Sunday, April 24, 2005

Sudan Round-Up

After an embarrassing softball game a few days ago, I went to a local bar with many of my teammates. I got engaged in conversation with one of my teammates about Sudan. It made me realize how little I know about what's going on there and how little the media coverage has been on the situation there. Thus, I felt inspired to compile this round-up of recent stories about the situation in Sudan.

Deputy Secretary of State Robert Zoellick visited Sudan a little over a week ago, pressing the Sudanese government to take specific steps that would demonstrate it is cooperating to stop the violence in the Darfur region, including possibly allowing NATO or the U.S. military to assist in a rapid expansion of an African-led monitoring force. Zoellick threatened that the $2 billion promised in U.S. aid to implement the North-South peace accord could be taken away if the Sudanese government does not address the problems in Darfur. This meeting in Sudan came days after $4.5 billion was pledged in Oslos by the international community to help implement the peace accord. Let's hope this is more than just more hot air from the U.S.

Meanwhile, the Sudanese government continues to deny that it is in any way assisting the Janjaweed fighters, who are blamed for raping and killing non-Arab civilians. The Sudanese government made this denial despite the continued harassment by the Janjaweed fighters of non-Arab civilians in the region. The Sudanese government is also refusing to comply with the UN resolution to hand over any war criminals to the International Criminal Court, citing the strength of the Sudanese judiciary system (excuse me while I let out a light chuckle).

While the Sudanese government refuses to cooperate with the UN in handing over war criminals to the International Criminal Court, the Sudanese government did agree to adopt the UN Human Rights resolution which unanimously condemned "continued, widespread and systematic violations of human rights" in the Darfur region . This resolution by the way has about as much value as the paper it's written on.

Finally, the first UN peacekeeping forces arrived in Sudan earlier in the week to enforce the peace agreement signed in Sudan. The peacekeeping force is expected to get additional assistance from Germany who pledged this past week to send 75 troops to southern and eastern Sudan. While this is a nice first step taken by the UN, a heck of a lot more is going to need to be done by them to stem humanitarian crisis in the country.