Wednesday, May 30, 2007
Monday, May 28, 2007
BBC's Darfur Lifeline project is emergency radio at its best
When did you last hear a good news story coming out of Darfur? Have you ever heard a good news story from there?Salam ila Darfur broadcasts on shortwave from transmitters in Cyprus at 0500 GMT and at 1700 GMT on 7150 kHz and 17595 kHz.
Well, I've got one. There is a small group of Sudanese men and women based in the south Darfur city of Nyala who risk life and limb on a daily basis to deliver humanitarian information over the radio to the millions of displaced persons in the region.
They work for the BBC World Service Trust, a humanitarian arm of the world's best-known broadcaster, and every day they put out a 30-minute programme that is broadcast on shortwave to western Sudan as well as parts of Chad and the Central African Republic.
In a conflict hot spot that is the focus of international media attention, this programme is the only one that targets the people concerned. The George Clooneys and Jan Egelands of the world are talking about Darfur, but not to Darfur.
The Darfur Lifeline project is emergency radio at its best. Twice a day, at 8 am and 8 pm, thousands of people hold their cheap Nigerian-made radios close to their ears inside their temporary homes of plastic sheeting and straw and hear about the crisis that is affecting their lives.
A team of 13 producers and researchers, all Sudanese and from all parts of the country, start their day early on the programme, which is titled “Salam ila Darfur” (“Peace/Greetings to Darfur”). They spend their time talking to internally displaced people living in the camps, health workers, local and international non-governmental organisations and even the military to find out what information is needed on the ground to keep the displaced informed and reduce the suffering even just a little.
Putting the programme together is not easy.
The journalists need permission from the Sudanese Government's Humanitarian Affairs Committee, HAC, if they want to go just about anywhere. And they get it. Even NGOs that tend to shy away from the media make exceptions for the Darfur Lifeline team. NGOs are often suspicious of the media, and feel that media attention can jeopardise their work in sensitive areas by threatening what are often difficult relationships with local authorities.
Yacoub Ismael, the director of Oxfam's regional office in South Darfur, says his organisation makes an exception to the "no talking to the media rule" for Darfur Lifeline. There is widespread acceptance within humanitarian circles that the work strengthens and complements their programmes.
Access is certainly helped by the BBC’s excellent reputation and large listenership. The BBC’s Arabic Service, which is completely separate from the humanitarian operation, has its highest per capita listenership in Sudan.
Walking around the camps in the early hours of the morning, the sound of radio easily travels through the flimsy walls of the shelters. Over the course of several days of intensive on-site surveys with the Darfur Lifeline team, the only wireless sounds we heard were from Bush House, from the Darfur Lifeline team itself and religious programming from the state broadcaster in Khartoum.
Information on where it is safe to collect firewood and where food is being distributed, information on where displaced children can go to learn to read, information on where lost friends and relatives can be found, and information on how to avoid or treat the numerous contagious diseases that sweep camps due to a complete breakdown in social services and infrastructure - this is what the Darfur Lifeline team puts on the air every day.
The United Nations Children's Fund, UNICEF, conducts vaccination campaigns throughout Darfur on a regular basis, the security situation permitting. Their Nyala office makes no bones about the value of the BBC radio programmes. “Our immunisation coverage in the camps doubled after the BBC broadcasts,” said UNICEF’s Nagui Kodsi.
The Sudanese government operates its own radio service in Darfur. However, it is almost impossible to find anybody who believes a word produced by the state broadcaster. In any case, journalists working for the government are not allowed into the camps. The divide is so wide that Kodsi says he has attended health ministry meetings during which the government of Sudan has admitted it relies on the BBC to send messages to its own displaced people.
This may be one of the reasons why the service is tolerated. It is not easy to gather information in Darfur. Most foreign journalists have had their requests for permits to travel there turned down by the Sudanese authorities.
The main reason the programming carries on is simply because it is humanitarian and not political. The Nyala-based team does a fine balancing act so as not to attract too much attention from Khartoum many hundreds of kilometres away in the east.
Officially, they are not journalists but humanitarian workers. However, this correspondent has rarely seen journalists as committed to their craft as this brave little group who are broadcasting from hell.
David Smith is a Johannesburg-based media consultant specialising in setting up emergency radio projects in zones of conflict. [Source: http://www.iwpr.net/?p=acr&s=f&o=333980&apc_state=henpacr]
Sudanese migrants clinging to life on a tuna net
As a Maltese tug boat trawls through the water picking up tuna, it becomes the sole means of survival for a group of desperate young migrants.
This astonishing sight reveals the peril facing 27 African migrants who clung to life for three days and nights after their boat sank and they were refused entry on board the tug.
Hanging on to buoys on an 18-inch-wide walkway with almost no food or drink, they were eventually rescued by the Italian navy – far luckier than many who attempt the journey.
Photo: The 27 African migrants cling on to a tuna net platform as the tug boat's captain refuses to let them come aboard
Their small boat, which left Libya, ran adrift for six days and two fishing boats sent to rescue them never arrived.
On Wednesday, the tug boat, Budafel, allowed them to mount the net's walkway but would not land the men because he said he had $1m-worth of tuna in the pen.
He said taking the men to Malta would have taken 12 days. He informed the Maltese authorities who phoned the Libyans.
Malta would not take them – they are full to capacity and have had 157 illegal immigrants come ashore in the past five days.
Photo: The Maltese tug, Budafel, reportedly had caught £1million of tuna which was why the captain refused to help the migrants to safety
Libyan authorities were due to sent a helicopter and thrown down a life raft – but Matlese prime minister Lawrence Gonzi said that was not enough.
Eventually they said they would pick the men up but they did not. Luckily, an Italian navy vessel, Orione, was nearby, searching for other migrants, 53 Eritreans, who had died in the waters.
By 9pm on Saturday night the men, from Ghana, Nigeria, Cameroon, Sudan and other countries, were finally on their way to Sicily, weak and exhausted.
Sunday, May 27, 2007
Egyptian UN soldier killed in Sudan's Darfur
UN NGO's Leave El Fashier- - -
This is Ehab Nazih from Egypt. He arrived at our house two days ago and was going to stay with us in the house. He works for the UN and today he was told that the UN international staff in El Fashier are withdrawing from the town until the situation stabilises. Half an hour after I took this photo today he was at the airport ready to leave for Khartoum. Does the UN know something we do not? If so please let me know. My e-mail is firstname.lastname@example.org
Note, China's People's Daily news says "the Egyptian foreign ministry spokesman confirmed to Xinhua that the victim was Lieutenant Colonel Ihab Ahmad". But UN news says:
The United Nations Mission in Sudan (UNMIS) today condemned the killing, during an armed robbery, of one of its soldiers serving in Darfur.From Reuters Khartoum 26 May 2007 [insert link]:
The Mission vowed to cooperate with the Sudanese authorities to apprehend the killers of Lt. Colonel Nazih, and hold them accountable. UNMIS said it is also taking urgent measures, in coordination with the Sudanese authorities, to prevent further attacks of this nature from taking place.
The circumstances surrounding the death of Lieutenant-Colonel Ehab Nazih, a Military Staff Officer from Egypt, are still under investigation, according to UNMIS, which confirmed that late Friday, three armed men, wearing civilian clothes, broke into the private house he shared with seven other UNMIS staff.
After taking money and valuables from the other occupants of the house, the armed men moved to the victim's room and demanded money from Lt. Colonel Nazih, who gave them all the money he had and was then shot.
He was rushed to the a Hospital run by the African Union Mission in Darfur (AMIS), where he was pronounced dead, UNMIS said, offering thanks to "the AMIS staff and medical personnel who did all they could to save the life of their UNMIS colleague." [via http://newsblaze.com - insert link]
A U.N. officer deployed to Sudan's war-ravaged Darfur region to support African Union peacekeepers has been killed by robbers at his residence in el-Fasher, an African Union spokesman said on Saturday.- - -
The spokesman said the officer was an Egyptian national deployed to Darfur as part of a United Nations light support package to assist roughly 7,000 African Union peacekeepers trying to quell violence in Sudan's west.
"The robbers entered the house, shot the officer and took some property," AU spokesman Noureddine Mezni said. "He is an Egyptian military officer."
Mezni said the officer, a lieutenant colonel, was shot and wounded on Friday evening and died of his wounds on Saturday morning in el-Fasher, the capital of north Darfur state.
He said the man was killed at a rented house used by U.N. personnel working with AU peacekeepers. He said the house was located about 1 km from AU force headquarters in el-Fasher.
Mezni said the acting head of the African Union mission in Sudan, Monique Mukaruliza, had "expressed her shock and condemned the killing in the strongest terms".
Tribute to the late Egyptian military of UN LSP Mission in Darfur
Update: Via Sudan Tribune May 26 May 2007 [insert link to http://www.sudantribune.com/spip.php?article22055] - excerpt
Yesterday night, at 2330hrs, three unidentified armed men scaled the walls of the home of Lieutenant-Colonel Ehrb Nazir, member of UNMIS and staff officer of the Light Support Package, from Egypt, and trying to rob him, shot at him.- - -
Lt Col Nazir was born on 6 May 1967 in Cairo. He joined the Egyptian Army in 1988 and arrived in the mission on the 26 July 2006 and thereafter assigned to AMIS Headquarters in the Joint Logistics Operations Centre (JLOC). He made a sound contribution to AMIS operations and expected to end his one year tour of duty this July 2007. He previously participated in a UN PKO in Morocco. Minutes before the incidents, he had just finished a telephone conversation with his wife and the two daughters back home in Egypt.
Death of a Soldier
Photo: Two more AU soldiers from Nigeria have been killed in Darfur. (Source: Soldier of Africa blog by Werner, K - Taken on March 11, 2007 - insert link)
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Five AU soldiers killed in Darfur
Photo: An army officer carries posthumous medals to be awarded to five Senegalese peacekeepers killed in Darfur during a memorial service in Dakar, April 12, 2007. Senegal said on Thursday it might withdraw its troops from the African Union peacekeeping force in Sudan's Darfur region unless the continental body took action to ensure the force was better equipped to defend itself. (Reuters/Diadie Ba Apr 12 2007)
Thursday, May 24, 2007
De Waal and Prendergast debate what to do about Darfur
ENOUGH in cooperation with the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum, Genocide Intervention Network, and Social Science Research Council present:The debate is bound to be interesting. Alex de Waal is an expert on Sudan's history and has first hand experience of Darfur's peace talks. I guess public donations, mainly from inside North America, fund people like Mr Prendergast to pressure the public and media to influence US government officials. Interestingly, how Sudanese and Chadian rebel leaders are financed rarely makes the news (if it has, I've missed most of it). Who knows, maybe African and Arab rebels are simply lured by promises of land and/or other booty or adventures. Private property and land ownership in areas like Darfur, does it exist? I wonder. Note, along with Sudan, DRC and N Uganda now come under the wing of John Prendergast's ENOUGH :: The project to abolish genocide and mass atrocities.
What to do about Darfur?
A debate between John Prendergast and Alex de Waal
Join us as two of the leading analysts on Darfur, John Prendergast, co-founder of ENOUGH and Alex de Waal, Social Science Research Council, discuss solutions to ending the genocide.
RSVP to email@example.com or 202-314-0370
This event is free and open to the public. It is held at U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum, 100 Raoul Wallenberg Pl, SW, Washington, DC 20024.
ENOUGH is a joint initiative, founded by the International Crisis Group and the Center for American Progress, to prevent and resolve genocide and mass atrocities. For more information, go to www.enoughproject.org.
Tuesday, May 22, 2007
Sudan: Darfur no-fly zone unworkable says top EU soldier
A U.S.-backed proposal to stop Sudanese military aircraft flying over the war-ravaged western region of Darfur is technically unworkable, a top European Union soldier said on Tuesday.Seems to me the only viable solution is for all Sudanese tribal leaders and rebels to commit to peace and reconciliation and agree on compensation asap. Otherwise this could go on for years, keeping the rebels and their leaders on easy street while 'their people' (mostly women and children) are killed or dispersed from land with potential oil and stuff. Sort out Darfur and another so-called rebellion will spring up elsewhere in Sudan, like in S Kordofan or along the Sudan-Chad border where, reportedly, there's unexplored oil. The USA is four times larger than Sudan. Sudan is a country as large and diverse as Europe.
President George W. Bush raised the prospect last month, and Britain wants the U.N. Security Council to impose a no-fly zone on Sudan as part of sanctions including broadening an arms ban.
But General Henri Bentegeat, the Frenchman who heads the EU's top military body, said [that] the size of the 500,000-square-km (200,000-square-mile) territory made such a plan unfeasible.
"A no-fly zone is technically impossible. Darfur is around the same size as France," Bentegeat, who heads the EU Military Committee on which the bloc's 27 member states coordinate defence policy, told Reuters in an interview.
"You would need at least 60 combat aircraft [in order] to enforce it correctly. And there would be the question of distinguishing between helicopters," Bentegeat warned of possibly lethal confusion between Sudanese, U.N. and other aircraft.
He said [that] there was no alternative to maintaining pressure on Khartoum to let international troops join a 7,000-strong African Union force that has so far failed to quell the violence.
"Darfur has descended into chaos," said Bentegeat, whose postings in the French army included Senegal and Djibouti. "The only viable solution is the deployment of a very large force that would throw a security net around the region."
Sudan: We wish the Reuters thing was webcast!!
"Sudanese Thinker wishes the debate on Darfur was televised: “Told ya! I just wish this damn thing was freaking televized. I’m expecting a heated debate to go down especially since the Sudanese Ambassador to the U.N. is going to be present. I predict that he’ll get banged with many questions. It will be interesting to observe how he responds.Heh. Rock on Drima! Why no webcast? If there were a transcript, I'd mull over John Prendergast's commentary in the hope of getting some understanding of the rationale behind his warmongering stance on Sudan.
I’m tied up with many things at the moment but I’ll make time for this since I don’t want to miss it. Sudanese boys and girls in da house, blog your thoughts or drop a comment.”
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UPDATE: Note Sudan Tribune article - "US presidential contender calls for military intervention in Darfur" - by Wasil Ali 22 May 2007.
UPDATE May 23 2007: The debate's started & being blogged at Jikomboe (hat tip May 24 2007 Global Voices Online must-read: Darfur: The Reality, the Agenda & the Proposed Solution)
And more re video available via Reuters at Global Voices Online � Join the Debate on Darfur 10am (EST) TODAY!
ComingAnarchy.com finds Soldier of Africa Blog
Sudan: Reuters' Darfur debate online May 24 2007
List of Panelists:Note, the above mentioned Sudanese Ambassador to the UN is featured in today's Sudan Tribune article by Wasil Ali entitled Sudan's envoy: Darfur "an issue for those who have no issue".
- Paul Holmes, Reuters (moderator)
- Ann Curry, NBC News
- Hedi Annabi, Under-Secretary General for Peacekeeping U.N*
-Abdalmahmood Abdalhaleem Mohamad, Sudanese Ambassador to the U.N
- John Prendergast, International Crisis Group
- Mia Farrow, Actor and UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador
- Lauren Landis, Senior Representative, Sudan, U.S. Department of State
[* Reuters/Ed’s note May 24 2007: This post was updated to reflect Hedi Annabi has replaced Jean-Marie Guehenno, U.N. Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping, on the panel]
Further details at Global Voices Online.
UPDATE: Also today, The Sudanese Thinker blog (hi Drima!) urges fellow bloggers to "Join the Debate on Darfur on May 24".
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Education's purpose is to replace an empty mind with an open one.
History is a gallery of pictures in which there are few originals and many copies.
Alexis de Tocqueville
Love Quote of the Day
The more you judge, the less you love.
Honore de Balzac
Famous Peace Quotes
Here below, I've starred two favourites and question marked four I don't understand:
Peace cannot be achieved through violence, it can only be attained through understanding.
Ralph Waldo Emerson
One cannot subdue a man by holding back his hands. Lasting peace comes not from force.
The pacifist's task today is to find a method of helping and healing which provides a revolutionary constructive substitute for war.
?I don't know whether war is an interlude during peace, or peace an interlude during war.
*I think that people want peace so much that one of these days government had better get out of their way and let them have it.
Dwight D. Eisenhower
Peace and justice are two sides of the same coin.
Dwight D. Eisenhower
You don't have to have fought in a war to love peace.
?Even peace may be purchased at too high a price.
He that would live in peace and at ease must not speak all he knows or all he sees.
An eye for eye only ends up making the whole world blind.
It is easier to lead men to combat, stirring up their passion, than to restrain them and direct them toward the patient labors of peace.
The pursuit of peace and progress cannot end in a few years in either victory or defeat. The pursuit of peace and progress, with its trials and its errors, its successes and its setbacks, can never be relaxed and never abandoned.
Yes, we love peace, but we are not willing to take wounds for it, as we are for war.
John Andrew Holmes
Peace and friendship with all mankind is our wisest policy, and I wish we may be permitted to pursue it.
Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable.
John F. Kennedy
?War will never cease until babies begin to come into the world with larger cerebrums and smaller adrenal glands.
H. L. Mencken
Fair peace becomes men; ferocious anger belongs to beasts.
It isn't enough to talk about peace. One must believe in it. And it isn't enough to believe in it. One must work at it.
A peace is of the nature of a conquest; for then both parties nobly are subdued, and neither party loser.
Peace is not an absence of war, it is a virtue, a state of mind, a disposition for benevolence, confidence, justice.
If we have no peace, it is because we have forgotten that we belong to each other.
?Peace begins with a smile.
Peace hath higher tests of manhood, than battle ever knew.
John Greenleaf Whittier
Source: http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/topics/topic_peace.html via without reason