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United nations, EU, where are you??

 
 
au1929
 
Reply Sun 30 May, 2004 04:23 pm
Disgraceful silence in face of genocide
A generation has grown up in hell, or maybe it's two generations. Depending on how you read history, the civil war in Sudan has been raging for 21 years, or maybe 50. Suffice it to say, existence in the African nation has been - we resort to understatement - difficult.Note, "existence." Not "life." If you accept the 21-year estimate, 2 million Sudanese have failed to maintain existence, and the death toll is rising. For in Sudan, there is today the world's greatest humanitarian disaster - a polite way of describing genocide.A decade ago, the world turned its back on Rwanda, where ethnic cleansing claimed 800,000 lives in 100 days. Afterward: Oh the shock, oh the horror. Why didn't "civilized" society do something?Well, world, it's happening again. And, except for the U.S. and South Africa, no one seems to care much. The United Nations alleges some interest, pledging aid and comfort. But this is the same organization that deemed Sudan's Islamic government worthy of a place on the Human Rights Commission, even though said government is the antithesis of all the commission is supposed to represent.Last week, Sudan's leaders and the rebel forces that have been waging the eternal civil war signed a peace pact, brokered by the U.S. This, though, has no bearing on the abominations in the western part of the country, in the region called Darfur. There, Arab militias, supported by the government in Khartoum, have been slaughtering, raping, torturing and enslaving - yes, slavery thrives in Sudan - black Africans. The refugee estimate is between 1 million and 2 million, and the area, which is about the size of France, has been so decimated that one can reportedly drive for 50 miles without seeing a living being. What you will see are burned villages and scorched earth. And desecrated bodies.If a black African in Darfur is lucky enough to escape being butchered by the Arabs, he or she must still contend with enslavement, famine and disease. Refugee camps in neighboring Chad are overflowing. There is little food and no medicine. In a couple of weeks, the rainy season will make roads impassable so supplies cannot be delivered. That will give Khartoum a nice excuse, since it is generally accepted that supplies are not being delivered now because the Sudanese government has blocked relief organizations from reaching the refugees.Where are you, France and Germany? Where are you, Barbra Streisand? Where are you, Al Franken? When can we expect the documentary, Michael Moore? We do not mean to trivialize the tragedy, but loudmouths with a platform could be useful in galvanizing action. Or are we not supposed to care when the murderers are Arabs and the victims are black?

Where is that useless, irrelevant debating society? The UN. Or for that matter are the self righteous Europeans
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mysteryman
 
  1  
Reply Sun 30 May, 2004 04:42 pm
Where are they?
Waiting for us(the US) to do something.The EU and the UN are incapable of doing anything on their own.
Every UN action involving aid or peacekeeping has had to have US help.If it means the US provides logistical support,troops,or food,we have to help the UN.
And the fact that the US brokered the ceasefire is of course unnaceptable.
That goes against everything the EU and the UN will accept.
So,since the US brokered the ceasefire,both the EU and the UN will do nothing,saying its our problem to deal with.
And don't expect any of the US left to ever say anything,because we are helping,and thats also unacceptable to many on the left.
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au1929
 
  1  
Reply Wed 9 Jun, 2004 07:36 am
Darfur starvation will be televised ... eventually

By Andrew Stroehlein

BRUSSELS – When people are starving en masse, television is there to capture their fly-covered faces as they expire. The world is appalled by the repeated images of the dying and is stirred to action: People open up their purses to charity appeals, and politicians feel strong public pressure to address the famine and its root causes at the highest level. But mass starvation doesn't just appear out of nowhere in an instant, so where are the TV cameras just before the emaciated bodies start piling up?
Right now, they are in Iraq. Or Israel/Palestine. Or India. Or just about anywhere else in the world apart from the Darfur region of Sudan, where the next mass starvation is now imminent.
Darfur is a purely manmade disaster. Since early last year, the government of Khartoum has been supporting Arab "Janjaweed" militias in a devastating scorched-earth campaign across the region, ethnically cleansing the area (about the size of Texas) of its black African population, who it claims is supporting a rebellion there. Through their mass slaughter of tens of thousands of civilians and the burning of food supplies, the Janjaweed have uprooted about 1.5 million people from their land. Some 200,000 have crossed into Chad, but the Janjaweedhave corralled the remainder into concentration camps within Sudan. There, because of government obstacles to international relief efforts and a shortage of aid, the internally displaced are facing death by starvation and disease.
USAID recently estimated that if the situation continues, as many as 350,000 people probably will die there by the end of the year.
And yet, the world media are only slowly coming to this story, and TV, hardly at all.
It is a very difficult environment for journalists to work in, to be sure. The government of Sudan is expert at stalling and delaying foreign correspondents seeking permission to enter Darfur, and access to the Janjaweed-encircled concentration camps is severely restricted. The other option is to get into Darfur with the rebels via Chad - a very dangerous way to go.
But the current lack of media coverage for this impending humanitarian catastrophe cannot be blamed solely on the difficulties - and expense - of working in a hard-to-reach war zone. Journalists who are getting into Darfur right now arrive at an eerily calm interregnum. They aren't there to witness Janjaweed attacks, they only see villages that were burnt to the ground weeks or months ago. For print and radio this is not an impossible obstacle, and articles and radio packages now appear regularly, though not frequently, in several serious newspapers and on radio.
The same cannot be said for TV, however. There was a tiny blip of television reports in mid-May based on interviews with refugees in Chad, but the few TV crews that were there have long since packed up and left. Even fewer have any intention of returning soon.
This moment between Darfur's ethnic cleansing and mass starvation is not made for TV as it is understood by news producers. They want active visceral footage to enliven a story. And, looming famine or no, video of burnt-out, abandoned villages only goes so far.
So, rather than report early on a horrific tragedy in the making - and thus possibly even contribute to its prevention or at least its amelioration - television news will wait for the starving to begin.
Once that happens, of course, everyone will send in a TV crew to film the dying and the dead. And reporters will link up to the world by videophone to ask why this has happened, and ask why no one did anything to stop it weeks and months before - that is, today, when television is refusing to cover the story.
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Rick d Israeli
 
  1  
Reply Wed 9 Jun, 2004 08:01 am
Indeed. Where are they?
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thehamster
 
  1  
Reply Wed 9 Jun, 2004 08:10 am
Link

Looks like the UN is struggling with stuff like "geographical size".
But you guys are right, it really does suck to live in a politically impotent union like the EU...the only good thing about this Union is that they finally stopped starting World Wars.
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Rick d Israeli
 
  1  
Reply Wed 9 Jun, 2004 08:15 am
I wonder how fast the UN and the EU would work if the Western media gave more attention to Darfur.
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Jim
 
  1  
Reply Wed 9 Jun, 2004 08:17 am
I don't know. There was no shortage of media attention to the genocide in Rwanda about ten years ago.
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dagmaraka
 
  1  
Reply Wed 9 Jun, 2004 08:28 am
Ehm, you do realize that it was the U.S. that vetoed the change in Dallaire's UN mission TWICE while he was in Rwanda screaming for help, right? None other. Genocide in Rwanda could have been prevented, or at least kept at a much lower number of victims.
Otherwise I couldn't agree more. Both UN, U.S., EU and world leading figures in general (it would take just a few loud voices of strong authority) have to learn to push for prevention of genocide, rather than sending relief and peace-keeping missions afterwar. By now we know darn well what are the early warning signals of genocide, which are all present clearly in Darfur, but except for Samantha Power and few other scholars, no powerfull political figure embraced it. It truly is a shame, the guilt falls on us all.
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Rick d Israeli
 
  1  
Reply Wed 9 Jun, 2004 08:42 am
Jim wrote:
I don't know. There was no shortage of media attention to the genocide in Rwanda about ten years ago.


Not after the killing had begun yes...
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owi
 
  1  
Reply Thu 10 Jun, 2004 06:23 pm
thehamster wrote:
Link
...the only good thing about this Union is that they finally stopped starting World Wars.


You're right. After starting World War 3 and World War 4 the European Union stopped starting another World War! Confused

btw. I can think of some other good things, the European Union does/did but perhaps people just don't see it when they are walking through life with blinders.
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littlek
 
  1  
Reply Tue 15 Jun, 2004 08:49 pm
The news I've been hearing about Sudan is horrible. A horror.
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au1929
 
  1  
Reply Wed 16 Jun, 2004 07:35 am
Is this genocide? The Bush administration can't figure it out.



Dare We Call It Genocide?

By NICHOLAS D. KRISTOF

Published: June 16, 2004
ALONG THE CHAD-SUDAN BORDER — The Bush administration says it is exploring whether to describe the mass murder and rape in the Darfur region of Sudan as "genocide." I suggest that President Bush invite to the White House a real expert, Magboula Muhammad Khattar, a 24-year-old widow huddled under a tree here.
The world has acquiesced shamefully in the Darfur genocide, perhaps because 320,000 deaths this year (a best-case projection from the U.S. Agency for International Development) seems like one more boring statistic. So listen to Ms. Khattar's story, multiply it by hundreds of thousands, and let's see if we still want to look the other way.
Just a few months ago, Ms. Khattar had a great life. Her sweet personality and lovely appearance earned a hefty bride price of 40 cattle when she was married four years ago to Ali Daoud, a prosperous farmer. The family owned 300 cattle and 50 camels, making them among the wealthiest in their village, Ab-Layha in western Sudan. Ms. Khattar promptly bore two children, the youngest born late last year.
About the same time, though, the Sudanese government resolved to crush a rebellion in Darfur, a region the size of France in western Sudan. Sudan armed and paid a militia of Arab raiders, the Janjaweed, and authorized them to slaughter and drive out members of the Zaghawa, Masalit and Fur tribes.
On March 12, Ms. Khattar was performing her predawn Muslim prayers about 4 a.m. when a Sudanese government Antonov aircraft started dropping bombs on Ab-Layha, which is made up of Zaghawa tribespeople. Moments later, more than 1,000 Janjaweed attackers rode into the village on horses and camels, backed by Sudanese government troops in trucks.
"The Janjaweed shouted: `We will not allow blacks here. We will not let Zaghawa here. This land is only for Arabs,' " Ms. Khattar recalled.
Ms. Khattar grabbed her children, and, as shots and flames raged around her, raced for a nearby forest. But her father and mother tried to protect their animals — they were yelling, "Don't take our livestock." They were both shot dead.
The attack was part of a deliberate strategy to ensure that the village would be forever uninhabitable, that the Zaghawa could never live there again. The Janjaweed poisoned wells by stuffing them with the corpses of people and donkeys. They also blew up a dam that supplied water to the farms, destroyed seven hand pumps in the village and burned all the homes and even the village school, the clinic and the mosque.
In separate interviews, I talked to more than a dozen other survivors from Ab-Layha, and they all confirm Ms. Khattar's story. By most accounts, about 100 people were massacred that day in Ab-Layha, and a particular effort was made to exterminate all men and boys, even the very young. Women and girls were sometimes allowed to flee, but the prettiest were kidnapped.
Most of those raped don't want to talk about it. But Zahra Abdel Karim, a 30-year-old woman, told me how in the same attack on Ab-Layha, the Janjaweed shot to death her husband, Adam, and 7-year-old son, Rahshid, as well as three of her brothers. Then they grabbed her 4-year-old son, Rasheed, from her arms and cut his throat.
The Janjaweed took her and her two sisters away on horses and gang-raped them, she said. The troops shot one sister, Kuttuma, and cut the throat of the other, Fatima, and they discussed how to mutilate her. (Sexual humiliation has been part of the Sudanese strategy to drive out the African tribespeople. The Janjaweed routinely add to the stigma by branding or scarring the women they rape.)
"One Janjaweed said: `You belong to me. You are a slave to the Arabs, and this is the sign of a slave,' " she recalled. He slashed her leg with a sword before letting her hobble away, stark naked. Other villagers confirmed that they had found her naked and bleeding, and she showed me the scar on her leg.
By comparison, Ms. Khattar was one of the lucky ones. She lost her parents, her home and all her belongings, but her husband and children were alive, and she had not been raped. Unfortunately, her luck would soon run out.
I'll tell you more of her story on Saturday, because if she and her people aren't victims of genocide, then the word has no meaning.
0 Replies
 
dagmaraka
 
  1  
Reply Wed 16 Jun, 2004 07:41 am
The bending over backwards to avoid the g-word in U.S., UN and other administrations is making me sick. I believe the definition of genocide is clear enough in the Convention. It is vague to fit various situations - true, but it is sufficiently clear to know when you see one! We have learned absolutely nothing from Rwanda, it is truly heartbreaking.
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nimh
 
  1  
Reply Fri 18 Jun, 2004 08:57 pm
mysteryman wrote:
Where are they?
Waiting for us(the US) to do something.The EU and the UN are incapable of doing anything on their own.


---

This in the news today (cause a Dutchman is involved, of course, otherwise it probably wouldnt make headlines Confused ) ... perhaps, slowly but certainly ...

Quote:
Ex-minister Pronk UN envoy Sudan

Former minister Jan Pronk (Labour) will be the special UN envoy in Sudan. He will lead the peace mission that the UN Security Council wants to send to the African country soon.

The government of Sudan recently signed a peace agreement with the rebel movement SPLA. It should end a civil war that now has been lasting over twenty years.

For now, violence continues, especially in the western province of Darfur. At least ten thousand people have been killed here since February last year.

UN Secratary General Kofi Annan this week sounded the alarm about the humanitarian situation in the province. He called for immediate action.

Pronk was [..] minister of Development Cooperation from 1994-98 and 1973-77 [and] minister of Housing, Spatial Order and Environment from 1998-2002.

In the 1980s he already worked for five years for the UN, as adjunct-secretary-general of UNCTAD [..]. Currently he is Chairman of the federation of Refugee Organisations Netherlands (VON). [..]
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Sofia
 
  1  
Reply Fri 18 Jun, 2004 09:03 pm
Annan 'calls' for immediate action...

Uh-huh.
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nimh
 
  1  
Reply Fri 18 Jun, 2004 09:10 pm
Well, the UN doesnt have its own standing army as you know, Sofia. Some very powerful world powers would never agree to it having one.

So he really CANT do anything more than call Member States to agree to undertake immediate action, contribute troops. Its his job.
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Sofia
 
  1  
Reply Fri 18 Jun, 2004 09:17 pm
Does he formulate a plan? Is he responsible to do anything other than point to a problem?

How much money does he get paid for this?

Do you think an investigation into the graft should take place, before he accumilates more money? I imagine it's pretty difficult to write checks to the UN these days...
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nimh
 
  1  
Reply Fri 18 Jun, 2004 09:41 pm
Sofia wrote:
Does he formulate a plan? Is he responsible to do anything other than point to a problem?


From the article posted above: "[Pronk] will lead the peace mission that the UN Security Council wants to send to the African country soon."

Sure its easy to Google up more if you're interested.

Annan's job - to point to the problem, pressure the UN and the UN Security Council into action, negotiate behind the scenes to cook up a plan that will pass through the SC, etc.

But if anyone on the SC wields his veto, nothing much Annan can do.

Sofia wrote:
Do you think an investigation into the graft should take place, before he accumilates more money?


"He" does not accumulate much money at all ... Annan earns less than your average multinational's CEO, I would think.

As for the UN Member States' financial contributions to the work of the UN, UNHCR, WFP, UNICEF, the UN's peacekeepers around the world, etc ... well, let me put it this way ... if a serious fraud scandal appears in one of the US administration's ministery - even if its an essential one, say the Pentagon - would you really think its a reasonable response for American citizens to stop paying taxes altogether?
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au1929
 
  1  
Reply Sat 19 Jun, 2004 06:13 am
Any discussion about the UN always leads to the same conclusion. The UN is by design on it's own is an ineffectual organization. That has the power of discussion but not of action.
0 Replies
 
nimh
 
  1  
Reply Sat 19 Jun, 2004 07:41 am
So would you like to grant it some real power, au?

Or are you happier opposing giving it any real power, and then bitching about how it doesnt have any real power?
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