Tuesday, February 08, 2005

Darfur Sudan genocide has killed more than the tsunami

Jan Coebergh, a doctor with an interest in epidemiology who worked in Darfur before the present crisis writes:
News reports have consistently reported 70,000 dead in Darfur. This figure is certainly wrong. Infact, at least three and perhaps four times as many people have died. By this time next year the death toll may equal that of Rwanda in 1984.
Full Story Sudan Tribune Jan 31, 2005 [via A Tangled Web, with thanks]
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UN: reports of unrest continue to flow in from Darfur

7 Feb UN confirms reports of unrest continue to flow in from various parts of Sudan's western Darfur region, including abductions, the burning of villages, the disruption of relief operations and shooting, the UN mission in the country said.

African Union (AU) monitors and humanitarian agencies last week found seven villages that have been totally burnt recently and three others abandoned in South Darfur state, but there was no information on who was responsible, the UN Advance Mission in Sudan (UNAMIS) reported.

In North Darfur, an AU team found over the weekend that six people were abducted allegedly by three armed men who took their cattle before releasing them. In West Darfur suspected armed tribesmen disrupted a food distribution operation by a non-governmental organization (NGO), while other armed tribesmen looted 50 bags of cereal and five bags of sugar.

The UN World Health Organization (WHO), meanwhile, is helping the Ministry of Health to raise supplementary funds to constitute a vaccine stock in the event of widespread meningitis outbreak.

According to the Ministry, between 22 January and 2 February, 69 cases, 23 deaths of them fatal, were reported from Gadaref and Blue Nile states. Since then, more cases and related deaths have been reported form South Kordofan and El Gazeria states.
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Situation in Darfur dramatically worsened, says African Union

7 Feb Deutsche Presse article says the African Union envoy to Sudan confirmed in a statement late Sunday that the security situation in Darfur "had progressively deteriorated to appalling levels over the last four months, with with unacceptable consequences to the peace and tranquility of the civilian populations." Also, that the worst perpetrators in the worsening situation in Darfur were "mostly the Janjaweed/Armed Militias who appeared to enjoy immunity from their inhuman and brazen acts of destruction of life and property wherever they struck".

An AU mission is currently in South Darfur, investigating an air raid by government planes reported to have killed about 100 people on January 26. Thirty people were killed on January 13 and 24 more on January 21 in previous air raids, according to AU reports.
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Darfur rebel commanders split from group

4 Feb ReliefWeb confirms that about 10 Darfur rebel commanders have renounced leadership of the main movement in Sudan's west, rebel officials said on Friday, raising fears that negotiations for Darfur could stutter.

Also last week, UN envoy Jan Pronk stressed to Council members that the peace process in southern Sudan will falter unless there is no incentive for any Sudanese groups to solve their problems through force. These groups "could be people in other parts of Sudan who feel oppressed, marginalized or neglected," he said.

Mr. Pronk said it was therefore vital to move quickly to disarm and demobilise former combatants, reform the security sector, return and reintegrate refugees and internally displaced persons (IDPs), establish solid economic and political governance, promote the rule of law, remove landmines, rebuild damaged infrastructure and reduce poverty.

The envoy acknowledged that "this is an enormous challenge," and also emphasised that the UN mission is designed to have "a relatively light footprint" - helping the Sudanese fulfil functions rather than imposing or carrying them out itself.
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Darfur rebel group NMRD halts talks with government

8 Feb Swiss news report says a breakaway Darfur rebel group has suspended negotiations with the Sudanese government after Arab militias attacked villages in its areas, the leaders of the movement said. The group, the National Movement for Reform and Development, (NMRD), split from the two main Darfur rebel movements last year but signed separate ceasefire agreements and humanitarian and security protocols with Khartoum on December 17. The two sides were supposed to meet on January 17 to discuss implementing those deals.

"We never went and now we are suspending negotiations," said political secretary Khalil Abdallah.
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Sudan's Beja opposition demands more power

6 Feb Reuters report says an opposition group from Sudan's increasingly unstable east called today for more power and resources for the impoverished region, echoing demands made by other anti-Khartoum forces in Africa's largest country. Here is an excerpt from the report:

Last month, Sudanese police killed at least 20 ethnic Beja when they opened fire in Port Sudan on protesters preparing for a march to demand that the Khartoum government start negotiations on sharing power and the country's resources.

Ali El-Safi, an official of the opposition Beja Congress, added in an interview that the movement rejected a recent pact on Sudan's future reached with Khartoum by an alliance of opposition groups of which it is a member, arguing it does not tackle the east's problems.

''We need our share of power and wealth. We need a federal state. That is, we need to solve our problems by ourselves,'' Safi told Reuters at a meeting in neighbouring Eritrea of Sudan's opposition umbrella National Democratic Alliance (NDA).

''Then there are grievances of development. We are a backwater in the East, so we need to allocate resources to address these problems,'' he added.

Originally a nomadic people, many moved to the port to work as labourers after famine killed their cattle and mechanised farming took over their lands in the 1980s.

The Beja Congress, which has a military wing that has carried out minor military operations in the east, and other Sudanese opposition groups accuse the government of neglecting the remote regions of the country in favour of the centre.

They see an accord signed in January between the government and the southern rebels of the Sudan People's Liberation Movement (SPLM) as a model for their own regions. The agreement gives the southerners a share of their region's oil revenues.

The NDA was a serious challenge to Khartoum in the 1990s, when it launched a military campaign into the east from Eritrea. The alliance says it still has thousands of fighters under arms.

Apart from the SPLM, the other main group in the NDA is the Democratic Unionist Party, one of the big traditional parties in the Arab north. Other members include the Sudanese Communist Party, the Baath Party, the Beja Congress, the Sudan Liberation Movement (SLM) from Darfur in the west and an alliance of southern parties independent of the SPLM.

The government and NDA reached a tentative agreement in Cairo on January 16 on Sudan's political future that builds on a peace accord already signed with the SPLM.

The power-sharing deal struck by Khartoum and the SPLM allocates a proportion of seats in a new national government to other parties, and the Cairo accordpaves the way for talks on how to divide up those seats and how to integrate opposition armed forces into the national army.

But Safi said the Beja Congress rejected the pact.

''Our stance is clear. We refused the Cairo agreement because it doesn't address the Eastern problem,'' he said. ''The substance is not convincing, a very superficial tackling of the problem.'' NDA negotiators are due to fly to Cairo on Friday for further talks with the Khartoum government to build on the Cairo pact. Safi said the Beja Congress should be the sole negotiator for the NDA when the east is discussed at the Cairo talks.
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Sudanese vice president, leader of former rebels to attend UN meeting today

8 Feb Reuters report says Kofi Annan said Sudan refused to arrest those responsible for atrocities in Darfur, and rebels intensified attacks against police forces. Also, Annan said he was investigating how a planned UN peacekeeping mission in the South could help the African Union, which is monitoring the Darfur crisis. But he stopped short of recommending the peacekeepers go to Darfur, which would require Khartoum's permission.

Photo: Kofi Annan and Jan Pronk

Today, Mr Annan, along with AU representative Baba Gana Kingibe, Sudanese First Vice President Osman Taha and John Garang, leader of former rebels in southern Sudan, will participate in an open meeting of the UN Security Council. During the session which will last for two days, the council will discuss the arrangements to implement the North-South peace agreement which the Sudanese government signed with the SPLM on Jan. 9 as well as the establishment of a UN peacekeeping mission to this effect, and the conflict in Darfur, West Sudan.
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Annan discussed Darfur with Bashir and Ismail on Feb 2

6 Feb RFE/RL report reveals Kofi Annan told a press conference on 2 February that on a recent trip to Nigeria he was able to meet with Sudanese leaders to warn them that they must end the bloodshed.

"And I was also able to sit down with President of Sudan and his foreign minister, with my representative, for us to tell them exactly what we think should be done and the fact that the situation in Darfur was not getting any better and it was essential that they took every step to bring the situation under control," Annan said.

The chairman of the UN Security Council, said on 2 February after a closed council meeting that the council members are determined to make sure the Darfur crimes are punished.

But the Security Council has yet to take concrete action. One reason is that China and the United States oppose referring the case to the ICC, for very different reasons.

Photo: Sudanese First Vice President Osman Taha (AFP/File/Gerard Cerles)

Sudan will not allow any citizen to be tried abroad in connection with suspected crimes against humanity in Darfur, Taha was quoted by the press as saying.

A sealed envelope containing 51 names of senior officials, security force members and other citizens accused of serious war crimes has been sent to U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan. The identities of about 40 more individuals accused of similar abuses, but with less evidence gathered against them, have been sent to the U.N. Commissioner for Human Rights for possible further investigations.

None of the names have been made public to ensure due process is carried out and to protect witnesses. Washington lobbied Security Council members for a new tribunal to prosecute alleged crimes from Darfur which would operate with the African Union.
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Justice for Darfur needs more than 'consensus'

7 Feb report at Independent UK suggests Britain supports an ICC referral as long as America does not disagree.

Note, well that's what real friends are for. No?
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Sudan number two sets out Darfur peace proposals

5 Feb Middle East news report says Taha called upon "the holders of weapons" to abide by a much broken 10-month-old truce and return to the negotiating table in search of a comprehensive settlement, state television reported from the North Darfur state capital of El Fasher.

"The gun will not bring about a solution to the problem -- development and services will not be reached via subversion," Taha said, urging the rebels to "put down the gun so that all of us will carry the spade for building Darfur."

"We reiterate our commitment to a decentralized rule in Darfur and the people of Darfur will rule their region at their own will."

Taha warned the rebels not to rely on foreign intervention to secure satisfaction of their demands. "Seeking foreign protection and resorting to international powers will not contribute to confidence building and will only lead to renewed fighting among the sons of the homeland." [Note: this is what he means - see Feb 8 report titled "Darfur rebels want UN to supervise talks with Sudan government"]

The vice president, who was recently appointed the government's pointman in the Darfur conflict, said the search for a solution was proceeding on three tracks.

One subcommittee would investigate complaints of criminal acts against the security forces and their allied militias, another would look into compensation for the victims, while a third would address the root causes of conflict between the minorities and the region's Arab tribes.

Taha said the subcommittees would tour the entire region to listen to grievances and vowed: "There will be no courtesy or leniency with anyone who has done injustice."

UN envoy Jan Pronk said Friday that he feared last month's peace deal ending two decades of conflict in southern Sudan would prove short-lived without an end to the bloodshed in Darfur.

"I am convinced that without a solution in Darfur, the north-south will not remain a sustainable peace agreement," he told reporters after briefing the Security Council in New York.

The European Union has called for an immediate end to the "impunity" of government forces and militias in Darfur, which are held responsible for widespread rape and murder in the suppression of the nearly two year old rebellion.

British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw said Friday that the Security Council would decide how to bring to justice suspected war criminals in Darfur but Khartoum has said it is totally opposed to any overseas trials of its nationals.
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Kofi Annan's 6-month review of Darfur confirms dramatic increase in lawlessness

A 6-month review of the Darfur crisis was issued by Kofi Annan in a report to the UN Security Council last night. It said Sudan's government implemented some promised measures but ignored others and instituted a "road-clearance" project that wiped out villages in an attempt to retaliate against armed rebels.

"The last six months have seen a substantial increase in lawlessness, in particular banditry and abduction, which have dramatically increased since October," said the report.

"Fighting on the ground continues, and those responsible for atrocious crimes on a passive scale go unpunished. Militias continue to attack, claiming they are not part of any agreement. The government has not stopped them."

On hand for today's UN Security Council meeting will be Charles Snyder, the State Department's lead negotiator on Sudan, and Pierre-Richard Prosper, the U.S. ambassador-at-large for war crimes. Prosper is lobbying council members to have the Sudanese accused of atrocities tried in a court in Tanzania, rather than the European-preferred International Criminal Court, which the Bush administration opposes.

The US intends to pick up "a significant share of the costs," a senior U.S. officials said. But Prosper's presence could prove embarrassing for Taha, whose government has said no Sudanese would go on trial outside the country. In anticipation of the meeting, the US distributed "elements" of a resolution to the 15 council members. It would create a committee to decide which Sudanese officials, militia and rebels members should be put under a travel ban and have their assets frozen abroad.

In addition, the draft resolution seeks an arms embargo on Darfur and again threatens an oil embargo but does not call for it to be instituted. The draft, when completed, will not designate where perpetrators of atrocities would be tried until that issue is settled among council members.

Russia and China have argued against sanctions in the past. But all 15 council members, except for the United States and China, have signed or ratified the treaty creating the Hague-based International Criminal Court, a permanent court set up to try individuals for genocide, war crimes and massive human-rights abuses.

Further reading:

8 Feb report in the Guardian UK says Sudan has failed two major UN demands aimed at ending violence in its Darfur region - disarm militias and arrest groups attacking villagers, Secretary-General Kofi Annan said Monday Excerpt:

Annan's grim report details commitments the government has failed to keep, a lack of cooperation by rebels in peace talks, and increasing threats to humanitarian workers. Annan has asked the council to approve a 10,130-strong U.N. peacekeeping mission to enforce the north-south peace deal, but he stressed again yesterday that efforts to monitor and verify the Jan. 9 agreement must include the separate Darfur crisis.

Annan's report said the government has made "little progress" in meeting its UN obligation to adopt measures to end impunity, investigate reports of human rights violations, and ensure that the accused are brought to justice without delay.

Since September, it said, there also has been no evidence of disarmament as the government promised. "Disarmament and arrest of the perpetrators of these brutal acts is the single most important demand of the council and the clearest case of failure by the government to live up to its responsibilities," the report said.
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Sudan vows to frustrate sanction attempts

7 Feb Xinhua China View reports that Sudanese Secretary General of the ruling National Congress (NC) Party Ibrahim Ahmed Omar stressed on Monday that the government would do its best to frustrate attempts to impose sanctions on Sudan.

Omar told reporters that Sudanese First Vice President Ali Osman Taha would present the government's stance on how to solve the Darfur problem to the UN Security Council on Tuesday Feb 8.

Omar pointed out that the Sudanese government had decided to assume the stance at the five-way summit held in Tripoli last October, which was attended by leaders of Libya, Egypt, Nigeria, Chad and Sudan.

"The UN secretary general's call to impose sanctions on Sudan is baseless and unjustified because he is not a president of an international government nor an executive authority," said Omar. "Annan might have been confused about the issue," he said, expressing hope that the UN Security Council would listen to real facts on the issue and regard the efforts exerted to end the crisis in the region.
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Garang said he is willing to help seek a solution to Darfur

5 Feb - Former southern rebel leader John Garang, soon to be installed as Sudan's vice president following the north-south peace accord in January, has said he is willing to help seek a solution to the war in Darfur. "I will listen to the government and the resistance and I will be happy to play that role," he said after meeting the head of the AU, Alpha Oumar Konare, over the weekend.
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Sudan accuses some "foreign circles" of stirring up Darfur conflict

7 Feb China View reports that Sudanese President Omar el-Bashir accused on Monday some "foreign circles" of stirring up conflict in the western region of Darfur.

In an interview with an Iranian TV channel, Bashir affirmed that "some hidden hands are working for stirring up the conflict in Darfur."

"These foreign circles wanted to internationalize the Darfur issue to divert attention of the international community from what is taking place in Palestine and Iraq," he said.

He announced that his government will soon reach an agreement with the opposition Democratic National Alliance in Cairo, Egypt, to realize a national compromise among Sudanese people.

The Sudanese president reiterated his government's determination to implement a peace agreement it signed with the Sudan People's Liberation Movement in the Kenyan capital of Nairobi on Jan. 9.

"We will achieve our objectives," he said, referring to an improvement in the wake of the long-standing war in southern Sudan.

Photo: Omar el-Bashir
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Homecoming delayed for Sudanese refugees in Uganda

8 Feb report by IRIN confirms the SPLM/A has opened offices in Juba barely a month after signing a peace accord with Khartoum to end 21 years of conflict. The southern Sudanese flag flew high as jubilant crowds held banners that read: 'Welcome, Welcome new Sudan', 'Bye-Bye Old Sudan' and 'Our long awaited child "peace" is born, handle him with care'. Full Story. Note, While the town of Rumbek will initially be the main political headquarters in the south, John Garang, the leader of SPLM/A, has previously stated that Juba would eventually become the new capital of South Sudan.
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5 Feb Reuters report via Sudan Tribune: Shattered infrastructure and the threat of landmines are delaying the assisted return of thousands of south Sudanese refugees languishing in camps in northern Uganda, the UN refugee agency said on Saturday. Full Story.

Photo: Sudanese refugees arriving at Kyangwali settlement in Uganda after being displaced from their original camp in Achol Pii

Note, Uganda hosts about 220,000 Sudanese refugees, more than any other country bordering Sudan. The UN refugee agency (UNHCR) says moves to transport them home are not expected to start until October. "We are taking a very cautious, phased approach," the agency's representative in Uganda, told Reuters.

"UNHCR has not been operating in southern Sudan for 20 years, so we are starting from scratch to begin receiving these groups. There is very little infrastructure in place, and of course there is the huge problem of landmines."

Officials from seven nations hosting Sudanese refugees -- Central African Republic, Democratic Republic of Congo, Egypt, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya and Uganda -- held talks in Khartoum this week to discuss repatriation plans.


This is the market where an returning refugee sells her homemade beer. There is not a lot of choice as most of the goods which are on sale here are made locally. A few of the things are brought in from Uganda and Kenya. Photo courtesy BBC.

Analysts say some of those who fled to neighbouring states do not necessarily support southern leader John Garang -- who becomes vice president under the peace deal -- and are seeking assurances of their safety before making the journey home.

Since Sudan's peace deal was signed in January there have been no large-scale movements of refugees heading home unaided.
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Darfur ghost town awaits return of its citizens

6 Feb Reuters describes the ghost town of Tine on the Chad-Sudan border where a few residents remain, camping in the hospital and the dilapidated school while they wait for their old neighbours to return:

All 5,000 or so inhabitants of the town, in the Darfur region of western Sudan, fled in late 2003 when rebels and government forces clashed nearby and government forces bombarded the town and surrounding areas.

About 200 have returned but they live from day to day, ready to move on if the need arises. Full Story.

Note, their stories stop people coming back. But also the people are scared. They do not believe there is now security.
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Stricken Darfur faces food crisis

The following editorial is an excerpt from an in-depth report at the Wall Street Journal Feb 7:
Jan Pronk, the UN's chief envoy in Sudan, says the cumulative effect of one failed harvest after another, along with rising prices and malnutrition rates, could eventually leave all six million Darfurians in need of food aid. Surveying the economics now in play, he says, "the future in 2005 is bad."

Hunger has been willfully engineered by destroying all aspects of the agricultural system. Seed stocks have been burned, animals stolen or killed, and the tools of cultivation, such as hoes and tractors, smashed. The current Darfur crisis, however, will likely continue even after the farmers return to their land, because the very means of their livelihood have been destroyed.

In December WFP said more than half of the $438 million of food aid needed in Darfur for 2005 must be delivered by the end of January, to insure food would be in place before rains make overland transport nearly impossible and isolate tens of thousands of people. In addition to food donations -- wheat, beans, cooking oil and a corn-soya blend make up the standard ration -- cash contributions were needed to buy dozens of heavy-duty trucks to haul the food across the desert.

If enough food isn't available for Darfur, the WFP may be forced to reduce the size of the monthly rations, or limit the number of recipients.

Even when Darfur dominated the humanitarian spotlight last year -- nearly 100 relief agencies flocked in to help with water, sanitation and health care -- Darfur's farming needs were overlooked. The U.N. says the agriculture section of its appeal, which would have provided seeds and tools to help farmers, received less than one-fifth of funding requirements.
Note, Last year I published a post that quotes Sudanese President Bashir saying he would ensure the Darfurians were provided with all sorts of things including, seeds. See here, the offer is not mentioned again:
Government officials in Khartoum downplay the food scarcities, and have resisted pressure from the U.N. to stabilize prices by shifting 100,000 tons of food from other regions to Darfur. "There is a food gap in Darfur, but it's not so significant," says Ahmad Ali El Hassan, the director of rain-fed agriculture. "Humanitarian assistance will fill the gap."

He insists Darfur's farmers, despite continuing security threats, will leave the camps and return to their farms to plant this spring. He concedes the farmers' seeds, tools and livestock have been destroyed in the war, which the government blames on tribal conflicts. Still, he says, "God willing, we'll get a good crop."
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Meanwhile, Sudan plans to put its first satellite in orbit this year at a cost of 60 million dollars.
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MSF news update on activities in Darfur, Sudan

Here is an excerpt from the latest news in the field by Doctors Without Borders/Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) in Darfur:

By December 2004, 197 international volunteers and 2,582 national staff for MSF were providing emergency assistance in 27 locations in Darfur in areas with more than 600,000 displaced people. MSF doctors and nurses conducted an estimated 78,000 consultations each month. MSF's main activities continued to focus on treating malnourished children in therapeutic feeding centers (TFCs) and supplementary feeding centers (SFCs); treating patients suffering from diseases like respiratory infections, diarrhea, hepatitis E, and malaria; running blanket feeding programs; and providing clean water and improving sanitation to reduce the risk of disease.

It is now winter, and very cold in the mountainous regions. There are still many needs in the areas controlled by the rebels. The MSF assessment of the Jebel Si region in November and December showed that people in remote and isolated regions still need absolutely everything - food, non-food items, medical care etc.

Increasing insecurity has impacted on the food distribution activities of other agencies, especially in the north part of North Darfur. On November 1st, a group of 300 women demonstrated at Abu Shouk camp during a WFP food distribution. They were protesting about being omitted from the distribution for the past 3 months. Police were called in, and tear gas and electric sticks were used to disperse the angry mob.
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Violence strikes Eastern Sudan

Graham Wood, Head of Policy at Ockenden International, has lived and worked in Africa, Asia and the Middle East for the past 20 years. Here is an excerpt from his op-ed:

Eastern Sudan has received little attention by the international media and even by some donors. Yet according to the UN World Food Programme, the nutritional situation of children is worse than in parts of Darfur.

Some 250,000 displaced Sudanese also live in the main towns of Port Sudan and Kassala. Many of these live under cardboard boxes, spending what little they have on the water to survive in the desert climate. In 20 years of working in some of the world's poorest countries, the conditions in the poorest areas of Port Sudan are as bad as any I have seen.

Ethnic tensions run high in Sudan. There will be many calls on the resources of the new [South Sudan] government. And that government has to respond, throughout the country, by ensuring a representative mix of peoples making up its number and the even-handed distribution of resources.

Some three million have lost their lives as a result of 20 years of conflict. North, south, east and west: the vast majority of Sudanese live an existence on the edge. Without an intelligent distribution of aid money, conflict is likely to be the result from those who feel left out.

The [recent] Port Sudan clashes herald changes to come and are likely to occur elsewhere. They are, in some ways, part of the bidding process of peace. How they are dealt with will be an indication of the future shape, and fate, of this troubled state.
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Sudan and Chad's leaders to meet on Darfur with AU next week

7 Feb Middle East article says the presidents of Sudan and Chad will meet African Union officials February 15-16 to discuss enforcing a ceasefire.

"This will entail knowing where rebel positions are in order to enforce a ceasefire, the neutralisation and disarming of the Janjaweed and the withdrawal of government forces to their positions of before December 8, 2004, in line with the last resolution made by the AU Peace and Security Council" in Gabon.

The talks will also be attended by representatives of Libya, the United States, France and the European Union.
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Professor explores cause of genocide

8 Feb Nashville City Paper article by Ron Wynn - excerpt:

Dictatorial practices by Sudan's central government are the main culprit responsible for the ongoing crisis in that African nation, according to Dr. Mahgoub Mahmoud, Tennessee State University (TSU) professor of sociology.

"In realty, the central government has created a situation where parties from the other regions have been in conflict trying to get some measure of representation, and their wishes have been repeatedly ignored.

"The central government seized power in a military coup decades ago and has been brutalizing all political opponents and refusing to share power ever since.

"Without addressing the political problems in all the regions of Sudan, you have a situation of constant conflict, lawlessness and groups preying on other groups. But all that has to be understood within the realm of the central government refusing to share power and acknowledge its faults," he added.

Mahmoud has been at TSU since the late '90s, but he was born and raised in Omdurman, the capital city in central Sudan.

He credits human rights organizations like Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch with publicizing the atrocities that have often spotlighted the enslavement and brutalization of Christians in the area by Muslims, but he cautions things are far more complex than usually presented.

"As far as injustices go, the central military has been responsible for a campaign that has tried to eliminate many different groups and religions," Mahmoud said. "There is an element of enslavement in this, but it must be viewed within a political context, not a racial or a religious one."

Mahmoud also praised the American government for its role in working alongside other African nations in the region to find some peaceful solutions.

"As a result of those efforts, the Southern region will now have a chance for autonomous rule," Mahmoud said.

"This accord, which also instituted a referendum in January, has opened the possibilities for changes in the nation's other regions and for eventually the central government to share the wealth and power with all the people and regions of Sudan. Until they really recognize and begin that process, the problems will continue."

"The biggest misconception that many around the world have regarding the Sudan is that is it just a tribal conflict with the JanJaweed tribal group attacking other groups," Mahmoud said.
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Sudan Crisis far from over, warns Sudan expert

7 Feb 2005 Caritas report says two recent developments have allowed the Sudanese government to get away with increasing atrocities in Darfur, warned John Ashworth, a spokesman for Sudan Focal Point, who is visiting Australia on behalf of Caritas Australia during Project Compassion to warn about the worsening of the Sudan crisis.

Mr. Ashworth spoke at the annual Caritas Australia lunch hosted by Premier Bob Carr at State Parliament House on Monday. Here is an excerpt from a report at ReliefWeb:

"The Asian tsunami has taken the media's attention away from Darfur. And the recent peace settlement in the South, announced in early January, has given many in the West the impression that the Darfur crisis is now over," said Mr. Ashworth. "But in fact, nothing could be further from the truth. The situation for people in Darfur has actually worsened - and is likely to deteriorate even more," he said.
"In the 1970s oil was discovered in the South, so the strategy of the government, highly centralized in the North, then became one of dividing the loyalties of groups who had been agitating for the rights of the people in the South, so both groups would be severely weakened," he said. "In fact, the Sudanese government began carrying out ethnic cleansing campaigns around the oil fields of the South as early as 1997," he said.
Mr Ashworth said that recent interest by the American administration in monitoring the events in the Sudan had been helpful in bringing peace to the South. The US government is motivated by its fear of Sudan's potential as a terrorist state and continues to watch the situation carefully because of plans it has for a restructured middle east. In addition, the US needs to diversify its sources of oil supply.
"All these factors mean that the US is interested in the Sudan and this has a protective effect. But unfortunately the priorities of the US are not about the long-term interests of the people of the Sudan. And many of us have grave concerns about the vulnerability of the South, once the US loses interest in it."
Mr. Ashworth said the peace agreement recently struck between the North and the South 'looks good on paper'. The people of the South have been offered a six year interim period, after which they will be given the opportunity to vote on seceding from the North. "But the Southern Sudanese are very concerned that, given the 50 year history of agreements broken by the North that this agreement may also be undermined," he said. So how can the people of the Australia help the Sudanese of the South? Mr. Ashworth identified six ways. Full Story
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World forgetting Darfur crisis, says Dallaire

8 Feb Canadian CTVNews excerpt: Romeo Dallaire says the world's silence over the crisis in Sudan bears haunting resemblance to what he remembers before the massacre in Rwanda a decade ago.

The retired lieutenant general, whose horrific experiences in Rwanda became both an award-winning book and documentary, is now a fellow with the Carr Center for Human Rights Policy at Harvard University's Kennedy School of Government. There, he works on preventing other Rwandan-style crises.

Dallaire says the atrocities in the Darfur region of Sudan are not any different from the genocide he observed in Rwanda, in which about 800,000 Rwandans, most of them Tutsis, died at the hands of Hutus.

"It is. It's another Rwanda," Dallaire told Canada AM from Boston. Full Story.

Photo: Amnesty International's Alex Neve

Alex Neve of Amnesty International Canada says UN has to start taking tougher action and begin arresting those responsible for the killings.

"A recent UN commission of inquiry has looked at the situation in Darfur and it's very clearly said there's a need for strong international justice now," he told Canada AM from Ottawa. "We have a tribunal that was established two years ago, the International Criminal Court, which is perfectly poised to play that role.

"If there's not something done very quickly to break that kind of cycle of impunity whereby military and other leaders in Sudan feel they can commit abuses of this sort and get away with it, then the crisis in Darfur is only going to deepen -- and in other parts of Sudan where there's very serious concerns may deteriorate as well."

"There's been ample advance warning going back months and even years that a crisis was mounting in Darfur, just as there was ample warning that a crisis was coming in Rwanda.

"If the international community doesn't start soon to begin to take effective action at early stages to head off crises of this sort, then Africa is going to continue to suffer the kind of inattention it's getting now."

As for the current Darfur situation, Dallaire has his own ideas of what should be done. He says if the UN Security Council cannot get its act together and come with a resolution, "then middle powers, like Canada and Germany and Japan, should join forces with the African Union, beef it up, and go in under that regional power."

Photo: Romeo Dallaire
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Sudan Begins 3rd Consecutive Term on Human Rights Panel

8 Feb Talon news report from Hawaii, copied here in full:

Even while the UN is recommending sending 10,000 troops to Sudan to quell genocidal violence there, the African nation begins a third consecutive term on the world body's Human Rights Commission.

Fred Gedrich, a former US State and Defense Department official who has traveled extensively throughout Africa and the Middle East, explained to Talon News that politics is at the center of the incongruity.

"The global body -- particularly its general assembly -- is controlled by a majority of states that do not have truly free and democratic governments," Gedrich said. "Sudan happens to be a member of three powerful voting blocs in the institution: 56-nation Islamic Conference, 53-nation African Union, and the 22 members of the League of Arab States. Such alliances serve to protect ruthless regimes like Sudan from criticism and get them promoted to prestigious positions within the U.N. system -- often to the detriment of their citizens and mankind."

The State Department has labeled Sudan a terrorist state, and many human rights groups classify its regime as being one of the worst human rights abusers. It had been the home of such notorious terrorists as Abu Nidal, Carlos the Jackal, and Usama bin Laden, and a supporter of terror groups such as Islamic Jihad, Hamas, and Hezbollah.

Gedrich recounted Sudan's bloody past saying, "Sudan has remained in almost a perpetual state of civil warfare since it achieved independence, with British and Egyptian consent, in 1956. The Sunni Arab majority -- which represents about 70 percent of the population -- controls the government apparatus and the military. Human rights groups like Freedom House and Amnesty International as well as the U.S. Department of State and others have accused Sudan's rulers of committing genocide against millions of Black Africans that occupy the southern part of the nation."

He is critical of the U.N.'s response to the situation, creating a commission of inquiry that recently concluded that the Arab controlled government has not pursued a policy of genocide despite compelling evidence to the contrary.

Gedrich said, "These U.N. actions offer little comfort to the 2 billion people in the world who live under oppression and who would like to look to the U.N. Human Rights Commission for hope and help - or millions of Black African Sudanese currently suffering under the tight-fisted rule of their Arab oppressors."

He pointed out that since the end of the colonial era African nations have opposed outside interference in their internal affairs. Millions have perished as the result of that policy that breeds situations like those witnessed in Rwanda, Sudan, and elsewhere.

Gedrich chastised the U.N., saying, "Responsible members of the free world - led by the United States - appear ready to help alleviate and end the massive suffering being endured by Sudan's African Black population. The U.N and leaders of groups like the African Union should do likewise and take the additional step of ostracizing instead of rewarding those, like Sudan's terror regime, who clearly do not abide by the U.N.'s Universal Declaration of Human Rights."

Several other countries with repressive governments also sit on the commission, including China, Cuba, and Zimbabwe.

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