SUDAN WATCH: Donors pledge nearly $300m for Darfur force - WFP says more than 6m people need food aid across Sudan

Saturday, May 28, 2005

Donors pledge nearly $300m for Darfur force - WFP says more than 6m people need food aid across Sudan

Kofi Annan and Jan Pronk at Khartoum airport

Photo: UN Secretary General Kofi Annan, centre, is received at Khartoum airport by State Minister of Foreign Affairs Nageeb Khair, right, and the special representative of the Secretary General of the UN in Sudan Jan Pronk in Khartoum, Sudan Friday, May 27, 2005.

Annan arrived in Sudan on Friday to assess developments and see for himself the humanitarian crisis in Darfur, a day after urging rich nations to pledge more money to help end bloodshed there.

He met with top Sudanese officials in Khartoum on Friday to address the ongoing humanitarian crisis and security conditions in Darfur, and will meet with John Garang in South Sudan. (AP Photo/Abd Raouf)
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Donors pledge nearly $300 mln for Darfur force

So far, donors have pledged nearly $300 million for Darfur force. A formal announcement on the total pledges is expected later on May 27, Mr Annan said after a one-day pledging conference finished in the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa on Thursday.

At the conference, the African Union requested $466 million cash in order to more than triple its existing force of 2,270 in Darfur.

Maybe Mr Annan's report will explain the reasons for the shortfall and clarify if the EU will be making a financial contribution. There is talk that some of the shortfall could be made up by the involvement of NATO.
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UN WFP estimates that more than six million people require food aid across Sudan

In a report from Nairobi May 27, 2005, IRIN says the UN's World Food Programme (WFP) now estimates more than six million people require food aid across Sudan.

Also, the report says food supplies for millions of families across Sudan are running critically low, and many will face severe shortages unless more funds for food and agricultural assistance are forthcoming, aid agencies warned.

Eating leaves

Photo (Reuters/Antony Njuguna), Note the caption by Reuters states:
Sudanese children eat leaves torn off trees and boiled by their mothers to ward off starvation in the southern village of Paliang May 26, 2005. Mothers in southern Sudan are feeding their children leaves to stop them starving to death after rich countries failed to heed months of appeals to prevent the region's worst food crisis in seven years.
Er ... hello? Rich countries have NOT failed to heed months of appeals. It is not true. Last month, on top of all the other contributions during the preceding year, they pledged 4.5 billion dollars to South Sudan and the general public have donated generously to the internal aid agencies. Reuters is feeding garbage to its readers. Where are they getting their information from - who is creating this propaganda - and why? Is it just sloppy reporting or what?
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Sudan: Aid agencies sound alarm over precarious food situation

Last month, international donors at a conference in Oslo pledged 4.5 billion dollars in development aid for southern Sudan following the signing of the north-south peace agreement January 9. In fact pledges exceeded funding needs to rebuild Sudan.
"This conference has pledged 4.5 billion dollars (3.5 billion euros) for 2005, 2006 and 2007," Norway's Minister for Development Aid Hilde Frafjord Johnson told the donors gathered in Oslo.
So, what is going on? Here is an excerpt from the above report:
Jean-Jacques Graisse, WFP senior deputy executive director, who recently visited Khartoum, southern Sudan and Darfur said pockets of severe malnutrition had already been identified, as well as areas where households had exhausted their food stocks.

A survey conducted in Twic and Abyei villages in Northern Bahr el Ghazal state by ACR and GOAL found malnutrition rates were double the emergency threshold.

The consensus among NGOs is that funding shortfalls must be addressed immediately to avoid serious suffering of those who already experienced famine in 1998 in the southwestern region of Bahr el Ghazal, where tens of thousands of people died.

Of the US $302 million budget required for WFP operations across southern Sudan in 2005, only $78 million has been received. This represents a shortfall of $224 million - or 74 percent of requested funding.

"I am worried some areas may suffer a disaster if we don't have the resources to save lives," said Graisse in a statement on Tuesday.
Note, the report also states that for 2005, FAO had appealed for nearly $62 million in emergency assistance to support Sudan's agriculture sector. So far, Bellemans said, $10.5 million - just 17 percent - had been funded.

Does anybody know what is really going on out there? Why are pictures, such as those posted here below, coming through in the latest news reports on southern Sudan? Recently, the BBC reported that militias had blocked aid to Southern Sudan [see full story by Jonah Fisher, BBC News, New Faniak, southern Sudan May 18, 2005] but it does not explain why hard cash is not being channelled to those who are requesting funding. Are the donors pledging and not paying up? If so, why is the UN not shouting in the press like they usually do when they need money. Why are they not naming and shaming the countries not paying up?

Waiting for food in southern Sudan

Photo taken on May 25, 2005 via Reuters/Antony Njuguna. The following caption is, I guess, composed by Reuters:
"A starving Sudanese boy waits for food at a feeding centre run by medical charity Medecins Sans Frontieres in the village of Paliang, about 160 km (99 miles) northwest of the southern town of Rumbek, May 25, 2005.

Faced with competing calls to finance help for a separate conflict in Darfur, donors are failing to send the food needed to avert south Sudan's worst crisis since a 1998 famine in which at least 60,000 people died."
Who is blaming donors? Who knows, it could be that Reuters are not making this up. Maybe they are getting information from somewhere that states "donors are failing to send the food needed". Are they talking about the UN's World Food Programme or USAID not delivering the goods?

Waiting for food in southern Sudan

Photo and caption (again by Reuters/Antony Njuguna): A starving Sudanese family wait in line at a feeding center run by medical charity Medecins Sans Frontieres in the village of Paliang, about 160 km (99 miles) northwest of the southern town of Rumbek, May 25, 2005. Faced with competing calls to finance help for a separate conflict in Sudan's western Darfur region, donors are failing to send the food needed to avert south Sudan's worst crisis since a 1998 famine in which at least 60,000 people died. Picture taken on May 25, 2005.
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Here is an excerpt from a first hand account of the humanitarian crisis in southern Sudan, linked to here below yesterday:

According to an international development consultant working in the area, Njunga M. Mulikita, the general public complaint is that they are not experiencing the peace dividend in tangible terms.

"When UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan tours Southern Sudan this weekend, he is likely to be greeted by crowds of people crying out for water wells, schools for their children and health facilities," Mulikita told PANA.

There is practically no infrastructure in southern Sudan. Everything was destroyed during the two decades of war between the Khartoum government and the SPLM/A.

Aid workers in the region were of the opinion that Annan's visit to Rumbek, the provisional capital of the SPLM/A should galvanise the international community to support the peace deal through a massive recovery and reconstruction programme.

"In my travels throughout Southern Sudan, the people I spoke with said they were simply tired of assessments carried out by UN agencies and NGOs.

"In one settlement, Koch, in the Upper Nile region, which I visited last month, the scarcity of water was so acute that over half of the women were suffering from severe diarrhoea.

"In another settlement, Kapoeta, which is not very far from the northern Kenyan town of Lokichokkio, recovery is hampered by anti-personnel and anti-tank mines because some of the heaviest fighting took place there," Mulikita explained.

Against this background, the incoming Government of Southern Sudan, to be formed by the SPLM/A faces huge challenges in addressing humanitarian, recovery and developmental needs of a war-weary population.

Presently, there is a massive influx of displaced persons who are going back to Southern Sudan.

However, officials in run-down municipalities such as Kapoeta, Koch, and Mayom wonder how the returnees would be accommodated given the devastated infrastructure.

"In Koch we were asked when we would arrange for a new well to be sunk to alleviate the suffering of women who must wake up as early as 03:00 hours to collect water.

"Water shortage in Koch is so acute that fights periodically break out at the settlement's sole water point," said Mulikita.

On this account, it is the hope of many people in Southern Sudan that Annan's forthcoming visit will draw international attention to the extreme humanitarian and developmental situation in the area.

Southern Sudanese want to see the pledges made at the Oslo donor conference being translated into improved water availability and living standards for women and children in all war-shattered settlements.
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Garang urges "real transformation" to succeed peace

Having glanced through John Garang's latest interview, I cannot see anything about emergency food and water for the people of South Sudan. Maybe on second reading later on, I will find something.
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US support for repatriation and reintegration of Sudanese refugees

On May 17 ReliefWeb said the US is contributing an additional $18 million to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) to support the repatriation and reintegration of Sudanese refugees from Kenya to southern Sudan.

The report said this assistance is part of the US commitment to Sudan announced by Deputy Secretary Robert Zoellick at the April 2005 Oslo Donors's Conference. Full Story via ReliefWeb May 17, 2005.

[You have to wonder when exactly aid that is pledged actually reaches those most in need. Does anybody check? There are seldom progress reports of who is doing what, how and when. There are 10,000 aid workers in Darfur alone (about 9,000 are Sudanese). Massive operations when you think of what is happening over the border in Chad where 200,000 refugees sit imprisoned in camps, waiting to go home.

Humanitarian aid is a multi billion dollar business. 4.5 billion dollars have been pledged for southern Sudan. And news is still coming through of people suffering hunger and thirst. The UN and its WFP are good at telling us when they need cash. They say they can perform miracles if they get enough money. The 4.5 million dollars pledged last month was far greater than the UN called for. The UN always has the excuse it doesn't have enough money. And yet this time it received more pledges than it bargained for. What now?]
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Amnesty singled out Sudan's Government as one of the world's worst

This week, Amnesty International singled out the government of Sudan as one of the world's worst human rights abusers, accusing it of turning its back as government forces and allied militias attacked people in the Darfur region.

One man with a unique perspective on the alleged human rights abuses in Sudan is Hartford Courant newspaper photographer Bradley Clift. He travelled to refugee camps in Darfur where he was detained by Sudanese government forces for 16 days. Full Story. Excerpt:

Bradley Clift

Photo: Bradley E. Clift) May 2005 -- While the ethnic cleansing he came to photograph continues outside the western town he was arrested in, Bradley Clift, photojournalist for the Hartford Courant, looks through bars at his compound in Nyala on day 14 of his detainment. Arrested for taking pictures in off-limits IDP camps (Internally Displaced Persons) Clift faced an array of serious charges that kept him in jail, prison and finally under house arrest for 15 days before his release was negotiated politically through the embassy.

"With what the police were saying to me, I never thought I'd see the light of day again," Clift said. "Missing my wife and son Spencer were the hardest parts, but the fear of a long prison sentence is what really rattled me. Every day I wondered what I was missing out that window, stuck, under house arrest in Nyala. And each day, the Aid workers would come back and tell me. It was all so painful." "All so torturous on so many levels," Clift said.
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Feeling underwhelmed

One of my favourite British bloggers Clive Soley has just retired as a Labour MP and has been elevated to the House of Lords. Over the past year, I've left quite a few comments at Clive's blog about Sudan. Today Clive writes this line in his latest post:
"Ingrid will be pleased to see the latest moves on Sudan. There does seem to be a serious attempt to help the African nations develop an interventionist/peacekeeping force. NATO logistical support will be particularly important."
Here is a copy of a comment I posted in reply [Note: after posting the comment, a news report quotes WFP as saying six million people across Sudan now need feeding, It looks like the UN have changed their figures to include 2-3 million people in southern Sudan and probably those around Khartoum where the BBC says there are two million displaced people living in shanty towns]

Hello Clive, Yes it is pleasing to see Nato's chief attending talks on Darfur in western Sudan. But it is difficult to understand why at the same talks, when the African Union requested $466 million cash to triple the number of its troops in Darfur, international donors - so far - have only offered $300 million. It seems the balance may be made up by the EU or in contributions by Nato. It's a bit underwhelming. Pledges don't always materialise into hard cash. The longer this goes on, the more costly it will be to feed what amounts now to three million people in Darfur alone, bringing the figure to four million displaced who are totally dependent on aid for years to come simply because they can't return home and plant their food because of lack of security.

In April there was a donors conference in Oslo where 4.5 billion dollars was pledged for southern Sudan for development aid following the signing of the north-south peace deal Jan 9. Most of it is dependent on peace in Darfur but news reports are now coming through of people in desperate need of food and water in southern Sudan because aid/funding is not materliasing. News reports don't explain how much cash is actually allocated for aid or why these people are still suffering so badly for lack of water pumps and basic food. Mothers are feeding boiled leaves to their babies. It seems cancellation of debts are counted as aid money.

Sorry to sound so negative. On the surface, recent press reports sound good but when you dig deeper and see it from the refugees point of view, it doesn't look good at all. The rains are coming again soon. Rebels could start violence at any time in Eastern Sudan, people in the Nuba mountains southern Sudan are getting disenchanted waiting so long to feel the benefit of the peace deal. There's anarchy almost everywhere. Not a single Janjaweed has been arrested. One of the leaders Musa Hilal is freely walking around Darfur preaching peace. The African Union has 2,270 soldiers on the ground - and Darfur has waited eight months now for the extra 1,000 troops to arrive. Yes violence may have appeared to have lessened because there's hardly anyone left to hassle and kill! They've all been driven away for the West to take care of. As soon as they try to return home the Janjaweed turn up and attack again.

I'd like to see some women in charge in Khartoum. I'm serious. I read of an experiment once where they studied an all boy school class versus a 50-50 boy/girl class. The all boy class turned out to be a pretty unruly rum lot. In the other class, girls challenged the boys bullying and violent behaviour and the boys changed their ways because they found out if they didn't, they wouldn't be accepted by the group or get a mate. :-)
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Quotation of the Day

"If violence and fear prevent the people of Darfur from planting and growing crops next year, then millions will have to be sustained by an epic relief effort which will stretch international capacity to the maximum" - Kofi Annan, United Nations Secretary General

Please read full report by Gethin Chamberlain, Chief News Correspondent for the Scotsman. Last year, Mr Chamberlain was one of the first reporters in the field reporting from the Chad-Sudan border Africa: Running a race against time

[with thanks to ij at G8 and The Middle East]

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