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INSIDE AFRICA: Making Peace in Sudan's Darfur Region

Aired July 17, 2004 - 12:30   ET


MONITA RAJPAL, CNN ANCHOR (voice over): Making peace in Sudan's Darfur region. The international community demanded it, but talks crumbled between rebels and the Sudanese government.

As the International AIDS Conference closes in Thailand, a look at one African nation's fight to save its citizens with preventive measures.

And music man Hugh Masekela on life and his dreams for Africa.


RAJPAL: Hello there. I'm Monita Rajpal. Welcome to INSIDE AFRICA, our weekly look at news and life on the continent.

Sudan's hopes of ending the conflict in its western Darfur region are fading. Sudanese rebels walked out of peace talks with government representatives on Saturday, saying the government had refused to meet their conditions for talks. The 17-month war has killed tens of thousands and displaced more than a million people.

Now, calls are coming from around the globe for the government to crack down on Arab militias and to help those refugees suffering in camps in neighboring Chad.


RAJPAL (voice over): The Sudanese government is under growing international pressure to end the crisis in Darfur, a region where more than a million refugees have fled in the face of attacks and atrocities by an Arab militia, the Janjaweed. It is the biggest humanitarian crisis in the world.

This week, the World Health Organization said hundreds of thousands could die of disease unless aid agencies got immediate access.

Human rights groups accuse the government in Khartoum of supporting the Janjaweed. The U.S. and others have warned Sudan that they will seek United Nations sanctions unless it reins in the militia group.

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I call upon the government of Sudan to stop the Janjaweed violence. I call on all parties of the conflict to respect the cease-fire, to respect human rights and to allow for the free movement of humanitarian workers and aid.

RAJPAL: The German foreign minister, Joschka Fischer, conveyed the same message to Sudanese President Omar el-Bashir on a visit to Khartoum.

JOSCHKA FISCHER, GERMAN FOREIGN MINISTER: What we want is to restore security and peace and stability on the one hand, and free access of the aid organizations to deliver the goods, which the people need to survive.

RAJPAL: But some members of the U.S. Congress say threats are not enough. The time to intervene is now.

U.S. Congressman Charles Rangel was arrested earlier this week while demonstrating in front of the Sudanese embassy in Washington.

REP. CHARLES RANGEL (D), NEW YORK: What is happening is sinful, it's mean, it's criminal, it's hateful! And if we just tolerate it, that blood -- that blood is on our hands if we do nothing.

RAJPAL: The African Union is trying to take the lead. It plans to send some 300 troops to patrol refugee camps and border areas, in addition to 120 unarmed monitors already on the ground. But the task is enormous. Darfur is the size of Kenya.

The Darfur crisis comes at a critical time for the Sudanese government, which is on the brink of resolving of a 20-year war with rebels in the south. That conflict caused the deaths of some two million people.

Preparing to join a national government, the leader of the southern rebels, the SPLA, has joined the chorus demanding action in Darfur.

JOHN GARANG, SUDANESE REBEL LEADER: We obviously will not allow that government to fight its own citizens in Darfur. There must be a fair and just political settlement in Darfur.

RAJPAL: The government says it is trying to subdue the Janjaweed militia, but its assurances ring hollow with the world beyond. And as the rainy season begins, time is running out for the refugees.


Now, earlier this week CNN's Jonathan Mann spoke to a Sudanese official about his government's efforts in Darfur. Here is a portion of that interview with the Sudanese ambassador to the U.N., Elfatih Erwa, who first spoke about the government's efforts to disarm the Janjaweed.


ELFATIH ERWA, SUDANESE AMBASSADOR TO U.N.: I think there is progress being made, because, first of all, to disarm the Janjaweed the necessity is the continuation of the cease-fire and an effective continuation of the cease-fire. And still now, even some days ago, the government has arrested some of those who are accused of misdeeds in the area, and they will be tried very soon.

But to complete the disarmament of them, it's not something that -- first of all, the entire state of Darfur is just as large as Iraq with tribes who are armed to their teeth. So to do the disarmament, in principle we agree, but we need the time and we need the environment to do that.

JONATHAN MANN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Would foreign intervention help? The African Union is sending in troops, but they're only sending in a few hundred. Would outside forces solve the problem more quickly?

ERWA: The African Union is sending observers, because both sides -- the rebels and the government -- they agree to all cease-fire, and they agree there should be monitors. And the African observers will guarantee the respect of these agreements.

But sending troops, foreign troops, whether it's African or Western, is a very complicated situation on the ground. You have still lots of things now going on in Iraq and other places, although it is a different scene and different circumstances. But you can imagine when you send troops into an area which is volatile and with people armed and with lots of complex (UNINTELLIGIBLE).

MANN: Now, the Iraq example has to figure large on your mind. U.S. President Bush said this week -- he demanded, in fact, very explicitly, that your government stop -- in his words -- stop Janjaweed violence. How concerned are you now that President Bush is also making demands?

ERWA: First of all, it's OK if he makes demands that the government stop the Janjaweed. But the government to stop the Janjaweed should be also within some settlements, within some ability of the government. If you keep pressuring the government, weakening it, how could you expect the government to restore security and peace while it is being weakened by decisions? But demands are accepted, because -- and then we all work for the good things and not to play with words. It's just a matter of words. We need to put something on the ground.

MANN: Well, how long is it going to take? On the one hand, you say that it's an enormous area and that your government is trying. On the other hand, you say that foreign troops wouldn't really help. How long before your government really will be able to end this? It's no secret, sir, that many people question your government's good faith on this issue. They say that your own government troops are aligned and assisting the Janjaweed, and that your own troops could be responsible for much of the violence there.

ERWA: Yes, that's true. There are lots of reports, but it depends. Where are the facts? How could we differentiate between facts and fictions? And how could we differentiate between facts and wrong perceptions?

So, as far as I'm concerned, my government is willing to do that, because it is in the interest of the government and in the interest of the people of Sudan. The basis to do that is a respected cease-fire and a continuation of peaceful talks and negotiations in good faith.


RAJPAL: That was the Sudanese ambassador to the U.N. speaking with CNN's Jonathan Mann.

Recently, we spoke to John Prendergast, the co-director of the Africa program at International Crisis Group about the situation in Darfur. He returned from the region earlier this week and described conditions there.


JOHN PRENDERGAST, INTERNATIONAL CRISIS GROUP: Well, there were mass graves. We saw the burned villages. We saw evidence of massacres. There were really remarkable scenes, very dramatic scenes, you know, left behind by these attacks.

RAJPAL: Is there a sense that aid is getting through? There was -- just about a few weeks ago, there were problems of aid agencies not being able to get through and to get aid to the people who need it to the most. Is there a sense that that has changed?

PRENDERGAST: I think the government, feeling all of this international pressure, has begun to relent on the provision of visas and a few other technical issues. But in general terms, because of the security environment, as the government continues to wage its war with the rebel groups and continues to support these militias to attack villages, the security environment has actually deteriorated, which makes aid delivery even harder.

RAJPAL: So, what does that mean in terms of the situation? How dire is it? What are people in the need of the most?

PRENDERGAST: I think their critical need in the first instance is protection; protection from the government-supported militias that are continuing their attacks. And there is protection against the government troops who are still bombing civilian populations in their villages.

And then secondly, in these internally-displaced camps, there are 135 internally-displaced camps in the government-controlled areas of Darfur. We only have access to about 75 of those. So, we've got to urgently get into the rest of these camps. We've got to provide some measure of monitoring, if not protection, for those civilians, so that emergency assistance can be deployed. It's a massive operation that needs to be undertaken, and we still haven't yet galvanized the kind of support necessary to do this kind of intervention.

RAJPAL: How has the -- what kind of impact has Secretary of State Colin Powell's visit had on the situation? You were talking about international pressure that the government -- that Khartoum has relented to some international pressure. But has it been enough?

PRENDERGAST: No, it hasn't at all. And I think the government of Sudan responds to the amount of pressure that's put on it that's meaningful. When you go and you talk to them and you negotiate with them, there's not going to -- you're not going to get much progress. There has to be a much greater emphasis on the accountability for the war crimes that have been committed in Sudan. I think that until the government feels that there is going to be a cost, a serious cost, to the kind of activities that they've undertaken over the last year that they will continue to pursue their actions with impunity.

So, I think that the Security Council really has to weigh in now. The United Nations Security Council has to weigh in now and call this what it is, this ethnic cleansing campaign, get involved in trying to push the issue of accountability, targeted sanctions against government officials, establishment of a commission of inquiry that would say whether or not war crimes and crimes against humanity have been committed and who has committed them, and then work towards providing the kind of intervention force necessary to protect civilians and deliver humanitarian assistance.


RAJPAL: We're taking a short break, but there is much more still to come here on INSIDE AFRICA. Coming up, on your money, a boost for African business as AGOA is extended. And how Nigeria is fighting to stop the spread of AIDS, armed with an ounce of prevention. Stay with us.


RAJPAL: The International Conference on AIDS convened in Thailand this week. The threat the disease poses for the African continent is unparalleled with an estimated 25 million people living with HIV/AIDS. From South Africa to Nigeria, AIDS is a deadly force of which to be reckoned.

South Africa has the highest infection rate with 4.8 million people with HIV. One in five adults are infected in Zambia, which has 870,000 adults infected. Ethiopia with 1 percent of the world's population has 9 percent of the world's AIDS cases. And Nigeria has 2.7 million people infected with AIDS.

But these countries and others are working to stop the spread of AIDS. In Nigeria, HIV testing sites are the first stop in fighting infection.

Our Lagos bureau chief, Jeff Koinange, has more on that.


JEFF KOINANGE, CNN LAGOS BUREAU CHIEF (voice over): A nervous couple makes a bold decision to get HIV-tested at one of Lagos' newly-introduced voluntary counseling and testing centers. Its nickname, VCT, has become a polite term for an AIDS test, an almost taboo subject on a continent that has suffered more than 17 million deaths from AIDS in the last two decades.

But Kazim (ph) and Nemota Sholubi (ph) have decided to come here and be tested because they will soon have an addition to their family. Nemota (ph) is several months pregnant and wants to know if her unborn child will be free of the virus that's disseminating her continent.

AIDS experts here say couples like the Sholubis (ph) are a minority. Few here are willing to be tested for fear of knowing the worst.

OLUSEGUN OGBOYE, LAGOS STATE AIDS CONTROL AGENCY: Because there is still quite a bit of stigma in the society towards people who test positive. And so, people do not want to come forward and test, because they do not want to know what their status is.

KOINANGE: The Sholubis (ph) start with a counseling and are briefed about the dangers of AIDS, as well as how to avoid becoming HIV-positive.

According to statistics released by the United Nations at the just- concluded 15th International AIDS Conference in Bangkok, Thailand, in sub- Sahara Africa up to 58 percent of women are HIV-positive. The world's richest nations, the U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan insists, need to cough up more money to help out the poorest nations in the fight against AIDS.

The U.N.'s Global Fund has raised $3.5 billion so far to fight AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria in 128 countries worldwide. But some in Nigeria say it will take more than just money to help turn the tide against AIDS.

OGBOYE: Is the money enough? No, it never is. It never is enough. There are still so many things that could be done.

KOINANGE (on camera): Now, these voluntary counseling and testing centers, or VCTs, are strictly that: on a voluntary basis. And unlike many parts of the world where many willingly volunteer to be tested, in Nigeria that concept has yet to fully catch on.

(voice over): The U.N. says 5 percent of the people in Nigeria suffer from HIV, but compared to other countries that figure is deceivingly low.

DR. FEMI OKE, FAMILY HEALTH INTERNATIONAL: The big number is not something comparable to what would happen in Bosana (ph). It's going to have about 30 percent. The whole population of Bosana (ph), of that country, is less than the number of people living with HIV and AIDS in Nigeria. The whole population of Bosana (ph). So, we cannot say, oh, the problem is in Bosana (ph). No. The problem in Nigeria is bigger than what we'll have anywhere in Africa.

KOINANGE: Meanwhile, the Sholubis (ph) make their way to the laboratory to get their blood drawn.

Next is an agonizing wait as technicians go about testing the blood samples. All it takes is a nominal fee of 2 U.S. dollars and 30 minutes to get a positive or a negative reading. The confidential reports are then sent back to the counselor, and the couple is soon ushered in for the verdict. A joyous moment, but also one of obvious relief.

The happy couple is soon on its way, knowing if they maintain their present status, their unborn child will likely not get HIV. When an HIV woman gets pregnant, UNICEF says, there is a 35 percent chance the virus will be passed to the baby either during pregnancy, the delivery or through breast feeding.

According to the United Nations, more than half a million African babies become HIV via transmission from their parents. More than four and a half million babies in Africa have contracted HIV since the pandemic began in what the U.N. now calls a tidal wave of death on the continent.

Jeff Koinange, CNN, Lagos.


RAJPAL: Let's switch gears and focus on your money.

U.S. President George W. Bush extends the African Growth Opportunity Act, and De Beers settles a price-fixing case that allows it to re-enter the U.S. market.

Nadia Bilchik has the details on that.


We're highlighting AGOA this week. U.S. President George W. Bush has signed into law an extension of the African Growth and Opportunity Act, AGOA, to 2015. President Bush described the U.S. initiative as a landmark legislation that has been beneficial to both the people of the continent of Africa and the people of the United States.


BUSH: In just four years, the African Growth and Opportunity Act has shown the power of free markets to improve the lives of people in both the United States and Africa. By reducing barriers to trade, this law has increased export, created jobs and expanded opportunity for Africans and Americans alike.


BILCHIK: This legislation extension will provide duty and quota breaks for African apparel makers who import raw materials to make fabric for the U.S. market -- countries in Africa like Kenya and Nigeria.

Now let's go to Johannesburg, where De Beers, the largest diamond company, is based. This week, the company pleaded guilty in a 10-year-old price-fixing case. It will pay a maximum $10 million fine. This clears the way for De Beers to resume selling diamonds directly in the lucrative U.S. market.

De Beers admitted conspiring to fix prices in the $500 million industrial diamond market in 1991 and 1992. Industrial diamonds are used to make cutting and polishing tools for manufacturing and construction equipment.

That's a wrap of business news. I'm Nadia Bilchik.

Monita -- back to you.

RAJPAL: Nadia, thank you very much for that.

And there's much more to come here on INSIDE AFRICA. When we come back, South Africa's native son, Hugh Masekela, the man and his music coming up next. Stay with us.


RAJPAL: (AUDIO GAP) for decades he has wowed us with his musical genius. But Hugh Masekela is more than an extraordinary trumpeter. He has also taken the time to champion the causes of his native South Africa.

Our Seema Mathur caught up with him at an engagement in the United States.


SEEMA MATHUR, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Listen to jazz legend Hugh Masekela. Even this American audience in Atlanta can hear the African influence. It's always at the heart of this man.

HUGH MASEKELA, JAZZ ARTIST: It's not my music. It's theirs. I just have it on loan, you know, and just the speaker amplifies it.

MATHUR: Because of apartheid, Masekela says he left South Africa as a young man.

MASEKELA: People were getting arrested left, right and center and, like, a lot of my friends who were not killed were, like, escaping.

MATHUR: His beloved mother and grandmother said goodbye with a message, saying basically to never forget where you come from.

MASEKELA: Her clan claimed that they deal in lightning, and that they can send lightning anywhere, even if there is no rain or clouds. And she said, and if you don't remember these words, regardless of who you're speaking to, I will send lightning wherever you are, and anybody who is in that room will also be hit. So, I'm doing this for your benefit.

MATHUR: Masekela says he went on to live an exciting rock and roll lifestyle in the States.

MASEKELA: I became a flower child in the '60s. And my friends were the Grateful Dead and Jimi Hendrix and Sly Stone.

MATHUR: But in the good times was hurt; hurt for what was happening to his country and family.

MASEKELA: When my mother passed away and my sister and I, we couldn't go and bury our mother. Those were hurtful days.

MATHUR: But with his music, Masekela made sure the world knew what was happening in South Africa. The biggest success: the Graceland Tour with Paul Simon in the 1980s.

MASEKELA: There were 10 million people who had never heard of South Africa before, and we played for three years to all of those people.

MATHUR (on camera): Hugh Masekela will tell you that he's not a politician and has no plans of becoming one. But much of his music is filled with a social message that resonates with people here in rainy Atlanta, Georgia, all the way to Johannesburg.

(voice over): Harsh words sung sweetly against Zimbabwe's Robert Mugabe, one of the issues that troubles Masekela today.

MASEKELA: There can be a time, probably not in my lifetime, where Africans can say last weekend was a fantastic time all over the country. And, of course, that's a great dream. But that's our challenge.

MATHUR: And you can be sure Masekela will take that challenge for harmony, both to the small stage and the world stage.

Seema Mathur, INSIDE AFRICA, Atlanta.


RAJPAL: And that is it for this week's show. Thank you for joining us. We'll see you again next time.



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