Last night one of televisions’ most successful franchises, Law and Order: Special Victims Unit, took on the issue of rape as a weapon of war in Eastern Congo. Anchor Jeb Sharp speaks with Neal Bear, the program’s executive producer of Law and Order: Special Victims Unit, about why he chose to tackle the subject. Download MP3
Last Updated: March 08. 2010 8:41PM UAE / March 8. 2010 4:41PM GMT
NAIROBI // One year after Omar al Bashir, the Sudanese president, was indicted for war crimes in the western Darfur region, the violence there continues to linger. Clashes have erupted in the past week despite a ceasefire deal signed last month between the government and a major rebel group.
As the international community shifts focus to the tense standoff between north and south Sudan before next month’s elections, observers are worried that the country could see a return to fighting in Darfur.
At least 300,000 have been killed in Darfur and millions displaced since fighting began in 2003, according to the United Nations. Khartoum says 10,000 have been killed. The latest fighting has left a further 100,000 in flight.
Last year, the International Criminal Court in The Hague issued an arrest warrant for Mr al Bashir for crimes against humanity. Genocide charges remain possible. In response, Mr al Bashir kicked out 13 international aid organisations operating in Darfur.
Coming up today we’ll hear about the Conflict in the Congo- in which more than 5 million people have been killed. It’s one of the world’s most under-reported stories… Later we’ll talk with some parenting experts on raising children in a peaceful and productive way…
But first some listener comments about yesterday’s program. All five of the comments were about the last few callers who were urging low income people to go to college and who were defending controversial talk show host Alex Jones….here’s what some listeners had to say…
Enough Project co-founder John Prendergast offers encouragement to the activists braving the cold and holding vigil, for days on end, outside Sen. Tom Coburn’s office in Oklahoma City. The “Oklahoma Hold Out” aims to secure Senate passage of the LRA Disarmament and Northern Uganda Recovery Act, which Sen. Coburn (R-OK) is single-handedly blocking. To learn more, visit
Nairobi — A campaign is growing in the United States to end wars and atrocities in eastern Congo by discouraging the export of what organisers describe as "conflict minerals."
The effort is inspired by the movement a few years ago that helped stop murderous conflicts in West Africa by successfully targeting the "blood diamonds" that were financing them.
The Congo initiative is also modelled on the influential US varsity-based campaign to halt mass killings in Darfur as well as on the earlier push against US corporate investment in apartheid South Africa.
Prof Herbert Weiss, a Congo expert at a Washington think tank, noted at a US university forum last week that an increasing number of Americans are at last paying attention to Congo.
The organiser of the conflict-minerals campaign John Prendergast told activists to rally behind proposals in the US Congress to create a global certification system for four valuable metals found in large quantities in Congo.
Monitoring would be put in place to ensure lawful control of these minerals, which are essential for the manufacture of telecommunications devices, Mr Prendergast said.
Sudan: U.S. Worried As Southern Region Heads for Secession
8 February 2010
Nairobi — With Southern Sudan now believed virtually certain to vote for independence in less than a year, worries are growing in Washington not only over a possible resumption of the North-South civil war, but also over the likelihood that the newly independent state will not prove viable.
Pessimism appears prevalent both inside and outside the Obama administration.
Officials and advocates alike fear that East Africa's largest country may again be convulsed by violence after a concerted, protracted and ultimately successful US-led effort to end 20 years of disastrous fighting.
Renewed North-South warfare might yet be averted, a panel of 20 Sudan experts suggested in a report published a few months ago, but only if major disagreements are resolved before the southern Sudanese take part in a referendum scheduled for January 2011.
And "absent a change in the status quo," added the report by the nongovernmental US Institute of Peace, "most of the important substantive issues between North and South -- oil revenue sharing, security arrangements and the demarcation of boundaries -- will not be resolved before the referendum."
Early this year, the United Nations sent its favorite dictator-whisperer, Nigerian diplomat Ibrahim Agboola Gambari, to Sudan, hoping to nudge the country's leader and alleged war criminal, President Omar Hassan al-Bashir, toward peace. Gambari, a veteran of U.N. missions from Zimbabwe to Myanmar, has developed his knack for counseling autocrats on the job -- by working for one, Sani Abacha, the notorious late strongman president of Nigeria, whom Gambari served as U.N. ambassador from 1990 to 1999.
Anywhere else, Gambari's Abacha connection might be a career breaker. But since joining the United Nations in 1999, Gambari has thrived, managing crises from Angola to Cyprus and raising money for Iraq's reconstruction. According to U.N. staffers, his old-school capabilities as a diplomat, coupled with his Muslim faith and eminent standing in Africa, make him a formidable mediator. The Sudan assignment provides an opportunity to test whether Gambari's experience and easy rapport with unsavory political players can translate into concrete progress on the main challenges of the day: a settlement in Darfur and resolution of the standoff over the South's quest for independence.
My Thursday column is about the war in eastern Congo, looking at the work of Lisa Shannon and her Run for Congo Women. Readers sometimes ask why I often write about outsiders, like Lisa, rather than about the innumerable local people who are doing extraordinary work — often at greater risk. It’s certainly true that Congo, for example, has a vibrant and admirable civil society, full of Congolese women themselves organizing against rape and war.
But it’s already very difficult to get Americans to show any interest in a remote, distant conflict, and if everyone in the drama is Congolese it’s that much harder. An American protagonist in the column creates a connection to readers, I hope, and leaves them more engaged in the topic. That may not be fair, but it’s the reality. Likewise, I want to encourage readers — overwhelmingly American — to get involved, and Lisa makes a nice role model for that.
Sudan Rejects US Charge on Arms Transfers to South
Date: Wednesday, February 03 @ 00:00:00 GMT
Topic: Main News
UNITED NATIONS - (Reuters)
Sudan's U.N. ambassador on Friday dismissed as "irresponsible" U.S. allegations that weapons from northern Sudan were going to armed groups in the semi-autonomous south ahead of a nationwide April election.
Earlier this week the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, Susan Rice, said Washington was concerned about the flow of arms, including heavy weapons, into southern Sudan, and believed they were coming from northern Sudan and neighboring countries.
Sudanese Ambassador Abdalmahmoud Abdalhaleem told Reuters that Khartoum "categorically denied" Rice's allegations. "The statement by the U.S. ambassador to the U.N. attributing arms flows to south Sudan to the north is most irresponsible," he said in an interview.
Five years ago, Lisa Shannon watched “Oprah” and learned about the savage, forgotten war here in eastern Congo, played out in massacres and mass rape. That show transformed Lisa’s life, costing her a good business, a beloved fiancé, and a comfortable home in Portland, Ore. — but giving her a chance to save lives in Congo.
I found myself stepping with Lisa into a shack here. It was night, there was no electricity, and a tropical rainstorm was turning the shantytown into a field of mud and streams. Lisa had come to visit a woman she calls her sister, Generose Namburho, a 40-year-old nurse.
Generose’s story is numbingly familiar: extremist Hutu militiamen invaded her home one night, killed her husband and prepared to rape her. Then, because she shouted in an attempt to warn her neighbors, they hacked off her leg above the knee with a machete.