Saturday, September 23, 2006

Sudanese News Update: Country Under Threat of Intervention by US, UN

China says UN peacekeepers in Darfur should first have Sudan's permission

XINHUA (Sept 19) -- The Chinese government on Tuesday urged discretion on the issue of deploying U.N. peacekeepers in Darfur and said the deployment should first have the permission of the Sudanese government.

"The issue should be fully discussed and especially approved by the Sudanese government and relevant African organizations and countries, so the peacekeeping actions can make real achievements, " said Foreign Ministry spokesman Qin Gang.

Qin said the Chinese government's consistent stance was that peacekeeping actions should first have the permission of the country concerned, not only on the issue of Darfur, but also in other actions in which China had participated.

China had always been concerned about the situation in Darfur and done everything it could to help, said Qin.

He said China had provided humanitarian aid to Sudan and assistance for the peace-keeping troops of the African Union (AU) in the region. Moreover, China had actively consulted with the Sudanese government.

Last month, the U.N. Security Council passed a resolution that would allow the United Nations to assume control over the peacekeeping mission in Darfur from the AU, whose mandate is to expire on Sept. 30.

Hundreds of thousands of people have been displaced because of conflict in the troubled Darfur region.

More NATO Support for Darfur Sought

22.09.06 - 05:44:52
Friday September 22, 2006
AP Photo CAI102
Associated Press Writer

NEW YORK (AP) - The president of the African Union asked NATO on Thursday to give more support for its peacekeepers in the violence-wracked Darfur region, NATO Secretary-General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer said.

Scheffer said NATO should ``answer positively and favorably'' to the request from Republic of Congo President Denis Sassou Nguesso, who currently leads the African Union. He promised to take it back to officials at the alliance headquarters in Brussels.

``I promise the president of the African Union that I as secretary-general will do everything I can with the allies to see that NATO can respond positively to these kinds of requests,'' Scheffer said.

He spoke after a meeting of NATO member states in New York on the sidelines of the annual U.N. General Assembly session. The group did not discuss Darfur during its meeting.

NATO already provides airlift support and trains troops with the African Union force, which is sorely underfunded and underequipped. It has largely failed to control the violence that has left 200,000 dead in Darfur and displaced more than 2.5 million since 2003.

On Wednesday, the African Union extended the mandate of the force through the end of the year. It had wanted to turn over control of the peacekeepers to the United Nations, which would then expand and bolster the struggling force, but Sudan's government has refused. President Omar al-Bashir claims that some members of the U.N. Security Council want to weaken and divide Sudan.

A decision to extend more NATO support to the African Union mission in Sudan would not require new approval from the alliance's member states. The details would be worked out by its military planners, said Daniel Fried, U.S. assistant secretary of state for Europe.

``It is our view that this is another example of NATO's increasing role around the world,'' Fried said. ``It can be called upon support in many places where NATO has not been present traditionally and is present today.''

Both Scheffer and Fried stressed that NATO involvement would not involve sending alliance troops to Darfur. Still, Fried said, planners should rule nothing out - even though such a move would almost certainly be opposed by al-Bashir and is highly unlikely.

``We have not considered NATO ground forces but I don't want to start ruling out things,'' Fried said. ``That isn't a hint, that is merely prudence in a situation that can change.''

Source: More NATO Support for Darfur Sought

Source: United States Department of State
Date: 22 Sep 2006

U.S. Senators call for immediate action on Darfur

Brownback, Feingold cite need for more sanctions

By Charles W. Corey, Washington File Staff Writer

Washington – A bipartisan group of U.S. senators is urging the Senate and House of Representatives to resolve differences on federal legislation that would impose financial, travel and diplomatic sanctions against Sudan.

Those differences must be resolved before the Darfur Peace and Accountability Act, which both bodies have passed, can be sent to the White House for the president’s signature.

Republicans Sam Brownback, Mike DeWine and Tom Coburn joined with Democrats Barack Obama and Russell Feingold at a September 21 news conference intended to heightened attention to the growing humanitarian crisis in Darfur and to promote passage of a bill aimed at encouraging more responsible action in the Darfur region by the Sudanese government.

The humanitarian situation threatening hundreds of thousands of people in Darfur is critical, getting worse and cries out for an immediate response from the West, including more sanctions against the government of President Omar al-Bashir, the senators said.

The United Nations estimates more than 200,000 people have died in Darfur since a rebellion broke out in Sudan's western province in 2003. Close to 2 million others were displaced into refugee camps in the province and eastern Chad.

Speaking to reporters outside the U.S. Capitol, Brownback applauded President Bush for appointing Andrew Natsios, former director of the U.S. Agency for International Development, as special presidential envoy to Sudan.

President Bush announced the Natsios nomination while addressing the opening session of the 61st U.N. General Assembly on September 19. Like the bipartisan Senate group, Bush also called for increased international attention to the situation in Darfur, where the people of that troubled region have suffered "unspeakable violence" and genocide.

Bush also warned that if the Sudanese government does not accept quickly a transition from the African Union (AU) peacekeeping force to the larger U.N. peacekeeping operation in Darfur, "the United Nations must act" because thousands of lives and the credibility of the United Nations are at stake.

Brownback said the U.N. Security Council's recent decision to extend the AU peacekeeping mission in Sudan until the end of 2006 but said the action was not enough to stop the deteriorating security situation in Darfur.

"The African Union force, while important, has been insufficient in both size and mandate," the senator said. 'Its size must increase. Its mandate must increase." He also reiterated the need to push for an expansion of that mission from the AU to a U.N. force. That needs to take place," as quickly as possible,” he stressed.

Democratic Senator Russell Feingold, the ranking Democrat on the Senate Subcommittee on African Affairs, called the ongoing situation in Darfur "appalling."

He said, "More than two years have elapsed since the U.S. government labeled the atrocities being committed against innocent civilians as genocide and yet the killing has actually continued and accelerated in recent weeks as the government of Sudan has launched a new military offensive."

What is necessary, he said, is that specific actions must be taken to "stop the genocide that is occurring today in Darfur," including laying the groundwork for a "robust United Nations peacekeeping mission" as authorized by U.N. Security Council Resolution 1706.

"Sudan must be convinced to help this peacekeeping force to deploy," he said. "If it refuses, Sudan must feel the consequences," he said, like the proposed suspension of Sudan's U.N. membership and levying of sanctions. He said both steps currently are contained in the Senate's version of the Darfur Peace and Accountability Act.

Feingold also said it was essential that the international community "deny impunity" to those who have been complicit in or responsible for acts of genocide, war crimes or crimes against humanity in Darfur.

The sanctions sought in the bill have broad bipartisan support but the Senate and House of Representatives have been stalled on language in the House version of the act that would impose financial pressure on Sudan through “disinvestment.”

Even if the final Darfur Peace and Accountability Act does not include disinvestment language, Feingold said, it would include other valuable elements and stand as a first step, "to demonstrate the determination of the United States to lead the way on the long path ahead."

The United States has provided more than $1 billion in humanitarian assistance to the people of Sudan including $400 million during the past 12 months for emergency food aid to the region.The pending legislation would not limit or restrict humanitarian aid to Darfur.

The Washington File is a product of the Bureau of International Information Programs, U.S. Department of State. Web site:

Britain calls for summit meeting on Darfur crisis

22.09.06 - 18:40:23
Friday 22 September 2006.

Sept 22, 2006 (LONDON) — Britain called on Friday for world leaders to prepare a summit on easing the humanitarian crisis in Sudan’s violence-torn Darfur region.

"International leaders should be ready to meet soon to consider next steps," a spokesman for Prime Minister Tony Blair told reporters, adding that no agenda or date had yet been set for such a meeting.

He did not elaborate on what "next steps" meant but Blair has suggested a carrot and stick approach that included incentives for Sudan if it allows U.N. troops into Darfur.

The United States and Denmark host a meeting on Darfur in New York on Friday as the government in Khartoum continues to refuse any U.N force into its western region to stop fighting that has killed an estimated 200,000 people and displaced 2.5 million.

The African Union mandate in Darfur had been set to expire on Sept. 30 but the AU has been extended its mission for three months with additional logistical and material support from the United Nations and a funding commitment from the Arab League.

Britain, which has repeatedly called for action to resolve the Darfur crisis, also called for a concerted political effort to turn a shaky peace agreement signed by one rebel faction and the government in May into practice.

As part of that pressure, a ministerial-level delegation should be sent to Khartoum to discuss rising international concerns about developments in Darfur, the spokesman said.

European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso and EU Aid Commissioner Louis Michel are expected to go to Khartoum in early October.

Fighting between militias, government forces and rebel groups has ravaged the vast region for three years, and in recent months the rebels are reported to have turned to banditry against aid workers and civilians making matters even worse.

However, the Sudanese government, accused of supporting the militias, has refused to allow the United Nations to send in a 22,000-strong force to replace the AU, accusing it of attempting to recolonise the country.

U.N. human rights monitors on Friday accused Sudan’s army of dropping bombs on villages in North Darfur, killing and injuring civilians, and driving hundreds of people from their homes.

They also reported continuing rapes and sexual violence against women by military or militia known as Janjaweed around camps for the displaced in South Darfur.

On Thursday, the United Nations urged warring groups in Darfur to lay down their weapons during the Islamic holy month of Ramadan to let relief workers operate in the battered region.


News Article by AFP posted on September 22, 2006 at 15:56:07: EST (-5 GMT)

Security Council extends mandate of UN force in Sudan

UNITED NATIONS, Sept 22, 2006 (AFP) - The UN Security Council on Friday extended for two weeks the mandate of the UN force deployed in southern Sudan, to allow more time for continued world pressure on Khartoum to accept a UN takeover of peacekeeping in Darfur.

The 15-member council unanimously adopted a resolution extending the mandate of the 12,273-strong force known as UNMIS, which expires Sunday, "with the intention to renew it for further periods."

US Ambassador to the UN John Bolton said ahead of the vote that the purpose of the two-week extension was to "give us more time to build up momentum for pressure on the government in Khartoum to accept to accept the inevitability of a UN peacekeeping force" in its strife-torn western Darfur region.

Late last month, the council passed a resolution which calls for beefing up UNMIS to up to 20,000 peacekeepers and to shift it to Darfur to replace an ill-equipped African Union force known as AMIS.

But Khartoum is fiercely opposed to a UN takeover of peacekeeping in Darfur.

Friday's vote came only hours before foreign ministers of the council and 10 other nations were to meet in New York to discuss Darfur.

US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice was to huddle with her 15 council colleagues, along with her counterparts from Canada, South Africa, Nigeria, Senegal, Rwanda, the Netherlands, Egypt, Chad, Norway and Algeria.

But despite relentless international pressure, Sudanese President Omar al-Beshir, who addressed the General Assembly this week, adamantly refused to accept a UN force in Darfur.

Beshir, who claimed here that the proposed UN deployment was part of a "Zionist" plot to dismember his country and plunder its resources, also made it clear he would not accept shifting UNMIS to Darfur.

UNMIS was created in March 2005 to help maintain the peace between Sudan's government and former southern rebels who in January of that year signed a peace deal after 21 years of civil war, and also to liaise with AU forces working in Darfur.

Since the war in Darfur broke out in February 2003, at least 200,000 people have died from the combined effects of fighting, famine and disease, according to the United Nations. Some sources say the toll is much higher.

SUDAN: Darfur peace accord on verge of collapse – UN envoy

KHARTOUM, 21 Sep 2006 (IRIN) - A top United Nations envoy warned on Thursday that the Darfur peace agreement was on the verge of collapse and lambasted the Darfur Ceasefire Commission (CFC), which is responsible for monitoring and implementing the accord.

Jan Pronk, the UN Special Representative to the Secretary-General in Sudan, echoing comments made on Wednesday to the UN Security Council in New York, warned that the 5 May Darfur peace agreement, signed by the Sudanese government and one faction of the rebel Sudan Liberation Army, was floundering.

"The Darfur peace agreement is in [a] coma," Pronk told reporters in Khartoum. "It is nearly dead. This is an issue for great concern." Since the signing, new rebel alliances have formed and rebels in the region have fought each other, causing further displacement of civilians.

Pronk charged that the ceasefire commission had done little to stem increasing violence in the region and had not examined a plan by the Sudanese government to disarm militias known as janjaweed.

The commission is composed of representatives from the Sudanese government and the rebel faction of the Sudan Liberation Army led by Minni Minnawi, which signed up to the peace deal. Non-signatories have not been allowed to join up.

Pronk said the UN representative to the commission had been "silenced and sidelined" and said he would withdraw the UN representative from meetings.

"It’s badly chaired," Pronk said. "Violations are not being addressed. [The] United Nations is being silenced in the CFC"

Pronk welcomed yesterday’s decision by the African Union to remain in Darfur but said he hoped for increased financial and logistical support to bolster the mission, which has only 7,700 troops monitoring a remote area the size of France.

The AU voted to extend its mandate until the end of this year after Sudan refused to allow a UN force to replace the cash-strapped mission. Sudan had likened a UN force to colonisation.

The African Union Mission in Sudan said the AU Peace and Security Council had made the right decision.

"It was the right decision in order to avoid any vacuum," AU spokesman Noureddine Mezni said. "The other option would have been to terminate the mandate by the end of September with negative consequences on the ground. So it was the right decision."

The Darfur conflict began three years ago when rebels attacked government positions in the region, complaining that Darfur remained undeveloped due to neglect by the central government. Thousands have died and more than two million people have been displaced from their homes.

1 comment:

Pan-African News Wire said...

AU to boost Darfur troop strength

Sunday 24 September 2006 4:59 PM GMT

AU agreed to extend its mission in Darfur until December 31

The African Union plans to send more troops into Sudan to reinforce its extended peacekeeping mission in war-ravaged Darfur.

An AU spokesman said on Sunday that 7,000 troops were not enough to deal with implementation of the Darfur peace agreement that was signed by the Sudanese government and one rebel faction in May.

Noureddine Mezni said: "It will be a matter of battalions. I cannot specify how many battalions we are going to bring, but we are going to increase the number of troops".

A battalion is usually composed of 600 to 800 soldiers.

Mezni said more troops were also needed to bolster the operation in the arid region the size of France.

"We have additional tasks. It is important to increase the number. We are working on that," he said, adding if approved troops could begin deploying within a matter of weeks.

The soldiers would come from countries already contributing troops in Darfur - Nigeria, Rwanda, South Africa and Senegal.

Mission debate

The AU's mandate in Darfur had been set to expire on September 30 and the pan-African body had said it could not continue beyond October because it was out of money and needed more equipment such as helicopters.

The UN had hoped to send 20,000 soldiers and police into Darfur to replace the AU forces, which have been unable to stem the fighting that has killed an estimated 200,000 people and forced 2.5 million from their homes since 2003.

But the Sudanese government has refused to allow UN forces into Darfur, calling it a Western ploy to recolonise Sudan.

With aid experts predicting a new humanitarian catastrophe in Darfur if African troops withdrew, the AU agreed last week to extend its mission until December 31, with logistical and material support from the UN and funding from Arab states.

In New York, efforts were to continue on Monday at the UN to gear up for a possible mission transfer.

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