USA POLICY ON DARFUR IS NOT WORKING TWO YEARS INTO OBAMA'S LEADERSHIP
What could be worse than having Gration (since March 2009) be Obama's Special Envoy to Sudan for two years? What will change when Dane Smith takes on the same impotent Obama policy regarding genocide in Sudan, including Darfur?
"In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends." Martin Luther King Jr.
U.N. accused of caving in to Khartoum over Darfur
Amid growing levels of malnutrition, illness and instability in Darfur displacement camps, United Nations aid and peacekeeping agencies are being accused of capitulating to pressure and interference from the Sudanese government and failing in their duty to protect civilians.
By: Simon Jennings, Katy Glassborow, Tajeldin Adam, Assadiq Mustafa Zakaria Musa (*)
Human rights and civil society activists are joining the region’s internally displaced people, IDPs, and Sudanese opposition politicians in calling on UN agencies not to duck their responsibilities in order to keep Khartoum on side.
This comes as conditions in IDP camps deteriorate, with the government delaying food and medical supplies and many children often too hungry to go to school. One Sudanese opposition politician interviewed for this report claimed that some of the weakest camp inhabitants have started to die because of the shortages.
“International humanitarian capacities have been seriously eroded and impaired to a point that leaves Darfuris in a more vulnerable position now than at any other time since the counter-insurgency operations and forced displacements in 2003,” reads a recent paper, Navigating Without a Compass: The Erosion of Humanitarianism in Darfur, published by Tufts University in the United States.
Since 2003 when fighting between the government and rebel groups began in earnest in Darfur, millions of civilians have been forced to leave their villages – which were frequently razed to the ground – and have since lived in displacement camps or fled to eastern Chad.
They have relied heavily on international aid to survive, but according to research by IWPR and Radio Dabanga (an IWPR partner radio station based in Holland), the government – which sees IDP camps as strongholds of rebel support – has consistently worked to thwart the distribution of food, restrict access of relief workers and control the movements of peacekeepers.
In October last year, the head of the UN children’s agency UNICEF, Nils Kastberg, told Fi al Mizan, a radio programme made by IWPR and Radio Dabanga, that Khartoum is preventing his agency from releasing reports about malnutrition in IDP camps.
“Part of the problem has been when we conduct surveys to help us address issues, in collaboration with the ministry of health, very often other parts of the government such as the humanitarian affairs commission interferes and delays in the release of reports, making it difficult for us to respond [in a] timely [manner],” he said.
“We are raising these issues with the government at the moment that the humanitarian affairs commission should not interfere with the release of these reports.”
UNICEF reported early last year that as many as 21 nutritional surveys were conducted since June 2009, but only seven have been released by the humanitarian affairs commission. Six of those showed malnutrition rates of between 15 and 29 per cent, the report stated.
Prosecutors at the International Criminal Court, ICC, say that restricting humanitarian aid is further evidence of a continued genocidal campaign against the people of Darfur by the Khartoum government.
But of the UN agencies engaged in Darfur, only UNICEF and the peacekeeping operation in Darfur, UNAMID, have talked publically about government interference.
Other UN agencies approached by IWPR have declined to speak about the problem, saying this could jeopardise their entire aid operations and lead to them being thrown out of the country. Sudanese opposition politicians say that by failing to speak out, UN agencies are in effect collaborating with the government.
The Sudanese government, meanwhile, insists that it is meeting its obligation to look after IDPs in Darfur.
“I don’t think the government will try in any way not to fulfil its commitments or not to perform its responsibility as regards the humanitarian access,” Mohammed Eltom, from the Sudanese embassy in London, told IWPR.
Read the full article at ~iwpr.net/kk/node/49799
"Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter."
Martin Luther King Jr. - I Have a Dream: Writings and Speeches That Changed the World, Special 75th Anniversary Edition
While much effort has gone into ensuring that the Southern Sudan referendum went ahead on time, the escalating tensions in the contested border region of Abyei serve as an important reminder of the significant challenges that still remain to a successful transition to long-term peace in Sudan.
The Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) has special provisions for the ‘Three Areas’: Blue Nile, Southern Kordofan (including the Nuba Mountains) and Abyei. Abyei is a transition zone between North and South and has traditionally been an area of cattle owning groups: the Dinka (from the south), and the Missiriyya (from the North). In the negotiations leading up to the CPA, Abyei was always a sticking point and has since continued to be a contested region. Abyei holds a vast amount of Sudan’s oil. However, the pipelines and refineries, essential for the extraction of the oil, are situated in the North.
Abyei, as the rest of the Three Areas, was supposed to be the litmus test for a united Sudan and for the wealth- and power-sharing arrangements set out by the CPA. The agreement should have identified mechanisms to share the wealth between the North and the South long term but the Abyei Protocol did not tackle any of the disputed issues and was only ever meant as a resolution for the interim period following the signing of the CPA in 2005. The Abyei referendum, on whether Abyei should remain in Southern Kordofan State in Northern Sudan or join Bahr el-Ghazal State in Southern Sudan, was to take place at the same time as the Southern Sudan vote. However, the vote has been delayed and no future date has been set. The borders have also yet to be demarcated.
At this timely event, as the results of the South Sudan referendum begin to emerge, senior NCP and SPLM commentators from Abyei discuss the future of the region.
US envoy reiterates support to Sudan’s strategy for Darfur
Source: Sudan Tribune
January 13, 2011 (KHARTOUM) — US Special Envoy for Sudan Scott Gration renewed his support to Sudanese government strategy to end Darfur conflict and announced that his country would work jointly with Khartoum to implement it.
Flanked by his aide for Darfur conflict Dane Smith, Gration ended Thursday a two-day visit to the restive region where he met with North Darfur deputy governor Idriss Abdalla Hassan and the head of UNAMID Ibrahim Gambari. He also paid a visit to IDPs camps in Deribat, Khor Abeche and Shangili Tobayai.
The Sudanese government plan aims to domesticate efforts to resolve Darfur conflict though promoting dialogue among local actors from states governments, tribal leaders, civil society and IDPs. It also plans to establish security and support the return of displaced persons besides recovery and development projects there.
In a meeting with deputy governor, Gration praised the Darfur peace strategy prepared by the government to address the eight year conflict. He further said his government has appointed Dane Smith to lead an American team to support these efforts.
"We know that those are your priorities, but we will work together and synergize our efforts to reach a sustainable peace in Darfur conducive to the return of displaced persons and refugees to their homes."
The government’s strategy is founded on the conviction that the rebel groups have become an obstacle to end the conflict. Ghazi Saleh Al-Deen, presidential adviser tasked with the file, considers also that the rebels distorted the origins of the conflict which had been disputes over pastures and land between cattle herders and farmers.
Gration announced his support to the government’s plan since last August after a meeting with Ghazi besides Thabo Mbeki of the African Union panel and Gambari who is supposed to represent the United Nation.
The US envoy however emphasized the need to establish a ceasefire commission supervised by the UNAMID, comprising representatives from the government and all the rebel groups including Minni Minnawi, LJM, JEM and SLM-AW.
GOS-JEM CESSATION OF HOSTILITIES
The head of the Sudanese government negotiating team met today with the Qatari state minister for foreign affairs to discuss the proposal submitted by the mediation to the government and the Liberation and Justice Movement (LJM).
Amin Hassan Omer also discussed with Minister Ahmed bin Abdullah Al-Mahmoud a cessation of hostilities draft agreement submitted by the mediation to the government and the Justice and Equality Movement.
Last December, Gration during a visit to Doha contributed to convince JEM rebels to commence talks on cessation of hostilities before to resume peace talks.
Sudanese government withdrew its delegation from Doha last month saying talks can be conducted through exchange of visits and correspondence.
The Joint Chief Mediator Djibril Bassole is expected in Khartoum on Saturday for talks with Sudanese officials on the peace process.
"The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy." Martin Luther King Jr.