Good NTY op-ed decryiing the call for a no-flight zone.
THE one bright light in the dismal international response to the slaughter and starvation in Sudan’s Darfur region has been a humanitarian effort that has kept more than two million displaced people alive. In the fifth year of the war, mortality levels among Darfurians reached by relief are marginally better than they were before the war and lower than in the capital, Khartoum. In South Sudan, where conflict is stilled, children have higher death rates and lower school enrollment.
This is a formidable achievement, better than in any comparable war zone in Africa. Credit the likes of Oxfam, Mercy Corps and Doctors Without Borders, and their 13,000-strong army of relief workers — 90 percent of them Sudanese.
Yet these successes will be lost if Democratic presidential candidates get their wish: a no-flight zone that is militarily enforced over Darfur. The idea, supported by Senator Hillary Clinton and others, is that this would pressure the Sudan government into allowing the immediate deployment of a joint United Nations-African Union peacekeeping force. “If they fly into it, we will shoot down their planes,” Mrs. Clinton said last week at a Democratic presidential debate. “It is the only way to get their attention.”
Aid agencies are quietly appalled by the prospect of a no-flight zone. They believe Khartoum would respond by grounding humanitarian aircraft and, at worst, by forcing aid agencies to leave. Even if Khartoum didn’t ground flights, the United Nations most likely would, for fear of sending its planes into a potential combat zone. Without humanitarian air access, Darfurians would soon suffer lethal health and food crises
In case you missed the posts about water being an issue in Darfur.
Great need for water in Darfur
A few more news items.
China claimed credit on Thursday for coaxing Sudan to accept a planned U.N. presence in its troubled Darfur region, and said it had raised concerns about its arms exports flowing to Khartoum-linked militia there.
Beijing’s envoy on Darfur, Liu Guijin, said his nation had been crucial in persuading Sudan to accept a planned “hybrid” peacekeeping force for Darfur combining African Union troops with U.N. forces.
Sudan has accepted the first two phases of the plan, and in June dropped opposition to the projected third phase, which will involve a joint U.N.-AU force of over 20,000 troops and police under AU command.
“I can say with certainty that this was inseparable from the work the Chinese government did on Sudan about the Darfur issue,” Liu told a news conference in Beijing.
Chinese officials from President Hu Jintao downward used meetings with Sudanese officials to lobby them to accept the plan as in their “long-term and immediate interests,” he said.
Liu, fresh from meetings in Africa and Europe, also held out the possibility of Beijing giving more help to African participants so the planned peacekeeping force does not have to lean so heavily on Western troops distrusted by Sudan
The U.N. and African Union envoys trying to promote a political solution to the four-year-old conflict in Sudan’s western Darfur region have invited key regional and international players to a meeting in Libya in mid-July to discuss how to launch new negotiations.
U.N. deputy spokeswoman Marie Okabe said Thursday that the July 15-16 meeting in the Libyan capital, Tripoli, will focus on a road map prepared by U.N. envoy Jan Eliasson and his AU counterpart Salim Ahmed Salim aimed at reviving peace talks and reaching an agreement to end the conflict.
Invitations to the ministerial meeting have been sent to Sudan, Chad, Egypt, Eritrea, and the Arab League; the five permanent Security Council nations — the U.S., Britiain, France, Russia and China — and key donors, including Canada, the Netherlands, Norway and the European Union, Okabe said.
While much attention has been focused on deploying a 23,000-strong joint AU-U.N. force to Darfur to replace the 7,000 beleaguered African Union troops now on the ground, both organizations have also stressed the importance of getting all the groups fighting in Darfur to the peace table.
Please keep the pressure on – check out the “Enough” web site – link on the side bar – for more information on how to do that.