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Archive for June 15th, 2008

Holding Khartoum Accountable

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Eric Reeves argues a strong case:

“The international community fails to heed the warning signs or hold Khartoum accountable

Eric Reeves
June 15, 2008

Despite five years of genocidal counter-insurgency warfare in Darfur, millions among its ravaged civilian population will soon enter a third month receiving only half the necessary food rations from the UN’s World Food Program (WFP). Despite the presence of the world’s largest humanitarian relief operation, the people of Darfur begin the current rainy season with only half the minimum kilocalorie diet necessary to sustain human life. Since the rainy season coincides with the traditional “hunger gap”—the period between spring planting and fall harvest—we may expect to see significant human starvation in the coming months, relentlessly adding to the hundreds of thousands who have already died from ethnically-targeted violence, displacement, and consequent malnutrition and disease. A grim genocide by attrition is set to enter its deadliest phase.

How can this be? And why don’t the alarms sounded by humanitarian organizations compel greater international response? Answers tell us too much about why Darfur’s agony shows no signs of abating.

Since the beginning of May, WFP has delivered to Darfur only half the required food tonnage. The reason is insecurity, as food convoys face the constant threat of violent hijacking. Drivers are beaten, robbed, and too often killed; as a result, they increasingly refuse to make the dangerous trip through the western part of Kordofan Province and especially inside Darfur. The Khartoum regime should of course provide military escorts for these critical, though highly vulnerable, convoys. But the National Islamic Front comprises the very men responsible for orchestrating the Darfur catastrophe. Although they have made soothing noises about protecting food convoys, they have in fact done nothing of significance. Indeed, an ill-advised Darfuri rebel attack on Khartoum’s twin city of Omdurman in May has occasioned redeployment of military force away from the convoy routes. Those waiting for Khartoum to protect the vital corridors for urgently needed increases in foodstocks will wait in vain.

Indeed, Khartoum is much more interested in militarily supporting its proxy force of Chadian rebel groups, reportedly massing for a new assault on N’Djamena and the regime of Idriss Déby. Khartoum holds Déby responsible for supporting the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) attack on Omdurman, and this would appear to be the moment in which the regime means to settle the score.

Just as scandalously, the protection force authorized by UN Security Council Resolution 1769 (July 2007) has failed to improve security in Darfur, or to protect WFP convoys. Despite almost a year of opportunity, and two years of planning by the UN’s Department of Peacekeeping Operations, the UN/African Union “Hybrid” Mission in Darfur (UNAMID) is failing badly—and rapidly losing the confidence of Darfuris. Humanitarian groups repeatedly say in private conversations that they are fearful of being too closely associated with UNAMID because its growing failure is perceived by Darfuri civilians and rebels as a sign that it has implicitly sided with Khartoum. This perception haunted the previous weak, ineffective, and vastly under-manned African Union mission in Darfur, AMIS. In fact, AMIS has simply been “re-hatted” with UN blue helmets (sometimes painted by the soldiers themselves) and slightly augmented to make up what is called “UNAMID.” Last November UN head of peacekeeping Jean-Marie Guehenno asked all too presciently:

“Do we move ahead with the deployment of a force that will not make a difference, that will not have the capability to defend itself and that carries the risk of humiliation of the Security Council and the United Nations and tragic failure for the people of Darfur?”

The question answered itself at the time, and now we are seeing the consequences of this “tragic failure.”

Moreover, the fact that Khartoum has engaged in a widespread and largely successful campaign of obstruction of UNAMID deployment only fuels the deep anger and resentment among the people of Darfur who feel, with justice, that they have been abandoned. Khartoum refuses to allow key battalions of troops, engineers, and special forces to deploy, has deliberately attacked UNAMID forces, and has looked on with indifference as its Janjaweed militia allies recently humiliated a UNAMID patrol in West Darfur, taking the soldiers’ weapons and communications gear. For their part, the militarily capable nations of the world have done painfully little to augment UNAMID, or to confront Khartoum over its obstructionist tactics. As a consequence, UNAMID currently operates without required logistics, without critical transport capacity (especially helicopters and trucks), and without other essential military equipment. Of a planned 26,000 civilian police and troops, only about 9,000 are presently deployed, most AMIS holdovers.

Written by modernityblog

15/06/2008 at 21:44

Posted in Uncategorized

Too Much Wine for Microsoft?

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I should have commented earlier, but it has been a good month on the technology front, at least as long as you are not Microsoft:

Wine is closer to full 1.0 status and will allow the execution of Windows programs from directly within Linux.

Two small and nippy distributions are out: AntiX 7.2 and TinyMe

Firefox 3.0 is getting closer. I have been using the Release Candidates for a couple of months and its improved functionality is very welcome.

However, it is not without problems and the developers are working hard to reduce the memory leakages and crashes in Firefox, let’s hope they make it, take care when using.

The OLPC spectacle caused the production of the EEE PC and now that has many imitators, which in turn has reduced the price of laptop computers, this article discusses many of the issues. Ones to look out for are the EEE 901, Acer’s Aspire One and MSI’s Wind.

Build quality might be an issue with some of the machines, we’ll have to see how many corners were cut, but eventually they’ll probably lead to a perfectly functional laptop for under £200 and allow the wider proliferation of technical expertise, which can’t be bad.

Taken together, cheap and accessible access to computing with small Linux distributions and Wine’s ability to run many (although not all) Windows programs these factors could well lead to the slow death of Microsoft and a new age of increasing technical diversity, which is to be welcomed.

Written by modernityblog

15/06/2008 at 01:54

Posted in Uncategorized