SUDAN WATCH: 3.5 million people in Darfur now need food aid - When will Gaddafi, Sudan, Egypt, Chad, Nigeria, Eritrea and Arab League start footing the bill?

Friday, June 03, 2005

3.5 million people in Darfur now need food aid - When will Gaddafi, Sudan, Egypt, Chad, Nigeria, Eritrea and Arab League start footing the bill?

The number of people in Darfur needing food aid soars to 3.5 million - more than half the population and 700,000 more than the worst-case scenario predicted at the start of the year.

WFP said rural families were joining refugees in the hunger line and called for an additional $96 million for Darfur, bringing its budget to $563 million for the year.

Holdbrook Arthur, WFP regional director for East and Central Africa, said a massive aid operation, hit by a chronic lack of trucks and attacks on its land convoys, would start flying mobile teams to remote areas to distribute rations.

Full Story by the Scotsman's Gethin Chamberlain, June 3.
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"We don't want oil on our fire - We will cut off any warlike hand that is extended to us" says Gaddafi

According to Central African news online June 3, Libyan leader Colonel Gaddafi said on Thursday (June 3) any intervention in Darfur from outside Africa would exacerbate the crisis, adding that the continent was capable of dealing with its own problems.

"We are against any foreign intervention in Darfur because that would do nothing but pour oil on the fire," Gaddafi said after a summit of heads of state from West and North Africa in Burkina Faso's capital Ouagadougou.

"There are threats of intervention from outside which raise the chances of civil war in our region. We should be firmly opposed to all these foreign interventions ... which aim to resolve our problems as if we weren't grown up," he said.

[Grown up eh? OK then, hurry up and sort it - and while we are waiting you foot the bill Libya. We are fed up waiting while paying to feed millions of Africans for decades. Other countries are in desperate need of the West's help and aid]
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Sudan mobilises army reserves in east - Sudan's stance on LRA

Read this report via Reuters Wed 1 June 2005 and then read the next three items published within 24 hours of each other to see how you can't trust any news issued by the Khartoum regime:

Sudan has called for general mobilisation of its army reserves in the eastern region bordering Eritrea to secure roads and an oil pipeline after rebels kidnapped kidnapped three regional legislators, a local official said.

Eastern rebels joined with an insurgent group from the western Darfur region to kidnap three local politicians last month on a major road in Sudan's poor east.

"We called our troops for mobilisation. This is to call all the reserves, in Red Sea state and in Kassala state," governor Hatim al-Wasiyla told Reuters from the eastern city of Port Sudan on Wednesday.

He said the extra troops would number between 500-1,000 and would be to protect the border with Eritrea, major roads and the oil pipeline which runs to the port.

Wasiyla said the rebels who kidnapped the politicians came from Eritrea. But he said the mobilisation of reserves was not to attack Eritrea, but to defend Sudan.

"They want to destroy the petrol and attack the roads -- we have to defend ourselves," he said.

He said the mobilisation would continue until a new government was formed on July 9.
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Sudan's stance on Ugandan terrorists LRA

Via Washington Post Thurs June 2, 2005:

The May 15 editorial "Beyond Darfur" said that my government is sending militias to eastern Sudan to threaten the local population and that it support attacks against Uganda by supporting the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA).

For the record, Ugandan authorities, including President Yoweri Museveni, have publicly and privately noted the full cooperation of my government in eradicating the LRA, which we consider a terrorist group. Indeed, during the past two years, the LRA has often targeted Sudanese military personnel.

Embassy of Sudan
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Sudanese FM warns aid groups about meddling

Via AP Wed June 1, 2005. Excerpt:

Striking an unapologetic note after the arrest of two foreign aid workers, Sudan's foreign minister Wednesday (June 1) warned international organizations not to meddle in the country's affairs or tarnish its image.

"Organizations operating in Sudan should observe the country's national security in their dealings and they should not be seen to tarnish Sudan's image through issuance of false information," Foreign Minister Mustafa Osman Ismail was quoted as saying by the official Sudan News Agency.

Ismail said Sudanese authorities had investigated the agency's claims and found they contained incorrect information. He said investigations of the two aid workers were continuing.

The minister called on international organizations "to avoid meddling into what does not concern them."

"We would like to see this episode ending with a confirmation of Sudan's sovereignty and independence, and an end to all attempts seeking to smear or tarnish the image of Sudan by some organizations," he was quoted as saying.

UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan's special representative to Sudan, Jan Pronk, said the UN also deplored the arrests. He told reporters Wednesday that he backed the MSF report on rapes in Darfur "100%." Full Story.
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Sudanese FM sees no reason for aid workers arrest

Via Reuters Wed June 1:

Sudan's foreign minister said on Wednesday (June 1) he saw no reason why two international aid workers had been arrested for crimes against the state and pledged to solve the problem in talks with the UN.

"I agreed with (UN envoy) Jan Pronk yesterday that there was no reason for the arrest of the two employees of the organisation and they will likely be released," Foreign Minister Mustafa Osman Ismail told reporters in Khartoum.

Full Story by Opheera McDoom.

[Sudan's FM reminds me of Iraq's Minister for Information, Comical Ali. Ismail's nickname, given by locals, is "smiley". He doesn't smile a lot but he used to be a dentist.]
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Western media reports insulting Muslims

Here is a copy of an insightful opinion piece in The Nation (Nairobi) May 26, 2005 by Salim Lone. I am posting it here in full for future reference as a reminder to those (especially Americans and the Clare Shorts of the UK) who feel free to (and I want to insert words like unthinkingly and irresponsibly) call for Western military intervention in Darfur [military intervention is an act of war which must have an objective to work towards - either deposing a regime or maintaining a political settlement and peace agreement]:

There is a profound crisis in the US and some other Western media coverage of the Islamic world, a crisis exacerbated by a lack of awareness.

The problem, in fact, goes beyond coverage of the Islamic world; there is an overall post-9/11 trend which has seen too much of the Western media slip on the cardinal principles of objectivity and independence.

I can comfortably say that Kenyan media are freer than the American, both in terms of fearlessness in criticising President Kibaki, and in the diverse range of opinion it carries.

That should be a cause for concern for those in the West who have struggled since John Milton's Aeropagetica in the 17th century to establish freedom of the press, which is one of the greatest accomplishments of humanity.

But it is the coverage of Muslims which is the most problematic because it exacerbates the profound tensions that have risen since 9/11 and the subsequent wars and occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan.

These have brought us what, so far, is a clash at the extremities of two great civilisations.

It is imperative therefore that all of us in the media worldwide, and of course, including media in Muslim countries, work to prevent fear and hatred from infecting ever-widening sections of previously moderate populations on either side of this divide, or we will fail in the common struggle to defeat the devastating scourges of terrorism and wars of aggression.

The Western media, because of their global reach, power, and tradition, must be especially watchful that their coverage, witting and unwitting, does not portray Muslims as the founts of terror.

Let me list some telling examples of seriously flawed Western mainstream media coverage of Muslims. In the run-up to the Iraq war in 2003, the American TV network, NBC, placed in the New York Times a large advertisement framed around a photograph of Saddam Hussein. Headed "Saddam: America's most dangerous enemy", the ad went on to say that "Saddam Hussein may have enough chemical and biological weapons to kill every man, woman and child on earth. What will he do next? How far will he go? Can he be stopped?"

Similar demonisation of Iraq, or of accusations that it possessed awful weapons, appeared just about everywhere, the latter even in the New York Times, unarguably one of the world's greatest media treasures.

A related problem before that war was how contrary opinion on whether Iraq did have such weapons was dismissed or even ridiculed.

A CNN newscast on February 5, 2003, for example, excerpted from an Iraqi general's rebuttal of these charges at the UN Security Council that day. Anchor Paula Zahn then brought on Jamie Rubin, former State Department spokesman, and said to him: "You have got to understand that most Americans were probably either laughing out loud or got sick to their stomach. Which was it for you?"

"Well, really both," said Mr Rubin.

Then there was this from the Economist of July 31, 2004 concerning Darfur.

An article headed "Must intervention be legal?" provided an answer in the subhead immediately after. "Armed intervention in Darfur may - or may not - flout the law. So what?"

It went on to argue that armed intervention in Darfur need not be "as drastic an assault as some legal sticklers fear." However, it also proposed "another possible tack - to persuade Chad, across whose borders tens of thousands of Sudanese refugees are streaming, to initiate an intervention in Darfur under its right to self-defence. This would obviate the need for a Security Council vote."

That same week, Newsweek similarly urged Tony Blair on its cover to overcome his Iraq setbacks by taking the lead in intervening in Darfur if the crisis was not quickly resolved.

More recently, there was an op-ed in the International Herald Tribune by Thomas Friedman (January 7, 2005), titled: "Let Iraq have the right kind of civil war." It stated in its opening paragraph that "we have to have an election in Iraq so we can have a proper civil war."

He goes on to say "the civil war we want is a democratically Iraqi government against the Ba'athist and Islamist militants."

How easy it is for the media of the powerful to encourage devastating wars against weak nations! Can we imagine what would become of mainstream Muslim journalists who urged Iraqis to launch attacks inside the US for its occupation of their country?

Similarly, when hostages are beheaded by Muslim captors or dead bodies desecrated by Iraqi crowds, reporters use phrases like "barbaric" or "inhuman" to describe these acts - but not when commenting on the death of half a million Iraqi children through UN sanctions imposed at US behest, or when 2,000-pound bombs rain down on civilian areas, or when the city of Fallujah is blockaded and water and electricity cut off.

In saying all this, I am not remotely implying that in the American media there are no glorious examples of brilliant writing and reporting on the Islamic world or on American misdeeds. But, they must reassert some of their great values even in a fear-filled world, and assert much greater independence from the strategic international goals being pursued by the world's sole superpower.

They must also do much more to understand Muslim societies and pay much greater attention to what more than a billion people think, if we are to prevent our world from descending into an armed Western camp and chaotic Muslim states run by dictators supported by the US.

Mr Lone was the keynote speaker on the subject of Western media coverage of the Islamic world during the just-ended IPI World Congress.
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Ultimately, the main responsibility rests with the government of Sudan

Excerpt from June 3 Guardian:

The best single measure to relieve the deepening crisis would be rapid enlargement of the African Union's monitoring force, and a new mandate for it to confront the gunmen rather than merely make reports. Other foreign troops are not needed, nor is Nato. "Nato cannot be the world's gendarme," as the French foreign minister, Michel Barnier, rightly put it. But Britain, France and other countries with African experience should provide helicopters, transport and armoured cars to help the AU.

Ultimately, the main responsibility rests with the government of Sudan. The people of Darfur are its citizens. Unless Khartoum wants another 20 years of civil war and the prospect of secession - as it had in the south until last year's peace agreement there - it must rein in the Janjaweed and work hard in Abuja to make the peace talks bear fruit.
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Darfur: airlift of troops for expanded AU mission could start this month

KIGALI, June 2 (AFP) - The airlift of some 5,000 additional men to be deployed in Darfur as part of the African Union (AU) Mission could get underway later this month, a US senior official said Thursday. Full Story via ReliefWeb
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Eyewitness account: new communities emerging in Darfur's IDP camps

Note this first hand account by Sarah in Darfur Thurs June 2 in a post entitled Evolution of the evicted at RELIEF TO DARFUR? the first blog (that I am aware of) out of Darfur.

Here is an excerpt from the post about Darfur's Abu Shouk, a camp for internally displaced persons (IDPs) located in the middle of the desert that is home to some 71,000 people since April 2004:

Abu Shouk is slowly taking on the shape of a large village, made up of many different people from parts of North Darfur who fled the fighting and destruction to find themselves struggling to define this new space in which they live. Structure is provided through the family first, then the Omdas and the Sheiks that have led and sometimes followed their people to this place that is meant to provide food, water and shelter. Abu Shouk is immense and seems to be a sprawling slum set in the middle of the Sahel. Stretching as far as the eyes can see is a jumble of colorful makeshift tents, shelters and shacks. Already the colors of these shelters are faded by the sun and they are covered in a cloak of desert sand, making mute their once vibrant shades and designs. There is nothing brilliant to this assemblage now, although the sight is overpowering. All available space seems to be filled. There are donkeys, and goats, chickens and children of all ages. It is a rural city springing up from these dry desert sands.

In Abu Shouk people are talking about returning and about staying right where they are. They are changing their shelters, and making brick walls and paths through the plastic pre- fab tunnels that provided the means to escape the desert sandstorms and scorching heat. They are using words like security and safety and do not expect a comprehensive peace. They know that this will take time and they are designing and defining their own ways to construct community and conversation between neighbors that are new and an environment that requires local methods to be new, innovative and inclusive. This is the face of Abu Shouk and probably the face of most IDP camps in Darfur.

Please read post at full story. [Great. Thanks Sarah. Hope you are well.]
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Why Is West Showing So Much Interest in Darfur?

An opinion piece in Arab news by Hassan Tahsin entitled Why Is West Showing So Much Interest in Darfur? asks a good question"
"A monitor of African affairs may ask why all this sudden interest in Darfur and this blatant intervention in Sudan's internal affairs while massacres in Rwanda and other parts of the world were still going on."
But then it goes on to say something that for sure does not make sense, unless of course you are reading propaganda out of Khartoum:
"The question is worth being asked, especially after an organization like Medicines Sans Frontiers gave a different interpretation to what has happened in Darfur contrary to what has been claimed by the Western media."
I've seen a news report that says Khartoum uses Sudanese media to discredit MSF's rape report and even implies that the aid agencies are working against the interests of the people of Sudan.

Also, Hassan Tahsin writes:
"Amnesty International's report claiming mass murder in Darfur is as untrue as the claims by the US on Iraqi WMD used as a pretext to attack and occupy Iraq. Foreign powers have sought by all means to derail the Sudanese peace talks between the north and south before adding fuel to the fire in Darfur. Those powers drove some tribes to rebel against the legitimate government in Khartoum in order to open the door to foreign intervention and the ultimate disintegration of Sudan into tiny tribal entities to serve their strategic interests."
You have to wonder how the author knows Amnesty's report is untrue and why he does not mention conclusions reached in UN investigation reports. If you replace the above words "foreign powers" with the words "Sudanese rebels" the paragraph makes sense.

Note, he also goes on to say:
"The recent minisummit on Darfur held in Tripoli, Libya, was timely since it managed to put a halt to the military intervention by the West in Sudan. The summit attended by the leaders of Sudan, Egypt, Libya, Chad, Nigeria, Eritrea and Gabon agreed on the resumption of peace talks in Abuja and the convening of a national conference for all the people of Darfur to ascertain their views on the conflict.

The seven African leaders laid a road map to resolve the conflict through successive steps that address the roots of the problem. The summit's most important decision in my view is its rejection of any intervention by a non-African nation in Darfur. The summit wanted to keep the issue an African affair to be settled within an African framework.

The African Union has about 2,400 troops and 244 civilian police trying to restore peace in Darfur.

On April 28 it voted to increase the force to 6,171 military personnel and 1,560 police by the end of September.

Sudan is passing through an extremely critical stage in its history.

Sudanese political and other civic powers must unite to ensure the stability of Darfur and work hard to lay down a new basis for governing the country in a manner that would satisfy all parties under the auspices of the African Union.

Continued foreign intervention threatens Sudan's unity and stability and the future of its people who should be allowed to live as an ethnically and culturally diverse nation. Foreign powers must take their hands off Sudan."
The opinion piece contains rubbish. Military intervention by the West in Sudan was never on the cards. OK, given the author is brainwashed by propaganda, it does not explains why thinks it is OK for the West to go on paying billions of dollars to quell anarchy in the Sudan and feed six million people ad infinitum.

In the last line, he says "foreign powers must take their hands off Sudan" but he does not mention why Sudan, Egypt, Libya, Chad, Nigeria, Eritrea and Gabon are leaving it to "foreign powers" to foot the bill - for how long - and how many more AU and UN troops and millions of mouths will be added to the bill by the time Sudan, Egypt, Libya, Chad, Nigeria, Eritrea and Gabon grow up and get their act together.
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World bodies under fire for serving few

Montreal, June 3 report via OneWorld South Asia. Excerpt:

Mainstream media, once the vital fourth estate "has largely been absorbed by the corporate community." As a result, freedom of the press has become subservient to the bottom line, and, by extension, accountable to shareholders, FIM says.

"The response to current crises such as (war against) Iraq, (genocide in) Darfur, the spread of AIDS and the future of our environment, is a sad reflection of weak and misguided governance," the group says.

"If these and other challenges continue to be exacerbated by the politics of greed and power, then new democratic measures must be invented, and by and for the people," it adds.

[Yes, I agree new democratic measures must be invented. But what is the big question]
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Emmanuel Jal and Sudanese music compilation

Twelve years ago as a starving child soldier in war-torn Sudan, Emmanuel Jal, contemplated suicide and cannibalism, but these days, he basks in local celebrity as rap artist who has hit the Kenyan charts. (AFP). Full Story via BBC London and Sudan Tribune June 1, 2005. Excerpt:

Emmanuel Jal is a young rapper from the southern Sudan and a former soldier who for five years of his childhood was involved in the bloody civil war in Sudan. By a stroke of luck he ended up being adopted by a British aid worker when he was 11, smuggled to Nairobi, Kenya, where he got the chance to change his life and get an education.

Emmanuel also developed a passion for music and started rapping (in Nuer Arabic, Swahili and English). His break happened last September with his single 'Gua' which became a massive hit in Kenya.
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Thank You

To PBS Frontline for linking to Sudan Watch. PBS Frontline produced a great special on Darfur.

To applegrove at Democratic Underground Forums for starting a discussion May 29 on a recent post at Sudan Watch entitled: "The Poor Are Not the Problem But the Solution".

To bloggers for their recent links and interest in the Sudan, DR Congo and northern Ugandan crises. Sorry I've not had time to say hello and thank you in the comments at these blogs:

Christopher/Cara at Darfur Update
Global Wire
Daniel at Exegesis
Marcus at Crossfader
P. Scott Cummins
Las chicas del quinto Cenicienta in Spain


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