Thursday, August 26, 2004

Darfur still on the agenda

The European Commission has announced that it will donate another 20 million euros to Darfur. This sounds very good but there seems to be no assurance that that money will be monitored.

So far numerous officials have gone into the area only to come back with ever more terrible stories of what is going on. Are we actually doing the right things by sending in commissions, trying to negotiate and sending in aid that may or may not be reaching those who need it?

Poul Nielsen, Commissioner for Humanitarian Aid and Development (maybe the two should be split rather than assume that development can come only through aid) is the latest official to come back with horror stories and a nice line in deadpan delivery:
"Continuing violence in the region has claimed the lives of thousands of people, and is seriously hampering the delivery of humanitarian aid."
15 million euros will will be used to support the World Food Programme and 5 million will go to various aid agencies. With this amount, the EU will have given 104 million euros since the beginning of the year. Without seeming too callous, it may be time to ask what has been achieved by that rather large sum of money.

Many of the funds have been and will be channelled through the EC Office of Humanitarian Aid (ECHO) in the Sudanese capital. It is, as is becoming very clear indeed, the Sudanese government that is preventing proper administration of aid in the province. Peter Holdsworth of ECHO, in charge of operations in Sudan has said, in what must rank as one of the biggest understatements of the year:
“The situation is still not optimistic from a humanitarian point of view.”
Poul Nielsen, on the other hand, not being on the ground, has called on all armed groups “to bring the violence to an end once and for all”. Seems fair to me. I wonder why they don't listen.

The WFP has said that despite Sudanese government claims, there is not enough food in Darfur but the organization was confident that they would be able to get sufficient supplies in. The whole thing is such a mess, one does not know what to believe. If the WFP is still only confident it can get supplies in, what has it been doing so far and what happened to all the funds that have gone to it? If it has not been able to get the food in, where is it and what makes anybody think the future will be different?

The EU has also donated 400,000 euros to support the peace process between the Sudanese government and the various rebel factions and 12 million euros to the African Union observer mission that is monitoring the April 8 ceasefire signed by the Sudanese government and the Darfur rebels. Could we, at least, have an account of that money? After all, nobody can pretend that it has achieved the desired aim.

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