Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Darfur peacekeeper killed in attack on UNAMID by armed men in El Geneina

UNAMID is appealing to the Sudanese authorities to speedily investigate this wanton incident to bring the perpetrators to justice.

Source:  EL FASHER (DARFUR), Sudan, September 29, 2009/APO:
DARFUR / UNAMID condemns attack on convoy causing death of peacekeeper

The African Union-United Nations Mission in Darfur (UNAMID) strongly condemns the attack on a convoy carrying UNAMID civilian and military personnel by six to eight armed men in El Geneina on the evening of Monday 28 September at around 1845 hours that caused the death of one peacekeeper. The incident took place on the road from UNAMID super camp in El Geneina and the city.

According to initial reports, the men opened fire without warning on the convoy, which comprised 3 vehicles, and stole one of the vehicles. 
Three military personnel were injured and taken to the El Genenia hospital, and subsequently evacuated by helicopter to the UNAMID hospital in Nyala, more than 300 kilometres from El Geneina. One of the peacekeepers succumbed to his injuries shortly afterwards. 
A total of 5 UNAMID national and international civilian staff members, 2 non-UNAMID personnel, 13 military troops and 4 military police were involved in the incident.

The Mission is appealing to the Sudanese authorities to speedily investigate this wanton incident to bring the perpetrators to justice.

UNAMID emphasizes that peacekeepers are in Darfur to assist in restoring peace and stability to the region. Any attack on peacekeepers is an attack on peace itself. Targetting UN personnel can potentially have negative consequences for the peace process.

Since the inception of UNAMID in January 2008, fourteen military personnel and three civilian police have been killed as a result of hostile attacks.

SOURCE: United Nations – African Union Mission in Darfur (UNAMID)

Sudanese Presidential Advisor, Mustafa Osman Ismail, says there are Zionist trends behind aggravation of Darfur crisis

The AU Committee on Cooperation, International Relations and Conflict Resolutions held a meeting in Khartoum Monday, September 28, with the participation of representatives from 25 African countries.

Sudanese Presidential Advisor, Mustafa Osman Ismail, briefed the members of the AU committee of the root-causes of the Darfur crisis, saying that "it was a simple clash between the farmers and herdsmen before transforming to a political conflict due to other factors."

Ismail also accused Israel of being behind aggravation and continuation of the Darfur crisis, saying "a group of Darfurians have recently admitted that they have provided the International Criminal Court (ICC) with false evidences, which support our assurances that there are Zionist trends behind aggravation of the Darfur crisis and undermining of the stability in the region."

Source:  (Xinhua) KHARTOUM, Sudan, Sept. 29, 2009.  Copy in full:
Sudan accuses some neighbors of intervention in Darfur crisis
The Sudanese government on Tuesday said interventions by some neighboring countries of Sudan aggravated the crisis in its western region of Darfur, which has been witnessing a civil war since 2003.

"The negative role of some neighboring countries which support the Darfur armed movements has negatively affected the peace process in the region," said Sudanese Presidential Advisor, Mustafa Osman Ismail, when meeting members of the African Union (AU) Committee on Cooperation, International Relations and Conflict Resolutions.

"The support provided by Chad to the Darfur armed movements has aggravated the Darfur crisis while the overlapping between the tribes in Darfur and Chad had its negative effect as to the movement of the armed movement," Ismail said.

He also criticized France for its stances towards the Darfur issue, saying that "the French stances towards Sudan are usually negative and one obvious is its hosting of the movements' leaders on its soil."

Ismail also accused Israel of being behind aggravation and continuation of the Darfur crisis, saying "a group of Darfurians have recently admitted that they have provided the International Criminal Court (ICC) with false evidences, which support our assurances that there are Zionist trends behind aggravation of the Darfur crisis and undermining of the stability in the region."

He said, "the report presented by the Joint Representative of the United Nations and African Union Mission in Darfur (UNAMID), Rudolph Adada, confirms the great security improvement in the humanitarian and security situations in the region."

Ismail briefed the members of the AU committee of the root-causes of the crisis, saying that "it was a simple clash between the farmers and herdsmen before transforming to a political conflict due to other factors."

The AU Committee on Cooperation, International Relations and Conflict Resolutions held a meeting in Khartoum Monday with the participation of representatives from 25 African countries.

The meeting discussed the Darfur crisis, including developments on the ground and the size of humanitarian assistance needed for the internally displaced persons. Editor: Fang Yang

IBM Sponsors Africa Virtual Job Fair 2009

Web-based Job Fair Supports IBM’s Expanding Operations across Africa:
Job seekers worldwide, from experienced professionals to recent graduates, will have access to employment opportunities available from U.S. and other foreign corporations doing business in Africa, development organizations, multinational, and international organizations.

The Web-based job fair will enable prospective employees to search the job listings online, submit CVs/resumes, attend networking events, obtain career advisory services, and participate in interviews, all at no cost, from their home or office.
Source: SILVER SPRING, Maryland, September 28 /PRNewswire.  Copy:
IBM Sponsors Africa Virtual Job Fair 2009
Zebrajobs announced today that IBM, a global leader in information technology, is the lead sponsor of the first Africa Virtual Job Fair (AVJF) organized by Zebrajobs.com and the Corporate Council on Africa. The Africa Virtual Job Fair is the leading online platform connecting employers with professionals to interact on wide-ranging career and employment opportunities within the African continent.

As a title sponsor, IBM will be at the forefront of this innovative recruitment method. The Africa Virtual Job Fair, scheduled to open on September 30, 2009, will provide corporations and organizations with tremendous advantages over traditional recruitment efforts. The AVJF will allow employers to tap into the global talent pool to support their operations in Africa.

“Our vision behind the launch of this first-ever virtual job fair is focused on meeting multiple goals,” explained Yusuf Reja, Chief Executive Officer of Zebrajobs.com. “We are committed to maintaining a climate that encourages U.S. and other foreign corporations and organizations to do business in Africa. Critical to this effort is having a talent base from which they can staff their operations.”

IBM has been operating in Africa for nearly six decades investing more than US$120 million in the last two years, as part of its strategy of focusing in the world’s growth markets. IBM spearheaded the Virtual Job Fair as a continuation of its commitment to capacity building in Africa. Through investment in human resources development, IBM is well positioned to help create a smarter African economy to compete in the global market place.

Job seekers worldwide, from experienced professionals to recent graduates, will have access to employment opportunities available from U.S. and other foreign corporations doing business in Africa, development organizations, multinational, and international organizations. The Web-based job fair will enable prospective employees to search the job listings online, submit CVs/resumes, attend networking events, obtain career advisory services, and participate in interviews, all at no cost, from their home or office.

The AVJF has been officially inaugurated on Thursday, May 14, 2009 at a kickoff reception held at Washington Club, Washington DC in the presence of representatives from U.S. corporations, international organizations, the donor community, and African diplomatic mission. Co-hosting the event were Jendayi Frazer, Former U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs and Her Excellency Amina Salum Ali, the African Union Ambassador to the United States.

About IBM

IBM is a leader in the creation, development and manufacture of the industry’s most advanced information technologies, including computer systems, software, networking systems, storage devices and microelectronics. The worldwide network of IBM solutions and services translates advanced technologies into business value for our customers. IBM is dedicated to every client’s success by creating innovation that matters for the world, valuing trust and personal responsibility in all relationships.

About Zebrajobs.com

Zebrajobs.com is the leading online job site for Africa officially launched on December 10, 2007. Zebrajobs.com offers a dynamic opportunity for employers in the public and private sectors, organizations, and other hiring entities as well as job seekers ranging in experience from seasoned professionals to graduating students to use Internet-based recruitment and career advisory services for their employment needs.

Zebrajobs.com is a joint venture initiative between a U.S.-based company – Danya International, Inc. – and Africa-based company – Info Mind Solutions.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Security situation in Darfur - Sep 28, 2009

Security situation in Darfur

The security situation in Darfur continues to be unpredictable
In the last 24 hours, UNAMID military forces conducted 93 patrols including routine, short and long range, night, humanitarian escort, and logistics and administration patrols in 53 villages and internally displaced persons (IDP) camps. UNAMID police advisors conducted 83 patrols in the villages and IDP camps.

UNAMID continues to appeal for release of abducted staff members
Today marks the thirty-first day of the abduction of two international civilian staff members of the AU-UN Mission in Darfur (UNAMID) who were taken at gunpoint by four or five armed men from their home in Zalingei, West Darfur, about 400 kilometres from El Fasher, to an unknown location. The incident occurred at about 4.30 in the morning on Saturday 29 August 2009.

While the Sudanese authorities continue to work for the release of the two staff members, UNAMID renews its appeal to their abductors for their immediate, safe and unconditional release.

Police Advisors conduct community policing workshop in Nyala
UNAMID Police Advisors over the weekend conducted a workshop for community policing volunteers in the Duma internally displaced persons (IDP) camp in Nyala, South Darfur. More than 97 volunteers participated, including the Sheikh of sheikhs and 27 women.

The workshop was held to broaden participants’ knowledge of community policing procedures and practices, particularly those relevant to issues of safety and security. They focused on topics associated with gender, rule of law and human rights, among others, while their awareness was raised on the work of state security agencies, including the Government of Sudan Police. The participants were reminded that as community policing volunteers, they would be mentors and role models for the camp’s residents, who would also look to them for guidance.

SOURCE: United Nations – African Union Mission in Darfur (UNAMID) EL FASHER (DARFUR), Sudan, September 28, 2009/African Press Organization (APO)/Darfur/UNAMID Daily Media Brief

AU vows to find political solution to Darfur conflict

From www.chinaview.cn,  Monday, 28 September 2009:
AU vows to find political solution to Darfur conflict
KHARTOUM, Sept. 28 (Xinhua) -- The African Union (AU) affirmed on Monday that it would press on with its endeavors to settle the Darfur conflict, which has been waging in the Sudanese western region since 2003, and end the suffering of the Darfur people.

"Today we are reviewing one of the most important issues in Africa, which is the Darfur conflict, and we hope we come out with a practical vision to reach a political settlement," said Chairperson of the AU Committee on Cooperation, International Relations, and Conflict Resolutions Juliana Sotti at the opening session of the Conference the Pan-African Committee on Cooperation, International Relations and Conflict Resolution.

He said "the committee seeks to discuss the Darfur issue, its causes and how to solve them prior to submission of recommendations to the coming African summit."

For his part, Chairperson of the Communication Office of the AU Office in Sudan Mahmud Kan praised the recent improvement in the security situation in Darfur, saying "the Darfur conflict should be resolved politically and not militarily."

He said the meetings would avail a good opportunity to reach understandings on the best possible means to end the Darfur conflict and that the AU would carry on its endeavors to narrow the differences between the parties.

The African official accused the Darfur armed movements of being obstinate and insistent in boycotting peaceful negotiations with the Sudanese government, saying "we, at the AU, believe that some movements were very persistent in refusing to sit to cooperate with the Sudanese government to end the suffering of the Darfur people."

He called on the Darfur armed movements to negotiate with the Sudanese government to reach a solution to the conflict.

"We want all African issues to be resolved within the African framework. This does not mean we reject initiatives by other countries. We should look on how to end the conflict. The Sudanese people must work together to resolve their issues," he said.

African Union Commissioner for Peace and Security, Ramtane Lamamra, and Sudanese Parliament Speaker Ahmed Ibrahim al-Taher, along with representatives from 25 African countries are attending the two-day conference.

Participants will discuss the latest development of the Darfur conflict and size of the humanitarian assistance needed for the internally displaced persons.

Editor: Fang Yang

Would it make sense for the oil wells in Southern Sudan to be connected to Uganda?

SO far 800 million barrels of oil have been confirmed in Uganda, with an estimated total value of $50b.   Ibrahim Kasita and Els De Temmerman interviewed Aidan Heavey, founder and chief executive officer of Tullow Oil, about the challenges and opportunities of the oil find for Uganda and East Africa.  Full story at Uganda Watch.  Excerpt:
Would it make sense for the oil wells in Southern Sudan to be connected to Uganda?

It might make sense if you had a central hub for distribution in Uganda and have other countries linked to that central hub. That would be a cost-effective way of doing it. It would be great to have the cooperation between all the countries in the region through a central hub. That is one option. That would require the various governments talking to each other and putting together a central hub. If that is the way the governments want to go, we will work with that.
See Wikipedia info on Lake Albert and map of rivers and lakes of Uganda.

Lou Nuer say armed civilians, not militia, attacked Dinka Duk in Jonglei, South Sudan

Report by Sudan Tribune, Saturday 26 September 2009:
Lou Nuer say no organized militia behind Jonglei’s attack
September 25, 2009 (JUBA) — The Lou Nuer Youth today denied that recent attack on Dinka Duk in Jonglei state had been carried out by organized militia saying armed civilians were behind it. They also accused the southern Sudan army of taking Dink’s side

Armed men from the Lou Nuer attacked the positions of southern Sudan army and police in the locality killing a significant number of regular troops in addition to the civilians. The attack has left over 160 people dead and more than 80 wounded according to the latest figure released by authorities in Juba on Friday.

Southern Sudan officials were alarmed by the escalation of violence in Jonglei. Following a visit to the affected area on Monday, the southern Sudan interior minister, Jonglei governor and UN coordinator for the semi-autonomous region agreed they attack had been directed to the government forces and institutions. They all also spoke about a structured and heavily armed militia.

In a strong statement released in Juba on Friday the Lou Nuer Youth Association (LNYA) which advocates the cause of the tribe, said the attack on Duk Padiet last Sunday had been carried by "ordinary civilians" in retaliation to previous attacks they suffered.

The tribal group condemned statements by southern Sudan officials who described the attackers as militia saying "the Greater Akobo is in full control of the SPLA forces and if there are militias in the area we believe their first attack would have been on the SPLA forces at Renk the way to Malakal."

They also said they had been preaching for southern Sudan unity and peaceful coexistence but warned they would now take the side of their tribe accusing the southern Sudan officials of favoring the Dinka ethnic group.

"This time we are going to write differently because the Jonglei State Government (JSG) and the Government of Southern Sudan (GOSS) have taken side with the Dinka Bor, and we also have right to take side with our community in whatever cost. "

The Lou Nuer association also said opposed to a probable decision to disarm them first in a disarmament campaign that the government plans to implement in the restive state of Jonglei.

"The LNYA would like to make it clear to the JSG and the GoSS under the 1st Lt. General Salva Kiir Mayardiit that if the Lou-Nuer is going to be disarmed first as we have heard then please expect a full resistance from our civilians."

The Lou Nuer had been attacked in the past by their neighbors in the past following after their disarmament in 2006. They accused Juba of retrieving their arms while Dinka and Murle tribes kept their weapons at hand.

The two latest attacks by Lou Nuer on Dinka ethnic group in Twic East and Duk Padiet pushed some southern Sudan officials to point blaming finger to their peace partner, National Congress Party and also speak about the emergence of organized militias supported by Khartoum.

On the other hand, there are people, particularly from Nuer ethnic group who say the causes of the surge of violence are local and can be explained by the control of land, water and pasturages as well as cattle. They also stress that the Lou Nuer attacks on Twic and Duk are retaliatory.

On Sunday’s attack on Duk County they say it was to revenge an attack on Lou Nuer around Poktap in January 2009 that had been carried out by armed men hailing from Holl and Nyarweng. They accuse the local authorities of mistreating them and speak about looting and killing of their people by the regular forces in the area.

To explain their attack on Twic East, another Dinka locality in Jonglei, where over 40 people were killed on August 28, they accuse the Twic of looting their cows after their disarmament in January 2006.

Lou Nuer Counties of Ayod, Uror and Nyirol signed a peace accord with Dinka of Greater Bor Counties of Duk and Twic East on May 14, 2009 at John Garang Institute of Science and Technology in Bor Town.

Village chiefs who attended the peace conference are also accused of catalyzing violence. Paramount chiefs complained during peace negotiation that Government failed to arrest chiefs who encourage conflicts.

May’s deal is the fourth signed between Lou Nuer and Jieng Bor (Dinka Bor) since the 1991 split which set Jonglei’s major tribes against each other. The other three dishonoured agreements already were made in 1994, 2004 and 2007 in Poktap, Duk County Headquarters.
Click into original report to view 50+ comments.

Sudan's Salah Gosh says "SPLA knows very well where Kony is"

Report by Sudan TribuneMonday 28 September 2009:
Sudan says Uganda LRA leader not in Darfur
(KHARTOUM) — The Sudanese government denied claims by the Sudan People Liberation Movement (SPLM) that the leader of Uganda Lord Resistance Army (LRA) Joseph Kony relocated to the western region of Darfur.

This week the SPLA spokesperson Kuol Deim Kuol said that Kony sneaked into Darfur coming from the Central African Republic (CAR) after the strikes made by Ugandan helicopters to his forces.

Kuol suggested that Kony is seeking protection from the Sudanese army and may be used to fight the Darfur rebels.

Salah Gosh, the adviser to the Sudanese president and former director of the National Intelligence and Security Services (NISS) said that the SPLA claim is untrue.

He said that the SPLA is resorting to “fabrications” and “political maneuvers” to “distort the image of the Sudanese army”.

“The SPLA knows very well where Kony is,” Gosh said.

Since the 90’s Khartoum reportedly armed, trained and gave military intelligence to the LRA to help it take on the Ugandan government and fight a proxy war against the SPLA.

Kony, in a video-taped meeting in 2005, described it as a mutually beneficial arrangement where “we helped the Arabs to fight their war in the south while they helped us to fight [Ugandan president] Musievini’s government”.

The LRA leader is wanted by the International Criminal Court (ICC) and a number of his commanders for crimes allegedly committed against civilians in North Uganda.

From September to March this year, the Ugandan and Congolese armies, with support from southern Sudan, carried out a massive offensive that failed to either capture Kony or neutralize his group.

Since then, peace talks have ground to a halt and LRA fighters have stepped up their attacks on civilians, in particular in eastern Central African Republic.

Friday, September 25, 2009

South Sudan: Kony's LRA heading towards Raja county from Western Equatoria on their way to Darfur?

Report by Sudan Radio Service, Friday, 25 September 2009:
LRA Reported in Western Bahr el-Ghazal
(Wau) – The Ugandan Lord’s Resistance Army is reported to be moving towards Raja county in Western Bahr el-Ghazal state.

The state governor, Mark Nyipouch, said on Thursday that the county had received information indicating that a group of LRA is heading towards Raja county from Western Equatoria on their way to Darfur.

He added that he would like to inform people in Wau to be alert and to cooperate with SPLA forces who are patrolling the areas to safeguard the lives of the civilians.

[Mark Nyipuoch]: “This is my message to all of you. As you know, the LRA are heading towards Raja county I would like to order our SPLA forces who are here to be vigilant and find out where they are and try to stop the rebels from doing what they did in the DRC and elsewhere. This is my command to our SPLA proper who are around here and in Raja county in order to open their eyes properly and protect our people there. I know that the JIUs are here in town to protect our civilians in town and also in Raja county but we need to be ready.”

About 20 civilians, who were traveling from Wau county to Raja county, reported on Thursday that their property was looted by unidentified armed men.

Last July, the wildlife department based in Raja county reported that two of their soldiers were killed and one sergeant was injured in an ambush as they were patrolling in Mangayat, 160 miles east of Wau.
Click on Western Equatoria label here below for related reports.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

The war in Darfur may be over, but that is not the end of Sudan’s troubles (Alex de Waal)

Quote of the Day"Save Darfur Coalition, with its campaign for Obama to "end the genocide", can handle only the atrocity story, not the politics of peace" -Alex de Waal, 24 September 2009

Source:  New Statesman
The politics of peace
By Alex de Waal
Published 24 September 2009
Copy in full (I have used red to highlight text for future reference):
The war in Darfur may be over, but that is not the end of Sudan's troubles
Darfur is no longer in intense conflict, despite what some American campaigners would like you to believe. The situation in that troubled region is in fact a sideshow to a much bigger event in Sudan, namely the referendum in the southern part of the country, tabled for January 2011, on whether Sudan will remain united.

Partitioning a state is a risky business, no where more so than Sudan. After 50 years of on-off civil war, the depth of distrust and animosity between northern and South Sudan is such that the great majority of southerners want to take their chance with independence. But with a host of unresolved issues, ranging from an undemarcated border to the millions of southern Sudanese resident in the north, it is likely that any split will be not just acrimonious, but disorderly and violent. Both sides have used the past four years - in effect a truce, not a true peace - to buy weapons and reorganise their respective armed forces.

Neighbouring countries are worried about a resurgent conflict involving the young, desperately fragile state of South Sudan and an embittered north, driven towards political Islam, in a war that drags in other nations along an Arab-black African fault line which threatens to split the continent. The US special envoy for Sudan, General Scott Gration, sees it as his task to avoid this disaster.

Before the current instability, southern Sudan was already in trouble partly of its own making, partly not. When a truce finally came with the comprehensive peace agreement of 2005, the region had experienced virtually no development in half a century and faced a legacy of destruction and division, much of it manipulated by successive governments in Khartoum. It also had the curse of oil - 90 per cent of the revenue of the autonomous government of South Sudan comes from petroleum.

Sharing in the oil bonanza was one reason that the rebels of the southern Sudan People's Liberation Movement were keen to sign the peace agreement, but the transformation from guerrillas to government has yet to be fully accomplished. Vast sums of oil income remain unaccounted for and last year's crash in oil prices cut the government's income by 70 per cent. The seizing up of the financial system led to salaries for more than 200,000 men on the army payroll being paid late or not at all, contributing in turn to an upsurge in banditry.

If a new north-south war starts, peace talks, international pressure for humanitarian aid and a new mandate for the UN peacekeepers in South Sudan will all be necessary. What is needed now is a political process that builds enough trust between sides for the northern and southern Sudanese to make common decisions about their future. Whether as one nation or two, they will still be neighbours.

Designer activists
There is not much time left to grapple with these huge challenges, but the conditions are propitious. The Darfur crisis in western Sudan, which has taken up so much time, energy and resources, is stabilising. After war broke out in 2003, rebel groups were defeated in a counter-insurgency in which tens of thousands of civilians were killed in the space of two years and which unleashed a humanitarian crisis. Now, however, armed conflict has subsided substantially. There is a huge legacy of displacement and destruction to overcome, but with the UN-African Union Mission in Darfur (Unamid) increasingly effective and most areas stable, the opportunities for progress are strong.

In August, General Martin Luther Agwai, the outgoing Unamid force commander, confirmed this when he said: "As of today, I would not say there is a war going on in Darfur." He continued: "If war is a conflict whereby today you attack and then go back home and stay [for] three, four, five months and come back . . . then there is a war in Darfur. But if that is not the definition, then there is no war as of now in Darfur . . . I think the real thing now is to speed up the political process."

Agwai is an experienced military officer with strong personal morality. He has served in Sierra Leone and Liberia, and rose to become chief of defence staff in the Nigerian army. He sees the file on every violent incident reported in Darfur, and his staff compile the numbers killed in violence in the still-troubled region. In July the figure was 40; in August it was 50. The numbers are probably an undercount, but by only a margin. Agwai's emphasis on the need for a political process fits with the movements of Sudan's civil society organisations and political parties, which are working to prise open the political space in advance of next year's general elections, the first multiparty contest since 1986. They welcome the decrease in violence - and the increase in their leverage - and have no illusions about their brutal government, seeing their best hope in step-by-step dismantling of its monopoly on power.

International campaigns, particularly in the US, claim that they want the same things as the Sudanese - peace and democracy. The Save Darfur Coalition and the Enough project, which calls for robust US action to end genocide, have built up a head of steam. At its best, this movement - which includes an extraordinary array of film stars, private philanthropists and a new breed of "designer activists" - provides awareness about wars and mass atrocities in faraway lands, but, at its worst, it can become a pulpit for latter-day philanthropic imperialism.

John Prendergast of Enough condemned Agwai's words: "The perception . . . that if it is not getting worse . . . it [must be] getting better is something that takes the wind out of the sails of international action." While the Unamid commander imagined peace negotiations in which the various Sudanese parties would sit around a table and make compromises, Prendergast wants a show of US power.

A more nuanced approach came from Donald Steinberg of the International Crisis Group, who feared that a statement of success might harm political support for Unamid: "We saw such difficulty in drawing up the mission . . . it's still not where it should be . . . Premature declarations from prominent officials might undermine existing political support for Unamid and other peacekeeping and aid efforts." This is an odd argument - that demonstrating the success of a peacekeeping mission undermines it. The implication of this is that there can be success only when "we" decide there is success.

The atrocity story

The sort of liberal internationalism that the Save Darfur campaign represents - a legacy of the neocon moral fervour engendered by the Bush administration - conflicts with the other hallowed liberal principle emphasised by President Barack Obama, which insists that a nation should be able to determine its future free from foreign diktat. Sudan needs a judicious balance between the two approaches. But it has become clear that the Save Darfur Coalition, with its campaign for Obama to "end the genocide", can handle only the atrocity story, not the politics of peace. This is shamelessly misleading about what is happening in Darfur.

It is a form of dishonesty that has a wider import, too. It turns Sudanese politics into a high-stakes international game of bluff, feeding the Khartoum government's paranoia that it faces an American regime-change agenda and fuelling the rebels' readiness to persevere in order to get that intervention. If the Save Darfur campaign succeeds, the political failure of Sudan will become a US-owned problem in the heart of Africa. This is what Gration most wants to avoid - while his domestic adversaries seem intent on bringing it about. "Saving Darfur" risks losing Sudan.

Most likely, however, political realism will succeed and the human rights fundamentalists will snarl at the heels of the Obama administration, barking "betrayal". But should the activists get their way, the limits of humanitarian imperialism in dealing with complex political problems will have to be relearned, painfully.

Alex de Waal is the co-author, with Julie Flint, of "Darfur: a New History of a Long War" (Zed Books, £12.99)

Security situation in Darfur - Sep 24, 2009

Daily Media Brief from UNAMID, El Fasher (DARFUR), Sudan, September 24, 2009/APO:
Security situation in Darfur
The security situation in Darfur is relatively calm, but unpredictable. UNAMID continues to monitor related developments.
In the last 24 hours, UNAMID military forces conducted 106 patrols including routine, short and long range, night, humanitarian escort, and logistics and administration patrols in villages and internally displaced persons (IDP) camps. UNAMID police advisors conducted 158 patrols in the villages and IDP camps.

UNAMID continues to urge for an end to violence in Korma
The UN Mission in Darfur (UNAMID) continues to urge for an end to the clashes between the Government of Sudan and rebel movements in Korma, North Darfur.

UNAMID remains concerned about the impact of the clashes on civilians and of the consequences to the humanitarian situation in the area. Reports of the ensuing civilian casualties are deeply disturbing and UNAMID emphasizes that a peaceful solution to the conflict in Darfur can only be realized through negotiation and political means.

The responsibility of UNAMID to protect civilians under threat of attack and to ensure effective access for humanitarian assistance to those in need overarches any premise for this recent outburst of fighting in Darfur.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

"Urgent Priorities: Sudan Issues at the United Nations" by US Special Envoy to Sudan Scott Gration

Email received today from U.S. Department of State:
"Urgent Priorities: Sudan Issues at the United Nations"

Scott Gration
Special Envoy to Sudan
New York, NY
September 23, 2009

Every year, representatives from around the world gather in New York for the United Nations General Assembly. It is a time for world leaders to coalesce around common challenges and common problems. It is a time for cooperation and dialog to address the most complex and vexing issues of our day, and it is an opportunity to galvanize international support during the times of crisis around the world.

Sudan is one of these issues, and now is one of those times. I am in New York now to continue ongoing discussions and to initiate new ones with representatives from countries across the globe. My main priorities while in New York are addressing CPA implementation and issues regarding Darfur. These are the two most critical issues facing Sudan. As I’ve said before—CPA is a priority, and Darfur is an urgency.

To give you a sense of the breadth, importance, and reach of the issue of Sudan, consider the range of some of the people we will be meeting with in New York this week: Chadian President Deby, Dutch Minister for International Development Koenders, Irish Foreign Minister Martin, Egyptian Foreign Minister Aboul Gheit, and others. Additionally, we will be participating in trilateral meetings with Egypt and Norway; a meeting of the Special Envoys from partner nations; a meeting of the Sudan Troika (US, UK, and Norway); a meeting with senior officials from NGOs operational in Sudan; and other discussions.

While in New York, I am also speaking at an event hosted by Save Darfur to unveil an exhibition of photographs of Darfur called "Darfur/Darfur.” The exhibit is a series of photographs of Darfur and its people that shows the true suffering that the people of Darfur have had to undergo for far too long.

What do I hope to get out of these meetings and others at the UN?

First, I hope to galvanize international support for building peace and stability for Sudan. The United States has a critical role to play, but progress in Sudan requires the support and efforts of the wider international community.

Second, I hope to make real progress in securing support from our international partners on key initiatives regarding armed movement unification and CPA implementation. We need the support of our international partners if we are to make headway on either of these fronts.

It bears repeating, however, that it is the Government of Sudan, the Darfuri armed movements, the Government of Southern Sudan, and other Sudanese stakeholders who bear the final responsibility for bringing peace and stability to Sudan. The international community’s responsibility is to facilitate and to hold the parties in Sudan accountable for their actions.

Thank you for reading. We will be sure to let you know how these meetings go. Thanks again for your continued interest and support, Scott.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

"Crossroads" by US Special Envoy to Sudan Scott Gration

Email received yesterday from the U.S. Department of State:

Sudan Updates: "Crossroads"
Monday, 21 September 2009


Scott Gration
Special Envoy to Sudan
Washington, DC
September 18, 2009
For too long, Darfur has been a place of human failing and despair.  For too long, the people of Darfur have suffered. And for too long, they have lived without peace and security. I just returned from another trip to Darfur—my fourth. I went back to assess the current situation on the ground and to listen directly to the people living in internally displaced persons (IDP) camps. The capacity of humanitarian aid workers to deliver life-saving assistance is making slow gains, Darfuri armed movements are beginning unification efforts, and UNAMID is gaining strength in terms of force deployment and in fulfilling its protection mandate.

We are also making progress on agreements and promises—with rebel groups as well as the Government. These are critical, but the proof lies in the pudding. What really matters is what the parties to these agreements do in implementation. We are at a crossroads. We are moving forward, but we need to stay diligent and focused on ensuring that the agreements are followed through. We will hold all parties accountable for their actions. We will help where we can, but ultimate responsibility lies with the parties in Sudan.

Since I just returned from this visit, I wanted to take a moment to share with you some of our observations. You can also take a look at my flickr photo album to see pictures from our trip album.

IDP Camps
My first stop was in the Abu Shouk camp, which is home to a staggering 54,000 people. I met with camp leaders from Abu Shouk, along with others from four nearby IDP camps. I stressed my long-held view that all IDP returns must be voluntary, at a time and to a location of peoples’ choosing, and only when sufficient security exists. I further clarified that I do not advocate the lifting of sanctions against the Government in Khartoum. Finally, I made clear that I have not called for Sudan to be removed from the list of state sponsors of terror. Despite their remoteness, camp residents remain particularly well plugged in to global debates on these issues. Regrettably, they have also been influenced by the politics of their leadership and by mischaracterizations of my statements. So while it is unfortunate that there was this need to set the record straight, I will continue to return to these camps and engage with the millions of people trapped in these humanitarian prisons. It is their lives we are all trying to change.
A particular source of inspiration on my trip was my visit to a women’s center in Abu Shouk that provides psychological support and skills training for victims of gender-based violence. While I was there, I saw the women weave baskets to sell and watched a demonstration of the use of new solar cookers that are reducing the need for these women to leave the safety of the camp to search for firewood. These gracious women also shared with me their specific concerns over security, health, and education. Women will play a central role in the future of Darfur, and we in this administration will work to help bring women in Darfur the tools they need to rebuild their lives.

IDP camp residents

Photo: In the Abu Shouk Internally Displaced Persons (IDP) Camp, SE Gration addresses and listens to a group of camp residents.

Abu Shouk Women's Center

Photo: Women in the women's center at Abu Shouk IDP Camp talk to SE Gration about gender-based violence and new camp initiatives. This women's center is a project of the NGO, Darfur Peace and Development.

Basket Weaving

Photo:  A woman weaves a beautiful basket during discussions between SE Gration and women at the Abu Shouk Women's Center.

I was also encouraged by a return visit to Zam Zam camp. I came to this camp five months ago, and coming back showed me that while humanitarian gaps still remain (and some new ones have opened) there have been significant improvements in health, water and sanitation, and food distribution. We need to continue to buttress these efforts with greater humanitarian capacity and access, but we are on the right path and are making positive steps. Meanwhile, I was discouraged to hear that many of the aid workers who had been promised complete freedom of movement and access by local government authorities, and agreement I helped to broker back in April, was not being fully respected. It’s unacceptable that this far into the crisis aid workers are still encountering the slightest resistance in carrying out their work. Regardless of the cause of this circumstance, I am pressing for its resolution at the highest levels.

In Darfur we also went to UNAMID’s headquarters, where we met with General Patrick Nyambumba, the UNAMID Force Commander, and Mohamed Yonis, the Deputy Joint Special Representative for UNAMID, both of whom have both been appointed within the last two weeks. UNAMID confirmed that the current conflict in Darfur largely hinges around the lack of local law enforcement, which has resulted in an unacceptable number of kidnappings, carjackings, along with generalized banditry. . Despite major challenges ahead, I am encouraged by the prospects for more robust peacekeeping in the coming months as needed personnel and equipment arrive. I have been told by my UN colleagues that by the end of the year, it is expected that 85% of the force will be deployed. As we reach a critical mass of troops, it will be essential to translate those numbers into a more effective security force that can begin to change the fundamental dynamics on the ground.

Ain Siro
In addition to the IDP camps, I also traveled to Ain Siro, a small village in North Darfur. It is a place that has largely been unaffected by the conflict, and it showed me how life in Darfur used to be. The armed movement commanders I met there expressed their willingness to unify and engage in the peace process. I have said it before, but it really is crucial that we work towards armed movement unification if we hope to have a successful and sustainable peace in Darfur. In these coming weeks my team will be stepping up these efforts, along with a parallel outreach towards civil society, in the hope that we can relaunch formal talks with the Government before the end of October.

Next Steps
Darfur is at a critical crossroads. Armed movements can join together at the peace table, or they can remain fractured; civil society can remain in the shadows of the peace process, or we can make them a centerpiece of peace negotiations; humanitarian efforts can shift from emergency response to sustainable development, or IDPs can remain dependent on NGOs and without local capacity; local law enforcement can step up to provide the security needed to protect civilians, or lawlessness and banditry can continue to reign.

The United States will play a central role in setting the right course, but the responsibility for peace and security ultimately lies with the Government of Sudan and its people. As always, thank you for your continued interest and dedication, Scott.
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SE Gration with Salva Kiir

Photo: SE Gration discusses issues of CPA implementation with Salva Kiir, President of the Government of Southern Sudan and First Vice President of the Government of National Unity, while in Juba, Southern Sudan.

Trilateral Discussions

Photo: Trilateral Discussions. SE Gration facilitates discussions between the NCP (on the left side of the table) and the SPLM (on the right).

Photo source:  Sudan Watch Ed selected photos from Sudan Envoy's Flickr photo album Sep. 2009.