Monthly Archives: June 2012

The Economic Crisis in Sudan and Revolution

This week, Sudan offered to admit humanitarian aid into South Kordofan and Blue Nile under certain (unacceptable) conditions, including only allowing organizations approved by the regime to distribute the aid. The conditions for the admittance of aid offered by the Sudanese are clearly both a delaying tactic and a barely veiled attempt to weaken the position of the SPLM-North and the Sudan Revolutionary Front (SRF) which have been able not only to hold off the Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF) but to soundly defeat them on the field of battle.

The Khartoum Regime is facing a slew of crises that are building upon one another.

First, the independence of South Sudan took with it the vast majority of the oil resources.

Second, the battle of Heglig resulted in two major losses for Sudan, even after South Sudan returned control of Heglig to Sudan. The flow of oil out of Heglig from Sudanese sources was greatly reduced due to damage to the installation there and the flow of oil through the pipeline from South Sudan was completely shut off, virtually eliminating the two primary sources of income for Sudan. This has led directly to an even bigger problem.

Third, the resulting economic crisis is forcing changes that do significant damage to the ability of the Khartoum regime to maintain power.

  • It can no longer provide subsidies for gasoline and food that keep the populace happy. It has already eliminated the gasoline subsidy and may be forced to lessen or eliminate food subsidies as well as a result of pressure on the prices due to hyper inflation. It is one thing to offer $2 worth of bread for $1 and something entirely other to offer $10 worth of bread for $1. As the real price increases, the subsidy becomes untenable.
  • It can no longer borrow large sums of money even from China because the fear of hyper inflation is so great that nations are concerned that the loans would not be repaid at all or would be paid back at pennies on the dollar. Without oil flowing through the pipeline, Sudan can’t borrow money.
  • It can no longer support the bureaucracy necessary to maintain a police state. The cost of maintaining a fighting force substantial enough to hold off rebel groups on multiple fronts, maintain a deterring presence on the South Sudanese border in disputed territories, and maintain control in the streets in the center of the country is immense. As the need for police support in the interior of the nation increases, the Khartoum Regime will have no choice but to abandon the periphery or offer significant compromises to the internal opposition groups.

The implications of this choice are profound. The regime has a choice of how to weaken, but not to avoid weakening. It can try to maintain some control by ceding some power to the internal opposition, hoping to quell rioting, or it can risk a complete collapse by defending the periphery while continuing to fight in the center as well. The choice would appear obvious except for one problem.

No matter who will run the country in the near future, there will be overriding economic problems. Let us imagine for a moment that the regime would collapse and the SRF would take over the entire country after a major fight. The nation, emerging from this conflict, would have extremely limited financial resources and millions of people facing food insecurity. The oil industry would take time to build up. The new government would need to devote substantial resources to maintaining security and much of the Arab wealth would flee the country in fear of the new regime. Sudan could become a failed state in rapid fashion with a resulting humanitarian crisis dwarfing the current problems facing the nation.

While there is hope for positive change in Sudan and the revolts occurring right now are a good sign that it might happen. Things could easily take a turn for the worse. This is a regime that has committed genocide already. To imagine that it could not use extreme violence against protesters would be delusional.

The best case scenario at this point would be for the Khartoum regime to willingly go into exile while a regime that includes the SRF, if not one led by the SRF, would work with willing parties in Khartoum to create a peaceful transition of power that allows for immediate and  massive international investment in Sudan and in the border region of South Sudan, enabling the rapid growth of oil related income for the two nations.

Let us hope for a peaceful transition of power that leads to rapid economic growth. Anything else may not be enough for hundreds of thousands of people in Sudan and South Sudan who are already struggling to survive.

Humanitarian Team Poised To Enter South Sudan

I saw firsthand what war can do to families while in Iraq and Afghanistan. The refugees in Sudan that we are going to help have experienced tragedy on a colossal scale under circumstances we can hardly imagine. If they had been born in the US, they may be on their way to college in the fall, instead they’re hundreds of miles from their home, living in squalor and fear.” –Ford Sypher, Team Rubicon Element Leader in South Sudan

Today we launched a five person team in conjunction with the International Medical Corps to respond to a growing refugee crisis in South Sudan. At Yusuf Batil, a refugee camp cut off from recent heavy rains near the North Sudanese border, the situation is rapidly becoming dire. The population at the camp has swelled in recent weeks to over six-times capacity (from 6,000 to nearly 40,000), creating a perilous health, sanitation and security problem. Over 110,000 refugees are expected in the region over the next few weeks.

Meet the South Sudan Team

Ford Sypher – Team Leader EMT-I in 3/75 Ranger Regiment. Ford has served as TL on two prior TR deployments and extensive medical and mass casualty triage and management.

Dr. Alan Koslow – Trauma & Vascular Surgeon Previous experience includes two 10-day missions to Haiti, four mission trips to Israel, and El Salvador 2002 earthquake response.

Dr. April Kranz – Pediatrician/Family Practitioner International experience: USNS Mercy, U.S. Navy Hospital Ship to Indonesia, Hillside Belize Medical Clinic, and Maternal and Infant Nutrition Program Buguruka, Tanzania.

Philip Rapp – Civil Engineer Extensive experience in infrastructure repair. Deployed to Haiti, Colombia, Katrina, and many other disaster zones to build medical clinics and WASH systems.

Rama Mutyala – Civil Engineer/GIS Analyst Navy SEABEE served in OIF and OEF. Led 25-man, four month humanitarian mission to Central and South America to build out WASH and electrical systems

Team Rubicon’s five-person element, led by Army Ranger veteran and TR Region VII Field Operations Director Ford Sypher, consists of doctors and civil engineers who will help to construct adequate shelter, build latrines, establish hygiene standards and implement a “neighborhood watch” security program to reduce the risk of violence and sexual assault. We are prepared to continuously send teams to augment IMC’s efforts at Yusuf Batil if needed.

This past week has presented a ‘perfect storm’ of disasters and response opportunities–from a refugee crisis in South Sudan, to hundred year floods in Duluth, MN, to raging fires in Colorado, and a major tropical storm bearing down on our Gulf Shores. Team Rubicon is assessing ways to engage our Veteran Emergency Response Teams in all of these instances, and will continue to use military veterans to lead the charge in disaster relief!

Finally, our ability to engage military veterans in disaster response is only capable because of the continued support that you show for our organization. Military veterans are expertly trained and experienced first responders, and with your help we can give them a new opportunity to serve their community and the world.

Will you support o

Sudan Says that It Accepts Humanitarian Access

Sudan today said that it will accept humanitarian access to South Kordofan and Blue Nile as long as there are observers from the African Union and Arab League to monitor it. The deal requires the immediate cessation of hostilities. Clearly this is the primary aspect of the agreement. The fact is that the regime cannot continue to fight a losing battle against the Sudan Revolutionary Front in South Kordofan while also facing severe economic troubles and protests in the streets.

It may well be necessary for there to be a ceasefire in the south so as to allow humanitarian access to save the tens of thousands of people whose lives are in jeopardy, but it is also clear that Sudan could not in the near term return to full scale combat readiness. The Sudanese government will need to shift finances from military to domestic spending and once that shift takes place, the SAF will be worse off against the SRF than it is today. This is great news if it actually happens, that Sudan lets in humanitarian aid, but even if it does not, the very fact that it is considering doing so is an indication that the resolve and ability of the regime to maintain its previous policies is significantly weakened.

This is the camp Kilometer 18 that my team will be going to. This report posted June 23.

The world's humanitarian news site

Sudanese refugees dying as water runs out – MSF

Sat, 23 Jun 2012 01:09 GMT

Source: alertnet // Drazen Jorgic

A woman carries water from a water hole near Jamam refugee camp in South Sudan’s Upper Nile State March 10, 2012. REUTERS/Hereward Holland

By Drazen Jorgic

NAIROBI (AlertNet) – Sudanese refugees who are stranded in South Sudan with almost no water will start dying in large numbers unless aid agencies respond immediately to what is now a “full blown emergency”, the medical charity Medecins Sans Frontieres has warned.

Some 16,000 people are camped along a dirt road in Upper Nile State after fleeing fighting between the army and rebels in neighbouring Sudan. MSF said they would run out of water in eight days.

Aid workers say refugees in the region are already dying of dehydration and diarrhoea.

“Agencies involved (need) to switch gear and realise this is a full blown emergency – they cannot plan for weeks or months to make it perfect. They have to step up activities right now,” Voitek Asztabski, MSF’s emergency coordinator for Upper Nile State, told AlertNet in Nairobi.

“So switch the gear to emergency and realise the seriousness of the situation because otherwise we are going to lose people like flies.”

The United Nations refugee agency (UNHCR) is racing to move the refugees by truck from the makeshift site, dubbed K18, to a new camp 60km away before the rainy season makes routes impassable.

MSF warned that if there were heavy rains in the next week refugees would be left stranded without water in an area where temperatures climb to over 40 degrees Celsius during the day.

Even if it rains a lot the refugees will not be able collect sufficient water to survive, aid workers say.

MSF estimates around 35,000 refugees fleeing violence in Sudan’s Blue Nile State have crossed the border into South Sudan’s Upper Nile State over the last five weeks, taking the total number of refugees in camps in the state to around 110,000.

Fighting erupted in Sudan’s South Kordofan State in June 2011 and spread to nearby Blue Nile in September. Khartoum accuses South Sudan, which became an independent country last year, of supporting rebels in the border states, but Juba denies this.

Aid workers say many of the recent arrivals are exhausted after spending months in the bush hiding from fighting.

The refugees at K18 moved there after running out of water at another site known as K43 several weeks ago.

“It was a horrifying journey …. With my own eyes I saw people dying of dehydration, people eating tree barks and leaves,” Asztabski said.

“We are basically facing the same situation (in K18).”

GEOLOGISTS NEEDED

MSF called for supplies and services to be boosted at the new site called Camp Batil and another site, Camp Jamam, where 35,000 refugees are based and water is scarce.

The agency said they urgently needed hydro geologists who could discover where to drill for water. UNHCR said on Friday it had received positive tests on two boreholes in Batil.

Arjan Hehenlamp, general director of MSF Holland, said Batil also needed food, tents and medical facilities.

He said the terrain was difficult to work in but added that aid agencies on the ground were partly to blame for the deteriorating situation.

“It is clear to me, having been there and spoken to refugees and some of my team that the aid response in the first couple of weeks of this dramatic influx was woefully insufficient,” Hehenlamp told journalists in Nairobi.

Refugees at K18 told Reuters this week that Sudan’s armed forces were attacking villages in Blue Nile with warplanes, helicopters and troops, killing civilians and torching settlements.

Sudanese army and civilian officials strongly deny the allegations.

Weekend of Nuba Leadership in Des Moines

On Saturday, the SPLM North held its first ever national conference in the United States here in Des Moines, Iowa. The conference was attended by SPLM-N leaders from across the United States as well as by leaders of the Blue Nile, Darfur, Beja and South Sudanese communities. Then on Sunday morning, the leaders came to Temple B’nai Jeshurun, where Help Nuba hosted them for breakfast.

 

Sudan Revolts – The Khartoum Uprising is Gaining Strength

Significant clashes took place between protesters and police yesterday in the regional capitals of Madani and Al-Obayid, but also in the capital of Khartoum, where protests have been limited in size and primarily involved students. The police have thus far responded with the use of tear gas. The regime is trying to play down the protests by arguing that it is no big deal that university students are protesting. However, the Sudan Tribune reported that:

According to many witnesses, Friday’s protests were perhaps the most serious in the nation’s history since NCP took power 23 years ago.

Right now, it is fairly easy for the Khartoum regime to believe that the protests are primarily a response to the austerity measures put in place and that they will be weak and fleeting. Without the backing of the military, protests alone have little chance of success, even with international condemnation of efforts to quell them by the military. However, should the regime choose to employ significant violence, it could result in isolation from the African Union and Arab League.

What would change the situation substantially is if the military would change sides. This is much more likely to occur when soldiers are ordered to commit atrocities against civilians. Yet, this regime has already given those orders repeatedly. This is a regime that has committed genocide against segments of its own population and that is actively trying to starve hundreds of thousands of people now. The regime is likely to become more violent if it feels a real threat of collapse. Would there be any doubt that the leaders of the regime would face death in the aftermath of a successful revolt?

As the revolt continues, so will the violence increase. Not to be forgotten will be the millions of people who will be in danger of starvation, who will face severe health problems, and who will have weak governmental structures in place, if any at all, to aid them in the midst of the fighting. Hundreds of thousands are already in jeopardy of starvation in the Nuba Mountains and Blue Nile. Help Nuba!

Opposition Calls for Overthrow of Khartoum Regime

Growing dissatisfaction with austerity measures imposed by the administration of Omar Bashir’s government, opposition parties are calling for the overthrow the government. Students are protesting in large numbers in the streets shouting, “The people want to overthrow the regime!” The opposition parties and rebels groups in Sudan separately made similar calls yesterday. According to the Sudan Tribune:

The opposition forces say the austerity plan announced by the government did not affect the huge budgets of the army, police, security apparatus, and sovereign sector which acquire 70% of wages and salaries line or 56% of the whole 2012 budget.

This is not only the sign of a regime in severe economic difficulties, it is the sign of a regime on the verge of collapse. Governments cannot abandon care for the general needs of their population. Further, it is clear that Sudan’s ability to continue fighting, much less to improve its capabilities on the battlefield through increased military spending, are non-existent.

Ahmed Hussein Adam, the foreign relations secretary of the Darfur based rebel group known as the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) said that:

What is happening in Sudan these days is the beginning of a true revolution.