Inflammation and stories on Sudan

Health Care in Sudan
Sudan is rich in natural and human resources; however, it is poverty and conflict-stricken. Agriculture is an income provider for 70 percent of the populace. Due to a lack of resources and training availability, the health care sector of the country remains underfunded and understaffed. Here are ten facts about health care in Sudan.

10 Facts About Health Care in Sudan

  1. Approximately 14 percent of Sudanese do not have access to health care. This is largely due to the fact that Sudan has a critical shortage of health care workers. According to the World Health Organization, there are 23 qualified health care workers per 10,000 members of the population.
  2. Sudan’s maternal mortality rate has improved, but it varies by region. In 2015, the maternal mortality rate was 311 per 100,000 live births. This was a significant improvement from 744 per 100,000 live births in 1990. Unfortunately, these rates are not consistent across the country. While more recent data is not available, in 2006, the maternal mortality rate in Southern Kordofan was 503 per 100,000 live births. In the Northern state, however, the rate was only 91 per 100,000 live births.
  3. Approximately 32 percent of Sudan’s population is drinking contaminated water from untreated water sources. This is a result of chemical and bacterial contamination from industrial, domestic and commercial waste that degrades the water quality. There are acts at the state and national levels to help prevent this washing and injection; however, these acts need activation. UNICEF is working with the Sudanese government to increase access to basic treated water supplies for the people of Sudan, with a focus on women and children.
  4. Sudan suffers from outbreaks of cholera, dengue fever, Rift Valley fever (RVF), chikungunya and malaria. Increased outbreaks in 2019 were, in part, a result of heavy rainfall during the rainy season. Consequently, this rainfall left behind stagnant pools which were breeding grounds for mosquitos, contributing to the spread of infection. Government authorities and their humanitarian partners worked to respond to outbreaks across the country. The Kassala and North Darfur Ministries of Health launched weekly response task force meetings and developed state-level plans to mitigate the outbreak.
  5. Sudan has widespread micronutrient deficiencies. This is partially due to insufficient levels of crop growth. Only 14 percent of 208 cultivable acres are being cultivated. Drought, pests and environmental degradation also contribute to widespread malnourishment. However, vitamin A deficiency decreased due to repeated vitamin A supplementation given during National Immunization Day campaigns.
  6. Many Sudanese women and girls lack adequate health care and resources. Women and girls living in the rebel-held areas of Southern Kordofan or the Nuba Mountains of Sudan have very limited or no access to contraception. Human Rights Watch found most of the women interviewed did not know what a condom was and was unfamiliar with other common contraceptive practices. This lack of education and the low availability of condoms are why there are high percentages of women testing positive for hepatitis B. Consequently, gonorrhea and syphilis are on the rise in Sudan.
  7. The National Expanded Program on Immunization in Sudan supports an increase in routine immunization coverage. In addition, the government’s financial investment to EPI and polio eradication program is 15 million USD. Challenges the program faces include poor service delivery and a lack of resources and skilled staff.
  8. Sudan spends 6.5 percent of its gross domestic product and 8.3 percent of government spending on health care. Before the 1990s, receiving care at public health care facilities was mostly free. However, the structural reforms of 1992 introduced user fees. Now, out-of-pocket expenses for patients hover in the 70 percent range.
  9. There are 75 degrees and diploma-granting health institutions in Sudan. About 28 of these institutions offer diplomas and 47 of these schools offer degrees. There are 14 private institutions, while the others belong to agencies such as the Federal Ministry of Health and other government agencies. In 2001, the Federal Ministers of Health and Higher Education signed a Sudan Declaration and Nursing and Allied Health Workers in 2001. The goal of the declaration was to improve nursing and other health care education. The Academy of Health Sciences was established in 2005 to help implement this goal.
  10. The Sudanese government is working to rebuild and reform the health care system. A 25-year plan spanning from 2003 to 2027 was created in the early 2000s. This plan focuses on ensuring health care services are accessible and high quality, particularly for impoverished and vulnerable populations.

These ten facts about health care in Sudan illuminate some of the struggles the nation has faced, as well as improvement efforts by the Sudanese government and other humanitarian organizations. It is imperative that these efforts continue in order for health care to continue to progress in Sudan.

Robert Forsyth
Photo: Flickr

10 Facts About Sanitation in Sudan

Sudan is the third-largest country in Africa and boasts a rich history that traces back to antiquity. Decades of unrest and civil war have crippled the economy and seriously stunted the development of domestic infrastructure, including basic sanitation. In recent years, the Sudanese government, along with the international community, has taken steps towards addressing these challenges. Here are 10 facts about sanitation in Sudan.

10 Facts About Sanitation in Sudan

  1. Open Defecation: More than 30 percent of the population practices open defecation, which is more than any other North African nation. This practice is most prevalent in rural areas where nearly 70 percent of Sudan’s population resides. Open defecation poses serious risks to clean water sources and exposes a large portion of the population to diseases like cholera, dysentery, typhoid, hepatitis and intestinal parasites.
  2. Waterborne Illnesses and Poor Sanitation: The most common result of absent clean water sources is dysentery. In Sudan, diarrhea causes around 12 percent of child deaths. Cholera outbreaks are common, the most recent being in October 2019 and infecting nearly 300 people.
  3. Menstrual Hygiene: People in Sudan treat menstruation with a lot of stigma and shame. Many women resort to unsanitary devices to conceal menstrual bleeding. Unsafe water also increases the chance of infection. Female hygiene resources and education in rural areas have been instrumental in reducing illness, infection and childhood mortality rates. UNICEF has helped develop gender-segregated bathrooms at schools to provide private space for girls to assist with menstrual management.
  4. Water Treatment Facilities: In the last 10 years, Sudan pledged $1 billion in funding for the development and maintenance of clean water sources, wells and pumping stations with the help of the international community. The use of these improved water sources has increased by 55 percent.
  5. WASH: Sudan has targeted rural areas with the WASH (water and sanitation hygiene) initiative with the help of NGOs like Near East Foundation (NEF), USAID and UNICEF. They hope to ensure clean water access to all Sudanese households by 2025 by drilling wells and developing water sanitation facilities.
  6. International Community: WHO and UNDP have been key in their funding of NGOs in Sudan, specifically UNICEF. In fact, 2.3 million Sudanese gained access to clean water between 2013 and 2015 because of their efforts.
  7. Civil Unrest: Sudan has experienced multiple civil wars and a 30-year-long military dictatorship under Omar al-Bashir. Due to these events of civil unrest, many areas of state development suffered underfunding or neglect. In April 2019, protests forced Omar al-Bashir to resign his post. This has instilled new hope and desire for social-civilian infrastructure to address public health and sanitation.
  8. Poor System Supply Chains and Limited Government Resources Diminish Clean Water Access: Sudan has worked to improve clean water access in recent decades, but while 68 percent of households have access to some form of clean water, nearly 30 percent of rural clean water treatment systems are inoperable or understaffed due to deficiencies within the government. Years of civil war and public unrest have significantly crippled supply chains and government oversight.
  9. Hygiene Education: Only 25 percent of Sudanese use soap when washing their hands, a statistic that USAID has focused on inverting. Nationwide campaigns have emerged to educate the public on hand-washing. Additionally, UNICEF issued educational resources to more than 14,000 schools and numerous mosques, ultimately reaching around 4.2 million children.
  10. Sudan National Sanitation and Hygiene Strategic Framework (SNSHSF): The SNSHSF emerged in 2016, a cohesive consulting force consisting of government and private sector individuals and committees to bring modern improvements to Sudan’s sanitation infrastructure. Funded by UNICEF and WHO, this organization has been key to developing and implementing strategies to ensure basic sanitation needs for the public.

While these 10 facts about sanitation in Sudan show the country’s challenges regarding open defecation, handwashing and water treatment, it is clearly making efforts to improve. With continued efforts from Sudan’s government, the international community and NGOs, the country should eventually be able to grant basic sanitation to all.

Tiernán Gordon
Photo: USAID

How Women are Pushing for Gender Equality in Sudan
Gender equality in Sudan has experienced wide debate, especially in the last two decades. Many women across the country saw Omar al-Bashir’s removal from office as a victory for women’s rights. For years, women have been protesting to have the right to a fair trial, to play sports, to have freedom of speech and to have a position in politics. Here is more information about how women are pushing for gender equality in Sudan.

Sudan’s First Female Football League

Women in Sudan started branching out into new activities after Omar al-Bashir’s removal from office. Women across the nation started branching out into new territory: professional sports. Somewhere that women have been thriving is on the football field. Sudan’s first-ever all-women football league began near the end of 2019. Since the league’s arrival, protests across the country have called for more women to involve themselves in sports both professionally and as a hobby. The new Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok has vowed to make female participation throughout the country a priority in the government. Many across the nation believe that the numbers and volume of women protesting was one of the reasons for Omar al-Bashir’s removal from office. Allowing women to compete in sports helps break down some of the barriers that have been preventing gender equality in Sudan.

Women’s Rights

Conversations about gender equality in Sudan and women’s rights first made headlines in the early 2000s. Sexual abuse and violence were at the forefront of the demonstrations. The International Criminal Court indicted former President Omar al-Bashir and several of his staff for systematic sexual abuse in Darfur, between 2003 and 2008.

Women all across Sudan became increasingly angry with the government not reacting to alleged sexual abuse crimes that the police force committed as well. One report shows that government security allegedly killed 118 people and raped dozens of female demonstrators. Gender equality in Sudan also brings up arguments over the legal system in the country. Women across Sudan have also been protesting the legal system, which can allow women to face imprisonment for crimes such as wearing trousers or leaving the house without a man who is not their husband. One report shows that up to 40 women are in courts each day because of these laws. It is common for the women to have a trial without a lawyer, go to jail or receive punishment by public lashings.

Sudanese Women in Politics

The Sudanese Women’s Union began in 1952. Since its creation, it has been advocating for women to go to school, combating underage marriages, fighting for the right for equal pay between men and women and obtaining women’s right to vote. The Sudanese Women’s Union is not the only group striving for gender equality in Sudan. Another group called MANSAM, also known as Women of Sudanese Civic and Political Groups, is a large collective of non-government organizations involved in aiding women throughout Sudan. In total, the collective includes eight political women’s groups, 18 civil society organizations and two youth groups. Currently, one of MANSAM’s main goals is for women to represent half of the political officials in Sudan.

Women in Sudan are pushing for gender equality. They have been fighting for gender equality for decades, both in the form of NGOs and grassroots organizing. They are fighting to have an equal say in politics, in the law and even in sports. The changes that the country has made over the last two decades have been drastic and will likely continue as women’s voices grow stronger.

Asha Swann
Photo: Flickr

10 Facts About the Sudan Genocide
The grave human rights abuses and mass slaughter in Darfur, West Sudan between 2003-2008 was the first genocide of the 21st century. The Sudanese government and the Janjaweed (government-funded and armed Arab militias) targeted civilians, burned villages and committed many more atrocities. Below are 10 facts about the Sudan genocide.

10 Facts About the Sudan Genocide

  1. The long term causes of the Sudan genocide stem from the two prolonged civil wars between the North, that promoted Arabisation and a Middle-Eastern culture, and the South, that preferred an African identity and culture. The First Sudanese Civil War began in 1955 and ended in 1972 with a peace treaty. Eventually, unsettled issues reignited into the Second Sudanese Civil War in 1983 and lasted until 2005, however. Both civil wars occurred due to the southern Sudanese rebels’ demands for regional autonomy and the northern Sudanese government’s refusal to grant it.
  2. The direct cause of the genocide during the Second Sudanese Civil War revolves around allegations that the government armed and funded the Janjaweed against non-Arabs. This supposedly led to the southern rebel groups, the Sudan Liberian Army and the Justice and Equality Movement, attacking a Sudanese Air Force base in Darfur in 2003. The government countered with widespread violent campaigns targeting non-Arabs and southern Sudanese civilians, which turned into genocidal campaigns.
  3. The United Nations estimated that the attacks killed at least 300,000 people and led to the displacement of 2.6 million people. Of that number, 200,000 fled and found refuge in Chad, which neighbors Sudan to the west. Most of the internally displaced people (IDP) settled in the Darfur region, which counts 66 camps. According to a UN report, the lack of law enforcement and judicial institutions in these areas generated human rights violations and abuses, including sexual violence and criminal acts of vulnerable IDPs.
  4. The government and militia conducted “ethnic cleansing” campaigns, committing massive atrocities. They targeted women and girls, deliberately using rape and sexual violence to terrorize the population, perpetuate its displacement and increase their exposure to HIV/AIDS. The government and militia conducted ‘scorched-earth campaigns’ where they burned hundreds of villages and destroyed infrastructures such as water sources and crops, resulting in the dramatic famine. These acts are all war crimes that still prevent IDPs from returning to their homes.
  5. In 2005, the International Criminal Court (ICC) opened investigations regarding the alleged genocide and crimes against humanity in Sudan, which produced several cases that are still under investigation due to the lack of cooperation from the Sudanese government. The ICC dealt with the genocide in Darfur, the first genocide it worked on and the first time the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) referred to the ICC.
  6. A military coup in April 2019 overthrew the former President of Sudan, Omar Al Bashir, allowing the country to secure justice and address the wrongs committed between 2003-2008. Indeed, the prosecutor of the ICC, Fatou Bensouda, urges the UN Security Council to extend the UNAMID’s peacekeeping mission to 12 months and the new government of Sudan to transfer Omar Al Bashir and two other war criminals to the ICC.
  7. Omar Al Bashir was the first sitting President that the ICC wanted (it issued the first arrest warrant in March 2009 and the second in July 2010) and the first example of the ICC incriminating a person for the crime of genocide. However, the ICC still cannot move forward with the trial until Omar Al Bashir receives arrest and becomes present at the ICC (in The Hague).
  8. The UNSC created and sent the peacekeeping force UNAMID (composed of the United Nations and the African Union) to Darfur in 2007, which operates to this day. The mission deployed almost 4,000 military personnel to protect civilians threatened by violence, especially in displacement areas and on the border with Chad. In addition, UNAMID facilitated humanitarian assistance by protecting and helping in the transportation of aid to isolated areas and providing security for humanitarian workers. The UN decided to extend the mandate of the UNAMID until October 31, 2019.
  9. Although the fighting stopped, there is still a crisis in Sudan; the UN estimates that 5.7 million people in Sudan require humanitarian support and can barely meet their basic food needs. There are many NGOs actively working to provide aid, such as Water for South Sudan, that works to ensure access to clean water to rural and remote areas, and the Red Cross, that provides medical care across the country due to its collapsed public health care system. Despite these efforts, there is still an unmet funding requirement of 46 percent in humanitarian aid as of 2018.
  10. In September 2019, a new government established with a power-sharing agreement between the military, civilian representatives and protest groups. According to Human Rights Watch, Sudan’s new government should ensure justice and accountability for past abuses. Moreover, the constitutional charter (signed in Aug. 2019) entails major legal and institutional reforms, focused on holding the perpetrators accountable for the crimes committed under al-Bashir’s rule, as well as eliminating government repression and ongoing gender discrimination.

These are just 10 facts about the Sudan Genocide which are essential to understanding the current events happening in Sudan. Despite the peak of violence in Sudan in 2019 which killed hundreds of protestors, the country finally has a new government and it seems willing to right the wrongs committed during the genocide. The new prime minister Abdullah Adam Hamdok expressed in front of the UN in September 2019: “The ‘great revolution’ of Sudan has succeeded and the Government and people and will now rebuild and restore the values of human coexistence and social cohesion in the country as they try and turn the page on three decades of abhorrent oppression, discrimination and warfare.”

– Andrea Duleux
Photo: Flickr

education in south sudan

South Sudan, the world’s youngest country, faces a bevy of challenges. A long civil war within the previously integrated Sudan and an onslaught of recent conflicts in the newly independent country of South Sudan have resulted in years of instability, undermining education there. Geographical and gender-based issues also pose threats to learning, but the government and NGOs are working hard to create a better system. Here are eight facts about education in South Sudan.

8 Facts about Education in South Sudan

  1. In South Sudan, 51 percent of  children are out of school. There are 400,000 children out of school due to chronic insecurity and displacement, while another 13,000 are absorbed in the country’s protracted conflicts. This high rate fits within a broader pattern: children in conflict-affected countries are much more likely to miss out on educational opportunities than their peers in other countries. With homes destroyed and families lost, the long-term endeavor of schooling becomes an impractical afterthought.
  2. Many school buildings have been decimated. In 2013, tensions between two major politicians spurred fighting between the Dinka and Nuer ethnic tribes. Thousands were killed and more than two million were displaced during the two-year civil war that followed. In the midst of this, 800 school buildings were destroyed. While 6,000 remained usable, almost all of them were stripped of vital educational resources and infrastructure. “[A]nywhere else, they wouldn’t be called schools. It’s basically a tree and a blackboard,” UNICEF’s chief of education in South Sudan told NPR in 2016.
  3. With a five percent net enrollment rate, very few school-aged children attain a secondary education in South Sudan. Part of the problem lies in the limited number of schools: only 120 secondary buildings remain standing in the entire country, according to the Global Partnership for Education.
  4. Educational inequalities persist along rural and urban lines. For one, all 120 secondary schools are in South Sudan’s towns. Students from rural regions who want to obtain a secondary education must take on high transportation costs, which prevent some students from even trying. This challenge compounds upon others. Many rural South Sudanese families engage in cattle-keeping, for example, which forces school-aged children to migrate according to seasonal variations and economic pressures.
  5. Girls’ education is on the rise but requires more work. While more boys obtain an education in South Sudan than girls, this gap narrowed slightly since 2013. One organization making headways in this area is Project Education South Sudan (PESS), which has sponsored many scholarships that help South Sudanese girls attend better-resourced schools. PESS has also established grinding mills in villages close to schools, which frees girls from the manual task of grinding grain.
  6. In 2012, South Sudan’s government, in partnership with several NGOs, established the General Education Strategic Plan (GESP). The GESP increased the number of alternative education systems in the country, targeting problem areas like adult illiteracy. However, the plan fell short in many respects: on-the-ground implementation efforts were limited and money transfers to local governments were not well-coordinated.
  7. The Ministry of General Education and Instruction in South Sudan developed a new GESP for the years 2017-2022. This plan takes into account some of the shortcomings of the previous one. For example, it establishes a school inspection framework and specifies personnel roles at the local level to ensure the effective implementation of funding. Moreover, the plan provides money to reopen conflict-affected schools and create temporary school structures while permanent buildings are built.
  8. The opposing political groups who sparked the 2013 conflict signed a peace deal in September of 2018. Among other things, this deal allowed UNICEF to provide educational resources in previously blocked-off parts of the country. As a result, the organization is likely to pass its goal of enrolling 729,000 new children during 2019.

Conflict and complex political geography combine to undermine education in South Sudan, but the weight of both pressures is gradually lifting. This spells a promising future for South Sudan. Besides being instrumental for healthy living and economic prosperity, education is also a key to future peace. As the South Sudan government and NGOs continue to strengthen the education system, stability will hopefully follow.

– James Delegal
Photo: Flickr

Despite legislative changes, education in Sudan continues to face challenges, especially in the midst of conflict and instability. The major obstacles faced in terms of education derive from poverty, refugee status and gender inequality. Keep reading to learn the top seven facts about education in Sudan.

Top 7 Facts about Education in Sudan

  1. Sudan currently has one of the biggest numbers of out-of-school children in the Middle East and North Africa region. UNICEF estimates that more than 3 million children between the ages of 5 and 13 are not attending school. In addition, though primary school enrollment stands at 76 percent, secondary school enrollment is only 28 percent. Nearly 3 million 5 to 13-year-old children are not enrolled in school.
  2. Sudan has a large number of unqualified teachers working in schools across the country. The Ministry of Education reports that 3,692 out of 7,315 of teachers in South and East Darfur are not properly trained nor sufficiently supervised.
  3. The illiteracy rate in Sudan stood at 50 percent for women and 30 percent for men in 2016. However, overall illiteracy has since dropped to 24 percent.
  4. Women and girls face major barriers to education. An estimated 49 percent of girls in Sudan do not attend school. Women are not protected against discrimination in classrooms, which subjects them to fewer opportunities and maltreatment. Sudanese society also adheres to gender norms that women only belong in the house to care for children and undertake domestic responsibilities. These stereotypes have affected women’s access to higher education because they are typically culturally bound to domestic and maternal duties.
  5. Sudan has worked toward major education reform in the past. Education in Sudan is free by law, however, many schools and universities charge extortionate fees throughout the school year, making schools too costly for children below the poverty line. Furthermore, the quality of education suffers due to the lack of government funding. In 2017, less than 1 percent of public spending went toward education in Sudan.
  6. Many children in Sudan who need education are refugees from other countries. Sudan hosts large numbers of refugees from Eritrea, Syria, Yemen, Chad and South Sudan. As of February 2019, more than 1 million refugees and asylum seekers were displaced in Sudan. An estimated 24 percent of them were of primary school age (6-13) and 9 percent were of secondary school age (14-17). The United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) and Educate a Child have teamed up to provide quality primary education to Sudanese refugees. Programs offered by the organizations include teacher training, provision of learning materials and construction/rehabilitation of classrooms. In 2016, 17,371 students were supplied with stationery kits, 763 students were enrolled in accelerated learning programs and 12 student committees were developed.
  7. Global Partnership for Education (GPE) is another nonprofit working in Sudan to strengthen the education system. The GPE aims to improve access to textbooks, quality of the academic environment and overall strengthen the institutional capacity of the education system. The GPE has allocated more than $76 million toward building 2,000 classrooms across the country, providing grants to 750 schools, distributing over 6 million textbooks and establishing teacher monitoring.

Despite the challenges presented by these facts about education in Sudan, various organizations have already begun to work toward developing a better and more effective education system in Sudan. As Sudan undergoes slow recovery from decades of conflict and instability, education becomes a priority and a necessity to recuperate. In the coming years, Sudan may see more progress toward a more inclusive education system if stability grows and increased opportunities arise for minorities such as girls and refugees.

Louise Macaraniag
Photo: Flickr

Internet Blackout in Sudan

Sudan has been rocked by protests after ousting President Omar al-Bashir in April, who was in power for 30 years. Now under the control of the Transitional Military Council, the internet blackout in Sudan has swept the country while peaceful protestors demand a transition to a democratic civilian government, which has turned deadly.

One-hundred people were killed by government militia, the Rapid Support Forces, during a sit-in protest in early June. Seven more were killed and 181 injured in the biggest protest since at a commemoration event for those who died earlier the same month in Khartoum.

Between 2010 and 2018, internet freedom has declined across the globe. China, Iran, Thailand and Tunisia have a history of blocking news outlets and social networking sites during times of conflict. In addition, although it is a democracy, India has the highest number of internet shutdowns than anywhere in the world.

The problem in Sudan, however, mirrors the Egyptian Revolution in 2011, which remained under the rule of Hosni Mubarak for 30 years. Egypt and Sudan faced internet blackouts in an attempt to silence protestors and hide human rights violations. Despite their attempts, both countries have shown ways of overcoming internet oppression.

African journalist, Zeinab Mohammed Salih, told BBC News that most protests in Sudan are held at night in the suburbs, neighboring cities and small streets, but when more people hear about them, the bigger the protests become. Despite the lack of internet freedom, the latest Khartoum protest is proof of the growing opposition.

How to Bypass the Internet Blackout in Sudan

  1. Neighborhood Committees: Neighborhood committees are spread throughout different districts in the state of Khartoum. In the Omdurman district, just northwest of Khartoum city, four committees consist of almost 60 households. Originally, committees planned the routes of protest marches, but now they are working to share information and provide support and safety to those in need. In the Bahri district, they built barricades just days after the sit-in protest, and in Omdurman, 300 people protested as militia soldiers patrolled Khartoum city.
  2. Phone and Landlines Reign Supreme: When the internet is shut down, phone and landlines become the keys to connecting to the outside world. Although protestors have forwarded the information by SMS text over the cellular network instead of the internet, others find that their texts are not always delivered. In order to bypass the internet blackout in Egypt, several international internet service providers offered dial-up access to the internet, which connects users to phone lines.  Although the connection is slow, it works. When Salih, an African journalist, failed to text her articles to a news outlet in London, she tried to reach a landline at a hotel in Khartoum but struggled to get around the barricades protestors had made, forcing her and others to walk. The internet in Sudan is only accessible through telephone lines or fiber optic cables, although the connection is not so reliable. Despite this, men, women, whether they are protestors or not, crowd mobile shops and cyber cafes in Khartoum.
  3. Peer-to-Peer Network: Adam Fisk is the creator of the free open-source censorship circumvention tool Lantern. The program gives anyone’s computer the ability to become a server by sharing its internet connection with those without it. Those in censored regions can choose who they want to add and shift their traffic through, and the tool bypasses any blocks to Google, Facebook and Twitter. In 2013, the Chinese government blocked the program after the number of users rose to more than 10,000, but the program does not provide anonymity. Fisk recommends Tor to remain anonymous, another tool that encrypts traffic and sends it around the world, masking the user’s actual location and making them harder to track.
  4. Innovation for the Future: After the Egyptian Revolution, innovators like Fisk are still trying to create tools to circumvent future government-mandated shutdowns. Bre Pettis is one of them. The goal is to create quick and reliable chats on a local network so users can communicate without internet access in an emergency situation.

According to Haj-Omar, what Sudan needs to achieve freedom and uphold human rights is more attention from the international community, even though the internet blackout makes it easier for the Sudan government to conceal these issues. The internet blackout in Egypt robbed the Egyptian people of freedom, only inspiring more to take to the streets. Sudan can learn and grow from Egypt’s past.

– Emma Uk
Photo: Flickr

Sudan's Vulnerable Position in MENA Politics

People, cameras and everything in between are paying close attention to Sudan’s vulnerable position in MENA Politics. This past month, the political crisis in Sudan has received worldwide attention. For example, internet users implemented blue social media avatars commemorating fallen Sudanese activist Mohamed Mattar.  The conflict exists between Sudanese democracy advocates and the Transitional Military Council (TMC) currently governing the country, following the ousting of Omar Al-Bashir. However, it is important to understand just what is keeping Sudan and innocent civilians from moving forward with a more egalitarian society. Here are five facts about Sudan’s vulnerable position in MENA Politics.

  1. Sudan has a claim to mineral-rich areas of the Red Sea.
    The majority of Sudan’s geography is rich in minerals and natural gas. In 2011, when the two countries became independent, this was left with South Sudan. A crucial 7,945 square miles of land, known as the Halayeb Triangle, is still within Sudanese land claims.
    This region has a coastline on the Red Sea, a location seemingly ideal for new oil exploration ventures. But, it’s not Sudanese efforts that have jumped on this opportunity. This leads to the next fact about Sudan’s vulnerable position in MENA politics.
  2. Egypt claims the same area and has made power plays to extrapolate resources.
    Following Sudan’s independence from colonialism in 1956, Egypt has been in conflict with Sudan. The conflict is over which country has a right and full claim to the land and all its potential as a natural resource for either country’s economy.
    In March of this year, The Arab Weekly reports that Egyptian state-sponsored South Valley Egyptian Petroleum Holding Company has invited up to ten separate oil and gas exploration bids to the very same Halayeb region. The report claims that the area surrounding is “Egyptian territorial waters.”
    The same article quotes a statement by Sudan’s Foreign Ministry: “The Foreign Ministry summoned Egyptian Ambassador Hossam Eissa… to protest against the tenders invited by the Egyptian Oil Ministry for areas under the sovereignty of Sudan.” The Sudanese Oil and Gas Minister of State called it “a direct intrusion” of both the country’s right to issue exploration licenses to that region. Sudanese officials claim the Halayeb region has been the sovereign territory of Sudan since 1956, the country’s year of independence.
  3. The Gulf Nations plan to support the militia government of Sudan.
    On June 20, 2019, the Council on Foreign Relations wrote that countries like Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates are putting their support behind the Transitional Military Council in Sudan. These two countries have pledged $3 billion in aid for the TMC to disperse to civilians in the form of food, water and medicine.
    The International Crisis Group finds this political and economic move to be simply another example of something common among Gulf states. That is, moving “from one military regime to another.”
    This fact about Sudan’s vulnerable position in MENA Politics focuses on a continued disenfranchisement of Sudanese civilians even after the authoritarian president Omar Al-Bashir was forced out of office. These Gulf Nations’ support of the military government is not in accordance with the wants of Sudanese civilians.
  4. A remnant of the Al-Bashir era is sympathetic to Saudi Arabian efforts in Sudan.
    Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo (known as Hemeti) was a close political aide to Omar al-Bashir before the military coup. He has now outwardly shown his appreciation for Saudi Arabia’s and the UAE’s contribution to Sudan’s military-governmental complex. He showed this by meeting with Saudi Prince Mohammed Bin Salman and vowing to support Riyadh against “all threats and attacks” by the country’s political opponents for power in the Middle East.
  5. Hemeti still controls Sudanese military activity.
    As Hemeti is a representative of the military presence that currently governs Sudan. His commanding activity must also be taken into account to better understand the conflict and protests of earlier this June.
    Hemeti is the commander of the Rapid Support Forces, a militia group that grew from Sudan’s Janjaweed presence. The Janjaweed (or “devils on horseback” in a Sudanese colloquial language) were also under Hemeti’s supervision. They are widely acknowledged as responsible for the genocidal crimes against humanity of 2005 in the Sudanese region of Darfur.
    Civilians no longer appreciate this modern-day reincarnation of an overbearing militia. One activist, Hajooj Kuka, stated: “We do not want to move forward with the RSF as part of the Sudanese army. At this point, we have totally lost trust in them.”
    The Rapid Support Forces are also responsible for the fast publicized retaliation to civil protests on June 3, 2019.  Around 100 Sudanese Activists died during and after this crisis. This occurred on what would have been a festive Eid al-Fitr, or the end of Ramadan.

How to Help

Overall, these five facts about Sudan’s vulnerable position in MENA politics show how Middle Eastern powerhouses are hoping to take control of Sudanese land and government for personal gain. They are doing this without the interest of Sudanese civilians at heart.

While it may be difficult to address this misrepresentation directly, Bustle outlines that there are simple ways to help show the inequity Sudanese people are experiencing regularly.  Individuals around the world can:

  • Support Humanitarian Programs – UNICEF Executive Director Henrietta Fore stated that “Children throughout Sudan are already bearing the brunt of decades of conflict, chronic underdevelopment, and poor governance.” To address this, UNICEF has begun transporting ready-to-eat therapeutic food and necessary medicine to improve the quality of life for children in Sudan under the age of five. The funding through June 12 sent 22,000 tons of these basic needs to those in need.
  • Sign a Petition – Petitions are circulating on the internet calling upon international organizations to hold Sudan accountable. In one, Change.org calls upon the United Nations to launch an investigation into the events of June 3, 2019, in Sudan’s capital of Khartoum.
  • Reach out – A great way to improve human rights as a U.S. constituent is to contact elected officials. Calling is effective. Also effective is using the ResistBot program to text one’s concerns. Be sure to mention your support of U.S. assistance to the humanitarian crisis in this country. Congressional staffers record every contact made in support of a cause. With enough support, all the claims of constituents regarding Sudan’s vulnerable position in MENA politics will be taken seriously.

-Fatemeh Zahra Yarali

Photo: Flickr

Healing in the Nuba Mountains
Located in East Africa with a maritime border along the Red Sea, Sudan is a country plagued with a violent past. Since gaining its independence from joint British-Egyptian rule in 1956, Sudan’s sovereignty has been unstable. Its first civil war erupted in 1962, and since then Sudan has continued to struggle with violence. A referendum was passed for the independence of South Sudan. Since then, however, there has been continued fighting between the two nations.

The Nuba Mountains

A point of particular conflict has been in the Nuba Mountains, which lies on the border of the two countries. Since 2011 the Nubian people have sought independence from Omar al Bashir’s Sudanese government. This caused the Bashir regime to lead what is called by some a “genocidal” war against the Nubian people. However, one man’s care has given hope to the Nubian people for over a decade, bringing healing in the Nuba Mountains.

Tom Catena’s work

Dr. Tom Catena established the Mother Mercy Hospital in the Nuba Mountains back in 2007. Since then, he has been the only doctor permanently stationed in the region for over twelve years. This anomaly stems from the fact that the Sudanese government does not allow humanitarian aid in its country. It is Catena’s faith that gives him the willpower to work, despite the government’s restriction. Catena’s defiance has led to the government bombing the hospital on more than one occasion. Working under such dangerous conditions, Catena has been advised several times to leave, but he has reaffirmed his commitment to the Nubian people, saying, “I felt that if I left, that would mean I valued my life over the lives of people I came to serve.”

Before his time in the Nuba Mountains, Dr. Catena volunteered at Saint Mary’s hospital in Nairobi for 6 years. He is now the sole doctor for a region the size of the state of Georgia with a population between 750,000 and 1 million. Catena and his 60 staff members are on call 24 hours at the 435-bed clinic. Dr. Catena typically treats 400 patients a day and estimates that he performs more than 1,000 surgeries per year. Along with treating malaria, tuberculosis, pneumonia and leprosy, Catena also treats victims of the ongoing war, further encouraging healing in the Nuba Mountains.

Catena’s impact has been so profound that he is often referred to as Jesus Christ by the Nubians who pray daily for his safety.

Awards and recognition

In 2015, Dr. Catena was ranked among Time Magazine’s 100 Most Influential People. In 2017, his efforts were recognized again when he was named laureate of the 2017 Aurora Prize for Awakening Humanity and awarded $100,000 to continue his work, as well as another $1 million to donate to charities of his choice. His work in Sudan has also been the topic of a documentary, The Heart of Nubia, which Dr. Catena hopes will shed light on the deteriorating conditions in Sudan.

Truly, Dr. Catena’s life story is an inspiration. The way he works toward healing in the Nuba Mountains is impacting thousands of lives, and in this war-torn nation, this aid is needed now more than ever.

– Henry Burkert
Photo: Flickr

Poverty in the Horn of Africa
The Horn of Africa is a peninsula that extends into the Arabian Sea and the Gulf of Aden. It includes seven countries: Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan and Uganda. Here are 10 facts about poverty in the Horn of Africa, how poverty impacts the people of these countries and how their situations can improve.

10 Facts About Poverty in the Horn of Africa

  1. Food Insecurity in Djibouti: Food insecurity is a major problem for those living in rural areas of Djibouti. While those living in more urban areas of the country do not experience the same levels of poverty, 62 percent of those living in rural Djibouti have little access to food containing adequate nutrition. Djibouti’s climate may be a cause as it makes crop production difficult. As a result, it must receive 90 percent of its food supply as imports, making the country vulnerable to changes in international market prices.
  2. Drought and Malnutrition in Eritrea: Amnesty International reports that many in Eritrea struggle to meet their basic needs as drought and laws within the country make it difficult to access clean water and limit the availability of basic food supplies. Half of all children in Eritrea experience stunted growth due to malnutrition.
  3. Poverty in Ethiopia: Ethiopia is one of the most populated countries in Africa and one of the poorest countries in the world. Despite experiencing a massive surge of economic growth since 2000, 30 percent of Ethiopians are still living below the poverty line, and the United Nations has classified 36 million of the country’s 41 million children as multidimensionally poor.
  4. Conflict in Somalia: Years of conflict have destroyed much of Somalia’s economy, infrastructure and institutions. Forty-three percent of the population of Somalia live on less than $1 a day. Nearly five million Somalis depend on humanitarian aid every day.
  5. Conflict and Climate in Sudan: Like Somalia, Sudan has faced serious damage to its economy due to conflict. Sudan has also faced serious damage to its agricultural industry due to unpredictable climate and rainfall in recent years. One in three Sudanese children under the age of 5 is underweight due to malnutrition.
  6. South Sudan, Foreign Investors and Agriculture: Though South Sudan is rich in resources, particularly oil, foreign investors monopolize most of its supplies. The vast majority of workers in South Sudan engage themselves in agriculture and livestock rearing. South Sudan is incredibly vulnerable to changing patterns in rain, similar to its northern neighbors, and it frequently experiences floods and droughts that, in conjunction with conflict and depreciating currency, has left 80 percent of its population impoverished.
  7. Poverty in Uganda: Uganda has made great strides in reducing poverty over the last decade. However, it still requires more work. Poverty is still a major issue throughout the country, particularly in the northern and eastern regions, which have less access to infrastructure than the rest of the country. In northern Uganda, 29 percent of households do not have toilets and 96.3 percent of households are without electricity.
  8. The Link Between Poverty, War and Instability: The Horn of Africa is currently dealing with several wars and conflicts. There is civil unrest in Sudan and South Sudan, and terrorism plagues the entire region. In 2017, the Prime Minister of Ethiopia, Hailemariam Desalegn, suggested that poverty is the underlying cause of war and instability in the region and that the best way to foster peace in this high-conflict area is to focus on improving the economies of these countries.
  9. Digital Technologies: Digital technologies could play a major role in closing the economic gap between these countries and more financially stable regions of the globe. Digitalization of a country is relatively low-cost, and can significantly assist in alleviating poverty through a number of channels. Technology can allow those in rural communities to access education, health care and agricultural information that would dramatically increase productivity. Beyond that, technology allows women and other marginalized populations to enter the formal economy.  An International Monetary Fund study stresses the importance of boosting women’s participation in the economy to create economic growth. Taking simple steps in investing in things like mobile phones and the internet could lay groundwork not only for alleviating poverty in the region but also for ensuring equality and lasting peace. This strategy has worked extremely well in countries such as Bangladesh.
  10. The World Bank’s Initiative: The World Bank has developed an initiative that focuses on alleviating poverty in the Horn of Africa by focusing on building resilience in the region and integrating the region economically.

The Horn of Africa is one of the poorest regions in the world. These facts demonstrate that these nations desperately need the attention and assistance of the global community in order to create stability in the region, and a chance at a better life for the people living there.

Gillian Buckley
Photo: Flickr