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Posted on on March 1st, 2008
by Pincas Jawetz (

Based on the UNITED NATIONS NEWS SERVICE, 29 February, 2008 =========================================================================

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on his first visit to the state of Texas today, told President George Bush. the father, that the UN and the UNITED STATES were CRITICAL PARTNERS ON A RANGE OF GLOBAL ISSUES.

In finding solutions for the Darfur conflict, global warming, terrorism, nuclear proliferation, and a host of other issues, the United Nations and the United States were essential partners, he said.

“The United Nations has no better friend than America,” Mr. Ban said in remarks to the William Waldo Cameron Forum on Public Affairs at the Bush Presidential Library.

He also told the father of President George W. Bush that “According to opinion polls, three quarters of Americans believe the United Nations should play a larger role in the world – Why? Because working together is in the best interest of the United States – It’s in the best interest of the UN and the best interest of the world.”

Turning to Darfur, Mr. Ban said the US and UN were working together because Americans, including current US President George W. Bush, want action to end a conflict that has claimed more than 200,000 lives and forced 2.2 million from their homes.

Darfur, he said, was also about climate change, since drought and other climate effects had boosted tensions there and in many parts of the world.

He said the UN must work on climate change because it is a global problem, and the engagement of the US is crucial because markets, technology and entrepreneurship are a big part of the solution.

“Visiting Silicon Valley last summer, I saw how venture capital is pouring into new technologies for renewable energy and fuel efficiency,” he said, noting that a recent report by the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) estimates that investments in clean energy technology could reach $1.9 trillion by 2020.

Beside his theme of partnership on global issues, Mr. Ban’s remarks today were peppered with personal reminiscences concerning the idea of the US, and the statesmanship of former president Bush.

“As a boy growing up in South Korea, I was inspired by America and its noble ideals,” he said. “American soldiers saved my country from communist aggression. They were so friendly to me and so generous. I’m still grateful for the sacrifice the American people made for my nation,” he affirmed.


But while Ban Ki-moon was lecturing in Texas – Darfur was boiling over from Sudan to Chad and the UN was studying the problem. Can the UN get out of its Darfur/Sudan hole without a solid US push?

As West Darfur continues to be scourged by a new wave of air and ground attacks, the United Nations refugee agency estimated today that more than 13,000 Sudanese have fled to a remote area of Chad that is beset by its own inter-ethnic strife.

According to the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), just this week an additional 3,000 refugees arrived in eastern Chad’s volatile Birak area, where an assistance mission was cancelled yesterday after armed men on horseback were spotted, along with black smoke rising from a burning village.

“The insecurity and close proximity to the Sudanese border mean UNHCR cannot establish a camp in the Birak area, but we are trying to provide emergency assistance when our teams can get there,” UNHCR spokesman Ron Redmond said in Geneva.

The agency is still awaiting approval from the Government of Chad to move the refugees to existing camps that already house 240,000 people uprooted by the five-year conflict in Darfur, in which the Sudanese Government and militias are fighting rebel factions and in which over 200,000 people, mainly non-combatants, have died.

A UNHCR team which reached the Birak area earlier in the week reported that the new arrivals had come there because of repeated militia assaults on the Jebel Moun region of West Darfur.

Meanwhile, the Deputy Special Representative for Sudan, Ameerah Haq, visited Sileah in West Darfur yesterday as part of an inter-agency assessment mission and found the town – which normally has a population of 20,000 – almost empty.

Only around 300 people remained, mostly elderly citizens who could not flee. The town was attacked on 8 February, in the beginning of the current onslaught.

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