Thursday, July 08, 2004

Darfur

"A draft UN resolution proposed by the United States calls for an arms and travel embargo on the pro-Khartoum Janjaweed Arab militias which have been killing and raping black Africans in Darfur, with the possibility of extending the sanctions to the Sudanese government."

The UK and Germany back the resolution. France is less supportive. According to French deputy foreign minister Renaud Muselier, "In Darfur, it would be better to help the Sudanese get over the crisis so their country is pacified rather than sanctions which would push them back to their misdeeds of old."

--via AFP

According to the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs:

"We are extremely concerned by the gravity of the humanitarian crisis that is taking place in this area of Sudan and we have called upon the government in Khartoum to immediately and effectively implement the steps which it has announced and which are designed to disarm the Janjawid militias. We completely agree with our primary Security Council colleagues on the need to take action. The draft UN resolution raises the possibility of targeted sanctions that require, as always in this sensitive area, a careful reflection on whether such measures will be effective and sufficient. However, France remains convinced that only a political solution can end the violence in Darfour, and we support the African Union's efforts."

The travel embargo seems like a paper tiger. I can't imagine that Sudan is on the top of anyone's list of travel destinations. The UK Foreign Office offers this description of Sudan for travelers:

"North-South Peace talks are ongoing and have reached a critical stage between the Government and the Sudan Peoples’ Liberation Movement/Army (SPLM/A). However, further conflict has broken out in the west of Sudan. We advise against all travel to southern Sudan, Darfur, and the Eritrean border/Kassala. Military skirmishes have taken place around Malakal in Upper Nile and Bentui and Ribkona in Unity State."

Not exactly honeymoon material.

As for the arms embargo, it's unclear how this would push militias into their "misdeeds of old." Perhaps there is a concern that "arms" could be interpreted loosely and that such a liberal interpretation could result in sanctions on a host of double-use materials.

On its end, the US State Department is expressing some frustration towards the EU, as this press conference exchange with State Department spokesman Richard Boucher reveals:

"...the United States has been acting, and I think it's very clear from what the Secretary [of State Colin Powell] said this morning in terms of his meetings with the Sudan Government, the support that we've been giving all along, $132 million already spent on the crisis in Darfur for the people there and more money in the pipeline, and from the action that we're taking at the United Nations, that the United States has been acting and we've been acting, I think, very consistently on the crisis in Darfur...

Q: [A]re you talking to other governments? Do you have support? Not to beat on an old drum, but, you know, we were told weeks ago at a briefing that the Europeans are not really helping a whole lot. Now, I know Kofi Annan is. Can you give us some sense of whether this will be some multilateral, multinational effort, if you decide to go for measures?

A: ...The question of other assistance, I think, has been something the UN has gone through. I think it was briefed yesterday. Principally, it's been the United States, I think the United Kingdom, maybe some EU money so far. We certainly hope that by the Secretary's visit and the attention that he's called to it and the Secretary General's visit and the briefings at the Security Council and all the effort that's being made right now, that we will see other donors forthcoming and other people able to give money."

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