October 31, 2011

Law and order - 20 injured in Kassala

Nearly 20 students were injured during anti-government demonstrations in the city of Kassala in eastern Sudan on Sunday.

Among those injured were 13 female and seven male students. The demonstrations against rising prices and inflation entered their third week.

Witnesses told Radio Dabanga that the police used tear gas on the demonstrators which led to many students being unconscious. Six of the students have been rushed to intensive care units.

The police have surrounded the faculty of Education at the University, where the protests began a few weeks ago.

Source: AllAfrica.

October 30, 2011

Analysis - Sudan's new economy

Sudan's government is desperately seeking revenue, since the most of the oil funds it has depended on for the last ten years now accrue to the benefit of South Sudan. President Bashir must reinvent the economic engine for north Sudan.

The development needs of the country remain immense. While a number of high-profile construction projects have been launched in Khartoum, they haven't served the needs of the country, except to provide good quality housing and office space in the capital. Many projects have been built with foreign funds, primarily Chinese.

Attempts have been made to charge exhorbitant transit fees for the oil that the south wants to sell - up to half the value of a barrel of oil. Negotiations continue.

Alternate income generating ideas include selling land to the Egyptians and Suadi Arabians so they can grow crops. Agricultural exports need to increase, so greater planting efforts will be made on farms around the country. The vagaries of climate make that a hit and miss strategy. There's not much of an industrial base, so north Sudan has few manufactured goods to sell on the international market.

What's left to get development funds?

One: Resources in the ground. Water, iron, oil and gold. Two: Asking for help

We note the successful construction of the Meroe dam. Electricity capacity has doubled in the country, but is still inadequate for large scale industrial purposes. Irrigation has enabled the development of farming downstream.

How long will the Meroe dam be useful? No estimate has been released. Sediment will settle into the lake behind it, eventually reducing the holding capacity of the dam.

There is an iron mine in north east Sudan, and exports to China were announced on October 27, 2011. About 4,000 tons were shipped, and over the next few years, there are expectations that 40,000 tons of iron ore will be shipped to the far east.

North Sudan has released large blocks of land for oil exploration. Some companies have taken options at an 85/15 [company/Sudan] split and begun work to search for oil. One drilling effort has been off the coast in the Red Sea in the Tokar region, beginning in February 2010. Only time [and foreign investment and expertise] will tell how much oil is in the ground.

The news comes out today that north Sudan has signed 50 contracts allowing mining companies to search for gold in various states across the country.

The Minister of Minerals announced that three Jordanian, Chinese and Turkish companies have started gold production, thus increasing the number of gold producing firms to seven. He further said that the construction of a gold refinery would begin in 2012.

26 kilometer road at the Sudan Eritrea border, built with Qatari money

A $9 million dollar 2 lane road was built and paved with funds from Qatar. It runs from Kassala to the Eritrean border and beyond. The road was officially opened on October 26, 2011.

On October 24, 2011, AllAfrica reported that The Sudanese First Vice President Ali Osman Taha paid a one-day visit to Kuwait for talks focused on ways the Arab Gulf state can bolster its investments to aid the beleaguered economy.

In December 2010, a short conference was held in Kuwait, and donor agencies and countries pledged 3.5 Billion dollars in gifts, grants and investments to help develop the east of Sudan. Many posts here.

Tractor picture at top from the US Sudan embassy website. Presumably assembled in Sudan.

October 29, 2011

Tourism hopes in east Sudan

Reuters has published a friendly overview of some activities in Red Sea State. The article describes reasons for hope that tourists will be attracted to the region, and thus help out with the declining economic fortunes of Sudan.

One project on the go is the repair of the Ottoman style Customs House on Suakin Island. As reported here at adroub.net NEWS the Turkish government promised a year ago at the Kuwait Development Conference to rehabilitate the structure. About 60 local workers have been hired to help.

The article notes the following difficulties.
  • infrequent air service to Port Sudan
  • US government warns their citizens about travel to the area
  • government operation of touristic activites, rather than the private sector
  • government decisions based in Khartoum, 1,100 km away
  • permits required for travel inside Sudan
  • police nervousness with tourists.
The article also noted reasons for tourists to come east
  • relaxed lifestyle, access to water pipes
  • restored historic buildings
  • beautiful beaches
  • Red Sea diving opportunities
  • five star hotel has opened
Read the entire article here.

October 28, 2011

$50 million in 2011 for agriculture in east Sudan

The Islamic Bank for development has allocated the amount of $250 million USD for the rehabilitation projects of the agricultural sector in the three states of east Sudan within the context of the donor’s projects.

The executive manager of the east rehabilitation and development fund, eng. Abu Obeida Mohamed Duj, said the detailed study of the rehabilitation project of Halfa agricultural project rehabilitation has been completed and submitted to the Islamic bank for development for the approval of $50 million USD for the Year 2011 to commence the project’s work.

He added that the study will include the irrigation network axis, the agricultural research work and the veterinary services ,agricultural roads and introducing animals in the cultivation unit, providing the credit facilities ,the water connection for users, the social services, the institutional support, the legal situation and the project implementation unit.

He pointed that the studies were completed for rehabilitating Tokar and Algash projects and the work is continuing in preparing the detailed studies for the projects of developing the machinery cultivation in Gadarif and the horticulture cultivation in the three states, the studies will be presented to the bank every year for five years to approve each project alone annually.

Skyscraper City!

October 27, 2011

Analysis: Overview of Eritreans overseas

US Ambassador marches on Martyrs Day in Eritrea.

This Wikileaks document offers a broad overview of Eritrea with a particular angle of "What relations do expatriate Eritreans have with Eritrea?" Eritreans who live outside of Eritrea are supposed to pay a 2% tax to the country.

UPDATE: Articles on the internet are being published about the 2% tax that Eritrea tries to collect from the diaspora.  A national Canadian newspaper featured the story. See also Meskerem.

The document was created by the US Ambassador to Eritrea in December, 2009, and released in September 2011. Short sections deal with subjects like: Diaspora Basics, Escape from the 30 year war, Political Outcasts, and the Youth. Here's the complete text of the "Refugees" section.

7. (C) Today's refugees flee the country in droves. 
While some are genuinely persecuted by the GSE (religious 
dissidents, too successful in the private sector, close 
association with foreigners, etc.), the vast majority simply 
want to escape poverty, or, in the case of the young, avoid 
the grinding labor and poor wages of interminable national 
service.  A young writer for ELEM (Eritrean Lifestyle and 
Entertainment) Magazine recently left Eritrea for a new life 
in London.  In Eritrea she experienced no direct persecution; 
she was only prohibited from achieving her goal of running 
her own magazine.  She told Poloff her deep disappointment in 
the GSE's restrictive policies that prevent young Eritreans 
from achieving their full potential.  Her comments are not 
unique.  Many young Eritreans choose to flee the country in 
hopes of being something other than a soldier or a woefully 
underpaid teacher. 
8. (C) Those that are able to escape usually end up in 
refugee camps in Sudan, Kenya, South Africa, Libya, Egypt, or 
throughout Europe.  Once outside the country, the majority do 
not discuss politics.  Many of those that disagree with the 
GSE would rather bide their time silently in the refugee camp 
than risk being outspoken and having GSE forces harass or 
arrest family back in Eritrea. Once resettled, refugees often 
congregate in pre-existing Eritrean communities, such as in 
London, Stockholm, Washington, D.C., and Oakland, California. 

Posted at two locations:



October 26, 2011

Kassala visit by Bashir and Awerki

Kassala University. Pic by jabir.

A new road running from Kassala to the Eritrean border will be officially opened today by the Sudanese and Eritrean presidents. It is 26 kilometers long and cost $9 million. Funds came from Qatar. A 1400 unit housing project will also be opened.

Students have been protesting. With the ongoing financial difficulties in Sudan, officials expect students to demonstrate again. Groups such as Grifina and Student Youth Mainstream have been leading rallies of students for the past ten days. The young people have been calling for overthrow of the regime and provision of food for the people of the state, which they considered poverty-stricken.

A week ago, on October 20, five or eight people were run over by a security vehicle. Some were seriously injured. Demonstrators are asking for the prosecution of the officers. 

From Kassala, AllAfrica reports on student demonstrations. Hundreds of students and anti-government youth, led by a group calling itself the Student Youth Mainstream, chanted slogans in the streets adjoining the University of Kassala.

AllAfrica also reports on the visit by Bashir and Afwerki, noting that Al-Bashir's visit to Kassala coincides with a wave of intermittent students' protest that has been sweeping the eastern town since October 18.

 SudanVision photo and another story!

UPDATE. Done Deal. Lots of media coverage on this story. French African [in English] news source.  His Highness the Emir of Qatar Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani spoke. Read the AllAfrica account of the inauguration of the asphalt road. Speeches were made and gifts were given.

"... The Administrator of Kassala region, Mr. Mohammed Yusuf Adem, expressed appreciation for the contribution of the people and Government of Eritrea under the leadership of President Isaias for concluding the peace agreement between East Sudan Front and the Government of Sudan. In this regard, he said: "The role of the people and Government of Eritrea occupies a special place in the heart of every Sudanese national."

"Mr. Mohammed Yusuf Adem presented a sword souvenir, a cultural symbol of the Kassala region, to President Isaias, Emir Sheikh Hamad Bin Khalifa Al-Thani, and President Omar Hasan Al-Bashir.

"The Arbatasher-Kassala road was part of the development program for Eastern Sudan region in line with the peace agreement concluded in Asmara in October 2006 between the Government of Sudan and the East Sudan Front. The project was also funded by the State of Qatar."

MORE. View a 30 minute edited video of the celebrations inaugurating the road. [Missing: pics of vehicles using the road... not even any pics of the road itself!] But there are speeches, and dancing, and gift giving and the crowds!


October 24, 2011

Egypt to help Sudanese muslims

At an official event where Egypt announced its new ambassador to Sudan, it also announced a program to supply religious teachers to its southern neighbour.

The Ministry of Awqaf is a federal ministry responsible for the management of enowments, or Islamic 'trusts' that are used for the operation of mosques around the country.

Egyptian Minister Mohammed al-Qousi approved a plan to maintain and renovate mosques and to increase the number of preachers and Quran reciters to be dispatched to Sudan.

He also decided to dedicate to the Sudanese a collection of Islamic books in a bid to enrich sound religious awareness among the Sudanese Muslims.

October 22, 2011

Character of Egypt Festival info

Promotional Press Coverage at Egyptolution

Also at http://www.almasryalyoum.com/node/508354

ويهدف المهرجان إلى خلق حلقة تفاهم وتواصل بين سكان الصحراء ووادى النيل والتعرف عن كثب على ثقافة القبائل النوبية، خاصة أن القبائل المشاركة هذا العام تمثل 4 أجناس هى النوبية والبجاوية والعربية والأمازيرية، فضلاً عن خمس لغات هى العربية والتبداوية والأمازيرية ولغتين نوبيتين، مما يعكس الثراء الثقافى والتراثى لتلك القبائل.

ويشارك فى المهرجان 33 قبيلة مقسمة إلى 7 فرق تمثل القبائل من جنوب سيناء وشمال سيناء والعبابدة والبشارية والنوبة والحسابية وسيوه، وسيشهد المهرجان العديد من الفعاليات الثقافية والعروض الفنية مثل عروض الموسيقى والرقص والأغانى القبلية التى تتميز بها كل قبيلة والشعر ورواية القصص.

 The various tribes participated in an opening parade as the festival began.

UPDATE. Some information was published at the twitter feed http://twitter.com/#!/charactersegypt
http://www.charactersofegypt.com appears to be offline just now, but they hadn't updated the website...

October 21, 2011

October 20, 2011

Celebration of ethnic tribes in Egypt!

From the website of the host organization.

The Characters of Egypt Festival is an annual 3-day encounter of diverse cultures from 33 different ethnic groups residing in Egypt.

From 2008 to 2010, Characters of Egypt was hosted by Fustat Wadi el Gemal, 50 kms south of the Red Sea resort of Marsa Alam. This year, in 2011, the festival will be relocated from the desert environment to the Island of Heisa in Aswan on the River Nile. This new location offers an opportunity for the participants to experience different landscapes and cultures in their places of origin.

An estimated 3,000 guests are expected to participate in this year’s event. These are composed of 350 individuals from a variety of Egyptian ethnic groups, 100 volunteers, 100 journalists, media personnel and press, politicians, ambassadors, business people, academics, artists, visitors from Cairo and Alexandria along with foreign tourists.

The festival envisions creating a platform through which a variety of isolated ethnic groups can converge in a festive, communal atmosphere. The event offers a rare opportunity to link diverse cultures and to inculcate values of mutual respect, understanding, tolerance and equality.

Join us in celebrating Egypt’s cultural diversity on October 27-29, 2011 at Heisa Island, Aswan, EGYPT.

October 19, 2011

Eritreans deported from Sudan

The 300 Eritreans who were arrested in northern Sudan over a month ago have been deported.

They were on their way to Egypt. We noted this event here on adroub.net NEWS on September 14.

United Nations officials had wanted the Khartoum administration to examine all of them to see if any were legitimately in Sudan, but it appears this screening was not performed.

From AllAfrica: 

The United Nations refugee agency today condemned the deportation of more than 300 Eritrean refugees and asylum-seekers by Sudan after weeks of detention and in spite of a previous agreement with the UN.

Adrian Edwards, a spokesperson for the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), told reporters at a press briefing in Geneva that his agency was concerned that the rights of refugees were not being respected, even though Sudanese authorities had assured otherwise, and said Sudan's actions breached the agreement between his agency and the Government.

UPDATE October 28, 2011. Details of the deportation of the 300 [317, 351?] are supplied in this article. It goes on to analyze the nature of claiming asylum, and explains a bit about how the process is supposed to work. Examples are given of how Sudan has not followed international law, in that Eritreans were deported without the proper screening process that should be applied to people claiming refugee status. Long, but worth reading to understand the issues around crossing borders.

October 18, 2011

Nomadism - like an entertainer's lifestyle?

Nomadic life requires moving a home and all of the family belongings. The men ensure the animals are cared for on the move to a new location. Beja women are responsible for constructing the home, which is traditionally made of woven palm mats laid over a framework of large tree branches. The interior of the home may have woven blankets hung to acts as decorative walls. A raised sleeping platform keeps crawling bugs out of the bed.

It's unclear how frequently a traditional rural Beja family moves, but seasonal efforts are common as the need is to find pasture for the herds of goats and camels. Rain falls in the Red Sea Hills in the winter, and elsewhere in the summer. Overnight camps are very basic if a destination is more than a day's journey away. Some Beja go to the Atbara River or Nile River, while others make their way to the harvest fields in the Tokar Delta or Gash Delta north of Kassala.

In parts of the developed world, there are many occupations that have a somewhat similar lifestyle. There is the circus. Large operations Cirque du Soleil may set up in town for a few weeks at a time, and then move on to another city. In America there are about 30 travelling circuses. The people live temporary lives, not settling down in any one place, because the economics of their work demands that they move on.

Amusement or carnival shows may run a weekend in a small town, or three weeks in a large city. Demand for midway rides is especially high during the fall fairs. The season may call for 30 different locations. The community needed to support such shows may be a dozens of people. They are guests in the city, but not always well served, though they entertain the citizens.

Who has time to get to know the workers? Who cares for them? How do the children of circus families get a good education?

Other examples of nomadic lifestyles include Nascar or Indy style car racing, professional tennis and golf tours; these visit a different region every weekend.The sportsmen are usually paid enough to travel home during the week.

There's a rodeo circuit. Cowboys visit a different town to enter a competition each week. Farm workers will travel with the harvest, so teams of  combine drivers move steadily north from Texas to the Dakotas working the corn or wheat fields. This may take a few months away from home. Small music bands may go on tour for months at a time.

Many immigrant farm workers in the USA and Canada are from Mexico. They live in very basic barracks supplied by the farm operator and work hard in the fields harvesting vegetables like onions, carrots and peppers. Their time is limited, but their work is far away from home, and their life is fragile because not all their support systems are in place.

Top photo source

Here's an example of a Catholic priest who has a ministry to circus people for many years. He travels with them part of year, and he mentioned that there were 30 different travelling circuses in the United States in 1993. The people really seem to respond to his availability. He offers his spiritual services when he's there, or he can connect people to his network. Many circus performers are taken advantage of when they need help in a town they are visiting, so he has a list of trusted helpers, like car mechanics and dentists.
 More info about an outreach ministry to circus nomads in the USA.

October 13, 2011

Sudan to adopt Islamic constitution

AllAfrica. President Omar al-Bashir says Sudan will go ahead with plans to adopt an entirely Islamic constitution. Bashir had already said that Sudan would adopt an Islamic constitution if the south seceded. But many southerners had hoped he would not go ahead.

Bashir says that 98 per cent of the Sudanese population is Muslim, and that the new constitution should reflect this.

Speaking to students in Khartoum, he said the official religion would be Islam and that Islamic law would be the constutional source of future legislation.

But many southerners say they no longer feel welcome in the north since the two separated in July.

The General Secretary of the Sudan Council of Churches, says Sudan must recognise religious diversity. Reverend Ramadan Chan Liol adds that it should explicitly protect the non-muslim minority in the north.

Reverend Chan Liol adds he was surprised to hear Bashir claim that 98 per cent of the population is Muslim because the Sudanese census does not ask citizens to state their religion.

UPDATE: further information at AllAfrica.

October 12, 2011

Is the Beja Congress recreating a militia?

Khartoum says no rebel threats in eastern Sudan—Sudan Tribune

The Sudanese government is rejecting reports that one faction of the Beja Congress is massing rebel fighters on the Sudan-Eritea border on the request of the embattled opposition groups in the Blue Nile.

The government also refuted statements made by the faction of the Beja Congress that is loyal to the government, in which they said Blue Nile is at high risk of famine.

Although Sudan achieved a peace agreement with the Beja Congress in October 2006, many Beja Congress supporters felt the peace agreement had not really helped eastern Sudan.

Sourced from  SaveDarfur

October 10, 2011

Is Sudan bankrupt?

The official exchange rate between the Sudanese pound and the US dollar is 2.6 to 1. On the street, the rate has reached 5 to 1. At a conference in Khartoum last week, a professor of economics from Cairo said he expected the rate to drop to 8 or 9 pounds to one US dollar by the end of the year.

Price inflation has been significant in the past few months. People have started to demonstrate in the streets because the price of food has increased. Sorghum has doubled in price.

Dr Hamid Atijani Ali, economist and professor at the American University in Cairo said that the state was now bankrupt and had no source of income because of the low impetus given to the agricultural and industrial sector.

Sudan's economy, which was once heavily dependent on limited exports of agricultural products has for the past few years  received significant income from the sale of oil. But the oil reserves are in the southern parts of the country. After the independence of South Sudan in July 2011, [north] Sudan has had little oil to sell, and the economy has become much smaller.

Hamid Tijani suggested that the current spending on military, security services and constitutional institutions is unjustified in the wake of the current economic crisis.

Another expert at the symposium said that the hard currency in the Reserve Bank of Sudan would only suffice for one week of imports.

Read this article to get a broad look at the current financial difficulties of Sudan

October 9, 2011

Government trains hajjis

People who are going on pilgrimage to Mecca in early November can learn the procedures and practice their activities at a model of the Kaaba. For $20,000. the Government of Sudan has built a scale model to train pilgrims before they go. It's located in the Green Square in Khartoum.

The Sudanese Ministry of Guidance and Endowments and the General Association for Hajj and Umra in the state of Khartoum has erected a miniature of al-Masjid al-Haram, Islam’s holiest site located in the city of Mecca in Saudi Arabia.

Is there a similar programme run by the Sudanese government to support other religions?

About 10,000 Sudanese are expected to go to Saudi Arabia. Many will travel from Suakin to Jeddah on the ferry across the Red Sea. The Hajj runs from November 4-9, 2011. About 2 million pilgrims are expected.

Mecca is limited in size, and has a limit to the number of pilgrims who can attend the hajj. The number of muslims is so many around the world that it is not mathematically possible for all muslims to go on pilgrimage to Mecca. Millions of muslims cannot fulfill one of the basic pillars of Islam.

More info about the Sudanese government initiative here.

October 5, 2011

Famine? Food shortages; prices triple

"If the government does not do anything to solve the problem in the coming days, there will be a famine in eastern Sudan," said Salah Barkawin from Sudan’s Beja Congress party.

He said people in eastern Sudan were poor and could not afford sorghum, a basic food that has more than doubled in price.

"In August we warned the government to take care of eastern Sudan because of the rain shortage this year,” he told Agence France Presse news service. “Now the price of sorghum has risen to around 200 Sudanese pounds (that’s about £49) per bag, up from the normal price of 75 Sudanese pounds (roughly £18)."

A government official from Sudan's eastern region has acknowledged that the are serious food shortages there linked to the drought and said the government is sending food aid.

Noted on a UK charity site.

October 2, 2011

Gold mine to expand in Nubian Desert

The Hassai gold mine as been the source of digging for 20 years, and the operators are planning to expand it. It is located east of Atbara, north of Musmar.

The current pit technology has reached its limits, and gold production is shrinking. A new technology will be implemented in 2015, which will allow gold production to return to higher volumes for a few years more. Copper will also be extracted from the earth.

An article by Reuters explains the new developments, published at Sudan net

Company details are watched on a gold site. Charts, stock prices, etc.

A press release [pdf download] from the company proclaimed the latest test drilling results a few weeks ago.

Documents from the company explain the operations. About 500 Beja are employed on site.

This article at Sudan. net offers a few more details.

October 1, 2011

Chinese labour targeted by Sudanese youth

The marginalization of some Sudanese youth has created such frustration among them that they have resorted to violence. A Chinese engineer was shot and killed on Wednesday, September 28. Three other workers were wounded. An entire oil drilling project has been closed down. Two days prior to this incident, a truck was burned down, and two cars were burned, and drilling machine burned.

This took place in South Kordovan, where local Misseriya have been denied jobs working on the oil project. It's viewed as a matter of injustice.

Local people have complained that the Sudanese military is preventing food basics such as sugar flour an oil from being brought into the region.

Sourced from All Africa.