Tuesday, April 26, 2005

Darfur Part I

Since some of my readers are interested in the topic, I have decided to post the the report our committee published to President Bush and Congress. It really doesn't say much more than what has already been said by other committees on the same topic, but the challenge now is to actually push the U.S. government into some sort of action. The Bush administration is currently dragging its feet on intervention. It is a long report, so I will publish it one section at a time over the next couple of days (there still may be some typos in this copy).


“Where are the men seized in This Wind of Madness?” is the question asked by Sao Tome poet Alda do Espirito Santo. Although written about another war at a different time and place in Africa, Santo’s words are profoundly relevant to today’s conflict in Sudan. For black Sudanese to weather the storm of killing in Western Sudan, political and military leaders in Khartoum and the desert highwaymen of Darfur must be made to realize that their lives, liberty, and fortunes are subject to certain forfeit for their crimes.

Rebels in the Darfur region of Sudan began an uprising in February 2003 after years of skirmishes between mainly African farmers and Arab nomads over land and water in the arid area. The Islamist government turned to militias, drawn chiefly from the nomadic Arab population, to help suppress the rebels. The militias, known as the Janjaweed, have committed widespread atrocities against African villagers uprooting more than 2 million people, who have fled to other regions in Sudan or across the border to Chad. The British government and others estimate that up to 300,000 civilians have died in Darfur since fighting broke out. Moreover, the World Health Organization estimates that more than 200 Internally Displaced Persons (“IDPs”) are dying every day from disease and malnutrition in dozens of makeshift refugee camps.

Time is rapidly running out for the 1.85 million IDPs in Darfur and the 213,000 refugees who have fled to Chad. The following actions are urgently needed to alleviate what the United Nations - prior to the Indian Ocean tsunami - termed the world’s worst humanitarian crisis.

· Provide Food Aid. The malnutrition situation remains fragile and well beyond emergency thresholds for the IDPs living in 148 makeshift refugee camps in Darfur. Global acute malnutrition rates are at 21.8% with 3.9% severe malnourishment. We implore the Senate to pass, and President Bush to sign into law, the authorization for $150 million in emergency humanitarian [food] aid to Sudan which is contained in H.R. 1268. We also urge the President to accelerate the release of previously authorized humanitarian assistance funds earmarked for Darfur.

· Protect Aid Workers. Even if funding targets for the provision of food aid are met, security and logistical problems will remain daunting. In December 2004, Save the Children, U.K., a major relief organization, pulled out of the region completely after four of its staff were killed in Darfur, where it provided health care, food support, child protection and education to some 250,000 children and family members. More recently, according to the USAID Disaster Assistance Response Team, incidents of banditry have been on the rise in Westwestern Darfur. In addition to these dangers, Darfur is a difficult context in which to operate logistically with minimal infrastructure throughout the region. As a quick and inexpensive solution to the security problem, we urge that U.S. government funding be earmarked to provide armed civilian security contractors to “ride shotgun” with humanitarian food convoys. To overcome environmental obstacles, we further urge the U.S. to provide aid agencies with additional means of air transport (e.g. helicopters).

· Devise a Peacekeeping Strategy: A well thought out peacekeeping strategy must be devised taking into account the mission statement, rules of engagement, cost, and political factors.

· Impose Limited Sanctions. U.N. Security Council Resolution 1591 adopted on March 29, 2005 imposes an arms embargo on Sudan and places a travel ban and asset freeze on Sudanese government officials. Legislation pending in both the House and Senate also calls for travel bans and assert freezes. These targeted sanctions will not harm the general civilian population of Sudan and might influence Khartoum to comply with world community demands. Accordingly we support passage andpending legislation to the extent that it provides for implementation of these measures.

· Prosecute War Crimes. There must be diligent prosecution of war criminals in the International Criminal Court in accordance with U.N. Security Council Resolution 1593 adopted on April 1, 2005. Specifically, the Prosecutor should forthwith investigate, and if appropriate, indict 51 alleged war criminals referred to the U.N. Secretary General by the International Commission of Inquiry on February 1, 2005. At the dawn of the 21st century with the memory of the Holocaust and more recent genocides in Rwanda and Bosnia fresh in our collective psyche, the unequivocal response to those who would perpetrate crimes against humanity in Darfur must be that there is no place on earth where they can escape the reach of justice.

· Negotiate a Political Settlement. Although humanitarian aid is desperately needed in the short run, a long-term political solution is key to resolving the catastrophe in Darfur. President George W. Bush is generally credited with having rejuvenated the North-Southnorth-south multilateral peace process largely through the efforts of his special envoy to Sudan, John Danforth. Those efforts resulted in a comprehensive settlement of the 20-year civil war in Sudan between the north and the south. Robust U.S. leadership and engagement is now likewise absolutely crucial to the success of the peace negotiations taking place in Abuja, Nigeria between Khartoum and the Darfur rebels.

The problems in Darfur are complex and not susceptible of easy resolution. We are absolutely convinced, however, that the foregoing measures, described in greater detail below, can restore an air of sanity to this troubled region if implemented with the urgency required.


MaxedOutMama said...

Excellent, Dingo!

Sigmund, Carl and Alfred said...

Good post, as usual. I'm going to linkl to these this week.