Around Africa
October-November 2004 
A Publication of the Africa Faith and Justice Network
 

TABLE OF CONTENTS
Darfur Crisis
AFJN Operational Plan
AFJN Board Members 2005
AFJN Annual Meeting
AFJN Sudan Resolution
AFJN Liberia Resolution
AFJN on College Campuses


  

THE DARFUR CRISIS IN NATIONAL CONTEXT
by Francis M. Deng

The crisis that has bedeviled Sudan's western region of Darfur since February 2003 has devastated the civilian population. An estimated 70,000 are reported dead, one and a half million displaced, and 200,000 forced to flee across the borders into Chad.

Darfur is the latest of regional conflicts pitting the “Arab” Center against the “African” peripheries. A separatist rebellion in the South from 1955 to 1972 was halted by a peace accord that granted the South regional autonomy. The unilateral abrogation of this agreement led to the rebellion of the Sudan People's Liberation Movement and Army (SPLM/A) in 1983. The declared objective of the SPLM/A was the liberation of the whole country from any discrimination due to race, ethnicity, religion, culture or gender.

This recasting of the objectives of the struggle began to appeal to the non-Arab regions of the North. The Nuba and the Ingassana were the first to join the SPLM/A. The Beja began to organize and assert themselves. In 1992, the Darfurians staged a rebellion that was crushed. The Nubians in the far North have also begun to organize their own movement.

The peace process sponsored by the Inter-Governmental Authority on Development (IGAD) to end the South-North conflict that killed over 2 million people, displaced over 4 million and forced a half million into refuge abroad was close to successful conclusion when Darfur erupted. The impending peace agreement addressed the grievances of the Nuba and the Ingassana and was envisaged also to address the grievances of other marginalized regions, including Darfur.

Providing humanitarian assistance and protection for the civilian population in Darfur must be high on the priority list. A credible cease-fire and serious negotiations are also essential. But high on the list of priorities should also be finalizing the North-South peace with provisions for inclusivity. The resulting Government would be better equipped to resolve peacefully the conflict in Darfur and other regions.

Unless the present regime becomes a partner in the constructive restructuring of the national framework for sharing power and resources, it will almost certainly fall victim eventually to the convergence of regional rebellions from around the country.
________________________
Professor Francis M. Deng is Research Professor of International Politics, Law and Society, Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies, and UN Representative for Internally Displaced People
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AFJN sets clear directions and goals for itself over two-year periods, each corresponding with a new US Congress. As we tend to be event-driven (and there are often unpredictable ones), this “Operational Plan” helps us to strike a balance between emergencies and a longer-term vision.

AFJN is entering its third decade. In the first decade, 1983-1991, the link between security and development was not well established. During the Cold War, attention was overwhelmingly focused on the threat of confrontation between the two military blocs and its subsequent low intensity proxy wars in the Third World. Therefore development policies were largely left to local governments. During AFJN's second decade, 1991-2001 (from the collapse of the Soviet Union to September 11), there was a strong link between development and security, and international and domestic affairs. Promotion of socio-economic programs, and basic human rights and needs, were supported by international institutions and bilateral donors. An appropriate atmosphere for resolving conflict was thus created.

In its third decade, AFJN is confronted with the policy implications of the post-9/11 world. Security concerns and the fight against terrorism predominate. Also, profit making and the scramble for strategic raw materials seem to be the driving forces of international companies and industrial countries. In 1994, the Rwandan genocide was an aberration. In 2004, those who have the power to act seem to be more concerned about treating the government in Khartoum politely than protecting Darfurians against genocide. Human rights and local socio-economic development are, once again, decoupled from international security.

In response to this trend AFJN has crafted its 2005-2006 Operational Plan. Our policy initiatives will focus on two core (and related) issues.

Peace and Security: this program area covers issues pertaining to conflict and conflict resolution. Specific geographic areas will have a major focus -- the Great Lakes Region, the Mano River States, and Sudan. Advocacy work will be directed toward U.S. peacekeeping policies and operations, with hopes of mitigating the effects of counter-terrorism laws and, of special importance, enhancing post-conflict reconstruction and reconciliation.

Water: the human right to safe water is in jeopardy because of increasing pressure on developing countries by International Financial Institutions and trade conditions to privatize services, including water. Denying poor people access to fresh water for drinking and sanitation because it is beyond their affordability is already a major issue in countries like South Africa. Disturbingly, growing demographic pressures on decreasing internationally shared water basins is a source of potential transnational conflict.

This is endear for which we expect strong support and active participation of all our members and friends.
________________________
Marcel Kitissou is Executive Director at AFJN
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The attending AFJN membership at the Annual Meeting approved seven directors for three-year terms beginning in January. One additional director was appointed by his congregation to complete the term of an existing director. It was the first election to AFJN's board for all but one.

AFJN's board now has fifteen directors, an increase of two. It has eight new and seven existing directors. These directors represent fourteen congregations, or over half of the twenty-five congregations with organizational membership.

The new directors are a dedicated and talented group. They have over ninety years service in Africa. They lived and served in Kenya, Tanzania, Ghana, Liberia, Uganda and Nigeria. Today they continue their mission serving the people of Africa through pastoral ministry, mission formation, education and advocacy. The following is a brief introduction of each of the new board members:

Fr. Maurizio Binaghi, a Comboni Missionary, lived and worked among the Maasai in the Southern region of Kenya, and then in Korogocho, a dangerous slum in Nairobi. He now lives and works with the African-American community on Chicago's West Side.

Fr. Norbert Brockman, of the Society of Mary, taught in Kenya and served on the Marist regional council for Eastern Africa. He has published extensively on Africa and authored an award-winning African Biographical Dictionary. He now teaches African courses at St. Mary's University in San Antonio. He is a devotee of African cuisine and known for his chicken yassa. He was appointed to serve the last year of Joseph Lackner's term.

Sr. Maria Hornung, a Medical Mission Sister, is a pharmacist and an educator. She served in Uganda, Kenya, Nigeria and Ghana for twenty-five years. She is currently pursuing graduate studies in inter-religious dialogue at Temple University. She previously served two terms on the AFJN Board.

Fr. Robert Jalbert, a Maryknoll Missionary, served at Maryknoll's Makoko Language School in Musoma, Tanzania and at Umoja Catholic Church in Nairobi, Kenya. Later he served at Christ the King Parish in Nairobi's Kibera slums. Today he directs Maryknoll's mission education and promotion in New York.

Sr. Elizabeth Kolmer, of the Adorers of the Blood of Christ, is the sister of Shirley Kolmer, ASC and cousin of Joel Kolmer, ASC who ministered in Liberia before their deaths during the civil strife there in 1992. She visited her sisters in Liberia and has remained involved in the situation there. Until last year she taught at St. Louis University. She is now retired in St. Louis.

Fr. Michael Moran, of the Society of African Missions, served in Tanzania and Liberia for twenty-one years. He was called upon to evacuate the SMA missionaries during the height of the Liberian civil war and identify the five slain American ASC sisters. He recently headed SMA's Justice & Peace office in Washington, DC and now works at the Society of African Missions in Tenafly, New Jersey.

Fr. Christopher Promis, a Spiritan, began his pastoral service among the Maasai in Tanzania He was also formation director for various programs in Tanzania, Trinidad and the USA. Currently he is the Chaplain at Catholic Relief Services in Baltimore.

Sr. Madeline Therese Wilhoit, of the Congregation of the Holy Cross, taught at Colegio Santa Maria and was a primary school principal in Sao Paulo, Brazil. She worked with Catholic Relief Services in Thailand, Brazil, Lebanon, Israel and Palestine. She lived and ministered in Ghana for the Diocese of Sekondi/Takoradi for fourteen years. Now she directs her congregation's International Services Office.

AFJN welcomes new and returning board members with thankfulness for the important role they play in advancing advocacy. The new board will elect its officers and form its committees at its first meeting on January 14-15 in Washington, D.C.
________________________
Peter Jacxsens is a volunteer at AFJN
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02-03 October 2004 -- Under the theme “Africa: Cost of War, Hope for Peace” AFJN members from over forty congregations gathered in Louisville, KY to set directions and advocacy priorities for the next two years. The situation in Sudan served as a backdrop to what participants enthused was one of AFJN's best annual meetings.

Keynote Address
Bishop Macram Max Gassis, MCCI, of El Obeid Diocese, which includes the Nuba Mountains, Southern Blue Nile and Darfur, gave an impassioned keynote address, sharply criticizing UN Secretary General Kofi Annan for the fruitless tactic of commissioning an endless round of investigations into the Darfur crisis instead of declaring genocide and taking requisite UN action. Speaking compellingly from his long experience of dealing with Khartoum on human rights issues, he blasted the ethnic, religious and economic motivation of the government's extreme aggression against the people of Darfur and the south.

Bishop Gassis, the only Sudanese Catholic bishop to speak Arabic, has been forced into exile by Khartoum but stays connected to his diocese from headquarters in Kenya. He emphasized the link between Khartoum and the conflict in northern Uganda and called on the U.S. to formally petition the UN to exclude Sudan from its current membership on the UN Human Rights Commission.

Bishop Gassis has repeatedly made his views known in numerous meetings with prominent U.S. officials. He backs the view of Catholic Relief Services, endorsed by AFJN, that the number of African Union troops in Darfur should be expanded and given a clear mandate to protect civilians in the region. AFJN has joined CRS in urging the U.S. to provide AU troops with logistical support and to immediately dispatch a high-level U.S. peace envoy to the region.

Workshops
On Saturday, presenters offered participants a series of four workshops. The topics - “Liberia: A Difficult Road to Peace,” “Water and Conflict,” “Water Privatization,” and “The War on Terrorism and Democracy in Africa” - expanded on the theme of the conference by drawing links between conflict, economic/social justice, globalization and peace. The respective workshop leaders - Professor Muna Ndulo from Cornell University, Marcel Kitissou, AFJN Executive Director, Larry Goodwin, AFJN's Associate Director, and Robert Dowd, CSC, of AFJN's Board - offered time for feed-back and discussion, and suggested ways to take action on the topics.

AFJN Annual Award
Following the banquet on Saturday evening, AFJN presented its annual award, which honors people or organizations that have made a significant contribution to social justice in Africa, to the Community of Sant' Egidio. Begun in Rome in 1968, today Sant'Egidio is a movement of lay people with more than 50,000 members in over 70 countries throughout the world, dedicated to evangelization and charity. The community is known among African advocates for its impressive work helping to negotiate peace in Mozambique's civil war. It has recently turned its attention to Sudan. Andrea Bartoli accepted the award for the community. He serves as its representative in New York and shared with AFJN members the history of the community, its guiding spirituality and mission, and its efforts to advance the peace process in Sudan.

For more about the Community of Sant'Egidio, visit the Sant'Egidio Website

AFJN Business Meeting
The business meeting encompassed a number of important items for AFJN's continued effectiveness and viability. The by-laws mandate that AFJN members make decisions on certain key areas related to the organization. The first order of business was to recognize the contributions of out-going directors, some of whom had served for as long as six years on the board. The members gave special thanks to AFJN's board chair, Fr. Phil Reed, M.Afr., who returns to Africa in January.

Board elections - with the aim of giving broader scope to member organizations to be more directly involved in AFJN, the Board of Directors decided to increase the number of board seats as permitted in the by-laws. Therefore rather than elect four new board members from six nominees, the board asked the membership to approve the entire slate of nominees to sit on the board. The motion was approved. See page 2 for the list of new board members.

By-laws - two amendments to AFJN's by-laws were offered by the board and approved by the membership. One concerned the term of appointed board members; the other involved the creation of an AFJN Advisory Board. For the wording of the approved amendments see the AFJN Website.

Operational plan - the membership approved an AFJN operational plan (OP) for 2005-2006. Formulated every two years to correspond with each new 2-year congressional term, the OP for the upcoming 109th Congress, which will take office in January, places primary focus on:
1. Peace and Security - notably in the Great Lakes region, the Mano River states, and Sudan. It will also address the effects of U.S. counter-terrorism policies on Africa and the role U.S. military training programs play in Africa.
2. “Seeds and Water” - the Africa Grassroots Response Initiative (GRI) will continue to address African farmers' rights, still critically at risk in global and regional trade negotiations. Combined with that, GRI addresses water as a human right and agricultural trade as key components of the project.
3. NEPAD and MCA - AFJN will continue to monitor developments in the “New Partnership for Africa's Development” (NEPAD), initiated by African governments, and the Millennium Challenge Account (MCA), a new U.S. government approach to development assistance. For the full text of the 2005-2006 Operational Plan see AFJN Website.

Staff Report - staff shared the work they had done this year around peace and security, economic and trade justice, and human rights. The report referenced published articles, leadership on congressional resolutions, collaborative efforts with coalitions and NGO partner organizations, and a major role in organizing the 2004 Ecumenical Advocacy Days event. For the full text of the staff report see the AFJN Website.

Finances - Sr. Clarita Hanson, MMS, board Secretary/Treasurer, reported on both the 2003 Annual Report and the most recent financial statement. She explained that income and expenses hove close to the budget in 2004 and that, currently, AFJN is running a slight surplus. However, the long-term financial picture sees AFJN skirting the edge of its resources. She emphasized the need for all member organizations and individuals to seriously examine ways to enhance support for AFJN. All members received the Annual Report and financial statement in the pre-annual meeting packet.

Membership Initiatives - members adopted two resolutions that addressed the current situations in Sudan and Liberia. Both resolutions will be sent to members of Congress and the administration. See the full text of the resolutions on pages 6 and 7.

AFJN also invited members to sign on to a letter drafted by the Catholic Task Force on Africa, of which AFJN is an active member, addressed to key people in Congress and the administration. The letter supports Catholic Relief Services' call to the U.S. to support more African Union troops in Darfur with a mandate to protect civilians in the region.

Finally, AFJN members were buoyed by the presence of four students from Notre Dame, who took an active and welcome part in the annual meeting. Fr. Bob Dowd, CSC, from AFJN's board and a ND faculty member, has initiated an AFJN chapter on campus. As it expands and gains experience, he and the students would like to be in touch with others interested in starting AFJN campus chapters. Contact Fr. Dowd at dowd.9@nd.edu. The AFJN student chapter website is AFJN-ND
________________________
Larry J. Goodwin is Associate Director at AFJN
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The following resolution was unanimously adopted by AFJN at its Annual Meeting, held in Louisville, KY from 02-03 October, 2004. It will be communicated to the U.S. Congress.

To call upon the US Government, the United Nations and the international community to exert their full influence to halt categorically and immediately the genocidal killings, rapes, and other forms of violence and abuse of fundamental human rights being inflicted upon the peoples of sub-Saharan origin in the Darfur region of Sudan.

Whereas, the peoples of sub-Saharan origin living in the Darfur region and other parts of Sudan, such as Malakal district, are threatened by a reign of terror characterized by genocide, rape, slavery, disease, hunger, expulsion from homes and land, and destruction of property, including water sources; Whereas, over one million people are displaced in Sudan, 180,000 more have sought refuge in eastern Chad, and tens of thousands of civilians have been killed since February 2003;

Whereas, according to USAID, even if the war were to stop immediately, as many as 100,000 people in Darfur will likely die in the coming months due to the desperate humanitarian situation;

Whereas, repeated attacks on civilians by Government of Sudan military and its proxy forces, notably the Janjaweed militias, and the use of systematic and indiscriminate aerial bombardments and ground attacks on unarmed civilians, essentially targeting the Zaghawas, Masaalit, and Furs tribes, have led to massive physical and emotional suffering, disease and starvation;

Whereas, more than three million people have been affected by the violence in the region; Whereas, women and children, who make up ninety percent or more of the populations in the region's refugee camps, continue to be attacked by government sponsored militias;

Now, therefore, be it Resolved by the Africa Faith and Justice Network, convened at their 2004 Annual General Meeting, that AFJN:

1. Calls on the Government of Sudan to ensure the security of the civilian population of Darfur, disarm the militias and grant freedom of movement to aid workers;
2. Urges the Bush Administration to release immediately the $95 million for Darfur and Chad in urgent humanitarian aid approved by Congress;
3. Calls on the United States government and the international community to support the expansion of the mandate of the African Union in Darfur to include protection of innocent civilians, those inside and those outside refugee camps, by whatever means necessary within the framework of the U.N. Chapter VII mandate;
4. Calls on the United States and other nations to provide logistical support for the distribution of humanitarian assistance and airlifts to regions cut off from such assistance because of seasonal rains;
5. Urges that only sanctions on Khartoum that might be focused with great accuracy be considered, such as travel bans and the freezing of assets of specific individuals. Sanctions that are much broader would likely hurt the very people they are intended to help, as authoritarian governments are very adept at foisting the costs of sanctions off on the poorest and most vulnerable;
6. Recommends that Sudan be maintained on the list of terrorist states until otherwise certified by the Department of State;
7. Urges the US government to fully support the Inter-Governmental Authority on Development's (IGAD) peace process between the north and the south and other marginalized areas (Nuba Mountains, South Blue Nile), following the signing of a comprehensive framework for peace on 26 May 2004;
8. Joins Catholic Relief Services in requesting the immediate appointment of a new Presidential Envoy for Peace in Sudan to act as a catalyst for peace in Darfur, as well as a final North-South accord that addresses the conflict in Northern Uganda;
9. Calls on the African Union to exclude Sudan from all African Union organs, particularly its Human Rights Commission;
10. Calls on the U.S. government to formally petition the UN to exclude the Sudan from membership on the UN Human Rights Commission.
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The following resolution was unanimously adopted by AFJN at its Annual Meeting, held in Louisville, KY from 02-03 October, 2004. It will be communicated to the U.S. Congress.

To call upon the US Government, the United Nations and the international community to consolidate Liberia's post-conflict reconciliation and reconstruction efforts.

Whereas, for nearly 25 years Liberia has been plagued with unrest, resulting in the deaths of over 200,000 people, displacing one million others, and destroying the economic infrastructure of the country;

Whereas, the rebel Movement for Democracy in Liberia (MODEL) still controls three counties in the southeast and LURD (Liberians United for Reconciliation and Democracy) continues to move freely in Loffa county, the bread basket of Liberia;

Whereas, the economy is in shambles and unemployment is over 90 percent;

Whereas, Monrovia is the only capital city in the world without electricity and running water;

Whereas, over 500,000 Liberian citizens live in camps for displaced people and over 100,000 others reside as refugees in neighboring West African countries;

Whereas, the peace accord of August 2003 led to power sharing among previous warring parties;

Whereas, at present 13,500 UN peace keepers are patrolling the main roads in major towns and cities while remnants of the LURD and MODEL rebel forces continue to harass people and pillage homes;

Whereas, in February 2004 the international community pledged $520 million for reconstruction but so far there is little evidence of it;

Whereas, the Liberian situation threatens peace and stability in neighboring Cote d'Ivoire, Guinea and Sierra Leone;

Now, therefore, be it
Resolved by the Africa Faith and Justice Network, convened at their 2004 Annual General meeting, that AFJN:

1. Urges the US and the international community to ensure Liberians' access to adequate food, clean water, basic public utilities, shelter and health care to meet immediate basic needs;
2. Calls on the US and the international community to work with present Liberian government structures to help Liberia with voter registration;
3. Asks for continuing efforts to disarm and rehabilitate child soldiers;
4. Advocates for retraining Liberia's armed forces and law enforcement personnel;
5. Supports the employment of Liberians by the UN and international NGOs, and the financing of economically sound, quick impact projects. US $6 million per year will ensure paying teachers' salaries and allow children to return to tuition free schools;
6. Recommends the improvement of rural roads to improve the transportation system, the provision of seeds and hand-held farm tools to increase the food supply, and appropriate water catchment systems for irrigation;
7. Insists that women be mainstreamed into peace negotiations and post-conflict reconstruction because they are the main victims of war and the most resourceful agents of reconciliation and reconstruction.
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On 19 October 2004 I was at Cornell University, thinking of ways to create a constituency for Africa among students on campus beyond the well-known Institute for African Development (IAD) and the Africana Studies and Research Center (ASRC). Upon my arrival at Cornell I received a call a call from IAD, inviting me to a panel discussion on Darfur, Sudan co-organized by ASRC and the Einaudi Center for International Studies.

The speakers, Dr. Ali-Dinar from the University of Pennsylvania (a Sudanese), Professor Muna Ndulo, Director of IAD, and Professor Salah Hassan, Acting Director of ASRC (also of Sudanese origin), spoke of the roots of the conflict in Sudan, the country's national identity crisis, and the Darfur genocide in the context of international law.

The great number of students and faculty present there at the end of a busy day testified to the interest of the campus community in Africa. On three walkways leading to the building where the event was taking place, students displayed dozens of signs and pictures featuring atrocities in Darfur.

A vibrant AFJN chapter already exists at Notre Dame University and includes Saint Mary's and Holy Cross Colleges. Four students from the chapter actively participated in our recent annual meeting, injecting their energy and enthusiasm into the proceedings. Following the annual meeting they organized a vigil on campus for the people of Darfur.

Together with Fr. Robert Dowd of AFJN's board, their campus advisor, the students would like to share their experience with other campuses interested in starting an AFJN chapter. To get in touch with the Notre Dame group, please contact Professor Robert Dowd, CSC, at 574-631-4454, or E-mail Rev. Robert Dowd at Notre Dame. The AFJN student chapter website is AFJN-ND
________________________
Marcel Kitissou is Executive Director at AFJN
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