A Nevada company has been accused of bringing rare metals from mines in some of the most troubled areas of the world - the Congo. We talk with an official of ENOUGH - the project to end genocide and crimes against humanity - about the importation of rare minerals for use in everyday electronics. ENOUGH believes a Nevada company is buying conflict metals from the Congo via a series of companies in Hong Kong. Listen
Obama warns Sudan may face more pressure on Darfur
Tue Feb 2, 2010 7:54am GMT
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President Barack Obama urged Sudan on Monday to cooperate in efforts to stabilize the country or Washington will conclude that engagement is not working and seek "additional pressure" on Khartoum.
Obama, answering questions submitted via YouTube, said the United States, United Nations and other countries were working to broker a series of agreements to stabilize the country and allow refugees back to their homes.
"We continue to put pressure on the Sudanese government. If they are not cooperative in these efforts, then it is going to be appropriate for us to conclude that engagement doesn't work, and we're going to have to apply additional pressure on Sudan in order to achieve our objectives," Obama said.
The United Nations says the Lord's Resistance Army is continuing to attack civilians in the Democratic Republic of Congo, despite a recent international offensive against the Ugandan rebel group. The Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs says the LRA killed as many as 100 Congolese in January.
Congolese and Ugandan officials have been saying the Lords Resistance Army is struggling to survive, but the civilian death toll continues to rise in the worst hit areas.
Speaking by telephone from Busia in eastern DRC, Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs regional head Jean Charles Dupin told VOA the rebels are still targeting civilians.
U.S. President Barack Obama held a town hall meeting Monday using an unusual venue - the YouTube Internet Web site. He took questions submitted via e-mail and video during and following his State of the Union address last week.
The president has engaged in live question and answer sessions on the White House Web site. But this is his first Internet town hall meeting on a privately owned and operated site.
INTERVIEW-Sudan rejects US charge on arms transfers to south
Fri, Jan 29 2010
* Groups: north-south ties deteriorate, both sides arming
* Sudan criticizes ICC prosecutor ahead of decision
By Louis Charbonneau
UNITED NATIONS, Jan 29 (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.
"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.
"It demonstrates that Susan Rice is still imprisoning herself in the past and failed to move from an activist position to that of a worthy representative of a superpower."
He added that it was U.S. arms sales that were making the world less safe, not weapons from his oil-rich African nation.
U.N. officials have said privately that they, too, suspect the north was supplying southern militants with weapons.
The oil-producing nation's north and south fought each other for more than two decades until a 2005 peace deal that promised national elections, due in April, and a referendum on southern independence in January 2011.
The International Crisis Group (ICG), an independent multinational group, has said relations between the two sides have broken down and Sudan needed more time to prepare for a widely expected 'yes' vote for southern independence if it wanted to avoid a violent break-up.
Armies from both sides, and an array of rebel groups and militias, are also stockpiling arms ahead of any conflict, despite U.N. and European Union arms embargoes, according to a December 2009 report by the Small Arms Survey.
The Enough Project, a U.S.-based anti-genocide group, has been saying for months that increasingly sophisticated attacks by the same ethnic-based militias that were used by Khartoum in the south during the civil war was cause for great alarm.
Georgetown and Duke students Daniel Solomon and Amber Henderson have penned an op-ed about Darfur that highlights the initiative their two schools have undertaken to help fund schools in the Darfur refugee camps. Although major rivals on the court, Duke and Georgetown alumni and students are coming together to raise money for the Darfur Dream Team's Sister Schools Program, which I started with NBA star Tracy McGrady and the UN High Commission for Refugees. The goal of the program is to provide a quality education for every refugee child from Darfur. The initiative which Daniel and Amber from Duke and Georgetown are spearheading is going to help fulfill that goal for thousands of Darfuri kids. Hard to imagine a more noble partnership than that.
According to a recent report published by The New York Times, the turmoil of the Darfur region in Sudan has largely quieted. Gen. Patrick Nyamvumba, who commands UNAMID -- the joint UN-African Union peacekeeping force in Darfur -- has described the security situation in Darfur as "calm ... but it remains unpredictable."
The conflict in Darfur -- which, according to Amnesty International has left in its wake 300,000 deaths, 250,000 refugees, and 2.6 million internally displaced persons -- has been a flashpoint for violence since it began in February 2003. The conflict originated when two rebel groups -- the Sudan Liberation Army and the Justice and Equality Movement -- challenged the authority of the Sudanese government in Darfur. The Sudanese government replied with an aggressive counterinsurgency campaign. It used janjaweed -- or horse-riding militias -- to carry out scorched-earth operations against civilian population centers in Darfur.
It quickly became clear that the Sudanese government's efforts were escalating from a heavy counterinsurgency to what many international activists and the United States have labeled genocide, as defined by the 1948 Genocide Convention.
Nyamyumba's comment indicates that the game has recently changed in Darfur. While the classification of the Darfur situation as post-genocidal is arguably apt, that of post-conflict is not. As Sean Brooks of the Save Darfur Coalition recently wrote, "Darfur...remains a human rights and humanitarian crisis of the first order." Though major hostilities between Sudanese government and janjaweed forces and the rebel groups may have de-escalated, the security situation for the people of Darfur remains unstable. Sexual violence is widespread, the Sudanese government restricts crucial access to humanitarian aid organizations in Darfur, the peace process has stalled and the refugee crisis remains acute. Last March, the International Criminal Court indicted current Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir for war crimes and crimes against humanity, but a culture of impunity still underlines the Darfur conflict.
Sudan is again approaching a tipping point in its stability. The Sudanese government has scheduled elections for April 2010, but has not committed to the proper reforms required to ensure the electoral processes' credibility. Sporadic violence and the Sudanese military's significant presence in Darfur could potentially intimidate the electorate, and thereby pollute the polling process and enshrine Bashir's regime with false legitimacy.
POLITICS-SUDAN: Security Essential to Ensure Peaceful Elections
By Amelia Lawrence
ADDIS ABABA , Feb 01, 2010 (IPS) - Peace in Sudan remains an uncertainty ahead of the country’s first general elections in 24 years, according to the African Union Commission chief.
With two months to go before the decisive presidential and parliamentary elections, the United Nations (U.N.) and the AU want to ensure that elections take place without an eruption of violence between the north and the south, which can also risk instability in the region.
Addressing media before the start of the 14th annual AU Summit in Ethiopia on Jan. 31, AU Commission chairman, Jean Ping, said the prospects for peace appeared unpredictable ahead of the crucial elections.
"We do not pretend that in 2010 there would be no crisis, but Africa hopes to find African solutions to these crises," Ping said. The AU has also declared 2010 as being the year of peace and security for Africa, in addition to focusing on information, technology and communication.
The Enough Project's question about Sudan, above, topped the list of questions for President Obama, but his response is unlikely to thrill advocates.
Obama spoke of genocide there in the past tense -- though his administration's official stand is that there is "ongoing genocide" in the region, and though his envoy, Scott Gration, was forced to walk back his pronouncement that the genocide was over.
"Because of the genocide that took place earlier, a lot of these villages are now destroyed," Obama said of the difficulty in resettling Darfurian regugees.
Obama to attend Georgetown-Duke basketball game Saturday
January 29, 2010, 10:41 am by Christina Wilkie
President Barack Obama will attend Saturday's men's basketball game between the Georgetown University Hoyas and the Duke University Blue Devils, according to sources involved in the planning of the event.
Saturday's game at the MCI Center will raise money for educational programs in the war-ravaged Darfur region of Sudan, and other special guests include NBA star Tracy McGrady, Alexander Aleinikoff, the United Nations Deputy High Commissioner for Refugees, and John Prendergast, Co-founder of Enough, the project to end genocide and crimes against humanity at the Center for American Progress.