SUDAN WATCH: Sudan knows UN has no appetite for action - - British officials pessimistic about the international community

Thursday, August 26, 2004

Sudan knows UN has no appetite for action - - British officials pessimistic about the international community

Excerpt from Aug 24 Scotsman New atrocities in Sudan as UN deadline looms:

"British officials and human rights groups are pessimistic that the international community will have the courage to face down the Sudanese government", says the Scotsman. "A senior British official travelling with Mr Straw said he sensed a "slackening of will among international partners" over imposing harsh sanctions on Sudan if it fails to meet the deadline. He said that Britain would prefer a "graduated" response to avoid splitting the Security Council: "If you were to drive ahead like a bull at a gate and end up with a split in the Security Council, that would work to the advantage of hard-liners in the Sudanese government."

Jemera Rone, who has just returned to the Washington office of Human Rights Watch after a trip to Darfur, said the group had evidence of a catalogue of incidents which had taken place after the Sudanese government had promised to comply with the UN. Those included rapes, attacks on villages and the involvement of government troops. "There has been some bombing. From what we could see attacks on villages are continuing. There were many, many incidents of looting and women are being raped when they go into government-controlled areas," she said. And she was highly critical of suggestions from Mr Pronk that Khartoum should be given more time and that refugees should be confined to secure areas. "The Jan Pronk plan gives them yet more time to fool around doing nothing. The idea of safe havens is abhorrent. We want the ethnic cleansing to be reversed but they are talking about making the safe havens permanent. The international community is looking to the Sudanese government to protect the people it has driven from their homes."
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Aug 24: Copy of letter to Prime Minister of Canada from leaders of Canadian churches urging Canada to take a stand and act boldly on Darfur.
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Aug 18: Families on the Fringe Dalih, North Darfur: More than 7,000 people have been camped in the tiny village of Dalih, 3 km outside Tawila in North Darfur since February. They are living in some of the most miserable conditions seen anywhere in the world, squatting in school buildings and abandoned huts or living in rudimentary shelters clustered together near the schools. Maurice Herson, a senior humanitarian manager for Oxfam UK who recently visited Dalih explains:

“Their shelters are nothing more than bits of dried thorny shrubs that have been heaped – almost as if by the wind – into little circles and semicircles."

"One of these piles of twigs and sticks has a diameter of about a metre and a half, with a few tattered pieces of faded, dirty cloth stretched across one side to provide some relief from the sun."

"Five families live in this space. They told me that the women and children crowd inside at night to sleep, while the men sleep outside in the space between the shelters."

“Some of the other families I met had been given plastic sheeting by another aid agency. But as they don’t have anything to attach it to the wind blows it away so they simply huddle underneath it when it rains.”

“What I saw in Dalih is human misery more or less at its worst. My heart goes out to the elderly people in particular. This is a sad way to move towards the end of your life.” [Full Story]

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