Saturday, November 13, 2004

Duke students begin replica of Darfur suffering - Germany to send airlift planes to Sudan - Britain may deploy troops

This photo shows a group of Duke students working on putting up the first structure of what they intend to be a Sudanese refugee village replica at Duke on Friday.

The students are putting up a refugee type structure modelled after those in Darfur to raise awareness of the suffering and plight of the victims of genocide in Darfur Sudan. Here is a copy of a November 13 report from The Herald-Sun in America:


DURHAM -- The tent looked rickety, ready to fall to the slightest gust. But then, that's the point. A group of Duke undergraduates spent Friday afternoon propping up the structure, the beginning of a planned replica of a refugee village designed to draw attention to Darfur.

"We have to acknowledge that a genocide has happened," said Damjan Denoble, one of the project's organizers.

That crisis inspired the Duke students to build their own refugee village. They hope to add nine more to the first tent -- essentially a dirty sheet of canvas held up by tree branches. The design is based on pictures of actual refugee dwellings in Sudan and across the border in Chad.

And the students also plan to help passers-by write letters and make phone calls to members of Congress, asking them to put Darfur on the national agenda. The village will stay up through Thursday, when a vigil to raise awareness about the ongoing crisis in Sudan is planned for the steps of Duke Chapel.

Anders Luco, a graduate student in the philosophy department, said his group, Justice, and other students hope to raise money during the vigil for nongovernmental agencies providing aid to the refugees. The crisis has not received as much attention as it should, he said, given the human hardship involved.

"It's the single most dire humanitarian crisis on Earth right now," he said.

The students building the mock village said they hope it will educate students, but they added that it also would be worth the effort if it only sparked a few thoughts about the suffering in central Africa.

Political causes can get lost among all the others on a college campus, so the students have to do something dramatic to get attention, the organizers said.

"Part of it is the spectacle of it," said Vijay Brihmadesam, a sophomore involved in the project.
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Note, MICHAEL PETROCELLI, the author of above report in The Herald-Sun, can be emailed at After posting this, I shall send him a link to the above.

Wouldn't it be great to see the mock village idea catch on at every campus across the world? A few scraps and twigs, and some energy and effort, are all that's needed to pitch up a village and grab the world's attention. Warm thanks to Mr Petrocelli for publicising this great initiative by the American students. It's a brilliant idea. Hope we get to hear more. They ought to be televised, across the world.

Here in England on BBC TV, there is a long running (well over 40 years) TV programme called Blue Peter that so many Brits grew up with, it's become a cult. Hugely popular with youngsters and parents, Blue Peter is an educational e-zine for teenagers that broadcasts serious news on world events and politics - and features all sorts of creative projects using scraps, empty washing up liquid bottles, drinking straws, bottle tops etc.

Maybe people like Michael Petrocelli can get TV stations interested in the students who could explain their Darfur project on TV (and radio) programmes like Blue Peter. More mainstream media and TV coverage is needed. We get just a minute or two on one news station, every few days - sometimes not for a week or two.

A previous post here dated November 11 linked to a BBC report re British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw's shock at seeing BBC footage showing Sudan's police attacking a refugee camp in Darfur. You can view the video by clicking into a box in the top right hand corner of the report. Unfortunately, I'm using a PowerBook G4 and it wouldn't play for me.

Anyone can spread the word and get the video beamed around the world by linking to the BBC report in their weblog or website and pointing it out to readers. Please spread the word. Thank you. The UN Security Council meeting is next week, we need to get as much publicity on Darfur as possible. Jack Straw sent word out in the press: the pressure needs to be piled high on Khartoum. If we can put pressure on the Security Council - they might feel the pressure piling on them to do something.
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Some news reports say there are now 700 troops (probably including observers and monitors) in Darfur. The three US transport planes that airlifted AU soldiers into Darfur are now back in Germany.

The following report from Berlin (via November 11, explains how 3,000 AU soldiers - expected in Darfur by the end of this month - will get there:

The German government will seek parliamentary approval to send transport planes to Sudan to airlift African Union peacekeepers serving in the country, Defence Minister Peter Struck said on Thursday.

Struck told Deutsche Presse-Agentur dpa that a parliamentary green light was needed because "danger to German soldiers cannot be ruled out."

The African Union (AU) has asked for European Union aid in deploying some 3,000 peacekeepers in Sudan's troubled Darfur region.

Struck said he expected German Luftwaffe C160 Transall transport jets to be flying missions in Darfur later this year.
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Note, Later this year? Hello. What about this month? Like, today? If you've followed Darfur closely these past six months, you may have noticed nothing much new has been put on the table since April and May when the death toll for Darfur was reportedly 10,000. Thousands of UN peacekeepers were planned for Sudan anyway - to enter by the end of Sept/Dec 2004 to monitor the ceasefires agreements after the long hoped for signing of the north-south peace accords.

Obviously, Kofi Annan has known this all along. Everyone on all sides (GoS, rebels, UN) have been delaying, biding their time and coasting along at everyone's expense with talk, sulks and more talk.

The UN is as good at delaying tactics as Khartoum and the rebels are. Meanwhile ... 10,000 Sudanese die every four weeks waiting for food, medicine and security forces who won't rape, attack, kidnap, bomb and kill them or force them to flee by burning down their homes and bulldozing their refuges. Who knows for sure if this is all to do with Khartoum 'clearing' their land for oil and drilling operations?
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Here we go again. Deja vu. Round two. Repeat of last crunch-time meeting of UN Security Council. Drums are starting to beat again, turning the pressure on Khartoum. British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw said pressure must be piled on Khartoum.

Note the below copy of a November 10 report in The Guardian UK. Best thing about reports such as this is, given our history, Khartoum can't help but take any information mentioning British troops, seriously. Peace in Sudan 'by January' is the ultimatum Tony Blair personally delivered to Khartoum.

"Britain could be asked to contribute troops to a 10,000-strong UN peacekeeping force for Sudan under a draft resolution being discussed in the security council, government officials in London indicated yesterday:

"The proposal for a UN force is part of a British package of incentives designed to gain Sudan's agreement to a comprehensive settlement of the conflict in Darfur, in western Sudan.

The UN says fighting in Darfur has claimed the lives of 70,000 people since March. A further 1.5 million people have fled their homes as a result of the violence pitting militias, known as Janjaweed, against two rebel groups, the Sudanese Liberation Army and the Justice and Equality Movement.

The security council passed two resolutions this year in an attempt to halt the conflict, threatening the Khartoum government with sanctions if it failed to rein in the Janjaweed. But recent reports have suggested the situation is deteriorating.

Speaking at the Foreign Office, Chris Mullin, the minister responsible for Africa, said Khartoum had demonstrated "reasonable cooperation" with international efforts to stem the Darfur fighting but it was "still not a very good situation".

Asked whether Britain would send troops to Sudan as part of the proposed UN force, as Tony Blair appeared to suggest earlier this year, Mr Mullin declined to rule it out saying it was "premature" to comment at this time.

Britain's ambassador to the UN, Sir Emyr Jones Parry, said the UN resolution, drafted by Britain, was under discussion and would be presented to an extraordinary security council meeting to be held in Nairobi on November 18-19.

The meeting, convened in Kenya at the request of the US, would focus on Darfur and the long-running talks between Khartoum and the Sudan People's Liberation Movement, he said.

"The draft resolution is the carrot," Sir Emyr said.

"We are saying that if you [the Sudanese government] get your act together to get a stable state and live together, then this is what we can contribute: a major peacekeeping operation by the UN, humanitarian relief, law and order, help with infrastructure and establishing the rule of law and democratic structures."

He said the resolution, if agreed, would support addi-tional deployments of African Union troops, with monitoring duties as now but possibly as peacekeepers with wider powers. And it could dangle the prospect of an international aid donors' conference for Sudan.

The aim was to show Sudan's leaders that "the international community will stand by Sudan but only if it behaves", he said. He said the possibility of sanctions remained if Khartoum failed to reach a settlement.

"Sanctions are held as a latent threat," he said, poised over the heads of both the government and the rebels. He added any punitive measures would be "smart sanctions", targeting financial assets and the foreign travel of officials, rather than ordinary Sudanese.

He appeared to rule out curbs on Sudan's oil exports, which would almost certainly be opposed in the security council by China, one of Sudan's biggest customers.

Britain's special representative for Sudan, Alastair McPhail, said peace talks in Abuja, Nigeria, over Darfur were making progress, with agreement reached in principle on humanitarian and security protocols.

It was also hoped that the Nairobi meeting would be a catalyst for a peace accord in the south, he said.

The latest British proposals to break the impasse over Darfur came at a critical moment. UN World Food Programme officials in the region said yesterday that violence in the past month had deprived 175,000 people of emergency food supplies and driven 150,000 people from their homes.

The International Red Cross said last month that villages throughout Darfur faced "an unprecedented food crisis" that was worse than the famines of the 1980.",14658,1347485,00.html
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10/11/2004 Tom Brake MP, Liberal Democrat Shadow  International Development Secretary, is today meeting with the Sudanese Ambassador to the UK HE Dr Hassan Abdin. Commenting, Mr Brake said:

“As the humanitarian and security situation continues to deteriorate, the Sudanese government continues to give questionable assurances on Darfur.  The government is failing to control and disarm the Janjaweed militia and security remains an illusion for the people of Darfur.  I am seeking the Ambassador's response to reports that Khartoum is losing control of the region and that Darfur is descending into anarchy.

"Sudan's oil-hungry friends on the Security Council should not help Sudan escape the threat of UN sanctions.  Sudan must make good its promises on Darfur and comply with UN resolutions and co-operate with the African Union mission."

“The Sudanese government must halt violations of international humanitarian law and it must re-start peace talks.”
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Note, Jim has written an excellent short summary on Darfur that puts the whole hellish story in a nutshell:

"It's not that complicated: a genocide in Darfur, by proxies of the government of Sudan, in order to suppress an insurgency and intimidate people in other regions of the country."

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