Darfur and the Genocide Olympics

Whilst it can never really be claimed that Africa is ‘in the news’, as summer kicks in and news elsewhere hits a dry patch, the Dark Continent has been cropping up on page 27 below the Renault ad with a slightly higher frequency than usual.

El País, which by an uncanny coincidence has exactly the same number of Africa correspondents as Planet Churro, reports that Spain will be contributing to a UN-mandated EU mission in Chad to help with refugees from over the border in strife-torn Darfur. At the moment this will be logistical and air support rather than men on the ground – as with 3,000 soldiers deployed in Afghanistan, Lebanon and the Balkans, Spanish forces have hit their limit for overseas operations – but Spanish sources have admitted that they may give in to a bit of Gallic arm-twisting and send ground forces in if new-mate Sarkozy’s France leads the operation.

This is likely to lead into the joint African Union-UN force to be deployed in Darfur itself sometime early next year. The Sudanese government, which backs and arms the Janjaweed militia – made up of nomadic Arabic-speaking Muslims and repsonsible for killing around 450,000 (mainly civilian) sedentary non-Arab Muslim tribes in land disputes -, has agreed to the deployment of the joint AU-UN forces, though there are niggles about how African these forces should be. 

Another boost for Africa could come from Camp David as George Bush and Gordon Brown break the bread. Hard-faced Gordon, who wouldn’t surprise anyone if he came out and said that he put himself through two hours of self-flagellation and a cold bath every time he gave into the temptation to eat an extra shortbread, doesn’t seem like a natural drinkng buddy for laid-back, good ole boy Bush (yes, George, we know, you don’t do that any more). But Brown did manage to look as if he was having fun when Dubbya took him for a  high-speed spin in the golf buggy and the Scot has expressed his admiration for American spirit, so they might be able to rub along together in an unconventional sort of way. Darfur is apparently on the agenda and the word is that they will be pressing for a new UN resolution on the matter.   

A traditional stumbling block in the past has been China, which buys 80% of Sudan’s oil and supplies arms and infrastructure to the east-African State with no questions asked. China has backed up its trading partner in the UN when resolutions on Darfur have come up in the past, but with the threat of the 2008 olympics being labelled the ‘Genocide Olympics’ and China’s coming out to the world not being quite the love-in that Communist Party bigwigs are hoping for, the Asian giant has shifted its stance and voted in favour of an increased UN presence in Darfur and put pressure on Sudan to resolve the conflict. 

Feet-dragging by Khartoum and an ineffective mandate for the UN forces could scupper the whole intitiative, but that something is going on has to be seen as hopeful. 

 ***worth checking out this for background info on Darfur***

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~ by Daniel on July 30, 2007.

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