Saturday, December 31, 2005

Where hope is a forgotten word

Sudan's misery; Desperate teenagers in Sudan's stick-and-rag refugee camps erupt in bitterness and anger

By Emily Wax
Washington PostKALMA CAMP, SUDAN (Dec 31, 2005)

Boys in tattered clothes were waiting in food lines, girls were hauling water on donkeys, crippled orphans were begging on crutches.

Suddenly, a call went out across this vast camp of stick-and-rag huts filled with civilians displaced by the conflict in Darfur. Abandoning their routines, thousands of children converged at key spots.

There, teenage leaders rallied the crowds. They spoke of the persistent lice, the filthy latrines, the longing for home among the camp's 90,000 inhabitants. They described a humiliating incident that morning in which a camp leader had been beaten and dragged off by Sudanese troops amid contradictory explanations.

And then they made a proposal that both shocked and exhilarated the gathered adolescents: That they kidnap humanitarian aid workers to protest their miserable conditions.

"It was a scary idea," said Nazira Sulliman, 12, who attended a rally. "Many of us had never done anything that wrong but it also made us feel strong."

Abdullah Mussa Issa, 16, was one of the youths who goaded the others to action. "Our fathers are dead. Our mothers are humiliated. Our animals and properties are stolen," he said he told his friends. "Can we let this stuff keep happening to us?"

On that afternoon two months ago, mobs of angry youths surrounded a health post, waving knives and sticks and chanting, "Revenge!" Inside were at least 32 Sudanese and international aid workers.

Several youth leaders told them they would be held hostage there until the government released the detained camp leader, Sheik Suliman Ahmed Taha, participants recounted. "No one really wanted to hurt the aid workers. We just wanted someone to pay attention to us," Issa said.

Taha's detention also triggered separate violence between angry camp residents and security forces, including some civilians in the camp who fired shots in the air, aid workers and participants said later.

After three days of negotiations, the hostages were released unharmed and so was Taha although he was later detained again and is still in jail.

But the unprecedented armed threat from the children of Darfur illustrated how a passive, victimized generation of young people, driven from their villages and confined in camps, could suddenly became a dangerous mob.

"OK, it wasn't really the so-called 'right thing to do,'" said Al Tieb Mohammed Adam, 27, a charismatic youth leader in Kalma. "But here we are living in this horrid camp with no money, no hope for marriage, no security to go home. The jobless youth of Darfur are angry. We are sick and we are rising."

Across Africa, an estimated 18 million children are growing up in impoverished camps like Kalma. They are refugees from fighting in parts of Uganda, Sierra Leone, Ivory Coast and Congo as well as Sudan, says the United Nations High Commission for Refugees.

The Darfur conflict has driven nearly two million people into camps since 2003, when groups of mostly African rebels launched an uprising, protesting discrimination by the Arab-dominated government. Authorities responded by bombing villages and arming Arab militiamen, known as Janjaweed, who looted and burned villages.

More than 60 per cent of the displaced Darfurians are children. They are dependent on food aid, stripped of their culture, mostly uneducated and unskilled.

According to the United Nations, such displaced children are especially susceptible to forced labour, sexual exploitation and recruitment by armed groups. Isolated and frustrated, they can become desperate.

"These kids are like animals in a cage," said Bob Kitchen of the International Rescue Committee, who helped negotiate the release of the hostages and plans to open five centres in Kalma to teach children skills such as mechanics and sewing.

"The children of Darfur were living normally. Then they had guns stuck in their faces and were driven into camps," he said. "Something has to be done. Otherwise, there could be a lot more instances of hostage-taking or worse."

Before Issa's family came to Kalma, they were prosperous farmers with four thatched huts, a wide patch of fertile land to grow groundnuts, pumpkins and yams and fields to graze hundreds of cattle, goats and horses.

Issa was a student and his father had saved enough cash to send his eldest son to university. "He told me he wanted me to become modern," Issa remembered. "He didn't want me to be tied to the land."

But in March 2003, they were driven from their village, Safia. Rebel forces attacked government checkpoints about 160 kilometres away.

Then government helicopter gunships and planes bombed the surrounding region. Soon, the Janjaweed galloped in on camelback, set the village on fire and shot at local men who tried to fight back. Issa's father and an uncle were killed.

"My father's body was in pieces," Issa recounted, his voice shaking. "We could not even bury him. We couldn't get the savings under the bed because there were brush fires everywhere. We had to run or be killed."

The family followed thousands of others, eventually reaching Kalma, where they built a shelter and registered for food aid. At first, Issa said, his mother, Halima Hussein Ali, was hysterical with grief and spent her days weeping in their dark shelter. But she slowly accepted her husband's death and said she hoped Issa would come to accept it, too.

Instead, the events of Oct. 23 turned the studious youth in a radical new direction. As he was riding his rickety bicycle past the International Rescue Committee's medical clinic, where Taha worked, he saw Taha face down in the sand. Government security officers were hitting his head with gun butts.

"Something in me collapsed," Issa recalled in a whisper. "I saw my father's image and was thinking of all the pain he was in when he was killed."

Later that day, Issa joined the crowd that had formed to take the hostages. Many were friends. The boys slept in plastic chairs in the sun and the girls hunched over charcoal fires, frying balls of wheat. The mood seemed oddly jovial, Issa said. That night, for the first time ever, he did something he knew would make his mother ashamed.

"I stayed out all night," he said. "I just joined the crowd."

During the chaos, someone stole his bicycle. The next morning he walked into his house -- dirty, haggard and missing the family's main mode of transportation. His mother was furious and punished him by making him do extra chores. But later she calmed down, put her hand gently on his shoulder and said she felt sympathy as well as shame for what he had done.

"It was a bad time," recalled Ali, 37, a tall, gaunt woman with long black hair tied under a colourful shawl. "We were all feeling so sad. I tried to talk to him about the future and how doing these things would disturb his dreams."

A few days later, Issa told his mother he had been thinking of joining the Sudanese Liberation Army. The rebel group had placed recruiters near the camp who could smuggle fighters into rebel-controlled zones.

"I'm sick of this war. Let me defend us," he explained to her. "I can be respected by the gun."

Ali started screaming.

"This war broke us and now, dear God, they are taking my boy. Please God, don't take my boy." Soon other women appeared and comforted Ali. Issa looked uncomfortable and rested his head on his chin. Shaken by her reaction, he said, he had a dream that he should stay in Kalma.

"In the dream my father asked me, 'You are still alive. What are you doing with your life? Why are you just sitting here? Why aren't you in school?'" Issa said.

He covered his eyes and started to weep. "Just give it some more time, for your father's honour," his mother pleaded. "OK," Issa said. "I will try."

On the day the hostages were taken, Hawa Issan Baker, 9, was at home tending to her mother, Kadja Adam Ibrahim, who was suffering from dysentery. Hawa's friends came by and urged her to take part in the uprising. Ikiram Musa Fudul, 11, remembered telling her, "You have to come. Today is our day to take power."

But Hawa declined, saying she could not abandon her duties. For most of the day, she stayed by her mother's side. She kindled a fire, swept the shelter, picked flies out of the water pot and forced her mother to take sips.

But as the hours went on, she said, more friends pressured her to join their rebellion. Finally, she left her mother under an adult's care. Meeting Ikiram at the entrance of the camp, Hawa told her friend she didn't want to see the hostages, but suggested the two could slip away from camp and spend a few hours in the nearby town of Nyala.

"If the other children could do the kidnapping, then I could run away and do something bad, too," she recalled telling Ikiram. "Let's disappear."

The girls never made it all the way to town, instead ending up sitting in a field and talking into the evening. Hawa told Ikiram she was tired of nursing her mother and just wanted to have fun and play soccer. They fantasized about running away, maybe working as housekeepers or saving up enough money to sneak off to Khartoum, the capital.

"There we could live off the trash of the rich people," Hawa said. "It might be a better life then this. I hate Kalma."

In the end, she said, she felt scared and guilty and went home late that night. Her mother, afraid Hawa had been killed, asked her to stay close to home. Hawa told her mother she felt frustrated. Two years ago, when they first came to Kalma, she had been malnourished and sick with malaria and her mother had nursed her.

"You used to cook for me and braid my hair and buy me clothes and give me sugar canes," she said she told her mother. "Now I am the one caring for you."

On a recent day, while her mother napped, Hawa rode her donkey out to graze in a field.

"I won't run away yet," she said, "but I will take my small breaks."

source the hamilton spectator

Friday, December 30, 2005

Atrocities continue in Sudan's Darfur region

Atrocities continue in Sudan's Darfur regionAuthor: UN NewsPublished on Dec 30, 2005, 08:04
Despite a consistent and forceful Security Council response to the crisis in Sudan's western Darfur region, reports from there confirm a marked deterioration since September, including an increase in ethnic clashes, destabilizing elements crossing in from Chad and continuing banditry, United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan says in a report released today.For more than a year, the Council has sought an end to the violence, the disarming of the Janjaweed militia, a halt to impunity and a political solution. The Council has also imposed an arms embargo, assets freeze and travel bans on belligerents in Darfur, and has referred the situation there to the International Criminal Court (ICC).Since the Secretary-General's first report in August of last year, however, the Sudanese Government has taken no major steps to bring to justice or even identify any of the militia leaders or perpetrators of the attacks, Mr. Annan says in his latest update to the Council, pointing out that Southern Darfur experienced its highest rate of violence last month."I strongly urge the Government of the Sudan once again to take decisive steps to address these manifest failures," he says.Though countless lives have been saved through a massive, UN-led humanitarian relief effort, those most exposed to violence and gross violations of human rights continue to live in fear and terror, the report states."Large-scale attacks against civilians continue, women and girls are being raped by armed groups, yet more villages are being burned and thousands more are being driven from their homes," Mr. Annan says.The Security Council has extended through March the mandate of its Committee monitoring the targeted measures and designating individuals subject to sanctions."As the Security Council has stated repeatedly, ultimately only a political solution can end the violence and allow some 2 million internally displaced persons (IDPs) and refugees to return home," the Secretary-General writes.Given these stakes, the current round of the peace talks in Abuja, Nigeria, is "critical and must be decisive," despite serious difficulties encountered in the lead-up to the talks as a result of the division within the rebel Sudanese Liberation Movement (SLM), he says. That split came about as a result of an internal leadership struggle between two rival SLM leaders, Abdul Wahid al-Nur of the Fur people and Minni Arko Minawi of the Zaghawa people.Mr. Annan also calls on donors to help fund efforts to meet the "massive humanitarian needs" of the people of Darfur.
© Copyright 2005 by

Thursday, December 29, 2005

Darfur: The genocide goes on and on

By Nat Hentoff, Sweet Land of Liberty December 28, 2005

On Nov. 28, in Vatican City, Pope Benedict XVI said to the archbishop of Khartoum, "The horror of events unfolding in Darfur points to the need for stronger international resolve to ensure security and basic human rights" there.

Reuters, reporting the pope's concern, noted, as much of the world knows, that hundreds of thousands of black Africans have died of violence or disease, and more than 2 million have been driven from their homes.
On Dec. 13, Luis Moreno Ocampo, the lead prosecutor of the International Criminal Court, told the U.N. Security Council - which has evaded all direct responsibility for stopping the genocide - that while he has been charged by the United Nations to document those responsible for these continuing crimes against humanity, he can't provide protection for witnesses, and so has to do what he can outside Darfur.
Britain's ambassador to the United States, Emyr Jones Parry, told National Public Radio that what the lead prosecutor has determined is that "the nature of the attacks in Darfur demonstrated a degree of coordination which implied that someone was in command and control of that operation."
But the head of the African Union's gravely insufficient peacekeeping force in Darfur, Baba Gana Kingibe of Nigeria, has been much more factually detailed. As reported in the The Weekly Standard on Dec.12, "He accused (Sudan's) government security forces of making four specific coordinated offensive attacks against civilians, using Arab Janjaweed militias" in September.
While the Arab Janjaweed killed and raped during their invasion of the Aro Sharow refugee camp, "Sudanese army helicopters flew overhead in what Kingibe called an 'apparent air and land assault' on the black African victims."
Although George W. Bush was the first world leader to condemn Sudan's government for the crime of genocide, he has since said and done little about the continuing horrors. But Human Rights Watch - which has conducted more intensive and documented investigations on the ground in Darfur than any other human rights organization - released an 82-page report on Dec. 12 titled, "Entrenching Impunity: Government Responsibility for International Crimes in Darfur."
This meticulously researched report will help those members of Congress, Democrats and Republicans, who keep trying to get Republican leadership in the House to pass the Darfur Peace and Accountability Act (already passed by the Senate unanimously), which will put sustained pressure on the Khartoum government.
What Human Rights Watch has done in this report is to begin to end the impunity of those primarily responsible for these atrocities so that the world cannot claim after millions have died that they did not know who - specifically - was responsible. And with that knowledge available right now, maybe countries with a conscience - by contrast with Khartoum's protectors on the U.N. Security Council, primarily China - will act to save those who have survived before they, too, disappear.

Human Rights Watch demonstrates that "Senior Sudanese officials played a direct role coordinating the offensive - and particularly the aerial bombing campaign - from Khartoum. ...The report is based on hundreds of eyewitness accounts, more than 10 investigations by Human Rights Watch in Chad and Darfur, and Sudanese government documents."
The long list of potential defendants includes Sudan's national officials, current and former regional officials, military commanders, Janjaweed militia leaders and, at the very top, President Omar El Bashir.
Human Rights Watch points out - and this should wake up what's left of a credible international community of leaders who said "never again" after Rwanda - that, "Despite the Sudanese government's involvement in ongoing crimes in Darfur, the African Union is allowing Sudan to host January's A.U. summit in the capital, Khartoum. A new African Union president is also due to be elected, and there are indications that President Bashir might obtain the post." How many will be killed on that celebratory day in Darfur?
George W. Bush has a lot to deal with these days, but as New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof, the one journalist who has most often tolled the death knell in Darfur, wrote on Nov. 26: "Mr. Bush should use the bully pulpit. He should talk about Darfur in his speeches and invite survivors to the Oval Office. ... He can call on China to stop underwriting this genocide."
I disagree with the president on civil liberties, but I fully believe that in his inner being, he does care about the murders, gang rapes, destroyed families and the desperation of those barely surviving in Darfur. Let him say so to the Republican leadership in Congress - and to all of us - in a prime-time television address. He will feel better, and so will we.
Nat Hentoff is a nationally renowned authority on the First Amendment and the Bill of Rights and author of many books, including "The War on the Bill of Rights and the Gathering Resistance" (Seven Stories Press, 2003).

©The Black Hills Pioneer, Newspapers, South Dakota, SD 2005

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Children's art exhibit shows horror of genocide

Scripps Howard News Service
December 28, 2005

WASHINGTON - Pediatrician Annie Sparrow tried to make sense of a drawing by a 9-year-old girl in a refugee camp. She asked why the woman in the picture has a red face.

"Because she was shot in the face," the girl replied.

"These drawings hurt your heart," Sparrow said. "These children have witnessed things children should never have to see."

Human Rights Watch, Sparrow's employer, has produced an art exhibit of the drawings now in Washington. The exhibit has been shown in New York, San Francisco, Los Angeles and Toronto, and "Darfur Drawn" will continue to travel.

In Sudan, a rebellion against the government has triggered retribution against civilians in Darfur by "janjaweed," or pro-government militias with assault rifles on horses and camels. The Sudanese government denies it supports the janjaweed, but a United Nations report says it is arming the rebels.

Sparrow was in neighboring Chad earlier this year doing research on rape as a weapon of war. Chad houses 200,000 people who fled attacks in Darfur. About 2 million people have been displaced in the conflict.

Sparrow, who spent two weeks in Chad, said she gave the children crayons and paper "because it's a wonderful way of letting them draw what's going on inside their heads."

Rapes are part of the terror campaign against Darfur's residents, as janjaweed rape women during attacks, or rape women who walk for miles outside refugee camps gathering wood. Even inside the camps, women and girls are not safe, as other refugees sometimes force them into prostitution because they know soldiers have already forced them to have sex, Sparrow said.

"They don't all draw scenes of violence. Some draw flowers and birds," which are symbols of their past life, or how they'd like life to be now. But most of the drawings do show loss and horror.

"It was very frightening what they drew; the atrocities were so clear," she said. One drawing, which includes purple camels, is dominated by huge guns, one on a tripod.

The 12-year-old boy who drew it said he saw the janjaweed arriving on horses and camels with Kalishnikovs, "shooting and yelling, 'kill the slaves, kill the blacks.' "

Sudan is home to black Africans in the south, and lighter-skinned Arabs in the north.

Viewers can't help but be affected "by the sadness in the pictures," Sparrow said. "Many of these children are going to be stranded for years. This conflict shows no sign of abating. You can see how these children's lives have been ripped out from under them."

One of the drawings has faces with round "O" mouths, but instead of bodies, the faces are linked in a garland shape.

Sparrow didn't understand it until the little girl explained: "All of us, my family, we were screaming and running from the janjaweed to hide in the wadi, holding each other by the arms to keep together."

Those loops are their arms, desperately clinging to each other as they ran. Her father was lost, the girl said.

In Washington, the exhibit is in the national headquarters of Hillel, the Jewish organization on college campuses. Jewish organizations helped underwrite the exhibit because they see echoes of the Holocaust in the genocide in Sudan.

Sparrow said she never thought these little drawings would travel around North America. "Although they really spoke to me, I wasn't aware they would captivate other people."

The exhibit urges viewers to write letters to Washington asking for more money for African Union peacekeepers in Sudan, and to pressure the Sudanese government to stop interfering with aid workers. She said another way to act is to donate to aid organizations working with the refugees, such as the International Red Cross, Oxfam, Doctors Without Borders or Human Rights Watch.

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Monday, December 26, 2005

Merry Christmas & Happy New Year

Think for a moment about Darfur Childeren whose festive days are just continuation of the gloomy yesterday without a sense of hope for brighter tomorrow.

Sunday, December 25, 2005

Homeless children fill the streets of Africa's cities

Up to 1 million are fending for themselves
By Emily Wax, Washington Post | December 25, 2005

KHARTOUM, Sudan -- The morning call to prayer echoed through the city as Ahmed Abdulraham, 14, a small boy with cloudy, yellowing eyes, rose from his version of a mattress: a pile of trash spread across a gutter.

He rubbed some murky brown water over his face. He prostrated himself and prayed, he said, for a day when he would be safe and earn a lot of money. Then he took turns with his five friends sniffing glue.

After they got high, the boys took off across a rocky escarpment on the recent morning, over some aging train tracks, and into the choking traffic of downtown Khartoum. They were ready to work.

Ahmed, known in local slang as a ''mouse," is one of an estimated 35,000 minors who live and work on the streets of this dusty capital city. Some, like him, have been here less than a year, since fleeing the Darfur conflict in the west. But most are runaways from rural poverty, forced to support their families or orphaned by AIDS.

They are part of an unprecedented and growing phenomenon of homeless youths in Africa's exploding urban centers, according to studies by UNICEF and Save the Children. There is no reliable estimate of their total number, but studies indicate it could be as high as 1 million.

Africa once prided itself on its traditional systems of extended family, which sheltered children even in dire circumstances. But over the past 25 years, a variety of problems -- including drought, wars, AIDS, and economic collapse -- have broken families apart and left hundreds of thousands of children to survive on their own.

The problem first became noticeable in the 1980s, when coffee prices crashed and Western subsidies undercut other export crops such as corn and cotton, according to studies by Street Child Africa, a British organization. Many children in large rural families were asked to go out and earn money or simply left home.

Over the past decade, as the AIDS pandemic combined with other regional problems, more and more young Africans had to forgo childhood and school, which is not free in many African countries. More than half the youths interviewed by Save the Children said the inability to pay school fees forced them into the streets.

There, they encountered a tough, adult environment where they were vulnerable to drug addiction, bullying, sexual abuse, and devastating health conditions, according to child rights advocates.

Now, nearly every major African city has its own name for them. In Khartoum, they are called ''the children of the market." In Nairobi, they are known as ''glue boys," because they sniff glue out of old bottles, holding the rims to their lips as if they were whispering into the neck. In Kinshasa, the capital of Congo, they are called ''the desperate children" -- barefoot boys who shine shoes, banging a stick with a bottle cap to attract customers.

''Never before have we seen this many children living on the streets. Part of the problem is that urbanization across Africa is pushing these children into very chaotic settings," said Nassirin Dafallea El Hag Yousf, program officer for Save the Children-Sweden in Khartoum, which studied 500 street children in 2001.

When many of them leave home, Yousf said, ''they intend on making an honest living by working, but they end up in trouble, addicted to glue, sometimes sexually abused or exploited by adults. Not all of these kids are bad. But it's a huge problem for Africa. And it can't be ignored. These sweet young boys will one day be men."

Out on the street, Ahmed started to panhandle. He tugged on women's skirts. He pulled on men's sleeves. Block after block, people ignored him or gave him amused but irritated looks.

He ran up to a heavy-set, well-dressed woman and grasped her hand, using a technique his friends had taught him: ''Get them to look into your eyes and look very sad." When that didn't work, he sang her a song about the beauty of Sudanese flowers. He stretched out his hand and pleaded: ''Please, mama, hungry. I love you too much. I am hungry too much. Please, money."

After a while he gave up, reached into a trash can, and picked up a half-eaten apple. He shared it with his friend, Fecil Khmis, 16.

Later on, a friendly merchant handed the boys a tray of old rice, half-eaten bread, and some fat and bone from a grilled lamb. They sat down in a shady spot and ate the scraps.

Ahmed has been in Khartoum for months, living by his wits and keeping company with other homeless boys. His skin is infected because he has little chance to wash. He often appears sleepy or disoriented from the effects of glue. He has few defenses against the elements, or against older boys and adults who pressure him for money.

A homeless man wandered over. Drunk and aggressive, he demanded some coins Ahmed had begged and began slapping him on the head. A crowd gathered. Ahmed started crying and handed over his earnings.

''There is freedom on the street," he said as he hobbled away, looking disturbed. ''It's not a good life, though. Your stomach is always biting. You have few places to sleep at nightfall. You lack the love of parents. It's a dangerous life."

Ahmed said his childhood back in Darfur was ''normal." His parents were farmers. He had five brothers and sisters and he went to school, where his favorite subjects were Arabic and math.

When war broke out about two years ago, their village was attacked and bombarded, he said. In the chaos, Ahmed said, he became separated from his family and ran after some neighbors to safety. He lived for a few days in a camp but didn't want to stay there alone.

''I heard some other boys were coming to Khartoum by sneaking on trucks. I joined them," he said. ''At first I liked it because eating from the rubbish is better than living in the camps, where the food has no taste -- just wheat and oils."

Ahmed has not seen or heard of his family since the day he fled his village. He said he missed his father but tried to ''forget his memories of back then. I have a new life now."

Ahmed's new family consists of a few boys he met on the streets. One is Fecil, who has been here much longer than Ahmed. He left southern Sudan about six years ago, when a north-south civil war was raging. At first, he lived with his family in a camp near Khartoum for people displaced by the war. But his father was unable to find steady work and there was no money. So Fecil came to the city.

''I kept asking my family for money, but my family had none," he said. ''I might as well do something for myself." Sometimes he visits his family in the camp, but he said he never stays long because he doesn't like his father's rules.

Ahmed and his friends survive through a combination of odd jobs, petty theft, and charity. They hang around food stalls, hoping for handouts. They steal scrap metal to sell.

To distract themselves from the tedium and hardship of street life, they sniff glue, soaking it into pieces of cloth that they hide up their sleeves. But the glue is both addictive and toxic. They also gamble on a game of skill called ''om assach," tossing and catching small stones with one hand.

They also love to see Bollywood movies from India, and they spend hours in 10-cent movie houses, evading the afternoon heat and watching four-hour epics filled with music, romance, and human triumph over desperate odds.

''I like those films so much," said Ahmed, who wears torn and taped plastic sandals. ''The stories make me feel happy."

© Copyright 2005 The New York Times Company

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Annan condemns Darfur village vicious attack

Sudan, Politics, 12/21/2005

United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan strongly condemned what he called a vicious attack on a village in West Darfur, Sudan yesterday, in which 20 people, including women and children, are reported to have been murdered by several hundred militia who also burned huts and looted livestock.

"The Secretary-General urges the Government of Sudan to take immediate measures to prevent further attacks, protect its civilian population and to pursue those responsible," Annan's spokesman said in a statement yesterday.

"The perpetrators of this and other attacks against civilians must be brought to justice," he added.

The spokesman said that the Secretary-General further condemns all the clashes, banditry and inter-tribal fighting that Darfur has seen recently, calling on the parties to abide by their ceasefire agreements.

He called on them to reach an early settlement at the ongoing Abuja peace talks that aim to end the three-year conflict between Government, paramilitary and rebel forces that has already killed tens of thousands and forced 2 million to flee their homes.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Save Key messages: Child Alert Darfur

Source: United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF)
Date: 20 Dec 2005

Darfur's children deserve the same dividends of peace which children affected by Sudan's North-South conflict are beginning to see.

There are 3.4 million persons directly affected by the conflict, of which more than 1.75 million are children under 18 years of age and of this, around 500,000 are under five living in more than 200 camps and settlements with access to limited resources and particularly vulnerable to the effects of violence, abuse, hunger, disease, and exploitation.

An additional 1.4 million children under 18 years of age are living in rural and vulnerable and beyond the reach of current international relief efforts. We need to reach these children.

The parties involved in the 7th round of Peace Talks in Abuja have to find real political solutions to this conflict. The time is NOW otherwise the current stalemate will persist in Darfur.

Save Sudan: Darfur - Children facing severe food

Source: United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF)
Date: 19 Dec 2005
By Jane O’Brien

A new report by UNICEF - Child Alert Darfur – details the impact of conflict on children’s lives in the region. It reveals worsening conditions for the many who live outside the reach of humanitarian aid.

NEW YORK, USA, 19 December 2005 – For almost three years the children of Darfur have borne the brunt of a conflict that has forced millions to flee their homes. And in spite of continuing humanitarian aid, many are still facing severe food shortages and disease because of the ongoing insecurity.

Malnutrition rates in the last year have been halved among children living in camps which provide food, shelter and medical care. But an estimated 2.5 million people are not receiving any help because they live in isolated and dangerous areas. Children in these groups are dying from malnutrition and other preventable diseases.

“The children of Darfur are already living in a state of fear,” says UNICEF Emergency Communications Officer Gordon Weiss. “They have lost their homes and their families and suffered terrible abuses.

“Their land and way of life have been destroyed and are unable to support them. If the situation doesn’t change they have a very bleak future ahead of them.”

A temporary solution

For almost three years, marauding Janjaweed militia groups have driven Darfur villagers from their homes, stolen their cattle, destroyed wells and burnt buildings. The threat of violence continues, and villagers who are afraid to return home have flooded into urban areas and temporary camps.

An estimated 3.4 million people, equivalent to almost 51 per cent of the total population in the region, have been affected by the crisis in Darfur.

With food and water becoming scarce throughout the region, camps such as Abu Shouk on the outskirts of Darfur’s northern capital El Fashir are almost the only places where children and adults can receive life saving assistance.

At Abu Shouk, UNICEF and partners have provided health clinics and latrines, as well as schools for 13,000 primary aged children. Some 1.3 million children are living in 200 similar camps around Darfur and neighbouring parts of Chad.

“These camps were set up to provide immediate temporary care, but they are becoming permanent fixtures,” says Mr. Weiss. “Unless security is improved the people living here will not be able to return to their homes and begin producing their own food. Millions of others are already struggling to survive and the food shortages in Darfur are only going to get worse.”

More international aid will be needed for another five years simply to ensure the survival of Darfur’s children. Political solutions are needed to secure a future in which they can thrive.

With the exception of public UN sources, reproduction or redistribution of the above text, in whole, part or in any form, requires the prior consent of the original source.

Monday, December 19, 2005

Arab militias attack Darfur village, kill 12

Mon Dec 19, 2005 9:11 AM ET

EL-GENEINA, Sudan (Reuters) - Arab militias on camels and horses attacked a village in West Darfur on Monday, killing 12 people, rebels and government officials said.

"The Janjaweed attacked this morning and killed 12 innocent civilians, including one man who was over 60-years old," said Hassan Khamis, a commander in the Darfur rebel National Movement for Reform and Development (NMRD).

Janjaweed is the local name given to mostly Arab militias, mobilised by the government to fight Darfur rebels.

A source in the government in Darfur confirmed that attack. "It was Arab nomads," he said, asking not to be identified.

"We are not sure yet of the details but the governor has gone to the site of the attack," he added. The attack was on the Abu Surooj village north-west of the main town el-Geneina.

The NMRD controls areas along the border with Chad, which has seen sporadic fighting in recent days between Chadian government forces and deserters.

On Sunday Chad's communications minister said government troops had repulsed a rebel attack on a town near the border and blamed Sudan for the fighting that killed 100 people.

Sudan said it was not involved.

The violence involving troops from Chad comes amid a surge in fighting involving Sudanese rebels and militias.

Earlier this month the United Nations grounded some aid flights and evacuated workers in parts of West Darfur State because of the escalating violence.

Tens of thousands have been killed in Darfur since February 2003 when rebels, saying they had been marginalised by the government in Khartoum, took up arms. More than 2 million people have been driven from their homes.

Peace talks are under way in the Nigerian capital Abuja to try to reach a deal to end the conflict the United States has called genocide.

Shining light on genocide in Sudan

Monday, December 19, 2005

Ten runners carrying a torch Sunday between Temple Beth Rishon in Wyckoff and Barnert Temple in Franklin Lakes were doing more than heralding the approach of Hanukkah.

The 6-mile torch run had a new purpose this year: to shine light on a genocide in Sudan that has claimed more than 180,000 lives and displaced about 2 million people since 2003.

Organizers said they hope to raise awareness and encourage politicians to get involved.

"During the Holocaust, everybody felt that they didn't want to speak out," said one of the runners, Larry Silverman, a member of Barnert Temple. "We've gone through it and few people spoke up for us, and we're not going to let that happen to anybody else."

The runners - members of both synagogues - left Beth Rishon at about 9:45 a.m., arriving at Barnert Temple a half-hour later. About 100 children - students at Barnert's religious school — greeted the runners with songs, including Peter Yarrow's "Light One Candle." One of the runners used the torch to light the menorah.

Sara Losch, director of education at Barnert, said the event is a display of Jewish unity.

The torch run began about 20 years ago. It originally included a third synagogue in Oakland that has since moved out of the area.

"We need to raise our voices for the people dying in Africa today," Losch said.

The runners returned to Beth Rishon, where they sat down for a lunch of fruit and bagels.

Barkley Calkins, a board member of the Darfur Rehabilitation Project in Newark, spoke about his group's effort to educate and spur the U.S. government to act.

The Arab-dominated Sudanese government is accused of backing a brutal militia in a campaign to stamp out a rebellion. The Arab-tribal militia has reportedly raped and murdered thousands of ethnic Africans during the last few years.

Calkins said the public needs to know that the genocide continues.

"There might be some confusion because the [Bush] administration is not speaking out and the mainstream media is all but silent," he said.

Copyright © 2005 North Jersey Media Group Inc.

Sunday, December 18, 2005

Sudan's Special Court On Darfur Crimes Not Satisfactory, UN Genocide Expert Says

UN News Service (New York)
December 16, 2005
Posted to the web December 17, 2005

A United Nations genocide expert today voiced disappointment in the efforts of Sudan's Government to address the crimes committed in the country's western Darfur region, where conflict has been marked by massive displacement, rights abuses and widespread killings.

The UN Security Council has asked the International Criminal Court (ICC) to probe the situation, but earlier this week, the Sudanese Government indicated that it would not cooperate with the ICC.

Speaking to reporters in New York, Juan Mendez, Special Adviser of the Secretary-General on the Prevention of Genocide, pointed out that this was not an option but a legal obligation. "I have consistently stressed that ensuring accountability is an essential element of genocide prevention," said Mr. Mendez, who visited Darfur in September.

Asked whether the Government was living up to its pledges, he replied: "My impression is very discouraging, quite frankly. For months nothing was done about the literally hundreds of cases of destruction of villages."

He said the Government's own special court had also produced "discouraging" results. "They have dealt with some cases that seem to be marginal to the serious events that happened in 2003 and 2004," he said.

He added that if the Khartoum Government refuses to cooperate with the ICC then "the Security Council should take appropriate action."

During his visit to Sudan in September, he said, he expected to see a more stable situation. "Unfortunately, the situation that I found was of great concern." He cited a "significant disconnect" between the account of the Government on its actions to address the situation in Darfur and those of the region's people.

Mr. Mendez also reported on his visit to Côte d'Ivoire earlier this month, where he witnessed significant tensions which posed a risk of massive human rights violations based on ethnicity, religion or national origin.

In response, he called for measures to address the issue, including starting disarmament, holding legitimate elections, and strengthening the UN Operation in Côte d'Ivoire (UNOCI).

Kristof challenges O'Reilly to visit Darfur with him

12/17/2005 @ 5:04 pm
Filed by RAW STORY

In Sunday's New York Times, columnist Nicholas D. Kristof challenges Fox News Channel's Bill O'Reilly to take a trip to Darfur with him to see "a real war against Christmas values," RAW STORY has learned.

Kristof offers "prayers" that O'Reilly and "other money-changers in the temple" will realize that the spirit of Christmas is about helping the needy and that fighting against genocide is a more worthy cause than "hectoring people to say 'Merry Christmas,' rather than 'Happy Holidays.'"

Excerpts from Nicholas D. Kristof's "A Challenge for Bill O'Reilly" follow:

After I suggested in last Sunday's column that a better way to honor the season might be to stand up to genocide in Darfur (a calamity that O'Reilly has ignored), O'Reilly denounced me on his show as a "left-wing ideologue." Bless you, Mr. O'Reilly, and Merry Christmas to you, too!

Later in the show, O'Reilly described us print journalists in general as "a bunch of vicious SOBs." Bless you again, Mr. O'Reilly; I'll pray harder for the Christmas spirit to soften your pugnacious soul.


So I have a challenge for you, Mr. O'Reilly: If you really want to defend traditional values, then come with me on a trip to Darfur. I'll introduce you to mothers who have had their babies clubbed to death in front of them, to teenage girls who have been gang-raped and then mutilated -- and to the government-armed thugs who do these things.

You'll have to leave your studio, Bill. You'll encounter pure evil. If you're like me, you'll be scared. If you try to bully some of the goons in Darfur, they'll just hack your head off. But you'll also meet some genuine conservative Christians -- aid workers who live the Gospel instead of sputtering about it -- and you'll finally be using your talents for an important cause.

Khartoum Triumphant: Managing the Costs of Genocide in Darfur

Khartoum Triumphant: Managing the Costs of Genocide in Darfur

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Sudan bars global court investigators from Darfur

Wed Dec 14, 2005 9:08 AM GMT
By Opheera McDoom

KHARTOUM (Reuters) - Sudan will not allow International Criminal Court investigators to enter its Darfur region to probe suspected war crimes committed during the conflict there, the justice minister said on Tuesday.

Mohammed Ali al-Mardi spoke to Reuters as ICC prosecutor Luis Moreno Ocampo told the U.N. Security Council that killings, mass rapes and other atrocities had been identified and some criminal incidents would be fully investigated.

But Mardi said the ICC investigation, requested by the Security Council, was not necessary because the Sudanese judicial system was capable of trying any crimes in Darfur.

"The ICC officials have no jurisdiction inside the Sudan or with regards to Sudanese citizens," Mardi told Reuters. "They cannot investigate anything on Darfur -- they have no jurisdiction. This is quite clear and they know it."

Sudan has signed but not ratified the treaty forming the ICC, which is the first permanent global war crimes court.

Moreno Ocampo's team has not been able to interview witnesses in Sudan, instead it has "screened" 100 potential witnesses outside the country.

Tens of thousands of people have been killed in Darfur and more than 2 million forced to flee their homes during a revolt launched by mostly non-Arab rebels in early 2003, who say they are marginalised by central government.

The United Nations says Khartoum armed Arab militias and bombed civilian villages to fight the insurgency.

Those fighters are accused by rights groups and villagers of a widespread campaign of rape, looting and killing, that the Untied States calls genocide. Khartoum denies the charge.

Now the International Criminal Court is investigating suspected war crimes in the remote region, the size of France.


Mardi said the government had signed a memorandum of understanding with the ICC to cooperate on the arrest of the Ugandan rebel Lord's Resistance Army (LRA), who are suspected of hiding in Sudan's lawless south.

"We are already cooperating with them ... we are discussing with them what we have been doing in Darfur and our readiness to cooperate with them in arresting the leaders of the LRA."

But cooperation on Darfur would be based on talks only, he said, without elaborating.

Mardi said there was no evidence of any systematic killings or rape in Darfur and said a court established to try crimes in Darfur was capable of prosecuting any individuals responsible.

He said no senior government or military officials were under investigation.

Rights group Human Rights Watch said in a report on Sunday that senior officials and militia leaders, including the Sudanese president, were responsible for systematic abuses in Darfur and should be investigated by the ICC.

Mardi said an investigation had been completed into an attack on Hamada village in January in which rights groups said more than 60 civilians died and government Antonov aircraft bombed the area.

But he said no officials had been investigated and the issue of why government planes were used to bombard the village would not be addressed when the case comes to court.

"We don't ask why they were used -- we investigate complaints," he said. He added the only complaints brought before the court were by individuals complaining about tribal strife.

Killings, mass rapes in Darfur

14/12/2005 08:38 - (SA)

New York - A great number of killings, mass rapes and "extremely" serious gender violence were committed in Sudan's Darfur region, the prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC) said on Tuesday, calling for further investigation.

Luis Moreno Ocampo told the UN Security Council that the ICC has gathered a comprehensive "picture of crime" in Darfur.

But he appeared to have rejected a previous UN investigation, which reported the killing, but fell short of calling it genocide.

Ocampo provided no details of the ICC investigation.

The UN investigation last year listed 51 individuals in Sudan believed involved in the killing and the 15-nation council asked the ICC to prosecute them.

But Ocampo said the conclusions of the UN investigation and names of 51 people are not binding on the ICC.

The ICC functions as an independent and separate court, financed and administered by the 100 countries that ratified its convention adopted in Rome in late 1990s.

It is based in The Hague and is co-operating with the UN to prosecute war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide.

The US is opposed to the ICC, claiming that it can be used by countries to persecute American diplomats and peacekeepers abroad.

Ocampo said the ICC will investigate and identify persons to be prosecuted for crimes in Darfur.

The UN said more than 180 000 people have been killed since the ethnic conflict erupted in Darfur in February 2003. But human rights organisations said the death toll could be over 300 000.

The Sudanese government has been accused of backing Arab militias fighting two African rebel groups in Darfur.

The fighting has made more than two million people homeless and caused massive economic and social disruption. - Sapa-dpa

Sudan: Witness Protection Vital for Darfur Probe

Thursday, 15 December 2005, 9:14 am
Press Release: United Nations
Sudan: Witness Protection Vital for Probe Into Darfur Rights Abuses, UN Reports
New York, Dec 13 2005 5:00PM

The Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC), entrusted by the United Nations Security Council with investigating human rights abuses in Sudan’s Darfur conflict today reported good progress in gathering facts but stressed that an effective system of witness and victim protection, at present non-existent, is vital.

“From this overall picture we have identified particularly grave events, involving high numbers of killings, mass rapes and other forms of extremely serious gender violence and other crimes within the jurisdiction of the Court,” Prosecutor Luis Moreno Ocampo told the 15-member body, noting the first steps “towards a cooperative relationship” with the Government.

The Council called for an ICC probe in Darfur, where tens of thousands of people have been killed and 2 million more displaced in two years of fighting between the Government, pro-government militias and rebels, after an earlier enquiry set up by Secretary-General Kofi Annan found there had been war crimes and crimes against humanity committed by both sides, but primarily by Government forces and militias.

“We still have very serious problems in Darfur,” Mr. Annan said after today’s Council meeting, stressing the need to bring to account those who committed crimes.

“We have criminal elements; we have violence; we have attacks on humanitarian activities. There are some areas where our humanitarian people cannot go and therefore the Government and the rebels have to honour the ceasefire agreement they signed and take all measures to ensure security and protection of the people in the region.”

Mr. Ocampo termed witness protection “an issue of paramount concern to the ICC,” noting that continuing insecurity, which prevented him and his team from so far visiting Darfur, also prohibited the establishment of an effective system for protecting victims and witness.

“Despite these limitations significant progress has been made in the investigation,” he said, adding that well over 100 potential witnesses in 17 countries had been screened and that he had visited Khartoum, the Sudanese capital, for contacts with the Government. “We have a road map now,” he told reporters later.

“Having made the first steps towards a cooperative relationship, during the next phase the OTP (Office of the Prosecutor) will seek further assistance and cooperation of the Government in relation to the process of fact-finding and evidence gathering. This cooperation will be essential,” he said in the report.

Asked by reporters about Government cooperation, the Council President for December, Emyr Jones Parry of the United Kingdom said: “We will judge the Government of Sudan by its actions.

“If it becomes apparent that the Prosecutor is not receiving the cooperation that we expect from the Government, then the Council will have such a report from the Prosecutor, and will need to respond to that, and we will respond to that. At the moment that’s hypothetical,” he added.

“In terms of what the Prosecutor is saying now on the basis of the contacts which took place last month in Khartoum, things are reasonable and progressing.”

The Council repeated again the need to end impunity, prevent atrocities and ensure that those involved are brought to justice, Mr. Jones Parry said.

“Our discussions this morning confirm that the Prosecutor is in close cooperation with the Government of Sudan, that those discussions are proceeding so far well. The Council expects them to be maintained so that any cooperation that the Prosecutor expects from that Government should be forthcoming, especially on the question of access to witnesses.”

Meanwhile, Mr. Annan’s Special Representative for Sudan, Jan Pronk, reported that he believed it was still possible to have a framework agreement in the conflict by the end of the year. The various sides are now meeting in the Nigerian capital of Abuja.

On the ground in Darfur, the UN Mission in Sudan (UNMIS) reported that the security situation remained tense, with increasing banditry. Tribal clashes have been reported in West Darfur, where some roads remain closed for UN movement due to insecurity. Some UN flights are also suspended in West Darfur.


ICC barred from Darfur

ISN SECURITY WATCH (Wednesday, 14 December: 13.30 CET) -

Sudanese officials have barred representatives of the International Criminal Court (ICC) from entering the region of Darfur, news agencies report.

Justice Minister Mohammed Ali al-Mardi told local media on Tuesday that ICC officials had no jurisdiction in Sudan.

The ICC is in the country to investigate killings, mass rapes, and other atrocities committed in western Sudan.

ICC prosecutors said they were in the process of interviewing 100 potential witnesses in 17 countries about the atrocities.

ICC prosecutor Moreno Ocampo told reporters he hoped to gain permission to visit Sudan’s special court and other judicial bodies that are investigating crimes in Darfur early next year.

Violence, killings, and rapes have escalated in the past two months in contravention of a ceasefire. Earlier this month, UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan warned that Darfur could descend into complete lawlessness and anarchy.

The Darfur conflict erupted in February 2003 when the two main rebel groups, the Sudan Liberation Army/Movement (SLA/M) and the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM), took up arms to fight what they called the discrimination and oppression practiced in the region by the Sudanese government.

The government is accused of unleashing an Arabic-speaking militia - known as the Janjaweed - on civilians in an attempt to quash the rebellion.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Sudan bars Darfur atrocity probe

Sudan's government says it will not allow international investigators into the troubled province of Darfur to collect evidence on alleged war crimes.
The ban comes as the chief prosecutor from the International Criminal Court told the UN Security Council that he wanted more co-operation from Sudan.

Luis Moreno Ocampo said he had identified mass killings and rape but had not decided who to prosecute.

Some two million people have fled their homes in the three-year Darfur war.

Sudan's Justice Minister Muhammad Ali al-Mardi told the BBC that the ICC had no jurisdiction to try Sudanese nationals.

"We have the national law authority... The government is willing and able to try to these cases," he said.

President targeted

The BBC's Jonah Fisher in Khartoum says only a few low-level military officers have faced charges over the violence in Darfur, which has left tens of thousands dead.

An earlier investigation by a UN-appointed commission drew up a list of 51 possible suspects for alleged war crimes in Darfur.

But Mr Ocampo said the ICC would conduct its own investigations and no decision had been taken as to whom to prosecute.

On Monday, lobby group Human Rights Watch called for senior Sudanese officials - including the president - to be investigated for crimes against humanity in Darfur.

Its latest report names more than a dozen civilian and military officials it says helped co-ordinate militias and armed forces who attacked civilians.

It adds that the leadership in Khartoum relied on the civilian administration, the military and Janjaweed militias to implement a counter-insurgency policy that deliberately targeted civilians.

A Sudanese official dismissed the report as "ridiculous" and "baseless".

Sudan's government has said that the violence in Darfur is a tribal conflict and the attacks are carried out by militias and rebels.

It denies that the state has co-ordinated the violence.

Story from BBC NEWS:

Friday, December 09, 2005

Ignoring the Genocide in Darfur

By René Wadlow and David G. Littman | December 9, 2005

Faced with the challenge of massive displacement of people in Darfur, Sudan, a destabilizing flow of refugees to Chad, the systematic and multiple rape of women, and the wide-spread destruction of villages, the United Nations General Assembly voted on November 23 to take "No Action". A "No Action" motion, systematically practiced by China in the Commission on Human Rights, is rarely used in the General Assembly. A "No Action" motion prevents a vote on a resolution and cuts off any debate.

A resolution on Sudan, following the resolution in April by the Commission on Human Rights, was introduced in the General Assembly's Third Committee, which deals with human rights, by Britain's UN Ambassador Sir Emyr Jones Parry on behalf of the European Union – Britain currently holding the presidency of the EU. In introducing the resolution, Sir Emyr confirmed that "civilians are still being killed, rape is still widespread, and the situation of hundreds of thousands of displaced people remains dire." The resolution stressed "the continuing climate of impunity in the Darfur region, particularly in the area of violence against women and girls." Ms. Sima Samar, the Special Rapporteur on Sudan of the Commission on Human Rights, had presented a very complete report highlighting the increasingly dangerous situation and the growing danger to humanitarian workers in the Darfur area. She noted that not much had been done (which is diplomatic style for saying that nothing had been done) in terms of disarmament, demobilization and rehabilitation of the Janjaweed militia and other military groups.

Despite the fact that there are Nigerian military among the African Union's Mission in Sudan (AMIS) who know that the AU forces are unable to protect civilians, particularly those in internally displaced-persons camps, it was the Nigerian representative which moved the "No Action" motion which passed by 84 votes in favour, 79 against and 12 abstentions. Nigeria currently holds the presidency of the African Union, and Sudan is proposed for that post in 2006.

There was a specifically African aspect to the vote. Partly, this is a reflection of bloc voting. No matter what the situation, States in the UN vote to protect their neighbors from criticism. Thus both the African and the Arab states voted to protect Sudan. The Chinese representatives helped behind the scenes in structuring support for the vote and in explaining the "No Action" procedure. China buys nearly all of Sudan's oil and the Chinese government-owned oil company is the producer/refiner of Sudan oil.

The other aspect concerns the current discussion in the General Assembly on improving the UN structures for dealing with human rights. The September Summit had agreed that the UN Commission on Human Rights should be replaced by a smaller, but more competent UN Human Rights Council, leaving the details for the General Assembly to work out. States that do not wish to see stronger and more effective structures had to fire a warning shot without having to put it into obvious words. The success of the "No Action" motion is a sign to all that any resolution from a human rights body can be shot down in the General Assembly no matter what the facts are 'on the ground'.

"No Action" has been the response of many countries to serious accusations of genocide in the past, but never before have they flown a white flag with "No Action" so boldly printed in large black letters.

With bloc voting in the UN General Assembly, is there any other avenue based on universally-recognized international law? A major possibility is the use of the Convention for the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide – commonly called the 1948 Genocide Convention – whose 57th commemoration falls on 9 December 2005.

The 1948 Genocide Convention followed the declaration made by the General Assembly in its resolution of 11 December 1946 “that genocide is a crime under international law, contrary to the spirit and aims of the United Nations and condemned by the civilized world.”

The Genocide Convention, in its Article III, states that "the following acts shall be punishable:

(a) Genocide;
(b) Conspiracy to commit genocide;
(c) Direct and public incitement to commit genocide;
(d) Attempt to commit genocide;
(e) Complicity in genocide."

Article IV states that: "Persons committing genocide or any of the other acts enumerated in Article III shall be punished, whether they are constitutionally responsible rules, public officials or private individuals" The fact that private individuals can be punished is relevant in the Darfur case as the Sudanese government claims it does not have control over the Janjaweed militias.

Article VIII of the Convention states: "Any Contracting Party [Member State] may call upon the competent organs of the United Nations as they consider appropriate for the prevention and suppression of acts of genocide or any of the other acts enumerated in Article III.”

The Special Rapporteurs of the UN Commission on Human Rights, staff of UN Agencies, as well as field workers of Non-Governmental Humanitarian Organizations have all reported the massive displacement of people; the refugee flows to neighbouring Chad, systematic and multiple rapes of women and girls, and other forms of torture; and the wide-spread destruction of the agricultural infrastructure of wells, livestock, and grain-storage buildings in Darfur. All observers have repeatedly reported that this destruction and rape are accompanied by verbal threats to destroy whole peoples such as the Fur, Massaliet, and Zaghawa tribal groups, among others.

The evidence of systematic actions – to quote from Article II of the Genocide Convention – "committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group, as such" is clear. What is less clear is the determination of the Member States of the United Nations to act to end this violence. Until now the efforts of governments in Darfur have been inadequate as reliable reports indicate that human rights violations have grown far worse in October and November 2005. The Genocide Convention provides an adequate framework for urgent action. Only one State needs to call on the United Nations to act under Article VIII.

One should not forget the unity of purpose of the 1948 Genocide Convention and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, adopted on consecutive days (December 9 and 10). Urgent action is required to stop genocidal practices currently being carried out in the Darfur provinces of Sudan. These two anniversaries should provide the political will for rapid UN action to stop genocide in Darfur now – and not after it is all over, when that cry will go up, as in the past, “Never Again!”

René Wadlow and David G. Littman are the representatives of the Association for World Education to the United Nations in Geneva. This text is based on their AWE Press Release of December 7 (“Human Rights Day & Genocide Day: Stop Torture and Genocidal crimes in Darfur-Sudan / Urgent Appeal to States”) and their letter of December 2, signed by 22 NGOs and conveyed to High Commissioner for Human Rights Louise Arbour by the President of CONGO (the NGO community at the UN, Geneva).

Thursday, December 08, 2005

SUDAN: Darfur situation becoming increasingly hostile - aid workers

UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
Thursday 8 December 2005

Newly arrived IDPs at Zamzam camp in North Darfur.

NAIROBI, 8 Dec 2005 (IRIN) - The humanitarian environment in the western Sudanese region of Darfur is becoming increasingly hostile and clashes between various groups continue to flare up, aid workers warned.

"There has been a huge increase in the number of attacks and robberies [on humanitarian workers]," said Mike McDonagh, senior humanitarian affairs officer at the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) in Khartoum, on Thursday.

"Harassment is too weak a term," he added. "The physical danger aid workers have been exposed to over the last four months is a huge concern. We are very lucky that none of our staff has been killed so far."

On Saturday, Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF) and militia reportedly jointly attacked the villages of Hemmeda, Um Boru and Koka in the Um Nkunya area, approximately 40 km northeast of Nyala, the capital of South Darfur, the UN Mission in Sudan (UNMIS) reported. The fighting resulted in an unknown number of civilian casualties and displaced about 7,000 people.

"The United Nations is concerned that the parties continue to violate the ceasefire agreement in what seems to be a resumption of the vicious circle of attacks and retaliation that we witnessed in earlier months," Radhia Achouri, UNMIS spokeswoman, told reporters in Khartoum on Wednesday.

According to reports, the attack on Saturday had been launched against the rebel Sudan Liberation Movement/Army (SLM/A) in the area. In apparent retaliation the following day, the SLM/A attacked Donkey Dereisa, 60 km south of Nyala.

Another attack occurred in West Darfur on Tuesday when Arab militia raided the town of Congo Harasa. They destroyed all the wells that had been constructed by the humanitarian workers to provide water to the local population.

"The UN condemns these attacks that targeted the very livelihood of the people," Achouri said.

The ongoing deliberate destruction of farmland and crops was negatively affecting the optimistic agricultural output expected for this season, Achouri added. Redisplacements of large groups of civilians to settlements for internally displaced persons (IDPs) or to the outskirts of towns had also continued throughout Darfur.

According to the Geneva Conventions, destroying or rendering useless items essential to the survival of civilian populations is a war crime.

Aid workers in the region had also faced increased violence, threats, beatings and harassment, both within and outside the camps, according to sources in Darfur.

On 5 December, 13 international NGO staff members in West Darfur were relocated with an African Union (AU) escort from Silea to the region's capital, Geneina, due to insecurity in the area.

Insecurity also forced the AU to airlift three international NGO staff from Kulbus to El Fasher, the capital of North Darfur State. Some local personnel remained behind to provide essential services.

On 4 December, an international NGO compound was caught in the crossfire when fighting broke out between rebel groups and government forces near Masteri. A stray bullet hit a guard in the stomach.

On 1 December, two unidentified gunmen shot and killed a Sudanese driver working for the Sudanese Red Crescent Society in the organisation's premises in Abu Shouk IDP camp on the outskirts of El Fasher.

"The security situation in Abu Shouk is deteriorating each day," said a local source. "IDPs are reporting continuous military presence inside the camps during the nights with threats, detentions, harassment to the civil population and shootings."

Tension had also risen in IDP camps across Darfur due to the proliferation of people posing as community leaders and presenting inflated numbers of newly arrived IDPs to demand food and other relief items.

"They are not just businessmen - they are a real mafia. They sold around 12,000 rations of food in front of our noses," one aid worker said.

"This business is a time bomb for the stability of the camp," he added. "The [genuine community] leaders that try to collaborate [with us] are exhausted and very scared. All of us have been threatened many times."

The Darfur conflict erupted in February 2003 when the two main rebel groups, the SLM/A and the Justice and Equality Movement, took up arms to fight what they called the discrimination and oppression of the region by the Sudanese government.

The government is accused of unleashing militia - known as the Janjawid - on civilians in an attempt to quash the rebellion. According to the UN, the conflict continues to affect some 3.4 million people, of whom 1.8 million are IDPs and 200,000 have fled to neighbouring Chad.


Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Jewish Community Launches 'DC Loves Darfur' Fundraising Campaign for Sudan Victims

12/6/2005 12:07:00 PM

To: National and International Desks

Contact: Julie Weingrad of the Jewish Community Relations Council of Greater Washington, 301-348-7365 or

WASHINGTON, Dec. 6 /U.S. Newswire/ -- In December, Jewish people everywhere prepare for Chanukah, the commemoration of Jewish survival and the rededication of the Temple. This year, the Greater Washington Jewish community can honor the Jewish story of survival by acting to stop the genocide in Darfur, where hundreds of innocent people die each day. The Jewish Community Relations Council of Greater Washington (JCRC) in conjunction with the Greater Washington Jewish Task Force on Darfur, has launched the DC Loves Darfur fundraising campaign to raise funds for humanitarian aid, education and advocacy through the American Jewish World Service Sudan Fund.

In Judaism, the word "chai" means life, and the numerical equivalent of the letters is 18. Between Thanksgiving and Chanukah (11/24/05-01/01/06), the Greater Washington Jewish Community hopes to give life by raising at least 18 cents for each of the 215,000 Jews in our Greater Washington community ($38,700) to support humanitarian aid as well as education & advocacy programs. As of Dec. 5, the campaign has raised $23,382.41.

"How can anyone, but especially how can Jews, not come to the aide of a population threatened with extinction, a community threatened with violence and murder and destitution? We must not look away or go deaf. We have to learn and then do. We must speak up. We must give financially," says Judy Herr, a member of Adas Israel Congregation and the Greater Washington Jewish Task Force on Darfur.

Contribution cans be made via mail, phone or online.

Mail -- Make check out to American Jewish World Service and write "DC Loves Darfur" in the subject line: AJWS Sudan Fund, 45 West 36th Street, 10th Floor, New York, NY 10018.

Phone -- Make a credit card donation at 800-889-7146.

Online -- Donate at

The Jewish Community Relations Council of Greater Washington (JCRC) is the public affairs and community relations arm of the Jewish community representing 210 Jewish organizations and synagogues throughout DC, Maryland, and Virginia. The JCRC focuses on government relations, Israel advocacy, inter-group relations, and social justice.
/© 2005 U.S. Newswire 202-347-2770/

World must act quickly to stop Sudan violence: UN

COPENHAGEN - The international community must act quickly to stop violence in Sudan getting worse and to get the peace process back on track, the U.N.'s refugee chief said on Tuesday.

"The situation has been worsening and worsening in Darfur. In the east ... (it) is also very complicated and the conflict between Ethiopia and Eritrea is only widening it," said Antonio Guterres, the U.N. Nations High Commissioner for Refugees.

"Even in the south things are not as easy as they were," he said referring to south Sudan, site of a long war between rebels and the government that ended with a peace deal in January.

Guterres was speaking to reporters before a meeting with Denmark's Development Minister Ulla Tornaes.

In October, Guterres said the world only had weeks to help restore the peace process in Sudan' Darfur region, where rebels are fighting the government, and prevent the country's slide back into civil war.

A few months ago there was a clear will to reach an agreement on the conflict in western region of Darfur, while the situation in the east was also improving. Since then things have got worse, Guterrez said.

"Sudan is without any doubt, from the perspective of a refugee agency, the worst problem we are facing in the world today," he said, adding "The window of opportunity is narrowing but it is still there."

In Darfur tens of thousands of people have been killed and more than 2 million have fled their homes since rebels took up arms in 2003 against the government. The fighting in Darfur is separate from the war in the south.

Rebels in the east of Sudan have also fought government troops and tension has risen recently between Ethiopia and Eritrea, Sudan's eastern neighbors, who fought a 1998-2000 border war.

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