Sudanese expats skip vacations home to ‘escape conscription’
Published: Nov 23, 2010 23:41 Updated: Nov 23, 2010 23:41
JEDDAH: Sudanese expatriates are hesitating to go on vacation in their country for fear of being drafted into compulsory military service with a war looming on the horizon.
The referendum for a divided or undivided country is scheduled to take place early next year.
However, sources at the Sudanese Consulate in Jeddah denied reports that the country has announced a compulsory draft for military forces.
A large number of Sudanese expatriates, including those who did not visit their homeland for many years, have decided to postpone their vacations until matters settle down at home.
“My plans were to visit my country this December after spending several years in the Kingdom. I have been saving up for years for my home trip,” said Ahmad Idris, an expatriate bachelor.
“However, the latest developments are indicating a war between the south and north. The situation will, apparently, make the authorities conscript all able-bodied men to strengthen their military. In such a scenario I will also have to join the army, an idea I don’t like at all.”
He added that the army always prefers to recruit unmarried youths.
Another Sudanese bachelor in his 30s, Abdul Rahman Saeed, said he felt it safer to postpone his annual vacation, which he used to take at the end of every year, because of the conscription.
He did not have any doubt that he would be drafted in for military service as he had never served in the armed forces in the past.
“The military is looking for young bachelors. If I join the army I would, no doubt, lose my well-paid job in Saudi Arabia,” Saeed said.
He has been working as an engineer for a large contracting company for many years.
Ali Al-Tayyeb, a Sudanese journalist working in Saudi Arabia, said: “Sudanese authorities have started picking youths off the streets and sending them to military training camps.”
On the other hand, a source at the Sudanese Consulate in Jeddah denied rumors of an impending civil war or an announcement of compulsory drafting for armed forces in the country.
“The Sudanese government is striving to make the idea of unity attractive to all citizens. The rumors currently going round in the Sudanese community in the Kingdom are baseless,” the source told Arab News.