The Darfur Consortium

An African and International
Civil Society Action for Darfur


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July 25

Associated Press: U.N. Darfur Resolution Drops Threats. Britain and France dropped a threat of sanctions against Sudan in a proposed U.N. Security Council resolution that would authorize an expanded peacekeeping force in Darfur, according to a revised draft circulated Tuesday. Britain's U.N. Ambassador Emyr Jones Parry said the co-sponsors toned down the language in the document to try to mollify African countries that had strongly opposed a previous draft. But Sudan still rejected the softened resolution, saying it was ''awful'' and ''ugly.'' The ''hybrid'' force would replace the poorly equipped and underfunded AU force of 7,000 now in Darfur. The new text removes a threat that the council would take further measures, a reference to sanctions, if Sudan refuses to comply. It also drops a specific condemnation of Sudan for failing to ensure humanitarian aid is reaching refugees in the vast desert region. He said the new draft has the support of the three African members on the 15-seat council: South Africa, Ghana and Congo. Formal negotiations on the text would begin Wednesday, with hopes the Security Council could vote by the end of the month. But Sudan's U.N. ambassador, Abdalmahmood Abdalhaleem Mohamad, blasted the document outside the Security Council chambers, saying it still contained ''hostile language'' and ''insinuations.'' Abdalhaleem said Sudan was not backing down from its commitment to allow the ''hybrid'' U.N.-AU force into Darfur. But he said his government has problems with the mandate of the force -- specifically who will be in charge of the troops and how long they will remain in the country.

Reuters: 25, 000 More Darfuris Flee Homes: U.N. Violence and insecurity in Darfur has forced 25,000 more people from their homes and is straining the capacity of camps swollen with refugees fleeing conflict in western Sudan, the U.N. said in a report on Tuesday. "Aerial bombings by the military continued to be reported in North Darfur up to late June while clashes between the military and rebel factions continued to be reported ... in various locations," the United Nations said in a statement. The report said in May and June a further 25,000 people fled their homes, bringing the number of camp residents in Darfur to 2.2 million. "A very visible consequence of the increasing pace of displacement is the increasing population of IDP camps -- many of which can no longer absorb new arrivals," the report said. The report said one aid agency was asked to leave Kutum in North Darfur and that the number of aid workers in Darfur had fallen to 12,300, down 2,400 from a year ago. Access to those affected fell to 68 percent from 78 percent last year. The report was issued on the same day U.N. and African Union Darfur envoys issued invitations to rebel factions to meet in Tanzania and negotiate a unified position ahead of peace talks with the government. In a joint statement U.N. Darfur envoy Jan Eliasson and his counterpart Salim Ahmed Salim said the August 3-5 meeting in Arusha will focus on "ensuring a speedy, negotiated and sustainable settlement of the Darfur conflict, including the format and venue of and participation in the negotiations."

Fortune: A Texas company in Sudan. The house on a side street in Khartoum, like others in Sudan's capital, is newly built, with a wall blocking its occupants from view. But these occupants - no name outside - need more privacy than others. The red logo inside is of a major American oilfield-services company, Weatherford International, based in Houston, in a state whose legislature recently voted to divest its pension funds from companies operating in Sudan. So what's a Texas company doing renting drilling gear and other equipment in a country whose Islamic government has been under U.S. sanctions since 1997? Outraged over Darfur, Congress has also prohibited U.S. transactions with Sudan's oil industry, while President Bush has banned 30 Sudanese companies from using the U.S. financial system. The answer is that there's a loophole big enough for a $6.5 billion company. "We report only to Dubai," said Tarek Khalil, who runs Weatherford Oil Tool Middle East in Khartoum, when Fortune visited his office in June. Indeed, foreign subsidiaries of U.S. companies can operate in Sudan if "there is no involvement by the U.S. parent or any other U.S. person," says Treasury spokeswoman Molly Millerwise. "When people find out you're doing that, it creates a pretty bad rap for your company," says Michael Jacobson, a former Treasury official and now a fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy. Weatherford competitor Baker Hughes withdrew its foreign subsidiary from Sudan last year. "There was near unanimity and condemnation of what was going on in Sudan," says head of investor relations Gary Flaharty in Houston. "We made the decision according to that." "These companies have been flying under the radar until now," says Jason Miller, policy advisor to the Sudan Divestment Task Force in Washington. "They are not abiding by the spirit of the law. They know this, and if the public were made aware of it, there would be an outcry." Carine Bouery, a spokeswoman at the subsidiary's Dubai office - to which Khalil reports - told Fortune, "We can't say anything in any publication about being in Sudan. This is too sensitive." In Houston, Weatherford CFO Andy Becnel says he's aware of those sensitivities, but he insists the company abides by the law. He also acknowledges that activist pressure could force a change. "If something were really unpopular," he says, "the shareholders could request the company to no longer operate there." 

Colorado Springs Gazette: Speaker takes his crusade for Darfur to the Chinese. House Speaker Andrew Romanoff will head to China this weekend to push Foreign Ministry leaders to stop investing in the genocidal Sudanese government, “even if it costs . . . a trip to the Chinese jail.” The Denver Democrat will be in China as part of a privately funded fellowship in which 24 legislators from across the U.S. will study foreign governance and meet with Chinese officials. His effort to protest China’s involvement in the Darfur region is his own initiative, however. Romanoff, who sponsored successful legislation this year to divest all Colorado public funds from companies that do business with the Sudanese government, did not detail what kind of actions he plans to take because he doesn’t want his visa revoked as soon as he lands, he said. But he said he is hoping to persuade other members of his entourage to speak up as well, even at the risk of crossing a government notorious for cracking down on dissenters. China’s connection to the African nation’s government is that it has provided commercial and capital investment, supplied money for weaponry and shielded the government from international economic pressure, Romanoff said. He called China the top ally of Sudan.

New York Sun: Lawmakers Seek To Pressure China Over Killings in Darfur. City Council members are calling on New York-based sponsors of the 2008 Beijing Olympics to pressure the Chinese government to help end the killing in Darfur by threatening to withdraw their sponsorship. The members are planning to meet outside NBC Studios today to urge the television station and other sponsors of the summer Olympics to use their financial stake in the international sporting event to force the Chinese government to take action. "It's a pretty simple message," a council member of Brooklyn who will attend today's event, Simcha Felder, said. "The Darfur issue needs no explanation. They are killing people." The advocacy coalition Save Darfur says China is the largest foreign investor in Sudan and a significant weapons supplier, with more power than any other nation to pressure the country into halting the ongoing violence. The resolution asks all corporate sponsors of the 2008 Beijing Olympics with headquarters and operations in New York to "meaningfully engage the Chinese government in proactively addressing their role in the ongoing crisis in Darfur." It says each sponsor should withdraw support from the summer games if the Chinese government does not sever its financial connections with Sudan "or leverage its connections to hold Sudan accountable for ending the genocide in Darfur before December 31, 2007."

The following column by Jim Stingl appeared in today's Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

Darfur crisis spurs Tosa teen to action 

"Allow me to introduce myself. My name is Laura Dewire," the e-mail begins.

Laura said she wanted me to write about the crisis in Darfur.

Hardly a typical request from a 15-year-old on summer vacation.

"I was hoping that you might help me in spreading the word," she wrote. "It is an issue that I am very passionate about, and I am hoping to get not only my school involved but also the community."

Laura is a sophomore at Wauwatosa East High School, where she is on the swim team and in theater. She credits her social studies teacher, Elaina Meier, with informing her about the awful things happening in the Darfur region of western Sudan, Africa's largest country.

"It's not something you can forget. It will come back," Laura said when I met her Tuesday at the Wauwatosa home where she lives with her sisters and her parents, Jayne and Doug Dewire.

Her interest in the issue grew the other day when Laura was sitting at the family's computer. Actually she was shopping online for electronics to buy with her summer baby-sitting money, but she looked down at her wrist and the bracelet she had purchased at school in a fund-raiser for Darfur.

So she Googled "Darfur" and began to read about the atrocities in the faraway place. She ended up at, the site of the Save Darfur Coalition of more than 180 faith and human rights groups.

According to the site, the crisis in impoverished Darfur began in 2003, when rebel groups challenged Sudan's president. The response from the government and its militias was brutal. Thousands of innocent people in Darfur were murdered, raped, tortured and bombed from airplanes. Death toll estimates range as high as 450,000, with more than 2 million people displaced or in refugee camps. The word used even by the U.S. government is genocide, but efforts to stop the madness have fallen short.

Laura put her own family in the place of these suffering people and knew she had to do something. She wrote not only to me but also to the Oprah Winfrey, Tyra Banks and Ellen DeGeneres shows and to a local TV reporter. So far, no one else has responded to her letter.

"Finding information about Darfur is so simple, and once you've read it, it's impossible not to want to do something about it," Laura said with evident idealism.

At her age, she doesn't claim to have the answers to the crisis. The question of Darfur came up at the Democratic presidential debate this week, and they don't have all the solutions, either.

But you can make a donation or sign a petition at the Web site, urging world leaders to stop the killing in Darfur, exert diplomatic pressure and increase the United Nations peacekeeping force. That's something.

Laura wants to organize a dance at school and donate the proceeds to the relief effort.

To see passion for peace and justice in a 15-year-old is remarkable, but young people are stepping up, said Allyn Brooks-LaSure, spokesman for the Save Darfur Coalition in Washington, D.C.

"What we're seeing are positive signs that they very much care about people halfway around the world," he said.

"It's been a revelation," is the way Laura puts it. "The world is going to be better if we make it better."


The Darfur Daily News is a service of the Save Darfur Coalition.  To subscribe to the Daily News, please email [email protected]. For media inquiries, please contact Ashley Roberts at (202) 478-6181, or [email protected].