The student-led movement to end mass atrocities.

Anti-genocide Updates from the Hill

Last night, the House passed H.R. 2410, the Foreign Relations Authorization Act, which authorizes resources to strengthen U.S. foreign policy efforts for Fiscal Years 2010 and 2011. Earlier this week, STAND and the Genocide Intervention Network sent letters in support of the legislation, highlighting key provisions that will help strengthen our government’s commitment to addressing ongoing genocide and mass atrocities and to preventing them in the future. GI-NET interns also hand-delivered letters of support to key members of Congress.

The final version of the bill included provisions:

  • Requiring the Secretary of State to develop and report on specific plans for the development of a government-wide strategy to strengthen the United States’ capacities for preventing genocide and mass atrocities, including an assessment of recommendations made in the recent Genocide Prevention Task Force report
  • Ensuring that the United States will meet its financial commitments to the United Nations (U.N.) and other international organizations
  • Allowing financing the refurbishment of helicopters for U.N. peacekeeping missions in Darfur, Chad, the Democratic Republic of Congo and other peacekeeping missions authorized by the U.N. Security Council
  • Directing the President to develop and communicate to Congress a comprehensive strategy to address the ongoing crisis in Sudan

Check out the House Foreign Affairs Committee website for more information, and click here to see how your representative voted on the bill.

As a result of your efforts, stopping and preventing genocide and mass atrocities has become a major priority for Congress. Over the past few weeks, STAND chapters’ efforts have helped raise the profile of STAND’s Areas of Concern an Areas of Engagement in a big way:

  • At this Wednesday’s confirmation hearing for Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs nominee Kurt Campbell, Senator Jim Webb of Virginia focused extensively on the crisis in Burma. Click here to watch.
  • After hearing from STAND chapters all over the country, senators made genocide and mass atrocities a major focus of a May 20 Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing entitled “Foreign Policy Priorities in the President’s FY10 International Affairs Budget.” Senator Barbara Boxer of California pressed Secretary of State Hillary Clinton about efforts to address the crises in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Sudan, and Burma, Senator Benjamin Cardin of Maryland asked about the status of war crimes trial proceedings for the Former Yugoslavia, and Senator Jeanne Sheehan of New Hampshire also pressed Clinton on Congo and Darfur, focusing on violence against women. Click here to watch.
  • Last month, STAND chapters called their senators to encourage them to press Assistant Secretary of State for Southeast Asian Affairs nominee Robert Blake about his plans to address the crisis in Sri Lanka. At the May 14 confirmation hearing, Senator Robert Casey of Pennsylvania spoke extensively about Sri Lanka in his opening remarks, and asked Ambassador Blake four separate questions about the crisis during the course of the hearing. The amount of attention devoted to Sri Lanka was especially impressive given that the portfolio of the nominees being confirmed in the hearing included Iraq, Afghanistan, and Pakistan. Click here to watch.
  • On May 13, Senator Barbara Boxer and Senator Russ Feingold of Wisconsin chaired a joint hearing of the Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee on International Operations and Organizations, Human Rights, Democracy and Global Women’s Issues and the Subcommittee on African Affairs entitled “Confronting Rape and Other Forms of Violence Against Women in Conflict Zones – Spotlight: Democratic Republic of Congo and Sudan,” an idea initially suggested to Senator Boxer by Stanford University’s STAND chapter! The hearing included testimony from the ENOUGH Project’s John Prendergast, Save Darfur Coalition’s Neimat Ahmadi, and V-Day founder Eve Ensler. Click here for summary from Enough Said, the ENOUGH Project’s blog.

It’s clear that we’ve got the attention of our senators and representatives. Now let’s make sure we keep up the momentum! Look out for opportunities during the summer to continue pushing Congress to make Darfur, Burma, Congo, and long-term genocide prevention efforts a priority.


Darfur: the Biggest Test for Obama’s Africa Policy?

In an opinion piece in U.S. News and World Report today, William J. Dobson of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace urges the Obama administration to stop dragging its feet on Darfur:

Like it or not, the Obama administration now faces an important test. Foreign policy challenges are typically of the thorniest variety, and in many cases, decisive action is precisely the wrong choice. That isn’t the case here. It is vital that the administration recognize the danger of muddling along. More than two months since Bashir decided to victimize his people once again, the administration has yet to respond and the clock is ticking for Darfur.

Click here to read the entire article.

One of Dobson’s major recommendations involves reaching out to key international stakeholders. "In some respects," he writes, "there is less a need to apply pressure on Bashir’s regime than to apply pressure everywhere else."

Based on reports today, it seems that the Obama administration may finally be thinking (or at least finally be acting) along the same lines. This week, U.S. Special Envoy to Sudan Scott Gration plans to visit China, Qatar, Britain, and France in an effort to "align positions on the Darfur peace process under the leadership of United Nations-African Union joint chief mediator Djibril Bassole."

Here’s to hoping that this signals the beginning of a real, long-term commitment to U.S. leadership on the issue.

Weekly News Brief: 05.10.09 – 05.17.09

In this week’s issue: tensions build on the Sudan/Chad border, Obama pledges to maintain sanctions on Burma, and attacks by FDLR rebels escalate in Congo

Featured: Check out these three videos from the past week.  The first is a BBC interview with Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir in which he discusses the problems in Darfur and offers his opinion on where the blame belongs. The second is a tour inside Zamzam camp done by Al Jazeera, one of the first since the aid expulsion in March.

Questions? Feedback? Email


Problems are still rife between Chad and Sudan, with the Government of Sudan (GoS) calling Chadian bombing raids inside Sudan’s borders an “act of war”.  Chad has justified its use of force and claims the raids are over, saying it has captured 100 adversaries. 

Adding tension, the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) rebels in Darfur said they have seized a government military base inside Sudan on the Chad/Sudan border.

UNAMID peacekeepers reported government bombing in North Darfur.  There is no clear motive for the bombing, but peacekeepers believe the GoS was targeting JEM rebels in the area. 

The first Darfur rebel to be tried internationally appears before the International Criminal Court this week.  In November 2008, he was accused of orchestrating the deaths of 12 AU peacekeepers by the ICC chief prosecutor. 

Three Sudanese police officers were killed this week outside Nyala in South Darfur. 

The UN has officially come forward to admit concern over the violence in South Sudan. John Holmes, under-secretary for Humanitarian Affairs calls the conflicts “worrying” and linked the clan-related violence to unsettle problems in South Sudan.  

Though Mia Farrow ended her fast after only 12 days, she attracted international attention and people around the globe – from human rights advocates to statesmen and musicianscontinue to fast in outrage of the six year long crisis in Darfur.  Visit for more information.


After reviewing America’s policy on Burma, President Obama resealed a statement on Friday saying that the current US stance on Burma, sanctions and all, will remain the same.

The film "Burma VJ ” is set to open in New York on Wednesday.  It tracks the efforts of a clandestine reporter and the Democratic Voice of Burma, a TV Station in exile, based in Oslo to bring the events of the 2007 Saffron Revolution to TV screens around the world through guerrilla reporting.  Vaclav Havel reportedly gave a copy of the film to Sec. of State Clinton on her recent visit to Prague.

Burmese lawyer Aung Thein reportedly had his license revoked after he applied to represent pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi in her upcomming trial. Suu Kyi is being accusted of breaking the terms of her house arrest after an American John Yettaw swam across the lake next to her bungalow and broke in, apparently to talk to her.  If convicted Suu Kyi could be imprisoned for 5 years.  He house arrest sentence was due to expire May 27.

Democratic Republic of Congo

Extremist Hutu FDLR rebels continue to terrorize civilians in eastern DRC. According to reports that surfaced on Wednesday, over 100 people, including both civilians and government soldiers, were killed last weekend in a series of attacks in North and South Kiv provinces. FDLR rebels have stepped up their raids since mid-February, when a joint Congolese-Rwandan mission to track them down ended. In a report released this week, International Crisis Group called for renewed action against FDLR fighters.

On Sunday, a United Nations delegation visited Rwanda and urged Rwandan President Paul Kagame to improve relations with DRC in an effort to address the ongoing crisis there.

MONUC, the UN peacekeeping mission in DRC, announced the official handover to the Congolese army of hundreds of weapons cpllected from various rebel militias.The weapons were handed over as part of MONUC’s Disarmament, Demobilization, Repatriation, Resettlement, and Reintegration (DDRRR) initiative in the country.

The past few weeks have seen significant activity in the U.S. Senate concerning the conflict in eastern DRC. On Wednesday, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee held a hearing to address sexual and gender-based violence in Congo and Sudan. Senators Brownback, Durbin, and Feingold introduced U.S. Senate Bill S. 819, the Congo Conflict Minerals Act of 2009. While the introduction of the legislation was welcomed by organizations including the ENOUGH Project and Global Witness, the groups stressed the need to include significant improvements, including stronger enforcement mechanisms.

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.

Questions? Feedback? Contact STAND’s Education Team at or leave a comment!


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.

Weekly News Brief: 04.27.09 to 05.04.09

In this week’s issue: conflicting accounts of the situation in Darfur, more insecurity in southern Sudan, and a worsening humanitarian situation in DRC

Featured: UNCHR reports that FDLR rebels are "on a rampage" against civilians in eastern Congo.

Questions? Feedback? Contact STAND’s Education Team at or leave a comment!


The two aid workers kidnapped in Darfur more than three weeks ago – Stephanie Jodoin and Claire Dubois – were released on Thursday. They appear to be doing well.

The AU plans to meet with ICC Chief Prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo to discuss the arrest warrant for Sudanese president Omar al-Bashir. The AU has expressed concerns that the warrant will affect peace efforts in Darfur.

The latest UN report on Darfur seemed to “downplay” the region’s conflict. Rebel groups and advocates have emerged and protested this reaction to years of violence, especially after the central government’s ejection of 16 NGOs.

The governments of Sudan and Chad are taking part in a series of peace talks in Doha, Qatar. The countries, which accuse each other of sponsoring rebel groups across their shared border, have announced their intentions to establish firmer diplomatic ties, which the US State Department has applauded. A large number of refugees from the conflict in Darfur are currently in Chad, increasing instability between the countries.

After being shut down last week, the Arabic newspaper, al-Wafiq was allowed to resume publication this Sunday.After last week’s announcement, the head of Sudan’s National Security General Salah Mohammad elected to suspend publication for only five days.

In South Sudan, doctors are treating victims of violence in the Jonglei State, as well as a cholera outbreak in the same area. Three people have died from the outbreak. South Sudan has also come out to question the “complete” status of Sudan’s recent census. After decades of war and demographic changes, these concerns are warranted. Continued violence in South Sudan and the questionable census remain threats to the 2005 CPA.

Mia Farrow is one week into her Fast for Darfur. Read daily updates here – our thoughts and encouragement are with her.


No news to report.

Democratic Republic of Congo

The UN Refugee Agency has reported that the humanitarian situation has worsened in the eastern DRC. The UNHCR and Human Rights Watch estimated that 100,000 displaced persons in North Kivu, who had fled their homes in recent months escaping Rwandan rebels, are at larger risk of attacks by the FDLR. These rebels have torched 360 homes in the month of April alone.

David Nthengwe, UNHCR Public Information Officer, confirmed that the FDLR are targeting civilians and the people on the ground are aware of the FDLR’s “style of operation – raping, burning houses, looting, and killing. That is their trademark…”

Human Rights Watch has called on the UN peacekeeping force and humanitarian agencies to “take urgent steps to increase protection and assistance to the civilians at risk.” The UN has fewer than 400 peacekeepers in the Lubero territory, where the over 100,000 displaced civilians are at risk. Rwandan militias have threatened to attack the neighboring towns as well. FARDC, the Congolese army, consisting of unpaid and ill-disciplined soldiers, is doing little to help, so the civilians are largely relying on the MONUC peacekeepers for protection.

A Congolese army document was recently made public, suggesting that former rebel leader Gen. Bosco Ntaganda had a major part in a mission involving MONUC, the UN peacekeeping mission in DRC. The April 4 internal FARDC document refers to Ntaganda as “deputy coordinator” for an offensive in eastern Congo against Hutu rebels. Ntaganda has been indicted by the International Criminal Court for war crimes. MONUC said in January that it would not work with Ntaganda in any way and has denied all allegations stating otherwise.

Weekly News Brief: 04.20.09 – 04.27.09

In this week’s issue: the government of Sudan continues to resist the return of aid to Darfur, the EU maintains sanctions on Burma, and FDLR rebels terrorize civilians in eastern Congo.

Featured: In an op-ed in the Boston Herald today, Senator John Kerry reflected on his recent trip to Sudan and discussed the challenges facing Sudan. Consistent with Kerry’s statements earlier in the week, the article expresses optimism about the potential to engage Khartoum in negotiations.

Questions? Feedback? Contact STAND’s Education Team at or leave a comment!


In talks with French and British negotiators this week, the government of Sudan reiterated its refusal to let expelled aid organizations back into Sudan. And despite Sen. John Kerry’s words last week, it appears unlikely that aid will be restored to its original strength. Sudan’s UN envoy said the UN’s declaration of a humanitarian crisis after the aid expulsion is a lie, though UNAMID admits it is struggling to fulfill its mandate in the war torn region.

A Sudanese court has sentenced another 11 members of the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) to death for the May 2008 attack near Khartoum, bringing the total sentenced to 82.

The GoS also ordered the Arabic newspaper al-Wifaq to shut down after an editorial published on Saturday called for the killing of a senior Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM) official. Increasing government censorship in Sudan is becoming major point of contention in the country.

Five Darfuri rebel groups have met in Doha, Qatar to discuss their role in bringing peace to Darfur. JEM, the group that started peace talks with the government in February this year, is still refusing to meet with the GoS after the expulsion of 16 NGOs from Darfur.

In South Sudan, violence surrounding cattle-rustling has increased and is getting worse, as retaliatory attacks between tribs continue. Peace and stability in South Sudan is vital to the rest of the county.

South Africa’s President-elect, Jacob Zuma, has made it clear that Omar al-Bashir, President of Sudan is not welcome at his inauguration in May. Zuma will not extend a welcome to any African country with undemocratic or repressive tactics.

Stateside, on April 27th Congressional representatives from five states were arrested in a protest alongside John Pendergast of the ENOUGH Project and Jerry Fowler from the Save Darfur Coalition. Actress Mia Farrow, who has visited Darfur 11 times, has started a three week hunger strike to protest the lack of international action in the past weeks since the aid expulsion, leading to increased starvation.


Foreign Minister Kasit Piromya of Thailand has assured Secretary of State Hillary Clinton that Thailand does not purchase gems from the Burmese junta. Given the porous nature of the border between Thailand and Burma, however, it is not apparent how this is regulated.

The EU announced that it will continue sanctions against Burma and renewed it’s call for the release of all political prisoners and Aung San Suu Kyi. The EU has travel bans on Burmese officials along with a ban on arms importation to Burma. The sanctions where increased to timber, gems and other minerals in 2007 after the "Saffron Revolution." The EU has said that it will consider altering sanctions as the situation on the ground changes.

Recently, a Karen woman testified before the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission in Congress, asking the US to push for a UN Security Council Commission of Inquiry into human rights abuses of ethnic minorites in Burma. The Commission also heard testimony from Dr Sean Turnell, the head of Burma Economic Watch, about the need for tighter US sanctions against Burma.

Democratic Republic of Congo

As the attacks on civilians continue, Alan Doss, head of the UN peacekeeping forces in the DRC, condemned the Rwandan Hutu rebels of the FDLR for its “contempt of the sovereignty of the DRC and the welfare of its people” and said the rebels “should disarm and return home” to Rwanda.

Doss reiterated that the MONUC is committed to aiding Congolese government forces in eliminating the rebel threat. While the DRC army persists in its attempts to stop the FDLR, the rebels continue to commit arson and rape in civilian villages.

The UNHCR have estimated that more than 100,000 Congolese civilians have been displaced from their homes over the past seven weeks due to rebel attacks. This brings the total number of displaced civilians to over 1.4 million across the eastern DRC.

Weekly News Brief: 04.13.09 – 04.20.09

In this week’s issue: Senator John Kerry travels to Darfur, leaders call for the release of opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi in Burma, and former Congo rebel leader General Laurent Nkunda faces trial in Rwanda

Featured: Massachusetts Congressman Michael Capuano urges us not to forget about Southern Sudan in a guest post on the ENOUGH Project’s blog. 

Questions? Feedback? Contact STAND’s Education Team at or leave a comment!


Senator John Kerry visited Sudan this week to assess the situation in Darfur. He has declared that the ICC charges, though they have complicated matters, will not stop US attempts to aid in bringing peace to the region. He emphasized the urgency of the situation, promising to do what is possible to assist UNAMID and push for the restoration of aid.

While Kerry announced that the government of Sudan has expressed some willingness to restore aid, this does not mean that the expelled NGOs will be allowed to return. Sen. Kerry also insisted that the rebels in Darfur need to be open to peace talks. Kerry’s visit seems to indicate a slight thawing of relations between Washington Khartoum, a shift which was was even hailed by Bashir.

On Wednesday, the Sudanese government sentenced 9 members of the rebel group Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) to death after being found guilty in a 2006 attack on Khartoum in which a newspaper editor was murdered. After the hanging executions, a group of protesters burned shops and cars in Khartoum in a show of defiance towards the verdict.

The Government of Sudan has also barred opposition leader Hassan al-Turabi from traveling. Turabi planned a trip to France for medical reasons, which have not been disclosed. Turabi has repeatedly been in jail or under house arrest since losing in a power struggle with Bashir.

The French aid worker, Claire Dubois, who was kidnapped in Darfur two weeks ago, is reported to be sick. Stephanie Joidon, the kidnapped Canadian worker, says that Dubois has not received medical attention and is not getting better. In other humanitarian news, Oxfam-GB is appealing the Government of Sudan in the case of their expulsion from Darfur.

We’ve all been hearing a lot about Darfur recently, but we never hear as much about South Sudan. Check out these two articles about the influence the South has on the whole of Sudan: "Let’s Not Forget About the South" and “There’s More to Sudan than Darfur”.


Public surveillance has increased drastically since the "Saffron Revolution" of 2007. Citizens report that now more than ever they are afraid to speak against the government because of the amount of their fellow citizens who are informants for the junta.

In a personal meeting with Burmese Prime Minister Thein Shein, Philippine President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo called on the Burmese junta to release opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi from house arrest.

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon has re-issued his call to the military junta in Burma to release Aung San Suu Kyi. The statement came after ten female US Senators wrote a letter to Ban urging him not to neglect the political prisoners of Burma

Democratic Republic of Congo

FDLR rebels attacked a village this week in the eastern DRC, allegedly killing eight people in the fires they set to over 250 houses. Due to the FDLR’s frequent attacks against civilians, Congo and Rwanda launched a five-week joint offensive against this rebel group in January. The FDLR’s presence in this region of the Congo has been seen as a major factor in the region’s instability since the Rwandan genocide 15 years ago.

The trial of CNDP ex-general Laurent Nkunda, who was captured by Rwandan authorities earlier this year, began on Friday in Gisenyi, Rwanda, near the Congolese border. Nkunda was pursued by the Rwanda-Congo joint mission in January, and is now suing Rwanda for wrongful arrest. This case calls to question various legal issues because the matter spans across national borders. Nkunda’s extradition to the Congo is still up in the air, where he is wanted for massacres, rapes, and the recruitment of child soldiers.

Former parliamentary speaker Vital Kamerhe, who was forced to resign last month because of his opposition to the entry of Rwandan troops into the Congo, organized a meeting with fellow lawmakers and political leaders to talk about forming a new political movement. However, even before Kamerhe arrived at the site, the Congolese police broke up the gathering.

Restoration of aid in Darfur? We’ll believe it when we see it.

According to Senator John Kerry (D-Mass), who is Khartoum this week meeting with Sudanese government officials, the government of Sudan has indicated its willingness to allow the resumption of “some aid” in Darfur.

However, it appears that the 13 international aid organizations expelled in March (following the issuance of an arrest warrant for President Bashir by the ICC), will not be allowed back into the country. Kerry has not yet released a full statement and it is not clear what exactly the Sudanese government is proposing to do.

The senator expressed encouragement, stating that “every member of the government told me they are ready to come to the peace table.” Kerry’s trip follows a visit to Sudan last week by U.S. Special Envoy to Sudan Scott Gration, who struck a similarly conciliatory tone.

While this sounds like a potentially promising development, we echo ENOUGH Project Executive Director John Norris’ caution: “as with all things related to the government of Sudan, we will believe it when we see it.”

We’ll be sure to keep you posted.

Weekly News Brief: 04.06.09 – 04.13.09

In this week’s issue: Khartoum continues to defy calls for the resumption of international aid in Darfur, the Obama administration reconsiders sanctions on Burma, and UN peacekeepers face growing challenges in Congo

Featured: In an op-ed in today’s Wall Street Journal, ENOUGH’s John Prendergast and Jim Wallis of Sojourners discuss the need for US engagement to address the situation in Darfur.

Questions? Feedback? Contact STAND’s Education Team at or leave a comment!


The international community is growing increasingly concerned with the expulsion of aid groups from Darfur.  This week, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon reiterated his pleas to allow the expelled NGOs to resume operations in Sudan’s western Darfur region, as did various international organizations.  Khartoum has done nothing to fill the aid gaps. 

Earlier this week, Bashir announced that Sudan will “investigate those who are criminals” after tribal reconciliation has been achieved.  The government later said that this is impossible given the current circumstances, and that justice would be undermined if criminals were tried in absentia

Following the announcement of delayed elections in Sudan, the opposition party (the Popular Congress) requested a transitional government to ensure fair and smooth running elections in February.  A decision has yet to be made. 

Several members of the rebel group Sudan Liberation Movement-Unity (SLM-Unity) are merging with the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM).  This is another step towards more unity among the dozens of rebel factions in Darfur, coming just days after leaders of several groups refused to negotiate peace with Bashir until he allows aid groups to return to Darfur. 

Last week two aid workers were kidnapped from Southern Darfur.  Now, their captors have threatened to kill them if the French government does not meet their demands of retrials for the 2007 Zoe’s Ark criminals involved in abducting children from Chad.  Currently, Aid Medicale International (AMI), a French aid group, is negotiating directly with the kidnappers and both aid workers are still alive.  STAND wishes to express its sincere hopes that the aid workers are released safely – keep checking the news for more information on the status of the negotiations.


Much speculation has arisen about America’s new policy toward Burma.  Most believe that it will involve an opening between the economies of America and Burma with the sanctions being directed at specific members of the ruling junta instead of the entire nation’s economy.

Vice Senior Gen. Maung Aye, urged the Burmese military to ensure that next years elections run smoothly.

China is extending billions of dollars to ASEAN nations to increase infrastructure that connects the ASEAN nations.  Building projects are already underway in Laos, Cambodia, and Burma.

Democratic Republic of Congo

In the past week, various aid groups have analyzed the current crisis in eastern DRC and have commented on the increasing violence. Oxfam warned recently that the situation in the Congo has worsened and has called for the U.N. to speed up its promised reinforcement of 3,000 troops for the peacekeeping mission in the country. This reinforcement was promised last November by the Security Council but has yet to be fulfilled because not a single nation has been willing to provide additional troops..

Human Rights Watch, a New York-based NGO, reported that it has documented the rapes, killings, and burning of dozens of villages by the FDLR rebel group in the Congo made up primarily of Rwandan nationals. The Human Rights Watch report stated that at least 90 women have been raped and 180 villagers killed over the past two months by rebels as well as government forces in volatile eastern Congo.

Alan Doss, the UN Special Representative of the Secretary-General for the DRC, echoes the complaint that MONUC is overstretched and expresses the dire need for reinforcement. The rebel violence continues to persist in eastern Congo, as the LRA has dispersed into small groups and have waged massive attacks across this vast region.

MOUNC currently consists of 17,000 troops for the entire country and is already the world’s largest UN peacekeeping force. Doss says he needs the extra troops to respond to outbreaks of violence by the FDLR and the LRA, but in addition to regular troops and helicopters, Doss has asked for special forces and intelligence specialists. The UN’s refugee agency has also stated that fighting in the northeastern DRC between the new rebel coalition Popular Front for Justice (FPJC) in the Congo and the Revolutionary Front for Peace in Ituri has displaced thousands of people.

Weekly News Brief: 03.30.09 – 04.06.09

In this week’s issue: New special envoy Sudan Scott Gration takes his first trip to Sudan, Sudanese elections are postponed, and U.N Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon calls for international support of a peace deal in Congo.

Questions? Feedback? Contact STAND’s Education Team at or leave a comment!


With regional problems plaguing the Arab League summit, talks came to an early close after only one day.  Both Darfur and the warrant against Bashir were significant matters.

US Special Envoy to Sudan, Scott Gration, visited Khartoum and Northern Darfur this week with his “hands open” in friendship and cooperation to the Sudanese government.  After reviewing conditions in Zamzam camp – from closed aid buildings to dwindling water resources – he determined “we are on the brink of a deeper crisis in Darfur” and admitted that the return of the 16 expelled NGOs is not likely.  Gration was told by an opposition leader in Sudan that the government has been so busy protecting Bashir that they have disregarded all concerns about Darfur.  In addition, John Kerry, head of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee has announced that he will travel to Darfuras part of the first Congressional trip to the region since 2007. 

The AU high level panel on Darfur also made a trip to Northern Darfur this week to assess the humanitarian and security situations in Darfur and to “determine what can be done to achieve peace, justice and reconciliation.” 

Continuing an alarming trendtwo aid workers – one French and one Canadian –and two Sudanese security guards were kidnapped in Southern Darfur.  The Sudanese workers have been released, but the captors are demanding ransom for the French workers, who are reported to be “in good shape”.  The French government is working to secure their release. 

Elections in Sudan, set to take place in July 2009, have been postponed until February 2010.  The decision was agreed to by all parties involved to ensure a smooth, calm and safe environment for elections.  The elections are a vital part of the 2005 CPA between the North and South.


Yesterday, the Burmese junta announced the signing of a peace deal with a small group of ethnic Karen rebels. However, observers are not optimistic that the deal will end fighting in the east of the country, as the rebels involved did not represent the Karen National Union (KNU), eastern Burma’s largest rebel group.

As the Obama administration reviews its strategy on Burma, members of Congress warned against lifting sanctions on the military junta in a letter to Secretary Clinton.

Democratic Republic of Congo

Last week’s peace accord, signed by the Congolese government and the CNDP rebel group, is a sign of progress, according to UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon. However, he also stated that the situation in Congo needs more help than ever from the international community “to ensure that emerging gains are consolidated.”

Although the LRA continues to attack civilians in the DRC while it is based in the far north of the country, Congolese troops are making progress in hunting down the rebels. This week, the DRC army captured four LRA fighters and rescued 12 of their abductees.

Another problem eastern Congo has to worry about is volcanoes. Scientists suspect that the recent activity from the two volcanoes located in eastern DRC, where it is heavily populated from displaced civilians, may suggest imminent eruption.