Sudan: Sex and Booze As Weapons

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April 16,2008: So far only 9000 of the promised 20000 UN peacekeeping troops have arrived in the Darfur region. They are sorely needed, as for the last ten days, government supported tribal militias have been attacking towns in northern Darfur.

The government has backed down and agreed to proceed with the national census, as planned, on April 22nd. At the same time, police in Darfur have been ordered to watch UN peacekeepers carefully for any signs of misconduct (especially those involving alcohol or sex.) Already, one peacekeeper has been arrested on false charges.

April 13, 2008: This was not unexpected but still it's a setback: Sudan's census has been postponed to at least the end of 2008. The census was required as part of the 2005 peace deal between north (Khartoum) and south (Juba) Sudan. It was originally scheduled to begin April 15, 2008. The GOSS (Government of South Sudan) is demanding that southerners living "up north" get to come home and fill out the census. The census affects several things, including dividing oil revenues.

April 11, 2008: The GOSS claimed that an investigation of the "escalation" by northern troops in Abeyi (see April 2) had proved the move was a "major breach" of the 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement. According to GOSS, the northern troops were blocking or delaying the movement of southern "returnees" (returning people displaced by the long war). The GOSS alleged that the returnees were being intentionally delayed because they "intended to register for the upcoming national census." GOSS also said that local tribal leaders (in the Dinka Ngok and the Misseriya tribes) were working to restore trust and "defuse tensions."

April 10, 2008: Two World Food Program truck drivers were murdered after their convoy delivered food to Darfuri refugees at a refugee center in the South Sudan town of Rumbek. On April 9 three UN police officers serving with UNAMID in North Darfur state were robbed by "gunmen."

April 5, 2008: Several NGOs are demanding that leaders around the world boycott the opening of the Beijing Olympics. Tibet is one of the reasons, of course, but organizations protesting against the genocide in Darfur have a lot of political muscle One such NGO is the Save Darfur Coalition which wants world leaders to avoid the opening ceremonies. The games run from August 8 through 24. The NGOs want to embarrass China so much that China will push Sudan to speed up the deployment of UNAMID forces in Darfur.

April 3, 2008: South Africa agreed to send an additional 100 troops to serve with UNAMID in Darfur. At the moment South Africa has committed 500 troops to the operation. South African government sources say the figure could rise to 800 soldiers.

April 2, 2008: The Government of South Sudan (GOSS) asserted that 200 "heavily armed" troops serving with Khartoum's "northern forces" moved into the town of Abyei, violating the border and security agreement reached by Sudan and South Sudan. Abeyi is an oil producing region. The town of Abyei is supposed to be secured by a joint force. The northern troops entered on their own and were not operating with southern troops. The GOSS regards the move as an "escalation" – a very indicative word because it implies South Sudan is ready to respond similarly. Abyei is a hotspot. In early 2008 a firefight broke out between pro-southern farmers and a group of Misseriya tribesmen who favor the "north" (Sudan national government in Khartoum).

 

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