BBC's World Olympic Dreams travelled with Team GB and Chicago Bulls basketball star Luol Deng as he made an emotional return to Southern Sudan, the place of his birth, for the first time since he was forced to flee 20 years ago.
Footage will be available at bbc.co.uk/2012, with special programmes also available on BBC Radio 4's World Tonight, World News America and BBC World Service from 25 August 2010.
The documentary focuses on Deng (described as one of Barack Obama's favourite sportsmen) as he is reunited with his fellow Southern Sudanese while also covering the plight of a country trying to recover from the ravages of a long and bloody civil war.
It also looks at the forthcoming referendum which will decide whether Southern Sudan chooses independence from the north and becomes Africa's first new country in 20 years – the hopes and fears of the people – as well as interviews with some of the area's political figures.
BBC Sport news correspondent Tim Franks accompanied Deng and the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) on the trip that took him from the refugee camps of North West Kenya to the very heart of his homeland.
Deng, who was forced to flee the country aged five to Egypt and then Britain, talks about his return to his homeland, the first time since he fled 20 years ago:
"This is what I always say – I'm Sudanese.
I can't get it out of me. I mean, I know I'm gone for 20 years, I was five. But I really feel like I'm going home.
"I've seen both sides of the world. I was a refugee and I had nothing and now I own a lot of money and I'm known. I'm one of the best paid athletes so I mean luck has a lot to do with that."
Deng reacts to the overwhelming reception of the Southern Sudanese people, who sing his name and welcome him home as a hero.
"I want all of you guys to know this: I know today you guys are welcoming me, but I want all you guys to know this and believe it – that you could be here, standing here. I just want you to know that everyone of you guys is capable of being somebody special.
"Maybe you'll be the president of this country and one day you're going to lead us. You're going to lead us and we're going to have a great country."
Deng visits a refugee camp, Kakuma in North West Kenya to talk to those who fled Southern Sudan (including the "Lost Boys") about whether they will return for the referendum.
As it transpired, a number of them have already returned to Southern Sudan only to be sent back by their parents who feel the facilities at the camp are better than those available in their homeland.
"I just thought it was important for me, coming here first to see what it is like. I know UNHCR are doing a great thing in taking refugees from all over but, once you walk in here, it's a different story. And all you can do is think how do you help?
"It's kind of tough to hear. I said it many times, it's luck. These guys really had no choice, these guys had no one to go to. Not only can they not go home, they have nothing in Sudan. And the tough part is they're on their own."
He visits the house in which he was born, where he hid under the bed with his brother as bullets flew across the room as well as the school his Foundation has rebuilt after it was destroyed during the war.
"I'm happy that at least something is started, but you can still see it still needs a lot of things to be done and hopefully we can continue to fund the school and do things slowly."
As his trip comes to an end, Deng reflects on what he has seen and his hopes and fears for the future of his homeland.
"If we become our own country are we ready for these refugees to rush here? When I was in Kakuma and talking to some of those guys what really scared me was a lot of them said: 'If we go home, it's going to be worse than Kakuma.'
"To be honest with you I couldn't tell them to go home right away. I feel like Sudan is a beautiful country, but I don't know if these guys would have it better right now living here or being in Kakuma."
"It means a lot to me. It's a little overwhelming. I know it took 20 years for me to come home, but my whole experience, my whole feeling is so different now. I've never been in a place where I can walk down the street and I actually feel home, I don't feel like a refugee. I'm speaking my language, I'm seeing my own people."
His father Aldo, a former MP, who was imprisoned after Deng fled with his mother and siblings but survived, welcomes his son's return.
"This is for me a comfort. To see your children come home and embrace their countrymen, to see for themselves the problems, you feel proud. It is excellent for us."
Stephen Tut, the editor of Sudan Post Magazine, maintains that war is imminent come the referendum as the clash will begin once again over natural resources.
"Maybe the North will not like the South to go because, to them, the South is the basket bread for the Arab world. The danger is what comes after the referendum, it could be war. The war is imminent come the referendum.
"Until now, the things which were supposed to have been done have not been done. The natural resources that are supposed to be shared between the North and the South are not being shared equally."
Despite the obvious poverty and lack of development, Dr Barnaba Marial Benjamin (South Sudanese Information Minister) maintains that a lot has been done since when the Comprehensive Peace Agreement was signed in 2005.
He also defends spending on defence above other infrastructure developments.
"If you can imagine that this agreement was signed on 9 January 2005 and, from that time up to now, the things that we have done are amazingly surprising to everybody. In these five years we have had to have a new constitution for the whole country, we had to establish government structures, legislature and judicial system.
"Definitely we will be on time. We are running late, but I think we can make it. I think what we have done in five years is, in fact, one thousand times much more that what was done since 1899. Look at this town (Juba) we are in. This place was just a wild place. Today, there is an office where you can sit with a chair and a bit of electricity running. We have done that. When we came in in 2005 we had only 200,000 children going to primary schools. Today we have two million children going to primary schools. Give us our peace and our stability and I think we can do more.
"If you look at our budget in 2005 we had to allocate something like 40 per cent of that money for our army. Not because we are ambitious and want to build some huge army - no. We here have a guerrilla army that we wanted to transform info a modern, small army efficient to do the job it is supposed to do."
The documentary will play out on the following programmes:
Thursday 26 August
Radio 4 – World Tonight, Crossing Continents (repeated on BBC World Service from 2 September)
26 August-2 September
BBC London 2012 website
World News America
10 O'Clock News
World Olympic Dreams, which launched on 27 July 2010, is following 26 individual stories featuring 46 athletes from around the world as they strive to turn their hopes for Olympic success at London 2012 into a reality.
The films that form the project have been collated through the BBC's worldwide reporting network, with correspondents in each of the countries featured providing the relevant footage.
Viewers are given a real insight into each of the athlete's unique stories and very different personal circumstances while they all work towards the same goal of Olympic success: personal training regimes; coaches; diet; family; friends; their likes and dislikes; and the sacrifices they all have to make.
The programme is based on the BBC's London 2012 portal – bbc.co.uk/2012 – where two new films will be uploaded each month. The site also contains features such as Q&As and blogs as well as the athletes personal social media sites, where users will be able to interact with the athletes.
BBC Sport news reporter Matthew Pinsent fronts the series and will be bringing regular updates and reports on each of the 26 stories.
A selection of pictures from the trip are available from bbcpictures.com.
A 34-year-old Sudanese who lived in Bugibba died tragically at around noon after falling about three storeys while carrying out construction works at a block of flats in Triq San Mikiel, St Julian’s.
An inquiry is being held by duty magistrate Audrey Demicoli (Times of Malta).
23-06-10 Sudan's government is reported to be exploring for oil in the war-torn Darfur region, which, if successful, could halt a threatened renewal of one of Africa's bloodiest civil wars.
The secessionist south is expected to vote for independence in a 2011 referendum, part of a 2005 peace agreement that ended 21 years of war in which an estimated 2 mm people have died. But since most of Sudan's oil fields are in the south, the Arab regime in the north cannot afford to let it do so -- unless Khartoum finds its own oil.
The Paris Web site Africa Energy Intelligence reported that the government was concentrating on two key zones in the northern areas it controls -- Darfur in the west and the Red Sea zone in the east.
Images from the Quickbird Satellite indicate that no strikes have been made. But the eastern drive is headed by the Red Sea Operating Corp., a consortium grouping the state-owned Sudapet, the China National Petroleum Corp., Petronas of Malaysia, Express of Nigeria and two Sudanese firms.
Global Witness, the international watchdog group, reported that images from the Landsat satellite showed a grid pattern of seismic activity by oil companies stretching 315 miles across Darfur's desert in the northwest near the Libyan border that began in September 2009. Other images showed oil exploration camps and large storage depots, the non-governmental organization reported.
Several firms have oil concessions in Darfur, Global Witness said. These include the Great Sahara Petroleum Operating Co., a consortium of Saudi Arabian, Yemeni, Sudanese and Jordanian firms.
Government officials said in January that Khartoum wants oil companies to develop a new oilfield in southern Darfur and is planning to offer the zone to investors.
"Were oil to be discovered, it could actually prod the conflicting parties to come to some kind of agreement so that there would then be a basis for exploiting it, and, we would argue, necessarily sharing it in an equitable way," said Global Witness official Mike Davis.
The Comprehensive Peace Agreement of 2005 that ended 21 years of war between the Muslim Arab-dominated north and south, whose population is largely Christian or animist, is generally seen as a "precedent... for sharing oil as a basis for making peace."
The 2005 pact gave the south a measure of autonomy until the future of the country is determined in the referendum set for January. But Khartoum cannot afford to relinquish the south because that will mean being cut off from the region's oil fields. Khartoum depends on the revenue the region produces.
The south, too, is active on the oil front -- trying to find an alternative route to get its oil to market since the only pipeline there runs northward to Port Sudan on the Red Sea. One option that has gained some traction is a new pipeline southward through Uganda to Kenya's Indian Ocean ports of Lamu or Mombasa.
The Japanese, the second biggest buyer of Sudan's oil after China, has offered to build such a pipeline for $ 1.5 bn. Under the 2005 agreement, the ruling National Congress Party in Khartoum and the Sudan People's Liberation Movement agreed that if a majority vote for independence in the referendum, the south will secede so long as at least two-thirds of the registered electorate participates in the poll.
President Omar Beshir warned earlier this month of an "explosive situation" if the south, as expected, chooses independence. The rivalry between north and south has been heating up in recent weeks, with violent clashes reported along the border zones. There have been reports of government troops seeking to take control of some oil wells.
Sudan has oil reserves estimated at the equivalent of 5 bn barrels. It produces around 500,000 bpd, of which 400,000 bpd is exported.
Darfur, an arid desert region in western Sudan, has been devastated since 2003 by a civil war, separate from the north-south conflict. This one is between the government and Darfur tribes who claim Khartoum has neglected the region and is conducting a war of attrition against then.
The United Nations estimates 300,000 people have died and 2.7 mm have been driven from their homes.
By JON GAMBRELL
The Associated Press
LAGOS, Nigeria -- Police believe unknown gunmen killed a Nigerian gang leader accused of helping rig the 2007 election in the nation's oil-rich and violence-wracked southern delta, authorities said Wednesday, though officers have yet to find his body.
Gunmen ambushed Soboma George, leader of the feared Outlaws Gang, on a busy street Tuesday night in the oil town of Port Harcourt, Rivers state police spokeswoman Rita Inoma-Abbey said. Inoma-Abbey said the gunmen fired at George, and killed one woman and wounded another during a running shootout.
However, George himself could not be found after the shooting. Inoma-Abbey said investigators believe either the gunmen or George's own gang members spirited him away after the shooting. Eyewitnesses "are all pointing to him being killed," Inoma-Abbey said.
Late Wednesday, Inoma-Abbey said George's brother confirmed to police that the gangster had died, though his body remained missing.
Armed paramilitary police officers in armored carriers now sit at busy intersections in an attempt to stop the violence from spreading, she said.
But this isn't the first time the oil-rich region plagued by gangs and militant attacks thought George died.
In 2007, investigators believed George died during a gangland war, burned to death inside a building. However, he later emerged alive. Locals say he routinely moves through the city in extravagant armored cars without being stopped by police, even though he escaped prison in 2005 while awaiting trial on a murder charge.
Tuesday's shooting comes as Nigeria, Africa's most populous nation, girds itself for a presidential election that could take place as early as January. In Rivers state, gang leaders serve as muscle for politicians in the ruling People's Democratic Party, terrorizing potential voters, stuffing ballot boxes and interfering with vote counting.
Analysts and human rights groups say the gangsters remain on the payroll of the state government, reaping millions of dollars of oil money while the majority of Nigerians earn less than $1 a day. George apparently received the largess of 2007 election money, sparking a gang war between him and militant Ateke Tom.
There also are murky ties between criminal gangs, political profiteers, oil thieves and the militant groups fighting foreign oil companies in the delta since 2006. The region's main militant group, the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta, once issued a statement about George's welfare during the 2007 fighting.
While a motive for the shooting remains unclear, the attack could spark further violence in a city where Royal Dutch Shell PLC and other foreign oil firms have expatriate workers.
In a February 2007 interview with The Associated Press, George himself warned politicians against ignoring gangland fighters.
"If you don't feed a lion, he will be angry," he said.
BEIJING: South Africa has defended China’s surging investment in Africa, saying Beijing is not pursuing a neocolonial policy and its growing interest in the continent is positive, a report said Wednesday.
China has been criticised over its support for unsavoury governments in places such as Sudan and Zimbabwe and its willingness to ignore governance, human rights and the environment in its pursuit of natural resources.South African President Jacob Zuma, who is leading a delegation of 350 business executives and a number of key ministers, on Wednesday reiterated that China is a “key strategic partner for South Africa”, which is the continent’s biggest economy. afp
By Mabior Philip www.borglobe.com
Juba (Borglobe) ...the preliminary investigation in to the recently impounded white helicopter saga has indicated that the splinter Sudan People’s Liberation Movement for Democratic Change was clearly behind the coordination of George Athor’s infamous rebellion, officials revealed yesterday.
Lam Akol, the SPLM-DC chairman, provided a financial support of 200,000 Sudanese Pounds for a ten-hour operation, said yesterday at a press conference in New Sudan hotel.
He said Lam was ardently instrumental in linking the former renegade general George Athor to the National Intelligence Security Services, but noted that the two couldn’t reach a harmonious settlement.
“Athor does not seem to accept most of their proposals”, Gier said in a power point presentation, after which he regretted that no insufficient evidence was found to implicate the party members suspected of taking part in a horrendous killing in the Uper Nile last May.
Former SPLM-DC , who defected from the party citing no vision among other reasons, was said to be a supporting source of the information.
Armed skirmishes in southern Sudan threaten to jeopardize the independence vote, but will be contained according to officials.
“Any one who will interfere with it will be responsible for what will come after ”, Gier said.
In June, Gier wrote to the former Minister of Legal Affairs and Constitutional Development, Micheal Makuei Lueth, seeking legal advice on how to investigate suspected SPLM-DC members of Southern Sudan Legislative Assembly. SPLM-DC MPs’ immunity was waived resultantly.
Minister for Legal Affairs and Constitutional Development John Luk Jok wrote to the Speaker of Southern Sudan Legislative Assembly James Wani Igga, informing the house that investigation has found no sufficient evidence implicating the accused members in the killing. The regional parliament is yet to finalize on whether to restore the waived immunity of the SPLM-DC members.
TV review: I Am Slave, the story of a young Nuba girl abducted from her home in Sudan and sold into slavery in London, was never going to be a barrel of laughs but if you put in the effort, it more than repaid you.
I Am Slave (C4) was not your typical bank holiday escapist fare. With the adjective ‘harrowing’ hovering over the opening credits, here was a film that demanded commitment from the viewer.
The story of a young Nuba girl abducted from her home in Sudan and sold into slavery in London was never going to be a barrel of laughs but if you put in the effort, I Am Slave more than repaid you.
Directed by Gabriel Range with a sparing elegance that matched the economy of Jeremy Brock’s script, I Am Slave followed young Malia (a luminous Wunmi Mosaku) on a cathartic journey that tore at the heart-strings.
A victim of Sudan’s civil war, she was pressed into servitude in Khartoum, then Britain, and all the while her father never gave up hope that his lost daughter was still alive.
If there was a nagging doubt, it was that we never quite learned enough about the background to Malia’s abductors, we had to take the injustice as read.
But there was one telling moment when, as Malia tried to flee, the woman who had made her life a misery in London suddenly seemed as much a victim as she was.
‘If you go, my husband will beat me,’ she pleaded. The cycle of slavery spins on and on.
Eight years ago 12-year-old Juliet was abducted from her home in northern Uganda by rebels from the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA). For six years she was held captive and forced to marry a senior rebel commander. At 16 she became pregnant. She underwent an excruciatingly painful labour and her baby died in her womb before being removed by an operation with no anaesthetic by a doctor using a razor blade. She became very ill and months later eventually persuaded her captives to allow her to receive treatment at a Kenyan hospital. She escaped the rebels and was finally reunited with her family in Uganda. She is now back at school and hopes to become a lawyer to bring sexual abusers to justice.
This summer Juliet (now 20) was funded by the charity, War Child, to spend a week in London publicising the plight of girls like her. She met MPs, officials from the Department for International Development and the Foreign Office, gave national radio interviews and was the catalyst for a House of Lords debate about the LRA. See her account in the video 'Juliet's story: child soldier to global campaigner', produced by Glen Milner for War Child.
DAKAR (Reuters) - Crimes committed by Rwanda's army and Congolese rebels in Congo during the 1990s could be classified as genocide, a leaked draft U.N. report says, a charge that will stir tensions between Kigali and the U.N.
A Congo expert said diplomats were wrangling over whether to include the highly sensitive genocide accusation in the final version of the document.
The report details crimes committed in the former Belgian colony between 1993 and 2003, a period that saw the fall of dictator Mobutu Sese Seko and a five-year conflict involving six foreign armies, including Rwanda's Tutsi-led force. Millions of people died, most from hunger and disease rather than violence.
After quashing the 1994 genocide of 800,000 Tutsis in Rwanda, Kigali's army invaded Congo, ostensibly to hunt down Hutu fighters who had taken part in the killings and then fled into the east of Congo, known then as Zaire.
In the process, Rwandan forces swept the Congolese AFDL rebels of Laurent Kabila to power in Congo. Both forces have been accused of a string of rights abuses against Hutu soldiers and civilians across the country.
"The systematic and widespread attacks (against Hutus in Congo) described ... reveal a number of damning elements that, if proven before a competent court, could be classified as crimes of genocide," said the report, seen by Reuters on Thursday.
"The extensive use of edged weapons ... and the systematic massacres of survivors after (Hutu) camps had been taken show that the numerous deaths cannot be attributed to the hazards of war or seen as equating to collateral damage."
France's Le Monde newspaper said Kigali had threatened to withdraw peacekeepers from Sudan over the charges, but Rwandan officials were not available for comment to Reuters.
A spokesman for the U.N.'s High Commissioner for Human Rights (UNHCHR), which drafted the 545-page report, said the leaked document was a draft, and had some errors.
The report details some 600 serious crimes committed by various forces from a number of nations but Congo expert and author Jason Stearns said Rwanda comes off worst.
"The allegation that the Rwandan army could be guilty of acts of genocide against Hutu refugees will greatly tarnish the reputation of a government that prides itself of having brought to an end the genocide against Tutsis in Rwanda," he said.
The final report is due to be presented next week by the UNHCHR, but Stearns said that there was still debate over the inclusion of the genocide accusation, which risked hurting Rwandan President Paul Kagame, who has just won re-election but faces unprecedented dissent within the Tutsi elite.
"While most of the dissenting officers were also involved in these alleged massacres in the Congo, this report could further rock the regime," he said.
The report was intended as a mapping exercise of the most serious crimes committed in Congo, which is still seeking political stability, battling economic woes and debating the future role of U.N. peacekeepers ahead of elections next year.
Congo's President Joseph Kabila, who took over when his father Laurent was assassinated, wants U.N. troops out of the country next year but also regularly calls on them to help his weak army face down local and foreign rebels still active there.
It is intended as a historical document to detail the most serious crimes and provide the Congolese authorities with information that they can use to seek justice.
Congo's last main war, which ran from 1998-2003 and at times turned into a scrap for the vast nation's minerals, inflicted so much damage it became known as Africa's World War.
With the referendum on the south's secession approaching, the Sudanese government is intent on censoring media debate
Freedom of speech has not been thriving in Sudan recently. Khartoum has witnessed a spate of newspaper closures and a media clampdown due to what the government regards as a dangerous discourse lending support to the secession of the south.
Until now, the government has mainly preoccupied itself with censoring criticism of the president, Omar el Bashir, and his regime, but it seems that any coverage of the issue of secession or north-south problems is viewed as an implicit encouragement of separation – a prospect that the government is increasingly uneasy about.
When the Sudanese comprehensive peace agreement was signed in 2005, it ended decades of war between the north and south. Of all the provisions of the agreement, the most dramatic was that which gave the south of the country the right to secede, contingent upon the results of a plebiscite to be held in 2011.
The focus in the meantime was to make unity "attractive" – the mantra of the government over the past six years. Throughout this time, apart from splitting the spoils (not entirely equitably) with a semi-autonomous government in the south, the NCP has done little more than talk of promoting harmony, fraternity, tolerance, etc, and appoint a few strategic southern leaders to the cabinet. Unsurprisingly, this has not been a sufficient unguent; the referendum is now six months away and the first cracks are beginning to show.
The latest publication to be shut down, al-Intibaha, is one of the most widely circulated in the country. Run by the president's uncle, it certainly was not an opposition nor "cause" newspaper and hitherto had enjoyed the government's blessing. Apparently, the paper was in violation of the comprehensive peace agreement, which tries to enshrine unity while also making allowances for secession. This intrinsically contradictory situation blatantly betrays the northern junta's intentions: that it had never given much thought to the separation and, more sinisterly, perhaps, has no desire to go through with it. This is the problem with basing decisions around the narrow and blinkered interests of the NCP rather than Sudan's national interest.
As with all deals that have delayed consequences, the immediate benefits of peace seemed most appealing to the negotiators in 2005. The advantages appeared to outweigh the potential ramifications and economic fallout of the secession, which the government was supposed to do its best to pre-empt by throwing itself wholeheartedly into a nation-building exercise.
I was always curious as to how this would happen. How the south – almost half the country, ethnically marginalised, racially stigmatised, bereft of infrastructure, economic support and subject to consistent military attrition for the best part of 50 years – would suddenly find staying tethered to a north with which it shares little but the scars of a the longest-running war in Africa, "attractive".
Moreover, it was difficult to envisage how the Sudanese government would bring itself to relinquish the southern territories, rich as they are in natural resources and oil.
So, just as Faustus squirmed to find a way out on his day of reckoning, the Sudanese government is already trying, in its characteristic and inimitable style, to find a last-minute stay of execution. Hence the incommensurate response to talk of the referendum in the media.
An NCP official told Voice of America that the government will soon launch "a very strong campaign" with the sole aim of achieving unity between the north and the south in the coming referendum. There have already been discussions with the SPLM of a confederacy with a rotating presidency as an alternative to separation.
As last-minute and unrealistic as this seems, it may just come off. The NCP has stakeholders within the ranks of some southern parties and may yet – if it can succeed in building an alliance with them – stymie the planned vote and, once again, prevent the people of the south from deciding on their future.
Authors: Nesrine Malik