The United Arab Emirates (UAE) have lifted its ban on livestock imports from Sudan, leading to anticipation in the Sudanese capital, Khartoum, that the Gulf states of Saudi Arabia, Oman, Qatar, Bahrain and Kuwait would do likewise, the Panafrican News Agency (PANA) reported on Tuesday. Muhammad Salih Jabalabi, under secretary of the ministry of animal resources, said the UAE had lifted the ban after a report by the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) testified that Sudan was free of Rift Valley fever, the report said. The ban on meat and livestock was imposed on Sudan and other East African countries in September 2000, following an outbreak of Rift Valley fever in Saudi Arabia and Yemen, which claimed dozens of lives. Jabalabi said the Khartoum government hoped the UAE’s lifting of the ban would open the door for similar decisions by the other GCC member states. Sudan earned the equivalent of US $135 million in 1999 from livestock exports, with Saudi Arabia, Yemen, the UAE and Qatar among the major buyers, PANA reported, citing ministry statistics.
The removal of the livestock ban would be important for the livestock sector in northern Sudan, if less so for the south of the country, where exports tended to be to Uganda and Kenya, an FAO official told IRIN on Wednesday. The development could also bring an increase in livestock prices in Bahr al-Ghazal in the south if more animals were diverted to the north, and this would be welcomed by southern pastoralists, the official added. The combined effects of drought and conflict have given rise to widespread food insecurity, with over 600,000 people at immediate risk, as well as increased pressure on declining water supplies, shrinking pasture and the movement of people and livestock in search of pasture.