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Author: John Norris

The Relief Puzzle

The Relief Puzzle
As we mentioned last week, Senator John Kerry announced during his visit to Sudan that the government in Khartoum had agreed to allow some of the expelled aid agencies to return. Back in Washington, Senator Kerry spoke to NPR about the news, explaining that "in some cases, some of the very same people will go back, wearing a different title, but providing the same service." This picture seems to be shaping up as this: Sudan will allow some of the aid groups back if they are ‘rehatted’ under different names. It also seems clear that some of the 13 groups ...
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Sri Lanka’s Woes

A stark warning out from the International Crisis Group board on the situation in Sri Lanka. A release today emphasizes that more than 150,000 civilians are trapped in an area the size of Central Park as they are simultaneously shelled by the Sri Lankan military and used as human shields by the Tamil Tigers. Crisis Group notes that available reports suggest that 5,000 civilians, including at least 500 children, have died since mid-January, and 10,000 have been injured. This situation has the potential to dissolve into a bloodbath if the Sri Lankan military pushes forward with its offensive. It is ...
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Bolton on Somalia

Former Bush administration Ambassador to the United Nations John Bolton proposed his own solution to the Somalia crisis over the weekend. He posited that the United States should form a coalition of the willing and launch both airstrikes and a ground invasion of Somalia as a way to treat the piracy problem. Pretty incredible stuff. His solution strikes me as somewhat akin to burning down a house to get rid of a termite problem. Bolton's sage counsel must be deeply missed at U.N. headquarters in New York ...
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Relief?

According to Senator John Kerry, who is now in Khartoum, the government of Sudan intends to allow more relief to flow into Darfur. I don't have his statement in detail, but I am guessing that this also suggests Sudan would allow some of the 13 banned international relief organizations to resume operations. Of course, as with all things related to the government of Sudan, we will believe it when we see it. Senator Kerry also indicated that Special Envoy Scott Gration would be returning to Sudan in early May. More to follow ...
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Aid Organizations and Darfur

Reuters has a story out today noting that Oxfam has formally appealed to the Government of Sudan for re-entry into Darfur, where conditions on the ground are still eroding. At yesterday's State Department press briefing, the following exchange took place: QUESTION: Different subject. On Darfur, is there any update on the special envoy’s efforts there in terms of returning NGOs to Darfur? MR. WOOD: I know that Scott Gration is working on that issue. Others are working on it as well. But I don’t have an update for you, Charlie, on whether or not we’ve been able to make any ...
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Tortured Defense

A good piece in the New York Times today about the violent and extreme measures some of Robert Mugabe's cronies are taking in Zimbabwe in an effort to secure amnesty. This is well worth a read and is a sharp reminder of the still precarious state of Zimbabwe's very uncertain steps toward transition ...
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Two Seconds for a Good Cause

Two Seconds for a Good Cause
We need your vote for a very good cause. Matt & Nat is a socially responsible Canadian company known for making excellent vegan handbags. With the launch of their newest collection, Samsara, Matt & Nat has generously agreed to donate a dollar from very handbag sold this year to charity. This is where you come in. Matt & Nat is directing the amount it donates to each organization through an online vote. So visit the “One Dollar Donated” campaign and vote for Enough. We're currently in second place, so the prize is certainly within reach! Tell your friends to vote ...
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Help Your Special Envoy

In searching around for the full version of Gration’s remarks at the Zam Zam camp, I was struck by the fact that they were not available anywhere on a U.S. government website. I am sure General Gration is still pulling together his team, but he will clearly need a good, if small, communications team. The more Gration can put out his own narrative – directly and in real time – the better served he will be. Maybe Reuters and others got his comments right, maybe they got them wrong, but this is no time to do things off the cuff ...
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Parsing Gration

Parsing Gration
While U.S. Special Envoy Scott Gration was making his initial tour of a displaced camp in Darfur this last weekend, he told reporters, "We have to increase the capacity and number of aid agencies that are able to move aid assistance from the warehouses to the distribution points and then to the hands and mouths of the people in these camps." Gration also hoped that the vast gap in relief capacity created by Sudan’s capricious decision to expel thirteen international relief organizations could be filled by agencies from both Arab states and the West. He also noted the importance of ...
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Simply Appalling

As if we needed any further proof of the predatory approach of the Sudanese government to both its own people and the humanitarian relief community. According to the United Nations, between March 4 and 25 of this year, relief organizations had 354 vehicles, 684 computers, and 1,035 radios seized by the Sudanese government. In comparison, during all of 2008, humanitarian organizations lost 277 vehicles due to banditry and insecurity in Darfur. President Bashir appears content to loot as his own people face starvation. The real question now: How will the world respond? ...
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