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Famine being used as a weapon of war

Sudan creates food shortages to reduce rebels and supporters in South Kordofan.
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Two-year-old Dhoal's bones show as he sits in his mother's lap in a ward for children suffering from severe malnutririon at a local hospital in the southeast Sudanese town of Akobo on Apr. 10, 2010. (Roberto Schmidt/AFP/Getty Images)
NAIROBI — The places where malnutrition is most likely to reach famine levels are where there is ongoing conflict: South Kordofan and Blue Nile states on the border areas of Sudan and South Sudan.
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Africa News: Russia plays malign role in Africa

Russia is playing an increasingly malign role in world affairs, especially in Africa.
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Syrians residing in Libya wave the former Syrian flag as they protest outside the Russian embassy in Tripoli on Feb. 5, 2012. The protest came after Russia and China for the second time vetoed a UN Security Council resolution on the President Bashar al-Assad regime's crackdown on dissent. (Mahmud Turkia/AFP/Getty Images)

NAIROBI, Kenya — With nothing but its own domestic interests at heart Russia is playing an increasingly malign role in world affairs.

Last weekend Russia and China vetoed a UN Security Council resolution aimed at stopping the violence in Syria.

Of course the resolution may not have had much impact but reports from the besieged town of Homs over the last few days leave little doubt that Syria's government has increased its attacks on civilians and rebels alike in the wake of the resolution's rejection.

More from GlobalPost: Why Russia still stands by Syria

Earlier this year, there was a tribal slaughter in South Sudan that the UN mission was unable to prevent partly because Russia had grounded its helicopters.

Russia was concerned about the safety of its air crews and, in a row at UN headquarters, withdrew some helicopters and refused to allow others to be used. Ban Ki-moon had to beg troop-carrying helicopters from elsewhere. In the end the peacekeepers that arrived in Pibor were too few, and too late.

And now comes a report from Amnesty International saying that Russia (and, again, China as well as that repository of Cold War weaponry and leading arms exporter Belarus) is supplying new armaments to Sudan which Khartoum is using to attack civilians in the western region of Darfur.

When the UN Security Council meets to discuss sanctions against Sudan next week there'll be no prizes for guessing where Russia and China will stand.

More from GlobalPost: China faces Sudan dilemma

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Sudan News: President Omar al-Bashir in Darfur to achieve unlikely peace

President Bashir is in El-Fasher to inaugurate the Darfur Regional Authority.
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Sudan's President Omar al-Bashir (R), Sudan's Janjaweed militia leader Mussa Hilal (2nd-L) and Abdullah Nagi (2nd-R), representative of Chadian President Idriss Deby, dance during an official ceremony celebrating the marriage of Hilal's daughter Amani to Deby in Khartoum on Jan. 20, 2012. (Ashraf Shazly/AFP/Getty Images)

NAIROBI, Kenya — Sudan's President Omar al-Bashir is in Darfur today, the restive western region where he is accused of ordering militias to commit genocide, where certainly tens and possibly hundreds of thousands of people have died and many more have been forced from their homes by a conflict that has lasted nearly a decade and shows few signs of ending.

More from GlobalPost: China faces Sudan dilemma

Not that Bashir would agree.

He is in El-Fasher to inaugurate the Darfur Regional Authority, a governing agency headed by the leader of one of the few rebel groups to have signed a peace deal with Khartoum. Darfur's various rebel groups are notorious splitters and it was only the Liberty and Justice Movement (LFM) that signed a treaty brokered in Doha last year. The Justice and Equality Movement (JEM), for example, is one of three rebel groups that have refused to sign and continue to fight.

Bashir was on familiar form as he celebrated a peace that few believe in and which will mean little to the millions who make their homes in squalid camps: He danced, smiled and waved his swagger stick in the air while telling them all to "go home" because the war is over.

More from GlobalPost: Mitt Romney condemns killings in Sudan

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Sudan News: China faces Sudan dilemma

China's policy of non-interference in both Sudans looks increasingly unsustainable.
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President Of Sudan Omar al-Bashir and Chinese President Hu Jintao attend the signing ceremony at the Great Hall of the People on June 29, 2011 in Beijing, China. (Liu Jin-Pool/Getty Images)

NAIROBI, Kenya — China is an old friend of Khartoum.

Beijing's policy of non-interference in domestic affairs has made it some pretty unsavory friends, most recently in Syria when it joined Moscow in vetoing a UN Security Council resolution.

More from GlobalPost: China mulls contribution to Europe’s rescue fund

China has shown no qualms about investing in oil infrastructure, roads and railways in Sudan or for that matter selling armaments that were then used against the people of Darfur.

But as southern independence approached China realized that if it wanted to keep getting 5 percent of its crude imports from Sudan it needed friends in the South, too, since that's where most of the oil is.

More from GlobalPost: Tullow Oil to invest in Uganda's oil industry

Diplomatic overtures were launched and Beijing's envoys found a warm welcome in Juba.

Late last month came the kidnapping of 29 Chinese road builders who were working in South Kordofan, a region of north Sudan where a rebel group is battling the Khartoum army. During the raid by the Sudan People's Liberation Movement-North (SPLM-North) rebels 17 other workers escaped while one, it turned out, was killed.

China's official news agency, Xinhua, says the 29 captives have now been released but their captivity shows the tricky balancing act that Beijing is trying to pull off, staying friends with both sides as they inch ever closer to war.

In these circumstances, and with its own citizens now at risk, China's policy of non-interference looks increasingly unsustainable.

More from GlobalPost: China housing market restricts mortgages for foreigners

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Chinese workers freed in Sudan, flown to Kenya

China also announced today that the body of a worker who went missing in the attack had been found and handed over to Chinese embassy officials.

Sudan: Chinese worker, missing in rebel attack, found dead

SPLM-N rebels abducted 29 of the 47 Chinese workers in the camp, while the other 18 workers fled to the neighboring areas. The Sudanese army soon found the 17 Chinese workers, and moved them to a safe area, but one worker remained missing.

Egypt: Kidnapped Chinese workers released

The workers, mostly technicians and engineers, were freed in Arish, North Sinai, at around 3 a.m. local time, and are in good health, Ma Jianchun, commercial affairs counselor at the Chinese embassy in Cairo told the state-run Xinhua news agency.

Chinese workers kidnapped by Sudan rebels in South Kordofan (UPDATES)

The Chinese workers were reportedly building a road in South Kordofan when their camp was attacked.

Sudan and South Sudan are on the brink, again

Sudan and South Sudan leaders meet at a regional summit in Addis Ababa amid oil-management tensions.
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A view of the new African Union headquarters in Addis Ababa on January 24, 2012. The AU headquarters was built and fully funded by the Chinese government at a cost of $200 million. The building will host this year’s AU Summit in the Ethiopian capital, which brings together heads of state from across the continent. The towering building – Addis Ababa’s tallest – symbolizes China’s strengthening ties with Africa, a major source of foreign investment from China. (Jenny Vaughan/AFP/Getty Images)

NAIROBI, Kenya — The leaders of the two Sudans are meeting at a regional summit in Addis Ababa today amid growing tensions between the neighbors over oil.

Salva Kiir, the president of South Sudan, and Omar al-Bashir, the leader of Sudan, were bitter civil-war enemies. Although the outright fighting is over, the suspicion and enmity are very much alive.

This week, South Sudan began shutting down its oil installations in protest over Khartoum confiscating southern oil, a move it says was to reclaim funds owed by Juba.

More from GlobalPost: South Sudan charges that Sudan steals oil

In the run up to the South's official independence last July, most analysts guessed that Sudan's shared oil would bind them together. Most of the oil lies in the south, but all the pipelines and refineries are in the north.

The two need each other, so the argument went. Instead it has proved increasingly divisive.

Earlier this week South Sudan struck a deal with Kenya to build a new pipeline to export the oil southwards, a move that might offer the south a way around the north. That has angered Khartoum. It's not quite make-or-break at the Addis talks, but fears of a return to conflict are growing.

More from GlobalPost: South Sudan, Kenya agree to oil pipeline

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South Sudan violence spirals out of control

The violence in South Sudan spirals out of control, as the UN continues its humanitarian effort.
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The UN attempts to mitigate the South Sudan crisis by providing food from the UN's World Food Program on January 12, 2012. (HANNAH MCNEISH/AFP/Getty Images)

NAIROBI, Kenya — It started years, even generations ago. The tit-for-tat cattle raiding that kills hundreds of people in South Sudan every year, is getting out of hand.

It was the massacre of dozens, hundreds or even thousands (reports remain unclear) of Murle people by their Lou Nuer rivals in and around the town of Pibor in Jonglei state over New Year, that grabbed the world's attention.

The horror of that slaughter seems only to have fed the warriors' blood lust.

More from GlobalPost: UN troops step in to prevent ethnic violence in South Sudan

Every day this week it seems there is a new report of a fresh attack that leaves dozens dead. These attacks are regarded as being mostly revenge attacks by Murle on Lou Nuer.

The UN mission in South Sudan has tried to ease tensions however, it is not well enough manned, equipped or funded to police a territory the size of France while the fledgling government remains incapable.

More From GlobalPost: UN starts massive humanitarian effort in South Sudan

It is hard to see how the vengeful and deadly raiding can be halted, and every new death is a further blow to the fragile stability of the world's newest nation.

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