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Message-Id: <l03130303b31012b0dd88@[149>152>128>20]> To: [distribution list]
From: Evelyn Phillips <phillipse@ccsu>edu>
Subject: U>N> Criticism Angers Charities Buying Sudan Slaves’ Release

>Date: Fri, 12 Mar 1999 05:04:42 -0500
>From: Latir Downes-Thomas <latir@earthlink>net>
>Organization: Earthlink Network, Inc>
>To: Bush list <gampatriots@Sun>COM>
>Subject: U>N> Criticism Angers Charities Buying Sudan Slaves’ Release

UN Criticism Angers Charities Buying Sudan Slaves’ Release

By Paul Lewis, The New York Times, 12 March 1999

UNITED NATIONS&38212;Private charities that are buying freedom for enslaved children and young women in Sudan have reacted angrily to recent criticism of them from UNICEF, the UN Children’s Fund

It is very difficult to understand why UNICEF should say our activities are intolerable, said John Eibner, head of Christian Solidarity International, of Zurich, Switzerland, which since 1995 has bought and set free 5,942 Sudanese children, spending about $50 a child

What is intolerable is to leave these women and children in the hands of brutal captors, said Charles Jacobs of the American Anti-Slavery Group in Boston, which helps raise money to support Christian Solidarity

At a news briefing in Geneva in early February, a UNICEF spokeswoman, Marie Heuzer, described the slave redemption program as intolerable after Christian Solidarity raised the topic by appealing to Secretary General Kofi Annan to condemn slavery in Sudan and to create a special program to trace and free enslaved women and children

Thursday, a UNICEF spokesman, Peter Crowley, said the agency still has genuine concerns about buying freedom for children, adding that they were shared by some human-rights organizations, including Human Rights Watch

He said that buying back slaves did not offer a lasting solution to the problem, which he said can only come through bringing about an end to Sudan’s on-again, off-again 30-year-old civil war pitting the Muslim north of the country against the Christian and animist south

The children were also being returned to villages that remain in the war zone and were subject to future slave raids

Another objection was one of principle, he said, because the buy-back program implicitly accepts that human beings may be bought and sold This could also encourage slave-taking for profit

Crowley argued that buying freedom does nothing to change the underlying social attitudes of a people who are used to owning slaves and regard doing so as perfectly normal

UNICEF has also contended that redeeming slaves for money helped prolong the civil war by giving combatants extra cash for buying arms and ammunition But Christian Solidarity insists it pays for the slave it buys with Sudanese pounds to avoid introducing dollars into the region because they could be used for purchasing arms

Human Rights Watch emphasized that its own position on the slave buying issue is nuanced

Reed Brody, the organization’s Advocacy Director, agreed that buying back slaves creates a real danger of fueling a market in human beings in a country as desperately poor as Sudan

He called slavery there a very troubling issue but said that the real challenge it raises is that of finding an end to a long war which he said neither side can ever hope to win

Brody pointed out that human-rights organizations and the UN Human Rights Commission have long been calling for international monitors to be sent to Sudan to trace children taken into slavery and secure their liberation But no action has been taken

In a 1996 report on slavery in North Africa, a representative of the Human Rights Commission accused Sudan’s government forces of regularly abducting and transferring women and children from southern conflict zones to the north, where they disappeared