Monday, October 31, 2005

Raising awareness about Sudan

By CASEY FREEMAN Colorado Daily Staff Writer
Sunday, October 30, 2005

A former Sudanese slave and an ex-U.S. Marine will both speak in Boulder this week to raise awareness about genocide in Sudan.

CU-Boulder and Congregation Har Hashem are working together to hold a Sudan Awareness Conference from Nov. 1 through Nov. 3. The week's events are all free, and organizers hope the increased understanding of the situation in Sudan will motivate people to work to end the genocide and human rights violations there.

The keynote speaker will be Simon Deng, a former Sudanese slave. Deng will be speaking on Nov. 1 at the Duane Physics Building G1B30 on the CU campus from 7 to 9 p.m.

Deng - a native of southern Sudan - was kidnapped when he was nine years old and worked as a slave in northern Sudan. He escaped the life of slavery to be a national swimming champion and messenger in the Sudanese parliament.

Now, Deng is an American citizen, human rights activist and leads an effort to stop slavery and genocide in Sudan.

Brian Steidle will speak as a foreigner who has witnessed the burning of villages as well as many other accounts of violence in Sudan. Steidle is a former captain in the U.S. Marine Corps and was in Darfur, Sudan last year as an unarmed military observer.

Now, Steidle works to raise public awareness about Sudan and is seeking international support for the African Union to stop the violence.

“Eyewitness to Genocide” is the title of Steidle's portion of the conference and the event will be held on Nov. 3 at 7 p.m. in the Boulder High School auditorium at 1604 Arapahoe Ave.

Jerry Fowler, the director of the Committee on Conscience for the United States Holocaust Museum, will also speak at the night's event.

The conference is sponsored by the Congregation Har HaShem through a grant from the Lois Pope LIFE Foundation, CU-Boulder School of Journalism and Mass Communication, CU-Boulder African Student Association, Indigenous Support Network, St. Julien Hotel and Spa, CU Chapter of Amnesty International, CU-Boulder Developing Areas Research and Teaching program, CU-Boulder Office of International Education, CU-Boulder Smith Hall International Program, CU-Boulder Institute for Ethical and Civic Engagement, CU Conference on World Affairs Athenaeum and the CU-Boulder International Affairs program.

For more information on the conference e-mail Mindy Pantiel at or visit studentgroups/ASA/SudanConference/.

Contact Casey Freeman on this story at (303) 443-6272 ext. 147 or

Despite ‘truce,’ genocide continues

U.S. intervention in Sudan a matter of conscience
By Leah Otto

I am saddened that the U.S. news media have dropped their coverage of the war in Sudan. Since the peace agreement was signed on Jan. 9, it is hard to find U.S. news coverage of the issue. In the American eye it seems that Africa’s longest civil war has ended when, in fact, it has continued with a vengeance.

According the United Nations, the situation in Sudan is a major humanitarian crisis. The U.S., therefore, has a moral responsibility to take action against genocide in Darfur, Sudan. The actions taken by the Sudanese government, and the fact that the U.S. has publicly deemed these actions genocide, lend to the fact that the United States has a moral responsibility to Sudan.

The Sudanese government’s actions against its people are atrocious. According to a UNICEF article, “At a Glance: Sudan,” even though the peace agreement was signed on Jan. 9, supposedly marking the end of a 21-year-long civil war, the fighting that started in Darfur, Sudan, has continued. This unrest has affected 2.4 million people since it started in 2003.

The Sudan Tribune, in an article titled “Darfur Rebel SLA Split Participation in Peace Talks,” claims up to 300,000 people have died because of war-related causes, and more than 2 million have been displaced between the start of the uprising in Darfur and Sept. 16.

The Sudanese government conducts indiscriminate bombings and aerial attacks against clearly defined civilian targets. The government military is involved in killing, torture, rape, looting and destruction of property. As if that weren’t enough, the government has placed impediments and restrictions on access for humanitarian aid agencies. Because of this limited aid, according to Amnesty International, people are in danger of starvation and illness.

As Americans, we cannot let these acts of inhumanity go unchecked. Innocent people are dying by the masses because of their own government; those set in place to protect the general public are hurting them instead.

CBS reported on Aug. 28, that the United Nations is calling the situation the “greatest crisis in the world.” The United Nations calls for action to protect civilians. Dr. Jan Coebergh, author of “Sudan: genocide has killed more than the tsunami,” (Parliamentary Brief, February 2005) stated, “During the summer of 2004, the U.S. Congress, followed by the U.S. State Department and then the EU parliament, declared the Sudan government’s actions genocide.” The United Nations is currently investigating the situation and has not made a public statement as to whether they also deem the Sudanese government’s actions genocide.

Because the U.S. has clearly proclaimed an act of genocide in Sudan, it must act on that claim. Are we not a country that lives by our word? Then we must act on what we say. Millions of lives are at stake.

The U.S. has taken some action simply by acknowledging an act of genocide, but we need to go further. The U.S. needs to take action before this situation becomes another Rwanda. Sitting back and waiting for a better time to intervene, or simply encouraging the United Nations to mediate, will only allow more pain and suffering. We must remember that as citizens of the same planet, we have a moral obligation to aid our fellow inhabitants in a crisis such as this.

Africa’s longest civil war is not over. Sudan is facing a situation that could become another Rwanda, and the Unites States needs to step up to the plate. After reporting the facts of the problem in Darfur and declaring an act of genocide, the U.S. has a moral responsibility to take action against the government of Sudan to protect the rights of all Sudanese people. The more the media lets the American people know about this situation, the more our government will take notice.

Wayne. She wrote this for The Journal Gazette.

Hell is still Darfur

October 31, 2005
Special to Globe and Mail Update

Darfur — Our white truck turned up the dusty hill in El Fasher, Darfur. Major John Lewis of Cold Lake, Alta., parked our AMIS (African Union Mission in Sudan) pickup next to a clay wall, beside a stall where women were selling cups of water. Five of us walked through the gate of El Fasher's government hospital. It was Friday, and patients' families gathered in the sandy courtyard, bringing food to their hospitalized relatives.

Milling about were Sudanese soldiers. Several hours earlier, four men suffering gunshot wounds had been brought in for surgery; their bus had been attacked by bandits. In a sweltering and fetid room with blood-stained cots, we met one of the bandaged casualties. Across from him was an empty cot stained by a fresh pool of blood, where a less fortunate victim of the attack had lain moments earlier. In the past 21/2 years, there have been more than 200,000 such victims. The vast majority of the dead have been non-combatants, in what some international politicians and diplomats have labelled "an attempt at genocide" by the central government.

Unlike the men we visited, most did not die in a hospital but were killed trying to escape the marauding Arab militias known as janjaweed (proxies of the Sudanese army) as they pillaged, burned, raped and shot their way across Darfur. Those innocents who escaped, some two million of them, now live in internally displaced refugee camps, sometimes only a few kilometres from their former homes.

The Darfur conflict first took root in the region's competition for scarce resources. African farmers and nomadic Arab herders vied for what little sustenance and income the region might provide them, a competition intensified by the creeping desertification of the Darfur region. The Arab Islamic government soldiers, while fighting a decades-long civil war against both African-animist and Christian Sudanese factions, ignored threadbare Darfur's needs over dozens of years.


In February of 2003, newly organized Darfur insurgents attacked several army outposts in the region to draw local and global attention to their unheard demands for equitable resources from the central government. Senior military officials in Khartoum, perhaps frustrated by their failing bid to win the civil war with the Christian South, reacted with ferocity. Villages were bombed from the air as janjaweed militiamen moved in to rape, pillage, burn and murder. More than 10,000 Darfurians died every month for almost two years. The razing of villages continued unabated until the spring of this year.

Finally, the African Union brokered ceasefire accords between Khartoum and the two main Darfurian insurgent groups - the Sudan Liberation Army and the Justice and Equality Movement - and a relative calm seemed to set in.

On May 12, to alleviate the continuing suffering of the displaced in Darfur and to assist the work of the AMIS peacekeepers, Prime Minister Paul Martin committed $192-million to the region. That could not have come at a better time, as it coincided with the political implementation of the peace agreement that ended more than 26 years of civil war between the Khartoum government and the principal southern insurgent militia, the Sudan People's Liberation Movement.

Although far from perfect, the peace agreement has given a measure of power to tribes and groups outside of Khartoum's elite. It established an appointed representative parliament (the National Assembly), and a formal process by which state resources will be shared regionally. It also delineated a timeline for democratic elections in three years, while a new Sudanese constitution is negotiated and ratified in the interim.

On Aug. 31, the National Assembly's inaugural session began. In Darfur, AMIS (partially enabled by Canada's commitment) was doubling its force size.

It was during this confluence of events in late September that I travelled to Khartoum and then to Darfur on a self-financed fact-finding mission, taking as an assistant University of Toronto student Max Kelly of Students Taking Action Now on Darfur. Despite repeated warnings from every corner of the inherent dangers of travelling to the region, I became the first Canadian MP to enter Darfur, and the first elected official since Mr. Martin's May 12 aid announcement.

In Khartoum, I met Canada's new chargé d'affaires, Alan Bones, who had arrived only days earlier. He has an encyclopedic knowledge of Sudan, and a passion to have Canada play a critical role in bringing long-term peace, stability and justice to the region. One had the feeling that he had been preparing for this particular posting his whole career.

I then met my parliamentary counterparts in the new National Assembly, including the assembly's general secretary, Ibrahim Ibrahim, and deputy speaker Atem Garang Deng (who had been an insurgent in the bush not long before). I also spoke with other political figures such as Hassan Al Tarab (recently released from prison, he is the ideological father of Sudan's political Islamicism), and Mohamed Ibrahim Nugud of the Communist Party.

Several days later, I was able to arrange a small private plane to fly into Darfur. We left at daybreak, flying for hours over desert - not the sterile white sands of the Sahara but a yellow, orange desert with dried-out riverbeds hinting at promise. At the airstrip in El Fasher, we were met by two Canadian Forces advisers to AMIS.

As I listened to our soldiers, I grew increasingly proud of our military's conduct under extremely difficult circumstances. I also became aware of the direct consequences of Canada's military commitment of resources to Darfur - by empowering AMIS, Canada is saving thousands of civilian lives weekly.

The hell of today's Darfur must be solved on three levels: humanitarian, military and political. Although interconnected, each will require different tools.

The international NGO community is doing a phenomenal job in the displaced refugee camps. I found the people in the camps in good spirits and well-fed; there were wells, schools and hospitals. But the only reason that a humanitarian disaster in Darfur's refugee camps had been avoided was the presence of AMIS, with its attendant Canadian equipment and advisers.

Unfortunately, the military presence is only sufficient to maintain the status quo: the protection of refugee camps and areas around them. For two million refugees to return to their destroyed ancestral villages will require an expanded military presence and a long-term political solution.

While I was in Darfur, AU-sponsored Darfur peace talks began in Nigeria. Now is the time for both the international community and the United Nations to step forward and proportionately provide the kind of commitment to Darfur that Canada has already made. An expanded peacemaking capability is required while ceasefire and peace talks (which may last as long as three to six years due to political obstacles) create solutions to end this conflict.

As I stood in the El Fasher hospital looking at the blood-soaked cots, I had a feeling of foreboding. The two Darfurian insurgent groups had splintered, and we were bearing witness to their banditry. While the refugees in the camps were secure and well-fed, an increasingly disparate number of armed groups in the countryside were filling the security vacuum. For now, all that stands between them and the refugees are 6,500 AU troops and their mostly Canadian advisers. The time has arrived for an international commitment of substance, not rhetoric.

Borys Wrzesnewskyj is Liberal MP for Etobicoke-Centre

U.S. must speak up to save Darfur

10/31/2005 09:05 AM
Lowell Sun

Many are familiar with the famous words uttered by Matain Niemoller, a German Protestant pastor, in which he lamented the apathy of those seemingly unaffected by Nazi genocidal activity during World War II.

He said: “In Germany they came first for the Communists and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a Communist. Then they came for the Jews and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a Jew. Then they came for the trade unionists and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a trade unionist. Then they came for the Catholics and I didn't speak up because I was a Protestant. Then they came for me -- and by that time there was no one left to speak up.”

As members of families once persecuted because of their religious, racial and ethnic identity, but more importantly as members of this global community, we call on President Bush to speak up for the people of Darfur.

A horrific and bloody conflict is being waged on the African continent in the Darfur region of Sudan between the Janjaweed, a government-supported militia comprised of Arab tribes, and the non-Arab people of the region. The Janjaweed have resorted to slaughtering, raping, starving and forcing from their lands the people of this region of Sudan. It has been estimated that more than 350,000 people have been killed due to the Janjaweed's actions, and more than 2 million people have been forced to flee their lands and hole up in camps along the border of Chad.

The stories coming from these camps are horrible.

Unsanitary conditions, a lack of food, shelter, water and adequate health care abound. The Janjaweed have strategically positioned themselves to prevent humanitarian aid from entering the camps. They have stationed troops around the water supplies used by the refugees and have killed anyone -- children included -- who attempt to get water from the source. The Janjaweed have shown complete disregard for humanity. Raping, murdering, and burning men, women and children alive are among the atrocities they commit.

It is estimated that before the end of the year, the death toll will reach 600,000, while nearly 70 percent of these deaths will be of children under the age of five.

The Bush administration has yet to speak up for the innocent people of Darfur. More than a year ago, President Bush recognized that a genocide was beginning in Darfur, but a year later, and tens of thousands of deaths later, the Bush administration has done nothing to address this growing crisis. There are many paths the Bush administration can pursue to pressure the Sudanese government to address this humanitarian crisis. The administration should begin by providing financial assistance to the African Union forces and by encouraging other countries to join in that effort. We should pursue economic sanctions against the government and increase funding for humanitarian aid in refugee camps. The most important thing that the Bush administration can do is break its silence and speak up for a group of people who have no one else to speak for them.

While the Bush administration has a duty to act, and the greatest ability to act, we as elected officials in Massachusetts also must speak up for the people of Darfur. From 1915-1923, while Armenian men, women and children were slaughtered by the Turks, few American leaders stood up for the innocent people of Armenia. Similarly, in the 1940s, as Adolf Hitler began his systematic extermination of European Jews, few American leaders stood up for the innocent people of Europe. It is important that this trend does not continue today in Darfur.

Much like the genocides that affected our relatives, the Armenian genocide and the Holocaust, the Darfur genocide is a deliberate plan of a regime whose sole purpose is to permanently alter the demography of Darfur. With every week of silence in the Bush administration, more people in Darfur are raped, killed, beaten or starved to death. Our leaders can stop this genocide by speaking up and by acting, so no one in this country will ever risk having to utter the words of Martin Nielmoller, “then they came for me -- and by that time no one was left to speak up.”

State Rep. Barry R. Finegold represents the 17th Essex district of Massachusetts. State Rep. Peter J. Koutoujian represents the 10th Middlesex district of Massachusetts.

Stop the killings

Lowell Sun

Right now in Africa, the government of Sudan is funding the slaughter of African tribes to fulfill its goal of wiping out the entire population of one of its provinces, Darfur. Villages are being burned, women and children are raped and killed, and men are castrated and separated from their loved ones.

After the horror of the Holocaust, leaders of the developed world promised that genocide would never be allowed to happen again. They repeated these promises time and again as the people of Cambodia, Bosnia, and Rwanda suffered unimaginable tortures.

We have a chance to restore our forgotten promise to humanity. The people of Darfur are crying out for our help. Darfur has been struggling to survive the rape, torture, and murder of their people for the last two and a half years. These atrocities to innocent civilians have gone on long enough.

The future of Darfur depends on you. It is our responsibility, as individuals of the University of Massachusetts Lowell community, to educate ourselves about this urgent situation. We should be putting pressure on our government officials, friends, family and teachers to participate (in any way possible) in ending the genocide taking place in Sudan.

The question your probably asking yourself right now is: How?

The next time you're surfing the Internet checking your horoscope or the last Patriots game, remember the people suffering in Darfur and visit these sites:;;

Ask your friends and family if they have heard what is happening in Sudan. If they haven't heard, tell them. One of the most important things you can do for the people of Darfur is to spread their story. A huge reason that genocide continues to happen in today's world is that the public doesn't know it's happening.

Finally, put pressure on your government. Contact local leaders. Tell them you care about the Darfur issue and you want and expect them to care about the issue, too. Ask them what they are currently doing in response to the atrocities.

Write to Gov. Mitt Romney at: Office of the Governor, Room 360, Boston, MA 02133. Phone: (617) 725-4005, (888) 870-7770; Fax: (617) 727-9725.

Genocide is not an issue to be taken lightly. This is a problem for all of humanity, and as American citizens we should be outraged that these gruesome murders are allowed to happen. If we all do our part and stand up for the Darfurian people, we can help save them.

Tara Pannese is a student at the University of Massachusetts Lowell.


Sunday, October 30, 2005

Berkeley woman awarded $5,000 college scholarship

NetAid Global Action Award given for genocide education

Inside Bay Area

BERKELEY — An 18-year-old Berkeley woman has been awarded $5,000 for college following a campaign to educate her peers about the genocide in Darfur, Sudan.
Annalise Blum and classmate Katharine Kendrick, 18, of San Francisco, both graduates of the College Preparatory School in Oakland, were awarded the NetAid Global Action Awards.

The awards honor American high school students who have organized and led a project that has impacted people in poor countries, or raised awareness about global poverty in their own communities, NetAid officials said.

Blum and Kendrick will each receive $5,000, which they can use for college or give to a charitable cause of their choice, NetAid organizers said.

The awards were given because the students educated others at their school about the genocide by selling green ribbons, the color of Darfur awareness, and donating the funds to Sudanese refugees.

Students wore their ribbons on backpacks, baseball hats, shoelaces and T-shirts.

The students also spoke at school assemblies, screened documentaries and hosted guest speakers to teach their classmates about ethnic cleansing.

Following the success of the ribbon campaign, the duo designed small wearable pins with pictures of baby chicks to raise money for the displaced. The price of the pin covered the cost of a live chicken for a family displaced from Darfur.

The chicken's eggs provided a source of food for the hungry and raising chickens provided an alternative livelihood for the refugees.

The campaign, which spread to a dozen other high schools, raised enough money to buy more than 1,200 chicks, NetAid officials said.

Blum has deferred her admission to Stanford University for a year to do tsunami relief work in Thailand and then go to Cuba in the spring to film a documentary about Fidel Castro's education program.

Awards have also been given to young people who have shown leadership in the areas of HIV/AIDS prevention, easing hunger and improving access to education.

A panel of 14, including NBC Anchor Ann Curry and Nobel Peace Laureate Elie Wiesel, selected the honorees from hundreds of applicants based on their innovation, leadership and impact. They will be honored Nov. 9 in New York City.

New York-based NetAid is a nonprofit organization that educates, inspires and empowers young people to fight global poverty.

Saturday, October 29, 2005

Genocide needs action, attention

By Andrew Stefan / Staff Writer
OCTOBER 28, 2005

For roughly three years, the people of Sudan, Africa have been suffering through the horrors of genocide. With a death toll escalating to nearly 400,000 lives lost and countless instances of brutal rape, torture, and enslavement, this textbook example of ethnic cleansing will surely take its place in history along side similar events like the Holocaust and the Rwandan genocide of the early 1990s. According to Amnesty International USA, this conflict has resulted in some of the worst human rights abuses imaginable.

It is to the dismay of the victims in Sudan that the U.S. media does not often publicize this dire situation. Much of the populace in this country has been kept in a state of ignorance regarding the crisis by a severe lack of coverage. It is common knowledge that the U.S. has enough power and influence to aid in the prevention of such large-scale

atrocities, but like U.S. reactions during the Rwandan genocide, our government, media, and public have, for the most part, taken a spectator's position on these inexcusable acts of slaughter. It is now time for the public to arm itself with knowledge and take a stand to help bring an end to the murder and human rights abuses taking place in Sudan.

The conflict in Sudan has been raging on for almost twenty years, according to the International Crisis Group. Sudanese rebels have been struggling against the violence inflicted on them by their fundamentalist Islamic government since 1989. Initial fighting can be traced back even further to resource disagreements between farmers and herders. The intensity of this conflict increased until February 2003 when systematic murders of the civilian population began in the Darfur region of Sudan--with full support from the Sudanese government. Sudan also saw the rise of the government-backed Janjawid militia in 2003. The Janjawid group has been a primary cause for many malicious acts of abuse, including murder. Daily life quickly became a nightmare of death and destruction for the people of Sudan.

Since then, the crisis has escalated to a full-scale act of genocide. Just recently, the United Nations made a crucial decision to greatly decrease its support of humanitarian aid to the victims of Sudan for safety reasons. It was just over a decade ago when we saw the same U.N. abandonment in Rwanda during the Tutsi people's time of need. The results then were devastating and cost the lives of many innocent people. Eric Reeves, a prominent activist in the Sudan news community, speculates, "The consequences of such humanitarian withdrawal will be catastrophicultimately measuring in the hundreds of thousands of lives lost." Our country would be wise to take a lesson from history and search for ways to reestablish sufficient security for the victims of Sudan.

If this information disturbs you, please fulfill your duty as a concerned citizen by asking your government elected officials, television and radio broadcasting companies, friends and family to join you in taking steps towards ending this atrocity. To find out how you can make a difference or for more information relating to the Sudan genocide, visit these web sites:


Note: Any students interested in becoming involved with an EMU student coalition dedicated to promoting awareness of the crisis in Sudan and taking political action to push for an end to the violence, please contact Andrew Stefan at:

Christian Groups Persist in Darfur Despite Sudan's Escalating Violence

Christian organisations are persisting in their efforts to distribute aid in Sudan’s war-torn Darfur region despite escalating violence as peace talks continue.

October 28 , 2005

Christian organisations are persisting in their efforts to distribute aid in Sudan’s war-torn Darfur region despite escalating violence as peace talks continue.

With the intensified violence in the Western Sudan region, many aid groups have pulled their relief teams out from the area. Yet several Christian organisations remain in the region and are distributing supplies to the millions of displaced people who have suffered from 19 months of conflict.

Among the faith–based organisations currently in Darfur is Lutheran World Relief (LWR), who along with Action by Churches Together and Caritas Internationalis, offer one of the last health care centers in the region.

LWR has been the victim of increased attacks on civilians and aid agencies including the abduction of three men from LWR’s partner organisation, Sudan Social Development Organisation (SUDO), on Sept. 29th. Fortunately, Salah Idris, Ahmed Abubaker Musa and Salim Mohammed Salim were released unharmed on Oct. 6th, after heightened international concern following substantive peace talks between the Sudanese government and the rebel groups on Oct. 3rd.

In a statement released by SUDO concerning the worsening security situation in Darfur, the human rights organisation reported that "humanitarian workers continue to be harassed [by] authorities and militia, excluding none, which jeopardises the safety and security of staff and operations, and in turn, restricts access to people in need.”

“In some locations, humanitarian agencies face considerable difficulties to serve some encamped IDP [Internally Displaced People] populations,” the statement added, “De-facto authorities need to change their attitude towards humanitarian workers and cease acts jeopardising their work. There is a general sense of disappointment with what it has been possible to achieve in humanitarian protection, and a corresponding realisation of how difficult it is to protect in the Darfur context."

In addition to LWR, the Persecution Project Foundation (PPF), an organisation that collects and distributes Christian persecution news with a particularly focus on Africa, has remained in Darfur despite the danger. In an interview with Mission Network News (MNN), Matt Chancey of PPF said the group does not intend to leave.

"We're ramping up our efforts because we believe Christians need to show our brothers in Sudan that governments and NGO's may fail them, but God will continue to provide for his people through the ministry of His church," Chancey told MNN.

“We've been assisting thousands and thousands of Darfur Muslim refugees who have fled to southern Sudan to escape the genocide that is going on in Darfur,” he continued. “We've been providing them food, medicine and more importantly Arabic Bibles and Radios so they can read or hear, through Radio Peace, about the Gospel of Jesus Christ."

In addition to the hope brought to Darfur by the Christian relief agencies, peace talks between the rebel armies and the Sudanese government have taken plaec in Abuja, the capital of Nigeria. The most recent peace talks are part of the sixth attempt of peace between the two groups and officially began on Sept. 15 with direct substantive dialogue beginning on Oct. 3rd.

The sixth round adjourned on Thursday, Oct. 20th and made little headway because of the division between the rebel armies, who each claim to control the majority of the SLM (Sudan Liberation Movement)fighters.

The congress of SLM will meet on Friday, Oct. 28th in an undisclosed location in Darfur to reconcile the division among the rebels and reconvene for peace talks in Abuja next month on Nov. 21st, according to the Sudan Times.

Around 800 delegates are expected to attend this key meeting of the SLM congress.

Nearly 300,000 people have died in Darfur since the ethinic minority rebellion began in early 2003, in addition over two million people have been displaced due to the conflict between the Sudanese government and the rebel army.

World Relief and World Vision are also currently in Darfur along with LWR and PPF.

Michelle Vu
Christian Today Correspondent

Thursday, October 27, 2005


by Eric Reeves

arly in his first term, after reading a memo outlining American acquiescence during the Rwandan genocide of 1994, President Bush jotted in the margin, "Not on my watch." Bush seemed to be making a promise to himself that, should he ever need to, he would act to prevent genocide in Africa. But now genocide is taking place in Africa on Bush's watch, and the president has done little to stop it. Worse, in the last six months the administration's stance towards the genocidal Sudanese government seems to have shifted towards one of appeasement--at a time when the situation in Darfur grows more dire by the day.

This change in attitude towards Khartoum first became apparent in April, when the CIA flew Major General Saleh Gosh to Washington, D.C., in order to provide intelligence on international terrorism. Gosh was Osama bin Laden's chief minder during his five years in Khartoum, from 1991 to 1996; he now heads the Sudanese government's ruthlessly efficient intelligence and security service, and has been referred by a U.N. Commission of Inquiry to the International Criminal Court to be investigated for crimes against humanity. The security service he directs is responsible for tens of thousands of extra-judicial executions, killings, and disappearances, as well as numerous instances of torture, illegal imprisonment, and other violations of international law. Most importantly, all evidence suggests that Gosh himself is one of the prime architects of Darfur's genocide.

Another sign of appeasement came in July, when the Washington firm C/R International, whose managing director is former State Department official Robert Cabelly, agreed on a contract with the Sudanese government. Because trade and economic sanctions put in place in 1997 by President Clinton remain in effect, the contract required an explicit waiver from the State Department, which it granted.

Why would Foggy Bottom do such a thing? Was C/R International contracting to build hospitals or schools in war-ravaged southern Sudan? Was the firm building infrastructure to help accommodate the many hundreds of thousands of returning southerners, who had been displaced by Khartoum's ruthless war? Unfortunately, no. Instead, the contract calls for the firm to "assist the Client in meeting its objectives, specifically regarding public relations, government relations and strategic counsel as they would relate to implementing the North-South peace agreement, cooperating in the war on terrorism, and addressing other issues, subject to the terms and conditions of this Agreement."

In short, the same vicious cabal in Khartoum that was explicitly declared by former Secretary of State Colin Powell to be responsible for genocide in Darfur has now been allowed to secure the services of a former State Department employee to provide it with p.r. counsel. For a fee of $530,000 per year, the firm's role will essentially be to put a happy face on a genocidal regime.

The message from Washington to Khartoum could not be clearer: that the Bush administration's resolve to end the genocide remains weak. This is hardly a partisan assessment. Congressman Frank Wolf, a conservative Republican from Virginia, has declared in a statement entered into the Congressional Record:

[M]ake no mistake, Sudan is hiring this firm to help counteract the ongoing worldwide campaign against the government's policy in the Darfur region of the country. This American company is taking money to wage a lobbying war against the hundreds of organizations and more than 130 million Americans who have voiced their concern about the situation in Sudan.

Wolf also provided a grim reminder of Cabelly's track record:

While shocking to some, it may not be all that surprising for anyone familiar with Mr. Cabelly's history. After working at the State Department for more than a decade where he developed hundreds of contacts in Africa, Mr. Cabelly went on to found C/R International. This international consulting firm received $6 million from Angola from 1996 to 2002 in order to successfully defeat a series of bills for an international oil embargo, according to a Harper's magazine article from March 2004. "While [Mr. Cabelly's firm] served Angola, the government's troops beat and raped civilians, and killed suspected rebel sympathizers," wrote Harper's magazine.

Perhaps, then, Cabelly's actions aren't surprising; after all, he's probably just looking out for his own bottom line. But the State Department's decision to enable Cabelly's work sends a conciliatory signal to Sudan's rulers--and that can only encourage their worst impulses.

Unfortunately, there's more. Since issuing a waiver to Cabelly's firm, the State Department has upgraded Sudan's status on the issue of slavery and human trafficking--from tier three (the least favorable rating, assigned to governments that fail to meet international standards in responding to human trafficking) to tier two (a category comprising countries, including Switzerland, that have demonstrated a commitment to addressing their problems). As recently as June of this year, John Miller, the senior adviser on human trafficking in the State Department, highlighted Sudan's well-deserved standing as a tier-three country. Slaves from the country's south continue to be held in the north, and the Darfur region has seen rampant abductions as well. Despite all this, Sudan is now regarded by the State Department as no more problematic than Switzerland on this issue.

Accompanying these moves has been a State Department effort to put a perversely rosy spin on the current situation in Darfur. According to Michael Ranneberger, deputy assistant secretary of state for African affairs:

Even now what you're seeing is not these systematic Janjaweed attacks against villages. You know, somebody said, "It's because all the villages were burned." Well, it's not. You fly over Darfur, almost all the--you see thousands of villages, fully populated, farming going on, and everything else. So it's because of the presence of these African Union forces.

In fact, both Kofi Annan and his special advisor on the prevention of genocide, Juan Mendez (who traveled widely in Darfur last month), have recently called attention to the vast destruction of Darfur's African tribal villages as a primary reason for the diminished number of attacks--there are simply fewer targets of opportunity for the Janjaweed. The overwhelming consensus among exiled Darfuris with whom I have spoken is that between 80 and 90 percent of Darfur's African tribal villages have been destroyed.

he Bush administration's slide towards appeasement comes at a particularly inopportune time for Darfur, because, Ranneberger's wishful thinking notwithstanding, the genocide is currently accelerating as security in western Sudan deteriorates. In late September, the Janjaweed, Khartoum's murderous Arab militia proxy force, attacked an undefended camp for displaced persons in West Darfur, killing dozens, displacing approximately 5,000 already displaced persons, and destroying perhaps a quarter of the camp's flimsy shelters. In a series of attacks in North Darfur, according to African Union reports, Khartoum's helicopter gunships and ground forces are again coordinating with the Janjaweed in their attacks on civilians.

Meanwhile, all roads out of the capital of West Darfur, el-Geneina, are now impassable, leaving hundreds of thousands of people beyond humanitarian reach. In South Darfur, the largest of the three Darfur states, the United Nations has said that two-thirds of all humanitarian operations have been suspended because of insecurity. More than two and a half million people from African tribal groups have fled their homes and are too terrified to return; they remain confined to some 200 camps and crude gathering points, or are refugees in Chad. For its part, the A.U. monitoring force can't begin to chronicle, let alone halt, abuse of civilians or protect humanitarian personnel.

he National Islamic Front's (NIF) behavior in Darfur is deplorable, of course; but its recent moves in southern Sudan should raise concerns as well. And here again, Khartoum's increasingly bold actions have met with little resistance from the State Department. When the north-south peace accord was signed earlier this year, it was touted as a diplomatic triumph. Thanks to Khartoum's actions, however, it is growing weaker by the day.

For one thing, the NIF has peremptorily dismissed the key findings of the Abyei Boundary Commission, an international panel assembled to arbitrate the competing claims over this important enclave in northern Bahr el-Ghazal Province. Abyei was one of the most fiercely contested issues in the closing round of peace negotiations, and the Abyei Boundary Commission was the agreed-upon means of overcoming the dispute. Khartoum's refusal to accept the commission's findings is a serious threat to the peace agreement.

Moreover, the NIF now refuses to allow for even the creation of a boundary commission to demarcate the oil region--an even more critical geographic issue, since the embryonic government of South Sudan (still part of the larger Sudanese polity) is entitled to half of all revenues from oil produced in southern Sudan. Such a commission was also prescribed by the peace agreement. The NIF also refuses to permit the creation of an assessment and evaluation commission, which was explicitly contemplated in the north-south accord and was intended to monitor compliance with terms of the agreement. Meanwhile, there is no evidence that the NIF is drawing down its regular military forces in the south, most importantly from Juba, soon to be the capital of South Sudan.

In yet more bad faith, the NIF refuses to stop supporting the destabilizing southern militias in Upper Nile Province (the oil region); and there is strong circumstantial evidence that the NIF still supplies remnants of the maniacal Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) operating in northern Uganda and some provinces of southern Sudan (the LRA has long been a proxy force in Khartoum's military struggle with the southern Sudan People's Liberation Army). The LRA has for many years terrorized millions of people in the region--looting, raping, and abducting civilians, especially children--with extraordinary brutality. Notably, arrest warrants have now been issued for LRA leaders by the International Criminal Court, which is also investigating many senior members of the NIF for their crimes in Darfur.

Despite all this, the State Department refuses to hold the NIF accountable for its failure to comply with the terms and benchmarks of the peace agreement--to which the United States was a signatory. If the State Department won't pressure Khartoum on these matters, it's hard to see how a meaningful peace can take hold in southern Sudan, a land that has known only war for most of the last half century.

hat does all this have to do with Darfur? Plenty, actually. The Bush administration placed a lot of stock in the north-south peace accord, and it may be reluctant to push Khartoum on Darfur for fear of endangering the agreement. But this strategy of appeasement misunderstands the psychology of the NIF's leaders. Their track record suggests that the more weakness they sense from the international community, the more emboldened they become--in both Dafur and southern Sudan. Hence, it is probably no coincidence that the Bush administration's recent conciliatory gestures towards Khartoum have yielded such counterproductive results.

To America's credit, it has made substantial contributions of aid to humanitarian efforts in Sudan; and there is no question that the U.S. has been the most generous donor nation, even as other wealthy countries such as France, Japan, and the oil-producing Arab countries have been disgracefully stingy. But charity alone will not produce peace in Sudan; force (diplomatic and perhaps military too) will be needed as well. As long as our appeasement of Khartoum continues, the genocide will go on. "Not on my watch"? Not even close.

Eric Reeves is a professor of English Language and Literature at Smith College and has written extensively on Sudan.

source: TNR

Help Africans help themselves in Sudan

By Jeremy Barnicle
WEST DARFUR, SUDAN - As a white foreigner visiting a displacement camp here, I was greeted with the chant, "khawaja no kwa." "The foreigners say no," they sang, meaning international intervention helped curb the violence and ease the suffering in Darfur. The song was a gesture of thanks and respect.

The wealthy world fulfilled the first part of its obligation to the people here when it finally started sending emergency aid over a year ago. The second part of that obligation - helping African Union (AU) soldiers provide security for the 2 million people driven from home by the conflict - would consolidate humanitarian gains in Darfur and, as important, serve as a long-term investment in the stability of the entire continent.

In Darfur, the international community - specifically NATO and the United States - has a unique opportunity to help Africans provide security for their own conflict zones. The village raids have largely subsided, and access for aid workers has improved dramatically in Darfur over the past year, but the countryside is now racked with lawlessness and warlordism. Neither the government of Sudan nor the rebel parties seem able to control the violence.

Within this challenging context, it is critical that Darfurians living in refugee camps start to go home and recover their lives. Peace talks between the government of Sudan and various rebel groups continue in Nigeria, but there is little hope of a durable political agreement in the near future. Meanwhile, the people of Darfur are stuck suffering between no war and no peace.

Their most basic needs are met in displacement camps, but the situation is unsustainable: The longer they are displaced the more expensive it becomes for the international community and the less likely it is that they'll ever get home to rebuild their own communities. Ask a Darfur refugee what she wants and inevitably the answer is "to go home, but only if there is security."

People will return to Darfur only when they have security assurances they see as credible, and that's where the AU force comes in.

So far, the AU mission in Sudan has surpassed expectations. Displaced women used to be terrified of leaving camps to collect firewood, as armed men would stalk the outskirts of town and prey on them. Now, women can time their trips outside to coincide with AU patrols, which deter assaults. This is a development of which the AU and its backers should be proud.

The problem is that there are currently only about 6,000 AU troops in Darfur, an area the size of Texas. The AU says it plans to ramp that number up to about 12,000 by 2006. That would be too little, too late.

In order to help get Darfurians back home and back on track in safety, the AU would need to hit that 12,000 as soon as possible and be prepared to send at least a few thousand more if necessary. The US and NATO are already providing important logistical and technical support for the AU mission, but standing up this larger force would require a speedy and substantial increase in their financial commitments. The US specifically needs to apply diplomatic pressure to ensure that our allies meet the pledges they have made to the AU.

That commitment is the least the world can do. Consider this comparison. Following the war in Bosnia, the international community secured the country - especially high refugee return areas - by providing more than 18 peacekeepers per thousand Bosnians. In Kosovo, the world came up with 20 peacekeepers per thousand people. In Darfur right now, there is one AU soldier per thousand people, spread over a much larger geographic area. That is disgraceful.

An increased investment in the AU's peacekeeping capability now would also advance a huge shared goal for Africa and the West: to help Africans protect Africans. Several of the continent's conflicts need sustained, legitimate, outside military intervention and history proves that the West is unwilling to commit its own troops in any meaningful way.

Some respected analysts have called for NATO to deploy its own peacekeepers to Darfur. That is an appealing idea, but the fact of the matter is that the government of Sudan will never accept NATO troops on its soil, and their presence could actually further destabilize the region.

An indigenous peacekeeping force legitimized by international support and conforming to international standards is critical to mitigating conflict, enabling humanitarian access, and easing human suffering in Africa.

• Jeremy Barnicle works for Mercy Corps, an international humanitarian agency working in Sudan and more than 35 other countries.

source: The Christian Science Monitor

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Sudan Focus of New Caucus in US House of Representatives

United States Department of State (Washington, DC)
October 25, 2005
Posted to the web October 26, 2005

By Jim Fisher-Thompson
Washington, DC

A measure of the growing importance of Africa to American policymakers is the newly established House of Representatives Caucus on Sudan. The body of like-minded lawmakers joins more than 180 other caucuses in Congress focusing on timely issues such as law enforcement, medical technology, the Internet, hunger and foreign affairs.

Representative Frank Wolf (Republican of Virginia), who helped establish the Sudan Caucus along with Representatives Donald Payne (Democrat of New Jersey), Michael Capuano (Democrat of Massachusetts) and Tom Tancredo (Republican of Colorado), spoke to the Washington File October 19, the day of the bipartisan group's first meeting.

The mission of the caucus, Wolf said during a phone interview, is "to serve as a forum for members to discuss and advance U.S. policy toward Sudan."

"Sudan needs a high level of attention," the congressman explained, "especially now after the signing of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement [CPA]," which ended 20 years of fighting between the North and the South, and because of "continuing violence in Darfur." (Wolf accompanied former Secretary of State Colin Powell to the signing of the CPA in Sudan January 9.) (See related article.)

"It's important that we don't lose focus on what's taking place in the CPA arrangement, to make sure it lasts. â-oe That means supporting the U.N. peacekeeping force deployed in southern Sudan and strengthening the AU [African Union] force in Darfur," Wolf added.

As for efforts in Sudan by the Bush administration, Wolf said: "Personally, I think the president has done a pretty incredible job on Sudan itself. From what I know of the work the president and Secretary Powell did on the CPA, I was ready to nominate both of them [for a Nobel Peace Prize]."

In addition to President Bush's attention to Sudan, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice in July visited Khartoum and the Abu Shouk Camp in Al Fashar, Sudan, where she demanded that the Sudanese government reduce violence against women in refugee camps. (See related article.)

Deputy Secretary of State Robert Zoellick has made several trips to Sudan as well. (See related article.)

Since 2003, the U.S. government has committed $1.9 billion in humanitarian and development aid to Sudan. In 2005, more than $500 million in humanitarian aid was allotted to Darfur and refugee camps in neighboring Chad, with a further $204 million in food and disaster assistance requested for the next year.

As for Darfur, whose refugee camps he has visited several times, Wolf said: "It's about as bad as life can possibly be. A lot of the violence has stopped because many villages have been burned," with refugees spilling into camps in Darfur and neighboring Chad.

At a reception following the first caucus meeting, Tancredo became emotional, saying: "I make you a promise: All of our days are filled with hundreds of issues â-oe but this issue of Sudan will not be pushed aside."

A major role for the caucus, Tancredo added, will be to exert pressure to keep the CPA on track and end the violence in Darfur.

On October 4, State Department spokesman Sean McCormack issued a statement saying all "parties must immediately stop all violence in Darfur, abide by the cease-fire they signed in N'Djamena, Chad, and adhere to United Nations Security Council resolutions and the terms of the humanitarian and security protocols they signed earlier in Abuja, Nigeria." (See related article.)

Despite the recent spate of natural disasters that have struck America, causing billions of dollars' worth of damage, Wolf believes the American public will continue to support current levels of humanitarian and development aid to Africa. "I know it's important to the administration and to a lot of the members of Congress," he said.

"I know for a fact that the new chairman of the Subcommittee on Africa [International Relations Subcommittee on Africa, Global Human Rights, and International Operations], Chris Smith [Republican of New Jersey], is very committed to Africa. Chris was in Darfur not that long ago. He's [very enthusiastic] and really cares about these issues," Wolf said.

"So, I don't sense that Africans are going to be forgotten about. I think there will still be a great interest in Africa in the Congress."

(The Washington File is a product of the Bureau of International Information Programs, U.S. Department of State. Web site:

Media failures may prolong genocide

Oct 26th, 2005
By Roxana Olivera

Western lecturer Amanda Grzyb is blunt in her assessment that "news media bear a lot of responsibility for the extent of the Rwandan and Darfur genocides."

Speaking earlier this week to about 40 persons at the London Public Library, Grzyb was exploring the role of the North-American media during the Armenian Genocide (1915-1923), the Holocaust (1933-1945), the Rwandan Genocide (1994) and the Darfur Genocide (2003-present).

Grzyb, a lecturer in the Faculty of Media, Information and Technoculture, says inadequate news coverage tends to prolong genocides. She says all genocides go though eight distinguishable stages that ought to be apparent to journalists.

The stages include:

* classification

* symbolization

* dehumanization

* organization

* polarization

* preparation

* extermination

* denial

Grzyb says mainstream media often portray genocides as consequences of civil strife or civil war, and that "media coverage about Darfur was confused and inadequate."

Citing a New York Times article in connection with the Darfur Genocide, Grzyb told her audience that, "the real failure rested with television." ABC News had a total of 18 minutes in its nightly newscasts during 2004. NBC had only five minutes of coverage while CBS only had three minutes.

In contrast, "Martha Stewart received 130 minutes of coverage by the three networks," said Grzyb.

NBC failed to send TV crews to Darfur, yet managed to send Dianne Sawyer to Africa to interview Brad Pitt, she said.

Nonetheless, Gryb told her audience that, "the public had ultimate responsibility to become informed, to urge the media to cover stories accurately and to call on their politicians to intervene."

After the lecture, David Sanders, 40, said that, "It is difficult to study history without becoming cynical, but I have learned a lot about Darfur."

German Gutierrez, 59, said that he appreciated the lecture, "but would have liked to learn whether human rights atrocities in Colombia amount to genocide in the Canadian media."

"Genocide and the Media" had the support of the Heritage and Librarians Branch of the Ministry of Culture.

The writer is a Graduate Student in Journalism

source: western news

Does 'Never Again' Mean Anything?

Embassy, October 26th, 2005
By David Kilgour

Author who studied Rwanda's catastrophe takes a timely look at similar events continuing in Sudan
We live in unusual times when Gérard Prunier, a respected expert on East Africa and its Great Lakes region at the University of Paris, can publish a book about a government-created catastrophe, which continues even as his work appears. For his decade-old study on a similar event in Rwanda, the carnage had ended approximately nine months before that publication reached book stores.

The author is clear that the mass killings, gang rapes and slow deaths of internal refugees--being "African" Darfuri, at the hands of "Arab" Janjaweed -- are continuing despite the collapse in most outside media attention and the fact that U.S. President George Bush, for example, went almost five months this year without a single public comment on the situation.

Continuing Turmoil

Even in the few weeks since Ambiguous Genocide was published, violence has escalated to the point that on Oct. 1 a spokesperson for the chair of the African Union Commission on Darfur denounced a combined raid of 400 Janjaweed and government of Sudan helicopter gunships a few days earlier on three villages in West Darfur.

The book disentangles numerous complex truths from oversimplified fictions, including the government of Sudan's skillful campaign to trivialize the violence in Darfur as simply an ethnic conflict. In fact, the province was an independent sultanate for several centuries. Mr. Prunier explains that while virtually every resident there today is black and Muslim, the nomadic community came to be deemed "Arabs" while farmers became "Africans."

The Anglo-Egyptian condominium constituting pre-independence Sudan was extended over Darfur only in 1916; calm prevailed until 1976 when Muammar Gaddafi, having seized power in Libya years earlier, attacked Khartoum in an effort to absorb Sudan into his "Arab Union." This failed, but tensions inevitably grew between nomads and farmers across Darfur, which only worsened when a preventable famine struck in 1984. The Libyan leader continued his campaign to "Libyanize" Darfur until 1992--in the process infecting the population with ethnic consciousness, hatred and more violence. Mr. Prunier adds that because of this and decades of regional marginalization by Khartoum, by the late 1990s the province had become a "time-bomb waiting for a fuse."

9/11 Impact

The book argues that, by the time of the events of Sept. 11, 2001, President Bush was badly in need of "good Arabs." Omar el-Bashir's military regime in Khartoum was by then, for various reasons, anxious to so qualify both in fighting terrorism and signing a peace agreement to end the decades-long civil war with the Southern Sudanese.

The growing turmoil in Darfur was in reality ignored by most of the international community until Dec. 2003 when Jan Egeland, then head of UN Emergency Relief, declared that "the humanitarian situation in Darfur has quickly become one of the worst in the world." A few months later, his UN colleague, Mukesh Kapila, who had observed the earlier events in Rwanda, said

that the only difference between the two situations was in the number of deaths.

Profoundly embarrassed by an uprising in April-May, 2003 by some "African" Darfuris, the government of Sudan had unleashed the Janjaweed -- a combination of former bandits and other Arabs in Darfur, who played a strikingly similar role as the Interhamwe did in Rwanda -- to crush all non-"Arabs" with the help of its own bombers and helicopters. One method was to surround a village, rape the women and girls (some as young as eight), steal the cattle, burn the houses and shoot anyone who could not flee. Mr. Prunier explains that "Small children, being light, were often tossed back in the burning houses." This was essentially the modus operandi the government had perfected over the years in Southern Sudan.

Comprehensive Peace

The peace negotiations nonetheless continued with few outsiders being willing to admit that any comprehensive peace agreement with a regime capable of what it was continuing to do in the West while it talked peace for the South would quickly prove worthless. Eric Reeves, the leading American scholar on Darfur, repeatedly reminded the world that the el-Bashir government "lies repeatedly, shamelessly, egregiously and without consequences", but governments (including Canada's) continued to treat Darfur as a humanitarian emergency only. By the time the essentially paralyzed UN Security Council held a meeting in Kenya in Nov. 2004 demanding "an immediate end to violence", the government of Sudan knew that as long as it demonstrated good faith in the peace talks it could, as Mr. Prunier notes, "do what it wanted in Darfur."

The final part of Ambiguous Genocide assesses candidly the roles to date of various actors in Darfur, including the media, humanitarian NGOs, American diplomacy, the European Union, the UN and the African Union. Mr. Prunier concludes that what is continuing in Darfur is genocide under the 1948 UN definition, a coordinated attempt to bring about the physical destruction of a group in whole or in part, but not under his own definition, which requires "an attempt at total obliteration" of a pre-defined group. Correctly, he concludes, "The horror experienced by the targeted group remains the same, no matter which word we use."

In the meantime, as Eric Reeves recently noted, there are currently about 3.5 million "conflict-affected" Darfuris dependent on vulnerable humanitarian operations, with more than 6,000 now dying per month from various unnatural causes. An estimated 200,000 have already been murdered. Like others, Canadian readers can only ask as they finish the book: "Does 'never again' mean anything?"

David Kilgour is an Independent member of Parliament for the riding of Edmonton-Beaumont.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

EU and AU in Darfur: Not Yet a Winning Combination

Oct. 25 2005

Press Release - International Crisis Group

The security situation in Darfur will continue to worsen and the political process will remain stalemated unless the African Union Mission in Sudan is armed with more troops, given a more robust mandate and assured new funding.

The EU/AU Partnership in Darfur: Not Yet a Winning Combination, the latest report from the International Crisis Group, explores the unique cooperation between the European Union and the African Union and suggests ways to make it more effective. The report is the first in a Crisis Group series examining the strengths and weaknesses of the EU's growing crisis response capability and more ambitious policies in conflict prevention situations. Darfur, where at least 200,000 have died and two million have been displaced, is a litmus test for the EU and the AU as they take on larger political roles in Africa and beyond.

"The young AU deserves some praise for tackling the Darfur crisis, and it has come a long way since the war began in early 2003", says Alain Deletroz, Crisis Group Vice President for Europe. "Even its initial deployment might not have been possible without EU support, but the EU/AU partners and the international community as a whole have to do much more and take a tougher stand if these efforts are to bear fruit".

The most urgent step is to bring the AU mission (AMIS) to its authorized size of 7,731 soldiers and police, which is happening too slowly; rapidly improve the efficiency of those forces and roughly double their numbers so they have the muscle to restore security; and create promising conditions for the political settlement the AU seeks to mediate between the Sudanese government and the Darfur rebel groups. AMIS also needs a Chapter VII-type mandate from the AU and the UN Security Council that explicitly authorises it to concentrate on protecting civilians.

"Security in Darfur has seriously deteriorated in recent weeks. Thousands more boots are needed on the ground immediately", says Suliman Baldo, Director of Crisis Group's Africa Program. "Unfortunately, the international community is not prepared at this stage to consider a NATO bridging force, or to convert the AU mission into a UN one to expand the pool of troop and financial contributors, but there is still more that can and should be done with the AU mission".

The €250 million African Peace Facility with which the EU has largely financed AMIS is almost exhausted and needs to be replenished. The EU should also improve internal coordination between its institutions and member states active on Darfur and external coordination with the AU, giving its new special representative, Pekka Haavisto, the authority and resources to ensure that it speaks with a single, strong voice.

The AU should prioritise efforts to become more efficient within its current structure; press Khartoum to allow immediate delivery of badly needed armoured personnel carriers Canada has donated; and plan urgently for expanding and improving AMIS, while also considering other options for delivering the military support needed to achieve a sustainable peace, such as a NATO bridging force or a UN mission.

"For Darfur to stabilise, one of two things must happen", says David Mozersky, Crisis Group Senior Analyst. "Either the parties must radically change behaviour and respect their commitments, or AMIS must be expanded in both size and mandate, and given the support it needs. Given this conflict's history, the latter is the only real option today".

Khartoum’s genocidaires accelerate efforts to create destabilizing violence

Khartoum’s genocidaires accelerate efforts to create destabilizing violence

Darfur is in peril
By Tod Lindberg
Published October 25, 2005

Based on accounts from the scene, it looks like things are getting worse in a hurry in Darfur. At the U.N. summit in September, countries included an affirmation of their "responsibility to protect" their populations and the necessity for collective action to protect people when a government fails in this basic responsibility -- or worse, as in the case of the Sudan government, is actively complicit in war crimes against civilians. It would be tragic if, having declared this bold new principle, governments couldn't then bring themselves to act on it effectively in Darfur.
The problem is as it was: The Janjaweed militia -- armed bands of killers, marauders and rapists of Arab origin set up to fight a burgeoning armed resistance movement -- have acted in conjunction with forces of the Khartoum government or at their behest to terrorize the black African population of Darfur, the Texas-sized western region of Sudan. The militias, often operating with assistance from helicopter gunships flown by the Sudanese military, have destroyed whole villages, driving millions of Darfuris into internally displaced persons camps or across the border into refugee camps in Chad.
The IDP camps, though the office of the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees and numerous international nongovernmental organizations have made extraordinary efforts in meeting basic needs, are powerless to improve the security situation, the prerequisite for enabling Darfuris to return home. To venture beyond the confines of a camp is to risk rape and death at the hands of the militias, and even the camps themselves are subject to attack, by Janjaweed on horseback or fighters traveling in government trucks. There have been reports that the government has painted its vehicles in the color of the African Union peacekeeping mission, a flagrant violation of international humanitarian law.
The United Nations, responding to the deteriorating security situation in Western Darfur, has ordered nonessential personnel out. The U.S. Agency for International Development has closed its field office in Genina. Nongovernmental organizations are feeling similar pressure, nor is the deterioration confined to the west. "The humanitarian space is closing," one Westerner e-mailed me from Darfur. Veteran Sudan-watcher Eric Reeves ( notes that the supposed "banditry" taking place along the roads looks to humanitarian workers on the scene more like coordinated political violence, with attacks on relief convoys. The U.N. special adviser on genocide, Juan Mendez, back from a late September trip to the region, noted in his report: "Though government officials attribute these attacks to banditry and common crime, their coordinated planning and apparent use of intelligence to prepare the attacks suggest a decree of organization and fire-power that is consistent with Janjaweed activity, albeit under a different name."
Khartoum has also been taking steps to halt aid, blocking essential equipment and restricting visas. I got a taste of this when I tried to visit Darfur in the spring, in conjunction with the Gingrich-Mitchell task force on U.N. reform: As we were getting ready to leave for the airport, we found out that the Sudanese foreign minister would not after all be approving our visas. We feared then what seems to be happening now: Anyone who knows anything about the history of governments perpetrating or abetting ethnic cleansing and genocidal acts will recognize that restricting access to outsiders and forcing humanitarian organizations to curtail operations due to security concerns have often been precursors to mass murder.
The African Union peacekeeping force in Darfur, though recently increased in numbers and receiving enhanced assistance from NATO and the European Union, is still undermanned and underequipped for its task, which anyway remains defined too narrowly. The AU mission suffered its first killed in action earlier this month. The AU has blamed the anti-government SLA rebels for the attack; others say the SLA was not the responsible party.
Here, too, getting equipment in place has been a problem. There are 105 armored personnel carriers at a port in Dakar, Senegal, awaiting delivery to the AU mission -- equipment that would surely extend the reach of the AU and provide protection for its forces of a kind that might have prevented the recent deaths. But the Khartoum government has been refusing to process the paperwork that would allow the transfer of the APCs to the field.
The AU decided earlier this month to refer the deteriorating security situation to the U.N. Security Council. Mr. Mendez was planning to make a presentation of his recent findings to the Security Council, but the council, with U.S. backing, declined to hear him. U.S. Ambassador John Bolton said the council should be "talking more about the steps it can take to do something about the deteriorating security situation."
I don't quite see what the necessity for giving Mr. Mendez the brush-off was, but amen to moving on to the next steps. Now, what are those steps? They'll have to begin with recognition that the Darfur problem is getting worse because the Sudan government wants it to and that until the Janjaweed are disarmed and Khartoum backs off, Darfuris will remain in peril.

GURWITZ: The World's Tragic Silence About Darfur

Salt Lake Tribune

Last December's tsunami may have killed as many as 300,000 people. Hurricanes Katrina and Rita took more than 1,000 lives. One thousand more died in Central America as a result of Hurricane Stan. And perhaps 80,000 perished in the earthquake that recently leveled portions of Pakistan and India.
Combined, these tragedies have exacted a human toll in excess of 380,000 lives. And each incident precipitated the mobilization of significant humanitarian relief efforts in the international community.
The death toll in Darfur, after nearly two years of violence, is approaching 400,000. Two million black Africans now live in squalid refugee camps, driven from their homes by the Sudanese military and its Arab Janjaweed proxies. At the Web site of the U.S. Agency for International Development, you can view satellite photos showing a swath of scorched earth where their villages once stood.
Yet the international response to this man-made humanitarian tragedy - which in human terms exceeds all the natural disasters of the past year combined - has been inconsequential.
Eric Reeves, a professor at Smith College and an expert on the situation in Sudan, calls what's happening in Darfur 'a genocide by attrition.''
At best, the international community, the United Nations and the United States are silently acquiescing in this genocide. At worst, they're helping sustain it by allowing the actions and statements of the Sudanese government to go unchallenged.
In a recent op-ed in the Washington Times, Khidir Haroun Ahmed, the Sudanese ambassador to the United States, claimed 'the situation has stabilized'' in Darfur. Sudan, he wrote, is emerging from decades of religious and ethnic conflict as a peaceful, unified nation. Ahmed, however, is a liar, a diplomatic delivery boy for the butchers in Khartoum.
Sadly, Ahmed's message is not appreciably different from ones I heard six months ago in briefings from Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Charles Snyder, the U.S. senior representative for Sudan.
In one sense, things have stabilized. 'They've run out of villages to burn,'' Brian Steidle, a Marine Corps veteran, told me. Earlier this year, Steidle completed six months as a cease-fire monitor with the African Union force in Sudan.
In every other sense, the violence and depredations in Darfur are getting worse.
Juan Mendez, U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan's special adviser on the prevention of genocide, tried to provide details about the deteriorating situation to the Security Council earlier this month. 'Until last week,'' the Washington Post quotes him as saying, 'there have never been concerted, massive attacks of an indiscriminate nature against civilians'' in the refugee camps.
The United Nations, in fact, ordered all its non-essential personnel out of West Darfur due to the intensified attacks.
Russia, China and Algeria, however, blocked Mendez from addressing the Security Council. Russia and China, permanent members of the council, have important commercial interests in Sudan. Algeria, a temporary member, routinely defends the Khartoum regime out of Arab solidarity.
Inexplicably and shamefully, the United States joined with Khartoum's genocidal consorts to silence Mendez's testimony.
Earlier this year, Steidle wrote an account of his experience as a cease-fire monitor for the Washington Post:
'Every day we observed evidence of killings: men castrated and left to bleed to death, huts set on fire with people locked inside, children with their faces smashed in. We spoke with thousands of witnesses - women who had been gang-raped and families that had lost fathers, people who plainly and soberly gave us their accounts of the slaughter.''
This is what the world's silence and inaction is protecting.
(E-mail: jgurwitz(at)

Monday, October 24, 2005

Cordaid advocates "convergence" approach for Adilla response

"We don't mind not having a clinic as long as we have water to drink!" An elderly women quipped to John Garang, Cordaid Project Field Assistant a couple of weeks ago while on our regular runs in Jad Alsid. This town has 3 non-functional water boreholes just like the locality of Al Mazroub both SLA controlled towns in Adilla. "We are seriously reflecting these comments from our beneficiaries as we try to cope with variables that affect our impact. The absence of water in most areas of Cordaid operation in South Darfur is changing the perspective of our approach to intervention as target population is exposed to another critical need for survival. We advocate -convergence of attention for these people!" A quick remark from Letitia Kleij, Head of Mission, Cordaid Sudan Program.

Cordaid, an international development organization- "linking relief and development", devotes it's heart and soul to the most vulnerable and those deprived of their rights in over 13 towns and localities spread over the districts of El Daein, Adilla and Buram. Cordaid Sudan is a proactive partner of South Darfur MOH in mobilizing and supporting 13 Basic Health Units in these districts. There are 214 MOH, IDP health workers, volunteers and Cordaid national staff who are linking arms to lift the health burden of 99,481 IDPs and 117,406 host residents. ECHO and UNICEF are both partners. Cordaid regards vulnerability reduction and capacity building as focus on its most commitments.

The past couple of weeks, a successive training about case management and diagnosis for Cholera, Malaria and EWARS have been coordinated by Cordaid thru the auspices of WHO Nyala Team headed by Dr. Carmen Camino. A significant number of physicians and medical assistants from El Daein Hospital and surrounding BHUs have gained up to date clinical skills and passion to serve their communities. Cordaid endeavors to support 13 BHUs and Adilla Hospital as a partner for uplifting the health status both IDPs and host communities. The core approach of increasing the capacity of state MOH from disrupted to functional level will be augmented with health worker's incentives, rational drug support and clinical training of health personnel. The Cordaid primary health care development project supports existing mother and child health initiatives including preventive health programs served to both host and displaced communities. A South Sudan Cordaid Program in Northern Bahr el Ghazal is also organizing a primary health care program with relief and development component.

"The context in which Cordaid operates becomes more challenging as prior thematic priorities in health care intervention requires a linkage to development issues to achieved valued impacts", as Peter Konijn- Policy Director of Cordaid outlined this new perspective. As Cordaid aims towards making sustainable improvements in the health of the poor and vulnerable groups in Darfur; Memisa, Mensen in Nood and Vastenaktie will remain committed to the Cordaid mission of - this world belongs to everyone.

Ephraim Palmero, MD
Cordaid Netherlands

Students push for GW to divest from companies that deal with Sudan

by Andrew Ramonas
Issue date: 10/24/05

A GW group protesting the genocide in Sudan's Darfur region is calling for the University to divest from any stocks or bonds of companies doing business in the African nation.

Student Taking Action Now Darfur is following the lead of Stanford University, asking the GW administration to divest in companies that give money to the Sudanese government, which they argue indirectly funds genocide in the region.

"Divestment is a way we can help end genocide," said junior Sara Weisman, a co-founder of the GW STAND chapter. "We want to work with the administration to enable it to show its social conscience."

Weisman said she believes the University is investing in these companies, though she is not certain. At the Board of Trustees meeting Friday in 1957 E St., University President Stephen Joel Trachtenberg said he could not comment on the specifics of the Darfur divestment campaign because he was not sure if GW invested in companies in the region.

Last week at the Student Association Senate meeting, a handful of STAND representatives asked SA officials to sign a petition calling for the University to divest in companies that do business with the Sudanese government. STAND asked SA President Audai Shakour to bring the issue up with members of the Board of Trustees at its Friday meeting.

Shakour did not bring up the situation, however, because he said he first wants to meet with Don Lindsey, the University's chief information officer to determine if GW is invested in companies that do business in Sudan.

"Our endowment may be affected by these stocks and bonds that we divest in, but people are dying there and we must do the socially conscious thing," said Shakour, a senior, whose father is from Sudan. "If we can do this it will show other schools to take the same action and to start a chain."

"Ultimately, it's in the best interest of the school's administration to be open and honest on this issue," junior Justin Zorn, policy chair of GW STAND, wrote in an e-mail Saturday. "Divestment is an easy and public opportunity to save lives in a place where they're so casually discarded. We want to ensure this institution is never associated with the most heinous crimes on earth."

According to a June 2005 article by The Stanford Report, a publication of Stanford University, Stanford's chapter of STAND was successful in convincing the university to divest in companies including PetroChina, ABB Ltd., Sinopec and Tatneft, which all conducted business with the Sudanese government.

"Divestment is an act that should be made rarely and carefully," said Stanford University President John Hennessy in a June 2005 article. "In this case, it was clear that the genocide occurring in Darfur, which appears to be at least partly enabled by these four companies, is in direct opposition to Stanford University's principles."

-Brandon Butler contributed to this report.

Why wait on Darfur?

By Robert I. Rotberg | October 24, 2005

''NEVER AGAIN!" promised Washington, London, Brussels and the United Nations after the massacres in Bosnia, Cambodia, and Rwanda. But the killing fields of Darfur are more than two years old, and still the world permits innocent farmers, children, and displaced people to be killed and women repeatedly raped. What is to be done?

Despite the presence of African Union military observers, displaced people living in squalid encampments in Darfur and along the western border have been attacked by marauding janjaweed, Arabic speaking militia on camelback. Official Sudanese military helicopters have reputedly strafed villages in support of janjaweed assaults. Soldiers from several armies of the African Union have ''monitored" many of these attacks, but without interfering.

Their limited and constrained mandate and their insufficient numbers (not yet at the 7,000 target strength for a war-ravaged area the size of France) give the African Union effort more of a cosmetic than a meaningful role in damping down the persistent conflict between the government-backed janjaweed from northern Darfur and their prey from southern Darfur.

More than 100,000 Darfurians have been killed since 2003. Nearly 2 million people, pushed out of their homes and fields by combat and the janjaweed, are attempting to survive in precarious huts of palms, reeds, and plastic bags in the dozens of camps in Darfur and along the western border with Chad. The scale of Darfur's human tragedy dwarfs natural disasters and all but the most destructive recent wars of Africa. President George W. Bush has called the mayhem ''genocide." UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan has used equally strong words. Must the powers of the world merely wring their collective hands, but do nothing?

So far, the big powers and the UN have respected the Sudan's sovereignty and avoided forceful intervention. African Union observers have served as proxies for real action, but they are too few, have little equipment, fuel, and ability to patrol, and have their hands tied by wrong orders. Waiting for the AU to become more robust is a recipe of despair, because of the Sudan's prominent membership in the organization. Given the UN's newly endorsed ''responsibility to protect" norm, much more can and should be done to save lives.

Negotiations between the rebels and the Sudanese government are now into their sixth round. But the talks being held intermittently in Abuja, Nigeria's capital, show no signs of progress. The Sudanese government, having concluded a major peace agreement earlier this year with the Sudan Peoples Liberation Movement of southern Sudan, and established a joint government for the entire country, hardly wishes to cosset new separatists in Darfur.

The 22-year war between south and north Sudan, now concluded, was largely over access to petroleum resources. In some respects, because of suspicion that oil will also be found in Darfur, the battles are also more about control of future oil possibilities than about land, discrimination, respect, or local self-government. They are not about religion, for all contenders are Muslims (albeit some are more Islamist than others), nor about language or race.

Petroleum exports, worth about $1 billion a year to Khartoum, provide the national lifeline. They are the military government's only means of support. Cutting off exports, easily done at Port Sudan on the Red Sea by one or two American, British, or French frigates, authorized by the UN, would concentrate the minds of the rulers of the Sudan and presumably compel them to restrain the janjaweed and negotiate sensibly in Abuja.

So would the insertion of NATO or European Union troops into Darfur with a clear mandate not to watch, but forcibly to prevent further losses of life. Annan could and should demand such action before thousands more are killed senselessly across the desert wastes of Darfur.

So far the Sudan has called the UN's bluff. It must not be allowed to operate any longer with impunity.

Why wait? It is true that China, which imports oil from the Sudan, might object. So might Russia, or African nation-states attempting to protect the Sudan.

But the UN General Assembly is now on record in favor of ''protecting" innocent civilians within sovereign countries and within war zones. Local commanders of the AU monitoring force also know that they are making little difference in halting hostilities. They have told their governments they feel powerless and frustrated. Darfur is the place to begin showing that the world cares.

Robert I. Rotberg is director of the Program on Intrastate Conflict at the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University and president of the World Peace Foundation.

© Copyright 2005 The New York Times Company

Teenagers petition to halt Darfur deaths

Web Posted: 10/24/2005 12:00 AM CDT

Rudy Arispe
If Denisse Dubrovsky, who is Jewish, and Yousef Arar, a Muslim, were living in the Middle East, chances are they would be bitter enemies.

But Dubrovsky and Arar say they realize the importance for people of all ethnic and religious backgrounds to get along when working for a common goal: peace.

The two 17-year-old Churchill High School seniors have been working side by side in their efforts to call attention to the killing of African civilians by government-supported militias in the Sudanese region of Darfur.

Dubrovsky and Arar and about 30 other students from Churchill, Clark, Alamo Heights and East Central high schools were at Alamo Plaza on Sunday afternoon, trying to collect 400 signatures for a petition they plan to forward to the state's elected officials in hopes they will ask President Bush to pressure the United Nations to intervene in Darfur. By the end of the day, Dubrovsky said they had collected 350.

The students had originally planned to stage a so-called "die-in," in which they would lie down in Alamo Plaza and pay symbolic homage to Darfur's dead. But without the 100 students they had hoped for, those plans were scrapped.

Dubrovsky said her interest in the Darfur conflict came after hearing her parents discuss the number of Sudanese who had lost their lives. So she started researching the subject.

"I'm Jewish, and I grew up hearing stories about the Holocaust, and what appalled me is nobody did anything about it right away," she said. "The world has said so many times it can never happen again, so we have to do something about what is now going on in Darfur."

According to a Save Darfur Web site, since 2003, rebels in Darfur have taken up arms to protect their communities against government-backed militias recruited among groups of Arab descent in Darfur and Chad. Over the past year, these Janjaweed militias have received government support to clear civilians from areas considered disloyal to the Sudanese government.

As a result, 400,000 people have died, 2.5 million have been displaced and more than 200,000 have fled across the border to Chad, according to the Save Darfur Web site.

Wearing green T-shirts that read "Don't Condone Murder by Keeping Quiet," the students stopped passers-by to inform them about Darfur and asked if they would sign the petition. They also waved posters with the messages "Not Another Rwanda" and "Act Now Before More Are Killed."

Kathryn Allen of San Marcos said she was happy to see teenagers trying to make a difference.

"I think it's amazing that they care," Allen said after signing the petition. "It reminds me of the '60s. You don't often hear about the good kids and the good work they do."

Fermin Rajunov drove his 17-year-old daughter, Katina, to the event and said he was proud of her for giving up a Sunday afternoon.

"I'm pleased to see our children are making such an effort to do something about what is going on in the world," Rajunov said. "We all have to pressure the president to make sure the United Nations knows what's going on in Darfur."

Arar believes there is a benefit for people to see Jewish and Muslim students volunteering together to educate the community about Darfur.

"It will bring home the point we're making for peace," he said. "We all have a responsibility for each other."

Media Advisory/News Teleconference: Five Jewish Leaders

Report on Trip to Chad; 'Bearing Witness to Oppressed of Sudan'
Mon Oct 24

NEW YORK, Oct. 24 (AScribe Newswire) -- Journalists are invited to participate in a News Teleconference: "Bearing Witness to the Oppressed of Sudan" on Thursday, Oct. 27 at 1:00 p.m. EDT. Ruth Messinger, president and executive director of American Jewish World Service (AJWS), led a delegation of Jewish leaders to Chad during the week of October 17 to bear witness to the ongoing oppression and suffering of the people of Darfur, Sudan, and to assess AJWS relief efforts and determine further aid needs.

In addition to Ruth Messinger, the delegates and teleconference presenters are: John Fishel, president of the Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles; Rabbi Rick Jacobs of the Westchester Reform Temple in Scarsdale, New York; Rabbi David Saperstein, director of the Religious Action Center for Reform Judaism; and Rabbi David Stern of Temple Emanu-El in Dallas, Texas.

The purpose of the trip to the region where only a handful of humanitarian and world leaders and some very brave aid workers have traveled, is the latest effort by American Jewish World Service to broaden the awareness of the American Jewish community to the atrocities that began over two years ago in Darfur, Sudan.

Just over one year ago, Ms. Messinger traveled to camps for the internally displaced in Darfur, Sudan to bear witness to the crimes against humanity that were being inflicted on more than two million people in the region and to assess humanitarian aid needs. More than 200,000 refugees reside in camps in Chad.

To reserve your space and receive the teleconference call-in number and password, please contact Ronni Strongin at 212-273-1657 or For more information about AJWS and its efforts in Sudan, visit .

CONTACT: Ronni Strongin, AJWS Public Relations, work 212-273-1657, cell 516-655-0520,

More Violence In Darfur

23 October 2005

Janjaweed Arab militias recently attacked Geneina, a town near Sudan's border with Chad. The New York Times reports that "in a scene that aid workers described as something out of a Hollywood western, the militiamen surrounded the police station. . . .roughed up the chief and freed several of their members from jail." The newspaper says that the fact that the Janjaweed "are now emboldened enough to turn their guns on the government is a sign of trouble."

Fighting broke out in Darfur in 2003 after rebels complained that the region had been marginalized by the central government. Rebels affiliated with the Sudanese Liberation Movement/Army and the Justice and Equality Movement attacked Sudanese government facilities. Supported by the Sudanese government, the Janjaweed responded by launching attacks on civilians from Sudan's African Fur, Masalit, and Zaghawa groups in Darfur.

In July, the Sudanese government and the rebels agreed on a declaration of principles. The document calls for the guarantee of tribal ownership of land in Darfur and for increased autonomy for the region. It also calls for an end to hostilities. But despite efforts by the United Nations, the African Union, and others, there recently was an upsurge of violence in Darfur. A tense and inherently unstable security situation remains in Darfur. However, there have been no reported attacks in the last week.

All sides have been responsible for ceasefire violations. And the United States’ focus continues to be on strengthening African Union efforts and promoting accountability in the United Nations Security Council. U.S. State Department spokesman Adam Ereli says that the continued violence in Darfur is "unacceptable":

"There are obviously things the government of Sudan wants that they're not going to get if they continue to do this. Number two, there are additional measures that could be taken depending on the circumstances, depending on events on the ground. Number three, you have an ongoing situation of conflict in Darfur between rebels and militias that are supported by the government."

The conflict in Darfur, says State Department spokesman Ereli, "has gone on for too long."

The preceding was an editorial reflecting the views of the United States Government.


Situation in Darfur seriously degenerating, says Guterres

24 Oct 2005 16:57:21 GMT
Source: UN High Commissioner for Refugees

GENEVA, October 24 (UNHCR) – The UN High Commissioner for Refugees António Guterres has said that the situation in the Darfur region of Sudan is once again deteriorating sharply, and warned that a further calamity could take place there very soon, which might have "a devastating impact" on neighbouring countries as well as on the situation in other parts of Sudan.

"What we are witnessing on the ground is a very serious degeneration of the situation," he told reporters and other guests at an event in London to mark the international launch of a DVD of the 'Voices for Darfur' concert. "...It is extremely nasty, with ugly events."

The security situation has deteriorated tremendously within the past six weeks, especially in West Darfur, with ambushes, hostage-taking and attacks on villages as well as on the Aro Sharow camp for displaced people that left 34 displaced people and local villagers dead. Aid workers increasingly are the focus of attacks. Humanitarian agencies say this is seriously hampering their capacity to operate on the ground.

Guterres, who visited Darfur two months ago, said at that time he was optimistic that, though not easy, peace would be possible in Darfur, and that if it came about it would have a beneficial impact on the rest of the country.

"You have three different crises at the moment," he said. "South Sudan, where peace was established based on the sharing of oil revenues; you have Darfur, and you have eastern Sudan, where the implications are also in relation to the neighbours and the problem between Eritrea and Ethiopia."

"Darfur ... in my opinion is the key for success or failure for Sudan as a whole," he said. "If there is success in Darfur, it will have a positive impact for coordinating a peace agreement in the south and for allowing peace to develop in the east."

But the reverse, he warned, would probably produce the opposite result: "If it gets worse in Darfur, it will deteriorate, and even in the south the agreement will be weakened."

He expressed deep concern about the possible adverse effect on other countries in the region, especially Chad, which already hosts more than 200,000 Sudanese refugees from Darfur.

As a result of a number of recent security incidents, the UN decided on October 11 to relocate non-essential staff out of part of West Darfur as a precautionary measure. It is hoped that this is a temporary measure and work can resume in the near future. Much will depend on the extent to which the Sudanese government can guarantee security for displaced people and aid workers on its territory.

UNHCR has been present in West Darfur since June 2004, with offices in El Geneina, Zalinge, Mukjar and in Nyala (south Darfur). There are 37 international staff and 37 national staff working in those offices. Depending on the security situation, an additional five offices will be opened to enhance protection monitoring coverage and better assist the displaced people.

Guterres made his comment at an event to mark the launch off the DVD of a recent all-star charity concert on behalf of refugees from Darfur, and to thank the singers who took part.*

One of them, Greek opera star Mario Frangoulis, told UNHCR staff at the agency's headquarter in Geneva on Monday that his own planned visit to Darfur had been cancelled because of the security situation. However, he insisted he wants to keep "the flame alive," and spread awareness of the problem in Darfur and UNHCR's work there. All the artists who took part in the concert, as well as those such as Sade, David Gray and Franz Ferdinand, who contributed exclusive material to the DVD, were fully engaged he said and wanted to do what they could to draw attention to the plight of the victims of the Darfur concert.

Out of the $31 million required for UNHCR's activities in 2005, contributions of only $14.4 million have been so far received.

UNHCR news