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Weekly News Brief: 05.04.09 – 05.10.09

In this week’s issue: The government of Sudan announces its intentions to allow new aid groups into the country but obstructs a major Darfur civil society conference, tensions mount in the run-up to 2010 elections in Burma, and Congolese lawmakers pass a controversial amnesty law

Featured: Humanitarian Relief blogger Michael Kleinman presents a three-part series on the challenges facing aid agencies expelled from Darfur and those still in the region.

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In a very troubling move this week, Mandate Darfur was forced to cancel its Civil Society Conference, aimed at bringing peace to Darfur. According to the Mo Ibrahim Foundation, one of the conference’s major backers, Darfuri delegates faced discrimination from GoS, having their passports revoked and licenses suspended.

On Thursday, GoS announced that it would begin inviting new NGOs into Darfur would allow those remaining to "expand their operations." Khartoum indicated that it would consider applications from foreign aid organizations, including American NGOs, but that it would not reconsider the 16 aid groups that were expelled from the country at the beginning of March. While this appears to be a positive development, getting aid back into Darfur is likely to be difficult.

The UN has announced that it is not as prepared as it would like to be for Darfur’s rainy season.The World Food Programme has distributed emergency rations, and other aid groups are working hard to fill the gaps left since March. Humanitarian Relief, part of has an interesting three-piece article about the complications caused by relief suspension. 

Recent clashes between the Justice and Equality Movement and the Sudanese army in Northern Darfur have forced over 100 people to flee. Despite this clash and with the help of US Special Envoy Scott Gration, JEM and the GoS have resumed peace negotiations in Doha, Qatar. 

Tensions between Chad and Sudan are growing, with both continuing to accuse the each other of sponsoring rebels in the other country.  Chad has threatened to cut ties with both Sudan and the AU over the matter. 

Tribal conflicts in South Sudan have not yet been resolved, and continue to worry many.  These clashes are a growing threat to Sudan’s national security as they continue to worsen, and in the worst case could lead to another war

In addition to census concerns reported earlier, the GoS has announced its intention to appoint Ahmed Haroun, wanted by the ICC for war crimes, to a governorship in Sudan’s Kordofan province, on the border with South Sudan. 

A UNAMID peacekeeper was killed by gunmen outside Nyala during a carjacking. The unnamed peacekeeper is the 15th to be killed since the beginning of 2008. 

For medical reasons, Mia Farrow was forced to end her hunger fast after 12 days. Sir Richard Branson has taken over for her and both continue to raise awareness of the genocide in Darfur.


Pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi, who is under house arrest, is reportedly suffering bad health. The NLD Reports that she has not been eating for at least four days, is dehydrated and suffering from low blood pressure. The governement recently arrested her physician, although the reason for this is undisclosed. To complicate these matters, an American allegedly broke into Suu Kyi’s compound and was caught by the military after spending two days there. Suu Kyi’s sentence is supposed to be up by the end of May, but it is not clear at this point what the intentions of the government are.    

The IMF has issued a report speculating that Burma’s economy will continue into recession after the devastation of cyclone Nargis and the print money that the government, still clinging to socialist policies, has been infusing into the market to pay for the new capital.   

More resistance groups are preparing for a battle with the government as elections in 2010 draw closer under the new Constitution. The SPDC has asked the border insurgent groups who run areas of the country under a certain level of autonomy to disarm. So far, many have refused

Democratic Republic of Congo

MONUC announced earlier this week that it has freed 23 child soldiers from integrating into the Congolese army, the FARDC. The rebel group CNDP has begun an integration process with the FARDC after signing the peace deal with the DRC government in late March.

This peace accord had called for the establishment of the CNDP as an official political party in the Congo and the passing of an amnesty law for former rebels. The rebels met with the government this past week to discuss the implementation of their agreement.

Lawmakers passed the controversial law on Wednesday, issuing amnesty for nearly two dozen illegal armed groups in the east. The amnesty will forgive acts of war committed since 2003 but will not consider the actions of figures accused of war crimes, including notorious rebel leader Laurent Nkunda. The law has created some controversy over whether the amnesty should only be granted to the rebels in the eastern Kivu provinces. Opposition legislators boycotted the vote on the grounds that the amnesty should apply nationally.

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