Daily Darfur

Monday, March 07, 2005

Daily Darfur

Will it make a difference?
Secretary-General Kofi Annan has called a closed-door emergency meeting for Monday of U.N. Security Council ambassadors over the deteriorating situation in Darfur and in south Sudan where a peacekeeping force is awaiting council approval.
Probably not
In a revised version of the resolution, obtained by Reuters, all mention of threatened oil sanctions against Sudan is dropped. But a partial arms embargo as well as travel and an assets freeze against perpetrators of atrocities remain in the document. Diplomats said the assets freeze might be deleted to get support from Russia and China.

The main stumbling point is where to put those responsible for heinous crimes on trial. Most council members prefer the new International Criminal Court in The Hague, which the United States opposes. China and Algeria are against any referral to an outside court.
I've said it before but I'll say it again: the UN is a f***ing joke.

The Boston Globe has an interesting op-ed on the Genocide Intervention Fund, an organization raising money to support the African Union mission in Darfur
So far GIF has won sponsorship from six congressmen, several top Africa officials from the Clinton administration, and Canadian General Romeo Dallaire, the commander of the UN mission in Rwanda during the 1994 genocide.
Doctors Without Borders says that "women and girls in war-ravaged Darfur are continuing to suffer a high incidence of rape and sexual violence."
Women told MSF that they were beaten with sticks, whips or axes before, during or after the act of rape. Some of the raped women were visibly pregnant, as much as five to eight months, at the time of the assault.

The majority of survivors of rape and sexual violence tell MSF that the attacks occurred when women left the relative safety of villages and displaced camps to carry out activities indispensable of the survival of the families, such as searching for firewood or water.

81% of the 500 rape survivors treated by MSF reported being assaulted by militia or military who used their weapons to force the assault.
The Globe and Mail ran a related article this weekend
Fatima was 15 when she was gang-raped in front of her mother. Seven months later, the heavily pregnant schoolgirl was arrested by the Sudanese police and charged with fornication. They threatened to whip her if she didn't pay a fine.
Freelance reporter Angela Woodall reports
The villagers of war-ravaged Darfur face a famine in the coming year if the violence that has swept through this part of western Sudan is not stopped, an expert on the region said at a talk Feb. 25 at the Brookings Institute here.
You can read the Brookings transcript here. (pdf file)

David Bosco had a great article in yesterday's Outlook section on the limitations that seeking a "genocide" declaration places on the international community and how lack of such a declaration can become an excuse for inaction. Bosco also offers an interesting alternative
There is an alternative to this intense focus on genocide. The category of "crimes against humanity" -- first used to describe the massacres of Armenians after World War I and then codified at the Nuremberg trials -- is simpler and broader but still morally powerful. It encompasses large-scale efforts to kill, abuse or displace populations. It avoids messy determinations of whether the victims fit into the right legal box and whether the killers had a sufficiently evil mindset. Do we really care, after all, whether the victims of atrocities are members of a distinct tribe or simply political opponents of the regime?

Moving beyond what has by now become a warped diplomatic parlor game (who will say the G-word first?) would have the added benefit of shifting the debate from the abstract to the practical.

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