Refugees International was back on Capitol Hill yesterday, as Peacekeeping Advocate Erin Weir testified before the House Committee on Foreign Affairs. The purpose of the hearing was to discuss the challenges currently facing peacekeeping and possible improvements to the operations, said committee chairman Rep. Howard Berman. A distinguished group of witnesses gathered for the hearing, including Ambassador to the United Nations, Dr.
Two years ago I tried to visit Darfur to conduct an assessment mission with Refugees International, but was blocked from traveling there by the government of Sudan. Now, on the other side of the border in eastern Chad, I’m finally getting a chance to speak with people from Darfur, forced to flee their homes because of the conflict in the western part of Sudan.
In the midst of the Obama administration's policy review on Afghanistan a new word was born: Afpak, meaning Afghanistan and Pakistan. Strategists want to encourage the executors of strategy and policy to think of Afghanistan and Pakistan as a unified theater of operations. The border area between Afghanistan and Pakistan demands a unified approach if NATO and the U.S. are to defeat the Taliban. So, Afpak it is.
Am Nabak is a fine place for camels. It is rocky and dry, and getting drier. The water table can't support the current population of a few camels and around 17,000 refugees from the war in Darfur, so water is brought in overland by truck. The camp is situated scant 25 kilometers from the Darfur border. This is too close to the war zone by United Nations standards; it was only supposed to be a transit camp through which refugees passed on their way to more permanent and secure camps. But the refugees have settled in at Am Nabak and, despite the urging of the UN Refugee Agency, prefer to remain close to the border.
Nicholas Kristof's recent blog post took the United Nations to task for cancelling a security detail for him and his traveling partner, actor and activist George Clooney, on their recent trip to eastern Chad. Actually, Kristof said that his complaint with the UN is not the lack of security but rather the sudden reversal of position by high-level UN officials. Kristof claims UN leadership worried that Clooney might condemn the actions of Sudanese president Omar al Bashir as genocide, thereby worsening already tense relations between Khartoum and New York. A note: Mr. Clooney was travelling as a private citizen (albeit a very high profile private citizen), not in his role as a UN Goodwill Ambassador.