The Darfur Consortium

. . .

Darfur in the News

U.S. and European Media

September 12, 2023

Reuters: Displaced Darfuris Seek Seat At Peace Talks. Displaced Darfuris in a dusty, squalid camp in Sudan's war-torn west have demanded a seat at peace talks between Khartoum and Darfur rebel groups, warning negotiations could fail without their participation. Khartoum released a joint communique with the United Nations last week saying it will start talks with Darfur rebels on October 27 in Libya to push for peace before a 26,000-strong U.N.-African Union peacekeeping force deploys to Darfur. "There is no representative for us there. No one came and consulted us. If some of us were present at the talks it would help them succeed," Al-Bashir Al-Nagi, a local community leader, told Reuters. He predicted the planned talks, as construed, are "not going to succeed. They will fail like the last ones." Several Darfur sheikhs made similar pleas to visiting British Foreign Office Minister for Africa Mark Malloch Brown on Tuesday as they gathered in a small hut at the Otash displaced persons camp in south Darfur to air grievances.

Associated Press: China Envoy Offers to Mediate on Darfur. China's special envoy offered Tuesday to act as a go-between in new peace negotiations to end the four-year conflict in Sudan's Darfur region, where more than 200,000 people have been killed and 2.5 million made homeless. Liu Guijin, former head of the Foreign Ministry's Department of African Affairs, also defended China's efforts to help resolve the fighting and said it was ''not justified'' to accuse Beijing of supporting the bloodshed because it is exploring for oil in Sudan. Energy-hungry China, which buys two-thirds of Sudan's oil output and sells weapons to the Khartoum regime, has been accused by some politicians and aid groups of not using its economic leverage to push Sudan's government more strongly for peace in Darfur. Liu said China made ''huge efforts,'' often behind the scenes, to persuade the Sudanese government to accept the 26,000-strong African Union-U.N. peacekeeping force for Darfur that was approved by the Security Council on July 31 and will likely start deploying early next year. He said at a news conference that if asked, China was prepared to play a significant role in peace talks scheduled to start Oct. 27 in Libya. If the Chinese side is invited to the talks, Liu said, ''I think I'm ready to say that I would be very active to go there to serve as a kind of go-between, or a kind of bridge, or a contact party to make our own contribution with regard to peace and development in Darfur.''

Bloomberg: Buffett Sells $140 Million of PetroChina Shares. Warren Buffett sold about HK$1.1 billion ($140 million) of PetroChina Co. shares, his second sale in two months amid calls for U.S. investors to reduce holdings in China's biggest oil producer because of its links to Sudan. The U.S. billionaire's Berkshire Hathaway Inc. sold 92.66 million shares at an average of HK$11.473 on Aug. 29, reducing his stake to 9.72 percent of the stock not controlled by the Chinese government from 10.16 percent, a Hong Kong stock exchange filing showed today. Berkshire made a more than sixfold gain on the sale, having bought its PetroChina stake for less than HK$1.70 a share in April 2003. The Save Darfur Coalition on Sept. 5 called on Fidelity Investments, Vanguard Group and American Funds, to sell their stakes in PetroChina, whose parent does business with Sudan, accused by the U.S. of supporting genocide. Beijing-based PetroChina is controlled by government-owned China National Petroleum Corp., which since 1996 has been developing oil fields in Sudan, where 200,000 people have died and 2 million made homeless in the civil war in the western Darfur region. The latest sale is almost six times larger than one in July when Omaha-Nebraska based Berkshire sold 16.8 million PetroChina shares at an average price of HK$12.441.

Agence France Presse: Hollywood puts spotlight on Darfur in new documentary. A major Hollywood studio and top US screen star unveil a new documentary addressing the bloody conflict that has raged without resolution for four years in in Sudan's Darfur region. Darfur won a prominent place at this year's Toronto film festival, with the debut of the politically-minded documentary produced by studio giant Warner Brothers and featuring actor Don Cheadle. In "Darfur Now," US director Ted Braun chooses not to focus on the constant violence in western Sudan, but instead on the efforts of six people trying to find an end to the war that the United Nations says has killed 200,000 people and displaced two million. The goal of the production was not to go to the front line but "to show the hope" embodied by those trying to end the bloodshed, said Braun, who spent four months filming in Sudan. Along with Cheadle, star of "Hotel Rwanda," Braun's team follows a prosecutor with the International Criminal Court, Luis Moreno-Ocampo, an American activist, and a Darfur woman who joined rebel forces after the death of her son. A young California activist in the documentary, Adam Sterling, serves as a kind of model for civic action. After meeting US senators, Sterling enlists the support of screen star and Darfur activist George Clooney, Cheadle and California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger for a law banning pension funds in the state from investing in companies with ties to Sudan. "Darfur Now" also illuminates the struggles of Moreno-Ocampo, the international prosecutor trying to bring senior Sudanese figures to justice before the International Criminal Court (ICC). Sudan has refused to hand over Ahmed Haroun, Khartoum's humanitarian affairs minister, to the court despite allegations that he was the mastermind behind the Arab janjaweed militia persecuting civilians in Darfur. Washington calls Khartoum's campaign in Darfur "genocide." "Haroun developed and implemented the idea to use the janjaweed to attack the people," the prosecutor said. "And now Haroun is in charge of those people who stayed."

The following op-ed by Pablo Recalde appeared in today's Toronto Star.

Keeping hope alive in Darfur 

It's not difficult to picture the misery caused by war. You probably see it every day on the news: thousands of people crammed together in makeshift camps, waiting under the beating sun for help from the international community.

I live in Darfur, and that's an image I know well. The town of El Geneina, from where I run the UN World Food Program's operation in West Darfur, is swollen with "internally displaced people" (IDP) who have lost family, their homes, their livestock, their livelihoods.

But there's another thing I see every day that rarely makes it into the media: I see children smiling. I see people producing, creating, selling and buying things inside the camps – keeping a semblance of normality within the conflict. It doesn't match the popular image of the victims of violence, but it's the face of Darfur that I remember when I go to bed at night. And it is what I see when I wake up.

Thanks to the efforts of thousands of dedicated humanitarian workers – many of them so young – children all over Darfur are alive. They're fed. Many are going to school, and hopefully, when peace comes to Darfur, they will be ready to help rebuild their communities.

Since 2004, when the international community flooded into Darfur, 12,000 humanitarian workers have been on the ground there, providing food, shelter, health care, water and sanitation, agricultural tools and seeds and other necessities of life.

Without that effort, many lives would have been lost. More than 2 million people are living in IDP camps in Darfur, entirely dependent on international assistance. Nearly as many outside of the camps receive some type of aid because their livelihoods have been damaged by the ongoing conflict.

The World Food Program is the largest humanitarian agency working in Darfur. Our main job is to feed people. And against all odds, we get the job done.

In July, 3.1 million people received food rations from WFP, distributed with the assistance of the many charities and non-governmental organizations working in Darfur. This is the biggest WFP operation in the world, with a budget of $684 million this year. It wouldn't be possible without the generosity of the citizens of Canada – the third largest donor to WFP Sudan, with a contribution of $22 million (U.S.) in 2007.

I'm not writing to tell you the crisis is over. Far from it. Violence has continued – in fact, it has increased. We truck food across the length of Sudan – 3,000 kilometres from the Red Sea coast to the little town where I live. Once the food is out in the field, our staff and their colleagues from other agencies often travel by helicopter to the distribution sites because the roads are just too dangerous.

And unfortunately, every month, there are pockets of Darfur where we are unable to reach people, and malnutrition can quickly set in. In July, 60,000 went without a ration because we couldn't get to them. Often, it is many more.

The people of Darfur are frustrated. They're demoralized by a crisis that seems to have no end. They are angry to see their children born and growing up in camps, rather than at home, in peaceful villages. Still, they keep on struggling to regain their dignity. Life has always been hard in the tough climate of Darfur, but surviving in war is much worse.

Now, more than ever, it is the support of average citizen and their governments that is making the difference between survival and complete disaster. Your support is literally making the difference between life and death. It is helping us to hold the line.

People often ask me whether I think the international efforts will work. Put simply: they must. But regardless of how or when, my colleagues and I will be here, doing the job of holding the line.

No one would wish for their children to be born and to grow up inside the confines of an IDP camp. But it's important to realize that until a solution to the crisis is found, the humanitarian community is working in Darfur amid challenges and severe risks, to help keep the hope of a future alive.


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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