Darfur Rebels 101

Darfur Rebels 101

Darfur RebelsIt is conventional wisdom among diplomats, journalists, and analysts that Darfur’s rebel groups are hopelessly fractured into scores of rival factions, most of which are little more than clusters of bandits who opportunistically profit from lawlessness and chaos that has resulted from the war. While this may have been true for a period of time, this narrative of an irreparably fragmented rebellion is music to the ears of the Sudanese government, its supporters, and those pundits who seek to find moral equivalency between the Sudanese government and Darfur’s rebels. The facts on the ground tell a different story. While there are certainly divisions among the various rebel factions in Darfur, only four groups are relevant to peace negotiations, and the differences between them owe more to personal and ethnic rivalries than substantive disagreements over the issues central to most Darfuris.

In Darfur Rebels 101, Enough Project Advisor Omer Ismail and Enough Project special assistant Maggie Fick identify Darfur’s key rebel groups and explains what they represent, what divides them, and-most importantly-what could potentially unite them if a credible, sustained, and internationally-backed peace effort was put in place.

READ the strategy paper.

“Rebel divisions are not the primary obstacle to peace in Darfur,” said Ismail. “The international community must not allow Khartoum to blame rebel divisions for the government’s inaction to end Darfur’s suffering, nor are rebel groups to be blamed from the international community’s failure to mount an effective diplomatic strategy for dealing with Sudan’s multiple crises.”

Based on the Enough Project’s regular and extensive contacts with key rebel officials, our strongly held view is that Darfur’s rebels largely agree on the basic issues that must be addressed in order to bring about peace in Darfur.

“Although divided by personalities and power struggles, Darfur’s rebel groups and civil society leaders share the common goal of peace and justice for their people,” said Fick. “A credible peace process to resolve the war is feasible, but requires leadership from the international community.”

READ Darfur Rebels 101.
LISTEN to co-authors Omer Ismail and Maggie Fick discuss the paper. WATCH this short video of rebel operations in the Darfuri desert.

Cholera Cases Exceed 60,000 in Zimbabwe

The World Health Organization is calling for urgent action to tackle the cholera epidemic in Zimbabwe. WHO reports the number of cholera cases in Zimbabwe has exceeded its nightmare scenario of 60,000.  

The World Health Organization is calling for urgent action from the international and national communities to reverse the cholera epidemic in Zimbabwe.

WHO Assistant Director-General, Eric Laroche, says cholera cases in Zimbabwe have soared passed the worst-case scenario of 60,000. He says this is far too high.
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Congo’s Dangerous Crossroads

Congo’s Dangerous Crossroads

CongoLast week’s arrest of Congolese rebel leader Laurent Nkunda and the deployment of an estimated 4,000 Rwandan soldiers into eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo, or DRC, as part of joint Rwandan-Congolese military operations against the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda, or FDLR, represent a major, and dangerous, crossroads. One on hand, this unusual collaboration between Congo and Rwanda could be a catalyst for fundamentally changing the dynamic of the war and ending the deadliest conflict since World War II.  On the other hand, it is obvious to all involved that Congolese citizens face grave new dangers ahead. The details of the operation already underway in eastern Congo’s densely forested terrain are murky, but if previous attempts to dislodge the 6,500 strong FDLR are any indication, Congolese civilians are likely to bear the overwhelming brunt of the violence. The international community must take the following urgent actions:   

  • protect civilians in FDLR areas by immediately enhancing the capacity of the U.N. peacekeeping force, known as MONUC, and by pressuring Congo and Rwanda to minimize collateral damage;
  • increase the desertion rate of rank-and-file FDLR through more effective and transparent disarmament, demobilization, repatriation, resettlement, and repatriation, or DDRRR, programs;
  • demand international military observation of the operations and a more clearly defined role for MONUC; and,
  • halt the impunity that fuels rampant atrocities by securing the arrest of Bosco Ntaganda and supporting the swift expansion of the ICC’s investigations into the North and South Kivu Provinces.

If, and only if, those conditions are met, the international community should consider assisting the operations in targeting FDLR commanders by providing intelligence and tactical support. 

READ the full statement and Enough’s recommendations for the Obama administration.

Greenpeace opens an office in the DRC

Matadi, Congo, The Democratic Republic of the — Greenpeace today marked the opening of its office in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) by welcoming Congolese officials aboard its ship, the Arctic Sunrise, currently docked in Matadi, the country’s principal port for timber exports.

The inauguration takes place as the legality review of 156 logging titles in the DRC nears its end and on the eve of critical climate talks in Posnan, Poland, where forest protection is expected to be a central focus.

Greenpeace demands complete transparency from the Congolese government as it completes the legal review of 156 logging titles. The first phase of this process resulted in the validation of 46 forest titles covering approximately 7 million hectares of forest. Eighty-one of the logging companies whose titles were rejected in the first phase have submitted appeals to the interministerial commission in charge of the process. Greenpeace expects the government to respect the criteria laid out in the 2005 presidential decree regarding the review of these titles.

“The Congolese government must not give into pressure from the logging industry, which is currently doing all it can to highjack the legality process. Clearly what the industry wants is to keep control of some 10 million additional hectares of illegally acquired forest,” said René Ngongo, a policy advisor with Greenpeace Africa.

Ngongo went on to say that “those who exploit the forests are expecting the legality review to approve the greatest number of logging concessions possible. They are using the international financial crisis – which has had an impact on the logging industry just as it has on most every other industry – as a pretext for getting around the objective legal criteria already established by the government.”

Forests for Climate and the DRC

Over 60% of DRC’s population depends directly or indirectly on the country’s forests for subsistence. It is the duty of the government to protect the forests and not give into a political deal favouring an industry that is today directly responsible for the pillage and degradation of the Congo forests. Greenpeace also believes that it is essential the forests be kept intact so that the Congolese people may benefit from international funds currently being established to protect tropical forests. That way Congolese can earn money by preventing the destruction of their forests.

The next United Nations climate talks are set to take place in Posnan, Poland from December 1 – 12. One of the negotiators’ principal goals will be the creation of a mechanism to finance the fight against greenhouse gas emissions caused by the deforestation and degradation of tropical forests. Greenpeace’s ‘Forests for Climate’ financing mechanism is designed to protect the rights of forest populations, while also protecting biodiversity and fighting climate change.

“Let us take advantage of this unique opportunity to mobilize international financial institutions so that their objective becomes putting an end to the destruction of tropical forests”, declared Amadou Kanoute, Executive Director Greenpeace Africa.

“Given the situation, it is essential that the DRC government sends this strong message to the international community: all forest titles acquired illegally must be annulled so that the people of the DRC may fully benefit from an internationally agreed mechanism for the financing of forest protection. ”

At today’s launch Amadou Kanoute briefly talked about why Greenpeace has decided to go ahead with the opening of its office in DRC at a time when very serious conflict continues in the eastern part of the country. “Greenpeace has been working in the DRC for several years and we have seen first hand the terrible tragedy. We feel strongly that it must stop. However, 40 million people depend on the Congo’s forests for their livelihood and we must continue to protect those livelihoods. Given the current climate crisis it is also essential that the international community agrees on a forests-for-climate mechanism.”

Impeached Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich has been removed from office

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. – The Illinois Senate voted to remove Gov. Rod Blagojevich from office Thursday, marking the first time in the state’s long history of political corruption that a chief executive has been impeached and convicted.

The 59-0 vote followed several hours of public deliberation in which senator after senator stood up to blast Blagojevich, whose tenure lasted six years. And it came after a four-day impeachment trial on allegations that Blagojevich abused his power and sold his office for personal and political benefit.

The conviction on a sweeping article of impeachment means the governor was immediately removed from office. The Senate also unanimously voted to impose the “political death penalty” on Blagojevich, banning him from ever again holding office in Illinois.

Lt. Gov. Patrick Quinn, Blagojevich’s two-time running mate, has become the state’s 41st

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Raccoon bites off rapist’s penis

A FEISTY raccoon has bitten off a pervert’s PENIS as he was trying to rape the animal.

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Picture of the day

Children walk through a transit camp for ex-rebel soldiers of the Democratic Force for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR) on January 26, in Kasiki, 190 kms north-west of Goma. At least 160 FDLR rebels have disarmed and have been waiting for repatriation to Rwanda since July 2008. Congolese and Rwandan troops are currently involved in a joint operation against Rwandan Hutu rebels in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo.

Refugees in Congo


Children walk through a transit camp for ex-rebel soldiers of the Democratic Force for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR) on January 26, in Kasiki, 190 kms north-west of Goma. At least 160 FDLR rebels have disarmed and have been waiting for repatriation to Rwanda since July 2008. Congolese and Rwandan troops are currently involved in a joint operation against Rwandan Hutu rebels in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo.