Sunday, April 17, 2005

Sudan: UN warns 3 million may need food by end of the year

Re US Deputy Defence Secretary Robert Zoellick's visit to Abu Shouk camp in Darfur, an AU spokesman in the main AU base for Darfur in El Fasher pointed out that the mission - which has a mandate to observe and not police or fight - only had about 280 vehicles and some 3,000 men to patrol a land the size of France. When Mr. Zoellick visited he found nearly 50 of those vehicles were inside the AU compound.

When former secretary of State, Colin Powell visited the same camp last June, the Sudanese government assured him it would act to halt the violence, which it blamed on others.

Since then, Abu Shouk has more than doubled in size to 80,000 residents [ says 100,000]. In the last three months or so, foreign observers say government forces have been better behaved. But they continue to arm and train the Arab Janjaweed militia who are settling old scores and plundering scarce resources in a conflict exacerbated by famine, land rights and tribal rivalries.

African Union soldiers in El-Fasher, Darfur, Sudan
Picture taken April 15, 2005: African Union Force Commander Major General Festus Okonkwo from Nigeria and Deputy Force Brigadier General John Bosco Kazura from Rwanda laugh in El-Fasher, Darfur, April 15, 2005.

U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Robert Zoellick expressed concern on Friday that support for Darfur could ebb before refugees packed into teeming camps to escape violence return home. (Reuters/Beatrice Mategwa) says the UN, which fed some 1.4m people in Darfur last month, warns that it will probably have to feed 3m by the end of the year. But a descent into anarchy and banditry is hindering deliveries that need to be stepped up before the onset of the rainy season next month.

Mr Zoellick said his heart went out to these people. The government could do a lot more to stop the violence and banditry, while tribal reconciliation was needed, he added. The overall conflict needed a political solution, he went on, noting that the latest chapter of the north-south conflict took over 20 years to settle.

Read more at April 16 2005 report by Guy Dinmore in Rumbek and El Fasher, Sudan.

Sudan Starvation
Photo: Hungry Sudanese scramble for food left behind at a food distribution center on August 9, 2004. (Alessandro Abbonizio/AFP-Getty Images)
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The UN in Sudan: Peacekeeping, Peace Enforcement, Peace Creation

StrategyPage ran an update on the Sudan peacekeeping mission. Here is an excerpt [note there is no mention of U.S. troops]

The peacekeeping force data (from StrategyPage):

On March 24 the UN Security Council voted to send peacekeeping troops to help enforce the south Sudan peace agreement. UN Security Council Resolution 1590 authorized the 10,000 military peacekeepers recommended in February. The peacekeeping operation will be called The UN Mission in Sudan (UNMIS). It is conceivable that the south Sudan peacekeeping force could "assist" African Union peacekeepers in Darfur, although some UN officials are talking openly of UN peacekeepers getting involved in Darfur. But UNMIS' first mission is to monitor and verify the southern ceasefire agreement. It will also help demobilize "ex-combatants" (presumably SPLA guerrillas). The Security Council's peacekeeping mandate relies on Chapter 7 of the UN Charter, which is more "aggressive" than Chapter 6. Most peacekeeping ops are run under Chapter 6, but after the continuing troubles in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, the Security Council may have decided to give the Sudan mission more immediate authority to use force.

There will also be a sizeable civilian police contingent (of up to 715 policemen). Jordan, Kenya, Malaysia, Nigeria, Tanzania, Turkey, Sri Lanka and Sweden will supply police officers in the Sudan effort.

How long will it take to put the 10,000 troops and 715 police in the field? The UN said "several months." That's fair - if several means six or more. The UN report acknowledged logistical difficulties. However, the logistics net in south Sudan can supply the 10,000 troop contingent - there are roads and airfields that can be improved. Darfur is another matter.

The UN said the 10,000 peacekeeping troops will be provided by Australia, Austria, Bangladesh, Cambodia (about a company), Canada, Chile, China, Croatia, Denmark, Egypt, Fiji, Finland, Germany, Greece, Guatemala, Hungary, India, Italy, Jordan, Kenya, Malawi, Malaysia, Namibia, Nepal, Nigeria, Norway, Pakistan, Paraguay, Peru, Poland, Rumania, Russia, Spain, Sweden, United Kingdom, Ukraine, Uruguay, Zambia, and Zimbabwe.

[via David Aitken with thanks]
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Watching Darfur Die by Kofi Annan

Note an opinion piece titled "Billions of Promises to Keep" by UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan, New York Times, April 13 2005.

[via Coalition for Darfur with thanks]
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Bush holds talks with Rwandan leader at White House

April 16 VOA - President Bush met with Rwandan President Paul Kagame at the White House to discuss efforts to bring peace to Central Africa's troubled Great Lakes region. They also discussed a host of other regional issues from peacekeeping in southern Sudan and violence in the Democratic Republic of Congo to helping bring elections to Burundi.

The Rwandan leader says Mr. Bush vowed to continue his engagement in African affairs. "We requested the president to use his powers to help Africa in different ways, in socioeconomic development, in assuring there is peace and security not only in our region but also in the whole continent. And the president was very supportive of that," he said.

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