SUDAN WATCH: Who benefits from Divest Sudan Campaign? Sudan-divestment draws attacks from business groups

Saturday, May 13, 2006

Who benefits from Divest Sudan Campaign? Sudan-divestment draws attacks from business groups

Abu Shouk refugee camp Darfur

Photo: A young Sudanese child is helped with a drink of clean water at the Abu Shouk refugee camp near El Fasher, in Darfur, Sudan, in August 2004. (AFP/Jim Watson/Sudan Watch archive)

As noted here at Sudan Watch several times before, I find it difficult to understand what good comes of divestment, unless it means funds that are divested are re-invested in companies that benefit impoverished people. Sudan is burdened by terrible debt and relies heavily on foreign revenue, particularly from oil, generated by companies operating in the Sudan:
Let's hope that Harvard and all the others who are divesting, re-invest in companies that specialise in beneficial services such as water and agriculture and encourage such firms to operate in the Sudan. That way, Sudan could diversify, develop and grow and would not need to rely so heavily upon its oil.
Excerpt from Wall Street May 3, 2006 via ST May 13, 2006:
American companies have been barred from operating in Sudan since 1997. But some of the most stringent new divestment policies could affect dozens of major US corporations.

"We have very large concerns about the Illinois bill," says Adam Sterling, national policy director of the Sudan Divestment Task Force, a student group spearheading the nationwide effort. "We're afraid that it targets too many firms and that many of these firms may in fact be helping the people of Sudan."

The Sudan Divestment Task Force advocates "targeted divestment" that encourages cutting investments only in companies that provide revenue to Sudan's government, especially foreign oil companies.

Companies have heard from investors about Sudan, including Siemens, the German electronics and engineering company, which does business in Sudan. "Obviously it's a concern for us," says Siemens spokeswoman Paula Davis. But the company's work there, she added, is "helping the people of Sudan by providing critical infrastructure."

Sudan, for its part, opposes the campaign. Expressing "deep concern" last month, Sudan's ambassador to the US, Khidir Haroun Ahmed, said the campaign will "impede development [by] hampering foreign investment that is vital to rebuilding the country."
Note, Mar 23 2006 Harvard divests from stock held by HMC in China Petroleum and Chemical Corporation (Sinopec Corporation)

Drilling for Sudan's drinking water is more important than drilling for oil

Drinking water is more important than oil

Photo: Children try a new hand pump installed by UNICEF and ECHO. (Courtesy UNICEF Sudan/2006)

Feb 5 2006 Peacekeeping waterpumps - East Africa a front in war on terrorism

Feb 23 2006 Drilling for Sudan's drinking water is more important than drilling for oil

Water

Photo: With adequate water sources, children can spend more time on education. (Courtesy UNICEF Sudan/2006)

Mar 17 2006 ADRA Water Capacity Improvement in Kulbus and Seleia localities, West Darfur - On February 28, Japan's Adventist Development and Relief Agency (ADRA) completed a water project that provides improved access to clean water for 35,000 people living near the capital of West Darfur, Sudan.

ADRA has drilled 19 successful boreholes for new wells and installed hand pumps for wells, providing better access to clean water for families in the region.

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