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Gunmen abduct humanitarian workers

Two foreign aid workers have been reported kidnapped in the western Darfur region of Sudan. United Nations (UN) and African Union officials in Sudan stated that the two women were abducted at gunpoint from their camp in the town of Kutum.

A Sudanese national was also abducted but released a short time later, according to officials.

The aid workers were identified as Sharon Commins, 32, of Ireland and Hilda Kawuki, 42, of Uganda. Both work for the Irish humanitarian organization, GOAL. John O’Shea, a GOAL executive, indicated that the women were abducted by as many as six assailants. “We don’t know who took them,” O’Shea told Reuters. “There are so many splinter groups in the area you’d only be guessing.” He added that GOAL had not previously experienced a kidnapping.

The kidnappers have not been identified and there have been no claims of responsibility reported thus far. There have been two other incidents of kidnapping of aid workers in Darfur since March of this year, but all victims were released within days to a few weeks.

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Sudan tribesmen attack UN barges

At least 40 people are killed during an attack by tribesmen on a World Food Programme convoy in Sudan. The UN convoy consisted of 27 barges travelling on the Sobat River from Nasir to Akobo, in Southern Sudan near the border with Ethiopia.

Following rains which washed away roads, the river is the only way to move aid around the south of the country which has suffered from tribal fighting – the river itself being closed earlier in the year due to increased tension in the area. Read More…

US lawmakers arrested in Darfur protest

Police arrested five members of the United States House of Representatives Monday after they refused to leave the site of the Embassy of Sudan in Washington, DC. The lawmakers were at the embassy to protest against the ongoing humanitarian crisis in Darfur.

According to organisers, the lawmakers, among them Democratic representatives John Lewis and James McGovern, were arrested on charges of civil disobedience after they ignored an order by police to disperse.

ICC issues warrant for Sudan’s leader

The International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague, Netherlands has ordered the arrest of the president of the African country of Sudan, Omar Hassan al-Bashir.

Omar Hassan Ahmad al-Bashir

Omar Hassan Ahmad al-Bashir

The warrant was issued by the ICC for seven charges of crimes against humanity and war crimes, in the Darfur region of the country.

In the ruling, the ICC said that al-Bashir was “intentionally directing attacks against an important part of the civilian population of Darfur, Sudan, murdering, exterminating, raping, torturing and forcibly transferring large numbers of civilians and pillaging their property”. Read More…

Sudan deploys more troops to oil-rich state

The army of Sudan has deployed additional troops to the state of Kordofan, which is rich in oil. The army told state media that it wanted to prevent “feverish attempts” to attack the area by Darfur rebels, members of the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM).

The army’s announcement comes just days after officials in semi-autonomous southern Sudan accused the north of creating a large force in southern Kordofan over the period of the last three weeks.

The Sudanese army has been on alert since JEM launched an unprecedented attack on the Sudanese capital of Khartoum in May of this year.

UN renews Darfur peacekeeping mission

A refugee camp in Darfur

A refugee camp in Darfur

The United Nations Security Council has extended its mandate for the joint UN-African Union peacekeeping force in the Darfur area of Sudan. The resolution, adopted to extend the United Nations/African Union Mission in Darfur (UNAMID) mission, was approved by 14 of the 15 Security Council members. The United States abstained from the vote, saying that the language used in the mandate undermined efforts to bring Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir to justice for war crimes.

The vote comes a day after the UN responded to a report by the Save Darfur Coalition that said the Darfur peacekeeping force lacks enough personnel and essential equipment. The UNAMID force currently has only 9,500 troops deployed out of an assigned 26,000, which it blames on Security Council bickering and the demands of Sudan’s government.

ICC prosecutor seeks arrest of Sudanese president

The International Criminal Court‘s (ICC) Procecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampohas accused Sudanese President Omar Hassan al-Bashir of major crimes committed in the Darfur region. Mr. Bashir is said to have personally directed a mlitary campaign “to destroy in substantial part the Fur, Masalit and Zaghawa” tribes. He has asked the ICC for a warrant to arrest al-Bashir for 10 offences including war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide.

International Criminal Court in The Hague, Netherlands Photo Hanhil

International Criminal Court in The Hague, Netherlands Photo Hanhil

Some have critised the move, saying that it will spark further violence and unrest in the country

Al-Bashir came to rule power in 1989. There has been a racial conflict in the country since 2003. The Arab militia, named the Janjaweed, are a government funded group alledged to have been driving the conflict in the region. Since 2003, as many as 300,000 people have been killed and 2 million people displaced from their homes.

Al-Bashir has rejected the charges, claiming the ICC has no authority to arrest him as Sudan is not a member of the court. The United Nations will evacuate all non-essential peacekeepers in the region however they maintain that they will continue their operation despite the deteriorating security situation.