Sunday, October 23, 2005

This week in Sudan

U.N. Nonessential Staff Out of West Darfur
Washington Post – 10/13/05
A lasting peace in Darfur seems an increasingly distant reality after a week which saw several political and diplomatic setbacks. The first came on Thursday, October 13, when the UN pulled all non-essential personnel out of all of west Darfur due to concerns for their safety. [Link To Article] The move comes just seven months after UN staff in outlying areas of west Darfur were confined to the regional capital of Geneina where it was thought that they would be safe. The recent dramatic increase in violence has unfortunately proven that assumption false.

U.S. Government's Elevation of Sudan's Slavery Status Challenged
U.S. Newswire – 10/17/05
The UN’s decision was followed by what most consider to be two counter-productive events here in America. Specifically, the Bush Administration upgraded Sudan’s international slavery rating to Tier 2 status, putting them on the same level as Switzerland in terms of their efforts to combat slavery. Despite this upgrade, slavery continues to be a very real problem in Sudan. Administration officials attributed the change in status to an unspecified plan to increase their efforts to fight slavery over the next 12 months. [Link To Article]

Wolf Critical of Lobbyist Representing Government of Sudan
Rep. Frank Wolf, Press Release – 10/17/05
The Administration has also this week issued the Sudanese government a special waiver allowing them to hire a Washington lobbyist to improve their public image and fight any legislation they deem as hostile. Several Members of Congress, including Virginia Republican Frank Wolf, have expressed their outrage that Sudan would be allowed to hire lobbyists here in the U.S. while they continue to aid the Janjaweed militias in Darfur. [Link To Article]

U.S. Congress inaugurates "Sudan Caucus"
Sudan Tribune – 10/20/05
Not all in the U.S. government took steps in the wrong direction this week, however. Wednesday, October 19 saw the formation of the Congressional Sudan Caucus, a working group of lawmakers dedicated to finding ways to solve the difficult problems posed by the ongoing conflict in Sudan. The inaugural meeting, held in the Rayburn House Office Building on Capitol Hill, included speeches from several Members of Congress and from renowned Sudan expert Dr. Francis Deng. [Link To Article]

Sudan's Darfur peace talks to adjourn to November
Reuters – 10/20/05
Back in Africa, the sixth round of peace talks taking place in Abuja, Nigeria unfortunately seem to have come to a dead end for the moment, with all parties agreeing to adjourn for a month and resume talks on November 20. [Link To Article] Despite these recent setbacks on both sides of the Atlantic, the outpouring of support from concerned citizens, as evidenced by Tuesday’s National Call-In Day for Darfur, gives everyone reasons for hope.

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