Meditation Focus #127

Bringing Peace to Darfur


Hello,

What follows is the 127th Meditation Focus suggested for the next 2 weeks beginning Sunday, March 20, 2005.

BRINGING PEACE TO DARFUR

1. Summary
2. Meditation times
3. More information related to this Meditation Focus


THANK YOU FOR YOUR ASSISTANCE IN PASSING THIS ON TO OTHERS



1) SUMMARY

A year ago Saturday, Mukesh Kapila, the United Nations' humanitarian co-ordinator in Sudan, declared the violence and forced displacement of people in Darfur to be "the world's greatest humanitarian crisis." The phrase has since been used by the UN Security Council and by almost every Western leader about the conflict in Sudan's western region. But despite the strong rhetoric, two million people in Darfur have now been uprooted from their homes — twice as many as when Mr. Kapila declared the disaster. No one has returned home. Just six weeks ago, another 10,000 people fled in South Darfur after attacks by armed militias. The death toll in the region is now estimated at more than 200,000, which is to say that 170,000 people have died since Mr. Kapila declared the disaster and pleaded for international help. The UN estimates that 10,000 people a month are dying of malnutrition and disease. The International Crisis Group, a Brussels-based research organization, says at least 70,000 have been killed in fighting and executions in the region. One year, four Security Council resolutions, a UN Commission of Inquiry, an international observer mission and several abortive rounds of peace talks later, no significant steps have been taken to disarm the militias known as janjaweed. No punitive action has been taken against the government of Sudan, which armed the militias.

The Darfur conflict began in 2003 when Sudan's Arab government, seeking to crush a small rebel movement in the west, organized Arab tribesmen into the janjaweed. It armed them and sent them out against the farmers with whom they had long-standing conflicts over land and resources, saying the farmers were backing the rebels. The janjaweed sweep into villages, shoot men, rape women, burn houses and crops, and steal cattle and possessions. Their leader says the government backs them, although the government denies this. It has proved unwilling, and possibly unable, to stop them. A year ago, there was virtually no international presence in the area. Today almost every major relief organization and many smaller ones are on the ground. Government restrictions made it almost impossible at first to move aid workers or supplies into the area; most have now been removed. But lack of funds, logistical challenges and insecurity are still preventing aid agencies from reaching hundreds of thousands of people. An African Union mission is supposed to be monitoring a ceasefire in the conflict. But it has fewer than 2,000 observers to cover a region the size of France. In ceasefire talks concerning Darfur, the government has made five separate promises to neutralize the janjaweed. It has kept none of them because it is determined to keep control of the western area, where it believes the rebels still have sympathy and a network, and because no pressure beyond rhetoric has been applied from outside.

The critical situation in Darfur is not the only one in Africa, although it is attracting more media attention that other nearby crises. Brutal conflicts in Congo, Uganda and Sudan are the world's three biggest "forgotten emergencies", each dwarfing the toll of the Asian tsunami but attracting scant media interest, a new poll of experts shows. War in the Democratic Republic of Congo, a country two-thirds the size of Western Europe, has claimed at least 10 times as many lives as the December tsunami yet remains almost unheard of outside of Africa, key players in the aid world said. "It's the worst humanitarian tragedy since the Holocaust, the greatest example on the planet of man's inhumanity to man," according to John O'Shea, chief executive of Irish relief agency GOAL. The details of northern Uganda’s hidden war are even more sensational. Ninety-five percent of the population in the conflict zone have been uprooted, and some 25,000 children have been abducted to fight as soldiers and sex slaves. Rural children who live in the rural danger zone are called "night commuters" because they take refuge at night in the relative safety of cities to escape abduction by the cult-like Lord’s Resistance Army, which has waged a bloody 18-year insurgency. Eighty percent of its troops are estimated to be children.

Please dedicate your prayers and meditations, as guided by Spirit, in the coming two weeks, and especially in synchronous attunement at the usual time this Sunday and the following Sunday, to contribute in bringing about enough sustained commitment from the international community to actually end the conflict and ongoing genocide in Darfur through all necessary means. May the spirit of peace rise in the hearts of the men perpetrating the very atrocities described in numerous reports, not only in Sudan but also in other similar conflicts in Africa and elsewhere in the world, so as to render harmless their intents and actions in view of the inalienable fact of our common humanity and unity as a global family. Through our united will as Light bearers in communion with the Spirit of Love permeating all Creation, let us initiate a tsunami of goodwill, peace and global awakening to the power of Love that will contribute in creating a new Earth, freed from the scourge of war and regenerated in the common ascent towards Oneness, for the Highest Good of All.


This whole Meditation Focus has been archived for your convenience at http://www.aei.ca/~cep/MeditationFocus127.htm

Also previously issued on this same topic:

Bringing Peace, Sanity and Humanitarian Assistance to Darfur
http://www.EarthRainbowNetwork.com/FocusArchives/MeditationFocus110.htm
(May 9, 2004)

IMPORTANT NOTICE: Daylight Saving Time will start in most of Europe on March 27 (so your time will be one hour later there for next week Sunday meditation) and in North America (including Mexico) on April 3rd. Details on this at http://www.timeanddate.com/time/dst2005a.html



2. MEDITATION TIMES

i) Global Meditation Day: Sunday at 16:00 Universal Time (GMT) or at noon local time. Suggested duration: 30 minutes. Please dedicate the last few minutes of your Sunday meditation BOTH to the healing of the Earth as a whole and to reiterate our willingness and desire - if we so choose - to receive assistance from our space family in order to help set things on a path towards a new era of global peace, love and harmony for all. See the Earth as healthy and vibrant with life, and experience the healing of all relations as we awaken globally to the sacredness of all Life and to our underlying unity with All That Is.

ii) Golden Moment of At-Onement: Daily, at the top of any hour, or whenever it better suits you.

These times below are currently corresponding to 16:00 Universal Time/GMT:

Honolulu 6:00 AM -- Anchorage * 8:00 AM -- Los Angeles * 9:00 AM -- Mexico City, San Salvador & Denver * 10:00 AM -- Houston * & Chicago * 11:00 AM -- Santo Domingo, La Paz, Caracas, New York *, Toronto *. Montreal *, Asuncion & Santiago 12:00 AM -- Halifax *, Rio de Janeiro & Montevideo 1:00 PM -- Reykjavik & Casablanca 4 PM -- Lagos, Algiers, London *, Dublin * & Lisbon * 5:00 PM -- Jerusalem, Johannesburg, Geneva *, Rome *, Berlin *, Paris * & Madrid * 6:00 PM -- Ankara *, Athens *, Helsinki * & Istanbul * & Nairobi 7:00 PM -- Baghdad *, Moscow * 8:00 PM -- Tehran * 8:30 PM -- Islamabad 9:00 PM -- Calcutta & New Delhi 9:30 PM -- Dhaka 10:00 PM -- Rangoon 10:30 PM -- Hanoi, Bangkok & Jakarta 11:00 PM -- Hong Kong, Perth, Beijing & Kuala Lumpur +12:00 PM -- Seoul & Tokyo +1:00 AM -- Brisbane, Canberra & Melbourne +2:00 AM -- Wellington +4:00 AM

+ means the place is one day ahead of Universal Time/Greenwich Mean Time.

* means the place is observing daylight saving time (DST) at the moment.

You may also check at http://www.timeanddate.com/worldclock/fixedtime.html?day=20&month=03&year=2005&hour=16&min=0&sec=0&p1=0 to find your corresponding local time for tomorrow if a nearby city is not listed above.



3. MORE INFORMATION RELATED TO THIS MEDITATION FOCUS

This complement of information may help you to better understand the various aspects pertaining to the summary description of the subject of this Meditation Focus. It is recommended to view this information from a positive perspective, and not allow the details to tinge the positive vision we wish to hold in meditation. Since what we focus on grows, the more positive our mind-set, the more successful we will be in manifesting a vision of peace and healing. This complementary information is provided so that a greater knowledge of what needs healing and peace-nurturing vibrations may assist us to have an in-depth understanding of what is at stake and thus achieve a greater collective effectiveness.


CONTENTS

1. Darfur: One Year Later, Will We Act Quickly Enough to Save Lives?
2. Over 180,000 Darfur deaths in 18 months - UN envoy
3. Sudan rebel group says government launches attack
4. Congo war tops AlertNet poll of 'forgotten' crises
5. UN Sees East Congo as Worse Crisis Than Darfur
6. White House is quiet as Darfur killings continue
7. Annan accuses Khartoum, Darfur rebels of inaction
8. End the Death, Suffering and Destruction in Darfur

See also:

Less talk, more action (March 20, 2005) http://news.scotsman.com/opinion.cfm?id=299422005
IN TWO years of mass killings and forced population displacements, Sudan and its Arab Janjaweed militias have caused the deaths of more than 200,000 Africans in the country’s Darfur provinces. Though existing international law already provides both a relevant statutory definition of genocide and a court to judge these crimes, needless semantic disputes are hampering effective punishment and deterrence. Failure to promptly bring those responsible before the International Criminal Court (ICC) could render the international community helpless onlookers - and would further encourage such crimes. Despite persistent reports of attacks on Africans in Darfur, military intervention has been slow. The African Union peacekeeping force is small. Guarding their own sovereignty, few African or Arab governments will intervene in a regional Islamic state, or prosecute its crimes. US intervention, with American forces extended in Iraq and elsewhere, seems unlikely. Washington favours a genocide tribunal, in a special court restricted to hearing the Darfur case. It opposes the new permanent ICC, which one day might try US war crimes.

A year of dying in Darfur (March 19, 2005) http://www.theglobeandmail.ca/servlet/story/RTGAM.20050319.wdarfur19/BNStory/International/

SUDAN: UN urges larger African peacekeeping force for Darfur (18 Mar 2005)
http://www.alertnet.org/thenews/newsdesk/IRIN/8c76a4106296686fed3dd854f4f84e4c.htm
NAIROBI, (IRIN) - An 8,000-strong African Union (AU) peacekeeping force with an enhanced mandate would be needed to protect the nearly two million displaced people in the western Sudanese region of Darfur and bring stability to the volatile area, a UN spokesperson said on Friday.

One million fled Darfur homes in 2004 - report (March 18, 2005)
http://www.reuters.co.za/locales/c_newsArticle.jsp;:423ad680:b83723140fefca1?type=topNews&localeKey=en_ZA&storyID=7944769
GENEVA (Reuters) - A third of the three million people worldwide forced to flee their homes by violence and war in 2004 are in Sudan's conflict-scarred Darfur region, a U.N.-backed report said on Friday.More than 25 million people worldwide, around half of them in Africa, are internally displaced people (IDP) or refugees within their own country, living in dire conditions and lacking clean water and food.The report, requested by the United Nations to monitor one of the world's largest neglected groups, found that numbers of IDPs remained high."8,000 people were forced to abandon their homes every day last year ... It is perhaps the area where we fail the most," U.N. emergency relief coordinator Jan Egeland, told a news conference. CLIP

Deaf to Darfur (March 18, 2005)
http://www.boston.com/news/globe/editorial_opinion/editorials/articles/2005/03/18/deaf_to_darfur
TRIBAL PEOPLES in the Darfur region of Sudan are dying at a rate of at least 10,000 a month, victims of the genocidal policies of the government in Khartoum run by the National Islamic Front. They face famine, disease, and unceasing attacks from the regime's proxy Arab militias known as Janjaweed. Confronted with these crimes against humanity, the United Nations, members of the Security Council, and the African Union, which has taken responsibility for monitoring conditions in Darfur, have failed -- or refused -- to take actions that could stop the slaughter. On Wednesday the UN actually withdrew all of its staff to the regional capital. Shameful as that failure has been, the world's indifference to the dead and dying in Darfur reached a new low point recently when European governments and the Bush administration allowed their dispute about the International Criminal Court to block any effective intervention to save lives in Darfur.The Europeans are refusing to consider a Security Council resolution authorizing an enlarged peacekeeping force for Darfur unless that resolution also refers suspects accused of crimes against humanity to the International Criminal Court. The Europeans do this knowing that the Bush administration, foolishly but adamantly, opposes the court and its jurisdiction in such matters. (...) Instead of playing puerile political games while human beings are perishing by the thousands in Darfur, Security Council members should be creating a NATO-style peacekeeping force of 40,000 to 50,000 soldiers to stop the killing and make certain that humanitarian aid is delivered to more than 2 million displaced people.History will not forgive the powerful people who could have ended yet another genocide but preferred to play their pitiless games.

Janjaweed Onslaught Forces UN To Quit Darfur (March 18, 2005)
http://www.omegaletter.com/articles.asp?ArticleID=4953
Threats of violence forced the United Nations to evacuate large areas of war-torn Darfur yesterday, underlining Sudan's failure to curb the notorious janjaweed militia.UN aid workers helping desperate refugees were withdrawn from outlying areas of Western Darfur province and brought to the safety of the local capital, El Geneina. Gunmen from the janjaweed, which translates as "demons on horseback", have issued new threats to aid workers and food convoys.

The UN and Genocide in Darfur (March 17, 2005)
http://www.sudantribune.com/article.php3?id_article=8614
When interviewing refugees of the Darfur crisis last August, we heard countless stories of atrocities committed against unarmed civilians. Amina Adam's* story stuck out, as she described seeing the Sudanese military and Janjaweed militia throw her neighbor's baby up in the air and catch it on a bayonet. Amina suffered not only from witnessing that horrific event, but from witnessing the deaths of members of her own family before she fled hundreds of miles through desolate terrain to a refugee camp in Chad. She continues to suffer today while the United Nations refuses to categorize Darfur as a genocide and plays word games with this unimaginable tragedy. In January the United Nations released its own investigation of the Darfur atrocities and said that genocide was not committed, as defined by the Genocide Convention of 1948, because the perpetrators did not intend to destroy ethnic groups in Darfur. Rather, the intent was to "drive victims from their homes for the purposes of counter-insurgency warfare." This logic is not only faulty, but diminishes the gravity of the crimes committed and places another roadblock to meaningful action. (...) In a final example of contradictory absurdity, and after establishing that there was no intent to commit genocide, the UN report states that "in some instances individuals, including government officials, may commit acts with genocidal intent." During the genocide in Rwanda, reporter Alan Elsner famously asked State Department Spokesperson Christine Shelley "how many acts of genocide does it take to make genocide?" Now, it appears we must ask the UN, "How many individuals have to act with genocidal intent to make genocide?" Amina would like to know. But while the UN plays its word games, she and other Darfurians continue to suffer.

Sudan tells UN to back up its Darfur death toll (March 16, 2005)
http://www.reuters.co.za/locales/c_newsArticle.jsp?type=topNews&localeKey=en_ZA&storyID=7913888
KHARTOUM (Reuters) - Sudan demanded on Tuesday that the United Nations produce evidence to support a U.N. statement which said 180,000 people had died of disease and hunger over the past 19 months in the troubled Darfur region. The spokesman for U.N. emergency relief coordinator Jan Egeland said on Monday that Egeland had estimated that more than 180,000 people had died in Sudan's Darfur from hunger and disease over the past 18 months. U.N. spokesman Brian Grogan said the toll does not include people killed during ongoing violence in Sudan's western region. Khartoum called the figure a ploy to pressure the U.N. Security Council to take action against Sudan. CLIP

More AlertNet news on Sudan
http://www.alertnet.org/thenews/emergency/246397.htm

CRISIS PROFILE - What's going on in Congo? (12 Aug 2004)
http://www.alertnet.org/thefacts/reliefresources/109231843231.htm
LONDON (AlertNet) - A year after the end of a half-decade war that killed a jaw-dropping 3.8 million Congolese, mostly through starvation and disease, fierce fighting continues in the remote, eastern part of the country. With the situation showing no sign of improving, AlertNet takes a detailed look at the dynamics behind a crisis described by the United Nations as one of the world's biggest humanitarian disasters. CLIP

More on the conflict in Congo
http://www.alertnet.org/thenews/emergency/ZR_CON.htm

CRISIS PROFILE - What’s going on in northern Uganda? (21 Sep 2004)
http://www.alertnet.org/thefacts/reliefresources/10957583889.htm
LONDON (AlertNet) - Thirty thousand children forced to serve as soldiers and sexual slaves. Gruesome massacres and mutilations. More than 1.8 million people driven from their homes into camps where they live in fear and squalor. Few horror stories rival the humanitarian crisis in northern Uganda, where a cult-like rebel group has been terrorising local people for a generation. It’s a tale of astonishing suffering and massive displacement – and all taking place in a country hailed as one of Africa’s development success stories. Yet northern Uganda’s nightmare has been largely ignored by the international community, even as the humanitarian crisis in neighbouring Sudan generates hand-wringing worldwide and a steady flow of headlines. So what’s going on in this “forgotten emergency”? CLIP

---

Also of possible interest to you:

Rising Phoenix Series #37: Co-creating A New World With All The Help We Can Get
http://www.earthrainbownetwork.com/Archives2005/RisingPhoenix37.htm
(March 18, 2005)




1.

From: http://www.alertnet.org/thenews/fromthefield/241510/111087552864.htm

Darfur: One Year Later, Will We Act Quickly Enough to Save Lives?

15 Mar 2005

CARE - USA
Website: http://www.care.org

On March 19, 2004, the U.N. humanitarian coordinator in Sudan called Darfur the world’s greatest humanitarian crisis. One year later, though many have tried to help, the situation continues, and is compounded as food shortages loom throughout the country.

Nearly 2 million people have been displaced and live in “temporary” shelters, depending on others to survive. Darfuris arrive daily to already overcrowded camps. Attacks continue. In late January, almost 10,000 people fled villages in northern areas of South Darfur. We will never know how many people have died, but estimates range between 70,000 and 150,000.

Insecurity, logistics constraints and lack of funding prevent aid agencies from reaching hundreds of thousands of people. In January, only 50 percent of people entitled to food rations received them. Others were never considered because they couldn’t be reached. Even some of those in camps still lack water, food, fuel and protection from violence.

The first Darfuri refugees arrived in Chad in April 2003. There have since been reports, resolutions, commission findings, legislation and pledges of action against the parties causing and supporting the attacks. Meanwhile, people continue to be murdered and raped, and to die of diseases resulting from the violence. People remain in camps, missing another planting season, with no hope of going home and rebuilding their lives anytime soon. And the violence spills over, most recently into the neighboring region of Kordofan.

The conflict requires a solution that provides for the economic and political needs of the long-marginalized region. Sudan signed a comprehensive peace agreement earlier this year, which could benefit all the people of Sudan. Geoffrey Chege, CARE’s regional director for East and Central Africa said, “Just as the international community came together to support that effort, it should provide sufficient engagement, political will and resources to ensure a just and lasting peace throughout the country. Members of the U.N. Security Council, heads of state and elected officials, and nongovernmental organizations need to keep the spotlight on Darfur, with a concerted, consistent approach to ending the crisis.”

He added, “It was one year ago when the U.N. representative told the BBC: ‘This is the world’s greatest humanitarian crisis, and I don’t know why the world isn’t doing more about it.’ One could say the same today.”

About CARE: In Darfur, CARE is distributing food, providing water and health services, and providing non-food supplies for some 400,000 people who have been displaced from their homes. In Chad, CARE is managing four refugee camps, including distribution of food and non-food items, providing assistance to roughly 100,000 refugees. CARE is one of the world’s leading humanitarian organizations fighting global poverty in more than 70 countries. CARE helps communities improve their quality of life through projects in agriculture and natural resources, economic development, education, food, health, water and sanitation and emergency response. For more information, please visit www.care.org.

Lynn Heinisch, heinisch@care.org, +27 (0)83 626 3113




2.

From: http://www.alertnet.org/thenews/newsdesk/N14485140.htm

Over 180,000 Darfur deaths in 18 months - UN envoy

Source: Reuters

By Evelyn Leopold

UNITED NATIONS, March 14 (Reuters) - The U.N. emergency relief coordinator, Jan Egeland, estimates that more than 180,000 people have died in Sudan's Darfur from hunger and disease over the past 18 months, his spokesman said on Monday.

The deaths do not include people killed during ongoing violence in Sudan's arid western region, said spokesman Brian Grogan.

Last week Egeland said that earlier estimates of 70,000 dead from last March to late summer were too low, telling a news conference: "Is it three times that? Is it five times that? I don't know but it is several times the number of the 70,000 that have died altogether."

Egeland now estimates that an average of 10,000 people have died each month over the past year and a half from malnutrition and disease, Grogan said.

Conflict has raged in Darfur for more than two years with rebel groups fighting the government for power and resources. In response, the government has armed some militia. The most brutal one, known as the Janjaweed, has carried out a scorched earth campaign, killing, raping and driving 2 million people from their homes.

The U.N. Security Council this week expects to adopt a resolution that would authorize a 10,000-member peacekeeping force in southern Sudan to monitor a landmark accord that ended 21 years of civil war.

On Darfur, China and Algeria have not yet agreed to U.S. proposals for a travel ban and asset freeze on those who impede the peace process, conduct offensive military overflights or are responsible for atrocities.

Council members also are at odds over where to try cases of gross human rights violations. The United States is opposed to the International Criminal Court in The Hague and instead has proposed a new tribunal in Arusha, Tanzania. No other council member supports that proposal.




3.

From: http://www.alertnet.org/thenews/newsdesk/L14719634.htm

Sudan rebel group says government launches attack

Source: Reuters

KHARTOUM, March 14 (Reuters) - Sudanese government troops attacked a Darfur rebel group on Monday breaking a ceasefire in the western region of Sudan, the rebel group said.

"As we speak we are under attack by government troops in about 40 cars and about 600 Janjaweed (militia)," Khalil Abdallah, the political secretary of the rebel National Movement for Reform and Development (NMRD), told Reuters from Darfur.

"This shows they are not respecting the ceasefire agreement at all," Abdallah said.

The rebel splinter group, based mainly along the border between Sudan and Chad, was formed early last year after commanders split from the leadership of one of the two main Darfur rebel groups.

Janjaweed is the name given by Darfur rebels to Arab militia which rebels, human rights groups and the United Nations say the Sudanese government has used to help put down the uprising, which began in early 2003.

The NMRD and the Sudanese government signed a ceasefire in December but talks mediated by Chad have since broken down.

The NMRD has accused the Janjaweed of attacks since the truce was signed and has refused to continue peace talks until Khartoum gives compensation for the attacks.

Abdallah said Monday's attack was about 25 kilometres (16 miles) east of their headquarters in Jabel Moun in West Darfur in an area where the rebels have two camps.

The Sudanese armed forces spokesman's office said they were not authorised to comment.

The two main Darfur rebel groups are stalling a return to separate peace talks with Khartoum in Nigeria, saying they want recommendations of a U.N.-appointed commission implemented so that 51 people can be tried for alleged war crimes in Darfur before talks can reconvene.

The U.N. Security Council is divided on the issue.

Tens of thousands of people have been killed during more than two years of fighting in remote Darfur, with almost 2 million people living in camps, where thousands die every month from malnutrition and disease.




4.

From: http://www.alertnet.org/thefacts/reliefresources/111038817665.htm

Congo war tops AlertNet poll of 'forgotten' crises

10 Mar 2005

Source: AlertNet

By Ruth Gidley

LONDON (AlertNet) - Brutal conflicts in Congo, Uganda and Sudan are the world's three biggest "forgotten emergencies", each dwarfing the toll of the Asian tsunami but attracting scant media interest, a new Reuters AlertNet poll of experts shows.

War in the Democratic Republic of Congo, a country two-thirds the size of Western Europe, has claimed at least 10 times as many lives as the December tsunami yet remains almost unheard of outside of Africa, key players in the aid world said.

"It's the worst humanitarian tragedy since the Holocaust," John O'Shea, chief executive of Irish relief agency GOAL, told AlertNet. "The greatest example on the planet of man's inhumanity to man."

AlertNet asked 103 humanitarian professionals, media personalities, academics and policymakers which "forgotten" crises they would urge the media to focus on in 2005.

Answers came back from across the spectrum, from royal connections, acting stars and a Nobel prize winner, as well as various U.N. agencies and dozens of NGOs.

Many experts accused the Western media of routinely ignoring emergencies in countries of low geopolitical importance for big powers despite the enormous scale of suffering.

"One television news producer we met in the U.S. summed up the situation since spring 2003 this way: 'Look, we've got three foreign news priorities these days: Iraq, Iraq, Iraq,'" said Gareth Evans, president of Belgian think tank Crisis Group.

Almost half of those polled -- including U.N. relief coordinator Jan Egeland and U.S. leftwing intellectual Noam Chomsky -- nominated Congo, citing the brutality of an ugly, tangled war that has killed 3.8 million people since 1998, according to the International Rescue Committee.

’AFRICA’S WORLD WAR’

"It’s Africa’s First World War," said British journalist Jon Snow, news anchorman for Channel 4 television.

The details of northern Uganda’s hidden war - the silver prize-winner in the AlertNet ranking - are even more sensational.

Ninety-five percent of the population in the conflict zone have been uprooted, and some 25,000 children have been abducted to fight as soldiers and sex slaves.

Rural children who live in the rural danger zone are called "night commuters" because they take refuge at night in the relative safety of cities to escape abduction by the cult-like Lord’s Resistance Army, which has waged a bloody 18-year insurgency. Eighty percent of its troops are estimated to be children.

"Like many people, I didn't have any idea of the scale of this conflict," said British Hollywood star Helen Mirren, who travelled to Uganda with relief agency Oxfam. "Nearly two million people have been made homeless and hundreds of thousands more have been killed."

The experts' third most neglected emergency was Sudan, where four million people have yet to go home after Africa's longest-running civil war in the south and atrocities in the western Darfur region have raised the spectre of genocide.

"Darfur has slipped from the front pages, but the situation there is again going from terrible to being absolutely horrendous," U.N. relief coordinator Jan Egeland said.

Africa featured heavily in the top 10, taking half the top spots, but news coverage outside the region is minimal.

"Africa experiences the devastating effect of two tsunamis every month", said Amy Slorach, appeal coordinator for British nongovernmental relief agency Tearfund.

HEALTH EMERGENCIES

West Africa’s wars encompass Ivory Coast, Liberia and Sierra Leone, briefly infamous for the large numbers of civilian amputees who lost their arms and legs to crazed soldiers’ machetes.

AlertNet left it up to respondents how to define emergencies, and quite a few chose health disasters, with HIV/AIDS voted number four in the poll.

The Diana, Princess of Wales Memorial Fund voted for women survivors of the Rwandan genocide of 1994, who are now dying as a consequence of being raped by HIV-positive attackers.

"The genocide happened 10 years ago, but its legacy continues to destroy lives today," said Lucinda MacPherson, the Fund’s senior press and communications officer.

Other infectious diseases – tuberculosis and malaria in particular – made number 10 in the poll. Malaria kills an African child every 30 seconds, while tuberculosis kills about 2 million a year worldwide.

Two Latin American crises ranked high in the survey. Colombia – where nearly 3 million people have fled their homes because of violence that has been raging since 1948 -- was voted into sixth place

Haiti, the poorest country in the Americas, was number nine. The Caribbean nation is wracked with an ongoing political crisis, and U.N. troops have failed to quell the violence.

Conflict in the breakaway Russian republic of Chechnya, number seven in the AlertNet survey, has been simmering since the break-up of the Soviet Union in 1991, killing hundreds of thousands of civilians and at least 13,000 Russian troops.

HUNGER

Nepal’s insurgency – which has toppled into a crisis since the king sacked the government in early February – was voted number eight on the list.

Crisis Group’s Evans called it "the deadliest conflict in Asia, with some 10,000 killed over the past few years".

Food shortages in Africa – especially in Eritrea and Zimbabwe – featured in the survey responses, but narrowly missed the top 10.

"More people die every year of causes related to hunger and malnutrition than the total number who die of AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis combined," said James Morris, executive director of the U.N. World Food Programme.

"Of the 10 million people who die each year from hunger and malnutrition, just 8 percent die in the kind of emergencies we hear about on the evening news."

Annabel Brown of Community Aid Abroad – the Australian Oxfam -- told AlertNet: "Natural disasters capture the attention of the world, but it is the manmade crisis situations -- resulting in part from the disparities and injustices in the world – that rich countries should continue to be aware of and forced to take some responsibility for."

Noam Chomsky chose Congo and Colombia, Haiti and the Israel-Palestine conflict, but also nominated a series of low-profile emergencies. The MIT professor chose to highlight West Papua, natural disasters and child labour in Nicaragua, displacement of Turkish Kurds, and horrifying conditions in rural India and China.

The Asian Development Bank’s vice president, Geert van der Linden, voted for human trafficking.

Other organisations – such as Médecins sans Frontieres and the United Nations -- have tried to bring global attention to neglected emergencies.

Northern Uganda took the number one slot in the MSF Top 10 Most Underreported Stories of 2004

Uganda also tops the United Nations’ "10 stories the world should hear more about".

"The attention span of most media on most stories is way too short," said Jody Williams, who was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize laureate in 1997 for her work with the International Campaign to Ban Landmines.

"The media should do a much better job educating itself – and then the public – on the root causes of 'emergencies'," she said.

Read more about the AlertNet top 10 "forgotten" emergencies: CLIP




5.

From: http://www.alertnet.org/thenews/newsdesk/L16114229.htm

UN Sees East Congo as Worse Crisis Than Darfur

By Robert Evans

16 March 2005

Geneva - Eastern Congo is suffering the world's worst current humanitarian crisis, with a death toll outstripping that in Sudan's strife-torn Darfur region, a top United Nations official said on Wednesday.

U.N. emergency relief coordinator Jan Egeland said that over the last six years the toll in the Democratic Republic of Congo's amounted to "one tsunami every six months" - a reference to the December disaster which left about 300,000 people dead or missing in Asia.

"In terms of the human lives lost ... this is the greatest humanitarian crisis in the world today and it is beyond belief that the world is not paying more attention," he told a news conference.

Egeland was speaking during a visit to Geneva for talks with U.N. and other relief workers on improving the global humanitarian aid system can be improved.

On Tuesday he came under fire from the Sudanese government over estimates transmitted through his spokesman that up to 180,000 people may have died from hunger and disease in Darfur, western Sudan, over the past 19 months of fighting.

At his Geneva news conference, he insisted the figure was a reasonable assumption - given that an average of 10,000 civilians had been dying each month since the start of the conflict between local rebel groups and government forces backed by militias.

But the rate was declining now that the Sudanese authorities had allowed foreign aid teams into the country to help about 1.8 million people driven from their homes and largely living in refugee camps, Egeland said.

He spoke before a U.N. envoy in Khartoum said all international staff in part of Western Sudan were being pulled back to the local state capital because of threats from the pro-government Janjaweed militia.

More Focus on Congo

Asked if too much emphasis was being put on Darfur by the international community, and especially big Western powers, Egeland said: "The amount of focus on Darfur is correct, but there is too little on (eastern) Congo."

Egeland, fresh from a tour of the region, said he had impressed on the Sudanese government and rebels that they had to negotiate seriously for peace.

He had also expressed indignation to the government in Khartoum that some women raped by Janjaweed fighters and now pregnant were being persecuted for violating Islamic sharia law against sexual relations outside marriage.

"That is the ultimate insult for women who have been raped," he declared.

Egeland said the problems in eastern Congo arose because of the complexity and variety of the fighting groups there, which included regular soldiers, militias and criminal groups.

Among the fighters in eastern Congo are ethnic Hutus who fled Rwanda after the 1994 genocide there - many of them accused of involvement in the violence in which an estimated 800,000 Tutsis and moderate Hutus were killed.

The United Nations has mounted a major relief operation in the region, where Egeland said some 3 million civilians buffeted by the conflict are in need of help to survive, and this week gave militia fighters two weeks to disarm.




6.

From: http://news.ft.com/cms/s/ffff07a0-94c5-11d9-8dd3-00000e2511c8.html

White House is quiet as Darfur killings continue

By Guy Dinmore in Washington

March 14 2005

Before long, warns US Senator Jon Corzine, we will be watching a sequel to the film Hotel Rwanda called Hotel Darfur, and asking again why the world failed to stop genocide.

President George W. Bush welcomed to the White House last month Paul Rusesabagina, the hotel manager portrayed in Hotel Rwanda. Mr Rusesabagina saved hundreds of lives in the Rwandan genocide of 1994, while the international community largely abandoned the country.

But during the discussion Mr Rusesabagina warned Mr Bush that the current situation in western Sudan's Darfur region was “exactly” what happened in Rwanda 11 years ago.

For more than two months, Mr Bush has not mentioned Darfur in public, and the last time he did speak of the two-year-old conflict in western Sudan, which may have cost 300,000 lives and displaced 2m people, it was only in passing.

A White House official insisted the president was “still very focused” on Darfur. “There are other issues that the president finds more pressing,” he explained.

Six months ago it was different. After visiting Darfur, Colin Powell, then secretary of state, told Congress that the killings, systematic rapes, burning and destruction directed against mostly African Muslim villagers amounted to the internationally accepted legal definition of “genocide”.

The US blamed the Arab Janjaweed militia and their government backers. It launched diplomatic efforts to impose an oil and arms embargo on Sudan through the UN Security Council, as well as targeted sanctions, such as a travel ban and assets freeze and a no-fly zone.

Although discussions on a new, watered-down resolution continue at the UN this week, it is widely acknowledged that diplomacy is failing. Meanwhile, security in drought-stricken Darfur is worsening, in spite of the efforts of nearly 2,000 African Union monitors many sent by Rwanda.

US legislators who recently visited Darfur cite estimates of 10,000 deaths each month from killing, famine and disease, though no one knows the true figures. The sense of failure is triggering debate in Washington over whether the world's superpower is unwilling or unable to commit resources to end a conflict that carries wider ramifications for the US.

Inside the UN, the Bush administration faces considerable resistance from China, the main customer for Sudan's oil exports, and Russia, Sudan's main provider of weapons and aircraft. US officials complain that France also opposes an oil embargo, in spite of recent harmony with the US over Syria and Lebanon.

The Bush administration's opposition to use of the International Criminal Court to prosecute Sudanese war criminals is also delaying a resolution. Mr Corzine, a New Jersey Democrat, says Darfur has undermined the Bush administration's credibility in its commitment to spreading democracy and freedom. He argues that the US should put more pressure on Russia and China to use their leverage on Khartoum, and should give more resources to the AU monitoring mission.

Ed Royce, a California Republican congressman who recently went to Darfur, said Mr Bush remained “very engaged”. But Mr Royce suggested the US force a UN vote on oil sanctions. Senator Sam Brownback, a Kansas Republican who co-sponsored the Darfur Accountability Act with Mr Corzine, says that if the UN cannot produce agreement, it may be necessary to form another “coalition of the willing”.

This suggestion is backed by influential neo-conservatives, who cite Darfur as another example of the UN's uselessness and want the US to send military forces to support the AU. The White House regards this option as a very last resort. Sudan, once a haven for al-Qaeda, has generated support from some Islamic states in portraying international intervention in Darfur as a next step, after Iraq, in a western-led war on Islam. Moreover, Russia and China are important allies in the US-led “war on terror”.

But a senior US official argued that the main US constraint was the fear that too much pressure over Darfur would destroy the US-mediated agreement signed in January that ended Sudan's separate north-south conflict, Africa's longest-running civil war, which cost some 2m lives.

US hopes appear to rest on a political settlement in Darfur in parallel with the north-south accord, but efforts to reach out to the disparate Darfur rebels have not been easy. Brian Steidle, a US Marine captain, resigned in frustration after spending six months attached to the AU monitoring mission.

Back in the US, he is mounting his own one-man campaign. “We can stop this,” he said. He believes the AU needs 50,000 troops and a clear mandate to stop the violence. But Nancy Soderberg, a former Clinton administration adviser and author of The Superpower Myth, says Darfur like Rwanda demonstrates that nations are not prepared to intervene beyond their spheres of perceived influence. Darfur, she says, exposes the hollowness of the “never again” mantra.




7.

From: http://www.sudantribune.com/article.php3?id_article=8519

Annan accuses Khartoum, Darfur rebels of inaction

March 14th, 2005

KHARTOUM, Sudan (PANA) -- The latest UN report on the conflict in Sudan's western region of Darfur has accused authorities in Khartoum and the rebels in Darfur of having made no serious attempt in the past month to find a political solution to their conflict.

"Both the Khartoum government and the rebels failed to capitalise on the momentum generated by January's signing of a comprehensive peace agreement ending a separate conflict between the Government and rebel forces in southern Sudan," UN secretary-general Kofi Annan told the Security Council in his monthly briefing on the conflict.

But he reported that the warring parties engaged in fewer clashes during the month.

Khartoum and the separatist Sudan People Liberation Army/Movement (SPLA/M) signed a comprehensive peace agreement on 9 January 2005 in Nairobi, Kenya ending over 20 years of war between the largely Islamic north and mainly Christian and animist south.

Annan cited that while the government has issued "numerous statements" suggesting its willingness to hold talks with Darfur rebels, it has not stopped Janjaweed militias from attacking civilians, nor has it acted swiftly or decisively to end impunity for human rights abusers.

"The Janjaweed's boldness, be it in regard to theft, attacks on civilians or armed movements, is a direct consequence of inaction by the Government to rein in, let alone disarm or arrest, these groups," Annan observed.

On the other hand, Annan lamented that "rebel forces continue to harass relief workers, refuse to reveal their positions to the African Union (AU) ceasefire monitoring force in place, and fire on helicopters belonging to the AU and the UN World Food Programme (WFP)".

He added that increasing political division among the rebel groups were making serious negotiations more difficult.

Annan called for strengthening of the AU monitoring force "during this period of relative calm" so that serious clashes in the future can be prevented or reduced.

Annan observed that the government and rebel forces are attempting to seize more areas ahead of talks scheduled this month in Nigeria, and warned that the security situation remains fragile, despite the fewer clashes between government forces, allied militias and rebel groups in February than in the previous two months.

"An enhanced AU mission in Darfur should lead to physical separation between Government forces and rebel groups, increasing the potential for stability and reducing the likelihood of militia attacks," Annan recommended in the report.




8.

From: http://allafrica.com/stories/200503141722.html

End the Death, Suffering and Destruction in Darfur

International Crisis Group (Brussels)

PRESS RELEASE

March 14, 2005

Brussels

The International Crisis Group urges the United Nations Security Council and the UN Secretary General to act forcefully and without delay to prevent further death, suffering, and destruction in Darfur.

In a letter to the UN Secretary General, Foreign Ministers and Permanent Representatives of the Security Council member states, and Foreign Ministers of the member states of the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD), Crisis Group calls for determined international action to protect those still acutely at risk in Darfur.

Since the crisis began two years ago, the Security Council has passed three resolutions demanding an end to the conflict. Yet, over 200,000 people have died, on the best available evidence, and thousands more continue to die each month from violence, malnutrition and disease. The emerging risk of famine in parts of Darfur, especially in places beyond the reach of relief agencies, will further compound the humanitarian crisis.

In the letter Crisis Group calls for the Security Council to:

--put in place a coordinated set of measures to curtail the violence and to send a clear message to both the Sudanese government and rebels that the international community will no longer tolerate empty promises and broken agreements.

--urgently demonstrate that it will hold the parties in Sudan accountable to their commitments to prevent both more bloodshed in Darfur and undermining the recently signed North-South peace agreement.

--support stronger action in three key areas: tougher sanctions, including a country-wide arms embargo; a more robust African Union Mission in Sudan (AMIS) to protect civilians and relief deliveries; and an effectively enforced no-fly zone over Darfur.

--refer the situation of Darfur to the International Criminal Court, the best body to uphold justice most promptly and effectively.

The UN Security Council must act immediately to halt the mounting atrocities and death toll in Darfur.



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