The Darfur Consortium

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Darfur in the News

U.S. and European Media

November 6, 2022

Reuters: Activists call for emergency U.N. meeting on Darfur. A coalition of international activists called on Monday for an emergency U.N. Security Council meeting to condemn increased violence in Darfur and delays in deploying a U.N. peacekeeping force. The Save Darfur Coalition, an umbrella group of 180 religious and human rights groups, wrote a letter to the ambassador of Indonesia, which holds the rotating presidency of the Security Council, urging him to put Darfur on the agenda. "The need for an emergency meeting could not be more urgent," it said, pointing to growing violence in Darfur, limited progress in peace talks with rebels and government in Libya last month and obstacles holding up the peacekeepers. It said the Security Council should condemn Khartoum's failure to approve the composition of a hybrid U.N.-African Union peacekeeping force and express concern at the absence of several rebel groups at the peace talks in Libya. It also called for the council to "condemn the recent escalation of violence by the Sudanese government and its Janjaweed militia, and by various rebel factions." Indonesian Ambassador Marty Natalegawa said he would be guided by other members of the Security Council on whether to call a meeting. "To our knowledge, I am not privy to such a request (by any Security Council member) just now, but we will take things one step at a time," he told reporters. Save Darfur senior director Amjad Atallah said the Security Council should also discuss a foundering peace agreement that ended a two-decade-long north-south civil war in 2005. Atallah said the Security Council should discuss Darfur and the southern civil war at the same time because if the southern agreement collapsed and civil war resumed, "Sudan is going to become Somalia on a giant scale."

Reuters: Darfur, Sudan peace on agenda as Bashir meets Mbeki. Sudanese President Omar Hassan al-Bashir met with South African President Thabo Mbeki on Tuesday during a visit expected to address the Darfur crisis and implementation of a deal that ended Sudan's 20-year civil war.  Mbeki, who has mediated crises in a number of African nations, hopes to help ease tensions in Sudan where the government is under pressure to end violence in Darfur and prepare for the deployment early next year of a U.N.-African Union peacekeeping force. Efforts to reach a political solution in Darfur suffered another setback last month after several rebel groups boycotted peace talks in Libya. The U.N. Darfur envoy has said he was hopeful they will join the negotiations. Bashir's government has said the bloodshed in Darfur could not end unless all rebel groups come to the negotiating table. A 2005 peace deal between its government and rebels largely based in the southern part of the country ended what had been Africa's longest civil war, which claimed 2 million lives and drove 4 million people from their homes. But members of the former rebel Sudan People's Liberation Movement (SPLM) pulled out of the northern government last month saying Khartoum has not implemented key parts of the agreement. One issue cited was the presence of government soldiers in southern oil fields. On Monday, Bashir said during a visit to Burundi that northern government troops remaining in the semi-autonomous south would quit the region before the end of the year.

Agence France-Presse: Darfur rebels urged 'to get their act together'. A UN official on Monday said it was time for Darfur rebels who boycotted peace talks in Libya last month "to get their act together" and agree on who would represent them in negotiations next month.  "The international community is poised to pour millions of dollars in reconstruction and development aid in Darfur," Ahmad Fawzi, a spokesman for the UN-African Union team mediating talks between Khartoum and the splintered rebel movement, told reporters. "I think the rebel movement should get their act together. I think it's important for them to decide who is going to represent them and to decide very quickly," added Fawzi, who recently returned from the talks in Sirte, Libya. "Time is on nobody's side...People are suffering in the camps," Fawzi said, referring to some of the estimated 2.2 million Darfurians who have fled their homes since rebels took up arms against government forces and their allied Janjaweed militia in 2003. "They (the rebels) are the beneficiaries of this process and they owe it to their people to come up with a unified position," he added.

The Times: EU troops to aid Darfur refugees. About 4,300 troops from 20 countries will take part in a European peacekeeping force to be deployed in Chad and the Central African Republic, its Irish commander said yesterday.   General Patrick Nash said that the force, the first units of which will be deployed this month, would help to secure refugee camps along the border with the Darfur region of Sudan, where fighting since 2003 is said to have left more than 200,000 dead and displaced 2 million. He said after talks with Bernard Kouchner, the French Foreign Minister, that he was confident the mission would make a huge impact. France will be providing the bulk of the force, which is to be finalized in Brussels in the coming days. Plans for the deployment are progressing despite tensions between France and Chad after a French charity was stopped from flying 103 children out of Darfur to place them with European families for adoption.

The following Op-Ed by R. Scott Greathead appeared in today’s Wall Street Journal.

Moving China on Darfur

China has a reputation for being impervious to outside pressure. But perhaps even this mountain can be moved. A pointed question posed to Steven Spielberg in an op-ed published in these pages may be influencing Beijing's foreign policy.

Many are aware of the human tragedy in Darfur in western Sudan -- more than 200,000 people have died and 2.5 million have been displaced, mainly because of attacks by the Janjaweed, Arab militias armed and supported by the Khartoum government. Fewer know that China has fueled the conflict and kept the world community from protecting the victims. China's unquenchable need for foreign energy makes it Sudan's largest foreign investor and most important international supporter. The state-owned China National Petroleum Corporation has invested at least $5 billion in Sudan, which supplies 7% of China's oil.

China is also Sudan's largest arms supplier, and according to a recent U.N. investigation, the source of most weapons used to attack civilians in Darfur. Although the U.S. government and many others have called Darfur a genocide, China has blocked multinational efforts to deal with it, opposing economic sanctions, an arms embargo and the dispatch of a U.N. peacekeeping force to the region.

On March 28, this newspaper published an op-ed by actress Mia Farrow and her son, Yale law student Ronan Farrow, which branded the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing the "Genocide Olympics" because of China's role in blocking international efforts to address Darfur. The op-ed targeted film director Steven Spielberg, who in April 2006 agreed to serve as an artistic consultant for the Beijing Games. The Farrows warned that Mr. Spielberg would "go down in history as the Leni Riefenstahl of the Beijing Games" unless he helped push Beijing to change its policy of supporting Sudan's opposition to sending a robust U.N. peacekeeping force to Darfur. Mr. Spielberg responded with a tough letter to Chinese President Hu Jintao, threatening to quit as artistic adviser if Beijing did not act.

Mr. Spielberg wrote to President Hu: "I believe there is no greater crime against humanity than genocide. I feel strongly that every member of the world community has a moral and ethical responsibility to act to prevent such crimes, to eliminate the conditions in which they are bred and to combat them wherever they exist. . . . There is no question in my mind that the government of Sudan is engaged in a policy [in Darfur] which is best described as genocide."

Mr. Spielberg spoke out because he is concerned about genocide, and he has a reputation to protect. He directed the widely-revered Holocaust epic "Schindler's List," and is the founder of the Shoah Foundation Institute at the University of Southern California, a documentary archive of 52,000 video testimonies of Holocaust survivors from 56 countries. Seasoned China observers were astonished when the Chinese acted on Mr. Spielberg's message. On April 13, the New York Times reported that China had sent a senior official, Zhai Jun, to Sudan to push the government to accept a U.N. peacekeeping force. Mr. Zhai also visited Darfur to tour three refugee camps. According to the Times, "Credit goes to Hollywood -- Mia Farrow and Steven Spielberg, in particular," citing the "crucial role" played by Ms. Farrow's campaign "to label the Games in Beijing the 'Genocide Olympics.'"

More evidence that the Farrow op-ed and the Spielberg letter were having an effect came on July 31, when China changed its long-held position in the U.N. Security Council and supported a resolution to send a peacekeeping force of 26,000 to Sudan, with enforcement authority under U.N. Charter Chapter 7.

Darfur relief groups report that 10,000 people a month die of disease, starvation or the continuing violence. Not a single U.N. peacekeeper is on the ground, three months after the Security Council voted to send them. Without a robust peacekeeping force, aid agencies cannot supply the camps in Darfur and neighboring Chad.

China needs to push Khartoum to accept the U.N.-authorized force. This calls for another strong message from Mr. Spielberg, suspending his participation in the Beijing Olympics until the U.N.-authorized force is deployed in Darfur. It is also time for the principal corporate sponsors of the Beijing games to speak out. There are more than 20 of them, and some are reportedly paying as much as $80 million to burnish the image of a country many believe is aiding and abetting a genocide. Corporate sponsors of the Beijing Olympics may also find that calling on China to act on Darfur just might make a difference.


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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