Tuesday, April 12, 2005

$2.6 billion aid goal for Sudan reached - Europe and U.S. say their pledges hinge on ending atrocities in Darfur

The UNs World Food Programme has warned that unless donations are rapidly forthcoming, nearly 200,000 refugees who have fled into Chad from Darfur risk going hungry in the months ahead. "We need food now," said WFP Chad Country Director Stefano Porretti.

"With the rains only a matter of two or three months away, it is absolutely imperative that we move food to the places where it will be needed later this year. This process has already begun but is far from complete."

"Once the rains begin, most of the camps become completely inaccessible by road. Getting supplies in place now will go a long way to avoid the necessity of expensive airlifts and air-drops further down the line. We need to get food here by road before it is too late," Porretti said.

Refugee camp in Sudan
Photo: Refugee camp in Sudan.

Note, there is still no news of what happened to the route Libya offered to open up to help aid trucks get through into Darfur. US Defence Secretary Dr Rice recently revealed 2-month long problems over this and said pressure was being put on Khartoum.
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Sudan spends $16.82 million on night vision equipment

Meanwhile, Business News Bangalore in India reports that Bharat Electronics Ltd., a leading defence company says they have bagged an export order valued at $16.82 million order for supply of communication and night vision equipment to Sudan.

Millions face starvation in Sudan
Photo: Millions face starvation in Sudan over the coming weeks (via Swiss News/Keystone)
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Sudan donor conference reaches $2.6 bln aid goal

Today, donors promised at least $2.6 billion to help southern Sudan recover but the U.S. said their aid hinged on ending atrocities in Darfur.

"If conditions in Darfur do not improve, neither the U.S. nor other countries are going to be able to provide the financial assistance for the North-South accord," Mr Zoellick said, adding that the US could offer $1.7bn to Sudan.

"The world knows what is happening in Darfur and the government cannot escape the consequences of that knowledge," he told donors at at the conference.

Among major pledges yesterday, the European Commission promised about $765 million, Britain $545 million, Ireland 15 million euros, Norway $250 million, the Netherlands $220 million, Switzerland $63 million, Canada $90 million, to name a few.

The European Commission made clear that the resumption of cooperation will be progressive, taking into account "the effective implementation of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement and the evolution of the situation in Darfur."

Sudan Donors Conference
Photo: Donor conference for Sudan reaches $2.6 billion aid goal, triggering clapping around the conference hall in an Oslo hotel attended by 60 nations - including Sudan's Vice-President pictured here [praying or clapping that he's not in jail?]

Click here to read how he and former rebel John Garang were addressed by Kofi Annan at the conference in Oslo yesterday, attended by 60 nations.

News from Russia reports today April 12 that Robert Zoellick, US deputy secretary of state, speaking on the way to the conference, warned that the government in Khartoum stood at "a point of fundamental choice between an upward or downward spiral" that risked breaking Africa's largest country apart, reports FT News.

The US - the largest donor to Sudan - Europe and other donors would not be able to continue working with the government if the situation did not improve in Darfur, he said.
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Oil and Peace don't mix

Oil strategists plan for geopolitical drama as demand increases writes John Fialka in the WSJ April 11, 2005. Excerpt:

It's a small world after all -- with an even smaller oil supply. That's what U.S. energy experts, oil companies, and national security planners are concluding as they try to project America's and the world's oil demand versus declining supplies in coming years.

Military planners in particular, aware of the interconnectedness of, if not all things, at least oil markets, intend to spend millions on oil-price-stabilization projects in emerging oil regions like the Caspian Sea and West Africa. One project, to cost $100 million over the next decade, is the Caspian Guard -- a network of special-ops units and police intended to secure oil facilities in the region, though almost none of the Caspian oil will reach U.S. markets.

Most worrisome to strategists is the role China and India will play in increasing oil demand worldwide. Already, government-owned oil companies in the two countries are forging production partnerships with Iran and Sudan.
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NATO's spear reaches its target

Heh. Khartoum might get the wobblies if they see an April 11 report at Radio Netherlands re NATO's response force. Excerpt:
NATO's 'Noble Javelin 05' exercise - testing out the capabilities of the new NATO Response Force (NRF) - entered its second week with the evacuation of aid workers and refugees, and missions targeting armed rebels on the fictitious Dansu islands.

The initial stages of the exercise were played out largely at sea, but the main focus now is on land, namely the Canary Island of Fuerteventura which, in the 'Nobel Javelin' scenario, is part of the 'federal state of Dansu'.

As the focus shifts landward, so has the command over the exercise, which has transferred on shore from British aircraft carrier HMS Invincible. It's now housed in a barracks in the harbour town of Puerto del Rosario. Just as was the case at sea, there are four headquarters: one each for the ground forces, the air force and the navy, plus an umbrella 'Deployed Joint Task Force Headquarters'. In this context, 'joint' refers to the combined operations of navy vessels, the air force and ground troops; and such combined operations have been very much in evidence on Fuerteventura over the past few days.
Note, the report also says:
Dansu - if the letters of this fictitious state are rearranged, the word Sudan emerges. Some parts of the NRF exercise indeed display a remarkable similarity with the situation in Sudan's conflict-torn Darfur region. However, Brigadier General Ton van Loon of the Dutch armed forces explains:

"That's coincidence. We are not here training for a specific situation. What we are trying to do increasingly is to hold exercises which could also be carried out in practice.
Command of the naval forces taking part in 'Nobel Javelin 05' will soon pass to Commodore J.W. Ort of the Dutch Royal Navy, who takes over from British Rear Admiral Charles Style.
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EU, African Union to enhance partnership in conflicts settlement

A report by China View Luxembourg April 11 says the European Union (EU) and the African Union (AU) agreed on Monday to consolidate and further develop their partnership in the area relating to peace and security in Africa.

Luxembourg's Foreign Minister Jean Asselborn, whose country holds the rotating EU presidency, told a press conference that he and his African counterparts had been looking for solution to the problems faced by the AU during today's discussions.

Visiting Nigerian Foreign Minister Oluyemi Adeniji, the current chairperson of the AU Executive Council, said that the EU is a faithful ally of African countries. "We need international cooperation and we appeal the EU to offer assistance that we required," he added.

In a communique issued after the fourth ministerial meeting between the EU and the AU, the ministers said that they exchanged views on matters of mutual interest, including those on specific conflict situations, terrorism and the progress made with regards to capacity building in the field of conflict prevention and crisis management.

Regarding Sudan, the ministers welcomed the signing of the comprehensive peace agreement between the government and the rebels, saying that the deal should pave the way for the promotion of peace, post conflict reconstruction and development of all parts of Sudan.

The ministers express their grave concern at the continuing conflict in Darfur. The two sides condemned the violation by all parties of the cease fire, particularly the assaults on the civilian population, humanitarian workers and on the personnel of the AU. The ministers also discussed the situation in Somalia, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Cote d'Ivoire Coast and Togo.
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East African states set up military intervention force

Note this Reuters report April 12, 2005 by Tsegaye Tadesse in Addis Ababa:

Seven east African countries on Monday signed a deal to create a 3,000-troop standby brigade to intervene in crises like the 1994 genocide in Rwanda.

Sudan, Ethiopia, Djibouti, Uganda, Somalia, Kenya and Rwanda signed the deal as part of the African Standby Force (ASF), initially expected to involve 15,000 African Union troops. These would initially be drawn primarily from the continent's military powers --South Africa, Kenya, Nigeria, Egypt and Ethiopia.

The force is chartered with a peace-building and humanitarian mission and could intervene unilaterally in the event of "war crimes, genocide, and crimes against humanity, as well as a serious threat to legitimate order."

The memory of Rwanda's genocide figured greatly in the mission envisioned for the ASF, Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi told the conference in the Ethiopian capital. "Africa and the whole international community were unable to do anything to prevent or stop the genocide in Rwanda," he said. "This underscores the need for us to move with resolve and speed to establish the mechanisms necessary to prevent such occurrences."

The East African Standby brigade is one of five regional units expected to be set up and deployed by the end of the year to create the ASF. The AUs ambition to build a reaction force, like many of its other efforts, is hampered by a lack of money from its members states. It has relied heavily on donor money to field its peacekeeping force of 3,000 in Sudan's troubled Darfur region.

The east African unit will have an Ethiopian commander to start and an administrative budget of $2.5 million contributed by its members. The other four regions are in varying stages of finalising their teams. No immediate date for the deployment of the East African Standby brigade was given.
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Half of women in Arab world are illiterate

The Daily Star reports on April 12 via AFP that half of the women in Arab world are illiterate and more than 10 million children in the region don't go to school, according to a report released on Monday. Excerpt:

The report on the status of children and women, produced by the Arab League and the UN Children's Fund (UNICEF), said many Arab countries have made progress on child rights and protection, but that more still needs to be done.

"More than 10 million children in the Arab world are out of school, most of them in Egypt, Iraq, Morocco and Sudan," said the report, although it gave no figures for the total number of school-age children in the region.

It said although many countries have established a basis for a child's right to education, they still fall short of the UNs millennium development goals for primary education, especially for girls.

"More than half of the women in the Arab world cannot read or write," said the report, arguing that this was preventing them from obtaining vital information on such issues as pre- and post-natal health, leading to high infant and child mortality rates.

Mortality rates among under-fives in the region stand at around 60 for every 1,000 births compared to just six in industrialized countries. Many of those deaths occurred in the first year primarily due to "pre-natal complications," exacerbated by ignorance.

"There is a dire need to invest in hospitals and clinics in order to provide care in cases of emergency delivery and to address the causes of pre- and post-natal complications," the report said.

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