Thursday, November 21, 2002
Peter Bell, President of CARE USA, provides a report on his recent trip to northern and southern Sudan. Central to his findings is the positive influence of the peace process. He addresses the ways the peace talks have influenced humanitarian aid access and the opinions of people he was able to speak with. He contrasts this visit with one he took three years ago and emerges cautiously optimistic.
Jerry Fowler: We’ll go ahead and get started, and I hope some more people will join us as we get going, but I’m certainly looking around and seeing a lot of familiar faces. We have a high-quality audience here.
Welcome to the Holocaust Memorial Museum. My name is Jerry Fowler, and I’m the staff director of the Committee on Conscience, which is the genocide prevention project of the Holocaust Museum. As most of you know, since 2000 we have had a genocide warning in effect for Sudan where we believe there is a threat of genocide based on actions by the government.
For those of you who haven’t seen it, we have a special display on Sudan. If you go out this door and hang a right, it’s right outside our main auditorium. I encourage you to look at that.
We are very privileged today to have the latest in our series of briefings on Sudan. Today we have Peter Bell who is the chief executive officer and president of CARE USA. Mr. Bell is well known in humanitarian and philanthropic circles. He has been president of CARE for over 7 years now. I guess you just celebrated your seventh anniversary as president of CARE.
Peter Bell: Yes.
Jerry Fowler: Before that he was with the Edna McConnell Clark Foundation; he has also been at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace; and served as a deputy undersecretary of state in the Department of what was then Health, Education and Welfare where he oversaw the program for resettling Indochinese refugees in the United States.
He has just returned from a trip to both northern Sudan and southern Sudan. So we’re pleased to have him here to give a briefing on his trip. He has also circulated some written notes that he drew up. So without further ado, Peter, thank you very much for coming.
Peter Bell: Thank you very much. I am glad to be here with you. What I would propose is that perhaps I’ll talk for 20 to 30 minutes, and then we’ll have an opportunity for discussion.
I did return just exactly 2 weeks ago today from a trip to Sudan. I have been there only twice before. My immediately previous trip was 3 years ago when Marianne Leach and I ventured to Sudan. It was a critical time in many respects to return.
Let me back up for just a moment to say that CARE, the international development and relief agency, has been working in Sudan for approximately 22 years. During most of the time, Sudan has been in civil war. Most of CARE’s work during this period has been in responding to recurrent emergencies.
Back in 1998 there was a terrible famine in the area of Wau?? in Sudan and CARE responded, undoubtedly helping to save tens of thousands of lives in that crisis. Out of that experience we decided that it wasn’t sufficient just to continue responding to one disaster after another in Sudan when we knew that the underlying cause of virtually all of these recurrent disasters was the civil war.
So starting four years ago we put together an advocacy campaign working with government officials in Khartoum, with rebel leaders in the south, with officials from neighboring governments who were involved in the regional peace process, and with members of the broader diplomatic and policy community in the United States, in Western Europe, and at the United Nations. During these four years we have sent a series of missions with senior CARE people to Sudan, and have engaged in meetings all over the world, really, on Sudan.
Basically, we’ve had three sets of issues that have been of concern to us. One is advocating for a process that would lead to a just and lasting peace. The second was broadening humanitarian access to all people in need within Sudan. The third was to advance basic human rights particularly with regard to displaced persons in Sudan.
One of the reasons that I visited Sudan at this time was that we had been encouraged by the peace talks that had begun in Machakos outside of Nairobi, in neighboring Kenya, and by the progress that had been made there.
In fact, back in July there was a basic protocol signed by representatives of the rebel force and the government of Khartoum in which they agreed on a couple of very key issues. One, the separation of religion and the state. The other was on the issue of self-determination. Those had long been two major issues, and reaching agreement on those issues is a very important component of a future peace agreement.
The talks actually had fallen apart back in September. They were broken off, and in fact there were attacks and counterattacks by the two sides, but they were brought back to the peace table on I believe it was about October 14th, and, indeed, within the next few days signed then an agreement for secession of hostilities. That has been maintained and in effect sine then.
It also agreed to widen humanitarian access to all parts of the country as well which was in our view a very major step forward because not only is it important in and of itself for humanitarian and for human rights reasons, but it is also a way of helping to build confidence between the two sides in the sense that as humanitarian access is in fact maintained, it creates an environment more conducive to advancing further negotiations.
I spent the first part of my visit there in Khartoum, and then moving from Khartoum into northern Kordofan, El-Obeid and some of the outlying areas around El-Obeid. It was very interesting and rather heartening that the atmosphere in Khartoum was really quite different from when I was last there 3 years ago.
Three years ago in meetings with government officials I talked about CARE’s advocacy for a process leading to a just and lasting peace. The reaction on the part of government officials overall was somewhere between uneasy and hostile. The meetings by and large at that point were tense, and certainly even more so regarding the issues of human rights.
This time around it was more like pushing on an open door. I don’t underestimate the degree to which government officials were engaged in a kind of charm offensive, that may be the case, but the fact of the matter is that every official with whom I spoke right up to the ministerial level talked about the importance of arriving at a just peace within the country and went on at some length about how the people of Sudan had had enough of war and how important it was to take advantage of this opportunity to arrive at peace.
They did at the same time complain to me as a visitor from America about the Sudan Peace Act which had been passed by Congress and signed into law by President Bush just a few weeks earlier. What particularly riled them within the Peace Act was that it would provide for up to $100 million a year for the southern part of the country through the SPLA, the rebel group, if the peace talks to not succeed, and I believe there’s a 6-month period for testing of this process.
What people objected to both within the Sudanese government and also in the diplomatic community, that is, ambassadors from various European countries, supporters of the peace process, was that the United States which has been supporting the peace process was through the Sudan Peace Act tiling unduly to one side and was not maintaining what they regarded as the impartiality necessary to be kind of an honest broker and supporter here, but other than that, our talks seemed to be very constructive and very supportive.
The other thing that impressed me in Khartoum and later on in another stage of my visit as well, and this was also quite different from three years ago, was that the Sudan Peace Act aside, the United States government and the governments of European countries that have been most supportive of the peace process seemed to have their act together. The communication seemed good among them. We had been advocating over this period for them to do precisely that, to get on the same wavelength, and we felt that they had made real progress in doing so.
The atmosphere more broadly among people with whom we talked in the opposition and more widely in Khartoum was I’d say more tempered. They had been initially very optimistic and had become somewhat more pessimistic in part because of the Sudan Peace Act and in part because of their uncertainty in some cases whether this peace process was going to come to a successful end and in other cases because of concern that the government of Sudan might be pushed into making compromises that they shouldn’t make by the rest of the world ganging up on them.
When we got down to El-Obeid and out into the communities in this sort of semi-arid part of the country where CARE was working in trying to help them develop agriculture that could resist the climatic and ecological challenges of that region, I found there in talking with people in their community settings that in fact overwhelmingly even though they are not directly involved in the war, they were extremely supportive of the peace process and listened on their radios to whatever scant news they could obtain.
The women spoke about the young men in their communities who had been conscripted into fighting, and some of whom never returned. The men talked about how resources had been siphoned off by the government into military use and that as a result no schools were being built, no roads were being built, no health-care clinics were being built.
Of course, in fact, today in excess of 90 percent of the Sudanese people have come to live in extreme poverty. We see of course over and over again that something in the order of 2 million people died as a result of the war, and another 4 million-plus people have been displaced by the war.
After going back to Khartoum and having some additional meetings there, I went off to Nairobi, and it’s a great flight. It leaves at 3:30 in the morning from Khartoum. I arrived early the next morning in Nairobi, and just a couple of hours later got a plane from Nairobi to Lokichoggio, which is where the base camp in northwestern Kenya is located for the 40 or 20 nongovernmental organizations that are working under the aegis of the Operation Lifeline Sudan of the U.N. in southern Sudan.
Very early the next morning I set off for Mabior in Bor County where I was greeted in the traditional Dinka way where as we arrived on this dirt landing strip, local officials and CARE staff sacrificed a bull. Somebody whispered in my ear that I had to leap over it twice and I would then be duly welcomed to that area.
I again spent that day visiting various communities who a little more than a decade ago where the Nuer had raided over a couple of year period those communities and abducted many of their women and children, and something like 80 to 90 percent of their cattle as well. They are now trying to gradually adjust culturally and economically in finding a way to eke out a living in what has to be a changing culture which had in the past been so based on their cattle, and which are largely absent today.
My last meeting was with a group of about 40 farmers who we call contact farmers because these are the farmers who’ve been trained by CARE to work in turn with the farmers within their own communities developing new agricultural techniques. We talked about all of the challenges that they face in their lives, all they had been through, the bombing, the raids and all the rest, and talked about the projects that they were engaged in with CARE.
At the end of our meeting, which had lasted about an hour, I asked whether they had any questions or any requests of me. Often in such meetings I would expect that someone would pop up and say could you help us build a school that we’ve been wanting to build for a long time, or could you help us put in the pump that we need for safe water in this community. But the question that they had was what is your assessment of the progress of the peace talks, and I gave them a brief report on my impressions of Khartoum and how different it seemed, the conversations we had had, how different they had been from 3 years earlier.
I said that in general based on what I had heard, I was hopeful that this time that the process might in fact lead to a just peace. The people immediately broke into applause, cheered, in what had until then been a very somber meeting. Again, this was typical of everywhere we went both in the North and in the South.
Back in Nairobi, I there met with representatives of five other NGOs, nongovernmental organizations, with which CARE has been working over the last several years in our advocacy efforts. We had jointly in fact put together a report a few months ago called “The Keys to Peace” that basically captures our analysis, findings, and recommendations.
I was pleased to see in the case of the Minister of International Cooperation whom I had met in Khartoum that he not only had a copy of it in front of him on his table, but that he had read it, underlined it, written notes in the margins, and that he professed that he in fact agreed with our major recommendations, although he had a few minor bones to pick that he was going to talk with us about in a separate meeting.
It’s been very important that we’ve had this group of nongovernmental organizations that has worked closely together, and I think continues to be a resource for the peace process.
In addition, I also got out to the site of the peace talks at Machakos and met with the SPLA, the rebel delegation. People were not in a great mood when we went out there. They had reached a rough patch in the talks, I would say at minimum. They were talking about very serious, difficult issues, including the distribution of wealth and the sharing of power. These are not easy issues.
The SPLA delegation I was talking about the Sudan Peace Act earlier, what I didn’t state specifically is that it is only an authorization bill, it is not an appropriations bill, but the SPLA delegation was urging us within CARE to support passage of an appropriations bill. Clearly, they saw this as a hammer to use in their negotiations with the government.
They were also very critical of CARE because a couple of years ago when Congress had passed legislation that appropriated funds that could have been used as to buy food that would have gone to the SPLA and would have been used in effect as weapons of war, CARE had opposed the actual implementation of that legislation. They didn’t take kindly to it. They wanted me to note that they still remembered it. As I said, they weren’t exactly happy campers at that point in the negotiations process.
To my regret, I did not meet with the government delegation then because I think, incorrectly, I believed that the talks that we had in Khartoum would have been sufficient. I think it would have been useful to meet with the government delegation.
I did meet with Lazarus Sumbweiyo, the general from Kenya who is the principal mediator in the peace process, and we had a good discussion. He was in some respects critical of both sides. He criticized the delegation of the government of Sudan because in effect they didn’t have their act together. There were disparate views on some key issues within the delegation itself, and it was very difficult to make the kind of progress he would have liked to have seen made under those conditions.
But he was equally harsh with regard to the delegation from the South whom he described as being strident and uncompromising. I got the picture that the government delegation would put a proposal on the table as a first negotiating step and expect engagement and maybe to make some compromises as it was criticized by the other side. Instead, the SPLA would pounce on it and engage in a rhetorical response rather than an actual engagement.
So this, as I say, at a critical point in the process was somewhat discouraging on both sides. The general was not to be discouraged. He was very insistent, very persistent, about continuing the process, and the importance of continuing the process. He thought that in some ways both sides would have been very tempted to leave the talks, but he thought for their own reasons neither side could afford to leave the talks and that it was important to hold them there.
Then later on I did meet with the ambassadors chaired by in this case the U.S. Ambassador Johnnie Carsen, the ambassador in Nairobi. I was impressed that it was led by the U.S. Ambassador, with the Norwegian, Italian, U.K., and Dutch ambassadors, that the communication among them was very good, and that they were very engaged in support of the regional so-called IGAD process and more hopeful than otherwise.
Three years ago when I was there, I think in the diplomatic community if I had to choose one word to describe the view it would have been cynical, and I did not find cynicism at this time.
After we left, which as I said was just 2 weeks ago, the talks continued until November 18th, and then a memorandum of understanding summing up where things were at that time has subsequently been released. By and large, it is I think if taken at face value more hopeful than otherwise. The parties have made some real progress in these difficult areas of negotiation, mainly the distribution of wealth and the sharing of power. In the memorandum, the fuzziness is really just an outline. You don’t get the full content of it. To me it signifies real progress.
Just today I was over at the State Department talking with Walter Kansteiner, the assistant secretary for African affairs, and he seemed heartened as well, all told, by the progress that has been made. The parties at the talks at Machakos have disbanded, but there had been an agreement earlier that there would be a secession of hostilities until the end of December. The two parties are not going to reassemble until early January, and one of the last things they did was to agree to further extend the secession of hostilities through the end of March. So, again, that’s a hopeful sign.
Similarly, when I was there, there had been the agreement to widening humanitarian access, and almost always before that whenever the United Nations asked for access to different parts of the country the government’s response had been a very selective one. There were various places that were identified as being off limits for whatever reason.
When I was there, there was a list of 183 sites that was sent to the government, and they did not object to the OLS gaining access to any of them. The next time, I don’t know whether this has actually occurred yet, but I believe it’s to be for the month of December, the OLS plans to send in a list of 300 sites. Again, the expectation is that none will be identified as off limits. There may be cautionary signs with regard to some places, but then it will be up to the U.N. itself to decide whether they want to take the risk, given their own assessment of the security risks in going to those places.
I actually left, I hate to use this term because it sounds weasely, but I left at least cautiously optimistic that this process will in fact get to an actual peace settlement. It clearly is not going to happen by the end of December which had been the initial goal, but the mediator for the talks asked us to give him until the end of March. I suspect in fact that an agreement could be reached over the next several months. I don’t know whether it’s 3, 4, 5, or 6 months, but I believe that there is momentum and that there is progress being made.
I don’t underestimate the complexity of the negotiations. I don’t underestimate the continuing strength of hard-liners on both sides, and particularly within the political context in Khartoum itself. But I think there is at least a group of more pragmatic or opportunistic at least in the French sense of the term politicians and authorities in Khartoum who actually have come to believe that they are more likely to have a share in authority and power if there is peace than if there is not peace. I think they have come to believe that they have lost or are losing whatever base they once had with the continuation of the war.
I also think that this is truly an historic moment. I think for people who care about advancing the peace process, this is the part to use whatever influence we may have to advance the process because there is I believe a real chance of getting to a successful peace settlement. If the process fails, the Sudan will be much worse off than it was before the process began. I think the war will be more virulent, more violent, more disastrous, than it was before. I suspect that the international community, or at least a good part of it, will throw up its hands and in fact walk away from the Sudan even as some years ago it walked away from Angola when the peace agreement there was broken.
There is still a lot of work to be done, and part of that work, too, is for members of the international community not only to continue their support of this process, but also to work together in creating, if you will, an incentive structure and a support structure of humanitarian, developmental, and diplomatic support so that once a peace agreement is reached, it is in effect cemented.
It will be important for the United States to support this humanitarian and developmental assistance in an equitable way that is in both the North and in the South. I don’t mean that the needs will be exactly equal, but I think that it will be important for the United States to continue to be an impartial supporter that bases its support on principally humanitarian criteria.
Let me stop here, I’ve used my full half-hour, and respond to questions, comments, or if there are others like Jemera around the table who have been much more continuously and deeply engaged in Sudan over the years than I have been.
QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS
Peter Bell: On the first question, I’m not sure that I’m the best authority to respond. Just in looking at the memorandum that came out of on November 18th, did you see it? I interpreted that as meaning that there are going to be national elections for, example, the National Assembly, that there would be a designated portion of seats in that assembly that would be filled from the South, but there would be a national election.
Perhaps I’m wrong, but that’s the way I interpreted it. I think there are talks that have gone on, too, to the effect that John Garang would become vice president, and the current vice president would become perhaps a second vice president but of a more junior rank. These are the sorts of things that are going on.
When Jemera referred to the interim period, and I mentioned at the beginning of my remarks the prospect that there would eventually be self- determination, the idea is that in the first 6 years there is supposed to be a good-faith effort to work towards unity within Sudan, one nation. But in 6 years, there will be a referendum in which people will be able to exercise self-determination and can opt for cessation, but that is years and years off.
The United States would seem to have been in a hurry to get the South organized in an authoritative way and to set up governmental structures, in effect, in the South sooner rather than later. When I say that, just looking at things like this set of AID requests for proposals that were sent out, as I understand it, I did meet with various people who are engaged in the basic education program -- and it is to be very much a bottom-up approach to education. How it will be affected if in the middle of the process there’s a peace agreement, I would only conclude that it could only be affected in positive ways if it would just remove tensions that might otherwise be there. The planning is going on for this project.
I also had some talks at the State Department today and intend to have talks at Treasury, too. There is an office at the Treasury that regulates the use of the licenses, the Office of Foreign Assets and Control, and it’s usually known by its acronym OFAC.
What has happened is that CARE has not really been able to get that project launched on the ground because back in July we asked OFAC for the licenses for the local organizations with which we would work, and they haven’t granted the licenses. They haven’t granted the licenses just because it’s a huge bureaucratic jam.
But it’s a classic example of our kind of political system shooting itself in the foot because on the one hand, there’s a desperate need throughout Sudan and particularly the South for the development of education, and here because of a concern that develops from broader concern about terrorism, we can’t licenses for local groups, so we can’t put resources in their hands. Again, it’s just because of our bureaucracy at work or not at work.
Moving on to the other question that you asked, I have to say I know that we are in the development of this project working with, I don’t know whether it’s SPLA or SRRA, but they have an education person and that that person is very much a part of this project and of its design. He is I think at a more political level and he has working with him a person who is more engaged in education, as such, concerned with more professional education.
The other thing I was going to say was that in talking with officials from AID, they were concerned that NGOs did not respond with more alacrity to some of the contracts that they were ready to let out. My read on that was, for example, in the area of governance, perhaps AID was premature; that they didn’t get as many proposals as they would have liked, and those that they did get were not as in as good quality as they would have liked. There was another area that you mentioned, too, and I think it is just because it seems that they’re premature.
Peter Bell: I don’t know because we didn’t apply. We decided not to apply. There was another area. There were four initially. There was one on microcredit, and there was a fourth one, and I’ve forgotten what the fourth one was.
Peter Bell: Agriculture. It was their intent to go through with all of them, but I don’t think for all of them that they got a necessarily large response at this stage.
Jerry Fowler: On OFAC, I understand that this is a larger problem that a lot of the agencies are encountering.
Peter Bell: Right.
Jerry Fowler: OFAC has reinterpreted the regulations in a way where more people need licenses now than previously needed them.
Peter Bell: Right.
Jerry Fowler: This is also affecting basic humanitarian aid that’s going on.
Peter Bell: Yes. It’s very frustrating. I know it’s frustrating not only to NGOs, but it’s also frustrating to the USAID staff. I met in Nairobi with the general counsel, the counsel for AID there. She was about to come back to Washington.
Peter Bell: Marianne Leach who is here may know more than I. I think part of the problem is to make the whole process more transparent because for all we know, the request that we sent back in July is just sitting in somebody’s in basket. There is no feedback.
Peter Bell: What is troubling to us is CARE has been granted a license, but our mode of operating, and our preferred mode of operating is to work with local partners, to find local organizations. I don’t think that the Treasury has thought through, for example, whether community-based organizations need licenses or not. I just don’t think anybody has thought it through. I hope that this can get resolved soon.
Peter Bell: The truth is that on this particular visit as compared with my earlier visit, we really didn’t talk about that range of options. I think it was implicit that there could be a broader range. I think so much depends on really what happens in the first months and the first years after a peace agreement.
I really don’t have any special insight at this point. I’ve read Francis Deng’s writings on these things and that sort of thing. I think there are a lot of people from the South who are going into this thinking that at the end of 6 years they’ll vote for secession. But I think that’s precisely the challenge to the North, and more broadly to see whether they can create a different framework and a different reality in Sudan which would bring people around to thinking that it’s in their interests to stay together.
Question: What about the flip side of that, though, in talking to the North? You mentioned that among the opposition there was concern that the government might be pushed into making more compromises or concessions they shouldn’t make. Was there willingness among northerner, whether inside the government or outside, to either accept that to avoid secession there would have to be pretty dramatic changes in the governance of the country, or a willingness to accept cessation?
Peter Bell: I’m sure that in a certain sense that people with whom we spoke were more weighted toward a more, if you will, moderate or pragmatic side. But certainly I found among the people with whom we talked an appreciation, a willingness to admit that historically the South has been treated in an unjust way.
But at the same time, there’s a sense on their part that there are lots of people in the North who are also severely disadvantaged. So if they think that there is some sort of fairness involved here, I think they were ready to take a positive, constructive approach. That is, that there is real equity, even while realizing that given the population base of a disproportionate amount of money may by some sort of criteria that can be set up go into the South.
But you’re talking about 90 percent of the country living in extreme poverty. It’s almost impossible even for me just having come back to sit here in Washington and feel what that means in terms of the lives of so many millions of people.
Peter Bell: I must have seen an earlier version of it, but what is interesting is that when I talked with the people from the SPLA, there’s no question that they talked as though it was going to go to them.
Peter Bell: First, I did not see at this point large movements of people. I did have discussions with people both in the North and the South about the prospect of movement of people. No one really knows, although CARE has actually jointly with the U.N. over the last couple of weeks been doing a survey to try to gain a more accurate sense of what intentions of internally displaced persons around Khartoum are. It will be interesting to see what comes from that.
I began after a certain point to somewhat arbitrarily estimate that perhaps as many as a million internally displaced persons would return from the North to the South within the first year after a peace agreement. I began testing that on various people, including people like Abel Alier, who is a lawyer from the South who lives in Khartoum and has written a history of the conflict. People seemed to think that this was about as good a guess as any, that it was a reasonable estimate that up to a million people might return.
Clearly, there is going to be need for resources to facilitate their safe return, to reintegrate them, to provide for sanitation and food. This could be a massive movement of people.
It’s very difficult to estimate. What’s happened in Afghanistan is that under very arduous conditions, there has been about twice the number of returnees to the communities than the humanitarian community had estimated. I think the U.N. had estimated 800,000, and the number is more like 1.5 million or something of that nature. So it’s hard to say, but I think it’s something for which we all need to be prepared.
Peter Bell: I have one Sudanese acquaintance from the North with whom I had a discussion who said that in order to keep the hard-liners within the Sudanese military in check, the international community would need to be prepared for their engaging in hostilities on the Ethiopian front, that’s a price that would need to be paid politically, and that that would be a way of keeping them in line. I really don’t know enough what to say about that.
On the question, if we had a resumption of the kind of exchanges that occurred back in September, I think that would be a serious setback. If it escalated and really showed bad faith on both sides, or either side for that matter, I think that would be a tremendous setback for the peace talks.
I think what would happen, this is just predictive, is that if the talks were interrupted and the sides showed bad faith, I think what you’d see is increasingly the international actors, the Europeans, the Americans, would walk away on the humanitarian and developmental side. I suspect it wouldn’t stop various countries in the region and perhaps some international actors from giving covert aid to keep the war going, that the war would keep going and more and more people would be killed, it would be without resolution, and increasingly Sudan would be on its own otherwise.
I hope I’m wrong. First of all, I hope this eventuality does not occur. But I think it is in part for that reason that I believe it is so important for anyone who can do anything to do what we can to advance the prospect at arriving at a good settlement.
Peter Bell: I think you’ve already stated pretty much the sum total of my feelings or knowledge on this issue. CARE particularly has been engaged for now quite a few years in advocating for access to the Nuba Mountains, and in June we did finally gain access from the North to the Nuba Mountains.
I remember my previous trip spending a fair amount of time with the then governor of the Nuba Mountains who is since deceased and being actually quite impressed by him in many ways.
I really don’t have any special wisdom on this, but I do think that those three areas are going to need some space of their own within whatever framework is arrived at. The politicians and diplomats will have to arrive at an artful formula to put it together so that they can have the space that will allow them to preserve in effect their cultural identity. Yet at the same time, participate in the framework of a larger nation.
In terms of the 6-year interim, some others of you may have more definite views on how all this could be made to work out. I think that they had hardly begun even to touch on these issues before they dispersed on the 18th. I don’t think this is an area where they’ve made much headway yet.
Jerry Fowler: One more question from Jemera.
Peter Bell: No, what I imagine will happen is that initially the men will go down and take a look, survey the situation and see what they think the prospects are, what the environment will be like, and they would go back and reach a decision with their families.
It’s hard to know how all this is going to unfold because as things begin to change, you don’t how much popular engagement there will be in the process, how certain processes will begin to take on a life of their own. I’m talking now on a political level as well.
I do think what we’ve seen in a number of other cases, however, that the international community is not very nimble, not very agile. So there’s a peace agreement, but it isn’t as though the United States is ready. This administration probably isn’t going to go to Congress and ask for developmental assistance for North Sudan until after a peace agreement is signed. Then if it is signed, then Congress isn’t going to turn on a dime.
So that’s the problem when you have these integrals and you have all this hope that has built up and then the lack to follow through. That would really be a shame I think.
Jerry Fowler: Peter, thank you very much for coming, and thanks to all of you for coming. Our next briefing on Sudan will be on December 6th at 1:00 p.m. We’re having Edward Rackley who is with Médecins Sans Frontières-Holland, and he will be talking about the Nuba Mountains. One thing I think he will report on is some of the movement from Nuba who had been in the Khartoum area and since the cease- fire have moved back to the Nuba Mountains, there have been some who have moved and then gone back to Khartoum because their situation was all in all better there. So that will be one of the things he will be talking about.
Peter Bell: One thing that I did not explicitly mention is that I really do think that Senator Danforth’s initiative was a very positive one, and I give the Bush administration credit for putting it together and helping to make it work.
It has been very heartening having been at this now not as long as Jemera, but for the last 4 or 5 years, to see on the whole there’s greater engagement, more positive engagement from the U.S. Government today than there was by far when we first started working on these issues.
Jerry Fowler: Thank you very much.