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Suda: Darfur's dispossessed need money, not pity

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  • Zafar Khan
    Darfur s dispossessed need money, not pity Antonio Guterres Sunday December 10, 2006 The Observer
    Message 1 of 1 , Dec 10, 2006
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      Darfur's dispossessed need money, not pity
      Antonio Guterres
      Sunday December 10, 2006
      The Observer


      From genocide in Rwanda to the agonies of Darfur, the
      world seems paralysed when called upon to make the
      really big gesture. It seems equally reticent when
      asked to provide comparatively modest financial
      support to those doing their best to make a difference
      for the growing numbers of uprooted and dispossessed
      Tomorrow, I will launch our annual appeal to the
      international community to provide a billion dollars
      so that the United Nations High Commission for
      Refugees (UNHCR) can play its part next year in
      providing refugees with some measure of protection and
      life-saving assistance. If history is any guide,
      however, I will be disappointed and will receive
      pledges for no more than a third of total needs.

      Just over half-a-billion pounds may sound like a lot
      of money, but this year Britons will spend £250m on
      Christmas trees alone, not counting the mountains of
      presents underneath. In this context, UNHCR's appeal
      for 2007 is equivalent to just 50 pence a week for
      each of the 20 million people we help.
      Despite scarce resources over the past 18 months, we
      have helped more than a million refugees return to
      their countries of origin. We are working alongside
      other relief agencies to help the thousands now
      fleeing the conflicts in Iraq and Somalia. We are also
      dealing with the rapidly deteriorating situation in
      central Africa, where the crisis in Darfur is
      spreading into Chad and the Central African Republic.
      Looking ahead over the next 12 months, the
      multiplication of challenges is staggering.

      We are working hard to implement a new approach to
      emergency relief as part of the UN's efforts to
      improve performance. Within UNHCR, we are looking at
      how to direct more resources to beneficiaries on the
      ground. And yet, as the number of people under our
      mandate grows and we do our job better, too many
      governments sit on their hands when it comes to paying
      for an agency that relies on voluntary contributions
      to cover 98 per cent of its operating budget.

      The result is a precariously narrow funding base. We
      count on just 10 countries to provide 80 per cent of
      our annual income. Beyond a core group of donors in
      Europe, North America and Japan, most countries give
      little more than small change to support an agency
      that works on their collective behalf.

      UNHCR does not do its job out of altruism. It is
      fulfilling an international mandate handed to it by
      all members of the UN to protect and provide some
      semblance of hope to the millions of people uprooted
      by persecution and conflict.

      Some of UNHCR's key donors are now threatening to cut
      back support because of fiscal pressures and a sense
      that they are paying a disproportionate share of the
      price for refugee relief while the rest of the world
      rides free on the back of their humanitarian
      generosity. If contributions do tumble next year, the
      first to pay the real price will be those forced to
      flee or keen to return home. In the Democratic
      Republic of Congo, for example, we are far from
      achieving minimal protection standards. Earlier this
      year, we were forced to reduce the voluntary
      repatriation of refugees to southern Sudan due to lack
      of money for trucks and supplies.

      In an increasingly volatile world, support for
      agencies such as UNHCR that respond to the needs of
      the most vulnerable victims is too important to be
      left to the vagaries of a funding system that makes a
      small group of countries responsible for a public good
      that should be the shared responsibility of mankind.

      History suggests that my expectations for this week's
      appeal should be modest. Perhaps so, but this state of
      affairs cannot continue. As the eyes of the world are
      focused today on the humanitarian crisis in Darfur and
      the alarming insecurity that threatens to engulf not
      only the refugee camps in eastern Chad but the broader
      region, it is time for the world to go beyond angst to
      action. Universal values mean little without something
      closer to universal financial support for the world's

      · Antonio Guterres is the UN High Commissioner for

      A victim's view of tragic Darfur
      Tracy McVeigh, foreign editor
      Sunday December 10, 2006
      The Observer


      The horror of Darfur seems especially disturbing when
      seen through an infant's eyes and this sketch, of a
      village being bombed from the air, was drawn by an
      anonymous child - one of the thousands now living in
      displaced people's camps in Sudan. The picture - other
      drawings by the Darfur children were too distressing
      to publish - was obtained by the human rights group
      Amnesty International, which has been monitoring fresh
      attacks in the region.

      Yesterday Tony Blair called for an immediate ceasefire
      and political resolution to the conflict. He said
      continued attacks by the government of Sudan and rebel
      movements were prolonging the 'terrible crisis', and
      hinted at sanctions if rapid progress were not made,
      warning: 'We will consider alternative approaches with
      international partners.'
      But the Aegis Trust, which campaigns to stop genocide
      worldwide, said the Prime Minister was 'wasting his
      breath', and that calls for an immediate ceasefire and
      effective peacekeeping had been made without any
      worthwhile result for more than three years.

      On Friday, at a joint news conference with President
      George Bush and his South African counterpart, Thabo
      Mbeki, said the United Nations security council should
      increase the pressure on Sudan to allow more troops
      into Darfur. On Wednesday the UN evacuated staff from
      the town of El Fasher because of the growing threat
      from armed groups. Secretary-general Kofi Annan said
      the UN was failing to live up to its responsibility to
      protect human rights in Darfur. Speaking with unusual
      candour, Annan said he feared the UN was once again
      not fulfilling its promise that it would 'never again'
      stay silent in the face of genocide and war crimes.

      'Sixty years after the liberation of the Nazi death
      camps, and 30 years after the Cambodian killing
      fields, the promise of "never again" is ringing
      hollow,' he said last Friday, adding that blame for
      the continuing horror could be shared among 'those who
      value abstract notions of sovereignty more than the
      lives of real families, those whose reflex of
      solidarity puts them on the side of governments and
      not of peoples.'

      Today is UN Human Rights Day. It has also been named
      an international Day for Darfur, with events planned
      in cities across the world, including one outside the
      Sudanese Embassy in London.

      The rape of Darfur: a crime that is shaming the world
      Children as young as eight are attacked by militiamen
      By Marie Woolf, Political Editor
      Published: 10 December 2006


      Halima Bashir is a survivor. She was tortured and
      gang- raped for days as a punishment for speaking out
      about an attack on primary school children in Darfur.

      Her crime was to tell people that a group of Janjaweed
      militia and government soldiers had attacked the
      primary school for girls, raping pupils as young as
      eight. She paid a terrible personal price.

      "They were aged between 8 and 13," she said. "They
      were in shock, bleeding, screaming and crying. It was
      horrific. Because I told people what happened, the
      authorities arrested me. They said, 'We will show you
      what rape is'. They beat me severely. At night, three
      men raped me.

      "The following day the same thing, different men.
      Torture and rape, every day, torture and rape."

      The gang-rape of girls as young as eight has prompted
      fresh calls for intervention in the western Sudanese
      region, where tens of thousands of women and girls
      have been subjected to rape and other extreme sexual
      violence since the crisis erupted in 2003. The
      Islamist government in Khartoum has given the
      Janjaweed militia a free hand in putting down a
      rebellion by African tribes in the region, and there
      has not been a single conviction in Darfur for rape
      against displaced women and girls .

      According to a report published today by a charity,
      the Alliance for Direct Action against Rape in
      Conflict and Crises, there has been a rise in sexual
      violence in the region. In the past five weeks alone,
      more than 200 women in Darfur's largest displacement
      camp, Kalma, have been sexually assaulted. Unicef and
      other charities working on the ground have expressed
      concern about the gang rape of minors by up to 14 men.
      In one case, schoolgirls and their teachers were
      targeted by a gang in the Tawila area of Northern
      Darfur. In an incident in the town of Kailek,
      Janjaweed militiamen separated women and men. More
      than 80 rapes were reported - but many more were kept

      Under international law, sexual violence as a tactic
      in war is considered a crime for which states can be
      held accountable. A United Nations commission of
      inquiry found recently that the atrocities in Darfur
      amounted to war crimes and crimes against humanity.
      There was hope that the sexual violence would end when
      a peace agreement was signed in May. But observers say
      that since then, sexual violence has escalated and the
      conflict has expanded into Chad and the neighbouring
      Central African Republic, where rapes and killings
      have continued.

      Charities fear that women and children living in
      refugee camps are not being protected from Janjaweed
      militiamen, who have targeted civilians collecting
      firewood and water to bring back to camp.

      The African Union, in an attempt to stop sexual
      violence, set up "firewood patrols" to provide armed
      escorts for women. But these patrols recently ended
      because of problems with finance and questions about
      the AU's mandate.

      Aid agencies say the end of the patrols has
      contributed to the massive increase in sexual
      violence. They report that victims not only face
      trying to recover from their ordeal without proper
      support, but are often stigmatised. Many women who
      have been raped in Sudan have been thrown out of their
      communities, while children conceived in rape have
      been abandoned. In addition to this, victims face the
      added fear of contracting HIV.

      "Rape is feared all the more in Darfur for two
      reasons. Most important, a woman who has been raped is
      ruined; deeply traumatised, in some cases she is
      thrown out of home by her family and forced to survive
      on her own," the report, entitled Sexual Violence in
      Darfur, says. "Raped women, not the perpetrators, are
      blamed. The woman is shamed for life and so is her
      entire family. Witnesses to large-scale attacks
      typically record repeated and systematically conducted
      incidents of widespread rape and other forms of sexual
      violence committed by armed groups. The mass rapes in
      Darfur have been among the most effective means to
      terrorise tribal populations, break their will and
      drive them away."

      The publication of the report coincides with today's
      global day of action to highlight violence in Darfur.
      Thousands of people, mainly women, will march on the
      Sudanese embassy and Downing Street to highlight the
      increase in sexual violence. The women, who will
      include WI members, are expected to let off thousands
      of rape alarms in a symbolic gesture. It will be one
      of many events around the world, including in Africa
      and the Middle East.

      Among them will be the rape survivor Halima Bashir,
      who will speak publicly of her experience and hand
      over a letter to Lord Triesman, the Minister for
      Africa, to call for immediate action to help the women
      of Darfur.

      Yesterday Tony Blair called on the government of Sudan
      and rebel movements in Darfur to implement an
      immediate ceasefire and agree a resolution to the

      Mr Blair hinted at sanctions against the government in
      Khartoum if the violence continues, warning: "If rapid
      progress is not made, we will need to consider
      alternative approaches with international partners.
      The government of Sudan must prove it is taking its
      responsibilities seriously."

      The Prime Minister said Darfur would remain "at the
      top of my agenda".

      About 400,000 people have been killed and two million
      driven from their homes during three years of
      conflict. The Government in Khartoum has been accused
      of tacitly supporting Janjaweed militiamen,

      Brendan Cox , director of Crisis Action, a
      co-organiser of today's events, said: "The global
      message going out today in events right around the
      world is that the international community is at a
      turning point: either it can turn its words into
      actions and deploy a peacekeeping force, or it can
      turn its back on the people of Darfur."

      How it started: 2m displaced in a region the size of

      Militants from non-Arab African tribes in Darfur
      started a rebellion against the Arab-led Sudan
      government in 2003, claiming discrimination. The
      Islamist government in Khartoum used a local Arab
      militia, known as the Janjaweed, to crush the
      insurgency. More than 85,000 people have since been
      killed, with a further 200,000 dying of war-related
      disease, and over two million displaced. The African
      Union sent in a 7,000-strong peacekeeping force in
      2004, patrolling a region the size of France.

      Janjaweed ditches horseback to launch attacks from
      By Jerome Taylor
      Published: 08 December 2006


      Arab Janjaweed militias behind much of the violence in
      Sudan's Darfur region during the past three years are
      now launching attacks on civilians from vehicles
      rather than horses, Amnesty International says.

      Amnesty said it had received evidence that Janjaweed
      militants raided the village of Shek Gubah on Monday
      using 4x4 vehicles, known as "technicals", similar to
      those favoured by the Taliban. At least 41 civilians
      were killed in the raids.

      The news comes just a day after the UN was forced to
      evacuate all non-essential staff from El-Fasher, a
      major town in north Darfur, amid soaring violence
      between Janjaweed militias and armed rebel units.

      More than 200,000 people have been killed and almost
      three million have fled their homes since 2003 when
      ethnic African tribes revolted against the Arab-led
      Khartoum government.

      Meanwhile, the Institute for Public Policy Research, a
      left-leaning think-tank, has heavily criticised
      Britain and other Nato countries for failing to
      enforce a no-fly zone over Darfur in compliance with
      UN Security Council Resolution 1591.

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