PAP urges Sudanese to disarm Janjaweed - Gertrude Mongella, President of PAP
The Sudanese government has come under fresh criticism from the Pan African Parliament (PAP), which has called on Khartoum to "immediately" disarm the Janjaweed rebels blamed for undermining peace agreements there.
The Midrand-based legislative body sounded the call to Khartoum yesterday after its fact-finding mission handed over its long-awaited 37-page report for debate, prompting angry response from several MPs.
A demand was made to immediately disarm the Arab militia, which MPs argued was not party to the ceasefire agreement.
In its report, the seven-member mission, headed by Ugandan Adbul Katuntu, expressed concerns at the repeated violations of ceasefire agreements, stalled Abuja peace talks and the growing humanitarian crisis in the region. It called on PAP to engage all parties to halt the two-year violent outbreak in Darfur.
The report, which traced the conflict's root causes to British colonial rule that created inequalities and pockets of homelands, could not pronounce on the definition of the conflict as either genocide, crimes against humanity or war crimes.
It nonetheless recommended the expansion of military deployment to "include the protection of the population in Darfur", the creation of a joint commission mentioned in the ceasefire agreement as well as an independent PAP oversight commission that would receive and act on complaints of ceasefire violation.
The report painted a picture of a distressed population besieged by fear and distrust of authority, of displaced people living under "inhumane conditions".
The report called on PAP to establish a trust fund for humanitarian assistance to those affected by the conflict.
On governance issues, the dossier called on the African Union to facilitate the convening of a national conference on peace, democratic governance and development in Sudan with a view to producing a strategic document on wealth and power sharing amongst regions.
The team's findings were welcomed by members of the Pan African Parliament, who argued for the setting up of an ad hoc committee on Darfur as well as availing the report to an AU summit to be possibly held in Libya later.
The debate aroused much emotion, with the house divided on who to blame but agreeing to working with other AU organs to find lasting peace in Africa's largest country.
Some MPs decried what they say is a deliberate plot to marginalise Darfur residents, both economically and politically - an assertion rejected by Khartoum.
Introducing the dossier in Parliament, Mr Katuntu, whose team met and interviewed senior government officials, rebel leaders and international agencies there, told MPs that "the people of Sudan need help and they needed it yesterday".
He added that "the Janjaweed, whom all parties in Sudan describe as bandits, should be disarmed with urgency by the government".
Meanwhile, the United Nations (UN) is said to have handed over to the International Criminal Court's prosecutors thousands of documents and a list of 51 people to be investigated for alleged war crimes in Sudan's Darfur region.
The list reportedly includes Sudanese government officials and government-backed Arab militiamen.
Photo: Janjaweed [Courtesy Middle East Online]
The first president of the Pan-African Parliament
At last, signs of great leadership in Africa: the remarkable Gertrude Mongella, is the highest ranking elected woman in Africa. Many refer to her as Mama Mongella or Mama Beijing.
Back in 1995 Gertrude Mongella was Secretary General of the high-profile UN conference on women in Beijing, China. Since then she's worked on women's issues at home in Tanzania and around the globe. Her goal is to lift women out of poverty and into political office so they too can shape history.
In her role today as the first president of the Pan-African Parliament, Mongella is fixing her sights on the challenges facing Africa. Addressing issues like civil war and violence, to poverty and AIDS, she's a strong believer that Africa needs to find ways to help itself. During the first African Women's Forum in Accra in January 1997, she shared her vision of leadership:
"If you want to be a leader," she said, "you have to be clear what you want and what you stand for. You must stand for principle. Principle will never let you down ... You have to be able to choose what are the principles worth dying for ... And you have to add on a little sacrifice. Leadership needs a lot of sacrifice - personal and public sacrifice."
Photo [to be inserted here] of Gertrude Mongella, courtesy theconnection.org interview. In 1996, Mama Beijing founded an NGO called Advocacy for Women in Africa (AWA), which is based in Tanzania. See Gertrude Mongella Profile.
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A dialogue with Ambassador Gertrude Mongella, President of the Pan African Parliament
Note this interesting discussion with Gertrude Mongelia hosted by SARPN and the Southern African Catholic Bishops' Conference, chaired by Trevor Ncube, Pretoria, 14 September 2004.
See 'We must avoid being monkeys' Mail & Guardian (Johannesburg) - September 16, 2004 - AEGiS-DMG.
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No education, no life
This is one of the most heartwarming reports relating to Chad and Sudan that has appeared in the press for a long time. It makes one want to concentrate on the future of Sudan: the children. They need an education and supplies of school materials. They need to learn how to forgive but not forget. Today, I am once again weary of reading about the mess the men in Sudan are making -- and of how Sudanese women are abused and left to pick up the pieces and keep life going.
The report dated April 27, 2005 is titled "Chadian camp lacks resources but does not skimp on school" ... the source is the UN High Commissioner for Refugees - by Bernard Ntwari In Iridimi camp - God bless them:
IRIDIMI, Chad, April 27 (UNHCR) - The ritual unfolds every time someone comes to visit. Schoolgirls and boys run up to surround the visitor and recite expressions learnt in English and French: "Hello, how are you, ok," they repeat. Some are proud to show they know how to count in English while others bombard the visitor with questions.
"Our children are going to build the future. We want to secure a good education for them so that they can help change the situation in our country later," says Hassan Mahamat Juma, one of the teachers in Iridimi camp, located nearly 65 km from Chad's border with Sudan. It is one of the 11 UNHCR camps hosting 200,000 Sudanese refugees in eastern Chad.
Since Iridimi camp opened in March last year, classes have started spontaneously on the initiative of refugee teachers. Despite the lack of resources, the education system is very well organised in the camp, where school-aged children make up about 30 percent of the 17,000-strong population. There is a school in every one of the camp's 10 zones, with young refugees attending either the central school or any of the nine branch schools.
Today, buildings are being constructed to improve schooling conditions. This has made the children very happy because their lessons, which focus on the Sudanese curriculum, help them remember their former life in Sudan. UNHCR, in collaboration with its partners and particularly the UN Children's Fund (UNICEF), has decided to finance this initiative to reinforce education. As part of this plan, UNICEF has just organised a training session for teachers.
"No education, no life," says Hassan, speaking not just as a teacher but also a father.
"We are satisfied with the attitude of the parents, who have proven to be reliable partners on education in the camp," says Christine Lamarque, who oversees community services for UNHCR in Iridimi. She adds that the refugees' top concern is their children's education in the camp.
The teachers are just as committed. "Most of their requests involve the supply of school materials, rather than salary increase," notes Lamarque. The devoted teachers are willing to double their workload to ensure that all registered students receive the education they deserve.
Adam Dewad Djibrin, 13, is in the third year of junior high school. He is happy not only to have passed in the upper class, and also that his brother and little sister are registered in school. "When I grow up, I will be a teacher to educate my sisters and brothers who have stayed in Sudan," he says.
"I will be a doctor when I grow up," adds another student, Oumar Fakara.
A vocational training centre will be opened in Iridimi camp to teach young refugees practical skills like sewing, shoe-repairing or woodworking. A nursery school will also be set up to promote education for little girls. Boys, too, will get the attention they need, with a new system to be established to educate those who tend to livestock for a living and thus are unable to attend school.