Saturday, April 30, 2005

Is Democracy Possible in the Middle East?

Amid the First Signs of Change, Longing Competes with Mistrust of Western Democracy - Commentary By FAWAZ A. GERGES - ABC News: Is Democracy Possible in the Middle East?

Fawaz A. Gerges holds the Christian A. Johnson Chair in Middle East and International Affairs at Sarah Lawrence College and is senior analyst for ABC News. He is author of the forthcoming book "The Far Enemy: Why Jihad Went Global." - via ABC News April 30, 2005.

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More Children's Drawings from Darfur, Sudan

Further to yesterday's post here, featuring Ethan Zuckermann's post on children's drawings from Darfur, here are some more images and captions, courtesy Human Rights Watch:

Children’s Drawings from Darfur, Sudan

Above drawing by Mahmoud, Age 13
Human Rights Watch: What's happening here?
Mahmoud: These men in green are taking the women and the girls.
Human Rights Watch: What are they doing?
Mahmoud: They are forcing them to be wife.
Human Rights Watch: What's happening here?
Mahmoud: The houses are on fire.
Human Rights Watch: What's happening here?
Mahmoud: This is an Antonov. This is a helicopter. These here, at the bottom of the page, these are dead people.

Children’s Drawings from Darfur, Sudan

Above drawing by Doa, Age 11 or 12
Janjaweed descend on a village on horses and camels, a woman flings her arms in the air as she is targeted for sexual violence or execution. A soldier takes a woman to be raped. She has a cell phone next to her head: "She wants to call the agencies for help."

Children’s Drawings from Darfur, Sudan

Above drawing by Leila, Age 9
Human Rights Watch: What is going on here?
Leila: My hut burning after being hit by a bomb.
Human Rights Watch: And here? [Pointing to the drawing of what looks like an upside-down woman]
Leila: It's a woman. She is dead.
Human Rights Watch: Why is her face colored in red?
Leila: Oh, because she has been shot in the face.
Human Rights Watch: What is this vehicle? Who is this in green?
Leila: That is a tank. The man in green is a soldier.

Children's Drawings from Darfur, Sudan

Above drawing by Ala, Age 13
Like many other children, Ala witnessed conflict between rebel groups and the Janjaweed. This drawing depicts a rebel soldier first shot in the arm, then executed by gunshots to the groin. Ali, a teacher in a refugee camp, said the rebels are killed this way to emasculate them. "They [the Janjaweed] know what they are doing," he said. "They are doing it with purpose."


UN Sudan Situation Report 27 April 2005

Here is the situaton report by UN personnel in Sudan for April 27, 2005.

Key developments

On 26 April, the AU mediation team met with First Vice-President Taha to discuss the resumption of the Abuja peace talks.

On 27 April, SPLM/A Chairman, John Garang, met with the leader of the National Democratic Alliance (NDA).

On 26 April, unconfirmed fighting was reported in the Jabal Moon area (North Darfur) between the GoS and NMRD.

Political Affairs:

On 26 April, the AU mediation team met with First Vice-President Taha to discuss the resumption of the Abuja peace talks. Taha affirmed the GoS's readiness to resume the negotiations, and stated that GoS officials were working on a Draft Framework Protocol earlier circulated to the parties. The AU team is expected to travel to Asmara to hold similar discussions with SLM/A and JEM officials, after which time both sides will submit their comments on the Protocol.

On 27 April, SPLM/A Chairman, John Garang, met with the leader of the National Democratic Alliance (NDA), Mohammed Osman el-Mirghani in Asmara and according to press reports, discussed the finalisation of the Cairo negotiations between the GoS and the NDA in time for the establishment of interim institutions.

Following the controversy around a plot of land alloted to UNMIS in Tongping by the Bahr el Jebel (Juba) local government (several residents allege they are being displaced from the land in question), UNMIS has made clear that prior to an article that appeared in a local paper in Khartoum on 26 April, the Mission was not aware of the allegations. Nonethe-less, the Mission has decided to halt developments on the site until the allegations can be verified.

The Communist Party has called on its members in the diaspora to return to Sudan and resume political activities within the country. This follows the emergence of its leader from hiding, and reflects a continuing trend of opposition groups returning to the country. While the party will reportedly re-open its office in Khartoum, Party spokesman, Farouk Kadoda, stated that they would not participate in the National Constitution Review Committee unless the representation quotas are re-visited.

With the number of refugees returning to the South on the increase, an international anti-landmine delegation including several EU countries, the US, Japan and Canada met on on 25 April with the GoS Humanitarian Affairs Minister, Ibrahim Mahmoud Hamid, as well as other GoS officials and NGOs in Khartoum, to discuss mine clearing efforts in the region.


The Italian led SHIRBRIG TCC Reconnaissance Team met with FC and CAO before receiving initial OPS and MSD briefings. Further, detailed, MSD briefings with Section Heads will take place tomorrow with Camp Site visits to follow.

The Canadian Chief of Defense Staff, Gen Rick Hillier met with the SRSG and FC.

The HOM of the Joint Military Commission ( JMC) had discussions with the Force Commander and Military Operations Staff on the hand over of Sector IV to the Egyptian Contingent.

UN police: NSTR
Civil Affairs

Although the situation in El Fasher University is calm, police and national security forces still maintain a presence on campus and in the lecture halls, leading to what students say is a 90 per cent drop in attendance. On 26 April 2005, some students formed a committee and unsuccessfully tried to meet with the Vice Chancellor to discuss what led to the crisis, and ways of diffusing it. On the other hand, the university administration arranged meetings between NCP and NIF students.

Human Rights

According to information received by the Human Rights Officers (HROs), the Committee to Combat Gender-Based Violence established in February by the South Darfur Wali, has not met since 31 March 2005. No date for the next meeting has been set yet.


According to OCHA, 1,447 persons from Khartoum, Madeni, Sennar and Gedaref transited through Kosti to various locations in the South and the Nuba Mountains during the week of 20-26 April. The 1,447 returnees included 358 people who moved from White Nile State (Kenana, Rabak and Kosti).

IDP registration

OCHA registered 215 IDPs in Bazia, Eastern Equatoria this morning. Cases of malaria and diarrhea are still being reported, with 42 people falling ill during the last twenty four hours. OCHA is waiting for food deliveries to be made so that the IDPs who arrived last night and this morning from Mabia camp can be assisted.

Protection Issues

The INGO driver abducted on 25th April in Kafod (North darfur) has been released.
On 26 April, reports indicate that one woman was stabbed five times by Arab militias after being subjected to several attempts of rape in Saga village.
Harassment against IDPs in Kalma and other camps continues to be reported.


WFP distributed a one-month full ration to 6,530 registered IDPs in Nhialdiu town, Unity State, who fled fighting in Nhialdiu, Dhorkan and Jikang areas during the week

Assessments: NSTR

On 26 April, unconfirmed fighting was reported in the Jabal Moon area (North darfur) between the GoS and NMRD.

On 26 April, reportedly three people were abducted from Arusharow IDP camp by unknown armed men.

Friday, April 29, 2005

Children's Drawings from Darfur, Sudan

Ethan Zuckermann has a super post featuring children's drawings from Darfur. Please read it to view larger images and click into his links for further details. Here are the drawings and captions Ethan published April 29:

In February 2005, Human Rights Watch sent researchers Dr. Annie Sparrow and Olivier Bercault to Chad to talk with refugees who'd fled from the bombings and Janjawid militia attacks in Darfur. A pediatrician, Dr. Sparrow usually gives crayons and paper to children to entertain them while she interviews their parents. When she gave crayons to children who've fled Darfur, the results were harrowing and powerful.

Children’s Drawings from Darfur

Without prompting, the children drew scenes of horse-mounted militiamen riding into villages, large airplanes dropping bombs, and gun-wielding men raping women. The children's drawings are a visual record of the atrocities committed in Darfur that aren't available through any other medium. Human rights workers have received extensive testimony about bombing of villages and rape as a weapon, but these drawings provide visual evidence that international media organizations have not been able to provide, as they've been blocked by the Sudanese government from travelling in Darfur.

Children’s Drawings from Darfur

Realizing the importance of these drawings, Sparrow and Bercault started collecting school notebooks from children in refugee camps. They found in many of them that class notes suddenly gave way to sketches of battlefield scenes, burning huts and the destruction of villages. The two began interviewing children about their drawings:

Leila, Age 9
Human Rights Watch: What is going on here?
Leila: My hut burning after being hit by a bomb.
Human Rights Watch: And here? [Pointing to the drawing of what looks like an upside-down woman]
Leila: It's a woman. She is dead.
Human Rights Watch: Why is her face colored in red?
Leila: Oh, because she has been shot in the face.
Human Rights Watch: What is this vehicle? Who is this in green?
Leila: That is a tank. The man in green is a soldier.

The researchers brought hundreds of drawings back to their offices. When I was at Human Rights Watch a week ago, there was a pile of these sketches on a conference room table, along side a pile of photographs from Janjawid militamen. What amazed me was how details in the children's drawings echoed details from the photos - the stocks of the automatic rifles, the round shape of the houses, the posture of two gunmen riding on horseback. It was immediately clear to me that these drawings weren't of weapons imagined by children, but eye witness accounts.

Children’s Drawings from Darfur

The New York Times will be running some of these pictures in their Sunday magazine, and German television will be featuring the images on a broadcast this weekend. Perhaps these images will help the world pay attention to the ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity taking place in Darfur and the refugee camps in Chad.

[Great Ethan. Thanks. God bless. - sorry I had to post the same images - couldn't get flickr to reduce size of others at HRW]

See more at Human Rights Watch - Darfur Drawn: The Conflict in Darfur Through Children's Eyes.

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NATO's role in Darfur - AU commission chairman will visit NATO headquarters May 17

Talks with the African Union on a Nato role are expected to start "very, very quickly" a Nato spokesman said, ahead of an expected May 17 visit by Konare to Nato headquarters in Brussels.

An internal assessment obtained Wednesday by the Associated Press at African Union headquarters in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, said it may need to increase the force to 12,300 to restore order.

In Washington, Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist welcomed the African Union's request for Nato assistance, saying "I'm ... hopeful that a partnership between Nato and the AU will help bring stability and restore order to this troubled region."

Nato officials have suggested alliance help could include transport, communications and planning for an expanded military mission.

However, France has been wary about Nato involvement in Africa, concerned that Paris' traditional influence on the continent could be undermined.

Nato officials said France went along with the decision to open talks with the African Union, but stressed the alliance would remain in close touch with the European Union and the United Nations in mapping out international help for the African peacekeepers.

The European Union has sent military advisers to help the peacekeeping mission and is spending 120 million US dollars to cover almost half the costs of the operation.

UN Secretary General Kofi Annan has urged Nato and the EU to do more to back African efforts to end the violence in Darfur.

See full report by AP Writer Paul Ames at Newsday.
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NATO to provide support in Darfur mission

Nato, the alliance created in the cold war to protect western Europe from the Soviet Union, is set to go to Africa to provide logistical help for Darfur.

See full report by Daniel Dombey in Brussels, April 28 2005 -
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NATO poised for first African engagement in Darfur

One French idea for Darfur was that its logistical support and air surveillance operation, based in Chad, might be turned into an EU military mission. That prospect seems less likely following April 27 written request to Nato from Alpha Oumar Konare, the chairman of the AU Commission, who is expected to visit the alliance's Brussels headquarters next month.

James Appathurai, Nato's chief spokesman, said: "What has to be decided is what the AU needs and what is already provided and whether Nato can add value. But certainly this is the first time Nato would be engaged in any significant way in sub-Saharan Africa."

The Sudanese government insists only African troops can be involved in intervention and other Nato and EU diplomats are frustrated by the limited progress made by the AU. "It is a question of choosing the most appropriate organisation for the operation," one official said.

See full report by Stephen Castle in Brussels, 28 April 2005, Independent UK.


Photo: The AU commission chairman will visit Nato headquarters May 17, 2005 - via Aljazeera.
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Analysis: NATO's role in Darfur

Nato officials will be engaged in intensive discussions during the next few weeks following a formal invitation from the African Union (AU) for military help in Darfur.

Please read analysis by David Loyn, Developing World Correspondent, BBC News, April 29, 2005.
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Top European Union official to meet President Mbeki

Good news. European Union foreign policy chief Javier Solana is on his way to South Africa to boost the EU's "strategic partnership" with Pretoria before heading to the Democratic Republic of Congo, his office said in a statement.

Mr Solana is flying to Pretoria today for talks with South Africa's President Thabo Mbeki. AFP report via monuc April 28 says Solana is to speak with South African President Thabo Mbeki about various African issues including the Sudan, the statement said.

The aim of the talks was to "reinforce the dialogue and strategic partnership" between the EU and South Africa.

EU development commissioner Louis Michel is to accompany Solana to Kinshasa.

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Big boost to Darfur peace force - S. Africa to send more troops to Darfur, Sudan

According to reports today by the BBC and IRIN, the AU Peace and Security Council meeting yesterday did not discuss expanding the mandate of AU troops in Darfur. A Sudanese official is quoted as saying a stronger mandate could be seen by Sudanese people as an occupying force in Darfur.

IRIN's report says AU Peace and Security Commissioner Said Djinnit told journalists yesterday, after the council meeting, that the enhanced force for Darfur would be in place by the end of September. Kenya, Nigeria and Rwanda had already pledged to contribute extra troops, he added.

IRIN states the 15-strong AU council did not discuss newly announced talks with NATO on possible logistical support or strengthening the current mandate, Djinnit said. But after the four-and-a-half hour meeting, he added that the "scope" of the mandate would be further increased to allow greater protection of civilians, convoys and checkpoints.

IRIN explains the AU's chair described a "new phenomenon" occurring: the deliberate targeting of the AU peacekeepers - and that Jan Pronk said
"We need a comprehensive peace agreement between the government and the rebels by early next year. I don't think people will return before there is a peace agreement." The 12,000 troops, he added, would be expected to remain in Darfur for around four years.
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Pronk says rebels committing most ceasefire violations - 500 people dying every month

The above IRIN report also quotes Jan Pronk as saying the situation in Darfur had improved since last year, but 500 people were still dying every month.

He said serious violations of a ceasefire - most of which were committed by the rebels - were continuing.

"The AU presence has resulted in more stability where they are, but they have to be able to back their mediation with force," added Pronk.

Here are further excerpts from IRIN's report April 29:

"We are concerned over the continuing crisis in Darfur and condemn the continued attacks against defenceless civilians," Djinnit said. "These extra troops will further promote a more secure environment and help build confidence as well as protecting civilians."

The AU acknowledged that its current 2,300-strong force, which it plans to increase to 3,320 by late May, was "extremely stretched" and could not fulfil its mandate. The increased force would come to more than 7,700 men, including nearly 5,500 troops, 1,600 civilian police and some 700 military observers.

AU commission Chairman Alpha Oumar Konare told the council that attacks against civilians were still continuing and that a "new phenomenon" had occurred: the deliberate targeting of the AU peacekeepers.

"Militarily, the force should be in a position to promote a secure environment across Darfur," he said in a report to the council.

"As difficult as the situation in Darfur is, it is my strong conviction that the AU's efforts, if intensified and pursued with determination, will ultimately lead to the restoration of lasting peace and stability in that region," Konare added.

The AU also said it was struggling to get enough civilian police into the region, a vital component of their protection mission. So far only a quarter of the proposed civilian police contingent had been deployed because of poor logistical support, Konare said.

He added that the AU would need to quadruple the force to 12,300 to restore order in Darfur, a view endorsed by Jan Pronk, the UN's special envoy to Sudan.

"We need to get around 12,000 troops in by early next year as soon as we have a peace agreement," Pronk told journalists outside the closed-door meeting.

"We need a comprehensive peace agreement between the government and the rebels by early next year. I don't think people will return before there is a peace agreement."

The 12,000 troops, he added, would be expected to remain in Darfur for around four years.

Pronk said the situation in Darfur had improved since last year, but 500 people were still dying every month. He also said serious violations of a ceasefire - most of which were committed by the rebels - were continuing.

"The AU presence has resulted in more stability where they are, but they have to be able to back their mediation with force," added Pronk.
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Sudanese ambassador says AU could be seen as an occupying force

On the sidelines of the meeting, the Sudanese ambassador to the AU, Abuzeid Alhassein, said the AU risked being seen by the Sudanese as an occupying force if it broadened its mandate and allowed AU peacekeepers to step in and use force to protect civilians.

"The protection of the civilians in Darfur should be left to the Sudanese civilian police," Alhassein said. "We do not think the AU should strengthen its mandate because if it engages militarily with people it will be seen as an occupying force."

[Who in their right mind can understand Khartoum's rationale when so many lives, including those of international aid workers, are at stake? Sudan stays in the dark ages while the world moves on. Listen up Khartoum. We in the world's democratic countries don't put up with savages and barbarians any more.]
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Big boost to Darfur peace force - S. Africa to send more troops to Sudan's Darfur

Secretary-General Kofi Annan suggested that Africa Union troops in Sudan's Darfur could become part of a UN peacekeeping mission or be augmented with a multinational force, according to a draft report obtained by Reuters on Thursday, April 28.

Mr Annan, in presenting options to the UN Security Council, said any change in the mission would need to be decided by the council, Sudan and AU.

See full report by Evelyn Leopold, Reuters, April 28, 2005.
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AU blames mistrust for continued conflict in Sudan's Darfur

Note this copy of a report from PANA, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, April 29, 2005: it quotes the chair of the AU insisting - in a report - on a strengthened mandate for AMIS and urging Khartoum to disarm and neutralise the Janjaweed:

The situation remains volatile and unpredictable in Western Sudan's Darfur region due to mistrust between belligerents in the troubled area, says an African Union (AU) report issued here Thursday.

In a report to the AU Peace and Security Council, whose session opened in Addis Ababa Thursday, AU chairperson Alpha Oumar Konare said "deep distrust" between the warring parties, the population and government forces was impeding the search for a solution to the conflict, which erupted in February 2003.

Konare told the AU Council that the population lacked confidence in government security organs in Darfur, especially the Sudanese police, because they are inter-twinned with the Arab "Janjaweed" militia.

In his report, Konare insisted on the need to strengthen the African Mission in the Sudan (AMIS) and appealed to Sudanese authorities to urgently, fully fulfil their commitments under the April 2004 N'djamena and the Abuja protocol.

He particularly urged Khartoum to disarm and neutralise the Janjaweed, apprehend and bring its leadership to face justice together with those found guilty of violating human rights and international humanitarian law.

Experience has shown that the security situation would continue to be gloomy in Darfur unless concrete action was taken in this respect, Konare warned.

Meanwhile, the AU chairperson appealed to the conflicting parties in Darfur to show political commitment to reach a peace agreement.

He reiterated the call by the Assembly of the African Union, which encouraged all leaders and stakeholders who have been supporting the Inter-Sudanese Peace Talks on Darfur to continue doing so under the overall leadership of the continental body.

[Note, there is no mention in the report of a stronger mandate for the AU troops in Darfur.]
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AU to increase troops in Darfur from 2,200 to 7,7000

Going by various reports, it seems the AU council meeting yesterday did not discuss giving their peacekeepers more powers, which Sudan has opposed. This is odd, don't you think? The ceasefire that was agreed last year between Sudan and its Darfur rebels has been violated so often, there's no longer a ceasefire to monitor. The warring parties know there is no peace to keep. Every soldier must be allowed, like anybody else, to defend themselves and come to the aid of defenceless people being attacked.

South Africa's government spokesman Joel Netshitenzhe said that a cabinet meeting April 28 in Pretoria had "agreed to respond positively to a request from the AU for additional South African personnel in the African Mission in the Sudan."

In regard to the AU's council decision to increase the peacekeeping force in Darfur - from 2,200 to more than 7,700, including nearly 5,500 troops, 1,600 civilian police and some 700 military observers - he said the reinforced troops would be put in place by the end of September. - via Xinhua April 28, 2005.

[Today, Reuters mentions the long overdue 1,000 troops for Darfur are expected to be deployed by the end of May]
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Big boost to Darfur peace force

Yesterday it was reported [see previous post here] the mandate of the AU troops would be expanded. But I've yet to see confirmation that the AU has officially strengthened the mandate.

Eugene at Coaliton for Darfur points to a report from that states AU Commissioner for Peace and Security, Said Djinnit, told reporters:
"The force will have an enhanced scope to include protection of civilians and internally displaced people as well protecting food convoys and to stop looting."
But a BBC report April 29 [quoting the same AU official] says the AU council "did not discuss giving their peacekeepers more powers, which Sudan has opposed".

The BBC report states 1,000 troops are expected in Darfur next month - and by September, the force should be 7,700-strong, which could be further increased to 12,000, an official said. Excerpt:

"These extra troops will further promote a more secure environment and help build confidence as well as protecting civilians," said AU Peace and Security Commissioner Said Djinnit. He said that Kenya, Rwanda, Nigeria and Senegal have all promised to send extra troops.

Jan Pronk also submitted a report saying that 12,000 troops were needed in Darfur by early next year - but they should have a stronger mandate. "The AU presence has resulted in more stability where they are, but they have to be able to back their mediation with force," he said.

At its meeting in Addis Ababa, the AU did not discuss giving their peacekeepers more powers, which Sudan has opposed.

Earlier this week, the AU asked Nato for logistical and financial support for its mission in Darfur. Nato is considering the request.

The Sudan government says it would accept Nato logistical support but not the presence of non-African troops.
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US to provide $50-60 million for AU troops in Darfur

A Reuters report April 29 says now that the AU had made its decision, the US hoped very shortly to announce concrete support of $50 - $60 million for the AU. Excerpt:

The US portion would be about one-third of the price tag for the expanded AU mission, with the rest coming from the European Union, Japan and Canada.

Although some critics say Washington is trying to absolve itself of Darfur by transferring responsibility to the AU, officials insist AU forces have made a real difference in the limited locations where they operate.

US Deputy Secretary of State Robert Zoellick has taken on Sudan as part of his portfolio and is said to be working on the issue daily. He travelled to Darfur two weeks ago and said then he believed the AU is helping hold down the violence.

The State Department's Sudan expert, Mike Ranneberger, last week did a more thorough assessment, visiting six AU camps and discussing the AU's role with tribal leaders, humanitarian workers and rebel field commanders.

An official said Ranneberger came away even more impressed with the AU's "very activist approach ... They are aggressively getting out into the field and patrolling humanitarian roads."

In several instances, AU forces have pre-empted violence by occupying villages ahead of an imminent attack, he said.

But the forces need more vehicles and reliable communications to become truly effective, officials said.

On his trip, Zoellick warned that if the violence isn't ended, Sudan risks losing an even bigger pot of US assistance -- $1.7 billion pledged at a donor's conference in Oslo.

Khartoum no longer supports the Arab militias with helicopter gunships and its troops no longer accompany the Janjaweed in battle, a US official said.

But there has been "no specific reduction in violence" since Zoellick's visit and there are "numerous indicators" the Sudan government is still in very close contact with the Janjaweed and continues to support the militias with equipment and probably actual cash payments, the official said.

The administration doubts Khartoum's claims that the Janjaweed is now out of its control and is pressing for proof that all assistance has ended, US officials said. Full report.
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Chad to get Arab League observer status

On April 28, the Arab League said it had offered Chad observer status in the 22-member body.

Note, Arabic is widely used in the central African country, and nearly half of its population of about 10 million are Muslims. Chad, more than three times the size of California, shares borders with six African countries. Two of them -- Libya and Sudan -- are Arab League members.

[Sudanese people seem to class each other as either African or Arab. Sudan is a member of both the African Union and Arab League. The Arabisation of Sudan seems to be turning it into an Arab country. Surely it causes an identity crisis and friction when Arabs impose their religion and customs on people who have differing faiths and customs? If any blogger writes a post on this issue, please let me know and I will link to it here. Thanks.]
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Small Darfur rebel group agrees deal with Sudan-Chad

Chad said on Friday a breakaway Darfur rebel group and Sudan's government had signed a security deal, calling for a cessation of hostilities.

The deal was signed late on Thursday by the rebel National Movement for Reform and Development (NMRD) and Sudan's minister for investment after talks hosted by Chad's Minister of Public Security Abderahman Moussa.

Full report via Reuters and Sudan Tribune, April 29, 2005.
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Sudan poses first big trial for world criminal court

Here is an excerpt via New York Times April 28 from a report titled, 'Sudan poses first big trial for world criminal court':

Since the commission sent the 51 names to the court, much speculation has occurred in Darfur over who they are. "People see themselves as on the list," a Western diplomat said. "They're asking questions. They're saying, 'If I'm on the list, what can I do about it?'

For the time being, though, the wealth of material provided by the commission cannot be treated as evidence because the Cassese inquiry was a fact-finding mission that did not collect sworn witness statements. In contrast, Mr. Moreno-Ocampo must conduct criminal investigations that can stand up in court. He has called on other governments and individuals to provide any information they have.

"It will be an uphill battle for the prosecutor to prepare specific cases, I don't envy him," Mr. Cassese said, recalling that his own investigation faced many obstacles.

Lawyers familiar with the court said the prosecutor was likely to focus on a dozen or fewer of the top suspects in Sudan's atrocities.

Um Hashab village in Darfur, Sudan
Photo: A man from Um Hashab village, North Darfur, gestures his burned hut, after Sudanese military bombarded the village with helicopter gunship on August 26, 2004 (AP).

On April 28, the official Sudan Media Center said Justice Minister Ali Mohammed Osman Yassin decided to inform the International Criminal Court that Sudan would form its own court, headed by the chief justice, to look into alleged cases of atrocities in Darfur.

Yassin said the prosecutor of this special court would regard the list of 51 individuals as a "guide and not obligatory."

Speaking at a meeting of the ruling National Congress Party on Wednesday night, Sudan's President Bashir said Sudan did not fear the world powers.

"Those people who tremble and spread rumors think that we fear America and its wrath, Europe and its might, the United Nations and its violations. But we tell them that he who fears God, fears no one but Him," el-Bashir said.

[Mr Bashir's quote made me smile. He might sound like he doesn't know what he's talking about half the time but I like the way he equates the US with wrath, the UN with violations and Europe with might. Heh. He's got that right. Watch out mate, the Brits are coming to sort you out if you block an expanded mandate for African troops. You will give us no option. We will send troops, but only as a last resort if you leave us with no other option.

We have a General Election next Thursday. Right now Tony Blair's concentrating on winning another term in office. After he has done everything he can for Africa, he might step down and on to pastures new. But before he does, he'll have nothing lose politically if he sends British troops to the Sudan. Warning to Khartoum: watch out after Blair wins on Thursday - he is watching you. The Americans have given Sudan a huge amount of help. They may sound the loudest in the press, jumping up and down, hooting and hollering ... while things seem a lot more quiet here in Europe ... sorting you out by stealth. Mwaaahhhaaa.

Britain has a long history, going way back. Brits have a reputation in Europe for stealth and courage in battle. To this day, Europeans have a saying that goes something like this: the English defend against enemies by stabbing them in the back with a velvet glove and a smile without them ever realising what's hit them.

Watch your regime's back Mr Bashir. God is on the side of the children. If God decrees that European and NATO troops enter Sudan to protect the food and starving children, then so be it. The prayers of millions of Sudanese people will have been answered.]
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Minister says US attitude towards Sudan contradictory

No doubt this news is linked to the next here below re the US release of its annual report on terrorism. Recently, in an interview, Charles Snyder said Sudan had being given top A grade marks by the US for its co-operation on terrorism.

Excerpt from a SUNA Khartoum report at Sudan Tribune April 28:

Minister of Foreign Affairs Mustafa Osman Ismail on Thursday described the American attitudes towards the Sudan as being contradictory and marred by ambiguity.

He further said "at the time a report by the American Administration was speaking about Sudan's cooperation in combating terrorism, the US Congress was a few days ago discussing a bill seeking to hold the Sudan accountable regarding Darfur".

Ismail pointed out in response to questions by journalists that he did not discard to find some American voices commending the position of the Sudan while others taking an opposite attitude towards the Sudan.

The minister said the Sudan would continue to witness such contradictory attitudes coming from the United States of America until the American attitude is streamlined vis-a-vis the situation in the Sudan.
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Libya, Sudan improve counterterrorism work, US says

Here is a copy of a report from Washington April 27 via Reuters:

Libya and Sudan improved their cooperation in the war on terrorism last year but remain on the U.S. list of state sponsors of terrorism and subject to its sanctions, the State Department said on Wednesday.

Releasing its annual report on terrorism, the department said Libya was "instrumental" in last year's handover of Amar Saifi, one of Algeria's most wanted Islamic militant leaders accused in the kidnapping of 32 European tourists.

Saifi, who has been identified as second-in-command of the al Qaeda-aligned Salafist Group for Preaching and Combat, was caught in Libya near the Chadian-Libyan border according to Algerian authorities.

However, the Department cited its "serious concerns" about allegations of a Libyan plot to assassinate Saudi Crown Prince Abdullah and it continued to evaluate Libyan promises to stop using violence for political purposes.

Sudan improved its counterterrorism cooperation despite strains with the United States over the violence in Darfur, where U.S. officials accuse Khartoum of supporting Arab militias accused of a campaign of murder, rape and looting against villagers.

Cuba, Iran, North Korea and Syria all remain on the U.S. list of state sponsors of terrorism,

Presence on the terrorism list bars a country from getting U.S. arms, controls sales of items with military and civilian applications, limits U.S. aid and requires Washington to vote against loans from international financial institutions.

Iraq was dropped from the list in October, 2004 following the 2003 U.S. invasion that toppled former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein.

The State Department stirred up a controversy last week when it announced that it would exclude detailed statistics on international terrorist attacks from its annual report, drawing accusations that it was trying to suppress the information.

Those statistics, which congressional aides say show a tripling in "significant" international terrorist attacks last year, are to be released later on Wednesday, officials said.
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US Report: Sudan Proves Ally in U.S. War on Terrorism

An April 29 report in the LA Times by Ken Silverstein says despite once harboring Bin Laden, Khartoum regime has supplied key intelligence, officials say.

Here is an excerpt from a Reuters report on the LA Times piece:

The Times said US government officials had confirmed that the CIA flew the chief of Sudan's intelligence agency to Washington last week for secret meetings, sealing Khartoum's sensitive and previously veiled partnership with the administration.

The newspaper said Sudan had detained al Qaeda suspects for interrogation by US agents, given the FBI evidence seized from raids on homes of suspected terrorists, handed over extremists to Arab intelligence agencies and foiled terrorist attacks against US targets.

The paper cited interviews with American and Sudanese intelligence and government officials.

Sudan has "given us specific information that is ... important, functional and current," said a senior State Department official speaking on condition of anonymity.

The chief of Sudan's Mukhabarat intelligence agency, Maj. Gen. Salah Abdallah Gosh, told the Times: "We have a strong partnership with the CIA. The information we have provided has been very useful to the United States."

Sudanese Foreign Minister Mustafa Osman Ismail acknowledged in an interview that the Mukhabarat already had served as the eyes and ears of the CIA in neighboring countries, including Somalia, a sanctuary for Islamic militants.

Seraf, western Darfur

Photo: Seraf, in western Darfur, lay in charred ruins last week after Arab militias burned it down to warn non-Arab residents not to return to their homes. (Beatrice Mategwa/Reuters via NYT)
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US official warns of 'downward spiral' in Sudan without political settlement

The US State Department's number two, Robert Zoellick reiterated the importance the US places on helping strengthen African Union peacekeeping forces, adding Sudan in general stands at a crossroads.
"You've got the Darfur humanitarian situation, but basically that is trying to hold the situation from getting worse, or trying to make it a little better, ultimately you are going to have to have a political settlement there. And to reach a political settlement you're going to have to use that framework that comes out of the North-South accord. These two pieces can either spiral upward together, or frankly if the Darfur situation is one in which the government is not doing what it needs to do to control the militias, then it's going to be hard to end up helping Sudan and you have a downward spiral," he said.
[Mr Zoellick seems to be one of the few American politicians who makes sense (to me anyway) this side of the pond. He sounds hardworking and very capable. Most American politicians appear to be hamfisted with clay feet when it comes to sublety, humility and the finer points of diplomacy that are need when dealing with cultures that are alien to the US. Plus he is a highly trained accountant which means its unlikely anyone will get away with trying to swizz US taxpayers' hard earned aid donations. He will keep a good eye on how the $2 billion is used for southern Sudan.]
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US photographer arrested in Darfur region

A report by Reporters Without Borders April 29 says it has called for an explanation from the Sudanese authorities for the arrest of US photographer Brad Clift, of the Hartford Courant newspaper, who has been held since 26 April 2005 in Darfur, western Sudan.

"We cannot understand the reasons for the arrest of this photographer, who has been deprived of his liberty for three days now," the worldwide press freedom organisation said.
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Colonel Anthony Mwandobi

Photo BBC: Colonel Anthony Mwandobi has a vast, troublesome area to cover. More than two years after the conflict began in Darfur, there are still only about 2,200 peacekeeping troops with a limited mandate, tying to keep tabs on an area the size of France.

As a senior African Union peacekeeper in Darfur, he has told the BBC of the frustration his job entails.

Col Mwandobi from Zambia, sector commander for the Zalingei area, said his forces are "understrength". "I need to have enough troops, I need to have communications equipment, I need to have transport - they are all in short supply," he said.

The Sudanese government strongly denies giving support to the Janjaweed militias, accused of the worst atrocities, such as mass rape, mass killing and ethnic cleansing which has led some two million people to flee their homes.

But Col Mwandobi said it is "very clear".

A village in Darfur, Sudan
Photo BBC: This village was burnt by Janjaweed militias

He said that Janjaweed fighters wore military uniforms, which they said had been given to them by the Sudanese army.

The Janjaweed also say they have been trained by the army.

"The training is done for one month and thereafter, they are let go," Col Mwandobi said.

He said there are frequent clashes in his sector, which includes the Marra mountains, where the SLA rebels have bases.

"There has been a sudden influx of [pro-government] Arab militias attacking civilians this month," he said, adding that aid workers in the region have been targeted.

But he also said the rebels frequently come out of their hiding places to attack the army.

"It's a see-saw battle," he said.

Both sides say they want the African Union peace mission to succeed but neither does anything on the ground to help, he said.

"One wonders how we can succeed if they still go to battle," he asked, with an air of resignation in his voice.

But faced with covering such a vast area and with two sides seemingly committed to carrying on the war, Col Mwandobi refused to give up.

"We are doing our best to meet every incident that is reported and making ourselves felt in every area," he said.

"We have been informed that more troops are coming."
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Spiritual leaders to meet Bashir over Kony

Here's something different from The Monitor in Kampala via AllAfrica April 29, 2005. Excerpt:

A delegation of African religious leaders will soon meet officials of the Sudan government to explore new avenues of ending civil wars in Sudan and northern Uganda in June.

The leaders are from the Baha'i Faith, Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Islam, Judaism and Rastafarian faiths. The group is expected to meet the president of Sudan, Umar El Bashir and his officials this year.

"We resolved that an inter-faith peace delegation visits Sudan (Khartoum) to talk to the government and civil society to find out what is failing the peace process," retired Bishop of Kitgum Diocese Macleord Baker Ochola said on Wednesday.

[I would like to be a fly on the wall at this meeting. Pity it won't be televised and translated into every language and transmitted around the world.]
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The UN Darfur Report - a bloggers summary

In Geneva on January 25, 2005 the International Commission of Inquiry on Darfur submitted its report to the UN Secretary-General following Security Council Resolution 1564 of 18 September 2004.

Here is an American blogger's take, at Do Justly blog, on the 176-page report:

Part I: The UN Darfur Report -- a summary.
Part II: The UN Darfur Report -- the players.
Part III: The UN Darfur Report -- the connections

[via Do Justly's comment at Coalition for Darfur - with thanks]
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Why I love Africa

Why I love Africa

BBC listeners and readers share their personal experiences of the African continent. Read their latest contributions at BBC news celebrating Africa's sincerity, its love of life and its natural foods.

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Thursday, April 28, 2005

UN Sudan Situation Report 26 April 2005

Here is the situaton report by UN personnel in Sudan for April 26, 2005.

Key developments

On 25 April, a driver of an INGO was abducted and his vehicle taken by armed men on the road between Kutum and El Fasher north Darfur.

25 April, humanitarian agencies reported an attack on a village near Um Sauna some 15 kms north of Muhajarija, S. Darfur, sparking displacement into Kalma camp.

On 26 April the AU dispatched a helicopter to evacuate several seriously injured civilians from Abu Soroug in the Silea/Kulbus area of W. Darfur following fighting which occurred on the night of 26 April, reportedly between the NMRD and unidentified militia elements. The AU is set to investigate further.

Political Affairs:

Although suffering from delays, some headway has been made with GoS-SPLM/A efforts to implement the CPA this past week. While the National Constitution Review Commission (NCRC) did not hold its first meeting on 23 April as initially forecast, both parties have nominated their delegates to the NCRC which is now expected to start meeting later this week.

On Darfur, the AU is actively seeking to revive the political peace process. PDSRSG Zerihoun met with the AU team mediation team in Addis Ababa and in Khartoum. A meeting with concerned partners is scheduled to take place before the formal resumption of the talks, now forecast for late May.

The situation in Universities in several locations in Sudan remains tense. El Fasher University, North Darfur, has witnessed an increased National Security presence on the campus.


The recent continued arrival of SHIRBRIG Staff Officers into the FHQ will allow the UNMIS Operation branch to move toward addressing the detailed planning required for the Relief of Forces operation with VMT and JMC. Final withdrawal of VMT will depend upon the state of our deployment. The planning date currently remains as it is in the OpO - M+90.

The Rwandan TCC Reconnaissance Team completed their visit on 21 Apr 05 with the Force Commander's De-Brief. Due to the current fluid nature of the deployment plus the fact they will be deploying after the Italian Contingents' tour of duty, detailed planning is yet to take place. The Italian TCC Reconnaissance is due to take place 27 Apr - 2 May 05.

The Egyptian Sector Commander, together with the previous Egyptian reconnaissance team's Team Leader arrived in Mission to receive briefings and visit the deployment areas of Sector IV ( Nuba Mountains ) on 24 April.

UN police:

Induction of new personnel, training and establishment of HQ and Forward HQ will dominate activity for several weeks to come. The priority is to establish operational capacity as soon as possible and engage with GoS and SPLM police and other parties involved in police development.


257 returnees were registered passing through Kosti on 25 April to various locations in south Sudan. Between 12 and 17 April, a total of 797 returnees travelled through Kosti.

On April 24, the HIC completed the final mapping of the proposed new IDP site at Abu Shouk II, N. Darfur, followed by the approval of the Ministry for Urban Planning.

In the Northern Bahr El Gazal region, reports from the Area Coordination office in Malualkon indicate that the number of IDP returnees crossing from the North through Warawar and other entry points in Aweil East County has decreased by approximately 50% since the end of March. This decrease is thought to be linked to arrival of first rains and commencement of the cultivation period, and ongoing food shortage in the area. It is expected that the majority of returnees arriving in April and May will join their families who returned early in the year. The number of newly arriving families is expected to decrease. This trend has predominantly been observed from the Warawar return route due to lack of access to other major entry routes at present. The Field Coordinators are contacting the authorities of the other counties to confirm if it was also recorded at other entry points.

SPLM is reported to be organizing the return of up to 4,000 IDPs from Mabia camp outside Tambura, Equatoria to the GoS-held Raja district in Western Bahr El Ghazal. Area Coordination in Wau is following up on the case of IDPs travelling to/through Wau. OCHA, SRRC and UNHCR conducted an assessment of Mabia IDP Camp from 11 to 13 April and confirmed that the movement of IDPs from the camp is ongoing. According to the authorities in Tambura, about 8,500 IDPs are moving, but the assessment team found that only approximately 4,000 IDPs were ready to move. The IDPs are taking the Mabia-TamburaNamutina-Zangebero-Bili and Mabia-Tambura-Wau routes. A total of 950 IDPs have arrived in Bazia, Eastern Equatoria from Mabia camp as of 10 am today. These IDPs have all been registered. Seventy three IDPs were reported to have fallen ill, mainly with diarreha and malaria, with one child passing away.

In relation to the future demolitions in Mayo camp, it has been reported by the INC that on 7 April, blocks 4, 5 and 6 were marked for destruction. The 16 April Khartoum Monitor newspaper reported a teacher's request to intervene against the demolition of a school which has also been marked.

Last week one International NGO was denied access to El-Salaam camp. In addition, two international NGOs reported an Increase of number of arrests in el-Salaam and Wad elBeshir camps.

Funding shortfalls continue to affect WFP's capacity to respond to food requirements of returnees. As of 11 April, the emergency operation, which targets vulnerable residents, IDPs and returnees, has received US$ 60,239,658 in donations. This is less than 20 percent of the US$ 302,016,466 operational requirements. In tonnage terms, the EMOP has received 60,862 MT, representing 23 percent of the 268,199 MT operational requirements.

ADRA distributed food and NFIs to 58 families travelling today from Kosti to Juba and Malakal. 4,350 kilos of sorghum, 580 kilos of lentils and 638 kilos of oil were distributed. Fifteen families received 9 kilos of Corn Soya Blend, 20 blankets were given to families with very young children and elderly members and each of the 58 families received one plastic sheet.

IDP registration

Organizations are finalizing the plan for conducting the head-count in Abu Shouk, N. Darfur, after it was interrupted at the previous attempt. Meanwhile, GAA is planning headcounts in Malha and Hamra for the month of May, expecting to proceed with counting the Arab damras afterwards.

Negotiations between the local authorities and the responsible humanitarian agencies are ongoing on how to proceed with the registration of the IDP population in Kalma camp, S. Darfur.

WFP and IOM have commenced the training of some 260 volunteers to support in the imminent IDP registration in El Geneina, W. Darfur. Final planning is also taking place for the locations surrounding El Geneina town.

Protection Issues

Two incidents of assisted movement were reported in South Darfur this week. It was unclear whether the movements were voluntary or appropriate as the international community was not informed of the movements prior to their execution. The first occurred on April 18, with 82 families having been offered food, cash, and transport by the Government to move from Kalma Camp in Nyala, South Darfur to Garsila, West Darfur. Within two days of their arrival, all returns IDP's had fled. The second reported movement this week occurred in Gereida, South Darfur included 540 families who were provided with food, transport and cash, and moved to Umbuyum village, southeast of Gereida. Government officials [including the Wali] have refused to discuss the issue. A letter was submitted to the Wali of South Darfur on 21 April expressing the UN's great concern at these developments.

North Darfur:

Humanitarian agencies operating in Kutum area report that the increased patrolling by AMIS in the area ostensibly has caused a decline in attacks on civilians particularly on market days. Recently, the attempted looting by Arab militia of civilians moving towards Kutum for the market day was averted by an AMIS patrol.

On 25 April, the north Darfur protection working group released the report of the inter- agency returns survey which was conducted in North Darfur to determine the factors influencing the voluntary return of IDPs to their places of origin. According to the report, 98% of the IDP households surveyed are currently unwilling to return to their villages of origin, mainly due to insecurity, lack of housing and land.

South Darfur:

At the continued request of humanitarian agencies and the protection working group, AMIS CivPol has taken steps towards establishing a 24-hour presence in the Kalma camp. A site near the NRC office has been identified and approved by the HAC camp management. The building of the CivPol compound is likely to commence immediately.


On 22/23 April a group of 45 families arrived in Mukjar from Kalma, Rihaid al Birdi, Chad and Dagarousa. Apparently the return was spontaneous with families reporting to have sought towards Mukjar due to inadequate assistance in the areas of departure.


Bentiu area received food from WFP distribution for the first time in a long period.


The International Development Relief Board (IDRB), an NGO involved in medical and psychosocial support, is currently visiting North Darfur, assessing the needs for its services. The team visited Abu Shouk camp on 25 April, holding counselling sessions with IDPs. IDRB has expressed its interest in offering psychosocial support to GBV survivors in liaison with other humanitarian actors.

Also in N. Darfur, the Um Kadada inter agency assessment is progressing.


On 25th April a convoy of two humanitarian organizations travelling from Kutum to El Fasher. N. Darfur, was stopped in Kafod by three unidentified, uniformed armed men. After being ordered to abandon one of the three vehicles, belonging to an INGO, the assailants departed with the vehicle and the driver to an undisclosed destination. At the time of reporting there is now news of the whereabouts of the INGO driver and vehicle, as well as to the identity of the assailants. UNDSS is continuing the investigation. The incident prompted the El Fasher AFSCO to recall to El Fasher two WFP vehicles travelling to Kutum.

Humanitarian agencies report an attack on a village east of Muhajarija, near Um Sauna (border with North Darfur), allegedly carried out by GoS military. One family arrived in Kalma camp, informing humanitarian partners that other IDPs would follow suit following this attack.

On 25 April, four commercial trucks were stopped by suspected Arab militia near the village of Juruf; two were used to barricade the Nyala-El Fasher route while two trucks escaped to Duma alerting the GoS police. When a World Vision vehicle travelling from Manawashi to Duma arrived at the scene it was fired while reversing to escape the roadblock. Not being hit it made it back to Manawashi safely. Later in the day commercial traffic resumed, with the two lorries found abandoned on the side of the road and WVI able to proceed to Nyala.

GoS military gunfire towards areas east of Saniafandu lasted from 00:30 hrs - 01:30 hrs during the night of 24/25 April, using heavy, automatic weapons. The actions were subsequently explained to be efforts to repel an attack, although the accuracy of this has not been verified. On 24 April, heavy gunfire exchange was reported between Marla and Hijer. No injuries sustained are known from either of the episodes. Due to the increased tension in Saniafandu, two INGOs have temporarily relocated away from the area.

The Eastern Front (Free Lions and Beja Congress) are thought to have carried out an ambush ON WHO near Kassala this week, possibly signalling impatience with the peace process, specifically their exclusion from the talks between the GoS and opposition parties.

On the 14th April 2005 a SPLM/A delegation currently in Juba met with the Equatoria Military Area top leadership to explore ways in which to fight the LRA jointly. According to military sources, an agreement had been reached between the Government Forces and SPLM/A to conduct joint operations against LRA until they are pushed across the border to Uganda. However, LRA activity in the area continues.

On 21 April there was an attack by the LRA on Nimule. The attackers numbered about 15 and the raid was repulsed by the SPLA Forces in Nimule. There were 3 fatalities: 2 civilians and one SPLA soldier killed, in the attack but there are no reports of LRA casualties. Humanitarian movement in the area of Nimule was restricted in the following few days due to a pursuit operation conducted by the SPLA/UPDF.

U.N. Sudan Situation Report April 24, 2005

Apologies for the length of this post. Unlike at TypePad, this blog, courtesy of, has no facility for linking to a continuation page. Here below, beneath a few more items, is a copy of an email received today from Khartoum giving the latest situation report by UN personnel on the ground in Sudan as at 24 April 2005.

Please see in the report what has happened in Kalma, South Dafur - and note where, under the heading of "Military" it says "Government officials continue to hold meetings and planning relocation of IDPs without international and humanitarian community presence". In fact reading between the lines of everything under the headings of South Darfur, it's sickening to once again sense the attitudes and actions of Sudanese forces not matching Khartoum's promised efforts to protect its people and bring peace to Darfur. Khartoum's forces are not even turning up at important meetings. If Khartoum continues to say it is doing everything it can, then you have to wonder if they are losing control of their own army and militias and are too afraid to admit it. [Today, Khartoum made noises in the press about forbidding NATO troops into Darfur even though NATO's offer of help is re logistics]

Here is an AP photo of President Bashir gesturing during his speech in Khartoum, January 12, 2005, where he pledged to bring peace to Darfur.

Sudanese President Umar al-Bashir

An article in today's Sudan Tribune, April 28, quotes some words by President Bashir. He is an excerpt:

Sudanese president and Leader of the ruling National Congress (NC) party Omar Hassan al-Bashir has reiterated his solemn pledge that no Sudanese national will ever be handed over for trial at a foreign court, the officail SUNA reported yesterday.

"Some people think we are afraid of America, Europe and the UN; but we are not because we believe that nothing will ever touch us unless it is decreed by God Almighty," he said.

In his address on the occasion of the Prophet Birthday at the NC General Headquarters, he went on to say "arrogant powers have tried over the past 16 years to undermine Sudan by bringing political, economic and military pressures to bear". But, he adds, "all their past efforts have failed and that all their future efforts will also end in a failure".

"Sudan has come out of the war with the south in a stronger economic position, to the astonishment of whole world, thanks to its reliance on God," he added.

The president pointed out that the peace agreement with the south stipulated that the Shari'ah would be the main source of legislation in all the northern states.

And this is what the new constitution would say, he insisted.

He went on to say: work will continue until all the clauses of the peace agreement are implemented and that all the new state institutions are in place before 9 July 2005, the date by which the interim period must end.

Al-Bashir said furthermore that the government would able to resolve the Darfur problem without foreign meddling or tutelage.
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Update April 28: Snippets from a Reuters report today: Sudanese Justice Minister Ali Mohamed Osman Yassin said today Sudan should set up an independent court to try people accused of war crimes in Darfur. Last month's Security Council resolution left the door open for Sudan to hold its own trials provided these were credible. The Rome Statute which created the ICC says that suspects tried in credible and just proceedings in their own country cannot be tried again at the Hague-based tribunal. But legal experts say it would be hard for the government to convince the ICC that Sudan could hold such trials. "If they try officials and happen to find them innocent, I think they will still be sent to the ICC," said one UN source. Full Story.
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Back to the UN situation report, copied here below. It starts under the heading of 'political affairs'. First, though here is a copy of an email that accompanied the report [I have deleted names and email addresses]:

Forwarded - With great regret 28/04/2005 - Subject: End of Mission & Farewell

Dear Friends and Colleagues,

After nearly three years, my assignment with ECHO in Sudan has come to an end. Today is my last working day and my family and I will be leaving Sudan in about two weeks from now.

I would like to thank you for the excellent professional collaboration and friendship and I am confident that ECHO Sudan can count on your continued support to [---] who will replace me as of coming Sunday as Head of Office in Khartoum. As many of you know, [---] worked previously for ECHO in Khartoum from 1999 to 2002 and served until recently as our Nyala-based Darfur Coordinator. [---] will be replaced by two new permanent ECHO Darfur colleagues over the next few weeks and months. [---] email address is [---]. Whilst my current professional [---] email address may still be functioning for some time, I would prefer you use [---] for future private communication.

I would like to use this occasion to convey a special word of thanks to all our partner organisations, especially the ones working in remote, highly charged and often unstable field locations, for their tireless efforts to provide principled and technically sound humanitarian assistance and protection to populations affected by conflict and natural disasters. The following quote from [---] 'A Bed for the Night' is dedicated to them:

'Let humanitarianism be humanitarianism. Let is save some lives, whatever the compromises it has to make along the way, and let it tend to the victims and remind that corner of the world that is lucky enough not to be in agony of the incalculable suffering, misery, and grief that literally billions of people feel every day of their lives. Is that really so little?

(..........). Can we do more? Always. Can one do all the things one would like to do? No, not with the best will of the world. The tragedy of humanitarianism may be that for all its failings and all the limitations of its viewpoint, it represents what is decent in an indecent world. Its core assumptions - solidarity, a fundamental sympathy for victims, and an antipathy for oppressors and exploiters - are what we are in those rare moments of grace when we are at our best. But there are limits. If one has a terrible disease, one may wish for a cure. But if there is no cure, then no doctor should say, "I know what to do for you". One is stuck in one's time and with one's fate. Independent humanitarianism does many things well and some things badly, but the things it is now being called upon to do, such as helping to advance the cause of human rights, contributing to stopping wars, and furthering of social justice, are beyond its competence, however much one might wish it otherwise'.

Hang in there and take care.

Best regards.

ECHO - Directorate-General for Humanitarian Aid,
European Commission, Khartoum, Sudan.
For more information on ECHO and Sudan, please go to:
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Finally, here is the UN Sudan Situation Report, April 24, 2005:

Political Affairs:

Both the GoS and SPLM have appointed their delegates to the National Constitution Review Commission. Because key members of the Commission were attending the AfricaAsia Summit in Indonesia, the first meeting of the NCRC was rescheduled from 23 April to 25 April.

An AU delegation arrived in Khartoum today to discuss the Darfur political negotiations, now expected to resume in Abuja later in May.


On 21 Apr the Force Commander, 2 DPKO officers, and the Chief of Staff JMCO Juba started a 2 day visit programme to Malakal, Juba and Wau. The objectives for the visit included ground familiarization, liaison with RAOs and local representatives of the Parties, review the progress on the camp-site preparation.

Elements of UNMIS military component deployed to El Obeid to prepare for the reception of the first TCC deploying in UNMIS - 6 personnel from the Nepalese Contingent along with Contingent Owned Equipment arriving by An-124.


West Darfur:

UNHCR reports an improvement in procedures from Chadian customs staff. More stringent procedures (on visas and reasons for crossing the border) have been put in place after the shooting incident involving the Chadian Consul in Geneina on 7 April.

South Darfur:

Government officials continue to hold meetings and planning relocation of IDPs without international and humanitarian community presence, the most recent being an agreement to enact a long-stated intent to return IDPs from West Darfur out of Kalma camp.

A meeting scheduled for 21 April with HAC West and South Darfur, the Committee for Voluntary Return, UNHCR, IOM and UNOCHA to discuss the need to adhere to the MDM and LoU was cancelled due to lack of participation from the HAC South Darfur and Return Committee, this meeting was rescheduled for 23 April and again South Darfur authorities did not attend.

Despite high level requests by the UN not to impose GOS army escorts on trucks carrying humanitarian goods from Ed Daein to Nyala and assurances from the Wali of compliance with the request, WFP trucks remain stranded in Ad Daein, detained by the military.


31 returnees left Mayo camp, Khartoum on their way to Kadugli and surrounding areas in Nuba Mountains.

256 returnees were registered passing through Kosti on 24 April to various locations in south Sudan.

An interagency emergency team composed of UNICEF, WFP, WHO, UNDP, SC UK, IRC and OCHA visited Bazia in Eastern Equatoria to monitor and review the response to the IDPs returning from Mabia through Bo. There are 550 IDPs currently at Bazia - 75% are women and children.

The team witnessed WFP's food distribution to the IDPs and reported that WHO carried out vaccination of children under five for BCG and Tetanus and Oral Rehydration Salts were distributed to returnees.

A temporary shelter is being constructed for the returnees and a medical assistant is attending to their needs. Safe water is being delivered daily to Bazia and Buserie.

OCHA has stationed a field monitor at Bazia and provided him with a Thuraya phone. The monitor will be the focal point for information collection and reporting daily on developments on the ground.

Protection Issues

North Darfur:

On 20 April, the North Darfur Protection Working Group (NDPWG) finished consultation with the IDPs and host community regarding the relocation from Abu Shouk to the new site (Abu Shouk II). According to the preliminary report released on 24 April, the IDPs are willing to move to the new site. However, many cited security as a concern over the proximity of the Kineen tribe located some two kilometres from the proposed site. Given that the Kineen tribe had been involved in displacing some of them from Tawilla, the IDPs stated that the area lacks sufficient firewood sources and they had reservations about security in the area.

In a parallel process, consultations with the host community in Kineen village revealed that residents would feel uncomfortable with the presence of the IDPs at the proposed site. The residents were concerned that conflicts would arise over firewood collection, water and scarce resources. Residents suggested possible solutions to resolve potential problems, such as frequent consultations with Sheiks, provision of material assistance for both IDPs and residents, improvement in garbage disposal, and provision of firewood to IDPs.

South Darfur:

During a recent UNICEF-UNFPA assessment to Manawashi, the agencies met with seven rape victims who have sought medical attention and discussed the effects of the conflict on women and traditional coping mechanisms for survivors of violent conflict. The agencies are conducting a study using Kass, Manawashi, Mukjar, and Feina (rebel-held) to examine the effects of war on women, and how they cope with sexual violence.

On 21 April, in Kalma camp, agencies reported a series of ‘interrogations’ of IDPs who were speaking to AU officials by National Security and military intelligence officers.

West Darfur:

On 24 April, the AU will deploy a force of 46 officers to their base in Mornei. This deployment will contribute to addressing security and protection concerns in the camp and the surrounding areas.

UNHCR reported that on 18 April, an abandoned village south of Masteri had been burned, allegedly by nomads who were trying to prevent IDPs from returning to the area.

South Darfur:

Salam Camp - The following agencies have expressed intent to commence activities immediately: Oxfam and ACF (Water); IRC (Sanitation); IRC and HAC (Shelter); MDM and MSF-H (Health); Care (Vector control); NRC (Camp coordination). Work should commence this week; there was a delay due to lack of police presence.


North Darfur:

On 20 April, 21 commercial trucks (UN fleets) loaded with food items left El Fasher town to the remote villages of Um Bayando, Al Fuda, El Halan and Oriri within Malha ocality.

Several INGOs are planning to distribute seeds and tools to 55,000 families in El Fasher, Kutum and Mallit localities during May and June 2005. However, there is a gap in seeds/tools to be distributed to Korma, northern and eastern parts of rural El Fasher area, Kebkabiya and Um Kedadda.

South Darfur:

Agencies are greatly concerned about the reduction of the WFP rations. WFP had to cut rations of non-cereals in order to provide the beneficiaries for the next few months. The reduction is caused by a pipeline shortage.

At the next food distribution in South Darfur, 1800 Kcal will be provided, which is 300 Kcal below the required emergency level of 2100 Kcal, according to MSF-H. The result of the diminished food basket is expected to result in an increase in malnutrition and the deterioration of the health situation in general.

West Darfur:

The price of millet (staple food in West Darfur) is soaring due to decreasing availability. The only source of supply is said to be in the Kreneik area and in very low quantity. This is a further indicator of the looming food shortage in this area as a combined result of the poor harvests of last year, the inability of displaced persons to farm their land, and the low rains received last season.


West Darfur:

In Riyad camp, TDH reports that they have constructed 25 of the 44 shelters destroyed by the fire in late March.


West Darfur:

ADRA reported a technical problem with their new rig and the UNICEF/WES rig will be at ADRA's disposal until the problem is rectified. ADRA is embarking on drilling wells in Sanidadi and Kulbus before the coming rains.

Civil Affairs:

On 19 April 2005, clashes between students in El Fasher University resulted in the burning of the University President's office, the student union, and other premises. Gunshots were heard, and some students were taken to the hospital, while others were arrested by national security forces. The cause of the clashes is still being investigated, and the University is now operating normally.

El Fasher Radio reported that the Wali of North Darfur formed The Noble Peoples Committee for Tribal Coexistence and Reconciliation (Kiram El Ghawm), Chaired by the Minister of Education and the Deputy Governor.


OCHA, FAO, UNDP, WFP and UNFPA are undertaking an interagency assessment to Umkedada (N. Darfur) from 23 April to 29 April.


North Darfur:

On 19 April, a commercial truck hired by an INGO south of El Fasher was seized by SLM/A. The driver and assistant were released the same night but the truck remains with the SLM/A. A representative from the INGO attempted to negotiate the release of the truck but was unsuccessful. OCHA is following up on the issue.

On 21 April, students in El Fasher held a demonstration in their campus to protest against the detention of their colleague, accused of stabbing a National Security officer one week ago. The demonstration was considered illegal by the police and they sealed the campus, reacting with tear gas and live round shots.

At least two students were injured from gun fire. An AMIS protection force unsuccessfully tried to calm the situation. The students handed over a letter to AUCFC confirming that two students had been injured and demanding the immediate release of all students arrested throughout Sudan, more protection for students, and an immediate enquiry into the El Fasher case and the prosecution of those involved.

South Darfur:


On 21 April an IDP driving a vehicle towards the Kalma camp was stopped at the police checkpoint where he was demanded fuel. As he refused, he was shot and killed at close range.

On 22 April, police fired weapons over Kalma camp causing the displaced to scatter. No injuries were reported but one child was reported missing.

On 23 April, police began shooting directly towards Kalma camp itself. No further information available. [end of report]
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UPDATE: Darfur Legislation Now Before House and Senate Conferees

Save has just emailed with their latest news for American readers.

Wednesday, April 27, 2005

Darfur: AU to get stronger mandate - AU asks NATO to assist

April 27 Reuters report claims an African Union (AU) force in Darfur will be given a stronger mandate to protect civilians who face attack in the region. It does not say if the mandate is Chapter VII.

Several news reports say the AU has asked to start talks with NATO for logistical support in its mission in Darfur. NATO publishes an Update 26 April. Excerpt from Aljazeera:
The request was made in a letter sent to NATO's Secretary General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer by AU Commission Chairman Alpha Oumar Konare, NATO spokesman James Appathurai said Wednesday.

de Hoop Scheffer informed the permanent representatives of NATO's members of the request who then "agreed that exploratory talks should begin with the AU", Appathurai said.

The request comes ahead of a scheduled meeting on Thursday of senior AU diplomats in Addis Ababa to mull a significant expansion of the pan-African body's operation in Sudan.

"The council is going to determine the scale of this reinforcement," he said. "There is talk of more than doubling the mission."
The Scotsman reports NATO is to hold talks over Darfur peacekeeping.

NATO asked by the African Union to assist in Darfur
Photo courtesy Aljazeera.

Excerpt from Reuters report re expanded mandate for AU troops in Darfur:

"The AU mission there will no longer turn its eyes in the event that the civilian population comes under threat," Sam Ibok, the special representative for AU-sponsored Darfur peace talks, said in an interview late on Tuesday.

"That is why we are having a more robust deployment."

"It means that they will be more proactive in their engagement of these parties (armed groups), not reactive, they will be proactive," he said.

The AU would increase patrols and focus on areas of potential conflict and where civilians have suffered.

AU monitors have come under fire on many occasions in Darfur, but previously they have withdrawn rather than fighting back. Ibok said their new mandate would give them more power.

"If they are attacked they will respond, there will be a robust response," he said.

"The way we envisage this force and once it is in place ... it will be suicidal for anyone to try (to attack AU soldiers)."

He added the new force should be deployed by September and the mandate would allow it to be boosted if necessary by the end of the year.


Ibok said the situation in Darfur was tending towards anarchy, making access by aid agencies and political talks more difficult.

But he said the sheer size and presence of the new force would act as a deterrent to any armed Darfur factions planning attacks.

Ibok said talks, which collapsed in December, were likely to restart in the third week of May, but much depended on rebel movements resolving leadership crises.

The government had also not yet responded to proposals made in February, he said, but Sudan's humanitarian affairs minister said on Tuesday the government was ready to go to talks next month.

Ibok said rebel preconditions to talks had been met. The government had fully withdrawn from areas occupied during a December offensive, and aerial bombardments had also ceased.

The AU mediator said rebel leaders should be present at the talks and he wanted Sudan's First Vice President Ali Osman Mohamed Taha to take an active role at decision-making times.

Taha was given the task of dealing with Darfur in January, after he secured a long-awaited peace deal to end more than two decades of civil war in a separate conflict in Sudan's south.

He was involved directly in talks with the southern rebel leader at a critical time, which speeded up the process.

Ibok said he would like to see the same method applied in Darfur talks.
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AU mediation team conducts consultations in Khartoum with Vice-President Taha

Note this copy of an African Union (Addis Ababa) Press Release dated April 26, 2005:

The AU Mediation Team on Darfur, led by Ambassador Sam Ibok and comprising of Mr. Boubou Niang, Political Advisor to the Special Envoy for Darfur and Dr. Dawit Toga, Political Analyst at the Conflict Management Division, held consultations with Mr. Ali Osman Mohammed Taha, First Vice President of the Sudan, on 26 April 2005, on ways and means of rapidly resuming the Abuja Peace Talks. The Team was accompanied by Ambassador Baba Gana Kingibe, Special Representative of the AU Chairperson for the Sudan, and Head of the African Mission in the Sudan (AMIS).

The AU Team had earlier met with Dr. Magzoub Al Khalifa, Minister of Agriculture and Head of the Sudanese delegation to the Abuja Inter-Sudanese Peace Talks.

The current consultations are being undertaken as a follow-up to the first round of discussions held at the end of February 2005, with all the Sudanese Parties to the conflict in Darfur.

The AU Team briefed the Sudanese officials about the preparations being made by the AU to create an environment conducive to the resumption of the political negotiations.

The First Vice President reaffirmed his Government's commitment and readiness to go back to Abuja in order to reach a comprehensive agreement to the conflict in Darfur.

First Vice President Taha also assured the Team that the concerned Government officials are working on the Draft Framework Protocol for the resolution of the conflict in Darfur that was earlier submitted by the Mediation Team to the Sudanese Parties and will communicate its comments and observations after the Team would have met the other parties to the talks.

In the course of the discussions, issues relating to the date, format and duration of the Talks were thoroughly reviewed.

It was agreed that the exact dates for the resumption of the talks would be announced at the end of the current consultations.

After Khartoum, the Team will continue its consultations on the same issues with the Sudanese Movements, namely, the Sudan Liberation Movement/Army (SLM/A) and the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM), and the interested parties.
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Zimbabwe to send 34 troops for peacekeeping mission in Sudan

Zimbabwe is contributing 34 soldiers to a 10,000-strong UN peacekeeping force being deployed to support a January peace deal which ended 21 years of civil war in southern Sudan, state television said Tuesday, April 26.
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US and NZ to provide further aid to Sudan refugees

Coalition for Darfur notes aid is starting to come through for Darfur. Not much been made in the press of the quick US response that averted ration cuts.

Refugees cook a meal
Photo: Refugees cook a meal

New Zealand government would provide an additional 3.1 million US dollars this year to assist displaced people in the Sudan.

Kakuma refugee camp in Kenya
Half a million Sudanese refugees, like these in Kakuma camp in Kenya, could go home under the new peace deal for South Sudan (UNHCR) - April 26, 2005 (Xinhua)
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A New Sudan Action plan - ICG

Here is a pompous sounding briefing titled A New Sudan Action plan by the International Crisis Group, April 26, 2005.

ICG claims it outlines a policy blueprint for the next steps required in Darfur.

[A policy blueprint and steps for whom? The whole thing is quite unbelievable. What are they smoking over there?]
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Is Sudan All That Simple?

American blogger Bradford Plumer writes some super posts on the Sudan. It is hard to believe he is only 22. Note this great post titled Is Sudan All That Simple? And read more at Never Again... Again plus Onlookers to a Massacre and Sudan, China, Oil, Genocide

PAP urges Sudanese to disarm Janjaweed - Gertrude Mongella, President of PAP

Note this copy of a report dated April 6, 2005 by Matome Sebelebele, Pretoria via AllAfrica "PAP Urges Sudanese to Disarm Janjaweed":

The Sudanese government has come under fresh criticism from the Pan African Parliament (PAP), which has called on Khartoum to "immediately" disarm the Janjaweed rebels blamed for undermining peace agreements there.

The Midrand-based legislative body sounded the call to Khartoum yesterday after its fact-finding mission handed over its long-awaited 37-page report for debate, prompting angry response from several MPs.

A demand was made to immediately disarm the Arab militia, which MPs argued was not party to the ceasefire agreement.

In its report, the seven-member mission, headed by Ugandan Adbul Katuntu, expressed concerns at the repeated violations of ceasefire agreements, stalled Abuja peace talks and the growing humanitarian crisis in the region. It called on PAP to engage all parties to halt the two-year violent outbreak in Darfur.

The report, which traced the conflict's root causes to British colonial rule that created inequalities and pockets of homelands, could not pronounce on the definition of the conflict as either genocide, crimes against humanity or war crimes.

It nonetheless recommended the expansion of military deployment to "include the protection of the population in Darfur", the creation of a joint commission mentioned in the ceasefire agreement as well as an independent PAP oversight commission that would receive and act on complaints of ceasefire violation.

The report painted a picture of a distressed population besieged by fear and distrust of authority, of displaced people living under "inhumane conditions".

The report called on PAP to establish a trust fund for humanitarian assistance to those affected by the conflict.

On governance issues, the dossier called on the African Union to facilitate the convening of a national conference on peace, democratic governance and development in Sudan with a view to producing a strategic document on wealth and power sharing amongst regions.

The team's findings were welcomed by members of the Pan African Parliament, who argued for the setting up of an ad hoc committee on Darfur as well as availing the report to an AU summit to be possibly held in Libya later.

The debate aroused much emotion, with the house divided on who to blame but agreeing to working with other AU organs to find lasting peace in Africa's largest country.

Some MPs decried what they say is a deliberate plot to marginalise Darfur residents, both economically and politically - an assertion rejected by Khartoum.

Introducing the dossier in Parliament, Mr Katuntu, whose team met and interviewed senior government officials, rebel leaders and international agencies there, told MPs that "the people of Sudan need help and they needed it yesterday".

He added that "the Janjaweed, whom all parties in Sudan describe as bandits, should be disarmed with urgency by the government".

Meanwhile, the United Nations (UN) is said to have handed over to the International Criminal Court's prosecutors thousands of documents and a list of 51 people to be investigated for alleged war crimes in Sudan's Darfur region.

The list reportedly includes Sudanese government officials and government-backed Arab militiamen.

Photo: Janjaweed [Courtesy Middle East Online]

Gertrude Mongella
The first president of the Pan-African Parliament

At last, signs of great leadership in Africa: the remarkable Gertrude Mongella, is the highest ranking elected woman in Africa. Many refer to her as Mama Mongella or Mama Beijing.

Back in 1995 Gertrude Mongella was Secretary General of the high-profile UN conference on women in Beijing, China. Since then she's worked on women's issues at home in Tanzania and around the globe. Her goal is to lift women out of poverty and into political office so they too can shape history.

In her role today as the first president of the Pan-African Parliament, Mongella is fixing her sights on the challenges facing Africa. Addressing issues like civil war and violence, to poverty and AIDS, she's a strong believer that Africa needs to find ways to help itself. During the first African Women's Forum in Accra in January 1997, she shared her vision of leadership:

"If you want to be a leader," she said, "you have to be clear what you want and what you stand for. You must stand for principle. Principle will never let you down ... You have to be able to choose what are the principles worth dying for ... And you have to add on a little sacrifice. Leadership needs a lot of sacrifice - personal and public sacrifice."

Photo [to be inserted here] of Gertrude Mongella, courtesy interview. In 1996, Mama Beijing founded an NGO called Advocacy for Women in Africa (AWA), which is based in Tanzania. See Gertrude Mongella Profile.
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A dialogue with Ambassador Gertrude Mongella, President of the Pan African Parliament

Note this interesting discussion with Gertrude Mongelia hosted by SARPN and the Southern African Catholic Bishops' Conference, chaired by Trevor Ncube, Pretoria, 14 September 2004.

See 'We must avoid being monkeys' Mail & Guardian (Johannesburg) - September 16, 2004 - AEGiS-DMG.
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No education, no life

This is one of the most heartwarming reports relating to Chad and Sudan that has appeared in the press for a long time. It makes one want to concentrate on the future of Sudan: the children. They need an education and supplies of school materials. They need to learn how to forgive but not forget. Today, I am once again weary of reading about the mess the men in Sudan are making -- and of how Sudanese women are abused and left to pick up the pieces and keep life going.

The report dated April 27, 2005 is titled "Chadian camp lacks resources but does not skimp on school" ... the source is the UN High Commissioner for Refugees - by Bernard Ntwari In Iridimi camp - God bless them:

IRIDIMI, Chad, April 27 (UNHCR) - The ritual unfolds every time someone comes to visit. Schoolgirls and boys run up to surround the visitor and recite expressions learnt in English and French: "Hello, how are you, ok," they repeat. Some are proud to show they know how to count in English while others bombard the visitor with questions.

"Our children are going to build the future. We want to secure a good education for them so that they can help change the situation in our country later," says Hassan Mahamat Juma, one of the teachers in Iridimi camp, located nearly 65 km from Chad's border with Sudan. It is one of the 11 UNHCR camps hosting 200,000 Sudanese refugees in eastern Chad.

Since Iridimi camp opened in March last year, classes have started spontaneously on the initiative of refugee teachers. Despite the lack of resources, the education system is very well organised in the camp, where school-aged children make up about 30 percent of the 17,000-strong population. There is a school in every one of the camp's 10 zones, with young refugees attending either the central school or any of the nine branch schools.

Today, buildings are being constructed to improve schooling conditions. This has made the children very happy because their lessons, which focus on the Sudanese curriculum, help them remember their former life in Sudan. UNHCR, in collaboration with its partners and particularly the UN Children's Fund (UNICEF), has decided to finance this initiative to reinforce education. As part of this plan, UNICEF has just organised a training session for teachers.

"No education, no life," says Hassan, speaking not just as a teacher but also a father.

"We are satisfied with the attitude of the parents, who have proven to be reliable partners on education in the camp," says Christine Lamarque, who oversees community services for UNHCR in Iridimi. She adds that the refugees' top concern is their children's education in the camp.

The teachers are just as committed. "Most of their requests involve the supply of school materials, rather than salary increase," notes Lamarque. The devoted teachers are willing to double their workload to ensure that all registered students receive the education they deserve.

Adam Dewad Djibrin, 13, is in the third year of junior high school. He is happy not only to have passed in the upper class, and also that his brother and little sister are registered in school. "When I grow up, I will be a teacher to educate my sisters and brothers who have stayed in Sudan," he says.

"I will be a doctor when I grow up," adds another student, Oumar Fakara.

A vocational training centre will be opened in Iridimi camp to teach young refugees practical skills like sewing, shoe-repairing or woodworking. A nursery school will also be set up to promote education for little girls. Boys, too, will get the attention they need, with a new system to be established to educate those who tend to livestock for a living and thus are unable to attend school.