|07-16-2007, 05:39 PM||#31 (permalink)|
where de crix
Join Date: Apr 2003
|07-16-2007, 06:03 PM||#32 (permalink)|
|07-25-2007, 08:51 PM||#33 (permalink)|
Anyone interested in peacemaking, poverty reduction and Africa's future should read the new UN Environment Program (UNEP) report Sudan: Post-Conflict Environmental Assessment. This may sound like a technical report on Sudan's environment, but it is much more. It is a vivid study of how the natural environment, poverty and population growth can interact to provoke terrible human-made disasters like the violence in Darfur.
When a war erupts, as in Darfur, most policymakers look for a political explanation and a political solution. This is understandable, but it misses a basic point. By understanding the role of geography, climate and population growth in the conflict, we can find more realistic solutions than if we stick with politics alone. Extreme poverty is a major cause, and predictor, of violence.
The world's poorest places, like Darfur, are much more likely to go to war than richer places. This is not only common sense, but has been verified by studies and statistical analyses. In the UNEP's words, "There is a very strong link between land degradation, desertification, and conflict in Darfur."
`Only with improved access to food, water, health care, schools and income-generating livelihoods can peace be achieved.'
Extreme poverty has several effects on conflict. First, it leads to desperation among parts of the population. Competing groups struggle to stay alive in the face of a shortage of food, water, pasture land and other basic needs.
Second, the government loses legitimacy and the support of its citizens. Third, the government may be captured by one faction or another, and then use violent means to suppress rivals.
Darfur, the poorest part of a very poor country, fits that dire pattern. Livelihoods are supported by semi-nomadic livestock-rearing in the north and subsistence farming in the south. It is far from ports and international trade, lacks basic infrastructure such as roads and electricity, and is extremely arid. It has become even drier in recent decades because of a decline in rainfall, which is probably the result, at least in part, of man-made climate change, caused mostly by energy use in rich countries.
Declining rainfall contributed directly or indirectly to crop failures, the encroachment of the desert into pasturelands, the decline of water and grassland for livestock and massive deforestation. Rapid population growth -- from around one million in 1920 to around seven million today -- made all of this far more deadly by slashing living standards. The result has been increasing conflict between pastoralists and farmers, and the migration of populations from the north to the south. After years of simmering conflicts, clashes broke out in 2003 between rival ethnic and political groups, and between Darfur rebels and the national government, which in turn has supported brutal militias in "scorched earth" policies, leading to massive death and displacement.
While international diplomacy focused on peacekeeping and on humanitarian efforts to save the lives of displaced and desperate people, peace in Darfur can be neither achieved nor sustained until the underlying crises of poverty, environmental degradation, declining access to water and chronic hunger are addressed. Stationing soldiers will not pacify hungry, impoverished and desperate people. Only with improved access to food, water, health care, schools and income-generating livelihoods can peace be achieved. The people of Darfur, Sudan's government, and international development institutions should urgently search for common ground to find a path out of desperate violence through Darfur's economic development, helped and supported by the outside world.
The UNEP report, as well as experiences elsewhere in Africa, suggest how to promote economic development in Darfur. Both people and livestock need assured water supplies. In some areas, this can be obtained through boreholes that tap underground aquifers. In other areas, rivers or seasonal surface runoff can be used for irrigation. In still other areas, longer-distance water pipelines might be needed.
In all cases, the world community will have to help pay the tab, since Sudan is too poor to bear the burden on its own.
With outside help, Darfur could increase the productivity of its livestock through improved breeds, veterinary care, collection of fodder and other strategies.
A meat industry could be developed in which Darfur's pastoralists would multiply their incomes by selling whole animals, meat products, processed goods (such as leather), dairy products and more. The Middle East is a potentially lucrative nearby market. To build this export market, Darfur will need help with transport and storage, cellphone coverage, power, veterinary care and technical advice.
Social services, including health care and disease control, education and adult literacy programs should also be promoted. Living standards could be improved significantly and rapidly through low-cost targeted investments in malaria control, school feeding programs, rainwater harvesting for drinking water, mobile health clinics and boreholes for livestock and irrigation in appropriate locations.
Cellphone coverage could revolutionize communications for sparse populations in Darfur's vast territory, with major benefits for livelihoods, physical survival and the maintenance of family ties.
The only way to sustainable peace is through sustainable development. If we are to reduce the risk of war, we must help impoverished people everywhere, not only in Darfur, to meet their basic needs, protect their natural environments and get onto the ladder of economic development.
Jeffrey Sachs is a professor of economics and director of the Earth Institute at Columbia University.
|07-25-2007, 08:54 PM||#34 (permalink)|
AS PROBLEMS go, Darfur is about as bad as it gets.
Darfur, which means "place of the Fur people," is part of the Western Sudan. Its problems have spilled over into adjacent regions of neighboring Chad and the Central African Republic that share Darfur's excruciating dryness, poverty, isolation, and, now, displaced people and conflict.
It is estimated that more than 2.5 million people have been dislodged by the Darfur troubles, which began in 2003, with between 200,000 and 400,000 killed. Whenever numbers like that are rounded off to the nearest hundred thousand it means that no one really knows how many have been displaced or killed. But it's a lot.
Partly because the Darfur problem has been around for a while, it receives some attention. Recently, President Bush said he had considered sending U.S. troops there - but had rejected the idea (It might have been the matter of 170,000 U.S. troops in Iraq with more possibly to be sent to enhance the "surge").
Last week, meeting in Paris, new British Prime Minister Gordon Brown and new French President Nicolas Sarkozy pledged to do something about Darfur, joining Mr. Bush in talking about what a terrible problem it was and how something had to be done about it by someone.
Darfur stays in front of a not-very-interested U.S. population because of the good work of groups like the Save Darfur Coalition. Another reason it continues to get attention is that it has been called genocide.
This means, first, that people who have been victims of genocide, such as Armenians, Jews, and Rwandans, are interested in Darfur because of the shared pain and grief, and because they don't want their own fates to be forgotten by history.
Also, no one wants to be accused of perpetrating or condoning genocide by inaction. That's what gets Mr. Bush to talk about it, although he has yet to do anything that has any significant impact in Darfur or Sudan.
Although Darfur is a perfectly ghastly problem, it is not easily susceptible to becoming an issue in the U.S. presidential elections because it is too complicated. It is hard to see the candidates making a point in a speech about Darfur, starting by hoisting a map to show where the place is.
Sudan has been the epitome of difficult African countries since well before independence in 1956. Sudan is and always has been an uneasy combination of pastoralists speaking Arabic, darker-skinned farmers speaking African languages, and others, living in a large country with little water and few resources. The pastoralists, with Gen. Omar Hassan Ahmad al-Bashir as president now, have been on top pretty much since the beginning. His group's approach to human rights has been very mixed.
Sudan was torn by north-south civil war for decades, ending with a fragile agreement in 2005. Some people speculate that the reason the world hasn't pushed Sudan harder on Darfur is because of the risk of the north-south accord coming unglued.
The Sudanese government is quite artful at fending off attempts to influence its behavior. It allowed basically clawless African Union peacekeepers to be sent to Darfur. It has bobbed and weaved about allowing in potentially more competent U.N. peacekeeping forces.
Sudan found oil, and Chinese companies have staked out most of it. China has also quietly assumed the role of protector of Sudan in the United Nations and other forums. There is some thought that China's wishing to host a quiet and unprotested Olympic games in 2008 will make it susceptible to pressure to push the Sudanese to be reasonable about Darfur. I am skeptical.
Apart from giving the Sudanese independence of action, its oil also serves as a deterrent to U.S. involvement in the Darfur affair.
All it would take is for someone to suggest that the United States was interested in intervening in Sudan to get its hands on the country's oil - as is sometimes suggested with respect to Iraq - or, worse, that the United States was, in fact, zeroing in on another Muslim country, and our engagement could become unwelcome indeed.
I see some hope in increased French interest in Darfur, since it has military and other resources in neighboring Chad and the Central African Republic.
I think, for now, however, that the United States has other fish to fry, although the Darfur coalition should definitely keep the heat on Washington on this issue.
|07-25-2007, 08:57 PM||#35 (permalink)|
This article is too long to post, but its a good read....
|08-04-2007, 07:20 PM||#36 (permalink)|
Darfur faction threatens boycott
Commanders from a large Darfur rebel faction have threatened to boycott a crucial unity meeting in Arusha, Tanzania, unless the Sudanese government allows a senior rebel figure to attend.
The latest hitch in the peace process sponsored by the African Union and the United Nations coincided with the first African troop pledges to a new peacekeeping force, approved by the United Nations this week and given guarded backing by Sudan.
Expected to cost more than $US2 billion ($A2.34 billion) in the first year, the "hybrid" force will assume authority by December 31 over 7,000 AU soldiers who have struggled to stop the violence in Darfur.
International experts say 200,000 people have been killed and 2.5 million displaced in Sudan's western Darfur region since a rebellion erupted there in 2003. Sudan says 9,000 have died.
Five African nations - Burkina Faso, Nigeria, Egypt, Cameroon and Ethiopia - have pledged to send peacekeepers, a top AU official said on Thursday, and South Africa said it would consider adding to the 97 soldiers it already has there.
But the task of building up the force to its target strength of 26,000 is expected to take many more months.
The UN and the AU will chair the Arusha meeting, starting on Friday, with the aim of getting the rebels to agree on a joint negotiating platform for peace talks.
A faction leader from the Sudan Liberation Army (SLA) told Reuters its commanders would not attend the talks unless the SLA's humanitarian coordinator was allowed to go too.
Suleiman Jamous has been virtually imprisoned in Kordofan, near Darfur, for 13 months since being moved to a UN hospital there for treatment. Sudan says it will arrest him if he leaves.
Observers say Jamous is crucial as the rebels' link with the humanitarian operation in Darfur, the world's largest, which has been forced to scale down because of attacks on its convoys, leaving some 500,000 people out of reach of aid.
They also say he is key to uniting rebel factions and military commanders in Darfur with political leaders outside the region, whose differences are a major obstacle to a settlement.
This week, 11 prominent activists including South African Archbishop Desmond Tutu, former US Ambassador to the United Nations Richard Holbrooke, former Czech President Vaclav Havel, and Nobel Peace Laureate Jody Williams, wrote to Sudanese President Omar Hassan al-Bashir requesting his release.
"Our commanders on the ground are saying that unless Jamous goes to Arusha, they will not go," SLA faction head Abdallah Yehia told Reuters.
"I told the UN and AU, but they say it is difficult. I ask why is it difficult? He is in an UN hospital," said Yehia, who is from the SLA-Unity group. Yehia said he would travel to Arusha but his commanders were refusing to go.
Sudan said on Wednesday it was ready to consider releasing Jamous but neither UN Darfur envoy Jan Eliasson nor his AU counterpart Salim Ahmed Salim had raised the issue in talks.
UN spokesman George Somerwill said the issue had been raised with the government, which had said it would consider his release once the peace talks began.
Key field commanders Jar el-Neby and Suleiman Marajan agreed on Thursday to attend the talks, improving the prospect of progress. "We have received an official invitation and we are prepared to go to Arusha," Jar el-Neby told Reuters from Darfur.
A visiting UN rights envoy called on Sudan to curb the powers of its security forces amid continuing rights violations across the country.
Sima Samar, the UN special rapporteur on human rights in Sudan, said during a visit to Sudan there were some positive signals from Khartoum but still many problems, including the arrests of political opponents and journalists.
Mostly non-Arab rebels took up arms in early 2003 accusing the central government of neglect. Khartoum mobilised mostly Arab militias, known locally as Janjaweed, to quell the revolt.
After an AU-mediated peace deal last year, signed by only one of three rebel negotiating factions, the non-signatories split into more than dozen factions, complicating peace moves.
|08-04-2007, 07:23 PM||#37 (permalink)|
Darfur's fractious rebels in landmark talks
Meeting aims to present united front for rebel groups in future peace talks with Khartoum.
Darfur's myriad rebel groups sat at the same table for the first time in more than a year Saturday at a meeting in Tanzania, aiming to present a united front in future peace talks with Khartoum.
The landmark talks between the political and military leaders of the many factions that have emerged in Darfur over the past four and half years of conflict were overshadowed however by the absence of two key rebel figures.
"It's the first time since Abuja that we've had so many leading rebel figures sitting together," said Radhia Achouri, spokeswoman for UN envoy to Sudan Jan Eliasson, who is heading the mediation jointly with the African Union's Salim Ahmed Salim.
A peace deal aimed at ending the bloodshed in the western Sudanese region of Darfur was signed with Khartoum in May 2006 in the Nigerian capital Abuja, but only one of the three negotiating rebel factions endorsed it.
Since then, violence has flourished and splinter groups have formed, complicating the prospect of a new round of peace negotiations with the Sudanese government.
But the mediators insisted at the start of the meeting in Arusha Friday that new momentum generated by Tuesday's UN Security Council decision to deploy 26,000 peacekeepers in Darfur could yield a breakthrough in the political process.
"For the first time in a long time, I have a feeling of hope for Darfur, a sense of opportunity not to be lost," Eliasson said late Friday in remarks opening the talks' first plenary session.
Achouri said the rival rebel factions would seek "to agree on confidence building measures such as finding means to contain banditry, ensure the best possible humanitarian access and give a voice to Darfur's civil society."
Salim said Friday that the mediation team was aiming to resume final settlement negotiations between the rebels and Khartoum "within the next two months."
One glaring absence among the dozens of rebel leaders flown over from their Darfur strongholds or from their exile in African and European capitals was that of the rebellion's founding father, Abdel Wahid Mohammed Nur.
Speaking from Paris, the founder of the Sudan Liberation Movement justified his boycott by arguing that the security situation in Darfur was not conducive to negotiations and challenged the legitimacy of the factions invited to Arusha.
"The government of Sudan has practised a 'divide and conquer' approach. Spending the international community's money to host these factions will not bring peace to the people of Darfur," said Nur, a member of Darfur's largest tribe.
"Recognizing new factions will be endless, the rebels will split more and more, we will only see more movements," said Nur, whose SLM was represented at the talks by at least four breakaway factions.
Another absence of note was that of Suleiman Jamous, a key rebel figure who has acted as coordinator to facilitate the delivery of humanitarian aid to the population of Darfur but has been confined to a hospital by the Sudanese government for more than a year.
Mediators, Sudanese and foreign human rights organizations as well as other rebels have called for his release.
"We raised the matter with the president of Sudan.... We believe Suleiman Jamous can be a facilitator in the mediation," Salim said.
|08-04-2007, 07:25 PM||#38 (permalink)|
Sudan accepts U.N. in Darfur
The endorsement of 26,000 peacekeepers marked a major reverse by the Khartoum regime
KHARTOUM, Sudan - Sudan yesterday endorsed a U.N. resolution to send 26,000 peacekeepers to Darfur, raising hopes for a force that could for the first time provide real protection to civilians in one of the world's most embattled regions.
Acceptance of the new mission marked a major turnaround for Khartoum. President Omar al-Bashir said last year that he viewed U.N. blue helmets as a neocolonial force and would personally lead the resistance against them if they deployed.
"The Sudanese government is committed to implementing its part of the resolution," Sudanese Foreign Minister Lam Akol told reporters yesterday.
"This resolution is a result of long and tedious consultations involving lots of people and the Sudanese government," Akol said. "This is the first time a country involved in the resolution takes part in the consultations."
But Sudan has a long history of obstructing any international presence in Darfur, and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice warned yesterday that the United States would watch out for any Sudanese backtracking.
"We are expecting the Sudanese government to live up to the commitments it is making," she said, speaking during a visit to Saudi Arabia.
If fully deployed, the troops would be the United Nations' largest peacekeeping operation and, under the U.N. resolution passed Tuesday, would be under orders to prevent attacks against civilians.
Four years of warfare in Darfur, in western Sudan, has killed more than 200,000 people and driven some 2.5 million from their homes. The conflict began when ethnic African rebels launched an insurgency, complaining of discrimination by the Arab government in Khartoum. The government is accused of responding by unleashing the janjaweed, a militia blamed for widespread killings, rapes, and other atrocities against ethnic African civilians. Khartoum denies the accusations.
An African Union force of 7,000 troops on the ground has been too small and too poorly equipped to stop the bloodshed.
The force will include up to 19,555 military personnel. The United Nations said the force, called UNAMID, would have "a predominantly African character," as Sudan demanded. African troops already in Darfur will stay there.
Attack helicopters expected to be sent in would give the troops a major edge in moving quickly across the large territory in central Africa to stop attacks by Arab janjaweed militias on villages.
France, Denmark and Indonesia offered yesterday to contribute to the force. Nigeria, which has about 2,000 troops in Darfur, said it was ready to send an additional battalion - about 700 soldiers.
"This force is only going to have a significant impact on security [for Darfurians] if two things happen," said Colin Thomas-Jensen, a Sudan expert at the Enough Project, a U.S.-based research and advocacy group. "A sufficient deployment of troops with requisite material, and a real political agreement for peace in Darfur."
Western activists warned that Khartoum could eviscerate the new Darfur mission by, for instance, not granting entry visas to blue helmets, holding up key military gear at customs, or impeding contractors sent in to build peacekeeping bases.
|08-04-2007, 07:30 PM||#39 (permalink)|
Some countries ready to help in Darfur
France, Denmark and Indonesia offered Wednesday to contribute to a joint United Nations-African Union peacekeeping force for Darfur, while Sudan praised the U.N. resolution, which was watered down to drop the threat of sanctions.
Acceptance of the new 26,000-strong force marked a major turnaround for Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir's government, which had resisted for months a push to send U.N. peacekeepers to the western Darfur region, where over 200,000 people have died and 2.5 million been chased from their homes in four years of fighting.
But Sudan agreed in June to a compromise deal for the African Union to deploy jointly with the U.N. in a "hybrid force" to end the violence, which is what the U.N. resolution passed Tuesday provides for.
"The Sudanese government is committed to implementing its part of the resolution," Sudanese Foreign Minister Lam Akol told reporters on Wednesday.
The U.N. Security Council unanimously approved the force, which if fully deployed would be the world's largest peacekeeping operation. It is expected to be made up mostly of peacekeepers from Africa with backup from Asian troops.
Tuesday's resolution won Khartoum's praise after it dropped the threat of sanctions against Sudan if it fails to accept the force and an authorization for the new force to seize or collect arms. The changes were made in negotiations between Security Council members to avoid a veto by China, Sudan's top diplomatic ally.
Major Western powers are expected to provide only limited manpower in the force, as many are already overstretched in existing peacekeeping efforts and conflicts such as Iraq, observers say. Britain's military, for example, has 7,100 service members in Afghanistan and 5,500 in Iraq.
"We would consider requests to support the United Nations-Africans Mission in Darfur once we receive a formal request to do so," Britain's Defense Ministry said Wednesday, adding that it is already assisting the existing AU mission in Darfur in areas including logistics and planning.
But a spokeswoman at the British foreign office - who spoke on condition of anonymity, in keeping with the ministry's regulations - said Britain would not send ground forces.
"We're not going to be putting soldiers with guns and tanks in Darfur," she said.
The conflict in Darfur began in February 2003 when ethnic African tribes rebelled against what they considered decades of neglect and discrimination by Sudan's Arab-dominated government. Sudan's government is accused of retaliating by unleashing a militia of Arab nomads known as the janjaweed - a charge it denies. More than 200,000 people have died, and 2.5 million have been uprooted.
The new peacekeeping force will take over from the beleaguered 7,000-strong African Union force now in Darfur no later than Dec. 31. The U.N. said the force, called UNAMID, will have "a predominantly African character," as Sudan demanded.
African troops already in Darfur will stay there. Nigeria, which has about 2,000 troops in Darfur, is ready to send an additional battalion of about 700 soldiers, said army spokesman Col. Mohammed Yusuf.
France offered to send soldiers and participate in the chain of command, as well as take part in reconstruction and humanitarian efforts, Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner said. He did not say how many troops France might contribute.
Denmark's Defense Minister Soeren Gade said his country would definitely help.
"Beside the fact that there is a need for quite a lot of soldiers, there is a need for logistical staff, people in the headquarters, ships that can ferry equipment on long distances, planes that can move equipment and personnel," he said in an interview from Iraq with the TV2 News channel.
Desra Percaya, spokesman for Indonesia's foreign ministry, said the country was willing to contribute troops but was waiting for details on how many non-African troops are needed.
Several countries - including Italy, Sweden, Austria, the Netherlands, Poland, Turkey, Thailand, and South Africa - said they had not made a decision yet. Australian Foreign Minister Alexander Downer said the country would send a small number of doctors and nurses, but no troops or security personnel, given its existing commitments in Iraq, Afghanistan and the Solomon Islands.
China made no immediate response, though its special envoy on Darfur said in June that his country would seriously consider sending peacekeepers.
The 15-member Security Council's approval of the peacekeeping force ended weeks of negotiations between its main sponsors - Britain and France - and the Sudanese government and its key backers including China, which imports two-thirds of Sudan's oil.
The force will include up to 19,555 military personnel, including 360 military observers and liaison officers, a civilian component including up to 3,772 international police, and 19 special police units with up to 2,660 officers.
The ultimate troop strength depends on the willingness of U.N. member states to contribute troops, police, logistics and sophisticated military hardware.
|08-04-2007, 07:33 PM||#40 (permalink)|
Darfur scares European investors off Sudan's oil
KHARTOUM – Sudan has strong potential for oil exploration and expansion but big European players will be reluctant to invest for fear of pressure from groups advocating divestment because of violence in its Darfur region.
This has left the door open to Chinese firms, less sensitive to shareholder opinion, whose country is hungry for energy.
European caution is unlikely to change given the high profile of the rape and killing in Sudan's remote west, which international experts estimate has claimed 200,000 lives.
Sudan, emerging from decades of civil war, produces around 500,000 barrels per day of crude, mostly the sweet refinery grade Nile Blend and the more acidic Dar Blend.
Most of the oil lies in the south, scene of a bitter civil conflict for all but 11 years since independence in 1956.
However, as the former foes in Sudan signed a north-south peace deal in January 2005, a conflict was fully under way in the western Darfur region, which Washington branded genocide.
European powers are reluctant to use the term, which Khartoum rejects.
Lack of progress on Darfur and backsliding on the southern deal prompted the United States in May to strengthen sanctions it had placed on Sudan in 1997, which most analysts say have not affected the oil industry, except for banking administration.
Analysts say Sudan has instead looked east to Asia for investment, a policy that is unlikely to change.
“If you look at production, it's not affected production,” said Christopher Brown, Sudan analyst from Wood Mackenzie.
The only major Western operator in Sudan, France's Total, has been kept from starting work by a long-dispute on ownership rights to its Block B. A small British firm had been drilling until the government ruled in favour of Total.
“There are no Western operators, other than Total SA, which has not started yet,” Brown said.
While the sanctions are not directed against European companies, many fear reprisals from lobby groups that have waged an effective Sudan divestment campaign in the last few years.
“The European players would be worried about reputational risks,” said O.B. Sisay, deputy Africa analyst from Exclusive Analysis.
The Sudan Divestment Taskforce, www.sudandivestment.org, has pressed U.S. universities and even large funds and financial institutions to divest from companies with interests in Sudan, in what activists say is the largest movement since the anti-apartheid campaign.
Sisay said the Darfur war activists were influential.
“The pressure groups could create serious risks for the companies...which leaves a lot of space for Chinese companies.”
Top state-owned firm Chinese National Petroleum Corp. (CNPC) has major interests in eight of Sudan's oil blocks, as well as owning 50 percent of Sudan's largest refinery and partnering oil pipeline construction.
Malaysia's state-owned Petronas and India's ONGC have invested heavily in recent years as Western companies left.
Analysts said there was good growth potential in Sudan's oil industry, which has remained opaque for years because of its role in the north-south civil war and associated rights abuses.
With the peace deal, new areas for exploration were opening.
Sudan's oil blocks total an area of around 1 million square km (386,100 sq miles), with only a small area so far drilled.
The full extent of its oil reserves are unclear but BP's Statistical Review of World Energy in 2007 put Sudan's proved reserves at 6.4 billion barrels, the fifth largest in Africa.
“As the country becomes explored more there is a huge possibility...and huge potential,” Sisay said.
Wood Mackenzie's Brown said exploration was relatively cheap in Sudan so even as current oil fields slow down, the country could make new finds to sustain production.
“We expect production to rise to somewhere in the region of 700,000 barrels per day over the next couple of years and then probably decline unless they make new finds,” he said.
“They are exploring at a high rate so they may be able to sustain that.”
But one source close to oil production in Sudan said the government was overpumping its Nile Blend and Dar Blend, to get as much revenue as possible ahead of a southern Sudanese vote on independence in 2011.
“They want to get out as much as possible before the south goes its own way,” the source told Reuters.
Sisay at Exclusive Analysis said a return to war, which some observers say is possible, would be more of a threat to investors than any separation.
But he said Sudanese oil would become more important in global markets, as there is a supply crunch with production problems in Nigeria and the Middle East.
“As China, Brazil and India increase in their demand, Sudanese oil will be key,” he said.
|08-04-2007, 07:36 PM||#41 (permalink)|
Darfur: The evidence of war crimes
Darfur: The evidence of war crimes
500 drawings by children who escaped the violence are to be submitted to the International Criminal Court as proof of war crimes by Sudanese forces
Thursday, August 02, 2007
By Andrew Grice
Dramatic new evidence of the attacks on the people of Darfur by Sudanese government troops has emerged in 500 drawings by children who escaped the violence by fleeing across the border to Chad.
In a ground-breaking move, the remarkable collection of images will now be submitted to the International Criminal Court (ICC), which has started proceedings against a Sudanese government minister and a militia commander accused of committing war crimes in Darfur.
The testimony of the children, some as young as eight, emerged by chance when a peace campaigner handed the children paper, pencils and crayons to keep them occupied while she interviewed their mothers.
Anna Schmidt, a researcher for Waging Peace, which campaigns against genocide, had been hoping to gain information about the atrocities in Darfur from the women, who are among 250,000 to have fled to the relative safety in neighbouring Chad.
Yet it was their children who provided perhaps the most significant indication yet of exactly what has gone on in Darfur. Most of them could not read or write. But they could draw. And, unprompted, they started to reveal what they had seen with their own eyes.
The drawings depict Sudanese tanks, planes and helicopters launching co-ordinated attacks with the Arab Janjaweed militia against Darfuris defending themselves with bows and arrows.
The government of Sudan has repeatedly denied launching military attacks in Darfur.
The graphic images include the bombing of civilians and children; homes being set on fire as villages are destroyed; beheadings; victims lying in pools of blood; women chained together being led away; and mass graves. Many of the children who drew the stories of their lives do not have fathers or brothers. Men and older boys have been slaughtered in Darfur. Childish lines that look as though they should be depicting fairgrounds or farmyards, instead show helicopter gun attacks, tanks bearing the Sudanese flag, and soldiers wearing the uniform of the Sudanese army alongside vehicles with machineguns driven by Janjaweed. The perpetrators are always light-skinned. The victims are always black.
"This is the proof," said Rebecca Tinsley, a director of Waging Peace, who will submit the drawings to the ICC and plans to exhibit them to rally support for tougher international action against Sudan. "If this is not evidence, I don't know what is. The children have provided a photographic record. They have not been manipulated. The pattern that emerged in the drawings is amazing. It corroborates what we know is happening and disproves what we are being told by the government of Sudan."
The ICC has named two suspects wanted for alleged war crimes in Darfur. They are Ahmed Muhammed Harun, formerly Sudan's junior interior minister responsible for Darfur and now humanitarian affairs minister, and Ali Mohammed Ali Abd-al-Rahman, a leader of one of the Janjaweed militias. But there is no guarantee they will be handed over by Sudan.
About 110 people are dying in Darfur every day, according to Waging Peace. More than 200,000 people have been killed since the crisis began four years ago, two million have been displaced and four million rely on food aid.
On Tuesday, the United Nations backed a British and French resolution which will allow a 26,000-strong UN-African Union peacekeeping force to go to Darfur. But British officials admit this is only a first step towards a long-term peace settlement in Sudan and that the Arab-dominated government in Khartoum has made concessions before, only to frustrate progress at a later stage. There are already signs that it may do so again, with one Sudanese minister reportedly saying the UN resolution may be "stillborn".
Ms Tinsley expressed concern at statements by the Sudanese government yesterday that the force would come from African nations. She said the African Union was already overstretched and 13,000 short of the number of troops it needed in Somalia. She saw the statements as "predictable delaying tactics" by Khartoum. She feared the force might not be in place until next February, even though the UN wants to start deploying it in October. Ms Tinsley is campaigning for tougher sanctions on leading figures in the Sudanese government such as a travel ban on its prominent figures.
Omer Siddig, the Sudanese ambassador in London, welcomed the UN resolution yesterday as "a step forward in the right direction". He said it was not true that Sudanese government had given implicit or explicit support to the Janjaweed in their campaign of ethnic cleansing. "We are the government and we know things on the ground," he told BBC Radio 4.
When she visited Darfur, Ms Tinsley gathered evidence of the systematic rape of black women when they left refugee camps to gather firewood. She said rape was being used as a weapon of war, with victims being told: "I want to dilute your blood." Men called their victims abid (slave). A "second wave of genocide" was happening because many women were developing HIV-Aids and could not get drugs to treat the disease. Victims were often subsequently shunned by men.
Some aid agencies are reluctant to speak out against Sudan, fearing that they might be expelled from the country. There are claims that aid workers are being intimidated. One was accused of "telling lies" about conditions in Darfur when he returned after the Sudanese government spotted an interview he gave to his local newspaper.
When Ms Tinsley interviewed women in Darfur, several told her: "You have to be our voice. We don't have a voice."
Now, the women's children have found theirs.
Last edited by Links30; 08-05-2007 at 11:09 AM..
|08-10-2007, 07:44 PM||#42 (permalink)|
Darfur rebel unity proves elusive
When Darfur's rebel leaders and international envoys packed their bags and left Arusha in Tanzania on Monday, they knew the hard work had only just begun.
They may have agreed on a common platform on issues such as power sharing, security, land, humanitarian affairs and compensation, but there are two more pressing tasks in their inbox:
* First, to appoint a "leader" or "committee" who will head up any future negotiations with Khartoum
* Second, to try to bring on side the rebel leaders who were left out of the deal, either through personal choice or circumstance.
Throughout the closed-door meeting, a chair was left empty for Abdul Wahid: an acknowledgement of the influence he still wields.
There is no doubt that the UN Security Council's decision to send more peacekeepers into Darfur has galvanised the rebel movement to put aside issues of personality and try to focus on a common agenda.
Details of that "common agenda" were handed in a sealed envelope to the UN's special envoy to Sudan, Jan Eliasson, as he left the fresh air of Arusha and headed for the dry heat of Khartoum.
He is now in meetings with the government of Sudan, to try and sell the idea of fresh talks, and agree on practicalities and timetables.
Fighters of the Sudan Liberation Army/Movement (SLA/M) Minni Minawi faction. File photo
The rebel movement in Darfur has fractured over the last year
So far, the response in Khartoum seems to have been positive.
But will the UN and African mediators be able to bring in those who remained absent from the talks?
Suleiman Jamous, widely seen as a unifying figure in the broad grouping of the Sudanese Liberation Army (SLA) lay in a UN hospital bed in Kordofan while his colleagues were thrashing out policy.
Largely seen as a political agitator, he has been threatened with arrest by the authorities in Khartoum, but the mediators recognise his role will be crucial and have kept him up to speed with negotiations by telephone.
Even the actress and UN goodwill ambassador Mia Farrow has offered to "take his place" to enable him to participate in any future talks. Not surprisingly, perhaps, Ms Farrow has not been taken up on the offer.
Then there is Abdul Wahid - the father of the rebel movement and first chairman of the SLA, who boycotted talks for two reasons.
Firstly, because they were being held while Darfur is essentially still "at war", and secondly, because in his view, they rewarded factionalism.
It is true that since its inception, the SLA has been dogged by in-fighting which rapidly got worse when Minni Minawi's faction of the SLA signed the Darfur peace agreement in 2006.
But given this reality, and the fact that any peace deal would fail without the participation of key players, international mediators seemed to have little choice but to bring the parties together for what their jargon calls "pre-negotiation talks".
Throughout the closed-door meeting, a chair was left empty for Abdul Wahid: a largely symbolic gesture, but nevertheless an acknowledgement of the influence he still wields.
Although his political clout has waned in recent months, he is still a symbolic figure in many of the camps in Darfur.
He is held in close affection by Darfur's largest ethnic group, the Fur, but is renowned for his chaotic style of leadership and erratic decision making.
Although mediators have said no single individual will "veto" the talks, efforts will be made to "woo him" as he "manages" his rebellion from a Paris base.
As hurried efforts are now made to raise the cash and the troops to send more than 19,000 extra peacekeepers in to Darfur, there will be pressure to start a parallel peace process in the coming months.
By now it is almost a cliche to ask what is the point of peacekeepers "when there's no peace to keep".
Yet the question reflects a genuine concern that talks need to get swiftly back on track if there is to be any chance of calming this troubled region.
Avoiding same mistakes
The Darfur peace agreement failed because of hurried attempts to secure a deal and get UN peacekeepers in.
They did not get a deal and they did not get UN peacekeepers. Instead security rapidly worsened in Darfur.
Fragmented rebel factions targeted humanitarian groups to kit themselves out with vehicles, satellite telephones and other necessities to assert their presence in the battle for Darfur.
The people who ended up worst off were the civilians, who found themselves deprived of humanitarian assistance for periods of time when aid agencies had to suspend operations.
Many in humanitarian circles are concerned that the same mistake not be made again.
If a majority of rebel factions can cement the ties that were nurtured in Arusha and sustain them for longer than an August weekend, then peace may have a real chance in Darfur.
|08-10-2007, 07:47 PM||#43 (permalink)|
Heavy fighting over strategic Darfur town kills scores of government forces, rebels
KHARTOUM, Sudan – Fighting over a strategic town in southern Darfur has killed many rebels and government forces over the past week, and the Sudanese air force has bombed several villages, rebels and international observers said Thursday.
The clashes began Aug. 1 when rebels captured the town of Adila, where Sudanese troops were stationed to protect the only railway linking Darfur to the capital of Khartoum, rebels said.
The Sudanese army and its allied janjaweed militias “were summarily defeated, leaving behind heavy weapons and ammunition,” the rebel Justice and Equality Movement said in a statement.
An international observer in Darfur said Sudanese forces had recaptured Adila, located near South Darfur's border with the neighboring region of Khordofan, but clashes were reported to be ongoing.
“It seems over 100 (Sudanese) soldiers or janjaweed have been killed,” the official said on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the media. At least 10 rebels were killed and 15 injured, he said.
Army spokesman Gen. Osman Mohamed al-Agbash indicated there had been heavy fighting over the town but offered no commment on military casualties. He said rebels were falsely claiming that “the army has used air bombing in (the) recapturing of Adila,” according to the Sudan Media Center, a news service deemed close to the government.
Observers and rebels Sudan's air force bombed at least four villages in the area this week, but there were no reports of casualties because many of the civilians had fled.
Rebels said they attacked because the janjaweed were burning villages in the area. They said the offensive was led by Abdelazziz Ushar, a Darfur field commander previously fighting a separate rebellion in eastern Sudan.
The African Union peacekeeping mission in Darfur confirmed there had been heavy fighting, but said it had no details. “The zone around Adila is a no-go area for us,” said AU spokesman Noureddine Mezni.
Ethnic African rebels in Darfur took up arms against the Arab-dominated government in 2003, accusing it of discrimination. The government is accused of retaliating by unleashing the janjaweed, which have been blamed for the worst atrocities against civilians in a conflict has left more than 200,000 dead and displaced 2.5 million.
A Justice and Equality Movement leader said his group shot down a government MIG-29 fighter jet that was participating in bombings Wednesday, but other rebels disputed the claim.
Abdullahi el-Tom told The Associated Press the aircraft's wreckage had been found 2.8 miles south of Adila, but the pilot had not been located.
Rebels from a faction of the Sudan Liberation Movement, however, told international observers the jet crashed because of a mechanical problem.
Al-Agbash, the army spokesman, denied the plane was shot down.
Military flights are banned over Darfur by several U.N. resolutions and peace agreements, and Sudanese authorities routinely deny conducting air raids.
Also Thursday, an ailing rebel chief said he planned to leave a U.N. hospital and ask the United Nations to fly him out of Sudan for further medical treatment.
Sudanese authorities have said they would consider an international petition asking for Suleiman Jamous' safe passage out of the hospital if he commits to peace negotiations.
Jamous, a moderate who has been a key link between Darfur rebels and humanitarian workers, said he would take the government at its word.
“I am taking their conditions and I'm trying to walk out of the hospital on Monday,” Jamous told The Associated Press on the telephone from the town of Kadugli near Sudan's Darfur region, where he has been for over a year.
The U.N. has said he is free to leave the hospital, but acknowledges he is in danger of arrest or reprisals by the government.
Actress Mia Farrow drew added attention to the case this week when she offered to give up her freedom so that Jamous could get safe passage out of a hospital. She said Jamous was important to the civilians of Darfur and would help bring peace to the region.
President Omar al-Bashir's government resisted for months plan to replace the beleaguered 7,000-member AU force in Darfur with U.N. peacekeepers. The U.N. Security Council approved a compromise resolution in July that provides for a joint force of 26,000 U.N. and AU troops that could deploy by the end of the year.
|09-09-2007, 08:48 PM||#44 (permalink)|
Chad supports planned peace talks for neighboring Darfur, may host preparatory meetin
N'DJAMENA, Chad – The U.N. chief won Chad's backing for a Darfur peace conference during a visit Friday to this poverty-stricken central African nation that has become home to tens of thousands of refugees fleeing the conflict in neighboring Sudan.
President Idriss Deby, speaking to reporters after his talks with U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, added he had discussed hosting a preliminary meeting for Darfur rebels before the peace conference set to start Oct. 27 in Libya. The failure of Darfur's fractured rebel movements to act in concert has stymied previous efforts to end the four-year war in Sudan's Darfur.
“We have a long experience dealing with the Sudanese rebels, we know them personally,” Chad's foreign affairs minister, Ahmat Allam-mi, told reporters.
Ban said he expected the proposed rebel gathering to occur and welcomed Chad's “kind offer and flexibility” to hold it.
“Chad is one of the important regional players in addressing (the) situation in Darfur,” Ban had said before going into his meeting with Deby.
More than 200,000 people have died and 2.5 million have been uprooted since ethnic African rebels in Darfur took up arms against the Arab-dominated Sudanese government in 2003, accusing it of decades of neglect. Sudan's government is accused of retaliating by unleashing a militia of Arab nomads known as the janjaweed – a charge it denies.
The fighting in Sudan has sent tens of thousands of refugees into Chad and neighboring Central African Republic. In addition, raiders from Sudan have attacked refugees and Chadian villagers in Chad, and Chadian rebels have taken advantage of the instability to use the Chad region bordering Darfur as a staging ground for their own war on Deby's government.
“We talk about a spillover of the Darfur crisis into Chad. It's not just a spillover,” said Kingsley Amaning, the U.N. humanitarian chief in Chad. “Instability from Darfur provided a haven for all sorts of armed groups.”
A yearlong, 3,000-strong U.N.-mandated European Union mission has been proposed to protect Sudanese refugees and other civilians in the affected parts of Chad and Central African Republic. France is expected to contribute most of the soldiers for the mission, Belgium has pledged 80-100 personnel, and others including Sweden and Britain have backed the mission but have yet to say if they will send troops.
The force planned for Chad and Central African Republic is in addition to 26,000 African Union-U.N. peacekeepers for Darfur.
Chad's Deby rejected an initial proposal for a 10,900-member U.N. force to patrol the Darfur-Chad border and help protect about 238,000 Sudanese refugees in a dozen camps in eastern Chad and 180,000 Chadians uprooted by the fighting – a huge increase from 50,000 internally displaced Chadians just a year ago.
Ban also met with humanitarian workers in Chad Friday. In a separate meeting with reporters, Thomas Merkelbach, the International Committee of the Red Cross representative in Chad, said the EU force “has to act and be perceived as being neutral.” In that light, he said, France “might become a problem.”
France has lent Deby military support against the Chadian rebels active in the border region.
Ban's Chad stop comes after a four-day visit to Sudan, including a visit to a camp for displaced people in Darfur. This weekend, Ban goes on to Libya, a visit that takes on added importance with the announcement that Libya will host Darfur peace talks.
|09-09-2007, 08:53 PM||#45 (permalink)|
Work in Darfur far from done
With the recent United Nations approval of a 26,000-strong peacekeeping force for Darfur, Sudan, we stand at a critical juncture. Though rightly hailed as a positive development, the hybrid U.N./African Union force will not be a panacea for Darfur's multitude of ongoing ills. It is crucial that the people and government of the United States remain actively committed to ending the conflict, maintaining constructive engagement with all parties to the conflict as we work toward securing a truly comprehensive peace settlement.
Since 2003, we have witnessed a systematic campaign of displacement, starvation, rape, mass murder and terror in the western Sudanese region of Darfur. As violence persists despite peace treaties and African Union peacekeeping efforts, now is the time to follow admirable rhetoric with definitive action to stop the violence in Darfur. Accordingly, there should be an international aid conference convened for concerned nations to make the financial commitments that are necessary to alleviate the suffering of innocent people in Darfur.
As U.S. foreign policy remains centered on the highly partisan debate over Iraq, a focus likely to intensify with the upcoming report of Gen. David Petraeus, we cannot allow Darfur to slip through the cracks.
For this reason, I led a congressional delegation to Darfur during the recent August recess. This milestone trip came at a crucial moment, as we work with other members of the international community to ensure the successful deployment of the hybrid peacekeeping force.
Along with my colleagues in the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC), I was among the first to apply the term "genocide" to the conflict in Darfur, followed by both the House of Representatives and the Senate in July 2004. The Bush administration, following active encouragement by the CBC and other concerned groups, reached the same conclusion in September of that year. In 2005 and 2006, the U.S. government provided 72 percent of all humanitarian assistance to Sudan, according to State Department statistics. In a political era characterized by bitter polarization, a deep and broad-based consensus exists, between Democrats and Republicans, Congress and the White House, that the killings in Darfur are unacceptable.
However, the situation in Darfur continues to deteriorate. The United Nations reported a substantial decline in the humanitarian situation during the first three months of 2007, including attacks on humanitarian vehicles and compounds. In the 12 months preceding April 2007, the number of humanitarian relief workers in Darfur decreased by 16 percent, largely due to security concerns, restrictions on access, and funding limitations. With violence increasingly spilling over the borders into Chad and the Central African Republic, the crisis in Darfur is threatening prospects for stability in the entire region.
Of particular concern is the plight of Darfur's children. Last month, during a congressional briefing on this issue, we welcomed to Congress a young resettled Darfurian refugee. This young man's story, like those of the many children in Darfur, is one of growing up against a backdrop of violence, rape, destruction, and death. Many of these children now live in displaced persons camps, where supplies are short and few essential services exist.
When Congress resumes following the August recess, we will face a wide range of important issues, ranging from the ongoing war in Iraq to the unresolved issue of immigration reform. With the U.N. peacekeeping mission in the pipeline, it would be all too easy for Congress to fail to follow through for the people of Darfur. While the hybrid peacekeeping force will be an important first step, our work in Sudan is far from done. A U.N. military presence is no substitute for a negotiated political settlement, which all parties must be encouraged to seek and uphold.
Additionally, we must continue to pressure China. As the main export destination for Sudanese oil, China has long financed Khartoum's genocide. In June, the U.S. House unanimously passed House Resolution 422, calling on China to use its influence and economic leverage to stop the genocide in Darfur. However, recent reports indicate that China continues to trade in oil and arms with Khartoum. As we enter the final run-up to the 2008 Olympic Games, China remains in a unique position to influence the Khartoum regime.
We must not allow the foreign policy blunders of the current U.S administration to distract us from violence in Sudan. We cannot continue to stand by as Darfur burns. I hope that the recent fact-finding mission signals a new willingness by the Sudanese government to working with the United States to resolve the genocide in Darfur.
We must move past the failed promises of "never again" by transforming our well-meaning sentiments into pragmatic steps that begin the long and arduous road to political, ethnic and religious reconciliation.
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