Thursday, 8 March 2007

No surprises: Sudan government hurting Darfur more

As if they hadn’t done enough by supporting and instigating the genocide…

BBC News:

The Sudanese government is "paralysing" the aid operation in its conflict-torn western region of Darfur, the US special envoy to Sudan has said.

Andrew Natsios said there had recently been a big increase in red tape and the harassment of aid workers.

He was speaking after talks with Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir.

The operation is the biggest of its kind in the world, with about two million people in Darfur's camps fully dependent on aid agencies for food.

"The [Sudanese] government has constructed a very onerous set of bureaucratic requirements which are essentially paralysing the relief effort," Mr Natsios said after the talks in Khartoum.

The US envoy also said Khartoum had created unacceptable delays in the transition to a joint United Nations-African Union peacekeeping force in Sudan's western region.
Khartoum rejects plans for it to hand over to a larger, stronger UN mission, with President Bashir calling it an attempt by the West to colonise Sudan.
Sudan's government and the pro-government Arab militias are accused of war crimes against the region's black African population, although the UN has stopped short of calling it genocide.

But the current force has failed to halt attacks on civilians which has led to some two million people living in camps.
"The greatest immediate thereat to the people on the ground is the deteriorating humanitarian space in Darfur"
Andrew Natsios
US special envoy to Sudan

A recent US State Department report listed the strife in Darfur as the worst human rights abuse of 2006.

Genocide is unacceptable. Not only is President Omar al-Bashir's government preventing crucial aid, they are at fault for people even needing the aid. Hundreds of thousands have died, though it is hard to know exactly how many, in a genocide following the one in Rwanda, which killed close to a million — roughly 800,000 or more. 'Never again', said the international community, would a genocide like Rwanda happen, with ethnic fighting and government support for a side. The promise has been broken.

Out of the foreign policy maneuvers this US administration has made, the amount that have been positive ones are restricted to what I can count using my fingers. Their outspokenness on the Darfur genocide, and their proper labeling of it as 'genocide', is one of those few positives. However, not enough action has been taken. Out of the things Bush can do to brighten up what history will judge of his presidency, creating some sort of international momentum on Darfur is one of them. It is not like there are not things the international community can do to make Khartoum change its ill ways. Sudan is an oil-producing state and has contracts with many foreign powers. If countries really want to do something about Darfur, they have to squeeze the Sudanese government. UN peacekeepers are the best and only viable option, and the same government that has created the need for peacekeepers is the one keeping them out. African Union troops are underfunded, understaffed, under-trained especially for this kind of work, you name it. Plus, they don't seem to be getting anywhere because they have to avoid the militias and military instead of protecting the people they are supposed to be protecting, which is not their fault.

Genocide, and many things relating to Africa, must be particularly un-sexy — compared to foreign troop (not civilian) death and celebrities and any sort of power rhetoric — because, as I said in this post, Darfur has been greatly under-reported, especially in American media.

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