Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Bloggers mull African summit (BBC)

The BBC News website - Bloggers mull African summit - looks at what some bloggers made of the performance of African leaders at their Ethiopian summit.

Pity they missed out The Sudanese Thinker.

China wants to persuade Sudan not to reject the UN resolution

Jan 31 2007 Times report by Jonathan Clayton in Johannesburg (China aims to bring peace through deals with dictators and warlords) excerpt:
Chinese officials say that [Chinese President] Mr Hu would be looking to help to broker lasting peace in Darfur. "I believe this visit will not only boost bilateral ties, but also peace and stability in the region," said Zhai Jun, the Assistant Foreign Minister, on the eve of the Africa mission. Mr Zhai said that criticism of China's relationship with Africa was unfounded. He said that Beijing was trying to help Africa to build infrastructure and alleviate poverty.

Shi Yinhong, of the International Relations department of the People's University in Beijing, said: "Hu Jintao wants to persuade Sudan not to reject the UN resolution. This will bring moral and diplomatic pressure on Sudan and also help China's ties with the US, the EU and greater Africa."

The Chinese People's Republic of Africa (Kommersant Moscow)

Jan 31 2007 commentary - The Chinese People's Republic of Africa by Alexander Gabuyev, - Kommersant Moscow. Excerpt:
By far the most important part of the trip will be the Chinese leader's visit to Sudan, where he will arrive on Friday. 'This visit will be the culmination of our relations with a friendly China,' said Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir on Sunday. This leg of the trip has also attracted significant attention from the international community, since many Western leaders are appalled at the very idea of cultivating a relationship with the regime that has been carrying on a campaign of ethnic cleansing against the local population in the oil-rich Darfur region. On the other hand, many hope that Beijing will succeed in convincing Khartoum to allow UN peacekeepers into Darfur.

Hu Jintao also appears to have come up with a original solution to the problem of Darfur. The Chinese deputy foreign affairs minister, who has a reputation as an excellent negotiator on delicate matters, visited Khartoum not long before Mr. Hu set off on his visit to Africa. Upon returning to Beijing, he confidently stated that "the Chairman's visit will undoubtedly bring peace and stability to Darfur." "China and Sudan are currently working on together on many questions, including military cooperation, and we have nothing to hide," he added pointedly.

Many experts believe that Hu Jintao will suggest to Khartoum that it permit a contingent of primarily Chinese UN peacekeepers to be deployed in Darfur. Around 150 Chinese military engineers are already in Sudan, but Beijing could still send a full detachment of troops to the country. Omar al-Bashir is not likely to object too strongly, since most of the petrodollars flowing into Khartoum come from multibillion-dollar contracts with the Chinese state-run oil companies CNPC and Sinopec. The moment is also politically ripe for such a proposal: on Monday, it was announced that the Darfur problem will cost Sudan the chairmanship of the African Union in 2007. Accepting a proposal from the Chinese concerning peacekeepers in the region would give Mr. al-Bashir an opportunity to portray himself in a better light.
Let's hope China can turn the situation around. Wish I had time today to search archives here for a news report quoting the late John Garang as saying he could not agree to Chinese peacekeepers because China is seen as onside with Khartoum.

SPLM, NRF to hold Darfur common ground meeting in Yei, S Sudan with Kiir

Spit. How is it that Sudanese "rebels" can operate out of England? Sudan Tribune article 30 Jan 2007 - excerpt:SPLM, NRF to hold Darfur common ground meeting in S. Sudan:
In a meeting held in London between the SPLM Acting Deputy Secretary General, Yasir Arman, and the NRF spokesperson, Ahmed Hussein Adam, it was agreed to accelerate preparations for the hold of a meeting in Southern Sudan Yei town with the participation of the SPLM chairman Salva Kiir Mayadrit in the near future.
I say, educated Sudanese people living outside of Sudan should return to their homeland and share their education and skills. What other hope is there for Sudan's children and its environment? Peace is in the hands of the Sudanese only. Foreigners can't force peace on them. But heads can be knocked together to see sense. Where are the powerful Sudanese/African/Arab women in all of this? What say the mothers, wives, sisters, friends of the Janjaweed? Since Sudan belongs to both the African Union and Arab League, I wonder if Sudanese women see Sudan as an African or Arab country.

Sudan sees Chinese President's coming visit "historic"

Speaking to the Chinese press, Malik [Sudanese Minister of Information and Communication Al-Zahawi Ibrahim Malik] said that President Hu's visit due on Feb. 2-3 was of significance, because he will be the first head of state of China to visit Sudan since the establishment of Chinese-Sudanese diplomatic relations 48 years ago. - Xinhua 30 Jan 2007 via ST.

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Chinese President Hu arrives in Cameroon, kicking off Africa tour

Cameroon is the first-leg of Chinese President Hu Jintao's eight-nation tour which will also take him to Liberia, Sudan, Zambia, Namibia, South Africa, Mozambique and Seychelles. - Xinhua

Note, the above report tells us on Monday, China announced to write off debts owned by 33 heavily indebted and least developed African countries that have diplomatic relations with China. The debts, in the form of interest-free government loans, matured at the end of 2005.

See indepth article by McClatchy Newspapers Tim Johnson (and special correspondent Fan Linjun from Beijing) 30 Jan 2007 - Obstacles face China's president on 2nd trip to Africa: "China cannot only just come here and dig for raw materials and then go away and sell us manufactured goods," [SA President] Mbeki told a youth congress last month in Cape Town.

UNICEF's Media Magic Digest

UNICEF has launched Media Magic Digest, a quarterly multimedia newsletter "for people interested in how young people create media around the world [which] aims to promote dialogue between broadcasters and young media enthusiasts."

(hat tipPSD Blog - World Bank Group)

Pulitzer Center Travel Grants for journalists to cover undercovered stories

The Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting funds international travel costs associated with reporting projects on topics and regions of global importance.

Grants are open to all journalists, writers, or filmmakers; staff journalists as well as free-lance, of any nationality are eligible to apply.

Most awards fall in the range of $3,000 to $10,000 but depending on project specifics may be as much as $20,000. See Pulitzer Center. (hat tip My heart's in Accra)

African news agency in Second Life

Ruud Elmendorp has opened a press agency for African news agency in Second Life.

No prospect for 2m Darfur refugees to return home: UN

"There is no prospect of return for internally displaced people in Darfur, nor for the more than 200,000 Sudanese refugees hosted in eastern Chad," UNHCR spokeswoman Jennifer Pagonis told journalists in Geneva. - Reuters 30 Jan 2007.

Experts say Africa must prepare for climate change

Desertification has contributed to the bloodshed in Sudan's Darfur region as nomadic cattle-herding tribes clash with farmers over diminishing water supplies. - Reuters Jan 30, 2007.

John Garang: "It is said that Abyei is floating on oil"

Sudan Mirror editorial How Dr Garang wanted Abyei to be? (1) - Analysis January 26, 2007 - excerpt:
From one of the meetings I held with him [the late Dr John Garang de Mabior] he assured me that Abyei was on the top of his agendas. Abyei was one of his first priorities. While he was alive he never let down the Ngok Dinka people of Abyei or the Abyei cause. This is part of the speech he delivered in Agok the temporary capital of Abyei Area on June 16th, 2004 to explain the Abyei Protocol to the nine Ngok Dinka Chiefdoms of which I attended:

"You people of Abyei, I greet all of you. I greet all of you; starting with the old man Lian Yak, all the elders, that woman called Achei Ngor who delivered a speech, all the women, all children in schools, all the children all over Ngok homeland-girls and boys, I greet you all. You the leaders of the homeland, starting with the Chief Ring e Makuach who delivered a speech and all the elders and chiefs of Ngok I greet you all and extend my greetings to the rest of Ngok who didn't come here.

Add your tongue to mine and greet all the Ngok people and tell them that Garang de Mabior came here with his comrades and was very pleased. I'll start my speech with the word 'Congratulation!' it is congratulation to you; because your homeland has been liberated, it is now in your hands and it is no longer in somebody else's hands. I congratulate you for the achievement you have made; for the struggle you have made. You struggled for fifty years (50 years) and some will say for one hundred years (100 years).

Because Abyei was transferred from Bahr el Ghazal to Kordofan in 1905 and now this is 2004. So it is ninety-nine years (99 years), it is only one year that is missing to complete one hundred years (100 years) since Abyei transfer. Your struggle started in 1954, before the Torit mutiny in 1955. It is the struggle of Abyei that started first.

The children of the school went to Rij el Fulla in 1954. They took permission from the District Commissioner of that time who was British during the Anglo-Egyptian Condominium. By that time the country was not given independence in 1956, because it was in 1954 when these students protested so they were arrested.

They went to petition in Rij el Fulla because they saw what was coming, that their homeland was going to be occupied by strangers. Those students were arrested and that was the beginning of the struggle of the Abyei people. So from 1954 to 2004, it is exactly fifty years (50 years). You have gotten your rights after 50 years; I congratulate you.

That is my first message, I congratulate you for the struggle you have made and it is that struggle you have made that brought these rights. And if there is somebody who claims that I am the one who liberated Abyei that is not true. It is you people who were struggling who liberated Abyei. Mine was only negotiation; but there were/are people who fought for Abyei since 1954. Also, from 1965 many of your people lost their lives during the Anyanya I, and you led the forces of Anyanya One in Bahr el Ghazal and people like Akonon e Mithiang lost their lives because of your homeland.

You also led the Anyanya II, and people like Miokol Deng whom I met in Bil-Fam also lost their lives because of your homeland. So it is your struggle that liberated Abyei, you have struggled for the last fifty years. You have fought for 50 years and that your right has been given to you in the negotiation in a place called Naivasha. So the first thing is a word of congratulation to you.

The remaining war of 'referendum' is an easy war. What is needed now is your unity and that you must work collectively. Because you've won the war for Abyei and I say there is nothing that will abrogate the protocol. My second message is that, everybody must come back; people must come back to Abyei land.

The nine sections of the Ngok Dinka that are contained in the protocol must come back. Ngok Dinka must return to their home areas, wherever they are in the Diaspora. If there is accessdised development in Abyei then people will return, and it is said that Abyei is floating on oil. Let us use this oil money to develop Abyei, this is when people will return. So take this message everywhere where Abyei people are, inside the Sudan and in the Diaspora, that people must return home. This is important."

China & the Republic of the Sudan

Jan 30 2007 via People's Daily Online -- The Republic of the Sudan:
Located in the Northeast part of Africa, the republic of the Sudan covers an area of 2.5 million sq km, more than any other country in Africa. Islam and Christianity are the main religions for its 35 million residents. Arabic is the official language. Khartoum is the national capital. Sudan's Incumbent president is Omar Hassan al- Bashir.

Since China established diplomatic relations with Sudan on Feb. 4th, 1959, the two countries have maintained long-term friendly relations. Chinese President Hu Jintao met with Sudanese President Bashir in 2005, on the sidelines of Asia-Africa Summit. Bilateral trade topped 3.9 billion U. S. dollars in 2005.

Monday, January 29, 2007

AU chief urges Sudan to end Darfur air raids

Alpha Oumar Konare, the African Union (AU) commission president, has called on Sudan's government to cease its aerial bombing of the Darfur region after opening a summit of the 53-member organisation in Ethiopia.

Konare made the appeal ahead of an address by Ban Ki-Moon, the new UN secretary-general.

"We appeal to the government of Sudan to stop attacking and bombarding Darfur and instead restore peace," he said, to leaders at the AU headquarters in Addis Ababa. - Agencies (via MWC)
- - -

Jan 29 2007 AFP report : AU chief urges Sudan to halt Darfur bombings :
Konare said that there had been signs of progress in ongoing negotiations to send a joint AU-UN force to Sudan but he added that we have to "apply these moves this without delay."

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon held talks with Konare about the deployment of the joint peacekeeping force for Sudan.

UN sources said both Ban and Konare expected the force to be deployed by the end of next month, despite the reluctance of Sudan's President Omar al-Beshir to accept UN troops to bolster a struggling 7,000-strong force.

W Darfur: MSF report on populations recently displaced

Copy of MSF article 29 Jan 2007 (via PeaceJournalism)
Since late December, 2006, new attacks in West Darfur, Sudan have destroyed several villages and have led to the displacement of thousands of people. Displaced persons have found refuge in Ardamata and Dorti camps, situated on the outskirts of El Geneina, the capital of west Darfur, while other people remain blocked further north in Tanjeke.

While some 750 families-more than 5,000 persons-have so far been able to reach the Ardamata and Dorti camps, numerous others have been left behind and remain at the mercy of armed groups still active in the region. In the village of Tanjeke, located 30 km north of El Geneina, at least one thousand families are gathered in small, individual shelters made of grass and leaves that lack adequate roofs. The displaced persons also lack water and soon will be in need of food. People are mostly coming from the camps of Artega and Kouta and are on the run for the second time in less than three years.

On January 19, an MSF evaluation team was able to reach Tanjeke, but high levels of insecurity on the road have prevented any further intervention. This highly volatile environment leaves the already weakened displaced population without much needed assistance.

Meanwhile, in El Geneina, displaced persons continue to arrive in small groups, mostly at night due to the risk of attacks on the roads. There are many reports of acts of violence perpetrated against villagers. In Ardamata camp, MSF has set up a mobile medical unit to screen new arrivals, and more than 500 people have been treated.

In addition, on January 8, non-food items such as water containers, blankets, and plastic-sheeting were distributed in Ardamata and Dorti camps to 750 families. High-energy protein biscuits have also been distributed to the displaced. A number of shelters have been erected as well.

"The living conditions in the camp are particularly difficult at this time of year, with temperatures falling to close to five degrees Celsius at night," said Stephane Reynier, MSF field coordinator in El Geneina. "The displaced population still trapped in the Sirba area are enduring very difficult conditions, in addition to coping with the insecure environment."

The constant insecurity in the region and on the roads in particular, is rendering movements extremely difficult for aid workers. In Darfur today, accessing populations in need is, in many cases, impossible.

MSF has been in West Darfur since January 2004.
Still not found any updates on Norwegian Refugee Council's departure from Kalma Camp. Who is now coordinating Kalma Camp?

Libya suspended Darfur funds to press withdrawal of Sudan's AU candidacy

Jan 26 2007 (Cairo) - Libya suspends transfer of 50m US dollars to the African peacekeeping force in Darfur, in a bid to press Sudan to withdraw its candidacy for the African Union presidency.

See full story by Wasil Ali: Libya suspends Darfur funds to press withdrawal of Sudan's AU candidacy (via ST 27 Jan 2007)

Gaddafi at AU Summit

Photo: Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi (3rd L) is surrounded by bodyguards as he arrives for the 8th African Union Summit of Heads of States at the United Nations office in Addis Ababa January 29, 2007. An African Union summit opened on Monday with the stage set for a battle over Sudan's determination to assume the chair, as promised a year ago, despite fierce criticism of continuing bloodshed in its Darfur region. REUTERS/Antony Njuguna (ETHIOPIA)

AU Summit  29-30 Jan 2007

Photo: Graphic factfile on the 53-nation African Union as the organisation opens its summit in the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa. Sudan suffered a double humiliation on the opening day of the African Union summit as it was passed over for the presidency of the body and lectured by UN chief Ban Ki-Moon over the conflict in Darfur. (AFP/Graphic)

African Union, Ethiopia

A guard of honor line up with African Union flags at Bolle international airport in Addis Ababa Sunday Jan. 28, 2007 ahead of the 8th African Union summit that starts on Monday in the Ethiopian capital. (AP Photo/Karel Prinsloo)

Libyan blogosphere

Thanks to Global Voices Online for links to blogs re Libya.

NYT Nicholas Kristof invites readers' comments

Excerpt from New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof 28 Jan 2007 (via CFD with thanks):
Serious negotiations between the government and Darfur's rebels are crucial for a lasting peace deal in Darfur, and new discussions are expected soon (that may be why President Hu dares visit Khartoum). But Mudawi Ibrahim Adam, a Sudanese human rights leader, says the new talks will fail unless the Darfur rebels have a chance to consult first. And when they try to meet, the Sudanese government bombs them.

There are countless other practical ideas for Darfur, and I'd like to hear yours. Send your suggestions to me at I'll post some on my blog at and discuss them in a future column.

Oxfam (GB): Six aid agencies warn Darfur operations approaching breaking point, conflict worse than ever

Jan 28 2007 press release by British Oxfam (hat tip POTP) Excerpt:
On the eve of the AU summit, the six biggest aid agencies working in Darfur warned that the humanitarian operation there was on the verge of total breakdown.

The "enormous humanitarian response in Darfur will soon be paralysed unless African and global leaders at the AU summit take urgent action to end rising violence against civilians and aid workers," they said in a joint statement.

The agencies - Action Against Hunger, Care International, Oxfam International, [the] Norwegian Refugee Council, World Vision and Save the Children - said [that] the conflict was now worse than ever, with aid workers being increasingly targeted as they seek to help threatened Darfuris.

Fresh fighting in January has left more than 350 people dead* and forced tens of thousands more from their homes. Splits in the rebel movements and a widespread lack of accountability have left Darfur increasingly lawless, leading to the direct targeting of aid workers. The violence has spread throughout Darfur and crossed the border into Chad. Even major towns and cities are now plagued with violence and have seen fighting and hijackings on the streets.

More than a month after an attack on aid workers in Gereida, the most violent of the conflict so far, which saw staff raped, beaten and subjected to mock executions, it is still far too dangerous for agencies to return to the camp, the world's largest for displaced people, where 130,000 have sought refuge from attacks on their villages. Temporary evacuations of staff from other locations across Darfur have continued, with nearly 500 aid workers withdrawn since the start of December. In early January, the UN warned that malnutrition rates are again rising close to emergency levels. Progress made in stabilising conditions over the past four years is in serious danger of being reversed.

The six agencies warn [that] the Summit will fail unless:

1. African Heads of States led by Chairperson Denis Sassou Nguesso and new UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon greatly increase the pressure on all parties to the conflict to ensure [that] attacks on civilians and aid workers end immediately, and ensure that perpetrators of violence are held to account.

2. The African Union Commission does more to end the growing violent attacks. The AU's credibility with the people of Darfur is at an all-time low. AU troops in Darfur must immediately try to regain the civilian population's confidence by implementing the following proactive protection measures:

- Regular "firewood patrols" accompanying women who collect essential firewood and animal fodder outside the camps. Although previously in place these have now ceased in most locations in Darfur.

- A 24/7 presence inside the main camps and towns [in order] to ensure safety of civilians.

- Making more effective use of the Ceasefire Commission [in order] to bring violators to account.

"The international community has failed the people of Darfur by not providing the AU force with the funds, equipment and support that it needs. But the AU can, and must, do more with the resources already at its disposal. There is no reason why firewood patrols cannot resume immediately," said Hussein Halane, Save the Children Country Director in Sudan.

Aid agencies working on the ground in Darfur have repeatedly called for the AU force to be strengthened, but despite two years of promises from the entire international community, the AU is now providing even less protection than before.

* UN/Sudan government figures
For more information contact:
At the Summit, in Addis Ababa:
Ismaila Dieng, +251 911079009,
Clare Rudebeck, Oxfam, +44 (0) 7769 887 139,,
Sylvain Trottier, ACF, +33 1 43358224,

UN chief says peace in Sudan means peace in Chad

"Peace in Sudan means peace in Chad," he [UNSG Ban] told delegates who included African leaders, foreign ministers and diplomats in the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa. - AP (via CFD).
"We must work to end the violence and scorched earth policies adopted by various parties, including militias, as well as the bombings which are still a terrifying feature of life in Darfur," Ban told African leaders including Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir. "The toll of the crisis remains unacceptable."

Darfur: Tutu says AU cannot allow itself to comfort the oppressor - urges tough sanctions

I'm a fan of Desmond Tutu. He once said women should rule the world. Here's another great speech via Jan 29 2007 Sapa report (hat tip CFD)
Sudan's government needs to face tough and effective sanctions until the suffering the Darfur region ends, Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu said on Monday.

Speaking ahead of the eighth African Union (AU) summit in Addis Ababa this week, he said that Sudan's President Omar al-Bashir longed to be given the AU's presidency.

"The AU cannot allow itself to comfort the oppressor. I appeal to those leaders meeting at the AU summit to stand up to tyranny and stand by the people of Darfur."

Tutu warned the AU that the Sudanese government, and other parties to the conflict, treated AU peace monitors with contempt.

"And time and again they fail to comply with the promises they make to stop the killing."

He added that an immediate ceasefire in Sudan's Darfur region was essential, along with a strengthened peacekeeping force with United Nations troops. A robust mandate was urgently needed to protect the innocent.

"While discussions drag on, people are dying."

Tutu pointed out that the AU was at a crossroads over how to deal with the Darfur crisis in Sudan.

He called on the continental body to "be bold and stand by the people of Africa or be weak and stand by the politicians who are making that corner of Africa a graveyard".

"If the AU allows this to continue and the aid effort breaks down then there will soon be no help for the hundred of thousands who have fled their homes."

Tutu called the Darfur crisis "a matter of utmost urgency".

"The people of Darfur need action in weeks not months. They have suffered terribly, and they cannot wait any longer."

He said Africa could not turn its back on the people of Darfur.

"The government of Sudan continues to act with impunity and must now be subjected to tough and effective sanctions until the suffering ends.
Well said. AU must not allow its peace monitors to be treated with contempt.

French MDM suspends activities in Sudan's Darfur due to violence

Jan 29 2007 AP report via ST
Medecins du Monde, or Doctors of the World, has "suspended its activities in Darfur for an undetermined period of time," said the group's director of international missions, Eric Chevallier, in a phone interview.

"The balance between the help we were able to provide and the risks our staff were taking had reached breaking point," Chevallier said.

Ghana's President Kufuor to chair AU

Here's no surprise. BBC report today says Sudan's President Bashir has again been bypassed in his bid to chair the African Union (AU).
AU commission head Alpha Oumar Konare said Sudan had supported the decision to let Ghana head the continental body.

"By consensus it is President Kufuor," he said.
President John Kufuor of Ghana

Photo: President John Kufuor of Ghana, center, leaves the 8th African Union summit as Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo look at his watch in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, Monday, Jan. 29, 2007. The African Union chose Ghana to head the 53-member bloc Monday, for the second year in a row turning aside Sudan's bid because of the Darfur crisis. 'By consensus vote President (John) Kufuor of Ghana has been elected to the presidency of the African Union,' Alpha Oumar Konare, the A.U.'s chief executive, told reporters in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa. (AP Photo/Les Neuhaus)

Saturday, January 27, 2007

UN chief voices deep concern at aerial bombing raids in Darfur, W Sudan

How can a no fly zone over Darfur not now be imposed? See Xinhua report (via PeaceJournalism 24 Jan 2007) - excerpt:
The secretary-general is deeply disturbed by the trend in aerial bombardments that the government of Sudan has conducted in several areas of North Darfur and alarmed by the reports of many civilian casualties, the spokesman said.

Haq added that the secretary-general is also extremely concerned about the arrest of 20 staff members of the United Nations, nongovernmental organizations and the African Union Mission in Sudan in Nyala, South Darfur, on Friday and expects a swift investigation of this incident, particularly as several of the staffers were assaulted.
It will be interesting to see how the UN responds to the Sudanese govt's recent bombing raid over Darfur.

Sudan's Bashir admits N Darfur bombing raids

BBC exclusive - Sudan leader admits Darfur raids - excerpt:
Rebel commanders in northern Darfur said on Monday that government aircraft had hit three villages over the weekend - claims the Sudanese government strongly denied.

But in an exclusive BBC interview broadcast on Wednesday, President Bashir confirmed his troops had carried out the bombardments.

He said the government had no option but to strike as 80% of attacks on civilians in the region were carried out by rebels groups, undermining security.

"They are not supported by the government. The government is fighting them," he said.

After the signing of a peace agreement with a leading rebel group in May, rival rebels formed a new alliance called the National Salvation Front, he told the BBC.

President Bashir said the group had received "massive military support in full view of the international community" and set out to target those who had signed the peace deal.

Militias have since carried out large-scale attacks on Sudan Liberation Movement positions in northern Darfur, controlling its movements, the president said.

"We heard no condemnation of this movement or the countries supporting it.

"But as soon as we were forced to send armed troops to deal with it we heard talk of violations and a ceasefire breach," he said.
I can see his point. But Sudan Watch archives from a year or two ago show how Khartoum promised (in order to avoid a no fly zone) not to use bombers over Darfur.

Note BBC news report Jan 22, 2007 re Sudanese planes 'bombing Darfur'.

Monday, January 22, 2007

Sudanese planes 'bombing Darfur'

Rebel commanders in Darfur say government aircraft have bombed northern areas of the province, in breach of a ceasefire, they claimed several villages had been hit over the weekend BBC reported today - excerpt:
The Sudanese government has denied the reports, which come days after President Omar al-Bashir vowed to adhere to a UN peace plan.

A rebel commander, Abdallah Banda, from the rebel Justice and Equality Movement, said three villages had been destroyed by Sudanese aircraft in north Darfur.

He did not say how many people had died.

The Sudanese army denied the allegation.

"We never bombard civilians anywhere," a military spokesman told the Associated Press news agency.
That's funny, the rebels are civilians.

Saturday, January 20, 2007

Five Arab leaders to meet in Libya next week

Leaders of five Arab states will meet in the Libyan capital Triopoli next week to review the situation in the Middle East and Africa, Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak said Friday. - Middle East Online.

Note, the report classes Sudan as an Arab state.

Friday, January 19, 2007

EU blames World Bank for delaying South Sudan reconstruction

The World Bank is to blame for the people of southern Sudan having to wait years for donors' funding for development. Shame on them. In an interview with Sudan Radio Service in Khartoum, EU Special Representative to Sudan Pekka Haavisto said European states have fulfilled their Oslo pledges, but the money has not been released because of World Bank bureaucracy. Full story ST 19 Jan 2007.

Note, news reports from a few years ago said the $4.5 billion pledged would be tied to Darfur peace being agreed. So it looks like World Bank strings can be pulled and delayed to aid international diplomatic pressure on Sudan.

Here's a thought, what if South Sudan votes to break away and take its oil with it, and fighting breaks out again ... what's the point in investing $4.5b on development that might end up being destroyed. Sudanese people are their own worst enemy.

German Siemens to pull out of Sudan

German technologies group Siemens is planning to withdraw from Sudan, in view of the current humanitarian situation in Darfur. Swiss technologies company ABB stopped doing business in Sudan at the beginning of the year until further notice, saying that the political and economic risks had become too great. Full story ST 18 Jan 2007.

Note, Siemens built the gas chambers for Germany's concentration camps during WWII. For that reason, I've never purchased anything by Siemens.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Citizens' movement influences Darfur (Nicholas Kristof)

Nicholas Kristof op-ed (via Sun Jan 18/2007) Citizens' movement influences Darfur) - excerpt:
Let's have no illusions about how much pressure will be necessary to stop the slaughter, but let's also celebrate this moment. Bashir has blinked, showing that it just may be possible to fight genocide with moral courage and lawn signs.

Inquiry into 'lost' Sudan funds (BBC Jonah Fisher)

Report by Jonah Fisher, BBC News, Khartoum (Via POTP) - excerpt:
The government of southern Sudan has launched an inquiry into what happened to $60m (£30.5m) it received in 2005.

A panel has been set up to trace the money President Omar al-Bashir said was given to former southern rebel group, the Sudan People's Liberation Movement.

Mr Bashir is accused of backing militias that still operate in the south.
As I recall, some news reports a few years ago suggested John Garang consciously spent much money on modernising his army, money intended for development.

UN warns Darfur's aid operation may collapse

Snippets from today's Reuters report on latest UN statement on Darfur - UN warns Darfur's aid operation may collapse:
"The humanitarian community cannot indefinitely assure the survival of the population in Darfur if insecurity continues," said the statement from 14 U.N. agencies working in Sudan.

Darfur humanitarian operation, employing almost 14,000 aid workers and costing more than $1 billion.

Foreign journalists have been banned from travelling to Darfur for the past two months to report on the situation.

Many aid groups refuse to travel with an AU escort in Darfur, saying the force itself has become a target for attacks and is unable to defend them.
Dangerous place Africa.

Pope Benedict XVI names new ambassador for Sudan

Sudan has over 40 million inhabitants, the majority Muslim; 12% of the population is Catholic. - ( via Sudan Tribune

Darfur NRF to reject AU mediation if Sudan accedes to African presidency

Sudan is to assume chair of AU by end of this month? Sudan Tribune publishes statement by NRF rebels threatening to reject AU mediation if Sudan accedes to African presidency. It seems to me what is going on in Darfur is a long drawn out attempted coup. Some days I think IDPs may as well just stand up and start walking, forget about Sudan, settle elsewhere and get on with life.

Sunday, January 14, 2007

UN Pronk says harrassment of UNMIS has intensified

From Jan Pronk Weblog January 14, 2007:
In November and December the position of the Government of Sudan has become stronger. The Security Council has failed to address violations of earlier agreements concerning peace in Darfur. On the contrary, the Government has been accommodated in order to get some concessions. These will not result in a change of the situation on the ground. [edit]

Harassment of the UN Mission in Sudan has intensified during the last two months. Sudanese authorities can easily resort to such harassment, because they have not been challenged by UN Headquarters in New York, nor by the Security Council or by Governments of Member States. Some weeks ago one of our officials went to see the authorities in Darfur in order to raise a number of violations of human rights. The answer was exemplary for the self-confidence of those who have chosen to disregard any form of criticism: "You better shut up. We can always expel you, as we have proven".
Full story.

Darfur: A tragedy without end (Eric Reeves)

Excerpt from a comment by khartoumi published at Guardian's Comment is free/Eric Reeves' A tragedy without end:
(2) Sudan Tribune is an exile oppositionist on-line journal (based in Paris), who as such have no qualms about reporting materials unfavourable to the regime in Khartoum.

(5) It will certainly come as a surprise to the Libyan and Egyptian peoples that because they happen to speak Arabic, that a careful expert on affairs Arab and African happens to believe that they are, after all, Arabs.

(8) My wife happens to come from the West of Sudan, with relatives in Darfur itself.

(9) I am resident in Sudan. Neither Eric, nor you, as far as I am aware is so well placed to comment on affairs Sudanese.
Also, excerpt from comment by @MsWoman and @Helen01
As PapaKarl points out, Eric Reeves is a very questionable source. For instance, I find his gaff about the political composition of the Sudanese government very revealing. If anyone should know that the at-Turabi Islamic Front are *not* the government of Sudan, it is Professor Reeves. If he does not, then he is to be discounted. If he does, then he is being maliciously deceptive.

Sudan qualifies for debt relief but no relief has come - Bank of Sudan chief sees 2007 growth up to 13 pct

As from Wednesday the Sudanese pound will begin to replace the dinar, at a rate of 1 pound to 100 dinar. Therefore, $1 = 201 Sudanese dinar = approx 2 Sudanese pounds. See Reuters report Jan 10 2007 via ST - and this excerpt about Sudan being denied debt relief:
The governor said a huge drawback to Sudan's growth was the external debt of around $27 billion.

Sudan has met all the IMF and World Bank requirements to qualify for debt relief as many developing countries have, but for political reasons no relief has come.

Almost 50 percent of Sudan's external debt is accumulated interest or penalties and 90-95 percent of it is overdue.

Ongoing violence in Sudan's western Darfur region and U.S. sanctions are seen as reasons why it has not been given debt relief.

"The debt size is actually depriving us from getting access to international financial markets ... we are completely deprived of any concessional resources ...either bilateral or from multilateral development institutions," Hassan said. ($1 - 201 Sudanese dinar)
If, like other countries, Sudan qualifies for debt relief, it ought to receive what is fair. I might have scoffed at that a few years ago but not now, not since I saw SLM-Nur walking away from Darfur's Peace Agreement.

200 die in Darfur during week of intertribal battles

Jan 13 2007 AP report (via WP) by Mohamed Osman, tells us:
More than 200 people have died in clashes between ethnic African farmers and nomadic Arabs in South Darfur in the past week, leading the Sudanese government to send emissaries to try to reconcile the tribes involved, officials said Saturday.
Is this true? That the clashes are between Africans and Arabs? I'm still not understanding. In my eyes, they are all Sudanese, fighting their own people.

Saturday, January 13, 2007

Creation of a new rebel group in Darfur, Great Sudan Liberation Movement (GSLM)

Slippery eels. A new Darfur rebel group has been announced last week by a breakaway faction of SLM - Minni Minawi group who signed the Darfur Peace Agreement (DPA) on 5 May 2006. See first statement of the Great Suydan Liberation Movement.

JEM has not agreed to 60-day Darfur truce

You'd think journalists would check their facts before printing stories, ie phone JEM to ask if they've agreed a 60 day ceasefire before publishing reports based on a press release. Thanks to an anonymous reader for sharing link to JEM statement 12/1/07 Darfur rebel JEM denies 60-day truce with Sudanese government, via ST. Here is no surprise, excerpt from the statement:
The Meeting has never discussed the Movements entering into a 60-day truce at all. However, Mr. Richardson informed us that he had convinced President Albasheer to accept such a ceasefire. For our part, we restricted our commitment to N'djamena Protocol and have never debated the 60-day agreement.
The above JEM is a breakaway faction of Ibrahim's JEM that joined Darfur's NRF rebel group.
- - -

Excerpt from commentary at World War 4 Report - Darfur: JEM denies ceasefire:
Big news is that New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson has brokered a ceasefire in Darfur. The small news is that no, he really didn't. And maybe, contrary to media portrayals, the JEM is correct not to take the bait, given that previous "ceasefires" have only co-opted Darfur's guerilla resistance into instruments of the Sudan regime's ethnic cleansing.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Sudan, Darfur rebels agree 60-day ceasefire (Reuters)

Today's Reuters report by Opheera McDoom - excerpt:
Richardson said that while no agreement had been reached yet to let in U.N. fighting troops, Bashir was not as hardline in the latest discussions as he had been last year.

"I note flexibility in his position," he said. "When I first was here five months ago he was dead set against any U.N. troops. Now there's some flexibility as ... there are technical U.N. blue-helmeted troops that will be permitted." "Not fighting troops ... but it is progress," he said.

Bashir wrote to former U.N. chief Kofi Annan in December saying he had agreed to a 'hybrid operation' in Darfur, softening his position and allowing U.N. personnel to support the AU mission.
Richardson said details of a "third phase" of that hybrid operation were still unclear. Annan described it as a hybrid AU-U.N. force deploying up to 10,000 U.N. peacekeepers, but Khartoum insists it is just giving stronger support to the AU.

"Phase three is something that is still being negotiated or there are still details to be worked out," Richardson said. But the political process to maintain a ceasefire is more important, he added. "You can't keep a peace without a peace."

Bill Richardson gets commitment for 60-day cease-fire in Darfur?

Hope this is true. Via (CFD has link to longer PDF version)
Press release, Governor's Office - January 10, 2007 - The Governor's office released the following statement a few moments ago:

New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson Gets Commitment for 60-Day Cease-Fire in Darfur Region of Sudan

KHARTOUM, SUDAN - New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson today announced that he has secured a commitment from Sudanese President Omer Hassan Al Bashir to agree to a 60-day cessation of hostilities in the Darfur region to allow for a new political process under the Darfur Peace Agreement and the auspices of the African Union and the United Nations. Governor Richardson also spoke this week with rebel leaders who said they would agree to a cease-fire. If all parties follow through with the cease-fire, the A.U. and the U.N. will convene a Peace Summit on March 15 under the framework of the peace agreement.

Governor Richardson also secured the following commitments from President Al Bashir:

- Agreed not to have the National military aircraft painted in white markings normally reserved for international organizations.
- Agreed that government forces would attempt to improve security conditions in all areas of Darfur with special emphasis on El Geneina, and would provide protection to food and other humanitarian convoys.
- Agreed to expedite procedures for entry visas for all humanitarian aid workers as well as goods. He also agreed to terminate the requirement of exit visas for humanitarian aid workers.
- Agreed to allow and facilitate travel by journalists from all over the world to Darfur.
- Governor Richardson and President Al Bashir reiterated that gender-based violence and such crimes must be condemned and prosecuted regardless of which party or organization was responsible. President Bashir said he would welcome a significant contribution of female members to the AU/UN hybrid operations. In addition the Justice Minister offered analyze and extend existing efforts to support Sudanese women against all gender-based violence.
A word of caution noted at Stephen W. Terrell's Web Log. Today's related reports at POTP Jan 10 2007 (sorry permalink still not working at the site).

Sudan's Bashir: "All we need is funding for the African troops"

Sudan's president says UN forces not needed in Darfur (Jan 10 2007 AP report by Nedra Pickler via G&M) excerpt:
Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir said Wednesday that African Union forces can maintain order in Darfur and United Nations forces are not needed.

"Our experience with UN operations in the world is not encouraging," Mr. al-Bashir told an Associated Press reporter Wednesday at his residence.

"There are sufficient forces in the Sudan from African countries to maintain order and they can provide order. All we need is funding for the African troops."

Mr. al-Bashir has resisted intense international pressure to allow UN peacekeepers to help bring stability to the region.

His latest comments came at the end of a meeting with New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson.

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

US launches air strike in Somalia

Somalia's interim Deputy Prime Minister Hussein Aideed said the US 'have our full support for the attacks', the Associated Press news agency reported. - Full story by BBC 9 Jan 2007: US launches air strike in Somalia.

Monday, January 08, 2007

NGOs targeted - Aid workers beaten, raped in SLA controlled Gereida, S Darfur

Action Contre la Faim (Action Against Hunger) said Friday its 23 employees were among the 71 NGO personnel evacuated after the attack, which occurred in Gereida, in southern Darfur, on the night of December 18.

ACF said "NGOs were clearly targeted", but did not identify the assailants. The area is controlled by the rebel Sudan Liberation Army.

Full story by AFP 5 Jan 2007 via ST.

Save Darfur Coalition arranges for U.S. Governor (Democrats) Bill Richardson to fly via private jet to Sudan

Interesting. I wonder how much this trip cost. Save Darfur Coalition strikes me as a political group. Copy of AP report via Sudan Tribune - Bleak assessment of Darfur as Richardson starts mission:
Jan 7, 2007 (KHARTOUM) - Governor Bill Richardson got a bleak assessment of the deteriorating situation in Darfur as he arrived in the Sudanese capital Sunday, hoping to lay the groundwork for peace in the region.

On a 17-hour overnight flight, the former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations worked on a plan to broker a ceasefire, continue the flow of humanitarian aide and persuade Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir to allow U.N. peacekeepers.

On arrival, Cameron Hume, the top U.S. diplomat in Sudan, laid out Richardson's challenge. "I don't think anybody's strategy is working," Hume told Richardson at the airport.

The Democrat from the U.S. state of New Mexico, a few advisers and officials with humanitarian groups flew aboard a private jet for the trip arranged by the Save Darfur Coalition. The group asked for Richardson's help in trying to improve the situation in Darfur because he has negotiated successfully with al-Bashir in the past.

Richardson planned to meet with the president on Monday, then fly to Darfur on Tuesday to see rebel leaders.

"I'm not discouraged," Richardson said after the briefing from Hume. "I think we make some measurable progress if we can help the ceasefire and the humanitarian situation and possibly start a united political process that helps the U.N. peacekeeping effort alive."

Hume explained at his hour-long briefing that violence is on the rise in Darfur, making it more difficult for humanitarian groups to travel and distribute aid. He said there have been occasions of rebel groups attacking humanitarian offices, stealing their vehicles and assaulting workers.

Hume said African Union troops that are supposed to be providing protection have slowed patrols, meaning it is more critical that U.N. forces get in the region. So far, al-Bashir has allowed only 20 civilians to be sent in for assistance.

Asked why al-Bashir has permitted the visit of Richardson and activists who have criticized his government, Hume smiled. "Well, first of all he likes the governor," he said. "I think it also has a fact to do with elections in the United States, looking beyond the Bush administration. I don't think they feel threatened by the delegation."

Richardson plans to announce soon whether he will run for the Democratic presidential nomination in 2008. The trip to Sudan helps highlight Richardson's extensive international experience as he prepares for a possible run in a competitive field.

Sunday, January 07, 2007

Sudan orders air strikes on Darfur before arrival of UN peacekeepers

Sunday Telegraph report by Jonathan Erasmus in Darfur, 7 Jan 2007. Excerpt:
In October, The Sunday Telegraph witnessed Sudanese soldiers loading bombs on to Antonov aircraft at El Fasher air base in North Darfur before a number of villages were attacked.

Last week, new arrivals at the Otash camp in the South Darfur capital, Nyala, said they were forced to flee their villages when government helicopter gunships opened fire on them.

Under the Darfur Peace Agreement (DPA) signed in Abuja, Nigeria, last May, Sudan had agreed not to carry out aerial attacks in Darfur. But rebel groups say Sudanese Antonov bombers have been conducting raids on Jebel Marra and the North Darfur regions of Anka, Um Rai and Kutum.

A senior Sudanese Liberation Army commander told The Sunday Telegraph: "We were prepared to adopt a ceasefire. Just two days later our positions were bombed by the government.

"These kind of attacks are what we have come to expect from Khartoum, they are doing what they can before the UN arrives."

Escalations in fighting and government aerial attacks often happen when new peace agreements or resolutions are signed.

"When a deadline is set for there to be a change in what is happening in Darfur, the number of attacks on villages and towns increases along with clashes between rebel groups and the government," said one aid worker.

"With the latest resolution, it now looks imminent that UN troops will be on the ground here. But every time there has been any progress in terms of peace agreements, you can be sure that factions of rebel groups and the government will do what they can to secure territories for their own and weaken the other side."

UN aid organisations in Darfur say they have been told that Sudan has also said that there must be no senior UN officials in the region, only junior officials who would act under orders from the AU.

UN officials in Darfur say they have not been told when they will be seeing the blue berets of the UN troops but only that the troops that come are likely to be made up of soldiers from African nations.

One UN official added: "The implementation of the latest resolution will prove challenging, with AU commanders in certain regions of Darfur not wanting to concede that they need support from the incoming UN troops."

In the meantime, Sudanese forces are using the interim period to attack the territories held by rebels who have not signed up to the DPA and are therefore legitimate targets.

Darfur rebels say Sudan govt is oppressing black Africans in favour of Arabs

BBC news report Jan 5 2007 - UN in new peace drive for Darfur - excerpt:
The Darfur conflict began in 2003 after a rebel group began attacking government targets, saying the region was being neglected by Khartoum.

The rebels say the government is oppressing black Africans in favour of Arabs.

Arab militias responded to try to put down the uprising. The government denies accusations from the rebels it is backing the militias.
I wonder about the above title, if it is the insurgents responsible for creating the myth of Arabs v Africans in Darfur.

As I recall, some of Eric Reeves' old essays on Southern Sudan's recent war were peppered with the word 'genocide'. My point is, trying to understand whether what the media is telling us - that the aim of Arabs in Sudan is to wipe out Africans in Darfur - and why they aren't all just classed as Sudanese.

I don't know if every Sudanese person is officially registered at birth and death. Sudan is huge, the size of Europe. It's bound to have a national identity problem with so many different tribes, languages, customs, dialects. Around 75% of Sudanese are illiterate. I'm not surprised it continues to be ruled by a stick. When I watch film re-enactments of battles in ancient China and the bloodshed there thousands of years ago, I'm not surprised Sudan understands China. We're told world population growth is too great, that 6 billion people on this planet is two thirds too many. Maybe I'm reaching the conclusion that wars and genocide are a natural course of life and evolution.

Saturday, January 06, 2007

Megite is One of "The new 100 most useful sites"

Check out Megite, one of The new 100 most useful sites recommended by Guardian Unlimited. See Megite Blog.

Lakes States governor details plan to quell insecurity

Via Sudan Tribune - speech of Lakes State Governor on the Cultural Awareness Week under the auspices of ministry of Information and Culture Lakes State - excerpt:
"...with the introduction of my security measures and tours all over the state from mid September through November, there is relative peace and tranquillity realized now.

Since October there are no cases of sectional or tribal fights and cold blood killings reported.

People are now moving freely in greater Yirol and other parts of the State without fear and hostilities.

My strategies and efforts of quell the insecurity in the State is through well studied systematic approach in four stages.

These stages are as follows:

1- Law and Order: in this stage we are imposing disarmament and arresting culprits to face charges and investigations.

2- Application of Justice: in this stage the criminals and all accused persons must face justice in fair trials in the courts of law.

3- Public Reconciliations: in this stage the state Government will involve churches, leaders of the communities and all stakeholders in process of healing and harmony.

4- Sustainability of Peace through Development: in this stage we will encourage both public and private sectors in the development of our state; which will in turn provide the employment to our people and hence keep them out of the troubles.


In the area of water and pasture which attract serious competition and conflicts among our communities during the dry season, we have a pledge from government of South Sudan (GOSS) to excavate and deepen some of our rivers and Lakes. The work will start very soon with their two rivers; Bahr-Naam and Bahr-Gel. It is also in our agenda to create water reservoirs (Haffir) and more hand pumps to provide water for both human and animals.

Africa: castrating Africa

Africans are having too many children they can't pay for - Pascal Sevran Told Apologise or Quit

Via Global Voices -� Africa: castrating Africa - Jan 4, 2007, filed under the sub heading of Sub-Saharan Africa/Racism:
Sotho writes a short, but thought provoking piece titled, Castrating Africa: Pascal Sevran is a French TV host. In his latest book, "Le Privilege des Jonquilles," he says, "The black man's dick is responsible for hunger in Africa."
Note how we all see things differently. I'd have filed that item not under the sub heading of Racism but something else, ie War & Conflict/Ideas/Freedom of Speech.

UN reports tribal clashes in Darfur, 7 Killed and 30 Wounded

Jan 4 2007 AP news report (via ST) - excerpt:
UN reports tribal clashes in Darfur, 7 Killed and 30 Wounded:

AU peacekeepers are still being held hostage since their car was hijacked in December, as are five Sudanese water engineers seized in October.

Some 118 vehicles were stolen in Darfur in 2006, of which 28 were recovered and 90 are still missing, the U.N. said.
I wonder how and where the bandits buy fuel for the missing 90 vehicles. Don't recall seeing any photos of petrol stations in Darfur.

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Africa deserves the leadership it gets

Excerpt from Joshua Wanyama's commentary at his new website African Path 20 Dec 2006:
"... it took Kenyans since 1963 to 1992 to vote for a president. 40 years! And to think that we grew up in schools learning our country's history and civics convinced that we live in a democratic country. How can a people be led so blindly? The ones who saw this injustice were silenced while everyone else suffered in silence. Therefore we deserved the leadership we got.

Most African countries gained independence and our grateful masses entrusted absolute powers to the leaders who fought to free us from oppression and colonization. Now this does not mean the leaders we got actually fought, all it means was that some were at the right place at the right time. Kenyatta was a freedom fighter as were others but once they got power, their true colors came out. The famous George Orwell book "Animal Farm" comes to mind every time I think of African leadership. "All animals are equal, but some who are more equal than others."

After all, This is Africa."
Joshua Wanyama is a Kenyan currently in Minneapolis. He has set up a news and blog aggregator site for Africa starting Jan 1st, 2007 called African Path - and has developed a similar model for the Middle East at that went live on 9/25/06. Best wishes and good luck to all involved!

U.S. CENTCOM's Media Engagement Team For the Media - Rewards for Justice

Check it out: U.S. CENTCOM's Media Engagement Team - For the Media.

**Shiver** Browsing around CENTCOM's site, I found a link to a creepy site called Rewards For Justice.

Libya to build statue of Saddam

Jan 4 2007 BBC report excerpt:
Saddam Hussein was president of Iraq from 1979 until 2003.

Libya has said it will build a statue of former Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein, executed in Baghdad on Saturday. It would show him standing on the gallows with a Libyan resistance leader who fought Italian occupation, executed in 1931, Libya's Jana news agency said.

Libya declared three days of mourning after Saddam Hussein's death and cancelled public celebrations around the Eid religious holiday.

On the eve of the hanging, Libyan leader Col Muammar Gaddafi said Saddam Hussein was a prisoner of war who must be tried by Iraq's invaders, the US and Britain, according to Reuters news agency.

Flags on Libyan government buildings flew at half-mast following his death.
[hat tip - news and commentary on the Middle East]

All of our children are precious...

A Canadian blogger wants to send toys to poor children in Sudan. I'd like to chip in and send them some art materials, water engineers and world class land rights lawyers.

British diplomat gets top UN job

Good. Sir John Holmes will replace Norway's Jan Egeland as under-secretary-general for political affairs and emergency relief co-ordinator.

Full story icWales 4 Jan 2007.

PS If anyone finds news on what is happening with Norway's NRC and Darfur's Kalma camp, please share - thanks.

UN removes 4 peacekeepers from Sudan after abuse

Fact of life, a barrel of good apples can contain a few rotters. AP report via ST:
U.N. Assistant Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Jane Holl Lute said Tuesday night that the allegations could be true, but "these environments are ones in which it is difficult to ascertain the truth."

She said she has personally spoken to the force commander and chief of staff in the U.N. mission in southern Sudan "and I know they are very well briefed on what U.N. policy is and have taken steps to implement that policy across the board in that mission."

"But we don't have the facts yet in this case, and we need to ascertain the facts and follow it through to appropriate resolution and take action if necessary," she said.

Lute, who served in the U.S. Army for 16 years, said vigilance on this matter has to be "a constant factor of life when you're rotating through 200,000 troops in as diverse environments as we do."

Candace Feit's photography exhibit examines Darfur

Senegal-based photojournalist Candace Feit, whose work has been featured in Time, The New York Times and Le Monde, will exhibit photos of Darfur, Sudan, as well as photos that show life in other parts of Africa.

Via PoughkeepsieJournal 3 Jan 2007

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Job opportunity: Genocide Intervention Network

Genocide Intervention Network is seeking a Chief Operating Officer. The job description can be found via Pienso.

SLM Nur's latest Mission Statement

Today, the Sudan Tribune published copy of 2 Jan 2007 Mission Statement by Abdul Wahid Mohamed Ahmed Alnour. Note, in the statement, Mr Nur refers to his group of bandits as "an independent political movement." Also, he signed the statement as Chairman of the SLM/A even though he was, reportedly, impeached last year.

I've lost track of how many "independent political movements" freely roam Sudan, carrying mortars and guns with which to murder and maim fellow citizens. Getting to the truth about Sudan's bandits and other mysterious forces - and people like Nur - is like trying to nail down mercury.

From what I can gather, we know very little about the ringleaders in the Darfur war and nothing about how (and why) they manage to operate so easily from Europe. I find it strange they don't appear to be subjected to the same travel/immigration rules as the rest of us. I wonder what they declare as their occupation and funding when completing visitor Visa forms.

UN Council has five new members; Russia chairs

The council presidency rotates monthly, according to the English alphabet, with Russian Ambassador Vitaly Churkin, taking over for January from Qatari Nassir Abdulaziz al-Nasser. - Reuters 3 Jan 2007.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

UN Ban Ki Moon's in-tray

Today, Harvard educated Ban Ki Moon (former South Korean Foreign Minister) takes over as UN chief. Excerpt from today's Times report by James Bone in New York:

Control nuclear proliferation in North Korea and Iran
Stop the bloodshed in Darfur region of Sudan
Renew Israeli-Palestinian peace process
Prepare Iraq and Afghanistan for democratic civilian governments
Co-ordinate global responses to climate change, the spread of Aids and Third World poverty
Restore trust in UN after Oil-for-Food scandal
Retain American backing while reaching out to all member states
Find consensus for an expanded Security Council which reflects the 21st century but appeases the current permanent members

Virtual Darfur event in Second Life

An event in Second Life is being held at The Infinite Mind virtual broadcast center, and will be simultaneously broadcast in two other locations in Second Life: Camp Darfur, and Global Kids, on the Second Life teen grid.

The virtual "Our Walls Bear Witness - Darfur: Who Will Survive Today?" photography exhibit will be open in Second Life until January 31, 2007.

Darfur, Western Sudan

Photo from Darfur via U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum mixed-media event to be featured as part of virtual reality program

Source: FUTURE-MAKING SERIOUS GAMES: Serious Games Event At The Infinite Mind Virtual Broadcast Center blog entry 1 Jan 2007

New film/blog: Christmas In Darfur

Christmas In Darfur: A Blog

Monday, January 01, 2007

World Day of Peace marked in Dublin

Today is World Day of Peace - the Irish Examiner reported:
The theme for the 40th celebration of the World Day of Peace is The Human Person, the Heart of Peace.

"We in Ireland share fully this ideal and this focus," he [PM Bertie Ahern] said. "In our Constitution, we as a nation affirm our devotion to the ideal of peace and friendly cooperation between nations founded on international justice and morality.

"We recognise that the dignity and freedom of our people are preserved by our Constitution's protection of their fundamental rights."

Mr Ahern said that through more than 25 years of recent conflict on the island of Ireland, we have remained focused on pursuing its peaceful resolution.

"We believed that the problem of Northern Ireland could only be resolved through consent, the pursuit of equality and human rights, the rule of law, and dialogue involving all the parties to the conflict," he continued.

"Our experience on this island has shown that a just and lasting peace is built over time, sometimes slowly, but always with patience and determination.

"In Northern Ireland I am hopeful that this work of construction is nearing completion.

"Its capstone is support on the one hand for power-sharing and on the other hand for policing and the rule of law.

"Once these elements are in place, as I hope they will be very soon, we will see the real benefits that devolved Government can bring to all in the community."

Irrigation and development of Sudan's rich resources could solve intertribal fighting?

Listen up Reuters et al. Excerpt from Workers World by Sara Flounders (via Sudan Vision June 4 2006 - The U.S. role in Darfur, Sudan):
The U.S. corporate media is unanimous in simplistically describing the crisis in Darfur as atrocities committed by the Jan jawid militias, supported by the central government in Khartoum. This is described as an "Arab" assault on "African" people. This is a total distortion of reality.

As the Black Commentator, Oct. 27, 2004, points out: "All parties involved in the Darfur conflict - whether they are referred to as 'Arab' or as 'African,' are equally indigenous and equally Black. All are Muslim and all are local." The whole population of Darfur speaks Arabic, along with many local dialects. All are Sunni Muslim.

Drought, famine and sanctions

The crisis in Darfur is rooted in intertribal fighting. A desperate struggle has developed over increasingly scarce water and grazing rights in a vast area of Northern Africa that has been hit hard by years of drought and growing famine. Darfur has over 35 tribes and ethnic groups. About half the people are small subsistence farmers, the other half nomadic herders. For hundreds of years the nomadic population grazed their herds of cattle and camels over hundreds of miles of grassy lowlands. Farmers and herders shared wells. For over 5,000 years, this fertile land sustained civilizations in both western Dar fur and to the east, all along the Nile River. Now, due to the drought and the encroaching great Sahara Desert, there isn't enough grazing land or enough farmland in what could be the breadbasket of Africa.

Irrigation and development of Sudan's rich resources could solve many of these problems. U.S. sanctions and military intervention will solve none of them.

January 6th, date for effecting DPA security arrangements

Dec 28 2006 Sudan Vision news report by Al Sammani Awadallah:
January 6th, Date for Effecting DPA Security Arrangements

The Government of Sudan, the movements that signed the Darfur Peace Agreement (DPA) and the movements that expressed their commitment to the agreement have agreed that the military movements to be merged into one movement to facilitate the implementation of the security arrangements on the ground in three phases.

The manager of the Armed Forces spokesperson office Lt. Colonel Alswarmi Khalid stated in a press conference, yesterday, that starting from the coming 6 of January the sights of these movements in Darfur will be visited to register the forces to prepare for the merge. Alswarmi stated that the forces would be classified in the period from 13 to 20 of January to be merged in the armed forces according to the regulations. Alswarmi confirmed the commitment of the armed forces with the implementation of the resolutions of the three formed committees.

The chairperson of Power Committee Mr. Mohamed Yousif noted to the steps taken in the implementation of the power file confirming that the government cannot intervene in this regards because the issue has been left for the signatory movements.

On his part the Chairman of Wealth Committee Alfatih Mohamed Saeed stated that 200 million $ has been allocated in the budget of 2007 for the rehabilitation of Darfur beside 30 million $ for the compensations. He added that the committee of defining the basic needs, which will be submitted to the donors' conference in Holland, next April, has finished great part of its task.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesman Ambassador Ali Alsadig stated that the contacts between the United Nations Secretary General and President Al Bashir has concentrated on the implementations of the UN support packages to the African Union forces operating in Darfur . Alsadig revealed that foreign military experts would provide technical and logistical support to AU.

Sudan's literacy rate = 20% to 27%

Sudan's national or official language: Standard Arabic.

Literacy rate: 20% to 27%

Blind population: 110,000

Deaf institutions: 1.

The number of languages listed for Sudan is 142. Of those, 134 are living languages and 8 are extinct.

Source: Ethnologue report for Sudan