SUDAN WATCH: Rebels attack villages in South Darfur - Sudanese FM blames SPLM over Darfur, oil

Tuesday, March 29, 2005

Rebels attack villages in South Darfur - Sudanese FM blames SPLM over Darfur, oil

According to the UN Mission in Sudan, incidents of looting and banditry continue to be reported in Darfur, and the African Union is investigating. There also were reports that rebel groups attacked some villages Saturday in South Darfur state, says UN news centre in a report titled Annan discusses Darfur emergency with representatives of civil groups.

Today, Khartoum media claims a schoolmistress was seriously beaten in a raid by around 20 rebels in Kutum, North Darfur state.

A report at Times Online says tomorrow, March 30, the UN Security Council will finally discuss the findings of the long-awaited inquiry into whether genocide occurred in Darfur. Then it will vote on whether or not to get the International Criminal Court (ICC) to investigate and prosecute the perpetrators of human rights crimes.

Here below, following on from yesterday's posts here re South Sudan's oil, is a copy of a report that quotes Khartoum as saying "the Naivasha agreement stipulated the procedure and party allowed to sign agreements with foreign parties, and that any thing else outside this framework would be unacceptable, and in breach of the agreement." [In other words, the peace agreement does cover procedures regarding who is allowed to sign oil agreements. It does look like South Sudan's "former" rebels are "transgressing the peace agreement by distributing oil concessions"]:

KHARTOUM, Mar 8, 2005 (Sudan Tribune) via SPLM Today -- Sudanese Foreign affairs minister Mustafa Osman Ismail criticized yesterday Sudan People`s Libration Movement (SPLM). He accused the former rebels of fuelling Darfur conflict and transgressing peace agreement by distributing oil concessions.

Ismail has accused the SPLM of fanning the conflict in Darfur and assuming the role of the savoir.

The government approved of the vision that the SPLM might help in settling the crisis there, but surprisingly the SPLM is now blaming the crisis on the government, the minister said in a press statement.

On the oil concession authorized by the SPLM, he said the government has no intention to indulge in media rhetoric. We should resort to the peace agreement for arbitration, Osman stressed.

The government conceives of the oil question as falling within the sole jurisdiction of the oil commission which is supposed to arbitrate between the two parties in case they differ on issues related to oil-share, Ismail said.

The ruling National Congress (NC) secretary-general, Ibrahim Ahmad Omar indicated two weeks ago to SUNA that the Naivasha agreement stipulated the procedure and party allowed to sign agreements with foreign parties, and that any thing else outside this framework would be unacceptable, and in breach of the agreement

The minister said that he discussed with the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) the question of government captives with SPLA, adding that the government will discuss the affair the SPLM.
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'Things fall apart' - Sudan example of failing nation

"Sudan and the war in Darfur are among the most infuriating and frustrating problems on the world scene," said Fred Gibson, kicking off a Foreign Policy Discussion Series held Friday at Tahlequah Public Library, OK. USA. He says when oil fields were discovered in the South, the North quickly took over jurisdiction of the area, angering the South and plunging the country into civil war. And he also explains in a March 28 article how the location of Sudan has had an impact on the country's development and lead to some of its problems today.

"Sudan is a classic failed state, providing neither security, rule of law, nor political freedom," said Gibson. "The U.N., the US and various other countries have made weak efforts to stop the genocide, but it hasn't been very effective. They have sent in a few observers, but they are spread much too thing to do much good. Ultimately, they will face world sanctions, but in the meantime the persecution continues. They know what should be done; they just won't do it."
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Sanctions and Civil War

Here is an excerpt from a report courtesy MBendi Profile: Sudan: Oil And Gas Industry Overview that explains a little about sanctions. Note, it says "the Sudanese government continues to stress that oil income is and will continue to be used for development and infrastructure". [A news report out today, quotes the same government as saying it has no money for services like schools and health centres to be put in place before it goes ahead and demolishes slums and moves people out "consensually" to remote areas with no running water, electricity, health facilities or shelter]:

Sudan still suffers from serious barriers to economic progress, though, chiefly an underdeveloped infrastructure and a long-running conflict with rebel movements in the south of the country, which is primarily Christian and animist. Government spending on the conflict has meant that resources available for development are very limited.

The United States imposed economic sanctions against Sudan in November 1997, due to the Sudanese government's sponsorship of international terrorism and poor human rights record. The sanctions prohibit trade between the United States and Sudan, as well as investment by United States businesses in Sudan. In February 2000, the US government extended its sanctions to include Sudapet (the national oil company) and the Greater Nile Petroleum Operating Company (GNPOC). This was a contentious move in that Canadian international Talisman Energy is a 25% shareholder in GNPOC. Despite their interests in the Sudan, however, no US sanctions have been placed against Talisman Energy. Because of pressure, Talisman stated in December 1999 that it would sell its assets in Sudan, should this be most beneficial for its shareholders. It stated, however, that the assets were not for sale at that time or in the near future. TotalfinaElf has been cited as being interested in acquiring Talisman assets should such a sale happen. In October 1999, Canada announced the formation of a fact-finding mission to investigate the operations of Canadian oil companies in Sudan.

The pressure groups claim that Sudan is using oil revenue to fuel the civil war that is being fought over the southern oil-rich regions. They state that the estimated oil revenue for the Sudanese government is $1,000,000 per day, which is about equal the government's spending on arms and the amount Sudan used to spend on imported oil. They claim that on the first day of oil export shipments in 1999, an import shipment of 20 Polish T-55 tanks arrived in Port Sudan. The Sudanese government continues to stress that oil income is and will continue to be used for development and infrastructure.
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Africa now 'deals with Africa's problems'

Pan African Parliament

The third session of the Pan African Parliament started today [its first anniversary]. SABC News ran a report on the session titled "Africa now 'deals with Africa's problems'. Here is a quote from the report:
The way Africa dealt with the conflict in Darfur, Sudan, reiterates that "we did it because Africa decided to deal with Africa's problems," says Gertrude Mongella, the president of the Pan-African Parliament (PAP).
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Homeless in Sudan's Darfur region reach 2.4 million: UN

You have to wonder about the African solution to the African problem of 2.4 million homeless and facing starvation in Darfur. In an interview, published today by IRIN, the UN's emergency aid chief Jan Egeland warns [donors I guess] to:
"Pay up now or regret it forever. That's how we see it. Sudan may slide into chaos again unless we get resources."
Also today, Japan kindly gave $2.1 million [better late than never] to the African Union's peacekeeping mission in peackeeping mission in Dafur.

A lack of money keeps the African Union reliant on donors to pay for operations.

Pay up now or regret it forever says UN

Photo: Teams of women carefully brush up grains of cereals that spilled from bags air dropped by the World Food Programme. The WFP fed a record 1.6 million people in the Darfur in February in spite of increased attacks that complicate humanitarian tasks. (AFP/HO-WFP/File/Peter Smerdon) Mar 15, 2005.
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Anti-Land Mine Flame 'Could Save Thousands of Lives'

A revolutionary "low-tech" anti-land mine device was launched by British experts today, says Simon Evans, PA correspondent, in The Scotsman March 29, 2005. Here is the story:

It is a torch which directs a flame on to mines, burning them out rather than detonating them across a wide area.

Tearchers at Cranfield University in Shrivenham, Oxfordshire, part of the Defence Academy of the UK, said the gadget was cheaper, safer, more environmentally friendly and faster than existing alternatives.

The torches, which can be made in mobile units, were pioneered by de-mining specialists Disarmco with help from the university's ordnance boffins.

Together they are now applying to patent their invention, codenamed 'Dragon', which they say could save thousands of lives.

Land mines and unexploded ordnance (UXOs) claim more than 8,000 lives annually and maim about 20,000 people, 25% of whom are children, the university said.

Professor Ian Wallace, head of the environment and ordnance department at Cranfield, said: "Dragon is a classic piece of lateral thinking.

"We've used our knowledge of military pyrotechnics to come up with a low-tech answer to a global problem."

He said the devices were also cheap to make, adding: "Local communities, with little training, can use a portable production unit to manufacture the thousands of 'Dragons' required to deal with land mines and UXOs."

A demonstration of the Dragon was staged at the Defence Academy of the UK in Shrivenham today. A landmine was destroyed with spectators positioned 60 metres away.

Because Dragons burn out mines rather than blow them up, the risk of land contamination is reduced making it safer for the user, a spokesman said.

The tubular-shaped device directs a hot flame at the munitions to achieve a deflagration effect, he said.

It can be placed either on the ground next to the munitions or directed at the landmine mounted on a simple wire frame.

Christopher Le Hardy, director of Disarmco, said: "Burning is a more effective and scientifically safer way to dispose of certain types of land mines and UXOs compared with high explosives that are inherently more dangerous."

De-miner Chris Rennick, who lost his right leg below the knee as a direct result of a Type 72 anti-personnel landmine he was attempting to clear in Kuwait in 1992, said: "Dragon could have a significant role to play around the world in making it safer for locals to be better equipped in the disposal of anti-personnel land mines."

Andy Willson, programmes officer for mine action at DFID, said: "The mobile unit has dramatically reduced the typical costs associated with the production of anti-land mines and UXO devices that often run into hundreds of pounds."

Currently 42 countries have stockpiles totalling about 200 million land mines, the university said.

There is a casualty every 20 minutes in the 80-odd countries affected, which include Afghanistan, Angola, Bosnia, Cambodia, Iraq, Laos, Mozambique, Somalia, Sri Lanka and Sudan.
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Sterile Emergency Shelter: Just Add Water

Best of British luck to the students at London's Royal College of Art who have created a shelter that is a balloon impregnated with dry cement. Inflate, water, and once it hardens, you have a concrete quonset hut.

A pair of engineers in London have come up with a "building in a bag" -- a sack of cement-impregnated fabric. To erect the structure, all you have to do is add water to the bag and inflate it with air. Twelve hours later the Nissen-shaped shelter is dried out and ready for use...

Aid agency chiefs have been impressed by the simplicity and economy of the idea. A bag weighing 230 kilograms (approximately 500 pounds) inflates into a shelter with 16 square meters (172 square feet) of floor space. Cost is estimated at £1,100 ($2,100), while an equivalent-size Portakabin (a type of portable building widely used in the United Kingdom) costs about £4,000 ($7,700). The same-size tent costs about £600 ($1,150).

Concrete Canvas comes folded in a sealed plastic sack. The volume of the sack controls the water-to-cement ratio, eliminating the need for water measurement. You literally just add water. "The shelter can also be delivered sterile," said Crawford. "This allows previously impossible surgical procedures to be performed in situ from day one of a crisis."

Via Wired News Need a Building? Just Add Water March 15, 2005.
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Waiting at the well - Naga, Sudan

Waiting by the well

Photo courtesy http://www.markpelletierphotography.com/photo_galleries.htm

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