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Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Away

I am going to be unable to post for most of today - please check out Passion of the Present, Sudan Watch, or Save Darfur for the lastest news.

Chad: Rebels Take Refugee Camp in Anti-Deby Drive

From Reuters
Fighting flared for a second day in eastern Chad on Monday as rebels attacked police at a refugee camp, killing one, in a military campaign to oust President Idriss Deby before polls next month.

U.N. officials said three other Chadian policeman were injured when rebels occupied the camp housing 17,000 Sudanese refugees outside the village of Koukou, 80 km (50 miles) from the isolated border with Sudan.

It was the latest in a series of raids in the east by rebels seeking to end Deby's 16-year rule over the landlocked central African oil producer.

"The rebels arrived at around 3:30 p.m. There appear to have been a large number," said U.N. refugee agency (UNHCR) spokesman Matthew Conway, speaking by telephone from the town of Abeche, 270 km (170 miles) to the north.

"The rebels told some of the villagers they were going on to (the town of) Goz Beida," Conway said, adding the rebels had given assurances they would not harm civilians, refugees or foreign aid workers.

The rebel United Front for Democratic Change (FUC) said it had seized Goz Beida, 50 km (30 miles) northwest of Koukou, but the government denied this.

"There are no towns under rebel control," Information Minister Hourmadji Moussa Doumgor told Reuters. "Goz Beida has not fallen."

Conway said there were no reports of fighting in Goz Beida although aid workers had taken refuge in the UNHCR compound.

The latest clash came after the FUC said on Sunday it had seized three towns in southeastern Chad -- Haraze-Mangueigne, Am Timan and Abou-Deia. A spokesman for the rebel movement said on Monday their forces had withdrawn.

The government said it had repelled an attack on Haraze-Mangueigne and was in control of all three towns.

"The attack was vigorously repelled and the situation is under total control of the government forces," Chad's Territorial Administration Minister Mahamat Ali Abdallah Nassour told the BBC.

Darfur: What Will It Take to Stop Genocide?

From the US Holocaust Museum's Committee on Conscience

Save the Date: April 17, 2006, at 7 p.m.

The U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum invites you to join a Webcast panel presentation discussing the question,

"What Will It Take to Stop Genocide in Darfur?"

Who:

Samantha Power, Pulitzer Prize-winning Author
Ambassador Michael Ranneberger, Senior State Department Representative for Sudan
Mudawi Ibrahim Adam, Sudanese Human Rights Defender
Jon Sawyer, Award-winning Journalist

When:

Monday, April 17, 2006, at 7 p.m. EDT

How to participate:

Go to: http://www.ushmm.org/conscience/stopgenocide

The panelists will field questions through an online discussion board that you can join.

Participate in the online forum:

Leading up to the event, we will engage in a public discussion about the crisis in Darfur and what it will take to stop genocide in that region. Go to the online forum to engage in discussion, pose questions that you would like to have answered, and share your own thoughts in response to questions posted by others.

For updated information about the program and the panelists, to view the program on April 17th, or to join the online forum, visit the Museum's Web site at http://www.ushmm.org/conscience/stopgenocide

This is a great way to prepare for the April 30th Million Voices for Darfur Rally. Learn more: www.millionvoicesfordarfur.org

Darfur: Victories in Congress, Follow-Through Needed

From the Genocide Intervention Network
Last week, Congress moved closer toward real action to protect innocent lives in Darfur, Sudan by:
* Passing the Darfur Peace and Accountability Act in the House of Representatives

*Adding additional funds to the House and Senate emergency spending bills
(For more information about the legislation, click here)

Your calls, letters and in-person meetings over the past six months have made a real difference. These victories are huge steps in the right direction, but they are only significant if, in the next month, the whole Congress supports at least $200 million in funding for peacekeepers in Darfur.

Without these funds, the peacekeepers will not be able to do their job and we will all lose ground in the fight against genocide.

Call your representatives and senators today — 202.224.3121 — in support of “ at least $200 million for Darfur peacekeeping in the emergency supplemental bill.” (Click here for a sample call script). Also, now is the perfect time to schedule a meeting with your representatives and senators because they will be home on recess (April 10–23). Click here for instructions.

A handful of your calls and meetings with members of Congress will make the difference between winning and losing the fight to protect innocent lives in Darfur.

Monday, April 10, 2006

Darfur/Chad: AU Observers Headed For Border

From AFP
An African observer force left the Libyan capital for the Sudan-Chad border Monday as it began deploying under the terms of a February fence-mending agreement between the two neighbours.

"The force includes contingents from Libya, Burkina Faso and Congo and will soon be joined by observers from Chad," a Libyan official told AFP asking not to be identified.

The February 8 agreement signed by Chadian and Sudanese leaders in Tripoli came after Ndjamena declared itself at a state of war with Khartoum in December amid growing violence on their common frontier.

In addition to the armed rebel groups and government-backed militias that have been fighting for the past three years in the western Sudanese region of Darfur, an army mutiny escalated into all-out rebellion in neighbouring areas of Chad late last year.

An African Union force already operates in Darfur but there has been mounting international pressure for it to be replaced by a UN peacekeeping mission.

Chad/Darfur: Gov't Says It Blocked Attack, Rebels Vow More Raids

From Reuters
Chad said on Monday its army fought off a rebel attack on a southeastern town but an insurgent coalition opposed to President Idriss Deby vowed to step up a campaign to oust him before elections next month.

Sunday's attack against Haraze-Mangueigne, near the border with Central African Republic, was the latest in a series of raids in the east by rebels seeking to end Deby's rule since 1990 over the landlocked central African oil producer.

[edit]

Chad's government said on Monday it was in control of Haraze-Mangueigne and two other towns further northwest, Am Timan and Abou-Deia. The rebel United Front for Democratic Change (FUC) said on Sunday it had seized all three towns but an FUC spokesman said on Monday rebel forces had withdrawn.

"The attack was vigorously repelled and the situation is under total control of the government forces," Chad's Territorial Administration Minister Mahamat Ali Abdallah Nassour told the BBC.

He said about 10 rebels were killed and some government soldiers injured in the Haraze-Mangueigne fighting.

Another Chadian government official, who asked not to be named, denied the rebels had ever taken Am Timan and Abou-Deia.

Chad's government accuses Sudan of allowing Chadian rebels to use the Sudanese Darfur region, already torn by political and ethnic conflict, as a base to launch their attacks.

"It's little groups -- bandits, mercenaries -- under the command of the Sudanese government, who've come to disrupt our election campaign," Nassour said.

An FUC rebel spokesman, Abdullahi Abdel Karim, told Reuters on Monday rebel forces had withdrawn from Haraze-Mangueigne, Am Timan and Abou-Deia for "strategic reasons" after occupying them temporarily on Sunday.

But he said FUC fighters were positioned elsewhere deep inside Chad and would step up attacks between now and May 3.

"The final objective is to take N'Djamena before the elections," Abdel Karim said.

Uganda: 10 Years With the LRA

An interesting article from New Vision
Bosco Atube was 14 when he was abducted from Gulu District by the LRA. Almost 10 years later, with many battles under his belt and boasting the rank of lieutenant, his rebel days are over.

[edit]

As he continued to take part in attacks on the UPDF, Atube was quickly promoted through the LRA ranks. Promotions in the LRA don't come as a result of further military courses or training, as is the case in conventional armies.

They are based on ability to recruit (abduct) fighters, look after and effectively deploy them to attack or repulse the enemy. Atube excelled in all three.

So in 2002, five years after joining the rebels, he was made a sergeant, skipping two ranks. In December of the same year, he was promoted to lieutenant, the rank he held until the day he quit the bush last month.

Like most guerrilla forces, the LRA has no specialised units. According to Atube, whenever there was a mission to carry out, the required manpower would be selected from the general pool of fighters, and placed under one of the top commanders, who would in turn be picked according to the officers' duty roster, which existed in every camp and was strictly followed.

Apart from the senior officers, listening to the radio was an offence, punishable by execution.

Although they were not supposed to know what was going on outside their bush camps, almost all the fighters in Atube's camp had heard about the amnesty that the Government had extended to the rebels.

However, Kony and his senior officers had managed to convince them that the amnesty was just government siasa (propaganda), to lure the rebels out of the bush, so that they could finish them off.

Although the two sometimes stayed in the same camp, Atube can count on one hand, the number of times he met Kony.

"He is always surrounded by 20 to 30 escorts, and is in the habit of making surprise appearances at the various satellite camps," Atube describes Kony's phantom-like tendencies.

Besides promotions, another way Kony would motivate his officers was by giving them young girls, abducted from northern Uganda, to be their sex slaves.

Darfur: Black Americans Quiet on Crisis

From the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
A few days ago, Anna Thorpe sat in a packed University of Pittsburgh auditorium and caught a glimpse of hell on earth.

The photos of charred bodies, some of the sickening number of victims of the savage destruction of the Darfur region in Sudan, were another reminder of the cause she joined two years ago to increase awareness of the bloody conflict. She's among thousands who do such work, but in many ways, Mrs. Thorpe, 39, of Observatory Hill, stands alone.

In Pittsburgh, she's one of a handful of black Americans who speak out about the genocide and, across the nation, she is among a small chorus of black Americans who organize rallies, urge people to sign petitions or plan education sessions.

Black faces are few and far between at sessions like the one at Pitt given by Brian Steidle, a former Marine and onetime peacekeeper in Sudan who witnessed violence and now shows his photographs and urges action on the issue.

Darfur: NATO Has No Plans for Ground Force

From Reuters
NATO is discussing its possible future involvement in Sudan's violent Darfur region but has no plans to send a military ground force, an alliance spokeswoman said on Monday.

The spokeswoman, Carmen Romero, declined to comment on a report by the Washington Post newspaper that said the United States backed a proposal to send several hundred NATO advisers to support an African Union peacekeeping mission in Darfur.

"We are not talking of a NATO force in Darfur, this is out of the question," she said, adding any personnel would be involved only in logistical support or training.

[edit]

Romero said NATO's military authority would prepare its recommendation about the scope of the alliance's involvement in Darfur within "days or weeks". A final decision rests with a council of ambassadors from NATO's 26 member states.

Darfur: UN Official Unbowed by Khartoum Row

From AFP
Senior UN official Jan Egeland warned Monday that he would not hold his punches if the Sudanese government made good on its promise to allow him into the restive western Darfur region after all.

"Maybe I'll go," the UN assistant secretary general for humanitarian affairs told AFP when asked about Khartoum's belated invitation to him to visit Darfur.

"But I will be working on Sudan very actively because the situation is becoming increasingly bad."

Egeland said he hoped the row over his barring from Darfur, which Khartoum insisted was only temporary, was now behind him.

But he added that he remained concerned about the pressures placed on aid groups operating in the region.

"I hope it (the row) will be closed. Now they are inviting me but they are still expelling humanitarian organisations from Darfur and that's very bad," he said.

"Civilians are attacked, security is decreasing while the number of people needing us is increasing.

"We do not have enough money, we do not have enough resources."

Darfur: A US Plan

An op-ed Wesley Clark and John Prendergast in The Boston Globe
For nearly three years, President Bush has watched from the sidelines while senior officials in his administration have searched for solutions to the catastrophe in Darfur. So the president took a lot of people by surprise -- especially members of his own foreign policy team -- when he recently called for NATO to help protect civilians and stabilize the security situation there. But Bush's unscripted remarks on Darfur are consistent with his erratically implied policy of siding with oppressed people against their oppressors.

His administration has yet to form a united front on Darfur because of competing interests at the State Department, the Pentagon, and the CIA. Bush needs to pull together these disparate players and create a real policy to end atrocities, punish human rights violators, and create sustainable peace.

Now that Bush has finally admitted that his administration needs to do better, he should appoint an envoy to harmonize US policy toward Darfur and demonstrate his personal resolve to end the suffering. The president's previous envoy to Sudan, former Missouri senator Jack Danforth, was critical to ending the 22-year war between Khartoum and southern-based rebels. Darfur deserves the same level of engagement.

Chad: Rebels Attack Military Base

From the BBC
Fighting is continuing in Chad after rebels attacked an army garrison near the borders of Sudan and the Central African Republic.

Chad government officials said a convoy of what they called mercenaries had launched the assault on the garrison.

United Front for Democratic Change (FUCD) rebels confirmed the attack, and said they had seized two other towns but this was denied by the government.

Darfur: NATO Role On Tap

From the Washington Post
The Bush administration has settled on the idea of sending up to several hundred NATO advisers to help bolster African Union peacekeeping troops in their efforts to shield villagers in Sudan's Darfur region from fighting between government-backed Arab militias and rebel groups, administration officials said.

The move would include some U.S. troops and mark a significant expansion of U.S. and allied involvement in the conflict. So far, NATO's role has been limited to airlifting African Union forces to the region and providing a few military specialists to help the peacekeeping contingent.

The proposal, which still faces uncertain approval within NATO because of concerns that it could be a distraction from operations in Afghanistan, falls well short of more aggressive measures that some have advocated, such as sending ground combat troops or providing air patrols to protect peacekeepers and prevent the bombing of villages. These options have been ruled out as unnecessary at this time, an administration official said.

In general, U.S. officials said, their aim has been to address shortcomings in the African Union force without upstaging that force and stirring resentment in a region highly sensitive to the presence of Western troops.

Plans under consideration envision fewer than 500 NATO advisers. They would be assigned to African Union headquarters units and assist in logistics, communications, intelligence and command and control activities, not engage directly in field operations. The likely number of U.S. advisers has yet to be determined, officials said.

"This is supposed to be a support effort, not a take-over-the-mission effort," said the administration official, whose name and agency could not be identified under terms of the interview. As the reason for insisting on anonymity, the official cited the sensitivity of the internal planning.

The proposed deployment is intended as an interim measure until a U.N. force -- larger and with a broader mandate than the African Union force -- can be sent.

Rescuing Darfur

An op-ed by Juan Mendez in The Washington Times
My appointment as special adviser on prevention of genocide to U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan in July 2004 represented an effort by Mr. Annan to ensure the international community would take preventive action. It was meant to underscore the link between massive and systematic violations of human rights and threats to international peace and security.

Part of my job is to provide the Security Council information regarding the worst type of human-rights violations, those warranting a response by the international community.

I have based my work on the existing, universally binding legal obligation expressed in the 1948 Genocide Convention not only to punish genocide, but to prevent it. This legal commitment was reinforced at the September 2005 World Summit with a broader, political and moral commitment by which all member states of the United Nations have now accepted the responsibility to protect civilians from genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity.

That protection may include, in limited cases, nonconsensual means when governments are unwilling or unable to protect their own citizens. As special adviser, I have stressed that international involvement with the consent of the government in question is always preferable.

Yet despite these obligations and commitments, people continue to be targeted for violence and murder solely because of their ethnic origin. This is happening most flagrantly today in the Sudanese region of Darfur.

Darfur: Crisis Deteriorates, Global Efforts Stymied

From Reuters
Efforts to stop atrocities in Sudan's Darfur region are unraveling, with a new peacekeeping force uncertain, relief aid under attack and U.N. sanctions stymied, U.N. officials and analysts say.

"The situation is spiraling downward on the ground and retreating backwards on a daily basis in New York, Washington and Brussels," home of NATO, said John Prendergast of the International Crisis Group think tank.

"A fragile consensus has collapsed under the weight of the Sudan government's artful diplomacy campaign," Prendergast told Reuters. "It played chicken with the broad international community, and once again the international community drove off the road."

Darfur: Presidents Fail to Break Impasse

From Reuters
Intensive talks involving two African heads of state who tried to bring the warring parties from Sudan's Darfur region closer to a peace agreement failed to produce any tangible results, participants said on Sunday.

Peace talks between the Sudanese government and two rebel groups have been going on for almost two years and the current round, the seventh, has dragged on in a small hotel on the outskirts of the Nigerian capital since November 29.

Meanwhile in Darfur, where the conflict has killed tens of thousands of people and driven 2 million from their homes since early 2003, violence has escalated to the point that many parts of the vast desert region are no-go areas for aid workers.

The African Union (AU), which is mediating the peace talks, had hoped that a series of meetings with Presidents Olusegun Obasanjo of Nigeria and Denis Sassou Nguesso of Congo Republic would jolt the parties into making new concessions.

Obasanjo and Sassou, the past and current AU chairmen, held all-night talks with the parties in a secluded guest house in the Nigerian presidential complex, and Sassou reconvened with them for a plenary on Sunday afternoon.

"I can't say that there are any tangible results. ... We are back to the stage of consultations between the parties and the mediation at the hotel," said Ahmed Tugod, chief negotiator for the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) rebel group.

Salim Ahmed Salim, the AU's chief mediator, was more upbeat, saying the meetings had given new momentum to the talks.

"What the meetings achieved was to build a very positive atmosphere for the continuation of the talks. ... The next few days are going to be critical," Salim told Reuters, adding that "the political conditions are right" for a deal.

The AU, which has 7,000 peacekeepers in Darfur, has set an April 30 deadline for the parties to reach a comprehensive agreement on the three key issues of security, power-sharing and wealth-sharing. They missed several previous deadlines.

Salim said the parties were now quite close to agreement on a new, enhanced ceasefire proposal that the AU came up with on Thursday to replace an existing ceasefire that is constantly violated by all sides in Darfur.

But he could not say for sure when the parties might sign the new ceasefire.

Friday, April 07, 2006

Darfur: Civilian Population Vulnerable to New Massacres

Mendez's logic here is rather odd - he says he doesn't have the legal authority to say it is genocide, but doesn't seem to face the same problem when saying it might "degenerate into genocide." If it does "degenerate into genocide," will Mendez have the legal authority to say so later? If so, why doesn't he have that authority now? Seeing as Mendez is UN Special Adviser on the Prevention of Genocide, it seems that if anyone has the authority to call it genocide, it would be him.

From DPA
The situation in Darfur in western Sudan "may degenerate into genocide" as African peacekeepers struggle to protect the civilian population, the UN official charged with preventing genocide said Friday.

Juan Mendez said the African Union force in Darfur has been hampered by a lack of funding and support for its troops and "half measures" by the Sudanese government in support of its mission.

The failure to protect civilians in a conflict zone could lead to genocide, Mendez warned. But he refused to characterize the current killing in Darfur as genocide, stressing that he has no legal authority on the issue. Instead his role is the prevention of genocide.

[edit]

Mendez, who bears the title of UN special envoy on prevention of genocide, accused Khartoum of "bad faith" in its dealings with African peacekeepers.

Khartoum has only allowed the AU to import limited amounts of fuel, ammunition and armoured carriers for its troops and blocked imports of jet fuel, which forced the AU to ground critical flights to monitor the vast region of Darfur, he said.

"The Sudanese have played games with the consent that they originally gave to the AU," Mendez said. "In my mind, it's a bad faith attitude toward the consent the Sudanese government has given.

"It is high time that the AU, the UN Security Council and all of us tell the government of Sudan that consent is indispensable and should be given in good faith," he added. "The situation has become urgent."

[edit]

"Left unattended, the situation may degenerate into genocide," he said.

Darfur: News Briefs

The latest weekly news round-up is now available from the Genocide Intervention Network
The government of Sudan continued its effort to persuade US investments while the US Congress took further steps toward enacting sanctions and supporting the African Union. AU mediators believe that we are approaching the final stretch in peace talks. Although there has been no direct action to increase security or finalize talks, the progress made this week lends hope that we may begin to see the first signs of improvement in the next few months.

Darfur: Podcast with Chris Padilla

The latest podcast from the Committee on Conscience - with Chris Padilla, Chief of Staff and Senior Advisor to Deputy Secretary of State Robert Zoellick
JERRY FOWLER: Let us turn for a minute to the United Nations and diplomacy in general around Darfur. If we look back over the last three months, it seems in January the African Union agreed in principle to a transition from the African Union force to a United Nations force, and Secretary General Kofi Annan had an op-ed in the Washington Post that said this transition is inevitable, and then the United States had the Presidency of the Security Council in February. On the first day of the Presidency there was a presidential statement that talked about a transition to a United Nations force, and there were hopes that there was going to be a Resolution providing for that transition before the end of February, and then things seemed to kind of come unraveled. As you said, on March 24th there was a Security Council Resolution that did not establish a transition but called for planning of the transition. What happened there? Why did things seem to go downhill after the promising start in January?

CHRIS PADILLA: What has been consistent throughout this is the United States pushing for a transition to a United Nations force as soon as possible. We welcome the African Union statement in January; we, as you said, used our Presidency in February to try to push forward as quickly as possible; and it was the United States, I can tell you, that was working very hard this past Friday and in the weeks leading up to that, to push for the statement in UNSEC 1663. There is no question that we and others—Europeans also—believe that it is important to move as soon as possible to a United Nations force.

What I think happened in the interim is that we saw the government of Sudan and some other countries, most notably Libya, working actively to try to prevent the African Union from requesting a United Nations force transition. What they were doing—and you saw this in the demonstrations that were in Khartoum—they were taking a position that was essentially anti-United Nations. I think that was a mistake and we told that to the readers in Khartoum when we met with them in Brussels and Paris shortly before the African Union meeting on March 10th.

JERRY FOWLER: A mistake in what sense? It seems to have accomplished their goal of slowing everything down?

CHRIS PADILLA: Sudan should see that having increased security in Darfur is fundamentally in its own interests for a couple of reasons. There has been a deeply troubling spark in violence in Darfur since about last September. That has many causes. It has causes in continuing activities of the Janjaweed, continuing activities of the Sudanese government, but also in fighting among rebel groups, and the new element of instability along the Sudan-Chad border. The point we have made to the Sudanese government is that no matter the cause of violence in Darfur, it is the Sudanese government that is going to take the blame. Whether people are in camps, killed, whatever the proximate cause, whether it is because of a rebel attack or a retaliation or tribal warfare or what have you. What we have said to them is that it is in your interest to have better security in Darfur, and the African Union forces have done a great job, but there are only 7,000 of them in an area the size of France, or Texas, depending on your perspective, and we need to transition to a United Nations force. It does not do the Sudanese government any good to be perceived as anti-United Nations, and I think what we saw after our meetings in Europe with Vice President Taha and Vice President Kiir just before the African Union meeting was the Sudanese government moving off that position a little bit. They did say that they could accept a United Nations force after an Abuja peace agreement is reached which is different than what they had been saying the previous few weeks which was, “No United Nations under any circumstances.” Things like putting militia groups putting bounties on the head of the United Nations’ Special Representative, we made clear these things were just unacceptable. What I think we saw was an organized campaign of resistance and we have had to do some hard work of diplomacy to overcome that. We also have to overcome the risk that particularly those that I would describe as Islamists in Khartoum can try to portray a United Nations peacekeeping force as someone how being a reimposition of Colonialism or a western takeover of Sudan. Neither of those is true but if you looked at what the people in the streets of Khartoum were saying; they were trying to make this an issue of America or the West and it really is not an issue about America or the West. It is an issue of people suffering and dying in Darfur and how we can best get the security improved for those people who are suffering.

JERRY FOWLER: You refer to people in the streets of Khartoum, and there were some demonstrations around this diplomacy that we are talking about, anti-United Nations demonstrations, but to what extent does that really matter? Sudan is a police state and they have a long history of manufacturing demonstrations. There is no connection between the existence of a demonstration in Khartoum and actual public sentiment.

CHRIS PADILLA: I think the best way to describe what we saw in Khartoum was certain factions particularly the more Islamist factions in Khartoum—and there are Islamist factions in the government—trying to manipulate public sentiment, and I do not know enough about Sudanese politics to know how many people were in the streets of their own will and how many looked suspiciously like they might be soldiers but the point remains that I think it is important for us to recognize that there are—I believe—some in the Sudanese government that genuinely do want to try to reach a peace agreement in Abuja, who do want to try to find a solution to the problem of Darfur and to bring Sudan out of its international isolation. There are, however, clearly others who want to use the prospect of the United Nations force as a way to try to make this issue about neocolonialism or the intervention of the west, and we have to be aware of that and that is why I think what we have tried to do in our diplomacy is to keep coming back to the fact that people are suffering in Darfur and the situation there is extremely tenuous. When you look at all of the factors that I mentioned before, whether it is the instability in the Chad-Sudan border or the fighting among rebel groups, there is a very thin line between what we have today and a potential humanitarian catastrophe. That says to us that we must act now to improve the security situation, and the world I believe stands united in believing that the way to do that is to deploy a more robust United Nations peacekeeping force as soon as we possibly can.

Rwanda: Leader to Critics: 'You Kept Quiet' During Genocide

From Reuters
Rwanda's president denounced on Friday critics who accuse him of using the 1994 genocide as an excuse for autocratic leadership, saying their inaction in the face of the slaughter gave them no right to condemn.

President Paul Kagame spoke at a ceremony to mark the 12th anniversary of the genocide, at which more than 100 victims were exhumed from the mass graves where their ravaged bodies were cast, to be re-buried at proper memorial sites.

"You kept quiet ... when these victims wanted your help to survive the slaughter," Kagame told a crowd of thousands gathered in the southern Nyamasheke district.

"Now you begin criticizing us when we are struggling to sort out this mess caused by divisionism and sectarianism -- your unfounded criticism is not welcome," Kagame, a Tutsi, said in a speech broadcast on state television.

Critics say Kagame has clamped down harshly on political dissenters in the name of stopping divisiveness -- which he says was a cause of genocide in which 800,000 Tutsis and their Hutu sympathisers were hacked, burned and shot to death.

[edit]

Kagame led a Tutsi-dominated rebel army across the small central African country in 1994 to stop the killing, overthrowing the Hutu-led government behind the slaughter.

Human rights groups accused some of his soldiers of carrying out atrocities of their own in reprisal.

In Kigali, a survivor who had come to bury remains of her two brothers said she saw no chance for peace between the Hutu and Tutsi survivors because some 54,000 culprits have been pardoned and released from prison.

"How do you expect me to swallow that bitter pill of reconciliation when I see people who killed these two brothers of mine walking freely on the streets of Kigali?" Claire Uwineza told Reuters.

Rwanda: How the Genocide Was Prepared

From Human Rights Watch
Organizers of the 1994 genocide in Rwanda used a "civilian self-defense system" to mobilize participants in the campaign to exterminate the Tutsi minority, Human Rights Watch said in a briefing paper released today. The 17-page paper, "The Rwandan Genocide: How It Was Prepared," draws on previously unpublished documents to lay out the way the extermination system was planned in the months before the genocide was launched, 12 years ago this week.

"Genocidal violence did not just break out as a result of fear or hatred of the Tutsi minority," said Alison Des Forges, senior adviser to the Africa division at Human Rights Watch. "It was launched by military, administrative, and political authorities using the machinery of the state."

The paper relates how officials and propagandists defined Tutsi civilians as the "enemy" to be targeted by "self-defense" efforts. It also summarizes the context of the genocide, which began in early April 1994, including poverty, land scarcity, colonial rule, the introduction of multi-party politics and the war.

"Documenting the genocide is also a way of honoring its victims," said Des Forges. "The more we understand the preparation and implementation of a genocide, the more we will be able to avert similar horrors in the future."

Zimbabwe: Inflation Hits 913%, Life Expectancy 36

From AFP
Zimbabwe's 12-month inflation rate jumped to a new record high of 913,6% for March, officials said on Friday, surpassing a central bank forecast as the Southern African country's economic woes continue.

"The year-on-year rate of inflation in March 2006 was 913,6%, gaining 131,6 percentage points on the February rate of 782%," said Moffat Nyoni, acting director of the Central Statistical Office.

"This means that on average goods and services normally purchased by households for final use in Zimbabwe were about ten times as expensive in March 2006 as they had been 12 months before, in March 2005," he told a news conference in the capital.

Nyoni said that goods and services priced at Z$100 000a year ago would now cost more than Z$1-million.
From Bloomberg
Zimbabwe, which has the world's fourth- worst AIDS epidemic, overtook Swaziland as the country with the world's lowest life expectancy, data released today by the World Health organization showed.

In 2004, Zimbabweans could expect to live to the age of 36, with life expectancy for men at 37 and women at 34, the WHO said in its 2006 annual report released on its Web site. That compared with overall life expectancy of 37 in 2003. Life expectancy in Swaziland, where a greater proportion of the people are infected with the HIV virus that causes AIDS, rose to 37 from 35.

Darfur/Chad: From the Firing Line Into the Frying Pan

From The Age
At one of their main bases along the border, 40 new Toyota LandCruisers, packed tight with young Chadian rebels, lined the edge of an open, dust-choked field. Tethered off the sides of the vehicles were sacks filled with rocket-propelled grenades.

Wearing new, if mismatched uniforms, the rebels converged from nearby camps with Kalashnikovs slung over their shoulders and many sporting Rambo-style chain-link belts of large calibre bullets wrapped around their bodies.

Under the shade of a nearby mango tree the leader of the Chadian rebels, Mohammad Nour, decried the corruption rampant in Chad and laid out a vision for a post-coup transition to democracy.

"I am not a politician and have no intention for being a politician," says Mr Nour, who is 35 and who fought in President Deby's Darfur-based coup in 1990 before becoming fed up with him and leaving the country. "What we want to do for Chad is kick out President Deby — if he refuses to sit down with us and others."

Mr Nour speaks highly of Omar Bashir, the Sudanese President who provides refuge to rebels and refugees alike. Many believe that Sudan's President should be held culpable for what the United States calls an ongoing genocide against non-Arab tribes in Darfur. Mr Nour's assessment of the Darfur crisis is similar to that of the Sudanese Government. "There is no Sudanese rebellion. It is all a tribal problem," he said dismissively.

The Sudanese Government has made that assertion often in its attempt to undermine the political claims of long- marginalised Darfurians.

On the one hand, Sudan has labelled Darfur an internal, localised tribal conflict in order to discourage international interventions. But as tribalism engulfs the region and spills over into Chad, the Sudanese Government's line is turning into a nightmarish self-fulfilling prophecy.

Mr Nour's enemy, President Deby, has long supplied the Darfur rebel groups with arms, ammunition and safe passage through Chad.

Rwanda: Twelve Years Ago

Twelve years ago today, on April 7th, 1994, the genocide in Rwanda began.

It ran for nearly one hundred days and took nearly one million lives, meaning that one person died approximately every eleven seconds for three months.

This article, "A Woman's Work" by Peter Landesman in the New York Times Magazine from September 2002, was the very first thing I ever read on Rwanda.

This article, "Bystanders to Genocide" by Samantha Power in The Atlantic Monthly, was the second.

These two articles played a huge role in laying the foundation for the obsession that would ultimately lead to the creation of this blog.

For more on the 1994 genocide in Rwanda, check out my list of books and documentaries on Amazon.com.

Darfur: UN Assembly President Calls Violence "Ethnic Cleansing"

From the AP
U.N. General Assembly President Jan Eliasson said Thursday that "ethnic cleansing" has taken place in Sudan’s troubled Darfur region, but stopped short of describing the violence as genocide.

The U.N. has said crimes against humanity have likely been committed in Darfur, but not genocide as the United States and several other nations claim.

"Of course this is ethnic cleansing," Eliasson told Swedish public radio. "Genocide, I don’t know if you can use that definition. But that matters less for the individual people who are affected."

The United Nations has described Darfur as the site of the world’s gravest humanitarian crisis. The Arab-dominated government in Khartoum has been accused of backing the Janjaweed militia against civilians in an area where black African rebels revolted in 2003. An estimated 2 million have been forced from their homes.

"Darfur is a political and humanitarian tragedy and an infected wound in world politics," said Eliasson, who also is Sweden’s incoming foreign minister.

Eliasson also said it was important to have a humanitarian presence inside the country, "not only to help relieve the distress, but also to have international ears and eyes that may alleviate the conflict."

Darfur: US Congress Call for Sanctions Hampers Peace Talks

From the Sudan Tribune
The Sudanese government rebuked the U.S. Congress on Thursday for calling for penalties on Sudanese figures implicated in war crimes in Darfur, saying the move would impede peace negotiations.

"The (Congress) resolution was a reflection of an erroneous reading of the situation in Darfur," Foreign Ministry spokesman Jamal Mohammed Ibrahim told the official Sudan News Agency.

Ibrahim said the congressional bill would encourage the Darfur rebels, who are currently engaged in peace talks with the government in the Nigerian capital of Abuja, and "hamper efforts for reaching a speedy and peaceful solution" to the conflict.

[edit]

Ibrahim said the resolution was ill-timed as it coincided with Sudan’s decision to send Vice President Ali Osman Mohammed Taha to the Abuja talks in a bid to speed up the peace process.

Darfur: US Willing to Impose UN Sanctions on Sudan Officials

From Reuters
The United States is willing to impose sanctions on Sudanese government officials for atrocities in Darfur but has to make sure it has all the evidence, U.S. Ambassador John Bolton said on Thursday.

The Bush administration so far has not agreed to names of government officials that Britain and others have put on an initial list slated for a travel ban and assets freeze by the U.N. Security Council, according to a resolution adopted a year ago, diplomats told Reuters on Wednesday.

It's one thing to know with a high degree of certainty that the Sudan government has been involved in and indeed directing things like gross abuses of human rights and participation of the genocide in Darfur," Bolton said.

"It is another to be able to state with particular particularity this individual in the government or that individual in the government should be brought under sanctions," he told reporters.

Bolton said that if the council adopted sanctions, the U.S. government had to put into place simultaneously an executive order that would make the bans part of domestic law.

In Washington, a U.S. official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the State Department was pushing to include more names on the list but other U.S. agencies, such as the Treasury, were resisting.

This list may be circulated shortly and if there are no objections, it would come into effect 48 hours later. But so far the envoys said Washington has limited its agreement to one Darfur rebel and one so-called Janjaweed militiaman.

[edit]

"We are still accumulating evidence, looking for more facts and that sort of thing," Bolton said. "It is certainly true that a long period of time has gone by and we are moving as rapidly as we can to come to a decision."

Russia, China and Qatar, the only Arab member of the council, appear to want to ditch the sanctions list altogether, diplomats said. China's U.N. ambassador, Wang Guangya, said earlier this week there were more pressing priorities in Darfur, such as humanitarian relief and peacekeeping.

DRC: Food Drops Begin to People Displaced in Katanga

From IRIN
The United Nations began airdrops of food relief on Wednesday to tens of thousands of people displaced by fighting between the national army and Mayi-Mayi malitiamen in Katanga, the south-eastern province of the Democratic Republic of Congo, a UN official said.

"With the logistical problems of transport and the very bad state of the roads, as well as the prevailing insecurity in the region, we are obliged to proceed with aerial food distribution," said Claude Gibidar, a senior official for the World Food Programme (WFP), on Wednesday.

Airdrops are being made to 40,000 displaced people in the villages of Dubie, Mitwaba, Sampwe and Kasongeji, he said. Some 80 tonnes of food, mostly flour and beans, would be parachuted in over 10 days, at a cost of US $1,200 a tonne. "We are facing a very serious situation, which is why we have resorted to such an expensive operation." Gibidar said. "Truck convoys have been trying to get to the zone for months."

UN officials have said there could be as many as 120,000 people displaced in northern and central Katanga. Many fled their villages after the army launched a military operation in November 2005 to disarm Mayi-Mayi groups in Katanga.

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Darfur: Khartoum Sharply Accelerates War on Humanitarian Aid

The latest from Eric Reeves
Jan Egeland, the UN’s chief humanitarian official, was this week brazenly and contemptuously denied access to Darfur by leaders of Khartoum’s National Islamic Front (“National Congress Party”). Not only was Egeland refused entry to South Darfur and West Darfur, but he was informed through the NIF’s UN mission in New York that he “would not be welcome in Khartoum.” As if to underscore their contempt for UN humanitarian operations, Khartoum’s genocidaires the next day denied Egeland use of Sudanese air-space as he sought to travel to Chad to see Darfuri refugees and the rapidly deteriorating conditions along the Darfur/Chad border.

Although Khartoum may be expediently re-calibrating its response to the Egeland assessment mission, this denial of timely access was only the most conspicuous recent episode in a brutally calculated campaign to disrupt, harass, and impede humanitarian assistance---a campaign that has defined Khartoum’s Darfur policy for the past three years. Here we must bear in mind that the deliberate interference with and attacks upon humanitarian assistance long defined National Islamic Front war policy in southern Sudan and the Nuba Mountains. And there are increasing signs that this savagely destructive military policy is already at work in eastern Sudan in response to the growing insurgency on the part of the Beja Congress and the Rashaida Free Lions (the “Eastern Front”).

This history of Khartoum’s barbarism (see below) should have a clear bearing on our understanding of the present deliberate obstruction, harassment, and intimidation of humanitarian operations in Darfur: in the absence of a highly credible military presence, one far greater in abilities and resources than the current African Union mission, the denial of humanitarian aid will become an ever more deadly weapon of war. The difficulties of deploying such a military force are considerable (see the important International Crisis Group report, “To Save Darfur,” March 17, 2006 at http://www.crisisgroup.org/home/index.cfm?id=4027). But the consequences of failing to provide military protection for humanitarian operations and acutely vulnerable civilians will be staggering: catastrophic human mortality is imminent, particularly in younger children. The wholesale withdrawal of humanitarian workers, and thus loss of access to many additional hundreds of thousands of needy civilians, could occur at any moment. Not to act now clearly risks the destruction of these lives.

Darfur: Sudan Risks Aid Loss Over Egeland Ban

This is a rather strange article - threatening Sudan with the loss of assistance to those the government is killing, and that such aid is keeping alive, does not seem to make much sense. Khartoum would undoubtedly prefer that such funding dried up because it would make their job of killing them all that much easier.

From Reuters
Sudan risks losing funding for its millions of people in need of aid because of its refusal to allow U.N. Under Secretary for Humanitarian Affairs Jan Egeland to visit crisis areas, a senior U.N. official said on Thursday.

"If people feel that our capacity to operate is restricted so much ... all these things make donors think maybe it's better to use the money in other places," said Manuel Aranda da Silva, the U.N. humanitarian coordinator in Sudan.

He added the main reason for Egeland's visit was to mobilise cash for Sudan.

[edit]

"This is bad management," said da Silva, of the government's decision to inform Egeland he was not welcome when he was already in the south of the country, despite having agreed weeks ago on the dates.

He said the government's statement that it could not ensure Egeland's safety indicated they could not control security in Darfur, where three years of rebellion created one of the world's worst humanitarian disasters with 2 million people living in squalid camps.

Sudan insists the security situation is good in Darfur and that they are able to stem the violence, which has escalated in recent months forcing 150,000 more people to flee their homes and leaving 300,000 more out of reach of vital aid.

Da Silva said the restrictions the government imposed on aid workers, including expelling the Norwegian Refugee Council this week, were some of the most severe in the world.

"In my experience Sudan is one of the most difficult places to work, there's no doubt about it," da Silva told reporters in Khartoum.

He said the government had received almost $2 million in the past month from visas for aid workers alone, which made donors think the money could be better used elsewhere.

"Sudan is one of the last countries in the world where people still require travel permits to travel to any states," he said, adding emergency law had been lifted in most parts of the country but travel restrictions remain.

Darfur: Canadian Opposition and Government Politicians Call for More Help

From CP
Government and opposition MPs are calling on Canada and other countries to provide more help to the war-torn Darfur region of Sudan.

Liberal Irwin Cotler says a genocide is occurring in the African country and the international community must step up its efforts to intervene.

Fellow Liberal MP Keith Martin says the United Nations should take over the peacekeeping mission from the African Union, and thousands of peacekeepers should be put on the ground.

Conservative James Lunney says the international community ignored the genocide in Rwanda in the 1990s and must take action in Darfur.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper has said the government is considering the situation in Darfur along with Canada's allies, but the Sudanese government has in the past turned down intervention by non-African troops.

Int'l Justice: Taylor Unmade

From Peter Beinart in The New Republic
When [Charles Taylor] reaches The Hague, where he will likely be sent for trial, he will join a noxious Congolese ex-militia leader named Thomas Lubanga. And, in the years to come, more African war criminals may join them, since the International Criminal Court is also investigating the civil war in Côte d'Ivoire and a rebel group in northern Uganda (and is seeking to investigate the ongoing genocide in Darfur, Sudan).

These prosecutions represent a shift in Africa's relationship to the world. When a country like Liberia experiences mass slaughter, one overriding question often determines the world's response. That question is not, "Is the slaughter terrible?" (In the age of CNN, almost everyone can agree on that.) It is, "Is the slaughter aberrant?"

[edit]

This intellectual legacy was on tragic display during the 1994 genocide in Rwanda. As Samantha Power notes in A Problem From Hell, "During the conflict in Bosnia, U.S. officials had tried to convince journalists that the conflict was born of 'ancient tribal hatred'"--to justify their inaction. "[I]n Rwanda reporters in the field adopted this frame on their own." This, even though the genocide was the carefully planned campaign of one political movement, and even though, prior to the twentieth century, Hutu and Tutsi were not even designations of tribe, but of social class.

But, if this ignorance contributed to the world's disgraceful inaction, Rwanda may have also turned the tide. Perhaps because it occurred at roughly the same time as Bosnia, or perhaps because a Democratic president didn't want to look racist--for whatever reason, when the international community created a war-crimes tribunal for the former Yugoslavia, it created one for Rwanda, too. Bill Clinton even apologized to the Rwandan people. And, when commentators discuss Rwanda today, the "ancient tribal hatreds" prism has given way to the prism of genocide.

Of course, that's far easier in retrospect, when you don't have to put your troops where your mouth is. In Darfur, although the public debate has been better, the world has still stood by. In fact, the ugly reality may be that individual culpability and post-hoc prosecution have become the balm the world applies to its conscience for not stopping African slaughter in the first place.

But, while better understanding does not create the will to act, without it there is no hope at all. Reporting on Charles Taylor's arrest, none of the top U.S. newspapers mentioned his tribe. Instead, they described him as the new face of African evil. And they told of progress in Liberia and Sierra Leone, societies that, for the time being, at least, are growing more peaceful, democratic, normal. A good thing, indeed.

Darfur: Pronk Criticises Security Council and Khartoum

From Radio Netherlands
Jan Pronk, former Dutch government minister and now UN envoy for Sudan, has criticised Western diplomacy with regard to Sudan as lacking intelligence. He also says the Khartoum government is held together by lies and tricks, and the UN Security Council's statements are not backed up by deeds. His comments came at a discussion meeting with students, held on Wednesday in the Dutch capital, Amsterdam.

As head of the UN mission in Sudan (UNMIS), Mr Pronk currently fulfils two different roles. On the one hand, he is responsible for ensuring that peace is maintained in Southern Sudan. For that purpose, he has a UN peacekeeping force in that part of the country, which - as he says himself - is proving successful in calming the sporadic resurgence of the regional conflicts in that area. However, the object of most attention is his second role: that of trying to bring peace to Darfur and of caring for the victims of the ethnic conflict in this western part of Sudan - the two million local refugees which account for around one third of the total population of Darfur.

[edit]

an Pronk believes the only effective solution for the crisis in Darfur is the deployment of a special UN peacekeeping force of between 15,000 and 20,000 troops. The work of finding out which countries would be prepared to assign troops to such a mission is currently underway, but even if everything went well, the new force could not be deployed before January next year at the earliest. And things are not going well, particularly on the political front. Sudan totally rejects the idea of a UN peacekeeping force in Darfur, and even the African Union isn't fully in favour at present.

The UN Security Council does back the plan, but Mr Pronk expressed sharp criticism of the council on Wednesday, accusing it of not backing up its words with - diplomatic - action:

"This means that the threat emanating from the Security Council is gradually becoming a joke."

[edit]

Mr Pronk's criticism also extended to the White House, which has launched the plan to deploy a NATO peacekeeping force in Darfur. He regards this as a misbegotten idea and one which will simply infuriate all Muslims because of the association with events in Afghanistan and Iraq. "Western diplomacy is indeed extremely foolish at this moment," he said, "We're strengthening the regime and strengthening the opponents in Sudan against a UN intervention".

[edit]

He also played down reports about the threat of war with Sudan's western neighbour, Chad. He believes the risk of all-out war is extremely small, but confirmed that incursions by militia forces have been taking place on both sides of the border.

Chad/Darfur: Militias Attack Refugees

From The Australian
But the violence has spread. In interviews, victims of recent attacks in Chad said the horse- and camel-riding janjaweed were heavily armed, and occasionally accompanied by trucks equipped with automatic weapons.

The militias steal food and livestock and fire on villagers with impunity, victims said.

Chadian officials accuse Sudan of supporting the cross-border raids as well as the Chadian rebellion.

"The Khartoum government has emptied Darfur," said Col. Touka Ramadan, the commander of military forces in Adre, "so they have come here."

Sudan has denied supporting the rebels, but the two countries have fomented rebellions against each other before. Analysts say the Sudanese government is trying to exploit a particularly unstable period in Chad. The ailing president of Chad, Idriss Deby, who's running for a controversial third term in May elections, escaped a coup attempt by military defectors last month.

Much of the 850-mile-long border has been unprotected since December, when Chadian rebels launched a major attack on Adre. Deby, who seized power in 1990 by leading a coup from Darfur, moved troops into Adre from other border towns.

Now Adre resembles a military base, with hundreds of troops in mismatched camouflage roaming the sandy streets, while only a few miles away the janjaweed carry out attacks.

March 29, four men were taken to the Adre hospital with bullet wounds from a janjaweed attack that morning in Tougoultougouli, a village 10 miles away.

"They came in big numbers - about 50 of them," said Ousmane Abdullah Ouaddi, 32, a thin man with a wispy goatee who lay in a hospital bed with a broken left leg.

"They were well armed. They came to take our animals, then they left."

Ouaddi, who surrendered 45 head of sheep and 10 cattle in the raid, said he'd lost count of the number of recent janjaweed attacks in the area. The hospital, run by the relief agency Doctors Without Borders, has admitted nearly two dozen people whom the janjaweed shot in the past month.

[edit]

Nearly all relief agencies have pulled back from the border, for security reasons. Aid workers who've traveled the desert south of Adre say dozens of villages have been evacuated. A survey last month by aid groups determined that 55,000 to 65,000 Chadians have fled their homes.

More and more Sudanese are traveling long distances over scorching sands to reach U.N. refugee camps, which already house 206,000 people.

Gaga, the only camp that isn't too full to accept new arrivals, added 2,000 people in the first three weeks in March, according to the local office of the U.N. High Commission for Refugees. That was up from 1,700 in January and 1,900 in February.

It was more than 100 degrees the day that Harna Azin Adam reached Gaga from the border. She'd traveled for three days with her 2-year-old daughter, 9-year-old son and their last material possessions: two donkeys.

They arrived relieved but afraid: A village near Adam's had just lost all its livestock in a janjaweed attack, and Adam had to leave her ill mother behind in the care of her two older children.

"There is no security at the border. There is nothing to eat," said Adam, 33, squinting as she held her baby under her shawl and out of the sun.

"I hope that if I can find a place here, I can send for the others in my family. But I am very worried for them."

Darfur: US Opposes British List for Sudan War Crime Sanctions

From the Financial Times
US opposition may force Britain to remove any Sudanese government officials from a first list of names slated for United Nations sanctions over war crimes in Darfur.

Diplomats said yesterday that the list would be circulated shortly to the UN Security Council. If there were no objections it would be adopted 48 hours later.

But as of yesterday, an original British proposal to list eight people had been whittled down to two - one Darfur rebel and one government-backed "janjaweed" militiaman - after it was found that one of the individuals had died, and Washington failed to give a green light for the others to be included.

Indicating differences within Washington, a Bush administration source said the State Department was pushing very hard to include more names on the list but there was resistance from other US agencies, including the Treasury.

Benjamin Chang, spokesman for the US mission to the UN, insisted that whatever names emerged only constituted "a first step" in bringing those responsible to justice. "There is a process of making sure all the necessary information is gathered."

A senior US official said the US was willing to co-operate with the International Criminal Court on bringing to justice those responsible for genocide, even though the US was not a party to the ICC. But there are concerns among diplomats that a failure to include Sudan government officials in its first salvo will open the Security Council to charges of weakness before Khartoum's continued intransigence.

There is a fear among diplomats that the UN is fast losing even what tenuous grip it had over the situation.

[edit]

Even if the US and the UK agree a joint list, China said on Tuesday that now was not the time to impose sanctions, and is likely to be backed by Qatar and Russia.

Darfur: US House Approves Sudan Sanctions Bill

From VOA
The House of Representatives has approved (416 to 3) legislation that would place sanctions on Sudanese government and military officials considered responsible for atrocities by Arab militias in Darfur.

The Darfur Peace and Accountability Act, a version of which has also been approved by the Senate, seeks to hold specific individuals in Khartoum responsible for what the United States calls genocide in Darfur.

It would block assets of, and deny visas to, those responsible for war crimes or crimes against humanity, and take other steps such as restricting visas of Sudanese officials, and denying entry at U.S. ports to certain Sudan-registered cargo ships or oil tankers.

[edit]

The Darfur legislation would block assets of Khartoum officials and family members, military officials, and any individuals implicated in atrocities.

It also contains provisions to increase U.S. assistance to, and support expansion of, the 7,000-member Africa Union peacekeeping mission, while urging the Bush administration to seek formation of a NATO force to assist African troops.

[edit]

The House bill extends existing U.S. restrictions on Sudan until Congress is satisfied Khartoum is moving to disarm and demobilize janjaweed and all government-allied militias.

The bill also directs that the janjaweed be designated as a foreign terrorist organization, and demands Khartoum cooperate with efforts to disarm and demobilize elements in Sudan of the northern Uganda-based Lord's Resistance Army.

President Bush is given authority to wave sections of the legislation in the interest of U.S. national security.

The legislation also steps up pressure on the National Congress Party in Khartoum to abide by all commitments in the Comprehensive Peace Agreement of 2005. The party and the former southern rebels' Sudan People's Liberation Movement form the new Government of National Unity.

A separate Darfur-related resolution approved by the Senate last month, is pending in the House.

Among other things, that measure urges Khartoum to immediately withdraw military aircraft from Darfur, urges the United Nations to approve a peacekeeping force, and directs President Bush to work for establishment of a NATO interim civilian protection force.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Sudan: Divestment

Not surprisingly, the Embassy of Sudan does not like efforts to get US companies to divest from said country
I would like to express my deep concern with the campaign to force U.S. entities to divest themselves from any business operations that involve Sudan. I believe this is exactly the opposite way to go if concerned parties want to have a positive impact on events in Sudan.

Sudan is not South Africa. Please recall that divestment did not cause the demise of apartheid; economic and political realities in South Africa did. Clearly, U.S. engagement hastened the process.

Sudan is a poor country which, after over two decades of war, is entering a new era of peace and development. Disengagement will affect negatively the process to promote development for all the people of Sudan. It will not induce regime change, but it will undercut peace and unity. It will impede development by barring or hampering foreign investment that is vital to rebuilding the country, creating jobs and developing essential social projects in vital areas such as education, training and health. U.S. companies are at the vanguard of developing and implementing such programs and pressing for good governance and transparency. Their presence would be most helpful. Their absence would hinder the entire process of reconstruction, rehabilitation and development. It will do no good to make poor people poorer before you act to boost their ability to earn a living.

Over the past year Sudan has signed a Comprehensive Peace Agreement that ended the civil war. We have formed a Government of National Unity that includes our longstanding foe, the Sudanese People's Liberation Movement (SPLM). The new First Vice President of Sudan is the President of the SPLM, His Excellency Salva Kiir Mayardit. Other senior SPLM officials have joined the new government in top-level positions such as the Minister of Foreign Affairs. The First Vice President emphasized the need for development assistance and engagement from America during his visit to the U.S. in November 2005.

As apparently your concerns are centered on the issue of Darfur, I assure you that the Government fully supports the peace negotiations in Abuja, Nigeria and supports bolstering the African Union (AU) peacekeeping operation that is designed to stabilize and improve the situation in Darfur. We also support the assistance that has been provided by NATO and would welcome augmenting NATO's support in Darfur. The key issue here is engagement. If your goal is to send a message of disapproval, divestment is not the correct tactic. If your goal is to promote peace, unity and development in Sudan, engagement is the correct course.

I urge you to reconsider your support for divestment and disengagement, and to more seriously consider how U.S. companies, educational institutions and other entities can make a positive impact in Sudan. Engagement makes a much more powerful statement and has a tangible impact.

In closing, I want to reiterate that Sudan is entering a new era of peace, unity and development. Companies from virtually every other nation in the world have reassessed the situation and are initiating operations in Sudan in all sectors of the economy. U.S. companies and other entities are welcome in Sudan. Indeed, we encourage their involvement in developing the country and providing other forms of support that will hasten reconstruction and development, and promote transparency, good governance, social projects, and adherence to international norms for conducting business.

I very much hope that you will reconsider your position on divestment. I would also be pleased to discuss this issue with you at any time.

Thank you for your attention and best regards.

Sincerely,
Ambassador
Khidir Haroun Ahmed
Chief of Mission

Darfur: House to Vote on Bill Penalizing Sudan

From the AP
People implicated in war crimes in Sudan could be denied entry into the United States and have their assets frozen under legislation heading toward a vote Wednesday in the House.

The legislation would bar U.S. aid to nations violating U.N. Security Council resolutions that impose an embargo on arms transfers to the African nation.

[edit]

The legislation, which requires Senate action, is the latest of several acts of Congress to condemn Sudan over war in Darfur and impose penalties on its government. In 2004 Congress enacted a measure to stop trade and separately approved a resolution declaring that the atrocities in western Sudan were acts of genocide.

[edit]

The bill would not authorize the use of U.S. forces in Darfur, but it would confer on the president authority to assist an expanded African Union mission.

It would expand the 2004 law to impose an asset freeze and travel ban against those accused of perpetrating genocide, war crimes or crimes against humanity in Darfur. The president can waive the ban if it is in the national interest.

[edit]

In a largely symbolic measure, the bill would encourage the president to deny entry at U.S. ports to Sudanese cargo ships or oil tankers.

It also moves to lift export and import restrictions to southern Sudan and other marginalized areas.

The bill also asserts that restrictions against Sudan should not be lifted until the president certifies that Sudan is taking such steps as acting peacefully to resolve the crisis, disarm the Janjaweed militia that is accused of attacking black Africans and putting in place the terms of a peace agreement reached last year.

At a House International Relations subcommittee hearing Wednesday, Rep. Frank Wolf, R-Va., urged the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, John Bolton to travel to the area. "We need to do something dramatic," Wolf said. "I think you will be able to speak with such clarity."

Bolton did not respond. He did appear interested in a suggestion from Wolf that all nations on the Security Council join in sending a delegation to Darfur.

Darfur: US Against Sanctions on Sudan Officials

From Reuters
The United States is opposing the inclusion of any Sudanese official on a potential U.N. Security Council sanctions list of individuals blocking peace in Darfur, two diplomats said on Wednesday.

Britain and other nations on a council sanctions committee have recommended a list of eight names of people including some government officials who would be subject to a travel ban and an assets freeze. All 15 council nations have to approve.

The United Nations is trying to halt atrocities in Sudan's western region of Darfur where the government is accused of backing Arab militia, known as Janjaweed who have raped, killed and driven more than 2 million African villagers from their homes.

But the United States recommended for the sanctions list just one middle-ranking Janjaweed militiaman and a rebel fighting opposing the militia, the diplomats said, speaking on condition of anonymity because of the secrecy of the process. The names were not disclosed.

Washington expects to include names of government officials in the future, a U.S. official said, speaking on condition of anonymity. It wants to be able to gradually increase pressure on Sudan and to make sure there is a solid case against any people on the sanctions list, he said.

[edit]

One of the names on the list is Maj. Gen. Sala Abdallah Gosh, the intelligence chief, who diplomats and news reports have said has been collaborating with U.S. government in its war on terrorism.

A senior U.N. diplomat said he doubted the relationship with Gosh accounted for U.S. hesitation on the list.

Russia, China and Qatar, the only Arab member of the council, appear to want to ditch the sanctions list altogether, diplomats said.

Darfur: Egeland Mulls Return

From Reuters
A top U.N. official said on Wednesday he was weighing a possible return to Sudan after the government prevented him from visiting the troubled Darfur region this week.

Sudan's foreign ministry said on Wednesday that U.N. Emergency Relief Coordinator Jan Egeland had been asked only to postpone his visit and would be welcome later.

"We will now consider the new statements and of course I may go at a later stage, but our main work now consists of trying to avert them from throwing out our humanitarian colleagues on the ground," Egeland told Reuters by telephone in Paris where he was attending a development meeting.

Egeland expressed frustration at a string of delays that prevented his visit to Darfur but said he planned to brief the U.N. Security Council on the situation there later this month.

[edit]

"I cannot go now. This is not a game. This is serious humanitarian work," he said. "I had agreed on a time with them and I cannot just come and go when they please."

Egeland said he was working to ensure aid groups could continue to work in Darfur. The Norwegian Refugee Council, which provides camp management for 100,000 displaced people in southern Darfur, was being thrown out, he said.

The security situation prevented NGOs from reaching some of the needy.

"This is really what is at stake now, our ability to do lifesaving work," Egeland said.

Darfur: Canada Mulls Expanding Role in Peacekeeping Mission

From Reuters
Prime Minister Stephen Harper mused publicly on Wednesday about the possibility of expanding Canada's peacekeeping role in the conflict-ridden Darfur region of western Sudan, implying more demands on Canada's already-stretched armed forces.

"We have given that some preliminary consideration. We haven't reached any final decision," Harper told reporters after meeting with his caucus.

"This is obviously something that would have to be worked out in concert with all of our allies, including the United States and others, and I do plan to have further discussions with President Bush and others on the subject."

[edit]

Canada has about 50 personnel dedicated to operations in Sudan, including 32 with a United Nations mission.

But Harper suggested on Wednesday the new Conservative government might consider adding to its presence, noting the humanitarian problem in the region is enormous.

"It's deeply shocking to anybody who's familiar with it. At the same time, we need to make sure that any political or any peacekeeping initiative will be effective," he said.

The possibility of sending more resources to the area comes as Harper faces pressure from some corners for a parliamentary debate on Canada's military mission to Afghanistan, where Canada has sent 2,300 troops and is commanding a multinational task force.

Canada has faced international criticism for the relatively small size of its military, which was saw its budget sharply cut back in the 1990s.

A Canadian Senate committee last fall said the military is suffering from a "legacy of neglect" that has left it unable to cope with the threats and demands of today's world.

Darfur: Foreign Donors Turning Their Backs

From Reuters
International donors are turning their backs on Sudan's crisis-torn Darfur region, putting at even greater risk the lives of people who are already victims of conflict and banditry, UNICEF said on Wednesday.

Dan Toole, head of emergency programmes for the United Nations' children's fund, said large parts of the vast region were off limits to aid workers as government forces and local militias battled each other as peace talks faltered.

"Donors are just not coming up with the money. I can understand that they are fed up. But this is people's lives. I told the American government, the British government and others decreases in funding equals increased mortality," Toole said.

"The peace process isn't moving forward, security is deteriorating -- we have no access to the area of the border with Chad, there are parts of south Darfur you can't even travel anymore -- and donors have not kicked in adequate funds."

Toole said the U.N. operation in Darfur had received less than a third of the funds it needed to operate in the area the size of France where tens of thousand of people have been killed and 2 million forced to flee during three years of fighting.

Darfur: Paul Rusesabagina

An op-ed by Paul Rusesabagina, the inspiration behind "Hotel Rwanda," in the Wall Street Journal
History shows us that genocides can happen only if four important conditions are in place. There must be the cover of a war. Ethnic grievances must be manipulated and exaggerated. Ordinary citizens must be deputized by their government to become executioners. And the rest of the world must be persuaded to look away and do nothing. This last is the most shameful of all, especially so because genocide is happening again right now in Darfur and the world community has done precious little to stop the killings.

What is happening in Darfur is exactly what happened in my home country of Rwanda, which was left to choke on its own blood from April to July of 1994.

The United Nations took virtually no action during the genocide. A detachment of well-equipped peacekeepers, made up of less than one-twentieth of the American troops now stationed in Iraq, could have easily stopped the killings without risk and sent the powerful message that the world would no longer tolerate mass murders of civilians, a real expression of the phrase "Never Again." But this simple act was deemed, then and now, to be somehow beyond the power of the United Nations, the United States, NATO, the European community and everybody else with the real power to stop another holocaust.

There are now about 7,000 soldiers from the African Union stationed in Sudan, which is mostly an exercise in public relations. They lack helicopters, jeeps and firepower. More importantly, they lack a sense of purpose. There are no clear rules of engagement and many of the soldiers appear more interested in collecting their per diem payments than inserting themselves between the government-backed Janjaweed militia and their victims in the farming villages. The African Union recently said it will stay into September, and a handover to the United Nations might take place at that point. By that time, the genocide will have lasted for three years with a likely half-million dead, or more.

To be sure, part of the debate involves the fear of an Iraqi-style campaign of insurgence against any humanitarian or peacekeeping force deemed "too Western" by the Sudanese government and the Janjaweed thugs. But we should not let ourselves be cowed by these threats. Will we allow murderers to intimidate us away from doing the right thing and saving lives?

Historically, I am sorry to say, the answer has been "yes." When modern genocide has loomed, the United Nations has shown more concern for not offending the sovereignty of one of its member nations, even as monstrosities take place within its borders. Yet "national sovereignty" is often a euphemism for the pride of dictators. Darfur is just such a case. The world cannot afford this kind of appeasement any longer.

The real lesson here is that the United Nations is not only in need of reform but also a basic rethinking of its peacekeeping philosophy. World governments must agree that the extinction of a race is a crime worth stopping at any cost, and back up this sentiment with action. And the U.N. Security Council must create a tool that it has lacked for far too long -- a small multinational "rapid response" force which can quickly airlift tanks, jeeps, helicopters and troops to spots where the evidence of genocide is overwhelming.

Such a force would not require endless dickering, delicacy and will-testing; it should be made up of no more than 10,000 troops and deployed only in extreme situations, because its real power is not in its gunbarrels -- it is in the message to genocidal regimes that the world will refuse to overlook atrocities. This would have stopped the Rwanda tragedy from happening, probably without a shot being fired. It could now stop Darfur from getting worse, with similar ease.

History offers us another lesson about genocides: The apologies, recriminations and resolutions of Never Again usually begin after the genocide is safely finished and it becomes safe once more to mourn the lack of action. That should not happen this time. The proposed extinction of an entire race should now be considered an override clause to the rule of national sovereignty. Rwanda is over and everybody mourns it comfortably. We ought not to wait until Darfur is over to start saying Never Again yet again.

Mr. Rusesabagina is the author, with Tim Zoellner, of "An Ordinary Man," published this week by Viking. The film "Hotel Rwanda," was based on his personal story as a hotel manager who saved the lives of numerous Tutsis by offering them refuge in the Hotel Milles Collines in Kigali, Rwanda. A recipient of the National Civil Rights Museum's 2005 Freedom Award, he lives in Brussels.

Darfur: Sudan Says It Will Allow Egeland

From the AP
Sudan said Wednesday it would allow U.N. Undersecretary Jan Egeland to visit Darfur, three days after it barred his flight to the embattled region.

"We reiterate our commitment to receive concerned officials from the United Nations and all other those who are engaged in extending humanitarian aid and assistance," Sudan's state minister for foreign affairs, Elsamani Elwasilah Elsamani, said in a press statement.

The visit of Egeland, the U.N. Undersecretary for humanitarian affairs, had been postponed for 10 days because of "internal reasons," the statement said, without elaboration.

Egeland arrived in southern Sudan on the weekend, but was told his plane would not be allowed to land in either Khartoum, the national capital, or Darfur, where U.N. agencies are providing relief and assistance to hundreds of thousands of people.

Darfur: UN Envoy Criticises Obstruction

From IRIN
United Nations Under Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs, Jan Egeland, said the decision of the Sudanese authorities to block his visit to Darfur and refugee camps in neighbouring Chad was symptomatic of the lack of government cooperation in solving the problems in the troubled western Sudanese region.

"In Sudan today, the United Nations is coordinating the biggest humanitarian operation in the world. Not allowing me to come and do my work - coordinating the work of the United Nations - is just one of the examples of an increasing tendency of obstructions of our work as humanitarian workers, being the lifeline to three million people in Darfur," Egeland told journalists in the Kenyan capital of Nairobi on Tuesday.

He reported that the Sudanese government had also ordered the Norwegian Refugee Council - which manages Kalma camp, the largest camp for internally displaced persons in Darfur - to leave the region by Wednesday. The organisation would not be allowed to return. "It is totally essential work in one of the most difficult conditions possible: Kalma camp with 100,000 IDPs [internally displaced persons]. I fear now, with the Norwegian Refugee Council gone, there will be less protection for the IDPs, there will be deteriorating services and many civilians will suffer," Egeland said.

The government was also preventing many other NGOs from doing their work in the region, and the recent imposition of a fuel embargo in southern Darfur meant no one could operate their water wells. "They [the NGOs] are constantly blocked. They have totally unreasonable restrictions on their activities," Egeland said. "If the government really actively tried to facilitate our work - like it happens in most other countries in the world - we would see a dramatic change to the better, because immediately we would be much more effective."

[edti]

"The only way we can avoid a massive loss of lives - massive - is by enabling this humanitarian operation, which is on the ground, to be able to do its job," he said. "It is urgent that the attitude of the government changes. If the government is not able to care for its own citizens, is not able to protect its own citizens, provide for its own citizens in Darfur, they should enable our work, and not obstruct our work."

Although the humanitarian situation had improved in 2005 after the massive loss of lives in 2004, Egeland feared the situation would deteriorate this year. He said humanitarian organisations had already lost contact with 300,000 of the three million people who depended on international assistance, because of insecurity and other obstacles to their operations.

"Now, we see an increase in mortality; we see an increase in war deaths; we see an increase in displacement again," he observed. "I think it is again becoming, perhaps, the worst crisis in the world, because I know of few other places where we have lost access to so many people and where we have had so large displacements of late. We are slipping, as we are hanging in there with our fingernails in Darfur."

Darfur: Local Conflict, International Chaos

From ISN Security Watch
The consequences will be catastrophic if these trends continue. A recent UN report outlined that lack of funding and decline in security has rendered humanitarian assistance for Darfur’s conflict-affected people precarious at best. Without adequate protection for civilians and humanitarian access protocols for aid agencies, an increasing percentage of the 3.5 million conflict-affected will be left without vital food, shelter, water, healthcare, and sanitation provision necessary for survival.

A recent visit by ISN Security Watch staff to the region observed Janjaweed militias on camels on the move on rural roads, while African Union patrols nearby - each side seemingly oblivious to the other’s presence.

Speaking to ISN Security Watch at a camp for internally displaced civilians north of El-Fasher, Tahani, a mother of seven, said: “These camps are not safe. At night, Arabs come in and steal things, beat people up, kill people. We cannot go outside most of the time. When we go to the market we need the African Union to bring us there. And there are never enough of them to bring everybody.”

The humanitarian situation on the ground is deteriorating rapidly, with depleted resources for international organizations and NGOs compounded by the worsening security situation. Much of west Darfur is now a no-go area, and the same applies to parts of southern Darfur and the northern area as well. At least 50,000 more people in Darfur have been displaced since the beginning of the year, and an estimated 25,000 more have been uprooted in eastern Chad.

In any case, humanitarian access is declining in Darfur itself. Aid organizations were forced from the Jebel Mara area of south-central Darfur in late January, when SLA rebels attacked the government-held town of Golo, briefly taking it before being repelled by government troops and Arab militias.

[edit]

With the UN seeking western backing for and potential involvement in the peacekeeping force, the diplomatic stakes have been raised in recent weeks. The Sudanese government remains opposed to any non-African intervention in Darfur, and Khartoum has warned that Darfur would be “a graveyard” for any western troops.

Moreover, when ISN Security Watch staff recently visited the central and north-central Darfur region, we were informed that self-styled jihadi groups were emerging in the region. The precise identity or make-up of these groups remains unclear.

However, given the fluidity with which individuals move between various Arab and government-allied militias, official and non-official, non-Arab Darfurians believe that these new groups are another form of the Janjaweed and similar elements.

The phenomenon was described by one man as “promoted by the government to scare off the foreigners. In Darfur, we do not participate in any jihadism. We are peaceful Muslims”.

The Arab League has been uncritical of Khartoum’s role in Darfur. On 28 March, the Arab League pledged to provide funding for the current African Union mission. A Zaghawa trader in Darfur’s main town of El-Fasher told ISN Security Watch that the Arab League made the offer in order “to keep the government happy”.

“This is because the government is afraid that the Americans will come in and arrest them all. So they want their allies to give money to AMIS and keep the UN out,” he said.

Khartoum has portrayed Darfur as a localized tribal conflict, and has absolved itself of any blame for the killing and displacement in Darfur, and the growing conflict with Chad.

This is despite repeated testimony given by civilians, aid workers, and various international organizations bearing witness to Sudanese military support to militia activity.

[edit]

Speaking to ISN Security Watch, Sudan analyst Eric Reeves comes to a similar conclusion: “The GoS employs genocide as a domestic security policy, and has done so without international response in south Sudan, in the Nuba Mountains, and now in Darfur.”

With diplomatic momentum slowly gathering behind a UN peacekeeping force, due to take over from the African Union in September, the question remains whether this will be too little too late for many of Darfur’s civilians.

Even though Kofi Annan was recently authorized by the UN Security Council to speed up plans for a UN force, it will take at least five to seven months before any effective UN presence can reach Darfur - and only then with the acquiescence of Khartoum. Otherwise, the UN peacekeepers will have to fight their way into Sudan.

Chad/Darfur: War Has Spread

This lengthy article is also from Knight Ridder
The war in Sudan's Darfur region, where more than 200,000 people have been killed in what the Bush administration calls a genocide, is growing deadlier and more complicated.

Since the beginning of the year, militias backed by the Sudanese government are crossing over almost daily into neighboring Chad and freely attacking Darfur refugees and Chadian civilians in villages along the lengthy, desolate border.

Making matters worse, about 8,000 Chadian rebels have set up camp in Darfur. On March 30, they clashed with Chadian government forces 60 miles south of the strategic border town of Adre. Dozens of fighters were killed in an attack that Chad said Sudan supported.

The mounting violence has driven at least 55,000 Chadians from their homes, and camps for Sudanese refugees in eastern Chad are swelling with hundreds of new arrivals each week. Much of the region is beyond the reach of relief agencies, and the U.N. World Food Program says several thousand people will go hungry in the coming months.

[edit]

But with hostilities between the countries increasing, thousands of people who'd fled janjaweed attacks in Sudan now find they are no safer on the other side of the border.

"Even though we are in another country, we are still being tormented," said Yacoub Abakar, 43, a balding Sudanese with sad eyes. Abakar was shot in his left foot in a janjaweed attack last month near the Chadian border town of Goungour, where he's lived with his family since militias torched his village in Darfur in 2003.

Seated in his bed in Adre's hospital - the only one for miles - Abakar gingerly rolled up his right pants leg to display a softball-sized scar on his shin. It was another bullet wound from the Darfur attack.

That the janjaweed now are attacking Darfurians in their country of refuge creates "a nightmare scenario" for diplomats, said Baba Gana Kingibe, the top official in Darfur for the African Union, the intergovernmental body that's charged with peacekeeping in the region.

Darfur: Victims Recount Janjaweed Attacks

From Knight Ridder
Since 2003, Sudan's Arab janjaweed militias have terrorized blacks in the Darfur region by burning villages, stealing cattle and livestock and indiscriminately shooting civilians.

In recent months, they've exported that campaign of terror to black villages in neighboring Chad, where victims describe attacks virtually identical to those in Darfur.

The Sudanese government has denied that it still supports the militias, but Chadians' accounts in interviews with Knight Ridder suggest that the janjaweed remain well armed and the scope of their attacks is widening.

"They surrounded the village, they took all our animals and our food and they left nothing," said Gamar Souleymana, 30, describing a janjaweed attack last month near the town of Goungour, about 25 miles south of Adre.

Two people died in the raid, said Souleymana, who had his right leg amputated at the knee in Adre's hospital.

Like many of Darfur's victims, Souleymana belongs to the Masalit tribe, members of whom live on both sides of the Chad-Sudan border. Souleymana, who wore a dull, expressionless gaze, said he thought the janjaweed were crossing into Chad to continue what they started in Darfur.

"In Sudan there aren't any animals left for them," he said. "That's why we see them in the border areas all the time."

Twenty-year-old Abdoul Kassim, who lost both his legs in an attack near Goungour in February, said he knew the janjaweed were coming when he heard dozens of camels and horses rushing toward their village in the middle of the night.

Some of the militiamen had two automatic rifles slung over their shoulders, Kassim said. There were so many of them, he said, that the few villagers who kept weapons in their huts in case of an attack didn't bother trying to defend themselves.

Kassim lost all of his 32 head of sheep in the raid. Most of his fellow villagers lost theirs as well, he said.

The janjaweed appear to be making something of a sport out of their attacks. Khamis Zakaria, 75, said two militiamen on camels had approached him one morning in early March, when he was alone gathering water from a stream, with nothing of value besides his donkey.

"They said, `Stop. Do you know who we are?'" said Zakaria, a frail man whose ribcage poked through his T-shirt. "I didn't stop, and they fired two bullets at me."

One pierced his left wrist, the other his right thigh, which is now in a cast. The donkey ran off, and the janjaweed left empty-handed.

"Everyone in this area is scared of them," Zakaria said. "You don't know when they are coming, or what they will do."

Darfur: AU Troops in Abuse Probe

From the BBC
The African Union (AU) peacekeeping mission in Sudan says it will look into claims that its troops committed sexual abuse in the western region of Darfur.

The UK's More Four TV channel last week aired allegations that AU soldiers paid women, some as young as 11, for sex.

The AU said the claims were disturbing, but added there had recently been many allegations against its mission - all of which had been found to be baseless.

The AU has 7,000 troops guarding some of Darfur's 2 million displaced people.

The report broadcast on More Four showed interviews with two women at a camp in south Darfur called Gereida.

One said she had been paid for sex with an AU peacekeeper and was now pregnant.

The other, an eleven-year-old, said she was paid, then raped by a soldier.

According to the reporter, many other women at the camp said they were being paid for sex.

A statement from the AU mission in Sudan said the accusations were very disturbing and that a committee including representatives from outside the AU had been set up to investigate them.

It went on to say that there had been a spate of orchestrated allegations against the AU in recent months - all of which had been proven, after investigation, to be baseless.

Darfur: US Slams Sudan for Barring UN Official

From Reuters
The United States criticized Sudan on Tuesday for barring a senior U.N. official from visiting its troubled Darfur region but some Security Council members declined to join Washington in a strong statement condemning Khartoum's action.

"It's just more government of Sudan stonewalling," U.S. envoy Jackie Sanders told reporters. "Sudan needs to cooperate more, particularly on humanitarian aid."

Sanders said she had pushed for a tough council statement after Khartoum on Monday refused to let U.N. Emergency Relief Coordinator Jan Egeland go to Darfur to assess the humanitarian situation.

Sudan the next day blocked Egeland from flying over Sudanese territory to visit neighboring Chad.

But diplomats said Russia, China and Qatar called for a more general statement focusing on the humanitarian situation in Darfur rather than on Egeland. Absent their objections, most other members, including Britain, would have agreed to the phrasing suggested by Washington, the envoys reported.

The council also endorsed a statement by U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan voicing "regrets" that Sudan would not let Egeland visit either Darfur or Khartoum. Annan said he intended to speak to President Omar Hassan al-Bashir about the matter.

"The pressing and urgent humanitarian requirements of Darfur are a priority for the United Nations and coordination efforts to sustain this large program were at the center of Mr. Egeland's visit," Annan's spokesman, Stephane Dujarric, said.

Chinese Ambassador Wang Guangya, the council president for April, said all 15 council members shared Annan's concerns but for now wanted mainly to "express their concerns about the humanitarian situation in Darfur."

The council also planned to ask Egeland for a briefing on what happened in Sudan upon his return to New York and might have something further to say at that time, Wang added.

Int'l Justice: U.N. Looking for Country to Take Taylor

From the AP
The U.N.-backed court that would prosecute former Liberian President Charles Taylor has run into trouble trying to persuade any government to either imprison him or give him asylum once the trial ends, diplomats said Tuesday.

The diplomats said the main concern was deciding where to send Taylor if he is acquitted on 11 counts alleging war crimes and crimes against humanity during Sierra Leone's 1991-2002 civil war. Sweden is the likely candidate to imprison him if he's found guilty, but is otherwise reluctant, they said.

The issue of where to send Taylor has become a pressing one because the U.N. Security Council agreed not to pass a resolution transferring his trial to The Hague, Netherlands until a deal is arranged.

"The problem is nobody wants to have this guy on their territory _ in jail or not _ for 20 or 30 years," said one diplomat.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Darfur: U.N. Envoy Says Crisis Has Worsened

From the AP
The conflict in Sudan's western Darfur region has worsened, with 200,000 additional people being forced from their homes, a top U.N. envoy barred from visiting the zone by Sudanese authorities said Tuesday.

Jan Egeland, U.N. under-secretary-general for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief, said Sudanese government officials had denied his U.N. aircraft permission to overfly Darfur in order to visit Sudanese refugees in neighboring Chad. A day earlier, they had barred him from visiting the capital, Khartoum, and the Darfur region.

"Many believe the problems are over in Darfur. They are getting worse," he told journalists in Kenya after leaving southern Sudan.

[edit]

"I believe that there is now a total lack of unity of command. The government doesn't control the Janjaweed militias - perhaps not even their own soldiers. The guerrillas are not controlling their armed troops on the ground," Egeland said.

[edit]

Egeland said Sudanese authorities told him that visiting Khartoum and Darfur, in the Muslim part of the country, would be too sensitive because his nation, Norway, was among those that published offensive cartoons of Islam's Prophet Muhammad.

He called the excuse "utterly ridiculous."

[edit]

"As we speak, we have already lost contact with 300,000 people - 300,000 of the 3 million people who need our assistance we cannot reach because of insecurity or because of other obstacles to our work," Egeland said.

The international community must also pay more attention to Darfur, for which there has been "waning interest," he added.

The international community has to put pressure not only on the government of Sudan, but also on the rebel groups who "have behaved in a totally irresponsible manner."

Egeland also said the African Union peacekeeping force in Darfur was ill-equipped to protect civilians from atrocities committed by both sides of the conflict. He called for a stronger force, echoing calls for a U.N.-led force to take over the peacekeeping mission.

"World leaders thought it was going well in Darfur. It was not, and we did not keep pressure on the government nor on the guerillas," he said.

Darfur: Humanitarian Organization Told to Leave

From the Norwegian Refugee Council
In a meeting with the authorities in South Darfur Tuesday afternoon, NRC was told to end all humanitarian operations in Darfur and leave the region.

- We are now preparing to evacuate all staff from Darfur. The consequences for the internally displaced persons are serious and immediate, when NRC no longer can carry out food distribution to 50 000 persons, Head of International Department, Jens Mjaugedal said.

NRC has asked for a written confirmation, but this request has not been met.

- We have not got any explanation on why we are told to end all operations and leave Darfur. What we know is that there no criticism against NRC's work. We have been in Darfur since July 2004 and we have a good standing among the internally displaced persons, other NGO’s and the UN, Mjaugedal said.

Yesterday, NRC was told that the Sudanese government refuses to renew the cooperation agreement with the NRC on coordination of the largest camp for internally displaced persons in Darfur, Kalma camp close to Nyala.

NRC is seriously concerned over the humanitarian situation for almost 100,000 internally displaced persons in the camp, when there is no organization to fill the role of coordinator. Until today, NRC has been running an education project for 16,000 children in the camp. That activity will also come to an end.

Darfur: Presidents to Push for Breakthrough

From Reuters
African heads of state will push the warring parties from Sudan's Darfur region to clinch a peace agreement at a meeting on April 8 that all sides said on Tuesday could help break the deadlock.

Congo Republic's President Denis Sassou Nguesso, current chairman of the African Union (AU), Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo and AU Commission Chairman Alpha Oumar Konare are due to take part in Saturday's meeting in the Nigerian capital.

The Sudan government delegation said Vice-President Ali Osman Mohamed Taha would also come to Abuja on Saturday in what observers said was perhaps a signal Khartoum would be willing to make new concessions.

"Vice-President Taha would not be coming if the talks hadn't reached a critical stage ... I expect dramatic developments in the next few days," said a government delegate.

The AU, which is mediating the peace talks and has 7,000 troops monitoring an often-violated ceasefire in Darfur, said the involvement of heads of state could help coax the government and two rebel movements into striking a deal.

"The presence of heads of state at peace negotiations in Africa is a big deal and it usually ends up breaking impasses," said Berhanu Dinka, who chairs negotiations on power-sharing, one of the three areas under discussion.

[edit]

AU mediators said they were trying to resolve the last few sticking points in power-sharing, wealth-sharing and security but needed a political decision from the parties to make peace.

"We are in the last straight line before the finish ... We have high hopes of securing an agreement before the 30th," said Boubou Niang, who chairs the wealth-sharing negotiations.

"What we need now is for the two sides to take courageous political decisions and make concessions," he added.

Darfur: Sudan, Egypt Agree to Resolve Conflict by Peaceful Means

From Xinhua [see also Eric Reeves' latest article on Egypt's close ties to Khartoum]
Sudanese President Omer al- Bashir and his visiting Egyptian counterpart Hosni Mubarak agreed Tuesday on the necessity to resolve the conflict in Sudan's western restive region of Darfur by peaceful means.

At a joint press conference following their meeting, both al- Bashir and Mubarak stressed the importance to settle the Darfur conflict without interventions by powers outside the Arab and African worlds.

The two leaders also voiced their support for the current negotiations between the Sudanese government and Darfur rebels toward a peaceful solution to the Darfur issue under the auspices of the African Union (AU) in the Nigerian capital Abuja.

The two presidents also urged for achieving a political agreement by the end of April, the deadline set by the AU's Security and Peace Council in a meeting in the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa on March 10.

"The continuous differences inside the rebel movements and their lack of united political stands constitute the main obstacles to reaching a political settlement in Darfur because these movements were established as a result of tribal conflicts and turned into political organizations after receiving international supports," al-Bashir said.

Mubarak, on his part, said, "Egypt is desirous for reaching a peaceful solution of the Darfur conflict through the Abuja negotiations and within the African and Arab frameworks."

Darfur: Christianity Today

Two pieces from Christianity Today:

An interview with John Bolton
Should sanctions be imposed against Sudan for atrocities and abuses?

We've been actively trying to move on the sanctions front against some of the individuals responsible for the worst human-rights abuses—named individuals, whether among the rebels or in the government of Khartoum.

Do you want these individuals charged before the international court?

It's more effective if you seize their assets, apply target sanctions against their travel outside the country, and [apply] an arms embargo to cut off their weapons.
And this article
Despite agreement that something must be done, governments remain stuck on what they could and should do. Members of Congress, even while considering legislation, say the genocide is not a high priority for their constituents, according to Gloria White-Hammond of the Save Darfur Coalition. American religious leaders representing her movement say lobbying must come from the grassroots level to be effective. "Churches are a critical vehicle for people to get the word out about Darfur," White-Hammond said. "We've been aware of Darfur for three years, and it feels as if we're just now making progress. But it's still a drop in the bucket."

Int'l Justice: Charles Taylor and the Slaughterers' Society

From Speigle Online
They feed their political opponents to crocodiles, hack the feet off prisoners and let their people starve. Africa's tyrants are still escaping justice, with the exception of Liberia's former dictator Charles Taylor, whose war crimes trial began on Monday at an international tribunal in Sierra Leone.

In Gamboru, Nigeria, just before the border with Cameroon, two border guards flagged down a Range Rover with diplomatic plates. A customs check. The driver, a large black man wearing a white hooded cloak of the type worn by North African Bedouin, got out and without saying a word strode to the back of the vehicle. He opened an aluminium case on the tailgate and confronted the two officers with a tempting sight -- neat bundles of crisp dollar notes in large denominations. Go ahead, help yourself, said the man. But the officers weren't corrupt. They handcuffed him and took him to the provincial capital of Maiduguri. A check of his papers brought a surprise. It was Charles Taylor, the former president of Liberia, known to his compatriots as the "Butcher of Liberia."

A government jet flew Taylor to the Liberian capital of Monrovia from where a United Nations helicopter took him to Sierra Leone. His trial began on Monday before an international war crimes court. He pleaded not guilty to 11 counts of war crimes and crimes against humanity he faces relating to his role in Sierra Leone's 1991-2002 civil war. The charges include acts of terrorism, murder, rape, enslavement and the use of child soldiers in the diamond-rich country next to Liberia on the West African coast. Britain has asked the United Nations Security Council to move his trial to The Hague in the Netherlands.

His arrest is a victory in the fight for greater justice and humanity in the world. For the first time, an African state has handed a former tyrant over to independent judges. And a number of Africa's former dictators must now fear that their retirement won't be as peaceful and luxurious as they'd bargained for.

Charles Taylor murdered on an almost industrial scale. He is responsible for war crimes that cost hundreds of thousands of lives in West Africa. The Liberian civil war alone, in which he played a leading role, resulted in the killing of 250,000 people. After the war ended in Liberia, Taylor fomented uprisings in the neighboring states of Guinea and Sierra Leone. The "Small Boys Units," which he supplied with weapons in exchange for diamonds, were notorious for hacking the hands and feet off prisoners. After a horrendously bloody battle for power in Liberia, Taylor fled to eastern Nigeria in August 2003. Since then he and his entourage had been living quite comfortably in a villa on the outskirts of the town of Calabar on the Niger delta.

The good life was over at the beginning of last week when Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo, after weeks of pressuring from the United States and Liberian governments, said Taylor would have to stand trial for his crimes. But nothing happened. The guards were withdrawn from the villa in Calabar but Taylor wasn't arrested. Obasanjo told Liberian President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf that if she wanted Taylor, she'd have to come and get him. In the end, the arrest of the prominent asylum-seeker happened almost by accident. "Who's next?" asked Biafra Nigeria World News.

No. 1 and No. 2 on the list that doesn't exist yet are Hissène Habré und Mengistu Haile Mariam, the dethroned dictators of Chad and Ethiopia. Human rights groups have been trying to get hold of Habré for years. Over a thousand regime opponents were tortured to death in the prisons and camps of his secret police in the 1980s. After his fall in 1990 he and his family lived undisturbed for 10 years in an upmarket district of the Senegalese capital Dakar. He was then charged with mass murder following public pressure from various human rights groups. But Dakar's highest court ordered the trial to be stopped.

DRC: Street Kids Could Be Election Weapon

From Reuters
Tens of thousands of street children across Congo risk being recruited by political parties to create chaos, intimidate voters and contest the results of up-coming elections, Human Rights Watch said on Tuesday.

The New York-based watchdog warned that the children faced death or injury as Congo's security forces -- who killed or wounded scores of anti-government demonstrators in 2005 -- frequently respond to protests with excessive force.

Presidential and parliamentary elections due around mid-year will be the first in over four decades and are due to draw a line under a five-year war that sucked in six neighboring armies and splintered the mineral-rich but chaotic country.

"In the coming months there is a risk that street children, as in the past, will once again be manipulated, wounded or killed in political unrest," HRW said in a report published on Tuesday.

"Political party leaders and their followers, opposed to the electoral process or the final results, may again attempt to recruit street children to intimidate voters, disrupt the elections, or contest the outcome," the report said.
The HRW report is here

Darfur: Egypt's Pernicious Role in the Genocide

A new piece from Eric Reeves in The New Republic
Last week, the Arab League held its annual summit in Khartoum. The choice of venue alone was a symbolic victory for Sudan's genocidal government. More to the point, while the Arab League may not be a generally effective organization, its members have played an unfortunate role in the Darfur genocide: Along with China, they have been among the only governments consistently to defend Khartoum. That happened again last week, when the Arab League announced it would support Sudan's opposition to the deployment of U.N. troops to Darfur.

The most important--and most pernicious--role has been played by the Arab League's most powerful country. Egypt, which governed Sudan along with Great Britain under "condominium rule" from 1898 through 1956, has long had an essentially colonial view of its neighbor to the south. Today, Sudan continues to loom large in Egyptian foreign policy: partly because the Nile's waters--Egypt's most essential natural asset--run north from Sudan, but also because Egypt aspires to exert hegemonic power in the Horn of Africa. By consistently defending Sudan's genocidal leaders on the international stage, Egypt has earned considerable goodwill from Khartoum, and therefore leverage over the regime. That is exactly what Cairo wants.

Darfur: Turning Into a `Nightmare'

From Bloomberg
The United Nations top emergency relief coordinator, Jan Egeland, said the situation in Sudan's Darfur region is deteriorating into what may become a ``nightmare.''

``We could have nightmares even worse than the horrendous situation we now have,'' Egeland told reporters in the southern Sudanese town of Rumbek.

[edit]

The South Darfur state governor opposed the visit and said he couldn't guarantee the UN official's safety, Egeland said. When UN officials proposed visiting the West Darfur town of Geneina instead, the state governor there said the airport was closed. Egeland also said he was told he wasn't ``welcome'' in Khartoum, the capital.

Egeland said the situation this year in Darfur is deteriorating after the conflict eased last year and international aid agencies were able to help 3 million people in need of assistance.

``I think it is question of hardliners trying to re- establish themselves,'' Egeland said.

Pro-government forces have attacked 90 villages and displaced 200,000 people in recent months around the rebel-held town of Gereida in south Darfur, where Egeland was supposed to visit yesterday, he said.

The Sudanese authorities yesterday told the Norwegian Refugee Council that it could no longer manage the biggest camp for displaced people in Darfur, Egeland said. Kalma camp houses about 100,000 people.

Both the rebels of the Sudan Liberation Army and the government and its militia allies, known as the ``Janjaweed'' were ``increasingly irresponsible'' in intensifying the fighting, Egeland said.

``No one is in charge of these crazy men with guns on the ground,'' he said.

Darfur: Blocked by Gov't, Egeland Drops Chad Trip

From Reuters
A senior U.N. official abandoned plans to visit Sudanese refugees in Chad on Tuesday because the Sudanese government denied him permission to fly over the troubled western region of Darfur, U.N. officials said.

Jan Egeland, the U.N. under-secretary for humanitarian affairs, will fly from the south Sudanese town of Rumbek to Lokichoggio in northern Kenya after failing to persuade Khartoum to change its mind about the flight to Chad, they said.

Sudanese authorities have already prevented Egeland from visiting Darfur and the capital Khartoum.

Egeland told reporters the bans reflect deteriorating relations between the United Nations and the government over the deployment of a possible U.N. peace force in Darfur.

"One of the biggest and most effective humanitarian operations on earth ... is in Darfur. In 2006 it is changing dramatically for the worse and I think that is the background for why I was blocked again this year from going," he said.

He said the government did not want him in Darfur because the situation there was as bad as it was in 2004, at the height of conflict between mainly non-Arab Darfuri rebels and government forces backed by militia auxiliaries.

Int'l Justice: Britain Moves to Transfer Taylor Trial

From the AP
Britain circulated a draft U.N. Security Council U.N. Security Council resolution on Friday that would move the war crimes trial of former Liberian President Charles Taylor from Sierra Leone to the Netherlands because of the danger he poses by remaining in the region.

The text recognizes that Taylor‘s continued presence in West Africa is "an impediment to stability and a threat to the peace of Liberia and of Sierra Leone and to international peace and security in the region."

The Sierra Leone court would try Taylor at The Hague , the headquarters of several U.N.-backed courts. A nearby Dutch prison has housed war crimes suspects from the former Yugoslavia and for the International Criminal Court from the Congo.

Sudan: Mubarak Visits to Please al-Bashir

From United Press International
Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak visited Sudan Tuesday, a week after boycotting an Arab summit in the Sudanese capital Khartoum.

The three-hour visit occurred under tight security measures, and was aimed at easing tense Sudanese-Egyptian relations and appeasing Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir, who was upset by Mubarak's absence at last week's summit and an earlier African conference held also in Khartoum, an official source told United Press International.

The source said Mubarak's lack of confidence in security measures to protect him in Khartoum was the undeclared reason for his absence from the two summits.

However, his attitude angered the Sudanese government and his lightning visit was mainly aimed at reducing tensions triggered by what Khartoum regarded as a non-supportive Egyptian stance on Darfur province when it was debated at the Arab summit.

Monday, April 03, 2006

Darfur: Gov't Denies Barring Egeland

From AFP
The Sudanese government Monday denied barring the UN's humanitarian envoy Jan Egeland from the war-torn Darfur region, but instead asked his visit be delayed because of "popular sentiment".

"Egeland was not barred from visiting Darfur but was only asked to postpone the visit due to the growing popular sentiment against the UN for its plans of deploying foreign forces in Darfur," information ministry official Bekri Mulah told AFP by telephone.

Darfur: U.N. Protests Barring of Official

From the AP
The United Nations on Monday protested what it said was a decision by Sudan to bar the U.N.'s top humanitarian official from visiting the capital and the troubled western Darfur region.

Jan Egeland, U.N. under-secretary-general for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief, said the government was trying to prevent him from seeing the deteriorating situation in the troubled Darfur region.

A Foreign Ministry official, speaking on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the media, denied that Egeland had been barred from visting.

A statement from the U.N. mission in Sudan said Egeland's flight into Sudan was not given authorization to land Sunday and that Sudanese officials had expressed opposition to his visit.

Egeland had been scheduled to visit southern and western Sudan from Sunday to Thursday to assess relief operations.

He did visit southern Sudan, which is administered by the Government of Southern Sudan, a partner of the Khartoum government that has its own leadership.

Egeland said he was told that visiting Khartoum and Darfur, in the Muslim north of the country, would be too sensitive because publications in his nation, Norway, were among those that published offensive cartoons of Islam's Prophet Muhammad.

"They claim that my nationality is a problem because of the cartoons and me being a Norwegian. This is just an excuse," he told The Associated Press by telephone. "I can only believe that they don't want me to see how bad the situation has become for the civilian population in South Darfur, in West Darfur."

He noted that he had been barred from visiting Darfur in 2004 "when ethnic cleansing was at its worst."

[edit]

Egeland said he had been supposed to bring more resources to humanitarian workers who, he complained, were finding it increasingly difficult to reach civilians affected by the violence.

He called the ban part of "an endless string of constant administrative obstacles to our work," saying non-governmental organizations trying to work in Darfur were fnding it hard to receive work permits, fuel and other necessities.

"My biggest worry is that all our achievements and advances -- in one of the biggest and most effective humanitarian operations anywhere in a war situation -- are now being undermined," Egeland said.

DRC: Rebels Refuse Cooperation With LRA

From Xinhua
Joseph Kony, commander of Uganda's rebel Lord's Resistance Army ( LRA), has failed in seeking allies in the Democratic Republic of Congo, local newspaper reported Monday.

The Congolese Revolution Movement (MRC) rebels, which described itself as "a pro-people group with a cause," has refused to cooperate with LRA, which has long operated from hideouts across the border in southern Sudan and established bases in the jungles of neighboring Democratic Republic of Congo last year, said the report.

MRC said on Sunday that an LRA officer, who identified himself as Shaban, telephoned MRC's chief of staff Mathieu Gunjolo, asking for cooperation.

"LRA is asking for our troops to merge in exchange for arms and ammunition. They (LRA) are also worried that MRC is still sympathetic to Uganda and asking us not to have anything to do with Uganda," said Justin Lobho, MRC's spokesman.

"We cannot ally with a terrorist group like LRA which has no cause for its war," said the spokesman.

Int'l Justice: Taylor Appears Before War Crimes Tribunal

From the AP
Former Liberian President Charles Taylor appeared before an international war crimes tribunal Monday to hear the 11 counts against him for helping destabilize West Africa through killings, maiming and the exploitation of diamond resources.

Taylor is the first former African president to face war crimes charges. He was brought to Sierra Leone last week after briefly escaping custody in Nigeria, where he was staying since 2003 under a deal to end Liberia's civil war.

Security was tight at the Special Court in Sierra Leone, the country to which Taylor is accused of exporting his civil war. Court officials who received death threats and Taylor will be protected by bulletproof glass and dozens of U.N. peacekeepers from Mongolia and Ireland.

Taylor faces 11 counts of war crimes and crimes against humanity, including sexual slavery and mutilation. Liberian lawyers representing him said they will argue for the case's dismissal.

Darfur: Egeland Denied Access

From Reuters
U.N. under-secretary for humanitarian affairs Jan Egeland said the Sudanese government barred him on Monday from visiting Darfur to prevent him seeing poor conditions there.

"I've been barred from going to south Darfur, west Darfur and also I have been told that I am not welcome in Khartoum," Egeland told Reuters during a visit to southern Sudan.

"I think it is because they (the Sudanese government) don't want me to see how bad it is in Darfur," he added.
From IRIN
Sudanese authorities have denied the United Nations Emergency Relief Coordinator, Jan Egeland, permission to visit the strife-torn western region of Darfur, a UN spokeswoman said on Monday.

"We are disappointed that he will not be welcomed in Darfur," said Stephanie Bunker, spokeswoman for the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA). "He [Egeland] has had several successful missions in the past."

Egeland is on a nine-day mission to Chad, Kenya, Sudan and Uganda. He started a five-day visit to Sudan on Sunday, which would have incorporated Darfur and southern Sudan.
Egeland arrived in Juba, the capital of southern Sudan, from Uganda on Sunday. He travelled by barge overnight with a group of internally displaced persons returning to their homes in the southern town of Bor. He then travelled to another southern town, Rumbek, where he was due to have talks on Monday with representatives of the Government of Southern Sudan, according to other UN sources.

Bunker said Sudan's permanent mission at the UN in New York indicated over the weekend that Egeland would not be welcome in Darfur or in the capital, Khartoum.

China, Sudan to Boost Exchanges Between Armed Forces

From Xinhua
Senior generals of the Chinese and Sudanese armed forces agreed on Monday to extend cooperation.

"The Chinese armed forces would like to boost exchanges and cooperation with the Sudanese army," Vice-Chairman of the Central Military Commission Xu Caihou told visiting Sudanese Defense Minister Abdel Rahim Mohamed Hussein.

Xu said bilateral relations had entered a new stage in recent years as the cooperation in various fields have been stepping up.

Relations between the two armed forces, an important part of bilateral relations, had developed smoothly and friendly cooperation had deepened, Xu said.

He also briefed guests on China's military development.

Abdel Rahim Mohamed Hussein, who arrived last Thursday on an official goodwill visit, said Sudan was committed to developing military relations and promoting cooperation with China.

He also appreciated China's stance on Sudan's western region of Darfur, which has been embroiled in a conflict since early 2003.

Darfur: Norwegian Refugee Council Denied Access

A press release from the Norwegian Refugee Council
The Sudan government refuses to renew the agreement with Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC) on coordination of the Kalma camp, the largest refugee camp in Darfur.

- NRC is seriously concerned over the humanitarian situation for almost 100,000 internally displaced persons in the camp. Today we got notice that the agreement which expires tomorrow, will not be renewed. In effect the largest refugee camp in Darfur will be deprived of coordination of essential humanitarian services, says Director of NRC’s International Department, Jens Mjaugedal.

NRC has not been given any explanation of why the contract will expire without renewal. The Khartoum government is putting serious obstacles in the way for humanitarian organisations to operate in the conflict ravaged Darfur. Lack of security has forced organizations, including UN, to reduce or terminate operations. However, NRC wants to continue its efforts.

Darfur: Allegations of Abuse by AU Troops

From More4 News - via Darfur Daily
Women and children in Darfur claim they have been abused by the very guards who are meant to be protecting them.

Since 2004, the fragile peace in Darfur has been monitored by troops from the African Union.

But More4 news has uncovered evidence that some of the soldiers overseeing the ceasefire, are now exploiting the women and children they were sent in to protect.

This weekend, the United Nations promised to speed up moves to send its own peacekeepers to the war torn region.

Our reporter Nima Elbagir travelled to Geraida in Southern Darfur, where girls as young as 11 said they had been threatened and coerced into sexual acts by soldiers.

We showed our report to the African Union command in Sudan. They told by More4 news that the claims were "horrible but not true".

Liberia/Nigeria: Adviser Says Taylor Was Double-Crossed

From the AP
Nigerian security forces encouraged former Liberian President Charles Taylor to flee and helped him get to the Cameroon border before the same agents turned around and arrested him in a double-cross, his spiritual adviser said.

Taylor, the first former African president to be charged with crimes against humanity, is to appear Monday before the tribunal to face 11 counts of war crimes and crimes against humanity, including sexual slavery and mutilation. Liberian lawyers hoping to represent him said they will argue for the case to be dismissed.

Taylor‘s spiritual adviser, the Indian evangelist Kilari Anand Paul, said Taylor told him in a phone call from jail on Saturday that State Security Service agents came with two vehicles to his villa in southeastern Nigeria the night of March 28.

Before Taylor could cross into Cameroon, the agents who had freed him "turned up and arrested him ... they had guns and told him to surrender himself," said Paul, who met Taylor in 2003 and says he helped broker Taylor‘s exile to Nigeria.

DRC: World Watches as War Continues

From Reuters
When asked why he fled his home and walked miles through the rough bush, Guillaume Muyambo looked up in disbelief.

Mai Mai militiamen were passing through his village having just lost several men in battle when they decided his father was to blame for the failure of their potions to turn the enemy's bullets into water.

"They cut off his penis and his testicles, opened up his insides and then burned his body," Muyambo said as he squatted under plastic sheeting in a camp for displaced civilians.

"That is why we are here."

Many civilians in northern and central Katanga -- a province in southeastern Democratic Republic of Congo -- share similar horror stories. Some fled when tales such as Muyambo's spread round their villages. Others were caught up in the fighting.

As Congo prepares for historic elections later this year -- polls meant to draw a line under a decade of war and chaos -- a silent conflict continues in the copper-rich southeast, where 165,000 civilians have fled their homes, aid workers say.

Darfur: Preemptive Apology

A new cartoon from Mark Fiore - via POTP

Uganda/Sudan: Rebel Attacks in South Threaten Aid Delivery

From Reuters
Ugandan rebel attacks and a delay in aid payments are threatening the delivery of assistance to millions in need in Sudan's south, a senior United Nations official said on Monday.

Jan Egeland, U.N. under secretary-general for humanitarian affairs, is on an Africa tour also scheduled to include a visit to Sudan's troubled western Darfur region. But that visit was in doubt on Monday due to a disagreement with Khartoum officials.

Speaking in the southern town of Terekeke, Egeland said Ugandan rebels of the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) were attacking civilians and aid workers.

"The security of humanitarian workers is precarious," Egeland said, urging the governments of Uganda, Sudan and the Democratic Republic of Congo to stop the attacks.

The cult-like LRA, which has waged a 20-year-long insurgency in northern Uganda, has bases in Sudan and Congo.

Former southern Sudanese rebels from the Sudan People's Liberation Army (SPLA) and the Khartoum government signed a peace deal last year to end Africa's longest civil war.

Hundreds of thousands of southern Sudanese, who fled fighting during a war that claimed 2 million lives, had returned home but were still in danger from the LRA, Egeland said.

Humanitarian work could be paralysed if the LRA was not stopped, he told journalists.

An attack in late March on a U.N. site in Yambio in south Sudan, most likely by LRA rebels, pushed peacekeepers into their first deadly exchange of fire.

Egeland urged the international community to deliver on pledges of up to $4.5 billion to reconstruct Sudan after the civil war.

"As of today, we have only one fifth of what we need this year and the rains are coming," he said.

Uganda: Inspiration Behind the 'Terror Gang'

From The Observer
It was one of the deadliest encounters United Nations troops had ever engaged in. Guatemalan Special Forces, operating under UN command in north-eastern Congo, made contact with 300 Lord's Resistance Army fighters who had crossed from Uganda into the Garamba National Park.

Authorised to use maximum force against the warlords and militias, the Guatemalans closed in for the kill. But the LRA unit laid an ambush. After a fierce gun battle, eight Guatemalans were dead. The terrorists beheaded the commander and escaped. How could one of the world's most experienced special forces be outfought by what is usually described as a cult of half-crazed cannibals whose tactics are murder, rape and pillage? How could their leader, a dreadlocked psychopath called Joseph Kony with no military training, lead such a successful army?

The LRA is portrayed as a mindless terror gang, so evil it makes political or military analysis unnecessary. But the difficult truth is that, although the LRA controls no territory, it has also been one of the most effective guerrilla armies in Africa. Supplied until recently by Sudan, it moves fast and undetected for hundreds of miles in days, breaks into small groups and re-forms.

Many people had assumed the sheer virulence of the LRA would quickly burn itself out. Surely no human could maintain such appalling brutality for long, let alone win a guerrilla war with it. But it has lasted 20 years. It grew out of the Holy Spirit Movement, another bizarre cult, led by Alice Lakwena, a priest who claimed that her fighters were protected from bullets by butter. She was defeated by the Ugandan army, but Kony, said to be her cousin, took up the cause.

Its origins go back to the defeat of the Okello regime by the army of now-President Yoweri Museveni in 1986. Tito Okello, a former British army sergeant, was an Acholi, the ethnic group which formed the backbone of the Ugandan army. The 1986 defeat traumatised the Acholis, but they did not abandon their fighting skills. A former UK soldier who interviewed captured LRA fighters was appalled to find that they use standard British army orders, handed down from colonial times.

Somalia: Trying to Begin Again

From the Los Angeles Times
In a sweltering, bombed-out grain silo here, a group of would-be founding fathers is plotting the birth of a nation.

Or more accurately, the rebirth of one.

After 15 years of anarchy, a fledgling Somalian parliament formed outside the country is meeting for the first time on Somalian soil in this crumbling southern city. The transitional government is the latest in a string of attempts to restore law and order to the Horn of Africa nation that fractured in the collapse of the dictatorship of Maj. Gen. Mohamed Siad Barre in 1991 and the disastrous international intervention that followed.

Outside the makeshift parliament, where legislators began meeting last month, piles of rubble and dilapidated buildings line dirt streets. Electricity and water remain scarce. Gangs of militiamen roam the streets in trucks mounted with antiaircraft weapons.

But none of that seemed to detract from the heady mood of the lawmakers, who were appointed during a peace conference in Nairobi, the Kenyan capital, in 2004. This is their Philadelphia, they said, a historic gathering of leaders from small independent fiefdoms who are working to set aside their differences.

It's too soon to say whether they will write a new chapter in Somalian history, or end up another footnote.

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