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FACTBOX — Women’s rights in the Arab world

November 23, 2013 Comments off

FACTBOX — Women’s rights in the Arab world
Source: Thompson Reuters

Egypt is the worst country for women in the Arab world, closely followed by Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Syria and Yemen, according to gender experts surveyed in a Thomson Reuters Foundation poll released on Tuesday.

Comoros, Oman, Kuwait, Jordan and Qatar came top of the survey, which assessed 22 Arab states on violence against women, reproductive rights, treatment of women within the family, their integration into society and attitudes towards a woman’s role in politics and the economy.

The results were drawn from answers from 336 gender experts invited to participate in an online survey by the foundation, the philanthropic arm of the news and information company Thomson Reuters, in August and September.

+ Complete poll results

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Country Analysis Brief: Sudan and South Sudan

September 6, 2013 Comments off

Country Analysis Brief: Sudan and South Sudan
Source: Energy Information Administration

The unified Sudan has been producing oil since the 1990s. Most of the producing assets are near or extend across the de facto border between Sudan and South Sudan. When South Sudan became independent in July 2011, it gained control over most of the oil production. But South Sudan is landlocked and remains dependent on Sudan because it must use Sudan’s export pipelines and processing facilities.

In January 2012, South Sudan voluntarily shut in all of its oil production because of a dispute with Sudan over oil transit fees. Following South Sudan’s secession, Sudan requested transit fees of $32-36/barrel (bbl) in an attempt to make up for the oil revenue loss, while South Sudan offered a transit fee of less than $1/bbl. Tensions escalated at the end of 2011 when Sudan began to confiscate a portion of South Sudan’s oil as a payment for unpaid transit fees, and shortly after, South Sudan shut down production. After nearly 15 months of intermittent negotiations, South Sudan restarted oil production in April 2013. Despite the progress that has been made to reconcile differences, several unresolved issues remain and production may be curtailed again in the future.

Oil plays a vital role in the economies of both countries. According to the International Monetary Fund (IMF), oil represented around 57 percent of Sudan’s total government revenue and around 78 percent of export earnings in 2011, while it represented around 98 percent of total government revenues for South Sudan in 2011. The IMF projected that Sudan’s oil earnings substantially declined following the South’s secession. According to IMF estimates, oil accounted for 32 percent of total export earnings and 30 percent of Sudan’s total government revenue in 2012.

CRS — Sudan and South Sudan: Current Issues for Congress and U.S. Policy

November 5, 2012 Comments off

Sudan and South Sudan: Current Issues for Congress and U.S. Policy (PDF)

Source: Congressional Research Service (via Federation of American Scientists)

Congress has played an active role in U.S. policy toward Sudan for more than three decades. Efforts to support an end to the country’s myriad conflicts and human rights abuses have dominated the agenda, as have counterterrorism concerns. When unified (1956-2011), Sudan was Africa’s largest nation, bordering nine countries and stretching from the northern borders of Kenya and Uganda to the southern borders of Egypt and Libya. Strategically located along the Nile River and the Red Sea, Sudan was historically described as a crossroads between the Arab world and Africa. Domestic and international efforts to unite its ethnically, racially, religiously, and culturally diverse population under a common national identity fell short, however. In 2011, after decades of civil war and a 6.5 year transitional period, Sudan split in two. Mistrust between the two Sudans—Sudan and South Sudan—lingers, and unresolved disputes and related security issues still threaten to pull the two countries back to war.

The north-south split did not resolve other simmering conflicts, notably in Darfur, Blue Nile, and Southern Kordofan. Roughly 2.5 million people remain displaced as a result of these conflicts. Like the broader sub-region, the Sudans are susceptible to drought and food insecurity, despite significant agricultural potential in some areas. Civilians in the conflict zones are particularly vulnerable. Instability and Sudanese government restrictions have limited relief agencies’ access to conflict-affected populations. Humanitarian conditions in Southern Kordofan and Blue Nile have been at crisis levels for months, but an estimated half a million people remain largely beyond the reach of aid groups. Logistical challenges constrain the delivery of relief for those who have fled, primarily to remote refugee camps across the border in South Sudan. The harassment of aid workers is a problem in both Sudans, further hindering aid responses.

The peaceful separation of Sudan and South Sudan was seen by some players as an opportunity to repair relations between Sudan’s Islamist government and the United States. Those ties have long been strained over Khartoum’s human rights violations and history of support for international terrorist groups. Among the arguments in favor of normalizing relations with Sudan has been the notion that the United States has few additional unilateral “sticks” to apply against Khartoum, given robust sanctions already in place. Applying certain “carrots,” such as easing sanctions, might encourage further political reforms, proponents say. The Obama Administration sought to improve the relationship with Khartoum in 2011, given South Sudan’s successful referendum and separation from Sudan, and Sudan’s cooperation on counterterrorism. The U.S. effort has been impeded by ongoing reports of abuses, including allegations that Khartoum continues to commit war crimes against civilians. Some observers argue that improving the relationship would reward bad behavior. Relations are also complicated by the fact that several government officials, notably President Omar al Bashir, have been accused of war crimes, crimes against humanity, and genocide at the International Criminal Court in relation to the Darfur conflict.

U.S. relations with South Sudan, which are rooted in years of American activism and disaster relief to the south during the civil war, remain close, though there have been signs of strain in 2012. The United States is the country’s largest bilateral donor, but the Administration has expressed concern over certain actions taken by leaders in Juba that have, in its view, further aggravated the relationship between the Sudans and the economic situation in both countries.

This report examines the shared interests and outstanding disputes between the Sudans after separation, and gives an overview of political, economic, and humanitarian conditions in the two countries, with a focus on possible implications for U.S. policy and congressional engagement.

Country Analysis Brief: Sudan and South Sudan

March 21, 2012 Comments off

Country Analysis Brief: Sudan and South Sudan
Source: Energy Information Administration

South Sudan shut in its oil production just six months after gaining independence, as a result of an ongoing dispute with Sudan over transit fees and other post-independence issues.

Economics of the Arab awakening

February 22, 2012 Comments off
Source:  International Food Policy Research Institute
Few observers would have predicted the dramatic changes over the past few months in the Arab world. Arab governments appeared to be in tight control, and many Arab economies were growing around or above the world average over the past few years. Annual growth rates in Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Oman, and Sudan averaged more than 6 percent between 2005 and 2010; and Syria, Tunisia, and Libya grew at about 5 percent on average during the same period of time. Official poverty rates in most Arab countries are lower than in many Asian and Latin American countries.
However, experts have long identified slow progress in economic diversification and job creation, social inequalities, and persistent food insecurity as major development challenges for Arab countries. Did these factors and, more broadly, people’s dissatisfaction with their living standards contribute to the recent uprisings? At first glance, the sudden turn of events and the generally low coverage, quality, and accessibility of data in the Arab world make it difficult to find answers to this question. By looking beyond more conventional data, however, this policy brief provides some insights into the potential role of economics in the ongoing uprisings. It also reviews major policy responses of Arab governments and provides a new narrative of Arab development that is based on inclusive economic transformation, food security, and decisionmaking.
Full Paper (PDF)

Country Analysis Brief: Sudan

October 2, 2011 Comments off

Country Analysis Brief: Sudan
Source: Energy Information Administration

Sudan has been involved in several conflicts since its independence in 1956 that have impacted the country’s economic development, particularly its natural resources. The most recent conflict, Darfur (2003-2010), brought with it international condemnation, internally displaced populations, and sanctions affecting the country as a whole. The conflict has prevented oil exploration in the Darfur region, and the sanctions have prevented some international investment. The fighting itself has led to considerable infrastructure damage further limiting development.

State Department Travel Warning: Sudan

July 17, 2011 Comments off

State Department Travel Warning: Sudan
Source: U.S. Department of State

The Department of State warns U.S. citizens of the risks of traveling to Sudan. The Department of State recommends U.S. citizens avoid all travel to the Darfur region of Sudan, and avoid travel to the border areas between the northern and southern regions of Sudan, particularly the states of Upper Nile, Unity, Western Bar el Ghazai, Southern Kordofan, Blue Nile, and the Abyei Special Administrative District. This replaces the Travel Warning of January 7, 2011, to reflect the continued risk of violence in the Darfur region; the risk of armed conflict involving forces of the Government of Sudan, the Sudan People’s Liberation Army, and various militia groups in certain areas of Sudan; and the high risk of violent crime in Juba.

In recent weeks there have been a number of armed clashes between forces loyal to the Government of Sudan and forces loyal to the Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA) in the border areas between the northern and southern regions of Sudan. These clashes have led to a build-up of the military forces of both the Government of Sudan and the SPLA in the border area. Following fighting in Southern Kordofan state in May and June, the United Nations Mission in Sudan (UNMIS) evacuated non-essential personnel from its compound in Kadugli, the capital of that state. In addition to the fighting in the border areas, there continue to be frequent clashes between militia groups and SPLA forces in southern Sudan.

The threat of violent crime, including kidnapping, armed robberies, home invasions, and carjackings, remains high in the Darfur region of Sudan, as the Government of Sudan has limited capacity to deter crime in that region. A number of foreign nationals, including a U.S. citizen, have been kidnapped and held for ransom by criminal groups operating in Darfur. Because of the risk involved in travel to Darfur, the U.S. Embassy in Khartoum continues to prohibit travel by U.S. government personnel to Darfur without express authorization by the chief of mission.

State Department Travel Warning: Sudan

June 26, 2011 Comments off

State Department Travel Warning: Sudan
Source: U.S. Department of State

The Department of State warns U.S. citizens of the risks of traveling to Sudan. The Department of State recommends U.S. citizens avoid all travel to the Darfur region of Sudan, and avoid travel to the border areas between the northern and southern regions of Sudan, particularly the states of Upper Nile, Unity, Western Bar el Ghazai, Southern Kordofan, Blue Nile, and the Abyei Special Administrative District. This replaces the Travel Warning of January 7, 2011, to reflect the continued risk of violence in the Darfur region; the risk of armed conflict involving forces of the Government of Sudan, the Sudan People’s Liberation Army, and various militia groups in certain areas of Sudan; and the high risk of violent crime in Juba.

In recent weeks there have been a number of armed clashes between forces loyal to the Government of Sudan and forces loyal to the Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA) in the border areas between the northern and southern regions of Sudan. These clashes have led to a build-up of the military forces of both the Government of Sudan and the SPLA in the border area. Following fighting in Southern Kordofan state in May and June, the United Nations Mission in Sudan (UNMIS) evacuated non-essential personnel from its compound in Kadugli, the capital of that state. In addition to the fighting in the border areas, there continue to be frequent clashes between militia groups and SPLA forces in southern Sudan.

The threat of violent crime, including kidnapping, armed robberies, home invasions, and carjackings, remains high in the Darfur region of Sudan, as the Government of Sudan has limited capacity to deter crime in that region. A number of foreign nationals, including a U.S. citizen, have been kidnapped and held for ransom by criminal groups operating in Darfur. Because of the risk involved in travel to Darfur, the U.S. Embassy in Khartoum continues to prohibit travel by U.S. government personnel to Darfur without express authorization by the chief of mission.

The risk of violent crime is also high in Juba, in southern Sudan. Because of an increase in security-related incidents, including persons being pulled out of vehicles and attacked, the U.S. Consulate General in Juba recently moved up the beginning of its curfew period to better ensure the safety of U.S. government personnel in Juba. If you are affiliated with humanitarian relief or development efforts in Southern Sudan or Darfur, you should take prudent measures to reduce your exposure to violent crime and should adhere closely at all times to the security policies and procedures of your organization.

Special Report No 3/2011: “The efficiency and effectiveness of EU contributions channelled through United Nations Organisations in conflict-affected countries”

June 26, 2011 Comments off

Special Report No 3/2011: “The efficiency and effectiveness of EU contributions channelled through United Nations Organisations in conflict-affected countries” (PDF)
From press release (PDF):

The amounts, channelled by EuropeAid through UN organisations, are substantial, in the region of 4000 million euro for the five year period from 2005 to 2009.

This audit is the second part of the two phase audit. The first audit dealt with monitoring and decision making and concluded that the monitoring process should be more thorough, with increased focus on results, and that all decisions to work through the UN should be clearly evidenced. These conclusions were published in Special Report 15/2009 of January 2010.The present audit focuses on conflict affected areas and, in particular, on projects in Afghanistan, Iraq and Sudan over the period 2006 – 2008. It complements the earlier report by its emphasis on efficiency, effectiveness and sustainability.

The report acknowledges the particular difficulties involved in delivering aid in conflict affected countries and the fact that the Commission has been able, through the UN, to deliver aid in areas which would otherwise have been very difficult to target. In these circumstances, the overall impact of the activities funded through UN organisations was positive.

The displaced and dispossessed of Darfur: explaining the sources of a continuing state-led genocide

June 18, 2011 Comments off

The displaced and dispossessed of Darfur: explaining the sources of a continuing state-led genocide
Source: British Journal of Sociology

The millions of survivors who fled from attacks to Sudanese-controlled displacement camps and the refugee camps in Chad are the living ghosts of the Darfur genocide. The 1948 Genocide Convention incorporates extermination by mass killing and elimination through forced migration as two distinct elements of genocide. Genocide scholars and public discourse emphasize extermination by killing, but they give far less explanatory attention to the elimination processes that the Genocide Convention describes as ‘deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction’. (Article II United Nations 1948.) In Darfur, understanding the latter processes requires theoretical attention to the history of food, water, and famine and detailed methodological attention to temporal processes of displacement. We demonstrate how intentional state-led attacks on food and water massively dislodged Black Africans in Darfur from February 2003 to August 2004. The political leadership of the Sudanese state dehumanized and forcibly displaced Black Africans from their homes in Darfur to camps where they largely remain, not only through mass killings and rapes, but also by destroying life-sustaining access to food and water, leading to the genocidal elimination of group life in this region.

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