Blog Roundup #88

A sampling of United Nations related blog commentary

Agonist: “CSM – Amid new escalation in fighting in the troubled Darfur region of Sudan, with rebels shooting down a government helicopter Tuesday, there’s fresh pressure on the international community to step in to help stop the three-year-old conflict. It comes as consensus is hardening in Western capitals and at the United Nations that the 7,000 African troops now in Darfur, as part of a force supplied by the African Union, are inadequate. Because of limited training, equipment, and marching orders, the AU troops have been unable to contain the fighting, provide safety for civilians, or adequately protect humanitarian aid groups operating in the desert region, which is the size of Texas.”

Ethiopundit: “Deepening poverty shatters families in Ethiopia: “Ethiopia has the world’s largest population of orphaned children, with 4.6 million having lost parents to AIDS and other diseases such as tuberculosis and malaria, according to a 2004 study by the United Nations and Ethiopia’s labor and social affairs ministry.” God and fate have not betrayed Ethiopians but her rulers have. As Rural Ethiopians Struggle, Child Labor Can Mean Survival: [WaPo] “Ethiopia has one of the highest rates of child labor in the world, according to the United Nations’ International Labor Organization and the African Network for the Prevention of and Protection Against Child Abuse and Neglect.”Effect Measure: “You can add Austria, Germany and Iran to the list of countries where swans are dying of H5N1 infection. They join reports of dead swans in Italy and Greece and elsewhere. The birds seem very susceptible and because of their large size their carcasses are especially visible. The virus is penetrating rapidly into the heart of the EU. It is by now generally assumed the virus is traveling via wild migratory birds, but a piece today in The Scientist and another in Nature suggests there is still some question. Migratory birds were certainly the thought behind our recent post where we called the Nigerian cases another stop on “the Qinghai Express.” But scientists within the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organiazation are now saying the disease was almost certainly stewing away in the country for weeks before its official detection, something echoed by local residents.”

Jonestream: “UN Calls for £400m to End Congo’s ‘Forgotten Crisis’” – “Britain will pledge £60m in humanitarian aid to the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) today in response to an appeal by the United Nations for £400m to end the ‘forgotten crisis’ in the central African country before it holds elections. With 216,000 lives lost to conflict and poverty in the past six months, Hilary Benn, the International Development Secretary, said the money was crucial to alleviate hunger and disease, and for long-term development in the country where fighting continues in the north and east despite a peace deal.”

Paper Chase: “Thirteen UN staff members operating in Eritrea have been detained by the Eritrean government but have not been charged by officials with any crime. A significant number of the remainder of the civilian UN mission in Eritrea, tasked with monitoring the border conflict between Eritrea and Ethiopia, have reportedly gone into hiding, fearing detention or arrest. The UN has protested the detentions to the Eritrean government, but the only response has been a statement by the Eritrean Minister of Information saying that Eritrea would not allow the UN to harbor ‘fugitives’ from Eritrea. JURIST’s Paper Chase has continuing coverage of the United Nations. BBC News has more.”

Powerblog: “Wired News passes along this article by Christ Kohler, “U.N. Game Wins Hearts and Minds.” The story gives a brief overview and history of the video game created by the United Nations World Food Programme, Food Force. Check out my review of Food Force here. I conclude that the game is good as far as it goes: “Larger structural issues about the WFP and the UN remain outside the scope of the game, but nevertheless are reflected in the game’s guiding ethos and makeup. We can only hope that the WFP’s stated commitment to the independence of those it helps is manifested by policies that actually give those in need economic freedom and the hope of development. Addressing the root causes of poverty can be the only real long-term solution to poverty, hunger, and the devastation brought about by natural disasters.”