ME and Ophelia

Sunday, July 25, 2004

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Advance party of UN's high readiness brigade

July 25 - Canadian report excerpt:

"Two Canadian soldiers depart with advance team on UN peacekeeping mission to Sudan. The first Canadian soldiers have headed off to Sudan on Operation Safari, a UN peacekeeping mission to the strife-torn north African nation. But only two Canadians will be joining the advance party of the UN's high-readiness brigade: Major James Simiana, a public affairs officer, and Warrant Officer Robert Moug, a staff officer.

Although thousands of troops may follow them to Sudan to avert a humanitarian disaster and to separate warring Arab militias from southern rebels, only about six Canadian soldiers can be spared for the mission. Brigadier-General Greg Mitchell, a Canadian, commands the UN force, but the Canadian army had to scrap plans to contribute about 1,000 troops because of budget cuts. The advance party is being formed at the request of UN Secretary General Kofi Annan, with the full peacekeeping force to follow once a peace accord is reached."

[via mostly AFRICA]
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Note: Seems Operation Safari is the advance party connected with the ceasefire observers mission. The ceasefire mission is already in Sudan observing the ceasefire agreement signed early April 2004 re conflict in South Sudan. Darfur is in West Sudan - a separate conflict.

Anytime now a U.N. human rights delegation is arriving in Sudan to monitor conditions in Darfur. Soon, we should be hearing reports of the AU-led 270 armed troops arriving in Sudan to protect the 60-120 (reports vary on numbers) monitors already there. The AU troops are EU supported and funded. It took three days of arm twisting the GoS at the AU summit to get GoS permission for the AU mission into Sudan. They will be the first foreign troops to set foot on Sudanese soil. Khartoum must be getting nervous at the prospect of armed troops becoming a reality.

The controversy over the 270 AU-led troops is their mandate as they're supposed to protect the UN observers only - but it's been made clear to the GoS by the AU that the troops will not fold their arms if refugees etc., are attacked. So, really they are there to protect the observers, refugees, aid and aid workers - much to the dismay of GoS who argued it is GoS responsibility to protect their people (like Jim Moore says, you can't make this stuff up).

So, in short, this week the heat has been turned up full - position of GoS must be weakening - and they know it. It will be interesting to see how quickly the situation will change on and after July 31st - which I believe was the deadline Colin Powell gave to Bashir when they met in Khartoum last month.

A report today says GoS forces have moved 90,000 refugees back into Darfur - all this new activity could be to do with the arrival of the U.N. human rights delegation, Operation Safari advance party and the AU-led forces.

The EU has told Khartoum straight: what needs to happen next - without further delay - is for Khartoum to give the order to arrest and disarm the Arab militia leaders.

What I cannot understand is why the refugees do not have enough food and water. I cannot find any proper reporting and accountability. Seems one person: Jan Egeland is the UN spokesperson on aid - and he is the coordinator of aid (he's not going to criticise himself is he? Why isn't anyone shouting about the food and water - why is the aid still not reaching those who need it most? I don't get it. Why aren't people asking these questions and getting proper answers from Kofi Annan?

They are all seem so secretive. I noticed there was a person from Oxfam giving a talk at Harvard - and they asked for their comments and talk to be off the record and not to be recorded. Everyone else who contributed to the discussion was recorded. But not Oxfam.

Why are all these human rights orgs and activisits and goodness knows how many other agencies spending hours and weeks and months nit picking over words and talk, discussions, meetings and musing over the meaning of ethnic cleansing and genocide when every minute counts in getting food, water, shelter and medicine to those who need it the most in Sudan? Three months ago Jim Moore said time is critical and hours matter ... And yet, go read the story below, written by Hilary Andersson in Darfur (part of a BBC crew filming) what have the aid agencies achieved over the past three months? What's happened to all the plane loads of aid that has been flown into Darfur? Who is picking up 1,400 tons of aid that was being air dropped into Darfur by WFP this week - who is there to pick it up and distribute it? Why are there no reports? Why aren't journalists asking and answering these questions? What is going on??!!

# posted by Ingrid J. Jones @ 7/25/2004
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