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Updated: Darfur - EU policy? (where's the outrage?)

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?

Display:
What is the EU policy with regards to Darfur? What should the policy be?
...
What should European Union policy be in Darfur? Are we paying too much or too little attention to the region?
Colman, is this a topic for another Gnomem00t?

Personally, I think the EU is not paying any attention to Darfur. I am guilty of the same.

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Feb 22nd, 2006 at 07:44:07 PM EST
Personally, I think the EU is not paying any attention to Darfur.

That was my general impression but not being on the ground I wasn't sure if that was correct or not. Is there anything one can do about it?

In searching the French papers I didn't find much mention of Darfur recently except for a Le Monde wire service story about the Human Rights Watch report and an article in Libreration on Hassan al-Tourabi and his role in Sudan. Does that seem to be the pattern throughout Europe? If the topic is nowhere in the press the pressure for it to be on the political radar is also low, I would imagine.

I'm no expert on the Darfur situation and, from what I understand the tensions have a long 20 year history with a sharp rise in violence since 2003 and, according to the Le Monde article, between 180 000 et 300 000 deaths depending on estimates along with two million displaced persons, several tens of thousands of whom took refuge in the eastern of Chad.

Doctors without Borders, a humanitarian organization which has worked in the Darfour region for many years now, provides their recent perspective on their web site with an article on Darfur, Sudan: 'The chronic insecurity has led us to redefine and step up our activities' and Chad - 'Everyday brings one or more wounded to Adré Hospital'. I'll be interested to hear what the Medecin du Monde perpesctive is on RFI this saturday. The broadcasts get archived so anyone with the computer capacity can listen to the interview by going here after the Saturday broadcast.

by Alexandra in WMass (alexandra_wmass[a|t]yahoo[d|o|t]fr) on Thu Feb 23rd, 2006 at 11:44:12 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Check out the Sudan section of the Council of the European Union's EU-Africa relations page.

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Feb 23rd, 2006 at 11:58:07 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Thanks for the link. The site confirms that the EU is involved but also, it seems, that it is not a top priority since the last update is from December, a Statement (pdf) by the Presidency on behalf of the European Union on the Darfur peace talks in Abuja.

Brussels, 21 December 2005

The European Union is closely following the Darfur peace talks in Abuja, the seventh round of which began at the end of November. The EU Special Representative for Sudan, Pekka Haavisto, has visited the talks twice during this round, and several member states are represented there. The EU welcomes the progress that has been made in the wealthsharing commission since the beginning of the round. But it is gravely concerned at the lack of progress on the other two tracks (power-sharing and security arrangements) in the first two and a half weeks..... The EU reiterates its full support to the African Union-led mediation team and commends it for its tireless efforts in these talks.

The EU is also deeply concerned by the continuing violations of the ceasefire agreements in Darfur. It calls on all sides to stop such attacks immediately and to refrain from any action that might aggravate the situation in Darfur and in Chad.

The Acceding Countries Bulgaria and Romania, the Candidate Countries Turkey, Croatia* and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia*, the Countries of the Stabilisation and Association Process and potential candidates Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia and Montenegro, and the EFTA countries Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway, members of the European Economic Area, as well as Ukraine and the Republic of Moldova align themselves with this declaration.

by Alexandra in WMass (alexandra_wmass[a|t]yahoo[d|o|t]fr) on Thu Feb 23rd, 2006 at 12:31:34 PM EST
[ Parent ]
BTW great links you added over at the wiki EU section!!
by Alexandra in WMass (alexandra_wmass[a|t]yahoo[d|o|t]fr) on Thu Feb 23rd, 2006 at 12:56:40 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I wanted to write a diary summarizing all that's been written about the EU constitution here, and...

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Feb 23rd, 2006 at 12:58:37 PM EST
[ Parent ]
UN-actions, political interventions in the region....
this is just cleaning te mess , far from enough to solve the real problems in the region.

I just did read a diary at dkos bij Devilstower : Darwin's Nightmare.
A must read, a very exposing story about our money and greed -driven economy.

The struggle of man against tyranny is the struggle of memory against forgetting.(Kundera)

by Elco B (elcob at scarlet dot be) on Thu Feb 23rd, 2006 at 09:51:00 AM EST
In the case of Darfur I think UN actions and political interventions, not just form the west, are crucial but you are right the film mentioned in Devilstower's piece sounds like a powerful tale, as described in it's press release, of "the agonized human face of globalization. While the flesh of millions of Nile perch is stripped, cleaned and flash-frozen for export to wealthy countries, millions of people in the Tanzanian interior live on the brink of famine". Here is the direct link to the film about Tanzania's fish and arms trade and an interview with the film maker.
by Alexandra in WMass (alexandra_wmass[a|t]yahoo[d|o|t]fr) on Thu Feb 23rd, 2006 at 12:13:40 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Thanks for the additional links.
I made my remark because I came across a story from a NATO-liaison officer in the Darfur region.
I can't find the link again, but in short:
NATO provides some assistance for the UN-forces in place, also delivering some ammunitions made by Belgian FN.
The same make of ammunition is used by ALL groups involved in the fighting in the Darfur-region.
Sounds like our corporates don't border who is going to be killed, nor how many, as long they can sell.
Our politicians have work to do overthere for sure.
But they also still have a lot to do in our country's controlling arms traffic.

The struggle of man against tyranny is the struggle of memory against forgetting.(Kundera)
by Elco B (elcob at scarlet dot be) on Thu Feb 23rd, 2006 at 01:23:06 PM EST
[ Parent ]
In addition to being an Academy Award nominee for best documentary feature, Darwin's nightmare was just awarded on Feb 25th the Cesar for best first film.
by Alexandra in WMass (alexandra_wmass[a|t]yahoo[d|o|t]fr) on Fri Mar 3rd, 2006 at 12:28:56 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I have been aware of the dangers and tragedies of this situation, through the contact I have had with NGOs trying to get children's services established in Darfur...but it has been too unsafe and all NGO are out right now, and the UNHCR staff live with bags packed, is my understanding.

"Once in awhile we get shown the light, in the strangest of places, if we look at it right" - Hunter/Garcia
by whataboutbob on Thu Feb 23rd, 2006 at 11:43:35 AM EST
My understanding, correct me if I'm wrong, is that Doctors without Borders still has staff in the region and I assume we'll know more about the work of Medecin du Monde from the interview with one of their directors this weekend. I included the links in my comment further up.

Clearly European NGOs have been involved and the EU representative in Sudan was briefing reporters on the status of Peace negotiations so the EU is there in some capacity. The question is politically and militarily should the EU be more actively involved and if so how? What is the current policy?

by Alexandra in WMass (alexandra_wmass[a|t]yahoo[d|o|t]fr) on Thu Feb 23rd, 2006 at 11:54:01 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Just to shed some light on what appears to be greater interest on the part of the US govt, as compared to the EU...

The Religious Right has also been lobbying very hard to get their reps to address the issue.  It's been a key issue for them for some while.

Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities. -Voltaire

by p------- on Thu Feb 23rd, 2006 at 02:12:17 PM EST
Yes that's one of the sad ironies of US politics, for better and for worse, it seems some of the people most interested in US policies in African are the christian missionaries of today.
by Alexandra in WMass (alexandra_wmass[a|t]yahoo[d|o|t]fr) on Thu Feb 23rd, 2006 at 02:55:40 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Just to shed some light on what appears to be greater interest on the part of the US govt, as compared to the EU..

yeah, and if the US got involved to a greater extent, then there would be protests in many European cities denouncing the evil Bush regime's illegal war in Sudan. It happens every time.

by messy on Thu Feb 23rd, 2006 at 04:51:00 PM EST
[ Parent ]
No one is talking about the US going to war in Sudan. The last thing the region would need is unilateral US intervention in my opinion. What the two US senator I mention in the diary are advocating is a UN intervention with perhaps a NATO presence in the interim. My understanding is the idea is to build on the work of the African Union (AU) troops but by having a force with a stronger mandate and better funding. The AU is also already playing a key role in the peace deal negotiations.  
by Alexandra in WMass (alexandra_wmass[a|t]yahoo[d|o|t]fr) on Fri Feb 24th, 2006 at 09:16:15 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The African Union is already present with troops as peacekeepers, it's just that they are poorly funded. NATO had better not get involved, and UN peacekeepers should be drawn from culturally and ethnically sensitive countries, and definitely not from former colonial powers.

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Feb 24th, 2006 at 09:24:06 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I'm not advocating for NATO intervention, just reporting what has been mentioned in the US context.

I don't quite understand all the dynamics going on here but my sense was that part of the problem is one of scale, funding, and mandate. The African Union troops who have been on the ground since 2004, initially with less then 1000 troops and as of last october/november about 7000 strong, have constrains on how they can intervene given the international agreements that allowed for their presence in the first place. The African Centre for the Constructive Resolution of Disputes (ACCORD) has a good one page overview of the mission and its composition (pdf)

Wiki has an informative piece on the history of the AU troop presence although it is not fully up to date.

I don't understand the details of why the AU troops mandate is limited or why increased funding and greater mandate seems to require getting UN status (even if on the ground some of the same troops are present). However, the push at this point seems to be to get a UN peace-keeping force in place (see guardian article from January 26th).

Once you pass the intro section very focused for a US audience this PBS News program video on the African Union's Darfur Mission is quite informative on the bind of the AU troops as see by two humanitarian relief experts who returned from Darfur in Oct. 2005 and discuss the African Union's efforts to bring stability to the Darfur region.

by Alexandra in WMass (alexandra_wmass[a|t]yahoo[d|o|t]fr) on Fri Feb 24th, 2006 at 10:20:26 AM EST
[ Parent ]
A UN resolution would be a way to enhance the mandate of the mission. The problem is that, of late, the US is not friendly to UN peacekeepers and instead seeks to get UN mandates for NATO missions.

What is South Africa's policy on Darfur, and what is its position on the AU, NATO involvement, and a possible UN resolution?

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Feb 24th, 2006 at 10:27:02 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Good questions about South African. I don't have time to look into it at this point. Any South African experts out there? Stormy present might have some idea, based on experience living in South African, of good web resources to recommend?
by Alexandra in WMass (alexandra_wmass[a|t]yahoo[d|o|t]fr) on Fri Feb 24th, 2006 at 10:50:05 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The US would love to get that oil region under its control.  The problem:  How to do it?  Maybe a big operation to stop the genocide is the ticket--get a bunch of troops in there and we can stop the Sudan from selling oil to the Chinese . . .

I don't think sending in more guns is going to keep anybody from getting killed . . .

The Fates are kind.

by Gaianne on Sun Mar 5th, 2006 at 12:32:19 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The Sudan oil deals are part of the bigger picture/context. However, I don't think it should distract us from the need for a stronger UN mission to the Darfur area and again the last thing the area needs is US military intervention. I would imagine the troop composition would be similar to that of the UN troops in southern Sudan to oversee a separate peace deal there (see details below). Having a mobile and empowered UN force on the ground in Darfur (western Sudan) can expand on the work of the African Union (AU) troops and be instrumental in reducing the number of people killed by, among other things: (1) proving security for the civilian population caught in the conflict, sometimes with things as simple as having escorts, as the AU troops have done in a few places, for refugees who need to leave the refugee camps to gather wood (2) disarming the local militias. I wrote about this here earlier.

As an example of troop composition the current UN mission to southern Sudan, which overseas a separate peace deal there, is headed by an Indian Lieutenant general and has:

Contributors of military personnel:
Australia, Austria, Bangladesh, Belgium, Benin, Bolivia, Brazil, Burkina Faso, Cambodia, Canada, China, Croatia, Denmark, Ecuador, Egypt, El Salvador, Fiji, Finland, Gabon, Germany, Greece, Guatemala, Guinea, India, Indonesia, Italy, Jordan, Kenya, Kyrgystan, Malawi, Malaysia, Mali, Moldova, Mongolia, Mozambique, Namibia, Nepal, New Zeland, Nigeria, Norway, Pakistan, Paraguay, Peru, Philippines, Poland, Republic of Korea, Romania, Russia, Rwanda, Sri Lanka, Sweden, Switzerland, Tanzania, Thailand, Turkey, Uganda, Ukraine, United Kingdom, Yemen, Zambia, Zimbabwe

Contributors of police personnel:
Argentina, Bangladesh, Brazil, China, El Salvador, Fiji, Finland, Ghana, India, Jamaica, Jordan, Kenya, Kyrgyzstan, Namibia, Nepal, Nigeria, Norway, Pakistan, Philippines, Russia, Samoa, Sri Lanka, Sweden, Tanzania, Turkey, Uganda, Ukrain, United States, Zambia and Zimbabwe
(source UN site)

For more from the official UN site on Sudan go here you can also find a Sudan pdf map.

by Alexandra in WMass (alexandra_wmass[a|t]yahoo[d|o|t]fr) on Mon Mar 6th, 2006 at 10:16:28 AM EST
[ Parent ]
you follow this topic more than me. Is there a cease-fire? I wonder if the number of people killed has dramatically diminished as it seems from the few news we get from there. Is Darfur just another poor area of Africa or maybe a little bit worse..? I just do not get the info. So , an answer will be welcomd indeed.

Why is it worse than Somalia. Somalia is the tyical example of a country savaged by a soft-war due a hard war.

Nevertheless, the real underreported news is the war   going on right now in COngo. Every month the number of casualties is much more bigger than anything that happens in Iraq (Iraq would be the proud second.. darfur I do not know if it would reach the third or the tenth place, no idea) .

So, if Darfur is just like Cngo now you are deeply right..if not.. well it is like a lot of poor areas of Africa....and discussing what to do if anything about Africa has been debated here...amy be we should talk about it more.

If you ask what the Eu would do.. well.. nothing..no interest in there...the west is like that...And still some discussion about Africa proceeds...let's hope

A pleasure

I therefore claim to show, not how men think in myths, but how myths operate in men's minds without their being aware of the fact. Levi-Strauss, Claude

by kcurie on Thu Feb 23rd, 2006 at 04:45:59 PM EST
Darfur is genocide. The Moselm Arabs are killing off the Black Christians and Animists--All of them. We're almost at the quarter million mark.

Yeah, "Democratic"[HA! that's a laugh]Congo is still in "Africa's First World War" and maybe with elections coming up, it'll die down. The Hutu Nazis from Rwanda [y'know, those people who killed a million people with machettes back in 1994], are still causing trouble.

what are we supposed to do about that?

Then There's Nigeria. The Moslems and Christians have been fighting since the "celebratory" massacares in September 2001. This part of the "War on Terror" has claimed over 70 thousand lives, and it's getting worse in recent days. These people DO indeed have oil.

Tell me, what are we supposed to do?

by messy on Thu Feb 23rd, 2006 at 04:58:26 PM EST
[ Parent ]
From the news I have Darfur had a dramatic war. I have also received contradictory information regarding the fact that there were mass killings or genocide. I normally think the worst so I think it was targeted mass killings close to genocide.

But, we have also received information in Europe this last months that say there is no mass killing any more. There are actual negotiations right now..and they have been going on for quite some time.

The policy of EU is not vocal just in the most critical moment, now, in the middle of the peace conference.

Maybe the reports I read are wrong and the mass killing continue but this is not what the major broadcasters say (they could lie of course).

Regarding the other countries in Africa in adesperate situation...I have no idea what to do...As a first step it will be to leave them alone...but I have no power to force the mega corporations to stop bleeding Africa...

Other than that...I have my own ideas about Africa but I have not enough experience, background and knwoledge to give any advice....As always.. i would say: listen to Africa poor people and see what they say...and this history is really underreported.

A pleasure

I therefore claim to show, not how men think in myths, but how myths operate in men's minds without their being aware of the fact. Levi-Strauss, Claude

by kcurie on Thu Feb 23rd, 2006 at 05:21:45 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Kcurie you are right the situation in Darfur has moved forward. There are peace negotiations and the African Union troop presence on the ground increased last fall but is still only 7000 troops. However, there continues to be deep concern about the level of violence and specifically the cross boarder violence with Chad which the Human Rights Watch report highlighted and hopefully the Tripoli agreement between Chad and Sudan may help.  

The numbers game of which conflict is more horrific isn't that helpful in my opinion. The point is to highlight the situations that require international attention and Darfur unfortunately, as you point out very well and correctly, is only one of them. I encourage you to write up a diary on one of the other conflicts and try to figure out what the European policy has been in that area. I just happened to see the Human Rights Watch report, which prompted me to dig into this topic further.

As for listening to African people you are right and the web provides a great opportunity to have access to many African media, university, NGO and other sources right at our desks! One such resource I found in preparing this diary is The African Centre for the Constructive Resolution of Disputes (ACCORD) but there are many more.  

The only other thing I would add, at the risk of repeating myself, is that we all need to be cautious not to see Africa as one big monolithic continent. It's as diverse, if not more so, then Europe and not all African nations are "failed states" as one might sometimes believe from the selective media reports in the west.

by Alexandra in WMass (alexandra_wmass[a|t]yahoo[d|o|t]fr) on Fri Feb 24th, 2006 at 10:45:21 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Dead on. I could hardly have said it better.

I think Congo indeed deserves a diary. World's most dangerous place right now.

A pleasure

I therefore claim to show, not how men think in myths, but how myths operate in men's minds without their being aware of the fact. Levi-Strauss, Claude

by kcurie on Fri Feb 24th, 2006 at 12:10:10 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Look forward to a Congo/EU policy diary if you decide to take that on!!!
by Alexandra in WMass (alexandra_wmass[a|t]yahoo[d|o|t]fr) on Fri Feb 24th, 2006 at 12:59:57 PM EST
[ Parent ]
what can we do, in the face of such heartlessness and corruption, as devilstower's excellent diary describes?

keep beating the drum for a global consciusness, emerging maybe a generation down the line as a global conscience

oh and most important: teach our kids critical thinking!

'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Fri Feb 24th, 2006 at 04:51:27 AM EST
I think one of the things we can do is stay informed and keep other informed and remember that Africa is not one monolithic continent much like Europe there are great variations across the continent and success stories along with the tragedies. There are many African initiatives that are worth highlighting more. One of them is The African Centre for the Constructive Resolution of Disputes (ACCORD)

 

by Alexandra in WMass (alexandra_wmass[a|t]yahoo[d|o|t]fr) on Fri Feb 24th, 2006 at 10:25:45 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Alexandra, Colman pointed out the Dkos article to me...so I took the liberty of putting this back in front of all our eyes. The situation really is awful, but...its in Africa...which (very sad to say) seems to be more easily ignored. So we bang the drum some more...

"Once in awhile we get shown the light, in the strangest of places, if we look at it right" - Hunter/Garcia
by whataboutbob on Fri Mar 3rd, 2006 at 11:37:06 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Thanks Bob. I added a few updates to some of the comments.

It might be interesting to post a link to this ET discussion on the current Dkos article. I'm not a member over a Dkos so someone else would have to take that initiative.

by Alexandra in WMass (alexandra_wmass[a|t]yahoo[d|o|t]fr) on Fri Mar 3rd, 2006 at 12:23:30 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Good idea...I'll go do it...

"Once in awhile we get shown the light, in the strangest of places, if we look at it right" - Hunter/Garcia
by whataboutbob on Fri Mar 3rd, 2006 at 12:43:20 PM EST
[ Parent ]
done...

"Once in awhile we get shown the light, in the strangest of places, if we look at it right" - Hunter/Garcia
by whataboutbob on Fri Mar 3rd, 2006 at 01:00:23 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The place for action right now, March 3rd 2005, seems to be at the UN and focused around what type of mandate a UN force would have. As Eric Chevalier, Director of the international work of Médecins du Monde (Doctors of the World) and recently returned from Darfour, pointed out in his interview on RFI last Saturday the African Union troops have an observation mandate not an intervention mandate and a UN mission needs to have a stronger and clearer mandate with larger numbers of more mobile units on the ground and preferably with the ability to take pro-active steps towards disarming local militias.

I think EU countries have a role to play in decisions of what mandate the UN mission would have. In addition I was intrigued by Colman's report on the Europe's brand-new Battlegroups and the civil intervention groups others talked about in that diary.

For the official UN view check out this site.

by Alexandra in WMass (alexandra_wmass[a|t]yahoo[d|o|t]fr) on Fri Mar 3rd, 2006 at 12:20:06 PM EST
Hm, well, we can write LTE's and letters to MEPs.

And diaries too, of course.

However, being Metatone, I am of course interested in tbe structural (dare I say meta?) problem.

And to me, Colman's battlegroup article is the key there.

There is an enormous debate about what the responsibility of the West is in these situations, but added to that is the plain fact that we do not have a capability designed to respond, even when we decide to.

Of course, designing the capacity to respond depends on deciding our desired response. (Forgive the repetitions here, it is late.)

So, the unsung debate is what responsibility do we, as progressives, see for ourselves, our nations, our EU?

I think at least in the wide world, this is a debate still unhad. I am not even sure we have addressed it in the abstract here on ET. It comes up in connection with various issues and places, but I think we could use a sense of our basic principle.

<and I'd like a pony too...>

by Metatone (metatone [a|t] gmail (dot) com) on Sat Mar 4th, 2006 at 06:58:00 PM EST
So how about a meta diary on the topic? You raise good questions here but I think this thread is ending and your questions merit a beginning.

<As for the pony you might try to ask Colman he's the one with the equine connections...>

by Alexandra in WMass (alexandra_wmass[a|t]yahoo[d|o|t]fr) on Mon Mar 6th, 2006 at 10:30:30 AM EST
[ Parent ]


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