Wednesday, November 02, 2005

This Week in Sudan

World has just weeks to save Darfur: UN
ABC News – 10/22/2005
News from Darfur continued to stream in this week, providing new reasons for concern. In a frank assessment of the immediate future of Darfur, U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees Anthony Guterres is warning that the situation will spiral out of control if not forcefully addressed soon. According to Guterres, “We are close to a moment in which a new major tragedy might occur in Darfur,” one which could destabilize Sudan and indeed the region as a whole.

Death toll in Darfur tops 100,000 since UN directive
The Scotsman – 10/22/2005
Mr. Guterres’ comments come on the heels of a dark milestone of sorts for the U.N. and the international community, as the death toll in Darfur has passed 100,000 since the U.N. gave the Sudanese government 30 days to address the situation on July 30, 2004, according to World Health Organization estimates. The total number killed since the genocide began in February of 2003 is believed to be between 200,000 and 400,000 according to multiple estimates, although precise numbers are difficult to gauge.

AU extends mandate of troops in Darfur
South Africa Sunday Times – 10/21/2005
Also last week, the African Union (AU) extended mandate for its peacekeeping mission to Sudan until January 20, 2006, by which time it is hoped that there will be at least 10,000 AU troops in the region. January shall also see the annual AU summit take place in Khartoum, at which point Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir is scheduled to take over as President of the AU for 2006. The possibility of Bashir becoming the head of the very organization charged with protecting civilians from the Bashir-government-backed Janjaweed militias is understandably not sitting well with many in Darfur. One of Darfur’s main rebel groups, the JEM, have indicated that they will pull out of the peace talks scheduled to resume next month if Bashir does in fact assume the presidency. A second rebel group meanwhile, the SLM, has scheduled peace talks of its own to heal a divisive rift in its ranks. The talks are set to begin in Darfur this Friday, October 28.

Darfur rebel group threatens to quit peace talks
Reuters – 10/26/2005
Back in the U.S., criticism continues to mount over the State Department’s decision to grant Sudan a waiver to hire a lobbyist to improve its public image. In response to a question posed at a press conference, a spokesman for State answered that Robert Cabelly, the lobbyist hired by Sudan, “would provide a perspective on United States concerns and policy that would be useful in advancing the peace process and resolving the crisis in Darfur.” To correct the record, Sudan has not been granted permanent Tier II slavery status as we stated last week, but has been instead put on the Tier II Watch List, an intermediate, probationary status. While we apologize for the mistake, we stand by our belief that the U.S. must adopt a stronger stance on the Sudanese government in order to secure peace in Darfur.

Darfur rebels to hold peace talks
South Africa Sunday Times – 10/27/2005
Lobbyist to Put In a Good Word for Sudan
Washington Post – 10/26/2005