Monday, 16 April 2007

Good news about Darfur, or more deception from Khartoum?

A promising, yet not confirmed, statement from a government that has supported and instigated the murder, rape, and plundering of many...

BBC News:

More than 3,000 United Nations troops will be allowed into Darfur, according to Sudanese Foreign Minister Lam Akol.
The apparent change of heart comes after months of international pressure, but there is no UN confirmation so far.

Mr Akol told a news conference that Sudan has now fully accepted the second phase of a UN plan to support 7,000 struggling African Union troops there.

Under the plan, UN attack helicopters and armoured personnel carriers will also be deployed to help AU forces.

The four-year Darfur conflict between rebels and pro-government Arab militia has seen more than 200,000 deaths and at least 2.4 million displaced.


Phase 1 - UN financial backing for AU mission
Phase 2 - UN sends logistical and military support
Phase 3 - UN takes joint command of hybrid force

UN officials said they were aware of the Sudanese announcement, but had not yet been told anything officially.
"This is the greatest concentration of human suffering in the world and an outrage that affronts the world's moral values," Penny Lawrence, Oxfam's international director said after a tour of Darfur.
"Nearly 1 million people are not getting any aid at all and in some areas the aid efforts is under threat due to increasing insecurity," an Oxfam statement said.

Visiting US official John Negroponte had also warned Sudan of isolation if it fails to stop harassment of humanitarian workers and rejects the deployment of UN peacekeepers in the war-torn region.

"The denial of visas and harassment of aid workers has created the impression that the government of Sudan is engaged in a deliberate campaign of intimidation," he said at the end of his tour of Sudan.

Let's hope that this announcement is true; the people of Darfur deserve no more pain. Its hard to morally comprehend how things like the Darfur genocide can happen — but the matter of fact is that it's happening. The solution is political: China has deep ties to the Sudanese government, especially in oil exchange, and has refused to put real pressure on the African nation, besides shallow rhetoric. America can also do more. Individual nations as well as world bodies, such as the United Nations, need to do their part.

However, there is another catch: the government might be as restrictive with the UN peacekeepers, even resorting to allowing attacks on them, as they have been with most other humanitarian operations.

Note: the apparent change of heart by Sudan on the matter of UN peacekeepers came after new, unprecidented pressure from Beijing.

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