Sunday, October 31, 2004

Eritrea mobilises more troops along Sudan common border: report

This sounds ominous. Sudan started moving its troops - thousands of them along a border a few months ago. 200 French troops are on the Chad-Sudan border. Strange reports come out about Eritrea ranging from Sudan attempting to assassinate the President of Eritrea - to the U.S. running training camps for the Sudan rebels to weaken the regime in Khartoum.

Note the report is by the pro-governmental Al-Anba daily newspaper, and the material is from the BBC Monitoring Service in England.

KHARTOUM, Oct 30, 2004 -- Sudan has obtained important reports about the deployment of some 400 troops by Eritrean authorities from Assab sea port of Eritrea into Sudanese territory.

The reports further said that 250 troops had at the same time been moved from Massawa sea port to the Sudanese border. The reports said the two military groups had joined others already stationed along the Sudanese border, raising their number to 5,900.

The reports said that alongside the deployed troops, seven helicopters have been made available
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Tension between Eritrea and Sudan heightens

October 22, 2004 report from Middle East online: Ismail expects Eritrea to launch attack on Sudan after Asmara uncovers Sudanese-backed plot to kill President.

Further reading at Eritrea Daily

Saturday, October 30, 2004

Putin Bans Weapons Sales to Janjaweed, Unofficial Groups in Sudan

On October 25, 2004, Moscow News reported that Vladmir Putin has signed a decree banning the sale of all weapons to non-government bodies in Sudan, including the Janjaweed armed groups that have been accused by the international community of genocide in the southern province of Darfur.

The Russian president signed the document “On measures to implement UN Security Council resolution 1556 of 30 July 2004” on Monday, gauging fears his trade with the African state was fueling ethnic strife there by supplying weapons used to kill civilians.

Sudan was billed as Russia’s biggest arms client — since 2002, it has procured MiG-29 fighter-jets, Mi-24 attack helicopters and a range of weapons and munitions.

But Russian weapons sales to Sudan — which were labeled a “model in the use of Russian military platforms to quell an African insurgency” by Middle Eastern news agencies — have sparked concern that the weapons are being used by the Janjaweed in raids against civilians in Darfur to quell what Sudan has called an uprising, but what international groups are saying is genocide.

[via Patrick Hall at The Horn of Africa]

Pity Mr Putin did not extend his decree to include the Government of Sudan. Several months ago I posted something about GoS telling Minsk it had a whole load of spare cash to spend on new weaponary.

U.S. warns rebels to curb attacks in Darfur

The United States is increasingly worried about attacks by rebel groups in Darfur.

Charles Snyder, the U.S. special envoy for Sudan, said yesterday Sudan was making some efforts to respect the cease-fire and to curb the Janjaweed and that he was more worried that the rebel groups SLM and JEM were continuing to launch attacks.

"What I find more disturbing is that many of the incidents that are happening now are (as a result of) rebel action," he added. "The SLM and the JEM have been fairly provocative in their activities ... and we are actually warning them that their best behavior is required in this process as well."

Snyder said that his main objective at the Abuja talks was to get the April 8 Darfur cease-fire to hold, saying a political settlement was a longer term objective but less immediately pressing than the need to stop the violence.

"If the violence is still going on, the political discussion to some degree is pointless" he said, saying both sides might use attacks to influence the talks and simply produce more bloodshed.

Sudan rebels say fresh bombing raids on Darfur threaten peace talks

SLA and the JEM rebels said Sudanese government forces launched fresh bombing raids on areas of Darfur under its control. The raids were in and around the towns of Haskanit on Thursday and Al-Mahla on Friday. Both towns lie near rebel bases.

"If things continue like this, there is no way we are going to stay in Abuja to talk about peace," SLA spokesman said, threatening to counterattack government and Janjaweed forces.

Officials with the AU-backed Cease-fire Commission, in Sudan and Nigeria, said they had no knowledge of the attacks.

During the Darfur peace talks in Nigeria this past week, the Sudanese government and two Darfur rebel groups SLM and JEM each gave separate presentations outlining long-term political solutions to the conflict, but they did not interact.

The government proposed devolving more power to Darfur’s three states. The SLM called for a separation of religion and state.

Neither the government nor the Islamist JEM referred to the role of religion in their proposals.

Face-to-face talks expected late yesterday did not take place. Instead, rebel and government delegates held a series of separate discussions with AU mediators and Nigerian Foreign Minister, aimed at breaking deadlock over a hoped-for security accord.

Last night's discussions went on past midnight, but the mediators failed to get the parties to sign an accord.

Negotiations are expected to reconvene tomorrow.
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Mediators from the African union has proposed a security agreement project for both the two delegations of the government and the rebels who are holding a round of talks in Abuja, capital of Nigeria. One official in the African Union said that the two delegations will study the documents and will be meeting "after several days" to ratify it.

Egypt hosts an African ministerial meeting on Darfur

Egypt announced it will host a meeting on Darfur within the few coming days including the foreign ministers of countries that took part in Tripoli summit which was held two weeks ago which are Egypt, Chad, Libya and Sudan.

News reports in Cairo quoted the Egyptian foreign minister Ahmad Abu al-Gheit has asserted Egypt's rejection to imposing sanctions on Sudan and its support for the government of Khartoum.

Abu al-Gheit warned that continued pressure on Sudan will lead to dismantling this country and converting it into several states.
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Sudanese foreign minister Mustafa Othman Ismael started a tour in the countries of the African Union to brief them on latest developments and explaining the official position of the government regarding the crisis.

Ethnic cleansing and genocide investigation: UN Commission due in Khartoum November 6, 2004

UN Commission are due in Khartoum next week to investigate allegations of ethnic cleansing and genocide in Darfur.

Justice Minister Ali Osman Yassin told Al Rai Al Aam newspaper that he was officially notified by the UN on Thursday that the commission would arrive on November 6.

A five-member UN panel has been created by Secretary General Kofi Annan to look into allegations of genocide and investigate reports of violations of international humanitarian law and human rights law in Darfur.

The Sudanese minister of justice and attorney general Ali Muhammad Othman Yassin said that the UN committee will start its mission by convening a meeting with the Sudanese President Omar Hassan al-Bashir, the minister of foreign affairs Mustafa Othman Ismael and the minister of the Interior Abdul Rahim Muhammad Hussein.

The Sudanese government announced it is ready to receive the committee and to give it all necessary facilitation and aid to carry out its mission in Darfu

The Sudanese government has said the U.N.'s death toll is hugely exaggerated, putting the toll at about 7,000.

Darfuris recall ending disputes at Ramadan banquets - Saudi Arabia launches iftar program for Darfur

Wouldn't it be great if all the warring parties in Sudan could settle down to their disputes peacefully at collective itfar banquets?

Many Darfuris have marked Ramadan this year recalling how the holy month acted as a chance for warring parties to settle down their disputes peacefully at collective iftar banquets.

Local inhabitants have waited for collective iftar banquets to break their daylong fast also creating a conductive atmosphere for ending hostilities in the turbulent western Sudanese region.

“Collective Iftar banquets make up the old tradition of defusing tribal tension at table, especially between shepherds and farmers (clashing over green pastures),” said Issa Jales, leader of the African Bergid tribes - the largest in Darfur.

Jales told how the 30 days of the holy month were exploited to bury the hatchet whatever complex it was, not to mention paying blood money for killing crimes to end a tribal feud that could have taken a long time to end.

“These iftar meeting had been always capped with sealing reconciliation deals, after which the two sides put their disputes behind their backs and went to Tarawih prayers altogether,” he added.

Jales said the house of the tribe chief has witnessed a buzz of activity by these meetings. He said ending disputes at Ramadan has become part of what he calls happy old days.

The tribe chief said the foreign interference into the situation in Darfur turned things more complex that tribal disputes could not be longer settled on an iftar meal.

He accused the Darfur rebels, emboldened by the foreign intervention into the crisis, of having a far-fetched complex agenda.

“Ramadan has given the hope for convincing rebels in Darfur to lay down weapons and sit for talks with the Khartoum government. Now things slipped out of control following the foreign intervention,” said Jales, a former security official for 35 years.

[Note, the report states "Darfur is known for having large potential reserves of oil and other natural resources."]
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Saudi Arabia launches iftar program for Darfur

Saudi Arabia has launched a project to provide iftar [breakfast] for the displaced population in camps in Darfur. A cargo plane left Riyadh on October 14 carrying 60,000 food baskets for this purpose.

Nice idea but what about the 200,000 Sudanese refugees sitting helplessly in camps in Chad? 10,000 a month are dying in camps. 1.5 million are reported as being displaced. Why is Saudi Arabia not more generous, does anybody know?

China plans to restructure Petro China - China signs $70 billion oil deal with Iran

China plans to restructure its biggest oil producer Petro China and its parent China National Petroleum Group (CNPC) in a bid to create an oil giant capable of competing on the global stage.

Chinese officials hope to raise fresh capital from foreign investment by beefing up PetroChina's international operations, a newspaper reported.

Petro China, whose shares are listed in both New York and Hong Kong, would buy CNPC's overseas assets for five billion dollars.

It will pick up production or exploration rights in Kazakhstan, Venezuela, Sudan, Iraq, Iran, Peru and Azerbaijan to add to its Indonesian production, it added.
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China signs $70 billion oil and LNG agreement with Iran

China has just signed a $70 billion oil and LNG agreement with Iran. Excerpt from today's Daily Star in Malaysia:

"State oil giant Sinopec Group has signed a $70 billion oil field development and liquefied natural gas agreement with Iran, China's biggest energy deal with the No. 2 OPEC producer, an Iranian official said Friday.

Friday, October 29, 2004

Sudan threatens HIV/AIDS tests on Nigerian troops in Darfur

The Sudanese government has been killing its people in Darfur for the past 20 months. At least 70,000 deaths have been reported since March. 10,000 refugees are dying each month.

Today, all of a sudden, it is overly concerned about safeguarding the health of the people of Darfur.

Sudan has given a contingent of Nigerian troops in Darfur until Saturday to produce certificates proving they are not infected with the HIV virus or undergo screening.

"The authorities will never be tolerant with regards to the safety of the people of the state," North Darfur Governor Osman Youssef Kibir was quoted as saying.

He was referring to a group of 47 soldiers who arrived in El-Fasher yesterday.

Health Minister Ahmed Bilal Osman said Monday that an AIDS-free policy would be applied to AU troops being deployed in the region.

He said the measure was purely precautionary and aimed at "safeguarding the health of the people of Darfur."

Those coming without internationally recognized health certificates would have to undergo medical tests on entering Sudan and before proceeding to Darfur, the minister added.

SUNA reported that, despite the warning, the Nigerian troops failed to bring the mandatory health certificates, saying that all their documents had been forwarded to AU headquarters in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa.

97 Rwandan troops to leave tomorrow for Darfur

The U.S. Air Force will fly Rwandan troops into Darfur tomorrow (Saturday), joining just-arrived Nigerian soldiers.

"We've got three C-130s going tomorrow, carrying 97 Rwandan troops and equipment and supplies," U.S. Air Force spokeswoman Capt. Heather Healy said today.

Up to 237 soldiers are expected to leave in the next three days, said Lt. Col Charles Karamba, a spokesman for the Rwandan Army.

On Aug. 15, roughly 155 Rwandans became the first foreign soldiers to arrive in Darfur.

The Nigerians expect to deploy another 350 soldiers over the next few weeks, bringing its total deployment to a battalion of 550.

Nigerian troops head to a U.S. C-130 for transport into the Darfur region of Sudan in Abuga, Nigeria, Thursday, Oct. 28, 2004.

The C-130s will continue to airlift additional forces into the region over the next two weeks.

“Airlift plays a small, but vital role, and we are proud and honored to help the (African Union) as they embark to solve this crisis,” said Col. Robert Baine, 322nd Air Expeditionary Group commander.

The group’s mission is limited to providing airlift support. U.S. troops will not be on the ground in Sudan, said Capt. Heather Healy, 322nd AEG public affairs officer.

“The (Hercules) is the workhorse of the Air Force,” said Maj. Paul Howard, a C-130 pilot from Ramstein Air Base, Germany. “Unlike jet aircraft that require a debris-free runway, the C-130 is a resilient, prop aircraft, and that makes it capable of landing on unfinished airfields.” (Courtesy of U.S. Air Forces in Europe News Service)

UN envoy blames rebels for continuing insecurity in Darfur

The situation in Darfur has not improved during the past month, according to the UN's top envoy, Jan Pronk.

"Darfur remains grim and humanitarian access is limited," Pronk told reporters in Khartoum on Thursday ahead of his visit to New York to report on the Darfur conflict to the Security Council.

"It was the rebels who are responsible for attacking relief workers and convoys, they are responsible for burying landmines which killed two relief workers, Jan Pronk told reporters in Khartoum.

Two rebel groups - the SLA and the JEM are responsible for much of the recent violence in Darfur, he said.

Pronk accused the government and the rebels of continuing to violate an April ceasefire agreement signed in Chad. He also accused the parties of escalating military operations and urged them to "put the interests of the people of Darfur in front of their eyes and speed up reaching a political agreement in Abuja."

The UN envoy said despite the setback he remained optimistic that the two sides would reach an agreement. He added that he had also noted attacks by the pro-government Arab Janjaweed militias had eased, "except for a few of them who are engaged in robbing and looting".

Pronk will present a monthly report to Kofi Annan and the UN Security Council early next week, on what Khartoum is doing to meet its pledges.

A Goodwill Ambassador for the Office of UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), Angelina Jolie, told reporters at a press conference in Khartoum on Wednesday that conditions were too dangerous for the region's vast population of internally displaced persons (IDPs) to return to their homes, UN News reported.
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The fifth day of the Darfur peace talks moved on to discussion of a political settlement.

Rebel leaders' demand that Islam be kept out of government in Darfur, has been rejected by government negotiators.

Rebel leaders have used the talks to call for a clear division between religion and the state in Sudan.

"We are now prepared to start deliberations on the political issues, following the appeal of the international observers and facilitators," spokesman for the rebel SLM, said.

"We want a clear distinction between the state and religion. Right now in Sudan you have a situation where Islam is given prominence over other religions.

"This shouldn't be so. Even though I'm a Muslim, we want religion to be a personal thing with every citizen having the freedom to practice what he believes in."

The demand has been immediately rejected by Government negotiators, who insisted that mainly-Muslim northern Sudan, including Darfur, should be governed under the principles of Islamic law.

"Darfur is in the north, so Sharia law should apply. It is not negotiable," Abdul Zuma, media adviser to the Sudanese Government at the talks, said.

Darfur's black African tribes are predominantly Muslim but regard themselves as culturally separate from the Arabs, who dominate the Khartoum Government.

In earlier peace negotiations with mainly Christian rebels in southern Sudan the Government conceded that Sharia law would not apply there under an eventual settlement, but the western region of Darfur was not included in the offer.

Thursday, October 28, 2004

U.S. to spend 40 million dollars on Darfur - 47 Nigerian troops arrive in Darfur

U.S. Ambassador to Nigeria John Campbell said Thursday his country has decided to spend 40 million US dollars to ensure the return of peace to the war-torn Darfur region of Sudan.

Campbell made the disclosure in Abuja, Nigeria this morning (Thursday) when he watched the take-off of the first batch of 47 Nigerian troops that left for Darfur to beef up the strength of Nigerian troops already in the area.

According to the ambassador, the US government will continue to provide support to ensure the return of peace to the region.
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47 Nigerian troops arrive in Darfur - more waiting to fly to Darfur on Saturday

Today (Thursday) 47 Nigerian troops, which comprised of four officers and 43 soldiers, left Abuja for Darfur aboard a US Air Force transport plane.

Before leaving the Nigerian capital, the troops received orders not to get involved in the 20-month-old conflict.

"There might be situations where you come across stakeholders in the conflict," Nigerian Major General Shekari Behubiliyok told the troops on the Abuja airstrip.

"You must be impartial and you must not be seen to support one side or the other. Neutrality is the guiding word."

The AU has given them a specific mandate to protect ceasefire monitors and safeguard civilians only if they are under imminent threat.

"The mission of the troops is a protection force to protect observers in Darfur. Our job is to restore peace," said Nigerian Lieutenant Colonel Rabiu Abubakar.

The reinforcements will bolster a force of 300 AU soldiers protecting 150 observers already in the desert region the size of France.

Nigeria expects to deploy another 350 troops over the next few weeks, bringing its total deployment to a battalion of 550, said an army spokesman.

Rwanda and other AU members are expected to lift the total strength to about 3,000.

Shortly after landing in North Darfur state capital El-Fasher, the headquarters of the AU Darfur mission, the U.S. transport plane left for Rwandan capital Kigali where more troops are waiting to fly to Darfur on Saturday.
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The fourth day of the Darfur peace talks stalled today (Thursday) making little progress

Darfur rebels refused to sign a humanitarian accord to allow more aid to refugees, insisting that it be signed together with a security pact that would disarm the Janjaweed.

Mediators have prepared a preliminary agreement on security.

The text calls for the government to identify and disarm the Janjaweed, while the rebels would be required to disclose the location and size of their forces.

The rebels said they needed more time to discuss the issue among themselves. The talks broke off, and are to resume Friday.

One observer said a "word game" was threatening the security discussions.

The Sudanese government is insisting that the word "Janjaweed" be removed from the text of a draft security accord, which would call for their disarmament.

"We are demanding for the word Janjaweed to be taken off," said Ibrahim Mohammed Ibrahim, spokesman for the Sudanese government delegation. It should be replaced by a broader reference to "outlaws or illegal factions or groups, who are not belonging to a tribe of specific area."

Rebel groups said that, with such a description included, the security accord would seem to be calling for their own disarmament, something which they are not willing to consider at present.
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UN says last Saturday, forces from the rebel SLA hijacked seven commerical trucks.

In West Darfur and South Darfur States, UNAMIS said IDPs were harassed by police about their links to the SLA, one of the two rebel groups. Many IDPs were also pressured to return home.

Darfur negotiators lack urgency, cease-fire could collapse in Darfur, U.N. envoy says

Warring parties in Darfur are showing no urgency in the search for a political solution, the top U.N. envoy in Sudan, Jan Pronk, said Wednesday.

The Sudanese government expressed impatience at the rebels' stalling tactics. "We feel they are wasting our time, and I think we have been patient enough. I think this should be their last chance to show whether they are ready to negotiate," said government spokesman Ibrahim Mohammed.

Pronk added that a U.N. Security Council resolution demanding the violence stop in Darfur and a humanitarian protocol drawn up in April meant the two sides need not discuss the issues of aid access and security, which had stalled the previous round of talks in Abuja and continued to block progress in the Nigerian capital this week.

"Don't discuss it anymore -- just do it so that you can discuss political issues, political objectives," he said.

Pronk, who leaves Wednesday for New York to give a monthly briefing on Darfur, said ordinary civilians and aid workers were suffering as talks dragged on.

"Insecurity and violence and violation of human rights is on the rise ... we are hardly able to stop it, and parties do not seem to be willing to stop it on the ground," he said, adding rebels and not the government were impeding aid access to the diseased, hungry and destitute refugees.

Pronk warned if the talks in Abuja did not make progress, the cease-fire, which each side has accused the other of breaking, could collapse in Darfur.

Wednesday, October 27, 2004

Half of Darfur is short of food - Darfur rebels are blocking aid to 1.5 million refugees


Today (Wednesday) Aljazeera reports nearly half the population of Darfur is short of food and that Darfur rebels are stalling aid deal.

WFP survey confirms Darfur facing serious food shortage

BBC confirms Darfur families face food misery. A World Food Programme survey on nutrition and food security in Darfur has found that almost half of all families are not getting enough to eat. The survey confirms aid agencies' fears that the western Sudanese region is facing a serious food shortage.

The survey is the first comprehensive assessment of food availability since the crisis began some 20 months ago. The agency found that:

• Almost 22% of children in camps for internally displaced people are malnourished
• Almost half of all families are not getting enough to eat
• Ninety-four percent of the displaced in Darfur are completely reliant on food aid for every mouthful they consume.

WFP says it is aiming to provide food and vitamins for children under five - "but food alone is not enough - the response also has to be significantly stronger on water, sanitation and health."
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Once again, the Darfur rebels have refused to agree to a deal that would give aid workers unrestricted access, commit both sides to preventing attacks on civilians and allow for refugees to return home.

Talks broke off early Tuesday when rebels refused face-to-face talks with the government, demanding instead that the African Union meets separately with both sides to draft an agenda.

An earlier round of peace talks in Nigeria ended without agreement in September, after rebels refused to sign a humanitarian accord giving aid organisations wider access to refugees. Rebels insist they will not sign the already-drafted accord without an accompanying security agreement.

A key sticking point in reaching a security deal is a government demand that insurgents disarm. The Sudan Liberation Army and a second rebel group, the Justice and Equality Movement, insist the Janjaweed must first be disarmed.

Here's what's happened so far:

On Monday, the all important peace talks opened in Abuja, Nigeria. The rebels adjourned meetings on security and political issues Monday and Tuesday almost as soon as they started, saying they needed more time to fix a position.

They are insisting that Khartoum disarm its militias in Darfur before they would sign a deal to bring aid to 1.5 million civilians displaced by violence.

Analysts at the talks said the rebels had stalled on the humanitarian deal believing deteriorating conditions in refugee camps in the vast region would pile pressure on the government to concede ground over issues such as disarmament.

"We've told the rebels that for them to be seen as blocking the signature of the humanitarian protocol is not very good," said a European Union diplomat attending the talks.

The rebels' reluctance to sign the humanitarian protocol in the second day of peace talks in the Nigerian capital brought the two sides back to the sticking point that caused a round of talks last month to collapse.

If signed, the aid deal would be the first meaningful agreement in three rounds of talks that began in July.

"The rebels should not take the international community for granted. They think they have all the international sympathies, but if they are seen as the ones who are stalling they will have to pay a price," the European diplomat said.

Photo of Darfur rebels: serious internal splits have shown up in their ranks

Today, The Star in Malaysia reports Darfur talks break as rebels demand clear agenda.

A key sticking point in reaching a security deal is a government demand that insurgents disarm.

The Sudan Liberation Army and the Justice and Equality Movement insist the Janjaweed must first be disarmed.

The Justice and Equality Movement said the two rebel groups would also push for a no-fly zone over Darfur.

Nigerian army spokesman Col. Mohammed Yusuf, said 196 Nigerian peacekeeping troops were ready to leave for Darfur from their southeastern base of Abak, and were just waiting for the African Union to arrange their transport.

Further reading: BBC report August, 2004 Analysis: Reining in the militia - "Disarmament of the Janjaweed may lead to fighting among Arab militia groups and with the government - a development from which the rebel movements would reap profit."
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Dealing blow to peace talks

Darfur rebels accused Sudan's government of launching fresh bombing raids that killed 10 people in Darfur, dealing another blow to peace talks in that have so far failed to even set an agenda.

Lt. Gen. Mohammed Ismail, the deputy chief of staff of the Sudanese army, denied the rebels' accusations, saying there had been no fresh violence in the eastern Darfur town of Allaiat, a key base of the rebel Sudan Liberation Army.

SLA spokesman Mahgoub Hussain said government forces began bombing the town early Tuesday and air-raids continued Wednesday.

"Until now they are bombing," Hussain said, just before talks resumed Wednesday in Nigeria's capital, Abuja. He said the dead included "about 10 civilians, including one lady who was pregnant."

Both sides reported fighting for several days last week in Allaiat, and rebels said at least 7,000 people had been displaced. Sudan's army said then they were only defending their positions.

The fresh violence was sure to cast a shadow over the third day of talks in Abuja, where about 100 delegates gathered around a large oval table at an international conference center.

LATEST: reports the third day of peace talks adjourned Wednesday morning hardly an hour into the discussions, after the African Union (AU) mediators asked for more time to prepare a document on security.
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Khartoum extend deadline for Washington to open U.S. bank account or close U.S. Embassy in Sudan

Yesterday (Tuesday) Sudanese Foreign Minister Mustafa Osman Ismail told reporters that banking arrangements for foreign missions was the direct responsibility of the host country and the United States had failed to solve the problem for three months.

"We are waiting for more than three months and they are giving us excuses or (only) solving the problem partially," he said.

Speaking after a meeting with the head of the U.S. embassy in Khartoum, he said Sudan's deadline for the United States to sort out the problem expired on Tuesday, but the United States had asked for more time.

"We will postpone the decision until the end of this month. If it is settled that's ok. If it is not settled, there is no way that the Sudanese embassy will continue and on a reciprocal basis there is no way for the U.S. embassy to continue here also," he added, without elaborating.

U.S. banks have been reluctant to work with embassies in Washington after U.S. regulators fined Riggs National Corp's. Riggs Bank, which long specialized in serving the diplomatic community, $25 million for suspected violations of the Bank Secrecy Act that aims to prevent money laundering.

"We're hopeful that a resolution to this issue (of finding a bank for the Sudanese embassy) will be arrived at shortly," State Department spokesman Adam Ereli said in Washington. "I think we're close to a deal (with a private U.S. bank)," added a U.S. official who asked not to be named.
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The United States lists Sudan as a "state sponsor of terrorism," but the U.S. special envoy for Sudan, Charles Snyder, said last month that Sudan was still cooperating on issues relating to international terrorism.

The report mentions the fact that Sudan's Washington embassy has been the scene of many demonstrations against the Sudanese government's handling of the Darfur violence.

A recent news report quoted the UN's special envoy Jan Pronk telling the Darfur rebels: "Don't lay mines."
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Says British aid worker just back from Darfur

Jane Salmonson, director of Mercy Corps Scotland, is now back in the UK after visiting Darfur. Jane's message is: don't give up on the people of Darfur. Here is an excerpt:

I spoke to scores of people in the camps, asking why they had come, what had made them leave their homes.

Each individual had a horror story to tell, of being burnt out of their villages, of watching the men being rounded up and shot, of a "scorched earth" policy destroying wells and burning crops.

In each case I asked: "So will you go home now?" The reaction each time was clear. No. With all the privations of the camp, they felt safe there. The armed militias roamed round the edges of the camps but did not enter. Everyone I spoke to expected to be killed if they went home.
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Angelina Jolie currently on visit to Darfur and Khartoum

A UN envoy to Sudan will visit Darfur tomorrow to check on the government's claim that some 70,000 people displaced by conflict there have voluntarily returned to their homes

Manuel Aranda Da Silva, an envoy of UN Secretary General Kofi Annan for humanitarian affairs and development, will visit El Fasher, the capital of North Darfur state, spokesman Fred Eckhard said.
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Currently visiting West Darfur and Khartoum

U.S. film star and UN goodwill ambassador Angelina Jolie is due to hold a press conference in the Sudanese capital Khartoum tomorrow after a three-day visit with displaced persons in West Darfur.


Angelina Jolie has just adopted a Russian baby named Gleb. Gleb is Jolie’s second adopted son; the first boy Maddox (pictured above) is from Cambodia and is now 3-years-old. / Photo from
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U.S. Air Force to fly Nigerian troops to Darfur on Thursday

Reuters say 390 Nigerian soliders to leave on U.S. plane for Darfur on Thursday.

400 Nigerian troops are due to leave for Darfur on Thursday as a part of an African Union (AU) force to monitor renewed fighting in the area, an army spokesman said on Wednesday.

"All things being equal, they will leave tomorrow morning. A little more than two companies are on standby and ready to leave anytime the AU gives the go-ahead," Colonel Mohammed Yusuf said.

The 390 soldiers, who are expected to travel aboard a U.S. transport plane from the capital Abuja, will join 150 Nigerian troops already in Darfur to make up a battalion, Yusuf said.

The French news agency, Agence France Presse, quoted Mr. Ismail Monday as saying that Sudan would never accept any U.S. planes on Sudanese territory other than under an A.U. agreement that does not violate Sudanese national security.

But the spokesman for Sudan's Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Mohamed Ahmed Abdel Ghassar, told VOA the delay in the airlift, which was to begin Monday, was because the U.S. embassy in Sudan's capital, Khartoum, approached the government directly for flight clearance without going through the African Union first.

"The ministry re-directed them [the Americans] to pass it through the African Union," he said. "And it was done. There is nothing like refusal or something like that."

The foreign minister had said Monday the Sudanese government would cooperate closely with the African Union to facilitate the arrival of the more than 3,000-strong force from seven African countries.

Nigerian officer AG Mahmuda shouts to his soldiers upon their arrival at Al-Fasher airport in North Darfur 30 Aug 2004 - the batch of troops already in Darfur that are supported by the U.K.
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For two days of Sudan talks next month

The U.N. Security Council voted unanimously on Tuesday to conduct its business in the Kenyan capital of Nairobi for two days next month in an effort to end Africa's longest civil war in southern Sudan.

What, China and Russian didn't object? Another exotic sunny location all expenses paid meeting for all concerned.

Wonder how much such a meeting costs the UN in travel, accommodation, expenses, security. And how many bags of flour can be bought with the total bill? Probably enough to feed nearly half of Darfur - the half that are suffering shortage of food.

Ruthless dictators, rebels and Kofi Annan et al are certainly on a high flying gravy train jet setting around the world to exotic locations every few weeks. They'd better make it worthwhile this time or taxpayers might start asking to see the bill.

Tuesday, October 26, 2004

Politics Delay U.S. Airlift Of Peacekeepers to Sudan

It's galling to learn that two U.S. planes were ready and waiting on the tarmac in Rwanda to fly African troops to Darfur yesterday. The soldiers could have been there by now. The regime in Khartoum are quick to defend themselves and their own positions but are as slow as slugs when it comes to anything that involves saving other people's skins. Here is an extract from today's report out of Kigali in Rwanda by Emily Wax of the Washington Post's Foreign Service:

Well before the sun rose over the city's winding hills Monday, Col. Charles Karamba was wide awake, ready to give his 120 Rwandan army troops an energetic send-off to western Sudan.

They were to be the first troops airlifted to Darfur on U.S. military planes as part of a two-week mission to move African Union peacekeepers quickly into the war-torn region, where 1.5 million people have been driven from their homes and where violence, hunger and disease have killed tens of thousands.

Two C-130 transport planes, sent by the U.S. Air Force from Ramstein Air Base in Germany, stood ready on the rain-soaked tarmac outside the Rwandan capital. Karamba sat by his phone, waiting for the orders to board.

Instead, just after 10 a.m., word came that the Rwandans would not be leaving quite yet. According to diplomats, that was because Nigeria, whose president heads the African Union, had demanded to go first. Although the airlifts from Kigali were planned last week, diplomats said, Nigerian officials wanted their troops to arrive first as a matter of prestige. Full Story

Sudan rejects US offer to airlift AU mission to Darfur

According to China News, the US Embassy in Khartoum has recently delivered an offer to Sudan's government, asking for permission to use two US aircraft to send the AU monitoring mission to Darfur.

The US Air Force had announced earlier that it would begin airlifting AU troops to Darfur this week.

Yesterday (Monday) Khartoum refused to allow AU soldiers to fly in to Sudan on U.S. planes .

The soldiers are due to monitor a ceasefire between government troops and rebel forces in Darfur.

"This is not a bilateral issue and the matter should be handled by the African Union in accordance with clear-cut guarantees and a certain time period," Foreign Minister Mustafa Osman Ismail told reporters. He said the Sudanese government had informed the AU of its position but had "not yet had any response".

The more than 3,000-strong AU force is to be made up of troops from the Gambia, Rwanda, Nigeria, South Africa, Egypt, Algeria and Tanzania, the foreign minister said. The first contingent had been expected to arrive Monday.

Ismail said he would brief the Sudanese parliament on Tuesday on the expansion of the mandate and the length of the AU mission in western Sudan.


Photo (above) Troops from the U.S. Air Force's 86th Airlift Wing unload boxes of weapons upon arrival in the Rwandan capital Kigali October 23, 2004, aboard three U.S. Air Force C-130 cargo planes. The planes will transport Rwandan forces and equipment to Darfur over the next two weeks to assist an African Union peacekeeping effort in western Sudan. It is the first U.S. military deployment in the Darfur conflict.

US sends 3 cargo planes for African Darfur peacekeepers

The U.S. has sent three C-130 cargo planes to central Africa to provide transport and other help for African peacekeepers going to Darfur.

They will operate out of Kigali, Rwanda, and fly African troops and supplies into the Darfur region. A US official did not have a count on how many U.S. personnel would be involved. C-130s are rugged, propeller-driven cargo planes that can operate with a minimum of four or five crew members but often carry more. A number of mechanics and other personnel accompanied them.


Photo (above) Members of the U.S. Air Force board a C-130 aircraft at Ramstein Air Base, Germany, early Friday, Oct. 22, 2004. Three Ramstein C-130 aircraft and approximately 90 airmen departed Ramstein Friday morning for Kigali, Rwanda, to begin an airlift mission to the Darfur region of Sudan. The airmen and two of the C-130s from the 38th Airlift Squadron will transport Rwandan peacekeepers to the Darfur region over a two-week period. (AP).

European Union will provide $125 million to support African peacekeepers in Darfur

On Friday, officials in Brussels, Belgium, said the European Union will provide up to $125 million to support African peacekeepers in Darfur.

The African Union's Peace and Security Council agreed Wednesday to increase its peacekeeping force in Darfur from 390 to 3,320 troops and civilian police. The one-year operation is to cost $220 million, mainly paid for by the EU and the United States.

Officials said besides the United States, Canada and Australia also had offered to help fly the African peacekeepers into Darfur. Much of the EU's financial aid would go to providing rations, shelter and fuel for the force, officials said.

The African Union force will include 450 unarmed military observers, a major increase from the 80 currently deployed to monitor a shaky cease-fire.

An armed security force of 310 troops has been protecting the observers. That force will be increased to 2,341. The new one-year mission will also include 815 civilian police officers and 164 civilian staff.
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In aid for for Darfur and leads the world in responding to the crisis

On Friday the White House urged the world community to work together to bring an end to the crisis "We also urge the international community to respond generously to fund the vital programs that support the victims in both Chad and Sudan."

"We commend the African Union's efforts to stem the violence and call on the world to support their efforts," the statement added.

Monday, October 25, 2004

HARVARD MANAGEMENT COMPANY - Coming under pressure to drop its shares in PetroChina

Crikey. Who would guess that Harvard has more than $3 billion in the stock market? As of June 30, 2004, Harvard Management Company holds shares in over a thousand corporations, from Abercrombie & Fitch to Zebra Technologies.

Outside activists have called on Harvard University to shed its stake in PetroChina, says The Harvard Crimson Online. Excerpt:

"Several faculty members said they would be more than willing to join an effort aimed at convincing Harvard to drop its shares in PetroChina, the oil stock linked to the Sudanese government.

With more than $3 billion in the stock market, the University’s holdings in PetroChina likely represent less than 0.02 percent of the entire endowment.

Activists hope that a move by Harvard to sell its shares of PetroChina could jump-start a broad divestment effort.

Harvard’s stake in PetroChina is “a highly symbolic investment,” Reeves* said. He said the University would “send a chill up the spine of all institutional shareholders of PetroChina” if the endowment fund dropped its stake in the company.

“This divestment campaign is going to explode off the blocks,” Reeves said."
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*Professor Eric Reeves

Eric Reeves is an English Professor at Smith College, Mass., and a recognised expert on Sudan and Darfur. He has provided testimony to Congressional Committees, been widely published in the US and International Press, and frequently provides expert analysis for Non-Governmental Organisations addressing the crisis in Sudan. For a full biography/bibliograhpy of his work on Sudan and Darfur, click here.


Several Harvard faculty members said they would be more than willing to join an effort aimed at convincing Harvard to drop its shares in PetroChina, the oil stock linked to the Sudanese government.

Here are some excerpts from today's report at The Crimson authored by Staff writer Daniel J. Hemel:

In the spring of 1979, more than 100 faculty members signed a petition urging Harvard to sell its stakes in companies that conducted dealings with South Africa’s apartheid regime. Ultimately, Harvard divested itself from about a half-dozen companies.

In 1990, the University sold its last holdings in the tobacco industry after a committee of faculty, students and alumni recommended that the University divest itself from cigarette firms.

Richard Wilson, the Mallinckrodt research professor of physics, was an outspoken critic of the Khartoum regime during its conflict with rebels in the south of Sudan.

“The Israeli divestment community would be overwhelmingly enthusiastic about any sincere effort to ease the suffering in Sudan by supporting divestment,” Assistant Professor of Neurobiology John A. Assad wrote in an e-mail. If “students do make a sincere effort to push Harvard to divest from holdings in Sudan,” Assad wrote, “you will find no stronger ally.”

Professor of Psychology Patrick Cavanagh also urged students to initiate a petition, and said he would help bring “all the publicity we can generate” to any such effort.

Cavanagh and his family adopted two refugee children from the south of Sudan in July 2002. “Their experiences have taught us much about the horrors of that conflict,” Cavanagh wrote in an e-mail.

“Urging some organization to divest themselves…is a powerful tool that sends a powerful message, but I don’t think you use it for any little problem that comes along,” Moseley said in an interview Friday. But, he said, “I do think the situation in Darfur deserves this.”

—Harvard's Crimson Staff writer Daniel J. Hemel can be reached at

MOVEMENT TO DIVEST - Divestment Campaign for Sudan: Harvard Students Act

Harvard has invested millions of dollars in a Chinese oil company whose financial dealings with the Sudanese government, human rights activists say, have funded that regime's ongoing slaughter of its own people.

Divestment Campaign for Sudan: Harvard Students Act by Daniel J. Hemel and Zachary M. Seward October 25, 2004 - excerpt:

Sudan activists can claim a record of success in their past efforts to spur divestment.

Canada’s Talisman Energy came under heavy fire from activists two years ago for its stake in the Greater Nile Oil Project—the same joint venture with the Sudanese government that PetroChina’s parent company has undertaken.

Talisman held a 25 percent stake in the project, while the Chinese firm owns 40 percent of the venture.

In October 2002, Talisman sold its Sudan holdings to an Indian company for $766 million.

And in January of this year, BP Amoco sold its $1.65 billion stake in PetroChina. The move came on the heels of a four-year campaign by black churches and human rights groups in the U.S. to boycott Amoco stations in protest of BP’s links to Sudan—although BP’s decision to drop the shares was likely made due to economic considerations and not humanitarian concerns.

Meyer, who oversees Harvard’s $22.6 billion endowment, said in an interview that the University attempts to consider social issues in its investments.

“Overall, we try in all of our investment decisions to be pretty principled in the companies with which we deal, and I think we’re very successful at that,” Meyer said.

In 1990, the University divested its shares in tobacco companies following objections by students, faculty and alumni. Explaining the divestment in their annual report last year, Harvard’s Corporation Committee on Shareholder Responsibility noted, among other reasons, “the desire not to be associated as a shareholder with companies engaged in significant sales of products that create a substantial and unjustified risk of harm to human health.”

Several activists contacted by The Crimson said PetroChina’s connection to the Sudanese regime warranted divestment under the University’s standards.

“Harvard is confronted with a stark choice,” wrote John Eibner, a London-based human rights activist affiliated with Christian Solidarity International, in an e-mail. “It can stand on the side of the slavers, ethnic cleansers and gang rapists of Sudan. Or it can stand in solidarity with the powerless, impoverished victims at a cost of only 0.02 percent of the total Harvard endowment.”

—Staff writer Daniel J. Hemel can be reached at
—Staff writer Zachary M. Seward can be reached at

THE SECOND SUPERPOWER - Targets Siemens, ABB, Alcatel, Tatneft, PetroChina

Paul F. Hoffman, the Hooper professor of geology at Harvard, said that “a broad divestment campaign aimed at pressuring the Sudanese government might have a positive impact, as it did in South Africa.”

The Second Superpower (we the citizens of the world) are perfectly placed to support the Divest Campaign.

Anyone who holds shares in Siemens, ABB, Alcatel, Tatneft, PetroChina: please beware - and drop them - it is blood money.

Last week, I left a comment at British MP Clive Soley's blog suggesting that Germany contributes to the humanitarian effort in Darfur BIG TIME. Germany has just won huge contracts from Sudan to build a Sudan-Kenya railway.

German company Siemens provided the gas chambers for the Nazi's concentration camps - and have kept quiet about it ever since. Yes, times have changed - and I know we are not supposed to mention The War - but some Jewish people are still struggling to have returned to them what was stolen and stashed away in Swiss bank accounts. There is still unfinished business. Siemens could go a lot way and make good PR by contributing to help the victims of Darfur. Siemens has a big operation on the periphery there.

SIEMENS, ABB, ALCATEL, TATNEFT, PETROCHINA - Are the targets of a divest campaign

Here is one of the plots and schemes from the remarkable Mark at fightordie. You've got to love Mark's way with words. Note this excerpt from his email:

" ... We would like to make these five corporations, each listed on NYSE, targets of a divestiture campaign to start here in New York City:

Germany's Siemens AG - electric generation
Switzerland's ABB Ltd - electrical, oil production
France's Alcatel - telecommunications
Russia's Tatneft - oil
China's PetroChina - oil

Once-a-week event (say, every Wednesday noon-2) with an impressive, good-looking show will do it. I see the kick-off one to be a “wake-up, wall street” thing, from 7 to 10 in the morning.

To achieve this, we hope to target the stock exchange area first with a "walking vigil", the purpose of which is to gain media attention.

As our goal will be media attention, which is different from our goal at the embassy, we will not be able to do a "show-as-you-can" type of thing like we're running now in front of the mission. Since we're made up of working stiffs and we do not have the bodies to keep a constant vigil in front of the stock exchange, we figure maybe a once-a-week event (say, every Wednesday noon-2) with an impressive, good-looking show will do it. I see the kick-off one to be a “wake-up, wall street” thing, from 7 to 10 in the morning.

This plan has a whole lot (a real understatement) of room for growth and varied areas where all our friends can easily lend a hand.

Other possible early targets: Columbia U, NYC Council, NYU, etc... "divest!" Anyone remember the anti-apartheid campaigns?? All we need is a stack of Village Voices from the 1980's to plot our game plan. Coca-Cola. Remember when they went after apartheid-loving Coca-Cola? Well, there's this thing called "gum arabic." Don't ask me. But one thing I know is soda pop uses gum arabic like it's going out of style. Perhaps we could siphon the great Coke media sponge once again. It's going to take a bit of research.

Many Sudanese fellows yesterday were telling me how effectively they felt our campaign was unnerving the Khartoum representatives.

Our central contact in Darfur Rehabilitation Project told a story of how he was visiting the embassy, and, on the way in, he saw one of our very dedicated people (a lady) out front, alone, holding up her sign.

When he came out, two hours later, she was still there, still holding the sign high. He said he was deeply moved by the dedication she showed, and he felt he'd rarely seen a sight as powerful as this one lady's vigil.

IF YOU ARE STILL A DEDICATED EMBASSY VIGIL WORKER (OR WOULD LIKE TO BECOME ONE,) we are changing the vigil times again. Effective immediately, we will have two shifts per day, every day: 11:30-2:30 and 2:30-5:30. PLEASE EMAIL ME ASAP, telling me what day and what shift you will cover every week. If you would like to cover a shift you make the times up for yourself, let me know. That will be very cool. ..."

Saturday, October 23, 2004

Farewell to Sudan Hero Rafe Bullick

The following is a copy of an October 23 2004 report from the Daily Record in Scotland:

FRIENDS and family yesterday gathered to say a last goodbye to a Scots charity worker killed by a landmine.

At the the same time a two-minute silence was held in the Sudan, where he died.

Rafe Bullick, 34, who worked for the Save the Children charity, died when his Land Rover was blown up by a landmine in North Darfur.

As his memorial service was held at Warriston Crematorium in Edinburgh, refugees and co-workers in the African country stopped to pay tribute.

Some of those he had helped made the emotional journey from Sudan to say goodbye.

Rafe's coffin was scattered with tiny white flowers and draped in a purple cloth sent from Sudan.


Addressing the 140 mourners, co-worker Jennifer Martin described Rafe as a strong and dedicated man who helped save the lives of hundreds of children.

She said: 'I remember watching him one day giving his last toffee to a little girl in a pink dress.

'He did all he could to make life better for these children.'Rafe knew a successful life wasn't about an accumulation of savings and pensions but about hugs and kisses.

'These children used to watch Rafe stride away as if their time with him was too short - as was ours'.

African music was played during the 25-minute service at the request of Rafe's family

His mother, Molly, was comforted during the service by husband Donald McAllester.

Rafe's father, Michael, died a few years ago.
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Also, copy of October 15, 2004 post from here in Sudan Watch:

Save the Children U.K. employees Rafe Bullick, 34, a program manager from Scotland, and Nourredine Issa Tayeb, 41, a water engineer from Sudan, were killed last Sunday when their vehicle hit an anti-tank landmine in the Ummbaro area of Darfur. Another Sudanese, the driver, was seriously injured.

U.N. humanitarian coordinator Manuel Aranda Da Silva told reporters preliminary reports showed there was a strong possibility the mine had been freshly laid, which constituted a breach of international humanitarian law.

"The outcome of the preliminary inquiries also confirm that the road was travelled recently by other humanitarian agencies so indicate a strong possibility that this is new land mine laid down recently," he said, adding the mine was planted in a narrow place between two trees where every car would have to drive through.

“We extend our deepest sympathies to the friends and families of our two colleagues,” said CEO of Save the Children USA. “Their deaths are tragic reminders of the dangers that thousands of our workers face every day as they seek to bring real and lasting change to children in need around the world.”

Chris Mullin, British Foreign Office minister with responsibility for Africa accuses Sudan over Darfur tragedy

Copy of report in today's Scotsman: "A British government minister criticised Sudan today for not doing enough to disarm militias blamed for killing thousands of people and forcing more than 1.5 million others from their homes in the western Darfur region.

Chris Mullin, Foreign Office minister with responsibility for Africa, said security in Darfur must be restored quickly to enable those who fled their homes to return in time for the planting season that begins in March.

“If we go past that and there are still people in the camps, then the crisis is going to last for much longer and is going to require large amounts of international aid,” he said during a visit to neighbouring Kenya.

The UN says more than 70,000 people have also been killed in Darfur since February 2003. Originally a clash between African farmers and Arab nomads, the conflict has been inflamed by a counterinsurgency in which pro-government Arab militia have raped, killed and burned the villages of their enemy.

Mr Mullin said Sudanese authorities “have not done enough to rein in the local militia.”

International pressure has compelled Sudanese authorities to open up Darfur to international aid, allow in foreign workers and deploy police officers from outside the region, he said.

The UN food aid agency warned today that Darfur remains dangerous, with road closures cutting into its ability to provide aid."

Friday, October 22, 2004

EU Set to Announce Funding for AU Darfur Force

Copy of report Fri Oct 22, 2004 By Tsegaye Tadesse:

ADDIS ABABA (Reuters) - The European Union is likely to announce a contribution of more than 100 million euros to an African Union force in Darfur, amid calls for extra AU soldiers to be deployed in Sudan's troubled region.

"The EU is ready to help finance this operation. It could finance more than half the cost of the operation. Over 100 million euros ($126 million) could be given together with technical support, expertise and planning," an EU diplomat said on Friday.

EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana is expected to land in Ethiopia, headquarters of the AU, on Friday, where he will hold talks with AU Commission chairman Alpha Oumar Konare and other top officials on Saturday.

The AU's Peace and Security Council agreed on Wednesday to send more than 3,000 additional troops to Darfur, an area the size of France, to restore security and monitor violations of a shaky cease-fire between rebels and government forces.

Deployment could begin next week, the EU diplomat, speaking in Brussels, said.

There are currently only 300 AU soldiers in Darfur tasked with protecting 150 AU cease-fire monitors.

On Thursday, U.N. Emergency Relief Coordinator Jan Egeland called for more troops in Darfur, where insecurity is hampering efforts to deliver food and supplies to 2 million needy people.

"We are alone. We have 780 international and 5,500 local aid workers, and we feel very alone in Darfur at the moment," Egeland said after briefing the U.N. Security Council.

"We need to have the African Union presence and they need to be funded by the donors to be able to deploy. We are waiting endlessly to get the people on the ground."


Insecurity poses the biggest threat to humanitarian aid in Darfur. The World Food Program (WFP) said on Friday that unidentified men, some in civilian clothing and others in uniform, had attacked dozens of WFP-contracted trucks in South Darfur in the past week.

In one case, 36 trucks were attacked on Oct. 15. Although no food was looted, the attackers beat some drivers and took their personal belongings.

The WFP said it had successfully delivered enough food to feed 632,000 people between Oct 1. and Oct.18, but said if the insecurity worsened, further deliveries might become difficult.

More than 1.5 million people have been made homeless since two rebel groups, accusing the government of neglect, launched a revolt in early 2003 following years of skirmishes between African farmers and Arab nomads over land.

Rebels say the government has used Arab militias known as Janjaweed to put down their rebellion and to loot and burn villages. The Sudanese government admits arming some militias but denies links to the Janjaweed, calling them outlaws.

The United Nations estimates 70,000 people have died from malnutrition and disease in the last seven months alone, although the Sudanese government disputes this.

A fresh round of peace talks between Darfur rebels and the government had been due to begin in Abuja, Nigeria this week but a transport mix-up left delegates stranded across the continent.

Preliminary consultations on the timetable and agenda of the Abuja talks between the AU and delegations were due to start on Friday afternoon, but rebels said they wanted to make changes to a proposed AU agenda.

AU officials hope the talks will begin on Monday.

(Additional reporting by Sebastian Alison in Brussels, Ross Colvin in Nairobi and Silvia Aloisi in Abuja)

Annan Calls for Funds, Urges African Union to Deploy Quickly in Darfur, Sudan

UN News Service (New York) October 21, 2004 - Posted to the web October 22, 2004

United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan today hailed the African Union's decision to send an expanded force of troops and police with a broad mandate to protect monitors, aid workers and civilians in the conflict in western Sudan and he called on countries to contribute urgently and generously to the AU as it prepares to deploy.

The AU Peace and Security Council announced yesterday that it would increase its observer mission of 465 to a full peacekeeping force that would include 2,341 military personnel, among them 450 observers, and up to 815 civilian personnel.

Mr. Annan told journalists that he learned from the AU Commission Chairman, currently Alpha Oumar Konare, that "in addition to monitoring the ceasefire, they are supposed to help create an environment that would be conducive to delivery of humanitarian assistance and the return of displaced persons to their homes. And that they also have a mandate to protect civilians in the immediate vicinity, if they are in threat."

He added that he hoped that they would proceed quickly and that, meanwhile, pressure must be maintained on the Sudanese Government and the rebels to honour their commitments. Mr. Konare had said the AU would work towards a breakthrough in the talks between the Sudanese Government and rebel delegates that started today in the Nigerian capital, Abuja.

Through a spokesperson, Mr. Annan also said the planned AU deployment "requires complex and massive planning and logistical support."

"The Secretary-General considers it essential that the African Union receive the urgent, adequate and continuing support of the international community, not only to quickly deploy but also to sustain effectively its mission," the statement said.

"The UN will continue to offer the AU whatever assistance it can. The Secretary-General urges all Member States with capacity urgently and generously to provide the required support."

In Abuja, the Secretary-General's Special Representative for Sudan, Jan Pronk, began meetings with representatives of the Sudanese Government, and the Darfur rebel groups - the Sudan Liberation Army (SLA) and the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM).

Mr. Pronk, too, welcomed the AU Council's decision to expand the size and mandate of its force, taking into account recommendations made by the UN.

"The AU has done its part. It's time now for the others to do theirs: the countries that are in a position to provide the required assistance to the AU must do it without delay, and the Government and the other parties to the Darfur conflict must extend full cooperation with the African Mission," he said.

"Time is of the essence. Any effort must be exerted to ensure the speedy deployment of the Mission."

Thursday, October 21, 2004

Canada helps African Union improve security in Darfur

Copy of October 21, 2004 news report

The Government of Canada today announced that it will provide approximately $2 million for five chartered helicopters to assist the African Union (AU) in carrying out its mission to help end the violence and human rights abuses in Darfur, Sudan. Today’s funding is the first phase of Canada’s $20 million commitment to the AU mission, announced by Prime Minister Paul Martin in September 2004 at the United Nations General Assembly.

Canada’s contribution comes as a timely response to the AU’s decision to expand its mission to 3,320 from 390 people. The AU mission will help foster stability and enhance civilian protection in the region. It is composed of contingents from a number of African countries.

“Canada has responded to the African Union’s urgent appeal for help,” said Foreign Affairs Minister Pierre Pettigrew. “These helicopters will allow the AU to move troops and supplies around Darfur, a region the size of Manitoba, but with very few roads.”

“Today’s funding will help support African efforts to find a solution to an African crisis,” said Minister of National Defence Bill Graham. “We are providing advice and support for this initiative.”

“This contribution will allow the observers to do their jobs in some of the most remote areas of the region,” said International Cooperation Minister Aileen Carroll. “Today’s contribution is part of a coordinated effort of international donors to help protect the Sudanese and alleviate the humanitarian crisis in Darfur. This is part of Canada’s ongoing support to the African Union to build its capacity to respond to crises.”

The five helicopters are due to arrive in Darfur at the end of this month. Canada will continue to monitor the situation and provide further assistance, including additional transportation support, as requested by the AU.

Canadians want to contribute to alleviating the suffering of the Sudanese. Canada’s approach to the crises in Sudan has been both to help address the underlying political problems, and to provide urgently needed humanitarian assistance, protection for those affected by the conflict and support for peacebuilding efforts. Since October 2003, Canada has contributed some $37 million in humanitarian assistance to the crises in Sudan, including $25.9 million to respond specifically to the Darfur crisis. Canada is vigorously pursuing diplomatic efforts to resolve conflicts in Sudan, particularly Darfur and the southern civil war. Canada is urging the Government of Sudan to live up to its commitments made to the UN Security Council.

For more information on Canada’s role in Sudan, please visit and

Wednesday, October 20, 2004

My vent over Darfur at the blog of British Labour MP Clive Soley

Here is a copy of a comment I have just posted at the blog of British MP Clive Soley:

Hi guys, sorry it's me here again to bug you about Darfur. Thanks for discussing the hugely important issue of aid. I've blogged about the Darfur crisis almost every day for the past six months now and the refugees' situation appears to be as dire as ever.

Back in April, the death toll in Darfur was reported as 10,000. Now it stands at 70,000 since March. 10,000 are now dying every month. 85% of those now in camps who are dying, are losing their lives because of food shortages and disease.

Today, the Scotsman's report on Sudan is headed "DARFUR FACING FOOD CRISIS ON A SCALE NEVER SEEN BEFORE"

If we, who have so much in the West, cannot help the people of Darfur who are being killed off by their own government, what possible help can other people in countries like Uganda, Congo etc., hope for? Surely by now, they must be losing all hope. I know I am.

The U.S. and U.K. have given hundreds of millions of dollars for Darfur. Other countries around the world have given generously. But it seems that the whole of one years contribution for Darfur so far, is the equivalent of what is being spent on Iraq every 1 - 2 days.

(1) Why is the UN not getting the money it is asking for to help Darfur?

Are the UN crying wolf and don't really need the money for Darfur? Are they and the aid agencies using ploys and hyping the crisis every two months to fundraise? Whenever news breaks through on how the situation in Darfur is worsening, it seems to coincide with fundraising initiatives by aid agencies from around the world - including the U.N.

(2) Why does the U.N. not name and shame the countries who have pledged but are not paying? Is the UK one of those countries?

(3) Why is the African Union saying the reason for not sending the 300 Rwandan troops into Darfur last weekend was due to lack of funding?

Maybe the reason for the delay in AU troops getting into Darfur is that nobody is providing back up to the African Union quickly enough. The only explanation I can think of is that countries are saying to the media they are doing this, that and the other, but in reality they are not paying their pledges on time. It is vital that the African Union do not fail. The African Union is a ray of hope for Africa. If it is seen to be failing, it will lose credibility. It must succeed in Sudan.

(4) Why is China that sits on the UN Security Council, with its huge oil interests in Sudan, getting away with not being a major donor? Can't the UK ask them to kindly pay for or send a whole load of food and aid - and trucks and helicopters to distribute the food - and 70,000 police to provide safe passage for the aid?

China has oil operations in the vicinity of Darfur and staff of 10,000 in Sudan. Can't China chivvy up the Asian countries to help? It would sure make them look good in the worlds eyes. China needs some good PR - especially when it comes to humanitarian issues.

And what about India, Pakistan, Brazil, Algeria ... and all those within the 191 member states under the UN umbrella.

(5) Why is the U.S. who makes a big deal about declaring genocide in Darfur, being so stingy (and slow) in only two military planes to transport the AU troops into Darfur? (note this was just announced a few days ago - after the AU troops were supposed to leave at the weekend - if they were set to leave, who was transporting them to Darfur? I thought Norway and Australia and Canada were going to help. Who is co-ordinating the Wests efforts with the AU? Sounds like a shambles.

The U.K. paid for the last batch of Nigerian troops to enter Sudan and funding their rations. You can fit the UK, size wise into the State of Texas.

(6) Why is Sudan still sitting on the UN panel for human rights while it allows its people to die of starvation and disease because it refuses outside help? And why is oil rich Sudan getting away with not paying to feed its own people?

The media are really doing a poor job of investigative journalism. And the politicians aren't telling the story as it really is. What are we the people - the citizens of the world - supposed to think, do and feel?

For all the press releases that are issued out of the U.N. and Washington, I really cannot understand the lack of hard news regarding the desperate shortage of food - and why 85% of those now in the camps who are dying, are losing their lives because of food shortages and disease.

Today, the Scotsman reports that Darfur is facing an "unprecedented food crisis" worse than the famines of recent decades, the Red Cross said yesterday.

I'm lost for words now when it comes to trying to understand why the refugees in the camps are dying unnecessarily, and what will become of them in the camps over the next year or two if they are not getting enough food now because of lack of funding.

Does anybody know what is really going on and what we can do to help? Communications technology is not really empowering us to get our voices heard, it's just forcing us into becoming helpless passive voyeurs. I feel sad. I have given my time, energy and money and contacted my MP. Bottom line is, nothing seems to have made any real difference. I am exhausted and disillusioned with the whole political and UN process - and lack of news and accountability. At least here at Clive's blog I feel there is somewhere to go and have a vent that at least has a good chance of being heard. Thanks.

Here is link to the Scotsman report:

Darfur facing food crisis 'on a scale never seen before'

Does anyone know what is really going on with the U.N.'s World Food Program and US Aid? I've yet to see a report in mainstream media about the aid situation and how it works.

The U.S. and U.K. have given hundreds of millions of dollars for Darfur. Other countries around the world have given generously. I know I have banged on about this for nearly six months now.

Do the aid agencies use ploys every two months to fundraise? Whenever news breaks through on how bad the situation is in Darfur, it seems to coincide with fundraising initiatives by aid agencies from around the world - including the U.N.

Even the African Union are saying the reason for not sending the 300 Rwandan troops to Darfur last weekend was due to lack of funding. The only explanation I can think of is that countries are saying to the media they are doing this, that and the other, but in reality they are not paying their pledges on time.

And why is the U.S. who make a big deal about declaring genocide in Darfur, are being so stingy sending only two military planes to transport the AU troops into Darfur? The U.K. paid for the last batch of Nigerian troops to enter Sudan and funding their rations. Maybe the reason for the delay in AU troops getting into Darfur is that nobody is providing fast enough back up to the African Union. Who knows. The media are really doing a poor job of investigative journalism.

For all the press releases that are issued out of the U.N. and Washington, I really cannot understand the lack of hard news regarding the desperate shortage of food - and why 85% of those in the camps who are dying, are losing their lives because of food shortages and disease.

It will be interesting to see what comes of the talks in Libya between Col Gadaffi and the Darfur rebel groups. He is meeting with them separately for them to air their views. More later. Peace talks are key to getting the violence stopped and aid flowing. Aid workers need unimpeded access to all areas. Aid trucks and food are in danger of being attacked and looted. More on this later.

Today, the Scotsman reports that Darfur is facing an "unprecedented food crisis" worse than the famines of recent decades, the Red Cross said yesterday. Here is an excerpt from the report:

The warning was based on a study of food supplies in 20 selected villages across the huge region, where villagers - those who have not taken refuge in camps - reported they had more trouble coping than in earlier severe droughts.

"Most rural communities in north, west and south Darfur are facing an unprecedented food crisis, worse even than the famines they faced in the Eighties and Nineties," the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) said in a statement. "Insecurity is the root cause of the collapse of agriculture and trade in Darfur," it added.

A spate of incidents over the past ten days near the West Darfur capital of El Geneina highlighted dangers for the displaced and aid agencies, the office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) said yesterday.

An UNHCR team was stopped at gunpoint by police last week, days after two staff of Save the Children were killed by an anti-tank mine in North Darfur, spokesman Ron Redmond said.

"This gives some indication of the problems we are facing in just trying to provide some kind of protection presence in Darfur. We feel the more international staff on the ground who can go to these places - the more eyes and ears from the international community - the better for everybody," he said.

Mustafa Osman Ismail, the Sudanese foreign minister, said talks between Darfur tribal leaders, which include rebel group representatives, were due to begin in Libya yesterday to try to help restore stability in the troubled region.

US has made two military transport planes available to aid African peacekeeping forces heading for Sudan.

The planes will help take in fresh troops, part of a 4,500-soldier contingent to be deployed to Darfur by the African Union by the end of next month.

Tuesday, October 19, 2004

Summit in Tripoli closed with emphasis on getting aid to the refugees - Sudan hints at Darfur power share - JEM says Libya can play a very vital role

The BBC's correspondent in Tripoli, Mike Donkin, filed a report on October 18, saying the summit meeting in Tripoli has, on the face of it, produced real signs of movement to end the humanitarian crisis in Darfur.

A Sudanese government delegate said that the summit had agreed that granting a federal Sudan might offer the best hope for a solution. That way the Darfur region would have its own governor and parliament, he notes.

No matter how many news reports I read re Darfur, it is still unclear what is going on with aid. Hundreds of millions of dollars have been paid by the US and UK but reports quote the U.N. as saying that since March 70,000 have died as a result of Darfur's civil war - many starving or succumbing to illness.

UN Security Council resolutions call on Khartoum to stop the violence so that humanitarian aid can reach those who need it, and threaten sanctions against Sudan as a way of solving the crisis. How will imposing no fly zones and sanctions feed and get flow of aid to the refugees? If there is an arms embargo - cheap arms and stuff are still bound to get in to Sudan via unethical countries.

Peace talks are the key -- it is absolutely crucial that the peace talks succeed. They start again in a few days time on Oct 21.

Summit bringing together leaders from Nigeria, Egypt, Chad and Sudan was chaired and hosted in Tripoli by Col Muammar Gaddafi of Libya

Sudan's government says it is ready to consider giving the crisis-stricken Darfur region its own federal state, following talks with African leaders.

Egyptian presidential spokesman Maged Abdel Fattah said "we should all try to help Sudan to implement its obligations in accordance with resolutions" and warned against "putting pressure on Sudan or threatening [it] with sanctions".

The summit also gave its backing to peace talks between Khartoum and rebels based in Darfur, which are due to resume on 21 October.

Journalists were barred from the meeting, which was convened and chaired by Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi, clad in brightly-coloured African robes.

Speaking before the summit, Libyan Foreign Minister Abdul Rahman Sharkum told the BBC: "These five leaders are helping the efforts of the African Union."

"We are going to accelerate and to facilitate the process of peace and the negotiation between all sides and also to find a way for more troops, African troops to come to Darfur on the ground."

The sending of the African Union troops to Darfur has been delayed by a lack of funds

Preparations to house the 300 Rwandan soldiers due to arrive in Darfur on Sunday were not made on time, Rwandan Foreign Minister Charles Muligande told the Associated Press news agency. The African Union hopes to have a 4,500-strong force in place by the end of November. It already has about 300 unarmed Nigerian and Rwandan troops in place.

Gaddafi to hear views of Darfur rebel groups separately - JEM say Libya can play vital role but doubt Egypt and Chad

Mr Gaddafi is due to meet two rebel groups separately to hear their views on Darfur. "We think Libya can play a very vital role," said Tag el-Din Bashir Nyam, a member of the rebel Justice and Equality Movement (JEM). "[He] wants to listen directly to us so he can take some kind of an initiative."

But JEM seemed more sceptical about the role of other summit leaders. "Egypt and Chad want Libya to pressure Darfur rebels to avoid an internationalisation of the conflict and force them to sign agreement that will not meet their aspirations," an official told AFP news agency.
BBC news Sudan's Darfur 'safer than Iraq'

U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan set up a commission to determine whether genocide has taken place in the Darfur region of Sudan. What do you think?

Jim Moore's recent post at Passion of the Present asks this:

Question: Last week, U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan set up a commission to determine whether genocide has taken place in the Darfur region of Sudan. What do you think?

Copied here below, is my response, emailed to Jim a few days before he proposed in his Journal that the U.S. bomb Sudan's air force and "Janjaweed" camps - with the aim of exterminating as many people in those camps as possible.

My email was not intended as a post, and so is not as complete as I'd like, but as a co-author of Passion of the Present, I feel a need to record, in my own space, my take on things as they can't be aired at Passion of the Present.

Jim is exhorting readers of his Journal to be more aggressive and creative. I'd like to see much more focus and pressure put on Sudan's peace talks. The talks are key to a united Sudan and imho are the quickest and safest route to stopping the violence, whilst at the same time, keeping the flow of aid going into Sudan. If Sudan is attacked or any troops go in without permission, Khartoum is bound to deny access to newcomers and for could dismiss all aid workers from the country.

As an aside, there is a big to do going on here in Britain. American soldiers in Iraq have disobeyed U.S. orders to drive fuel and supplies to their buddies on the front line - saying it was too dangerous - nevermind about those stuck in the thick of things without supplies and fuel.

Now, because the British are more respected and accepted by the people in Iraq, the U.S. are asking the UK for British forces and support in Iraq and for them to come under U.S. command. At the same time, some loud voices in America are pushing for the U.S. to attack and bomb Sudan.

If the Americans can't hack it in Baghdad they wouldn't last five minutes in the heat and sand of Africa surrounded by warring militia and saber rattling bedouins.

I think the UN's setting up of a commission to determine whether genocide has taken place in the Darfur region of Sudan:

(1) acts as a three-month long stick, instead of a one-month long stick, with which to beat the regime in Khartoum into action. By extending the psychological pressure, it increases, not delays, the pressure and keeps access open for aid workers and the flow of aid. It buys another three months for psychological warfare which - if it works - will succeed within a shorter space of time than military intervention. U.S. or European military intervention without permission from Khartoum could escalate and turn into a bloodbath that could last for years, halt the peace talks, fragment Sudan, stop aid from getting through and annihilate the very people the process aimed to help.

(2) genocide could have been officially declared five months ago but would have made the U.S. and other countries morally bound to intervene militarily with troops and identify, arrest and prosecute the perpetrators. By keeping diplomatic channels and lines of communication open, aid has a good chance of getting through to those most in need; provides pressure to keep peace talks going; allows international community to press for AU troops and expanded mandate; puts pressure on countries who are not paying their contributions pledged; gives international community time to gather more evidence of war crimes that will hold up in court if - and when - genocide is officially declared.

(3) in order to enter a country without its permission, you need a strong case and concrete evidence. How does one provide a cast iron case against a country where access is severely restricted? Seems impossible. When genocide is first suspected, evidence can only be gathered by intelligence services and civilians on the ground. Others on the ground may be there illegally. Aid workers may provide flimsy evidence for fear of losing their neutrality and confidence of those who need the most help, being accused of taking sides, and being denied access to those who are most in need.

Others on the ground, for example aid suppliers and distributers, might have vested interests and their perspectives may be biased. Citizens themselves could be biased and prejudiced against their attackers for all manner of reasons, or more likely be in such fear they feel too intimidated to speak out and provide evidence.

When access into a country is denied (such as Iraq and Sudan) diplomatic pressure allows observers and inspectors to legally enter a country - enabling them to look for hard evidence that will stand up in court. When a country has something hide it's like looking for a needle in a haystack - only those leading a country know where the needle is and have plenty of warning via U.N. resolutions to cover up. Suspecting - and then setting out to prove - crimes against humanity is painfully slow, laborious and time consuming, causing years of delay - that probably at this time (the way U.N. works) can't be helped and is what separates democracies from dictatorships.

Here in the West if security forces try to search a suspected criminal's home for evidence without a warrant, the evidence won't stand up in court. People who are up to no good learn how to duck, dive and survive. No trick is too low or too dirty - they see it as survival and a game where they can outwit those pose a threat.

The day the U.S. or U.N. is really forced to send in its troops -- against the will of the regime in Khartoum -- is the day genocide will be officially declared in order enter Sudan without permission. That day may never come -- which could mean genocide might not ever be officially declared.

My question is: at what point does a country lose its right to handle its own affairs and refuse help from the outside world?

At what point can security forces storm in onto private land and break down the front door of a suspected drugs baron? My guess is they'd have to watch and monitor the life and dealings of the drugs baron - and everyone else involved in the drug dealing, from growers to distributors - and gather solid evidence with which to make an arrest and succeed in stopping the drug baron's dealings. People who are suspected of crimes have rights too.

After years of weapons inspections in Iraq, countless numbers of UN resolutions against Iraq and all the while Saddam Hussein thumbing his nose at the West -- citizens of the world insisted evidence has to be concrete and documentation crystal clear. Voiciferous voters, with the aid of the media, have forced governments to make cast iron cases for intervening militarily into another country. These voters seem to be saying it is up to each country to do as it wishes in its own territory - including countries like Iraq and Sudan, regardless of the atrocities committed by genocidal dictators.

As for Darfur, by the time a cast iron case is made, the genocide will be over. And as in the case of Iraq, enough time was bought by Saddam Husseins years of stalling for WMD to be shipped out of the country and sold.

The whole U.N. process allows socio path dictators to survive - with some ending up being seen as the victims, while those who took the trouble and shouldered huge expense in terms of lives sacrificed and resources spent - to help stop atrocities from occurring - are seen, and accused of, as being the villains. It's a mad world.

Patrick Hall's Information Campaign and "Sudan Project" on Wikipedia

Patrick Hall, at the Horn of Africa weblog, says Wikipedia seems to be taking on a lot of importance on the web.

My sense of Wikipedia is that it's brilliant. I think it's a wonderful idea of Patrick's to record what has been going on in the Sudan, on Wikipedia. It is a project other bloggers might want to visit and get involved with.

There may be bloggers out there who are not able to take action to help the people suffering in Sudan. Many bloggers are shy, quiet and introverted. Wikipedia could be just the thing for some bloggers who are interested in documenting the history of the atrocities in Sudan and Darfur.

Wikipedia is special because it is a piece of work created voluntarily - a labour of love - an encyclopedia - by the citizens of the world. Maybe one day readers from Africa and Asia etc., will be able to press a button and see a wikipedia page translated into their own language.

If I, or anyone I knew, were one of the two million slaughtered in the Sudan, I would want someone to document the facts of what really went on - for future generations to read and learn - so deaths do not go unnoticed. It's sad to think of people lost and forgotten in unmarked mass graves.

Patrick writes at Wikipedia under the username Babbage. He has recently posted a little project called "Sudan Project" -
here's what the page contains. Bless you Patrick. Hope you keep us updated on your work at Wikipedia.

Note - Joi Ito's Web recently published a post about Wikepedia. If I find the post, I'll link it here later on.

How can we name the Darfur crisis in Sudan? Preliminary thoughts on Darfur

Warm thanks to Owukori for pointing to How can we name the Darfur crisis? by Mahmood Mamdani.

Owukori says Mahmood Mamdani's explanation and analysis of the Darfur crisis is excellent and one of the best pieces she has read. I agree, it's the best piece I have read too.

I'd like to read the report again and write more commentary on it here but am unable to right now and want to get this posted up here without further delay.

Note, Jim Moore has deleted the words "non-partisan" from the title banner of Passion of the Present and so I feel if I, as a co-author, publish a post at the Passion that points to Mahmood's report, I'd be interrupting something. (The war drums are beating over at Harvard and Jim is going ballistic in Boston. America's presidential election is just a few weeks away. Senator John Kerry's supporters are leaving no stone unturned looking for and providing ways to make him say things that might appeal to voters. Senator Kerry is Governor of Mass., and married to Heinz ketchup heiress. Harvard is in Boston, Mass. Join up the dots - and read Second Superpower campaigns for Kerry).

The following is a copy in full of Mahmood Mamdani's piece that reflects my view on the Darfur crisis. I completely agree with the report's proposed "solution" and "what we should do" - and love the line that says "we should organize in support of a culture of peace, of a rule of law and of a system of political accountability".

Mahmood Mamdani is Herbert Lehman Professor of Government and Director, Institute of African Studies, at University of Columbia, New York.

How can we name the Darfur crisis? Preliminary thoughts on Darfur

The US Congress, and now Secretary of State Colin Powell, claim that genocide has occurred in Darfur. The European Union says it is not genocide. And so does the African Union.

Nigerian President Obasanjo, also the current Chair of the African Union, told a press conference at the United Nations Headquarters in New York on September 23: "Before you can say that this is genocide or ethnic cleansing, we will have to have a definite decision and plan and program of a government to wipe out a particular group of people, then we will be talking about genocide, ethnic cleansing. What we know is not that. What we know is that there was an uprising, rebellion, and the government armed another group of people to stop that rebellion. That's what we know. That does not amount to genocide from our own reckoning. It amounts to of course conflict. It amounts to violence."

Is Darfur genocide that has happened and must be punished? Or, is it genocide that could happen and must be prevented? I will argue the latter.

Sudan is today the site of two contradictory processes. The first is the Naivasha peace process between the SPLA and the Government of Sudan, whose promise is an end to Africa's longest festering civil war. The second is the armed confrontation between an insurgency and anti-government militias in Darfur. There is need to think of the south and the west as different aspects of a connected process. I will argue that this reflection should be guided by a central objective: to reinforce the peace process and to demilitarize the conflict in Darfur.

Understanding Darfur Conflict Politically

The peace process in the South has split both sides to the conflict. Tensions within the ruling circles in Khartoum and within the opposition SPLA have given rise to two anti-government militias. The Justice and Equality Movement has historical links to the Islamist regime, and the SLA to the southern guerrilla movement.

The Justice and Equality Movement organized as part of the Hassan Turabi faction of the Islamists. Darfur, historically the mainstay of the Mahdist movement, was Turabi's major claim to political success in the last decade. When the Khartoum coalition - between the army officers led by Bashir and the Islamist political movement under Turabi - split, the Darfur Islamists fell out with both sides. JEM was organized in Khartoum as part of an agenda for regaining power. It has a more localized and multi-ethnic presence in Darfur and has been home to many who have advocated an 'African Islam'.

The SLA is linked to SPLA, which first tried to expand the southern-based armed movement to Darfur in 1990, but failed. The radical leadership of that thrust was decapitated in a government assault. Not surprisingly, the new leadership of SLA has little political experience.

The present conflict began when the SLA mounted an ambitious and successful assault on El Fashar airport on April 25, 2003, on a scale larger than most encounters in the southern civil war.

The government in Khartoum is also divided, between those who pushed the peace process, and those who believe too much was conceded in the Naivasha talks. This opposition, the security cabal in Khartoum, responded by arming and unleashing several militia, known as the Janjawid. The result is a spiral of state-sponsored violence and indiscriminate spread of weaponry.

In sum, all those opposed to the peace process in the south have moved to fight in Darfur, even if on opposing sides. The Darfur conflict has many layers; the most recent but the most explosive is that it is the continuation of the southern conflict in the west.

De-demonize Adversaries

For anyone reading the press today, the atrocities in Sudan are synonymous with a demonic presence, the Janjawid, the spearhead of an 'Arab' assault on 'Africans.' The problem with the public discussion of Darfur and Sudan is not simply that we know little; it is also the representation of what we do know. To understand the problem with how known facts are being represented, I suggest we face three facts.

First, as a proxy of those in power in Khartoum, the Janjawid are not exceptional. They reflect a broad African trend. Proxy war spread within the continent with the formation of Renamo by the Rhodesian and the South African security cabal in the early 1980s. Other examples in the East African region include the Lord's Redemption Army in northern Uganda, the Hema and Lendu militias in Itori in eastern Congo and, of course, the Hutu militia in post-genocide Rwanda. Like the Janjawid, all these combine different degrees of autonomy on the ground with proxy connections above ground.

Second, all parties involved in the Darfur conflict - whether they are referred to as 'Arab' or as 'African' - are equally indigenous and equally black. All are Muslims and all are local. To see how the corporate media and some of the charity-dependent international NGOs consistently racialize representations, we need to distinguish between different kinds of identities.

Let us begin by distinguishing between three different meanings of Arab: ethnic, cultural and political. In the ethnic sense, there are few Arabs worth speaking of in Darfur, and a very tiny percent in Sudan. In the cultural sense, Arab refers to those who have come to speak Arabic as a home language and, sometimes, to those who are nomadic in lifestyle. In this sense, many have become Arabs. From the cultural point of view, one can be both African and Arab, in other words, an African who speaks Arabic, which is what the 'Arabs' of Darfur are. For those given to thinking of identity in racial terms, it may be better to think of this population as 'Arabized' rather than 'Arab.'

Then there is Arab in the political sense. This refers to a political identity called 'Arab' that the ruling group in Khartoum has promoted at different points as the identity of power and of the Sudanese nation. As a political identity, Arab is relatively new to Darfur. Darfur was home to the Mahdist movement whose troops defeated the British and slayed General Gordon a century ago. Darfur then became the base of the party organized around the Sufi order, the Ansar. This party, called the Umma Party, is currently led by the grandson of the Mahdi, Sadiq al-Mahdi. The major change in the political map of Darfur over the past decade was the growth of the Islamist movement, led by Hassan Turabi. Politically, Darfur became 'Islamist' rather than 'Arab.'

Like Arab, Islam too needs to be understood not just as a cultural (and religious) identity but also as a political one, thus distinguishing the broad category of believers called Muslims from political activists called Islamists. Historically, Islam as a political identity in the Sudan has been associated with political parties based on Sufi orders, mainly the Umma Party based on the Ansar and the DUP based on the Khatamiyya. In sharp contrast to the strongly Sudanese identity of these 'sectarian' and 'traditional' parties is the militant, modernist and internationalist orientation of the type of political Islam championed by Hassan Turabi and organized as the National Islamic Front. Not only in its predominantly urban social base but also in its methods of organization, the NIF was poles apart from 'traditional' political Islam, and in fact consciously emulated the Communist Party. Unlike the 'traditional' parties which were mass-based and hoped to come to power through elections, the NIF - like the CP - was a cadre-based vanguard party which hoped to take power in alliance with a faction in the army. The fulfillment of this agenda was the 1989 coup which brought Turabi's NIF into power in alliance with the Bashir faction in the army.

As a political identity, 'African' is even more recent than 'Arab' in Darfur. I have referred to an attempt by SPLA in 1990 to confront the power in Khartoum as 'Arab' and to rally the opposition under the banner of 'African.' Both the insurgency that began 18 months ago and the government's response to it are evidence of the crisis of the Islamist regime and the government's retreat to a narrower political identity, 'Arab.'

Third, both the anti- and the pro-government militia have outside sponsors, but they cannot just be dismissed as external creations. The Sudan government organized local militias in Darfur in 1990, using them both to fight the SPLA in the south and to contain the expansion of the southern rebellion to the west. The militias are not monolithic and they are not centrally controlled. When the Islamists split in 1999 between the Turabi and the Bashir groups, many of the Darfur militia were purged. Those who were not, like the Berti, retained a measure of local support. This is why it is wrong to think of the Janjawid as a single organization under a unified command.

Does that mean that we cannot hold the Sudan government responsible for the atrocities committed by Janjawid militias that it continues to supply? No, it does not. We must hold the patron responsible for the actions of the proxy. At the same time, we need to realize that it may be easier to supply than to disband local militias. Those who start and feed fires should be held responsible for doing so; but let us not forget that it may be easier to start a fire than to put it out.

The fight between the militias on both sides and the violence unleashed against the unarmed population has been waged with exceptional cruelty. One reason may be that the initiative has passed from the communities on the ground to those contending for power. Another may be the low value on life placed by the security cabal in Khartoum and by those in the opposition who want power at any cost.

What is the solution?

I suggest a three-pronged process in the Sudan. The priority must be to complete the Naivasha peace process and change the character of the government in Khartoum. Second, whatever the level of civilian support enjoyed by militias, it would be a mistake to tarnish the communities with the sins of the particular militia they support. On the contrary, every effort should be made to neutralize or re-organize the militia and stabilize communities in Darfur through local initiatives. This means both a civic conference of all communities - both those identified as Arab and those as African - and reorganized civil defense forces of all communities. This may need to be done under the protective and supervisory umbrella of an African Union policing force. Finally, to build on the Naivasha process by bringing into it all those previously excluded. To do so will require creating the conditions for a reorganized civil administration in Darfur.

To build confidence among all parties, but particularly among those demonized as 'Arab', we need to use the same standard for all. To make the point, let us first look at the African region. The U.N. estimates that some 30 to 50,000 people have been killed in Darfur and another 1.4 million or so have been made homeless. The figure for the dead in Congo over the last few years is over 4 million. Many have died at the hands of ethnic Hema or Lendu militias. These are Janjawid-type militias known to have functioned as proxies for neighboring states. In the northern Ugandan districts of Acholiland, over 80% of the population has been interned by the government, given substandard rations and nominal security, thus left open to gradual premeditated starvation and periodic kidnapping by another militia, the Lord's Redemption Army (LRA). When the U.N. Secretary General, Kofi Annan, flew to Khartoum recently, I was in Kampala. The comment I heard all around was: Why didn't he stop here? And why not in Kigali? And Kinshasa? Should we not apply the same standards to the governments in Kampala and Kigali and elsewhere as we do to the government in Khartoum, even if Kampala and Kigali are America's allies in its global 'war on terror'?

Internationally, there is the daunting example of Iraq. Before the American invasion, Iraq went through an era of U.N. sanctions, which were kept in place for a decade by the US and Britain. The effect of the sanctions came to light when UNICEF carried out a child mortality survey in 1999 at the initiative of Canada and Brazil. Richard Garfield, professor of Clinical International Nursing at Columbia University and chair of the Human Rights Committee of the American Public Health Association calculated 'on a conservative estimate' that there had been 300,000 'excess deaths' of children under 5 in Iraq during the sanctions. But the sanctions continued. Today, the US does not even count the number of Iraqi dead, and the U.N. has made no attempt to estimate them. Iraq is not history. It continues to bleed.

This backdrop, regional and international, should prompt us to ask at least one question: Does the label 'worst humanitarian crisis' tell us more about Darfur or about those labeling and the politics of labeling? Are we to return to a Cold War-type era in which America's allies can commit atrocities with impunity while its adversaries are demagogically held accountable to an international standard of human rights?

Some argue that international alignment on the Darfur crisis is dictated by the political economy of oil. To the extent this is true, let us not forget that oil influences both those (such as China) who would like continued access to Sudan's oil and those (such as USA) who covet that access. But for those who do strategic thinking, the more important reason may be political. For official America, Darfur is a strategic opportunity to draw Africa into the global 'war on terror' by sharply drawing lines that demarcate 'Arab' against 'African,' just as for the crumbling regime in Khartoum this very fact presents a last opportunity to downplay its own responsibilities and call for assistance from those who oppose official America's 'war on terror.'

What Should We Do?

First of all, we the civilians - and I address Africans and Americans in particular - should work against a military solution. We should work against a US intervention, whether direct or by proxy, and however disguised - as humanitarian or whatever. We should work against punitive sanctions. The lesson of Iraq sanctions is that you target individuals, not governments. Sanctions feed into a culture of terror, of collective punishment. Its victims are seldom its target. Both military intervention and sanctions are undesirable and ineffective.

Second, we should organize in support of a culture of peace, of a rule of law and of a system of political accountability. Of particular importance is to recognize that the international community has created an institution called the International Criminal Court to try individuals for the most heinous crimes, such as genocide, war crimes and systematic rights abuses. The US has not only refused to ratify the treaty setting up the ICC, it has gone to all lengths to sabotage it. For Americans, it is important to get their government to join the ICC. The simple fact is that you can only claim the moral right to hold others accountable to a set of standards if you are willing to be held accountable to the same standards.

Finally, there is need to beware of groups who want a simple and comprehensive explanation, even if it is misleading; who demand dramatic action, even if it backfires; who have so come to depend on crisis that they risk unwittingly aggravating existing crisis. Often, they use the call for urgent action to silence any debate as a luxury. And yet, responsible action needs to be informed.

For the African Union, Darfur is both an opportunity and a test. The opportunity is to build on the global concern over a humanitarian disaster in Darfur to set a humanitarian standard that must be observed by all, including America's allies in Africa. And the test is to defend African sovereignty in the face of official America's global 'war on terror.' On both counts, the first priority must be to stop the war and push the peace process.

[via Black Looks. Courtesy Pambazuka News. Copyright: Mahmood Mamdani. Reproduced at Pambazuka News with the permission of the author]