ME and Ophelia

Sunday, July 18, 2004

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U.K. chairs next G8 summit and promises to help Africa

As of last week, the British government had contributed 65 million US dollars for aid to Darfur, and a British minister called on European countries to match same.

By July 13 it was confirmed that the U.S. was contributing 300 million USD and then came a fantastic news that the British government has announced an immediate cash injection to bolster Britain's aid package for Darfur. It has pledged an extra one hundred and fifty million pounds - which is something like 270 million USD!!

Here is a copy of the report from, in full. Disappointingly, I found no BBC news online report of this great news:

"Today the humanitarian tragedy in Sudan is deeper than at the time of Live Aid - which started in Sudan 20 years ago - and we must act now," the Chancellor told MPs. "The international development secretary is today announcing that he is setting aside now, to be made available immediately a peace agreement is signed, emergency and other relief to address Sudan’s crisis.

"The total over the next three years will be at least £150 million more." The extra money will go only to Sudan, where millions are facing the dual threats of starvation and militia attack in the southern region of Darfur, when peace is assured.

Hilary Benn, the International Development Secretary, emerged as one of the clear beneficiaries of the Chancellor’s spending review, with an annual real-terms rise in budget of 9.2 per cent.

Chancellor Brown restated Tony Blair’s aim to make next year, when Britain has the presidency of the G8 group of industrialised nations, a time to focus on the "needs of Africa".

He said: "As we play our part in addressing global injustices, our country’s obligation is not to cut overseas aid but to increase it."

Aid organisations and charities immediately welcomed Mr Brown’s commitment to increasing Britain’s aid budget, with Oxfam calling it "a significant and welcome moment that will transform the lives of millions".

Speaking for Debt, AIDS, Trade, Africa (DATA), Bono, the U2 singer and long-time campaigner, said: "This is incredible news from the Chancellor for people that he will never meet, but who will owe him and British taxpayers their lives."
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Carrying emergency aid for Darfur

Oxfam sent a plane on Friday July 9 with £160,000 worth of emergency aid for Darfur. The plane will allow the aid agency to begin work in three new refugee camps in Chad. It left London Manston airport carrying materials to construct emergency water and sanitation facilities for more than 35,000 refugees.

In the July 9 report, Oxfam described conditions in many of the refugee camps as "dire and deteriorating" as more and more people arrive each day.

At Bredjing, eastern Chad, just 63 latrines are available for the population of 24,000. Many people are running out of food, and drinking water is scarce. Half the people in the camp lack basic shelter from the elements - torrential rain and scorching daytime temperatures of up 50 degrees.

Nick Roseveare, Oxfam's deputy humanitarian director, said: "The rains are making a desperate situation even worse. The dirt roads are becoming impassable and the two-hour journey to Bredjing camp is now taking days, with staff having to wade through waist deep water to reach the camp.

"Floodwaters are washing human and animal waste into water sources raising fears of outbreaks of disease such as cholera and diarrhoea. For people, particularly children, already suffering from malnutrition and dehydration these diseases can kill."

Mr Roseveare added: "The water and sanitation equipment on the plane will enable engineers to construct emergency water storage and distribution systems and to build latrines in Bredjing camp and elsewhere. These supplies will help boost our public health programme to help over 115,000 women, men and children.

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And call for every western European government to match UK aid

On June 27 a delegation of British MPs visited Sudan for seven-days to assess the extent of famine in the war-torn Darfur region. The visit follows the signing of a framework peace agreement between the Sudanese government and the breakaway Sudan People’s Liberation Army on May 26, following years of war which have significantly contributed to humanitarian problems in the east African state.
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U.K. Ambassador William Pattey in Khartoum

July 3: Sudan's Foreign Minister Dr. Mustafa Osman Ismail has received a written message from UK Prime Minister, Tony Blair, to the President of the Republic Gen. Omer Al-Bashir. This arrived on Saturday when the Minister received Ambassador of the United Kingdom in Khartoum Mr. William Pattey.

Dr. Ismail also met a delegation of the British House of Commons from all three main parties and briefed them on the measures adopted by the government to solve the situation in Darfur in the humanitarian, security and political fields. Deputy speaker of the National Assembly Angelo Beda also met with the delegation and reviewed the peace process and situations in Darfur States. 
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Militia activity needs to be controlled - or else

July 7: UK Prime Minister Tony Blair warned the Sudanese government to expect tougher international action if it fails to help aid get through to people in Darfur. He said that Britain could back sanctions against Sudan if much needed foreign aid fails to reach victims of the conflict in the western Darfur region.

Mr Blair said he had spoken with Kofi Annan on Tuesday (July 6) to "develop the right strategy" for dealing with the Sudan crisis.
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If no aid for Darfur victims

July 7: UK Prime Minister Tony Blair said sanctions should be imposed on Sudan if the Khartoum government did not lift obstacles to the delivery of humanitarian aid to the thousands of displaced people in Darfur.

Speaking in parliament, Mr Blair said he reviewed the crisis Tuesday (July 6) with UN Secretary General Kofi Annan, and that "there is food there now" ready to be distributed to those who need it. But, he added, the Sudanese authorities had to do their part as well, "and if they do not cooperate, we will have to consider what further measures we will take".

A draft United Nations resolution proposed by the United States calls for an arms and travel embargo on the pro-Khartoum Janjaweed Arab militias which have been killing and raping black Africans in Darfur, with the possibility of extending the sanctions to the Sudanese government.  Germany has backed the text, and called for the arms embargo to be imposed on all of Sudan.  
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Janjaweed have considerable wealth

The US, UN and EU are now losing patience and stepping up political and military pressure on Sudan.

July 9: UN Security Council members struggled over whether to impose sanctions on militia leaders sowing death in Darfur, with some opposed and Europeans suggesting an arms embargo on all of Sudan.

During a July 12-13 meeting of EU foreign ministers, the EU warned of sanctions against the Sudan government over Darfur. After the meeting, Dutch Foreign Minister Bernard Bot said the Sudanese government must understand “in crystal clear terms that it cannot escape its responsibility” to bring the counterinsurgency attacks to a halt.

July 14: EU said if it sees no signs of change in Sudan within a matter of days, it will review how to increase pressure on GoS and impose sanctions.
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Some reports say that the problem with economic sanctions, is they may have little effect on the Khartoum government. The long-running war among Sudan’s government and its people has devastated the economy of a country whose annual per capita income — at barely $350 — is already among the world’s lowest.

Other reports say the Janjaweed bandits make their living by stealing food, livestock and looting, but that Arab tribal leaders are very wealthy and would feel humiliated if travel bans were imposed on them. No doubt GoS leaders are wealthy and have thought through their exit routes and plans and stashed away all sorts of "personal assets".

There's not a lot the EU can do in the economic field other than impose a travel ban, suspend its preferential trade arrangements with Sudan and withhold development aid, an EU official told on July 14:“Sudan depends heavily on development aid, so suspending that — but not humanitarian aid, of course — might carry some weight,” the official said. “But then again, we’ve imposed similar sanctions on Zimbabwe and there’s been no regime change there, either.”

The EU has no formal trade relations with Sudan due to the war, and provides only humanitarian aid. So there's no development aid for the union to withhold as a sanction. Nor can it withhold arms, as it already imposes an arms embargo on the country.

# posted by Ingrid J. Jones @ 7/18/2004
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