Saturday, July 09, 2005

Darfur this week 7/09/2005

National Weekend of Prayer and Reflection for Darfur
On the weekend of July 15-17, congregations across America will be learning about the situation in Darfur, praying for the victims of violence, and taking action on their behalf. We hope that your religious community will also participate.

Please contact your religious leader to encourage participation in this important spiritual program and know that you are helping to make a difference in the lives of those suffering in Darfur. For more information and materials, visit

Hunger Strike for Darfur
Thursday, June 30, Nathan Kleinman began a hunger strike in solidarity with those suffering and hungry in Darfur. He will station himself in front of the White House every day until “the world takes appropriate notice” of the situation in Darfur. He asks others to join him in this effort by fasting or by writing and calling representatives in Congress, President Bush at the White House and Secretary-General Annan, as well as calling talk radio shows, writing letters to the editor of local papers, and telling friends, family, and co-workers about Darfur. In his words, “One hunger striker is easy to ignore, but hordes of us, in DC and around the world, will make ourselves heard.” More information can be found at:

New Jersey Sudan divestment bill goes to governor
July 1, 2005
Legislation sponsored by Assemblyman William D. Payne that would require the state to divest all state-administered pension funds currently held in foreign companies with an equity tie to the Sudanese government today received final legislative approval from the General Assembly, paving the way for New Jersey to divest from Sudan. Passage of this legislation would mark only the first time that the New Jersey Legislature voted to ban certain investment of state-administered pension funds since the 1980s in response to the South African apartheid.

Weekly News Summary
International Response
Remarks by President Bush on the G8 Summit
July 6, 2005 – Crisis Group Report
The international community is failing in its responsibility to protect the inhabitants of Darfur, many of whom are still dying or face indefinite displacement from their homes. New thinking and bold action are urgently needed. The consensus to support a rough doubling of the African Union (AU) force to 7,731 troops by the end of September 2005 under the existing mandate is an inadequate response to the crisis. The mandate must be strengthened to prioritize civilian protection, and a force level of at least 12,000 to 15,000 is needed urgently now, not in nearly a year as currently envisaged.

The AU’s mission in Darfur: Bridging the gap
July 6, 2005 – Stuff (New Zeland)
The UN Security Council delayed for more than three months setting up a system to impose sanctions on individuals in Sudan's Darfur region because of a dispute over a required panel of experts, diplomats said today. On March 29, the Security Council voted 12-0, with China, Russia and Algeria abstaining, to impose a travel ban and an asset freeze on those responsible for atrocities against civilians in Sudan's Darfur region. No list of perpetrators has been drawn up yet.

UN delays Sudan sanctions by three months
June 30, 2005 – ReliefWeb
Two public polls taken taken in eight African countries and in the United States show wide dissatisfaction with their governments' responses to the humanitarian crisis in Darfur, Sudan. Africans primarily favored United Nations intervention, a position also taken by a majority of Americans, but Americans also favored contributing U.S. and NATO forces to such an operation.

Annan criticises Darfur response
July 2, 2004 – BBC News
United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan has criticised the developed world for being slow to respond to the crisis in Sudan’s Darfur region. “We were slow, hesitant, uncaring.” Mr. Annan said in a BBC interview. Asked by our correspondent whether the judgement on Darfur would be as damning as in the case of Rwanda, Mr. Annan replied: “Quite likely.”

Situation in Darfur
Darfur rebels sign peace agreement
July 6, 2005 – The Guardian Unlimited
Two Darfur rebel groups have signed another agreement with the Sudanese government after a latest round of peace talks, but the deal is not as wide-ranging as originally hoped. The agreement promises "justice and equality for all, regardless of ethnicity, religion and gender", and also proposes "an effective devolution of powers" to regional authorities with Darfur's people assured a role in all levels of government. The parties said they would agree on how best to share power and wealth in Darfur at a later date. More talks are scheduled to begin at the end of August.

Darfur situation remains “very fragile” says top U.S. official
July 5, 2005 – ReliefWeb
Deputy Secretary of State Robert Zoellick told reporters the lull in violence in the strife-torn western region must be consolidated with the help of the incoming national unity government. "There's fewer deaths, but it remains a very fragile situation," Zoellick said. A UN report last week said there was a considerable drop in the mortality rate in Darfur, though the health situation there remains precarious.

Aid agencies navigate red tape in Darfur, danger to serve displaced
June 30, 2005 – Catholic News Service
The Darfur region of Sudan is one of the hardest places on earth to deliver humanitarian assistance. There is the heat and harsh terrain. Sandstorms regularly blot out the sky. Bandits attack convoys of relief goods. And then there is the Sudanese government, which has officially invited humanitarian agencies to deliver emergency assistance to some 2 million refugees crowded into camps stretching across the arid landscape. Yet at times the government seems more determined to prevent aid from reaching those who need it.

AU summit: protect civilians across Darfur
July 1, 2005 – Human Rights Watch Statement
At the African Union summit next week, African leaders should put the protection of civilians in Darfur at the top of their agenda, Human Rights Watch said today. Leaders of the pan-African organization’s 53 member states will meet in Sirte, Libya on July 4-5. “There is no time to waste,” said Gagnon. “Violence and insecurity persists in Darfur, especially in areas where there are no African Union troops.”

Rwanda to send 1,200 troops to Darfur in mid-July
July 4, 2005 – Reuters AlertNet
Rwanda will send at least 1,200 troops to Darfur in mid-July to prevent further conflict in the troubled Sudanese region, Foreign Minister Charles Murigande said on Monday. Murigande told Reuters in an interview that his country's troops would intervene to protect civilians if they saw them under attack, despite the limited monitoring mandate of the AU force there. Rwanda, 11 years after a genocide that killed about 800,000 people, has been among the top contributors of troops to Darfur to stop the violence, which the United States has labelled genocide.

Danforth says U.S. described Darfur as “genocide” to please Christian right
July 2, 2005 – Sudan Tribune
The Bush administration described the Darfur atrocities as genocide in order to please the Christian right ahead of the American presidential elections, according to a senior U.S. official. America’s former ambassador to the United Nations, John Danforth, made the admission in an interview in which he confirmed that the Bush administration’s stance was dictated by domestic considerations.

Sudan: What’s wrong with this picture?
July 5, 2005 – G. Jefferson Price, III, Christian Science Monitor Opinion
“Despite the human rights atrocities devouring this vast landscape, the aggressive international campaign to stop the tragedy of Darfur from a year ago seems to have lost its momentum. A year and a half ago, at the height of the conflict, international attention was riveted on Darfur. Yet, today Darfur is barely visible on Washington's agenda. Progress on strengthening both the mandate and the size of the AU force has been painfully, if not deadly, slow. The UN resolutions on Darfur have yet to be enforced. Last month, the International Criminal Court (ICC) announced the indictment of individuals responsible for the Darfur catastrophe, but the government in Khartoum responded defiantly, asserting its right to try its own criminals.”

Americans grasp crisis in Sudan
July 6, 2005 – John Norris, cheif of staff and special adviser to the president of the International Crisis Group, Baltimore Sun Op-Ed
“While the Group of Eight leaders meet this week to discuss challenges to peace, security and development in Africa, the conflict in Darfur, Sudan, continues unabated. A Zogby poll commissioned by the International Crisis Group revealed that a compelling majority of Americans do not think the government of Sudan and the Janjaweed militias should continue to be allowed to act with impunity. Most importantly, it argues that U.S. officials will need to find a different excuse than public apathy if they are going to keep twiddling their thumbs over Darfur.”

Why “never again” keeps happening
July 2, 2004 – Fergal Keane, BBC News Opinion
"Debt relief and the alleviation of suffering will be high priorities at the G8 summit, but it seems another crucial issue has been left off the agenda. [...] The national interests of member states will usually take precedence over the suffering of people in Africa. I have no doubt that in a few years time there will be investigations by the United Nations and the European Union and several others into why the world failed the people of Darfur. We already know why, just as we did in Rwanda. We cared, but we did not care enough."

Bush averts his eyes
July 5, 2005 – Nat Hentoff, Village Voice Opinion
"Unlike Rwanda, where the killing ended in 100 days, the world has known about Darfur for two years. More than 400,000 black Muslim Africans have been slaughtered or have died of disease. And as Eric Reeves, the premier historian of this genocide, wrote on June 1 (, 'The case for international humanitarian intervention remains as clear as ever. Without such intervention, hundreds of thousands of Darfuris will die in the coming months and years, compounding the staggering catastrophe and moral failure to date.' Now, as polarized as this nation is, if the evangelicals and other Christian activists in the Bush base were to join with George Soros and the other billionaires financing and other such liberal engines of mass information, even the media—to which Darfur is not at all a priority—would also insistently spread the word of these horrors."