South Sudan later this month, told Reuters in an interview.

Sudan’s repeated accusations that the South is backing the insurgents have scuppered past efforts to get an accord. Khartoum walked away from a deal in September, demanding guarantees that the support had stopped.

Juba rejects the charge and accuses Sudan of supporting insurgents in the South.

DIPLOMATS HARASSED

South Sudan’s decision to shut down its oil flow months after declaring independence took away its only real source of hard currency and devastated its already impoverished economy.

McPhail said the state needed to do more to improve its legal system if it wanted to have any chance of attracting more foreign investment.

Several foreign businesses have been forced to leave because they have been unable protect their investments, he added.

“(This) sends a very poor message to the international community. I think it’s a lot of isolated cases. It’s not just one or two but I’m not sure that it’s endemic,” he said.

McPhail said he is also worried about the South Sudan government’s increasing intolerance of dissenting voices.

Several critics have fled the country in recent months. The government denies it is clamping down on critics, and says it is investigating shooting death of an outspoken columnist in December.

“It impacts on all of us. Not just the media but diplomats have been harassed. Foreign nationals have been harassed,” McPhail said.

“It’s about a pattern of behaviour and if some people in the organised forces are going beyond their mandates, if they are killing people extra-judicially, if they are detaining people, then that’s a concern not just to us but to South Sudanese.”

Source: YAHOO NEWS.

By Hereward Holland | Reuters

Sudan army battles rebels in border state with South Sudan.


KHARTOUM (Reuters) – Sudan‘s army said on Monday it fought off a rebel advance in a volatile state bordering South Sudan, but the insurgents said they had made a “tactical withdrawal” after a successful operation.

The remote border area has been plagued by conflict since South Sudan broke away from Sudan as an independent country in July, 2011.

Fighting between Sudanese government forces and rebels, who sided with the south in a decades-long civil war that led up to the secession, has forced hundreds of thousands of people to flee their homes.

Sudan’s armed forces spokesman Al-Sawarmi Khalid Saad said the army had repulsed an insurgent attack on the Surkum area in Blue Nile state.

“The armed forces managed to … inflict heavy losses on the rebels,” in fighting had lasted from late Sunday until Monday morning, he told Reuters.

Arnu Lodi, a spokesman for the rebel Sudan People’s Liberation Movement North (SPLM-N), gave a different account.

“We withdrew for tactical reasons,” he said, adding that the pull-out followed rebel attacks on government camps in the area on Sunday.

The rebels accuse the Khartoum government of discriminating against their communities on the border, and have joined an alliance with insurgents from other areas, vowing to topple Sudan’s President Omar Hassan al-Bashir

The two sides often give conflicting accounts of the fighting in the remote regions, which are extremely difficult to verify independently because of government restrictions on access for independent observers.

The violence in Blue Nile state and another border state, South Kordofan, has strained relations between the two countries.

Khartoum accuses South Sudan of supporting the rebels, which Juba denies.

South Sudan ordered its troops out of a buffer zone on the roughly 2,000-km border on Monday as agreed at African Union-brokered talks, but diplomats remain cautious and say they are waiting for concrete signs of movement.

Source: YAHOO NEWS.

Reuters

Sudan, South Sudan agree to oil flow restart within 2 weeks: mediator.


ADDIS ABABA (Reuters) – Sudan and South Sudan have agreed to order the resumption of the flow of southern oil exports through pipelines in Sudan within two weeks, more than a year after Juba shut down its entire output, a mediator said on Tuesday.

Landlocked South Sudan, which seceded from Sudan in July 2011, shut down its 350,000 barrel-per-day output in January last year in a dispute with Khartoum over fees.

Both countries depended heavily on oil for revenue and the foreign currency they use to import food and fuel, but disputes over the border and other issues prevented the two from resuming exports.

Sudan’s chief negotiator Idris Mohammed Abdel Gadir signed a deal with his South Sudanese counterpart Pagan Amum setting out a timeline for resumption of oil after four days of African Union-brokered talks in Addis Ababa.

Asked when the orders would be given to resume oil flows, former South African President Thabo Mbeki, who is mediating between the two sides, told reporters: “The instruction to the companies is D-day (March 10) plus 14.”

The two former civil war enemies agreed at the talks in the Ethiopian capital on Friday to order the withdrawal of their troops from a demilitarized border zone within a week to ease tensions and open the way to resuming the oil exports.

South Sudan’s president has given those orders, the country’s armed spokesman said on Monday.

After teetering on the brink of full-scale conflict in April during the worst border clashes since their split, the two countries had agreed in September to set up the buffer zone. However, they did not implement it.

Some 2 million people died in Sudan’s decades-long north-south civil war, which ended with a 2005 peace deal that paved the way for the South’s secession.

Source: YAHOO NEWS.

Reuters

South Sudan army says to pull out of border buffer zone.


JUBA (Reuters) – South Sudan’s President Salva Kiir has ordered his country’s army to pull out of a buffer zone area on the border with Sudan as agreed at African Union-brokered talks, South Sudan’s army spokesman said on Monday.

The two former civil war rivals agreed at the talks on Friday to order the withdrawal within a week to ease tensions that have plagued them since South Sudan seceded in July 2011.

After teetering on the brink of full-scale conflict in April during the worst border clashes since their split, the two countries had agreed in September to set up the buffer zone. However, they did not implement it.

The agreement, if adhered to, would be a major step toward resuming oil exports from landlocked South Sudan through pipelines in Sudan, which Juba shut off during a row over fees more than a year ago.

Both countries depended heavily on oil for revenue and the foreign currency they use to import food and fuel for their conflict-weary and impoverished populations.

“The Sudan People’s Liberation Army has received instructions from the commander in chief of the SPLA (army), President Salva Kiir, to effect the withdrawal from the proposed safe demilitarised buffer zone,” South Sudan armed forces spokesman Philip Aguer said.

The withdrawal would take about two weeks, he said.

Negotiations over unresolved issues after the partition of the two countries, including border disputes, oil and debt have been marred by mutual distrust from a decades-long north-south civil war when some 2 million people were killed.

Source: YAHOO NEWS.

Reuters

Christians Grow Anxious in ‘100 Percent’ Islamic Sudan.


South Sudanese Christians
South Sudanese worshippers attend Sunday prayers in Baraka Parish church at Hajj Yusuf, on the outskirts of Khartoum, Feb. 10. Sudan‘s President Omar Hassan al-Bashir has said he wants to adopt a ‘100 percent’ Islamic constitution now that the South has split off. (Reuters/Mohamed Nureldin Abdallah )

When Pastor Kamis went to visit his small church in the Sudanese capital just before Christmas last year, he found a pile of rubble and the remains of a single blue wall.

Hours earlier, authorities had sent in a bulldozer and workers backed by police to demolish the Africa Inland church, which used to lie in a slum suburb of Khartoum.

The structure was one of several small churches that the government has knocked down over the past few months, shocking Christians who worry they will not be able to practice their faith in majority-Muslim Sudan now that the country’s south—where most follow Christianity or traditional animist beliefs—has seceded.

“The government says the land was owned by some businessman, but I think they destroyed our church because they want to target Christians,” said Kamis, a native of South Sudan, which split away in July 2011.

Sudan’s President Omar Hassan al-Bashir has said he wants to adopt a “100 percent” Islamic constitution now that the South has split off.

The government says the new constitution will guarantee religious freedom, but many Christians are wary. They say authorities started a crackdown in December and it has been getting worse.

Last week, security agents raided the library of the Sudan Presbyterian Evangelical Church, founded by missionaries in central Khartoum more than a hundred years ago, seizing all books to check on their content, church sources told Reuters.

“They took hundreds of books and the entire archive, not just religious literature,” said a church source, who like most others interviewed for this article asked for anonymity or to be identified by only their first and last name for fear of arrest.

Several church-affiliated institutions such as orphanages or schools have also been closed and a number of foreigners working for them have been deported, according to the Geneva-based World Council of Churches, a global ecumenical church body.

“Christians in the north are compromised because they are no longer respected. They cannot even celebrate Christmas anymore,” said Daniel Deng Bul, the Juba-based archbishop and primate of the Episcopal Church of Sudan, which covers both Sudans and is part of the Anglican community.

Most southerners have moved south since the birth of their country but some 350,000 are estimated to remain in Khartoum. Some Christians also live in the Nuba Mountains, a region bordering South Sudan.

Although Muslims have dominated Sudan for centuries, Christian roots go back to the 5th century. Missionaries were active in the 1800s, mainly from the Anglican, Presbyterian, Catholic, Africa Inland and Coptic churches. Without accurate census information, it is not yet clear what the current breakdown is. Some tribes also practice animist beliefs.

Hardline Islamists
Officials strongly deny any discrimination against Christians. “All religions can practice their faith in total freedom,” said Rabie Abdelati, a senior official in Bashir’s National Congress Party. “There are no restrictions at all.”

Authorities say Kamis’ church was bulldozed only after it lost a legal case against a businessman who claimed the land.

“The church was erected on land owned by a citizen who filed a complaint,” said an official at the government land protection unit, which removes illegal buildings. He asked not to be named.

“In November 2011 we took the decision to remove the church which has no permit to use the land. We gave the church several warnings.”

But church officials ask why only the church, built around 2000, was demolished and not the buildings right next to it in the densely inhabited district. Less than one km away in the same area lie the remnants of the St. John church of the Episcopal Church of Sudan, which authorities also tore down. Officials pointed to a missing license in that case, too.

Christians concede that some churches were built without formal paperwork but say that was because permits or licenses to build proved so difficult to obtain, and authorities signaled they would tolerate them.

The situation was exacerbated after secession when South Sudanese became foreigners, requiring them to get new building permits for existing churches which authorities didn’t grant.

For archbishop Bul, the license argument is just an excuse to clamp down.

“You cannot get a license and then they ask you where is the license? So how do I get the license – from God?,” Bul said.

Bashir has been facing pressure from religious hardliners who feel his government has given up the values of his 1989 Islamist coup. He has been also facing small street protests in Khartoum and other cities against galloping inflation.

Mobs stormed several churches in Khartoum last year, in one case burning Bibles in public. Activists say the government did little to prevent the attacks.

“Authorities did not investigate properly or prosecute those responsible,” said Jehanne Henry, a Sudan researcher at New York-based Human Rights Watch. “We have seen clear signs of rising intolerance for religious and ethnic diversity since the separation of South Sudan.”

In September, a crowd attacked the U.S., British and German embassies to protest against a film which mocked Islam’s Prophet Mohammad.

The peaceful demonstration permitted by the government was hijacked by Islamists who first attacked the embassies and then turned the march into an anti-government protest after two people were killed in clashes with riot police.

Since that incident, officials have tried to appease Islamists, worried about their ability to mobilize the crowds.

In December, Sudan’s tightly controlled press began printing accusations that foreign missionaries were planning to convert Muslims, a crime punishable by death in Sudan.

A group of foreigners—some church sources say more than 100 people—were deported when newspapers reported a Muslim girl had been baptized.

Some of the deported were only loosely affiliated with churches, such as expatriates giving English lessons to children in their free time.

In Limbo
Many churches and affiliated schools have transferred their ownership from South Sudanese pastors, who have been in legal limbo since they become foreigners after secession, to people from the Nuba Mountains, who are citizens.

Sudan and South Sudan agreed in September to give citizens in both countries the right to live, work and own property wherever they chose to settle, but the pact has not been implemented because border and resource disputes have soured relations.

Transferring ownership has not necessarily resolved the issue. Security agents closed a community centre operating on church land which included a Nuba language school and an English school run by a Nuba teacher.

The Nuba are already viewed with suspicion by officials in Sudan because many sided with the South during decades of civil war and have now joined a rebellion in South Kordofan and Blue Nile states on the border with South Sudan. Khartoum says its arch foe South Sudan is supporting the insurgency.

“We are supposed to be citizens with equal rights but in the eyes of the government we are a foreign entity which seeks to destroy Sudan,” said one Christian of an evangelical church from the Nuba mountains.

Despair and anxiety is palpable in many of Khartoum’s churches, most of which date back to the British colonial era which ended in 1955.

Church leaders say they plan to fight any repressive steps. A delegation submitted a letter to the government addressed to Bashir on Monday asking for the confiscated books, many of which are not available in state libraries, to be returned, a church source said.

In a Sunday service in a tiny mud brick building now used as church next to the bulldozed building, one preacher, who asked to be identified only by his family name Said, tried to convey a message of strength to the few worshippers who have continued coming out since the demolition.

“The government destroyed our church but we don’t have to be afraid,” he said, addressing a crowd of just 11 adults and four children seated on plastic chairs.

“God will always protect us,” Said said, chanting “Hallelujah” while flies flew around in the stuffy room.

Source: CHARISMA NEWS.

Ulf Laessing/Reuters


Editing by Sonya Hepinstall

© 2013 Thomson Reuters. All rights reserved.

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