En Route to Darfur

Lauren Landis is the Sr. Representative, Sudan, Sudan Programs Group.
Lauren's next post:
Stop the Fighting in Sudan

Right now, I’m on my way to Darfur (via Dubai and Khartoum) to look at some of the camps the UN peacekeepers will use when they are sent to the region. This is one of the many visits I have made to Sudan – both to Darfur and the South – since I became the Senior Representative on Sudan at the State Department more than a year ago. And each time I come to Darfur, I visit the displacement camps where nearly two and a half million people live. I am reminded once again of what they have suffered and the importance of what we all want – a peaceful solution so that these people can go home. The UN calls Darfur the largest humanitarian disaster in the world. Talking to these people – and seeing their living conditions – makes you realize how important it is that we get more peacekeepers on the ground as soon as possible, and we get a peace agreement all will live by.

Last week at the United Nations, there was a special Ministerial meeting on Darfur before the General Assembly. One of the things leaders focused on was the need to deploy the peacekeepers – the UNAMID force – quickly. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, Deputy Secretary John Negroponte, Special Envoy Andrew Natsios and Assistant Secretary Jendayi Frazer all stressed the need for rapid deployment.

UN Resolution 1769, which established the peacekeeping force in July, calls for 26,000 troops and police to be in Darfur when UNAMID is at full force.

Right now, there are about 7,000 African Union troops in Darfur. They have done a good job, but they have been overwhelmed by the task. These African troops will become part of the UNAMID force.

What most Americans probably don’t know is that the United States built and maintained the base camps for the African Union troops. Altogether we have spent about $400 million building and operating 34 base camps. And we are spending more money to expand seven of those camps for to hold approximately 1500 new troops.

So that’s why I am going to Darfur: to make sure the camp expansion is taking place on time – so more troops can get on the ground as quickly as possible.

But American assistance to the people of Darfur and Sudan will not stop just because the UN deploys. In fact, the U.S. will contribute about one-quarter of the funds needed for the peacekeeping mission. And that’s in addition to the $4 billion we have already provided to the people of Sudan since 2005.



New Mexico, USA
September 29, 2007

Eric in New Mexico writes:
Ms. Landis: Much success to you and the AU, and I've got a question I've been wondering about ever since I gave a fellow from the World Bank a lift in my cab years ago.

Good hour's drive to the Airport, and we got to talking about the then current Ethiopian famine, and I asked him why it was that these folks couldn't get what they needed to sustain themselves. "Let's bomb them with food" is as I recall my response to his answer that access was the biggest problem.

He thought that a fine idea indeed, were it not sovereign airspace.

In short, over a long conversation I got a free lesson in how the global community is often rendered impotent by the weight of its own mechanics of beaurocracy.

With that in mind,

What would be more efficient, moving the aid and establishing security where the endangered are, or moving the endangered to aid and security?

We have many a mothballed military base in the US, the international community can provide the airlift. Americans have built cities from scratch in the past and can do so again if need be. We are a nation of nation builders on many levels. We'd simply be honoring the words inscribed on the Statue of Liberty.

If the land itself cannot sustain a population, that population would I believe under the basic concept of the global community's "responsibility to protect", be afforded special status in regard to all nation's immigration laws.

I would further suggest as global warming may create these conditions on a greater scale, that the question I pose to you above may be the defining one in terms of a practical solution.

Stay safe and best regards.

Minnesota, USA
September 29, 2007

Jes in Minnesota writes:
Just a note to say thank you for your efforts to help the people of Darfur. Please keep us informed of your activities and your impressions. This is of vital interest to many concerned people around the world.

October 1, 2007

Xie in China writes:
Sudan and Darfur need help from the UN and other stability-loving countries.

California, USA
October 5, 2007

Patrick in California writes:
In a talk on C-Span, I heard the Sudanese Ambassador, who if I am not mistaken is a former Christian Rebel Leader from the South, explain that the problem in Darfur is much like the violent struggles between our 19th century cowboys and farmers, that is a nomad culture vs. a sedentary culture. This analogy struck me.

On the other hand, yesterday at my school, we heard a doctor who had volunteered for difficult service there and seemed much loved by the people of Darfur (one could only admire his astonishing commitment), explain other sources of conflict, in fact, religion, especially the Sharia law, which is not welcome to those who are not Muslim. We heard tales of Sudenese air bombardment of entire villages and even of the fleeing people moving towards the camps you write of.

What I would like to know is if you can explain to me what you think of this analogy used by the Ambassador, comparing the struggle as like that of 19th century America? Or is this one more example of a segment of fundementalist Islam out of control.

Florida, USA
October 8, 2007

Irfan in Florida writes:
One of your reader writes "especially the Sharia law, which is not welcome to those who are not Muslim." I am sure your blog will not become another poster for propogating hate. Many of the darfurians are muslim! I would like to point him to read about the treatment of Christians and Jews in hisoric Muslim ruled areas where they lived in better conditions than in their own ruled areas. It has nothing to do with islam. Islamic sharia has strict code for treating non combatants and non muslims. it is a political issue where the darfurians on one hand and the arab dominated ruling mafia are trying to assert themselves. If the game of blaming everything bad on islam is used here, this problem will be very hard to resolve.

crystal f.
October 11, 2007

Kevin writes:
Looks very poor. Hope to help them.

Boy in Darfur Refugee Camp
Posted by Lauren Landis
September 28, 2007


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