Monday, November 29, 2004

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 (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.


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