SRSG Pronk is in Berlin for two days of talks with German officials and civil society on the UN role in assisting the parties implement the CPA and on measures that might be taken to stop the conflict in Darfur. Today, he met with Foreign Minister Fischer to consider ways Germany and the European Union might further support the UN's efforts in Sudan.
Media outlets report that the Beja Congress and the Free Lions have merged to form a new group named the Eastern Front. At a press conference today, the new party's leadership claimed that it was prepared to enter into peace talks with the government using the model of the Naivasha process.
North Darfur: AU monitors are investigating reports of a recent attack on a truck by unidentified armed men, allegedly killing three and injuring 17 persons.
South Darfur: Unidentified men reportedly attacked a commercial convoy near Ed Daein on its way to Nyala, on 21 Feb.
On 20 Feb., a train was reportedly attacked by gunmen between Ed Daein and Adilla. The perpetrators reportedly took some cash from the passengers.
Greater Equatoria: Numerous explosions, thought to be caused by ammunition stored in a bunker in a military compound in the western side of Juba, occurred continuously for approximately two hours on 23 Feb. According to the Wali of Bahr El Jebel, 27 people have died so far with 75 being treated in hospitals. It is reported that all buildings in the area west of the main road leading to the government section in Juba have been completely burned. The Director of Security for Bahr El Jebel State said that the incident appeared to be accidental and that there was no reason to believe foul play was involved. UN staff in Juba have been asked to remain indoors for 48 hours and all UN programmes in the town have been suspended until further notice. While there are still many unexploded ordinances in the vicinity, the airport runway has been confirmed by both Sudan Security and the UNMAS mine advisor to be clear of UXOs.
Abyei: Five armed persons reportedly from the Missiriya community entered the market of Akog Thon, sixty kilometres south of Abyei town in the former SPLM/A controlled area on 16 Feb., wanting to buy some veterinary medicine. The local SPLM/A authorities requested them to lay down their weapons before entering the market. The Missiriya men refused the request and opened fire on the local police. Eight SPLA soldiers were killed according to reports from local UN agencies and from relatives of the deceased. The following day, the local commissioner ordered a manhunt for the Missiriya men, and the five men were killed and seven SPLA soldiers were injured in the process.
In a separate instance, on 17 Feb. a SPLA soldier opened fire on his colleagues at Kol Chuwei 16 km south of Abyei, seriously wounding 2 soldiers.
Unity State: The frequency of fires in Rubkona town has increased recently, with two entire blocks burnt to ashes in mid-Feb. Four classrooms of the Dawa Islamiya school in Rubkona were burnt resulting in the death of one pupil. The fires could have been contained if a fire fighting brigade were available in the state. The cause of the fires remains unknown.
South Darfur: Two girls aged 14 and 15 were raped on 21 Feb. while venturing out of Otash camp in Nyala town, to collect firewood accompanied with three elderly women. The victims were initially refused treatment at a clinic because the service provider was not aware that a previous law that had required victims to file the case to the police prior to seeking treatment was recently changed to allow treatment of victims of sexual assault without police reports. Agencies are planning to organize an information campaign to disseminate the changes to the law. Further, the IDP leader who reported the incident was arrested by local authorities accusing him of reporting unfounded incidents. UN human rights officials are following up on the issue.
SRSG Pronk's two day visit to Germany is the first of a series of bilateral meetings with donor governments intended to enhance cooperation and coordination for the international community's response to Sudan. Over the two days, the SRSG met with the German Minister for Development and Cooperation, a leading opposition politician, participated in a round-table discussion with current and former government officials and NGO representatives, met with the German human rights commissioner, Foreign Minister Fischer and his deputy and the Defence Minister. Issues discussed in these different settings included: the overall political and security situations in Sudan following the signing of the CPA last month; the need for strong operational planning and generous funding for assisting returnees in the South; the need to employ robust security measures in Darfur through an enhanced AU presence; the need for a timely Security Council resolution on Sudan; and the need for a serious follow-up to the report of the Commission of Inquiry so that the atmosphere of impunity that pervades in the Darfurs can be brought to an end.
General Peter Dor Monyjur of the South Sudan Independence Movement (SSIM) militia returned to Unity State on 15 Feb. after a long stay in Khartoum where he was believed to be negotiating with the GoS regarding the integration of his militia within the GoS army. While a large contingent of the South Sudan Unity Movement (SSUM) militia has been included in the ranks of the GoS army over the last several months, only ten SSIM officers have been integrated. The SSIM militia continues to impose illegal taxes on the local population which are seen only as an income for the militia's members whose future livelihoods have become less certain.
President El Bashir visited Unity State on 20 Feb. to open a number of new facilities in Bentiu/Rubkona and to explain the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) to the local population. During his speech, he told the crowd that if there were any SPLM supporters among them, they could raise their flag since the National Congress and the SPLM were partners.
The Corrections Advisory Unit of UNAMIS paid visits to corrections facilities in the Khartoum area from 3-22 Feb. to assess the prison conditions and the treatment of adult and juveniles prisoners and determine the elements for prison reform including training needs for staff among others. Corrections facilities visited were the Soba and Omdurman male prisons and the Jerrif and Kober reformatories for juveniles. The information collected during these visits will inform various reform proposals the UN will share with GoS correctional authorities at a later date.
North Darfur: A number of agencies, including FAO, Oxfam and Action Contre la Faim (ACF), are monitoring market prices in North Darfur. Preliminary findings indicate that market prices have increased substantially. Agencies are working together to devise strategies to address some of the consequences.
Due to delays with the finalization of the demarcation process, installation of services in the new Bisharia camp has not yet started. Bisharia camp was established to accommodate the approximately 25,000 IDPs that had arrived in Abu Shouk after an attack on Tawilla in late Nov. 2004.
South Darfur: Agencies report that latrines in Dereij camp and other camps in Nyala town are in serious need of rehabilitation. UNICEF is following up on the reports.
West Darfur: Islamic Relief Worldwide (IRW) reports that it has started drilling boreholes in Krinding 2 camp with a new drilling rig. The agency plans to drill approximately 50 boreholes in areas in and around Geneina town.
Nomadic pastoralists continue to approach humanitarian agencies with grievances about the lack of humanitarian assistance to their communities. Agencies have undertaken to address this issue jointly and continue to meet with tribal chiefs to identify gaps and discuss possible solutions to the issue.
Abyei: The Abyei water supply situation is critical and may worsen in the coming months before the rainy season. In Abyei town only one mechanised borehole out of four is supplying water to the town. Two hand pumps are operational out of six. In the villages outside Abyei only four out of seven mechanised boreholes are operational and three out of seven hand pumps are operational. Sanitation facilities and sanitary health education remain a major gap in the region. SCF-US is planning to construct 110 pit latrines in Abyei and surrounding villages; however, this is inadequate considering the 6,800 population of the town.
Greater Equatoria: On 20 Feb., AVSI, (Italian international NGO), began drilling 14 boreholes and major repairs of another five boreholes in the areas of Torit County in Eastern Equatoria. The selection of the sites was based on a detailed assessment carried out by AVSI in Jan.-Feb 2004. The assessment reviewed current safe water availability, alternative sources of water (and distance) and road accessibility.
North Darfur: Approximately 10 cases of goitre have been reported in Otash camp. IRC, UNICEF and other agencies are following up on the cases.
South Darfur: The Finish Red Cross reports that it plans to provide general health support services in the specialized hospital in Nyala. This intervention hopes to alleviate some of the pressure from the limited capacity of the Nyala teaching hospital.
A number of measles cases have been reported in Sekele, a camp located in the outskirts of Nyala town, and in some camps within Nyala town. WHO and partners are following up on these reports.
WHO reports that it is increasing efforts to train medical doctors, nurses and health assistants in order to revamp the health system at the primary, secondary and tertiary levels.
Abyei: The Abyei government hospital, the only hospital in the area, is poorly equipped and lacks medical personnel. There is no lab facility, no vaccination unit and no ambulance and it receives only intermittent medical supplies. MSF-CH has indicated interest in supporting the hospital and is expected to operate in the area soon. GOAL continues to support two mobile clinics, six days a week, as part of a community outreach health services program in villages around Abyei.
Greater Upper Nile: Following reports from several agencies of a large number of returnees arriving from Western Ethiopia to the Pagak area, the EP&R team has called for a multi sector/agency assessment. The team, comprising of ACF, Medair, Oxfam, WFP, and NCDS left on 23 Feb. and is expected to report back on 26 Feb.
Greater Equatoria: The Rapid Needs Assessment of the returnees in Ezo counties lead by SRT/EP&R, was finalized and the team returned on 21 Feb. The aim of the assessment was to collect information on the identified returnees and available social services in two camps, Naandi and Andar. The emphasis of the assessment was on food security, water and sanitation, health and non-food items. Following suggestions from agencies, the scope of the assessment was broadened to include the assessment of entry points in areas bordering DRC and the Central African Republic. Initial feedback on the assessment shows that the figures of returnees in the two camps are much less than originally reported. Information was also gathered on recent returnee movement. A comprehensive assessment report is expected early next week.