|Africa News Digest
Carter Denounces Calls for a UN Peacekeeping Force in Sudan
Former U.S. President Jimmy Carter stated that sending more peacekeepers to the Darfur region of Sudan will not bring years of conflict to an end, as long as there is no negotiated settlement in place beforehand. He made the statement in Accra, Ghana Feb. 9. Carter and his wife are leading a delegation from the Carter Center on a four-nation tour in Africa to call international attention to an increasing Guinea-worm epidemic in impoverished communities in Ghana, Sudan, Ethiopia, and Nigeria.
"You can't resolve a conflict in an area as wide as Darfur even with 50,000 troops. Troops are not the way to do it," Carter said on the eve of his trip to Sudan, where he is expected to meet President Omar Hassan al-Bashir. "The government in Khartoum is not going to let them in. Even with five times as many troops, they still couldn't do it," Carter said.
Carter asserted that "the UN, the EU, and the U.S. need to harness all their tremendous influence to force all of the conflicting parties to negotiate a peace agreement and accept it. We need to emphasize a negotiated settlement. Then you should use military influence to enforce the agreement. That is what I will be discussing with Bashir."
As opposed to this type of approach, President Bush is taking a confrontational approach. Making no effort to deal with the fundamental causes of the crisis in Sudan, which was triggered when rebels took up arms against the government, Bush has approved a plan for the U.S. Treasury Department to aggressively block U.S. commercial bank transactions connected to the government of Sudan, including those involving oil revenues, if Khartoum doesn't cooperate with those behind the international campaign over the conflict in Darfur.
The Treasury plan is part of a secret three-tiered package of coercive stepslabelled "Plan B"that the Bush Administration has repeatedly threatened to unleash against Sudan. Plan B includes a demand for a UN peacekeeping force, in addition to the African Union force that is in Sudan now.
Sudan's economy is reportedly largely U.S.-dollar-based, meaning many commercial transactions flow through the United States, which makes it vulnerable to Treasury actions. The core of the Treasury plan rests on an executive order issued by President Bill Clinton in 1997 that blocked all Sudanese government assets, including companies connected to it, and curtailed financial dealings with Sudanese entities.
Carter Center Addresses Guinea-Worm Epidemic in Africa
The formal subject of the Carter Center delegation's tour is the Guinea worm epidemicdracunculiasiswhich is a water-borne parasite, spread by contaminated water, and is still found in nine African countries. Ghana is the most Guinea-worm endemic country in West Africa, and is second in the world only to Sudan.
A disease of poverty, people get infected when they drink standing water containing a tiny water flea that is infected with the even tinier larvae of the Guinea worm. Inside the human body, the larvae mature, growing as long as three feet. After a year, the worm emerges through a painful blister in the skin, causing long-term suffering and sometimes crippling after-effects. It is easily prevented if ample supplies of clean water are available, or if water filters are available.
The Carter Center, which began to provide technical and financial assistance to national Guinea-worm eradication programs 20 years ago, leads a worldwide coalition to eradicate the disease.