By Manyang Mayom
February 20, 2011 (KAMPALA) – The non-governmental organization, the Save the Children in Lakes state had stated that their “new program” with returnee children in remote areas of the South Sudan state.
South Sudan has seen as mass return of people to the region ahead of its independence in July, following a referendum in January.
The assistant manager for Save the Children in Lakes state, James Otto Alino, announced the project on 18 February during his visit to returnees camping at Comboni Primary School in Rumbek.
Otto said that his organisation plans to establish what he called “child-friendly spacing”, explaining that the program is designed to enable children to take part in different kinds of sports, drama and dances besides other educational activities like lessons in English language.
He said that the program will kick off when the returnees are permanently resettled, adding that his organization is in touch with South Sudan Relief and Rehabilitation Commission (SSRRC) in Lakes State regarding the timeframe for permanent resettlement of the returnees.
Otto also said that his team is already responding to other needs of the returnees, explaining that Save the Children has donated a tent for children and has conducted workshops targeting not only children but also parents.
The workshops, he said, have covered issues of child rights and child protection as contain in the Child Act, clarifying that the context in South Sudan is different from North Sudan where they have come from.
Otto appealed to the local community to be hospitable to the returnees, explaining that showing a good heart to the returnees by community members would ensure integration.
He also said that he is opposed to the suggestion of establishing separate schools for returnee children, arguing that mixing the resident with returnee children will greatly facilitate the much needed integration of the returnees into the local community.
The resettlement of returnees in Lakes state has taken longer than previously thought and promised by authorities.
Up to 200 returnees are still camping at Comboni Primary School in Rumbek awaiting permanent resettlement, a situation that is going to create logistical difficulties if not duly addressed given that the school is set to reopen in 10 days.
February 17, 2011 (KHARTOUM) – Sudan President Omar Al-Bashir has asked the soon-to-be independent region of south Sudan to allocate a plot of land for building north Sudan embassy in the south.
Sudan President Omar Al-Bashir
Meanwhile, sources quoted by the UAE-based Al-Bayan newspaper said that the Government of South Sudan had agreed to the request put forward by President Al-Bashir to earmark a location in Juba for building the north embassy.
North and South Sudan fought nearly half a century of intermittent civil wars until they signed the 2005’s Comprehensive Peace Agreement which gave the south the right to self-determination.
South Sudan voted overwhelmingly for secession from the north in a referendum last month. The region’s full independence will be formalized in July this year.
However, the two halves are still negotiating a set of post-independence arrangements, including oil revenues, currency, international agreements and the status of the hotly contested border area of Abyei.
February 17, 2011 (KHARTOUM) – The simmering discord among the coalition of mainstream opposition parties in north Sudan has finally come into view when opposition parties today distanced themselves from the current dialogue held between the National Umma Party (NUP) and the ruling National Congress Party (NCP).
Meeting of Sudanese opposition leaders (FILE)
Opposition parties allied under the umbrella of the National Consensus Forces (NCF) were outraged when the NUP leader Al-Sadiq al-Mahdi held a surprise meeting in January with President Al-Bashir at a time when they were pushing for confrontation with the regime.
The meeting fueled rumors that Al-Mahdi was on his way to agreeing a separate power-sharing deal with the NCP and assume some posts in the government.
However, Al-Mahdi strongly denied that his meeting was aimed at agreeing participation in the government, and that the meeting’s sole purpose was to discuss “national agendas.”
The former Prime Minister stressed that his party wants a new constitution, brotherhood accord with the South, securing basic freedoms, resolving Darfur crisis, new economic policy, realistic handling of the standoff with the International Criminal Court (ICC) and a transitional government.
A press statement released on Thursday by the political secretary of the Islamic opposition Popular Congress Party (PCP), Kamal Umar, said that the NUP’s recent stances did not represent NCF parties.
Kamal Umar said that the “national agendas” proposed by the NUP leader Al-Mahdi to the NCP “concerns only himself” and that the current “bilateral” dialogue was not mandated by the NCF which set clear preconditions for dialogue with the NCP.
He noted that the NCF wants the release of detainees, reversing recent increases in prices, a national forum to resolve Darfur and the formation of a transitional government to replace the existing government.
The PCP veteran Islamist leader Hassan Al-Turabi has been detained since January without charges.
Kamal Umar said that the positions adopted by Al-Mahdi had confounded the rest of the opposition which requires clarifications of facts.
North Sudan is grappling with economic malaises manifested in a shortage of foreign currency reserves and loss of oil revenues as a result of the secession of the oil-producing South Sudan. The government recently adopted austerity measures including cuts in subsidies for food and petro products as well as curbing imports of several commodities.