Around Africa
August-September 2004 
A Publication of the Africa Faith and Justice Network
 

TABLE OF CONTENTS
Editorial
AFJN Board Chair Arrested
Darfur Violence
The World Gender War Must End
AFJN on the Hill
Millennium Challenge Corporation
Recent AFJN Sign Ons


  

DEAR AFJN MEMBERS & FRIENDS:
Ten years ago a drama was unfolding before our eyes in Rwanda. More than ½ million people were slaughtered. The same, and at a potentially greater scale, is taking place today, before our eyes, in Darfur, Sudan.

 

However, there are two major distinctions between Rwanda and Darfur. The first is that the US Congress calls Darfur “genocide.” Notwithstanding, Darfur lacks the equivalent of the Rwandan Patriotic Front to intervene and help stop the killing. The second difference is the change in the world economy. The US is increasing its military presence in Africa to protect its interests, oil in particular, rather than to protect Africans against themselves in a situation like Darfur.

Neither China nor Russia wants the international community to interfere in their affairs in Tibet and Chechnya, and they are unwilling to support sanctions against Sudan at the UN. More importantly, they don't want to jeopardize their oil contracts in Sudan. Darfur is caught in the web of the globalizing economy. Nations now compete more by technological innovations and for access to strategic raw materials.

 

China is a perfect illustration of such a policy in Africa. Last year, for example, it was the top buyer of cement in world, importing 55% of global production. Additionally it buys coal (40%), steel (25%), nickel (25%), and aluminum (14%). It was also the second largest importer of oil (after the US). By 2030, China's consumption of energy will equate that of today's Japan and US' combined. At that rhythm, the alternative to massive oil imports would be to double its nuclear energy capacity, building two nuclear plants per year for the next 16 years. Rejection of that alternative implies human suffering in Darfur and other places.

 

In this global economy, there are only two types of players -- key players and role players. Anything in-between is expendable.

 

Marcel Kitissou, Ph.D
AFJN Executive Director
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On 20 August 2004 Fr. Phil Reed, M.Afr., chair of AFJN's Board, was arrested in front of the Sudan Embassy in Washington, DC protesting the genocidal actions perpetrated by the Khartoum government in Darfur, Western Sudan. Below is an abridged version of the statement he made at the time of his arrest.

 

On August 20, 1988 when I was ordained a priest in the Society of Missionaries of Africa I chose as theme Jesus' words, “I have come that they may have life, life in all its fullness.” That same theme compels me to act on behalf of people in Sudan whose lives are threatened by ethnic cleansing, rape, disease, hunger and, as the US Congress says, genocide.

 

There is no more fitting way for this priest to celebrate his anniversary of ordination than to align himself with those who, like Jesus, unjustly suffer the wrath of oppressors. I daily offer the Eucharist, which recalls Jesus' suffering, death and resurrection. I believe that death will not have the final word. There can be life after this time of death both for the people and for the government of Sudan.

 

Being arrested and going to jail is a small price to pay for ways I have contributed to evil in the world, 'in my thoughts and in my words, in what I have done and in what I have failed to do.' I shall do penance and ask for a change of heart for those perpetrating monstrous evil on the people of Darfur.

 

Over one million people are displaced in Sudan while one hundred and eighty thousand more have sought refuge in Chad. Fifty thousand civilians have been killed since February 2003. On top of attacks by the Janjaweed militias, disease, food insecurity and inadequate support for food relief threaten the population.

I join the U.S. Catholic Bishops and Catholic Relief Services in calling upon the Government of Sudan to ensure the security of the civilians, disarm the militias and grant freedom of movement to aid workers. We ask the U.S. government to prioritize Sudan, increase our humanitarian response, and rapidly fund UN appeals beyond the current 40 percent. The U.S. should reinforce the international monitoring team led by the African Union, strengthening it to include protection of civilians. The U.S. should work for the immediate deployment of UN human rights monitors in Darfur and for the investigation of violations of human rights and international humanitarian law. If this is done without delay many lives will be saved and that “fullness of life” can be more than a theme.

 

Go to AFJN Current Issues for the full text of Fr. Reed's statement.

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DARFUR VIOLENCE
By Cathy Majtenyi


The August 30 deadline that the United Nations' Security Council gave to Khartoum to show the world that the Sudanese government can stop warring parties in the volatile Darfur region of western Sudan from raping, kidnapping, displacing, or killing civilians has passed.

 

By that date the government was supposed to have disarmed the Janjaweed, a militia group that human rights groups say is supported by the government and is primarily responsible for the atrocities of the war, which has killed thousands of people and displaced an estimated 1.2 million people since its inception in February 2003.

 

The UN resolution that gave the deadline also required Khartoum to arrest and bring to justice human rights violators, and to allow for safe passage of humanitarian relief to those affected by the war.

If the government failed to take action by that point, it could face sanctions and other punitive measures, said the resolution.

 

The Sudanese government has vehemently denied supporting the Janjaweed or committing any other wrongs in Darfur.

 

But Minister of Justice Ali Mohammed Osman Yassin did publicly admit that militia fighters allied to the government have committed human rights abuses, including rape, and even handed a list of 30 suspects to the United Nations Human Rights Commission's international observer, Emanuel Akoy.

 

"The government does not deny that human rights abuses occur and it will not protect those who commit them," Khartoum dailies quoted Minister Yassin as saying.

Talks between Khartoum and Darfur's two main rebels groups, the Sudan Liberation Movement/Army, and the Justice and Equality Movement, sponsored by the African Union (AU), began in Lagos on 23 August. Several rounds of talks have been attempted ever since the government and rebel groups signed a ceasefire agreement in Chad's capital N'Djamena in April.

 

Rebels have demanded that Khartoum implement what they signed in N'Djamena: neutralize the Janjaweed militias and allow the international community to assist people with humanitarian aid in an unobstructed fashion.

 

An analyst with the think-tank International Crisis Group, David Mozersky, said. "I don't think that there can be substantial progress on the political processes until the government begins to show that it is able or willing to implement its earlier commitments, and the key one in that category is the disarmament and neutralizing the Janjaweed."

 

At the moment, a small contingent of African Union observers is on the ground, ensuring all sides stick to the April agreement. The Sudanese government has allowed the African Union to send 150 Rwandan soldiers and 150 Nigerians to protect the ceasefire monitors. On 19 August the Nigerian senate approved President Olusegun Obasanjo's request to contribute up to 1,500 troops to the AU peacekeeping mission.

Meanwhile, the people of Darfur continue to suffer brutal attacks, rapes, and killings, primarily at the hands of the Janjaweed. The United Nations calls Darfur the "world's worst humanitarian crisis." An August 20 report in The Guardian newspaper gives details of attacks by the Janjaweed on 11 villages from August 2 to 10 and talks about the suffering of those who have fled to refugee camps in neighboring Chad.

 

"The refugees have arrived in the camps suffering from malnutrition and dehydration, and without any of their possessions," the Guardian quoted Lino Bordin, deputy representative of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees in Chad, as saying. "They came with nothing. When the Janjaweed arrived, they stole everything from the houses."

 

Cathy Majtenyi is a correspondent for AFJN in East Africa
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Although a lot of progress is still to be made, women are vigorously and successfully pursuing their nonviolent social change agenda in industrial democracies. However, in many forms, the global gender war continues.

 

In China, as a result of the 1978 “one child policy,” and after two decades of selective abortion, the 2000 census uncovered an anti-female trend in that for every 117 boys there are 104 girls, threatening China with the status of a “nation of bachelors” in the future (Christian Science Monitor, 9/3/04). The ordinary split is 104 boys for 100 girls. China's trend can be observed at other places. In Punjab, India, the split is 126 boys for 100 girls. The same phenomenon is appearing in the Caucasus, Eastern Europe and Latin America.

 

Western Europe has taken another direction: domestic violence against women -- the first cause of disability and death for women between 16 and 44, before traffic accidents and cancer (Le Monde Diplomatic, July 2004). On average, between a quarter and half of women are affected. In Portugal fifty two percent of women reported having been victims of violence at the hand of husbands or boyfriends. In Germany, every 4 days three women are murdered by men with whom they live, i.e., 300 per year; in the United Kingdom, a woman dies from the same cause every 3 days. In Spain, one woman is assassinated every 4 days, i.e., close to 100 per year. In France it is one woman every 5 days, of which a third are stabbed, a third shot, twenty percent strangled and ten percent beaten to death. In general, 600 women in EU countries are murdered in situations of domestic violence, almost 2 per day.

 

More disturbing, these crimes occur mainly in the middle class. For example, university-educated men commit almost fifty percent of domestic violence crime. In France, white-collar workers are responsible for sixty-seven percent, medical professionals for twenty-five percent, and armed forces and law enforcement officers for most of the rest. This phenomenon is not occurring mainly in the perceived “macho” countries of Southern Europe. Worth noticing are Romania, where for a million people, 12.62 women are murdered by their male partners per year, Finland (8.65), Norway (6.58), Luxembourg (5.56), Denmark (5.42), Sweden (4.59). Italy, Spain and Ireland are affected but to a lesser degree.

 

This gender war at a global scale but with local twists has its own features in Africa. There is a lot of talk about how men control African women's lives with the result that women are unable to negotiate sexual relationships in order to control the spread of HIV/AIDS. Moreover, what is accepted as normal in times of peace is exaggerated in times of war. From the Great Lakes region to Sudan to West African conflicts, women are deliberately targeted for rape and other forms of humiliation. Usually, when foreign powers intervene in those conflicts, they make issues more complicated by bringing their own values. One area of where they have difficulty dealing with African belligerents is the protection of women.

 

Because violence against women takes different forms at different places, specific national laws are needed. In addition, the international community must set standards and create special international legal mechanisms to protect women all over the world.

Marcel Kitissou is Executive Director at AFJN
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AFJN ON THE HILL
By Larry J. Goodwin


In June AFJN played a pivotal role in organizing two congressional briefings related to key issues on its agenda.

 

Northern Uganda Crisis AFJN is a principal member of the Catholic Task Force on Africa (CTFA), a coalition of some fifteen NGOs that focus attention on U.S. policy toward Africa and collaborate on joint advocacy actions. On 16 June 2004, CTFA organized a Capitol Hill briefing on the crisis in Northern Uganda for congressional staffers, NGOs and the media. Rep. Betty McCollum (D-MN-04), a close ally on African and social justice issues, hosted the briefing and promoted it widely among her House colleagues.

 

The briefing panel included Archbishop John Baptist Odama of Gulu, northern Uganda, who chairs the Acholi Religious Leaders' Peace Initiative, an internationally recognized and respected voice on the crisis in northern Uganda. Adotei Akwei, Senior Advocacy Director for Africa at Amnesty International, joined the Archbishop for the discussion, which was moderated by Trish Katyoka of Catholic Relief Services.

Archbishop Odama spoke movingly of the dire situation in the northern part of the country, characterized by long-standing violence wreaked on the local population by the conflict between the government and the rebel Lord's Resistance Army (LRA). The LRA has terrorized the north for years, murdering civilians and abducting children to serve as soldiers and, in the case of girls, sex slaves to the rebels. Hundreds of children walk for miles each night to local towns to sleep in church compounds, alleyways and on the streets in order to avoid capture by the LRA.

 

Among the Archbishop's strongest statements was his conviction that there is no military solution to the crisis. Steps must be taken to return and rehabilitate the children forced to serve as soldiers with the rebels. The government also must devise incentives to defuse the rebellion, including taking a much greater interest in the wellbeing of the northern communities, which historically have often been at odds with southern ethnic groups.

 

Adotei Akwei reinforced the Archbishop's contention that the military cannot offer a solution. He spoke of the need for the U.S., a strong supporter of the current Ugandan government, to encourage initiatives to reach out to northern communities with development, health and education programs as a way to build trust and cooperation. In the long-term there will never be peace without better mutual understanding and collaboration. Both the Archbishop and Mr. Akwei lifted up the link between what is happening in northern Uganda and the situation in southern Sudan, where Khartoum backs the LRA while Uganda aids the SPLA.

 

Water as a fundamental human right On 29 June 2004, Rep. Janice Schakowsky (D-IL-09) hosted a Capitol Hill briefing on the critical issue of water as a fundamental human right. AFJN and Public Citizen's Water for All campaign worked closely with Rep. Schakowsky to craft a House resolution on the right to water for drinking and sanitation [Around Africa, June/July 2004, pg. 6]. The “Water for the World” resolution (H. Con. Res. 468) was introduced on 25 June 2004.

 

On the briefing panel were Marcel Kitissou, AFJN's Executive Director, Ruth Caplan of the Sierra Club, Beatrice Edwards of Public Services International, and Sharon Zayac, OP, of the United Nations Religious Orders Partnership. Sr. Zayac offered an insightful theological reflection on ecology, water and the integral relationship between human beings and all of nature. Ms. Caplan and Ms. Edwards spoke to the public policy dimensions of the issue. Dr. Kitissou analyzed the relationship between water and armed conflict, notably in Africa -- a critical point often overlooked by policymakers and the mainstream media.

 

AFJN members can strongly reinforce our presence on Capitol Hill by getting their members of Congress to co-sponsor H. Con. Res. 468, attending the October annual membership meeting, and taking part in Ecumenical Advocacy Days in March 2005. See our web site for details.

 

Larry J. Goodwin is Associate Director at AFJN
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Structures have been put in place since the President signed the Millennium Challenge Act (MCA) in January 2004. The MCA is a pledge to increase US bilateral development aid by 50% and to channel the new funds to poor countries that show good governance, invest in their people and adopt economic policies that promote enterprise and entrepreneurship. In the past eight months the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) received funding, a CEO was and outside directors were appointed, staff were recruited, and "eligible countries" selected and invited to submit proposals for FY2004 funding. Actual disbursement of aid to the world's poor, however, is still a way off.

 

Congress appropriated $1b for FY2004. The administration requested $2.5b for FY2005 but in July the House reduced this by half to $1.25b because of budget constraints. The Senate has yet to act on the request. This is a slower start than the administration's earlier projections of $1.7b in 2004 and $3.3b for 2005, and the President's promise that MCA aid would reach $5b per year by FY2006. The MCC expanded its staff from seven to 42 and is expected to grow to 100 in 2005.

 

The Senate confirmed the President's appointee, Paul Applegarth, as CEO of the corporation. Applegarth is widely experienced in development and finance. He spent nearly a decade at the World Bank and another on Wall Street working for Bank of America and American Express (Lehman Brothers). He recently was managing director of Emerging Markets Partnership and chief operating officer of Emerging African Infrastructure Fund, a British government initiative that combines public and private money for projects in sub-Sahara Africa.

 

The Senate also confirmed two non-government directors to the MCC Board: Christine Todd Whitman and Kenneth Hackett. Whitman previously served as Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency and as Governor of New Jersey. Hackett is President of Catholic Relief Services with operations in over 90 countries. Hackett, in his long career at CRS, worked in Kenya, Ghana and Sierra Leone and served as regional director for Africa. These two join the Secretary of State, Secretary of the Treasury, US Trade Representative, USAID Administrator and the CEO as board members. The President has yet to nominate two additional outside directors to complete the board.

 

After announcing 75 "candidate countries" from among the world's poorest, and the criteria used to measure their relative policy performance, the MCC Board selected 16 "eligible countries" for FY2004 funding. Eight of the "eligible countries" were African: Benin, Cape Verde, Ghana, Lesotho, Madagascar, Mali, Mozambique and Senegal. The average per capita income of these African countries is $449 per year and their combined population is 85 million.

 

MCC teams visited all "eligible countries" to invite proposals and have in-depth discussions on the criteria to be used in evaluating their proposals (poverty reduction, sustained economic growth, widespread in-country consultations and commitment to policy reform). The teams met with top government officials, civic and business leaders, members of the public and international donors.

 

The next step is for each "eligible country" to submit a proposal for MCC funding. Proposals must demonstrate: poverty reduction, sustainable growth, country ownership, broad consultation within society and how priorities were determined. After discussion and negotiation, the MCC and the country may enter into a "compact," an agreement between the MCC and the country that states the objectives of the country's program and plans for implementing and monitoring and maintaining fiscal accountability. Funds will be distributed periodically over the term of the compact based on performance and accountability.

 

Because the process is both complicated and new to both the MCC and the countries, predicting when the first compacts will be completed is difficult.

Peter Jacxsens is a volunteer at AFJN
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09 January 2004 - Letter to South African Parliamentarians signed by over 200 international organizations opposing increased corporate control of water for drinking and sanitation. In more and more communities around the world - as 'cost recovery' or market based approaches to managing public utilities become widespread - people must pay for water up front, even at communal standpipes. Pre-paid water meters are prevalent in South Africa, where they are manufactured and exported abroad.

 

10 February 2004 - Letter to the World Bank President urging adoption of the Extractive Industries Review (EIR). This evaluation of the development impacts of the World Bank's support for oil, mining, and gas projects recommended that the WB adopt significant reforms, including ceasing to finance coal projects worldwide and phasing out support for oil production by 2008, refusing to support extractive industry projects in situations characterized by conflict, human rights abuses or poor governance, and strengthening social and environmental policies. The Bank-sponsored review also recommended enhanced human rights protections, prior informed consent for indigenous and project-affected peoples, greater transparency within the World Bank and its activities, and an end to support for destructive mining technologies.

 

02 March 2004 - Letter to House and Senate Budget Committees from religious, humanitarian, human rights and student organizations urging a level of funding for the overall international affairs account large enough to accommodate $5.4 billion to fight AIDS, tuberculosis, and malaria, with at least $1.2 billion for the Global Fund.

 

26 March 2004 - Letter to Ambassador Randall Tobias, Global AIDS Coordinator, from human rights groups, expressing serious concerns about efforts by the Bush administration and the ambassador's office to block the use of affordable generic HIV/AIDS medicines in U.S.-financed programs in poor countries.

 

14 April 2004 - Statement on the humanitarian crisis in Darfur by members of U.S. and international non-profit organizations, calling on the Bush Administration to issue a statement on the Darfur situation, bringing to light the actions of the government in Khartoum responsible for acts of terror against the people of Darfur.

 

15 April 2004 - Letter to the World Food Program Director initiated by African NGOs registering disquiet at the failure of the WFP to guarantee Angola and Sudan the right to choose whether or not to accept genetically modified (GM) food aid, as the WFP is obliged to do.

 

17 April 2004 - Letter circulated by Jubilee USA Network that was delivered to the G-8 leaders at the time of their annual summit in June. The letter called upon the world's most powerful nations to take decisive action to cancel 100% of the debts owed by impoverished nations to the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the World Bank, and other primary creditors, without imposing harmful conditions.

 

27 May 2004 - Letter to the U.S. Trade Representative from several dozen NGOs expressing grave concerns regarding the potential impact of intellectual property provisions in regional and bilateral trade agreements initiated by the United States. These provisions, which exceed international standards for intellectual property protection, threaten to dramatically reduce access to essential medicines for millions of people with life-threatening diseases throughout the developing world.

 

01 June 2004 - Letter to the chair of the House International Relations Committee from international development and human rights NGOs about the severe humanitarian situation in Northern Uganda caused by continued conflict between the Government and the Lord's Resistance Army. The letter urged the committee to swiftly take up S. 2264, "The Northern Uganda Crisis Response Act," which had passed the Senate by unanimous consent.

 

26 June 2004 - Petition circulated by Africa Action calling on the U.S. Secretary of State to recognize the violence in Sudan's Darfur region as constituting genocide and to take aggressive action to stop it.
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