ME and Ophelia

Saturday, June 19, 2004

Start in Kenya Tuesday June 22
Talks open on Friday June 25 - and continue until July 19

June 17: A key round of peace talks between the Sudanese government and southern rebels is due to open in Kenya on June 25 and continue until July 19, the foreign ministry said Thursday. Negotiations will focus on power-sharing arrangements, setting up a joint military, observation of the ceasefire and the number and location of observers, a senior official told the official Al-Anbaa newspaper.

The discussion points were set out in the ceasefire protocol, signed between both parties in Switzerland in December 2001, added Mutraf Sadik, undersecretary of state to the foreign ministry. The government and Sudan People's Liberation Army (SPLA) are to discuss "the final preparations for the last annex relating to the implementation of the protocols", he said.

From Tuesday June 22 until the talks open on June 25, the SPLA, which is led by John Garang, and the government will organise a workshop in Kenya to clarify the steps needed to implement the ceasefire "with military experts from both sides and the United States", Sadik said.

Khartoum and the SPLA have signed accords paving the way for an end to 21 years of civil war in southern Sudan and providing for a six-year transitional period before a referendum on possible cession for the south. The war in Sudan erupted in 1983 when the mostly Christian and animist south took up arms to end domination and marginalisation by the wealthier, mainly Muslim north. Together with recurrent famine and disease, the war has killed at least 1.5 million people and displaced four million others.

June 19 UN appoints Sudan envoy: Kofi Annan has appointed Jan Pronk of the Netherlands as his special representative for Sudan and head of the peace support operations that the Security Council might authorize for the country later. The appointment of Netherlands' former minister for environment and development cooperation comes as the reports of massacres, looting, raping and burning of villages by militias allegedly supported by government in the Darfur region are pouring in.

On Thursday, Annan urged Sudan to seek international help if it cannot stop the violence on its own but declined to characterize the situation as genocide or ethnic cleansing. Meanwhile, the Office of UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) said for security reasons more than 106,000 refugees have moved from the Chad-Sudan border to eight camps inside Chad.
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Orders crackdown on armed groups

June 19: According to this report today Sudan's state run radio said Sudan's President Omar al-Beshir reiterated today his commitment to a Chad-brokered ceasefire deal with Darfur rebels. "What happened in Darfur is bloody and severe for all Sudanese people, not only the Darfurians," the President said in a statement also carried by some newspapers. "We renew once again our commitment to what we agreed in Ndjamena and underline that the security of sister Chad is an indivisible part of Sudanese security. Therefore, we will not allow anybody to disturb stability in Chad from Sudanese territory," he added.

The report explains Sudan's President said today he's ordered:

--all Government departments to reinforce security and clamp down on law-breaking rebels, the pro-Khartoum janjawid militias and other armed groups, disarming them and taking them to court;
--state institutions to strengthen the security and stability of the border with Chad and prevent any illegal access to the neighbouring country;
--police were to be deployed to provide protection in the region and secure the return of people to their villages;
-- legal authorities in Darfur were told to set up prosecution offices and courts to try bandits and other criminals "without delay";
-- ministries to provide seeds for the farming season and to implement development programs and basic service;
-- governmental and non-governmental organisations to launch a humanitarian campaign for the return of displaced people and provide them with shelter, food, clothing and medicine.

June 19 Aljazeera report: "Sudan orders disarming of Darfur militias": Sudanese government officials have previously said it would be difficult to disarm the Arab militias as long as the two main rebel groups - the Sudan Liberation Movement and the Justice and Equality Movement - were active in the region.  Analysts say that part of the problem in Darfur is that the central government in Khartoum, 1000km from the Chad border, does not have the resources to control the area. "

June 18 allAfrica: Clerics Seek UN Force - All Africa Council of Churches (AACC) want a United Nations' peace-keeping force set-up to monitor the peace process in Sudan. Yesterday, Sudan criticized the US for threatening sanctions if Sudan did not improve efforts to stop human trafficking, saying such a step would worsen the humanitarian situation. A US State Department report released on Monday claimed that Sudan and nine other countries engaged in human trafficking and held out the possibility of sanctions. Other countries in the trafficking report are Bangladesh, Burma, Cuba, Ecuador, Equatorial Guinea, Guyana, North Korea, Sierra Leone and Venezuela. Other reports say Secretary-General Kofi Annan will visit Sudan in the next few weeks. UN associate spokesman Stephane Dujarric confirmed that Sudan will be one stop on a trip to Africa that Annan is planning later this month or early next month."

June 18 allAfrica: The World Is Obligated to Prevent Genocide in Darfur.

June 18 theage : "This is genocide. And it is happening NOW" by Pulitzer Prize-winner Nicholas Kristof, a columnist with The New York Times: "The United States Government says it is exploring whether to describe the mass murder and rape in the Darfur region of Sudan as "genocide". If she and her people aren't victims of genocide, then the word has no meaning."

June 16 in "Dare We Call It Genocide?" columist Nicholas D Kristof, along the Chad-Sudan border, writes: "The Bush administration says it is exploring whether to describe the mass murder and rape in the Darfur region of Sudan as "genocide." I suggest that President Bush invite to the White House a real expert, Magboula Muhammad Khattar, a 24-year-old widow huddled under a tree here." Read more...
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Note these two odd reports:

June 18 allAfrica: 'Sudan Govt Not Party to Crimes in West' by Mr Dahab, Charge D'Affairs, Embassy of the Republic of the Sudan, Kampala: It was completely baseless to talk about ethnic cleansing in Darfur region or any other allegations as opposed, to the mere fact of a problem in Darfur which is mainly labelled and characterised by many credible circles as a humanitarian crisis escalated by rivalries between different tribes and groups in the vast and somewhat arid parts of Darfur in search of adequate land, water and pastures. Furthermore, some outside interferences and as a reflection of the hidden agenda especially of the former American administration in which it was designed to destabilise Sudan and topple its regime by the aid of some of its neighbours has mainly contributed to the humanitarian crisis in Darfur.

That was apparently one of the causes behind the insurgency that erupted in western region of Sudan last year, and which shamelessly invited and encouraged hungry mouths from certain sick and ill-intentioned circles here and there. However, some reports have failed to recognise some of the causes behind the conflict which were mainly derived from the past external economic pressures against the Sudan which entailed evelopmental deficiencies in Darfur and elsewhere.

The Sudanese government has spared no effort to cater for the humanitarian crisis in Darfur region and has indulged in diplomatic and political endeavours to end the insurgency in Darfur with the aid of neighbouring Chad and its President Idris Deby.

June 17 by Chris Ochowun - Kampala via allAfrica: Uganda: Kony Recalls Commanders to Sudan "Ochora said Kony was also disappointed because his commanders failed to carry out his order to attack the displaced people's camps in Gulu".
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A hidden force is trying to export the Sudan conflict into Chad

June 18 afrol excerpt: There is growing evidence that the Darfur conflict is spilling across the Sudanese border into eastern Chad. The government supported Sudanese Janjaweed militia is reported to recruit inside Chad and fighting is increasingly noted on the Chadian side of the border. 69 Janjaweed militiamen were recently killed by Chadian troops.

Authorities in Chad's capital N'djamena are reported to be increasingly concerned that the disastrous Darfur conflict may spread into its territory. Also the UN and humanitarian organisations are worried as they concentrate their Darfur relief work in bases in eastern Chad, which houses over 110,000 Sudanese refugees.

Eastern Chad has the potential of becoming the expansion of the Darfurian killing fields. Ethnic divisions follow the same lines as on the Sudanese side of the border. An "Arab" minority of nomadic herdsmen is opposed to the "black African" majority population of sedentary farmers. The ancient Darfur Kingdom - one of pre-colonial Africa's most long-lasting empires - often included what now is eastern Chad.

The most concerning reports from eastern Chad hold that the "Arab" Janjaweed militia - which is accused of ethnic cleansing in Darfur - is now recruiting "Arabs" in eastern Chad to join their files. Ahmad Allami, a personal advisor of Chadian President Idriss Deby, today told this to the UN media Irin.

N'djamena authorities are convinced that the Sudanese militiamen were not confused about where the Chadian-Sudanese border is located, but indeed had businesses in Chad. "There is a hidden force trying to export the conflict between the Sudanese into Chad," Mr Allami told the press today.

So far, Chadian authorities have addressed the crisis by playing a major part in the peace negotiations between the warring parties in Darfur. Further, Chad has welcomed large numbers of Darfurian refugees and cooperates thoroughly with the UN and humanitarian agencies trying to meet the humanitarian crisis in Darfur and in the refugee camps.

As the conflict is threatening to spread into Chad, however, N'djamena authorities are becoming sceptical towards the Sudanese government. The Chadian government today went far in threatening to stop hosting the Darfur peace talks if there were not made efforts on the Sudanese side to contain the infiltration of Janjaweed militias in Chad.

Chad is slipping into becoming a party to the conflict as armed action on its territory increases. Pressure is also high on President Deby to speak up against the slaughtering of his kinsmen in Darfur by militias armed by the Sudanese government. A recent army uprising in N'djamena is commonly understood to have been a protest against Chad's failure to condemn the Khartoum government, and a tougher line from President Deby is now expected.
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Putting Khartoum under increasing pressure

June 18 Brussels: The international community is stepping up pressure on the Sudanese government. On Monday, UN Secretary General Kofi Annan warned that the humanitarian catastrophe in Darfur required immediate attention. Yesterday, the EU heads of government and state at their meeting Brussels, signed a summit statement calling on the government of Sudan to do its utmost to ensure humanitarian access, the protection and security of civilians and humanitarian workers, and to disarm the militias. The 25-member bloc welcomed a ceasefire accord signed in April and urged the parties "to conclude a political agreement as soon as possible. It commended the efforts by the African Union (AU) to implement the ceasefire monitoring mechanism in the Darfur region and confirmed the EU's involvement in, and financial support to this mission.

June 18 VOA: The Africa Union sends two missions to the Darfur region of Sudan.

June 17 VOA: Pentagon US preparing to send team to assess humanitarian situation in Darfur: "should the European Command be ordered to send a humanitarian assessment team, it would be made up of military specialists who would determine requirements for a possible civil-military operations in a humanitarian crisis area. Based on the recommendations of the HAST team, the commander of the European Command could direct the formation of a special task force to conduct operations."
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Give green light for battle groups

May 17 2004 EU ministers give green light for battle groups. Excerpt:

"EU defence ministers gave the green light Monday to detailed plans for rapid-reaction "battle groups" to be deployed to international hotspots from 2007, officials said. The plans were originally launched late last year by France and Britain, after the first-ever EU military mission outside Europe, a French-led force that helped quell fighting in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).

On Monday defence ministers approved proposals by EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana for up to nine such groups, each comprising 1,500 troops, by 2007, with some forces available as early as next year. Under the latest proposals, 1,500-strong contingents would be deployable within 10 days and able to stay on the ground for a few months. A typical scenario in which they would be deployed would be in response to a UN request, said an aide to Solana.

"If the UN Security Council for example asked for support to protect a humanitarian mission in Darfur, Sudan, we would be ready to respond to the request," he said. The plans are due to be finalized in time to be formally approved by EU leaders at a summit in mid-June.

Solana said last month that Europe wants ultimately to have the capacity, if necessary, to deploy several such forces at the same time -- and stressed that they were part of a wider shake-up of Europe's defences. "If you want to deploy rapidly you need rapid decisions and rapid planning," he told reporters, citing the DRC mission as a model of how such relatively small forces would be deployed to secure an area, before larger forces arrive.

The EU, which expanded from 15 to 25 members on May 1, has long pursued ways of increasing cooperation on defence matters, while insisting that there is no question of duplicating capabilities with the US-dominated NATO alliance."
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Carries out emergency Darfur assessement

June 18 Reuters London - "Merlin carries out emergency Darfur assessment": Merlin, the international medical relief agency, is to carry out an emergency assessment in Dafur, western Sudan with a view to starting a programme in the region, where the humanitarian need is at crisis level. Recent improvements in access have meant that humanitarian agencies are better able to reach the most vulnerable populations.

Next week, Merlin will assess health related needs in the region, to determine how it can best contribute to the current relief effort. The current food crisis is expected to increase further in the coming months – meaning that malnutrition will inevitably worsen - and Merlin is looking to position itself in co-ordination with other humanitarian agencies on the ground.

Since its foundation in 1993, they have worked in over 30 countries including Iraq, Afghanistan, Democratic Republic of Congo, East Timor, Georgia, India, Kenya, Russia, Sierra Leone, Tajikistan, Chechnya and Liberia. Patrons include Natasha Kaplinsky, Edward Stourton, Nick Danziger, Martin Bell, Hugh Bonneville and Stephanie Cook.

Merlin is an international humanitarian charity which provides an immediate response to medical emergencies throughout the world. It is the only UK charity that specialises in providing emergency healthcare on an international basis. It always aims to make use of existing health structures, empowering local communities to rebuild and develop their own infrastructures. By training and equipping health workers and local communities in this way, people are better able to help themselves.
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Gives $8M over last month for Darfur

June 18: ABC: Australian is to give an extra $3 million for victims of the Sudanese conflict. This follows $5 million in aid last month to help displaced people in Darfur, in south-west Sudan. Foreign Minister Alexander Downer says the latest contribution is for Sudanese in eastern Chad refugee camps. UNICEF activities will receive $1.5 million and $500,000 each is being allocated through World Vision, Care International and Oxfam.
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Relief agencies team up in Sudan

June 16 Zenit - Catholics, Orthodox and Protestants Aim to Stave Off Disaster: Caritas Internationalis and Action by Churches Together International have joined forces to respond to the humanitarian emergency in Sudan's Darfur province. Both organizations are faith-based networks representing Catholic and Orthodox churches and Protestant denominations and their related agencies across the world.

The joint ecumenical response will be known as the ACT/Caritas Darfur Emergency Response, according to a statement issued today by Caritas Internationalis. Caritas and ACT will issue a joint 18-month appeal in June. A year and a half is considered to be the shortest possible time needed for internally displaced people and refugees to return to their homes and resume their lives. The estimated number of beneficiaries will be in excess of 125,000 people, mainly in Mershing and Ta'asha in South Darfur and Zalingi in West Darfur.

ACT member Norwegian Church Aid is assisting some 45,000 refugees in three camps in Chad. In the Darfur area where ACT members are working, more than 67,000 displaced people are camped in public buildings and open areas.
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Kuwaiti Direct Aid Committee (For African Muslims)

June 18 Islam Online - Kuwait has sent its second aid convoy to Darfur. Fifteen tones of tents, 40 tones of corn products and 20 tones of wheat were aired to Al-Fashir city, for distribution among the local inhabitants of the northwestern historical caravan center in Darfur.

The Kuwaiti plane also carried 520,000 Sudanese pounds-worth of medical stuff and oil components for other residents of Darfur, where international aid workers have long complained from failure to reach many victims despite repeated requests for access made to the Sudanese government. The aid convoy by the Kuwaiti Direct Aid Committee (For African Muslims) is the second in less than three months. In March, the relief group sent 60 tones of supplies to the conflict-scarred region.

Further reading: IHT: The developing world needs insurance.

# posted by Ingrid J. Jones @ 6/19/2004
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