November 26, 2008

Eastern Desert academic conference

A conference takes place in Cairo: the main lecture is titled "The History of the Peoples in the Eastern Deserts of Egypt and Sudan."

The region between the Red Sea and the Nile Valley in Egypt and Sudan is referred to as the Eastern Desert. The desertification of this region started with the end of the Holocene pluvial period and continues until today. The mobile hunter-herder-gatherers that left the region to settle in the Nile Valley are regarded as one of the driving forces behind the advent of Pharaonic civilization. Despite environmental degradation and scholarly neglect, the Eastern Desert has native inhabitants and a history of its own.

The mineral wealth in the Eastern Desert has attracted outsiders from early times onward, who in turn have been the focus of the attention of historians and archaeologists. The same is true for the trade routes that connected the Nile Valley with sub-Saharan Africa, Arabia Felix, India and the enigmatic Land of Punt. The study of the Eastern Desert is also hampered by the limitations of the historical sources, by the low archaeological visibility of the remains of the desert dwellers, and by ambiguous ethnographic parallels.

A conference organized by the Cotsen Institute of Archaeology (University of California, Los Angeles) at the NVIC aims to address the problems and possibilities of the study of the dwellers of the Eastern Desert, as well as to provide an overview of the current state of our knowledge. The preliminary conclusions of this conference will be presented in this Cleveringa Lecture. The region and its inhabitants, ancient and modern, also bring into focus some ethical issues, especially appropriate as this lecture was instituted to commemorate the courageous moral stance taken by Professor Cleveringa during the Nazi occupation of the Netherlands.

November 24, 2008

Leading cause of death in east Sudan

Top UN official appeals for over $2 billion to fund humanitarian projects
(UN News Service), 20/11/08: The top United Nations relief official on Thursday called for more than $2 billion for humanitarian projects next year in Sudan, with almost half of the funds being earmarked for the war-torn region of Darfur, where violence has uprooted nearly half the 6 million-strong population.

Speaking in Geneva Thursday, Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs John Holmes said that while a quarter of the needs for Sudan have been met, over $1.5 billion is still needed for the vast nation in 2009.
"The extent of the appeal to donors is even more ambitious given the global economic environment and the parallel needs swelling in the neighbouring Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), Somalia, Ethiopia and elsewhere,"he said at the launch of the fifth annual Sudan Work Plan.

Humanitarian efforts in Sudan must not slacken or be reduced, stressed Mr. Holmes, who also serves as UN Emergency Relief Coordinator.

"More than ever, the international community and the governments concerned need to pull
together to ensure that millions of people are afforded access to relief and recovery assistance," he added. "Otherwise, we risk undermining achievements to date or jeopardizing critical events ahead."

In the past four years, the UN and its partners have endeavoured to deliver food, water, shelter and and other basic services to many parts of the country and have also built clinics and schools.

In some regions of the country, more than half of the population still has no access to clean water, with even fewer able to access proper sanitation, the Coordinator said, adding that diarrhea remains a leading cause of death in parts of Sudan's east.

November 9, 2008

Former Eastern Front Soldiers - what's happening?

According to Akhir Lahza newspaper, NSDDRC embarked on preparations to reintegrate a group of 2900 of the remaining demobilized Eastern Front’s elements by the end of the current year. Eastern Front’s forces have been integrated into the SAF and NISS. Director of the DRR Suaad Abul Raziq told SMC that authorities concerned have actually began integrating 1700 of the Eastern Front’s combatants in addition to 1200 SAF and PDF. The process is funded by various sources including UN. She said so far 1060 combatants have been integrated and the remaining target is 640. The second stage will target 1200 SAF and PDF elements.

Some soldiers have been assigned jobs as drivers in Saudi Arabia during the Hajj.

UNMIS - November 9, 2008.

September 3, 2008

Former soldiers finally being assisted

Beja militants of the Beja Congress joined with militants from the Rashaida tribe back in early 2005, and acted as the Eastern Front. They put small scale armed pressure against federal forces. Political members negotiated with the federal government to try to get assistance to the poorly serviced parts of Eastern Sudan. Eventually a peace agreement was signed in November 2006, and the militants were to be assimilated into either the police force or the national army.
That integration was to begin in June or July of 2007. Today's article - reprinted below - states that the demobilization of 2900 soldiers in Eastern Sudan has begun, 14 months late.

Al-Ahdath stated that the Northern Sudan DDR Commission began integrating 2900 of demobilized soldiers of the Eastern Front, SAF and PDF in eastern Sudan. The chairman of the Commission Sulaf Al-Din Saleh has apologized for the delay of integration in Eastern Sudan adding that the process was enjoying the support of the state’s highest political levels. He also pointed out the contribution of UNDP towards the process.

Representative of the Defence Minister Maj. Gen. Abdul Karim Abdul Faraj said 76 projects have been provided for reintegration purposes and 500 additional projects would be provided to the demobilized soldiers during this month as well as 750 jobs.


Additional information is found in a Sudan Vision article

August 30, 2008

How much oil does Sudan have?

In an August 30 Sudan Vision article, the Sudanese Minister of Energy and Mining said that the oil reserves in Sudan amount to 6 billion barrels. Current extraction is about 475-500,000 barrels per day.

At that rate, the oil in Sudan will last about 34 years before it gets depleted.

A 28 inch pipe brings oil from south central Sudan to the coast of the Red Sea, where a specalized shipping port, storage facilities and a small refinery have been built. Most oil exported by ship goes to China.

August 18, 2008

Beja Congress seek to resolve international disputes

Al-Sahafa reported that participants at a general convention of the Beja Congress have demanded arbitration for Halaib to address the dispute between Sudan and Egypt over the Triangle. The convention revealed that Egyptian authorities have detained several Sudanese nationals in the Triangle. The convention which was concluded yesterday [August 17, 2008], renewed confidence in the chairmanship of Musa Mohamed Ahmed.


Background Material by BJ
The Halaib triangle was created in 1906 [?] by the British administration as they were determining the demarkation between Egypt and Soudan. The line gave more land to Sudan, I think because access was easier from Sudan than from Egypt. As well, the line more accurately marked boundaries between two tribes, [the Bisharin to the south and the Ababda to the north.] I believe the points of the line itself mark various hill tops- [ease in surveying I guess]. Separate from this news is the recent plan to drill for oil in the area [if oil is found, taxes can be levied]. This has made national sovereignty over the land important, and Egypt has taken steps to assert her authority in the area.

August 19, 2008. Key Beja Congress leaders removed.
A further report from the second Beja Congress’ general convention as published by Al-Sahafa says that the convention decided to relieve Presidential Advisor Amna Dirar, Deputy Governor of Gedaref State Idriss Nour and MP Saleh Hassaballah from their posts.
The convention also and called for appointment of special prosecutor for Port Sudan incidents. [Presumably the events which occurred in January 2005 - 27 Beja residents of Port Sudan were killed by government security forces.]

Additional article available at [August 24, 2008]

August 11, 2008

Is the ESPA not working?

A recent Reuters article is titled: "Sudan's east risks war if soldiers not paid - official"

In the article a [former] Beja Congress leader warns that the peace agreement signed between the Eastern Front and the national government is not working. Promised development funds have not been paid, and promises made to soldiers have not been kept.

Read the original article here

Mousa and Amna Dirar

[date and location of photo not known]
Sourced from files of Dr. Osman Seidi

 Text of original article:

Sudan's east risks war if soldiers not paid - official

Sudan's eastern fighters may return to war if they do not receive money and training to rejoin society as required under an eastern peace deal, a presidential advisor warned on Sunday. Amna Dirar, one of the leaders of the Eastern Front which fought Khartoum for years before they joined a coalition government after a peace deal in 2006, also said only a fifth of the cash promised for developing the impoverished east had emerged in 2008.

"Whenever people are expecting to get their jobs and they justice from previous experience in Sudan and eastern Sudan that means people can take again their weapons and can fight again," she said in an interview. "That is what we are afraid of," she added, claiming that almost 2,000 soldiers have been waiting in camps in the east to be disarmed, demobilised and reintegrated into society, a process called DDR. Another 1,200 have already joined Sudan's police or armed forces.

The east is one of the poorest parts of Sudan with rural malnutrition rates as high as in other conflict areas in Africa's largest country. The population is often afflicted by drought. The east contains much of Sudan's gold reserves, has its only seaport and it is where the oil pipelines also export crude from.

Ms. Dirar said the government should fund projects for the demobilised fighters like training them for farming or giving them cash to open private businesses. However, no money had yet been allocated by the ministry of finance and the fighters were becoming frustrated, she added.

Developing the region was a key reason the Eastern Front took up arms like rebels in Sudan's more famous western Darfur region and the north-south conflict which was Africa's longest civil war. The deal specified $600 million to be paid over four years with $125 million due in 2008. But Dirar said the $25 million so far paid this year for development was not enough. "We are the (most) marginalised of the marginalised," she said. "The $25 million itself cannot solve any kind of problem."

She said the government was struggling to find the cash for all the peace deals it had signed and urged all those who had joined the government to unite efforts to implement the accords rather than all fighting separate battles. "Although we have stopped fighting with weapons still we are fighting words and by committees and meetings to ensure that the peace agreement will be implemented," she said.

Dirar also said many in the east claimed they had not been counted in a national census this year and that the results should be revised so people would accept them.

The census results are due towards the end of the year and are sensitive as they will help decide development quotas and constituencies ahead of Sudan's first democratic elections in 23 years due in 2009.

Dirar said she was not very optimistic the elections would happen on time because the Darfur conflict was still unresolved and that the west had to be included for any vote to be acceptable.

She said her party was open to electoral alliances but may decide to field its own presidential candidate.

So far the former southern rebel Sudan People's Liberation Movement are the only party to declare they will compete with President Omar Hassan al-Bashir.

August 8, 2008

YouTube video website blocked in Sudan

The BBC reports that since July 22, the internet video site, YouTube, has been unavailable inside Sudan.

The blocking of the site is being coordinated by the National Telecommunication Corporation. Some videos have been uploaded that show tough police action. Various human rights and journalists groups have denounced the banning of the site.

News story:

Videos about the Beja people
There are many videos about the Beja people on You Tube. Here's a link to about 70 of them, some have been viewed over 15,000 times.


July 21, 2008

Giant Dust Storm- early July

The photo was taken by a NASA satellite, and captures a dust storm that may have started about 1000 kilometers to the west.

June 10, 2008

Peace Agreement in action - Education conference

A education conference is planned for June 23 and 24, 2008, in Port Sudan. Educators from the three eastern states [Red Sea, Kassala and Gedarif] will meet together. A meeting in Kassala was recently held to prepare for this June event.

One of the features of the Peace Agreement signed in 2006 with the Eastern Front was to explore ways of enhancing education for citizens in the east.

Read the whole article. [Assemble into one line first before copying.]

June 9, 2008

What are the best decisions?

Eastern Front threatens to hold its chairman accountable
(Al-Sahafa) Eastern Front’s Central Committee member and governor of Gedaref State Mr. Idris Nour Mohamed said an extraordinary meeting of all members would be held to bring the Eastern Front leader and Presidential Assistant Musa Mohamed Ahmed to accountability for marginalizing Front leaders and taking some decisions without consultation.

See comments below.

May 31, 2008

Eastern Peace Agreement forgotten?

In Tokyo, Japan, the president of Sudan made the keynote speech at a conference on African Development. He proclaimed the glories of democracy. He noted a desire among nations for stability, to overcome diseases and poverty, but acknowledged debt as a significant factor in preventing these good plans from being realized.
With debt being cancelled development could go ahead, as long as peace existed. Field Marshal Omer Al-Bashir then reminded the other governmental leaders that peace agreements had been signed with regional factions in Sudan. Though short, in this reveiew, The Eastern Sudan Peace Agreement was not mentioned. Bashir said:
Peace in the Sudan is our strategic goal. Thanks to the regional and international mediation and the support of partners across the world, we concluded, on 9 January 2005, the Comprehensive Peace Agreement which ended more than two decades of war in South Sudan. And with similar determination we signed, on 5 May 2006 the Darfur Peace Agreement. The government of Sudan and the parties have been working together to implement the two agreements. I thank the African Union and the United Nations, the regional organizations and international community for supporting the implementation of the agreements and I would like to assure them of our continued commitment to consolidate peace in Sudan and stability in the region. However, our efforts are being undermined by unjustifiable and unacceptable external violation of our sovereignty and the right of the Sudanese people to live in peace.
Bashir went on to complain about Chadian support for the attack on Kahrtoum in early May, 2008. He pointed out recent attempts to reconcile political parties, the hope being to "bring all the political forces in the country under the umbrella of an all -inclusive conference to address challenges and resolve outstanding national issues."

May 29, 2008

They met, and talked

DDR programmes in eastern Sudan discussed
Khartoum, May 27 (SUNA) - Assistant of the President of the Republic Musa Mohamed Ahmed discussed at his office at the Republican Palace Tuesday with the Chairman of North Sudan Disarmament, Demobilization and Reintegration Commission, Sulaf-Eddin Salih, programs of the commission in eastern Sudan.

The meeting included members of the committee for implementation and following-up of the programmes of the commission in east Sudan which works to involve all sectors of the Sudanese people in the implementation of the programmes.

May 26, 2008

Looking for nomad children to go to school

Kassala, May 26 (SUNA)- The state campaign for enrollment of pupils in nomadic schools, organized by the Ministry of Education in Kassala State in collaboration with UNICEF, was launched Monday in the localities of western rural areas of Kassala and Wad Al-Helaio. Addressing the occasion, Minister of Education in Kassala State Ahmed Abusin affirmed his ministry's concern with boosting the education process in the rural areas, especially for the nomads. He referred to the ministry's keenness to remove all obstacles affecting the education process, especially nomads and girls education in the state.

UPDATE - October 2009. A 19 page report analyzing the reasons why Beja children drop out of school was written in 1998. It's a pdf file.

May 5, 2008

De-mining Tokar-Garora begins in mid May

(SMC) The National Mine Action Centre is undertaking preparations for start of work for de-mining of Kadugli-Koda road in southern Kordofan, 95 kilometers, and Tokar- Garora road in the Red Sea State. Director of the National Mine Action Centre Col. Al-Awad Al-Bashir announced this, pointing out that the de-mining operations over the two roads would start mid current May and are expected to be completed before the start of the rainy season. He referred to the importance of the two roads, which contribute to the return of the internally displaced persons and refugees to their areas.

May 4 Daily report

April 30, 2008

Port Sudan - Atbara road officially opened

President Bashir attended a huge rally in Port Sudan at the end of April where he is on 2-day visit to the Red Sea State to open Atbara-Port Sudan highway.
The road was built with Chinese assistance to provide access to the construction of hydro-electric cables that will run from the large Merowe Dam project to the coast. Of course, it will reduce travel time from the coast to the Nile, and may change trucking patterns in the east. The only existing paved highway to Khartoum until now has been via Kassala.
From Port Sudan, to Khartoum, via Kassala: 630 miles [1000 km]
From Port Sudan, to Khartoum, via Atbara: 500 miles [800 km]

February 20, 2008

List of Lunar Eclipses

A list of lunar eclipses visible from the Red Sea area

Total Lunar Eclipse - September 16, 1997

Total Lunar Eclipse - January 9, 2001

Total Lunar Eclipse - November 9, 2003

Total Lunar Eclipse - May 4, 2004

Total Lunar Eclipse - March 3, 2007

Total Lunar Eclipse - February 21, 2008

Partial Lunar Eclipse - August 16, 2008

Total Lunar Eclipse - June 15, 2011

Partial Lunar Eclipse: August 7, 2017

Total Lunar Eclipse: July 27, 2018

Partial Lunar Eclipse: July 16, 2019

February 4, 2008

Oil spill halts fishing near Port Sudan

An oil leak from Bashir Two Port on the coast of the Red Sea south of Port Sudan has extended up to 9 km from its source, and local fishermen from the city have had to stop fishing.

As reported in Al-Sahafah newspaper on February 4, 2008, the head of the Port Sudan fishermen's association submitted a memo to the Governor of the Red Sea State. The governor had set up a committee to address the situation, but nothing had come of it. The fishermen are out of work because of this crisis.


January 16, 2008

Floods near Kassala - summer 2007

In July, 2007, heavy rains in east Africa caused extensive flooding. Thousands of people became homeless. Have a look at this one minute video that shows the breadth of the Gash River in flood, food distribution to Beja men, and the flooded landscape as filmed from the air.

January 15, 2008

Government control of nomadic routes

The Beja do not live in Darfur. But many are nomadic, and ideas and policies that are put in place in one part of the country can be started in another place too.

The government is planning to limit the range of travel of nomads in west Sudan. Does this kind of control have hidden dangers? What happens when there is not enough rain? Traditional behaviour among nomadic people would mean that their range of travel would be increased until pastures are located.
Here's the short report.

Nomads Must Observe Corridors Determined by Commission in South Darfur/ Nomads Commission (SMC)

Nomads' commission in south Darfur state has set a plan targeting nomads' settlements.

The move aims at preventing frictions between nomads and formers, said nomads' commissioner Issa Allyan. Besides settlement camps which should be provided with basic services such as school, health and water services, the commission is arranging for setting corridors and that nomads should observe the commission decisions.

From UNMIS Daily Media Monitoring Report - Jan 15, 2008

January 7, 2008

Eastern Front representatives frustrated

Peace agreement not working, Eastern rebels tell Eritrea
(The Citizen) The Eastern Front is in Eritrea to tell the former rebel backers that the
peace agreement is hanging by a thread.
The Eastern front delegation, headed by Musa Mohamed Ahmed, yesterday arrived to Asmara Airport. The delegation, which included the Dr. Amna Dirar and Secretary General Dr. Mubarak Mabrouk, was received by the Eritrean Front executive member, Abdallah Jabir.

The EF leader Dr. Mohamed Abu Amna attacked GoNU saying that it is not a government of national unity as the National Congress Party has the majority in the parliament. He added that the Front representatives are completely neglected and have no real missions or responsibilities to do.

“Asmara agreement has done nothing to marginalized people of the East, and our people there are still suffering from ignorance, diseases and poverty”, he lamented. Abu Amna concluded by saying that the policy is to ‘divide and rule” and this is actually what is being done in the East.