Monday, July 26, 2004

Belated International Political Response to Darfur Catastrophe 

Still Without Sufficient Coherence, Comprehension, or Moral Urgency
Eric Reeves
July 25, 2004


The recent flurry of international pronouncements in response to
massive genocidal destruction in Darfur must, despite its terribly
belated nature, be welcomed as a necessary first step in generating an
appropriate response by the world community. Of particular note is the
unanimous vote in the US Congress, "declaring that the atrocities
unfolding in Darfur, Sudan, are genocide" (July 23, 2004 in both the
Senate and the House of Representatives). This bicameral, bipartisan
resolution "reminds the Contracting Parties to the Convention on the
Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide of their legal
obligations under the Convention," and "urges the [Bush] Administration
to call the atrocities being committed in Darfur, Sudan, by their
rightful name: genocide" (Senate Congressional Resolution 124 and House
Concurrent Resolution 467).

Moreover, the July 26, 2004 edition of the Christian Science Monitor is
reporting that the Committee on Conscience of the US Holocaust Memorial
Museum will tomorrow (Monday, July 26, 2004) "label Darfur a
full-fledged 'genocide emergency,' the first such warning in its history"
(Christian Science Monitor, July 26, 2004).

Just as important as these declarations concerning genocide in Darfur
is the willingness signaled by the United Kingdom and Australia to send
troops to Darfur as part of an international humanitarian intervention.
This declared willingness is a particularly significant political
decision on the part of the government of Tony Blair. It is extremely
important that others nations join quickly in making clear that credible
means of humanitarian intervention in Darfur do in fact exist.

These international commitments must be complemented by immediate
efforts to support the African Union monitors and military support
personnel presently being deploying to Darfur. This force of 350
soldiers and monitors is very significantly under-equipped, and urgently
needs much greater helicopter transport capacity and significantly
improved communications gear. It also requires robust diplomatic and
political support in confronting the almost inevitable efforts at
obstruction on the part of the Khartoum regime. This support should
begin immediately and take the form of emphatic public declarations of
support as well as concrete offers of logistical and material


The larger near-term goals of humanitarian intervention are clear: [1]
to protect the highly endangered civilian populations displaced in
Darfur (both in camps and in rural areas where terrified people are too
fearful to move for fear of attack by Khartoum's Janjaweed militia
forces); [2] vastly increasing humanitarian logistics and transport
capacity. The distinguished International Rescue Committee (IRC) has
led nongovernmental organizations in the effort to highlight the
importance of the latter urgent need. In a press release of July 23,
2004 ("Relief Efforts for War-Displaced in Darfur and Chad Must Be
Doubled Now"), the IRC has urged the humanitarian effort "ramp up the
logistical capacity to double the delivery of aid."

This doubling of capacity is the minimum necessary, the IRC stresses,
given any reasonable assessment of present humanitarian capacity and
growing humanitarian need. IRC president George Rupp has declared that
"even with UN and international aid groups ramping up humanitarian
assistance, current capacity in the region is by best estimates meeting
only 40 percent of the critical needs of the displaced population."
As the IRC press release continued:

"The international humanitarian response to the crisis in Darfur,
Sudan, and eastern Chad must be boosted immediately and dramatically to
save hundreds of thousands of lives that may be lost because of rising
levels of disease and malnutrition. IRC health teams in Darfur and Chad
report increasing cases of diarrhea and dysentery and the growing threat
of cholera and other predatory diseases such as measles and typhoid.
According to the World Health Organization, a cholera epidemic striking
up to 300,000 could break out within weeks now that heavy rains have
begun." (International Rescue Committee press release, July 23, 2004)
Ominously, reports from the Kalma camp near Nyala (with a population
that has doubled in recent weeks to about 70,000) indicate that there
has in fact been an outbreak of cholera; present medical capacity is
completely inadequate to such a population in present circumstances.

World Vision reports in its July 22, 2004 press release that cholera
bacteria are already in the camps, and a report form the Glasgow
(Scotland) Mail reports today that a cholera epidemic is impending:
"World Vision say the outbreak is expected in Darfur's Kalma camp,
which houses 60,000 refugees. One family has been quarantined after a
child had symptoms and experts warn 3,000 people could contract the
disease immediately. World Vision's health specialist in Darfur, Dr
Mesfin Teklu, said: 'If an outbreak happens, it will prove disastrous.'"

(July 25, 2004, at:

The IRC specifically calls on the UN Security Council, UN member states
and the larger international community to explore a series of options
"for delivering assistance in a permissive and a non-permissive
environment." By a "non-permissive environment," the IRC is referring
to the highly likely refusal of the Khartoum regime to permit this
critically necessary increase in humanitarian capacity, which may
require military assistance and protection. This forthrightness from
the humanitarian community is long overdue, and the IRC deserves great
credit for speaking so directly and honestly to the present crisis.

Among the options recommended by the IRC:

[1] "Accelerate diplomatic, political and military efforts to improve
security and access within Darfur";

[2] "Strengthen the mandate of the African Union Protection Force to
include protection and assistance for the civilian delivery of
humanitarian aid";

[3] "Consider a no-fly zone over Darfur and along the Chad/Sudan
border to protect civilians and permit the scaling up of rescue and
relief operations";

[4] "Ramp up the logistical capacity to double the delivery of aid.
Seek additional civil and military logistical and material support from
UN member states to ensure the civilian delivery of aid."


Yet despite this compelling articulation of urgent needs---needs that
must be met in order to save hundreds of thousands of lives---much
international debate continues to focus on the issue of sanctions
against the Khartoum regime. This is so despite a clear signal from
Russia (currently completing a lucrative sale of highly advanced MiG-29s
to Khartoum) that it is opposed to sanctions, as is China (Khartoum's
largest oil partner). But even without such opposition, it should be
evident to all that this debate is quite irrelevant to the situation on
the ground in Darfur. Khartoum has successfully impeded humanitarian
access for so many months, the UN and others in the international
community have so badly failed in adequately anticipating the current
level of crisis, insecurity continues to be so destructive throughout
Darfur, that the diplomatic efficacy of any sanctions regime is utterly
beside the essential point.

Recent comments by US, French, the German, and Dutch officials seem to
be speaking to an entirely different crisis:

"It's too early for sanctions against Sudan for human rights abuses in
Darfur but the international community will take them unless the
situation in the region improves, Dutch Foreign Minister Ben Bot has
told his Sudanese counterpart." (Reuters, July 25, 2004)

Foreign Minister Bot seems perversely unaware that it is not "too early
for sanctions" but transparently too late, unless we are willing to
watch in leisure the destruction of hundreds of thousands of innocent
human beings while "pressure" is applied to Khartoum from afar. For the
regime has already made clear that it is not prepared to control the
continuing violence of the Janjaweed. Recently reported arrests and
punishments of supposed Janjaweed militiamen, in trials completely
lacking in transparency, are exercises in propaganda, not serious
efforts to restrain the Janjaweed. We get some sense of the real
meaning of Khartoum's efforts from the Sudan Human Rights Organization

(SHRO)-Cairo, which reported yesterday that:
"This week, the Sudan Government put to trial hundreds of citizens
accused of the Janjaweed militia membership before a special court in
Nyala. Many of these citizens received prompt death sentences or
amputations, as publicly announced by the South DarFur Chief Judge."
Noting many highly irregular judicial procedures, SHRO-Cairo also

"The occurrence of these rush trials in the midst of serious national
and international concerns about the involvement of senior executive,
security, and political leaders of the government in the DarFur Crisis
and the Janjaweed attacks against the innocent citizens of DarFur
violates the principles of proper trial, and is seriously hurting the
ongoing fact-finding efforts in the region."

SRHO-Cairo also notes that "the rushing of the South DarFur Judiciary
to sentence citizens accused of the Janjaweed militia crimes against
humanity by secretive non-public special courts with death sentences and
amputations without proper legal procedure" makes a mockery of due

(Sudan Human Rights Organization-Cairo, report released July 23, 2004)
This comports all to well with a dispatch from Eltigani Ateem Seisi,
former governor of Darfur, who reports that on July 23, 2004:

"Sudan TV aired a programme on Darfur [that] showed a number of the
Janjaweet allegedly convicted by the courts in Nyala for attacking and
torching villages in the area. We now have credible news that all the
prisoners shown in that programme were convicts who have been in Nyala
prison for over three years and have nothing to do with the Janjaweet.
It is a further attempt by the Sudanese government to deceive the
international community and thwart the international pressure." (e-mail,
received by this source July 25, 2004)

These judicial travesties are the perfect exemplum of how Khartoum
expects to be able to respond to international demands that the
Janjaweed be disarmed and controlled.

Just as disturbingly, the regime continues to make fully clear its
determination to obstruct humanitarian operations. Yet another example
of the regime's resourcefulness in this arena is cited in the most
recent US Agency for International Development (US AID) "Fact Sheet" on
Darfur, reporting that its Disaster Assistance Response Team (DART)
presently in Darfur finds that Khartoum is now,
"imposing rigorous registration requirements that hinder qualified
health workers from entering Darfur. These regulations are severely
affecting relief agencies' capacity to respond to disease outbreaks
anticipated in the coming weeks." (US AID "Fact Sheet #15,"
Darfur---Humanitarian Emergency, July 23, 2004)

And most ominously, Khartoum continues to give evidence that it is now
set upon a policy of forcing highly vulnerable populations out of camps
for the displaced back into rural areas that are completely lacking in
security. This extremely serious new development is again highlighted
in the most recent US AID "Fact Sheet" [July 23, 2004]:

"The humanitarian community is concerned that the Government of Sudan
(GOS) is planning to forcibly return internally displaced persons
(IDPs). Although not yet implemented, the Wali (Governor) of West Darfur
informed the U.N. that 25 percent of the population of Mornei (nearly
20,000 people) would be relocated. In North Darfur, the Wali announced
the GOS intention to move approximately 200,000 IDPs [from]
approximately eight sites near urban centers. On July 18, [2004] the
GOS officials in South Darfur announced plans to begin immediate
evacuation of IDPs from the Kass schools, allegedly following requests
from the IDPs to be relocated." (US AID "Fact Sheet #15,"
Darfur---Humanitarian Emergency, July 23, 2004)

US AID and others report that internally displaced persons insistently
and fearfully deny any such requests to be "relocated."

Sanctions against Khartoum as a response to such present critical
threats to over 2 million people are a shameful irrelevance. The
putative pressure of sanctions simply cannot feed people, or provide
them with medical treatment, clean water, or shelter. Nor can it
produce security in Darfur. To pretend otherwise is a callous and
disingenuous refusal to confront the situation at hand. The world must
either respond to the massive, deliberate destruction of the African
tribal peoples of Darfur---"as such"---or we are acquiescing in
mortality rates that are presently claiming almost 2,000 people per day
according to data from the US Agency for International Development
(these data are borne out by several recent studies of Global Acute
Malnutrition by humanitarian organizations operating in Darfur).
For it cannot be stressed too often that the present immense
humanitarian crisis in Darfur is not accidental, the work of natural
forces, or even a cataclysmic example of so-called "collateral damage."
The destruction and violence that has displaced at least 1.5 million
people within Darfur and into Chad, that has produced almost 150,000
casualties to date, and that is set to take enormous tolls among the
aggregated populations of "war-affected persons" (presently at least 2.3
million), is deliberate---it is, as the US Congress declared in a moment
of extraordinary bipartisan, bicameral resolve, "genocide." (The
sources for and statistical analyses underlying these figures are
available upon request.)

Though there continue to be perplexing expressions of doubt about
genocidal intent, these doubts simply cannot withstand the overwhelming
evidence of deliberate, systematic, and ongoing efforts by the Khartoum
regime to accelerate the very destruction that is so clearly in
evidence. That this destruction has purposely focused on the African
ethnic tribal groups---the Fur, the Massaleit, the Zaghawa, and
others---is simply beyond reasonable dispute.


Despite the moral clarity of the obligation to intervene in Darfur,
various international actors are showing signs of temporizing or simply
ignoring evidence available. The European debate about sanctions
against Khartoum (see above) is but one version. Egypt, guided by a
Sudan policy that is viciously expedient to the core, declared yesterday

"Sudan should be given time to implement its commitments to the United
Nations and the United States over the situation in the troubled western
Darfur region, Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Abul Gheit said Saturday.
Ahmed Abul Gheit. [ ] 'We cannot tell Sudanese officials, "you have
signed with us today and tomorrow you should immediately achieve
complete calm,"' the Egyptian minister said." (Agence France-Presse,
Cairo, July 24, 2004)

The time frame-frame suggested here is disingenuously forgiving. UN
Secretary-general Kofi Annan and US Secretary of State Colin Powell made
clear weeks ago their expectation that Khartoum immediately begin to
disarm and neutralize the Janjaweed: to date, nothing has changed.
Indeed, security for humanitarian operations has deteriorated over many
weeks. Various promises have been given by the regime for months now;
not one of them has been kept. Foreign Minister Ahmed Abul Gheit and
Egypt are perfectly prepared to countenance the genocidal destruction of
African populations in Darfur, as Egypt has for decades in the Nuba
Mountains and southern Sudan.

The Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC) can hardly be accused
of temporizing; on the contrary, a recent propaganda "report" (published
by Khartoum's South African embassy website) has nothing but praise for
the regime:

"Contrary to the reports of international organizations and the
international media, the mission found the Government of Sudan to be
exerting all possible and sustained efforts, within their own scarce
resources, to peacefully resolve the Darfur crisis and to achieve a
comprehensive and lasting peace in the region."

"The mission did not find any evidence of there being the 'worst
humanitarian situation in the world' or any comparison whatsoever with
the well-documented and substantiated genocide and ethnic cleansing
which occurred in Rwanda in 1994.

"The Government of the Sudan was also found to be actively involved
with, fully cooperating with and facilitating the work of international
and regional organizations as well as national and international NGO's
in the provision of urgently required humanitarian assistance to the
IDP's in the Darfur region."

(Available on the website of the Khartoum embassy in South Africa:
Such disgusting mendacity, while obviously useless in assessing the
situation in Darfur, gives some indication of the international
political obstacles to an appropriate response in Darfur. The Arab
League for its part is all too well represented by Egyptian views.
To its great credit, the African Union is undertaking an unprecedented
"peace-monitoring mission" in Darfur, and while this doesn't
represent full African unanimity, it is an effort that must be supported
in all possible ways, and made into a bridgehead for much more robust
intervention. They key here will be to ensure full diplomatic and
political support, as well as substantial logistical and material
assistance. But this force can only be a bridgehead: it cannot possibly
help in the massive augmentation of logistics and humanitarian transport
capacity called for by the International Rescue Committee. Nor can it
do anything but begin the equally massive task of providing physical
security to the more than 1.5 million people displaced by the predations
and violence of the Janjaweed and Khartoum's regular military forces.
Here, as the Washington Post rightly argued in an editorial today,
Colin Powell and the Bush administration---"which has been generous with
relief and which has led the charge for tough action at the United
Nations" is "guilty of equivocation" ("Mr. Powell's Mistake," Washington
Post editorial, July 25, 2004):

"The equivocation hinges on the question of who must restore peace in
Darfur. On Thursday Secretary of State Colin L. Powell offered his
answer: 'The burden for this, for providing security, rests fully on the
shoulders of Sudan's government.' This view conveniently absolves
outsiders of responsibility for getting a civilian protection force into
Darfur and reassures Security Council members such as China and Russia
that Sudan's sovereignty will be respected. But it is naive. [ ]"
"Asking a government like [the Khartoum regime] to provide security in
Darfur is like calling upon Slobodan Milosevic to protect Albanian
Kosovars. The real solution is the reverse of the one Mr. Powell appears
to believe in. Rather than summoning Sudan's government into Darfur to
protect refugees, the United States should be calling upon the
government to pull back from the region. Just as was the case in Kosovo,
security in Darfur is going to require a foreign presence, preferably an
African one that builds on the small African Union observer mission that
is already in the region. Mr. Powell may fear that calling for such a
force is risky: What if no Africans come forward, and the job of
peacekeeping falls to the United States? But the secretary must weigh
that risk against the opposite one. What if Sudan's government maintains
control of Darfur and uses it to exterminate hundreds of thousands of
people?" (Washington Post, July 25, 2004)

These are precisely the terms in which we must think about the issue of
security in Darfur, which by all accounts continues to deteriorate, with
significantly increased threats to humanitarian personnel, vehicles,
even convoys. In moving the international community toward such
thinking about human security in Darfur, Secretary Powell must also
expedite the genocide determination currently being undertaken by the
State Department.

Mr. Powell recently declared, in commenting upon the State Department
investigation of genocide, that "'the initial reporting that I have
received is very disturbing as to the actions of the Janjaweed and how
the Janjaweed were supported by the government of Sudan'" (Associated
Press, July 22, 2004). But this is already a full month after
Pierre-Richard Prosper, US Ambassador-at-Large for War Crimes, testified
to the Congress:

"'I can tell you that we see indicators of genocide and there is
evidence that points in that direction,' said Pierre Prosper, the US
ambassador-at-large for war crimes." (Agence France-Presse, June 24,

In this same Congressional testimony, Ambassador Prosper troublingly
declared that State Department lawyers and investigators "are not in a
position to confirm" a genocide determination, for "in order to do so,
Darfur needs to be opened up" (Agence France-Presse, June 24, 2004).
Yet again, it becomes difficult to know whether this commentary on the
Darfur crisis is ignorance or disingenuousness. For of course Khartoum
will not "open up" Darfur to US investigators involved in a genocide
determination: to expect such is absurd. To make a genocide
determination in any way contingent upon such an "opening up" is
perverse and unjustified delay.


There is no time for confusion, disingenuousness, or lack of moral
clarity. All available evidence clearly indicates that genocide is
occurring; moreover, there is no disconfirming evidence. The deliberate
effects of this genocide are accelerating mortality rates and a growing
mismatch between humanitarian capacity and humanitarian need. If the
international response is governed by irrelevant debates about
sanctions, dilatory gathering of evidence, or indeed anything other than
the immediate need to plan for robust humanitarian intervention, with
all necessary military support, then this response is but a ghastly
reprise of the world's failure in the face of Rwanda's genocide in

For there is no lack of evidence, no lack of clarity, no lack of
statistical data pointing to the imminent, deliberate destruction of
hundreds of thousands of innocent human beings.
Every day of inadequate response brings us closer to the point,
sometime in the next six months, when US Agency for International
Development mortality data indicate that 20 human beings per 10,000 of
"war-affected" population will die per day. With a "war-affected"
population of well over 2 million, this means that we are relentlessly
approaching the point at which approximately 5,000 people will be dying

This was the world in the spring of 1994; this is the world as we find
it in July 2004.

Eric Reeves
Smith College
Northampton, MA 01063

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