Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Counting the Fallen

While the Senate prepares to begin who knows how many days debating the confirmations of eight controversial judicial nominees, the genocide in Darfur continues. In a "Letter from Africa" this morning, the New York Times' Marc Lacey examines "the mournful math of Darfur," outlining the work of those trying to determine how many civilians have been murdered there with the tacit if not complicit cooperation of their own government.

"Those trying to tally the terror are engaging in guesswork for a cause," Lacey writes. "They say they are trying to count the deaths to shock the world into stopping the number from rising higher than it already is." He provides an interesting look at the different methods used to estimate casualty figures, and the rationale behind trying to determine an accurate figure.

"the counting continues, and eventually, when Darfur's violence mercifully ends, a number will be agreed upon. That number, like the figure of 800,000 for the Rwanda massacre, will be forever appended to the awful events. The rest of the world, slow to react to Darfur, will then have plenty of opportunity to think about it, and wonder why it was able to grow as large as it did."

We won't have to wonder. We know. For this president and this Senate leadership, not to mention the "Justice Sunday" crowd pushing this nuclear exchange, eight judges have been deemed important than hundreds of thousands of slaughtered African civilians. Compassionate conservatism? Hardly.


At 1:59 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...
UN report outlines killings, rapes by Hutu rebels
Last Updated Thu, 19 May 2005 08:59:31 EDT
CBC News
KINSHASA, CONGO - A new United Nations report says more than 900 people living in eastern Congo have been murdered, raped or abducted by Rwandan Hutu rebels since June 2004. The violence is centred on the town of Walungu, in an area where about 10,000 Hutu rebels took refuge after the 1994 genocide in their home country of Rwanda. Calling themselves the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda, they have been battling with Congolese forces in south Kivu province.

The UN report says that in the last year, the rebels have:
Killed 175 people.
Raped 320 women.
Kidnapped 465 people, holding them for ransom to finance rebel operations.
Assaulted 748 other people, some of whom were severely beaten.

"The systematic kidnapping of civilians is the principal source of finance for these armed Hutu groups," said Fernando Castanon, a United Nations human rights official. Staff of the UN mission in Congo conducted 400 interviews as they prepared the report.

At 2:01 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...
Ebola resurfaces in Republic of Congo
Last Updated Wed, 18 May 2005 19:35:27 EDT
CBC News
BRAZZAVILLE, CONGO - Ebola has returned to the Republic of Congo, killing nine people since early May, the World Health Organization says. Test results have confirmed the deadly disease in the country, also known as Congo-Brazzaville, the UN health watchdog said Wednesday. Eight of the victims came from the forested Cuvette region, about 700 kilometres northwest of the capital, Brazzaville. The disease killed 203 people in the same region during outbreaks in 2001, 2002 and 2003. Authorities said elephant hunters might have brought the infection into a community after handling a dead, infected primate in the jungle.

Ebola, one of the world's most contagious diseases, causes massive hemorrhaging, diarrhea and shock. It kills within days, claiming up to 90 per cent of its victims.
There's no known cure.
WHO officials said two other people in the Congo have been infected with Ebola.

At 2:07 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...
UN Security Council approves sanctions on Darfur offenders
Last Updated Tue, 29 Mar 2005 21:16:19 EST
CBC News
UNITED NATIONS - The UN Security Council has voted to impose a travel ban and freeze assets of people who commit atrocities in Sudan's western Darfur region.
The resolution also tightened the UN's arms embargo on Sudan's government and rebels by forming a committee to monitor its implementation.

The U.S.-sponsored resolution passed 12-0 on Tuesday, with three abstentions: Algeria, Russia and China. The sanctions will start in 30 days against individuals who will be chosen by a committee made up of representatives from all 15 countries on the Security Council.

UN panel to monitor compliance
The individuals will be those "who impede the peace process, constitute a threat to stability in Darfur and the region, commit violations of international humanitarian or human rights law or other atrocities," violate prior embargoes or "are responsible for offensive military overflights," the UN said in a statement.
Among its measures, the resolution asks governments to freeze funds, financial assets and economic resources of the designated people, as well as the assets of businesses those individuals might own.
A panel of experts would monitor the requirements through regular trips to Darfur, other parts of the Sudan and to Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, where the African Union –which has troops in Darfur – is based.
The sanctions are fall far short of what human-rights groups and other observers have urged for years for the war-ravaged region – the deployment of a UN peacekeeping force to stop what many consider to be genocide. Tuesday's resolution marked the latest development in drawn-out efforts by the Security Council to deal with the crisis in Darfur. Fighting between government-backed militias and rebels has killed about 180,000 in the war-ravaged region, while as many as 350,000 people may have died of pneumonia, diarrhea and malnutrition and more than 1.2 million have been driven from their villages in the past 18 months alone.
The council remains deadlocked over how to try people accused of war crimes in Darfur. Several council members want the cases referred to the International Criminal Court in The Hague.
The United States opposes the court because it claims to fear that its political enemies might launch politically motivated prosecutions against U.S. citizens.

At 2:10 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

African leaders reject foreign troops for Darfur
Last Updated Wed, 18 May 2005 11:24:42 EDT
CBC News
TRIPOLI, LIBYA - The leaders of seven African countries say no troops from outside the continent should be allowed to intervene in Sudan's Darfur region,...(declining) Canada's offer of 100 military advisers.
The leaders of Egypt, Libya, Chad, Nigeria, Sudan, Gabon and Eritrea issued a statement to that effect on Tuesday, after two days of meetings in Libya.
At the moment, about 2,400 troops from the African Union are stationed in the western Sudan region.
Armed Arab militias, allegedly supported by the government, have killed more than 10,000 people and displaced up to a million others since the conflict began in early 2003. The United Nations believes another 170,000 people have died from hunger and disease related to the violence.
Canada(had)announced an aid package for Darfur that includes $170 million in assistance as well as the help of as many as 100 peacekeepers.
The "military intelligence officers, strategic planners and logistics experts" were to be led by African Union mission leaders in Darfur, but the Libya statement seems to quash that plan.
Instead, the African leaders said, Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi will continue his efforts to broker a settlement between parties in the civil conflict.

In a related development Tuesday, the president of the African Union requested logistical support from NATO but said only African troops should be stationed in Darfur.
NATO will consider Alpha Oumar Konare's request on Wednesday.


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