Security Council President vows 'no impunity' for war crimes in Darfur, Sudan
As Council members study the report of a UN-appointed commission of inquiry into whether genocide has occurred in Darfur, Ambassador Joel Adechi of Benin, which holds the rotating presidency for this month, told reporters at a briefing that the 15-member body wants to deal with the situation in an "internationally recognised way." Full Story.
Council President Amb. Joel W. Adechi
Taha and Garang to appear before UN Security Council next week
Update report at The Scotsman Feb 3 - The Security Council, ratcheting up pressure to resolve the Darfur crisis, has asked two key Sudanese players to appear before the council next week - Vice President Ali Osman Mohammed Taha, and John Garang, head of the main southern Sudanese rebel group that just signed a peace deal with the government.
Britain's UN ambassador, Emyr Jones Parry, said the council needs to do "two things crucially: one to stop any more atrocities in Sudan and secondly to address those things that have happened."
"My primary interest is in addressing them in a way (of) getting an outcome under a council that is united," he said. Full Story.
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A court could eventually find there had been genocidal acts in Darfur
On Feb 2 the Scotsman published an analysis of the 176-page UN report published Feb 1.
Note, the UN report's panel did not rule out that a court could eventually find there had been genocidal acts in Darfur. Also, the panel said:
As many as 2,000 Darfur villages had probably been destroyed, mainly by being torched by the attackers.
"We heard credible accounts showing that the acts of destruction were wanton and deliberate," said the report commissioners. "Oil presses, flour mills, wells and pumps, crops and vegetables and almost all household utensils were found scorched or smashed at the sites inspected by the commission team."
After listing many other atrocities, the commissioners conclude:
"The magnitude and serious nature of the crimes committed against the civilian population in Darfur, both by the government forces and the Janjaweed, and by the rebels, demand immediate action by the international community to end these atrocities. Authors of these crimes must be brought to justice."
A child suffering from malnutrition where it is being treated at the therapeutic feeding centre run by Doctors Without Borders, a non-governmental organisation based in Belgium.
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Tales of burning, rape and looting ... and the men wore army uniforms
The following editorial is taken from the Scotsman's analysis Feb 2, above:
Much of the report consists of graphic case studies of attacks carried out in Darfur during the conflict.
On 23 November last year, for example, two Sudan Air Force helicopter gunships and an Antonov bomber attacked the village of Adwa.
The aircraft were supported by ground forces using a variety of weapons, including assault rifles, anti-tank rockets and heavy machine guns mounted on vehicles.
"Civilians, including women, children and elderly persons, were targeted during the attack," the report says. "Men were summarily shot, as was anyone who attempted to escape. Young girls were taken by the attackers to another location and many were raped in the presence of other women.
The attackers looted the village. Many people were killed and more than one hundred persons were injured.
Following the attack, representatives of an international organisation searched the village and found the bodies of between 20 and 30 civilians, including women and children.
All belonged to the Fur tribe. It is also alleged that many villagers [who fled successfully] are still to be found in the [nearby] mountains."
A young rape victim during an attack on a boarding school at Tawila, North Darfur, 11 months ago, described the assault, by Janjaweed wearing government uniforms, and the rape of one of her friends.
The Arab militiamen arrived in a lorry at 6am while government soldiers surrounded the school.
"When they attacked the boarding house, they pointed their guns at the girls and forced [all 110 of] them to strip naked, took their valuables and all of their bedding," she said. "[My friend] was taken from the group, blindfolded, pushed down to the ground on her back and raped. She was held by her arms and legs. Her legs were forced and held apart. The rape lasted for about one hour.
"[Other girls were] screaming as they were raped. After the rape, the Janjaweed started burning and looting."
The victim whose rape is described became pregnant as a result and gave birth to a child late last year.
The commissioners said they interviewed witnesses "who gave a very credible, detailed and consistent account" of an attack last year on the South Darfur village of Surra by government forces and Janjaweed.
Out of a total population of 1,700, more than 250 people were killed in an early morning attack.
Mortars were used against unarmed civilians. The soldiers and militiamen "entered the homes and killed the men," says the report.
"They gathered the women in the mosque. There were around ten men hidden with the women. They found those men and killed them inside the mosque.
They forced women to take off their [clothes] and when they found young sons hiding under them they killed the boys.
The survivors fled and did not bury the dead."
In a nearby village, men were partially skinned and thrown on fires to burn. Another part of the report details an attack on the village of Anka, North Darfur.
The report said: "Witnesses from Anka observed between 300 and 400 Janjaweed on foot, and another 100 Janjaweed on camels and horseback, advancing towards Anka...
"The attackers were described as wearing the same khaki uniforms as the government soldiers."
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EU Supports ICC to try Darfur war criminals
2 Feb Yuba news report "EU supports ICC to try Darfur war criminals" -- EU Spokesperson Amadeu Altafaj Tardio said EU countries have studied the UN report on Darfur: "We have become one of the strongest supporters of the role of this court in the international community."
Excerpt from the report:
My own support for the ICC is well known," Mr. Annan said in his statement on the report today. "But this is a decision for the Security Council, not for me. What is vital is that these people are indeed held accountable. Such grave crimes cannot be committed with impunity. That would be a terrible betrayal of the victims, and of potential future victims in Darfur and elsewhere."Note, Yuba's website features a quotation: "I never give them hell. I just tell the truth and they think it's hell." - Harry Truman
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UK prefers ICC involved in Darfur
2 Feb London Reuters confirms "UK prefers ICC for Darfur, wants consensus" - Amid suggestions Britain was wavering over the ICC on Sudan in the face of US opposition, British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw told a news conference on Wednesday Feb 2: "Our position has been very clear ... Our preference is for the International Criminal Court to be used in respect of the findings of the international commission in respect of Sudan." But he said the final decision lay with the United Nations Security Council and London would push for a consensus. Since Sudan is not party to the ICC statutes, the Security Council must decide on whether it is used or not, Straw said.
Meanwhile, European diplomats said there were already signs that Britain, a founder member of the ICC, was "less than one hundred per cent" behind the tribunal, and was peeling off from the rest of the EU, says Belfast Telegraph in its report Feb 2 "Britain accused of siding with US on Darfur killings".
British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw, seen in January 2005, said it wants 'perpetrators' of atrocities in the rebel-hit Darfur to be put on trial, ideally at the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague (AFP/File)
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2 Feb France's International Herald Tribune report "UK caught between US and EU over Sudan".
2 Feb Financial Times report "UK and US on possible collision course over Darfur war crimes suspects" - UN Security Council members - the US, France, Britain, China and Russia - will consider in coming days how to react to the UN report.
France appeared to back the UN's call for international trials, saying Darfur could "legitimately be discussed" when Condoleezza Rice, US secretary of state, visits Europe next week.
Mr Blair, meanwhile, came under domestic pressure to back referral to the ICC publicly. Menzies Campbell, foreign affairs spokesman for the opposition Liberal Democrats, said: "When the present government was first elected, it quite rightly laid a great deal of emphasis on the need for an international court."
2 Feb Financial Times report "US urges UN oil sanctions over Darfur" - Richard Boucher, State Department spokesman, said Washington was working with African nations towards the establishment of a "UN and African Union tribunal that would be based in Arusha, Tanzania". African support for that option could undermine the case for the ICC at the Security Council. At the same time, Mr Boucher did not suggest that the US would veto a referral to the ICC, and variously described the US-proposed tribunal as the "best way", the "preferred way" and the "better way".
France yesterday said it would continue to push for the ICC option. Jean Marc de la Sabliere, French ambassador to the UN, called it a "progress in civilisation", and warned: "I don't think the alternatives are a good option."
But if the council concedes to the US over Darfur, analysts fear that would constitute a serious blow to the ICC's authority. "This is a critical moment for the Blair government. If they fold and buckle in the light of the clear-cut recommendation, they would be sinking beyond redemption," said Richard Dicker, international justice director at Human Rights Watch.
2 Feb Guardian report "UN Envoy Accuses Sudan of Atrocities" - The UN envoy for Sudan accused the government Wednesday of failing to stop the killing of civilians in Darfur and said a UN commission believed more than 50 high-ranking civil servants should be prosecuted in the International Criminal Court.
2 Feb Guardian report "A case for the court".
2 Feb Washington Times report "Separate tribunal for Darfur sought" - The US asked the UN Security Council yesterday to establish an Africa-based tribunal for war crimes in Darfur, to impose sanctions on the Khartoum government and to create a UN peacekeeping mission in the country. [Note, several news reports say an ad hoc tribunal would cause a delay of one year in bringing the war criminals to justice]
2 Feb Christian Aid report welcomes the call made in the UN's report to refer war crimes and human rights abuses by all warring parties to the ICC, and is also calling on the UN to apply targeted sanctions and extend the arms embargo to all parties involved in the conflict.
2 Feb Trocaire Catholic Agency report "UN report on Darfur underlines urgent need for action" - While the world has understandably been focused on the aftermath of the tsunami in Asia, things in Darfur have in many ways been getting worse. "The number of people who have been displaced has doubled since early last year, and now stands at nearly two million," said Trocaire's Director Justin Kilcullen.
2 Feb News from Russia report "400,000 deaths can't be called genocide" - UN special commission has been criticised and accused of "splitting hairs" by refusing to declare the killing of 400 000 people in Sudan to be genocide.
Sudanese displaced children are seen from inside a tent in the Internally Displaced Persons camp of Drage on the outskirts of the town of Nyala in Sudan's southern Darfur region in 2004. Canada called for referring the case of rights abuses in Darfur to the ICC after a UN report said genocide had not occurred in the troubled region. (AFP/File/Jose Cendon)
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How do you trust people who have been fighting you?
The following excerpt from a Financial Times report Feb 2 points out some of the challenges facing the peace process, and why a commander of the SPLA wishes they were still fighting:
"As citizens we have no problems. It's the system, it's the ruling system," said a northern trader trying to explain why north-south conflict has raged for all but 11 years since Sudan gained independence in 1956.
Under the surface the picture is not so rosy. Bahr al-Ghazal region suffered hugely during the conflict and many southerners will struggle to trust or welcome their northern neighbours: the memories of the conflict and its brutality are too fresh. In the 1980s and 1990s, Arab militias unleashed by Khartoum launched camel and horseback raids into southern villages, plundering livestock, killing many civilians and abducting thousands of others as concubines or forced labour, according to Unicef. Bahr al-Ghazal was also a key recruiting ground for the SPLA.
"How do you trust people who have been fighting you?" said Wek Deng, an SPLA official in the region, "GOD IS LOVE" emblazed on his sweater.
John Garang, leader of the SPLA, says it is up to his movement and the planned northern transitional government to create the conditions for a "unity" vote in six years time. But while Commander Garang publicly supports a unified Sudan, many southern Sudanese think the south should separate immediately and he will be tested just keeping the south, where southern factions have often fought each other, together.
"The deal is not good and it's not bad," Mr Deng, 50, said. "Six years is too long" for the referendum.
He later says he would rather the SPLA was still fighting. And it is not just the older generation who will find it hard to live with their northern neighbours. Bahr al-Ghazal's young have also witnessed the violence and suffered its repercussions.
Mary Adel, 12, sits in a mud-hut primary school classroom that has no desks, chairs or electricity and few books - a common feature in a region that has seen virtually no development in decades.
Her father and brother are SPLA members, her uncle was killed during fighting and Arab raiders abducted her sister. She has seen her fellow southerners killed and their livestock looted. "I've been told Arabs are not good people," she said.
The task of changing the mindset of a generation born into war, not to mention that of their elders, will be one of the biggest challenges facing the peace process.
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SUDAN-UGANDA: Refugees reluctant to repatriate to southern Sudan
A recent post here explained how the UN agencies were preparing for the return of at least 500,000 Sudanese refugees into southern Sudan. On Feb 1, the UN agency reports many refugees are reluctant to repatriate to southern Sudan.
Here is an excerpt:
Thousands of Sudanese refugees living in camps in northern Uganda are reluctant to consider repatriation for a variety of reasons, including the lack of facilities in southern Sudan, the UN refugee agency, UNHCR, told IRIN on Tuesday.- - -
An estimated 200,000 registered Sudanese refugees are housed in southwestern and western Uganda. However, UNHCR says an estimated 40,000 others who are not registered with the agency have been living in Ugandan border towns, while others are in the capital, Kampala.
In Uganda, according to UNHCR, the refugees were well settled and lived in better material and security conditions than others elsewhere in Africa, and this was also why they were reluctant to leave and face the unknown conditions of southern Sudan.
However, all is not rosy for the Sudanese refugees in Uganda: they have been attacked several times by Ugandan rebels of the Lords Resistance Army (LRA), who at one time claimed their settlements were being used by the SPLA as recruitment grounds.
In early 2004 the LRA launched 31 raids on UNHCR refugee settlements, displacing some 32,000 Sudanese refugees from the southern Zoka Forest Belt in northwestern Adjumani District.
The worst LRA attack was in August 2002, on Achol-pii refugee camp in Pader District, when the rebels killed more than 60 people, and the more than 24,000 Sudanese refugees there dispersed into the bush, fearing relocation to a camp further inland.
During this attack, the LRA took four aid workers from the International Rescue Committee hostage, but later released them.
10,000 Indian peacekeepers for Sudan?
India is getting cosy with Sudan. See why in the next post here below. And note this excerpt from an Indian news report Feb 2 "Sudan welcomes Indian role in UN mission" - Sudan will welcome India's participation in the UN peace mission to the country for the implementation of the Jan 9 peace accord that ended over two decades of civil war, a senior minister has said.
"If you have to bring in someone to keep peace here, you have to bring in someone who understands the traditions and customs here," Energy and Mining Minister Awad Ahmed Al-Jazz told a visiting IANS correspondent.
"We have a very intimate relationship with India. We don't feel any problem if India is ready to partner with us in the peace era," said Al-Jazz.
Al-Jazz described reports of genocide in Darfur as "propaganda" by the Western media. "Life is almost normal there, with no fighting," he claimed.
Indian Ambassador to Sudan Ashok Kumar said New Delhi had agreed in principle to send a peace mission to the country under the UN to monitor the implementation of the peace agreement. He said up to 10,000 Indian peace troopers were likely to be involved in the mission, though the numbers were yet to be finalised.
A 25-member UN Advance Mission, including Indian officials, is already here to help in the peace process. Col. Vikram Taneja of the Indian Army, a member of the team, said the UN Security Council is expected to finalise the details of the mission shortly.
"The Sudanese government is not opposed to Indian presence here," he said.
But officials and the Sudanese people are keeping their fingers crossed.
"I am optimistic but it is going to be a long haul," said a senior official.
Mamoun Gamal, managing director of Citypharm Pharmaceutical Industry in north Khartoum, echoed the sentiments. "Implementation of the peace accord would face challenges as often happens and there is going to be differences on interpretation of the accord," he said.
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India's ONGC to build 1.2 billion GBP refinery in Sudan
2 Feb India news report - India's Oil and Natural Gas Corp (ONGC), which is laying a 741-km long petroleum product pipeline in Sudan, will also build a 1.2 billion GBP oil refinery in the African nation. Sudanese Minister of Energy and Mining Awad Ahmed Al-Jazz said, "We had previously awarded the work of building a 100,000 barrels per day refinery at Port Sudan to Malaysian firms but the project could not take off. We have now mandated ONGC to build the refinery."
2 Feb Navhind Times report "India seeking more exploration blocks in Sudan" - Sudan Energy and Mining Minister, Mr Awad Ahmed Al-Jazz said:
"Sudan plans to open the bids on Block 15 in the beginning of February. After that we will invite tender for Block 12. The award of contract for Block 15 may be done by mid-February."
OVL is one of the bidders for the Blocks 12 and 15 along with Chinese and companies from other countries, the Minister said.
1 Feb Hindustan Times report - India is keenly looking to acquire more exploration blocks in Sudan where it has already got equity stakes in three concessions, including the Greater Nile Oil Project producing around 15 million tonne annually.
2 Feb These Times opinion piece "The Axis of Oil" by Jehangir Pocha.
2 Feb China View report "Chinese, Sudanese FMs talk over phone" - both agreed to further develop friendly relations of the two countries in all fields on the basis of mutual respect, equality and mutual benefit.
Japanese Foreign Minister Nobutaka Machimura said the UN had asked Japan to send troops for a potential mission in Darfur. (AFP/File/Toru Yamanaka)
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Darfur & US black history month 2005
American blogger Marian Douglas writes:
"We need something from each of us who reads this blog to help save the people of Darfur in 2005. The first thing is sharing a commitment to act; to do some little thing for Darfur on a regular basis. That includes sending designated material help through known and respected organisations. There is no choice ... Darfur must be our priority.
See Okuwori's entry on Darfur over at her blog, Black Looks.