Saturday, December 11, 2004

European Union must act to stop violence in Darfur

This post features the European Union and US relations, the new rapid response European battle groups, NATO, EU summit Dec. 17 to discuss UN reform which Kofi Annan will be attending following his meeting in Washington on Thursday, Colin Powell's visit to Europe, and other snippets of news and information.

I'd gathered the information within a single post to see if any of the initiatives could tie in with the United States, and try to gauge if there's a way of bypassing the UN to get around the problem of China and Russia blocking action against Sudan. During the past several months, a few news reports (one from FT in April - see here below) said it is possible for the EU to intervene in Darfur.

After spending yesterday on this post, today I find a report in the Scotsman titled "Blair told plan for EU army may hit relations with US". Here are some excerpts:

"The US is turning away from international defence pacts such as NATO and becoming increasingly suspicious of the EU’s long-term ambitions.

Despite the British Prime Minister’s avowed intent to be the US’s closest international ally and to stand "shoulder to shoulder" with the US in President George Bush’s "war on terror", Britain is also backing the European Security and Defence Policy (ESDP), which is creating a EU defence force with its own planning "cell".

The current UK approach of going along with ESDP, cutting defence spending and trying to pretend the EU-USA tensions do not exist will destroy the bridge described by the Prime Minister, not preserve it.

The warning chimes with talk in Washington about transatlantic relations. US officials have worries about the EU force, as well as European initiatives such as the Galileo satellite programme and moves to relax the EU arms embargo on China.

The need for unity between Western nations could not be greater, the author warns, since the danger from groups like al-Qaeda will not fade."
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EU must act to stop violence in Darfur

A recent press release by Oxfam urges the European Union (EU) must immediately take robust action to force the warring parties in Darfur to comply with their commitments to protect civilians in Darfur.

Following the UN Security Council's failure to agree a strong resolution on Darfur in Nairobi the statement issued by Oxfam said "the European Union is one of the last hopes for tough action to press the parties to stop the continued violence and insecurity in Darfur."

The call came as EU Foreign Ministers met to discuss the crisis at the General Affairs Council meeting November 22. "The European Union must step in to the void left by the UN Security Council's failure, and take action to stop the violence in Darfur," said Jo Leadbeater, Head of Oxfam's EU Advocacy Office.

Increased insecurity on roads as vehicles are looted by bandits, enter ambushes or are caught in the cross-fire between rival armed groups, has meant that in four towns across Darfur, Oxfam can only get aid in by helicopter. "Without road access, we are not able to get essential aid to Garsilla. Thousands of people fled their homes with nothing and are in urgent need of mosquito nets and blankets," said Caroline Nursey, Oxfam's Regional Director.
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Crisis in Darfur : The European Commission’s response

The European Commission (EC), the EU’s executive, website states it is extremely concerned about the magnitude of the humanitarian crisis in Darfur.

Note, the European Union is the largest overall donor by far, having pledged more than €285 million this year (more than two thirds of all aid pledged).

Mother holds malnourished child - Darfur - Sudan
Photo : Peter Holdsworth
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The European Union

EU foreign and defence ministers met on Monday November 22 in Brussels to discuss the situation in the situation in Iran, Sudan, the Ivory Coast and the Middle East.

One of the main topics on their agenda was the EU's plans to create battle groups - a series of 1,500-strong forces deployable within 15 days to deal with trouble-spots in the world. [Some reports say these could become a reality by January]
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EU-US Partnership

Those who have followed the news on Sudan closely will know that for several months France has 200 soldiers on the Chad/Sudan border. They were the first European troops to airlift massive amounts of emergency aid into Darfur.

Germany has 200 soldiers currently preparing to airlift African Union (AU) troops into Darfur. American and Norwegian troops also transported soldiers and equipment into Sudan. Britain is supporting the Nigerian contingent of AU soldiers on the ground in Darfur.

American contractors are currently in Darfur building facilities for the AU soldiers who will be stationed there for at least one year. Negotiations and funding are underway by the World Food Program for the clearing of landmines throughout Sudan to make way for the return of the displaced people. Massive numbers of people around the world are working hard to help Sudan.

Given its history with Sudan, Britain pays close attention to what is going on in Darfur. Several months ago it sent a military reconnaissance team into Sudan and has 4,000 troops on standby. Behind the scenes, the UK and a host of other countries (Germany, Norway, Denmark, France in particular) are providing huge support and logistics for AU troops.

Britain is the second largest cash donor for Darfur. Europe is the single largest donor having provided two-thirds of the aid. Prime Minister Tony Blair is the most senior Western official to visit Khartoum. Following Foreign Secretary Jack Straw's visit to Khartoum, Mr Blair met with Sudan's President Bashir and delivered a five point plan with a deadline by the new year. Yesterday, Britain confirmed it is supplying 143 vehicles to the AU troops in Darfur within the next week.

Europe is responsible for the start up and support of the fledgling African Union and creation of the huge African Peace Facility fund for the expansion of the AU and its troops to provide African solutions for African problems.

Thinking out of a box

As an aside: Following the recent outbreak of violence in the Ivory Coast, the UN Security Council recently imposed an immediate arms embargo on the country. Security Council members unanimously backed a resolution proposed by France to stop either government forces or rebels importing new weapons. Since the civil war reignited on November 8, more than 10,000 people have fled from Ivory Coast into Liberia. Would the UN arms embargo help to revive the peace process? Were the French right in their response? Have you been affected by the current crisis? See readers answers and views at BBC Have Your Say.

Here is one comment extracted from the above "Have Your Say" re the Ivory Coast:

"Each and every resident in sub-Sahara Africa (including our leaders) should ask themselves this question: what will become of my dear country (or continent) 50 years from now? And what can I do to make it better? If you find it hard to answer this question, then try providing an answer to this alternative question: where did our leaders go wrong 50 years ago? And what should they have done? It's about time we begin to think out of a box. Ed K, Ghana"
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Why Not Launch Unilateral U.S. Military Action in Sudan?

Booker Rising: "Why Not Launch Unilateral U.S. Military Action in Sudan?" writes:

"We would support it. Genocide shouldn't be happening anywhere."
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EU-US Partnership

New EU Ambassador John Bruton who met with President Bush on Thursday, is upbeat on future of EU-US relations.

John Bruton December 9, 2004
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Bush to visit Europe


(Photo: Swedish EU Presidency)

December 9 report via EUobserver says Mr Bush is scheduled to touchdown in Europe February 22, his first foreign trip of the new presidency, which begins in January. Mr Bush’s visit is likely to be taken as a symbolic gesture aimed at underscoring the importance of transatlantic ties.

The announcement comes as Colin Powell visits Brussels December 9 for meetings with NATO (see here below) and yesterday in The Hague for an EU-US ministerial meeting.

Mr Powell has pressed European countries to pledge more troops to help bolster security in Iraq. He has also spoken of his administration's commitment to transatlantic ties. "We are reaching out to Europe and we hope that Europe will reach out to us", he said on Wednesday.
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North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO)

NATO is an international organisation created in 1949 by the North Atlantic Treaty for purposes of collective security. Read the core provision of the NATO treaty and debate on future of NATO at Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

NATO Summit 2002 NATO-2002-Summit.jpg
Photo courtesy Wikipedia


Photo courtesy Wikipedia
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EU-led forces 'could intervene' in Sudan conflict

Here is an excerpt from an FT report April 12, 2004:

" ... In an interview with the Financial Times, General Hägglund said the possibility of the EU sending a force to Sudan had been raised by Louise Fréchette, the United Nations deputy secretary-general. "Sudan is on the list of the UN [for some form of peacekeeping mission]," Gen Hägglund added. ..."
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Further reading

British Embassy, Sudan: UK Aid Programme In Sudan

Europa: EU Relations with Sudan

Dec 2004: The European Union and peacekeeping in Africa: "Sudan"

Nov 26: Commission earmarks a further €51 million in humanitarian aid for Sudan.

Nov 25: Louis Michel starts mandate by visiting Sudan and Kenya

Oct 26: EU mobilises an additional € 80 million from African Peace Facility to support enlarged African Union observer mission in Darfur, Sudan.

Aug 25: Commission releases a further €20 million in humanitarian aid for Darfur.

July 30: The humanitarian crisis in Darfur – response of the European Commission – UPDATE EU by far the biggest donor

July 12: Sudan/Chad: Commission earmarks further €18 million for victims of Darfur crisis

Nine-year-old victim of the crisis
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Peace talks on Darfur to resume today

Yesterday peace talks on Darfur were to resume but were put back a day because of logistical/travel problems for delegates. Political adviser to the AU envoy to Darfur, Doubou Niang, told the BBC: 'We are worried about these violations [between warring parties], but we haven't lost faith.'"

UN envoy sceptical of resolution talks in Sudan

UN envoy to Sudan, Jan Pronk of The Netherlands, says he is sceptical about the talks that were due to resume later today. He said none of the parties have stuck by any of the agreements they had signed in Abuja in April. "During the last couple of weeks there is increased fighting," he said. "The Abuja agreement in the field of security has not helped anything, there are many cease-fire violations after the Abuja agreement as before. "Both parties have violated the agreement." --BBC
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DEC Sudan Emergency Appeal raises £32m

Compassion fatigue is a thing of the past, judging by the overwhelming public response to the Sudan Emergency Appeal, which has raised an outstanding £32 million since it was launched in July.

Chief executive of the Disasters Emergency Committee (DEC) which works on behalf of eleven of the UK’s leading international charities says that all the aid agencies have been moved by the remarkable generosity of the British public.

“We are overwhelmed by people’s desire to help  ease the suffering in Sudan,” he said.  “The response is one of the most generous in the DEC’s 40 years of existence. It signals a clarion call to the world’s leaders to solve this crisis.”

The killing of two aid workers from DEC member Save the Children has underlined the desperate nature of the situation.
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Christian Aid address UN Security Council

An agency of the churches in the UK and Ireland, Christian Aid works wherever the need is greatest, irrespective of religion. It supports local organisations, which are best placed to understand local needs, as well as giving help on the ground through 16 overseas offices.

Christian Aid partners delivered a powerful and simple message, that the people of Sudan want peace and they want it now to the UN Security Council at the special session in Nairobi.
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Band Aid 20 single reaches No. 1 in UK charts

Today, Travis singer flies out to Sudan to see how money raised from the Band Aid single will be used to help the country. He's spending a week meeting people returning to their homes from refugee camps and will also witness how the Save the Children charity distributes food.

Band Aid 20's Do They Know It's Christmas? is currently number one in the charts in Britain.


On December 10, 1948, the U.N. General Assembly adopted its Universal Declaration on Human Rights.

[Source: New York Times]

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