by Alexandra in WMass
Sun Apr 30th, 2006 at 05:46:00 AM EST
Human Rights Watch just released a new report on February 21st on the situation in Darfur focusing the violence now spilling over from Sudan into Chad. In a news interview on February 16th two U.S. senators, Republican Brownback and Democrat Obama, called for increased U.S.involvement in Darfur. They suggested the increased UN mobilization they support would probably take a year to become a reality on the ground and mentioned the possibility of using NATO troops in the interim. This week Darfur is also being discussed in some European media. Just today (Feb. 22st 2006) Reuter's has several articles I quote from and Next Saturday, February 25th, on Radio France International (RFI) Eric Chevalier, Director of the international work of Médecins du Monde (Doctors of the World) and recently returned from Darfour, will be interviewed. He is an expert in issues of international relief and the reconstruction of countries at war.
Editor Note: (4/30/06) Since today international blogs are trying to bring Darfur to the attention of more people, we will be promoting some former good Darfur pieces written by the ET Community.
Bumped back up by whataboutbob on 4-30-06, with minot format changes
A quick search of the ET archives revealed a few stories that mention the topic in the last year. I'll list them further down. Soj, for example, included Darfur in her review of Forgotten stories of 2005. Have we unduly ignored the violence in Darfur? Are we paying too much or too little attention to the region?
What is the EU policy with regards to Darfur? What should the policy be?
UPDATE: 3-3-06 Over at Daily Kos there is an article up right now by Maryscott OConnor that is expressing outrage over the lack of outrage about this tragedy. What can we do to get EU attention on this matter, any ideas?
In her Forgotten stories of 2005 Soj sums up the situation as follows:
Darfur - The region in western Sudan has been devastated by a vicious and brutal inter-ethnic war with thousands killed, millions displaced from their home, and the violence has been marked by mass rape. Yet the United States and western powers have done little this year to end the fighting. Indeed, recently the Bush administration cut funds
to the African Union peacekeeping force, some 7,000 soldiers trying to patrol an area the size of Texas.
Other ET articles on the topic include:
According to Peter Takirambudde, Africa director at Human Rights Watch,
The government of Sudan is actively exporting the Darfur crisis to its neighbor by providing material support to Janjaweed militias and by failing to disarm or control them. The Janjaweed are doing in Chad what they have done in Darfur since 2003: killing civilians, burning villages and looting cattle in attacks that show signs of ethnic bias.
In a speech to the European Parliament this week
UN High Commissioner for Refugees António Guterres called for European Union leadership to ensure an effective transition from emergency humanitarian assistance to development aid [in the world].....
[As an example, the commissioner pointed out] the difficulty in helping IDPs is evident in Sudan, where UNHCR received a mandate for the protection of internally displaced persons in the troubled West Darfur province.
"But the absence of a political solution and a dramatic level of insecurity, despite the African Union's laudable efforts, keep us paralyzed on the ground, unable to fulfill this mandate, desperately witnessing massive violations of human rights and frequent loss of life," Guterres said.
A Reuter's article today provides some insight into the role of the European Union and current concerns.
HELSINKI, Feb 22 (Reuters) - Peace talks for Sudan's Darfur region are in their final stretch, but worsening security on the ground could hinder the implementation of any deal, the European Union's special representative to Sudan said on Wednesday.
Pekka Haavisto told a news conference that all the necessary elements for making decisions on power-sharing, wealth-sharing and security arrangements were on the table, but reaching a deal was not a guarantee for sustained peace.
"We are now in a situation where it could optimistically be said that the peace negotiations in Abuja are nearing their end," Haavisto said in Helsinki, where he was briefing Finland ahead of the country's EU presidency later in the year.
"In the European Union, there is a feeling that even if a peace deal is reached in Abuja, the means to realise the peace deal on the ground are lacking if the situation in Darfur worsens," Haavisto said
Civil war has raged in Darfur since February 2003, pitting Sudanese rebels against government forces and Arab militias. Tens of thousands have been killed and 2 million driven from their homes.
The African Union, which has 7,000 peacekeepers there, is mediating peace talks between the Sudanese government and rebel factions in Abuja, Nigeria.
Six rounds of talks have produced a ceasefire and agreements on humanitarian access, but the central issues of sharing wealth and power are only now starting to be discussed seriously.
Haavisto said a major problem was that the Sudanese government and the leaders of armed groups seemed to have lost control, and guerrilla groups had become bandit-like gangs that waged their own wars.
He said the worsening of relations between Sudan and neighbouring Chad was a threat to the entire peace process.
"This is a kind of nightmare that everyone has feared, that the situation in Darfur spreads across borders even more ... It is possible that this will add to the conflict completely new elements," Haavisto said.
When asked about the sustainability of any peace deal reached for Darfur, Haavisto said the onus was on Khartoum.
Here are highlight from the Human right's watch press release:
Chad: Darfur Conflict Spills Across Border
U.N. and A.U. Must Protect Civilians from Raids
(New York, February 21, 2006) - Janjaweed militias and Chadian rebel groups with support from the Sudanese government are launching deadly cross-border raids on villages in eastern Chad, Human Rights Watch said in a new report released today. Human Rights Watch called on the African Union Mission in Sudan to proactively patrol strategic points along the Chadian border to deter further attacks against the civilian population, and on the United Nations Security Council to urgently authorize a transition of the African Union force in Darfur to a U.N. mission.
The 15-page report, Darfur Bleeds: Recent Cross-Border Violence in Chad, based on a Human Rights Watch investigation in eastern Chad in January and February, documents an alarming rise in attacks against civilians in Chad by Sudanese government-backed Janjaweed militias and Chadian rebel groups. The Janjaweed and Chadian rebel forces operate from bases in Sudanese government-controlled areas of Darfur. Sudanese government troops and helicopter gunships have at times supported these cross-border attacks in eastern Chad. The Sudanese government provides support for several Chadian rebel groups, including harboring them on Sudanese territory. ....
The most immediate consequence of the continuing insecurity in eastern Chad has been the displacement of civilians: 30,000 Chadians fled their homes along the Chad/Sudan border due to recent violence. Human Rights Watch visited a village, Koloy, that had a pre-conflict population of 1,904, but now hosts 10,000 to 12,000 internally displaced persons, many of whom have sought refuge since December. Human Rights Watch learned of civilians coming under attack when they returned to their villages to recover food from their fields and gardens. Food shortages will become critical if the internally displaced continue to be denied access to their villages. Water is already a problem: when Human Rights Watch visited, the only well in Koloy was almost dry.
The number of attacks has increased dramatically since December, resulting in dozens of civilian deaths and the displacement of tens of thousands more people. Human Rights Watch again called for the U.N. Security Council to urgently transfer the African Union force to a U.N. mission. That mission should have a strong and clear mandate to protect civilians, by force if necessary. Human Rights Watch also called on the U.N. Security Council to place Janjaweed leaders Hamid Dawai and Abdullah Shineibat, as well as other individuals publicly named as responsible for attacks on civilians in Chad, on the list of persons to be subject to travel bans and other sanctions by the U.N. sanctions committee.
"The governments of Sudan and Chad, the African Union Mission in Sudan, and the international community must do more to ensure the security of the population in the border region and prevent the expansion of `ethnic cleansing' into Chad," said Takirambudde. "Civilians must be protected from attacks at the hands of the Sudanese government, Chadian rebels and Janjaweed militias."
Meanwhile representatives from Chad and Sudan meet earlier this month in Tripoli at a summit called by President Khaddafi. According to a February 9th article by Zaire Djaouane on www.Afrik.com (translation errors mine)
The best Chadian and Sudanese enemies, Idriss Déby and Omar to el-Béchir, signed peace agreement Wednesday evening aimed at putting an end to the open crisis which has shaken their countries for more then two months. Concluded under the auspices of the President Muhammar Khaddafi and in the presence of the Congolese presidents, Denis Sassou Nguesso, also president of the African Union (UA), the Head of the Central African State, Francois Bozizé, and of his Burkina collegue, Blaise Compaoré, the text sees "the re-establishment of relations [between the two countries], the prohibition of using the territory of one for hostile activities against the other and prohibition to accommodate rebels from either countries on their territories ....
Wednesday, in his opening remarks Muhammar Khaddafi insisted that "the solution is African (...) We do not need blue Helmets, we have our own African forces, and we do not need the forces of our friend Blair (...), we can solve our problems by ourselves", he insisted.
In fact today the Sudanese Foreign minister, Lam Akol, told Reuters with regards to the U.S. backed plan to have UN peacekeeping troops take over from the African Union (AU) troops "The government has rejected this ... We did not hear anybody saying they (the AU) are not doing enough to stop the violence. What we are hearing is that they're short of funds".
The Reuter's article goes on to explain that:
Britain's minister for international development, Hilary Benn, said during a visit to Sudan that Akol and Sudan's two vice presidents had expressed concern at having U.N. troops in Darfur.
But he said it was "pretty clear" that the AU would ask the United Nations to take over the Darfur mission, and saw no reason why Khartoum should object.
"I think it's very important that if the AU makes that request ... that the government of Sudan support that because it's about trying to ensure ... that people do not continue to be attacked," he told reporters in Khartoum.
The United Nations is deploying more than 10,000 troops to Sudan's south to monitor a separate peace deal signed last year to end a civil war there -- Africa's longest. AU officials have suggested the mission could be extended to cover Darfur.
A few more links that may be of interests:
Some links in French:
So I ask you my initial questions: What should European Union policy be in Darfur? Are we paying too much or too little attention to the region?