Published on 09 Jan 2019

UNHCR continues to receive an influx of new arrivals in East Sudan, largely from Eritrea. New arrivals are received and assisted by the Sudanese Commission for Refugees (COR) at the border where they are temporarily hosted in reception centres. Within 1-2 weeks they are transported to Shagarab camps where they undergo screening, a reception process, registration, and Refugee Status Determination while receiving life-saving services and shelter. Recognized refugees receive COR ID cards.



Second generation breeding starts in Sudan/Eritrea outbreak

Groups of late instar hoppers, immature and mature adults are present on the Red Sea coastal plains between Port Sudan to Massawa, Eritrea. A small mature swarm reportedly moved south along the coast towards Massawa earlier this week, reaching Foro on the 13th. A second generation of breeding is in progress with reports of new gregarious hatchlings forming small groups in Eritrea. Ground control operations are underway in both countries. As ecological conditions remain favourable, additional laying and hatching are expected during the remainder of January. Thereafter, breeding is likely to decline based on current rainfall forecasts. Elsewhere, breeding is likely to be in progress in subcoastal areas (Wadi Oko/Diib) in northeast Sudan.

In Saudi Arabia, small immature groups and swarms began arriving on 6 January near farms on the western and northern edge of the Empty Quarter south of Riyadh between Al Sulayyil and Al Aflaj, and south of Haradh. Ground control operations are in progress. These swarms probably originated from breeding in the Empty Quarter along the border of Oman/Yemen/Saudi Arabia where good rains fell from cyclones Mekunu (May) and Luban (October). There is a risk that the swarms will mature and lay eggs on the edges of the farms. On 15 January, a mature swarm was reported on the northern Red Sea coast near Rabigh.

Survey and control efforts should be maintained in all areas.


An important and useful analysis of what might happen in the days ahead

“The exit of Bashir from power is just a matter of time and the current uprising seems to shorten the timing of such exist.”


Source: Radio Tamazug

By Dr. Luka Biong Deng Kuol

sudan protests

Sudan is one of the few African countries whose citizens pioneered post-independence popular uprisings in 1964 and 1985 that forced the ruling military regimes to step down. Popular uprising has become one of the political norms that Sudanese resort to in redefining their social contract with the state.

The current popular uprising is different from the previous ones in terms of drivers, intensity, popularity, duration, spread and death toll. Although this uprising was triggered by the decision of the government to lift subsidies on essential commodities, it is a manifestation of structural economic, political and social fragility of the state of Sudan. Unlike the previous uprisings, this uprising is engineered by the new forces of youth that are well informed, connected and equipped with enabling technology and social media that the regime is ill-equipped to contain.

The political Islam program adopted by the National Congress Party (NCP) in governing Sudan after regaining power through coup d’état in 1989 has not only resulted in the separation of South Sudan but has also caused enormous human suffering and agony that has contributed to this uprising and relegated Sudan to arguably one of the worst performing states in the world. This peaceful uprising has adopted a chant similar to that of the Arab Spring that “The people want to overthrow the regime” and calls for President Bashir to step down. The uprising seems to regain more strength and reenergize itself the more it is brutally repressed by the government.

There is no doubt the uprising has challenged and tainted the legitimacy of President Bashir and political Islam agenda in the Sudan. While many observers and particularly Sudanese activists see this uprising will eventually lead to the end of the regime of President Bashir, some realist observers see the contrary. It is likely the uprising will persist and continue unabated, while the government is determined to repress it until it is worn out.

Indeed, Sudan is at the crossroads as some observers see President Bashir as having no option but to fight back at any cost, while the protesters are determined to see regime change and the stepping down of President Bashir. If such confrontation continues, and despite the civility exhibited by the peaceful protesters, Sudan is destined for a bloody boiling point and chaos that may result in a scenario similar to that of Syria or Libya.

This uprising can only be quelled by the personal decision of President Bashir. This raises the real question of who is with Bashir and what options are available to him. The withdrawal of 22 political parties, including Islamist political parties, from the national dialogue initiated by President Bashir and their call for him to step down and form a sovereignty council and a transitional government is a political blow to the legitimacy of President Bashir.

Also many observers see that the army has shifted from its absolute allegiance to Bashir to a neutral position and are even siding in some instances with the protestors. The National Intelligence and Security Service (NISS) that has been very loyal to Bashir and has been an integral part of his ruling party, the NCP, has started blaming the government for its mismanagement of the economic crisis. That has also weakened the control of Bashir over the affairs of the government. Even the special military force called “The Rapid Support Force” that was formed to protect Bashir and his regime has taken a neutral position towards the uprising and its leadership has publicly criticized the government for the economic crisis even more than the opposition parties have done.

The political base of Bashir is also eroding, as NCP is divided and withering away from the political scene. Many credible reports have exposed NCP as a mere corrupt self-interest group. Bashir remains with only a few loyal supporters from his party who would like him to fight to the end. Besides the division within the NCP, there is also a friction among the regime’s supporters. The Sudanese Muslim Scholars Association, a body of state-sponsored clerics that is perceived as conservative and loyal to Bashir, has unprecedentedly criticized the government for the economic crisis that has resulted in the uprising and has called for the accountability of the officials responsible for the current economic crisis.

Real Options

Although many Sudanese activists and protesters see the only option available to Bashir is to step down, such option may be elusive.  Bashir may indeed have other options. On the basis of my discussions with various Sudanese and non-Sudanese experts on Sudan, Bashir may resort to one of the following options:

  1. The first reasonable option is for Bashir to voluntarily resign and hand over power to the national army with a technocratic government to oversee the transition to constitutional democratic governance. President Bashir can either leave the country as did the former Tunisian president, Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, to another country that may ensure his safety and protection from the arrest of the International Criminal Court or decide to stay inside the country, as did the former Sudanese president, Ibrahim Abboud in 1964 and former Egyptian president, Hosni Mubarak. This option is unlikely as the national army is too weak and the protesters may not accept such option, as the current national army is a politicized army of the ruling party, the NCP. Some observers see this option as unlikely, as President Bashir turned down similar offers with lucrative guarantees.
  2. The second option is for President Bashir to declare not to contest for the presidency in general elections in 2020 and to allow the formation of an inclusive transitional government of national unity to oversee the transition to constitutional democratic governance. This option is likely to be accepted by President Bashir, but the protesters will not see it as an option as they are determined to see Bashir stepping down.
  3. The third option is for President Bashir to defy the uprising and declare a state of emergency to allow him to violently suppress it. Many observers see this as the most likely option, but it would most likely result in more bloodshed and may force the peaceful protesters to become violent, with some probably seeing the option of armed struggle as the only way to force President Bashir to step down. This scenario would be similar to that of Syria and Libya and would result in massive displacement and immense human suffering.
  4. The fourth option is for Bashir to publicly apologize to the Sudanese people for the atrocities committed during the uprising and bring to the book those who committed atrocities and are responsible for the killing of protestors. He might also call for a genuine and inclusive roundtable dialogue with a commitment that during this national dialogue he will relinquish his powers as president and become a ceremonial president.The aim would be to create a conducive political environment for genuine national dialogue and the formation of a transitional government with reduced powers and influence for the NCP. This would also ensure the participation of moderate Islamist members, as in the case of the Tunisian post-Arab Spring government. This option is likely to be entertained by Bashir and accepted by the protesters, if a trusted body facilitates it. However, the compromise of his continuing as a ceremonial president may not be acceptable in the current climate of extreme protests.
  5. The fifth option is for President Bashir to declare some cosmetic changes in his government by removing some of the radical Islamists and the trial of those who are accused of committing atrocities during the uprising and of corruption and initiate specific programs to address the anger of the youth. The protesters will certainly not accept this option, as they are determined to see Bashir step down.

The exit of Bashir from power is just a matter of time and the current uprising seems to shorten the timing of such exist.

The likely outcome of the aforementioned options depends on what can be done now to persuade Bashir to accept the option that would address his concerns and meet the demands of the protesters. The third option is likely to prevail, but may lead to more violence and chaos. Although it is difficult to know the psychology of Bashir, some observers describe him as arrogant and over-confident, with excessive traditional pride of the Ja’alin ethnic group and the Sudanese military officers.

These factors would not allow him to accept any option that will taint his pride. Some observers see Bashir as less concerned about ICC than he is about his pride, if he relinquishes power. This may be an overestimation of the level of resilience of Bashir as he may be concerned not to face the scary fate of the leaders ousted by the Arab Spring.

Unlike the former Tunisian president, Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, Bashir would be very concerned about ICC and would prepare to stay inside Sudan, if he were to step down. This may require the UN Security Council to request the ICC under Article 16 of the Rome Statute to defer the prosecution of President Bashir and offer him the incentive to step down voluntarily. Also, even if Bashir were to step down, the serious economic crisis faced by Sudan would not be easily resolvable. This will require enormous external development assistance from the international community to address the immediate survival needs of the protesters and the citizens.

The only body that may provide a trusted platform for dialogue between the protesters and the government is the African Union High-Level Implementation Panel headed by President Mbeki. The Panel under the leadership of President Mbeki will be able to find a consensual agreement as well as mobilize the necessary financial resources from the western countries and the Gulf States to rescue Sudan from its economic meltdown.

The fourth option may provide Sudan with a pathway for a peaceful transition to constitutional democratic governance.

The author, Dr. Luka Biong Deng Kuol, is a Global Fellow of Peace Research Institute in Oslo (PRIO).


Dalsan Radio (Mogadishu)

The Ethiopian National Defense Force has vowed to launch a "massive offensive" against al-Shabab extremists in response to Friday ambush on a convoy of troops traveling Burhakaba to Baidoa in Somalia's southwest.

A statement on Saturday rejects reports and an al-Shabab claim that several Ethiopian troops were killed. It does not give further details on casualties.

The ambush was reported as the al-Qaida-linked al-Shabab claimed responsibility for the deadly hotel assault in Nairobi and deadly attacks on forces inside Somalia. The statement does not say exactly when the ambush occurred.

Ethiopia contributes troops to a multinational African Union peacekeeping mission. It also has troops in Somalia independently under Ethiopian army command.

The statement says the ambush occurred when the Ethiopian Al-Shabab, which formed more than a decade ago in response to the presence of Ethiopian forces inside Somalia, among other reasons, has never managed to orchestrate a major attack inside the Ethiopian heartland, though it has carried out major attacks in neighboring Kenya.

In late October, al-Shabab claimed killing 30 Ethiopian troops inside Somalia. Weeks before that, Ethiopian state media outlets reported that the Ethiopian Air Force killed 70 al-Shabab members after the extremist group tried to attack Ethiopian forces.


Zimbabwe’s increasing isolation

There is growing anger in Zimbabwe that government repression is being matched by attempts to shut down social media.

screenshot_2019-01-20 s_baraka ???? on twitter

Curtailing access to the internet is another form of censorship.

Controlling the internet is used to prevent WhatsApp, Twitter and Instagram being used to record government repression and share news of protests

Virtual Private Networks rule!

With the internet restricted, people are turning to VPNs. These use a technology that circumvents geographical restrictions and censorship while keeping one’s location and identity unknown.

The best list of VPN’s for Zimbabwe has been published.

But with poor power supplies (even in Harare) it is difficult to recharge phones and other devices.

People are almost confined to their homes and soldiers are guarding shops. There are worries about food supplies, while fuel is almost unattainable.

President Emmerson Mnangagwa has been travelling to central Asia, Russia and Europe in an attempt to rally international support and investment that might stave off the total collapse of the country’s economy.

The outlook for Zimbabwe looks increasingly grim, with fears in South Africa of another influx of economic refugees from its northern neighbour.

An African pattern

Restricting access to the internet follows a pattern established in  Sudan, where protests against government repression have met with the closure of social media.

This has not prevented clashes with police and a rising death toll.

In Sudan some 40 have died since the opposition to Omar al-Bashir’s regime erupted on 24 December.  And the number is rising.

The DR Congo also restricted access to the internet during the recent presidential elections.

This is becoming a familiar pattern whenever African governments are challenged.

The vessel left Libya two days ago and started sinking after 10 to 11 hours at sea

A migrant wrapped in a Red Cross blanket

A migrant at the harbour of Malaga in January after an inflatable boat carrying 188 people was rescued by the Spanish coast guard. Photograph: Jorge Guerrero/AFP/Getty

About 117 migrants who left Libya in a rubber dinghy two days ago are unaccounted for, the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) has said, after three people were rescued from the sinking vessel in the Mediterranean.

“The three survivors told us they were 120 when they left Garabulli, in Libya, on Thursday night. After 10 to 11 hours at sea (the boat) started sinking and people started drowning,” IOM spokesman Flavio Di Giacomo said.

He said the people came mainly from west Africa, adding: “Ten women including a pregnant girl were aboard and two children, one of whom was only two months old.”

An Italian military plane on sea patrol on Friday had first sighted the dinghy sinking in rough waters and had thrown two safety rafts into the water before leaving due to a lack of fuel, Rear Admiral Fabio Agostini told TV channel RaiNews24.

A helicopter dispatched from a naval ship had then rescued the three people, who were suffering from severe hypothermia and were taken to hospital on the Italian island of Lampedusa.

“During this operation at least three bodies were seen in the water who appeared to be dead,” Agostini said.

The Italian navy said it had alerted Libyan authorities who coordinated rescue operations and ordered a merchant ship to go to the site of the sinking. Rescue efforts had ceased after the search for the dinghy had proved fruitless.

According to the IOM, 2,297 migrants died or went missing in the Mediterranean last year, out of a total of 116,959 people who reached Europe by sea.

Arrivals in the first 16 days of 2019 totalled 4,449, almost all by sea, compared with 2,964 in the same period of 2018.

“As long as European ports will remain open … sea-traffickers will continue to do business and kill people,” the Italian Interior Minister Matteo Salvini said in a Facebook post late on Friday.

Since Italy’s populist government came to power in June, Salvini, leader of the anti-migrant League, has closed Italian ports to humanitarian vessels


Source: African Arguments

Despite huge regional shifts, Eritreans continue to flee through Sudan, aided by resilient and flexible people-smuggling networks.

Smuggling networks in east Sudan are flexible and resilient. Credit: SOS Sahel

When the border between Ethiopia and Eritrea reopened in September 2018, it was a momentous occasion for the two neighbours. For the first time in twenty years, people on both sides were free to reunite with their loved ones.

The border opening was particularly significant, however, for those in Eritrea. Over the last two decades, hundreds of thousands of Eritreans – around 12% of the entire population – have fled Africa’s “Hermit Kingdom”. They have braved an official “shoot to kill” policy at the closed borders to escape into either Sudan or Ethiopia and embarked on perilous trips – risking predatory militias, exploitation, sexual violence and unforgiving tundra – with the aim of reaching Israel, the Gulf or Europe.

The new ability to travel freely to Ethiopia – without a passport, permit or promise to return – suddenly offered an opportunity to leave Eritrea with far lower risks. Many have seized it. According to the UN Refugee Agency and local authorities in Ethiopia’s Tigray state, arrivals from Eritrea have soared. Between 12 September and 2 October alone, over 10,000 people entered reception camps in Ethiopia.

But while this much was anticipated, the numbers of people crossing into Sudan has, somewhat unexpectedly, not reduced. Concrete data is difficult to access regarding irregular migration, but in-country sources suggest that the streams of people entering Sudan remained relatively consistent since the border opening. The question is why.

How smuggling in Sudan works

Sudan has long been a permissive environment for smuggling. Corruption, insecurity and porous borders have enabled illicit networks to flourish, turning the country into a conduit for not just goods and firearms but people. A lucrative commercial ecosystem has emerged for people-smuggling with criminal networks supplying logistics, accommodation and transportation to satisfy demand.

Along Sudan’s eastern borderlands, smugglers tend to derive from the nomadic Rashaida, Bedouin and Hidarib communities. They ferry “clients” in pickup trucks for a stretch of the journey before offloading them to the next group. These segmented expeditions allow poorer migrants to adopt a “pay as you go” approach, travelling in stages and working ad hoc to pay off their debts and raise the next tranche of funding. This avoids the need for expensive lump sums.

For years, Sudanese smugglers have marketed these services upstream to Eritreans through front “companies” and local contacts. Exploiting shared kinship bonds and tribal affiliations, they placate suspicious migrants by framing voyages as “low risk” and insisting refugees will receive support from compatriots in the diaspora. Often recruiters entice customers by distorting their expectations with promises of informal welfare nets and assistance in finding employment along their journeys.

While this has proven to be an attractive package, such arrangements remain exceptionally precarious. In reality, Eritreans face sexual abuse and high fatality rates en route. The assured brokerage of local smugglers regularly falls through, leaving migrants vulnerable to extortion and trafficking once trapped in Sudan.

Why not go through Ethiopia?

Given the dangers of transiting through Sudan, why have numbers remained relatively consistent despite the presence of a seemingly easier route through Ethiopia?

One possibility is that many Eritreans remain highly sceptical of the political changes happening at the highest level. Since the peace deal with Ethiopia, there has been very little transparency around the pact or information regarding what it will mean for those in Eritrea.

To begin with, the usual factors compelling Eritreans to flee – including repression, indefinite conscription and economic hardship – are all still in place. There is little incentive for the regime to scale back the “garrison state” as national service and systems of indentured labour ensure a pliable society and secure its survival. At the same time, many Eritreans may be wary of taking the current changes at face value. Having lived under President Isaias Afwerki’s authoritarian and sometimes capricious rule for decades, many may wonder how long the border with Ethiopia will actually remain open, while rumours of security crackdowns abound.

The influx of migrants crossing into Ethiopia has also strained Tigray state’s reception camps, processing infrastructure and health services. Over-saturation and an under-resourced host population has led to a deterioration of living standards for refugees, revealing the bleak realities facing migrants who have already crossed the border.

Sudan’s resilient smugglers

A final factor behind Sudan’s continued appeal for Eritrean refugees is that its smuggling networks remain in operation and are likely to endure in the face of any broader regional shifts.

Sudan’s smuggling nexus is not composed of kingpins or cartels but flexible networks of small competitive cells subscribing to the “supermarket principle” of high volume with low costs. This decentralised quality makes local service chains extremely versatile, enabling them to adapt to the closure of old routes and rescale to manage fluctuations in demand. Bosses with political connections may (temporarily) control particular bottlenecks, but in relatively unregulated areas such as eastern Sudan, barriers to market entry are low. Here, the smuggling industry comprises a series of loose working relationships that dissolve and re-form in response to new opportunities.

This configuration has helped insulated the trade from dependency on individual strongmen. For instance, over the last two decades, senior members of the Eritrean Defence Forces such as Brigadier-General Tekle Manjus Kiflay have allegedly been embedded in a range of criminal ventures, including human smuggling. But while they expedited migratory flows, these figures are ultimately components of a far wider transnational network. Their reported recent marginalisation by Isaias therefore seems to have done little to seriously disrupt day-to-day operations either side of the border.

The durability of Sudan’s networks also stems from their depth. Participation in, and profit from, smuggling is fairly ubiquitous in Sudanese communities living along migrant routes, with young men reportedly joining trafficking gangs to make quick cash before public festivities like Ramadan. More broadly, these exploitative practices have also become relatively normalised in these communities, especially in the context of Sudan’s own economic crisis, helped by the fact that they generate revenue streams and a cheap labour supply to satiate domestic shortfalls. Due to this significant level of public buy-in, there is little institutional capacity or inclination in Sudan to crack down on human smuggling. As a result, the trade has been able to survive and thrive as it responds to new challenges.

This resilience of Sudan’s smugglers combined with Eritreans’ mistrust of their government and Ethiopia’s difficulties in handling large numbers of arrivals may account for why refugees are not automatically opting to cross the open border to Ethiopia rather than journey through Sudan. Despite seemingly momentous regional shifts, these factors have contributed to situation in which irregular migrant flows from Eritrea to Sudan appear to have held relatively steady.


Anti-government protesters rally in Khartoum, Sudan, Sunday, Jan. 13, 2019

Hundreds of protesters marched in and around Sudan's capital Khartoum on Sunday, the fourth week of unrest that began over skyrocketing prices and a failing economy but which now calls for the ouster of autocratic President Omar al-Bashir.

Images circulated by activists online showed marches taking place in Khartoum and its northern twin cities of Omdurman and Bahary, despite security forces firing tear gas at the crowds. One group, hundreds strong, appeared to have reached Bahary's main train station.

Security forces encircled the area and fired in the air to disperse crowds around the station, the main rally point for a gathering called by protest groups, professional associations and political opposition. Shops in the area have been almost entirely shuttered, eyewitnesses said, and crowds continued to gather.

Sudan's President Omar al-Bashir greets supporters at a rally in Khartoum on Wednesday January 9
Sudan's President Omar al-Bashir greets supporters at a rally in Khartoum on Wednesday January 9 Credit: Mahmoud Hjaj/AP


Protesters burnt tires to obscure the view of policemen chasing them down, in a cat-and-mouse game that lasted until after dark. Witnesses said security forces were breaking into local homes and businesses in pursuit of demonstrators taking refuge there.

"The people want the fall of the regime," chanted a crowd in the area, as seen in one video, echoing a popular slogan of the 2011 Arab Spring uprisings that briefly defied despotism in the region, but never made it to Sudan.




Demonstrations also took place in other cities across the country, particularly in Gadarif, Faw and Amri, as well in the western region of Darfur, activists said, with eyewitnesses adding that police had broken up a 1,000-person strong demonstration in the northern Darfur town of el-Fasher.

The eyewitnesses spoke on condition of anonymity for fear of reprisals.


Anti-government protesters in Khartoum on January 13

Anti-government protesters in Khartoum on January 13 Credit: Stringer/ AFP

They said that security forces had surrounded the Haj al-Safi hospital in Khartoum, while a doctors' union warned them against attacking or firing tear gas near or inside hospitals as had been reported last week by Amnesty International.

Sudan's economy has stagnated for most of al-Bashir's rule, but its recent lows have been dramatic, prompting the protests. He has also failed to unite or keep the peace in the religiously and ethnically diverse nation, losing three quarters of Sudan's oil wealth when the mainly animist and Christian south seceded in 2011 following a referendum.

Bashir is also wanted by the International Criminal Court for genocide in Darfur.

Authorities have fired tear gas and live rounds repeatedly since protests broke out last month
Authorities have fired tear gas and live rounds repeatedly since protests broke out last month Credit: Anadolu

An Islamist who has been in power since he led a military coup in 1989, he has said those seeking to oust him can only do so through elections, and he is running for another term in office next year. He has insisted that the protests are part of a foreign plot to undermine Sudan's "Islamic experiment" and blamed the country's worsening economic crisis on international sanctions.


Already among the longest serving leaders in the region, al-Bashir hopes to win another term in office. In a bid to placate popular anger over his economic policies, he has promised higher wages, continuing state subsidies on basic goods and more benefits for pensioners.

His promises have been dismissed by critics as untenable.

Also Sunday, the government raised its official death toll from the weeks of protest by five to 24, still undercutting numbers released by Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International, who say at least 40 have been killed.

Sudan's General Prosecutor said nine of those killed were in Gadaref, a province southeast of Khartoum close to the Ethiopian and Eritrean borders. The rest were killed in Omdurman and regions north and northeast of the capital. 




Chief of the General Staff, Emad al-Din Adawi addresses Sudanese Navy soldiers participating in a military exercice on the Red Sea on 11 Oct 2017 (SUNA photo)

January 12, 2019 (KHARTOUM) The Sudanese parliament said a draft military agreement signed between Sudan and Russia would pave the road for the latter to build a military base on the Red Sea coast in the future.

In an interview with Sputnik News Service, head of the parliamentary subcommittee on Defence, Security and Public Order, Al-Hadi Adam Musa, described the draft agreement between the two sides to facilitate entry of Russian and Sudanese warships to the ports of the two nations as a step forward towards establishing strategic relations.

He stressed that Sudan, like other countries in the region, has the right to allow the establishment of Russian military bases in its territory.

Musa pointed out that several countries in the region have allowed foreign countries to build military bases in their territories, saying however the Sudanese-Russian agreement has yet to reach that level.

Last Wednesday, Russia’s legal information portal website reported that the Prime Minister of Russia, Dmitry Medvedev has approved a draft agreement with Sudan on facilitating the entry of warships to the ports of the two countries.

The draft agreement pertains to facilitating the entry procedures for warships to Russian and Sudanese ports but doesn’t provide for the building of a military base in Sudan.

According to the draft agreement, “the entry of warships shall be made after notification has been given not later than seven working days prior to the scheduled date of entry”.

The draft document stressed that “within the framework of the Agreement, no more than seven warships can be present simultaneously, in the territorial sea, inland waters and ports of the receiving State”.

During a visit to Moscow last year to attend the 2018 World Cup Final, the Sudanese President Omer al-Bashir met with Russian President Vladimir Putin. Both leaders pledged to promote military cooperation in the near future.

The two leaders last met in November 2017 in the Russian city of Sochi, with both expressing a desire to enhance military ties.

While in Russia in November 2017, al-Bashir offered to construct an airbase for Russia on the Red Sea coast and to re-equip the Sudanese army with the Russian weapons including SU-30 fighter jets and surface-to-air missiles.

Russia is seen as a major ally of the government of al-Bashir that faces isolation from the West. However, economic cooperation between the two countries has remained very low, with a trade balance that does not exceed $400 million.




Eritrean government attempts to intimidate BBC

Sunday, 13 January 2019 12:10 Written by

Not for the first time, the BBC is under attack from a dictatorship. Many authoritarian regimes have found the BBC’s committment to accurate reporting uncomfortable.

This time the attack is from Eritrea.

BBC Eritrea 5It’s information minister has banned contact with the BBC Tigrinya service.

There are many instances of governments in the Horn of Africa attacking the BBC’s coverage.

When the Boundary Commission ruled on where the Eritrea-Ethiopia border was in 2002 the Ethiopian government first claimed that it had been awarded the village of Badme.

I was contacted by UN staff who informed me that this was not the case. Badme had been awarded to Eritrea.

This I reported. You can read the report here, or at the end of this article.

Ethiopia was furious. A minister was sent to London to have me sacked. Luckily for me the BBC stood by me and I was proved correct. Badme is indeed inside Eritrea.

Vague insinuations

All of this makes the attack by the Eritrean government on the BBC Tigrinya service so sad.

BBC Eritrea 6

As usual, the attacks are vague generalities: there are no specific allegation that could be refuted.

Although I have long since retired from the BBC I am sure the Tigrinya service would never suggest that Eritrea is a “savage. backward country.”

If there are concrete, specific examples of this, let the Eritrean government make them public.

The BBC is always open to criticism, and would be only too willing to correct an incorrect report. But these kind of insinuations against professional journalists are nothing but reprehensible attempts to silence and intimidate.

I have every confidence that the BBC will resist attempts to censor its reporters – as it has always done in the past.

Of course, the Eritrean government would not take the trouble to attack the BBC Tigrinya service if it had not won a sizeable audience inside the country. Perhaps it is a kind of backhanded compliment!

Wednesday, 17 April, 2002, 11:24 GMT 12:24 UK

Controversy over Horn border ruling
UN mission
Ethiopia and Eritrea fought for two years over the border
A propaganda war has broken out between Ethiopia and Eritrea over the outcome of an international tribunal decision over their disputed border.
The commission unequivocally confirmed Badme to be the sovereign territory of Ethiopia

Seyoum Mesfin, Ethiopian foreign minister

The decision on the border was delivered in The Hague on Saturday, but the outcome was obscure enough to leave both countries in a position to claim victory.At the heart of the controversy is the small town of Badme – the ownership of which sparked off one of the bloodiest wars of recent times.

Each side says it has won control of the key western border town, adding to the confusion about the ruling.

‘False hope’

Ethiopia’s Foreign Minister, Seyoum Mesfin, said the boundary commission had “unequivocally confirmed Badme to be the sovereign territory of Ethiopia”.

Badme was and remains the sovereign territory of Eritrea

Saleh Omar, Eritrean diplomat

Mr Seyoum said the Eritrean Government was spreading “conflicting lies” over Badme in order to “appease the Eritreans with false hope.”But Eritrea insists it has been given control of the town.

“Badme was and remains the sovereign territory of Eritrea, this has now been determined by the Ethiopia Eritrea Boundary Commission,” said Saleh Omar, the Eritrean ambassador to the Organisation of African Unity in Addis Ababa.

Fine print

The BBC’s Martin Plaut, who has studied the 125-page document defining the border, says that, tucked away in the text, the legal experts make clear that they reject the Ethiopian claim and draw the border in such a way that Eritrea wins title to the town – if not the area that also bears its name.

The independent commission, based in The Hague, drew up the new border between the two former foes, details of which were published at the weekend.

None of the maps used in the ruling show the village of Badme – the same name is used to refer to the village, the plains and a district.

Eritrean refugees
Hundreds of thousands were forced to flee their homes during the war

Martin Pratt, head of the UK-based International Boundaries Research Unit says that he cannot see decisive proof over who gets control over Badme in the ruling, but the settlement appears to lie to the west of the boundary if plotted on the Soviet topographic maps that the Boundary Commission used.”Although we may not know officially until demarcation of the boundary has been completed, I think the Soviet maps – which both parties used in their pleadings – are sufficiently accurate to say with some confidence that Badme is in Eritrea,” Mr Pratt told the UN’s Integrated Regional Information Networks news service.

The BBC’s Nita Bhalla in Addis Ababa says detailed satellite imagery is needed to determine the actual demarcation on the ground.

Experts say this is a lengthy process, and Badme residents are likely to be in a state of confusion until physical demarcation is completed next year.

Elsewhere along the border the Ethiopians have made substantial gains.


The BBC’s Alex Last in Asmara says that people clapped and cheered, while drivers blared their horns in jubilation when state television and radio announced that Badme had been given to Eritrea.

Eritrean President Isayas Afewerki said that he was “completely satisfied” with the ruling.

Ethiopian returnee building a home
There has been little reconstruction on the border

A statement by the governing party said Eritrea would, as agreed, abide by the verdict, which it described as a victory for both peoples.For his part, Ethiopia’s Prime Minister Meles Zenawi has said his government is satisfied with the ruling by the International Boundary Commission on its border with Eritrea.

Mr Zenawi described the ruling as a victory for Ethiopia that would put an end to the bitter and violent dispute over the boundary.

“The ruling vindicates Ethiopia’s land claims,” Meles told the state-run Ethiopia radio and television.

“The decision of the boundary commission has awarded Ethiopia all the contested areas it had claimed.”

The boundary was decided by a five-member panel of judges, treaty experts and international jurists.

Strained relations

On 6 May 1998, a group of Eritrean soldiers attempted to enter Badme.

It consists of little more than an administration building, complete with flagpole, surrounded by a handful of houses.

The Ethiopian troops holding the town challenged the Eritreans to lay down their arms. The Eritreans refused, and the ensuing firefight grew into a war that left over 70,000 dead.Eritrea, which has a population of 3.5 million compared to Ethiopia’s 65 million, agreed to end hostilities in June 2000.

A peace deal was signed six months later and set the terms for the border commission.

But relations have remained strained and the United Nations has 4,200 peacekeepers patrolling a buffer zone around the disputed areas.

Diplomats say tension is likely to remain between the two countries for some time.