ME and Ophelia

Saturday, July 31, 2004

Lies squarely on the government of Sudan

Yesterday, a newly passed UN resolution says Khartoum must halt atrocities by Arab militias in the western Darfur region within 30 days. Here are excerpts from a BBC report:

"The government of Sudan has left us no choice. It has done the unthinkable, it has fostered an armed attack on its own civilian population, it has created a humanitarian disaster," US Ambassador John Danforth told the Council after the vote. "The responsibility for this disaster lies squarely on the government of Sudan," he said.

The resolution calls on Sudan to make good on promises it made on 3 July to rein in the fighters.

It calls for UN Secretary General Kofi Annan to issue a report in 30 days on the progress made in each of those areas.

The US removed any specific reference to sanctions in the resolution after objections from seven members - including China, Russia and Pakistan - who believe Khartoum needs more time to act.

Sudan's reaction to the new UN resolution was to reject it.

Diplomats say it is not up to Sudan to accept or reject the resolution.

Update from BBC:

Sudan's UN ambassador Elfatih Erwa, and its ambassador to the African Union, Osman al-Said, separately said Khartoum would comply. "We are not happy with the resolution, but we are going to implement it - we have no other option," Mr al-Said told reporters in the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa.

US Secretary of State Colin Powell said during a visit to the Middle East: "They [The Sudan government] can say whatever they wish to say. The Security Council has spoken (and) in a rather strong vote."
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Says Khartoum are capable of "disarming all the looting and robbing gangs"

Today, Sudan's Information Minister Malik says Khartoum is capable of "disarming all the looting and robbing gangs". Well if that's true, how come they haven't already done so? They've had enough years.

Here are more gems from Mr Malik today:
- the resolution "does not conform with the agreements between the government and the United Nations"
- the resolution "focused on Arab militias more than humanitarian issues in Darfur"
- "It pains Sudan to have to express its rejection of the Security Council resolution"
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U.S. food takes 3 months to get to Chad

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Above is a map of the long path to relief. After a month-long trip down the Mississippi River and across the Atlantic, U.S. food arrives on the coast of Cameroon.

From there it's 10 to 15 days to get it to Chad and at least a week until it makes it to the camps.

With delays, the entire trip can take 3 months.

See report of the fight against truck-eating rivers.
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Airdrops food for 85,000 people isolated in Darfur

Good news from the BBC today: the World Food Programme (WFP) said it will begin a series of airdrops targeting 85,000 people in isolated regions of West Darfur in 3 days.

About time too. It's not like WFP is short of money. Financial contributions to WFP in 2004 - as at 12 July 2004 - amounts to a grand total of:

U.S. dollars 856,382,319.

The conflict started 17 months ago. Enough food could have been delivered for victims months ago - by land or air. If security was such a problem, WFP and other aid agencies ought to have pushed harder for political action months ago - or gone to the media with their story.

Note, I've not yet seen word of thanks from the government of Sudan.
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To secure Chad's eastern frontier with Darfur

It comes as a surprise to read news today that French soldiers stationed in Chad began airlifting aid to the town of Abeche near the border of Chad and Darfur: yesterday. Perhaps it's connected with the WFP deliveries (see next post above).

The military operation began when a Hercules C-130 flew 12 tonnes of supplies to Abeche, destined for people in nine refugee camps, according to Colonel Charles. He said the action was "in the framework of strengthening logistical aid to UN agencies".

Tomorrow, 200 French soldiers are going to Chad's eastern frontier with Darfur to deter incursions by the Janjaweed.

President Idriss Deby of Chad has accused Sudan of fomenting militia forces in his country.

Asked what French troops had been ordered to do if the Janjaweed crossed the border, the French ambassador to Chad, Jean Pierre Bercot, said: "Our capacity to react will be jointly decided with our Chadian partners. With our presence on the ground, we want to show that we will be there to attest to any incursions by the Janjaweed before the eyes of all the world."

He said French military aircraft would carry out flights "according to need" in coming days between Ndjamena and Abeche, which is about 700km east of the capital.

Note: What took the French so long? And why is the AU so slow in getting their 270 soldiers into Sudan? I am working on finding answers to these questions.
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Further reading:

July 31: Costello's tears for Sudan - World Vision leader Tim Costello broke down in tears when he told reporters about the devastating humanitarian crisis and the suffering he saw in camps in war-ravaged Sudan. Melbourne's Herald Sun newspaper said Mr Costello made an emotional plea for $A2 million after returning to Melbourne from a week-long visit to the African nation's refugee camps. Sky TV showed Mr Costello's voice failing as he described the stories of rape and cruelties he had heard in the refugee camps. He pleaded with Australians not to turn their heads away from the suffering. The Herald Sun newspaper quoted him as saying none of his work on the streets of Melbourne or in the slums of the Philippines and Cambodia had prepared him for the horror of the camps in the western Sudanese region of Darfur.

June 10, 2004: The EU announced it had mobilised 12 million euros from its recently established Africa Peace Facility to support African Union peace-keeping operations in Darfur, Sudan. The Peace Facility provides 250 million euros from the European Development Fund to support African led peacekeeping operations in Africa.

July 29: Head Heeb posts two plausible reasons why Egypt would court Khartoum. [via Patrick Hall]

Passion: "The closed society of Sudan breeds terrorism as well as genocide"

July 29: "Darfur crisis the result of years of US sponsored terrorism in Southern Sudan"

Passion: "Could activists fund an AU-led peacekeeping force for Darfur and Sudan?"

July 30: "Financial woes delay Darfur observer team"

July 30: "Now Darfur Threatened with Locust Plague"

# posted by Ingrid J. Jones @ 7/31/2004 0 comments

Friday, July 30, 2004

Codiscovered the double helix

Great excerpt from Nick's post at Blogborygmi:

It is a matter of some irony that two immodest researchers wrote one of the most beautiful understatements in the history of science:

"This structure has novel features of considerable biological interest... It has not escaped our attention that the specific pairing we have postulated immediately suggests a possible copying mechanism for the genetic material."
-- Watson J. D., Crick F. H. (1953) Molecular structure of nucleic acids: a structure for deoxyribose nucleic acid. Nature 171: 737-738.