Category Archives: United Nations

Libya’s Humanitarian Effort

On March 17th 2011, the United Nations Security Council passed Resolution 1973, which called for a no fly zone over the northern Africa country of Libya. But as the fighting continues, thousands of people will lack food and other necessities they need to live.

In a closed meeting to the General Assembly, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said “there is an urgent need for humanitarian access” in Libya. But as soon as the rebels started the fighting, Qadhafi’s forces have been on the eastern and western borders stopping humanitarian agencies from entering the country.

As the no fly zone has been enforced, fighting continued between the Libyan government and the rebels, an entire week passed until three UNHCR trucks were able to enter the country delivering 18.5 tons of pulses (seeds that contain a variety of nutrients), plus sleeping mats and blankets.

With 23 people on the ground, the World Food Program (WFP) has distributed almost 11 thousand metric tons of food within the country and the surrounding camps, but they have only been able to enter the eastern part of the country. Abeer Etefa, Senior Regional Public Information Officer for WFP, told me food has been brought to “7,000 internally displaced persons in Eastern Libya.” But with the ongoing conflict “we face challenges in access to some cities especially in the contested areas. We hope to be able to deploy more teams on the ground as soon as the security situation allows and a safe humanitarian corridor is established.”

As the fighting increased, replenishing the food in the country has been difficult. Abeer told me 95 percent of the shops have been closed, making it more difficult for people to meet their basic needs. As the conflict continues, more people will need to receive aid.

While the total operation is costing $39 million dollars, an additional $4 million is being used to build better communications systems for non-profits working in the country. For the next three months, WFP plans to feed 600,000 people in Libya, and an additional 280,000 and 180,000 to the people living in the camps.

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Filed under Ban Ki-moon, Libya, Qadhafi, United Nations, World Food Program

No Traffic Light Ahead

President’s have always justified using force in different ways, whether for humanitarian, economic, or to protect the country. But when the decision is made to use the military, there needs to be clear goals. If you are positive military action is necessary, it should be obvious what you want to get out of it. In Libya though, no one seems to know when the strikes will stop or what will be accomplished by them.

As a communist country, Libya has been a thorn in America’s side for decades. The jabs have been over its nuclear weapons, and the times Qadhafi tried to take over other countries in Africa. But recently things were going well. Just a few years ago Qadhafi decided to let inspectors to look at his nuclear facilities and accepted responsibility for the
Lockerbie bombing. But then he started killing innocent protestors.

I can’t help but remember what President Obama said during his speech when he accepted the Nobel Peace Prize. “To say that force may sometimes be necessary is not a call to cynicism — it is a recognition of history; the imperfections of man and the limits of reason.” With all the protests going on in the Middle East and North Africa, it was only a matter of time before it became violent, and in Libya’s this case the military was needed.

While agreeing to use the military, what bothers me is that there does not seem to be an end in sight. General Ham, who is in charge of this operation, has said there are no plans to go after Qadhafi and its mission is to protect the civilians. But how do you protect civilians without attacking the person who is trying to kill them? At one of the daily briefings, the UN spokesman said they have not decided whether the rebels were going to be considered citizens or casualties of war, because, technically, this isn’t a war.

One of the country’s leading military experts, (and one of my former professors) Michael O’ Hanlon, told me in an email that “I don’t know where it ends but I don’t favor a military operation to overthrow Qaddafi”. He also pointed out that the mission has already gone beyond a no fly zone because Libya’s tanks have been taken out. But even without tanks, the government forces are much better armed than the rebels fighting them.

It is also unclear how many people are actually fighting against the government. While next door in Egypt the military held a non-violent coup, there have only been a handful of military officers who sacrificed themselves and chose not to fight. But if Qaddafi is going to be forced from office, the majority of the Libyan people are going to have to sacrifice the most.

Qadhaffi has shown no signs of slowing down and has placed his troops on the country’s borders where thousands of civilians are trying to escape. To make matters worse, UN workers are not able to get into the country where there are even more displaced people who need help.

There doesn’t seem to be much middle ground anymore. At this moment, both sides seem to be waiting for the other to stop, and no one is putting on the breaks. That’s why the coalition supporting this operation is going to have to decide whether or not to try and find Qadhaffi or pull out.

 

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Filed under Libya, Michael O' Hanlon, military, no fly zone, Obama, Qaddafi, resolution 1973, United Nations

Election In Sudan

The new year is meant to be a fresh start and a chance to look to the future. It is a time where it is possible to leave all the bad things that happened last year behind, and decide where you want to take your life.

The people living in southern Sudan will have an opportunity to do this on January 8th. For decades, the conflict in Darfur has been documented by reporters such as Nick Kristoff, and stories have been told through the organization Lost Boys of Sudan. But a new chapter will be written once the coming elections takes place.

After years of civil war, and treaties that promised peace that never came, the President of Sudan, Omar al-Bashir, said that he would accept whatever the results of next Saturday’s elections. But this is the same person who is wanted by the international criminal court for the genocide that took place in 2003. It is expected that the south will vote to secede, but there have already been problems with the international organizations which are trying to help. While the United Nations has managed to raise billions of dollars to help those who have been displaced, a lot of that money has not been properly accounted for. A large portion of the money was meant to be used to re-integrate members of the military into society, but it was recently reported that most of the money was spent on staff equipment, salaries, and vehicles instead.

However, the State Department has reported that all the ballot and voter registration drives were completed without hindrance, and at this point the vote is expected to be credible.

The Civil War in the country has displaced millions of families. Leaving people hungry and homeless. This also burdens border nations, and the rest of the continent, where these people migrate to because they have nowhere else to go. If this strife continues to happen, it can create instability for the entire continent. With the world becoming more and more integrated every day, it is important for the international community to help Sudan stabilize and grow its economy, no matter what the results of the election may be.

If the election is deemed to be a fair process, and the south votes to secede, the international community will have to put pressure on President Bashir to make sure they are allowed to do so peacefully. But Bashir has every reason to keep the north and south together. The southern regions of Sudan are where most of the oil in the country is located. Without that, the north will not nearly have as strong of an economy. And if the people in the south vote not to secede, steps need to be taken to make sure what happened in 2003 never happens again.

According to The Brookings Institution, strengthening the rule of law is a key element to helping the Sudanese who have been displaced. Economic opportunities are not the only reason The Lost Boys and millions of others without a home will want to go back. They left because Sudan was not a safe place to live. The Sudanese in the south have lost their trust in the north, and with good reason. But with a strong new and independent government, policies can be implemented to make sure that the people living in southern Sudan are safe.

If the people vote to secede, and Bashir goes back on his word, corporations can divest from the country, and sanctions can be imposed by the United Nations. This will tighten Sudan’s belt and put pressure on the north and force Bashir to implement policies that will stop the atrocities that continue to plague the country.

While the Obama administration has had a lot on its plate the last couple of years, it has only talked, and not implemented policies which can help bring about peace in a region where the children have known nothing but war. This is an opportunity for the international community to come together and create a place that is not only able to help those living today, but for the future as well.

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Filed under Africa, development, divestment, Election, north, Oil, President Bashir, President Obama, south, Sudan, United Nations