Thursday, September 30, 2004

China sends riot police for peacekeeping mission in Haiti - at the request of the U.N.

The photo here below shows a boy kissing his father, a member of Chinese peacekeeping police, at the International Airport in Beijing, September 17, 2004.

The advance troops of riot police composed of 30 members including four policewomen left for Haiti on Friday, September 17.

At the request of the United Nations, China will send 125 police officers to form a contingent of riot police for a peacekeeping mission in Haiti.


One can't help wondering why the UN Security Council did not ask China to send riot police for peacekeeping mission in Darfur.

China's oil companies are adjacent to Darfur. China gets a lot out of Sudan. What does China do for the Sudanese in return for the exploitation of their land and natural resources?
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"Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has."

Margaret Mead
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"If we'd been born where they were born and taught what they were taught, we would believe what they believe"

A sign inside a church in Northern Ireland, explaining the origin of intolerance and hate.

M.K. Gandhi Institute for Nonviolence - First Annual Gandhian Nonviolence Conference October 8-9, 2004

"My life is my message" - M.K.Gandhi


Gandhi quotes:

"An eye for an eye makes the whole world blind"

"If my faith burns bright, as I hope it will even if I stand alone, I shall be alive in the grave, and what is more, speaking from it"
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First Annual Gandhian Nonviolence Conference

M.K. Gandhi Institute for Nonviolence event information.

Further reading:

The Official Mahatma Gandhi eArchive & Reference Library
M.K. Gandhi Institute for Nonviolence
Mahatma Gandhi

Wednesday, September 29, 2004

What’s behind the horror in Sudan?

The purpose of this post is to explore and work out my growing unease over what seems to be going on in Sudan. Not sure if my hunches are correct, or what is to be gained by writing about them.

Perhaps I am trying to figure why I find it so difficult to swallow the news that is now being reported on Sudan. Maybe I have lost faith in the UN and the whole political process. Today when I saw a report that quoted Colin Powell's latest on Sudan, my eyes glazed over and the report meant absolutely nothing. For some reason it all sounds hollow, false and manipulative. When the UN churns out another report quoting the latest from Kofi Annan, I'm sure I shan't believe a word of it. For reasons that I am about to explain, it all looks like a murky business and a charade that is being played out to placate the public.

This post is a conversation I'm having with myself, talking out loud about the roles of the UN and US in Sudan, in an attempt to clarify my thoughts on events since April of this year, when I picked up on story from Jim Moore's Journal, and started blogging about genocide in Darfur.

Also, I am asking myself what it means for us to get news on thousands of people being slaughtered, with warnings that many more thousands could be murdered if we don't do something. If we don't do something to help, is technology merely enabling us to be passive voyeurs, ghoulishly watching stories of mass murder unfolding while we sit in the comfort of our cushioned chairs and safe surroundings? If we don't like what we see or hear, are we meant to switch off our computers like we do with the TV and radio and turn a blind eye? Shrug our shoulders?

Decades ago, it would take days or weeks or even months for news to reach us, by which time the event had occurred and there wasn't amything we could do. But these days, with the immediacy of the Internet, we get a rough idea of what is going on in most parts of the world within an hour or even minutes.

Information contained within most media reports on the Sudan seem mainly to originate from carefully constructed press releases issued by all sides, ie regime in Khartoum, Darfur rebels, international community and others that have a vested interested in the Sudan. Very little hard news. It makes one wonder just how much of it is propaganda. Reports by aid agencies are sanitised and pitched for fundraising. Some reporters provide news from the ground in Sudan but not enough to give a true picture of what, and who, is behind the horror in Sudan and why.

Could it all boil down to oil and arms? In a nutshell, yes, I think it could. It seems none of those from outside of Sudan who are involved in the negotiations value the life of a Sudanese nomad as much as their own. Otherwise 50,000 deaths would have been prevented. Could the world's failure to provide practical help, even after the first 10,000 Sudanese were slaughtered, stand as evidence of racism?

If 10,000 murders occurred in the State of Texas, or the countryside of England, there would be tens of thousands of troops on the scene to try and stop such a massacre. Think back to Wako, Texas and heavy tanks firing at the walls of a compound to destroy a sect of civilians that were perceived as posing some sort of threat.

The lives of nomadic Africans do not appear to mean much to the rest of the world: 2 million slaughtered in the Sudan; 50,000 wiped out in Darfur; 800,000 massacred in Rwanda; 3 million in the Congo; a few more million in Uganda ... the list goes on. But 3,000 on 9/11 in New York City goes down in history and changes the world. Why?

Is the answer that life on American soil is of greater value than life on African soil?

Having said that, genocide took place in Bosnia just ten years ago. Bosnia is just a two hour flight away from England. The people murdered in Bosnia were not Africans or Arabs. Genocide took place in Germany some 60 years ago, many Germans were in denial and turned the other cheek.

What is the answer? I am still trying to understand the reasons for mans inhumanity to man. So far, I've discovered genocide has occurred throughout history, will continue to happen and not a lot will change for at least 5,000 years or more. In other words, man is a predator, it is part of human nature and evolution, or so I am told - I'm still trying to get my head around that one.

As an aside note, I once live in London SW1 which is south of the river Thames. I invited someone from North London to dinner. She considered herself as well to do and part of a clique in North London that considered venturing over the other side of the river was a no-no. I chortled and was amazed to discover there were definite north south divides in London.

Seems wherever one goes there are divisions of one kind or another. Maybe it's a natural thing for people to gravitate and gather into little tribes; a sort of comfort zone that's made up of people who think, talk, look and behave in similar ways.

Could there ever be a way for us to do something to stop mans inhumanity to man? Perhaps democracy is not the be all and end all to everything. I've posted on this subject before. Maybe something new will happen: something that has not yet been thought up. Whenever I question the value of democracy, my thoughts turn to Jim Moore's essay the "Second Superpower" - and I get to wondering if communications technology is the thing that puts power into the hands of the people.

Trouble with that is, not enough people seem to care to think about issues deeply enough or feel moved enough to take action. Half can't even be bothered to vote. Most seem to just want others to do their thinking for them, lobby for change and take care of issues.

It's no wonder a handful of greedy ruthless gangs of people dotted around the world feel free to get away with murder and do as they please, creating misery and havoc for millions of others. The wheeling and dealing that goes on unnoticed and unchecked is astounding when you really look into what is going on. The arms and oil trade in particular, not to mention the environment.

In today's information society we get to know what is going on around the world at the press of a button. Does all of this communications technology just enable us to be voyeuristic passive bystanders? Are we supposed to act on the knowledge?

We cannot say we did not know what was going on in Darfur during the past five months. Faced with such information, what can we do about it? I am curious about this aspect of the great new era we now find ourselves living in. Knowledge is power. But, going back to what happened over 60 years ago in Germany: people knew genocide was happening then but felt helpless to do anything about it. What has changed in 60 years?

The UN's reports on Sudan can be extra interesting when they contain hidden or cryptic messages from Kofi Annan. The UN website carried an 'off the cuff' report that quoted Kofi Annan as saying some of what he says in press reports are messages to those on the ground. Which may explain why he seems to come across as speaking with forked tongue half of the time.

After what went on with the UN and the countless number of resolutions over Iraq, it would appear the UN is much more political and not as neutral as it makes out to be.

A few days ago the UN's head of refugees Ruud Lubbers floated, aired, and voiced ideas to the media suggesting that the Government of Sudan give autonomy to Darfur. Mind boggling, and goes to show how the media is used to feed us information they want us to know but not the truth of what is really going on. News reports don't seem to explain things properly. For instance, there is never any mention of the US intelligence base in Africa or what the French are doing with their mirage jets in the area and the 200 troops on the Chad-Sudan border.

Who funded the rebels over the past 19 months; where do their supplies, arms and ammunition arrive from; how come the UN did not choose to impose an arms embargo, as opposed to oil sanctions, on Khartoum?

It's been five months now since I started following daily news on the Sudan. And have still not found a clue that helps answer my original question: why did the regime in Khartoum - along with with the US - after so many years of working together on shaping the north-south peace accords - both see fit to exclude western Sudan from the deal?

In other words, how come the Darfur rebels, chose March 2003 to take up arms in protest against being marginalised, after years of negotiations on the north-south deal? Why did the rebels not protest earlier? Why did the armed rebellion only come to the world's attention in April 2004. The north-south ceasefire agreement was signed in May 2004 and the peace accords were reaching their final phase. Why did the rebels not make their demands known at the negotiating table - why did they start an armed rebellion?

Seems (to me) there is more to the Darfur war than meets the eye. I can't forget seeing reports of oil being discovered in Darfur and near the Sudan-Chad-border, and that there may be plans afoot to lay a new oil pipeline in Darfur.

Back in May I came across news reports that explained what would happen after the peace accords were signed: the UN were to provide a small peacekeeping force in September 2004 to act as an advance party to monitor the peace. followed by, in late December 2004, a much larger UN peacekeeping force.

What I am saying is, ever since May, after 10,000 deaths in Darfur had been reported, and we started blogging about genocide in Sudan - nothing new has really happened that wasn't already on the cards back then. Why? 40,000 more deaths have been reported. 3 million deaths occurred in the Congo, a few million in Uganda. Why the focus on Darfur? Can anyone explain?

Recently Kofi Annan blamed the slow response to the humanitarian crisis in Darfur on donors. The Darfur war started 19 months ago. How much warning do the UN need?

USAID and the UN have since received large donations and further pledges of aid. African Union were recently quoted as saying they expect from the USA much more than the 200 million US dollars provided for the reconstruction of Nigeria (I need to check my facts) in return for providing 5,000 AU peacekeepers for Darfur.

The UN's peackeeping plan for the peace monitoring of Sudan was revealed back in May in readiness for when the north-south peace accord was signed. Who was set to pay for such a force? The US, I guess. So why was it never possible in the past five months for the plan to be brought forward and avoid 40,000 deaths, not to mention the sheer misery and suffering of hundreds of thousands other Sudanese.

Countries that are in talks with Khartoum seem to have a vested interest. Germany won a huge contract for building the new Sudan-Kenya railway. China is contracting Russia to help lay new oil pipelines in Sudan. India and Malaysia have struck new deals with Sudan. Huge contracts are up for grabs for the construction of Sudan, massive sums of money are poised to pour into Sudan from all over the world as soon as peace in Sudan is agreed.

Russia has arms contracts with Sudan. Sudan's ports are being developed. Roads are to be built. There's even talk of oil pipes leading to Libya. Why do the western media not report more in-depth reports?

The details are too long to go into here (I may try and write another post with links that back up what I am saying here) but the Darfur rebels, who must be supported by outside forces, started the rebellion in Darfur with the aim of over throwing or weakening the present regime in Khartoum. No other explanation makes sense. They have dragged out the Darfur peace talks, biding their time and imploring the West to impose sanctions, which are not in Sudan's best interest.

During Sudan's past conflicts, the rebels in the south-north war were backed and supported by outsider influences from within the international community (notably the US) why should the Darfur conflict be any different? Not long ago, I posted a report that described how US consultants were educating and training the rebels now in power in Southern Sudan how to set up and run political their party.

In the year following March 2003, Khartoum reacted heavily in an attempt to quell the armed rebellion in time for the peace accords to be signed. As soon as the deal is signed, Sudan stands to gain a great deal of development funding. Khartoum are holding on to Darfur at any cost for fear of losing control over oil revenues, pipeline developments, and power. Arab tribal leaders each lord it over certain areas of Sudan and don't take orders from or listen to Khartoum because they have no need. They rule their own patch through intimidation and benevolance, and Khartoum lets them get on with it.

The militias that are pro government rallied to quell the rebellion and were supported by Khartoum. Other bandits and outlaws got involved because that is how they make their living, from opportunism, banditry and looting.

So many civilians became victims of the war because the rebels were heavily integrated into the villages of Darfur. It became such a terrible and bloody war because the perpetrators of the atrocities had never heard of human rights or racism. Many it would seem held grudges and past grievances and wanted to drive the rebellion out so they could take over their land.

Hardly anything has ever changed in Sudan. The culture is alien compared to ours in the West. But even in the West has witnessed shocking atrocities, racism and human rights abuses, ie Nazis, Klu Klux Klan, native North American Indians and Aborigines in Australia, Northern Ireland, Bosnia, Kosovo - to name a few.

What is going on in Sudan is hugely complex with a long history. What has bothered me about Darfur, all along is: why the armed rebellion started when it did - so close to the peace accords being finalised. Who is funding, supporting and advising the Darfur rebels, where are their bases in Europe and Eritrea, who are they, how do they live and afford to jet to Paris, Germany, London, USA, Africa, etc.

Where do the Darfur rebels get their confidence? Why is the international community not applying pressure or levelling accusations of genocide at them when they keep walking out of the Darfur peace talks, and refuse to sign humanitarian agreements? Seems all sides are guilty of using innocent civilians as pawns.

The terrible war in Darfur could have been resolved a long time ago by the UN forcing the warring parties to stay at the negotiating table until an agreement was reached.

OK, any government will fight rebellions and refuse to give in to demands - but when it seems impossible for Khartoum to quell the rebellion, why was Khartoum not forced by the UN to declare a state of emergency?

Khartoum are guilty of holding on to power at all costs. Rebels are guilty of pursuing power at all costs. Both are responsible for the bloodbath and death of so many. There are so many gangs and tribes and different groups from within Sudan (and out) not to mention the Ugandan rebels responsible for horrific atrocities (how are they funded?) Fighting is a way of life for these people, it is all they know and is how they make their living.

When Kofi Annan and Colin Powell visited Khartoum 3 months ago, my understanding was that Colin Powell gave Khartoum an ultimatum of 90 days to provide umimpeded access for humanitarian assistance, and if it did not happen, Khartoum would be forced to accept the international community's offer of help. This Khartoum agreed to but on one condition: that the word genocide was dropped. My guess is that Colin Powell agreed to this, which explains why all press releases up until recently, stuck to using any word except genocide. Khartoum does not know whether to trust the US or not, which is why it ran around asking countries like Libya and Turkey to mediate. Surely Khartoum must suspect the US of being behind the Darfur rebels? Maybe the threat of a genocide enquiry forces Khartoum to have to deal with the US whether it likes it or not.

In the past weeks, as the 90 days neared towards October 1st, Colin Powell began using the word genocide as a stick - along with the promise of millions of US dollars as the carrot.

Louise Arbour's recent trip to Khartoum could have been to address the question as to what would happen to the regime in Khartoum if genocide was pursued in the international court. My feelings over the past few months have been that the only solution was to give assurances to Khartoum that they would not face prosecution and that it was better if they co-operated and worked at becoming a regime that everybody could do business with. Khartoum has two things going for it: oil and counter terrorism intelligence.

The reason for publishing the below report, along with a few others, is to see how it fits in with my theories. I can find no other credible reason why the Darfur peace talks have taken so long to conclude or why the rebels have the confidence to keep walking out of peace talks - and why the UN and international community is not coming down on the rebels as hard as they are on the regime in Khartoum.

It seems fishy to me that there is so little news about the rebels or the oil companies operating in Sudan, what is said in the Darfur peace talks, why pressure is not being levelled at the rebels to lay down arms and why it is OK for the rebels to hold up humanitarian agreements being signed. Three or four months ago, when the rebels were holed up in Darfur - they were actually stopping aid from getting in - the UN even ended up in negotiations with them. But the rebels were not criticised for causing suffering. And who are all these people, who can tell who is who - for all I know the rebels could pose as so-called Janjaweed or be wearing Sudanese army uniforms. Where are all the bodies - and where are the photographs. Yes there have been pictures of the refugees and scorched villages but no evidence of who actually carried out the atrocities.

Many of the civilians, as far as I can gather, are nomads that move from area to area depending on the weather. After the floods, greenery shoots up out of land that was parched. The rebels have satellite phones, trucks, petrol, arms -- who supplies all this stuff, where do they get their food and funds over the past 19 months? No report has ever explained these details. I shall now concentrate on unearthing even the most outlandish of reports to see if a picture emerges on who is all involved and where the support is coming from -- and, what are the motives of the ones providing support.
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September 17, 2004, report from the Socialist Worker, copied here in full, along with links to further reading.

LAST WEEK, the Bush administration was forced to admit that a genocide is taking place in western Sudan--carried out by a regime that the U.S. had hoped to bring into its camp. Stories of the horror committed against the African farming villages in Sudan’s Darfur region finally emerged in the U.S. media, but the U.S. government’s interest is anything but compassionate.

The finding of genocide is calculated to pressure the United Nations (UN) Security Council to threaten sanctions and force a UN inquiry that could lead to charges of war crimes. Council member China may block these actions, but plans, backed by the U.S., to enlarge an armed African Union force in Sudan will go forward.

DAVID WHITEHOUSE looks at the background to the crisis--and the cynical role played by the U.S.

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NINETEEN MONTHS of scorched-earth assaults--conducted by mounted Arab militias in concert with government planes and helicopters--have forced most of the African population in Sudan’s western Darfur region to flee. According to UN estimates, 50,000 people have been killed, and 1.4 million people have fled their homes--and now live in poorly supplied refugee camps.

At least 3,000 more fled new assaults in the past two weeks. But reports indicate that attacks have slowed down--because the objective of destroying most of the area’s African villages is already accomplished.

To discourage resettlement, the militias--known as "janjaweed"--have poisoned many of the arid region’s wells with animal carcasses and human corpses. Some of the janjaweed now haunt the fringes of the refugee camps and kill--or rape--those who stray outside. Others have been integrated into the Sudanese army or the "police" forces that patrol the camps.

U.S. officials have predicted that as many as 1 million more could die by the end of the year from hunger and disease if foreign assistance does not increase. The UN’s World Food Program reports that donors have so far provided less than half of the $194 million necessary for relief operations in 2004.

Although donors may boost their support for air drops of food to the camps--many of which are now isolated by seasonal rains--direct Western intervention is unlikely. One reason is that the Sudan government has warmed to the idea of an increased presence of African Union (AU) troops in Darfur--something that is favored by both European and U.S. officials.

Darfur, a region the size of Texas, currently has a token force of 300 AU soldiers, but a UN-AU plan calls for 3,000 more by the end of the year, plus 1,200 AU police. The janjaweed were estimated to number 20,000 in July.

The Sudan government launched its campaign of ethnic cleansing in early 2003 in response to a local insurgency by the Sudanese Liberation Army (SLA) and the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM). The rebels, mostly Islamic farmers who identify themselves as African, demanded an end to government neglect of the region, President Umar al-Bashir’s campaign to "Arabize" local administration and his backing of the earliest janjaweed raids.

The janjaweed are drawn from nomadic livestock herders--also Muslims--who consider themselves Arabs. Conflicts between farmers and herders over land and water have sharpened since the late 1960s when prolonged drought caused the Sahara Desert to expand.

The government exploited these conflicts and subcontracted to the janjaweed the work of combating the insurgency--allowing them in return to keep what they can loot. The central government perfected this method--of swallowing up an anti-government insurgency with a local ethnic slaughter--in two decades of war in the country’s south against the Sudanese People’s Liberation Army (SPLA).

Under pressure from the U.S., the SPLA and Bashir reached an agreement in May to share power and the south’s oil wealth. Washington hoped the arrangement in the south would show that Bush’s "war on terror" had brought peace--and would allow U.S. oil companies back into Sudan. But the Darfur crisis has forced Bush to distance himself again from the Bashir regime.

So the U.S. is looking for ways to convert the indigenous rebel groups into proxies of the West. There’s already a connection. From its inception last year, the SLA has received support from Chad, a U.S. client. This assistance is part of a decades-old practice of the region’s governments to back insurgencies of ethnic or political allies against neighboring states.

And there’s another connection. The SLA’s strikes against government outposts in 2003 are widely seen to have been inspired by the headway made by the rebels of southern Sudan, the SPLA, thanks to U.S. backing. This open support followed quiet, privatized support from U.S. Christian evangelicals who backed the Christian and animist fighters of the SPLA against the Islamists of the central government.

As Darfur’s Africans teeter on the brink of catastrophe, the SLA and JEM have taken a hard line in negotiations with the government--clearly emboldened by the idea that the U.S. stands behind them. But the more deeply the U.S. gets involved, the more the rebels will become pawns in the U.S. game for regional influence.

And to some extent, the SLA and JEM may already be sucked up into the ethnic war. Although they took up arms to press real grievances, reports from Al Jazeera and The Economist in August alleged that the rebels themselves began to engage in ethnic cleansing.

Even military intervention by the African Union is not neutral. Its most prominent backer is the regime of Nigerian military strongman Olusegun Obasanjo, who wants to curry favor with the U.S. and elevate Nigeria as a reliable "sub-imperial" power. Any sizable intervention would depend on the U.S. for equipment and arms, so the AU’s efforts will represent an indirect form of Western intervention--the path that Bush may prefer as the U.S. seeks to develop African proxies for future use.

While U.S. troops--and credibility--are tied up in Afghanistan and Iraq, Bush may settle for a long-term siege of Sudan, through UN pressure and AU troops. Secretary of State Colin Powell spoke last week of divisions within the Bashir regime between hardliners and moderates--the administration’s way of saying that they hope for a coup by elements friendly to the U.S.

U.S. puts oil profits first

U.S. RELATIONS with Sudan have shifted sharply more than once in the past 20 years, but not out of concern for the welfare of ordinary Sudanese. Whichever party held the White House, the key question was always how the U.S. could gain advantage over its geopolitical rivals--especially in exploiting the region’s oil wealth.

U.S. oil giant Chevron discovered major oil deposits in southern Sudan in 1979-80. Within three years, the Sudanese government unleashed a genocidal war against Christians and animists in the south--clearing villagers out of the oilfields so that Western oil companies could set up shop in "uninhabited" territories.

The U.S. maintained close relations with the government through this period, even as Sudan’s army and its local Islamic proxy militias began enslaving thousands of southern women and children. At the same time, Sudan further cemented its connection to the U.S. by backing Eritrea’s struggle for independence from Ethiopia--a cause that the U.S. suddenly embraced when Ethiopia aligned itself with Washington’s Cold War rival, the former USSR, in the late 1970s.

Under Jimmy Carter, Sudan became the sixth biggest recipient of U.S. military aid by 1980. But as the Cold War came to an end a decade later--and the Sudanese civil war disrupted Western access to the oilfields--the U.S. began to lose interest.

In 1991, George Bush Sr. made a full reversal of support when Sudan opposed his war against Iraq. He withdrew U.S. food aid to Sudan in the middle of a famine.

Under Bill Clinton, two developments drove the U.S. toward an even sharper confrontation with Sudan. One was a campaign of Christian fundamentalists--including in George W. Bush’s hometown of Midlands, Texas--to pressure Clinton to support the southern rebels. The other was Sudan’s harboring of forces hostile to the U.S., including Osama bin Laden, who lived in the country from 1991 to 1996.

Following the 1998 bombings of U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania, Clinton "retaliated" with a cruise missile attack on targets supposedly associated with bin Laden’s al-Qaeda network. The assault destroyed Sudan’s al-Shifa pharmaceutical plant, which produced half of Sudan’s medicines and all of its chloroquine, a malaria medicine.

Clinton claimed--falsely, as the administration admitted a year later--that the factory was producing chemical weapons for al-Qaeda. But in 2000, Clinton’s last year as president, President Bashir began to cooperate in rooting out the most militant anti-American Islamist groups in the country--setting the stage for Bush Jr. to attempt a re-reversal of policy.

George W. Bush sought "constructive engagement" with Bashir, especially because trade sanctions that date from the Clinton years have cut U.S. companies out of the reviving oil business. Sudan’s reserves could produce oil at half the rate of Kuwait if fully developed.

While the U.S. was disengaged, Malaysia, India and China--the U.S.’s looming new geopolitical rival--made oil connections to Sudan. China has even become Sudan’s top foreign investor and controls the oil concession in southern Darfur.

Bush pressured the Christian-animist rebels in the south to negotiate with the government. As talks progressed toward the May power-sharing deal--after 2 million civilian deaths since 1983--Bush hoped that the new war in Darfur would just go away.

To sweeten the deal, Bush promised to take Sudan off the list of "states that sponsor terror"--just when the atrocities in Darfur grabbed the world’s attention. So no one should believe the latest twists and turns in the U.S. relationship with Sudan have anything to do with concern for the Sudanese people.

Further reading:

Sudan peace agreement paves way for increased oil production by Brian Smith dated 16 January 2004.

Aid Groups Foresee Prolonged War by Gunnar Willum and Bjørn Willum US Plan to Feed Sudan Rebels Rapped

Sept 30 AP Wire - Chad Denies Supporting Rebellion in Sudan

Sep 30 Reuters - Sudan says U.S. armed Darfur rebels - Egypt paper

Sep 30 BBC - Who are Sudan's Darfur rebels?

Sep 30 report - Ugandan army captures LRA leader's son

Sep 30 - Al Bashir: U.S. arms Darfur rebels

Sept 30 Middle East Online - Beshir accuses US of supporting Darfur rebels
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Update on Monday October 4 - copy of report by Peter Beaumont in The Observer October 3, 2004

US 'hyping' Darfur genocide fears

American warnings that Darfur is heading for an apocalyptic humanitarian catastrophe have been widely exaggerated by administration officials, it is alleged by international aid workers in Sudan. Washington's desire for a regime change in Khartoum has biased their reports, it is claimed.

The government's aid agency, USAID, says that between 350,000 and a million people could die in Darfur by the end of the year. Other officials, including Secretary of State Colin Powell, have accused the Sudanese government of presiding over a 'genocide' that could rival those in Bosnia and Rwanda.

But the account has been comprehensively challenged by eyewitness reports from aid workers and by a new food survey of the region. The nutritional survey of Sudan's Darfur region, by the UN World Food Programme, says that although there are still high levels of malnutrition among under-fives in some areas, the crisis is being brought under control.

'It's not disastrous,' said one of those involved in the WFP survey, 'although it certainly was a disaster earlier this year, and if humanitarian assistance declines, this will have very serious negative consequences.'

The UN report appears to confirm food surveys conducted by other agencies in Darfur which also stand in stark contrast to the dire US descriptions of the food crisis.

The most dramatic came from Andrew Natsios, head of USAID, who told UN officials: 'We estimate right now, if we get relief in we'll lose a third of a million people and, if we don't, the death rates could be dramatically higher, approaching a million people.'

A month later, a second senior official, Roger Winter, USAID's assistant administrator, briefed foreign journalists in Washington that an estimated 30,000 people had been killed during the on-going crisis in Darfur, with another 50,000 deaths from malnutrition and disease, largely among the huge populations fleeing the violence. He described the emergency as 'humanitarian disaster of the first magnitude'.

By 9 September Powell was in front of the Congressional Foreign Relations Committee accusing Sudan of 'genocide', a charge rejected by officials of both the European and African Unions and also privately by British officials.

'I've been to a number of camps during my time here,' said one aid worker, 'and if you want to find death, you have to go looking for it. It's easy to find very sick and under-nourished children at the therapeutic feeding centres, but that's the same wherever you go in Africa.'

Another aid worker told The Observer : 'It suited various governments to talk it all up, but they don't seem to have thought about the consequences. I have no idea what Colin Powell's game is, but to call it genocide and then effectively say, "Oh, shucks, but we are not going to do anything about that genocide" undermines the very word "genocide".'

While none of the aid workers and officials interviewed by The Observer denied there was a crisis in Darfur - or that killings, rape and a large-scale displacement of population had taken place - many were puzzled that it had become the focus of such hyperbolic warnings when there were crises of similar magnitude in both northern Uganda and eastern Congo.

Concern about USAID's role as an honest broker in Darfur have been mounting for months, with diplomats as well as aid workers puzzled over its pronouncements and one European diplomat accusing it of 'plucking figures from the air'.

Under the Bush administration, the work of USAID has become increasingly politicised. But over Sudan, in particular, two of its most senior officials have long held strong personal views. Both Natsios, a former vice-president of the Christian charity World Vision, and Winter have long been hostile to the Sudanese government.,14658,1318643,00.html

Monday, September 27, 2004

Sudan okays more Darfur observers - Canada offers to train African troops

Sudan has told the African Union (AU) and United Nations it would welcome a proposed increase in the African military force protecting AU observers monitoring a ceasefire agreement in Darfur, a newspaper reported today (Monday).

Agriculture Minister Majzoub al-Khalia Ahmed was quoted by Al-Rai Al-Aam daily as saying the government had sent official messages to the two organisations giving its consent to more African troops.

Details would be discussed with the AU, said Ahmed, who is Sudan's chief delegate to stalled negotiations with Darfur rebels.
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Sudanese president says opposition party can stand if leader denounced

President Omar el-Bashir vowed yesterday (Sunday) to allow the opposition Popular Congress Party, which he accuses in a failed coup attempt, to resume its full political activities if it denounces and isolates its leader, Hassan Turabi.

"They, and we, all know this work has been masterminded by Turabi," he told leaders of trade unions and other popular organisations. "Let them (party members) come out, denounce Hassan Turabi and isolate him from the party and then we are ready to allow the Popular Congress to resume its full political activities."

The party's newspaper will be allowed to resume publication and the party's offices can open again if the party denounces Turabi, he said. Both were shut down in April.
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UN braces for influx of Darfur refugees as dry season ends

U.N. aid workers are readying themselves for an influx of refugees from Darfur into Chad as people in the western Sudan region take advantage of the end of the rainy season.

Refugees say they are fleeing strikes by Sudanese planes followed by raids by pro-government militiamen on camels and horses.

The UN refugee agency has contingency plans for the arrival of up to 70,000 more refugees in Chad before the end of the year and another 100,000 in 2005.
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Refugees tired of sitting around for twelve years

Excerpt from a South African news report today, entitled 'Darfur refugees, no more hope':

"Now, 12 years later, the Sudanese in Kakuma are desperately tired of war. Although peace talks have been going on since 2002 and a landmark agreement signed in Kenya in May, the outcome is still uncertain.

The Kenyan mediator, Lazarus Sumbeiywo, told dpa this week that "the situation is delicate", adding that he believes the Darfur situation has put the talks "quite far back". Asked if the good intentions of both parties could be trusted when talks resume in Kenya on October 7, Sumbeiywo could only answer with a forceful "No!""
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The United Nations' top envoy for Sudan, Jan Pronk, is to brief the U.N. Security Council later this week as it considers what action to take against Khartoum, that may include calling for an investigation into charges of genocide in Darfur, and possible sanctions against its oil industry unless it protect the region's population.

On Saturday Mr Pronk called for a large and swift deployment of African Union peacekeepers with a mandate to protect civilians and monitor Sudanese security forces on the ground in Darfur. "We need many thousands of African Union troops with a broad mandate, quick deployment, big numbers," he said Saturday evening.

In the interview on Saturday he said Sudanese government officials had most recently told him they were willing to accept a larger but unspecified number of African Union troops with greater responsibilities, also unspecified.

"I need a positive reaction to my proposal," he said, adding that 5,000 would be the minimum number of troops required for patrolling Darfur, an area as large as France. "Of course it is slow, but pressure works."
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Canada offers to train African troops

Canada will help train African troops to try to stop the Darfur crisis, Prime Minister Paul Martin said yesterday. The African Union has been told Canada stands ready “to help train those troops” and provide military equipment such as flak jackets,

Mr. Martin did not say where this training might occur, nor how many veteran Canadian peacekeepers might be available to do it. Discussions with the African Union along these lines “are in an exploratory phase,” said Melanie Gruer, Mr. Martin's press secretary.

Mr. Martin made the offer last week when he met AU leaders at the UN, but “nothing has been fleshed out at this point,” Ms. Gruer said.

Despite his frustrations with UN decision making, Mr. Martin said the world body's approval is essential for military interventions. “We don't want unilateral action by one country alone.”

Darfur misery has complex roots - the political arguments and suffering of the people are set to continue

Reporting from the Chad-Sudan border, BBC World Affairs correspondent Mark Doyle describes the border region between Chad and Sudan as being one of the harshest and most remote environments on earth.

"There is no ideal place to have a refugee crisis but as locations go this is surely among the worst," he says.

According to his latest report, "Darfur misery has complex roots", the politics of the crisis show how difficult the situation will be to resolve - the political arguments, and the suffering of the people of the border area, are set to continue.

Seems the Governor of West Darfur, Sulieman Abdala Adan, said the most serious problems were not generated by the SLA but by a second rebel movement, the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM). It was the JEM, Governor Adan said, who had sabotaged all of the attempts at brokering peace. He accused the JEM of being the "military wing" of the Popular Congress, the opposition movement that was over the weekend accused by the government of mounting a coup attempt in Khartoum.

In a BBC radio interview, UN refugee chief Mr Lubbers, floated the idea of limited autonomy for the Darfur region within the framework of a sovereign Sudanese state. Some Sudanese officials cautiously welcomed the idea in public. But in private other senior figures were said to be extremely irritated by Mr Lubbers' intervention, saying it was not his role to make such controversial political suggestions.

UK cancelling poor nations' debt

Labour Party Conference in Brighton started yesterday. Bono will be speaking at some point.

Today, the UK announced it will write off its share of debts owed by the world's poorest countries to the World Bank. The move will put pressure on other major creditors such as the US, Japan and Germany to follow suit at meetings of the IMF and World Bank later this week.

France and Canada are already understood to be planning similar announcements. Full Story

Sunday, September 26, 2004

UN attacks Darfur 'fear and rape' and finds Government of Sudan as a whole in denial about the scale and severity of the problem

The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights has said more than a million people displaced by the Darfur conflict are living in a "climate of fear".

Louise Arbour, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, described refugee camps as "prisons without walls" and said more than a million people displaced by the Darfur conflict are living in a "climate of fear" and Sudan was "in denial" about the extent of rape in and around them.

Aid workers in Darfur have said women have been raped or attacked when they have left the camps to hunt for firewood.

While the authorities have admitted there is some rape, they have said the problem is not widespread, accusing the women exaggerating their stories.

"I think the government as a whole is in denial about the scale and the severity of the problem," Ms Arbour said. She said refugees could not envisage going home because they did not trust the authorities to protect them.

Her comments came at the end of a week-long visit to the remote region. More later.
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Arabs are ‘not responsible for atrocities’
This morning, American blogger Mike Pechar of Interested-Participant emailed me a link to a report that says the Western media is deceiving the world into thinking that the Arabs are responsible for the atrocities in Darfur, according to Obeid Hasbullah Dico, a former member of the West Darfur parliament (pictured below).

Mike felt compelled to pass the report on and post a response. Thanks Mike. It's always good to hear from readers and see what they are saying about conflicting reports.

Here below is a photo from the report.


Arab tribal leaders (from left) Ramadhan Daju Hassan, Mohammed Idris Maghrib and former member of parliament Obeid Habullah Dico calling for peace in West Darfur, Sudan.

Tuesday, September 21, 2004

UN International Day of Peace and 59th General Assembly - UN officials are now in Darfur assessing what should be done

Today is the United Nation's International Day of Peace. It's estimated that armed conflict claims two lives every minute and the UN is calling for a global ceasefire for the whole day. The day is aimed at promoting non-violence, not just in war zones but on the street and in people's homes.

Also on this day, US President George W Bush and more than 100 heads of state and government - along with many foreign ministers - are gathering in New York for a two-week long debate at the UN's 59th General Assembly. The debate is expected to address a wide range of issues, including Darfur. There could be pleas for the international community to provide more funding to help the humanitarian effort.

The reform of the Security Council is a key issue for some members who do not have one of the five permanent seats. A meeting is planned between Japan, India, Brazil and Germany, who all want permanent seats. However a high level panel which is discussing UN reform will only make its recommendations in December.

The resolutions passed by the General Assembly do not have any legal force, but they do have moral authority. Analysts say it is more a forum for debate than a forum for action.


On Darfur, here is the latest news report from the UN:

Two senior United Nations human rights officials have arrived in Darfur to examine how to shield beleaguered civilians there from further militia attacks.

High Commissioner for Human Rights Louise Arbour and the Secretary-General's Special Adviser on the Prevention of Genocide, Juan Méndez, visited camps for internally displaced persons (IDPs) and talked to African Union (AU) monitors in North Darfur, UN spokesman Fred Eckhard told reporters.

Mrs. Arbour and Mr. Méndez, who arrived in the Sudanese capital Khartoum over the weekend, will travel to South Darfur state today (Tuesday) before heading on to West Darfur and eventually returning to Khartoum.

The two officials have been dispatched by Secretary-General Kofi Annan to study the latest developments in Darfur and recommend what should be done to protect the inhabitants there from more attacks by the Janjaweed militias.

Before their departure, Ms. Arbour pledged to look into what more can be done to ensure that the people of Darfur "no longer have to fear massacres, rape, forced displacement and other abuses."

Genocide inquiry:

In dispatching the officials last week, Mr. Annan stressed they are not determining whether or not genocide has taken place.

That question will be addressed by a commission of inquiry which the Security Council, in a resolution adopted on Saturday, said the Secretary-General should establish.

UN Security Council will consider sanctions:

The resolution also stated the Council will consider imposing sanctions against Khartoum if the Sudanese Government does not cooperate with earlier resolutions to disarm the Janjaweed and protect the civilians, and if Khartoum does not agree to an expanded force of AU monitors.

AU/UN meeting this week re monitoring force:

AU officials and their counterparts in the UN's Department of Peacekeeping Operations are meeting this week in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, to discuss strengthening the monitoring force.

Jan Pronk meeting this week with AU and officials:

That subject will also be on the agenda when Jan Pronk, the Secretary-General's Special Representative for Sudan, visits Addis Ababa and the Eritrean capital of Asmara this week for talks with AU officials and representatives of the two countries.

Mr. Pronk is also expected to discuss the peace talks taking place in Abuja, Nigeria, between the Sudanese Government and Darfur's two rebel groups.

Jan Pronk 5th meeting with JIM re joint Khartoum/UN pledges in June 2004:

On Friday Mr. Pronk attended the fifth meeting of the Joint Implementation Mechanism (JIM), the body set up in July to make sure Khartoum and UN meet the pledges made in a joint communiqué.

In that document, signed at the end of Secretary-General Kofi Annan's trip to the country, Khartoum promised to try to disarm the Janjaweed, who stand accused of killing and raping villagers and destroying their homes and cropland.

Militia attacks and the fighting between government forces and rebel groups has forced some 1.2 million Sudanese to flee within the country, and another 200,000 to cross the border and take shelter as refugees in Chad.

Mr. Eckhard said the expansion of the AU force and Khartoum's failure to end the impunity of many of the Janjaweed leaders were among the topics covered during the JIM meeting.

Further reading:

United Nations Day is celebrated on 24 October each year. World military expenditures – some $800 billion a year – would pay for the entire UN system for more than 65 years. Read more in About the United Nations - Introduction to the structure & work of the UN - and Questions and Answers... Image and Reality ...about the UN
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Update: 'Killers' are guarding Sudan refugees

Breaking news from the BBC: refugees in different camps in North Darfur have told UN rights official Louise Arbour that 'Killers' are guarding Sudan refugees. The militiamen have been recycled into Sudan's police force, she said.

"They claim to see former Janjaweed... recycled into the police," Ms Arbour told the BBC's Today programme. "There is a widespread belief they are being protected by their very oppressors."
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Other news:

African Union urges Sudan to cooperate with monitors in Darfur


Addis Ababa, Ethiopia - Without admitting that its monitors in Darfur were facing hostility from the Sudanese regime, the African Union has urged Khartoum to let its mission act more effectively in the violence-torn region.

In a communiqué issued at the end of its 16th meeting, the AU Peace and Security Council (PSC) demands full cooperation of the regime with the AU Mission in the Sudan (AMIS).

Reiterating the need for the AU to continue playing a lead role in searching for a solution to the Darfur conflict, the Council has expressed appreciation for the support given by the UN.
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Sudan MPs urge UN to put pressure on Darfur rebels

Khartoum, Sudan - UN should pressure rebels fighting the Sudanese government to rejoin peace talks on the conflict in Darfur rather than threaten Khartoum with sanctions, Sudanese parliamentarians said on Tuesday.

Members of Sudan's national assembly said the international community was putting too much pressure on the government side and not enough on the rebels, an approach they said led to the collapse last week of peace talks between the two sides.

"It is better for the international community to help to push both sides to sit down again for negotiations because if there is still war then it is difficult for them to sit down with each other," said William Othwonh Awer, chairman of the federal relations committee.
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Massacre looming in Darfur: Dallaire

Montreal, Canada - Sudan might ignite like Rwanda, says ex-peacekeeper. Canada should demand a military force be sent to Darfur before the situation escalates into a Rwanda-like massacre, Lt.-Gen. Roméo Dallaire said yesterday.

"What should be done is an outright intervention," says Dallaire. He said, "When I compare it to Rwanda, there are so many similarities it makes you sick."

"Khartoum", he said, "is getting away with slaughter and genocide, while the world reacts, much as it did then, with embargos and restrictions. What is required is outright intervention under the premise of the Responsibility to Protect."

He was referring to a 2001 UN report that states three criteria for intervention in a nation-state's internal affairs: war crimes, crimes against humanity or genocide.

Dallaire believes the UN should organize a force, led by African Union and Arab League forces with logistical support from middle-power countries like Canada and the Netherlands, to apprehend those responsible, and protect aid workers and displaced persons. "It's not (to be done) by the big powers, because the Islamic dimension is not negligible," he said.

Also today, Canadian Prime Minister Paul Martin, in his first speech to the UN General Assembly, is expected to urge developed nations to support an African peacekeeping force for the area.

Canada has agreed to Sudan's request to post an ambassador — the first in more than 10 years — to Ottawa. Dr. Faiza Taha's posting becomes official sometime next month.
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Romeo Dallaire


Gen. Romeo Dallaire former head of the UN Peacekeeping Force, witnessed unspeakable horrors in Rwanda, as extremist Hutus massacred over 800,000 Tutsis and Hutus in the space of a few days in 1994. 

Dallaire did everything he could, pleading for 2000 more peacekeepers to be added to his insufficiently equipped 3000 man force. If they had answered his pleas, the UN could have stopped the slaughter of hundreds of thousands of Rwandans. 

Instead, following the deaths of 10 Belgian Peacekeepers assigned to protect the President, his forces were cut down from 3000 to a mere 500 men, who had to watch as one of the most horrible genocides in human history took place before their very eyes. 

Dallaire, frustrated, and disheartened by the UN's passive attitude, nonetheless stood for his beliefs, repeatedly confronting his superiors who did nothing to prevent the horrific events from unfolding. 

In 2002, he was honoured as the first recipient of the Aegis Trust Award. He is now working on the problem of war-affected children, and has visited countries where children are used as soldiers or are being sold into sexual slavery.
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Malaysia is closely monitoring the Darfur crisis

Kuala Lumpur - Foreign Minister Datuk Seri Syed Hamid Albar said Malaysia is closely monitoring the Darfur crisis and the UN Security Council’s threat to impose sanctions on Sudan’s vital oil industry. 

Syed Hamid, who was leaving for New York to attend the general assembly tomorrow, hoped the Darfur crisis would be discussed by the Organisation of Islamic conferences and the Non-Aligned Movement foreign ministers in New York. 

He said Sudan had no choice but to agree to abide by a UN resolution calling on it to restore security to Darfur or face possible sanctions.

NAM member countries represent many shades of political opinion
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Interviews with Sudanese refugees in Chad

Mosbat, Sudan - Policies, economics turned Muslims against Muslims in Darfur, Sudan by Sudarsan Raghavan, Knight Ridder Newspapers. Excerpt:

Jan Pfundheller, a retired police officer from Brewster, Washington, interviewed Sudanese refugees in Chad for a State Department survey that Secretary of State Colin Powell relied on to conclude that genocide is taking place in Darfur.

This is some of what she heard:

Nineteen men were killed while praying in a mosque.

An imam and his son were raped with sticks.

Then, there was the imam and a tribal sheik who were tied and forced onto their knees before a high-ranking uniformed Sudanese officer with two stars on his epaulet. He ordered them to reveal where the rebels were hiding. They replied they were only religious leaders and didn't know. So the officer ordered Janjaweed militiamen to pile straw around the pair and burned them alive.

Mosques tend to be places where men gather to pray and discuss communal matters, so killing imams wipes out leaders who wield great influence and who teach the youth their history and culture.

"They had this idea the blacks or the so-called slaves cannot be equal to their masters, even in terms of religion," said Bahar Ibrahim, a senior adviser to the rebels. "So if it is a slave mosque they can always destroy it."

Today, Mohamed's mosque is his tent. He no longer teaches the Quran to youth.

Dagne, the Africa expert, said the intent of the attacks was to "humiliate and dehumanize African Muslims ... to the point they don't exist as a cohesive community."

He added: "This is all about political survival and the methods they use is more vicious than any other regime in Africa."

This was not always the case. Darfur embraced Islam in the early 1800s, and Arabs and black Africans lived mostly in religious harmony through Darfur's days as an independent sultanate, then during British colonial rule and after independence in 1956.

Mohamed, sitting inside his tent, remembers better days over cups of sweet tea. Whenever Arab traders and nomads passed through the area, they would pray at his mosque and give donations. Sometimes, visiting Arab clerics would give sermons.

Mohamed said he was friends with the father of Musa Hilal and had been a guest at his house. The United States now accuses Hilal of being a senior Arab Janjaweed leader who's committed war crimes.

"There was no animosity between us," said Mohamed. "We had good relationships with Khartoum."

That changed in the 1980s. Successive Arab governments, in a divide-and-rule plan to maintain power, manipulated rivalries between Arab nomads and black African farmers, polarizing them racially.

The regime combined this with a policy of discrimination and neglect of Africans, while arming Arab tribes against them. The emergence of a shadowy alliance called the Arab Gathering, which professed the supremacy of the Arab race, further shattered Islam's unifying role.

Generations of intermarriage, which made Arabs and Africans nearly physically indistinguishable, were ignored. Soon, being of Arab lineage - determined by one's father's ethnicity - took precedence over being Muslim.

Arabs stopped visiting Mohamed's mosque and began to challenge the devotion of black Africans to Islam. "Now, in the days of this government, they look at us like animals," he said.
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Findings of Amnesty International's mission to Sudan

London - The picture in Darfur is one of distress, denial and disappointment - distress of people whose lives and livelihood have been destroyed, denial of responsibility by the Sudanese government and disappointment at the slow progress to resolve this crisis, concluded Amnesty International, the first international non-governmental human rights organisation to officially visit Sudan since the Darfur crisis began.

Monday, September 20, 2004

Darfur and Genocide – Does the West really care?


Darfur and Genocide – Does the West really care? is a pretty good report that provides an alternative viewpoint and raises some interesting points. The author is not named and the report is undated. Seems it was uploaded at on September 19, 2004, and the source of the report is given as KCom Journal.

[Possibly, I found the report over at Patrick's Horn of Africa. If so, thanks Patrick - I'll visit your blog and insert link here.]

AU soldiers in Sudan blow the whistle - situation is "falling apart" in Darfur

A must-read report from today's Scotsman "Darfur troops blow the whistle", written by Fred Bridgland in Johannesburg, is copied here in full:

AFRICAN Union soldiers yesterday accused the Sudanese government of brazenly breaching the ceasefire in the Darfur region and continuing to attack villages with a contemptuous disregard for the presence of peace monitors.

AU peacekeepers claim the situation is "falling apart" in Darfur, with the Sudanese not complying with the ceasefire demands.

Their allegations come after the UN Security Council on Saturday approved a resolution threatening oil sanctions against Sudan if the government fails to rein in the Arab Janjaweed militias blamed for killing tens of thousands of black Africans in Darfur.

AU soldiers in Darfur leaked the contents of classified reports sent to the union’s Addis Ababa headquarters, after their superiors refused to publish them. They paint a damning picture of the Sudanese government’s contempt for peacekeeping.

"They [the government] are not acting in good faith," says the AU’s mission chief, Ghana’s Colonel Anthony Amedoh. "Everything is falling apart. There are so many clear violations by the Sudanese government. They’re using aircraft where they’re not supposed to and they’re moving their forces all the time. They are not complying at all, but we can’t stop them from violating the ceasefire, we can just report it. They just deny it and don’t stop what they are doing."

The African commanders say the Sudan government is treating them like fools while its army, acting in close alliance with the Janjaweed militias, continues its ethnic cleansing of the Fur, Zaghawa, Masalit and other black African tribes.

Colonel Barry Steyn, commander of the small South African force with the AU mission, says he counts bodies of Sudan army and Janjaweed victims each week and sends classified reports to Addis Ababa. Describing maggot-infested decomposing skulls, he says: "You believe there’s an inherent goodness in people, but you see some of these villages and it shakes that belief. You look at this stuff and it makes you turn dead white."

Saturday’s Security Council vote was carried 11-0 with four abstentions - China, Russia, Pakistan and Algeria. China, a permanent council member with veto power and huge oil interests in Sudan, said immediately after the vote that it would veto any future resolution that sought to impose sanctions on Sudan. "I told the American government that the position of my government on sanctions is a firm one," said China’s UN ambassador, Wang Guangya. "We always believe that sanctions are not a helpful means to achieve political objectives. It will only make matters worse."

The resolution says the council would have to meet again to consider sanctions against Sudan’s petroleum sector or other punitive measures if the Khartoum government does not act quickly to stop the violence and bring the perpetrators to justice - or if it fails to co-operate with the 480-strong AU monitoring force. The council also ordered an investigation into whether the attacks constituted genocide. A declaration of genocide would oblige the UN to intervene militarily under the Convention on Prevention of Genocide.

The AU commanders decided to break silence and talk freely to visiting South African reporters because of the futility of their task and the AU’s refusal to publish what is really happening in Darfur.

"They [the Sudan Army] say there’s a fuel problem when they want to keep us on the ground," says Major Gordon Schmidt, a South African communications officer. "They don’t want us to take off because they don’t want us to see. It’s a big violation."

Schmidt was speaking as a Sudan army strike helicopter carrying 30 heavily armed soldiers took off on an attack mission from the Darfur town of Nyala. AU monitoring troops from Ghana, Nigeria, Rwanda, South Africa, Senegal and Egypt were ready to follow in their own choppers. But they are dependent on the Sudan army for fuel and, as flight crew stood ready, an AU soldier reported back: "The Sudanese say there is no fuel." By the time fuel arrived, the Sudanese attack was over. AU commanders and their troops watched from their tents and land cruisers as Sudanese officials welcomed back the attack force with smiles, hugs and multiple signing of forms.

"These people are not truthful, we’re always fighting about these fuel issues," says Sergeant William Molokwane of the South African Defence Force. "We are supposed to know about these movements - troops moving out of the city, attack helicopters flying in and out of the airport. They will only tell us, ‘we are testing them’."

As Sgt Molokwane sighs with frustration, a Nigerian soldier comes in from patrol and tells his commander, Colonel Negabi : "We caught them fighting together red-handed." He said Sudan soldiers and Janjaweed militiamen were jointly attacking civilians in a large refugee camp.

Sgt Molokwane is distraught. "Aside from our small protection force [of 120 Rwandan soldiers] there are absolutely no arms here," he says. "If something happens now, what can we do?"
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Darfur clashes block access to refugees

Today (Mon Sep 20) Reuters reports clashes between Sudanese army and the rebels are hindering aid agencies trying to assess the needs of some of the more than one million displaced people there, the United Nations says. Here is the report, in full:

Due to clashes ... an interagency team was not able to commence assessment of villages in Tawilla rural areas," it said, adding the fighting was in North Darfur state, about 70 km (45 miles) west of the capital El-Fasher.

The U.N. said it received similar reports of fighting in Ailliet, about 250 km (150 miles) southeast of the capital.

A U.N. Security Council resolution passed on Saturday threatens economic sanctions on Khartoum if it does not stop violence in Darfur, which Washington has termed genocide. The U.N. says fighting has displaced 1.5 million people, with more than 200,000 refugees in neighbouring Chad, in one of the world's worst humanitarian crises.

African Union monitors say they have confirmed 20 violations in the past two months of an April ceasefire. They say the violations were from all sides.

The U.N. report said the biggest cause of death in the Darfur camps was diarrhoea, but that a confirmed case of meningitis in Mornei camp was causing concern. An outbreak of Hepatitis E, a water-borne disease, was being brought under control, it added.

Banditry on roads in South Darfur state was a problem, the U.N. said. A lorry carrying World Food Programme (WFP) commodities was attacked on September 16.

A WFP spokesman has said the bandits appeared to be random looters, with some dressed in ragged parts of Sudanese army uniform and others in civilian clothing.

After years of low-level conflict between Arab nomads and African farmers, rebels launched a revolt last year accusing the government of supporting Arab militias, known as Janjweed, to loot and burn African villages.

Khartoum admits arming some militias to fight the rebels, but denies any links to the Janjaweed, calling them bandits.
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Sudan 'Not Afraid of UN Darfur Sanctions'

Report from today's (Mon Sep 20) Scotsman says Sudan is not afraid of a US-backed UN resolution threatening sanctions over the violence in Darfur, President Omar el-Bashir has been quoted as saying.

“We are afraid neither of the UN nor of its resolution,” state-run television quoted el-Bashir as telling a meeting of local political leaders yesterday in Khartoum. The report did not elaborate.

El-Bashir’s remarks came as Louise Arbour, the UN high commissioner for human rights, arrived in Khartoum in preparation for a trip to the western Darfur region to look into the humanitarian situation.

Western governments and international aid agencies maintain that government-backed militias burned and looted villages and raped or killed many inhabitants. The US has said genocide was being carried out.

Arbour met with Justice Minister Ali Osman Mohamed Yassin, who said his government was ready to assist her but that ”there is no genocide or cases of rape” in Darfur. The government has denied supporting the militiamen and rejected characterisation of genocide.

Sudan’s parliament speaker, Ahmed Ibrahim Tahir, was quoted by the official Sudan Media Centre as making similarly defiant remarks during a meeting of tribal leaders in Darfur.

“If Iraq has opened one gate to hell for the West, we are going to open seven gates,” Tahir was quoted as saying.

Such a UN resolution, according to a Sudanese Foreign Ministry official, will only make it harder for the government to calm an insurrection in the region.

But despite his criticism, Mutrif Sideeq indicated that his government would try to comply with the resolution meant to push it to rein in ethnic Arab militias accused of killing ethnic African villagers and creating an even deadlier humanitarian crisis.

The government is accused of backing the Arab militia as a strategy against rebels based among Darfur’s African tribespeople.

Meanwhile, a prominent Sudanese opposition member announced on national television last night that he was quitting his political party because it was clear to him it was behind a coup attempt.

Mohamed al-Hassan al-Amin, deputy chairman of the Popular Congress Party and head of its legal department, was a close aid to the party’s detained leader and ideologue, Hassan Turabi.

He accused unspecified elements within the party of plotting to use armed force without the consent of the party apparatus to spread chaos and overthrow the government of President Omar el-Bashir.

On September 8, police arrested more than 30 members of the party in relation to an alleged coup plot. Turabi has been in detention since earlier this year after police rounded up party members following another alleged coup plot. Members of his party have denied any involvement in the alleged coup attempts.
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Britain stands with China in opposing Sudan sanction

According to the China Daily news today (Mon Sep 20) Britain stands with China in opposing Sudan sanction:

"Britain opposes sanctions against Sudan amid the Darfur crisis, said British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw during a telephone talk with Chinese Foreign Minister Li Zhaoxing, on Monday.

Straw expressed his appreciation to the active role China has played in the Darfur crisis and said Britain, too, does not support the sanctions.

China opposes sanctions or threat of sanctions in international affairs, said Li, adding that sanctions can only complicate the humanitarian situation of the Sudanese people, including the Darfur people.

Moreover, Li and Straw had an exchange of views on the nuclear issue on the Korean peninsula, the Iranian nuclear issue and spoke about how to further enhance bilateral friendly and cooperative relations between China and Britain."
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Britain says pressure on Sudan to intensify

LONDON (Reuters) - Britain says outside pressure has brought profound improvement in Darfur but Sudan has to do more to end the violence -- and the international community will intensify its efforts until it does.

International Development Secretary Hilary Benn was speaking after a U.N. resolution at the weekend threatened economic sanctions on Khartoum if it does not stop Arab militia terrorising African farmers in the remote western province.

Mr Benn met John Garang on Monday, leader of southern Sudanese rebels involved in a separate conflict and peace process, whom Khartoum has accused of backing insurgents in Darfur.

Benn said they agreed on the need for inter-connected solutions.

"Progress on completing the Naivasha process (about ending the southern conflict) is fundamental to the future of Sudan and to solving the crisis in Darfur," Benn said.

Asked about the U.S. use of "genocide" in relation to Darfur, he replied:

"The Americans have said what they've said. We've said it may be genocide. The U.N. has said 'crimes against humanity, ethnic cleansing'. The point is whatever word you use to call it, what are you doing about the current situation?"
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Russia opposes sanctions on Sudan, eyes arms sales

MOSCOW (Reuters) - Russia defended on Monday its decision not to back a U.N. resolution that threatens Sudan with sanctions if it does not halt violence in the Darfur region, and said it hoped to increase arms exports to the African state. The Foreign Ministry said Russia had abstained in Saturday's U.N. Security Council vote on a resolution on Sudan because the threat of oil sanctions was not the best way to ensure peace in Darfur, in southwestern Sudan.

The Council adopted the resolution, which also called for an international probe into abuses including genocide, although China, Pakistan and Algeria joined Russia in abstaining.

"We think that the threat of sanctions contained in the resolution with regard to Sudan is not the best way at all to motivate Khartoum to fulfil its obligations to the U.N.," a ministry statement said. "In order to solve complex crises, the international community has at its disposal diplomatic instruments that have demonstrated their effectiveness."

Russia has been criticised for supplying warplanes to Sudan, where Arab militias are attacking African villagers in the Darfur region and displaced villagers say government aircraft have bombed their homes. Russia's arms export agency said it wanted to do more business with Sudan and other African nations. "One of the key points of the Rosoboronexport Corporation marketing strategy is the extension of the volumes, diversity and geography in defence sales to African nations, " the agency said in a statement.

It added it was seeking contracts to refit outdated Soviet-era equipment sold to countries such as Sudan, Ethiopia and Uganda . "As Russian aviation equipment delivered to African nations requires repair, overhaul and modification, Rosoboronexport has been offering various upgrade packages," the agency said.
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Arab League: Sudan resolution hasty

Excerpt of report that appeared today online at the Tehran Times. It is the third time in the past day that I have seen mentiions made of "riches" in Darfur. Going by reports I've read these past five months, I have a feeling oil was discovered in Darfur a year or so ago. There is a lot more to what is going on in Sudan than meets the eye - especially concerning the relationships and ties between countries. More on this later at my other blogs Asia Oil Watch and China Tibet Watch where I am working on a post about China and Egypt (they are friends) and Japan (they are working on being friends) - and the establishment of an East Asia Community.

Khartoum (Aljazeera) -- The Arab League rejected a UN Security Council resolution "envisaging" possible sanctions against Sudan over the conflict in Darfur, saying it would not help bring peace to the region, officials said on Sunday. League spokesman Husam Zaki told reporters on Sunday, "imposing sanctions will not help resolve the crisis or encourage the parties to try and end it. In fact, it will have the opposite effect".

Uthman Muhammad Yusuf, Governor of Darfur told Aljazeera the U.S. label of "genocide in Darfur is a big and historical lie. We defy those accusing us and call them to come to Darfur and prove it on the ground". The governor said, "there is no ethnic cleansing or genocide here. We are one family in Darfur and from one origin. We are united in one home, Dar-meaning home and Fur being the name of the oldest inhabitants of the region". "The U.S. and the rebels are lying about this divide. They are trying to create this division where it does not exist", he added.

"The UN, USA, Britain and Germany have complicated the situation in Darfur and hindered our efforts there", he said. When asked about negotiations with rebel movements, Yusuf said, "I think that talks with our brothers (the rebels) in Europe who lead luxurious lives in the grand hotels could only have little impact."

"Residents of Darfur are the only ones who can solve the real issues and we cannot allow a group that does not even represent 4% of Darfur's population to hold us ransom," he added.

The governor concluded Aljazeera interview by saying the rebels are seeking control of the resource rich area, refusing to be disarmed and are trying to blow the situation out of proportion with the help of the U.S. and the EU.
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Full Text: Security Council Resolution 1564 on Darfur

The Security Council September 18 adopted a second resolution on Darfur calling for an international investigation into reports of genocide.

The resolution, number 1564, was adopted by a vote of 11 to 0 with Algeria, China, Pakistan, and Russia abstaining. It was drafted by the United States and co-sponsored by Germany, Romania, Spain, and the United Kingdom.

The resolution asks Secretary General Kofi Annan to "rapidly establish an international commission of inquiry" in order to investigate reports of violations of international humanitarian law and human rights law in Darfur to determine whether or not acts of genocide have occurred.

Expressing "grave concern" that Sudan has not fully complied with its previous resolution on Darfur ( resolution 1556), the council also said that it will consider taking "additional measures" such as an oil embargo or sanctions against individual members of the government if Khartoum doesn't comply with the U.N. demands.

In the resolution, the Security Council endorsed an expansion of the African Union (AU) monitoring force and asked nations to contribute equipment and funds for the deployment.
The council also demanded that Sudan submit the names of Jingaweit militia and other arrested for human rights abuses as proof that it has complied with resolution 1556.

Click here for the text of the resolution.

Friday, September 17, 2004

FRANCIS BOK - Attends Sept 12 rally outside UN building in New York City

Pictured below is anti slavery leader Francis Bok who rallied with 400 others outside the U.N. building in New York City on September 12, 2004, to protest slavery, rape and genocide in Sudan.

Speakers condemned the UN, and Kofi Annan in particular, for failing to uphold their vow of "Never Again."


At the age seven Francis Bok was abducted in the village of Nymlal in a slave raid by government forces in Sudan. Mr. Bok was strapped to a donkey and taken north where he became the slave of the Giema Abdullah family. For 10 years he was forced to sleep with cattle, beaten daily and fed rotten food. In 1996 he escaped to Cairo and made his way eventually to the US.

Mr. Bok founded the website and is thought to be the first freed slave to testify before the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations.

[Thanks to Dr Pauly in NYC for emailing me the UN rally images]

Inside Sudan itself, a political crisis is brewing - Darfur peace talks adjourned for one month

AL-TURABI'S WIFE IN LONDON - Meeting with officials from Amnesty and British Foreign Office.

According to Al-Ahram, Wisal Al-Mahdi, the wife of Al-Turabi, is in London meeting with officials from Amnesty International and the British Foreign Office, lobbying support for her jailed husband, whom GoS say has been fomenting trouble in Darfur.
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TWO GROUPS WIELD POWER AND INFLUENCE IN SUDAN - Jaialiyin (President Bashir's people) and Shaagiya (Vice President Taha's people)

Here's what Al-Turabi's wife told Al-Ahram Weekly news:

"The two main Arab ethnic groups that are buttressing the regime in Khartoum and reaping the rewards are the Jaialiyin, Al- Beshir's people, and the Shaagiya, the Vice President Ali Othman Mohamed Taha's people."

"Members of these two groups now wield tremendous power and influence in the country. They are also very wealthy and repressive," she said.

Wisal Al-Mahdi said that she visited Darfur Jebel Marra with her husband in 1996 during a political campaign. "My husband has many followers in Darfur, and the government knows that."

She denied that her husband worked with the Janjaweed, adding that it was the government that has committed "heinous acts of rape and murder in Darfur".

Al-Ahram report states: "This charge is supported by humanitarian agencies and Western powers. Sudanese government officials, however, deny any responsibility. "We don't think this kind of attitude can help the situation in Darfur," Sudanese Minister Najeeb Al-Khair Abdul-Wahed told reporters in Abuja. "We expect the international community to assist the process that is taking place in Abuja, and not pour oil on the fire."
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GOS CRACKING DOWN ON OPPOSITION TO ITS REGIME - Al-Turabi moved to notorious prison - and son detained

Sudanese authorities have arrested Brigadier Mohamed Al-Amin Khalifa, a member of the Revolutionary Command Council that was formed following the bloodless coup d'état that brought Sudanese President Omar Hassan Al-Beshir to power.

Hussein Khojali, editor of the opposition daily Alwan, was also arrested.

Meanwhile, the leader of the opposition Popular Congress Party (PCP) Hassan Al-Turabi was transferred to the notorious Cooper Prison.

Siddig, Al-Turabi's son, was also detained on Monday.

Scores of PCP officials now languish in Sudanese jails, arrested for their involvement in an alleged coup plot.

"The authorities are lying!" Wisal Al-Mahdi, wife of Hassan Al-Turabi, told Al-Ahram Weekly. "They are making it all up, to distract public attention from the humiliating predicament that they find themselves in over Darfur."
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DARFUR PEACE TALKS ADJOURNED FOR ONE MONTH - While AU chair consults with all parties concerned.

Today, the Darfur peace talks between Khartoum and rebel groups SLM and JEM have been adjourned for one month.

"We are going on recess and during the recess, we are being promised that the AU represented by the current chairperson, will undertake consultations with the two parties and also with the international partners who have shown interest in the issue of Darfur," Sudan's deputy foreign minister Najeib Abdulwahab told AFP.

GoS said it had confidence in the AU-brokered peace and was ready to resume whenever called upon to do so. "The government of the Sudan maintains that the talks led by the African Union and assisted by other concerned parties, will pave the way for a final, durable and just resolution of the conflict," it added.

Earlier, an AU mediator had said the talks would be suspended Friday "whether or not the rebels sign the protocol on humanitarian affair".

Tuesday, September 14, 2004

TUTU'S MESSAGE OF WISDOM - Women should rule the world



When we heard the revelations of unspeakable atrocities committed during the apartheid era we were appalled at how low we human beings can sink, that we had this horrendous capacity for evil, all of us.

Then we heard the moving stories of the victims of those and other atrocities relating how despite all they had suffered they were willing to forgive their tormentors, revealing a breathtaking magnanimity and generosity of spirit, then we realised that we have a wonderful capacity for good.

Yes people are fundamentally good. They, we, are made for love, generosity, sharing, compassion - for transcendence.

We are made to reach for the stars.

Desmond Tutu.

[Source: Courtesy "Tutu's handwritten message of wisdom" Hands That Shape Humanity]
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Desmond Tutu suggests a "feminine revolution" takes place

Women should rule the world said Desmond Tutu speaking at a signing ceremony between the Desmond Tutu Peace Trust and the City of Cape Town.

Former Anglican archbishop of Cape Town Desmond Tutu on Tuesday waxed lyrical about women, suggesting that a "feminine revolution" take place so that the fairer sex can rule the world.

Tutu was speaking at a signing ceremony between the Desmond Tutu Peace Trust and the City of Cape Town which brought a step closer the erection of a building bearing his name in the city CBD.

"Some of the best initiatives are those that occur because women are involved... It is almost a tacit acknowledgement of the crucial role that women play in nurturing, nurturing life," said Tutu in his tribute to women a day after Women's Day.

Tutu, who was seemingly mentally spurred on by Cape Town's sobriquet "Mother City", said that men had been given centuries to rule the world, but "have made a heck of a mess of things".

Tutu said the revolution he referred was one of women who were not afraid to be feminine, and who did not ape men in, for example, the stereotypical aggression.

"This revolution... is the last, best chance for making this globe hospitable to peace, to make this globe hospitable to compassion, hospitable to generosity and caring," he said. [More]
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Here's a snippet found on the internet:

" ... A billionaire media baron has taken a step to demonstrate his belief that women should run the world because men have "mucked it up" with too much warfare and military spending.

The United Nations Foundation Ted Turner established six years ago to distribute the £1 billion he pledged to UN causes has a new female-dominated board of directors.

"I've said for years and I'm really serious about it, I think men should be barred from holding public office for 100 years. The men have been running the world for too long and they've made a mess of it. ..."
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PeaceWatch: U.S. Institute of Peace

Interesting to note there is a PeaceWatch U.S. Institute of Peace.


Top, left to right: Congresswoman Eddie Bernice Johnson, Harriet Hentges, and Gay McDougall of the International Human Rights Law Group. Bottom, left to right: Sanam Naraghi-Anderlini of Women Waging Peace, Deepa Ollapally, and Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi.

It'd be good to see more women peace advocates seeking a greater voice in preventing and resolving international conflict.
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By Swanee Hunt and Cristina Posa

Here is "While men make war, women wage peace" report dated December 2, 2001, reprinted from the Toronto Star.

Swanee Hunt is director of the Women and Public Policy Program at Harvard University's John F. Kennedy School of Government and a former U.S. ambassador to Austria (1993-97). Cristina Posa, a former judicial clerk at the U.N. International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia, is an attorney in New York. Adapted from a longer piece in the May/June edition of Foreign Policy Magazine. December 2, 2001 reprinted from the Toronto Star:
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... within 3 months

Today, Sudan's foreign minister said Monday he was optimistic about striking a peace deal within three months to end atrocities in Darfur and again rejected US charges of genocide in the region. On a visit to South Korea, said his government and rebel groups would "very soon" resume the African Union-brokered peace talks.

"Hopefully, before the end of this year, we will sign a final peace agreement," he told a news conference in Seoul. "Hopefully, by next year the whole of Sudan will be in peace."


... Darfur rebels may quit talks ...ONE of two rebel groups in Darfur today threatened to walk out of peace talks unless the Sudanese Government quickly presented a viable plan to end the conflict in the region.

'The negotiations are at a crossroads,' said Mahgub Hussein, a spokesman for the Sudan Liberation Movement (SLM).

'They could collapse at any moment if the Sudanese Government is incapable of presenting a positive vision for a political solution.'

Asked if that meant the SLM was threatening to pull out of the African Union-sponsored talks currently under way in the Nigerian capital Abuja, he replied: 'Yes."

Up to 10,000 Dying a Month in Darfur Camps

Today, BBC reports New alarm over Darfur crisis toll and Reuters reports up to 10,000 people, many of them children, are dying each month from disease and the effects of violence in Darfur camps despite a big international aid effort, the World Health Organization said Monday.

A study of settlements in the west and the north of the conflict ridden region, carried out by the United Nations health agency and the Sudanese government, pointed to a monthly toll of 6,000-10,000 out of a displaced population of 1.2 million.

"Thousands of these are children," said David Nabarro, who heads the WHO's health crisis action group.

"These mortality figures are of considerable concern ... What is disturbing is that we are already six months into this crisis," he said, adding that the rate was up to six times that of an African country facing no humanitarian crisis.

Diarrhea was the leading cause of death, particularly among children, but violence was also a "significant cause," although the survey, which was based on interviews, did not go into detail on the nature of the violence, he added.

"You should not be seeing these sort of figures six months into an emergency and they reflect the fact that we still have a huge humanitarian challenge ahead of us," he said.

But the mortality rate was in line with the 50,000 dead which the U.N. and other international bodies have been using as the likely toll since the crisis erupted, Nabarro said.

Around a quarter of those surveyed in the camps said they had no access to safe drinking water and between a third and a half had no latrines.

Insecurity and logistical problems brought on by the rainy season were hampering the relief effort, but humanitarian agencies also suffered from a continued cash shortage.

"The fact is that our relief operation for a number of reasons is not doing the job," Nabarro said.
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Khartoum, Sudan, Sep. 12 (UPI) -- Sudanese authorities Sunday arrested an editor and cracked down on the press, confiscating newspapers and censoring articles.

Sources at Alwan daily newspaper said its chief editor, Hussein Khoujli, was arrested Saturday night, while its front-page main story was censored by authorities and replaced with a non-political article.

Editors at al-Sahafa daily newspaper also tens of thousands of that paper's copies were confiscated after it was printed Saturday night, allowing it to go to the press only after having removed an article.

They did not say what the article contained.

All Sudan's 12 newspapers Sunday refrained from mentioning the news conference held by the opposition Popular Congress Party, which accused authorities of fabricating accusations against the party and saying was trying to obtain weapons from Eritrea to overthrow the regime.

Direct news media censorship was imposed for the first time in 2000, but President Omar Bashir lifted the censorship last year.

Journalists said state censorship seemed to have returned during the weekend.

Further news: Sudanese prisoner dies while in custody
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SOUTH KOREA: Visiting Sudanese Foreign Affairs Minister Mustafa Osman Ismail has called for further economic cooperation with South Korea in sectors such as electronics, textiles, cars and the oil industry.

After signing an agreement to avoid double taxation with his South Korean counterpart Friday, Ismail said this agreement and his visit to Seoul will help boost the economic relationship of the two countries,

"I have met with some chairmen of important companies here, and also invited President Roh Moo-hyun and Foreign Minister Ban Ki-moon to our country. Maybe business groups will come with them,'' Ismail said in an interview with The Korea Times Sunday.

"Unfortunately, South Korean National Oil Corporation (KNOC) came in second after a Malaysian national company in a competition for an oil contract in our country recently,'' he said, citing KNOC's lack of specific knowledge on the international oil market and scarce government-level exchanges between the two countries as some of the reasons for the failure.

The minister, however, stressed that his country still has a lot of opportunities to offer investors, especially those from Asian countries, unlike other African nations where European companies tend to be dominant." "Our biggest trading partner is China. France is second, Malaysia third and India is following close behind,'' he said.

"Those countries in alliance with the U.S., like Japan and South Korea, have been reluctant to invest because of political interests. China, however, pursues an independent policy, as does Malaysia, India and Iran. China approached us first, so they became our number one partner,'' he added, explaining how China came to play such a big role in their economy, especially in the oil sector, since the Sudanese government has a ``sometimes difficult'' relationship with the U.S.

South Korea, with no crude oil produced on its territory, has been stepping up energy diplomacy, including projects involving trans-Siberian pipelines as well as direct imports from resource-rich countries.
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Gorillaz, SOAD, Yoko Ono

Musicians, including Yoko Ono, have united to voice their disgust and create a global awareness of situation in the Sudan. Gorillaz, SOAD, Yorko Ono gather for Sudan appeal.

For more information: