Thursday, March 31, 2005

UN mandate under chapter seven allows UN-approved military intervention without the consent of a state

The Times reports that Clare Short, former British international development secretary, said on Wednesday that the debate about how war criminals should be prosecuted detracted from the more urgent question of how to stop the killings in Darfur.

"There's all this talk of UN resolutions, but there's a failure to act, to give a big enough force powers to stop the killing," she said.

"The UK should immediately be calling for a UN mandate under chapter seven (of the UN charter that allows UN-approved military intervention without the consent of a state) so that the African Union force can be much longer, and much larger," Ms Short said.

"We're focusing on that, not because the other things don't need doing, but let's do that first, and urgently."
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Steidle speaks to House of Commons meeting in London

The Times March 31 report excerpt:

Yesterday, Captain Brian Steidle, a former US marine officer attached to the African Union monitoring mission, who was a military observer in southern Darfur from last September until February, told a House of Commons meeting that he saw villages burnt to the ground, people who had been killed, evidence of torture - "people who had had their ears cut out, their eyes plucked out of their heads, men who had been castrated and left to bleed". He was in no doubt about the complicity of government forces in the attacks. He said that the Janjawid militia received weekly supplies of military equipment from the authorities. He found evidence that Sudanese helicopters fired anti-personnel rockets at civilian targets that contained flashettes, nail-size shrapnel designed to kill and maim.

Further excerpt:

Bringing successful prosecutions at the ICC will be far more difficult. The court, based in The Hague, was created less than three years ago and has yet to try a single case. It has a limited budget and no powers of arrest and will therefore rely on the international community to bring suspects to court. In January a UN inquiry into the Darfur violence produced a sealed envelope containing the names of 51 suspected war criminals. But Khartoum has shown clearly that it will not co-operate with any international criminal investigation.
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Rectitude for Darfur

The international community wants to see a deeper commitment by the Sudanese authorities to punish the perpetrators of human rights abuses in Darfur, writes Gamal Nkrumah in Al-Ahram Weekly.
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China to join UN peacekeeping in South Sudan

UPI report via World News Beijing, March 31, 2005:

China will send military and medical personnel to join U.N. peacekeeping operations in Sudan, the Foreign Ministry has announced. Ministry spokesman Liu Jianchao said in a statement Wednesday that China would join the international community in helping bring peace and stability to Sudan.

China, a permanent member of the UN Security Council, voted on March 25 in favour of Resolution 1590, which authorised the deployment of peacekeeping forces in Sudan to implement a peace agreement.

Liu said his country would send military engineering, medical and transport teams, plus military observers, civilian policemen and political officials as part of the UN mission.
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Japan to offer $7 million to help remove land mines in Sudan

April 1, 2005 Tokyo - Japan will give the UN Mine Action Service a $7 million emergency grant to remove land mines in southern Sudan planted in decades-long conflicts, Japanese government sources said Thursday.

In addition, the Japanese government is considering sending demining experts to a peacekeeping operation the United Nations plans to launch in the African country, the sources said. (Kyodo News)

UK Protect Darfur Campaign calls for UN intervention in Darfur, Sudan

Today, an alliance of British MPs, human rights groups and survivors of the conflict in Darfur launched a campaign for bolder international intervention to stop the bloodshed.

Excerpt from today's Guardian UK:

More than 100 MPs and peers have signed a parliamentary statement calling for the UN to authorise peace-enforcement operations to be led by African Union troops, supported by wealthy countries.

The Protect Darfur campaign, which is being coordinated by the Aegis Trust a charity that campaigns to prevent genocide, was launched at the House of Commons.

Charles Kennedy, the Liberal Democrat leader, and Clare Short, a former international development secretary, are among politicians from across all parties who are backing the campaign.

Mr Kennedy said political or economic interests could not be allowed to cause "further delay" to intervention in the region.

Ms Short said: "It would not be difficult to stop the killing - a much larger African Union force with peace enforcement powers could do it.

"Instead, the great powers squabble and posture in New York while another genocide is allowed to develop."

The launch of the campaign comes after the release of a report yesterday by the cross-party international development committee that the death toll in the region had been substantially underestimated and was likely to be around 300,000. This figure is more than four times higher than the fatalities estimated by the World Health Organisation.

A member of the international development committee, the Conservative MP John Bercow, said today: "Too many people in Darfur have suffered too much for too long with too little done about it.

"The international community must now act through the UN by imposing sanctions on the Sudanese government, extending the arms embargo and providing the African Union force with the troops and mandate necessary to enforce peace in the region."
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Gunmen ambush African Union monitors in South Darfur

Yesterday, there was news that two of the AU force had been attacked and wounded by unidentified gunmen on Tuesday near the town of Niteaga, northwest of Nyala, the capital of South Darfur state. Radhia Achouri, a UN official in Sudan, said two monitors and one Sudanese translator had been hurt in the attack. She did not know who had been responsible. AU monitors have already come under fire several times in Darfur. via (IRIN) March 30, 2005.

Great Britain Parliament House of Commons International Development Committee Report: "Darfur, Sudan: the responsibility to protect"

Much has been written in the world's press over the the past 24 hours about the release yesterday, of a hard-hitting report by British MPs titled "Darfur, Sudan: the responsibility to protect" dated March 30, 2005.

News of the 93-page report hit the wires an hour before Reuters reported the outcome of the UN Security Council's vote on sanctions. Here follows a summary and further news on Sudan.

Darfur, Sudan: the responsibility to protect fifth report of session 2004-05. Vol. 1: Report, together with formal minutes.

The Committee's report examines the effectiveness of the international community's response to the crisis in Darfur, in terms of providing security for civilians through political pressure, and in meeting humanitarian needs, and to ensure that lessons are learned from the situation for the shared responsibility to protect and to promote sustainable peace and development. The Committee's report finds that, although the Government of Sudan bears the primary responsibility for the atrocities carried out against its own citizens, the international community also has a responsibility to protect these people. However, early warnings of the crisis were ignored by the international community and the initial humanitarian response, from donors and the UN was too slow. Two years after the crisis began, the international community is still failing to protect the people of Darfur, and the UN Security Council, driven by national interests, has been divided, weak and ineffective. The matter should be referred to the International Criminal Court, with targeted sanctions and an extended arms embargo placed on the Sudanese Government. The atrocities, which the Committee describes as "no less serious and heinous than genocide" have resulted in more than two million people having fled their homes and needing humanitarian assistance; with the numbers of deaths likely to be several times the official estimates.

House of Commons papers 2004-05 67-I
Price: GBP 14.50 ISBN: 0215023420
Corporate Author: Great Britain Parliament House of Commons International Development Committee
Author: Baldry Tony chairman. Publication Date: 30th March 2005. Format: Paperback.
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Darfur, Sudan: the responsibility to protect fifth report of session 2004-05. Vol. 2:
Oral and written evidence.
House of Commons papers 2004-05 67-II
Price: GBP 18.50 ISBN: 0215023439
Incorporating previously unpublished HCP 67-i to -vi session 2004-05.
Corporate Author: Great Britain Parliament House of Commons International Development Committee
Author: Baldry Tony chairman
Publication Date: 30th March 2005. Format: Paperback
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Sudan: Darfur death toll at least 300,000, British MPs say

The above report by British MP's who had visited Darfur in February, credited the British government on Wednesday for reacting more quickly than most international powers but faulted the world for its slow response to what had become one of the world's greatest humanitarian crises.

Excerpt from AFP report via ReliefWeb Mar 29, 2005:

More than 300,000 people have died as a result of the conflict in Darfur, they said in a House of Commons committee report Wednesday - a figure more than four times greater than an official UN estimate.

"We think that is a conservative estimate," Tony Baldry, the chair of the House of Commons' international development committee, told AFP.

The MPs firmly backed the move to see Darfur war criminals tried at The Hague court, and said the Security Council should push through debate even if it faced opposition from permanent veto-wielding members the United States and China.

"It's worthwhile to try to get agreement on stronger action, and absolutely force the issue on the Security Council," committee member John Bercow told AFP.

It would "put other governments on the spot", he said, referring to objections by the United States, which opposes the ICC, and China, which has interests in Sudan's large oil reserves.

If those countries continue to oppose strong measures against Sudan, "let them be named and shamed in the most public, damning way," Bercow said.

"Darfur is a real test for the international community and civilization as a whole at the start of the 21st century," Baldry added. "If we can't resolve the situation in Darfur it bodes pretty badly for the coming millenium."

British MPs warn Darfur death toll 300,000

Photo: Official figures were a gross underestimate: 300,000 killed in Darfur, say MPs. "We think that is a conservative estimate," Tony Baldry, the chair of the House of Commons' international development committee, told AFP.
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Report puts primary blame on Khartoum but criticises aid agencies as well as governments and UN for responding inadequately

The report released on March 30, 2005 by British MPs puts the primary blame on the Sudanese government but criticises aid agencies as well as governments and the UN for responding inadequately to Darfur, writes Ewen MacAskill, diplomatic editor at the Guardian - excerpt:

The British government and the wider international community were much too slow to react to the Darfur crisis which, beginning two years ago, has cost 300,000 lives and displaced about 2 million people, a Commons select committee report published today says.

MPs on the international development committee, who visited Darfur this year, say the response, especially that of the UN security council, has been largely ineffective, divided and weak.

"Governments and politicians must not wait to act until images of death and destruction are on the TV screens. By then, it is too late," they say

Their 93-page report, "Darfur, Sudan: The responsibility to protect", calls on security council members, particularly China and Russia, to put aside oil exports, arms trade and other interests in Sudan, vote in favour of targeted sanctions against the Sudanese government, and refer the perpetrators of the violence to the international criminal court.

The council is due to vote today on a French draft resolution calling for a referral to the ICC. Britain hopes that the US, which favours punitive action but is opposed in principle to the ICC, will allow the resolution to go through by abstaining rather than using its veto.

The MPs say the international community was too engrossed in securing an end to the Sudanese north-south civil war and failed to respond fast and seriously enough to the developing crisis in Darfur, in the west of the country.

They say: "Governments ... failed to speak out about Darfur at an early stage; failed to get the UN security council to adopt a resolution about Darfur until July 2004; failed to put concerted pressure on the Sudanese government to allow humanitarian access; and failed to make the government take seriously its responsibilities for protecting the people of Darfur and for complying with ceasefire commitments and legal obligations."

They call on the Department for International Development to find ways to attract media attention to such crises.

The MPs put the primary blame on the Sudanese government but criticise aid agencies as well as governments and the UN for responding inadequately.
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World is acting on Darfur says Benn

The British Government tonight defended the international community's response to the humanitarian crisis in Darfur, writes PA correspondent Jamie Lyons in the Scotsman Mar 30 - excerpt:

A committee of MPs today accused the world of a "scandalously ineffective response" to the situation in Sudan.

International Development Secretary Hilary Benn tonight said the world was now acting. He said countries - including the UK - were backing the African Union's support operation. And the UN yesterday instituted a sanctions regime. The UK was also providing humanitarian aid and urging a political solution to the conflict.

"Of course while people continue to die in Darfur the problem hasn't been solved," he told Channel Four News.

"And as far as those people are concerned, yes they want the international community to be doing more. But above all what they want are the people who are doing the fighting and the killing ... to bring an end to the conflict."

Mr Benn was speaking after the House of Commons' International Development Committee said governments across the world - including the UK - were guilty of a catalogue of failings in dealing with the crisis.

It also warned the death toll had been massively underestimated and is likely to reach 300,000.

Mr Benn said the "honest truth" was that nobody knew the real death toll.

Displaced children in Darfur

Photo: Internally displaced children in Kalma camp near Nyala in Sudan's southern Darfur region.
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British MPs rap UN over Darfur death toll

Excerpt from BBC UK Mar 30 on the British Parliamentary report:

The committee added that other countries and the UN Security Council must also take some of the blame for the situation. This was because:

Early warnings about the crisis were ignored.

Humanitarian organisations were slow to respond.

Guidelines for managing the camps were unclear.

The UN suffered from an "avoidable leadership vacuum" in Sudan at a crucial time.

Priority given to Sudan's north-south peace process was "misguided" and had "predictable and deadly" consequences for Darfur.

"After the genocide in Rwanda, the world said 'never again'," committee chairman Tony Baldry MP said. "President Bush said that genocide would not be allowed to happen 'on his watch'. These words should mean something. "The international community must now fulfil its responsibility to protect the people of Darfur. We demand that there is action now."

The committee recommended that the situation should be referred to the International Criminal Court and said that there should be sanctions and an extension of the arms ban to cover the Sudanese government.

A spokesman for the Department for International Development said: "There are many lessons for all the international community in the way that it has handled the crisis in Darfur."

Further reading:

Mar 30 Mirror UK: MP's fury at Darfur killing: MPs yesterday condemned Britain and the UN for failing to stop the slaughter in Sudan - after revealing the death toll had reached 300,000. They labelled the killing of civilians by government-backed militias in rebellious Darfur "genocide". International Development Committee chairman Tony Baldry said: "The failure to protect the people of Darfur from atrocities committed by their own government is a scandal." "President Bush said genocide would not be allowed on his watch. That should mean something." The MPs want more troops to be sent to the area, strong action from the United Nations and more pressure on the Khartoum government. Britain and France are pressing for war crimes suspects to be tried.

Mar 30 China News: Russia continues to oppose tough sanctions against Sudan - "We find it counter-productive to introduce tight restrictions against the government of Sudan which will affect its capabilities in ensuring the security of the civilian population in Darfur, sustaining order in the conflict zone, disarming non-governmental groups and detaining those who violate international humanitarian law," the Interfax news agency quoted the Russian Foreign Ministry as saying. However, Interfax reported that the ministry said Russia is ready to support the measures contained in the resolution which target individuals who have impeded the Darfur peace process or have posed a threat to the region's stability. The Interfax report of the ministry's comments made no mention of the aspect of the resolution covering the expansion of the existing UN arms embargo on Darfur. Russia has been a traditional arms supplier to Sudan.

Mar 30 News From Russia: UN Security Council peace measures: arms embargo on Darfur region ... British lawmakers said in a report Wednesday that the death toll has been grossly underestimated and is likely to be around 300,000, calling attacks against civilians in the region "no less serious and heinous than genocide.'' China's U.N. ambassador, Wang Guangya, told reporters the sanctions would not contribute to peace. "Our concern is that when we apply measures, if the measures are not positive in the sense of being constructive, we find it difficult" to vote in favor, Wang said.

Mar 30 Ireland News: The UN Security Council has voted in favour of targeted sanctions against those responsible for atrocities against civilians in Darfur and those who violate a ceasefire there. None of the 15 members voted against the American-sponsored resolution but China, Russia and Algeria abstained. The sanctions, which involve an asset freeze and a travel ban, will come into effect in 30 days, after a list of offenders has been drawn up by a Security Council committee. The resolution also strengthens an arms embargo on Sudan and forbids the Khartoum government from offensive military flights into Darfur.

Mar 30 AP Guardian UK: Security Council tightens Sudan embargo: "What we're trying to do is apply consistent pressure on Darfur, specifically in a way that will actually curtail the violence," U.S. Deputy Ambassador Stuart Holliday said after the vote. Sudan's U.N. Ambassador Elfatih Mohamed Erwa criticized the sanctions resolution, saying it was orchestrated by the U.S. Congress. "We don't like the council to take a series of resolutions that are not wise and might make this situation worse,'' Erwa said. "The more sticks you bring to solve this problem, you are not going to solve this problem. You are going to make it more complicated.''

Mar 30 Australia News: More than 300,000 people have died as a result of the conflict in Sudan's Darfur region say British lawmakers, four times the official United Nations estimate. A House of Commons report, compiled after interviews with non-government organisations, found the estimated death toll could be far above the World Health Organisation's figure of 70,000. The UK report faulted the WHO for grossly underestimating the toll after two years of conflict in the region. Chair of the House of Commons' international development committee said the faulty WHO figures are due to "statistical anarchy in the way the figures were collected", speaking to AFP. He said the figures account for deaths in refugee camps but fail to take into account violent deaths that occur in villages across Darfur. The WHO figures also only span the months from March to mid-October 2004, but the MPs say the alleged atrocities began much earlier.

"Our hope for this report is that it will jolt people's attention to the scale of the crisis in Darfur, the numbers of people who are continuously, silently suffering in Darfur, and will be yet another call to the UK government and the international community that we have a collective responsibility to protect," said Mr Baldry. The resolution also forbids the Sudanese government from launching offensive military flights into Darfur. The sanctions will begin in 30 days time, against unnamed people.

Mar 30 India News: UN Council sanctions peace offenders in Sudan: “We are pleased that 12 members of the council voted to adopt this resolution,” U.S. envoy Stuart Holliday told reporters. “We hope it will put the appropriate pressure on all the parties to the Darfur conflict to end this tragic chapter.” “It’s disheartening to see the United States stand in the way of justice for the people of Darfur and risk prolonging their suffering,” said John Stompor, Senior Associate in the International Justice program of Human Rights First. “Months of delay at the Security Council have already contributed to a worsening of the situation in the region.” Almost two months have passed since the U.N.-appointed International Commission of Inquiry on Darfur completed its report, which strongly recommended the immediate referral of the situation of Darfur to the ICC.

Mar 30 New York Times: U.N. Council Approves Penalties in Darfur: It did not contain an oil embargo, a step that probably would have brought a veto from China, which is a principal buyer of Sudanese oil. The Darfur sanctions resolution said the people subject to its terms would be those who were found to "impede the peace process, constitute a threat to stability in Darfur and the region, commit violations of international humanitarian or human rights law or other atrocities." In statements by their ambassadors, the three abstaining countries said they felt that putting pressure on Sudan would be counterproductive. "You may end up complicating the situation and making it more difficult to resolve," said Andrei Denisov, the Russian ambassador. Passage of the measure brought a rebuke from Elfatih Mohamed Ahmed Erwa, the Sudanese ambassador, who complained that the real impulse had come from members of the United States Congress who he complained were beholden to "pressure groups and drum-beaters." He charged that American lawmakers knew nothing about his country and never visited or read about it, a critique that brought a rejoinder from Mr. Holliday. Saying he had not meant to make a statement, Mr. Holliday asked for the floor to "defend the honor of the United States Congress." He told Mr. Erwa that, contrary to his assertion that the lawmakers ignored his country, many of them had gone there to see the situation firsthand.

Mar 30 Financial Times : The failure of western nations to respond swiftly to the humanitarian crisis in the Darfur region of Sudan has been condemned as "a scandal" by a cross-party committee of MPs. A report published today lists a catalogue of failings. It says early warnings about the crisis, in which 300,000 people are estimated to have died, were ignored and criticises the UK for not speaking out quickly enough. The MPs urge Britain to "stand firm" against the US, which does not want the court to deal with Darfur. Today's report condemns the Sudanese government for its policy of limiting humanitarian access to Darfur and applauds the UK for its efforts to get the restrictions lifted. But it says the international community "chose to ignore the early warnings" of non-governmental organisations, ensuring the initial humanitarian response to the crisis was "a staggering failure". Members of the UN Security Council are accused of putting their own interests before those of refugees. "It is a scandal that interests in oil and arms exports can prevent the Security Council from acting firmly," the report says. "It shames those countries which, fuelling the crisis in Sudan, are happy to turn a blind eye to crimes no less serious and heinous than genocide." Britain's prompt response is praised but the report says the government failed to speak out on Darfur at an early stage and should have done more to raise news coverage of the crisis in 2003 and early 2004.

Mar 30 BBC UK : UN imposes sanctions over Darfur: How Many Deaths In Darfur? - In a separate development, British MPs have criticised previous death toll estimates for the war-torn region. They decried the international response to the genocide as "scandalously ineffective", and warned that the death toll might reach 400,000 - five times more than previously estimated by the World Health Organization.

Mar 30 ePolitix UK: British MPs slam 'scandalous' Darfur response: The international community's response to the crisis in Darfur has been "scandalously ineffective", the Commons international development committee has said. In a hard-hitting report published on Wednesday, the MPs also warned that the death toll in the crisis hit region of Sudan is set to reach around 300,000. "The world's failure to protect the people of Darfur from the atrocities committed against them by their own government is a scandal," said committee chairman Tony Baldry. "Crises such as Darfur require the world to respond collectively and effectively. Passing the buck will not do. "Attacked by the government which is meant to protect them, the people of Darfur, whom we have collectively and demonstrably failed, deserve no less. "We demand that there is action now." A spokesman for the Department for International Development said there were "many lessons" to be learned from how the crisis has been dealt with. "The report recognises the lead role that the UK has played from the outset of the crisis," he added. "We have contributed a total of over £66 million to the humanitarian relief effort. "We were instrumental in negotiating the comprehensive North-South peace agreement which brought an end to the longest-running civil war in Africa in which two million lives were lost. "We have also been giving practical support to the African Union ceasefire monitoring force which is doing an increasingly effective job in Darfur."
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Quotation of the Day

"The world's failure to protect the people of Darfur from the atrocities committed against them by their own government is a scandal" - Tony Baldry, Chair of the House of Commons' international development committee.

UN passes Resolution 1591 on Sudan - Sudan vows to put 164 on trial for Darfur atrocities

Yesterday, the UN Security Council decided to freeze assets and impose a travel ban on those believed to have committed human-rights abuses, or violated the ceasefire agreement in Darfur.

Excerpt from UN News via IRIN March 30, 2005:

Tuesday's resolution also extended the current ban on the sale or supply of military equipment to non-governmental entities or individuals involved in the Darfur conflict to include the Sudanese government. It further demanded that the government immediately cease conducting offensive military flights in the region.

Security Council had adopted an "unwise resolution" says Khartoum

The Sudan's UN Ambassador, Elfatih Mohamed Ahmed Erwa, said the Council had adopted an "unwise resolution" that might aggravate the situation in Darfur.

A UN committee, consisting of all Council members, was established to specify which individuals would be subject to the restrictive measures, and to monitor their implementation.

In addition, the resolution requested UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan to appoint a four-member panel of experts based in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, to assist the committee for six months.

Once again, the Council condemned the failure of the Sudanese government to disarm Janjaweed militias and bring to justice their leaders and associates who had carried out human-rights violations and other atrocities.

Unless the Council determines that the parties in the conflict have complied with certain demands and commitments, the measures set out in the text will be enforced 30 days from the adoption date.

These commitments were set out in previous Council resolutions in 2004: the April N'djamena Ceasefire Agreement and the November Abuja Humanitarian and Security Protocols, signed by the Sudanese government and the two main rebel groups - the Sudan People's Liberation Movement/Army (SPLM/A), and the Justice and Equality Movement.

The Council emphasised that there could be no military solution to the conflict in Darfur, and urged the government and the rebels to resume the Abuja talks without preconditions, and to negotiate in good faith to reach an agreement quickly.
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US agrees to use UN Court for Darfur Cases

Today, in New York, the UN Security Council is expected to vote on a resolution put forward by France that would authorise the prosecution of Sudanese war crimes suspects by the international criminal court (ICC). But there may be further delay.

This morning, Fox 23 News was the first to break with the news - followed by Associated Press via LA Times - that Washington approves Sudan trials by International Criminal Court, and in return, Americans are exempt from any prosecution.

But the latest this evening from Reuters says France is still engaged in last minute talks with the United States to avoid a US veto. "We are trying to find language that we would find acceptable. We're trying to make the resolution work so that we can avoid a train wreck," said one US official.

See here below an East African news report that explains Kenya signed US immunity yesterday. Perhaps other signatures have been garnered to provide the US with more assurances that its citizens won't get hauled up in front of the ICC on frivolus charges.
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UN Security Council passes Resolution 1591 on Sudan

On Tuesday, the UN Security Council approved what The Economist terms as "mild sanctions" against those carrying out "ethnic cleansing" in Darfur.

The council voted to impose a no fly zone over Darfur; a travel ban and an asset freeze on those responsible for atrocities in Darfur and on individuals who impede the peace process or commit human rights violations in Darfur. The council also voted to strengthen an arms embargo in Darfur that encompasses the Sudanese government.

Last week, the Security Council passed another resolution to deploy nearly 11,000 UN peacekeepers to South Sudan to monitor a peace deal between the Government of Sudan and southern rebels that ended a 21-year civil war.

Sudan Tribune has published the full text of UN Security Council resolution 1591 on Sudan, along with a copy of "Explanations after Vote".
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Kenya to sign US immunity agreement

Copy of an East African news report by Evelyn Kwamboka re the UN's ICC and Kenya's signing of a US immunity agreement:

The Government is today expected to sign an agreement offering the US bilateral immunity in the International Criminal Court (ICC).

But 12 human rights groups yesterday opposed the move, saying it would make Kenya to not only violate international law but also facilitate the protection of foreign criminals.

If it signs the agreement, Kenya will not surrender any US citizen to the ICC, however serious the crime committed.

The move comes barely a month after Kenya joined ICC, which aims at ending war crimes.

On March 9, Attorney-General Amos Wako gave UN officials in New York a document containing the statutes signed by the Foreign Affairs minister Chirau Ali Mwakwere.

Yesterday, the International Commission for Jurists (ICJ) Kenya Executive Director Philip Kichana urged Parliament's Legal Affairs and Administration of Justice Committee to discuss the issue before the agreement is signed.

"They should bear in mind the national interest despite the huge sums of money that may be offered by US in terms of aid," he said.

The ICJ, the Law Society of Kenya, the Kenya Human Rights Commission, the East African Human Rights Institute, Release Political Prisoners and the Legal Resources Foundation signed yesterday's statement.

The US refused to sign the ICC treaty in 2002, saying it feared its soldiers and officials could be targeted by "frivolous" lawsuits.

A UN-appointed commission has recommended that ICC tries those accused of abuses in Sudan's Darfur region but Washington opposes the move, fearing it would legitimise the court.
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Khartoum slams UN sanctions - rebels demand more

The regime in Khartoum says the new UN resolution unfairly puts the government's rights and duties on an equal footing with the rebellion.

Copy of report from Aljazeera March 30, 2005:

The Sudanese government reacted with anger to the UN's Security Council sanctions over violations in Darfur. But in direct contrast the rebels argued the move was too timid to yield a breakthrough in the conflict.

The Sudanese foreign ministry issued a statement which called the U.S. sponsored resolution as "unbalanced and inappropriate" and "ignored the government's efforts in addressing the political, security and humanitarian aspects of the Darfur conflict."

The Sudanese government hinted in its statement that it would not consider itself bound by the resolution.

"The government will also seek to lift any sanctions that the UN will impose based on false information," it said. "The resolution unfairly puts the government's rights and duties on an equal footing with the rebellion."

The main rebel group in Darfur, the Sudan Liberation Movement, said it was disappointed by the scope of the sanctions, arguing they would do little to encourage resolve.

"We support the resolution, although we do not feel that it is strong enough," SLM spokesman Mahjub Hussein said.

The group said it would have preferred a resolution strengthening an arms embargo against Sudan, imposing restrictions on the movement of government officials and the freezing of their assets.

Furthermore, the SLM believes the resolution would have carried more weight if it had obliged the pulling out of armed forces from Darfur and the handing of security responsibilities in the region to an international force.

Under the resolution, backed 12-0 with abstentions from Algeria, China and Russia, any movement of military equipment and supplies into the Darfur region will require the prior approval of the Security Council.
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Sudan says UN sanctions bad for Darfur security

Sudan said on Wednesday a U.N. resolution imposing sanctions on those responsible for violence in Darfur would make it harder to disarm combatants and would endanger lives in the remote region.

Excerpt from Reuters report March 30, 2005:

"We think the resolution is unbalanced and unfortunate," Foreign Minister Mustafa Osman Ismail told reporters in Khartoum in reference to a Security Council resolution passed on Tuesday that imposed a travel ban and asset freeze on some involved in the Darfur conflict.

"It will reflect negatively on the security in Darfur because it will jeopardise and limit the capability of the government to fight outlaws."

He said the resolution, which also strengthens an arms embargo on the government and prevents hostile flights over Darfur, would put the lives of the Darfuri people at risk as well as the thousands of foreigners working in the region.

"It will also reflect negatively on the security of non-Sudanese who are supposed to move freely and to feel in full security," he said.

There are around 1,000 foreign aid workers in Darfur and more than 2,000 African Union (AU) troops in Darfur.

Three members of an AU team were injured in an attack on Tuesday, and last week a U.S. aid worker was shot in the face when gunmen ambushed an aid convoy in Darfur.

The United Nations says the government has done little to try to disarm Arab militias, but Ismail said the rebels had caused delay through intransigence and said the government needed more time.

"We are doing our best but this is an area larger than France. Weapons are everywhere. Rebels are not cooperating," he said. "We need time in order to deal with this."

Darfur rebel

Picture: A Darfur rebel. The main Darfur rebel group, SLM, believes the new UN resolution would have carried more weight if it had obliged the pulling out of armed forces from Darfur and the handing of security responsibilities in the region to an international force. [Perhaps that's on the table for when UN peacekeepers start assisting the African Union troops in Darfur]

The Sudanese government hinted in its statement that it would not consider itself bound by the resolution and said "the resolution unfairly puts the government's rights and duties on an equal footing with the rebellion."

Further reading:

Mar 30 Xinhua China news: UN official denies Resolution 1591 against Khartoum. A UN official said in Khartoum Wednesday that a recent UN Security Council resolution is aimed to press the conflicting sides.

Mar 31 The Daily Star Lebanon: Khartoum rejects 'unbalanced' UN resolution.
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Sudan vows to put 164 on trial for Darfur atrocities

Sudan has for the first time arrested military and security officials accused of raping and killing civilians and burning villages in Darfur.

Excerpt from the Scotsman March 30, 2005:
Khartoum repeated its insistence yesterday that none of its citizens would be tried outside its borders, in direct defiance of a call by the UN earlier this year for 51 Sudanese - including some high-ranking government officials - to be tried by the international community.

The foreign minister, Mustafa Osman Ismail, reiterated on state television yesterday: "We will never hand over any Sudanese national - whether he is an outlaw, an army officer, or a government official - for trial outside Sudan."
Here is a report by Ophera McDoom in Khartoum via the Scotsman Mar 29:
Ali Mohamed Osman Yassin said a government committee had arrested 15 members of the police, military and security forces in Darfur for human rights abuses and they would immediately be sent to court.

"They are military people ... from army, military and security," Mr Yassin said, adding all the accused were from these "disciplinary forces".

"[They are accused of] different crimes. It includes rape, killing, burning and other things - different kinds of atrocities," he said.

The UN Security Council is expected to vote tomorrow on a French-drafted resolution which would send those responsible for war crimes in Darfur to the International Criminal Court (ICC).

Sudan rejects referring any of its nationals to a court outside its borders, saying its judicial system is able to prosecute those guilty of crimes.

"Now it is high time for us to prove ourselves and to prove how genuine we are and how seriously the Sudanese judiciary can do the job," Mr Yassin said.

"This is a start; it is not the end of it - they are progressing and doing a good job."

Mr Yassin said 14 members of the police, the army and security forces were under arrest in West Darfur state and one in North Darfur state.

Darfur on Fire

Photo: "Darfur on Fire" - A Sudanese rebel watches as a village attacked by the Janjaweed militia burns. [Scott Nelson/Getty Images Tue 29 Mar 2005 courtesy]

Another report in the Scotsman March 28, says with only hours to the UN Security Council vote on where to try Darfur's war criminals, the Khartoum regime says it has arrested 15 men who are accused of murder and burning villages in Darfur. The report says if past examples of Khartoum’s "justice" are anything to go by, these men - guilty or not - will be tried and executed very quickly, thus evading UN involvement.

But few news reports educate readers as to the predicament Khartoum is in over the Janjaweed. And why the UN's demands to reign in the Janjaweed were always an impossibility. Sometime last year, even Khartoum revealed in the press it fears retribution once the West got bored and turned its back, so we can't be surprised at their efforts to avoid arresting the people who are protecting them. Without the Janjaweed and Arab tribal leaders, the Khartoum regime would fall. Who else do they have on their side to squash the rebellions in the south, west and east of Sudan?

Even the rebels themselves have said their objective is to overthrow the government. Unless all sides cease fighting [which they have proved they are capable of] and work out a political situation, the conflict seems likely to go on for years. Even if the regime in Khartoum fled tomorrow, who would lead the people of northern Sudan - the one's that fought against southern Sudan's rebels for 21 terrifying years? John Garang, the leader of the southern rebels, couldn't unite them, there is too much mistrust.

Surely Khartoum can see the writing on the wall. Charismatic leadership is needed to unite the whole of Sudan. The world saw how the people in South Sudan rejoiced in the streets at the prospect of peace. If only someone within the African Union or Arab League could get all of the gangs and tribal leaders together. Maybe the Libyan leader has been trying to do something along these lines. Where are the Islamic clerics in all of this? What do ordinary Sudanese folk say? Who would the Sudanese support as a leader for a united Sudan? The media and politicians never properly explain what is really going on.

Wednesday, March 30, 2005

Darfur: U.N. Sudan Situation Report 29 March 2005

The following is a copy in full of an email received this morning giving the latest situation report by United Nations personnel on the ground in Sudan:

Key Developments:

On 27 Mar., two GOS police officers where killed at close range in the Zam Zam camp, allegedly following an encounter with two persons in civilian clothes who subsequently fled into the camp. As a result, all UN and humanitarian movement to and in the location were stopped with all personnel being relocated. A large quantity of WFP food about to be distributed by the SRC was guarded by AMIS to prevent theft. Following an assessment on 28 Mar., which found the situation to be stable, all humanitarian activities have resumed. The incident remains under investigation.

Security Issues:

North Darfur: On the night of 27 Mar., two persons, reported to be in military uniforms and carrying firearms, climbed the perimeter wall of the WFP El Fasher workshop. Clothes and fuel were stolen. After preliminary investigations, WFP security referred the matter to the police who have promised to increase patrols in the area. Meanwhile, WFP is improving security measures at the workshop.

On 27 Mar., a skirmish between GoS military police and regular military and police officers in the Mawashi market (southern part of El Fasher town) resulted in the killing of two military police officers. The military police were conducting routine patrols in the area to ensure that military and police officers off duty were not loitering in the location when the gunfire between the parties broke out.

South Darfur: There were unconfirmed reports of a 28 Mar. attack on the Nitega village, a well-known stronghold for nomadic militia, by rebel elements resulting in one dead and one injury. AMIS is investigating.
Tension south of Gereida continues, though the parties - GoS military and JEM - have abandoned the location over the past two weeks. Sporadic violence south and southeast of Gereida continues.

Protection Issues:

North Darfur: Humanitarian agencies in Kutum have commenced close liaison with AMIS in the last week to devise strategies for enhanced protection of IDPs in and around Kassab and Fataborno camps. AMIS has agreed to conduct regular patrols on market days on routes and in areas where the volume of incidents is particularly high. Furthermore, AMIS and humanitarian organizations in Kutum involved in protection have agreed on bi-weekly consultations to discuss the protection situation in the area.

Humanitarian Affairs:


Jongli: A WFP team in Bor has finalised headcount and registration of IDPs and returnees (totalling 35,202 with the majority being IDPs) and airdrops have now begun in the town and its surrounding villages. The targetted areas are: Bor town, Gakyom, Mamer, Garwanj, Hai flan and Haa Mashwer.

White Nile: ADRA distributed 0.26 MT of lentils, 0.286 MT of vegetable oil and 1.95 MT of sorghum among 52 IDP families in Kosti, White Nile on 24 Mar. Every household also received one plastic sheet and one mosquito net each. 20 blankets were distributed among families with newborns and ill young children. ADRA distributed 0.135 MT of Corn Soya Blend among 15 families having children under five with lactating mothers


North Darfur: UNICEF conducted a visit to Abu Shouk camp on 21 Mar. to monitor water tanking and hand pump operations. Key findings were: inadequate tap stands in some blocks; five platforms for the bladders were damaged; slow water discharge into tanks; long queues at water points and non-functioning of several hand pumps. UNICEF has drawn action plan to deal with the above-mentioned problems in collaboration with the relevant INGOs.
Vector control campaigns have been interrupted in all IDP locations due to lack of pesticides. As a result, fly infestation at all the camps continues to worsen. To date, UNICEF has been unable to procure the spraying chemicals as there is only one supplier in El Fasher, while UNICEF procurement procedures require at least three quotations. A waiver for this administrative requirement has been sent, and they are awaiting response.

South Darfur: Agencies remain concerned that the targetted measles vaccination campaign carried out by MoH/EPI in the past week (reaching only 500 children in Battery camp) will not prevent the continuation of the outbreak, as Battery camp is very near other IDP gatherings and the host community in Kass. The population outside the camp shares much of the same city infrastructure, including water, schools, and the market and, as such, the possibility of spreading the virus is high. The humanitarian community continues to push for a mass campaign to cover the entire population of Kass as well as the major IDP gatherings in South Darfur before the rainy season. WHO has recommended a mass campaign both as a means of preventing further outbreaks, and for covering those who were excluded from last year’s blanket campaign due to violence.


South Darfur: OXFAM completed a water and sanitation (WAT/SAN) assessment of the Tullus areas which found water shortage in the area affecting the population. The Rural Water Group, a national organization working with WES, has stated its intention to commence operations in the area but is requesting assistance from partners to be able to do so. As such, a starting date has yet to be announced.


Bahr El Jebel: There are persistent reports of population movements in Equatoria that are being investigated by humanitarian agencies. The East Equatoria HAC Commissioner reported the registration of 64 returnees, while, in Juba, the Bahr El Jebel HAC commissioner reported the registration of 458 returnees from Kajokeji and approximately 2,600 from Yei on accumulative basis. Those coming from Yei use Yei-Lainya-Wonduruba-Kuda and Juba road. They come partly on foot, bicycles or vehicles. Vehicles are available only between Yei and Wondruba or Kuda and Juba. In both Bahr El Jebel and East Equatoria, cross line movement has been going on normally. Refugees are also returning from Ethiopia to Juba. UNHCR reported that 136 refugees have arrived in Juba from Ethiopian region of Gambella within this week escaping the ethnic conflict and hunger in the area. At least 300 students have also returned to Juba, as education is a major attraction for return.


Bahr El Ghazal: Land has been allocated for resettlement of the IDPs settled in Rumbek about 3.5 km away from their present location. A team comprising representatives from the IDPs, OXFAM-GB, OCHA SRT and EP&R, SRRC County, local chiefs and the liaison officer of the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs inspected the land on 21 Mar. OXFAM-GB and Diocese of Rumbek (DOR) have been tasked to address the water and shelter needs respectively through funds from the Liaison Office. Other needs identified by the IDPs include seeds, tools for agriculture/construction and additional IDP kits for the IDPs that arrived after the last distribution exercise.

Equatoria: Following three meetings in Rumbek by EP&R aimed at mobilizing responses for the Ezo/Tambura identified needs, the following interventions are currently underway in the target locations:
WFP started food distribution on 25 Mar. targeting 20,542 beneficiaries.

Non-Food Items from UNICEF released to EP&R are being transported from Yambio for distribution to the target beneficiaries. The items (collapsible jerry cans, blankets, cooking utensils and IDP kits) will be distributed by World Vision (WVI).

FAO will distribute seeds and tool through WVI by mid-Apr.

UNHCR is identifying implementing partners or NGOs on ground to provide assistance to the refugees in Bagima and Baikpa. Depending on gaps identified on ground, UNHCR may cover areas of water/sanitation, health, education and protection.
Preparation for the training of enumerators by SRRC/SRT for registration of returnees from CAR and DRC is ongoing and training is scheduled to start around mid-Apr. Meanwhile, WVI has carried out a registration in the Nandi and Anderi camps with the aim of assisting returnees to resettle back to their area of origin.

Bahr El Jebel: Education in Juba is already characterised by over crowding, shortages of qualified teachers, facilities, furniture and school supplies. Many schools are in very poor physical condition and in need of major rehabilitation. Student enrolment is expected to increase further following the CPA and may strain the existing facilities unless there are timely and effective interventions. Another concern is the school curriculum has to be reviewed to accommodate English-speaking students. WFP will provide cooking utensils to compliment their school feeding programme and have asked their implementing partners (Accomplish and SCC) to collect these utensils and distribute to schools before the schools re-open in Apr. 2005.

Tuesday, March 29, 2005

Rebels attack villages in South Darfur - Sudanese FM blames SPLM over Darfur, oil

According to the UN Mission in Sudan, incidents of looting and banditry continue to be reported in Darfur, and the African Union is investigating. There also were reports that rebel groups attacked some villages Saturday in South Darfur state, says UN news centre in a report titled Annan discusses Darfur emergency with representatives of civil groups.

Today, Khartoum media claims a schoolmistress was seriously beaten in a raid by around 20 rebels in Kutum, North Darfur state.

A report at Times Online says tomorrow, March 30, the UN Security Council will finally discuss the findings of the long-awaited inquiry into whether genocide occurred in Darfur. Then it will vote on whether or not to get the International Criminal Court (ICC) to investigate and prosecute the perpetrators of human rights crimes.

Here below, following on from yesterday's posts here re South Sudan's oil, is a copy of a report that quotes Khartoum as saying "the Naivasha agreement stipulated the procedure and party allowed to sign agreements with foreign parties, and that any thing else outside this framework would be unacceptable, and in breach of the agreement." [In other words, the peace agreement does cover procedures regarding who is allowed to sign oil agreements. It does look like South Sudan's "former" rebels are "transgressing the peace agreement by distributing oil concessions"]:

KHARTOUM, Mar 8, 2005 (Sudan Tribune) via SPLM Today -- Sudanese Foreign affairs minister Mustafa Osman Ismail criticized yesterday Sudan People`s Libration Movement (SPLM). He accused the former rebels of fuelling Darfur conflict and transgressing peace agreement by distributing oil concessions.

Ismail has accused the SPLM of fanning the conflict in Darfur and assuming the role of the savoir.

The government approved of the vision that the SPLM might help in settling the crisis there, but surprisingly the SPLM is now blaming the crisis on the government, the minister said in a press statement.

On the oil concession authorized by the SPLM, he said the government has no intention to indulge in media rhetoric. We should resort to the peace agreement for arbitration, Osman stressed.

The government conceives of the oil question as falling within the sole jurisdiction of the oil commission which is supposed to arbitrate between the two parties in case they differ on issues related to oil-share, Ismail said.

The ruling National Congress (NC) secretary-general, Ibrahim Ahmad Omar indicated two weeks ago to SUNA that the Naivasha agreement stipulated the procedure and party allowed to sign agreements with foreign parties, and that any thing else outside this framework would be unacceptable, and in breach of the agreement

The minister said that he discussed with the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) the question of government captives with SPLA, adding that the government will discuss the affair the SPLM.
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'Things fall apart' - Sudan example of failing nation

"Sudan and the war in Darfur are among the most infuriating and frustrating problems on the world scene," said Fred Gibson, kicking off a Foreign Policy Discussion Series held Friday at Tahlequah Public Library, OK. USA. He says when oil fields were discovered in the South, the North quickly took over jurisdiction of the area, angering the South and plunging the country into civil war. And he also explains in a March 28 article how the location of Sudan has had an impact on the country's development and lead to some of its problems today.

"Sudan is a classic failed state, providing neither security, rule of law, nor political freedom," said Gibson. "The U.N., the US and various other countries have made weak efforts to stop the genocide, but it hasn't been very effective. They have sent in a few observers, but they are spread much too thing to do much good. Ultimately, they will face world sanctions, but in the meantime the persecution continues. They know what should be done; they just won't do it."
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Sanctions and Civil War

Here is an excerpt from a report courtesy MBendi Profile: Sudan: Oil And Gas Industry Overview that explains a little about sanctions. Note, it says "the Sudanese government continues to stress that oil income is and will continue to be used for development and infrastructure". [A news report out today, quotes the same government as saying it has no money for services like schools and health centres to be put in place before it goes ahead and demolishes slums and moves people out "consensually" to remote areas with no running water, electricity, health facilities or shelter]:

Sudan still suffers from serious barriers to economic progress, though, chiefly an underdeveloped infrastructure and a long-running conflict with rebel movements in the south of the country, which is primarily Christian and animist. Government spending on the conflict has meant that resources available for development are very limited.

The United States imposed economic sanctions against Sudan in November 1997, due to the Sudanese government's sponsorship of international terrorism and poor human rights record. The sanctions prohibit trade between the United States and Sudan, as well as investment by United States businesses in Sudan. In February 2000, the US government extended its sanctions to include Sudapet (the national oil company) and the Greater Nile Petroleum Operating Company (GNPOC). This was a contentious move in that Canadian international Talisman Energy is a 25% shareholder in GNPOC. Despite their interests in the Sudan, however, no US sanctions have been placed against Talisman Energy. Because of pressure, Talisman stated in December 1999 that it would sell its assets in Sudan, should this be most beneficial for its shareholders. It stated, however, that the assets were not for sale at that time or in the near future. TotalfinaElf has been cited as being interested in acquiring Talisman assets should such a sale happen. In October 1999, Canada announced the formation of a fact-finding mission to investigate the operations of Canadian oil companies in Sudan.

The pressure groups claim that Sudan is using oil revenue to fuel the civil war that is being fought over the southern oil-rich regions. They state that the estimated oil revenue for the Sudanese government is $1,000,000 per day, which is about equal the government's spending on arms and the amount Sudan used to spend on imported oil. They claim that on the first day of oil export shipments in 1999, an import shipment of 20 Polish T-55 tanks arrived in Port Sudan. The Sudanese government continues to stress that oil income is and will continue to be used for development and infrastructure.
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Africa now 'deals with Africa's problems'

Pan African Parliament

The third session of the Pan African Parliament started today [its first anniversary]. SABC News ran a report on the session titled "Africa now 'deals with Africa's problems'. Here is a quote from the report:
The way Africa dealt with the conflict in Darfur, Sudan, reiterates that "we did it because Africa decided to deal with Africa's problems," says Gertrude Mongella, the president of the Pan-African Parliament (PAP).
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Homeless in Sudan's Darfur region reach 2.4 million: UN

You have to wonder about the African solution to the African problem of 2.4 million homeless and facing starvation in Darfur. In an interview, published today by IRIN, the UN's emergency aid chief Jan Egeland warns [donors I guess] to:
"Pay up now or regret it forever. That's how we see it. Sudan may slide into chaos again unless we get resources."
Also today, Japan kindly gave $2.1 million [better late than never] to the African Union's peacekeeping mission in peackeeping mission in Dafur.

A lack of money keeps the African Union reliant on donors to pay for operations.

Pay up now or regret it forever says UN

Photo: Teams of women carefully brush up grains of cereals that spilled from bags air dropped by the World Food Programme. The WFP fed a record 1.6 million people in the Darfur in February in spite of increased attacks that complicate humanitarian tasks. (AFP/HO-WFP/File/Peter Smerdon) Mar 15, 2005.
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Anti-Land Mine Flame 'Could Save Thousands of Lives'

A revolutionary "low-tech" anti-land mine device was launched by British experts today, says Simon Evans, PA correspondent, in The Scotsman March 29, 2005. Here is the story:

It is a torch which directs a flame on to mines, burning them out rather than detonating them across a wide area.

Tearchers at Cranfield University in Shrivenham, Oxfordshire, part of the Defence Academy of the UK, said the gadget was cheaper, safer, more environmentally friendly and faster than existing alternatives.

The torches, which can be made in mobile units, were pioneered by de-mining specialists Disarmco with help from the university's ordnance boffins.

Together they are now applying to patent their invention, codenamed 'Dragon', which they say could save thousands of lives.

Land mines and unexploded ordnance (UXOs) claim more than 8,000 lives annually and maim about 20,000 people, 25% of whom are children, the university said.

Professor Ian Wallace, head of the environment and ordnance department at Cranfield, said: "Dragon is a classic piece of lateral thinking.

"We've used our knowledge of military pyrotechnics to come up with a low-tech answer to a global problem."

He said the devices were also cheap to make, adding: "Local communities, with little training, can use a portable production unit to manufacture the thousands of 'Dragons' required to deal with land mines and UXOs."

A demonstration of the Dragon was staged at the Defence Academy of the UK in Shrivenham today. A landmine was destroyed with spectators positioned 60 metres away.

Because Dragons burn out mines rather than blow them up, the risk of land contamination is reduced making it safer for the user, a spokesman said.

The tubular-shaped device directs a hot flame at the munitions to achieve a deflagration effect, he said.

It can be placed either on the ground next to the munitions or directed at the landmine mounted on a simple wire frame.

Christopher Le Hardy, director of Disarmco, said: "Burning is a more effective and scientifically safer way to dispose of certain types of land mines and UXOs compared with high explosives that are inherently more dangerous."

De-miner Chris Rennick, who lost his right leg below the knee as a direct result of a Type 72 anti-personnel landmine he was attempting to clear in Kuwait in 1992, said: "Dragon could have a significant role to play around the world in making it safer for locals to be better equipped in the disposal of anti-personnel land mines."

Andy Willson, programmes officer for mine action at DFID, said: "The mobile unit has dramatically reduced the typical costs associated with the production of anti-land mines and UXO devices that often run into hundreds of pounds."

Currently 42 countries have stockpiles totalling about 200 million land mines, the university said.

There is a casualty every 20 minutes in the 80-odd countries affected, which include Afghanistan, Angola, Bosnia, Cambodia, Iraq, Laos, Mozambique, Somalia, Sri Lanka and Sudan.
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Sterile Emergency Shelter: Just Add Water

Best of British luck to the students at London's Royal College of Art who have created a shelter that is a balloon impregnated with dry cement. Inflate, water, and once it hardens, you have a concrete quonset hut.

A pair of engineers in London have come up with a "building in a bag" -- a sack of cement-impregnated fabric. To erect the structure, all you have to do is add water to the bag and inflate it with air. Twelve hours later the Nissen-shaped shelter is dried out and ready for use...

Aid agency chiefs have been impressed by the simplicity and economy of the idea. A bag weighing 230 kilograms (approximately 500 pounds) inflates into a shelter with 16 square meters (172 square feet) of floor space. Cost is estimated at £1,100 ($2,100), while an equivalent-size Portakabin (a type of portable building widely used in the United Kingdom) costs about £4,000 ($7,700). The same-size tent costs about £600 ($1,150).

Concrete Canvas comes folded in a sealed plastic sack. The volume of the sack controls the water-to-cement ratio, eliminating the need for water measurement. You literally just add water. "The shelter can also be delivered sterile," said Crawford. "This allows previously impossible surgical procedures to be performed in situ from day one of a crisis."

Via Wired News Need a Building? Just Add Water March 15, 2005.
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Waiting at the well - Naga, Sudan

Waiting by the well

Photo courtesy

Monday, March 28, 2005

Sudan's eastern rebels say Khartoum not interested in peace - the rebels' objective is to change the government

A report just out by AFP says eastern Sudan rebels are accusing the dictators in Khartoum of not being serious about addressing their complaints of marginalisation and stalling on promised peace talks.

Leaders of the Eastern Front, a coalition of Beja and Rashaidah Arab rebel groups, say they have little confidence Khartoum is truly interested in resolving problems in the eastern states of Red Sea and Kassala.

Free Lions president Mubruk Moubarak Selim said the groups would not be dissauded from their goal of changing the Arab-dominated government.

"The objective is to change the government," he told AFP. "The government does not want peace with us. There will be more fighting between the government and the Eastern Front." Full Story.

Blue-bereted UN peacekeeping troops have suddenly begun to appear in Khartoum, Sudan

Good news. UN peacekeeping troops wearing their blue berets have suddenly begun to appear in Khartoum. A report just out from UPI says UN has confirmed that foreign troops have been operating in Sudan for several months in preparation of the peace operation, but they were in civilian clothes. Those were traded for military fatigues as soon as the resolution was passed. Read full story at World Peace Herald Sudan entering new age under U.N. colors?

Sudan signs $400m contract with Sudanese White Nile Petroleum for oil field development in southern Sudan

Yesterday, a contract to develop oil in South Sudan was signed by the Government of Sudan (GoS) with a company whose owners are from Malaysia, India and the Sudan. It is not clear if any members of South Sudan's former rebel group SPLM/A, led by Dr John Garang, were consulted on the deal.

A report on the story just out from Reuters says "the deal states both sides will respect any oil contract signed before the date of the peace deal -- January 9, 2005 -- and any deals after a new government of unity is formed will be decided by a joint petroleum commission from the national energy and mining ministry." Also, the report mentions analysts are saying the deal indicates divisions within the SPLM/A [but it is not clear, to me anyway, what they mean by that].

The SPLM/A were not officially recognised as heading up South Sudan until they signed a peace deal with the GoS on January 9, 2005. Before that date, they were referred to as rebels. Now that they are getting organised to start up a Government of South Sudan (GoSS) - sometimes called 'New Sudan" - they are referred to as "former rebels." Having two governments within one country sounds confusing. Note, the Reuters report refers to "a new government of unity" being formed, along with a "joint petroleum commission from the national energy and mining ministry."

As part of the January peace deal, Dr Garang, a US educated economist who fought as a guerilla in the bush for some 40 years, is scheduled to soon be sworn in as Sudan's First Vice-President, taking the title from the President's right hand man, Taha. Apparently, when Sudan's "new government of unity" is formalised officially, Taha's new role will be to float in the background doing this and that for Sudan's President Bashir who recently made Taha responsible for handling Darfur.

The January peace deal, in the eyes of the world, seemed to legitimise the regime in Khartoum. Sudan's President, Omar el- Bashir, recently voted by an American magazine as the world's worst dictator, is part of a regime that stole power through the barrel of a gun well over 15 years ago. During the past 21 years of war in South Sudan, the SPLM/A took it upon themselves to stake their claim on South Sudan, after Bashir's gang staged a coup and staked their claim on the whole of the Sudan. Which of them is legitimate? Neither the SPLM/A or GoS were voted in by the people of Sudan.

Over the past few months, news reports reveal that a UK listed shell company called White Nile agreed an oil development deal with the SPLM/A, giving White Nile part of Block B in South Sudan. Recently, news emerged that in December of last year, when the peace deal between the SPLM/A and GoS was close to being signed, France's energy giant Total oil, in partners with Marathon Oil of Texas, USA, renewed its longstanding agreement with GoS to develop oil in the same area of southern Sudan. [See previous post here below re British White Nile and French Total]

Today, Reuters South Africa says the GoS signed a contract yesterday with a company called White Nile Petroleum (different company from White Nile) to take oil from the reserves of the Thar Jath oil fields, in Block 5a, in South Sudan. [See oil concession map at top of sidebar here on the right] White Nile Petroleum owners are from Malaysia, India and the Sudan.

The Reuters report says:
"The deal states both sides will respect any oil contract signed before the date of the peace deal -- January 9, 2005 -- and any deals after a new government of unity is formed will be decided by a joint petroleum commission from the national energy and mining ministry."
You would think that important sticking points, i.e., what happens with oil agreements re South Sudan signed by GoS before January 9, 2005, would have been clarified in the comprehensive peace agreement signed by both sides on January 9. For now, it seems GoS are saying GoSS cannot override oil agreements in existence before January 9 - and that GoSS must go through a new joint oil commission on any future oil deals, after the "new government of unity" is in effect.

It is not difficult to imagine a lot of mistrust. John Garang must suspect his new government may not have much sway within the new joint commission for petrol and oil. Who'd believe the dictators in Khartoum would be willing to share power? If they do not share power for the benefit of everyone in the Sudan, it seems likely New Sudan will vote to part from Sudan. The war over oil will continue because those in northern Sudan will feel deprived of oil revenues they perceive as belonging to them. As explained here earlier, Sudan's main oil is in South Sudan.

Within the past month, a British government official predicted the conflict in Darfur, western Sudan, will continue for another 18-24 months. And then there is eastern Sudan where people also feel marginalised. A leader of an east Sudan rebel group told AFP today their objective is to change the government. "The government does not want peace with us. There will be more fighting between the government and the Eastern Front," he said. Going by recent news reports, the British Amabassador to Sudan, Sir William Patey, has been working very hard on the diplomatic front. And let us not forget Eritrea and recent reports of Ethiopian troops massing along the border to send a message to Eritrea.

Surely the regime in Khartoum cannot carry on the way they have been going for so long. Even they, a while back, mentioned something to the press about "a pincer" movement aiming to weaken them. They are their own worst enemies. Had they screamed for international aid workers and UN peacekeepers in Darfur over the past year, while the world was watching, maybe they would not be in the pickle they find themselves today. Continuing on as a ruthless, unbending and corrupt dictatorship while refusing much needed aid and protection for the people of Darfur is their downfall.

Regardless of what tricks are pulled, South Sudan must not take up arms again. Sudan must not break up, or it will never have peace because of oil. No matter how tough it gets, Garang and his gang must work in harmony with Bashir and his gang or the leaders should be arrested by the African Union and put on trial for crimes against humanity. The two gangs must work in harmony with the Darfur gang of rebels and cease all violence while they work on a way how to get themselves trained and educated, with the UN's help, on how to run a democracy and make a new and united Sudan that everyone can be proud of. Right now, it is a hellhole and those who are fighting for power, with the blood of millions on their hands, are responsible for sorting it and stopping all violence now. People must be allowed to return to their homes and farms. They must start planting food and replenish livestock to bring up their families. They need to make a living. Children must get an eduction and medical care. The international community cannot keep feeding millions of people in the Sudan because of a handful of thugs that are treated by the UN and AU as a member state. The Sudanese people have no real government. Anarchy reigns.

Read the story about the oil deal, courtesy Reuters South Africa today, copied here in full. It states Sudan's main oil fields are in the south and disputes over oil fuelled the 21-year war in South Sudan cost 2 million lives.

Sudan signs $400 mln oil field development deal

Here is a copy in full of a KHARTOUM (Reuters) report Mon March 28, 2005 11:14 AM GMT+02:00:

Sudan signed a $400 million deal to develop its southern Thar Jath oil fields to an initial capacity of 80,000 barrels per day (bpd) by the end of March 2006, the oil ministry said in a statement on Monday.

The deal was signed late Sunday with the Sudanese White Nile Petroleum company -- a consortium of Malaysian state oil firm Petronas, which owns 68 percent, India's state-run Oil and Natural Gas Corp, which has a 24 percent stake and Sudan's state oil company Sudapet with 7 percent. The remaining one percent is divided between the three companies, an oil ministry official said. It said the reserves of the Thar Jath oil fields, in Block 5a in the southern Unity state, were estimated at a minimum of 250 million barrels. White Nile Petroleum is expected to dig 45 wells in the coming year, it added.

Sudan's main oil fields are in the south, and disputes over oil fuelled a civil war there for more than two decades, claiming 2 million lives mostly from hunger and disease. A peace deal signed in January ended Africa's longest civil war and has revived interest in Sudan's potential oil reserves.

The deal states both sides will respect any oil contract signed before the date of the peace deal -- January 9, 2005 -- and any deals after a new government of unity is formed will be decided by a joint petroleum commission from the national energy and mining ministry.

But an official from the former southern rebel group the Sudan People's Liberation Army (SPLA) has said it has signed a deal with a London-listed company called White Nile, giving it part of block B in SPLA-controlled areas.

The news caused consternation as French oil giant Total signed a deal with Sudan in 1980 for the whole of block B, and the deal was renewed in December.

Total and the government both say they are confident of the validity of the deal.

More senior SPLA officials have played down the report of the deal with British White Nile, which analysts say indicates divisions within the former rebels, who are due to join the government in the coming weeks after a two-month delay. - The British White Nile company is different from Sudanese White Nile Petroleum, the company awarded the $400 million contract on Sunday. - Reuters

Saturday, March 26, 2005

South Sudan: French energy giant Total in oil talks with SPLM/A over White Nile

Today, the UK's Independent reveals that French energy giant Total has opened talks with the new Government of South Sudan in the hope of getting them to repudiate an oil deal with UK based White Nile. Excerpt:

Total agreed exploration rights with Khartoum in the Eighties and says it has paid an annual fee to maintain those rights throughout the civil war, which made production impossible. It re-signed the deal in December.

The nascent government set up a state-owned oil company called Nile Petroleum last summer, which claims to have taken legal possession of concessions in its territory. White Nile agreed a deal with Nile Petroleum last month. "The signature of contract by White Nile is just not valid. It is against contract rights and against the peace agreement," a Total spokesman said yesterday.

White Nile expected Total to attempt a deal with the new authorities and said they were "fully confident in the relationship with the South Sudan government". White Nile was attempting to demonstrate that relationship yesterday by flying several British journalists to the region for meetings with the authority's new ministers.

Full Story by Stephen Foley, UK Independent, March 24, 2005.

Headquarters of Total
Headquarters of the oil group Total in the western Paris suburb of La Defense. Total is in partners on above southern Sudan deal with US oil company, Marathon, based in Texas, USA.
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South Sudan pipeline to assist region - "SPLM/A could become a dominant power in the region"

A report at Petroleum World News March 7, 2005 says, "Nile Petroleum's holding in UK-listed White Nile would be the first time an African national oil company had a market listing, albeit indirect, on a major international stock exchange". Excerpt:

White Nile Ltd. (UK Based) intends to help South Sudan build its own pipeline, bypassing the north and providing it further regional clout, said Andrew Groves, Director & Co Founder of White Nile.

The autonomous southern authority is a successor to the South Sudan's People Liberation Movement, or SPLM, which has waged a two decades of war against the north's central government before signing a peace treaty on Jan. 9.

A pipeline already routes Sudan's oil from the south to the north's Port Sudan on the Red Sea. "SPLM could become a dominant power in the region," Groves said. "Southern Ethiopia and Uganda would be opening up" to South Sudan's oil exports, he explained. In addition, the autonomous authority intends to build its own refinery, he said.

It's unclear how a construction deal between White Nile and the South Sudan government would turn out. But the interests of the company and the authority are set to become strongly intertwined.

White Nile previously said South Sudan - via state-owned Nile Petroleum - will get a substantial stake in the company following the award of the oil rights.

Nile Petroleum's holding in U.K.-listed White Nile would be the first time an African national oil company had a market listing, albeit indirect, on a major international stock exchange.

Separately, Groves said the South Sudan government had also been contacted for potential oil rights by numerous companies, Energy Africa, which is part of Tullow PLC of Ireland and Sinopec of China. Sinopec and Tullow couldn't be reached.
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UN peacekeepers for South Sudan to assist African Union in Darfur - Janjaweed in South Darfur causes alarm

Good news concerning security in Sudan. The UN Security Council voted unanimously yesterday to send 10,000 troops and up to 715 civilian police to South Sudan for an initial period of six months to support the peace agreement between the Government of Sudan and the Sudan People's Liberation Movement/Army (SPLM/A) led by Dr John Garang, a former rebel and US educated economist.

The primary mandate of the UN peacekeeping force (UNMIS) includes assisting the African Union Mission in Sudan (AMIS) "with a view towards expeditiously reinforcing the effort to foster peace in Darfur," said the US-sponsored resolution.

Recent UN news reports suggest it could take until June for UN troops to start arriving in South Sudan and at least six months to reach full strength. Meanwhile, there is growing talk of Khartoum agreeing to doubling the number of AU troops in Darfur, bringing the contingent to more than 6,000 troops, in addition to the 9,000-10,000 aid workers currently in Sudan.

Why can't China and other countries with oil interests in Sudan supply tens of thousands more aid workers? The rainy season will fall upon Darfur again soon. Last year, there were huge problems getting aid through. It had to be airlifted. Several months ago, Libya had agreed to provide a route for aid trucks to get into Darfur bu, in two recent interviews, US Secretary of State Rice, reveals problems [that have not been reported in the press as far as I know]. In one interview she says the access for humanitarian aid has worsened over the last month and in another interview she says, about Libya: "We've worked with the Libyans to have another supply route. It was going pretty well for a while. I think there's been some slowing in that over the last month or so. We're very concerned about it and we're pressing that issue very hard with Khartoum." It makes one wonder if Libya is now unable to open the route from Libya into Darfur because of certain issues between the international community and Khartoum, especially the one in the news last month concerning Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi's comments on Kofi Annan's call for NATO and EU intervention in Darfur.

In the UN draft resolution approved yesterday, point number 5 states, quote: "request the Secretary-General to report to the Council within 30 days on options for how UNMIS can reinforce the effort to foster peace in Darfur through appropriate assistance to AMIS, including logistical support and technical assistance, and to identify ways in liaison with the AU to utilize UNMIS's resources, particularly logistical and operations support elements, as well as reserve capacity towards this end" [Coalition for Darfur has links to two draft resolutions, including the one by France]

A report just out via UPI says Foreign Minister Mustafa Osman Ismail said that while his country welcomed the peacekeeping forces in the south, he insisted against "expanding their mission" to Darfur. I wonder why. One can only speculate that Khartroum feel weakened by losing power over South Sudan and fear losing power over Darfur. Even if they see the writing on the wall, it's going to be a long haul. The warring parties need to be forced to sit down and keep talking until a deal is sorted. Why is the inevitable being dragged out for so long? It will end up in a political deal whether it is a week or decades from now. Someone should knock their heads together, pronto. Imposing sanctions, no fly zones, embargoes and travel bans won't help. Too long to explain here the reasons why. I still maintain the Chinese could be doing a lot more to help behind the scenes. Sudan has a lot going for it but appears to be its own worst enemy.

At the present time, a nine-man African Union Ministerial Committee, represented by South Africa, Algeria, Egypt, Ethiopia, Gabon, Kenya, Nigeria, Senegal and Sudan are on a four-day visit to Sudan, interacting with the Sudanese government, NGOs and others in different parts of the Sudan to assess areas of need and the type of interventions that can be initiated. Their report will be presented to the international donors conference next month in Oslo, Norway.

Intense negotiations have gone on between all sides and many others, including the World Bank, over the past few months regarding the UN peacekeeping force, development of Sudan's infrastructure and resources, along with its debts and international funding for development and aid. As a result, Darfur has been unusually quiet for a good number of days, which is good news.

However, according to the latest UN situation report dated March 24, 2005, there is an increased presence of bandits and Janjaweed near two IDP camps in South Darfur, causing considerable disquiet amongst IDPs. One can never be sure of how much control Khartoum has over Sudan's bandits and militias. Sudan's First Vice-President Taha, recently interviewed in the national palace by Emily Wax for The Washington Post, called the Janjaweed "bandits" and said they were beyond the government's immediate control.

Over the past year, Khartoum has defended its killings of civilians by saying it occurs because the rebels in Darfur hide behind and live amongst their kin. Rebels do not wear uniforms. Civilians are treated by their government as rebels or rebel supporters. The Government of Sudan uses Arab militias, known as Janjaweed, to smash the rebellion in Darfur because the Sudanese Army forces are full of soldiers from Darfur who cannot be trusted to defend against the uprising.

Since January of this year, reports of attacks in Darfur are few and far between. Every few days or so I receive, via email, UN Sudan Situation Reports. Up until the end of last year, the emails reported many incidents of violence. Lately, the fighting in Darfur has definitely subsided. Wheeling and dealing by all sides is going on involving billlions of dollars. Peace, security and the future of Sudan and the 'New Sudan' in the south is at stake. Sudan's rebels are switched on and appear to know when to move and not to move.

Here is a copy of the latest UN situation report received by email today. Note, under "Protection Issues" Khartoum controls the "Form 8" business which, I guess, involves rape victims. Going by the report, victims can opt to pursue legal action and seek legal redress. You have to wonder what it means for the victims.

24 March 2005
Key Developments:

The Security Council unanimously adopted a draft resolution this afternoon to establish the United Nations Mission in Sudan (UNMIS) with an authorised troop strength of up to 10,000 and a civilian component including up to 715 civilian police. This new mission's primary mandate is to support the implementation of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement but it has also been tasked to assist the African Union Mission in Sudan (AMIS) foster peace in the Darfur region. Please see [see above link] accompanying copy of the draft resolution, as it was adopted, for more details.
Humanitarian assistance in SLA areas in North Darfur was again interrupted due to a breakdown in the notification system, as the replacement for the SLM/A Humanitarian Coordinator was unavailable for several days. A new SLM/A focal point has been identified and a meeting took place with UN officials on 23 Mar.

Security Issues:

South Darfur: Protection agencies operating in the Beliel and Kalma IDP camps have reported an increased presence of bandits and armed men on camels in their immediate vicinity. This has added to the instability of the situation and has raised considerable disquiet amongst the IDP population.
West Darfur: UN and NGO Agencies have resumed road travel on West Darfur roads south of Seleia with assessments on-going in Arara, Beita, Masterri, and areas north of Serba. With yesterday's opening of Sanidadi, only the roads under assessment remain NO GO.

Protection Issues:

General: A mission comprising representatives from the UNAMIS Human Rights Office and GoS met with UN and NGO agencies working on protection to discuss the recent Ministry of Justice (MoJ) circular disseminated to GoS officials, Ministry of Health (MoH), police, the prosecutor's office, NGOs and UN agencies. The mission stated that every clinic or hospital (including all NGO clinics) can treat GBV survivors freely without any fear of negative consequences. However, not every NGO clinic can fill Form 8 for the survivor in the event she opts to pursue legal action. The only NGO clinics with authority to fill in Form 8 in North Darfur are IRC, Saudi Red Crescent, and the Egyptian military clinic (all operating in the Abu Shouk camp), as well as MSF- Belgium in Kebkabiya and Saraf Umra. The GoS representatives explained that there is a need to separate the issue of access to medical services from those of seeking legal redress, reiterating a previous message that only Sudanese medical officials employed by the MoH are authorized to fill in Form 8.

West Darfur: HAC Zalingei has requested a meeting to discuss protection matters and approaches with international agencies operating in the area. OCHA and UNHCR will follow up on the proposal, which has been welcomed in the humanitarian community.

Humanitarian Affairs:


North Darfur: Oxfam reported that it is developing a market bulletin on a monthly basis. The first such bulletin is likely be released by the end of this month. Oxfam is currently conducting an assessment on the livelihoods options together with the women development associations' network in El Fasher town.
FAO completed a three-day workshop on livestock, pastures, grazing lands, animal migration routes and water resources problems yesterday in El Fasher town.
South Darfur: Agencies involved in the distribution of NFIs remain slow to present distribution plans for the forthcoming rainy season, potentially delaying responses to OCHA and UNJLC. It is expected that cases of ARI, malaria and water-borne diseases will increase with the onset of the rainy season.
West Darfur: The UNJLC is about to reach targetted stock levels soon and plans a general distributions of NFI in West Darfur. A number of obstacles exist, however, including the upcoming rains and gaining access to some areas of need.


North Darfur: According to the WHO weekly morbidity and mortality weekly bulletin released today, acute respiratory tract infections accounted for the largest number of reported deaths cases in North Darfur in the last reporting week. At today's health coordination meeting, WHO also unveiled plans to conduct a campaign against leprosy and TB in North Darfur.
South Darfur: 2,000 meningitis vaccinations arrived in South Darfur for use by humanitarian agencies, and WHO/MERT has requested staff numbers and locations from all agencies in order to prepare a plan of priority vaccinations for the most at-risk.
West Darfur: MSF-CH has said that it is planning on withdrawing from its role in water provision in Abu Zar School. The Wat/San sector is collectively discussing ways to fill the gap.


Bahr El Jebel: In an effort to update its beneficiary caseload figure, WFP fielded eight teams of 35 persons to conduct a headcount, verification and registration of IDPs, returnees and vulnerable people. The exercise is to be conducted in Terekeka, Glatokh, Kuda, Mekiu and Rokon from 21 to 26 Mar.


Bahr El Jebel: 320 desks produced by Swedish Free Mission with support from UNHCR were distributed to four schools in Bahr El Jebel State. According to Sudan Aid, students coming from the neighbouring countries and the countryside are facing language problem as they once received instruction in English, while here all schools except church schools are in Arabic. The result is overcrowding in church schools where a class accommodates 70 - 90 students per class. There is a need to improve rural schools so that the number of pupils coming to towns is reduced.
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See readers' comments at BBC News online report titled "South Sudan peace force approved". Here are a few:

"The situation in the Darfur region will have a negative effect on the south-north peace accord. The only thing that the UN and international community can do is to put more pressure on the northern government to stop the killings in Darfur. As a Sudanese I want the northern government to tell us what part of Sudan is this community called the jajiweed located and where do they get Sudanese army uniform and weapons? Stop misleading the world, we need the conflict to come to an end. - Palath Thonchar, NY"

"If Khartoum withdraws completely from the South and stop its interference in the southern Sudan affairs there will be peace there. What the SPLA/M needs is financial and technical aid to transform it into a modern political party and into a conventional army. The other key factor in the peace is the construction of the infrastructure including roads, telecommunications, schools and hospitals. The leadership in southern Sudan should also diversify its production. Social justice is also key to lasting peace and prosperity. - Henry Maina Reriani, Nairobi "