The Darfur Consortium

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Darfur in the News

U.S. and European Media

August 16, 2023

Associated Press: Ailing Sudan Rebel Chief Can Go to Kenya. The government of Sudan will allow an ailing Darfur rebel chief currently in a United Nations hospital to fly to Kenya for medical treatment, the U.N. said Wednesday. Suleiman Jamous, a prominent moderate who has been a key link between Darfur rebels and humanitarian workers in the war-torn Sudanese region, said he needs to be evacuated for further medical care. A recent international petition asked for his safe passage out of the hospital if he commits to peace negotiations. Its signatories included U.S. actress Mia Farrow, who has campaigned extensively on Darfur; South African Archbishop Desmond Tutu; former U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Richard Holbrooke; former Czech President Vaclav Havel; and Nobel Peace Prize laureate Jody Williams. U.N. spokeswoman Michele Montas said the U.N. was prepared to facilitate Jamous' travel to Nairobi and the government has said it will not object. ''The government of Sudan has made clear Suleiman Jamous was free to leave the hospital to undergo medical treatment and subsequently reside with his family under the condition the U.N. guarantee that he not return to Darfur to fight,'' Montas said. A humanitarian coordinator for the Sudan Liberation Movement rebel group, Jamous says he ''never carried a gun.'' ''I pledge that I will not return to Darfur until peace talks between the government and the rebel movements have opened,'' he said in an open letter to Sudanese authorities.

Associated Press: Mia Farrow Leads Darfur Torch Relay. Mia Farrow joined genocide survivors in a torch-lighting ceremony Wednesday at a Rwandan school where thousands died in a 100-day frenzy of killings in 1994. The 62-year-old actress, whose screen credits include ''Rosemary's Baby'' and ''The Purple Rose of Cairo,'' is leading an Olympic-style torch relay through countries that have suffered genocide to press China, host of the 2008 games, to help end abuses in its ally Sudan's Darfur region. ''We welcome China's recent U.N. vote to allow a peacekeeping force into Sudan,'' said Jill Savitt, director of Dream for Darfur, the group that organized the ceremony. ''However, China now must continue to press Sudan to ensure that the words on paper translate into action. That means adequate and verifiable security on the ground in Darfur.'' The school where Farrow appeared Wednesday is Ecole Technique Officielle, where 2,000 Rwandans were executed during the country's genocide. The Darfur torch relay will also go to Armenia, Bosnia, Germany, Cambodia and finally in December to Hong Kong.

Associated Press: Darfur force should be based on experience, not nationality, group says. Getting experienced peacekeeping troops quickly onto the ground in Sudan's war torn western region of Darfur is more important than just ensuring they are all African, an international human rights group said Thursday. The New York-based Human Rights Watch wrote African Union Chairman Alpha Oumar Konare and U.N. Undersecretary Jean-Marie Guehenno a letter cautioning that adherence to Sudan's wish for the proposed force be entirely African could delay its much needed deployment. "The need for specialized units and support will likely require reliance on non-African countries," wrote Steve Crawshaw, the organization's advocacy director. "The African Union and United Nations must be prepared to look elsewhere when necessary to field the most capable and timely force possible for Darfur," it added. Konare on Sunday announced that due to the overwhelming response from the continent, no non-African forces would be needed for the force, authorized by the U.N. Security Council on July 31 to consist of 20,000 peacekeepers and 6,000 civilian police. HRW, however, maintained that the complex nature of the task and the marked inability of the 7,000-strong AU force currently in the country to stabilize the region points up to the need for more experienced troops. The rights group's concerns dovetail with those of U.S. envoy to Sudan Andrew Natsios, who previously said that Khartoum would have to accept non-African troops because continent does not have enough trained soldiers to fully staff the peacekeeping contingent.

Public Radio International: Celebrities focus on Darfur. Celebrities like Mia Farrow have been speaking out against the genocide in the Darfur region of Sudan. Their latest effort to highlight the violence is an Olympic style torch relay starting in the refugee camps across the border in Chad. The World's Jeb Sharp was there and filed this report. Follow the link provided above to listen to the segment.

The following column by David Weidner appeared in today's Dow Jones Newswires. 

Warren Buffett's China Divestment: Greed Or Good?

Which Warren Buffett sold shares in PetroChina Co. Ltd., the philanthropist or the capitalist?

Be it coincidence or by design, Buffett and Berkshire Hathaway Inc. sold a small stake in the Chinese oil company a few days before July 31, when the United Nations passed a groundbreaking resolution. The agreement authorizes a U.N. peacekeeping force of 26,000 to police Darfur. It's an agreement brokered largely by the support of China.

The police force is a small first step in the bid to end the violence, and the resolution authorizing it did not come easily. The Economist magazine reports that the West's efforts to pressure the Sudanese government largely have been ineffective.

"It is the Chinese ... who have really made this possible," the Economist reported on Aug. 2. "As the buyer of most of Sudan's oil, China has always been the key to imposing real pressure on the murdering government in Khartoum. For years it did nothing, reasoning that the best way to protect its commercial interests was to indulge the wishes of the regime in Khartoum at almost every turn."

Shortly before the Chinese about-face, Buffett and Berkshire Hathaway (BRKA) divested a small portion of PetroChina (PTR) 0.09%, or 16.9 million shares. For Buffett the capitalist, Berkshire sold PetroChina at $1.59 a share to claim proceeds of $26.87 million a price near the all-time high for the stock, according to reports.

Officials at Berkshire Hathaway did not return calls seeking comment, but Buffett has often talked about his investment in PetroChina.

"Berkshire Hathaway invested in PetroChina because it was cheap, not because it was China," Buffett the capitalist told a group of college students.

For Buffett the philanthropist, the divestment may have carried some symbolic meaning as well. In May, dissident shareholders criticized the PetroChina investment openly at the company's annual meeting in Omaha, Neb. They asked Buffett to divest; they were rebuffed.

Change of heart

Fewer than two months later, Buffett pared his stake. It wasn't enough to send anyone at the oil ministry in Beijing into a panic, but it did get the attention of the media. The Chinese, hosts of the Olympic Games in less than a year, are feeling the growing intensity of the world's scrutiny. There are image problems: tainted toys, poisoned personal products, pollution, human rights and global warming, to name a few.

The country's strong connection to the Sudanese government has drawn criticism for good reason. The state oil company, China National Petroleum, is the parent of PetroChina and a partner with the Sudan for oil ventures there. Many top managers at PetroChina are executives of the state company, CNPC. Oil proceeds fund the Sudanese government's efforts there, along with the brutality, rape and torture.

Buffett the philanthropist must be disgusted. The man who pledged to give $40 billion to the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation a year ago certainly would not tolerate a business that finances genocide.

The California Public Employees' Retirement System, or Calpers, has divested itself of PetroChina as have other university endowments and investors.

So he sends a message to Beijing: Look, I can sell and I will. You have a $30 billion oil giant, but how would the world react if the famous Warren Buffett cashes out a stake worth close to $3.3 billion?

A bad investment

Ultimately, Buffett the capitalist must have realized that investing in PetroChina was a bad idea. Funding the bloodshed and the relief don't make much economic sense.

The Gates' charity that will get a fortune from Buffett has spent millions aiding Sudanese refugees. In December, it pledged $1 million each to fund Save the Children and CARE there. UNICEF's immunization effort in Darfur, the International Medical Corps, the International Rescue Committee also are beneficiaries of the Buffett-backed foundation and that's just a few.

What if Buffett's divestment was simply profit-taking in a stock that was reaching new highs? What if he couldn't give a hoot about PetroChina, Darfur, Khartoum, the CNPC or genocide?

Then the stock sale and subsequent China-backed U.N. action are one time when luck for those at the top also means luck for those at the bottom. It also means Warren Buffett has created an enemy of his own image.

"Doing charity work is the opposite of investing we look for the most difficult problem to solve and the ones that have the lowest probability of success," Buffett told an audience.

The capitalist vs. the philanthropist. Who do you think will win?


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].


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