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UN Secretary General Points To Climate Change As Partly Behind Darfur Disaster

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon. Photo courtesy AFP.
by Staff Writers
Washington (AFP) June 16, 2007
UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said that the slaughter in Darfur was triggered by global climate change and that more such conflicts may be on the horizon, in an article published Saturday. "The Darfur conflict began as an ecological crisis, arising at least in part from climate change," Ban said in a Washington Post opinion column.

UN statistics showed that rainfall declined some 40 percent over the past two decades, he said, as a rise in Indian Ocean temperatures disrupted monsoons.

"This suggests that the drying of sub-Saharan Africa derives, to some degree, from man-made global warming," the South Korean diplomat wrote.

"It is no accident that the violence in Darfur erupted during the drought," Ban said in the Washington daily.

When Darfur's land was rich, he said, black farmers welcomed Arab herders and shared their water, he said.

With the drought, however, farmers fenced in their land to prevent overgrazing.

"For the first time in memory, there was no longer enough food and water for all. Fighting broke out," he said.

A UN peacekeeping force may stop the fighting, he said, and more than two million people may return to rebuilt homes in safe villages.

"But what to do about the essential dilemma: the fact that there's no longer enough good land to go around?"

"Any real solution to Darfur's troubles involves sustained economic development," perhaps using new technologies, genetically modified grains or irrigation, while bettering health, education and sanitation, he said.

Sudan is not the only country with such problems, Ban said, and pointed to Somalia, Ivory Coast and Burkina Faso as African countries with "food and water insecurity."

Khartoum agreed this week to accept 23,000 UN and African Union peacekeepers after four years of fighting, which has killed at least 200,000 people.

related report
Museveni says climate change a modern attack on Africa
Berlin (AFP) June 15 - Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni on Friday called global warming a form of external aggression against Africa as the impact of the phenomenon is felt more acutely on the continent than elsewhere.

"Africa used to suffer outside aggression in the past, the latest form of aggression is climate change," Museveni said after talks in Berlin with German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

"Our climate is very warm so if it becomes warmer we will suffer more, yet the people emitting these greenhouse gases are not ourselves, it is others," the long-standing Ugandan leader added.

Museveni saluted Merkel's efforts to bring G8 leaders to set bold long-term goals on cutting greenhouse gas emissions and said he had discussed energy-saving measures with the chancellor.

Merkel secured a commitment from the Group of Eight industrialised nations at their summit in Germany last week to commit to the unspecified goal of "substantial" cuts in greenhouse gases and said they would "seriously consider" halving emissions by 2050 from 1990 levels.

She had sought a much stronger undertaking on reaching that target but was forced to accept a watered-down text.

Major emerging nations Brazil, China, India, Mexico and South Africa signalled after a meeting on the sidelines of the G8 summit that they developed world must bear the main responsibility for reducing global heat-trapping pollution.

Museveni's meeting with Merkel is seen as part of preparations for the first EU-Africa summit in seven years in Lisbon in Portugal in December.

The event risks being overshadowed by the political crisis in Zimbabwe.

Merkel said last week that Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe has been invited to the summit, nipping in the bud a diplomatic row between Africa and the EU, which imposed a travel ban on Mugabe in 2002.

Source: Agence France-Presse

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World Desertification Day Puts Spotlight On Neglected Crisis
Paris (AFP) June 15, 2007
The United Nations on Sunday sounds a loud alarm about desertification, warning that global warming is helping to drive the onward march of parched land and, in years to come, millions of people could be driven from their homes. Of six billion humans, nearly a fifth are threatened directly or indirectly by desertification, experts warn ahead of the UN's annual World Day to Combat Desertification.

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