- The Washington Times - Tuesday, May 9, 2006

From combined dispatches

GENEVA — The United Nations’ special envoy on the right to food expressed deep concern yesterday over aid cuts to Sudan and said donors were legally obliged to help the African country.

The U.N. envoy, Swiss sociologist Jean Ziegler, issued a statement saying “states … have the obligation to respond quickly and in an appropriate manner to emergency food situations on the territory of a state member of the United Nations.”

The remarks echoed comments a day earlier by President Bush, who called on U.S. allies to honor their commitments and do more to send food aid to Sudan.

Meanwhile, in New York yesterday, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice strongly urged the U.N. Security Council to move quickly to get U.N. peacekeepers into Darfur, saying it was time to end western Sudan’s “long nightmare.”

The World Food Program said last month it was halving its daily food rations to about 6 million people in Sudan, half of them in Darfur, because of a lack of money.

The Rome-based U.N. agency has only $238 million of the $746 million it needs to feed people in the south, which is just emerging from 20 years of civil war, and in Darfur, where more than 2 million have been driven from their homes by violence.

“Member states [must] immediately honor their legal obligations and ensure the realization of the right to food of the suffering populations. … It is urgently needed to save the lives of thousands of people,” Mr. Ziegler said.

Mr. Bush on Monday diverted five U.S. ships carrying 40,000 tons of cereal commodities from Dubai to Sudan and ordered the shipment of 2,800 tons of non-cereal commodities from an emergency stockpile.

He also said that some countries had failed to honor pledges to send food to Sudan and called specifically on the European Union, Canada, Japan, Britain and the Netherlands to do more to help.

Most of the countries were leading contributors to Darfur last year but so far have not matched those pledges this year, said Randall Tobias, the Bush administration’s director of foreign assistance. He told The Washington Times that Mr. Bush had intended to “commend” them for their past efforts.

A European diplomat interviewed in Washington yesterday said, “We all have to do more, but we have to make decisions together to make sure the assistance reaches the people who need it.”

The European Union pledged about $127 million in new aid to Darfur last week, “covering humanitarian and immediate recovery needs for the region,” said the diplomat, who asked not to be identified.

EU Commissioner for Development and Humanitarian Aid Louis Michel had said previously that Europe was “impatient to turn our efforts towards rehabilitation and development of Darfur, with the involvement of all the afflicted populations of the region.”

Britain has committed more than $100 million so far this year and has contributed about $225 million since September 2003, a spokesman for the British Embassy said.

A German official said Berlin has provided more than $43 million in aid in the past couple of years independently of the European Union. A French official estimated that Paris’ contribution is similar, although specific figures were not immediately available.

Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi announced last week during a visit to Ethiopia that Tokyo would give another $18.7 million in emergency funds to support the African Union’s humanitarian and peacekeeping mission in Darfur. Japan had previously contributed $5 million to the African Union’s Sudan mission.

In New York yesterday, Miss Rice repeated the U.S. view that genocide was occurring in Darfur and said the United Nations must pass a strong resolution to help implement a peace deal signed last week in Abuja, Nigeria.

“We really have an opportunity to help end the long nightmare that has befallen the people of Darfur,” Miss Rice said.

“The United States urges the Security Council to quickly pass a resolution that we circulated yesterday,” she added, referring to a resolution seeking quick action to send U.N. peacekeepers to help African forces in Darfur.

Staff writers Nicholas Kralev and David Sands in Washington contributed to this article.

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