Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Failing to protect the people of Darfur

Pope Benedict recently described the situation in Darfur as "a catastrophic, and sadly to say underestimated, humanitarian situation." But despite the high profile the atrocities of Sudan's most recent crisis have generated, the international community has thus far failed in its collective 'responsibility to protect' the people of Darfur, writes Justin Kilcullen.

Catalogue of human suffering
As Darfur enters its fifth year of conflict, the catalogue of human suffering endured by the people of that region continues to grow. Throughout the conflict, an estimated 200,000 have perished and over 2.5 million people have been forcibly displaced from their homes and land, into overpopulated and insecure camps.

Rape has been used to terrorise the population of Darfur, with countless numbers of women and girls subjected to repeated and vicious attacks by armed militia. These attacks take place with almost complete impunity. A recent report found that the Government of Sudan is more likely to take action against those who report and document rape than against those who commit it. Read more >>>>>

Monday, July 30, 2007

Sudan: France Calls for Speedy Deployment of Darfur Force

Dagnachew Teklu
Addis Ababa

France called on Thursday for the speedy deployment of the 19,000 strong AU-UN joint forces in the troubled region-Darfur.

The call was made here by visiting French Foreign Affairs Minister Bernard Kouchner who arrived in Addis Ababa on Thursday to confer on the matter and other issues with African Union (AU) Commission Chairperson Alpha Oumar Konare.

"We have to speed up the process to deploy the agreed peacekeeping force to Darfur.The process is not going enough as it should be," Kouchner told a press conference at the French Embassy in Addis Ababa.

The AU and the UN last month agreed to deploy around 19,000 peacekeeping forces to Darfur, replacing the current 7,000 AU mission there.

France pushed hard for the UN Security Council to quickly authorize thousands of troops and police for Darfur and told Khartoum to act fast on the crisis or face more sanctions. Read more >>>>>>>>>>

Sudan: Close Links Cast Shadow On Olympics

By:Antoaneta Bezlova

Elaborate celebrations are being planned for the Aug. 8 one-year countdown to the Beijing Olympics, but Chinese leaders fear both the party and the games could be spoiled by an escalating international campaign to link the violence in Sudan's Darfur region to the 2008 Beijing Olympics.

China is fiercely proud of its Olympics, seen by many here as the country's coming-out party to the world. Its brightest talent has been pooled to work on the preparations, ensuring they showcase the rise and prowess of a nation both ancient and young.

But recent months have seen mounting international criticism of China's supportive stance toward Sudan, resulting in publicity campaigns to discredit and even boycott the games. Detractors charge that Beijing's dealings with the oil-rich state have shielded Sudan's leaders, who are accused of funding Arab militias to attack and terrorise the non-Arab population in Darfur.

Experts estimate that more than 250,000 people have died and 2.5 million displaced since violence between the non-Arab ethnic groups and the Janjaweed militia broke in 2003. U.S. actor Mia Farrow and other U.S. entertainment figures have pointed fingers at China as Sudan's largest foreign investor and energy partner for refusing to censure the violence and have said the 2008 games could become known as the "Genocide Olympics". Read more >>>>>>>>>>

US Ambassador Expects UN Darfur Resolution This Week

By Stephanie Ho

Washington's envoy to the United Nations, Zalmay Khalilzad, says he expects the world body to agree this week on a resolution to send a combined U.N.-African Union force to the war-torn Sudanese region of Darfur. VOA's Stephanie Ho has more on the story.

Zalmay Khalilzad (file photo)
U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, Zalmay Khalilzad, says the crisis in Darfur, a large province in western Sudan, is a high priority for the Bush administration. "One of the highest. And I went to Sudan myself, with the members of the Security Council to demonstrate how important this was for us," he said.

For four years, pro-government Arab janjaweed militias have been battling ethnic African rebels in Darfur. The janjaweed are accused of terrorizing villagers and committing atrocities including murder and rape. More than 200-thousand people have died in the conflict. More than two million others have been driven from their homes.

The Security Council has been working on a draft resolution to authorize an international peacekeeping force for Darfur that would bolster seven thousand African Union monitors who are already there but have been unable to stem the violence. The U.N. and the African Union would supply a total of 26-thousand troops, a plan the government of Sudan has said it will accept. Read more >>>>>>>>>>>>>

Sunday, July 29, 2007

The Darfur Resolution Currently Before the UN Security Council

A chronology of international responses to the Darfur genocide over the past year provides a deeply dispiriting time-line, and suggests how unlikely it is that security for civilians and humanitarians will improve any time soon. Despite current debate in the UN Security Council over a resolution that would authorize, under Chapter 7 of the UN Charter, deployment of the so-called UN/African Union “hybrid force,” there are few reasons to believe that Khartoum will actually allow this force to deploy in effective form, or in any remotely appropriate time-frame. The backdrop for current debate continues to be massive human suffering, destruction, displacement, and insecurity on the ground in Darfur (an overview the most recent reports appears below). Despite upticks in international sound and fury, there is too much evidence that they signify nothing.

The critical voice at this juncture, dismayingly, belongs to China---a veto-wielding member of the Security Council, and longtime enabling partner of the Khartoum regime. Last August, in a highly significant and revealing moment, Beijing ordered its UN ambassador to abstain on the crucial vote for UN Security Council Resolution 1706; and even this abstention (as opposed to a veto) was secured from China only by including language in the Resolution that “invited the consent” of Khartoum’s génocidaires for the UN-authorized force. The “invitation” was resolutely refused and no movement was made toward deploying the 22,500 civilian police and troops authorized by Security Council Resolution 1706 under Chapter 7 of the UN Charter, which confers enforcement authority. The mandate of the force was to have been civilian protection, protection of humanitarian personnel and operations, and to staunch the flow of genocidal violence from Darfur into eastern Chad and Central African Republic, countries now experiencing a tremendous increase in ethnic violence and displacement. Read more >>>>>>>>>>>>

Hollywood Heavyweight Steven Spielberg May Quit Olympics

By Sonya Bryskine

The guru of Hollywood directors, Steven Spielberg, may terminate his position of artistic advisor in the 2008 Olympics Games over Beijing's continuing financing of the Darfur genocide.

A spokesman for Spielberg says the director intended to continue applying pressure on the Chinese regime to change its policies, and is ruling nothing out—including withdrawal from his unpaid position as artistic adviser.

"Steven will make a determination in the next few weeks regarding his work with the Chinese. Our main interest is ending the genocide. No one is clear on the best way to do this," Mr Spielberg's spokesman Andy Spahn told abcnews.com in an article on its Web site. Read more >>>>>

SPLM Secretary General accuses Khartoum of genocide in Darfur

(KHARTOUM) — A senior official with Sudan’s former southern rebels has accused Khartoum of genocide and ethnic cleansing in the troubled region of Darfur, local press reported on Saturday.
Pagan Amun of the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement, which joined a national unity government after a 2005 peace deal, was speaking on the second anniversary of the death of SPLM leader John Garang, who died in a helicopter crash in Uganda two years ago.
"The government has committed crimes of genocide, ethnic cleansing, forced displacement and armed tribes against each other in Darfur," Amun said in comments reported in several papers, including the Al-Sahafa independent daily.

His remarks come a day after the UN’s Human Rights Committee (HRC) officially condemned "ethnic cleansing" in Darfur and sharply rebuked Sudan’s government for failing to prosecute militias involved in the killings. Read more >>>>>>>

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Joint UK and France Statement on Darfur

FOREIGN AND COMMONWEALTH OFFICE News Release issued by The Government News
Network on 27 July 2007
The UK Foreign Secretary, David Miliband, and the French Minister of Foreign
and European Affairs, Bernard Kouchner, reconfirm their continued and full
support for the African Union and United Nations led political process
for Darfur.

"We join other members of the international community in calling on all
invited participants to attend the meeting in Arusha called by the AU and UN
Special Envoys on 3 -5 August. Non-attendance would signal an unwillingness
to resolve the suffering in Darfur and would impede the political process.

"Both our governments are working hard in New York to achieve rapid endorsement
of the AU-UN hybrid peacekeeping force to ensure its early deployment.
We appeal to the Government of Sudan and rebels to show their commitment
to the political process by ceasing all hostilities and committing to a
full ceasefire. We call on all parties to honour the commitments they made
in Tripoli. Read more >>>>>

Arabs pile into Darfur to take land 'cleansed' by janjaweed

By Steve Bloomfield, Africa Correspondent

Arabs from Chad and Niger are crossing into Darfur in "unprecedented" numbers, prompting claims that the Sudanese government is trying systematically to repopulate the war- ravaged region.

An internal UN report, obtained by The Independent, shows that up to 30,000 Arabs have crossed the border in the past two months. Most arrived with all their belongings and large flocks. They were greeted by Sudanese Arabs who took them to empty villages cleared by government and janjaweed forces.

One UN official said the process "appeared to have been well planned". The official continued: "This movement is very large. We have not seen such numbers come into west Darfur before."

The UN refugee agency, UNHCR, sent a team to the border with Chad at the end of May to interview the new arrivals. Fighting in eastern Chad has been steadily increasing and it was thought that many could be refugees. But only a very small number have required support from UNHCR.

"Most have been relocated by Sudanese Arabs to former villages of IDPs (internally displaced people) and more or less invited to stay there," said the UN official.

The arrivals have been issued with official Sudanese identity cards and awarded citizenship, and analysts say that by encouraging Arabs from Chad, Niger and other parts of Sudan to move to Darfur the Sudanese government is making it "virtually impossible" for displaced people to return home.

James Smith, chief executive of the Aegis Trust, said the revelations proved that the Sudanese government was "cynically trying to change the demographics of the whole region", adding: "If the ethnic cleansing has been consolidated because the land has been repopulated it will become irreversible. The peace process will fall to pieces."

Repopulation has also been happening in south Darfur where Arabs from elsewhere in Sudan have been allowed to move into villages that were once home to local tribes. Aid agency workers said the Arabs were presented as "returning IDPs".

Before the conflict started in 2003, Darfur was home to seven million people, mainly from three African tribes, Fur, Marsalit and Zargahwa. Darfur literally translates as "Land of the Fur". But some 2.5 million have now been forced to flee their homes after attacks by Sudanese troops and planes, and Arab militia on horseback known as janjaweed.

Most are now in camps around Darfur's main towns, relying on handouts from international aid agencies. About 250,000 have become refugees in Chad. A further 1.5 million have been affected by the conflict, meaning at least four million people are now reliant on the 80 or so international aid agencies in the region. More than 200,000 people are believed to have been killed so far during the four-and-a-half-year conflict.

And if Khartoum is moving Arabs from abroad to replace them, diplomats fear that Darfur rebels may try to remove them forcibly. "It could be quite explosive," said one western diplomat. "It is a very serious situation." Read more >>>>

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Violence overwhelms relief workers in Darfur

By Evelyn Leopold

UNITED NATIONS, July 10 (Reuters) - Violence has escalated in Sudan's Darfur region since January, throwing another 160,000 people out of their homes and forcing 4.2 million people, about two-thirds of the population, to go on relief aid, the United Nations reported on Tuesday.

Some 2.1 million people have been uprooted from their villages in addition to the more than 200,000 who have fled the country, mainly to neighboring Chad, the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, known as OCHA, said.

Particularly worrying are attacks against relief workers, which have increased 150 percent over the past year, OCHA said.

In June, one out of every six convoys leaving provincial capitals in Darfur was hijacked or ambushed by "armed groups," a term usually applied to bandits or anti-government rebels. Since January, some 64 vehicles have been hijacked, with 132 staff temporarily detained, often at gunpoint.

"This kind of lawlessness by armed groups of different political affiliations has forced relief organizations to suspend programming and relocate out of dangerous environments on 15 occasions, temporarily depriving over 1 million beneficiaries of life-saving assistance," OCHA said. Read more >>>>

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

War drives more people in Darfur out of homes

New York - The continued ethnic fighting in Sudan's Darfur region has thrust more than 160,000 people out of their homes and villages so far this year, swelling the rank of those internally displaced to more than 2.1 million, the United Nations said Tuesday.

The UN office for the coordination of humanitarian affairs in New York said a total of 4.2 million Darfurians or nearly two-thirds of the region's population now depend on relief assistance, including the displaced people.

'Every day, more people need our help, yet humanitarian colleagues are under increasing threat from all sides,' said John Holmes, head of the humanitarian office. 'Obviously, we will not give up - the needs are too great.' Read more >>>>>>

Monday, July 09, 2007

No improvement in Darfur security, say EU officials

European parliamentarians said on Wednesday that Sudan's troubled Darfur region had become no safer since a peace treaty was signed a year ago.

Widespread insecurity in the remote Western region was preventing any development there, the 10-member delegation from the European Parliament's development committee said following a three-day visit there.

They blamed fragmentation of rebel groups and the failure to disarm militias, some of which were being incorporated into the army, for the continued conflict.

"We have observed that today the security has not improved since the peace agreement one year ago," delegation head Josep Borrell Fontelles told reporters, referring to a peace deal signed in 2006 by only one of three negotiating rebel groups. Read more >>>>>>

"...credible and considerable progress in helping resolve this Darfur situation"---Assessment by Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, July 2, 2007

Eric Reeves

The UN Secretary-General has apparently assumed as his primary responsibilities in responding to the Darfur crisis a contrivance of meaningless optimism, a whitewashing of deteriorating security conditions in the greater humanitarian theater, and a purveying of absurd faith in the genocidal regime in Khartoum. Ban Ki-moon now counsels a “patience” that does nothing so much as encourage the génocidaires of the National Islamic Front to believe that they may “run out the clock” in their ethnically-targeted human destruction in Darfur, and as much of eastern Chad as necessary. At the same time, Ban---and his economic advisor Jeffrey Sachs---now indulge a preposterous account of the origins of the Darfur crisis, one that elides all political history and substitutes instead meteorological explanation (see http://www.sudanreeves.org/Article174.html). The ambitions of self-exculpation are disgracefully in evidence.

Any reasonable overview of humanitarian indicators and human security in Darfur and eastern Chad reveals a crisis of incomprehensible, but still growing dimensions. It is not a “situation,” as Ban Ki-moon would have it: it is a catastrophe. Indeed, eastern Chad appears to be in the throes of violence as great as the most violent phase of the Darfur genocide (2003-2004). But Darfur itself, and its relentlessly growing population of conflict-affected persons, makes a mockery of Ban Ki-moon’s fatuous optimism about “credible and considerable progress” in halting massive human suffering and destruction. At the same time, there is no progress in negotiating a cease-fire, in advancing an inclusive peace process---or in deploying meaningful security forces to Darfur. Read more >>>>

Sunday, July 08, 2007

Help stop genocide in Darfur

I am a student at Central Valley High School. My class recently watched "Hotel Rwanda." The movie portrayed violence between the Tutsis and Hutus. During this violence, thousands of people were killed, but the country was able to end it in 1994.

However, genocide is occurring right now in Darfur! It began in February 2003. Four hundred thousand civilians have been murdered and 2½ million people have been displaced. Darfur is not getting enough media attention. Here in the United States, not many people are aware of this violence and genocide.

Are we going to stand by and let this violence continue? Thousands and thousands of people were killed during the Holocaust until countries banded together to stand up to the tyranny. Why has the violence been able to continue? People, come on, let's get together to do something about it! The story >>>>>>>>

Friday, July 06, 2007

Great need for water in Darfur

DanChurchAid continues to work in Darfur despite the worsening security situation. 72,000 people are being provided with access to clean water, latrines, and skills in good hygiene practices.

The situation in Sudan's Western Darfur province is worsening by the day. The UN states from January to April, 107,000 people have been displaced.

DanChurchAid has been working in Darfur since 2004 through Action by Churches together, ACT, and Caritas. So far the Darfur Emergency Response Operation has been able to continue.

"We have developed good local networks through our Sudanese partners so we have a feeling of what is going on. We do not solemnly depend on information from the UN," says Anne Masterson, outgoing director. Read more >>>>>>>>>>>

ICRC steps up presence in Darfur ahead of summer rains

- The international Red Cross said on Friday it is stepping up its humanitarian operations in the strife-torn Sudanese region of Darfur ahead of expected heavy rains later in the month.

Some 40,000 people have fled the city of Tawila in the north of Darfur following repeated clashes between rebels and government-backed forces, and are now based in three camps for displaced persons, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) said in a statement.

"Owing to the prevailing insecurity, most of the humanitarian organisations that had been providing much-needed basic assistance to people living in the camps have left the area," it said.

"The ICRC has therefore taken it upon itself to meet short-term medical and sanitation needs in the camps and to monitor respect for the lives and property of displaced persons," it added. Read more >>>>>>>>>>>

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Darfur, oil and the China card

Author: Joe Sims

Darfur has almost become a household word, and with good reason. The first human-made catastrophe of the 21st century, its death count combined with the huge humanitarian crisis staggers the imagination. Whether it’s the 400,000 claimed by some or the 70,000 suggested by the UN in March, the human toll combined with rapes, burned villages and destroyed lives has torn a gaping hole in the fabric of humanity.

A few years ago none other than George Bush, joined by Colin Powell, dared call it genocide, a term the UN along with the African leadership has declined, preferring “crimes against humanity” instead. However in light of the widespread “ethnic cleansing” and systematic violence directed at the African population by Arabic-speaking vigilantes tied to the Bashir government, the difference seems only semantic.

In its outrage, the world community has offered various remedies: intervention, sanctions against the Bashir regime, and UN peacekeeping forces. In the U.S., community and religious organizations have formed powerful coalitions most recently targeting China, a large purchaser of oil and seller of arms to the Sudanese government. Some have launched a divestment campaign aimed at U.S. finance companies that own stock in China’s oil industry. Others have called for actions directed at China’s hosting of the 2008 Olympics, suggesting boycotts and protests at the games themselves. Read more >>>>>>>>>>

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

EU officials say no improvement in Darfur security

Reuters) - European parliamentarians said on Wednesday that Sudan's troubled Darfur region had become no safer since a peace treaty was signed a year ago.

Widespread insecurity in the remote Western region was preventing any development there, the 10-member delegation from the European parliament's development committee said following a three-day visit there.

They blamed fragmentation of rebel groups and the failure to disarm militias, some of which were being incorporated into the army, for the continued conflict.

"We have observed that today the security has not improved since the peace agreement one year ago," delegation head Josep Borrell Fontelles told reporters, referring to a peace deal signed in 2006 by only one of three negotiating rebel groups.

"There is a general widespread insecurity due to the fragmentation of the rebel groups ... due to the fact that the Janjaweed (militia) are still armed and some of them included in regular Sudanese armed forces," he added. Read more >>>>>>>>

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Darfur crisis: UN/African Union hybrid force needed fast, say MEPs

To stem the mayhem in Darfur (Sudan), a hybrid force of United Nations and African Union peacekeeping troops is needed fast, MEPs on a fact-finding mission there said on Tuesday. "We cannot wait another year for security", said delegation chief Josep Borrell, and "humanitarian operations cannot go on for ever", added EP humanitarian aid rapporteur Thierry Cornillet.

The Darfur crisis calls for the "rapid and effective deployment of the hybrid force, with an adequate mandate, as recently agreed by the Sudanese government" said Mr Borrell (PES, ES), who chairs the EP Development Committee.

The EP delegation has been visiting the refugee camps of Kindring II (West Darfur) and Koloma (Chad) over the past two days. Read more >>>>

Janjaweed Using Rape as 'Integral' Weapon in Darfur, Aid Group Says

By Nora Boustany
Washington Post Foreign Service

A new report on the crisis in the Darfur region of western Sudan has identified rape as a systematic weapon of ethnic cleansing being used by government-backed Janjaweed militiamen, and said Sudanese laws discriminate against female victims, who face harassment and intimidation at local police stations if they try to report the crime.

The report, "Laws Without Justice: An Assessment of Sudanese Laws Affecting Survivors of Rape," by the humanitarian group Refugees International, said rape was "an integral part of the pattern of violence that the government of Sudan is inflicting upon the targeted ethnic groups in Darfur."

"The raping of Darfuri women is not sporadic or random, but is inexorably linked to the systematic destruction of their communities," the report said. Victims are taunted with racial slurs such as "I will give you a light-skinned baby to take this land from you," according to one woman interviewed in the Touloum refugee camp in Chad, recalling the words of a Janjaweed militiaman who raped her. Read more >>>>>>>

Monday, July 02, 2007

The challenge of protecting civilians in Darfur: Sweden's response

Source: Government of Sweden

Seminar with ICRC on the humanitarian challenges in Darfur 02 July 2007
Gunilla Carlsson, Minister for International Development Cooperation

Dear friends,

Thank you for meeting us here today, to address the situation of the civilian population in Darfur. This is one of the main challenges facing the international community and among the priority concerns of my work as Minister for International Development Cooperation.

We are here because hundreds of thousands of people have been abused, threatened, wounded, raped and killed. Because millions of women, children and men have been forced to leave their villages and homes. We are here because at least 2 million people live in temporary camps for the displaced. Millions of individuals, who should be free to carry on with their daily lives, have become dependent on the decisions of others. Read more >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

Sunday, July 01, 2007

Darfur needs more than peacekeepers

Recent news articles have spoken of the Sudanese government allowing peacekeeping units into Darfur. Although it is my deepest desire that this is true, I need to be mindful of the fact that they have promised to allow this in the past and have failed to follow through.

The Sudanese government has pillaged and plundered its own people long enough. Families have been destroyed, and men, women, and children have lost not only their homes but also their lives for absolutely no reason. It is not through sickness or drought, there is no war with another nation. It is with the people themselves. One Sudanese group attacking the other and for what? Nothing. Read more >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>


- A senior United Nations peacekeeping official said today that the world body is stepping up its preparations for the heavy support package to the war-ravaged Darfur region of Sudan, while efforts are under way to establish a hybrid UN-African Union force."We have a lot of work ahead of us," Hédi Annabi, assistant secretary-general for peacekeeping operations, said to reporters after briefing the Security Council. The current focus is on expediting the deployment of the heavy support package, which is the second leg of the three-phase programme to support and enhance the under-resourced AU Mission in Darfur (AMIS), he said.

“Most, if not all” the offers necessary have been received, he noted, and the next step will be for potential contributors to visit Darfur to assess the situation to determine equipment needs. Read more >>>>>>>>>>>>>>