Saturday, July 12, 2008

Flogging would be unsubtle I guess

MAN things are falling apart up in the North. For those who aren't aware, the International Criminal Court (ICC) has said they are going to present evidence to issue an indictment against President Bashir for war crimes. It is pretty bold move against a sitting head of state, usually they wait until he's been deposed or something.

Also around this time, a group of UN peackeepers (UNAMID) were attacked near Shangil Tobayi in north Darfur, and, I believe, 6 were killed. Nobody has claimed responsibility for it and there is some pretty intense speculation that the government themselves orchestrated the attack as a warning to the UN in response to the ICC thing.

There also are threats that the government is preparing to kick out a number of high-profile NGOs for various and sundry charges which, since I used to work for one of the NGOs I can pretty safely say, are nonsense.

Due to all this, the security posture in the north has rapidly changed. Darfur is now a Level IV security situation, which is not good, and I really really wish my friends out there would all leave. Interestingly, though, Khartoum has also been raised to a Level III. Now, Khartoum, until now, was a family duty station, a calm city where you would go to get fresh scones from Ozone and mutter about the little tow headed children running around playing tag in the courtyard. It was not at all considered dangerous.

However, now, the US embassy is pulling out all dependents, I think the UN will be as well, and people are talking about restricted movement and the leaving of non-essential staff.

All this can't be blamed on the ICC alone, obviously there are underlying factors that were already there. But a lot of it WAS set off by the decision to present evidence at the ICC.

I am now sitting here thinking Really? Really are we doing this? I get that, however flawed it is, this is the justice available to us in the international community. But if this does escalate things then the aid groups and the UN will have to leave, exposing the people to even more suffering and, to be honest, there is VERY little chance of them ever actually getting Bashir to try him so it will have been an empty gesture.

I'm not sure, my gut tells me that this is a bad plan, that it is just the ICC trying to prove that they are relevant and useful and it will harm many more people than it will give satisfaction to. Or, maybe, I'm just playing right in to Bashir's hands, letting him get away without public retribution just so that we can continue our work.

Either way, it is a very very depressing time.

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