Frank Johnson - Photojournalist
Frank Johnson - Photojournalist
By: Frank Johnson

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Monday, 12-Jul-2004 00:00 Email | Share | | Bookmark
Rebels Abduct Tribal Leader, Others in West Sudan

KHARTOUM (Reuters) - Rebels attacked a town in western Sudan on Sunday, abducting a key tribal leader and two other prominent figures, North Darfur state governor Osman Kibir said.
The rebels snatched the three men in the town of al-La'at in Darfur, stoking further tension in a conflict between Arab militias, the government and the rebels which has created what the United Nations says is the world's worst humanitarian crisis.

The rebels and the government signed a cease-fire agreement in April but both sides say the other has frequently broken it.

The abducted men included al-Sadiq Abbas, the leader of all the Arab tribes in eastern Darfur, a judge and the manager of the town's agricultural bank, Kibir said. He gave no other details of the attack.

Al-La'at is a small town to the east of the North Darfur capital, El Fasher.

Kibir said the rebels, from the Sudan Liberation Movement and the Justice and Equality Movement, had violated the truce in Darfur 50 times since April.

The government is under international pressure to disarm the Arab militias, known as the Janjaweed and is accused by the rebels of conducting a campaign of ethnic cleansing.

German Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer said in Khartoum on Sunday Sudan must honor its promise to the United Nations to disarm the Janjaweed, blamed for violence that has driven around a million people from their homes.

"We appreciate that (U.N. Secretary-General) Kofi Annan and the Sudanese government reached an agreement. But it must be implemented," said Fischer who was on a one-day visit.

Annan secured the promise at talks in Khartoum with President Omar Hassan al-Bashir and other Sudanese leaders last week.

In a statement on Sunday, the Sudan Liberation Movement accused the government of incorporating Janjaweed into the armed forces and police and arming them to fight the rebels and "terrorize innocent civilians."

"We call upon the secretary-general and the U.S. secretary of state to put in place other mechanisms for the disarmament of the Janjaweed and the protection of civilians rather than leaving it to the regime," the rebel statement said.

Sudanese Refugees Leave Ship in Sicily

ROME (AP) - Sudanese refugees left a German aid ship in a Sicilian port Monday, ending a three-week Mediterranean voyage seeking a country that would let it dock.

The ship pulled into Porto Empedocle on the southern coast of Sicily, and a bus took the asylum seekers to a holding center in the nearby city of Agrigento, officials said.

The refugees wore white T-shirts reading ``Cap Anamur'' - the name of the ship and the aid group that operates it - and watched from the deck as the large blue-and-white freighter docked.

All but one of the 37 passengers, rescued from a dinghy on June 20 by the German ship, are Sudanese - many reportedly fleeing the humanitarian crisis in the Darfur region of western Sudan. The other passenger is from Sierra Leone.

Italian Coast Guard motorboats had escorted the Cap Anamur toward the port Sunday but blocked it from docking.

The Italian Interior Ministry said Sunday that the ship's captain had requested help, signaling ``he was no longer able to guarantee control of the ship and command of the crew,'' and was concerned about the ``psychic-physical'' well-being of the refugees.

A priest who had gone aboard at one point said some of the passengers were so desperate during the odyssey that they had begun threatening to jump into the sea.

The ministry expressed determination to crack down on illegal trafficking in clandestine immigrants. Italian officials were planning to question the ship's captain.

Sunday, 11-Jul-2004 00:00 Email | Share | | Bookmark
Carter Foundation brings medical kits

Accra, July 9, GNA- More than 300 volunteers and members of the diplomatic community in Atlanta would join Carter Centre staff from July 13 to 30 to assemble 30,000 medical kits to be used for the eradication of the last one per cent of Guinea worm disease left in the world. The medical supplies, donated by Johnson & Johnson, would be sorted into medical kits to be distributed to volunteer health workers in Sudan, Ghana, and Nigeria, the three most endemic countries. A statement issued by the Carter Centre received on Friday in Accra has said.

It said each medical kit would allow volunteers to care for 10 people who suffer from Guinea worm, allowing children to return to school and parents to work.

The statement quoted former U.S. President Jimmy Carter, chairman of the Carter Centre as saying: "This remarkable demonstration of corporate and personal caring is putting the best face of America forward around the world.

"By helping to prevent the terrible and unnecessary suffering caused by Guinea worm disease, this project will help to make life better for some of the most forgotten people in the world." Former President Carter recently visited Northern Ghana to whip up work on eradicating guinea worm in the country.

Organizations providing donations or volunteers to support the assembly of the medical kits include Atlanta Bread Company Airport - Atrium, LLC; BellSouth Corporation and British Consulate General Centres for Disease Control and Prevention.

Assembled medical kits would be distributed to Guinea worm volunteers in areas where medical attention is most needed, primarily regions without medical centres.

One medical kit would be distributed with each of 12,000 backpacks printed with the message "Stop Guinea Worm Now - Ask Me How." Eighteen thousand additional kits will be used to replenish supplies.

With less than one percent of the disease remaining, guinea worm is expected to be the first parasitic disease to be eradicated and the first disease to be eradicated without vaccines or medications. The disease is contracted when people consume stagnant water, contaminated with microscopic water fleas carrying infective larvae. Inside a human's abdomen, the larvae mature and grow, some as long as three feet.

After a year, the worm slowly emerges through a painful blister in the skin, usually on the lower limbs. In highly endemic areas, infected people usually have more than one Guinea worm, in some cases dozens, emerging at once.

Ghana is the most endemic Guinea worm country in West Africa, second in the world only to Sudan, which has 63 percent of remaining cases. Together, Sudan, Ghana, and Nigeria currently account for 94 percent of all reported cases of Guinea worm worldwide. 9 July 04

Saturday, 10-Jul-2004 00:00 Email | Share | | Bookmark
Nightmare in Sudan

As the world focuses elsewhere, a systematic slaughter unfolds in the African nation.

AL-FASHER, SUDAN -- They shot him in his house. They blew her apart with a bomb. They cut him to pieces with swords. They dragged her into the desert and raped her. As the world's attention was turned to crises in the Middle East, a slaughter has raged for 17 months in Sudan's Darfur region. Arab gunmen on horses and camels, backed by bombers and helicopter gunships, have razed hundreds of black African villages, killed tens of thousands of people and driven more than a million from their homes.

"They say they don't want to see black skin on this land again," said Issa Bushara, whose brother and cousin were gunned down in front of their horrified families during an attack by the Janjaweed militia.

Now, with many more likely to die of hunger and disease in camps in Sudan and neighbouring Chad, international pressure is mounting on President Omar el-Bashir's government to end the carnage.

U.S. and UN officials, haunted by memories of inaction in Rwanda a decade ago, have made a series of highly publicized visits to the region. African leaders also have called on Sudan to act.

Even so, word of more raids continues to filter through -- with the starving, exhausted and terrorized families that trickle every day across the 600-kilometre border into Chad.

At the Kounoungo refugee camp, 80 kilometres from the Sudanese border, Zenaba Ismail sits on a dirt floor. In her arms, she cradles her sister's sleeping infant.

Janjaweed fighters burst into their home early one morning and shot the child's pregnant mother in the stomach. The shooting induced labour and she died while giving birth.

"He cries all the time, but I have no milk to give him," said the tall woman with traditional scars etched on her cheeks. "Every time I look at this child, I see my sister and I can't stop the tears."

More victims of the raids are dying from hunger, thirst and disease than in the killings, UN officials say. They have described the region as the world's worst humanitarian crisis.

"We are late in Darfur. We have to admit that," UN Undersecretary General for Humanitarian Affairs Jan Egeland said during a visit last week.

He blamed government obstruction, the remoteness of the area, a failure to get adequate funding and preoccupation with the Iraq war, which made the world slow to respond to the unfolding disaster.

If humanitarian workers can't reach the estimated two million in desperate need, the death toll could surge to 350,000 by the end of the year -- a conservative estimate, according to the U.S. Agency for International Development.

The crisis developed from long-standing tensions between nomadic Arab herders and their farming neighbours. It became violent after two black African rebel groups took up arms in February 2003 over what they consider unfair treatment by the government in faraway Khartoum in their struggle over political influence and resources in Darfur.

The rebel groups and the refugees accuse the Sudanese government of arming the mostly Arab Janjaweed, a name that means "horsemen" in the local dialect. They point to systematic and co-ordinated attacks backed by Antonov airplanes, helicopter gunships and pickup trucks.

The government denies any complicity in the militia raids and says the warring sides are clashing over the region's scarce water and usable land.

Humanitarian Affairs Minister Ibrahim Hamid Mahmoud conceded some abuses may have taken place in Darfur, but insisted there was no systematic, well-organized violence.

"The major problem for humanitarian activities is the rebels," he said.

Satellite photos acquired by USAID in June show that 56,000 mud-brick houses with grass roofs have been torched in 400 Darfur villages. The Janjaweed also burn down trees, steal food and cattle and blow up wells and irrigation canals in a scorched-earth policy that human rights groups describe as "ethnic cleansing."

With few villages left, survivors escape the militias by hiding in nearby hills, foraging for food in the trees and sneaking back at night to use the few functioning wells.

But even this last refuge is being overrun.

Tous-a Abdel-Hadi's family survived a raid on their village only to lose three men when Janjaweed fighters overran their camp in the West Darfur hills.

"My son tried to hide in a cave, but they found him there and shot him," the aging woman said, wiping away tears of grief and relief moments after crossing a dried-up riverbed into Chad. "I wish he was with me now."

In another attack, Janjaweed caught three teenage girls, raped them and broke their legs, Abdel-Hadi's family said. Unable to travel, the girls stayed behind in the hills while their extended families made the long and dangerous trek to the border.

Friday, 9-Jul-2004 00:00 Email | Share | | Bookmark

Civil war has raged in Sudan for all but 10 years since its independence in 1956, making it perhaps the most troubled country in Africa. Located immediately south of Egypt, Sudan is the continent's largest country, comparable in size to the United States east of the Mississippi River, and is home to 42 million people of many races, religions, and cultures. Since the beginning of the most recent phase of war in 1983, more than two million people have died and four million have been forced from their homes.

Despite great potential natural wealth, war has left Sudan as one of the poorest nations on earth, leaving its citizens prey to famine, disease, and widespread human rights abuses. The discovery of oil and the completion of a commercial pipeline have only intensified the struggle between north and south, leaving many parts of the south inaccessible, preventing humanitarian aid from reaching the areas where it is most needed. Sudan has long been dubbed "the forgotten war" and is quite possibly the word's longest-term humanitarian catrastrophe.

Monday, 28-Jun-2004 00:00 Email | Share | | Bookmark
G8 Activist Tribute

I am thinking about putting some type of photo collection together for those persons who were involved in the G8 protests and demonstrations. One version of this idea is a printed piece, with limited photos and the other idea is a photo cd with a much larger collection of images.

Looking for some feed back to kinda help the idea along.

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