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Posts tagged ‘Khartoum’

Bishop: Sudan’s Christians Are ‘On the Cross’ Daily.

Bishop Macram Gassis
Bishop Macram Gassis says Christians and others in the Nubas are still suffering at the hands of the Islamist regime. (CBN News)

Twenty-two years of war between North and South Sudan ended when southerners gained independence in July 2011.

But fighting in disputed areas of Sudan has continued as Khartoum attempts to control and Islamize non-Arabs by waging jihad on regions like Sudan’s Nuba Mountains.

A prominent Sudanese bishop is in Washington this week asking Americans to help alleviate the suffering.

Macram Gassis, bishop of Sudan’s El-Obeid Diocese, said Christians and others in the Nubas are still suffering at the hands of the Islamist regime.

“They are on the cross in a special way because bombing is daily, the Khartoum government has sealed all the entrances into the Nuba Mountains,” Gassis explained. “So, there is no food, no medicine, no fuel, no nothing.”

Not far from the Nuba Mountains, near the border between Sudan and South Sudan, is the disputed region of Abiye. During recent referendum, the people of Abiye voted to join South Sudan, something Sudan has rejected in the past.

“Khartoum is finding it difficult to give up Abiye because Abiye is floating on oil,” Gassis said.

The people of Abiye belong to the Dinka tribe, the dominant tribe of South Sudan. Many of them are Christians.

But the people of the Nubas and Abiye aren’t the only groups under attack. Christians still residing in Khartoum and elsewhere in the north are experiencing persecution.

“Southerners are not looked at favorably,” Gassis said. “They tell them, ‘You are foreigners, you are unwanted here, why don’t you go back to your country?’ There is pressure not to get any more missionary personnel form the outside. We don’t have the possibilities of building churches now anymore in northern Sudan.”

Bishop Gassis is asking Americans to pray for the Sudanese people–especially those in the Nubas, Khartoum, and Abiye.

He also urged Christians to take action.

“Prayers without action are dead prayers,” Gassis insisted.

Click here to learn more about Bishop Gassis and his work in Sudan.

Amid Christian Persecution, Sudan Government Proclaims Religious Freedom.

Sudanese Islamists
Islamic faithfuls attend a wedding ceremony in Sudan. Sudan’s minister of guidance and endowments says no new licenses for building Christian churches will be issued, but he says the freedom to worship is guaranteed in the country, where 97 percent adhere to Islam. (Scott D. Haddow / Creative Commons)

Sudan’s minister of guidance and endowments, Al-Fatih Taj El-sir, announced Wednesday that no new licenses for building churches will be issued. The Ministry of Guidance and Social Endowments oversees religious affairs in the country.

The minister explained this decision by claiming that no new churches had been established since the secession of South Sudan in July 2011, due to a lack of worshippers, and due to a growth in the number of abandoned church buildings. He added there was therefore no need for new churches but said the freedom to worship is guaranteed in Sudan.

This decision was announced against the backdrop of a campaign of repression against Christians in northern Sudan that began in December and has continued into 2013. Days before this announcement, the Catholic Information Service for Africa reported a senior South Sudanese Catholic priest, Father Maurino, and two expatriate missionaries had been deported on April 12.

The two missionaries, one from France and the other from Egypt, worked with children in Khartoum. According to Fr. Maurino, no reason was given for the deportations. He added that Christians were in trouble in Sudan, since the government sought to Islamize the country and eliminate the Christian presence.

In a briefing published this month, Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW) states that since December, the organization “has noted an increase in arrests, detentions and deportations of Christians and of those suspected of having links to them, particularly in Khartoum and Omodorum, Sudan’s largest cities. There has also been a systematic targeting of members of African ethnic groups, particularly the Nuba, lending apparent credence to the notion of the resurgence of an official agenda of Islamisation and Arabisation.

“The campaign of repression [has] continued into 2013, with foreign Christians being arrested and deported at short notice and those from Sudan facing arrest, detention and questioning by the security services, as well as the confiscation of property such as mobile phones, identity cards and laptops. In addition to the arrests and deportations, local reports cite a media campaign warning against ‘Christianisation.’”

In February, at least 55 Christians linked to the evangelical church in Khartoum were detained without charge. On Feb. 18, the cultural center of the Sudan Presbyterian Evangelical Church in Khartoum was raided by the National Intelligence and Security Services. Three people were arrested at the premises, and several items were confiscated, including books and media equipment. The three arrested were all from South Sudan; one was released days after the initial arrest.

CSW’s advocacy director, Andrew Johnston, says, “The recent spike in religious repression in Sudan is deeply worrying. The minister’s claims of guaranteeing freedom to worship are at odds with regular reports of Christians being harassed, arrested and, in some cases, expelled from the country at short notice. We urge the Sudanese government to end its campaign of harassment against the Christian community and respect the right of all of its citizens to freedom of religion or belief, as outlined in Article 18 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), to which Sudan is a signatory.



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.


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.”


By Hereward Holland | Reuters

South Sudan orders firms to restart oil production: minister.

JUBA (Reuters) – South Sudan has ordered oil firms to restart production of crude oil for export through Sudan, the petroleum minister said on Thursday, more than a year after the new nation shut down the industry.

The order comes after Sudan and South Sudan agreed on Friday to withdraw their troops from a border buffer zone, easing tensions and opening the way for a resumption of oil flows.

The landlocked South shut down its oil industry in January last year during a row with Khartoum over how much it should pay to export its crude through Sudan.

The new nation produced about 350,000 barrels per day of crude before the shutdown. It also depended on oil for about 98 percent of state income and for almost all of the foreign currency it uses to import food and fuel.

“South Sudan, officially, from today is giving the orders to the operators and we hope that within a short time the oil will flow,” Petroleum and Mining Minister Stephen Dhieu Dau told reporters.

“Based on the previous preparation, we hope that within two to three weeks we will be able to resume and to pump the oil through the pipeline.”

He said all petroleum operations within the producing blocks 1/2/4, 3/7 and 5a were instructed to restart.

South Sudan seceded from Sudan under a 2005 peace deal that ended decades of north-south civil war.



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.



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.



Sudan, South Sudan in fresh talks to set up buffer zone.


ADDIS ABABA (Reuters) – Sudan and South Sudan resumed stalled talks on Friday aimed at setting up a demilitarized border zone along their porous border, an official said, in a fresh bid to settle a long-standing dispute over oil and land.

South Sudan seceded from the north in 2011 after decades of war but border disputes and disagreements over oil pipeline fees dragged on, delaying much-needed economic development.

The landlocked South shut down its oil production of 350,000 barrels per day a year ago during a row over how much it should pay the north to pipe its crude to a coastal terminal for export.

With oil the lifeline of both economies, the move has strained their state budgets, weakened currencies, stoked inflation and worsened economic hardship.

Defense ministers from both sides started a new round of talks in Addis Ababa to set up a buffer zone along the frontier, a southern delegation member said.

After teetering on the brink of full-scale conflict in April over the worst border clashes since their split, both countries agreed in September to set up a buffer zone, which could defuse tensions enough for the South to resume oil output.

However, neither side has pulled its army from the almost 2,000-km (1,200-mile) border due to mistrust left from one of Africa’s longest civil wars.

Friday’s talks will be the first gathering in nearly two months held on the back of mutual accusations that both were making new demands for the border zone.

Two meetings between Sudan’s President Omar Hassan al-Bashir and South Sudan’s Salva Kiir in Addis Ababa in January failed to break the stalemate.

Animosity runs high between Bashir’s government in Khartoum and his former foes up the Nile in Juba.

Nearly 2 million people died in the north-south civil war, which left South Sudan economically devastated and awash with guns.

Khartoum also accuses Juba of backing rebels of the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-North (SPLM-North) in South Kordofan and Blue Nile, two Sudan states bordering the South.

The SPLM-North, made up of fighters who sided with the South during the civil war, controls part of the Sudan side of the border, which complicates setting up the buffer zone.

South Sudan has denied supporting the rebels.

(Reporting by Aaron Maasho; Editing by Alexander Dziadosz and Michael Roddy)


By Aaron Maasho | Reuters

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