TIME work

UN Report: Women May Need ‘Different Treatment’ to Achieve Economic Equality

2015 International Women's Day March
Mark Sagliocco—Getty Images Assistant Secretary General Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka attends the 2015 International Women's Day March at Dag Hammarskjold Plaza in New York City on March 8, 2015.

It's just like Sheryl Sandberg said: paid leave, affordable childcare would help achieve gender equality on a global level

Equal opportunity is not enough to ensure gender equality, according to a groundbreaking new report from UN Women. Instead, governments must commit to social policies that treat women differently in order to help them achieve economic parity with men.

“We must go beyond creating equal opportunities to ensure equal outcomes,” the report says. “‘Different treatment’ may be required to achieve real equality in practice.” This report, called Progress of the World’s Women 2015-2016, is one of the first major international reports to acknowledge that legal equality for women does not translate into actual equality, and that governments must make substantial social policy changes that enable the redistribution of domestic duties in order for women to play a truly equal role in society.

It’s the global version of what Sheryl Sandberg has been saying all along with Lean In– women will never be equal unless workplace policies adjust to fit their needs, and men need to step up to help at home. The report highlights the gap between the laws that protect equal rights for women and the realities of inequality in most of the world. The way to close that gap, according to the report, is by implementing social policies that provide paid work opportunities for women, protect domestic workers, provide affordable childcare, and establish paid leave for working mothers. Removing legal barriers to female employment is not enough, the report says, noting that “we also need measures that free up women’s time.”

“Governments should take actionable steps to reduce the burden of unpaid care work—which is carried by women—and create an industry of jobs and employment for services,” UN Women Executive Director Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka tells TIME. “Childcare is an issue in every country, but more often than not borne by mothers. Government policy should work to professionalize this industry as much as possible, and make it affordable and accessible to all.”

Lack of resources like these may explain why 77% of working-age men are in the global workforce, compared to only half of working-age women. Globally, women earn 24% less than men, yet do 2.5 times as much childcare and domestic labor as men. In developing regions, 75% of women’s employment is insecure, unprotected and poorly paid, if they’re employed at all. Only 5% of women in South Asia have formal work, and only 11% in Sub Saharan Africa.

The UN is calling for more “decent work” for women, which they define as a job that is well-paid, secure, and “compatible with women’s and men’s shared responsibility” for children and housework. The report also says redistributing household duties is “critical” for achieving substantive equality worldwide.

Childcare is the thorny problem that’s hampering women’s economic advancement, both at the individual level and on a global scale. 44% of mothers in poor countries raise their young children almost entirely on their own, compared to only 29% of mothers in rich countries. In poor countries, 18% of mothers entrust childcare to a female child, while in rich countries, 15% of moms have hired help and 10% have access to organized childcare or a nursery. The study found that in every country, women were less likely to work when they had small children, which helps contribute to the global pay gap.

And the income women lose can have repercussions throughout their lifetimes. Lack of money often translates into lack of control over their own health decisions: 69% of women in Senegal, 48% in Pakistan, and 27% in Haiti say they do not make the final decisions about their own health care. And in most countries, women are less likely to receive pensions– in Egypt, 62% of men get pensions, compared to 8% of women. That’s partly because of legal constraints, but also because women have different labor patterns then men (ie, they’re more likely to work in informal settings), they contribute less (because they’re paid less) and they live longer. That means women make up the majority of the 73% of the world’s population with little or no social protection in old age.

And all that income women are losing to childcare or domestic work adds up to a lot of money. The time women spend on unpaid work amounts to 39% of India’s GDP, 31% of Nicaragua’s GDP, and 10% of Argentina’s GDP. Gender equality and economic growth are like squares and rectangles: gender equality leads to economic growth, but growth doesn’t always lead to equality.

The need for paid leave and affordable childcare is is well-trod ground in North America and Europe, leading to charges that those kinds of social policies are more for rich women than for poor ones. But this report is one of the first to link female-friendly workplace policies like those to gender equality in the developing world. Rich or poor, policies that help working mothers help elevate all women.

 

TIME portfolio

Inside Sudan’s War-Torn Darfur

Photographer Adriane Ohanesian followed refugees hiding in the Marra Mountains

The outcome had been all but certain. On April 27, two weeks after polls opened in Sudan, election organizers announced that President Omar al-Bashir, the 71-year-old incumbent, had won 94% of the vote.

With his quarter-century reign extended—the opposition boycotted the ballot and polling stations in Khartoum, the capital, were said to be largely deserted—Bashir will continue to avoid the International Criminal Court, where he faces charges of war crimes over his role in the conflict in Darfur.

More than 300,000 people are estimated to have been killed in the unrest in Darfur, which ignited in 2003 after the government aimed to crack down on an insurgency in the western region. The U.N. estimates some 2 million people have been displaced as a result.

Adriane Ohanesian, a Nairobi-based photographer from Saratoga Springs, N.Y., first went to Sudan in 2010 and worked on a project about a marginalized group, the Beja, in the Red Sea State. That’s when she became interested in Darfur. Later that year, she traveled south to focus on the referendum and independence; South Sudan became its own country in July 2011. In 2012, she turned her focus to the fighting in the Nuba Mountains, but she hadn’t forgotten about Darfur.

Ohanesian had heard about a large group of civilians who had fled into Jebel Marra (the Marra Mountains) and away from government attacks and aerial bombardment. She and a Dutch journalist, Klaas van Dijken, began looking into how to document their suffering. They eventually received permission for access from the rebel group Sudan Liberation Army-Abdul Wahid (SLA-AW).

In late February, they made it to caves located a two hour’s walk outside of a town called Sarong, from where the hundreds of civilians had fled. It was around dawn, Ohanesian says, and everyone was lighting fires to stay warm and make tea. “I don’t think any of these people had seen a foreigner in this area since 2010,” she said. “One woman burst into tears when they saw us.”

The two did a few interviews through their translator, and many of their stories were about government forces and aligned militias, coming into their towns, raping women, and pushing residents from their homes and into the mountains.

“I would hear these people’s stories… but I couldn’t see it for myself, which is always the challenge [for photographers],” says Ohanesian. “You see these people in the cave and on the mountains but you can’t see what’s happened to them before that, and that’s the really horrific part that I wish I could show but can’t.”

Ohanesian has committed her career to documenting humanitarian crises, traveling to places like Somalia, South Sudan and Burma. But Sudan was unique. “I’ve just never been to an area like this where people just have nothing,” she says. “The best thing I can do as a photographer is to show what I’ve seen on the ground and to tell others … If that sparks some sort of response, that’s wonderful.”

Adriane Ohanesian is freelance photographer based in Nairobi, Kenya.

Mikko Takkunen, who edited this photo essay, is an Associate Photo Editor at TIME. Follow him on Twitter @photojournalism.

TIME Nepal

What Mount Everest Victim Dan Fredinburg Said About Visiting Nepal in 2013

dan-fredinburg
Dan Fredinburg

The Google executive, who died in an avalanche in Nepal, spoke to TIME.com two years ago

Dan Fredinburg, the Google executive who was killed over the weekend by an avalanche on Mount Everest following the massive earthquake in Nepal, spoke to TIME.com two years ago about braving extreme altitude, mudslides and earthquakes to make the views from the planet’s highest peaks available to everyone with an Internet connection.

“Different adventurers and people who want to explore from the comfort of their homes have the opportunity to explore and see these different corners of the world.” Fredinburg told TIME in March of 2013, when Google Maps’ Street View launched a collection of interactive galleries featuring the world’s tallest mountains — such as Tanzanaia’s Mount Kilimanjaro and Argentina’s Aconcagua — for which he helped collect images. “The goal as a team is to make sure we had the opportunity to provide users with maps that are more accurate and usable,” he said.

Fredinburg’s sister Megan announced Saturday on Instagram that he had suffered a fatal head injury during an avalanche caused by the 7.8-magnitude earthquake. Fredinburg was the privacy director for Google X, but he also told TIME about his work as a Google Adventurer — an unofficial title for Google employees whose love of the outdoors led them to turn their international trips into data-gathering opportunities for Google Maps.

The late executive described surviving a 6.9-magnitude earthquake while collecting data for the Everest Base Camp Street View map that he said gave him a new perspective on life:

“As I was out in the dark, you could hear people screaming and running for cover. That is an eye-opening experience … These people accept their fate as predetermined. To see them panicking and fearing something, it tests your own ability to stay calm in situations like that and not panic as well.”

TIME Nepal Earthquake

See India’s Rescue Operations in Quake-Devastated Nepal

India has sent humanitarian relief to the remote villages most affected by Nepal's deadly earthquake

In remote mountain villages near the epicenter of Saturday’s massive earthquake in Nepal, receiving outside help has become a matter of life or death.

The Himalayan nation is reeling from the magnitude 7.8 earthquake that struck 50 miles outside the capital, Kathmandu, and as of Monday afternoon had left at least 4,000 people dead. The country’s worst quake in 81 years has severely damaged Nepal’s already fragile infrastructure and aftershocks sent thousands into the streets.

Countries around the world have pledged millions in assistance and some are already on the ground helping with rescue efforts and dispersal of aid. Altaf Qadri, an Associated Press photographer, is shadowing India’s Air Force as it brings relief to survivors.

Qadri was supposed to cover the arrival of evacuated Indian nationals by the Air Force in New Delhi, but while on base, he met with other journalists who were lobbying officials to fly them into Nepal. With all commercial flights from New Delhi to Kathmandu canceled, he said, there was no way to fly there without their help.

He called his editors, who told him to board an Antonov An-32 military transport aircraft that was carrying supplies and stretchers to Kathmandu via Allahabad, in India’s northeast. After a failed attempt on Sunday, they landed in Nepal on Monday morning.

The photographer was then handed authorization to follow the relief mission aboard a Mil Mi-17 helicopter to Trishuli Bazar, a town that is two hours north of Kathmandu by road. “A few small landslides have blocked the road leading to this place,” he tells TIME. “Many of the houses in the hills [have] collapsed, and the injured are in a bad situation.”

The flight time was about half an hour. “As soon as we approached the village to land, people started gathering around the helicopter,” he says. “There were local volunteers in green T-shirts also in the crowd, which made a ring around helicopter to stop people [from coming] near the rotors.”

The Indian soldiers, joined by Nepalese troops, unloaded rice bags and other supplies before evacuating nine injured survivors to Kathmandu, where he captured the heart-wrenching image of a Nepalese mother trying to catch up with an Indian soldier. “[He] was rushing a wounded and unconscious child to a waiting ambulance at the Kathmandu airport,” Qadir says.

It’s a scene that is likely to unfold over and over again as the country digs out.

Mikko Takkunen, who edited this photo essay, is an Associate Photo Editor at TIME. Follow him on Twitter @photojournalism.

Read next: How Facebook Is Helping Emergency Responders in Nepal

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TIME

Gunman Shouting Allahu Akbar in Bosnia Storms Police Station

(SARAJEVO, Bosnia-Herzegovina) — Bosnian authorities say a man stormed into a police station in a northeastern town shouting “Allahu akbar,” killing a policeman and wounding two others.

Police spokeswoman Aleksandra Simojlovic told The Associated Press that the attack occurred Monday evening in Zvornik and that the attacker was killed.

Zvornik is a town in the Bosnian Serb part of the country and it is located at the border with Serbia. During the 1992-95 war, almost all Muslims were expelled from there or killed as part of a Serb campaign.

TIME Careers

Women Earn 24% Less Than Men On Average, U.N. Report Finds

New report shows gender pay gap remains sizeable

Women are still earning significantly less money than men, despite working longer hours when paid and unpaid work is taken into account, a new United Nations report reveals.

The U.N. Women report shows that even though more women are in the workplace and taking on leadership positions worldwide, pay levels are nowhere near reaching equality worldwide. On average women around the world earn 24% less than men, the report says, and earn just half of the income men earn over a lifetime. Women in South Asia experience the greatest gender pay gap, earning 33% less than men. The Middle East and North Africa have a 14% pay gap.

Women do nearly two and half times more unpaid and domestic work compared to men and are less likely to receive a pension. Only half of working-age women are in the workforce compared to three-fourths of working-age men.

As a solution, the report suggests creating an economy that prioritizes women’s needs. It provides 10 recommendations for governments and other key players to adopt, such as creating more and better jobs for women, reducing occupational segregation, and establishing benchmarks to assess progress in women’s economic and social rights.

TIME energy

This Is How Much OPEC Really Earns

oil-rig-namibia
Getty Images

Saudi Arabia remains the undisputed leader of OPEC

The world already knows that the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries, or OPEC, can change the fate of the international oil price. By producing close to 40 % of the world’s combined crude oil, OPEC’s oil exports represents about 60% of the total petroleum traded internationally. In spite of having such clout, 2014 has been kind of odd for the cartel as there was a considerable drop in OPEC’s revenues. As per Energy Information Administration, OPEC earned close to $730 billion in net oil export revenues in 2014, which was a decline of 11% from 2013. Low oil prices and reduction in the net oil exports were the major factors behind this decline. This was the cartel’s lowest revenue earning since 2010.

opec-member-petrol-export-value
OPEC Annual Statistical Bulletin 2014/Oilprice.com

Saudi Arabia- the undisputed leader of OPEC

Saudi Arabia has made its intentions clear of keeping its production intact with record levels of crude oil production in the month of April. Some experts are worried that the increased output from Saudi Arabia and other OPEC members could subdue the current rally in the international crude oil prices. Saudi Arabia produced 10.3 million barrels per day of crude in the month of March, a new record. As per the Saudi oil minister Ali Al Naimi “I have said many times we will always be happy to supply to our customers with what they want. Now, they want 10 million“. Saudi Arabia earned close to $246 billion from its oil export revenues in 2014, a drop of around 10% from its previous year mainly due to low oil prices.

UAE – Another OPEC heavyweight

Being among the ten largest producers of oil and natural gas in the world along with a net export revenue of around $53 billion in 2014, the United Arab Emirates is one of the biggest supporters of OPEC’s decision to keep its output unchanged regardless of oil prices. According to UAE’s Energy minister Suhail al – Mazrouei,“We are concerned about the balance of the market but we cannot be the only party that is responsible to balance the market.” UAE registered a decline of around 7% in its oil export revenues in 2014.

Iraq- Between a rock and hard place

With a production level of 3.33 million barrels per day, Iraq was the second biggest crude oil producer of OPEC in the month of March. With export revenues of $87 billion in 2014, Iraq is second only to Saudi Arabia in terms of production. However, there has been a drop in its revenues as compared to 2012 and 2013 (See figure 1). Also, with an increase in government spending, the country requires a stable international oil price of $105 per barrel to break even. Current oil price levels are nowhere near this. Also, the ongoing ISIS insurgency, heavy economic dependency on oil (more than 90%) and poor infrastructure have added to Iraq’s economic difficulties.

Kuwait- Another OPEC Stalwart

With earnings of around $81 billion in 2014, Kuwait registered a drop of around 10% in its oil export revenues from 2013. Interestingly, Kuwait is another OPEC stalwart besides UAE and Saudi Arabia who has been defending the cartel’s decision of sticking to its high production levels. Despite being the second smallest OPEC member in terms of its size, Kuwait is one of the world’s top producers and net exporters of petroleum and other liquid fuels. It is one of the countries besides Saudi Arabia, UAE and Iraq that has registered consistent crude oil production growth since 2005.

Qatar- King of LNG

With revenues to the tune of $38 billion in 2014, Qatar is one of the smallest contributing members of OPEC only behind Libya and Ecuador. With oil export revenues of $55 billion in 2012, we see that there has been a sharp decline in its earnings in last two years. However, unlike other small OPEC members, Qatar is the biggest exporter of Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) in the world and was the fourth largest dry natural gas producer in 2012 after US, Russia and Iran.

Nigeria and Venezuela- Plagued by similar issues

Nigeria and Venezuela are plagued by similar issues relating to their economic and political instability. With their export revenues to the tune of $77 billion and $58 billion respectively in 2014, both nations have registered a steep decline of more than 30% from previous years (figure 1).

Interestingly, both Venezuela and Nigeria need crude prices to be in the range of $90- $100 a barrel to break even, which is not possible under the current circumstances. Also one must note that oil represents more than 95% of Venezuela and Nigeria’s foreign exchange earnings.

Iran and Libya- Uncertain future as of now

Iran and Libya are two other OPEC nations that are plagued by internal political problems. With regards Iran, the country is all set to pump close to 300 million barrels of crude in the market if the historic nuclear deal with the P5+1 is signed in June 2015. This could result in a major increase in Iranian export revenues which stood at $89.4 billion as of 2013, before sanctions took hold in earnest (Figure 1).

However, the same cannot be said for Libya, a nation which reported a drop of more than 50% in its oil export revenues in 2014. Libya made $9 billion from oil export revenues in 2014. Few know that Libya is the holder of Africa’s largest proved crude oil reserves, with oil and gas accounting for nearly 96% of its government’s total revenues. However, the country’s oil exports have been severely affected by the civil war that started in 2011.

Algeria, Angola and Ecuador- The Prospects

With the third largest proved crude oil reserves in Africa, Algeria earned around $48 billion in 2014, which was more or less similar to its earning over the last four years. Angola earned $24 billion in 2014, around $3 billion less than 2013 mainly due to lower international oil prices and decreased domestic production. As per the IMF, oil exports represent more than 95% of Angola’s total export revenues.

Being the second smallest oil producing member of OPEC (after Libya), Ecuador earned $10 billion in 2014, the same amount that it earned in 2013. Ecuador also has the third highest proven oil reserves in South America only after Venezuela and Brazil.

Two sides of the same coin

If you thought that OPEC didn’t do well in 2014, the EIA predicts that OPEC could earn even less in 2015. With expected revenues of $380 billion (excluding Iran),2015 could be one of the worst years for the cartel. However, much depends on the signing of the Iran nuclear deal in June 2015. Also, if oil prices continue to increase in the third and fourth quarter of 2015, OPEC would earn far more than $380 billion.

Decreasing production levels since 2005

What we can take from all of this is that there are now two clear factions in OPEC. The first one consists of Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and UAE, who are among the biggest earners in OPEC with billions of dollars in their foreign reserves. On the other hand, there is Nigeria, Venezuela, Iran, Libya and others who are suffering from issues such as local political instability, sanctions, recession, and lower domestic production levels. These nations have seen a sharp decline in their revenues over the last few years, and would require the international crude prices to be in the range of $90- $100 to break even.

The question is, with the current production levels of OPEC, will oil prices reach these levels anytime sooner?

This article originally appeared on Oilprice.com.

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TIME Aviation

Germany Failed to Pass on Warnings Before Plane Was Shot Down Over Ukraine

The catastrophe killed 298 people

German authorities knew of the danger of flying over eastern Ukraine before flight Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 was shot down last July but failed to pass on the warning.

Two days before the Malaysia Airlines flight was brought down, the German government was alerted that the situation had become “very worrying,” the Süddeutsche Zeitung reports, citing the downing of a Ukrainian air force plane at a height of about 20,000 feet on July 14.

The German foreign ministry cables noted the plane’s height and its vulnerability as a “new development” to the conflict. Targets including civilian aircraft would also have been endangered at that height.

Flight 17 was destroyed three days later on July 17, killing 298 people, a catastrophe that might have been averted had Malaysia Airlines known of the dangers.

Three Lufthansa planes flew over the area on the day of the disaster. “If the government had warned our companies of this ‘new development,’ Lufthansa would surely not have flown planes over eastern Ukraine,” a Lufthansa insider told the Süddeutsche Zeitung.

A Dutch-led investigation says it is likely that the plane was shot down by a Russian-made missile launcher.

[Süddeutsche Zeitung]

TIME Nepal

U.S. Sends Personnel, Funds to Aid in Nepal Relief Effort

About 70 USAID workers and humanitarian personnel are expected to arrive on Monday

The U.S. government is sending troops and aid to Nepal as the nation struggles to recover from a massive earthquake that killed thousands.

As the days go by and death tolls tick up, the need is only expected to grow. As of Monday, officials say 4,000 were killed in the 7.8 magnitude earthquake that struck near the capital of Kathmandu on Saturday. The Nepalese government has declared a state of emergency and the international community has joined in the response effort.

A spokesperson for the Nepalese army told the Associated Press that 90 percent of its 100,000 troops are involved in search-and-rescue efforts and assisting the more than 7,000 people injured in the quakes. “We don’t have the helicopters that we need or the expertise to rescue the people trapped,” said Lila Mani Poudyal, the Nepalese government’s Chief Secretary, who noted a demand for “tents, dry goods, blankets, mattresses and 80 different medicines.”

Secretary of State John Kerry issued a statement of condolences Saturday and announced that the U.S. would be joining in the effort to help Nepal recover.

“To the people in Nepal and the region affected by this tragedy we send our heartfelt sympathies. The United States stands with you during this difficult time,” Kerry’s statement reads.

About 70 American personnel and 45 square tons of supplies are expected to reach Nepal on Monday, according to the Department of Defense. The bulk of those traveling to the country are members of the U.S. Agency for International Development Disaster Assistance Response Team including humanitarians and rescue workers from Fairfax County.

Secretary of State John Kerry also announced Monday the U.S. government is sending an additional $9 million to aid in the relief effort, bringing the total funds sent thus far to $10 million.

“The images that everybody has seen are gut-wrenching. Extraordinary devastation, young children carried away in ambulances, whole villages reduced to rubble,” Kerry said Monday during a joint-press conference with his Japanese counterparts. “We are working very closely with the government of Nepal to provide assistance and support.”

Read next: See the Most Dramatic Rescue From the Nepal Earthquake

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TIME Sudan

Sudan Finance Minister Pushes Washington to Lift Sanctions

A woman rides a donkey past a convoy of government troops in Tabit village in the North Darfur region of Sudan, Nov, 2014.
Abd Raouf—AP A woman rides a donkey past a convoy of government troops in Tabit village in the North Darfur region of Sudan, Nov, 2014.

Sudanese minister of finance and national economy Bader Eldin Mahmmoud Abbas Mukhtar visited Washington recently to lobby the United States to lift sanctions and remove the country from a list of states that sponsor terrorism.

This is the second time this year that a high profile Sudanese delegation has received visas to visit Washington. Sudanese foreign minister Ali Karti visited in February for the National Prayer Breakfast. Mukhtar was in town for the World Bank-International Monetary Fund spring meetings, and his delegation included representatives from the Central Bank of Sudan.

Mukhtar met with Assistant Secretary of Treasury Marisa Lago and Special Envoy to Sudan and South Sudan Donald Booth on April 18. His goal, he tells TIME, was to move forward on the “improvement of the bilateral relations rather than always talking about domestic political issues in Sudan.”

The domestic political issues in Sudan — including the extensive fighting between numerous government and rebel factions, as well as the government denial of humanitarian aid and mounting allegations of military war crimes against civilians — were the subject of a February feature in TIME, “Sudan: The Forgotten War.

Sudan’s tactics in fighting rebel groups have been widely criticized. According to the U.N., the Sudanese Armed Forces burned an average of about 22 villages a day in Darfur over the first half of last year. In the South Kordofan region, reports of government planes bombing civilian and medical targets arrive regularly. In February, the United Nations Security Council threatened new sanctions against Sudan, and Samantha Power, United States Ambassador to the U.N., accused Sudan of “obstruction, harassment and direct attacks that have impeded efforts to deliver humanitarian aid in Darfur.”

From TIME’s February story: “‘It is not any different than what is happening in Syria,’ says Tom Catena, a U.S. surgeon who runs the only full-scale hospital for the nearly 1 million civilians caught in the Nuba Mountains region of South Kordofan. ‘It just has been going on three decades longer.’” (Catena is one of the 2015 TIME 100.)

Here’s the topline of Mukhtar’s interview with TIME at the Washington Press Club, with his quotes, condensed for length:

He is frustrated with the United States policy on Sudan. “Let me be frank with you,” Mukhtar says. “We have tried a lot to engage with the Americans. … They are always coming with moving political targets. … Our feel is that the object of the American policy towards Sudan is the regime change, not having any cooperation. … We are always trying to cooperate with the Americans … and the international community in combatting terrorism and we are adopting standards of antiterrorism finance in our financial systems and anti-money-laundering. … Instead of being rewarded for that, we have been punished.”

He is unwilling to entertain reports of human rights abuses in Sudan. Mukhtar denied allegations of humanitarian abuse, unethical mining of gold, and exploitation of citizens in Sudan. “This is reflected by some of the activist groups,” he says. (Gamal Goraish, a counselor from the Embassy of Sudan in the United States who was present at the interview, clarifies, “The Enough Project mainly.”) Mukhtar continues, “They are trying to say that a country or a government exploiting the people. What on Earth that a country or a responsible government that is slaying its people, exploiting them, abusing them, violating rights, not respecting them?”

He continues the Sudanese government’s denial of a mass Sudanese military rape of 221 women and girls in the Darfur village of Tabit, reported by Human Rights Watch. “Nobody can say that also government encouraging or motivating people to do bad things like this. Even in our religion in Sudan, this is out of any religion beliefs. … This has been crafted unfortunately even by some of the people inside the UNAMID (United Nations Mission in Darfur), trying to say that government of Sudan is encouraging such bad things. … The people of Sudan are not you see like animals in a forest.” (A woman with the Central Bank of Sudan, also part of the delegation, adds, “No man can treat woman badly, never.”) He concludes, “They talk about the collective raping event which is not true.”

He thinks the U.S. should support debt relief for Sudan, in part due to Sudan’s assistance to the U.S. in fighting terrorism. Sudan’s debt, according to the Embassy of Sudan in Washington, amounts to $43.5 billion, of which $2.6 billion is owed to the U.S. “We are playing a positive role in Libya trying to stabilize the situation there. With our partners there, we are pushing negotiations between the conflicting parties there in order to reach a compromise. … Now the situation in Darfur is much better… this not because the government goes there and killing the people irrationally, the conflict was being caused by the conflict on natural resources, by the nomads and the farmers, this is triggered the instability. … the government is trying to fix the situation, trying to reach compromise.”

He defends Sudan’s high arms import budget. “Buying weapons, a country which is facing lot of challenges, if the rebels started any activity in the United States, do you think that the government just will stay there just to come to power in Washington, or they should defeat them there? If any group of people are out of law… the responsible government should act responsibility to protect the security of the county and to bring security for the people and to prevent anarchy to happen in the country. … This is why we are trying to also strengthen our security capabilities and to strengthen our army. What do you expect us to do as a responsible government?”

The Central Bank of Sudan has approximately $21-24 billion in foreign exchange currency (Forex). “The international reserve is always evaluated in terms of months of imports. Now the Central Bank has about three months reserve of foreign currency and we are trying to build more reserves. Our import bill is $7-8 billion. You can calculate after that.”

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