Sunday, October 18, 2009

Two Kidnapped Darfur Aid Workers Freed - Official

KHARTOUM (Reuters) - Two kidnapped aid workers from the Irish agency Goal were released on Sunday in Sudan's troubled Darfur region after more than 100 days in captivity, a government official said.

"They were released earlier this morning," Sudan's state minister for humanitarian affairs, Abdel Baqi al-Jailani, told Reuters.

Sharon Commins, from Dublin, and Hilda Kawuki, from Uganda, were seized in their north Darfur compound by a group of armed men in July.

Darfur has seen a wave of kidnappings in the past year, and aid workers working in the hostile region have had to step up security. Mostly Darfur rebels took up arms in early 2003 accusing central government of neglect.

A brutal counter-insurgency campaign drove more than 2 million people from their homes and sparked a humanitarian crisis which the United Nations says has claimed 300,000 lives.

Sudanese officials had been negotiating with the kidnappers through tribal elders. Jailani's ministry said no ransom had been paid and the two women were on their way to North Darfur's capital el-Fasher.

The International Committee for the Red Cross (ICRC) said they had received the women in their office in Kutum, but added they were not involved in the negotiations.

"A doctor looked at them and they seemed in good health," said ICRC spokesman Saleh Dabbakeh.

Aid groups say they have faced increased hostility and threats since the International Criminal Court issued an arrest warrant in March for Sudan's President Omar Hassan al-Bashir to face charges that he masterminded war crimes in Darfur. Read more >>>>>>>>>>>>>

Sunday, October 04, 2009

American approach to Darfur genocide woefully lacking

By Jonathan Gurwitz

If you have followed the genocide in Darfur over the past six years, then you have seen and heard every manner of insult to the human conscience. I'm not talking here only about the endless atrocities of the Sudanese government and its Janjaweed militias, atrocities documented at length by human rights organizations, a United Nations commission, the International Criminal Court and the U.S. government.

I'm not talking about the genocidal plan of Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir to kill or drive out the black African residents of Darfur, a plan that has claimed 400,000 mostly civilian lives and created 2.5 million refugees. I'm not talking here about the widespread use of sexual violence as a premeditated strategy — gang rapes of women and girls, the castration of men and boys.

I am talking about the unconscionable response of American leaders to what's continuing to happen in Darfur.

While President George W. Bush did and said more than any other head of state to end the human calamity in Western Sudan, his special envoy to Sudan, Andrew Natsios, was saying something else. Back in 2007, Natsios was arguing that the slaughter in Darfur was over.

Sudanese solders and the Janjaweed evidently didn't get the message. The killings and rapes continue to this day, albeit at lower rates than at the height of the conflict. Read more >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>