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Fears of renewed war in Sudan's East

27 November 2013, 07:32

Khartoum - Renewed war is increasingly likely in Eastern Sudan, seven years after a peace agreement promised to address complaints of economic and political neglect, a report warned on Tuesday.

"Unless the East's marginalisation is adequately addressed, renewed war is a growing possibility," said the Brussels-based International Crisis Group (ICG).

The 2006 Eastern Sudan Peace Agreement ended years of low-level insurgency in Sudan's East, which borders Eritrea and includes Red Sea, Kassala and Gedaref states.

Members of the Muslim-non-Arab Beja people, camel herders by tradition, fought alongside Free Lions rebels of the Rashaida tribe against what they said was marginalisation by the Arab-dominated Khartoum regime.

The peace deal is one of several agreements Khartoum has signed during the past eight years in an attempt to solve rebellions and conflicts across the country.

It promised power-sharing, funds for development, and rebel reintegration into Sudan's security forces or civilian life.

But many of the deal's core provisions have not been implemented and there has been no substantive "peace dividend" to most people in the East, ICG said.

It added that "social and economic conditions are gradually deteriorating, communal relations are fraying, and the prospects of preserving the fragile peace are fading fast."

Calls for resumption of armed opposition have been growing, ICG said, calling for a "comprehensive national mechanism" to address the root causes of Sudan's conflicts between the centre and outlying regions.

A decade-long rebellion continues in western Darfur, while insurgencies began two years ago in South Kordofan and Blue Nile states.

High poverty rate

The unrest is fueled by complaints of economic and political neglect that similarly drove the East Sudan fighters.

Leaders in the Eastern region say the 2006 peace agreement has brought benefits.

Government figures show Red Sea's poverty rate is 75%, but officials say that is an improvement from 90 percent poverty two years ago, thanks to increased development spending.

Malnutrition rates in Red Sea are the highest in Sudan, according to the United Nations.

On Monday the European Union and the UN's Food and Agriculture Organisation launched an 8.6 million euro ($11.6 million) programme to help governments in the East improve their ability to collect and analyse information about food availability, which will assist in policy development.

"The situation in Eastern Sudan is particularly worrisome," European Union ambassador Tomas Ulicny said.



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