Suda: Darfur's dispossessed need money, not pity
- Darfur's dispossessed need money, not pity
Sunday December 10, 2006
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 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
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
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
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
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
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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