Posts Tagged ‘Sudan’

Getting back to the tens of millions of dollars the UN has wasted in Sudan that I mentioned yesterday, but had neither the time nor the stomach for, I find it more than a tad disingenuous that the same day this story came out in the Washington Post, the “UN News Centre” had only this to say … a long, drawn out whine from Ban Ki-moon as he “strongly condemned” Janjaweed militia attacks killing 200 people in West Darfur.

Mr. Ban “stresses that all parties must adhere to international humanitarian law, which prohibits military attacks against civilians,” according to a statement issued by his spokesperson.

First … Yeah, Ban. Like that’s gonna work! (Gee, whiz … slap forehead … Let’s just explain that genocide is “prohibited”! Wonder why Kofi didn’t think of that … )

And, second … Why the hell should the Janjaweed listen to the UN talk about obeying laws?

From the WaPo:

A U.N. task force is examining the United Nations’ handling of nearly $300 million in contracts for food, transportation and fuel for Sudan, including a $200 million contract with Eurest Support Services, a Cyprus-based subsidiary of the Compass Group, a British catering company. ESS also has been charged with rigging bids in Liberia, Congo, Ethiopia and Eritrea.

Anyone want to venture a guess as to what a “task force” not under UN employ might find?

But back to the UN news that goes on to sing the praises of something called the Status of Forces Agreement … unfortunately, but probably prophetically abbreviated to SOFA … that was signed recently.

A couple of points to make on this.

First, on this:

SOFA covers the activities of the military, police and civilian personnel of the mission, known as UNAMID, which seeks to stem the violence in the war-ravaged Darfur region, where over 200,000 people have been killed and 2.2 million others forced to flee their homes since fighting began in 2003 among Government forces, rebel groups and allies militia groups known as the Janjaweed.

Yep. Those same damned numbers they’ve been trotting out for the past five years … 200,000 dead, 2.2 million displaced.

When and why did the UN stop counting? Counting the dead and displaced is one of the few things the UN can actually do, but not in Sudan. There were 200,000 dead and 2.2 million displaced way back during GW’s first term and way before George Clooney ever went to Darfur … and now he’s not only been back for ages, he’s working for the UN. (Talk about a powerful PR machine!)

The other thing in the UN News:

Mr. Guehenno, who recently visited Sudan, emphasized that UNAMID operation is “severely under-resourced for the tasks which it was mandated to perform” since it lacks the necessary troops, police and equipment, including military aircraft and ground transportation, to provide protection to Darfurians.

No mention there what 10s of millions of wasted dollars could have provided on this front, is there? No. There wouldn’t be.

Back to George Clooney for a moment …

Last September I wrote a post responding to a question he asked during his testimony before the UN where he said:

We were brought up to believe that the U.N. was formed to ensure that the Holocaust could never happen again. We believe in you so strongly. We need you so badly. We have come so far. We’re — we’re one yes away from ending this. And, if not the U.N., then who?

I looked around a bit at the time and came up with:

In 2005, UNICEF received over $53 million in contributions for Darfur, meeting approximately 43 percent of total requirements. As of April 2006, UNICEF has received about $1.85 million in contributions from government donors, while UNICEF’s National Committees have raised approximately $966,000.

This means UNICEF has a total of just over $2.81 million in donor resources against its Darfur target of $89 million in 2006 – so its programmes in the region are just 3.1 per cent funded moving into the second quarter of the year.

Pointing to this as, “the UN’s own justification for doing squat!” led me to compose another post I called “If not the UN, why?”

Today, as last year, as the year before, what I said then holds true now:

Lack of funds … lack of will …

Where does it make sense, however, that this body … the UN, I’m taking here … would CHOOSE to sit back once again and allow a genocide to happen and happen and happen?

Which brings me to the real why?

Why does the UN exist at all?

A very quick look at stories from the past couple of days could be taken to prove the utter uselessness of the organization without even having to mention Cambodia, Rwanda, Srebrenica, or more stops along the genocide trail that’s been well traveled without hindrance from those folks in the big building with all the flags around it.

With a recent article in Newsweek addressing the UN’s creeping agenda on international adoption that does so much damage to so many and now seems to have the children of Haiti ready to serve up on a plate that doesn’t include adoption as an option, I do not feel any inclination to judge gently what the UN calls waste.

When 10s of millions of dollars disappear, that’s not just sloppy, it’s criminal.

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I’ve been writing about international adoption for a few years now and have to admit that I have never quite managed to get a handle on prevailing attitudes toward adoption from China. Some might suggest that this is a result of obstinacy on my part arising from the fact that I adopted from Cambodia and therefore lug around some crate of sour grapes that flavor my perceptions of programs in countries that are touted to be “clean”, and a bit of that is, perhaps, applicable.

(There is no doubt that I feel Cambodia was singled out for reasons that have nothing to do with suffering by comparison to any imagined purity or transparency in other corrupt nations, and without my understanding that some do seek the domino effect in putting an end to international adoptions forever and everywhere I would be very confused about the specific treatment one crooked little Southeast Asian country continues to receive. That being said, however, I would insist that the real world predominance of corruption should not be a reason to sentence children to short and miserable lives in the countries they happened to have been born in, but rather continue to offer the option of adoption to some while working to eliminate corrupt government practices on a much wider level through effective use of global organizations that should be addressing these issues directly. The UN, for instance, could be using its multi-billion dollar budget and the clout it buys to exert real pressure, rather than continue to pussyfoot around dictators, conflicts, blatant human rights violations, dirty politics and ruling-for-personal gain, and rather than simply pulling the rug out from under children in the name of easy expediency and cheap press.)

It does seem, however, that adoptions from China tend to be bathed in some rarefied light structured to convey a sense that, because the country has imposed hoops it chooses to jump through, all is kosher in the adoption process there. Adoptive parents with Chinese-born kids have been accused of carrying a tinge of “my adoption was cleaner than yours was”, and of sticking up for China’s system even when faced with strong evidence that the country is every bit as crooked, or more so, than others.

There is, at the moment, a fight going on in the UK between Channel 4 broadcasting and the Chinese embassy in London over a documentary that is scheduled to air in early October. The program (or “programme”, as it is to Brits who are quite fond of extra letters for the sake of tradition) is about child trafficking within China and is reported to quote a UN consultant saying that “at least 70,000 young children a year are sold or stolen in China.”

The trafficking is, apparently, not international adoption-related, but about internal problems caused by the one-child policy.

The programme makers filmed undercover in China, speaking to parents who had had a child stolen or had sold a child, and to traffickers. More boys are taken than girls because they will grow up to earn more money. Most are taken for childless couples, although some are sold into prostitution.

The Times carried what appears to be a fair piece on the situation, saying that the “Chinese are angry that they are not being given an advance screening of the documentary, which claims that the trade in stolen children is widespread.”

I had come across the story, so was surprised to see it referred to in a very different color on one of the adoption groups I read, posted by a parent that had adopted from China, that suggested the story was “fed” to the press by Amnesty International, hinting at some sort of plot to sling the mud of child trafficking in the direction of the Chinese government.

The theme was picked up by a few other readers who apparently got the story only from the provided link that led to the “tabloid Sunday Mirror”, indicating also that there was some concealing of sources going on, as if a suggestion that 70,000 children “kidnapped there every year and traded on the black market” was an outrageous claim, and only made to discredit China in its run up to the Olympics.

(Others pointed out that this sort information was valid and should not be dismissed out of hand and voiced concern over such issues in China.)

If we could for a moment include adoption in the bigger picture instead of giving into the temptation to remove it from the shelf that contains all the issues that stem from the system of government in China and stand it alone in the middle of the room as if it exists in a vacuum, it seems a very good time now to shine a bright light into many corners in that vast and complex nation.

The run-up to the Olympics has created an opportunity for many organizations to focus on China in the hope that some changes might be inspired by the extra attention, but unfortunately it seems that so far nothing much has been sticky enough to overcome the propaganda machines’ Teflon from both China and the IOC.

A year ago, Reporters Without Borders officially opposed holding the Olympic Games in Beijing, saying, in part:

The world sports movement must now speak out and call for the Chinese people to be allowed to enjoy the freedoms it has been demanding for years. The Olympic Charter says sport must be “at the service of the harmonious development of man, with a view to promoting a peaceful society concerned with the preservation of human dignity.” Athletes and sports lovers have the right and the duty to defend this charter. The IOC should show some courage and should do everything possible to ensure that Olympism’s values are not freely flouted by the Chinese organisers.

Just this week there has been press coverage of an Olympic torch-style relay through all the countries that have seen genocide in an attempt to draw attention to China’s support of Sudan.

Unsurprisingly, the Cambodian government wasn’t one bit happy about Mia Farrow showing up at Toul Sleng (now the Genocide Museum in Phnom Penh, but formerly a torture center that saw thousands suffer and die) to gain international attention for this effort to “push Beijing to pressure Sudan into ending the violence in Darfur”. Cambodia gets a lot of money from China and has no intention of jeopardizing future funding for the sake of a waste of time like human rights violations.

(I had to chuckle at the interior ministry spokesman’s take quoted in AFP: “The Olympic Games are not a political issue. Therefore, we won’t allow any rally to light a torch.)

That China is now a powerhouse is not a question, but what sort of power it wields most certainly is. And whether or not anyone cares is another.

Not rocking the adoption boat, on one hand, or jumping up and down hoping it sinks under the weight that comes with tossing every bit of dirt in the country into it no matter how unrelated in reality on the other, are both unhelpful, as is going all rah-rah because the Olympics are coming to town.

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