Archive for September 7th, 2004

Ingrid Jones on Sudan: important post

Over at Passion of the Present Ingrid Jones has this very important post,
worth relaying in full here because of the level of detail and what it
indicates about the continuing duplicity of the government of Sudan
toward the African Union observers:

AU OBSERVERS’ FINDINGS – need to be publicised for the world to know: Sudan hinders African mission to protect Darfur

Now Sudan says it is willing to allow in more Darfur observers.

It’s no wonder Sudan is not opposing additional monitors and does
not object to the deployment of more foreign cease-fire monitors and
protection troops for Darfur. According to a report in today’s UK
Telegraph, it’s a farce what is going on with the present observers in
Sudan.

The Telegraph’s report is most telling on what it is like on the
ground for the present observers, and confirms that Sudan is hindering
them from carrying out their mission to protect Darfur.

Note the report says [bold emphasis is mine]: “a friend of Cdr
Steyn’s criticised the AU for not publicising the observers’ findings –
“The world needs to know so pressure is put on the government,” he said.”

Perhaps any news of more observers into Sudan is not as good it
sounds as they will end up as hamstrung as the present mission (or any
peacekeeping mission – see last paragraph here below).

The Telegraph’s report is copied here in full incase it disappears
into archives or link becomes broken. Please pass on the latest news for all the world to know.

Sudan ‘hinders African mission to protect Darfur’ by Benjamin Joffe-Walt at Al-Fashir Military Airfield (Filed: 05/09/2004):

The troops were ready, the mission decided and the flight crew was
standing by, but the African Union ceasefire monitors still lacked one
vital element. “The Sudanese say there is no fuel,” said one of the
soldiers waiting to board. “They say there’s a fuel problem whenever
they want to keep us on the ground. They don’t want us to see. It’s a
big ceasefire violation.”

Not for the first time, soldiers sent from neighbouring African
countries were being prevented by the Sudanese from fulfilling their
mission: to ensure that Khartoum is honouring its pledge to rein in the
Arab militias that have brought terror and misery to Darfur.

Hours later, as a Sudanese army attack helicopter came in to land,
its own mission complete, the “shortage” was suddenly resolved. Fuel
trucks that had sat all the while on the other side of the fence
lumbered towards the aircraft, chartered to carry the troops on
observation missions across the region.

Although the 120-strong contingent of African Union (AU) troops has
been on the ground for only a few weeks, a pattern of obstruction by
Sudanese officials has been established. “We’re always fighting about
these fuel issues,” said William Molokwane, a South African
intelligence officer. “We are supposed to know about these Sudanese
movements, attack helicopters flying in and out of the airport, troops
moving out of the city.”

Instead the observers expend time negotiating with the authorities,
while Sudanese troops deploy with impunity. So when the helicopter
finally returned, there was no way of knowing what it had done.

There were suspicions, however, that some kind of attack mission may
have been carried out, as Sudanese officials lined up to welcome the 30
returning soldiers.

“They’re not acting in good faith,” said Col Anthony Amedoh, the
Ghanaian chief military observer. “There are many clear ceasefire
violations by the Sudanese government but we can’t stop them, we can
just report them.”

Even when the Sudanese are caught in the act, the AU observers are
powerless to stop them. In Nyala, the biggest city in Darfur, a
Nigerian observer reported that his team saw Sudanese government
soldiers fighting alongside the Janjaweed militia at a large refugee
camp.

“We caught them fighting together red-handed,” he said. His team
could do nothing, however. “Aside from a small protection force there
are absolutely no arms here,” Mr Molokwane said. “If something happens
now, what can we do?” Barry Steyn, a South African commander
responsible for investigating ceasefire complaints in Nyala, the area
of Darfur with most violence, said: “In traditional peacekeeping there
is a line, and if either side crosses that line the peacekeeper fights
back. But there are no lines and borders here and we don’t directly
intervene so it’s a very difficult mission.”

Any distinction between the government and militia forces was
fiction, he said. “You don’t know who’s who. The government, Janjaweed,
they all wear the same thing.”

A friend of Cdr Steyn’s criticised the AU for not publicising the
observers’ findings. “The world needs to know so pressure is put on the
government,” he said.

The task is frustrated by the presence in each observer team of
representatives of both the Sudanese government and rebel movements.
“We are all friends,” the Sudanese representative said with a sleazy
smile during a helicopter ride. The rebel next to him stared
despondently at the floor. The tension is overt, a game of bickering
and convivial posturing for the cameras.

“It’s challenging because I have to mediate all the time,” said
Steven Saidu, the Ghanaian commander on the helicopter. “When it’s not
in one of the parties’ favour they start fighting.”

Cdr Steyn said that neither the rebels nor the government should be
among the observers. “Everyone must sign each investigative report, so
we have to water down everything because we have warring parties on the
team,” he said.

None of the team is optimistic about the outlook for Darfur. “We
can’t make peace – they have to want peace, and I haven’t seen anyone
that wants to end things,” said Cdr Steyn. “The rebels are winning this
war. The whole world blames the Janjaweed and government already, so
what would they gain by disarming?”

Leo Burman, a Dutch European Union representative with the African
Union force, and a veteran of similar operations elsewhere, said: “None
of the major peacekeeping operations has succeeded. Gaza, Lebanon,
Kosovo, Bosnia, Angola – what did we accomplish? A big waste of money
and lives. We’ll feel guilty if we do nothing, but actually it doesn’t
work.”
– – –

Update:

Congrats to the AU for being ready to send more troops to Darfur.
Nigerian head of State and current chair of the African Union, Olusegun
Obasanjo, on Saturday declared the ‘willingness’ of the continental
body to provide more protection forces and observers to the Darfur
region ‘if solicited’.”

Cheers to the Aussies march for Sudan. About 800 people marched through Sydney’s CBD today to protest against the worsening humanitarian crisis in Sudan.

Note: Sep 12 is the date for protest at the UN building in New York.

September 05, 2004 | Permalink

September 7th, 2004

Ingrid Jones post on Passion of the Present

Ingrid Jones has a very relevant post on Passion of the Present:


AU OBSERVERS’ FINDINGS – need to be publicised for the world to know: Sudan hinders African mission to protect Darfur


Now Sudan says it is willing to allow in more Darfur observers.


It’s no wonder Sudan is not opposing additional monitors and does not object to the deployment of more foreign cease-fire monitors and protection troops for Darfur. According to a report in today’s UK Telegraph, it’s a farce what is going on with the present observers in Sudan.


The Telegraph’s report is most telling on what it is like on the ground for the present observers, and confirms that Sudan is hindering them from carrying out their mission to protect Darfur.


Note the report says [bold emphasis is mine]: “a friend of Cdr Steyn’s criticised the AU for not publicising the observers’ findings – “The world needs to know so pressure is put on the government,” he said.”


Perhaps any news of more observers into Sudan is not as good it sounds as they will end up as hamstrung as the present mission (or any peacekeeping mission – see last paragraph here below).


The Telegraph’s report is copied here in full incase it disappears into archives or link becomes broken. Please pass on the latest news for all the world to know.


Sudan ‘hinders African mission to protect Darfur’ by Benjamin Joffe-Walt at Al-Fashir Military Airfield (Filed: 05/09/2004):


The troops were ready, the mission decided and the flight crew was standing by, but the African Union ceasefire monitors still lacked one vital element. “The Sudanese say there is no fuel,” said one of the soldiers waiting to board. “They say there’s a fuel problem whenever they want to keep us on the ground. They don’t want us to see. It’s a big ceasefire violation.”


Not for the first time, soldiers sent from neighbouring African countries were being prevented by the Sudanese from fulfilling their mission: to ensure that Khartoum is honouring its pledge to rein in the Arab militias that have brought terror and misery to Darfur.


Hours later, as a Sudanese army attack helicopter came in to land, its own mission complete, the “shortage” was suddenly resolved. Fuel trucks that had sat all the while on the other side of the fence lumbered towards the aircraft, chartered to carry the troops on observation missions across the region.


Although the 120-strong contingent of African Union (AU) troops has been on the ground for only a few weeks, a pattern of obstruction by Sudanese officials has been established. “We’re always fighting about these fuel issues,” said William Molokwane, a South African intelligence officer. “We are supposed to know about these Sudanese movements, attack helicopters flying in and out of the airport, troops moving out of the city.”


Instead the observers expend time negotiating with the authorities, while Sudanese troops deploy with impunity. So when the helicopter finally returned, there was no way of knowing what it had done.


There were suspicions, however, that some kind of attack mission may have been carried out, as Sudanese officials lined up to welcome the 30 returning soldiers.


“They’re not acting in good faith,” said Col Anthony Amedoh, the Ghanaian chief military observer. “There are many clear ceasefire violations by the Sudanese government but we can’t stop them, we can just report them.”


Even when the Sudanese are caught in the act, the AU observers are powerless to stop them. In Nyala, the biggest city in Darfur, a Nigerian observer reported that his team saw Sudanese government soldiers fighting alongside the Janjaweed militia at a large refugee camp.


“We caught them fighting together red-handed,” he said. His team could do nothing, however. “Aside from a small protection force there are absolutely no arms here,” Mr Molokwane said. “If something happens now, what can we do?” Barry Steyn, a South African commander responsible for investigating ceasefire complaints in Nyala, the area of Darfur with most violence, said: “In traditional peacekeeping there is a line, and if either side crosses that line the peacekeeper fights back. But there are no lines and borders here and we don’t directly intervene so it’s a very difficult mission.”


Any distinction between the government and militia forces was fiction, he said. “You don’t know who’s who. The government, Janjaweed, they all wear the same thing.”


A friend of Cdr Steyn’s criticised the AU for not publicising the observers’ findings. “The world needs to know so pressure is put on the government,” he said.


The task is frustrated by the presence in each observer team of representatives of both the Sudanese government and rebel movements. “We are all friends,” the Sudanese representative said with a sleazy smile during a helicopter ride. The rebel next to him stared despondently at the floor. The tension is overt, a game of bickering and convivial posturing for the cameras.


“It’s challenging because I have to mediate all the time,” said Steven Saidu, the Ghanaian commander on the helicopter. “When it’s not in one of the parties’ favour they start fighting.”


Cdr Steyn said that neither the rebels nor the government should be among the observers. “Everyone must sign each investigative report, so we have to water down everything because we have warring parties on the team,” he said.


None of the team is optimistic about the outlook for Darfur. “We can’t make peace – they have to want peace, and I haven’t seen anyone that wants to end things,” said Cdr Steyn. “The rebels are winning this war. The whole world blames the Janjaweed and government already, so what would they gain by disarming?”


Leo Burman, a Dutch European Union representative with the African Union force, and a veteran of similar operations elsewhere, said: “None of the major peacekeeping operations has succeeded. Gaza, Lebanon, Kosovo, Bosnia, Angola – what did we accomplish? A big waste of money and lives. We’ll feel guilty if we do nothing, but actually it doesn’t work.”
– – –


Update:


Congrats to the AU for being ready to send more troops to Darfur. Nigerian head of State and current chair of the African Union, Olusegun Obasanjo, on Saturday declared the ‘willingness’ of the continental body to provide more protection forces and observers to the Darfur region ‘if solicited’.”


Cheers to the Aussies march for Sudan. About 800 people marched through Sydney’s CBD today to protest against the worsening humanitarian crisis in Sudan.


Note: tomorrow (Monday Sep 6) is International Sudanese Peace MeetUp day; Sep 12 is the date for protest at the UN building in New York.


September 05, 2004 | Permalink

September 7th, 2004


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