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Saturday, July 17, 2004

A Policy of Forced Expulsion 

"This enforced movement of people is very, very, very, very worrisome
at the moment"---Jan Egeland, UN Undersecretary for Humanitarian
Affairs, commenting on the expanding forced expulsion of displaced
populations from Darfur camps

Eric Reeves
July 17, 2004

A POLICY OF FORCED EXPULSION

There can be no doubting the catastrophic effects of what is daily more
obviously Khartoum's grim plan in Darfur. Responding to growing
international awareness of conditions among the immense concentrations
of African tribal populations in camps throughout Darfur, Khartoum has
decided to expel forcibly these people, demanding that they return to
"their" villages. In fact, the vast majority of these villages have
already been destroyed by Khartoum and its Janjaweed militia allies.
What remain are scattered towns and concentrations of villages, fully
under the control of the Janjaweed and Khartoum's security forces.
These will become the new "homes" for the displaced populations, where
they will no longer "need" humanitarian assistance, and this in turn
will obviate the necessity of an international presence in Darfur.

Jan Egeland, UN Undersecretary for Humanitarian Affairs, clearly sees
evidence of this, as indicated in an Associated Press dispatch of July
15, 2004:

"Thousands of Sudanese who fled their homes because of attacks by
government-backed militias in the Darfur region are being forced to
leave refugee camps and return to their villages, the U.N. humanitarian
chief said.
[Egeland] said the United Nations has received reports of 'big
pressure' forcing people from camps in western Darfur. 'This enforced
movement of people is very, very, very, very worrisome at the moment,'
he said. 'This is one of the key points to monitor in the next days and
weeks---that return is voluntary, and that security is re-established
for the civilian population.'" (Associated Press, July 15, 2004)

But of course security is not in the process of being "re-established";
on the contrary, it continues to deteriorate rapidly, as Egeland himself
had indicated the previous day in a BBC dispatch ("Darfur security
'deteriorating'"):

"The United Nations' top emergency relief official has warned that the
security situation in Sudan's Darfur region is becoming more difficult.
Jan Egeland, who has just visited Darfur, said relief supplies had been
looted and humanitarian workers attacked by militia." (BBC, July 14,
2004)

Today (July 17, 2004), the BBC notes "that there have been reports that
Janjaweed raids have intensified this week [July 10 to July 17, 2004],
despite government claims to be disarming the militia." The US Agency
for International Development Darfur emergency "fact sheet" for July 16,
2004 also cites UN reports of various serious incidents of Janjaweed
violence over the past week, directed against civilians near camps for
the displaced (US AID "fact sheet," "DARFUR---Humanitarian Emergency,"
July 16, 2004).

These and numerous other reports and assessments define, with
compelling authority, the nature of the extreme physical insecurity
currently prevailing within the rural areas and near the camps in
Darfur. It is into these environments that Khartoum is now officially
committed to forcing populations expelled from the camps (see statements
from Khartoum's Minster of the Interior and Chair of the Humanitarian
Affairs Commission [HAC] in July 15, 2004 analysis by this writer;
available upon request).

The consequences of forced mass expulsions in the context of such
pervasive insecurity are clear:

"Humanitarian workers fear that a forcible mass return of some 1.2
million Internally Displaced Persons in Darfur could result in enormous
fatalities." (UN Integrated Regional Information Networks, July 13,
2004)

Many hundreds of thousands of people would see a dramatic increase in
levels of insecurity, as well as be faced with a lack of humanitarian
access and food aid. Most would likely die, even as the mortality rates
within populations in the camps themselves are already very high and
rising precipitously. In these camps, various logistical and security
issues have grown steadily more acute, giving threat of even more
precipitously rising mortality rates.

For a pervasive lack of security threatens the people of Darfur in
others ways as well. Undersecretary Egeland is reported as declaring
that, "Darfur was becoming too dangerous for aid workers" (BBC, July 14,
2004). And in a chilling moment of speculation, Egeland described, "'my
worst scenario [is that] that the security will deteriorate, that we
will step back at a moment we have to actually step up [emergency
relief]'" (BBC, July 14, 2004).

CONSEQUENCES OF INSECURITY

All evidence, from a variety of authoritative sources on the ground in
Darfur, suggests that this "worst scenario" is playing out at greater
speed and with greater ferocity than even Egeland has suggested. In
addition to Janjaweed attacks on civilians, individual humanitarian
vehicles, humanitarian personnel, and even entire humanitarian convoys,
this brutal militia force has set up a greatly increased number of
check-points on key humanitarian road corridors. Aid workers are
reporting increasing threats and hostility at these check-points, and
these threats in turn work to compromise in dramatic fashion the present
humanitarian capacity, already woefully inadequate to current
humanitarian need.

Moreover, there are growing numbers of informed reports from the ground
in Darfur that the Janjaweed are rapidly being incorporated into both
the "police" forces of Darfur, as well as Khartoum's regular military.
Despite Khartoum's various promises to disarm the Janjaweed (promises
publicly reneged upon in some regime-controlled newspapers), the reality
is otherwise, as the UN's Integrated Regional Information Networks
suggested with its July 12, 2004 dispatch from al-Geneina:

"[Sources] working in Darfur say little has actually been done to match
what they describe as [Khartoum's] 'rhetoric.' Local sources told IRIN
that the Janjawid were simply being incorporated into the army and the
paramilitary Popular Defence Forces (PDF), to officially remove them
from the public eye. The UN has also received reports of the same tactic
in recent weeks." (UN Integrated Regional Information Networks
[dateline: al-Geneina] July 12, 2004)

INCREASINGLY DEADLY MISMATCH BETWEEN
HUMANITARIAN NEED AND HUMANITARIAN CAPACITY

Moreover, even as security deteriorates in many ways, the mismatch
between humanitarian need and capacity continues to grow more deadly.
The problem is compounded by UN assessments that seriously understate
the scope of this need, especially concerning the size of populations in
desperate need. John Prendergast of the International Crisis Group has
just completed a very significant assessment mission inside rebel-held
territory in Darfur, and writes in the New York Times of his findings:

"While Western dignitaries visited the camps teeming with refugees from
Darfur and elsewhere, I encountered large numbers of displaced civilians
inside the rebel-held areas of Darfur, where no camps exist and not a
drop of international assistance has been delivered. There are
potentially hundreds of thousands of survivors who have fallen through
the cracks. Some of them say they are afraid to travel to
government-controlled camps and unable to make it to the border. They
are running out of food." (New York Times, July 15, 2004)

In fact, private conversations with well-placed sources within the
humanitarian community indicate a growing consensus that there are at
least several hundred thousand people presently in the desperate
situation described by Prendergast. This is one reason we must regard
with deep skepticism present UN World Food Program assessments of the
number in critical need of food aid throughout Darfur. These assessments
are based on surveys done in areas to which there is access, or on the
basis of the displaced populations in camps to which there is at least
tenuous access. They thus leave out of consideration huge numbers of
people of the sort Prendergast encountered. One human rights source,
recently back from the region, estimates that the number of people
unable to trek to the Darfur/Chad border or beyond the reach of
humanitarian relief is in the range of 500,000 (Darfur has a total
population of approximately 6,500,000 in its three states).

There are also numerous credible reports of large numbers of displaced
persons settling on the outskirts of camps, though not formally
registered or figuring in humanitarian assessments and estimates. Camps
themselves are growing far more rapidly than are the humanitarian
resources slowly and belatedly making their way into Darfur. A UN News
Center dispatch yesterday (July 16, 2004) concerning the Kalma camp near
Nyala offers a shocking example:

"In South Darfur, UN agencies and non-governmental organizations (NGOs)
are concerned about a sudden rise in the number of internally displaced
people at a camp at Kalma. There are now 70,000 residents at the camp,
with more people arriving every day---compared to 30,000 at the end of
last month." (UN News Centre, July 16, 2004)

A precipitous increase of 40,000 people, in a camp that was already
overwhelmed by 30,000 residents, is a formula for catastrophe. A large
malaria outbreak could, without sufficient clean water or medical
resources, quickly takes the lives of over 10,000 in this one camp alone
(the camp was deliberately located in a low spot in the area, ensuring
that water would collect and mix with human and animal sewage during the
rainy season).

The lack of adequate food supplies on the ground in Darfur is suggested
by the soaring rates of malnutrition being reported by humanitarian
organizations: Severe Acute Malnutrition (SAM) rates (statistically, a
third of these people will die) have exceeded 5% in some populations; at
least two humanitarian organizations are reporting Global Acute
Malnutrition (GAM) rates that have reached 50% in some populations.
This is the portrait of a famine accelerating.

INSECURITY AND GENOCIDE

Prendergast's findings also make clear that security for civilians
remains non-existent in much of Darfur:

"I was not prepared for the far more sinister scene I encountered in a
ravine deep in the Darfur desert. Bodies of young men were lined up in
ditches, eerily preserved by the 130-degree desert heat. The story the
rebels told us seemed plausible: the dead were civilians who had been
marched up a hill and executed by the Arab-led government before its
troops abandoned the area the previous month. The rebels assert that
there were many other such scenes." (New York Times, July 15, 2004)

It is to these rural areas---defined by mass executions, the most
violent use of rape as a weapon of war, the absence of an international
presence, and the almost total lack of food---that Khartoum is seeking
to expel the African tribal populations that have already been forced to
flee from the destruction of their villages, and then to seek the
tenuous security of "camps."

Insecurity is not an accidental by-product of the war in Darfur: it is
the primary instrument of genocide. And the Janjaweed, so consistently
and authoritatively reported as working militarily hand-in-glove with
Khartoum's security and regular military forces in Darfur, are the
primary means of insecurity, the primary weapon by which Khartoum has
conducted its genocidal war on the African peoples of Darfur.

The forces of the Janjaweed have burned over 2,000 villages throughout
Darfur; they have slaughtered, raped, tortured, and abducted many scores
of thousands of human beings; they have displaced approximately 1.5
million people, putting them at acute risk from famine and
famine-related disease. The Janjaweed have systematically destroyed
foodstocks, seedstocks, water wells and irrigations systems,
agricultural implements, and livestock---and in the process created a
"war-affected" population of 2.3 million people.

The cruelty of the Janjaweed, as well as the militia's intimate
relations with Khartoum's leaders, is suggested in an extraordinary
interview published yesterday (July 16, 2004) by The Guardian (UK).
Perhaps the most notorious of the Janjaweed leaders, Musa Hilal, was
interviewed at length in Khartoum, under the most lavish of
circumstances, revealing a great deal about Hilal's "comfort level" in
the capital city.

[It should be said that it is one thing for a distinguished newspaper
to conduct such an interview, with very clear news value and offering a
deeply revealing look into the heart of evil in Darfur; it is quite
another for US charge d'affaires (and thus senior US diplomat in
Khartoum) Gerald Gallucci to conduct a discussion with such a war
criminal and terrorist. That Mr. Gallucci very recently conducted such
a discussion, in an official US capacity, should be the cause for the
greatest consternation and demands explanation. Musa Hilal heads the US
State Department's list of suspected war criminals in Darfur.]

The Guardian found this Janjaweed leader, "dressed in a crisp white
robe and prayer cap," sitting in a plush chair as he "patted his
nephew's head and offered sweet pastries" (The Guardian [dateline:
Khartoum] July 16, 2004). The interviewer later noted:

"In Khartoum Mr Hilal showed no fear of being arrested. There were no
bodyguards and no security checks at the gates of the walled compound.
When the interview concluded, he was relaxed enough to joke about the
Janjaweed with the Guardian's photographer." (The Guardian [dateline:
Khartoum] July 16, 2004).

But The Guardian also establishes beyond reasonable doubt that Hilal
was the commander during the notorious atrocity at Tawilah in February
2004, described at the time by the UN's Integrated Regional Information
Networks:

"In an attack on 27 February [2004] in the Tawilah area of northern
Darfur, 30 villages were burned to the ground, over 200 people killed
and over 200 girls and women raped---some by up to 14 assailants and in
front of their fathers who were later killed. A further 150 women and
200 children were abducted." (UN Integrated Regional Information
Networks, March 22, 2004)

As evidence of Hilal's central role in this atrocity, The Guardian
notes:

"The Guardian has established from witnesses in the town of Tawilah in
north Darfur, which was attacked in February, that Mr Hilal has
commanded Janjaweed forces in the field. Saddiq Ismail, 45, a retired
teacher in the town, said Mr Hilal had arrived [to lead the atrocity] by
helicopter [[NOTE: this can only have been a helicopter from the
Khartoum regime's regular military forces---Eric Reeves]], accompanied
on the ground by five Landcruisers and gunmen on horses and camels.
'Musa Hilal was dressed in military uniform [NOTE: this uniform was
certainly provided by the Khartoum regime's regular military
forces---Eric Reeves]]. He was directing his men. He is the leader and
gave all the orders,' Mr Ismail said." (The Guardian [dateline:
Khartoum] July 16, 2004).

The Guardian also reports on Hilal's broader role: "Witnesses have
identified [Hilal] as the coordinator of attacks in which civilians have
been massacred and raped in front of their families, and their villages
burned." (The Guardian [dateline: Khartoum] July 16, 2004)

Moreover, The Guardian finds yet further evidence of the animating
racism/ethnic hatred that lies behind such brutal assaults:

"The Guardian has spoken to a deserter from a training camp run by Mr
Hilal, who said the Janjaweed commander whipped up racial hatred among
his fighters. When the recruits first arrived in the camp, at Mistriyah
in north Darfur, Mr Hilal made a speech in which he told them that all
Africans were their enemies." (The Guardian [dateline: Khartoum], July
16, 2004)

The Guardian notes in this context that, according to the deserter
interviewed, Hilal used the derogatory Arabic word "Zurgha" ("Blacks")
to describe African populations.

This is genocide unfolding. By means of this brutal militia force, and
its savagely cruel commanders, Khartoum has created such levels of
civilian destruction and displacement, has generated such extreme levels
of insecurity, has so completely compromised food production and
humanitarian relief capacity, has created such deadly concentrations of
people now living in appalling health conditions, that the genocide
can't be stopped. The nature of current discourse within the UN,
both in New York and within the various agencies, as well as the lack of
meaningful international leadership, has created a political vacuum in
which no steps are being taken toward the humanitarian intervention
required to mitigate the consequences of this engineered genocide.

This may still be "Rwanda in slow-motion"; but we are daily coming
closer to "real time."

Eric Reeves
Smith College
Northampton, MA 01063

ereeves@smith.edu


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