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Kofi Annan's travels in the Sudan took him to a couple of interesting places yesterday, including a camp that disappeared and another where he gave promises that the world has heard before from UN mouthpieces:
There were only donkeys milling around in a soggy, trash-strewn lot on Thursday afternoon when the United Nations secretary general, Kofi Annan, and his entourage arrived at what was supposed to be a crowded squatter camp here in the troubled Darfur region of Sudan.
Gone were the more than 1,000 residents of the Meshtel settlement. Gone as well were their makeshift dwellings. Hours before Mr. Annan's arrival, the local authorities had loaded the camp's inhabitants aboard trucks and moved them. ...
"Where are the people?" Mr. Annan was overheard asking a Sudanese official who was accompanying his tour of Darfur, the region in western Sudan where the government has been accused of unleashing armed militias on the local population to quell a rebel uprising.
Al Noor Muhammad Ibrahim, minister of social affairs for the state of North Darfur, explained that the camp on Mr. Annan's itinerary no longer existed. He said the government had relocated its residents the evening before, sometime after United Nations officials had paid a visit at 5 p.m. on Wednesday in preparation for a stop by Mr. Annan.
"It's not because the secretary general of the United Nations is here that we moved them," Mr. Ibrahim insisted as incredulous United Nations officials looked on.
Annan has toured the Darfur region of the Sudan in order to determine the treatment of refugees firsthand. Earlier reports of rape and sexual barter at the hands of the UN peacekeepers in the Congo have not kept Annan from instead investigating Sudanese atrocities occuring between the Islamists in the north and the ethnic mix of the people in the south. Annan has stopped short of calling the situation "genocide", even though tens of thousands of people are dying as they are driven off their land, and rape and sexual slavery have become common. Invoking the G-word requires the UN and its member states to take action, and action is anathema to Annan and his coterie of bureaucrats and sycophants.
As the Oil-For-Food program proved, no one gets rich taking action.
Later, after "inspecting" the Incredible Disappearing Camp (with, it should be noted, the Incredible Disappearing Refugees), Annan and his team inspected the Zam Zam refugee camp, which fortunately for all involved still existed. They checked out the well that the UN had installed at the camp and spoke to some of the refugees, despite attempted interference from Sudanese officials who wanted to monitor the conversations.
After much give and take, the authorities agreed but stood nearby as a woman described how 20 camp dwellers had been raped during the attacks on their villages.Sphere It View blog reactions
Mr. Annan put his hand to his heart and said: "No one is going to force you to go home without security. As long as you're in this camp, we'll do everything we can to protect you."
The women, in unison, praised Allah.
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