Thursday, August 26, 2004

Straw wins human rights pledge from Khartoum

At talks on Monday with Sudan's foreign minister, Mustafa Osman Ismail, Mr Straw extracted a pledge that visas would be granted for the first time to allow the British offices of human rights groups Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch to get access to Darfur refugees.

Have your say at the BBC - and read comments from around the world

Read comments at BBC Have Your Say -- in answer to the following question:

Sudan's government will allow international human rights groups to visit refugee camps in the troubled Darfur region, UK Foreign Secretary Jack Straw says. The foreign secretary is visiting Sudan's Darfur region to try to get Khartoum to do more to curb the Arab Janjaweed militia's harassment of refugees.

The UN has accused the Janjaweed militia of killing an estimated 50,000 people in Darfur in an 18-month reign of terror. Delegates from rebel groups and Sudan's government met in the Nigerian capital Abuja for the discussions, to try to end the conflict in the troubled Darfur region.

Will the access of human rights groups to refugee camps make a difference? Will the new efforts to restore peace be successful? How should the international community respond to Darfur?

Here below are a few comments that reflect the balance of opinion the BBC has received so far:

Africa has always been a stage for one form of crisis or the other. All fuelled by the selfish interests of most parties involved. There are always a set of crisis resolution meetings which seem to solve the problem but as always the conflict resumes all over again. Alas, events following the meeting in Abuja will be no different - Seun a, Lagos, Nigeria
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The talk for peace in Darfur is just a waste of time. What the black Sudanese requires now is food, security and protection by international community. Peace talk between the Arabs and the blacks is a waiting game for the Arabs who have never taken the blacks as equal partners in the Sudan. The only solution is to re-partition the Sudan into three states: Darfur, Arab North and Bar-el-Ghazel (South), this will be the only viable alternative to bring peace to the communities who cannot live together in one country - Freddy Latigo-Nono, London
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I think the peace talks have a much higher probability of succeeding than previous rounds in July - simply because the stakes now are much higher - and what both parties are playing for is much different. Darfur has garnered a great deal of international interest and the plight of hundreds of thousands that have been systematically targeted can no longer be ignored. The SLM/A and JEM have achieved international recognition for their agendas and discourse. Now both sides have developed bargaining positions and they will cut a deal! - Naya, Khartoum, Sudan
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I think the situation in Sudan should not be strange to those who are aware of all sorts of conflicts around the world. It is just sad that there does not seem to be an end to the conflict and the saddest thing is that defenceless folks are being perished at the moment. I don't want to be a pessimist, but I do not think this meeting in Nigeria will avail the conflict. I am sure the Sudanese government has agreed to it so as to delay impending US's desire for sanctions against them. The conflict was not and is not sporadic... it has been pre-planned. The goal is to wipe out or displace the indigenes of Darfur and reclaim the land for themselves. It is basically a fight for survival and domination.
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And I am afraid that this will not be the last time we will hear of such conflicts in Africa or in other places where resources are scarce. The only way to completely settle this never ending conflict all over Sudan is do what was done in old Yugoslavia... divide the country and let borders be defined. These people just cannot live together. Let's face it - Emmanuel A, Canada/Nigeria
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Western leaders can push Sudan's government to stop the conflict. However, peace comes from inside not from outside. As we have seen over the period, Sudan's government does not want to stop the conflict. Therefore I'm very sceptical if these peace-talks will be successful. Nevertheless, it is important that the western world reacts to this crisis and does not ignore it - Alzbeta Stastna, Czech Republic
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The peace talks after Abuja Conference will perhaps have a temporary success. But unless the socio-political question is solved to determine equity in economic and the civil matters, there will be no lasting peace. The present Sudanese regime is perhaps the only remaining oppressive and incompetent regime remaining in Africa today. The old and new masters of slavery and racial discrimination are still there enjoying the long silence of the African Union. The international community can help the African leadership in bringing justice and democracy to the whole of Sudan and not just to Darfur. If dialogue to hold internationally supervised elections for civil liberty against the prevailing military dictatorship is not possible, then sanctions and human rights-violation prosecutions should immediately be effected to avoid more loss of lives - Mdundiko Kilache, Equatorial Guinea
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The world kept talking in regards to Bosnia, Rwanda etc while hundreds of thousands were killed. Why does not the UN intervene with troops? Of what use is the UN? All that money wasted on tax when it is an impotent organisation. Hundreds more will be killed, raped and left suffering by the time these talks conclude - Paddy Singh, Delhi, India

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