Monday, October 23, 2006

GS(3) Thunderbolt 10-23-06: Update on the Crisis in Darfur

GS(3) Thunderbolt 10-23-06: Update on the Crisis in Darfur

The lives of 2.5 million people are at risk in Darfur. They face the spectres of starvation, disease, and rape. You may think that such tragedies only happen far away and to unfortunate people born into poverty. You may feel insulated from the breakdown of social order and the loss of basic human rights. You should not be so arrogant. One day, it could be you and your children in dire need. You would want the world to come to your rescue. You would not understand how other people could rationalize what happened to you.

Save Darfur! is calling for four straightforward and realizable interim steps:

Strengthen the understaffed and overwhelmed African Union peackeeping force already in Darfur.

Push for the deployment of a strong UN peacekeeping force.

Increase humanitarian aid and ensure access for aid delivery.

Establish a no-fly zone.

There is no excuse at all for the great nations of the world not to act. As it is currently constituted, the UN Security Council cannot act without a consensus among the great nations, and such a consensus cannot be reached without real leadership. It is not a failure of the UN, it is a failure of the great nations that collectively control the Security Council.

And as I wrote on "Global Day for Darfur," you and I are not helpless, there are three meaningful steps all of us can take...

It important to know: Do not turn away, even if you feel helpless. Do not allow yourself or those you know to concoct some rationalization about why such holocausts occur. To simply know, i.e., to bear witness, is to change the world, even though you may never detect the change or understand how you have contributed to it

It is important to pray, or as we Buddhists say, "generate Bodhicitta." It doesn't matter if you call it prayer or meditation. Just turn your consciousness and your heart to Darfur. You can call upon the Force by whatever name you know it, or simply take a gentle in-drawn breath and radiate the great compassion.

It is important to act: You can act directly or indirectly. You can do it publicly, or anonymously. You can do it with your voice or your money or your toil. Just do something. There is power in action however seemingly insignificant.

Save Darfur's Take Action - Educate Others section has a downloadable Powerpoint presentation, complete with a script, so that you can deliver talks to your organizations and in your communities.

The Genocide Intervention Network has a list of "Ten Things You Can Do Right Now."

Here are excertps from five recent news items that give a picture of the facts on the ground:

Weapons are being funnelled from Chad into Darfur to support rebels who have refused to sign the Darfur Peace Agreement, says a status report on the crisis Sudan.
The newly released report says credible information suggests that the government of Sudan is arming Janjaweed militias and Chadian rebels who want to overthrow President Idris Deby.
The UN panel of experts who compiled the document says that an arms embargo in Darfur is being routinely violated by all parties to the conflict, giving substance to reports from the African Union Mission in Sudan that say violence between Darfur rebels and the Sudan government continues along the Sudan/Chad border.
Clashes between Darfur rebels and the Sudan government began late last week, with both parties trading accusations on who triggered the fighting.
The relationship between the two countries has, however, been tense for months with each accusing the other of supporting anti-government movements.
Sudan: Arms Being Funnelled From Chad Into Darfur - Report, The East African (Nairobi), 10-23-06

Aid workers in Darfur are struggling to cope with a rapid rise in the number of people fleeing villages amidst increasing instability, British medical agency Merlin said today. Merlin was forced to evacuate its base in Gereida - the region's largest camp for displaced people - three weeks ago when an armed group attempted to take over the town. An emergency medical unit has since been re-established in the camp and is treating 400 people a day. Over the past month, clashes around Gereida have put more than 100,000 people at risk. Merlin's medical staff estimate that more than 60 per cent of patients seen are war widows and their children, many of whom have suffered severe burns, deep cuts and fractures. Pneumonia, malaria and diarrhoea are the most serious medical problems faced by people in the camp, with many cases exacerbated by malnutrition. "By the time we see the children in the clinic, they are often in advanced stages of pneumonia or malaria or both," said a Merlin doctor working Gereida. Aid agency warns of 'powder keg' in Darfur camp, Merlin via Reuters/Alternet, 10-23-06

The fraught diplomatic stand-off between the UN and Sudan intensified dramatically yesterday when the Sudanese government ordered the UN's special envoy to leave the country.
Jan Pronk was expelled after comments he made about the ongoing crisis in Darfur on his personal weblog. He wrote that the Sudanese army had suffered two military defeats, involving heavy casualties during fighting with rebels in northern Darfur.
A spokesman for Sudan's foreign ministry said Mr Pronk had to leave Sudan by midday on Wednesday because he had displayed "enmity to the Sudanese government and armed forces".
An army spokesman had earlier accused the Dutch diplomat of waging a "psychological war against the Sudanese army"....The expulsion of the UN's most senior official in Sudan has come at a time when the world body is struggling to persuade the Sudanese government to allow UN peace-keepers to enter Darfur....
Steve Bloomfield, Sudan expels UN envoy over Darfur military losses, Independent/UK, 10-23-06

Because Sudan’s large army is mostly made up of non-Arab foot soldiers who are unwilling to carry out brutal counterinsurgency tactics on fellow non-Arabs, the government has used Arab militias as ground troops in Darfur, paying them in cash and loot from the villages they raid. But now the fighting appears to be entering a new phase, in which the rebel groups, somewhat unified militarily under the banner of the National Redemption Front, are making increasingly brazen direct attacks on government troops.
The government is likely to respond to this new boldness with familiar tactics, said Colin Thomas-Jensen, Africa advocacy and research manager at the International Crisis Group, an independent organization that seeks to resolve armed conflict.
“Clearly Khartoum is still intent on pursing a military solution, and just because the latest offensive seems to have hit a roadblock doesn’t mean they are going to give up,” Mr. Thomas-Jensen said. “The strategy in the past has always been to arm and train and support local militia groups. In all of this the consequences from a humanitarian standpoint are devastating. In Darfur it is ultimately among the civilians that there will be the greatest cost.”
So far, in this part of Darfur, the response has been mostly aerial attacks. Bombers have flown incessantly over Bahai and other border towns, dropping bombs on areas suspected of being rebel hide-outs.

LYDIA POLGREEN, Grim New Turn May Harden Darfur Conflict, New York Times, 10-20-6

Sudanese Janjaweed militia and Chadian rebels have attacked at least 10 villages in south-east Chad in the past fortnight, killing over 100 people and displacing more than 3,000, local and U.N. officials say. The attacks are part of a spillover of violence from Sudan's western Darfur region, where violence has increased as "wadis" or seasonal river courses dry out after annual rains, becoming passable to rebel jeeps and Janjaweed on horses or camels. "When they started shooting we all ran. Some women didn't even have time to grab their children," said Kaltouma Adam Ali, 24, crouched under an acacia tree clutching a baby boy. Janjaweed, rebels spread Darfur bloodshed to Chad, Reuters, 10-19-06


Hard Rain Journal 9-17-06: Global Day for Darfur

GS(3) Thunderbolt 9-14-06: Darfur Update -- Two Weeks from Rwanda II?

Hard Rain Journal 9-8-06: Sudanese Bomb Civilians & Mass Troops, But US Media Highlights Release of Salopek

GS3 Thunderbolt 8-30-06: Urgent Action is Needed on Darfur, US's Security Council Proposal is a "Sham"

Hard Rain Journal 8-24-06: Updates on Darfur & Katrina, Failures of the Human Spirit

Hard Rain Journal 8-3-06: Darfur is A Mirror Held Up to the Souls of the Great Nations, & What It Reveals is Hideous

Words of Power #25: Lost Symbols, Part II -- The Rainbow Serpent Hisses, Lessons about Sustainability & Survival from Darfur, Senegal and Ecuador

Words of Power #12: The Fallen Tree (Spiritual Challenges of the 21st Century Global Security Crisis, Part II)

Richard Power is the founder of GS(3) Intelligence and His work focuses on the inter-related issues of security, sustainability and spirit, and how to overcome the challenges of terrorism, cyber crime, global warming, health emergencies, natural disasters, etc. You can reach him via e-mail: For more information, go to

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