تقرير: بركان الشرق جاهز للانفجار وحشود لقوات مؤتمر البجة
COMMUNICATION AND PUBLIC INFORMATION DIVISION of African Union
Weekender Press Clippings 09 – 10 December 2011
This international press review is brought to you by the Communication
and Public Information Division of UNAMID, the African Union – United
Nations Mission in Darfur.
The information it contains, or selection thereof, does not
necessarily reflect the opinion of UNAMID, the African Union or the
Security 'Volcano' Ready to Blow in the East
IRIN 08 Dec 2011
Kassala — Five years after a peace deal was signed to end a rebellion
in eastern Sudan, a perceived failure to address the marginalization
that sparked the uprising could unleash a new wave of violence,
according to several officials.
Although the region has been overshadowed by war in Darfur, the
secession of the South and fighting between Sudanese forces and rebels
on the border with South Sudan, the east is "a volcano waiting to
erupt", an official working with the UN Development Programme (UNDP)
in Kassala, who wished to remain anonymous, told IRIN.
"Beja soldiers are right now in the Hamid mountains, on the Eritrean
side," he said.
Bejas form the largest ethnic group in the east. The October 2006
peace accord was signed by the Sudanese government and the Eastern
Front, an alliance of the Beja Congress and the smaller Rashaida Free
"Unofficial sources have already reported that they organized attacks
in Sudanese territory three months ago," said the UNDP source,
predicting that conflict on the scale now taking place in South
Kordofan and Blue Nile could erupt in Kassala state within a few
The prevalence of weapons in the region heightens this risk.
Yassin Abdallah, who manages the government disarmament office in
Kassala, told IRIN that an operation conducted after the peace deal
netted "guns and ammunition from 598 Beja fighters and 792 Free Lions
fighters. This was only some of the fighters at that time, not the
"And the Free Lions are nomads. They always use guns to protect the
cattle," he said.
Ahmed Tirik, a member of parliament, described the situation in
Kassala, his home region, as "unpredictable".
"But if relations between Sudan and Eritrea [which facilitated the
peace talks] remain good, the border will stay safe and it will be
very difficult for Beja fighters led by Cheikh Omar Mohamed Taher to
cross it," he said.
The Beja Congress has joined the Sudan Revolutionary Front, an
umbrella group set up in November with the aim of overthrowing the
government of Omar el-Bashir
"Humiliation and tyranny"
Beja community leader Mohamed Ali Adam said many in his community
"think that the situation hasn't improved for them even five years
after the war. They have still no access to facilities such as schools
as promised by the government. This is an important issue.
"But, since 2006, discussions with the authorities are better. For
instance, they gave us the technical support to build water pumps,"
said Adam, who chairs the Al-Gandoul network of 30 villages dotted
around the town of Kassala, with about 36,000 residents.
This support was not enough for some in the Beja Congress, which on 15
November threw in its lot with the Sudan Revolutionary Front, an
umbrella group set up a few days earlier with the aim of overthrowing
the government of Omar el-Bashir.
Explaining why it joined the likes of Darfur's Justice and Equality
Movement and two wings of the Sudan Liberation Army, as well as the
northern wing of the Sudan People's Liberation Movement, the Congress
said the "misery and suffering of the [Beja] people is increasing due
to poverty, starvation and other deadly diseases. The ruling regime in
Sudan is subjecting its people to humiliation and tyranny. They are
arrogant and killing the marginalized people. "
According to a recent report by Japan's International Cooperation
Agency, "91 percent of households [in Kassala state] do not have
enough food, only 39 percent have access to safe water and the
maternal mortality rate has risen to 1,414 per 100,000 births compared
with 500 pre-war."
Humanitarian response is greatly impeded by landmines and unexploded
ordnance (UXO) left over from the war, which is being removed.
"We should manage to clear the area by 2014 as expected," said Kelly
McAulay, country director for the Mines Advisory Group, which says
Kassala is the most mine- and UXO-contaminated state in Sudan. "We
have good support from the government. And we have got deminers who
used to work in Blue Nile and South Kordofan. Now, we have about 80
deminers to clear some 2 million square kilometres."
Drought has compounded these problems. This year, water flowed along
the seasonal Gasch River only between August and September, rather
than starting in July as usual. The just-completed harvest is expected
to be poor and consequently the region is braced for higher food
"Popular discontent is boiling," warned Mohamed Dualeh, head of the UN
Refugee Agency's eastern Sudan sub-office. (There are thousands of
Eritrean refugees in the area.)
"During the Eastern peace agreement, the authorities talked about
development. It has not materialized as expected. The area is poorer
than Darfur. If something has to happen, it will start from within the
population, and not from abroad," he said.
Discontent has already surfaced among students, hundreds of whom
demonstrated in late October. There were several injuries and one
death in these
"The Arab Spring pushed people to act. In response, the authorities
settled on very strict security plans," said Ibrahim Omer Osman, local
coordinator for Practical Action, an NGO.
"The atmosphere is like in 1964," said Tirik, the Kassala
parliamentarian, referring to the year when widespread strikes led to
the fall of a military government.
"The difference is that the government can still ease the situation,
if it helps the population to get food," he said, suggesting failure
to do so carried significant risks.
"Eastern Sudan is a strategic area for Khartoum. There is a big
airport in Kassala, roads and the [oil] pipelines. You know, the
region is big enough to hide in after attacking a pipeline."