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Post Latest News Here... May 06, 2005 8:42 AM

Peace Is in Sight, but Is Darfur Too Broken to Fix?

Darfur women wait for food handouts that they hope to sell for cash.

Jan Grarup/Rapho
Darfur women wait for food handouts that they hope to sell for cash.


Published: May 1, 2005

GENEINA, Sudan — The Sudanese soldiers and allied militiamen who destroyed Darfur could empty out an entire village in something like 60 minutes flat.

They would swoop in fast in the early morning hours, their horses and camels sprinting, their trucks racing, their guns blazing. Within the space of that one calamitous hour they would obliterate the settlement, torching, raping and killing with ruthless efficiency.

But now, with some of the first tentative signs of peace settling over the area, the question is how, and even whether, their malign work can be undone.

It will be years before we know the answer. But it is already evident to diplomats and aid workers here that Darfur has been deeply changed by the war in ways that will be difficult to fix. They point to a litany of emerging problems: diminished water supplies; bitter land disputes; inflamed tribal animosities; the psychosocial traumas of rape and displacement; and a significant transfer of wealth in a place that has always been, and still is, desperately poor.

The good news in Darfur is that it has been quieter of late. The war between the government and two Darfur rebel groups - the conflict that sparked the unrest in early 2003 - has calmed down in recent weeks. Negotiations aimed at bringing it to an end are scheduled to restart next month amid growing optimism.

Still, a quieter Darfur is a relative thing. Vicious militiamen continue to rule the lawless hinterlands, and even an end to the violence cannot undo the basic, perhaps unalterable, changes wrought by the war.

Nearly two million people, most of them from certain targeted tribes, have fled their homes for squatter camps. If past refugee flows are any guide, many of them will refuse to go home, having grown accustomed to camp life, with its schools, health clinics and other amenities that did not exist in large swaths of the countryside.

Thierry Dudoit/L'Express

A Darfur woman examines the ruins of her farm.

Others have become hooked on city life. All across Africa, the bustle of towns and cities drains villages of their young. In Darfur, displaced people living on the fringes of cities have seen television for the first time. They have shopped at sprawling markets. For some of them, too, life in a remote village has lost its allure.

"I don't think Darfur will ever be the same way it used to be," said Maeve Murphy, a community services worker with the office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. "People have experienced the population centers and many will stay, especially the most vulnerable."

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 May 06, 2005 8:43 AM

Aid organizations have already begun planning how they will move their assistance to the countryside to lure displaced people back. That question is academic for now because the fierce fighters known as the janjaweed, who caused so much of the suffering in Darfur, continue to attack civilians who dare leave the camps, stealing relief supplies whenever they can.

Tribal tensions are more inflamed than ever. The Arabic nomadic tribes that participated in Darfur's destruction have long clashed with their sedentary neighbors, who tend to come from African tribes. In the chaos of recent years, the nomads have been emboldened to graze their livestock anywhere they choose, an inevitable source of tension when the farmers head back to their fields.

Titles to property are nonexistent here. Land ownership is based on ancestral links, but tradition is tough to enforce after the population has been scattered. Whatever power balance kept things from exploding in the past - a fear of retaliation if one stepped out of line - is gone. Now the nomads have guns and a belief that Darfur is theirs.

"They think the land belongs to them now," said Yahia Hassan Ibrahim, 45, a sheik who was forced from his village in West Darfur by Arab militias. "They say they took it from us."

Aid organizations, which have been pouring assistance into the African tribes, now wonder whether their one-sided approach might be heightening tensions by alienating the nomadic Arab tribes, many of which did not participate in the violence. They now plan to extend aid to needy nomadic tribes as well, even if some of that aid goes to the killers.

If nomads get food aid, the thinking goes, they might stop stealing from the camp dwellers. Regarding all nomads as killers, many here now believe, only ensures that reconciliation will never happen.

In another effort to lure nomads back to their traditional ranges, relief workers are planning to drill wells along their traditional migration routes. That way, they say, the Arabs will have less incentive to wander into farm lands in search of water.

Water shortages, always a problem in parched Darfur, have been aggravated by the war. Village wells have been destroyed, and the congregation of thousands of refugees in the camps has overtaxed local water supplies.

Restoring some balance of wealth will be a huge challenge as well. The victimized communities have been stripped of all their assets, food stores, herds of cattle and homes. The Sudanese government has established a compensation committee but few have faith that Khartoum will make it a priority.

Finally, there is the issue of rape, though on this point there is at least one promising development. Many tribal leaders have expressed mixed emotions about accepting the babies that are now being born to women who were raped by members of the janjaweed. But in the refugee camps across the border in Chad, home to 200,000, the high commissioner for refugees recently helped broker a deal.

It was an amnesty, of sorts. Tribal elders agreed not to deem rape victims as having strayed from their religion and engaged in unlawful adultery or premarital sex. They are to be welcomed by their husbands and available for marriage, the elders decided. With that one decree, many victimized women now stand a chance of participating in the rebuilding of Darfur.

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The New African Dream Is to Escape the Nightmare of Darfur May 06, 2005 8:45 AM

Published: May 6, 2005

KHARTOUM, Sudan, May 1 - Escaping Darfur's madness is the dream of many - but the reality of few.

Most of the displaced people in western Sudan have settled just down the road in makeshift camps. Even those who crossed Sudan's western border into Chad remain within walking distance from their villages, though it is a rugged walk, through harsh desert terrain.

But some who are fleeing further afield. They are arriving in Ghana, more than 1,000 miles away. They are showing up in Britain and the United States. To get away from the bloodshed that began in 2003, they have trudged, hopped on the back of trucks, hidden in cargo ships, or, if they have had the means, settled into airplane seats - sometimes one or two or all of the above.

"They tell dramatic stories of long walks and hitchhiking," said Jane Muigai, a protection officer with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees in Ghana, where about 500 former residents of Darfur have arrived in recent months largely because of the country's refugee-friendly policies.

What these refugees find is not always a warm welcome. In Ghana, they are housed in a former jail while their applications are processed. In other countries, they are being sent back where they came from by officials who do not believe their accounts of suffering.

Ms. Muigai likened the long treks of Darfur refugees to those in past years of Somalis who have shown up in South Africa and of Congolese who have made their way to Ivory Coast. "It's a long way," she said.

It is even longer to Europe, where immigration officials are scrutinizing numerous cases to determine whether people who claim to have escaped from Darfur are not Sudanese from unaffected areas trying to use the turmoil to their advantage.

Activists like Dr. James Smith, chief of Aegis Trust, a British-based organization, have condemned the rejection of some refugees' applications, noting that being sent back to Darfur may mean death.

Warfare between government forces and the rebels has quieted somewhat but armed tribal fighters, known as the janjaweed, continue to attack civilians, especially those from certain non-Arab tribes. Rebels and janjaweed also engage in frequent clashes.

No one doubts the accounts of the Sudanese families who have arrived in Ghana in recent months from the Darfur region. They crossed five international boundaries, passing through Chad, Nigeria, Benin, and Togo to reach the outskirts of Accra, a journey through some of the roughest patches in Africa.

The arrivals' temporary home is a former jail. Those accepted into Ghana as refugees will be relocated to camps.

"I fled Darfur in May last year, after my village was attacked and completely destroyed," Omar Mubarak, 33, told the United Nations news agency. He said he stayed in western Sudan for several months before heading off across the desert into Chad last September.

Mubarak Alchek, 28, who made the same harrowing journey, said he had lost his foot in an air raid on his village. He told how he hitched rides on horseback and atop trucks loaded with goods to make it to Ghana. It took about three months.

Libya, where young men in Darfur used to emigrate for higher paying jobs, sealed its border with Sudan in May 2003. But Sudan's port remains open, making it the goal of many on the run.

Yousef Arja Artayero's account of his escape from Darfur by ship is one of those under review in Britain. The teenager claimed in an application to immigration authorities that he fled his family's farm in the village of Kaiba Fuka after an attack by janjaweed militiamen in October 2003.

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 May 06, 2005 8:46 AM

"They were all on horses and there were about 30 of them," he wrote in his appeal, after his initial application for asylum was rejected. "There are trees surrounding the entrance, so I did not see them until they were close to the gate. When they passed the entrance to the farm they started shooting at us."

He said he hitched a ride with a truck driver to Port Sudan and then paid a smuggler to get on a cargo ship bound for Britain.

British authorities have not accepted his story. They raised questions about why he left his mother behind after she was shot in the leg and after his father and brother were killed. They also said no ships had come directly from Port Sudan in the 48 hours before his arrival.

"I fear that if I were returned to Sudan the Arabs would kill me," Mr. Artayero, who is 17, insisted in his appeal. "I fear for my safety and I fear for my life."

Dr. Musa Saadeldin, another arrival in Britain, similarly predicts persecution should he return. He told the authorities that he ran the hospital at Umm Kedada in North Darfur until March 2004 when he escaped from Sudanese government officials who had tortured him for aiding the rebels.

The British dismissed his account. "If the security forces raided the house as claimed, they would have positioned men on the outside of the house near all exit points," the British immigration authorities said, according to an account in The Scotsman newspaper.

Last year was supposed to be a record year for the return of Africa's refugees to their home countries. But for all the progress - 352,000 people returned home in nine countries in 2004 - the number of new refugees grew, as well. Sudan and Congo, which both face civil strife, were the main contributors.

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Darfur: African Union Must Deploy Faster May 11, 2005 7:23 AM

African Countries Should Immediately Increase Their Troop Numbers

(Addis Ababa, May 8, 2005) — The African Union should immediately increase the number of troops deployed in Darfur, Human Rights Watch said today in a letterto members of the pan-African organization’s Peace and Security Council.

The African Union’s current force in Darfur remains too small, and the projected rate of deployment of more troops too slow, to protect civilians and reverse ethnic cleansing in the western Sudanese region.  
On April 28, the Chairperson of the African Union Commission, Alpha Oumar Konare, issued a report calling for an increase in AU forces in Darfur to12,300 military, police and civilian personnel by spring 2006. Human Rights Watch urged members of the Council to commit and deploy the 12,300 troops to Darfur immediately. Currently, the AU mission in Darfur has 2,372 troops deployed across a region the size of France.  
“The Africa Union must quickly build up its troop presence in Darfur,” said Peter Takirambudde, Africa director of Human Rights Watch. “Success depends on the African Union’s ability to get enough troops on the ground now to stop ongoing violence across Darfur.”  
If the African countries that have pledged troops are not able to deploy them in a timely fashion, the African Union should seek those forces from other countries and request the international community to provide necessary logistical and technical support, Human Rights Watch said.  
The African Union deserves credit for taking the lead in efforts to restore security to Darfur. Human Rights Watch lauded AU plans to help reverse the “ethnic cleansing” that has taken place in Darfur since the conflict began in February 2003.  
The Sudanese government has not objected to the presence of troops from African countries, but rejects any deployment of non-African troops. The AU force was originally deployed to monitor the April 2004 ceasefire between the government and two rebel groups. As the African Union has documented, this ceasefire has been routinely violated by all parties to the conflict.  
Despite repeated promises, the Sudanese authorities have repeatedly failed to curb ongoing attacks on civilians by the government-backed militias known as Janjaweed. According to the African Union, an estimated two million civilians have been displaced, twice as many as a year ago.  
According to recent United Nations estimates, up to 180,000 people, mostly civilians, have died in the conflict, in which Sudanese forces and government-backed militias have engaged in a scorched-earth campaign against civilians of the same ethnicity as two main rebel groups in Darfur. In the past two years, an estimated 2,000 villages have been totally or partially burned to the ground in these attacks. Displaced persons fear losing their land, but are unwilling to return home because of continued Janjaweed attacks, ongoing burning of villages and widespread destruction of crops.
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SUDAN: Militia attacks in Darfur intensified in April - UN May 16, 2005 9:39 AM

NAIROBI, 13 May (IRIN) - Militia attacks and other forms of violence in Sudan's western region of Darfur continued to cause human suffering in the strife-torn area in April, a senior UN official told the Security Council.

"Attacks on civilians, rape, kidnapping and banditry actually increased from the previous month," Assistant Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations, Hédi Annabi, told the Council on Thursday when he presented UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan's latest report on Darfur.

"While there was no evidence of direct involvement by regular government forces last month, there were widespread reports of abuse by militia," he added.

The report said the government had made some efforts to restrain its Popular Defense Forces militia and prevented some criminal acts, but these efforts were "evidently inadequate", judging from the extensive reports of abuse against civilians by those groups in areas not controlled by rebels.

The main Darfur rebel groups, the Sudanese Liberation Army and the Justice and Equality Movement, carried out attacks on police and militia in April. They also took commercial, private and NGO vehicles at gunpoint "on a scale that suggests these acts are approved by their leadership," the report noted.

Staff members from humanitarian organisations were subjected to increased harassment by local authorities, particularly in South Darfur, Annabi told the Council. This, he added, had complicated the efforts of the humanitarian community to sustain the 2.45 million conflict-affected civilians in Darfur.

Short-term stability in the region, he added, would require considerable strengthening of the African Union Mission in Sudan (AMI, which currently consisted of 2,409 troops and 244 police.

"The Council applauds the vital leadership role the African Union (AU) is playing in Darfur and the work of AMIS on the ground," the Council president for May, Ambassador Ellen Margrethe Løj of Denmark, said in a statement on Thursday.

The Council supported the decision taken by the AU's Peace and Security Council on 28 April to expand its mission in Darfur to 7,731 personnel by the end of September 2005, she added.

"The Security Council welcomes the ongoing deployment of UNMIS [the UN Mission in Sudan] and looks forward to close coordination and cooperation between UNMIS and AMIS," the Council president noted.

According to the report, events in April had demonstrated clearly that without progress on the political level, the civilian population would continue to suffer.

Talks between the rebel movements and the government of Sudan in Nigeria's capital, Abuja, stalled in December. The AU had been trying to revive the negotiations, but it was not yet clear whether the parties were committed to meaningful negotiations, Annabi said.

"I call on all sides at the talks and on the ground to recognise that this is their choice, and ending this tragedy is their responsibility," the UN Secretary-General said in the report.

The war in Darfur pits Sudanese government troops and militias - allegedly allied to the government - against rebels fighting to end what they have called marginalisation and discrimination of the region's inhabitants by the state.

Over 2.4 million people continue to be affected by the conflict, 1.86 million of whom are internally displaced or have been forced to flee to neighbouring Chad.

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Six African nations begin summit on Sudan's Darfur May 17, 2005 5:59 AM

TRIPOLI, Libya, May 16, 2005 (AP) -- The presidents of six African nations began a summit Monday on the crisis in Sudan's Darfur region, at the invitation of Libyan Leader Moammar Gadhafi.

Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi (R) and Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak (L) walk to the opening session of the third African Summit at Tripoli in Darfur, Sudan May 16, 2005. (Reuters).

The presidents of Chad, Egypt, Eritrea, Gabon, Nigeria and Sudan gathered for the two-day summit that was inaugurated late Monday with a session closed to the press.

"This summit comes as part of Libya's efforts to achieve reconciliation in Darfur, especially as all the parties welcome the Libyan role, and as Africa is trying to find an African solution to this crisis" amid international pressure on Sudan , Libyan Prime Minister Shukri Ghanem told reporters.

The Darfur summit was originally due to be held in Egypt but the venue was moved to Tripoli, where Darfur rebel and local leaders met last week with Gadhafi.

The U.N. estimates 180,000 people have died since violence broke out in Darfur in February 2003, mainly from war-induced hunger and disease.

"Nobody accepts the current situation in Darfur, which should be under control. We have to stop the fighting and push peace talks forward to achieve a political settlement," Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Aboul Gheit told reporters in Cairo on Sunday night.

The Darfur conflict erupted in after a rebel uprising against what is seen by many in the vast western province as years of state neglect and discrimination against Sudanese of African origin. Sudan 's government is accused of responding with unleashing and supporting the Janjaweed, an Arab militia that committed wide-scale abuses against the African population.

The U.N. Security Council adopted two resolutions in March on Darfur. Sudan 's government rejected both of them. One of the two provides for the trial of Darfur war crimes suspects before the International Criminal Court. The second one strengthens an arms embargo and imposes an asset freeze and travel ban on those who defy peace efforts.

Gadhafi has been trying in recent years to present his North African nation as a mediator in African conflicts. On Wednesday, two main rebel groups in Darfur signed a declaration in Tripoli pledging to adhere to a cease-fire and help facilitate the flow of humanitarian relief aid.

Meanwhile, Libya's official news agency, JANA, said a "historic reconciliation" is expected between Sudan 's president Omar el-Bashir and his Eritrean counterpart at the summit.

Sudan has long accused its eastern neighbor, Eritrea, of supporting rebels in Darfur through providing them with funds, training camps, and a base.

Eritrea, in return, accuses the Sudanese government of supporting terrorists working in the country since its independence in 1993.

Egypt's presidential spokesman Suleiman Awwad said the attendance of Eritrean President Isaias Afwerki is a "very positive indicator and a new beginning for achieving peace, not only in Darfur, but the whole of the Sudan ."

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Broken region of Darfur facing 'inevitable' famine May 18, 2005 6:57 AM

Updated 5/17/2005 10:02 PM By Rick Hampson, USA TODAY

DELEIJ, Sudan — Once, this was the season when Khartoma Ibrahim prayed for the rains to come. She was a farmer then, before the troubles here in Darfur changed everything, even her prayers.

Young girls attend school in the Kalma refugee camp near Nyala, in South Darfur, Sudan.Jack Gruber, USA TODAY

The rains should come any day now, but this year Ibrahim, 35, has no fields to plant. She, her husband and their six children languish in a refugee camp whose 20,000 residents survive almost entirely on international food aid — aid that will be difficult to deliver once the seasonal rains turn West Darfur's dirt roads into quagmires.

And so, against every instinct, she asks that the rains hold off, inshallah— God willing.

The transformation of rain from blessing to curse illustrates how much life has changed since civil war broke out two years ago, destroying hundreds of farming villages, killing tens of thousands of people, and driving a third of Darfuris into camps like the one here. Darfur, a region usually self-sufficient even in the worst of times, can no longer feed itself. Because of the fighting, last year's harvest was ruined, much of this year's seed destroyed and more than half the farm livestock slaughtered, stolen or run off.

Food prices have doubled, immigrants' remittances have been cut off, and the demand for day labor and homemade handicrafts has collapsed. And now the region enters the annual hungry season —gafaf, they call it — when food from the last harvest runs low and daily meals drop from three to two to one.

It all means that Darfur, so benighted that U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan likened it to "hell on earth," faces another curse: famine. A Tufts University study released earlier this year says that because of problems unprecedented even in Darfur's tortured history, "regionwide famine appears inevitable."

If so, the international community — already struggling to reach the 2.6 million of Darfur's 6 million people who need help — may have to feed and shelter even more. And this effort, second only to the tsunami relief operation in South Asia, promises to stretch on for years, until some way is found to put Darfur back together again.

The hunger already is doing its job. Although the exact death toll in Darfur is a matter of intense debate, all agree that violence is no longer the primary killer.

"People are starving and no one is reporting it, because technically they are not starving," says Bir Chandra Mandal, the United Nations Food and Agriculture Program emergency director in South Darfur. They die from TB (tuberculosis) or malaria or diarrhea, their immune systems weakened by malnutrition. He calls it an "invisible famine."

Famine can kill people, and it can kill their way of life. This season, in Darfur, it threatens to kill both.

'Devils on horseback'

Darfur may not be the world's worst humanitarian crisis; there are more dead in war-torn Congo, there's greater anarchy in Somalia. But a special poignancy surrounds the plight of a people whose government has armed and empowered their attackers.

Darfur, which means "domain of the Fur tribe," was independent for most of its history; the sultan exchanged gifts with Napoleon when the latter invaded Egypt in 1798. Darfur was forced to become part of Sudan only in the 1920s, under British colonial rule.

Some of its 90-odd tribes, particularly the Arab ones, were nomadic herders. Others, mostly non-Arabs of African stock, were sedentary farmers. Although they competed for land, they also cooperated; nomads were allowed to use farmland for grazing at certain times of year, and their cattle and camels would help clear the fields by eating old sorghum stalks, and fertilize them, to boot.

Despite their long rivalry, members of the two groups — Arab and non-Arab (or African) — are very similar. Both are black, speak Arabic and practice Islam. They also share customs for resolving disputes over land, water and livestock.

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 May 18, 2005 7:00 AM

But a quarter century of drought strained relations. With less land on which to graze, herders increasingly encroached on farms. The farmers, meanwhile, became distressed with what they claimed to be the indifference of the Arab-dominated government in Khartoum to Darfur's basic needs, such as education and economic development.

The non-Arabs formed an independence movement. In 2003, these rebel forces began attacking government installations, including the airport in North Darfur. The government, already locked in another war with rebels in southern Sudan, mobilized and armed members of the nomadic Arab tribes, who attacked the African farm villages from which the rebels sometimes drew support.

The farmers called the raiders Janjaweed, "devils on horseback."

The attack on Khartoma Ibrahim's village was typical: One morning in January 2004, gunmen swept in on horses, camels and in four-wheel drive vehicles, shooting at anything that moved. They torched homes and seed bins. They killed donkeys and dumped them into the well. They chased down women and girls and raped them.

Ibrahim's family escaped, although some of the older children ran off in opposite directions and only reunited in Deleij days later. Some, she says, arrived without their shoes. Sixteen months later, she's still shaken: "They took our animals. They took our property. They killed our relatives." She says she lost her father and a nephew.

Question of genocide

The pattern was repeated across Darfur, sometimes with air or logistical support from government forces.

Last September, U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell said there had been genocide in Darfur in which the Janjaweed and the Sudanese government were complicit. A U.N. report cited evidence of "crimes against humanity" and made a confidential list of 51 suspects that has been referred to the International Criminal Court in The Hague.

Sudanese officials say they're willing to discuss Darfuri grievances. First Vice President Ali Osman Taha, often described as the government's most powerful official, said in a speech earlier this month that "the only solution to the problem in Darfur is through peace and negotiations. We say to those who are carrying arms amongst us now, and to the world: Our hands are outstretched to you, our hearts are open to you. We don't want war anymore."


Darfur is less violent than a year ago. The government hasn't launched an offensive against the rebels in months. Last week, the rebels promised to observe a cease-fire. Janjaweed attacks are fewer. Banditry is growing, but bandits have always plagued Darfur.

An agreement that ended Sudan's 20-year civil war in the south has inspired hope that the former rebels who will join a new national coalition government this summer will insist on a negotiated settlement in Darfur, as well.

The African Union, which has about 2,400 military personnel and 240 civilian police trying to help restore peace in Darfur, last month agreed to increase the force to 6,171 soldiers and 1,560 police by the end of September.

Food now may be a bigger problem than violence. Last spring, some farmers risked staying in the countryside to plant crops such as sorghum, ground nut and sesame. But danger prevented many from returning to harvest. The crops were stolen, eaten by nomads' livestock or left to rot. As a result, the harvest was reduced by 60%.

This year, most experts expect a smaller harvest. Darfur's roads are still so unsafe that a farmer would have trouble getting a crop to market. "Under those conditions, I'd only plant what I could eat myself," says Arif Hussain, head of the World Food Program's Vulnerability Analysis and Mapping unit.

That leaves international assistance, which last month fed about 1.7 million Darfuris. But Darfur's fragile food pipeline could be cut by a number of factors, especially for hundreds of thousands living outside the camps and towns served by aid agencies — the people who are most likely to die.

Rain: In the spring Darfur's dry riverbeds become torrents, its roads turn into streams. A drive that usually takes four hours might take two days. So food trucks must reach Darfur before the rains. The World Food Program says it has pre-positioned enough food; if not, it will have to rely on costly airlifts that would compound its financial problems. Keith McKenzie, UNICEF's special representative for Darfur, says: "The food pipeline is in a terrible situation."

Security: The rebels, the Janjaweed and the bandits remain armed and at large, posing a threat to the aid effort in general and the food pipeline in particular. WFP trucks repeatedly have been hijacked (11 are still missing) and their drivers beaten or kidnapped. Two drivers were killed May 8 in separate incidents east of Nyala, the capital of South Darfur. In March, banditry in West Darfur forced the United Nations to withdraw all personnel to the state capital of El Geneina at a time when WFP was trying to pre-position 25,000 tons of food. If violence forces humanitarian agencies to pull out, deaths could rise to 100,000 a month, according to Jan Egeland, head of the U.N. office for humanitarian affairs.

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 May 18, 2005 7:01 AM

Donor fatigue: Until the United States made an emergency donation of 15.4 metric tons of non-cereals (such as vegetable oil), WFP was about to cut rations this month. The food agency says its Darfur operation is "severely under-funded" and has received only $281 million (84% from the United States) of the $467 million it needs for 2005. But as many as 3.25 million Darfuris may need to be fed this summer — twice the current number — as the rains begin and Darfuris' food stores run out.

"How many times can the international community bail a country out?" asks Adam Koons of Save the Children USA.

Add to that the other relief programs around the world that are draining resources — and also failing to meet their goals. The United Nations reported Monday that only $2.5 billion of the $6.5 billion pledged for tsunami relief in South Asia had been received.

In Darfur, even if there is not mass starvation, famine might mean something just as bad: the consignment of some of Africa's most self-reliant people to the global bread line.

A bitter rainy season

Unlike Deleij's refugee camp, Kalma refugee camp is next to a rail line and within sight of planes approaching Nyala International Airport. Few of its inhabitants face imminent starvation. But famine haunts the camp nonetheless.

Muhajer Abdul Rahman, 40, thinks about how in his village of Sora, the onset of the rains meant frenetic activity for his entire family — clearing, fencing, plowing, sowing. But this year the rains will only remind him of everything he lost when the Janjaweed attacked his village in early 2004 — his farm, his animals, his tools, his oldest son. Hazma was shot to death inside the family's hut. He was 14.

"I feel as if I should be planting," the father says, stooping to trace the irregular rectangular outline of his field in the dirt. At Kalma, though, farming is out of the question: as many as 130,000 people pack three square miles.

"You only have enough land for your tent," he says.

Rahman worries about his six surviving children. Normally, he'd be showing them how to farm — to harness and lead a donkey, to know when the soil is moist enough for planting, to tell from its color and texture when sorghum is ready for harvest. There is so much to teach: How to hide next year's seed in the ground so no one will eat it before the next planting, how to soak a poisonous berry for three days to remove the toxins before it's eaten.

He says that although Islam teaches patience, his is wearing thin: "All the time we are thinking about how to solve this problem. But we have no hope."

As he's talking, there's a noise nearby. It's food distribution day, and a group of men chant as they unload 110-lb. bags of sorghum from a WFP truck.

"So-see!" they grunt in unison. "So-see!" "Let's go!"

Other men stand around, cheering and clapping time, as the bags hit the ground with big puffs of dust. One of the workers is Mohammed Adam, 24, who a year ago was preparing his land for planting. These days his food comes off the back of a truck. He gets $2.40 a day to unload it.

It's spring in Darfur. The rituals of sowing and reaping have been replaced by those of registration and distribution, and the wait is not for rain, but for 33 pounds of sorghum, per person per month.

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A Policy of Rape June 06, 2005 5:21 AM

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Uncover Your Eyes June 07, 2005 10:49 AM

NY Times June 7, 2005 By

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Rebels kill 11 villagers, wound 17 others in Darfur June 08, 2005 4:30 AM

Source: Pan African News Agency (PANA) June 7, 2005

Khartoum, Sudan (PANA) - For the first time since a bloody conflict erupted in 2003 in Sudan's western Darfur region, the African Union (AU) has accused ethnic minority rebels in Darfur of infighting that killed 11 persons and left 17 others wounded.

"These acts of the rebel movements, especially the relentless pursuit and attacks on Justice and Equality Movement elements by the Sudan Liberation Army with heavy civilian collateral damage, are unacceptable and condemned in the strongest terms," AU Mission in Sudan (AMI spokesman Noureddine Mezni said here Monday a press statement.

The AU made the accusation as renewed peace talks involving the rebel factions and the Khartoum government are scheduled to begin this week under the auspices of the African in Abuja, Nigeria. The rebel Sudan Liberation Movement (SLM) and the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM), alleging neglect and marginalisation of the region, a revolted in February 2003 against Khartoum government.

The AU initiated the Abuja talks as part of its mediation efforts to end the brutal strife.

On Friday, SLM fighters attacked JEM positions in Graida with mortar rounds "killing 11 persons, wounding 17 others and burning several houses," Mezni said, demanding "an immediate stop to the clashes between the two rebel groups."

He described the fighting as "a serious breach" of the much violated and shaky ceasefire deal which the two rebel groups signed with the government in April 2004 in Chad.

Mezni said that mission chief, Baba Gana Kingibe had been "following with deep concern the deteriorating security situation in South Darfur."

Kingibe held the SLM and JEM "exclusively responsible for the deteriorating security situation as their military elements have engaged in clashes for control of the territory," Mezni added.

The rebels should exercise "restraint at this moment" with the African Union preparing to convene a new round of peace talks with the government in Nigeria on Friday.

"The clashes had begun in March when SLM fighters attacked the JEM-held village of Muhajeriya in South Darfur state and chased their rivals out" Mesni explained.

In response, JEM forces occupied Graida, also in South Darfur, "despite requests by AMIS forces for them to relocate some six kilometres outside" the village.

Graida used to be under Sudanese government control, but Khartoum agreed to pull its forces out of the village in line with last year's ceasefire accord, which stipulated that the area be demilitarised.

Mezni called on the rebels to "withdraw their forces completely from Graida and from locations taken over by AMIS forces or vacated by government troops."

In recent weeks there have growing concerns that the war between government forces and the rebels is increasingly being overtaken by rivalries between ethnic elements in Darfur.

Mainly active in North Darfur, the JEM draws support from the Zaghawa minority and is said to have links with Sudan's Islamist opposition.

The SLM draws most of its support from sedentary groups in the south and centre and joined mainstream opposition parties in the National Democratic Alliance with separatist former rebels of the Sudan People's Liberation Army/Movement (SPLA/M).

 [ send green star]
NATO to launch Darfur mission, denies EU tensions June 09, 2005 12:14 PM

By Mark John BRUSSELS, June 9 (Reuters) - NATO defence ministers gave the green light on Thursday to an operation to airlift extra African troops to Sudan's troubled Darfur region, the alliance's first mission on the continent.

NATO chiefs were at pains to stress there was no competition with a separate European Union mission, after NATO-member France said its offer to transport two battalions of Senegalese troops was under an EU, not a NATO, banner.

NATO's go-ahead for the operation comes a day before Darfur peace talks sponsored by the African Union resume in the Nigerian capital Abuja. Tens of thousands have been killed in the arid western region and more than 2 million forced from their homes during a rebellion now well into its third year.

"The situation in that region is appalling, and we must do all that is in our power, in coordination with other organisations starting with the EU, to assist the African Union," said NATO Secretary-General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer.

NATO plans to be ready with air transport from July 1.

The African Union has ruled out Western troops helping in Darfur, but in April called on NATO and the EU to assist with logistical support.

The AU is seeking to triple its existing presence to 7,700 troops by late-September. Rwanda has pledged three extra battalions, Senegal two, Nigeria two and South Africa one.

The United States has said it will provide the airlift for the Rwandans, and France for the Senegalese. Other transport arrangements have yet to be finalised.

Washington had wanted NATO to coordinate the entire effort, which could later include logistical support such as officer training. But Paris insisted its role would be part of an existing EU support package.


The French move has reopened a debate about tensions between NATO and the EU as the latter seeks to develop its role as a global defence and security player.

But both organisations are keen to avoid being seen to squabble while people continue to die in Darfur. They insist they will cooperate fully and that there is no rivalry.

"I think this is a completely irrelevant discussion. One should simply agree to help. Who takes the lead in coordinating it is secondary," said German Defence Minister Peter Struck.

Struck said Germany was also ready to contribute airlift capacity and equipment but left open whether this would be as part of NATO or the EU. "It's all the same to me," he told reporters.

U.N. officials estimate about 180,000 people have died in Darfur through violence, hunger and disease since rebels took up arms against the Arab-dominated government in February 2003.

The rebels accuse Khartoum of neglecting Darfur and of backing Arab militia to crush them.

Under a compromise agreed by NATO envoys on Tuesday, NATO will only handle airlift offers from NATO members who expressly ask it to -- at present, the United States and Canada.

NATO's coordination with the EU will go through an AU-led cell in the Ethiopian capital of Addis Ababa, staffed with a small number of EU and NATO officials.

The alliance is keen to avoid a new rift in its ranks after the row over the U.S.-led war in Iraq -- opposed by countries including France and Germany.

U.S. officials put a positive face on the Darfur arrangements. "It's a very practical solution ... we think that this will work," one said.

Besides air transport, the EU has offered a broad package of logistics support to the AU. U.S. officials also said they planned to help the AU forces better process and use intelligence.

(Additional reporting by Carol Giacomo)

 [ send green star]
SUDAN: Interview with UN Special Representative Jan Pronk August 08, 2005 1:32 AM
8/5/2005 9:20am
Jan Pronk, Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General in Sudan

NYALA, 4 Aug 2005 (IRIN) - The Sudan government signed a Declaration of Principles (DoP) on 5 July with two rebel groups, the Sudanese Liberation Movement/Army (SLM/A) and Justice and Equality Movement (JEM), raising hopes for a swift political settlement of the conflict in the western region of Darfur.

However, major challenges remain before Darfur can enjoy peace, Jan Pronk, the Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General in Sudan, told IRIN in an interview in Nyala, the capital of South Darfur State, on 31 August. Below are excerpts from the interview:

QUESTION: What is your assessment of the current humanitarian and security situation in Darfur?

ANSWER: The humanitarian situation has improved, if you compare it with what prevailed when the UN became actively involved in mid-2004. At that time mortality was high. The mortality went down below the usual critical threshold. Many people are now in camps as IDPs [internally displaced persons] and a lot of humanitarian assistance is being provided: food, water, sanitation, health assistance, nutrition.

I am worried whether that will continue, because we are very much dependent on foreign resources and the situation is quite fragile. I cannot guarantee that it will remain so until the end of this year. Of course, you should never be satisfied because it is the [humanitarian] situation - in camps. Outside the camps it is very difficult, because food security has gone down and there is not much agricultural production any more because of the war. So more and more people in Darfur become dependent on foreign assistance. That is not a healthy situation.

The security situation has changed. There is no longer war between the government and the SLM/A. There is a ceasefire that is not breached to a great extent. Secondly, the Janjawid is attacking but to a lesser extent. There is no mass slaughter of African tribes. Most of them have fled their villages already, but still there are a lot of villages [left] that are not being attacked on a mass scale. [But] you see still quite a number of people killed per month at the moment - about 100 persons - due to violence. To a great extent it is banditry, looting, crime, which goes hand-in-hand with a no-peace-no-war situation.

It is a much too high figure However [it is] 10 to 20 times as low per month as it used to be before the UN came in and the African Union [AU] sent in troops as requested by the Security Council, to Darfur. It is fragile - not secure - but better.

Q: What are the prospects for peace and what, in your view, is needed to reach a sustainable peace on the ground?

A: Peace has to be negotiated. It is a political solution to a conflict. Negotiations started in August last year, following the ceasefire agreement. These went up and down [and were] very difficult - four rounds with hardly any progress. The fifth round, which took place in June in Abuja, Nigeria, was much more successful. There was a breakthrough agreement on a DoP, which would be the guideline for the rest of the talks.

In my view, it would be possible to finish the talks before the end of the year. It might be possible to get sustainable peace before the end of 2005. But very difficult issues still have to be discussed: the sharing of power, sharing of wealth, decentralisation of powers, what to do with land ownership questions, etcetera.

It is not necessary to deal with every issue that is on the table, because it is a matter of an agreement, peace, between parties who are fighting - and not everybody is fighting. There is a group of Arab tribes and African tribes that does not participate in the war. And there is civil society. They have to be involved in all the talks and can be put on the agenda after the peace agreement. The peace agreement could be seen as the agreement to approach all the remaining problems peacefully. That means a two of three stages approach. It is possible, but difficult, because the government, now, is under a lot of pressure to be flexible in the talks and they do respond to the pressure. But, the other side, the rebel movements, are quite divided amongst themselves.

The commanders in the field do not listen very easily to their diplomatic and political leaders. That is one of the big problems: the capacity to negotiate by the other side. And the question whether there is a real political will on the side of the rebels to solve problems politically, rather than by fighting. They are betting on two horses. I think that the situation has changed due to that possibility to reach agreement on the DoP.

Q: Many SLA rebel commanders in the field in North and South Darfur are quite skeptical about peace and paint a grim picture of continued attacks and mistrust at the local level. Is there a disconnect between political aspirations for peace on the one hand and the reality of continued violence on the ground in Darfur, on the other?

 [ send green star]

 August 08, 2005 1:33 AM

A: That disconnect has always been there. The commanders do not trust their own political and diplomatic leaders. Through pressure and arguing, it is necessary to connect them with each other, which is not easy. Some of the leaders are jockeying for power. They are not in the field; they are outside. They are also being used, by a number of countries, it is very difficult to resist. They go from one to the other workshop, conference, wherever in the world. The commanders in the field see that happening and think they are not very well represented by their own leaders. And they also do have some private differences amongst themselves - some. Some people have been told: "If you fight, you get some outside support". But the same countries who made such risky statements will have to tell these people in the field: "If you fight, you won’t get any support any more from us; you have to participate in the political dialogue".

Many commanders are young, not experienced and are willing to take the risk and feel themselves much more comfortable in a fighting situation than in a political negotiation solution. They have not only a grudge, but a very legitimate claim: Darfur has been neglected, economically and socially. Culturally, also, in terms of many of the particular African tribes. And the slaughter, the ethnic cleansing which has taken place was so dramatic that it will be very difficult for leaders to change their own attitudes.

Q: In South Darfur, humanitarian organisations complain about harassment. How serious is it and how does it affect their operations and their willingness to speak out about certain human rights issues?

A: I think that this is not a very general feature. There are some forces in Darfur, who are harassing foreigners, NGOS, the UN, etcetera. They don’t like the international community taking up their issue. But that is not the mainstream. The government and the authorities in Darfur gave in to international pressure and they are willing to cooperate. There are many forces within Sudan who are having their problems with that new attitude of the government themselves. So it is not governmental harassment of NGOs and the UN; it is harassment by, let me call it, circles around military intelligence, which makes life quite difficult.

NGOs and others should understand that they are living here in an undemocratic society where there are many forces in the dark. They should understand that if they are being harassed, that it is not always the result of official policy and instructions coming from Khartoum.

Q: In his latest report on Darfur to the UN Security Council, Secretary-General, Kofi Annan, mentioned there was "little evidence of any serious efforts by the government of Sudan to disarm the Janjawid". Why is it so difficult, why is there so little progress, in this respect, when it is such an important issue?

A: They never wanted to do it, they can’t do it. They have a different understanding of [who make up] the Janjawid from the international community. And then the IDPs call everybody Janjawid. The government has indeed taken some steps to, for instance, disarm the officially mobilised persons in the Popular Defense Force.

They, through talks, also tried to control - with some success - militias which have stayed closely related to Arab tribes, in a reconciliation process. They do not control the real Janjawid, who they call outlaws, who they cannot stop, they say. Not at this particular time, because it's military is not allowed - by the international community - to take action. We do not want the military to become active, because [of] everything that happened. But they say, if we can’t use the military - our police are not strong enough. To a certain extent, it is a pretext. They are also saying "we only want to disarm them when the other party -the rebels- is being disarmed".

That is understandable, but it was not a condition, which had been accepted by the international community. The Security Council, has said, a couple of times, "you have to disarm". And that’s what we say: you have to disarm them. They didn’t do enough.

We need more AU troops to stop the Janjawid. We also need to talk, at a certain moment, with Arab tribes, who do have control over their militia, including the Janjawid, in order to address some of the concerns of these Arab tribes, because they also have concerns, which are being used as a legitimisation, by these groups, to take up arms.

It is a major problem, because the militia, the Janjawid, are ruthless. They don’t accept any international law, humanitarian law, whatsoever. They go, they kill. That is worse than any SLA or JEM rebel group, which always has a political aim. They kill, but chose their targets. They don’t go to kill innocent women, children and elderly people. They don’t go to kill civilians. That is what the Janjawid does, in order to have a terror-feeling, so that people flee. And that is, in my view, part of their ethnic cleansing policy.

Q: Aid agencies report that rape continues to occur on a large scale. What is being done about it?

A: There is the well-known problem of rape in Darfur; it is still prevailing. Many people in the government are in a state of denial, rape is taboo, they don’t want to talk about it, so they try to create the impression that it doesn’t exit. It does, it does.

 [ send green star]

 August 08, 2005 1:34 AM

It is an instrument of war, also, by the Janjawid-type of militia. It has to be addressed by the government - with the help of the AU and the UN - the government has to develop a policy. We are going very slow. They put down a new policy, which is good, in order to help any of the victims of rape. To, also, bring people - if they are known; who are rapists - to court, is not yet been accepted by all authorities throughout Darfur.

So it is a problem, quite a big problem, because it is the most vulnerable group which is affected. If there would be really acceptance and recognition of this major violation of human rights, the government could do more than it has done so far.

Q: There have been some reports about involuntary relocations and return movements? How large is the problem?

A: Returns ought to be voluntary. There is no indication whatsoever that, after the talks which we did have with the government - whereby we stopped their forced returns policy. Last year that changed. The government accepts it. They paid some money to Sheikhs to tell the people "why don’t we go home". Some people followed that. That is not enforced. People have the choice to stay and most people stayed.

Relocation is a different issue. There are camps which are unhealthy and which are totally insecure, where parts of the camps have been flooded. The government wants to have better sites. It is difficult to find sites, because of the land ownership. The government is not going to be strong vis-à-vis those landowners. They have found some other sites and they want some people to relocate to other places - I mean tens of thousands of people, part of two million IDPs. It has to take place that is also the view of the UN, but in a smooth manner and in consultation. There is not often consultation, or not often consultation until the very end, because there is a lot of resistance. In particular, because IDPs are afraid that relocations are the start of return. That is not the case, but it is difficult of course to convince them after everything that has happened.

There have been some relocations, again, recently, which took place without proper consultation with the international community. People were just loaded on trucks and brought to another place. But the other place is also not safe and not pleasant for these people because they are uprooted. There is of course the right of any government to decide where IDPs ought to be located. We do exactly the same in all western countries. We have a discussion with them in order to bring them to better consultation. That sometimes does have a success and then, after a while, they fall into the old habit. But we talk again, and again.

Q: What is the most pressing concern in Darfur right now and what should be done to address it?

A: There is no one thing more important than another: everything is dependent on each other. More security on the ground makes it possible to have better talks. Talks are necessary to get peace and security. That is necessary in order to have a better approach to all remaining problems. Humanitarian assistance has to continue, otherwise you slide backwards. I hardly dare to call one thing more important than the other: it is a comprehensive problem, a comprehensive conflict, and needs a comprehensive approach.

There is also a relation with the other conflicts in the country. Different wars: north-south, that war is over. The east, they influence each other [and] it is very complicated. Peace between north and south has indeed changed the whole climate. If that peace lasts, then it augurs well for a political solution in eastern and western Sudan.

 [ send green star]
SUDAN: Conditions in Darfur deteriorating - Annan August 19, 2005 2:53 PM

NAIROBI, 19 August (IRIN) - Despite a decline in casualties from fighting in Sudan's war-torn western region of Darfur, the long-term consequences of the war are destroying the social and economic fabric of the region, UN Secretary General Kofi Annan said.

In his monthly briefing on Sudan to the UN Security Council, Annan said the descent into lawlessness by the region's armed movements, violence against humanitarian workers and unprecedented criminality in Nyala, the capital of South Darfur, was a dangerous pattern that demanded "urgent corrective action".

"While the daily rate of casualties from fighting has declined in recent months, the damage to the social and economic fabric in Darfur and the longer-term costs of this conflict are steadily becoming clearer," Annan said in a reort released on Thursday.

He said some 3.2 million people in the region were in need of assistance, while the number of internally displaced persons (IDPs) had remained at approximately 1.9 million. Insecurity in IDP camps in western Darfur, he added, was of major concern, with violent attacks on humanitarian workers organised by local sheikhs attempting to manipulate the ration card system.

He called for the African Union (AU) Mission in Sudan to be brought to full strength and full operational capacity as soon as possible, and noted that there were indications that the presence of the AU and its patrols had directly resulted in a decrease in both sexual and gender-based violence and other human rights violations.

The AU has reported a shortfall of some US $173 million to fund its operations in Darfur; an AU official told IRIN on Thursday that the body could soon fail to pay its' troops salaries unless money was found.

"I have written to major partners of AU to urge them to fill the funding gap identified by AU," Annan said.

The war in Darfur began in February 2003 and pits Sudanese government troops and militias allegedly allied to the government, against rebels fighting to end what they describe as the marginalisation of and discrimination against the region's inhabitants by the state.

19 Aug 2005 15:56:21 GMT

Source: IRIN

 [ send green star]
 April 07, 2006 4:40 PM

Weekly News Update - April 7, 2006

This week in Sudan:

The past week brought good news here in America and bad news in Sudan, following a pattern which has become all too familiar of late.  The good news came from both ends of Pennsylvania Avenue, as the President endorsed the ongoing “Week of Prayer and Action for Darfur” and both chambers of Congress voted on important legislative priorities.  The bad news, not surprisingly, came from Khartoum.  

The Week of Prayer and Action, sponsored by the Save Darfur Coalition, began on April 2 and will run through this Sunday, April 9.  Hundreds of congregations across the country are taking part in the national effort, demonstrating the depth of the faith community’s support for action on Darfur.  In a written statement, President Bush recognized that depth of support for stronger U.S. action to stop the genocide and reiterated his own commitment to ending the crisis.   

The week also saw two victories in Congress, the first of which came on Tuesday when the Senate Appropriations Committee passed an amendment offered by Senators Durbin and Leahy which added an additional $50 million for Darfur peacekeeping to the FY06 emergency supplemental funding bill, matching a similar amendment passed by the House in mid-March.  Assuming that the bi-cameral agreement on an additional $50 million survives the upcoming conference committee, it will bring the total for Darfur peacekeeping within this emergency funding bill to $173 million, a significant increase over the President’s initial $123 million request. 

On the other side of the Capitol, the House of Representatives passed their version of the Darfur Peace and Accountability Act (H.R. 3127) on Wednesday, setting the stage for an informal conference to work out the differences between the House and Senate versions.  The Act would place further penalties on the government of Sudan and on those persons complicit in the genocide, and also calls for stronger U.S. participation in the Darfur peace process.  Speeches on the House measure coincided with an event on the lawn of the Capitol which marked the culmination of the Sudan Freedom Walk.  The walk began at the United Nations in New York, and spread awareness of the situation in Darfur and the continuing troubles of South Sudan with every mile of its three-week journey.  Even as its elected officals took some substantive action on Darfur, America's opinion leaders continued to call for the additional necessary steps for peace  [ send green star]

anonymous  April 30, 2006 10:35 AM

Sudan hopes to sign peace deal with Darfur rebels

Updated Sun. Apr. 30 2006 10:58 AM ET News Staff

Sudan could soon reach a peace agreement with Darfur rebels, ending a conflict responsible for 180,000 deaths and the displacement of 2 million people.

Sunday is the deadline for reaching an agreement, set by the African Union in the hopes of concluding two years of talks. However, the two rebel groups have yet to agree on the deal.

"We have some reservations about the draft peace agreement," Ahmed Hussein, a spokesperson for the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM), told the Associated Press.

"We are going to forward our reservations to (mediators) after our meeting."

Meanwhile, the Sudan Liberation Movement has asked for an extension to the deadline.

The two rebel groups, split into three factions, are seeking more influence in Sundan's government. Wednesday's first draft of the agreement proposed the government create the role of a Darfur advisor, nominated by the two rebel groups.

It also proposed strengthening Darfur's education system by suspending school fees for five years, creating a national anti-poverty plan and asking international donors to contribute to a rehabilitation fund.

Mediators have also suggested Darfur's population vote in 2010 on whether to combine the area's three states into one geographical region. Darfur is roughly the size of France.

Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo is urging rebels to sign the agreement, and met with the groups on Saturday.

"He was urging the parties to put initials on the documents," Ahmed Tugod, a leader of one JEM faction, told AP.

Rebels say Sudan's primarily Arab-dominated government has allowed Darfur to fall into poverty and violence. The conflict started in 2003, when groups within the ethnically-diverse Darfur launched an armed resistance.

The government allegedly responded by sending Janjaweed -- Arab tribal militas -- to rape and murder Darfur civilians. However, Sudan denies the accusation.

The ensuing violence continued to escalate, creating a humanitarian crisis as thousands of Darfur refugees began seeking shelter in neighbouring Chad.

The UN food agency recently said it must cut food rations to the millions of refugees because of a lack of funds.

The agency made the announcement on Friday, saying rations would be cut from 2,100 calories per person to 1,050 -- far below the suggested daily minimum.

"This is one of the hardest decisions I have ever made," World Food Program chief James Morris told AP. "Haven't the people of Darfur suffered enough?"

With files from The Associated Press

 [report anonymous abuse]
 May 02, 2006 8:03 PM

We hope you can feel the momentum on Darfur.  By joining with us, you’ve become a part of a major push for peace in Darfur – at a critical moment.

We want to give you an update on some recent developments, described below. 

Thousands Rally for Peace

Sunday’s major Save Darfur rally in Washington, D.C. (and in many other cities)  was incredible. With speakers such as actor George Clooney, U.S. Senator Barak Obama, victims of the atrocities in Sudan and others, it was a vibrant showing of support and compassion that also served to educate millions more people about Sudan through media coverage.

Human Rights First was there in full force. From our vantage point, there was a feeling of possibility in the air as rally-goers called on the global community to, at long last, exert the political will for peace in Darfur.  Thousands of people – of all races, religions and ages – were packed onto the mall between the Capitol and the Washington Monument.  As you know, we are running a “stand in” campaign – seeking 200,000 people to represent individual victims in Darfur.  We handed out bright orange stickers – each numbered so rally goers could “stand in” at the rally for an individual who was murdered, raped or displaced.  Within an hour, all the stickers were gone – thousands more people have now joined you in our call for a Peace Envoy.

We need this political will. As you probably read in the news, peace talks about Darfur are at a critical juncture in Abjua, Nigeria. The deadline for a peace agreement established by the United Nations has been extended – until tomorrow night. We are hopeful that we will be able to report that a fair and sensible deal has been reached. But even if this happens, much more will need to be done to make peace a reality.  We’ll keep you posted.

Engaging Key Policy Makers in Washington

Human Rights First’s Washington Deputy Director attended a meeting yesterday with U.S. diplomat Robert Zoellick, the Bush Administration’s point person on Darfur. At the meeting, we advanced our proposal for a high-level, U.N.-appointed Peace Envoy. And last Friday, our Washington Director met directly with President Bush, as part of a small group of religious and rights advocates who are working on Darfur. President Bush expressed his personal commitment to act. We see that he and other senior government officials are moved by the outpouring of public support from people like you though our efforts. What you’re doing is working – we need to keep up the pressure in our efforts for peace.

Watch 'ER' on Thursday

The television show ER is doing a series of shows on Darfur.  Writers from the show contacted us about the storylines, and we were able to give them some guidance about events on the ground.  Having a major network show take up these issues helps enormously with public education.  Please support “ER” by watching the episodes on Darfur – the next one is this Thursday night at 10 pm on NBC. 

Organizing Students

Finally, for a bit of inspiration:   in the last few months we have begun organizing high school students across the country to lend their energy and talents to promote peace in Darfur. Beginning last week a group of students near Seattle have been staging a "die in" every day during their lunch period until the end of the school year to raise awareness.  Other students have held fundraisers, days of action, and “teach ins.”  These young people are eager to help Darfurians and have taken up advocacy with energy and creativity.

With Your Support – Our Efforts Continue

Now is the moment to keep the volume up – if you haven’t circulated our online petition to friends and family, now’s the time to do something.  Here’s the link:

We know you’ve been with us – and we ask you to stay energized.  Change is afoot and you have helped us enormously. 


Jill Savitt
Campaign Director, Hope for Darfur
Human Rights First

 [ send green star]
anonymous Peace potential for Darfur.... May 10, 2006 4:17 PM

Peace potential for Darfur.... 4:13 PM
Right,a refugee waits in line for her monthly food ration in a camp in

eastern Chad. At left, members of Darfur's main rebel group arrived at

peace talks Friday.


Next steps to peace in Darfur
A peace deal signed Friday could pave the way for a UN peacekeeping force.

"We really have an opportunity to help end the long nightmare that has befallen the people of Darfur,"
Condoleezza Rice
US secretary of state

-Pro-government Janjaweed militia to be disarmed
-Rebel fighters to be incorporated into army
-One-off $300m transfer to Darfur
-$200m a year for the region thereafter
-Compensation for those forced to flee their homes
-Regional government, if approved in a vote
 [report anonymous abuse]
anonymous Toronto Star - May 11 May 11, 2006 5:37 AM

Peacekeeping pledge broken
Military said they'd be ready for Darfur

A year later, DND commitment has faded

Before committing troops to the current Afghanistan mission, Paul Martin exacted a promise the military now says it's too overworked to keep: Fighting the Taliban in Kandahar wouldn't stop Canada from peacekeeping in Darfur.

Martin, then the Liberal prime minister, set that condition at an extraordinary March 21, 2005 meeting with his top defence and diplomatic advisers. Originally skeptical of the rationale for another Afghanistan tour of duty, Martin finally agreed only after chief of defence staff Gen. Rick Hillier confirmed Canada would prepare itself to help in Sudan, where a 3-year-old civil war has killed some 200,000 people and displaced 2 million more.

Hillier was ordered to ensure Canada would be ready within about a year to respond positively if the United Nations was able to form a Sudan peacekeeping force and, more immediately, to help Foreign Affairs develop a broader Darfur strategy. It was the second of those plans that led to the deployment of about 100 support troops along with badly needed, if obsolete, armoured vehicles.

According to sources who attended the Parliament Hill meeting, Martin alone made a passionate argument for enough military strength to fulfill Canada's traditional humanitarian role.

Stressing the "moral imperative" of intervening to protect the vulnerable, he told Hillier, as well as the then-defence and foreign affairs ministers, that Canadians want and expect their military to make a difference in places like Sudan and Haiti.

A year and an election later, that perspective — along with readiness to join a potential United Nations Darfur force — is lost in logistics.

Conservative Defence Minister Gordon O'Connor told a Senate committee this week that the Forces are now too consumed with Afghanistan and rebuilding their strength to make a significant contribution to another mission.

In question period yesterday, Prime Minister Stephen Harper was more equivocal about the possibility of joining the UN force.

But it's true this government's decision to increase and accelerate the Forces' growth from about 62,000 to 75,000 is straining an organization "hollowed out" by decades of neglect.

There are also other defence and political considerations.

Shattering experiences in Somalia, Rwanda and Zaire make military leaders reluctant to return to Africa and they prefer operating with full U.S support in Afghanistan.

Co-operating with the Bush administration is also a Conservative priority and Harper's government is noticeably cool to the Responsibility to Protect UN protocol pioneered by Martin's Liberals.

Instead, Harper is tilting toward a long-term Afghanistan commitment even though public opinion is turning away from an effort that is increasingly dangerous, has no exit strategy and could easily drag on for many years. In that context, Martin's multilayered decision assumes more weight and subtlety

A Conservative prime minister can take some comfort — not to mention political cover — from a Liberal predecessor's assessment that the second, 2,200-strong Afghanistan deployment serves Canada's military, security and diplomatic interests.

At the same time, Martin's insistence that peacekeeping shouldn't be sacrificed to more aggressive foreign missions is consistent with broad Canadian opinion and resonates particularly loudly in Quebec, where Harper is hoping to secure a majority in the next election.

Martin's position was not shared, or even admired, by his advisers.

One who attended the meeting, and is no fan of the former prime minister's leadership style, says the meeting consensus was that Martin was naïve to predict the international community would eventually put aside differences long enough to end what some label the Sudanese genocide.

"He was prescient," the source says. "The whole government got it wrong and he got it right."

It's not yet clear that the fragile peace agreement negotiated in Nigeria last week will hold, that the UN will forge a coalition to support the undertrained and overwhelmed 7,000 African Union troops now on the ground there, or that Canada will be asked to contribute troops.

Still, Martin's reasons for insisting on the capacity to intervene are as compelling now as then. Paul Heinbecker, Canada's former UN ambassador, argues the responsibility to protect innocents now being raped and murdered in full international view is not diminished by other security concerns.

Despite the colonial hangover problems of putting white troops on a black continent, Heinbecker, who now heads Wilfrid Laurier University's Centre for Global Relations, Governance and Policy, says Canada should make a statement to NATO and other countries with sophisticated militaries by declaring its willingness to join a UN force. He's right.

Hidden in Darfur's horrors is an opportunity to make a new century more compassionate than the last.

By acting decisively, the international community can demonstrate its determination to stop atrocities even while it fights a war on terror.

Rebuilding the military is important and will give Canada more options in the future. But it's not important enough to excuse looking away now while so many are dying.

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anonymous  May 16, 2006 3:25 PM

This site seems to keep current 

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anonymous  May 16, 2006 4:10 PM

Thanks Kate, I'll keep it bookmarked.  [report anonymous abuse]
anonymous  May 22, 2006 7:22 PM

Tonight in the Toronto Star:

Darfur clashes kill more than 60: Report
May 22, 2006. 09:02 PM

KHARTOUM, Sudan (AP) — Recent fighting in Darfur has killed more than 60 people as armed factions battle over territory ahead of a planned disarmament, African and U.N. officials said. Sudan’s army on Monday denied breaching the peace agreement.

U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan, in a report released Monday, accused Sudan’s government of violating international humanitarian law by barring fuel, food and relief aid to civilians in Darfur.

Fighting in Darfur has not abated since the May 5 deal to end the conflict, which has left more than 180,000 dead and 2.5 million displaced in the arid western region since 2003.

“The problem seems to be that everyone wants to maximize their territory before the truce and disarmament actually come into effect,” Moussa Hamani, chief information officer for the African Union in Sudan, told The Associated Press.

Scattered fights have erupted in recent days in southern Darfur, where Sudan’s army and police have said they would disarm bandits, according to U.N. and African Union officials.

Nomadic Arab tribal militia, known as Janjaweed, launched two separate attacks Friday that killed a total of 35 ethnic African villagers, Hamani said Sunday.

In a separate incident Friday, villagers attacked a Janjaweed militia in the southern Darfur area of Kalaka. The fighting killed 11 farmers and eight Janjaweed, the United Nations said. It said villagers were retaliating for a Janjaweed raid that killed the brother of top rebel leader Minni Minnawi on May 5, the day Minnawi signed the peace agreement.

Speaking by phone from neighboring Chad, Minnawi told The Associated Press his brother Yussef was not involved in the rebellion but that the Janjaweed could have targeted him anyway. He said his troops were not involved in Friday’s attack and that he had heard reports that villagers attacked because Janjaweed were looting.

On Thursday, Sudanese army and police fought about 100 fighters near Manawashi, according to the U.N. mission. Seven fighters were killed and two arrested.

The May 5 agreement called for a cease-fire within 72 hours, which was ignored. It also said the government has 37 days to submit a plan to disarm the Janjaweed, and that rebel movements will give up their weapons once they see the militia has.

Anticipating a surge in violence, the U.N.’s security assessment office in Sudan advised U.N. workers and international organizations to limit their movement in the area.

Annan’s new report to the U.N. Security Council described in frank terms how the people of Darfur have been exposed to more violence in recent months, even as aid groups are cutting the programs because of insufficient funding.

Government embargoes on goods entering areas of Darfur held by the rebel Sudanese Liberation Army “have prevented the access of civilians to vital goods and constitute a violation of international humanitarian law,” Annan wrote.

The latest killings came ahead of an expected visit to Khartoum on Tuesday by U.N. envoy Lakhdar Brahimi, the U.N. said. A former U.N. envoy to Afghanistan and Iraq, Brahimi is expected to push the government to accept last week’s U.N. Security Council resolution for the world body to take over Darfur peacekeeping from the African Union.

The U.N. spokesman in Sudan, Baha Elkoussy, said the mission had received unconfirmed reports that a group of about 1,000 Janjaweed were massing in northern Darfur in an apparent threat to the Kutum area.

“The problem is there are so many incidents taking place over such a large area that it is hard to investigate everything,’’ Elkoussy said on the phone from the capital, Khartoum.

Minnawi also told AP on Monday that Sudanese troops, possibly backed by pro-government Janjaweed militia, attacked his fighters Friday at their Dar es-Salam base in northern Darfur. He said no one was wounded.

“This incident does not make us lose trust in the validity of the peace agreement, these are difficulties that can be overcome,’’ Minnawi said.

Sudanese army Brig. Osman Mohamed al-Aghbash denied the report and said the army also was committed to the truce.

“We are discharging our duty in defensive cases,” he said, but declined to explain.

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June 12 June 12, 2006 8:36 AM

This week marks one month since the Darfur Peace Agreement was signed - and sadly the rape and murder in Darfur continue and the violence is now spilling over into neighboring Chad.

Our colleague, Dr. Mudawi Ibrahim Adam, the Chair of a Sudanese human rights group, visited Darfur last week. He called us from a satellite phone. At one point during the call he asked us: "Can you hear the bullets?" The Janjaweed were just 1.5 kilometers away from the village Dr. Mudawi was visiting.

Dr. Mudawi managed to return safely to Khartoum, but he reports of growing chaos in Darfur, and worries that the world has moved on - even though just one month ago Darfur was the subject of rallies, news stories and celebrity attention.

Last week, we sent a letter to Secretary-General Annan, urging him to immediately appoint a UN Special Envoy for Peace in Darfur - someone who can lead an effort to secure peace - making Darfur a daily priority until the violence stops and peace takes root.

We aren't asking you to take any action today, but we wanted to keep you posted on our efforts. You can read more about our call for a UN peace envoy in an article I wrote in yesterday's Miami Herald.

Thanks again for your interest and help to ensure peace is restored to Darfur. We will get back to you in the coming days with new ways you can help.


Jill Savitt
Campaign Director, HOPE for Darfur
Human Rights First

If you received this message from a friend, you can sign up for Human Rights First.

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darfur June 15, 2006 8:52 AM

The government of Sudan announced today that they will not allow those accused of warcrimes to be tried outside their country. This is quite alarming because who knows what type of justice or lack there of will be doled out.  [ send green star]
darfur June 16, 2006 12:28 PM

66 million dollars is to be used for additional peacekeepers in the sudan.  [ send green star]
 July 06, 2006 11:05 AM

Darfur: Handle With Care by Nii Akuetteh, While we push the U.S. to get involved in Darfur we must remember our history in the region.  [ send green star]
 July 20, 2006 1:00 PM

This recent story from the BBC says it all: "Aid agencies and the EU [European Union] have warned Darfur is teetering on the brink of catastrophe and have called for urgent efforts to bolster the peace process." That is why we are organizing a nationwide call-in day TODAY to request that President Bush appoint a Special Envoy to oversee the United States’ involvement in stopping the Darfur genocide. Call President Bush today at 202-456-1111 and ask him to appoint a Special Envoy for Sudan of "high rank and stature." Making your call is easy. When you dial the White House you will speak to a communications coordinator who will take down your comments and then pass them on to the president’s advisers. Let’s flood the White House with calls and make it clear there are hundreds of thousands of Americans calling on President Bush to do more to stop the Darfur genocide. After you’ve made your call, click here to let us know how it went. The Darfur Peace Agreement signed in May was an important step – but it was only a first step. In order to truly stop the Darfur genocide, President Bush and his administration must take a number of additional steps. And it is up to you, and the hundreds of thousands of Darfur activists like you, to call upon him to do so. The situation in Darfur is dire. Hundreds of thousands are dead, millions have been displaced from their homes and many more are at risk. And the growing danger recently forced humanitarian relief organizations operating in Darfur to pull out of the region. Make your call to President Bush today! Dial 202-456-1111 and ask the president to appoint a Special Envoy for Sudan of "high rank and stature." After you’ve made your call, click here to let us know how it went. Thank you, David Rubenstein Save Darfur Coalition  [ send green star]
August 31 August 31, 2006 2:37 PM

I have critical news to report.

This morning, the United Nations Security Council passed a resolution authorizing a peacekeeping force in Darfur.  The presence of a peacekeeping force is the only measure that will provide the security the people of Darfur desperately need.

This morning's vote is unmistakable evidence of the effectiveness that the pressure you, and hundreds of thousands of Darfur activists like you, have applied to world leaders.  The international community has shown that the will now exists to end the genocide in Darfur.

Yet, before peacekeepers can be deployed, the resolution says the Sudanese government must first agree to permit them.

This means that we cannot yet let up on the pressure.  One way to continue to make your voice heard is to attend the "Save Darfur Now: Voices to End Genocide" rally and concert in New York City's Central Park on September 17.  Click here for more information.

If you cannot make it to New York, there are other September 17 events taking place all over the country and the world as part of a Global Day for Darfur.  For more information on US events, click here.  And for more information on international events, click here.

As always, thank you for everything you do.


David Rubenstein
Save Darfur Coalition

 [ send green star]
Reuters Sept 6 September 06, 2006 8:21 PM

Sudan says AU can stay in Darfur but not under UN
04 Sep 2006 22:30:00 GMT
Source: Reuters

Sudanese Red Crescent members distribute food in Kebkabiyah, a government controlled town in North Darfur, September 3, 2006.
Previous | Next
Sudanese Red Crescent members distribute food in Kebkabiyah, a government controlled town in North Darfur, September 3, 2006.
REUTERS/Candace Feit

KHARTOUM, Sept 4 (Reuters) - Sudan said on Monday it would allow African troops to remain in Darfur only under African Union control and accused Washington of attempting "regime change" in Khartoum by trying to bring in a U.N. force.

The head of the African Union mission monitoring a shaky truce in Darfur reaffirmed that the AU presence would end on Sept. 30.

Sudan raised fears its turbulent west could descend into full-blown war by saying on Sunday AU troops must leave when their mandate expired at the end of the month.

Presidential adviser Mustafa Osman Ismail said on Monday the government was merely responding to the AU's assertion that it did not have the money or equipment to sustain its 7,000 troops in Darfur beyond the end of this month.

"The AU has refused to extend its mandate beyond Sept. 30. If they don't want to extend their mandate, they have to go," he said.

 [ send green star]
Sojourners Sept 2006 September 06, 2006 8:22 PM

Voices to stop genocide
by Duane Shank

The humanitarian crisis in Darfur is unbelievably going from bad to worse. Last week, the U.N. Security Council adopted a resolution authorizing up to 20,000 peacekeepers to replace the African Union troops whose mandate expires at the end of September. The resolution, however, was contingent on the approval of the Sudanese government, which promptly refused.

Instead, the government launched a new offensive against rebels in Darfur - using helicopter gunships, bombers, and armored trucks moving troops into the region. And, predictably, it is once again civilians who are suffering. After three years of fighting, an estimated 450,000 people have died from war and disease and nearly 2.5 million driven from their homes into overcrowded refugee camps. The Washington Post reported this week that "Aid workers say that in recent weeks, civilian casualties, rapes and looting have grown more widespread. Tens of thousands of Darfuris have surged into camps ¿. " In addition, attacks on aid workers are also increasing - according to news reports, 12 have been killed since May.

This week, the government issued a new demand to the African Union: either extend its mandate without the U.N. or leave by the end of the month. The A.U.'s response is that they will leave if Sudan does not allow the U.N. to take over. Without even this small force, the crisis would likely escalate. According to The New York Times, U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan told reporters in Egypt that "The international community has been feeding about three million people in camps, and if we have to leave because of lack of security, lack of access to the people, then what happens?"

In order to avoid further genocide in the near future, it is urgent for both the U.S. and the U.N. to act now. Two upcoming actions, in Washington D.C. and New York City, will seek to dramatize the crisis. We urge our readers in or near these cities to participate.

Two Years Too Many: Break the Deadlock on Darfur
12 noon, Saturday, Sept. 9, 2006

Lafayette Park and White House sidewalk
16 and H Streets N.W., Washington D.C.

On Sept. 9, 2004, the Bush administration declared that genocide was occurring in Darfur. Yet two years later, it continues. Sponsored by Africa Action, this rally will call for "robust diplomatic engagement from the U.S. to break this deadlock and ensure the rapid deployment of peacekeepers. This gathering will emphasize the urgent need for concerted efforts by the U.S. to remove the obstacles to the deployment of a United Nations (U.N.) peacekeeping force to protect the people of Darfur." Following the rally, some participants will walk across the street to the White House sidewalk and risk arrest.

Save Darfur Now: Voices to Stop Genocide
2-5, Sunday, Sept. 17
Central Park, East Meadow
New York City

Sponsored by the Save Darfur Coalition, this rally will "call on the international community to overcome the government of Sudan's objections to the U.N. peacekeeping force" so it can be quickly deployed in order to stop the genocide. The rally is planned to coincide with the beginning of the 61st U.N. General Assembly meeting.

If you are not in the Washington or New York area, the Save Darfur Coalition is also sponsoring "Ten Days of Action for Darfur: September 7-17." During these days, thousands of congregations across the country will be distributing information on Darfur, raising money for refugee relief, and holding special services and prayers.

Now is one of those times when, as Dr. Martin Luther King said about Vietnam, "Every [person] of humane convictions must decide on the protest that best suits [their] convictions, but we must all protest." The blood of hundreds of thousands of people is crying from the ground. We must respond.

+ Share this issue with your friends

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anonymous  November 16, 2006 10:20 AM

Annan opens African meeting on Darfur

By LES NEUHAUS, Associated Press Writer2 hours, 16 minutes ago

U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan worked with key African, Arab, European leaders in Ethiopia on Thursday to break the deadlock over worsening violence in Sudan's Darfur region.

Annan said summit members set up three committees to discuss the key issues: strengthening a beleaguered African peacekeeping force, enforcing a faltering cease-fire, and reinvigorating peace talks.

"We are having very good and constructive discussions," he said at the African Union headquarters in Ethiopia.

Annan wants U.N. peacekeepers to replace an African Union force in Darfur. Sudan has so far blocked a U.N. contingent, and Annan wants to stop the killings in Darfur before he leaves office Jan. 1. One proposal is for a joint AU-U.N. peacekeeping force.

Sudanese Foreign Minister Lam Akol did not rule out the proposal. "We are still discussing these points," he said.

The meeting drew senior officials from the African Union, the Arab League, the European Union, Sudan, the United States, China, Russia, Egypt, France and a half-dozen African countries.

In recent days, pro-government militia known as janjaweed have stepped up attacks on villages in Darfur, killing dozens of people, international observers said Wednesday. In one raid, janjaweed militiamen — backed by government troops — forced children into a thatched hut, then set it ablaze, killing parents who tried to rescue the children, rebels said.

Speaking Wednesday in neighboring Kenya, Annan said the United Nations still wants to send its own troops. It has proposed replacing the 7,000-member African Union mission in Darfur with some 20,000 U.N. peacekeepers.

"We have not given up the idea of strengthening the force in Darfur," Annan said. "We need to continue our efforts to calm Darfur ... the border area between Chad and Sudan is very fragile and volatile."

After years of low-level clashes over water and land in the vast, arid Darfur region, rebels from ethnic African tribes took up arms against Sudan's Arab-dominated central government in 2003. Khartoum is accused of unleashing the janjaweed. The militiamen are accused of many of the atrocities in a conflict that has killed some 200,000 people and chased 2.5 million from their homes.

The conflict has destabilized a wide region that includes parts of neighboring Chad and the Central African Republic. The chaos has been exploited by rebels from Sudan, Chad and the Central African Republic, and ethnic violence mirroring attacks in Darfur has been seen in Chad in recent weeks.

The Sudanese army has denied any connection to janjaweed attacks, saying the claims were politically motivated.

Some in Darfur say the government has let loose janjaweed forces in Darfur recently to put down an umbrella coalition of rebels, the National Redemption Front, which has rejected a peace deal and clashed with government forces.

The African Union said at least 30 people were killed and 40 wounded in the janjaweed raid Saturday in the north Darfur town of Sirba and that attacks were also reported nearby.

Human Rights Watch has called for a major increase in the Darfur peacekeeping force to stop the growing number of attacks on civilians.

The New York-based advocacy group said it has documented renewed aerial bombing of civilians both in Darfur and inside neighboring Chad since late October.

"We're seeing a regional war against civilians, with armed groups on both sides of the border actively supported or tolerated by the Sudanese and Chadian governments," Peter Takirambudde, Africa director at Human Rights Watch, said in a statement. "The high-level meetings in Ethiopia must produce a clear plan for immediate deployment of international troops to protect civilians in Darfur and eastern Chad."

The aid agency Medecins Sans Frontiers reported that thousands of people have fled their homes and refugee camps in Darfur. The agency said it was also increasingly difficult to provide aid to the victims because of the violence.

Copyright © 2006 Yahoo! Inc. All rights reserved.
Questions or Comments
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Darfur Nov 10, 2006 November 18, 2006 5:30 PM

Darfur News Briefs
Darfur News Brief: Nov. 10, 2006

Violence against civilians and aid workers in Darfur continue on a daily basis, reports the United Nations, which says Janjaweed forces have yet to be disarmed. Khartoum denies claims that it is arming the Janjaweed and said it is prepared to begin peace talks with the rebel National Redemption Front.

Fighting in Sudan has spilled across the border into Chad where, the government of Chad says, Khartoum has "exported" the genocide in Darfur. Humanitarian groups urge the United Nations to contain this violent spillover.

In the face of Khartoum's continued refusal of a UN peacekeeping force in Darfur, the UN Security Council, the United States and other international players have begun looking to alternate options to deal with the crisis including a "hybrid African Union-UN" peacekeeping force.

The Situation on the Ground

A UN spokesperson says violence against civilians and aid workers continue throughout Darfur on a daily basis. Armed Arab nomads have killed one man and injured others in attacks in southern Darfur where conflict also erupted, injuring 18 people, during Minni Minnawi's visit to local refugee camps.

The UN High Commissioner for Refugees reports that Janjaweed attacks of Oct. 29 on villages and 50 civilian deaths, including 27 children. The United Nations reports that Khartoum has yet to disarm the Janjaweed and may instead be remobilizing them.

A Sudanese governor denies involvement in recent attacks stating, instead, that "renegade Arab tribesmen" are to blame. Khartoum denies further accusations that they have supported the rebels in Central African Republic, urging Chad, at the same time, to stop supporting National Redemption Front rebels.

Increased Arab-African fighting among Chadians has left 220 dead, reports the UNHCR. The government of Chad blames these clashes on Khartoum stating that the government there is "exporting the genocide" from Darfur into Chad. Human Rights Watch reported a "massive escalation in attacks" in eastern Chad linked to the violence in Darfur.

The rebel Justice and Equality Movement has announced a political force uniting all the marginalized regions of Sudan.

The Proposed UN Transfer

Following talks with Ban Ki-Moon, Sudan's Foreign Minister Lam Akol reiterated Khartoum's refusal of a UN force in Darfur favoring, instead, letting the Sudanese government and the African Union deal with the situation.

UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan and the UN Security Council are discussing new methods, including a "hybrid African Union-UN" peacekeeping force, to put an end to the current stalemate over UN peacekeeping in Darfur. The Security Council diplomats to speak with the Sudanese government and the African Union.

The United States, according to Special Envoy Andrew Natsios, is exploring an alternate way of "carrying out the intentions of [UN Resolution] 1706 … without calling it a United Nations peacekeeping operation in the traditional sense of the world." The White House argued that this was not a change in policy and that any options "would be within the context of the UN resolution."

British Prime Minister Tony Blair said if Sudan does not make progress in the next few weeks, Britain, the European Union and the United States will find other ways to  [ send green star]

 November 01, 2007 7:16 PM

Here is some recent news to note about Darfur.


Darfur Peace Talks Postponed World  (tags: Darfur, 'PEACE!', genocide )

StarsButterfliesGold Notes
- 9 minutes ago -
Negotiations between the Sudanese government and Darfur rebels have been postponed until December, the spokesman for the government delegation to the stalled peace talks said Thursday.
 November 01, 2007 8:11 PM

New York, Oct 31 2007  5:00PM
The Security Council today voted to extend the mandate of the United Nations Mission in Sudan (<"">UNMI by six months, urging all parties to fully put into the practice the 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) ending a 21-year civil war between north and south Sudan.

In a resolution passed unanimously, the 15-member body underscored the “importance of full and expeditious implementation of all elements of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement.”

UNMIS was established by the Council in 2005 to support the accord between the Government of Sudan and the Sudan People's Liberation Movement/Army (SPLM/A).

Successfully implementing the CPA is key to resolving the crisis in Darfur and to consolidating sustainable peace and stability in the region, the Council noted.

To this end, it urged the full deployment in Darfur of the hybrid UN-African Union (AU) peacekeeping force, set to become the world’s largest, as well as the protection of aid workers.

Today’s resolution also lauded the work of UNMIS, and voiced concern over restrictions and impediments placed on the movements of its personnel and material.

Such obstacles have an “adverse impact” on UNMIS’ activities and on the “ability of the humanitarian community to reach affected persons,” according to the resolution.

The Council also called for the sides to take measures to defuse tensions in the disputed Abyei region and to allow UNMIS unrestricted access to conduct monitoring and verification exercises in the region.

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