Monday, October 16, 2006

I Guess It All Depends...

...on one's definition of "peacekeepers".

From the Associated Press:

Darfur refugees plead for protection

KASSAB, Sudan --Refugees in the camps scattered across Darfur live in fear, saying the African Union peacekeeping mission does little to protect them even as rising violence is driving away crucial humanitarian aid.

"You have been here for three years now, and what have you done for us?" a tribal leader bitterly asked a delegation of AU soldiers and police that came to the Kassab refugee camp last week.

As they often must, the peacekeepers patiently explained to camp delegates that they had come to Darfur only to monitor the violence and have no mandate to fight it.


The AU mission came in 2004, but refugees' anger over their perceived ineffectiveness is strong.

Apparently, it also relies heavily on one's definition of "perceived".

So, just how bad is the situation over there?

"If there is nothing you can do, then you might as well go home, so that the United Nations come," [refugee leader, Attaieb] Adem said.

That's not good.

We take you now to village of Gusa Jamat for this week's installment of "Compare and Contrast".

Militia keeps violence in Darfur at bay

GUSA JAMAT, Sudan --One corner of Sudan's violent Darfur region is green and peaceful in this post-rainy season thanks to a powerful village militia that has kept the fighting around it at bay for more than a year.

At the center of a coalition of neutral villages that unites more than 10,000 people, the village of Gusa Jamat's homegrown militia kicked out Darfur rebels more than two years ago and made sure the government forces they are fighting did not come back in their place.

"I don't know about the rest of Darfur, but here the war is definitely over," said Sheik Nasser Abd el-Rahman Shaieb, Gusa Jamat's village headman. "We've got enough guns and trained men to make sure of that," Shaieb said earlier this week.

"Peace Through Superior Firepower", it's more than just a clever slogan on the back of some knuckle-dragging gun nut cute blond girl.

Village leader Shaieb would not say how many armed men he has, but said some Arabs from cattle-raising tribes were among his followers.

"The last real fighting we had was over a year ago," he said proudly.

The defense rests.

I wonder when 60 Minutes will be doing their story on Shaieb and his men. I'm sure it's on Katie Couric's to-do list.

Quick show of hands - how many of you heard of this story, which came out about two weeks ago, before reading it here?

And, because I know you're all dying to know when you can order them, I should be getting the confirmation for the next round of stickers very soon. Stay tuned.

(click to enlarge)