Sudan’s Bashir to visit Egypt as protesters call for more rallies

Sudan’s President Omar Al-Bashir waves to his supporters during a rally at the Green Square in Khartoum on January 9. (Reuters)
Updated 27 January 2019

Sudan’s Bashir to visit Egypt as protesters call for more rallies

  • Bashir’s visit to Cairo on Sunday will be his second trip abroad since deadly protests erupted at home on December 19

KHARTOUM: Sudanese President Omar Al-Bashir will travel to Cairo for talks with his Egyptian counterpart, state media reported Saturday, as protesters called for more nationwide demonstrations against his government.
Bashir’s visit to Cairo on Sunday will be his second trip abroad since deadly protests erupted at home on December 19.
On Wednesday, he met Qatar’s ruler Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani on a trip to the Gulf state.
“President Omar Al-Bashir will travel to Cairo on Sunday for a one-day visit,” Sudan’s official news agency SUNA reported.
“He will hold bilateral talks with Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi and also discuss regional issues that concern the two countries.”
Bashir’s visit was also confirmed by Sudan’s ambassador to Cairo, Mahmoud Abdel Halim.
Protests erupted in Sudan last month after a government decision to triple the price of bread.
The rallies swiftly mushroomed into nationwide calls for an end to Bashir’s three decades in power, as protesters clashed with security forces.
Officials say 30 people have died in the violence, while rights groups say more than 40 people have been killed including medics and children.
The Sudanese group that is leading the protest campaign has called for more rallies over the next few days, including night-time demonstrations on Saturday.
Bashir, who came to power in an Islamist-backed coup in 1989, has remained steadfast in rejecting calls to resign.
While the spark for the first protests was the rise of bread prices, anger has been mounting for years over worsening economic hardships and deteriorating living conditions in Sudan.
That ire has now spilt onto the streets as protesters chant their main slogan calling for “freedom, peace, justice.”
Bashir has blamed the economic woes on the United States.
Washington lifted its trade embargo on Sudan in October 2017 after two decades of bruising economic punishment, but that failed to revive the country’s financial situation.
Experts say cash injections from the Gulf states, led by wealthy Qatar, have helped stave off economic collapse.
There was no announcement, however, of any financial assistance from Qatar for Bashir during his latest visit.
Egypt, which has deep historical ties with Sudan, has called repeatedly for stability in its southern neighbor.
“Egypt fully supports the security and stability of Sudan, which is integral to Egypt’s national security,” El-Sisi told a top Bashir aide who visited Cairo earlier this month.
Relations between Cairo and Khartoum had deteriorated sharply in 2017 over territorial disputes and accusations from Bashir that Egypt’s intelligence services were supporting opposition forces fighting his troops in the country’s conflict zones like Darfur.
But in recent months the two governments have ironed out their differences, with Sudan lifting a 17-month ban on Egyptian agricultural produce.

Locust invasion in Yemen stokes food insecurity fears

A Yemeni tries to catch locusts on the rooftop of his house as they swarm several parts of the country bringing in devastations and destruction of major seasonal crops. (AFP)
Updated 13 July 2020

Locust invasion in Yemen stokes food insecurity fears

  • Billions of locusts invaded farms, cities and villages, devouring seasonal crops

AL-MUKALLA: Locust swarms have swept over farms in central, southern and eastern parts of Yemen, ravaging crops and stoking fears of food insecurity.

Residents and farmers in the provinces of Marib, Hadramout, Mahra and Abyan said that billions of locusts had invaded farms, cities and villages, devouring important seasonal crops such as dates and causing heavy losses.
“This is like a storm that razes anything it encounters,” Hussein Ben Al-Sheikh Abu Baker, an agricultural official from Hadramout’s Sah district, told Arab News on Sunday.
Images and videos posted on social media showed layers of creeping locusts laying waste to lemon farms in Marb, dates and alfalfa farms in Hadramout and flying swarms plunging cities into darkness. “The locusts have eaten all kinds of green trees, including the sesban tree. The losses are huge,” Abu Baker added.
Heavy rains and flash floods have hit several Yemeni provinces over the last couple of months, creating fruitful conditions for locusts to reproduce. Farmers complained that locusts had wiped out entire seasonal crops that are grown after rains.
Abu Baker said that he visited several affected farms in Hadramout, where farmers told him that if the government would not compensate them for the damage that it should at least get ready for a second potential locust wave that might occur in 10 days.
“The current swarms laid eggs that are expected to hatch in 10 days. We are bracing for the second wave of the locusts.”  
Last year, the UN said that the war in Yemen had disrupted vital monitoring and control efforts and several waves of locusts to hit neighboring countries had originated from Yemen.

This is like a storm that razes anything it encounters.

Hussein Ben Al-Sheikh Abu Baker, a Yemeni agricultural official

Yemeni government officials, responsible for battling the spread of locusts, have complained that fighting and a lack of funding have obstructed vital operations for combating the insects.
Ashor Al-Zubairi, the director of the Locust Control Unit at the Ministry of Agriculture in Hadramout’s Seiyun city, said that the ministry was carrying out a combat operation funded by the Food and Agriculture Organization in Hadramout and Mahra, but complained that the operation might fall short of its target due to a lack of funding and equipment.
“The spraying campaign will end in a week which is not enough to cover the entire plagued areas,” Al-Zubairi told Arab News. “We suggested increasing the number of spraying equipment or extending the campaign.”
He said that a large number of villagers had lost their source of income after the locusts ate crops and sheep food, predicting that the outbreak would likely last for at least two weeks if urgent control operations were not intensified and fighting continued. “Combating teams could not cross into some areas in Marib due to fighting.”
The widespread locust invasion comes as the World Food Programme (WFP) on July 10 sent an appeal for urgent funds for its programs in Yemen, warning that people would face starvation otherwise.
“There are 10 million people who are facing (an) acute food shortage, and we are ringing the alarm bell for these people, because their situation is deteriorating because of escalation and because of the lockdowns, the constraints and the social-economic impact of the coronavirus,” WFP spokeswoman Elisabeth Byrs told reporters in Geneva.