In the Shilluk kingdom, in southern Sudan, it is nature and not man which seems to be keeping the peace.
In blackspots like Shilluk, where there was large-scale violence this year, a stream of rainy season floodwater, too deep for a pick-up filled with troops to cross safely, runs between the opposing frontlines.
Analysts fear that when the dry season comes, later this month, government forces will return with a vengeance and seek to retake the territory they have lost.
WHAT IS THE WORLD DOING ABOUT IT?
This Thursday and Friday, the UN security council is holding a special session in Nairobi to focus attention on two disasters: (1) southern Sudan (2) and Darfur in western Sudan. They aim to pressure Sudan's genocidal dictator Bashir and the southern rebels of John Garang, to sign a final peace deal aimed at ending two decades of war.
Even John Danforth says agreements in Sudan are written in disappearing ink. Any agreements could be worth no more than the paper they're written on.
Khartoum agreed to a no-fly zone recently, as well as signing up to a ceasefire in April. A lack of trust and inability by leaders on both sides to control forces on the ground has meant that violence is on the increase. The ceasefire has been repeatedly violated by both sides.
The U.S. has ruled out sending their own troops. Britain could be asked to contribute peacekeeping troops to an international force for Darfur.
The US ambassador to the UN, John Danforth, has hinted that offers of aid may be withdrawn if a peace agreement is not reached swiftly in the south.
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LEANING ON A RUBBER STICK
The United States revises its strategy on Sudan, seeks UN aid if peace deal signed
Two previous UN Security Council resolutions have threatened Khartoum with sanctions if it fails to curb the violence.
Sudan has not complied with Security Council demands over three months to disarm, arrest, and prosecute Arab militia.
An offer of financial aid marks a strategy shift by the United States. John Danforth, the US ambassador to the United Nations, said that although the threat of sanctions stands, the Security Council meeting in Nairobi on Thursday and Friday will focus more on the "carrot" than the "stick."
The United States changed course on Sudan after facing stiff opposition to sanctions, including a Chinese threat to block the United States from adopting a UN resolution punishing Khartoum over Darfur, according to a senior US official involved in the discussions.
"Are we leaning on a rubber stick? Sure," Danforth acknowledged in an interview. "It would clearly be extremely difficult to get a resolution that actually imposes sanctions in the Security Council adopted. We're doing the best we can with that particular tool."
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JOHN DANFORTH IS ASKED:
Should the United States send troops?
On November 9, 2004, Gwen Ifill talked with John Danforth, U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, about the latest efforts to end the violence in Darfur and the planned U.N. meeting to address a nationwide peace for Sudan. Here is an excerpt from the interview transcript:
Q: GWEN IFILL: There have been at least, by my count, six protocols or agreements that have been worked out in the past. None of them had been enforced. Where is the incentive for the government of Sudan or the rebels, for that matter, to sign on to anything this time?
A: JOHN DANFORTH: You're absolutely right. The history of Sudan for years has been a whole series of agreements that have been reached -- they turn out to be paper agreements, it's as though they're written in disappearing ink -- and they don't amount to anything. So what we have found in dealing with Sudan is it's important for the international community to have a continuing presence, to be there with monitors, to be there guaranteeing what was done on paper, to be there with peacekeepers. And this is part of the future that we hope to lay out when we're there. If they reach a peace agreement, the world is not going to go away. We're going to continue to be very, very engaged in the future of Sudan. So the hope is that the continuing international engagement in Sudan will provide a more durable peace.
Q: GWEN IFILL: Does the world have to do more than watch, though? I understand an African problem that the African Union is trying to resolve. But at what point does the United States, independent of the United Nations perhaps, have to assert its own forceful, independent, perhaps boots-on-the-ground effort to control what's happening, especially in the Darfur region?
A: JOHN DANFORTH: Well, some have argued that. And they say that notwithstanding the U.N., the U.S. should go it alone. I mean, this would really be unilateralism if that's what we did. But it's not the position of the African Union. I think that because we are, our military is really extended, very engaged very much in other parts of the world right now, it's doubtful that we're going to do that. I think it would be impossible to get the Security Council to agree to that. So I believe that the most practical thing that could be done right now, basically two things that are the practical that could be done: One is the deployment of the African Union in Darfur in the most numbers that we can get in there. I think that's very positive; and the second is to wrap up the North-South peace agreement, and that's why we're going over to Nairobi next week.
Read the full transcript.
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U.S. students urge action against Sudan violence
Yale students participate in a vigil to kickoff today’s Sudan Awareness Day. Groups will encourage letter writing to U.S. and UN representatives. (Sophie Perl/Contributing Photographer)
Students urge action against Sudan violence says Yale Daily News.
Bearing candles and green ribbons, nearly 30 students gathered at a vigil Sunday evening to raise awareness about the ongoing violence in Darfur.
The vigil was an opportunity for Yale students to think about the meaning of genocide. It introduced Monday's Sudan Awareness Day, when student representatives from Amnesty International and Students Take Action Now: Darfur will be tabling on Cross Campus and in dining halls. Those tabling will encourage students to write letters petitioning U.S. and UN representatives to take action to stop what group members described as a genocide.
At the vigil, students circled around a chalked silhouette of the African country to read aloud Sudanese refugees' testimonies about the rape and violence they have experienced at the hands of the Sudanese government and the government-backed Janjaweed milita. They also read testimonies from survivors of the Rwandan genocide and the Holocaust.
Eleonora Sharef '07, who helped set up the vigil, urged those who attended to spread the word across the campus. "We think that with pressure from the U.S. something can change," Sharef said. "Spread the word about this to your friends."