19 August 2018

Sudan: Al Bashir Visits Scene of Nile Tragedy - Pledges School, Bridge, Pilgrimage for Bereaved Parents

El Buheira — Sudan's President Al Bashir has directed the construction of a mixed model bicameral school at El Buheira area north of Khartoum in River Nile state where 22 students and an adult woman from El Manaseer drowned after their boat capsized crossing the Nile on Wednesday.

Only four bodies have been recovered thus far, as the Nile is in full flood owing to the rainy season, which has also caused extensive flooding and destruction elsewhere in Sudan.

Speaking on Friday during a visit to the scene of the tragedy where he joined in prayers with victims' families, President Al Bashir pledged to sponsor Umra* for the parents of those killed and suggested re-naming El Kanisa area "The Village of Martyrs". A new school is to be built in their memory, and a bridge is to be built so that residents become less reliant on river transport.

Al Bashir: "The calamity is huge; this is a blow that struck all Sudanese people" the president said in a statement before a gathering of the relatives of the pupils who died in the incident, the official Sudan News Agency (SUNA) reports.

He said "the death of any child in Sudan affects the whole nation, let alone the death of such a large number of Sudan's dear children.

"We have come here just like any other grieving Sudanese who is affected by this calamity, we have come to convey to you the sympathies of all of your brothers and sisters in the country who could not come here physically to express their compassion" the president said.

Al Bashir commended the courage and forbearance shown by the relatives of those who died in the incident.

He said whatever the villagers decided to be built in memory of the children, will be respected and implemented.

Mourning

The Governor of the State, Hatim Al Wasila, has declared 1o days of mourning in River Nile state. He commended the visit by Al Bashir to stand by the bereaved families, saying the visit was greatly appreciated and has in fact helped relieve the families and their relatives.

The representative of the families, Abdulrahim Al Basyeer, speaking for the villagers, has meanwhile said the visit has great significance and symbolism for the families and the visits of the president and his accompanying delegation has helped the families in trying to cope with the calamity.

"We did not cry when the incident occurred, but we did when we saw people coming to share our grief and stand by our side" Al Basyeer told SUNA.

Criticism

However, Al Bashir's visit to El Buheira has drawn criticism from local community leaders, who accuse him of a late response. A coalition of those affected by dams held Al Bashir responsible for the disaster in his capacity as Chair of the Higher Committee of the dam.

Activists said the government one issued a statement a day after the disaster and the President visited the region "after being embarrassed by the condolences sent by many countries to the presidency".

A Judge of the National Supreme Court, Adil Samir Tawfig, donated his salary for the month of September to the victims of floods and rains in El Manaseer.

Tawfig, the only Christian judge in Sudan, tendered his resignation earlier when he felt discriminated against according to his close associates.

Dozens of women staged a demonstration outside the Ministry of Education in Khartoum on Friday.

* The ʿUmrah (Arabic: عُمرَة‎) is an Islamic pilgrimage to Mecca performed by Muslims that can be undertaken at any time of the year, in contrast to the Ḥajj (Arabic: حَـجّ‎) which has specific dates according to the Islamic lunar calendar. - Wikipedia

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