Wednesday, May 10, 2006

NEWS: Donors legally obliged to aid Sudan: UN food envoy

We often talk about the need to save lives from a moral or ethical perspective - but what about legal?  Can other governments be sued for the deaths of millions of people if it can be proved that they did not do everything possible to save them?  I still firmly believe that the reason for helping my friends goes far beyond any legal obligations, but if it is true that there are laws in the UN requiring action, then this is potentially another way to put pressure on the international community. 

It breaks my heart that the UN has been forced to cut in half the rations it can give out due to lack of money.  These are real people who are really starving.  Not faceless statistics. 

I must say, I am very strongly encouraged by Bush's recent actions (see below).  This shows that he is listening and more importantly, leading.  We all need to step up the pressure on Congress to pass these funds.

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GENEVA, May 9 (Reuters) - The United Nations' special envoy on the right to food expressed deep concern over aid cuts to Sudan on Tuesday and said donors were legally obliged to help the African country.

"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," Swiss sociologist Jean Ziegler said in a statement.

The World Food Programme (WFP) said late last month it was halving its daily food rations to some six 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 honour their legal obligations and ensure the realisation of the right to food of the suffering populations ... It is urgently needed to save the lives of thousands of people," said Ziegler, U.N. special rapporteur on the right to food.

On Monday, President George W. Bush diverted five U.S. ships carrying 40,000 tonnes of cereal commodities from Dubai to Sudan and also ordered the shipment of 2,800 tonnes of non-cereal commodities from an emergency stockpile.

The White House is also pressing Congress to approve over $500 million in humanitarian assistance for Darfur, an area the size of France in western Sudan where three years of fighting has killed tens of thousands of people.

"These actions will allow the World Food Programme to restore full food rations to the people of Darfur this summer," Bush said.

1 comment:

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