Tuesday, November 30, 2004

Long awaited UN plan demands more intervention

Clive Soley MP mentioned in his blog that Kofi Annan's high level panel reports this week on intervention and failed states.

Today, Gavin writes the Iraq war wounded the UN, but it won’t be fatal and points to the BBC's UN plan demands more intervention which gives a run down on the report.

Seems the route the panel is set to advocate is much more interventionist, moving away from the UN's traditional emphasis that it cannot meddle in the internal affairs of a member state.

It says the UN should be reformed to make intervention in failing states easier. The panel, which examined how the UN could respond better to global threats, also calls for the Security Council to be enlarged. It is thought that if the UN shows greater readiness to act, unilateralism by member states would be less likely.

The report will now be considered by the Secretary General and then by the member states. Any institutional changes are likely to come only slowly but the thrust is clear - the UN must reform or lose its role.

Should the United Nations be reformed to make intervention in failing states easier? Of course it should. Reform or be scrapped is my view. The report raises some great points but it's difficult to imagine how the Security Council can be sorted. Why should any country be willing to give up power for the "greater good"?

Note, the panel wants member states to accept a new obligation - a "responsibility to protect" their own citizens. This is interesting, as it would have applied to the dictators in Khartoum over the past 15 years. But, given Khartoum's genocidal policies and total disregard for human rights, so what if there is a new obligation - what are the UN going to do about it? Nothing, if the set up on the security council does not change.

U.N. General Assembly refuse to denounce human rights violations in Sudan

John Fitzgerald writes about the U.N. General Assembly's recent refusal to hold a vote on a resolution denouncing human rights violations in Sudan - and describes the reaction of John Danforth, U.S. ambassador to the U.N. (the “motion to take no action” on the proposed resolution was put forth by South Africa):

“One wonders about the utility of the General Assembly,” Danforth said, “on days like this. One wonders if there can’t be a clear and direct statement on matters of basic principle. Why have this building? What is it all about?” Danforth summed up the Assembly’s attitude to Sudanese refugees as “‘You may be suffering, but we can’t be bothered.’”
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Note, After three years of dealing with Khartoum, Ambassador Danforth must be feeling disillusioned. He was the person who suggested holding the recent UN Security Council meeting in Nairobi in order to demonstrate the importance the Council places on finalising a peace agreement for Sudan. After the meeting, all they came away with was a promise from the warring parties to sign a peace agreement on December 31, 2004 - six weeks away. There was little reference to Darfur. The warring parties started fighting 48 hours later.

I've seen a photo of the meeting. It was a large gathering, like a mini UN General Assembly. Imagine the expense in terms of security, flights, hotels, etc. Everyone attended. And that same week they went on to hold Council meetings in other African countries. Like a Grand Tour. No objections from China or Russia. Must have cost millions. I wonder how many bags of flour could have been bought instead.

Meanwhile, for security reasons, the U.N. World Food Program pulled back from most of Darfur, leaving 300.000 Darfurians cut off from aid.
- - -

Update: A friend has just visited me. We talked about Darfur. The friend (the second one to tell me the same thing) told me I am completely wasting my time and energy blogging about it. And asked me why I was not more concerned for the poor people in this country; why did I need to concern myself over people on the other side of the world; the whole world's problems can't be attended to all at once; and the only people that can help are the people on the ground; apart from going out there myself, there is nothing I can do except make myself feel better that I think I am doing something to help.

I explained as best as I could that we in the blogosphere were trying to raise awareness and put pressure on politicians to act to provide security for the aid effort, provide a safe route for the aid and protect the civilians. The friend said some things cannot be helped straight away, that thousands of people were helping and things were happening politically behind the scenes.

My argument was simply "it is not good enough" - and I asked, if 300,000 people had been killed in the State of Texas or in France - and 10,000 each month continued to die - would more help have been provided? My friend answered yes, because it was closer to home and there would be the political will.

My answer to that was, it doesn't matter whether someone is near or far - if they are suffering the most dismal life on this planet and being killed off by their own government who at the same time refuses all offers of outside help, we must do everything we can to help them, whether they are living next door or in Africa - it doesn't matter - we are all human beings. I pointed out the atrocities in Sudan have happened over the last 20 years. Two million Sudanese have been slaughtered. Genocide in Darfur has been happening for well over 1.5 years. The U.N. has had enough advance warning.

I brought up the subject of the Holocaust and how millions of people, who knew what was happening, turned the other cheek. After everything that's been said about genocide in Germany, Bosnia and Rwanda - and "never again" - with today's technology, we watch genocide unfolding in slow motion - and find there is still nothing we can do to stop it. Who is listening? Do our voices don't count? So yes, my friend may be right.

What is the point of being aware of what is going on and not being able to do anything about it? What has changed since WWII? If the political will is not there, and we can't push the politicians to take action, what are we to do - what can be done?

Sorry for this depressing post. The first one of its kind I believe. My friend made me feel stupid, like I was being silly and naive. I know I am probably all of those things. But over the past seven months, an inner voice tells me differently.

FeedBurner for Atom or RSS

Stayed up late last night setting up FeedBurner. I still don't understand how feeds work. According to FeedBurner, it sidesteps the format wars and distributes Atom or RSS versions of your feed automatically. Whatever, it's pretty simple to install and has features like protecting original work with Creative Commons licensing and linking into Flickr. I couldn't remember my Flickr ID code so passed on including it on the set up.

If anyone has problems using FeedBurner here, please let me know. There's a good introduction to Podcasts here.

Monday, November 29, 2004

Time for a Kofi Break - by Glenn Reynolds, WSJ

Don't you love the title of Instapundit's column in today's Wall Street Journal? I do. Our top blogger Glenn Reynolds deserves to be applauded for having the guts to speak out about the U.N. and promoting the idea of replacing Kofi Annan with Vaclav Havel. It's such a milestone of an essay, I am copying it here in full incase the link gets broken. I'll comment more on this later. Just want to get this up here, and at M+O, asap.

Things are going badly for Kofi Annan. The oil-for-food scandal has revealed U.N. behavior regarding Saddam Hussein's Iraq that ranges from criminally inept to outright corrupt. Rape and pedophilia by U.N. peacekeepers haven't gotten the kind of attention they'd get if American troops were involved, but the scandals have begun to take their toll. And the U.N.'s ability to serve its crowning purpose -- the "never again" treatment of genocide that was vowed after the Holocaust, and re-vowed after Cambodia and Rwanda -- is looking less and less credible in the wake of its response to ongoing genocide in Darfur. And finally, the U.N. has so far played no significant role in defusing the Ukrainian crisis.

Things have gotten bad enough that some are calling for Mr. Annan's resignation, amid talk of former Czech President Vaclav Havel as successor. ("Havel for Secretary General" bumper stickers are on the Web.) But however you assess Mr. Havel's chances of becoming secretary general, for Mr. Annan the comparison is devastating. Mr. Havel, after all, is a hero on behalf of freedom: A man who helped bring about the end of communist dominance in Eastern Europe, despite imprisonment and the threat of death -- a man who could write that "Evil must be confronted in its womb and, if it can't be done otherwise, then it has to be dealt with by the use of force." Mr. Annan, by contrast, is a trimmer and temporizer who has stood up for tyrants far more than he has stood up to them.

If the comparison is damning to Kofi, it's even more damning to the U.N. Mr. Havel once wrote Czech dictator Gustav Husak, "So far, you . . . have chosen . . . the path of inner decay for the sake of outward appearances . . . of deepening the spiritual and moral crisis of our society, and ceaselessly degrading human dignity, for the puny sake of protecting your own power." One might say the same of the U.N. bureaucracy.

And that, perhaps, is the only argument against bringing Mr. Havel to the U.N. (Besides the obvious: He probably wouldn't take the job.) The U.N. is losing what shreds of moral legitimacy remain, even among those who were once sympathetic, as the extent of its corruption becomes too obvious to ignore. There's talk of replacing -- or, more diplomatically, supplementing -- the U.N. with a Community of Democracies that would draw its support from legitimate governments, not thugs and kleptocrats. At the very least, it seems likely that the U.N. will soon come under enormous pressure to reform.

But here's a paradox: It's hard to imagine that Mr. Annan could parry the pressure. But a U.N. headed by Mr. Havel might derive enough reflected legitimacy to resist such changes. According to Mr. Annan's Web site, the secretary general is supposed to serve as a "symbol" of U.N. "ideals." It may well be that he's doing that more accurately than Vaclav Havel ever could.

Mr. Reynolds, professor of law at the University of Tennessee, publishes InstaPundit.com.
- - -

Further reading - see previous post here below, and Nov 28, 2004 report Annan stonewalls on U.N. scandal.

UPDATE - what bloggers are saying - this list will be ongoing and added to - please let me know if you post on the U.N. and I will link to you. Thanks.

UPDATE - what bloggers are saying - this list will be ongoing and added to - please let me know if you post on the U.N. and I will link to you. Thanks.

Christopher Johnson at Mayflower: US Senator calls for Annan's resignation; when it comes to Oil-For-Food, Annan is guilty of, as Senator Coleman said, nothing "other than incompetence and mismanagement."

Jim Moore at the Passion: Glenn Reynolds on replacing Kofi Annan with former Czech President Vaclav Havel.

Norman Geras of normblog in England writes on the UN's biggest scandal.

Christopher Johnson of Mayflower Hill in America links to the Vaclav Havel for Secretary-General banner.

A rant about Kofi Annan by Blimpish on October 17, 2004. In a comment here today, Blimpish says: "Chrenkoff reckons Polish President Kwasniewski would be a better bet, and I think I agree. Much though Havel is one of my heroes, he's not enough of a pol to make it work."


October 17, 2004 Cox & Forkum: Hot Water
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November 19, 2004 Cox & Forkum Annan Threat

[Thanks to Misspent in the October 17, 2004, comments at Blimpish]

Darfur population, IDPs and mortality figures

Christopher at Mayflower Hill has written some great posts on Sudan. It's comforting to know there is someone else out there willing to get their teeth into what is happening in the Sudan. As far as I know, Jim Moore and I are the only bloggers in the world posting almost daily on Darfur over the past seven months.

I first picked up on the news of genocide in Darfur when Jim brought it to the world's attention last April. Around that time, Jim and his wife Joanne started "Sudan: Passion of the Present".

In August, Jim invited me co-author at the Passion. By that time, my main blog had become swamped with postings on Darfur, so I created this blog Sudan Watch to file and find posts more easily. Most of what I have posted at Passion since September also appears here.

All of my posts between April - August can be found in my main blog at http://meandophelia.blogspot.com. (Use the search bar at the top of the page and type in Darfur - do the same for keyword Sudan and you will get another list of posts)

Recently, I made a decision to start paying more attention to this blog, and its development. Over the past three months I have only had time to either copy stuff I'd posted at the Passion or quickly copy and paste a news report I wanted to file for future reference. At the best of times I couldn't manage to maintain my personal blog as well as writing original commentary for the Passion - and different commentary for here.

The sort of posts I envisage for here are more personal opinion pieces, exploring ideas and suggestions, sharing in-depth reporting; round ups of what other bloggers are saying about the Sudan, the UN, EU, US and aid agencies - and something that Madhu has picked up on here: the International Criminal Court at The Hague. It's interesting to see that the US has aligned itself with several rogue states refusing to be subject to proceedings.

China, Japan and Germany - and the European Union - are coming up for some interesting times ahead and so I'd like to explore what this means in relation to Europe and more particularly, UN reform and failed states.

I'm looking forward to writing and linking to original commentary, opinion pieces and more in-depth posts within the blogosphere. - even if it means posting less frequently. Soon I'll complete a list of "Sudan Watchers" for the sidebar here and link to bloggers. And in time, I hope to introduce more colour to this blog's template, header and increase the font size a smidge.

I'd like to connect more with other bloggers and get feedback and interaction. Comments would be appreciated - I will respond to each one received even if it takes a few days or more. It gets lonely writing about such heartbreaking subject material and without feedback or emails. Most days, I feel like a lone voice in the ether, never knowing if anyone is listening.

Over at the Passion, Jim and Joanne have access to their visitor stats and the email feedback so at least they must feel connected, that people are visiting, taking note, interacting and responding. Prior to devoting my energies to the Passion I used to know who was visiting my blog and got great feedback from my readers. I miss the two-way interaction, swapping thoughts, ideas, linking and pinging posts to each other.

I'm glad to have found Mayflower Hill blog. I came across it at Technorati while tracking posts about the UN, Kofi Annan and Darfur. The kind of posts Christopher writes at Mayflower are especially interesting for me as I follow mainstream media news so closely that by the time I read posts by other bloggers they are just repeats of Reuters reports - if they don't provide at least a few words of original commentary to share their thoughts.

This is not a political blog. I am independent and can say what I wish here. And link to anyone in the world. The sort of people I want to speak to and reach out with this blog are those who are likeminded and want to do something on a global scale. At the Passion I am conscious of it being an American site that is mainly aimed at American activists and political grassroots and so, when it comes to participating in initiatives, I feel isolated and excluded here in England.

Someone (Joi Ito I think) recently blogged about BLOGGERS WITHOUT BORDERS. What a neat title. It says what I was thinking in my posts over at the Zone of Peace: A Fenceless World. How can we in the blogosphere be a power to contend with if blogs put up the same fences that exist in their homeland? This is why many of my posts are UN centric and not US centric.

The United Nations comprises 191 member states. There are some 200 countries in the world. The UN is the closest thing we have to a world government. It will be interesting to see how the UN, EU and AC (Asian Community) and International Criminal Court (ICC) develop.

A few days ago, Christopher left a comment here asking if I knew where Eric Reeves got the numbers he uses for the dead and displaced of Darfur, as they are larger than any he's seen yet. Back in August, I asked myself the same question while trying to understand why the UN and its World Food Program were getting their numbers wrong.

In the previous post here is an edited copy of an email I sent to Dr Reeves on August 19, 2004. And a copy of his reply. The longer you follow news on Darfur, the more you come to realise that Dr Reeves' figures are not so far out.

Note, the UN places the death toll for Darfur as 70,000. This figure has remained static for what seems the past three months. The figure is from March 2004 onwards only. The killing in Darfur started around February-March 2003. It's estimated 10,000 Sudanese are dying in the camps each month, mainly from malnutrition and disease. The UN provides no figures for those who were killed since February 2003.

As you can see from his email, Dr Reeves bases population figures on those used by US Aid. Mortality figures are complicated to work out. More on this can be found in his reports at Darfur Genocide site. Several months ago, US Aid predicted the death toll for Darfur would reach at least 300,000 by Christmas.


Darfur population figures: 6 million, 6.5 million, or 6-7 million

This post is for Christopher (see next post above) of Mayflower Hill blog in appreciation of his posts on the Sudan. The following is an edited copy of my email to Sudan expert Prof Eric Reeves at Smith College, Northampton, MA, USA. It is dated August 18, 2004.

Dear Dr Reeves,

The reason for this email is to ask you which of the population figures that I have copied below are, in your opinion, the best for me to use as a basis for future posts.

As time goes on, I become more and more puzzled over the refugee numbers used by UN and USAID -- their sums keep changing -- which helps to explain why I feel the aid operation is 50% failiure -- and why many news reports seem to contain conflicting numbers.

Back in April, I got the impression that the population of Darfur was around 6 to 7 million. A few months later, I thought I'd been mistaken and the figure was around 3 million. Then recently I thought I got it all wrong: that the real population figures were between 1 and 2.5 million.

Whenever I came across these different figures, I wondered where all the people from Darfur are located. Recently, a US official was quoted in a news report as saying 80,000 had been killed: I wondered how the official knew: where were all the bodies, who dug all the graves -- why is there not a single photograph. Many questions. Too many to go into here.

Your latest update "Darfur III" report has helped shed light on some of my questions. You are the first person I have come across that seems to be saying what I am thinking -- and I am itching to talk to. But since I can't talk to you, I am hoping you will send me a little note. Nothing arduous or complicated that will take up much of your time. I'm hoping you deal with these figures so often, that you know them from the top of your head and can talk off the cuff without having to take a lot of time out looking things up.

I would like you please to look over (see below) the eight points I have numbered. They are the figures I am working from. The trouble I am having is this: which set of figures are likely to be the most accurate? Can you say?

My main question is: what do you think about the figures in (3) from the Government of Sudan, compared to (4) from the Darfur Information Center website, compared to (5) U.N. 2004 report? How do you suppose Darfur Information Center came by figures in (4) for 2004?

All of the below figures are so different. It makes me wonder how the UN World Food Programme knows how many to cater for.

(1) Here is information according to the 1911 encyclopedia.org at

Darfur has an estimated population of 750,000

DARFUR, a country of east central Africa, the westernmost state of the Anglo-Egyptian Sudan. It extends from about 10 N. to 16 N. and from 21 E. to 27 30 E., has an area of some 150,000 sq. m., and an estimated population of 750,000. It is bounded N. by the Libyan desert, W. by Wadai (French Congo), S. by the Bahr-el-Ghazal and E. by Kordofan. The two lastnamed districts are mudirias (provinces) of the Anglo-Egyptian. Suda

- - -
(2) Here is information according to

Darfur population confirmed in 1983 = 3,093,700

North Darfur = 1,327,900 in 1983
South Darfur = 1,765,800 in 1983
West Darfur = not given

TOTAL: 3,093,700 (not including West Darfur)

At a glance here are some figures from the above site for the years
1937 - 1983.

c1983 = 3,093,700
e1973 = 1,869,000
e1969 = 1,683,000
1968 = 1,650,000
1966= 1,467,700
1961 = 1,538,700
c1955/56= 1,328,800
1950? = 1,005,600
1948 = 882,800
c1938 715,500
e 1937 763,300
- - - -

(3) Here are figures from the Government of Sudan website that show
the Darfur population figures for the year 2000 = 8,386,007 -

http://www.sudan.gov.sd/English/engstates5.htm#nd (for north - Samal)
http://www.sudan.gov.sd/English/engstates5.htm#sd (four south - Janub)
http://www.sudan.gov.sd/English/engstates6.htm#wdd (for west - Garb)

Year 2000: North Darfur = 2,708,007
Year 2000: South Darfur = 2,708,007
Year 2000: West Darfur = 5,678,000

Therefore, added together,
TOTAL POPULATION OF DARFUR, AS AT 2000 = 8,386,007 - 11,094,014
according to Government of Sudan site.
- - - -

(4) Here are figures from the Darfur Information Center website that
show the Darfur population figures for the year 2004 = 897,500

(a) North Darfur - Samal: al Fasir, Kutum, Umm Kaddadah:
Year and population figures in 1000
2004 = 212,200
1993 = 141,900 - this is for al Fasir only
1983 = 97,400
1973 = 61,400

(b) Total for South Darfur - Janub: ad-Duayn, Niyala:
http://www.darfurinfo.org/dialup/mainFrameset-4.htm (south)
Year and population:
2004 = 511,800 - this includes 17,100 in Rahid-al-Bardi
1993 = 300,500
1983 = 133,300
1973 = 78,400

(c) Total for West Darfur Garb: al-Junaynah, zalinjay:
Year and population:
2004 = 173,500
1993 = 92,800 - this excludes zalinjay
1983 = 74,000
1973 = 49,200

WHOLE OF DARFUR TOTAL (adding up figures for north, south and west by
year) =
2004 = 897,500
1993 = 535,200
1983 = 304,700
1973 = 189,000

Therefore, TOTAL POPULATION OF DARFUR, AS AT 2004 = 897,500 according
to Darfur Information Center site.
- - -


(a) North Darfur State Version 2, 21 June 2004
North Darfur has a population of approximately 1,603,000 80% of which is rural based. The main ethnic groups are the Fur and Zaghawa, while the minor groups are the Meydob, Massleit, Bargo, Borgo, Gomor and Bedyat.

(b) South Darfur State Version 2, 17 June 2004
United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) in 2003, estimated the population of South Darfur State as 123,064,000, of which 140,343 were Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs). The state has an annual population growth rate of 3.48 (1998-2003). The population density was estimated at 17 persons per 4square km. The sex ratio, the number of males per 100 females was 99.41. The Crude Birth Rate (CBR) and Crude Death Rate (CDR) for 1998-2003 was 41.0 and 11.0 respectively, while the Infant Mortality 5Rate (IMR) for males and females in 1993 was 120 and 103 respectively. In 2003, 78.69 % of the population was classified as rural (mainly farmers and pastoralists) and 21.31 % as urban. The major ethnic groups include the Rezieghat, Habanya, Falat'a, Bni Halba, Taisha, and Fur in addition to other minority groups. The conflict in the Great Darfur region began in the early 1980's but intensified in 2003. The conflict has lead to displacement of over one million people who have either fled to safer locations within the region or across the border into Chad.

(c) West Darfur State Version 2, 23 June 2004
West Darfur State covers a total area of 150,000 square kilometres. It borders Chad to the west, South Darfur State to the east and North Darfur State to the north. The state's population was estimated at 121,693,000 in 2003, with a growth rate of 2.38% annually between 1998 and 2003. In addition to this, 3there are approximately 200,000 internally displaced persons (IDPs).

Summary of above UN figures:

North Darfur = 1,603,000
South Darfur = 123,064,000 - this would make sense if two zeros were
deleted - have they made a typo error here -- twice?
West Darfur = 121,693,000 - ditto

246,360,000 according to the United Nations' website (or 2,463,600 if
they have added too many zeros)
- - -


PAGE 15.5 - POINT 6: In parallel to the conflict in the South, the situation in the western part of the country, the Darfur region, generally deteriorated in the course of the 1990s and finally erupted into civil conflict in February 2003. Approximately 6.5 million persons divided into a number of ethnic/tribal affiliations live in the mainly rural and underdeveloped region of Darfur.

In 1994 the current regime implemented an administrative reform and divided the region into three states (North, South and West Darfur). In February 2003, the SLA and the JEM initiated an armed rebellion against the Government, citing discrimination, neglect and underdevelopment as the reasons. In the ensuing months, a large part of the civilian population was displaced by the fighting.

While there was no official statistical information confirming the number of displaced inside the country, estimates indicated that more than 1 million persons had been displaced within the region and approximately 150,000 had fled to Chad.

I was deeply concerned at the situation I witnessed of the large numbers of internally displaced persons and other civilians in Darfur. They were and continue to be in desperate need of humanitarian assistance and protection. Most of the camps I visited received no regular humanitarian assistance or protection, and there appeared to be practically no national protection actors present. The right to life of all these people continued to be seriously threatened even following their displacement. Some reports indicate that the displaced are still being harassed by Government-controlled groups. Even after my mission I received reports that extrajudicial executions were still taking place. It is very likely that the humanitarian situation will deteriorate significantly with the coming rainy season and that more people will die.
- - -


Population estimates, northern Sudan (2000-2002)

North Darfur 1,455,000 (2000) 1,503,000 (2001) 1,552,000 (2002)
South Darfur 2,760,000 (2000) 2,859,000 (2001) 2,960,000 (2002)
West Darfur 1,577,000 (2000) 1,614,000 (2001) 1,653,000 (2002)

Year Totals:
2000 = 5,792,000
2001 = 5,976,000
2002 = 6,165,000

Which, I believe, is probably where the figures that I read, originated from: ie population of around 6 - 7 million in Darfur.
- - -

From: ereeves
Subject: Re: The Sudan - Darfur population figures?
Date: 19 August 2004
To: ingrid.jones at virgin.net

Hello, Ingrid---I can send you some recent things, and add your name to my email distribution list; that should clarify a good deal. Sorry to have to respond so briefly, but I'm under deadline and have a lot to do in the coming few days.

Darfur population: we simply don't know. The US Agency for Intl Development uses a figure of 6.5 million, and I know many of the people there working on Darfur---by and large very good. For this reason I use the figure, but know that it is probably somewhere between 6 and 7 million, but quite possibly lower. There are a host of complicating demographic factors and a lack of detailed knowledge. There is no reliable census number.

Never trust any information coming from the Khrtm govt: they lie like rugs. They are absolutely shameless.

In the absence of certainty, I suggest you use a single figure (6 million, 6.5 million, or 6-7 million) and stick with it, explaining as necessary

Cheers, Eric

Eric Reeves
Smith College
Northampton, MA 01063

Sunday, November 28, 2004

Saturday, November 27, 2004

UN needs an expanded mandate to intervene when nations fail to stop internal violence

The following is an edited version of a comment I left at Clive Soley's blog today.

After genocide in Rwanda, Bosnia and Sudan, many bloggers have lost respect for the UN and Kofi Annan. Even Instapundit thinks the time is right now for Annan to step down and not to continue in office until 2006, and says if Kerry had called for Kofi Annan's resignation, he might have won more votes in Ohio [see next post, above].

Clive says Kofi Annan's "High Level Panel" (on intervention and failed states) reports next Thursday. But it won't help the people of Darfur. For every four weeks that go by, another 10,000 Sudanese die.

After the past seven months of blogging almost daily on Darfur, I no longer believe much what the politicians are saying or doing. Sudan is one of many issues where I am starting to get completely disillusioned in the political process and wondering what is so great about democracy. All it seems to be is a handful of men in each country doing what they will. Our voices only count at election times.

On Sudan, the only thing that makes sense to me as to what is really going there, is that the international community is supporting the rebels. How else can one explain the UN Security Council's inaction and the six weeks of delay between its last meeting in Nairobi (must have cost millions of pounds) to the expected signing of Sudan's agreement on December 31 which does not include Darfur? What are the warring parties in Sudan to do in those six weeks: twiddle their thumbs?

If the international community is not behind the rebels trying to overthrow Bashir's regime, there's no way there will be peace. It's a hellhole. The rebels are as bad as the regime they are trying to overthrow. The international community (or we the people more like) have been - what one news report referred to as - "duped".

At least the Prime Minister of Canada Paul Martin is trying to do something. He's invited 47 Francophonie member-states to a Canadian summit aimed at reforming the UN to better protect suffering peoples. He's spoken of his visit to Sudan this week and pointed to it as proof the UN needs an expanded mandate to intervene when nations fail to stop internal violence.

The only way to help those in Sudan is to intervene militarily. Several months ago I felt Sudan should have been declared a state of emergency and Darfur turned into a UN Protectorate so that people could go home and start planting their food. Now, it will turn out far more costlier in terms of lost lives and the huge amount of aid needed to keep two million or more people in camps over the next 1-2+ years.

Germany and France ought to send troops asap. What about China? Why is there no news as to why China is getting away with not doing anything. Why can't they be made to send 70,000 police? China has just struck a 30-oil deal with Iran which means if the UNSC has to take action against on Iran on nuclear issues, China will block it, just like it is doing for Sudan.

UN Chutzpah: UN slams British jails

Thanks to AlphaPatriot for 'UN Chutzpah'.

At first I thought 'UN slams British jails' was a joke, but Reuters is the source.

Now I'm thinking the UN is a joke as there's not a more civilised country in the world than Britain.

Here's an excerpt from the post.

"... The UN Committee Against Torture is criticizing Britain for "unsatisfactory conditions" in its prisons and for a "substantial number of deaths in custody, inter-prisoner violence, overcrowding ...". It is the fourth time that this committee has focused on Britain, although they also had some unkind words for Greece and Argentina.

There was no word of any criticism for Germany's military even though instructors "allegedly tied up their charges, covered their heads with hoods and in some cases, administered electric shocks" -- even though the number of reported cases has grown. Must be because these were "volunteers" rather than criminals imprisoned against their will. ..."

Read the full story.

A prayer for the janjaweed rape babies

This photo from Abu Shouk, Sudan, shows Suad Abdalaziz, 28, who was raped and became pregnant during an attack by the janjaweed in the village of Tawila, holding her 3-day-old baby girl.

There were no smiles, blessings or joy at the birth of Suad's light-skinned girl with ebony eyes and curly black hair. For a family still bleeding from war, the baby was like salt on their wounds.


"My father didn't speak for the entire day," recalled Suad, her voice cracking and her face streaming with tears. "He was not angry at me. He was angry at the janjaweed and the government for giving me this baby."

"'These are the babies of the janjaweed,' said Hassan Abdallah Bakhur, a tribal elder from the town of Tawilla, 40 miles south of here. 'I don't know how we can solve this problem. They and their mothers face a bad future.'


Above, Medina Muhammed, 18, who lives in the Abu Shouk refugee camp in northern Darfur, Sudan, faces a uncertain future after being raped by the janjaweed.

Read the full story at Parkview blog.

Photos courtesy David P. Gilkey, Detroit Free Press

The Sudan Peace Accord: Why It Doesn't Stand a Chance

Christopher Johnson at Mayflower Hill says it should be abundantly clear at this point there is no way to resolve this conflict without military intervention. And he says:

"It should also be clear that the failure of the international community to live up to the commitments it made in the wake of the Second World War, and reiterated time and again throughout the last 50 years, is an embarrassment on a scale we will only begin to understand when the results of Bashir's policy towards Darfur is exposed as the holocaust that it is."

[Thanks to Christopher and Duncan - and for the handy map now showing in the sidebar here]
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Darfur, Sudan: The dying is only just beginning

Once again, Prof Eric Reeves in his latest post argues for outright military intervention. Here is an excerpt:

" ... The US-convened Security Council meeting in Nairobi has made painfully clear that nothing will be done to change the fundamental dynamics of insecurity in Darfur---and thus the genocide will continue remorselessly. 300,000 have already died; as many as 2.5 million have been displaced; and 3 million are conflict-affected and in need of humanitarian assistance. But we know now that this assistance will not be adequate, and thus we may be sure that at least 30,000 human beings will continue to die monthly for the foreseeable future.

We have seen precisely this ghastly indifference and obfuscation in Africa before, and no one speaks more authoritatively of international failure in Rwanda than Romeo Dallaire, the general in charge of the UN peacekeeping force during the 1994 genocide. General Dallaire has recently found a more articulate voice on Darfur, but his first public utterances were among his most powerful:

"'What should be done is an outright intervention,' he said. 'When I compare it to Rwanda, there are so many similarities it makes you sick.' Khartoum, he said, is 'getting away with slaughter and genocide,' while the world reacts, much as it did then, with embargos and restrictions, [Dallaire said]."

Disgracefully, a complacent international community can't bring itself even to impose "embargoes and restrictions." On the contrary, as UN Security Council Resolution 1574 of November 19, 2004 proves beyond reasonable doubt, there will be no actions of consequence to compel Khartoum to halt genocide in Darfur. We are as far today from humanitarian intervention as we were when the genocide became apparent a year ago. The dying is only just beginning. ..."

Friday, November 26, 2004

U.N. food relief in Darfur halted

Associated Press reported today that a UN envoy and Britain blamed Sudanese rebels for renewed fighting in Darfur, and the World Food Program pulled its staff from the region yesterday because of the lack of security.

The World Food Program said that renewed fighting in Darfur has forced the U.N. agency to suspend a large part of its food relief operations there, leaving 300,000 refugees without aid. The suspension comes as demand for emergency food in the region increases because no crops were planted the past season.

Britain called for an end to the fighting, and an international commission, including the United States, said it would take measures to keep humanitarian aid flowing. Jan Pronk, the UN envoy, called for a doubling of peacekeepers in Darfur.

The latest fighting between rebels and government forces came despite a cease-fire earlier this month. An April truce was violated by both sides, according to U.N. officials and aid agencies.

Thursday, November 25, 2004

UN says world should hold Darfur rebels accountable -U.N. rejects Sudan human rights resolution - EU passes resolution

Reuters quotes Jan Pronk as saying the world should hold Darfur rebels accountable for breaking their promises to end violence in western Sudan. He did not say what measures should be taken. "I do really think that the international community should hold them (SLA) accountable for not complying with international agreements and their own promises," Pronk told reporters after meeting Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Aboul Gheit in Cairo.

You have to wonder who he thinks he is talking to when he says such things to the press. Probably to Khartoum I guess. If Khartoum are listening, they must be taking it as seriously as everyone else.
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UN Assembly Rejects Sudan Human Rights Resolution

You can't make this stuff up. A UN General Assembly committee rejected a resolution that would have condemned human rights violations in Sudan.

The action drew a sharp rebuke from the United States and the European Union, and a spirited defence from African nations.

Ninety one of the 191 U.N. member countries voted for the "no action" motion. The United States and European Union countries, which sponsored the resolution, were among 74 nations that tried in vain to save it.

Ambassador Scott called the refusal to condemn atrocities in Sudan "an indefensible parochially motivated action". He said "three consecutive failures of member states of the United Nations to present a unified front against well-documented atrocities would represent nothing less than the complete breakdown of the U.N.'s deliberative bodies related to human rights. If these bodies cannot speak with one voice on an issue as clear as Darfur, what can they do?"

Netherland's Ambassador Dirk Jan Van den Berg, representing the European Union, noted that the Security Council had passed several tough resolutions on Sudan in recent months, going so far as to threaten sanctions against Khartoum unless it took action to stop atrocities in Darfur. He said the General Assembly must follow suit or risk becoming irrelevant.

"How can we explain that the Security Council speaks out on the human rights situation in Sudan while the General Assembly remains silent," he said. "The European Union strongly urges delegations to vote against this motion to adjourn the debate, for reasons of principle, and to prevent the General Assembly from fading away into irrelevance."

But African countries, backed by many Islamic nations, stood firmly with Sudan in voting to kill the resolution.

South Africa, representing the African group at the world body, said it opposed all resolutions condemning a specific country.

Pitso Montwedi, director of human rights in South Africa's foreign ministry, denied that the "no action" motion constituted a defense of Sudan's rights record. He said condemning the Khartoum government would have undermined African efforts to end the country's long-running civil war.

"I should emphasize at the beginning that the African group had chosen to use this rule not as a denial of violations of human rights in Africa but only for the purposes of countering the double standards of the European Union," he said.

The General Assembly also adopted a "no action" motion Wednesday on a similar resolution critical of Zimbabwe.

Anticipating the no-action motion Tuesday, Washington's U.N. Ambassador John Danforth called it tantamount to "condoning atrocities". He said the move would send a message from the General Assembly to the people of Sudan that, "you may be suffering, but we can't be bothered".
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Joint EU-ACP parliamentarians pass resolution

A resolution was passed calling for a comprehensive peace deal for Sudan.

Delegates also called for a halt to the sale of weapons to all sides in Sudan's conflicts, and for the main perpetrators of the violence and crimes related to the wars to be identified and brought to justice.

EU development aid to Sudan -- some 450 million euros (600 million dollars) -- will remain blocked until a peace pact is signed and implemented in Sudan.

The resolution also calls for a fact-finding mission to evaluate the situation in Sudan. It was passed unanimously, but "after long and difficult negotiations," one observer said.

Wednesday, November 24, 2004

Damien Hirst's Band Aid cover banned

Digital Spy says "controversial contemporary artist Damien Hirst has shown record bosses what he has come up with for the sleeve artwork for Do They Know It's Christmas? but it has been rejected on the basis that it would frighten small children, reports the Mirror.

Despite having reportedly been given a free reign as to how to adorn the single's sleeve, Hirst's work has been rejected on grounds of unsuitability. The potential artwork in fact seemed very appropriate. On one side it depicts the Grim Reaper cradling a starving African child in his arms, set against a blue sky with fluffy clouds, and on the other is a white child flaunting money.

There is to be a child with some baby reindeer (see picture of cover - in previous post here).

A spokesperson said: "The design Damien produced was for the front and back of a CD but we were later told they only wanted something for a front cover. It's a shame. Damien really wanted to do his bit.

"People have said it's a bleak picture but starvation and death are bleak subjects and there's no getting away from that."

Damien now plans to sell limited edition of his rejected work in order to raise money for Sudan."

Good. No doubt they will sell like hot cakes - his original cover design would have sold well too. I was looking forward to seeing his design. They should have let it go ahead. But, on second thoughts, maybe not. The Disney style cover is perhaps more inviting to the masses. Parents would probably not buy Damien's cover for their children's Christmas stocking even though it would have become a collectors item.

Protests at Band Aid for Darfur whitewashing poverty issues - Alternative Band Aid lyrics

International development campaigners, the World Development Movement (WDM) condemned the lyrics of the UK's Band Aid 20 single “Do They Know It's Christmas?” as promoting a negative and inaccurate picture of Africa and its problems. The soon to be launched Band Aid 20 initiative is for famine relief in Darfur, Sudan.

Twenty years ago, the Band Aid single and Live Aid concert, for the benefit of Ethiopia, raised awareness around the world of problems in Africa. The "feed the world" concert rocked all over the world and had great impact on a countless number of youngsters who went on to build careers in politics and humanitarian fields.

Recently, British Prime Minister Tony Blair was quoted as saying Band Aid changed his life. He has spent years pushing for the cancellation of debts of the world's poorest nations. Earlier this year, he set up a Commission for Africa and attended its first meeting in Africa. Next year, the UK holds presidency of the G8 summit.

The Band Aid 20 initiative will generate worldwide publicity for Darfur for many months, if not years. Already, in the campaign's first week, tens of millions people have heard the word Darfur, probably for the first time, thanks to Band Aid. No other campaign for Africa has achieved such widespread interest for so long, especially among the young.

Band Aid cannot simply be measured in terms of funds raised. The song may be regarded by some as "cheesey" but had it been more "heavy" it might not have captured the attention of the world's media or the imagination of young and old alike. Band Aid's incredible success in raising awareness among all age groups is unmatched by any other campaign for Africa, or for Darfur.

Those who see it as fashionable to knock Band Aid are probably the ones that have done the least to help the Sudanese. Anyone who is aware of the catastrophe in Darfur would know how long it has taken to get the world's attention, and that any contribution is better than no contribution at all. The people of Darfur need all the help and publicity they can get.

Some visitors at the WDM and UK Indymedia sites have submitted alternative Band Aid lyrics. Can you do better?

Note, as an aside, according to the Pan African News Agency in 2002 alone, Africa paid $21.9 billion in external debt while official development assistance (ODA) to the region was $22.2 billion.

Further reading:

Nov 24: Westlife have been invited to sing Do They Know It's Christmas? at London's Wembley Arena for a charity Popworld concert on December 2. The concert is to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the single and to raise money for refugees in Darfur, Sudan.

Nov 18: UK Indymedia - Protests at Band Aid whitewashing poverty issue.

Nov 14: UK Indymedia - Action against the recording of Band Aid 3 single - protester arrested.

July: UK Indymedia - Stop the Killing in Sudan - protest in London Wednesday 28th July, 2004.

According to Indymedia, the wars in Africa are all about the plundering of resources by the wealthiest economies and, increasingly oil:

Human Rights Watch Report, Sudan, Oil and Human Rights

Sudan: Oil companies Complicit in Rights Abuses: http://www.hrw.org/press/2003/11/sudan112503.htm
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In 1985, Brazlian-born photographer Sebastião Salgado carried out a 15-month project documenting the human toll of the extreme drought that then afflicted Chad, Mali, Ethiopia and the Sudan.

No one foresaw that his book would appear in English 20 years later, soon after the catastrophe in Darfur surfaced as a media topic in the West.

Salgado's photos taken in Ethiopia during the African famine of 1985 are being published in the United States for the first time. Here are a few:


Above, Sebastião Salgado's photo of Ethiopia's Korem Camp is among the many images he took in 1985 during a 15-month project documenting the toll of extreme drought in Africa.


Above, a woman and the rags that shelter her, on the outskirts of Tokar, Sudan, where drought hit hard. Photo by Sebastião Salgado, 1985.

Tuesday, November 23, 2004

Rebels attacked and seized town of Tawilla in North Dafur yesterday


A boy sleeps in the shade of a grass shelter at Zam Zam camp near El Fasher, the capital of North Darfur state, November 22, 2004.

Rebels attacked and seized the town of Tawilla in North Darfur state yesterday, and officials said fighting was continuing as police and army struggled to regain control over the town, where about 30,000 refugees are encamped.

Sudan said today clashes with rebels in Darfur had killed more than 30 policemen, and denied accusations from aid workers that government planes had bombed a town captured by the rebels.

Foreign Minister Mustafa Osman Ismail denied the town had been bombed. "There are clear instructions to the army that they should not use any bombing. There is no bombing," he told reporters in Khartoum. But he added helicopter gunships may have been used.

Photo by Reilly/Reuters

EU to impose a complete embargo on arms sales to Sudan

Perhaps there is hope through the European Union. The joint EU-ACP parliamentary assembly opened yesterday in The Hague with Sudan topping the agenda. It will have an urgent debate about the problems in Darfur and are expected to adopt a resolution on the matter on Thursday.

According to a draft compromise resolution obtained by AFP, the assembly will call for "a complete embargo on arms sales to all armed factions including the Sudanese army."

The draft also proposes to send a fact-finding mission of the joint assembly to assess the situation in Sudan.

In his opening speech, the assembly's co-president, pleaded with the representatives "not to lose sight of reason" when discussing Sudan. "With an urgent resolution we might as well condemn the government of Sudan. However, shouldn't we ask ourselves whether, by doing this, we will have changed the fate of the many displaced, starving and helpless people in Sudan?" he said.

State of emergency declared in Sudan’s North Darfur

According to a report out of Khartoum today, Governor Osman Yusuf Kibir declared a state of emergency across north Darfur and a curfew in the wake of “a grave military escalation by the rebels.”

Lord Alton, the founder of the human rights campaign Jubilee, believes the international community has been "duped". He explained that the Sudanese government had been required by a United Nations mandatory resolution to disarm militia, and this had not been done. "There is a whiff of Munich about this," said Lord Alton, who last visited Sudan in September.

He said he backed a letter to a national newspaper from shadow foreign secretary Michael Ancram, Labour MEP Glenys Kinnock, and Liberal Democrat foreign affairs spokesman Sir Menzies Campbell.

The trio is calling for better resources to provide for those affected by the war, a no-fly zone to be imposed over west Darfur, and targeted sanctions, including oil sanctions.
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Oxfam UK says EU must take action

European Union foreign ministers faced a call yesterday to take tougher action in western Darfur as new violence has cut off aid supplies to over 150,000 people.

"The EU must immediately take robust action to force the warring parties in Darfur to comply with their commitments to protect civilians in Darfur," U.K.-based Oxfam International said in a statement.

The charity denounced deteriorating security on roads caused by bandits and warring factions, which were forcing it to use helicopters to fly aid to four towns in the western region of Sudan.

The EU is supporting an African Union plan to send more than 3,000 peacekeepers to Darfur, offering advisors and $100 million to cover almost half the costs of the operations.

The bloc has also considered sanctions such as a travel ban or asset freeze against Sudanese leaders. - Agencies
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Save the Children UK aid workers flee violence

Yesterday, Save The Children, UK, said at least 30 of their workers and some other people were airlifted from the Tawilla area, in North Darfur state, where fighting between rebels and Arab militia has raged since Sunday.

UN spokesman George Somerwill, said 45 people were airlifted to safety by an AU helicopter after fleeing into bush areas.

He said a tribal dispute over livestock sparked the clashes and resulted in rebel SLA forces attacking the Janjaweed.

AU monitors said six civilians were killed during the clashes, which followed a ceasefire deal signed between rebels and the Sudanese government on November 9.

The UN Children's Fund (UNICEF) has said that reports of violence against women and children in and around IDP camps in Darfur appeared to be on the increase. A UNICEF statement said armed militias were raping girls and women in Darfur as a tactic to terrorise and humiliate individuals as well as families and communities.

UN agencies to move from Kenya to southern Sudan

Jan Pronk, announced that all UN organisations working to end the southern Sudan civil war will be moved to southern Sudan, possibly to the city of Rumbek, from their current base in Kenya within six months.

UN Sends Kilometre-Long Food Convoy Across Sahara for Darfur Refugees in Chad

U.S. food takes 3 months to get to Chad


Above is a map of the long path to relief. After a month-long trip down the Mississippi River and across the Atlantic, U.S. food arrives on the coast of Cameroon.

From there it's 10 to 15 days to get it to Chad and at least a week until it makes it to the camps.

With delays, the entire trip can take 3 months.
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UN Sends Kilometre-Long Food Convoy Across Sahara for Darfur Refugees in Chad

For the first time, the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) is sending United States food assistance through Libya along a 2,800-kilometre-long humanitarian corridor across the Sahara desert to reach nearly 200,000 Sudanese refugees in eastern Chad.


"This is by far the biggest WFP shipment through Libya to Chad," WFP Deputy Regional Director for the Middle East Mohamed Diab told a news conference today in the Libyan city of Al Kufra on the edge of the Sahara.

"A one kilometre-long convoy of trucks is an impressive sight, and we are very grateful to the Libyan authorities for allowing us to use this corridor."

Donated by the US Government, the food includes sorghum, cornmeal, lentils, vegetable oil and corn-soya blend, allowing WFP to provide the 200,000 refugees with almost all the commodities needed for their daily diet over a two-month period.

Monday, November 22, 2004

National Geographic video report: Shattered Sudan - Drilling for Oil, Hoping for Peace

"Hostilities in Sudan have dragged on for most of the past 50 years and claimed more than two milion lives. It's a fight for self-determination and control over resources, particularly oil. The government in the north is strafing, starving and abuducting populations in the south. Miraculously, the Nuba people find the courage to sing - even laugh - in the face of despair. Randy Olson and fellow photographer Meredith Davenport describe the conflict."

The above extract is from the opening page of this powerful video report at the National Geographic. It is not to be missed. The report is short. If you are on dial-up, it loads quickly. Please turn on your speakers and see what went on in Sudan BEFORE Darfur. And ask yourself if Darfur is any different, and how did they get away with genocide for so long?

Copyright Marco Longari / AFP

Above photo: Sudan Darfur Attack, 26 January 2003 - A soldier of the Justice and Equality rebel movement poses inside an empty house after an alleged government plane bombed the empty town of Tine-Sudan on the border with Chad.

Copyright Olivier Jobard / SIPA PRESS

Above photo: Chad - Refugees from Darfur, Sudan.

Band Aid 20: Do They Know It's Christmas... Band Aid Twenty Years After

Band Aid 20 "Do They Know It's Christmas" CD will be released Nov. 30 (on Universal Int'l) for the benefit of Darfur, Sudan. All proceeds will be spent on famine relief for Darfur.

Westcoastmusic blog features the following piece on Band Aid - Twenty Years After:


More than 13m have seen Band Aid debut video in United Kingdom. It was shown simultaneously on BBC One, BBC Two, ITV1, Channel 4 and Five.

The figures do not include Sky One or the other digital channels which showed it. Pop star Madonna, who does not appear on the track, urged fans to "feed the world" before Thursday's screening.

The single "Do They Know It's Christmas" is due to be released on Monday 29 November. BBC One was the most watched terrestrial channel while the video aired, with 3.9m viewers, according to unofficial overnight figures.

ITV1 drew in 3.1m viewers and BBC Two was seen by 2.6m. Just over 1m tuned into Five and Channel 4 incorporated the screening into the end of the Richard and Judy programme, which attracted 2.6m people.

The video began with Coldplay's Chris Martin in the main hall of Air Studios, north London, where the song was recorded last week.

It also featured some stars whose voices did not appear on the song - including Sir Paul McCartney playing bass, Radiohead's Thom Yorke on piano and Blur's Damon Albarn, who served tea.

The video included footage of organiser Bob Geldof in the studio playing the stars a video of an emaciated young girl in the 1984 Ethiopian famine. The girl, now a young woman, was then introduced to the singers, many of whom were moved to tears.

The video included footage of organiser Bob Geldof in the studio playing the stars a video of an emaciated young girl in the 1984 Ethiopian famine. The girl, now a young woman, was then introduced to the singers, many of whom were moved to tears.

Hungry ... Live Aid revealed<br /><br /> Birhan's starving face
Photo: Hungry ... Live Aid revealed Birhan's starving face: Live Aid miracle girl Birhan Woldu

Birhan with Bob Geldof

Birhan with Bob Geldof. She said later: "It was a very special to meet them both. I hope they can help Africa so that no one has to go through the pain I went through."

Madonna's introduction began: "Twenty years ago, I performed at Live Aid and the world watched. You saw me and my generation demanding a change. "Once again, here we are 20 years later," she said, over images of starving African children. "More people die of hunger in Africa than war and Aids put together.

"In a world of plenty, it is hard to imagine that most African children will go to bed tonight hungry.

"Bob Geldof and his friends are here to remind you that we can never forget. Not ever. Feed the world. I am honoured to introduce Band Aid 20."

The song, a remake of the 1984 original, was recorded on Friday, Saturday and Sunday by more than 50 artists including Joss Stone, Dizzee Rascal and The Darkness. It is tipped to be the Christmas number one, but bookmakers have shortened the odds on the track's long-term success after it received lukewarm reviews.

The single, which also features Bono, Sugababes and Will Young, was made available to download from the internet on Thursday from a number of music services that will donate proceeds to the cause.

It is also being launched as a charity mobile phone ringtone with proceeds going to the Band Aid Trust, which is supporting food aid to the Sudan's troubled Darfur region.

Click into Westcoastmusic blog to find out how to order the CD now.

Band Aid 20 - Who sings what?

Chris Martin (Coldplay) - It's Christmas time, there's no need to be afraid. At Christmas time, we let in light and we banish shade
Dido - And in our world of plenty we can spread a smile of joy. Throw your arms around the world at Christmas time.
Robbie Williams - But say a prayer, Pray for the other ones. At Christmas time it's hard, but when you're having fun.
Sugababes - There's a world outside your window, and it's a world of dread and fear.
Fran Healy (Travis) - Where the only water flowing
Fran Healy and the Sugababes - Is the bitter sting of tears
Fran Healy and Justin Hawkins (The Darkness) - And the Christmas bells that ring there are the clanging chimes of doom
Bono (from U2) - Well tonight thank God it's them instead of you
Will Young and Jamelia - And there won't be snow in Africa this Christmas time
Ms Dynamite and Beverly Knight - (Oooh) Where nothing ever grows, no rain nor rivers flow
Group of 10 and Joss Stone - Do they know it's Christmas time at all?
Tom Chaplin (Keane) - Here's to you
Justin Hawkins - Raise a glass for everyone
Dizzee Rascal - Spare a thought this yuletide for the deprived, if the table was turned would you survive?
Busted - Here's to them
Justin Hawkins - Underneath that burning sun
Dizzee Rascal - You ain't gotta feel guilt just selfless, give a little help to the helpless
Joss Stone and Justin Hawkins - Do they know it's Christmas time at all?
Tom Chaplin - Feed the world
Tom Chaplin and Chris Martin - Feed the world
Tom Chaplin, Chris Martin and Sugababes - Feed the world
Everyone - Feed the world, let them know it's Christmas time again (repeated)
Fran Healy - Wooo
Group of 10 - Feed the world
Everyone - Feed the world (repeated to end)
Joss Stone - Ad-libs over outro

Band Aid 20 CD tracklisting:

1. 2004 Version - "Do They Know It's Christmas"
2. Original 1984 Version - "Do They Know It's Christmas"

Girl changed Blair's life
Photo: Live Aid Girl, who changed Blair's life 20 years ago, hands Mr Blair a gift during his recent visit to Africa
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Here is a copy of a report by Stephen Castle in Brussels, 22 November 2004, Daily Telegraph UK:

The drive by the EU to become a military force will take a big step forward today when all 25 nations agree to create battle groups of elite troops able to reach trouble spots such as Darfur within 15 days.

The move, which means forging multinational teams of soldiers, is part of an ambitious agenda of boosting the EU's military and crisis intervention capabilities to give it more clout on the world stage.

Britain will play a leading role and, along with France, guarantee to make one of the battle groups - each of which will have around 1,500 troops - available and on standby for the first half of next year.

Today's deal underlines the progress made on EU defence since Tony Blair and Jacques Chirac agreed at a summit in St Malo in 1998 to push for military co-operation.

Initially viewed with extreme suspicion in Washington, the concept has now been accepted, with US policymakers aware of the benefit it will have in helping reduce over-stretched American military commitments. Next month the EU will take over its first big military operation, when it assumes the task of peacekeeping in Bosnia from Nato and takes control of around 7,000 European soldiers.

But the EU has also been working hard to forge an effective rapid reaction capability for crisis intervention and humanitarian tasks. The force is not being considered for a role in Iraq or elsewhere in the Middle East.

Originally the aim was to have 60,000 troops available, but that target has now been refined to try to ensure well-trained soldiers can be airlifted quickly to trouble-spots, particularly in Africa. One such EU operation, comprised largely of French soldiers, has been undertaken in Bunia in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Each unit will have its own logistical support, including aircraft to transport them and communications and logistical backing to keep them in the field for between 30 and 60 days.

Every battle group will be associated with a headquarters in one of the member states which would run that particular operation, rather than the EU's embryonic military planning cell in Brussels.

Only the UK and France are able to provide this sort of quick reaction force, but Italy, Germany and Spain will develop the means to do the same.

Germany says it wants to make up to 8,000 troops available for the battle group concept, though some could also be called on for Nato's Response Force.

Meanwhile, the plan will mean that multi-national teams will be assembled and train together to create mixed-nationality battle groups.

One EU military official said: "All EU countries have armies with their own national battle groups ready to deploy on their soil. This is an acknowledgement that we need something that can conduct expeditionary operations, something that can, at short notice, mount flash to bang operations when the Council of Ministers says so."

With several neutral states taking part in the project, most diplomats assume that operations undertaken will be backed by a UN resolution.
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Rwanda slams UN plan in DR Congo

Interesting report here from the BBC today re the multinational UN force deployed in eastern DR Congo..

The UN Security Council has received a scathing response from Rwanda about UN plans for voluntarily disarming Rwandan rebels with bases in DR Congo.

The Security Council is on a tour of Central Africa to try to end a decade of genocide and armed conflict that has killed at least 4.5 million people."

Sunday, November 21, 2004

Khartoum has an archbishop - where has he, and all the other religious leaders, been hiding?

After seeing the above National Geographic video report, and glancing through the archives of this site, you have to wonder where Cardinal Zubeir Wako, and all the other religious leaders, have been hiding.

Recently, the Sudan Tribune reported that Cardinal Wako criticised the indifference of the genocidal regime in Khartoum in the face of the "Janjaweed".

"I don't think there is a will of the Sudanese government to intervene to stop the janjaweed militias; otherwise they would have allowed the United Nations and the African Union to act with greater speed in Darfur," he lamented.


Cardinal Zubeir Wako with Pope John Paul II in Khartoum, February 1993.

New tribal clashes, banditry and troop movements - access blocked to 150,000 - trouble may loom in east, south and far north of Sudan

Recently, John Garang, the leader of the largest rebel group in South Sudan, was quoted as saying that people in eastern Sudan and the far north may soon begin to feel marginalised and start up conflicts in bid for a share of resources and power.

Trouble looming in southern Sudan

In blackspots like Shilluk in southern Sudan where there was large-scale violence this year, a stream of rainy season floodwater, too deep for a pick-up filled with troops to cross safely, runs between the opposing frontlines. Analysts fear that when the dry season comes, later this month, government forces will return with a vengeance and seek to retake the territory they have lost.

Note, whenever news of peace talks and agreements come about, reports of the terrifying Ugandan rebel group led by Kony never fails to emerge. A few days ago, Kony had ordered his men to dig up a stash of hidden rifles and meet him in southern Sudan where he was pillaging villages.

Sudan rebels co-ordinate conflicts using satellite phones

During the past seven months, it's seemed obvious the rebels in Sudan are keen on the international community imposing sanctions on the government of Sudan.

Rebel groups use satellite phones and admit they have their ears glued to BBC radio news. In a bid to weaken and unseat their government, no doubt they could easily stir up trouble and goad the Janjaweed into violent actions. This would account for government's ferocious fight back and refusal to be the first to disarm. The rebels have even gone as far as to lay mines. One killed two British aid workers. It's a wonder how they get kitted out and receive their supplies over years - and decades.

3,000 AU troops in Darfur by February 2005

Yesterday, Reuters report AU troops will increase from about 700 to more than 3,000 "in the coming months". Other reports have said extra AU troops will be in Darfur by the end of this month. 196 Gabonese troops who were due to reach El Fasher yesterday have been delayed because of conflict in Ivory Coast.

7,000 UN troops in Sudan by February 2005

The UN will deploy thousands, probably 7000 troops from different countries in south Sudan a month after the final peace deal is signed," said special envoy Jan Pronk in Khartoum yesterday. It's been known since last May that UN peacekeepers would enter Sudan to monitor the peace agreements, after they were signed. Back then, December was mentioned as the target date. The original plan has slipped by a month or two. It's not easy to see how this will help Darfur. Sudan is huge. Experts estimate 44,000 troops would be needed for Darfur, a region the size of France.

Incentives to delay peace agreement December 31

Over the past six months, Sudan's rebels have accused Khartoum of dragging their feet to make more money from oil. Both sides say they hope to sign a peace agreement on December 31, when Khartoum will have to share Sudan's oil revenues.

Khartoum have incentives to delay - they don't have to pay out and the land for oil business continues to be cleared of its inhabitants.

The rebels also have an incentive. The longer they can keep fighting and goading Sudan's forces and loyalist militias into violent actions, the more pressure they know the international community will bring to bear on Khartoum to disarm their militias or suffer sanctions.

If both sides run out of delaying tactics, they still have one issue that remains to be ironed out. John Danforth, referred to it as "a math problem": about which side pays for rebel fighters who do not join regular government forces after the peace settlement.

All of what's happened on the diplomatic front over the past 3-4 years would make sense if it turns out the international community are supporting the rebels in a bid to weaken or oust the genocidal dictatorship in Khartoum.

New tribal clashes, banditry and troop movements

Yesterday, UN and AU officials confirmed tribal clashes, banditry and troop movements are blocking crucial deliveries of food aid in North Darfur despite recent peace agreements.

The AU said it was investigating reports that 14 people had been killed in two separate incidents since Thursday near the town of Tawilla, about 60 kilometres (40 miles) west of El Fasher, the capital of North Darfur state.

Access blocked to 150,000 people in need of aid

Tawilla sits along the main transit corridor westwards from El Fasher, but two weeks of escalating banditry and fighting in the area has turned the route into a "no-go zone" on U.N. maps, blocking access to some 150,000 displaced people.

A WFP convoy of 25 trucks carrying 250 tonnes of food was due to leave El Fasher on Monday, but was on hold until the situation improved, leaving many without their monthly rations of cereal, salt and other foodstuffs.

"It's a disaster to close that road because it prevents distribution of food to Tawilla and Kebkabiya, which are the main distribution areas for North Darfur," said Janse Sorman, an official with the U.N. World Food Programme in El Fasher.

Saturday, November 20, 2004

Bashir assured Annan at meeting today: Khartoum hopes to finish Darfur talks by end of year

Sudanese Vice President Ali Osman Taha, left, holds hands with Sudan People's Liberation Movement leader John Garang, right, Friday, November 19, 2004 during the U.N Security Council meeting in Nairobi, Kenya. (AP).


Quotes of the day

British charity Oxfam led the protests, dismissing the council's visit to Africa as little more than a jaunt.

"From New York to Nairobi a trail of weak resolutions on Darfur has led nowhere," said Caroline Nursey, Oxfam's regional director. "Travel agents will have more to show from this meeting than the people of Darfur."

That drew indignant responses from both Britain and the United States, who both insist that they will push for sanctions if Khartoum fails to rein in the attacks on civilians by Janjaweed, or continues to hamper the delivery of emergency relief.

"We came here not for a ceremony, not for a photo op, but for results," said John Danforth, the US representative to the UN. "I want to be very clear. The violence and atrocities being perpetrated in Darfur must end now."

Sir Emyr Jones Parry, the British ambassador, was even more blunt. "We repeat the message that we will come after you if you don't comply," he said.

"The violence and atrocities being perpetrated must end now," the US ambassador to the UN, John Danforth, told Mr Taha and Mr Garang at the meeting. "You have heard this message clearly from the security council - heed it."

"The attacks and atrocities have got to stop now," British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw said in a statement following the adoption of Resolution 1574 by the UN Security Council at a special session in Nairobi.

"We are keen, we are fully committed, to give the people of Sudan and to give Africa and the whole international community the gift of an agreement for the end of the year," Sudanese Vice President Ali Osman Taha told the Security Council.

John Garang, leader of the Sudan People's Liberation Army, the biggest southern rebel group, welcomed a resolution the council passed Friday demanding that the two sides sign a final agreement by Dec. 31. "We will do our best to fulfill our commitment," he said.

"With a bit of luck, and with the spirit that has been generated ... we might even be able and conclude with Darfur at the same time we will conclude in south Sudan. It's not impossible," Obasanjo told a news conference today.

Annan, speaking at a Tanzania summit on Africa's troubled Great Lakes region on Saturday, said he met Sudan's President and been assured Khartoum now hopes to speed the pace of talks on Darfur to finish them by the end of the year.

Rebel leader John Garang promised southern Sudanese good news for Christmas - sentiments remarkably similar to those made a year ago in front of former United States secretary of state Colin Powell.

While both sides have agreed on the wording of a peace deal, a final accord formally ending the war has been delayed three times.

United Nations officials hope the promise to reach an accord by year's end also will help quell a separate ethnic conflict in Sudan's western Darfur region, but they warned against unwarranted optimism.

"We are very close to peace, but we have been close before," said John Danforth, who was Washington's special envoy to Sudan before becoming U.S. ambassador to the United Nations.

"Russia has been a consistent supporter of intra-Sudanese settlement all along, given the need to bring the situation in the country back to normal, to ensure national reconciliation while at the same time preserving the territorial integrity and sovereignty of Sudan, with whom Russia has traditionally been maintaining friendly relations," Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman Alexander Yakovenko said.
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Declaration on the conclusion of IGAD negotiations on peace in the Sudan


Video of Security Council meeting [2hrs 34mins]

Sudanese parties sign peace pledge in Nairobi
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Darfur talks to resume in Abuja next month

The Sudan government and Darfur rebel groups will resume their peace talks in Nigeria's capital Abuja next month, AFrican Union (AU) Chairman Olusegun Obasanjo, who is also president of Nigeria, said here Saturday.

The talks will resume on December 9, one month after both sides signed two protocols on security and humanitarian aid, Obasanjo told a press conference today.
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One can only hope the word "February" is a typo by Reuters when they say (btw this particular story was published several weeks ago), "the full AU force of 3,320 personnel, including 2,341 troops and 815 civilian police from various African countries, completes its deployment by February."

The German government said it would pledge around 200 soldiers plus air transport capabilities to the African Union's mission in charge of monitoring peace efforts in Sudan.

Friday, November 19, 2004

Oxfam says only travel agents gained from UN meeting - Taha, called on international community to help his government disarm fighters

Here below is a copy of a report from the Scotsman by Gethin Chamberlain entitled "Only travel agents will gain from UN meeting says Oxfam".

[Note Oxfam's Brendan Cox, who attended the UN Security Council meeting said, quote "The atmosphere at the meeting here in Nairobi is very flat. Nobody seems very concerned." - and note Mr Annan's statement, "When crimes on such a scale are being committed, and a sovereign state appears unable or unwilling to protect its own citizens, a grave responsibility falls on the international community, and specifically on this council"]

ONE of the main aid agencies trying to help the victims of the genocide in Sudan yesterday accused the United Nations Security Council of doing nothing to help bring an end to the suffering.

Oxfam warned that information coming out of the Darfur region suggested that the increasing violence had left 200,000 people cut off from aid and at risk from lack of food and water.

As the Security Council met in a special session in Nairobi to discuss the situation in Sudan, the charity warned that the situation was deteriorating.

"There has been lots of talk over the last year, and commitments from all sides to end abuses, but security in Darfur has not improved. In fact, in the last two months it has started to deteriorate," Caroline Nursey, Oxfam’s regional director, said.

The charity’s Brendan Cox, who was attending the Security Council meeting, accused the UN of failing the people of Darfur. "The atmosphere at the meeting here in Nairobi is very flat. Nobody seems very concerned," he said.

"The only people who will benefit from this meeting are the travel agents and those people who will collect their free air miles. There is no optimism about the outcome of the meeting. We are expecting an even weaker draft resolution than before. It will probably be passed, but it will not make any difference.

"This is like Groundhog Day. You have got the same situation as before, worse even, and yet the UN Security Council keeps coming up with more and more watered-down resolutions."

Kofi Annan, the UN secretary general, told Security Council members that a swift conclusion of an agreement to end the 21-year civil war in southern Sudan was critical to solving the rest of the problems in Africa’s largest country.

But he went on: "I regret to report that the security situation in Darfur continued to deteriorate, despite the ceasefire agreement signed earlier."

Mr Annan urged the Security Council to issue "the strongest warning" to all the forces fighting in Sudan, adding that an agreement to end the war in southern Sudan would provide a basis for bringing peace to Darfur.

"When crimes on such a scale are being committed, and a sovereign state appears unable or unwilling to protect its own citizens, a grave responsibility falls on the international community, and specifically on this council," he said.

The Security Council is today expected to pass another resolution on Sudan in which it will pledge to monitor the situation in the country and "take appropriate action" against any side that fails to support the peace process.

However, while previous resolutions have made veiled threats against the Khartoum government, John Danforth, the United States ambassador to the UN, admitted that this one would contain no element of coercion.

"There is nothing threatening about it," he said. "What we want to do is point out that the international community is going to be there for Sudan in the long run."

It is only the fourth time that the Security Council has met outside of New York, but dignitaries were spared the inconvenience of having to mingle with the residents of Kenya’s capital.

A fleet of Mercedes sedans whisked the VIPs between airport, five-star hotel and the manicured lawns of the local UN headquarters.

Gitau Warigi, a columnist for Nairobi’s Nation newspaper, said he was concerned that the delegates were being cocooned from reality. "My only fear is when people come over and do their business, they tend to forget the problem of poverty, and that is one that people should focus on," he said.

Sudan has agreed to allow in African Union troops to monitor a ceasefire between the government and rebels in Darfur, but this has been hindered by a shortage of transport.

George Foulkes, the Labour MP for Carrick, Cumnock and Doon Valley and a former development minister, revealed yesterday that Thabo Mbeki, the South African president, had appealed to parliamentarians to put pressure on governments to help the African Union monitors in Darfur.

Mr Foulkes said that, in particular, Mr Mbeki wanted Britain, France and the US to provide transport planes to support the monitoring effort because few African nations had such aircraft to spare.

Mr Foulkes said he had written to Jack Straw, the Foreign Secretary, urging him to consider the South African president’s request.

The need for the African Union troops was highlighted yesterday by the aid agency Médecins Sans Frontières, which said attacks on people living in Darfur, and on aid workers, were continuing.

In a letter to the UN, it said: "Six months ago, Médecins Sans Frontières briefed the Security Council on the massive suffering and death in Darfur which had resulted from militia attacks on villages and the forced displacement of hundreds of thousands of civilians.

"Despite several resolutions and pledges since then, neither the government of Sudan nor the international community has provided sufficient assistance and security to the people in Darfur. After over 18 months, people’s lives are still under daily threat."

At yesterday’s meeting, the Sudanese vice-president, Ali Osman Taha, called on the international community to help his government disarm fighters and begin reconstructing the country.


UN Security Council gives Bashir, Taha, Garang and the Darfur rebels another 6 weeks

Today, the United Nations Security Council voted 15 to 0 to adopt a resolution giving Sudan more than $500 million in aid and deploying at least 10,000 UN peacekeepers to the oil-rich nation after its war ends.

The government of Sudan and South Sudan rebels (not to be confused with the Darfur rebels in West Sudan) today signed a memorandum committing them to reach an accord to end the 20-year war over the nation's oil by December 31, 2004.

Yesterday, after the security council meeting in Nairobi, Kenya, US Ambassador John Danforth said, "They will sign a memorandum of understanding tomorrow, committing themselves to completing their peace agreement and signing a peace agreement by the end of this year.''

What remains to be ironed out, said Mr Danforth, is limited to "almost a math problem" about which side pays for rebel fighters who do not join regular government forces after the peace settlement. "Sudan must become a nation that respects human rights and replaces violence with political dialogue,'' he said after the vote.
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Note, During the past week, Mr Danforth referred to one sticking point in the peace talks as a "math problem". He makes it sound like a minor detail. As of today, it seems it has not been sorted. Also, he recently referred to previous agreements with Sudan as being written in disappearing ink. How can we believe Bashir, Taha and Garang?

One wonders how the Arab militias, Hilal and all the other perpetrators of atrocities fit in with the peace agreements. Not to mention east Sudan and the far north, where some reports say they soon may feel left out and marginalised. Fighting could start up any day in those regions as December 31 draws near. A few weeks ago, there were reports of fighting in east Sudan. Newly formed rebel groups could easily spring up out of nowhere or from over the border.

Naturally, any sign of peace for Sudan is great news but without tens of thousands of peacekeepers in place, it's bound to fall apart because the warring parties in Sudan have proved untrustworthy. It will take years before a decent government and proper law and order are in place. The children of Sudan are the key to the future - and education. Hopefully, the West will support Sudan for as long as possible and everything will be done to ensure Sudanese children received a good education.

Perpetrators of atrocities belong behind bars. It's estimated that at least 300 victims of Darfur are dying each day. While everyone waits for a "math problem" to be sorted, and for a handful of men to sign another piece of paper on December 31 (why the six week delay, is it to do with oil prices?) at least another 14,000 Sudanese people will be added to the death toll.
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Quotes of the day

"We will do our best in order not to disappoint you, the Sudanese people, the international community,'' the rebel group's deputy leader, John Garang, told the Security Council. "We will do our best to fulfill our commitments and we also appeal to you to fulfill your commitments.''

Vice President Ali Osman Taha said the government will fully participate in the peace process.

"We are more committed than in other times that our people will reap the fruit of this process,'' Taha said. "Peace remains a strategic option to the government of Sudan. We have knocked on all doors and looked in all angles in search for peace.''

"In Darfur, chaos and atrocity remain the order of the day,'' John Danforth said. "The process of bringing justice to the oppressed people of Darfur must continue. I want to be clear. The atrocities perpetrated in Darfur must end now.''
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Sudan's government-backed Arab militias have driven as many as two million black Africans from their villages in Darfur and caused as many as 300,000 deaths from violence or disease and hunger.

Today's UN measure makes no direct reference to sanctions, including against oil trading, threatened in UN resolutions adopted July 30 and September 18 unless the government ends abuses of villagers in Darfur.

China relies on oil from Sudan and cannot afford for its country to be affected by oil shortages. So oil sanctions are out.
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Against any party failing to fulfill its commitments

Today's UN resolution promises aid and "possible'' debt relief after a comprehensive peace agreement is signed "on the understanding that the parties are fulfilling their commitments'' to previous cease-fire and power-sharing accords.

The UN Security Council will "take action against any party failing to fulfill its commitments'' to stop what the U.S. has called genocide in Darfur.

Critics including Human Rights Watch said the measure doesn't go far enough to end violence in Sudan's western Darfur region.

I'm not sure that I agree. It sounds to me like this rather cleverly worded sentence achieved unanimous agreement. If they fail in their commitments, action (although unspecified could be anything from a slap on the wrist to military intervention) will be taken.

The Sudanese government has denied involvement in the atrocities, and council members Algeria, China, Pakistan and Russia have blocked imposition of sanctions.

The U.K. ambassador to the UN, Emyr Jones Parry, defended the resolution, saying it "hasn't been a dilution at all.''

The envoy said the U.K. will give Sudan 100 million pounds ($186 million) and the European Union will donate 400 million euros ($520 million) after the warring sides sign a truce.

"We will hold these guys to account,'' Jones Parry said.

The way the three UN resolutions have been worded, along with Tony Blair's five point plan - that he personally delivered to Khartoum (with an ultimatum of peace by January - or else - it's possible peacekeeping troops with an expanded manadate could go in by their thousands within the next 6 - 8 weeks.

If Sudan disregards the agreements (which surely they will, they can't help themselves, peace is not in their blood - other rebels groups will probably spring up) it is up to us to keep the pressure up on governments to give the money and support needed by the AU. AU have done a great job so far but if they can't get enough soldiers together in time, they need to be backed with UN peacekeepers holding Chapter 7 mandate.
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Oil Production

Sudan produces about 345,000 barrels of crude oil a day, a figure that could reach 750,000 barrels by the end of 2006 if planned production expansion is completed, according to the U.S. Energy Department. China and India are the major buyers of the crude. Southern Sudan, the stronghold of the rebel force, has proven reserves of 563 million barrels.

The aid package would total at least $500 million, according to Carl Ulrich, spokesman for the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. He said the Netherlands has pledged $130 million and the U.K. has pledged $186 million in development aid. Norway will host a donors' conference to raise more money for Sudan, Ulrich said.

"The issue of reconstruction of southern Sudan is of paramount importance and we will need and expect your assistance,'' Garang said. "The failure to manage diversity has led to these series of wars,'' he said. He said rebels must be helped to return to civilian life.
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To determine how many soldiers will be need to monitor a peace accord

The Security Council voted on June 11 to prepare for the deployment of UN peacekeeping troops to Sudan after the civil war ends. The resolution authorises Kofi Annan to send an advance team to Sudan to determine how many soldiers will be needed to monitor a peace accord.

Any deployment would be larger than the 10,576-strong peacekeeping force in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, said Nick Birnback, spokesman for the UN Department of Peacekeeping Operations.