ME and Ophelia

Wednesday, August 04, 2004

Netherlands committed 360 troops to go in as early as this week

Round up of latest developments including those reported yesterday and today at the Passion:

Aug 3: Evangelical Leaders Speak Out for Sudan. The Washington Post reports today that thirty-five evangelical Christian leaders have signed a letter urging President Bush to provide massive humanitarian aid and consider sending U.S. troops to stop what they called the "genocide" taking place in the Darfur region of Sudan.

Aug 4: Nations are starting to come forward to help. France has already deployed 200 hundred troops along Chad's border with Darfur to stop Arab militia from crossing over. American special forces were on the ground looking for Saudi Arabian terrorists (who knows, maybe they are still there). Some Canadian and Australian soldiers are part of an advance team (ahead of the AU mission of 270 soldiers) that arrived in Sudan last week. Germany is providing logistical help behind the scenes - along with other EU countries. The Netherlands have committed to fund 360 troops to go in as early as this week.

Aug 4: Guardian reports today the African Union may send an extra 1,700 troops to Darfur, where up to 50,000 people have been killed. The deployment is subject to the approval of the AU's peace and security council, which will also consider whether to widen the role of its force in Darfur. "The AU plans to increase troop strength of its protection force for Darfur from 300 to 2,000, with Nigeria and Rwanda offering to send 1,000 troops each," AU spokesman Adam Thiam told Reuters.

Aug 4: The Sudanese government is launching a full force propaganda effort to keep any UN forces out, including a state-orchestrated, 100,000 person march against the UN yesterday. They appear to be trying to frame the conflict as a US/Britain rerun of Iraq. I wouldn't be surprised if Khartoum paid the people to march. A week or two ago I'd read reports where Sudanese soldiers were offering fifty dollars to refugees to return to Darfur.

Aug 4: Britain is providing two more planes to fly supplies to the war-ravaged Darfur region of western Sudan. The planes for Oxfam and the International Rescue Committee (IRC) will fly from Manston airfield, Kent. The United Nations estimates at least 2m people need food aid in Darfur, but badly-needed water and sanitation equipment are also in acute demand.

An emergency Oxfam flight (with the other due later this week, makes it the sixth flight from England in the last week or two), paid for by the British government's Department for International Development, is due to leave Manston airport in Kent this evening, headed for Nyala in Southern Darfur.

Oxfam confirmed that although the rainy season was causing transport difficulties, it was confident that the aid will reach the camp, which is 15km from the airport, quickly. "It's a bad road, but we can do it. We do anticipate being able to get the aid in place quite rapidly," a spokesman said. Around 1.2 million people have been driven from their homes, with hundreds of thousands seeking refuge in makeshift camps in Sudan and over the border in Chad.

Sarah Lumsdon, Oxfam programme co-ordinator for Darfur, said: "Over the last three weeks the camp has doubled in size from 30,000 to 60,000 people. The camp infrastructure is unable to cope with such a boom in numbers. Basics like water supplies and sanitation are at breaking point."

She added: "With only a handful of toilets people are forced to defecate elsewhere; the result is human waste spread around the camp. The regular torrential rain washes the excrement into the camp and leads to dangerously unsanitary conditions. Disease and diarrhoea are serious problems and cholera could break out at any time," she said.

Paul Smith Lomas, the agency's humanitarian director, said: "The situation in Darfur is desperate and Kalma camp urgently needs this aid. People are already dying but we are dreading a cholera outbreak which could kill a lot more. This equipment will help us to save lives."

Oxfam is one of 11 major charities running an emergency appeal for aid to Sudan, coordinated by the umbrella organisation Disasters Emergency Committee (DEC). So far £12m has been raised from the public and appeal organisers predict that it will bring in at least £17m. The DEC is continuing to appeal for more cash as aid agencies say they need up to £27m to meet the immediate needs of people in the area.

Aid has been pouring into the western province of Darfur. Three Egyptian planes loaded with 60 tonnes of food and medicines have landed in the crisis-hit region of Darfur in western Sudan. A 21-strong Egyptian medical team also arrived on Monday, and will set up a medical camp in the province's capital al-Fashir to help in the treatment of displaced persons and other people in northern Darfur.

# posted by Ingrid J. Jones @ 8/04/2004
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