UN Security Council will make a judgement Aug 30/31 - Based on Annan and Pronk's report
Annan's report will partly rely on Pronk's assessment of the situation over the past 30 days. "It is on the basis of his (Pronk's) report and the secretary general's report that the Security Council will make judgement on whether or not there has been sufficient progress," said British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw.
He declined to say, judging from his visit to Darfur, what the contents of the reports might be, but said: "Nobody could visit Sudan without being struck by the scale and complexity of the problems which face this country." Straw said: "It is a terrible humanitarain crisis. It is something which is of very great concern to the whole of the international community and we have to deal with it."
He did, however, concede that there was an improvement in certain areas over the past few weeks. "What I understand is that there has not been aerial bombardment since the end of June, that the ceasefire is broadly holding, but that atrocities have continued, and that in itself is causing a great deal of fear for many sectors of the population across Darfur."
Commenting on his encounters with the displaced at the Abu Shouk camp, he said he "got from them a sense of their fear as a result both of what had happened to them and their families and the killings which they witnessed and their concerns about whether or not they will be able to go back". It was, he said, the sort of "feeling people have about the way they feel they were driven from their homes. And the fear they have about going back to their homes and trying to resume their livelihoods.
"Within this camp certainly people felt safe. But it's safety and security outside the camps, which is the vast part of Darfur, is the absolute imperative," he stressed.
Note: Straw later left Khartoum for Nairobi en route to South Africa.
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The International Crisis Group of analysts said the Security Council should impose an AU force of at least 3,000 troops on Sudan with a mandate to protect civilians, and slap sanctions on named government officials. The group's report said Sudan's government had acted in bad faith throughout the crisis and was "adept at saying and doing just enough to avoid a robust international response".
Khartoum signed an agreement with the United Nations on Saturday to encourage the voluntary return of refugees to safe areas protected by an expanded police presence.
"There is a game of brinkmanship and the clock is ticking," said Alex Vines, head of the Africa Programme at the Royal Institute of International Affairs in London. "Sudan has already conceded something on the repatriation of refugees and it thinks it has done enough to see off the pressure."
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Aug 24 - UK Telegraph report by David Blair entitled "End the wicked politics of divide and rule in Darfur" -- excerpt: "Darfur enjoyed four decades of peace under British rule from 1916. Colonial officials averted clashes by acting as neutral arbiters, backed by a legal system. Tribal leaders also had their own ways of settling disputes without bloodshed. Sudan's current regime committed one of its greatest crimes by systematically destroying these ways of bringing peace. Instead of holding the ring as an honest broker, as the British had done, Khartoum deliberately upset Darfur's delicate balance by constantly favouring nomadic over settled tribes.
Against this background, the international community must do more than send aid and endlessly debate the dispatch of peacekeepers. Instead, Mr al-Bashir's regime must be told to end the dangerous practice of favouring one tribe over another and, in particular, to reverse the disastrous administrative reforms of 1994. That is one specific demand that Jack Straw, the Foreign Secretary, could make during his visit to Sudan.Darfur's people are not genetically programmed to kill one another. Amoral politicians in Khartoum have created this terrible war - and the world should demand an end to their wicked ethnic politics of divide and misrule.
Aug 24: "Ethnic cleansing in Sudan - Help the African Union protect Darfur's people" report by David Mozersky, analyst with the International Crisis Group, an independent conflict-prevention group: "The African Union is on the right track in Sudan. If it can maintain the robust support of the wider international community, there is a chance that the largest country in Africa can take a significant step toward a comprehensive peace."
Aug 25: The Daily Star Editorial -- "Ending Darfur's suffering may prevent other such crimes" -- "A moment of reckoning approaches in the Darfur crisis in western Sudan, with the UN Security Council's August 30 deadline to review Sudanese government compliance with the council's recent resolution. The Darfur situation is a test for the Sudanese government, but also for the international community's ability to deal with gross human rights abuses such as those that have occurred in Darfur. The track record on both counts is mixed, but may also contain some useful lessons for the future.
Keeping up the pressure on Khartoum, though, seems a necessary ingredient in the mix of measures that aim to resolve this tragic situation. It is important for the world to succeed in stopping the atrocities and suffering in Darfur, in order to reduce the chances of similar situations emerging in other countries. The August 30 review should be tough, fair and swift, demanding full compliance by all parties while ensuring that progress to that end occurs at a steady pace."
Aug 24 Reuters report excerpts:
About a million refugees who fled their homes will return in security within three to four months if a shaky truce holds in Sudan's western conflict zone of Darfur, the head of Sudan's ruling party said on Tuesday. Ibrahim Ahmed Omar also said peace talks to solve a Darfur rebellion could involve a form of autonomy for the remote region, similar to an agreement that hopes to end more than two decades of civil war in the south of Africa's largest country. "If the (April) ceasefire continues and the rebel and the government reach an agreement, this won't take more than three to four months in order for people to go back to their villages and reside," he told Reuters in an interview.
Omar also rejected a U.S. list of the most wanted Janjaweed leaders, top of which is Moussa Hilal, saying outside parties had to differentiate between Arab tribal leaders in Darfur and Janjaweed. Otherwise, he said, civil war would erupt in Darfur. "If the Janjaweed is taken to mean Arab leaders in Darfur this will lead to a civil war," he said. "The Janjaweed are bandits and gangs and the category of Janjaweed does not include Moussa Hilal. He is a tribal leader."
Omar also said that political talks in the Egyptian capital Cairo with an umbrella group of opposition parties, which started on Tuesday, would discuss reconciliation and political representation after a peace deal. Sudan's ruling National Congress party dominates parliament. "Hopefully the Abuja and Egypt conferences will deliver that which will enable (negotiators to) go back to Naivasha as soon as possible," he said of the stalled southern peace talks.