The American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), publisher of the journal Science, has teamed up with Amnesty International for a project to monitor the Darfur conflict by satellite. From Medical News Today, June 10:
A pioneering AAAS program that provides technical expertise to human rights groups is helping Amnesty International USA with a new online effort to monitor threatened settlements in the war-torn Darfur region of Sudan and provide evidence of destroyed villages.
Former Liberian president Charles Taylor refused to attend the opening of his trial at The Hague for war crimes both in his own country and Sierra Leone, where he is accused of supporting a brutal guerilla movement. In a letter, read by attorney Karim Khan, Taylor said: "I am driven to conclude that I will not receive a fair trial before the Special Court at this time and I must decline to attend hearings... I cannot take part in this charade that does injustice to the people of Liberia and the people of Sierra Leone."
A militant Islamist group, the Mujahedeen Youth Movement, has claimed responsibility for a suicide attack against the home of Somali Prime Minister Ali Mohamed Gedi at the weekend, which killed five soldiers and two civilians. Several hours after the announcement, a would-be suicide bomber was shot dead by Ethiopian soldiers at the Ethiopian forces' headquarters in Mogadishu. [Reuters, June 4]
Police stormed impoversihed Nairobi neighborhoods June 4 in search of Mungiki militants accused in a string of beheadings—killing 22 suspects and arresting 100 in overnight gun-battles. The raids came after two police officers were shot dead in the Kenyan capital's Mathare district. The Mungiki cult is suspected in the deaths of at least 18 people in the past three months, including 10 found mutilated or beheaded since May. The latest beheadings were overnight, the same time as the Nairobi gunbattles, in Muranga, 40 miles north of the capital.
A telling story in the June 2 New York Times, "Advocacy Group's Publicity Campaign on Darfur Angers Relief Organizations," reveals a rift between the Save Darfur Coalition and the aid agencies actually on the ground in Darfur. Save Darfur takes a hard line, calling for UN intervention, which has prompted the Sudanese regime to turn up the heat on aid workers. This is a real dilemma. Are the Save Darfur folks naive do-gooders—or, worse, cynical exploiters of the Darfur genocide with hidden agendas—who are (even if unwittingly) actually making things worse by interfering with relief efforts? Or are the relief organizations being coopted by the Sudan regime and (even if unwittingly) allowing the genocide to continue by opposing intervention? Via the exile-based Sudan Tribune, links and emphasis added:
Ethiopian Foreign Minister Seyoum Mesfin, in a recent visit to Mogadishu, refused to give a date for Ethiopian troops to withdraw from Somalia, saying Somalia's transition government and civil society leaders had asked Ethiopia not to abandon the Somali people. (Shabeelle Media Network, May 29) Now reports are mounting that Somali troops are actually headed for Ethiopia. The pro-Islamist Somali website Somaaljecel reports that Somalia's President Abdullahi Yusuf Ahmed, his Prime Minister Ali Mohamed Gedi, and Ethiopian Foreign Minister Mesfin agreed in talks at Mogadishu "that it is the interim Somali government's turn to help the Ethiopian government, which is planning to go into war with Eritrea soon." (Somaaljecel, May 26)
The Fight for Inclusion
by Gumisai Mutume, Africa Renewal
Ethiopian troops opened fire and killed five civilian bystanders May 30 after a land mine exploded as their convoy passed through the center of a western Somali town of Belet Weyne. (AP, May 30) As the transition government backed by Ethiopian and African Union troops struggle too impose authority on the country, NATO is said to be studying a request from the AU to provide air transport for its forces in Somalia. At present the AU force is made up of just 1,600 Ugandan troops. (Reuters, May 30)