The Sudanese government said Tuesday it has closed its border with Kenya and taken other steps to prevent Sudanese livestock from being infected by a disease that can spread to humans.
Khartoum was stung when Saudi Arabia banned imports of sheep and other livestock from Yemen and several African countries, including Sudan, after it suffered an outbreak of Rift Valley Fever this month.
"We have taken measures, including closure of the border with Kenya, to prevent our livestock being infected with the Rift Valley Fever," Animal Resources Undersecretary Mohammed Salih al-Jebelabi told a press conference.
He said the border was closed to prevent livestock from entering southern Sudan, although he noted that Sudan exports animals from its central and western regions and not from the border area.
The official also stressed that the ministry was applying "sound veterinary measures" to ensure that the Sudanese livestock "remains healthy."
He added that Sudan was prepared to receive delegations from all Arab countries to verify the health of the livestock population.
Animal Resources Minister Abdallah Sidahmed, also speaking at the press conference, said his ministry made various contacts with Saudi Arabia and other Arab states to reassure them RVF has not entered Sudan.
He said the International Epidemics Organization had issued a certificate showing that Sudan is free of the disease and that Saudi Arabia and other Gulf states have been provided with this certificate.
The Saudi health ministry said Tuesday the death toll from the mosquito-borne Rift Valley Fever had risen to 30 out of a total of 148 who have been stricken with the disease, including two in Riyadh.
The disease was first reported on September 11 in the south of the kingdom near the border with Yemen, where 30 people have also died in the Red Sea region of Hodeida, 100 kilometers (62 miles) west of Sanaa.
Sidahmed also stressed that Yemen used to import livestock from Sudan in the past "but has not done so for a year now."
The minister said Saudi Arabia and other states were justified in taking a precautionary measure, but that the Sudanese "just want to reassure them that the disease has never appeared in Sudan and our country is now free of it."
Sudanese Animal Resources officials said the bulk of Sudanese sheep and goat livestock exports go to Saudi Arabia, camels solely to Egypt while slaughtered animals are exported to other Gulf states and Jordan.
The Saudi ban concerns only live animals.
The officials displayed at the press conference tables of live and slaughtered animals exported abroad during from January to August.
The tables show that live animal exports during the last eight months included 730,759 head of sheep, 14,002 goats, 315 cattle and 12,614 camels, while the meat exports included 4,061,414 tons of mutton, 273,496 tons of goat meat, 1,958,850 tons of beef and 5,812 tons of camel meat.
The officials say the heavy livestock export season begins from September to April and reaches its peak just before the hajj pilgrimage to Saudi Arabia, when millions of lambs are slaughtered as sacrifices – KHARTOUM (AFP)
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