Sunday, March 06, 2005

UN to discuss South Sudan and Darfur on Monday 7 March

The UN Security Council is set to meet tomorrow to discuss a comprehensive UN resolution that includes south Sudan, and Darfur in west Sudan.

France, Britain and other council members from Europe have demanded the resolution be amended to include provisions referring the crimes in Darfur to the International Criminal Court but the request was rejected by the US, a strong opponent of The Hague-based court, says China View on 4 March.

Plans to deploy troops from Jordan and Malaysia as part of a force of 10,000 UN peacekeepers to monitor the ceasefire were unacceptable to the south Sudan SPLM/A group and had been dropped, SPLM/A chief commander told Reuters late on Friday.

Troops from Egypt, India, Zambia, Bangladesh, Nepal and Kenya had been accepted but the force should come with a full peacekeeping mandate rather than one simply to monitor the ceasefire, he added.

The SPLM/A would prefer separate UN resolutions on south Sudan and Darfur, rather than the comprehensive one being debated, he said.
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UN's humanitarian chief visits Southern Sudan and Darfur

On Thursday March 3, the UN's top humanitarian official, Jan Egeland, arrived in Sudan on a five-day visit to assess the situation in south Sudan and Darfur in west Sudan.

The next day, Mr Egeland visited Rumbek in southern Sudan, where he spoke to officials with UN aid agencies and partner non-governmental organizations. He met members of the SPLM/A, visited the town of Malualkon in Northern Bahr el Ghazal state, and met African Union reps during his visit to South Darfur state, as well as local authorities, aid workers and affected civilians.

On his visit to the south, Mr Egeland said the needs were overwhelming. He said just 5% of the required funds required have so far been given. Southern Sudan is one of the poorest places on earth. Life expectancy is just 42 years and only a quarter of the population can read. Any infrastructure that did exist was destroyed by the long civil war between the black African south and the Arab north. With the ending of that war in January, hopes were high that the south would begin to put the conflict behind them, and roads, hospitals and schools would all be built.

Sudan asked for over $500m from the international community but so far they have given just $24m.

"I fear the world is making a historic mistake here in southern Sudan," the BBC quotes Mr Egeland as saying during his trip to the region: "Now we have a peace agreement. Now we have three, four months of cementing that peace agreement. We are not getting the money, neither for the refugees returning to southern Sudan or to the impoverished war stricken population in this area." "The world has to respond. It is unbelievable that they are waiting," he added.

The BBC report explains that other humanitarian appeals have diverted money away. The Asian tsunami and the Darfur crisis have both been much more successful at raising funds. A donor conference for the south is due to be held in Norway next month. Having pushed hard for the civil war to end, the people of southern Sudan will hope the international community has not forgotten them in times of peace. - BBC
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UN's top envoy says Sudan's army and Janjaweed remain linked

In a report from Berlin on Thursday 3 March, the UN's top envoy for Sudan, Jan Pronk, was quoted as saying the Sudanese army and the Janjaweed militia it had backed had stopped open cooperation. But they remain linked, he said. "And the result is (ethnic) cleansing, and that has to stop."

The report also quotes a German official saying that Chinese oil interests are a problem in the Security Council. And that both China and Russia oppose sanctions against the Khartoum regime, which is a major oil source.
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Ambassador denies Sudan backed atrocities

On Thursday March 3, Sudan's ambassador to the US, Khidir Haroun Ahmed, told reporters that his government "has never given any license to kill or to burn or to loot in that part of the country."

Mr Ahmed also warned the US to drop threats to impose sanctions against Sudan unless the government cracks down on the Janjaweed and other militia groups.

He said the threatened sanctions encouraged the rebels. The rebel groups "will never negotiate ... if there is a sword hanging over the head of the government. This is not the way of making peace," Ahmed said.

Instead of threatening sanctions, he said, the US should pressure rebel groups to negotiate and press Western nations to follow through on pledges of aid to Darfur.
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Darfur attacks 'led by Khartoum'

On Thursday March 3, the day after the US envoy to Sudan, Charles Snyder, left Khartoum, Human Rights Watch, a New York-based human rights group, issued a press release saying that Musa Hilal, a leader of an Arab militia operating in Darfur, said in a videotaped interview, "All the people in the field are led by top army commanders." Full Story by Bill Nichols, USA Today 3/3. Also, the BBC reports:

Musa Hilal, named by the US as a Janjaweed leader, told the [HRW] group that militia attacks on ethnic Africans were directed by Sudanese army commanders.

"These people get their orders... from Khartoum," he said in an interview transcript released by the group.

The Sudanese government has strongly denied supporting the militias.

Human Rights Watch said Mr Hilal made the allegations during a videotaped interview in Arabic, conducted in September last year. The group released part of the interview on Wednesday, saying that translation and formatting of the tape had delayed its publication.

Mr Hilal is one of seven people accused by the US state department of being leaders of the Arab Janjaweed militia. But in a BBC interview in November last year, he said he was simply a mayoral figure with no links with the military.

The Janjaweed are alleged to have killed thousands and used mass rape against non-Arab groups. Sudan's government and the Arab militias are accused of war crimes against the region's black African population, although the United Nations has stopped short of terming it a genocide.

Further reading

March 3 Independent UK: Sudan ordered death squads, says warlord Musa Hilal
March 3 Op-Ed by Peter Deselaers in Berlin: EU Fails to Agree Steps to End Killing
March 2 New York Times Op-Ed by Nicholas D. Kristof: "The American Witness"
March 2 Daily Kos: What is more important than stopping genocide?
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US envoy visits Sudan on bilateral ties, peace deal

On Tuesday March 1, US envoy to Sudan Charles Snyder arrived in Khartoum for talks with Sudanese officials.

Mr Snyder met with Sudanese Foreign Minister Mustafa Othman Ismail Wednesday March 2 on bilateral ties, the implementation of the peace deal for southern Sudan, and the situation in Darfur.

Ismail expressed hope that his meeting with the US envoy would be fruitful and successful. Full Story at China View, March 1, 2005.

Photo: US envoy to Sudan Charles Snyder

On Wednesday March 2, US envoy to Sudan Charles Snyder announced in Khartoum that Washington "is looking for promoting its diplomatic representation in Khartoum to ambassador level by the coming autumn following improvements of the situations in Darfur."

Mr Snyder concluded his two-day visit to Sudan on Wednesday evening after meeting with a number of Sudanese officials including Sudanese First Vice President Ali Osman Mohamed Taha. Full Story at China News, March 2, 2005.
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Khartoum 'astonished' by US push for sanctions over Darfur

On Wednesday March 2, the Sudanese government voiced its displeasure at the latest US proposition for UN sanctions over Khartoum's handling of the crisis in Darfur.

"We have communicated ... our astonishment over the US administration's position of seeking to impose sanctions on Sudan and, at the same time, considering normalisation of ties," an official said after a visit by US State Department Adviser for Sudan Charles Snyder.

Sudanese foreign ministry official Mohammed Amin al-Karib that during his visit Snyder had promised that the draft resolution proposing sanctions would be "mitigated". Full Story AFP Geneva, March 2, 2005.
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Obasanjo meets Sudan's VP over Darfur crisis

On Monday Feb 28, African Union chairman, Nigeria's President Olusegun Obasanjo, met Sudan's first vice president Ali Taha over the crisis in Darfur. The meeting was a follow-up to the one that Obasanjo had with Sudan's President Bashir on February 16 at Abuja.

Taha's delegation presented to Obasanjo a report of the National Commission of Inquiry on Darfur, prepared by the government in Khartoum. Obasanjo and the delegation "discussed ways of adjudication, criminal justice and reconciliation in Darfur.

After talks with Bashir last February 16, Obasanjo said that he had been convinced by the Sudanese leader that the situation in Darfur was improving. "Things are looking greatly better in Darfur," Obasanjo said, adding he hoped that AU-sponsored peace talks, which are to resume in Abuja, would bear fruit and that settlement would be reached.

Obasanjo has made it clear that he hopes that Africa can resolve the crisis without outside intervention. - via AFP report Feb 28, 2005.
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African Union says Sudanese officials may not be behind North Darfur abuses

On Monday Feb 28, Reuters reported that the African Union said Sudanese officials may not be behind North Darfur abuses.

"It is believed that these banditry activities might have been perpetrated by some unscrupulous members of all the groups ... that are outside the control of their leadership," said Colonel Awwal Usman Mohammed, an AU commander in North Darfur state.

Janjaweed militias, who aid workers and the rebels say are supported by the government, have been accused of attacking civilians.

"I believe there is a total lack of control ... Even the Janjaweed, I don't think the government of Sudan actually sanctions what they do," Mohammed said.

Photo: A Rwandan African Union soldier patrols at Abushouk camp near El Fasher in North Darfur, Nov 3 (AFP).
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Boschwitz chosen as Human Rights Ambassador

On Saturday March 5, American news reports said US Senator from Minnesota, Rudy Boschwitz, has been chosen as Ambassador to the UN Commission on Human Rights. According to one report, "he would try to steer the Commission on Human Rights in a direction more favourable to the United States."


[More favourable to the United States? One wonders what other people outside of America think, when they read such a statement]
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Chinese attitudes towards the USA

EastSouthWestNorth blog reports on an opinion poll on the attitudes of Chinese towards America. Some highlights:

How satisfied are you with Sino-American relationship:
- 52% somewhat satisfied
- 18% satisfied
- 1% very satisfied

How do you like the American people?
- 53% somewhat like
- 13% like

What is America to China?
- 49% a competitor
- 26% a cooperative partner
- 12% an example to emulate
- 10% a friendly country

Do you think America is trying to contain China?
- 57% yes

What is the biggest problem that will affect the Sino-American relationship?
- 61% Taiwan

What is the likelihood of conflict between America and China over the Taiwan issue?
- 41% somewhat likely
- 12% likely

What don't you like about the American government?
- 38% selling arms to Taiwan
- 32% starting the war in Iraq under false pretenses
- 8% strenghtening military ties with Japan

Why is America so concerned about human rights in China?
- 49% to disrupt the stability of China
- 19% Americans just don't understand China
- 15% to promote democracy in China
- 10% to denigrate China

What do you admire about America?
- 44% science and technology
- 21% system of government and law
- 18% economic prosperity

Do you accept American cultural products?
- 32% can accept, but too far removed from own lifestyle
- 28% enjoy very much

How do you find out about America?
- 64% media
- 21% American movies
- 7% direct contact with Americans

[Source: Blood & Treasure: what the Chinese think]

Further reading:

6 March The Korea Times Will China Cause Trans-Atlantic Rift? by Philip Dorsey Iglauer: The embargo never kept dangerous weapon systems from the possession of China's military.

European arms sells are not nor will they ever be the source of the proliferation of lethal weapons going to China. Lifting the ban will only finally normalize relations between Europe and China. And that is a good thing, a boon to America's long-term interests in the region.

The US must not allow this to become another rift in the trans-Atlantic relationship. The real danger lies with the neo-cons and Francophobes in the Bush administration sounding fire alarms where no fire exists. Moreover, it is misperceptions like those that will in fact hurt NATO, creating differences with Europe when the US should instead be soliciting its help to meet real challenges in Iraq and in the war on terror.

7 March Australian news, China correspondent report, says China hopes EU-supplied firepower will make US think twice.
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Great new blog: "Coalition for Darfur"

Here's wishing American bloggers Eugene Oregon and Feddie best of luck fundraising for Save the Children in their new blog Coalition for Darfur.

As Eugene has posted regular Darfur updates over the past year at his blog Demagogue, he has good in-depth knowledge of what has gone on in Darfur during the past two years. I had linked to Demagogue in my blog, and at Passion of the Present, in the past and look forward to reading and pointing to more posts in the future, like the snappy titled Khartomb.

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Quotation of the Day

Stanford University held a panel discussion on US/UN/Africa relations:

"Most American attitudes on Africa are not deeply fixed in any African reality," Devlin-Foltz said. "When they are lacking information, people will fall back on general principles."

He said he blames television news for the widely-held American view that the world is full of unrelated catastrophic events and that the United States is the only nation that can make a difference.

[Source: Coalition for Darfur]


BRE said...

Excellent find Ingrid (ref: the Coalition for Darfur). Sorry I haven't had a chance to keep up with you as much as I would like. You're tireless in your pursuit of justice, Lady.

I'll bridge to this posting in my blog this week, and I wanna sign up with the Rebels: The Coalition. Really fine writing from its members, don't you think?

More awareness means more pressure on the Goons in Khartoum!

Ingrid J. Jones said...

Hello Bill, nice to see you here again. Thanks for saying hi. Yes, I agree, the Coalition is really good - it makes a nice change for me to read other people's commentary and posts on Darfur instead of news reports that I have already read. One of these days I hope to find a blog about Sudan that is not authored by an American. I don't recall finding another non-American blogging about Darfur on a regular basis which after nearly a year makes me feel lonesome on the subject here in the blogosphere. Where are all the Africans and Arabs I ask myself - or the French, Germans and Chinese ... If you ever find a non-American blogging Sudan, please do let me know. Jim doesn't post very often these days at the Passion and I haven't posted much there lately either so it is good to see Eugene and Feddie making such a great effort to write some neat and interesting posts. Looking forward to reading your posts on the Sudan and any thoughts you might have on the ICC and latest developments. Bye for now. P.S. Yesterday I came across some Congo Watchers that I'll write about here as soon as I get a chance.

BRE said...

I'm sure that other nationalities are blogging on Sudan other than people from the home of "The Great Satan" or whatever label folks try to apply to the U.S. these days.

I'll put your request for a search on my TODO list and get back to you. I wish I could help out with writing for your blog "The Passion of the Present" but I am simply not good enough (in my opinion) to make a meaningful contribution to your readers. Maybe it's time to ask for help from other blog authors or merge with a group blog such as "The Coalition"??

The other day I also found an interesting and knowledgable contact who could be helpful in writing about the D.R.C., but we are in the early stages of communications so let's see how that progresses.

If you ever need my help with anything you know how to get in touch with me by email.