Monday, March 9, 2009

I posted this at the Wronging Rights discussion

Which is very interesting, and is available here.

Humanitarian Relief wrote:
"What if a conference in Juba takes months to reach a conclusion? What if it never reaches a conclusion at all? What should we do in Darfur in the meantime, to ensure that aid reaches those most in need?"

Exactly. The right thing to be doing now is constructing scenarios and weighing options. It is March, the worst of the dry season. If food, water, fuel shipments cease, people will start moving. Larger congregations about El Fasher and Nyala, and movements to El Obeid and Khartoum. More than likely the relief operations will then follow them. The government will control the process more, but when there are 200,000 persons in camps outside of El Obeid, government will rather skim off relief aid than spend its own money. Is that not right? Government could make people go to Chad/South Sudan, trying to destabilize those areas. People could move to rebel controlled territory, making war even more complicated.

CPA is law of the land during the transition period, but if NCP does not honor CPA, then the guarantors assumed an obligation to be involved in continuing negotiations. Civil society from north (and south) may then finally get a chance to reopen negotiations. Bargaining is back in full swing. CPA deal was indeed a monumental but fragile undertaking, and NCP has shown they were never really good faith partners. Yes of course the political dealings are incredibly messy and always lurking is violence. But that was part of the CPA anyway- Abyei was destroyed just 9 months ago, a full 2 years into the CPA!

I think the way you have framed the question: "How do we ensure aid reaches those most in need" is slightly leading... "How do we reach those most in need where politically feasible." By a most in need category, Congo had shifted to the priority some time ago. But it was not politically feasible then. If al-Bashir and regime decide they would rather kill the people in the camps than have peace, there is very little that humanitarian aid can do about that. Remember Bahr al_Ghazal in 1998
See film "Cry for Madiom"

This is where the rhetoric of "game-changer" I don't really agree with. For an illegitimate regime, it is never a "game", in the sense that they strategize to stay in power without any rules ("too many disagreements dishonored") The notion of honor gets conflated with masculinity- the only honor is strength (al-Bashir dancing - very overt display of masculinity). This is al-Bashir's only option- the hyper masculinized nationalistic (i.e. riverain Arab nationalism) young men (very similar to Henri Conan Bedie and Laurent Gbagbo in Cote d'Ivoire).

If al-Bashir wanted Sudan carved up with safe havens, then that is where he seems to be taking the country.

A good question is what the AU is now prepared to do. Al-Bashir intends to wreak havoc- will AU stand for that? One of their objections to the ICC arrest warrant is precisely to avoid being placed in this condition. Many African citizens are acutely aware of Darfur and acutely cynical of the AU. Burkina Faso, for example, home of present AU mediator Djibril Bassolet is extremely sympathetic to public, and extremely sensitive to ICC type issues (because of Charles Taylor and Prince Johnson complicated linkages).

So you got an analysis instead of constructive suggestions- sorry. economists can't even fix rich countries, how can we be expected to offer advice for the hardest of the hard?

But if I were an aid agency:
1) move quickly to Chad and South Sudan and begin pre-positioning supplies.
2) set up partnerships with new organizations so government can save face when allows aid to re-enter.
3) think about "witness" strategies if government tries to pull a north korea- impossible given porous borders and fluid population
4) give complete access to media in Arab World and Khartoum (there is a public image battle that started this week for the well-being of those in the camps)
5) think about mechanisms to deliver cash directly to camp residents (might even be less inefficient than present high overhead system)
6) provide training and "kits" for primary care clinics opened by locals in rebel areas. So staging "barefoot doctors" a la Eritrea.

How about you- what do you suggest? Your moniker suggests some expertise.

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