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Saturday, August 28, 2004

DARFUR MORTALITY UPDATE: August 27, 2004 

Current data for total mortality from violence, malnutrition, and disease

Eric Reeves
August 27, 2004

CONTEXT

Current statistical assessments of the crisis in Darfur continue to diverge
widely in several key respects; nowhere is this more striking than in total
mortality for the past 18 months of extremely violent conflict---conflict that has
produced vast numbers of displaced persons. Indeed, so great are the present
differences in assessments of mortality, morbidity, and insecurity---within camps
for the displaced and in rural areas---that some effort must be made to account
for these divergences, and their larger significance. This is especially true
of statistical assessments coming from the UN, which are both internally
contradictory and typically offered without sufficient context or explanation.

Much can be attributed to the fact that the "United Nations" is not a single
organization, functioning smoothly, with its various agencies working seamlessly
together. On the contrary, UN agencies are highly variable in several
respects, including function, size, and relation to the Khartoum regime that ultimately
determines who operates in Darfur, and on what terms. Some UN agencies have
performed well in Darfur and Chad; others have a mixed record; still others have
performed poorly. They clearly do not always communicate well with one
another.

But the essential effort to push for more effective international response in
Darfur and Chad demands both greater moral clarity, as well as regular and
unsparing critical scrutiny of statistical assessments in key areas.

For the Darfur crisis will not end in the foreseeable future. The Abuja
(Nigeria) peace talks between the National Islamic Front and the Darfur insurgency
groups have predictably stalemated on central issues; Khartoum's Janjaweed
militia proxy continues to be given a free hand by the regime, creating pervasive
insecurity; in turn, the resumption of agricultural production is nowhere in
sight, leaving a vast and growing food-dependent population. Huge numbers of people
will be entirely food-dependent for a year or longer, even as the UN and other
organizations are now adequately reaching far fewer than half those in need.

Any understanding of the nature of continuing insecurity (and consequent lack
of prospective food production) must take note of an important Human Rights
Watch report on the Janjaweed, issued today (August 27, 2004) in anticipation of
the August 29, 2004 deadline imposed by UN Security Council Resolution 1556.
Human Rights Watch, in extremely authoritative detail, reports on a number of
active Janjaweed camps in Darfur, several with a substantial presence of Khartoum's
regular army forces and military resources:

"The government of Sudan is permitting abusive Janjaweed militia to maintain at
least 16 camps in the western region of Darfur"; "despite repeated government
pledges to neutralize and disarm the Janjaweed, Human Rights Watch investigators
in West and North Darfur were able to gather information on the militias'
extensive network of bases"; "throughout the time Khartoum was supposedly reining in
the Janjaweed, these camps have been operating in plain sight,' said Peter
Takirambudde, executive director of the Africa division of Human Rights Watch";
"five of the 16 camps, according to witnesses, are camps the Janjaweed share with
the Sudanese government army." ("Sudan: Janjaweed Camps Still Active," Human
Rights Watch [New York], August 27, 2004; report available at:
http://www.hrw.org/english/docs/2004/08/27/darfur9268.htm)

Despite clear evidence of the sort provided by Human Rights Watch, and the open
contempt for the international community and the UN expressed so recently by
senior members of the regime, the UN Security Council gives no sign of meaningful
action, but rather will almost certainly extend the 30-day "deadline" issued on
July 30, 2004 in Resolution 1556---without imposing sanctions or "other
measures." The African Union has been unable to secure permission from Khartoum to
deploy a sizeable force with a peacekeeping mandate (though in a deft diplomatic
change of subject, Khartoum has indicated it is willing to accept AU forces
with a mandate to disarm the insurgency groups).

In short, the engine of vast human destruction remains running in high gear,
and it is imperative that we seek to understand the dimensions of the catastrophe
its is generating.

This "mortality update" builds on the analysis of August 13, 2004 (available
upon request). The figure of 180,000 deaths suggested in this previous analysis
is a statistical extrapolation, with a very large margin of error. The present
analysis, like its predecessor, attempts to quantify mortality from both
violence and from disease and malnutrition; it is based on UN and non-UN sources.
The chief source for estimating deaths from disease and malnutrition is the
epidemiological work of the US Agency for International Development ("Projected
Mortality Rates in Darfur, 2004-2005"
(http://www.usaid.gov/locations/sub-saharan_africa/sudan/cmr_darfur.pdf),
presently the only tool for global assessment of such mortality in Darfur.

VIOLENT DEATHS IN DARFUR FROM FEBRUARY 2003 TO
AUGUST 2004

Any analysis of violent deaths in Darfur must begin with the data assembled by
Doctors Without Borders/MSF (June 2004, the Mornei area of West Darfur), and
the final report (August 6, 2004) of UN Special Rapporteur for extrajudicial,
summary, and arbitrary executions, Asma Jahangir. But we must also take
particular cognizance of the findings of a study commissioned by the US State Department
as part of its official (and shamefully dilatory) determination of whether
genocide is occurring in Darfur.

The New York Times reports (August 25, 2004) a shocking statistic for the
number of refugees reporting witnessing the killing of a family member:

"The study, conducted by State Department officials together with outside legal
experts, found that nearly one-third of the refugees interviewed reported
hearing racial epithets while under attack, and that nearly 60 percent of them
reported having witnessed the killing of a family member."
(New York Times, August 25, 2004)

Those who have fled to Chad may in many cases have been especially victimized
by violence; but the very large number of (randomized) interviews, yielding a
figure of "60 percent of [refugees] reported having witnessed the killing of a
family member," is of enormous significance. This suggests a rate much higher
than the rate suggested by a different sort of statistic from Doctors Without
Borders/MSF:

"A recent survey conducted by MSF and the epidemiological research center
Epicentre in the town of Mornei, West Darfur State, where nearly 80,000 people have
sought refuge, found that one in 20 people were killed in scorched earth
attacks on 111 villages from September 2003 until February 2004." (Doctors Without
Border/MSF, "Emergency in Darfur, Sudan: No Relief in Sight," June 21, 2004)

This writer has previously derived from the very limited MSF data a global
figure of 80,000 violent deaths for Darfur over the 18 months of the conflict.
This is an estimate that presumed (ultimately arbitrarily, but presumably
conservatively) that the Mornei region was characterized by 50% more violent deaths
than the rest of Darfur with respect to an averaged figure for global internal
displacement. But the New York Times account of the State Department-team's
findings suggests that, on the contrary, the MSF figures for Mornei may actually
understate the global level of violence. The inescapable statistical inference
from the two reports, viewed in conjunction with one another, is that there have
been well over 100,000 violent deaths in Darfur over the course of the
conflict.

This inference is given strong support by the findings of Asma Jahangir, the UN
Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, who
reported at the end of June 2004 that the "number of black Africans killed by Arab
militias in the Darfur region of Sudan is 'bound to be staggering'":

"Ms. Jahangir said that during her visit, 'nearly every third or fourth family'
she spoke to in the camps for internally displaced people (IDPs) within Darfur
had lost a relative to the militias. 'It's very hard to say [accurately] how
many people have been killed,' she said, but interviews with IDPs indicated it
would be 'quite a large number. They are bound to be staggering.'" (UN News
Centre, June 29, 2004)

It becomes increasingly difficult to resist the implications of such findings,
as well as the extremely numerous ad hoc reports of violent deaths coming from
sources throughout Darfur for well over a year. More than 100,000 people have
died violent deaths---and perhaps a very great many more.

In thinking of the nature of violent deaths in Darfur, we must remember that
deaths from wounds suffered during attacks must be included in this figure; so
too must deaths from the trauma of extremely violent rape and gang-rape (suffered
by girls as young as 8-years-old); so too must the deaths of children, the
infirm, and the elderly who perished very quickly on fleeing violent attacks. Huge
numbers of victims were able to take nothing in the way of water and food, and
died rapidly on fleeing within areas subject to what UN Under-secretary for
Humanitarian Affairs Jan Egeland has called a "scorched-earth campaign of ethnic
cleansing." They too must be considered victims of deadly violence.

Moreover, as a physician with extensive experience in Darfur has pointed out,
relying on eye-witness accounts of Janjaweed attacks will likely lead to
underestimating mortality, given the nature of the conflict: "some villages will have
been exterminated in their entirety, or their entire populations will have died
in the mountains after fleeing"; confidential source).

Though clearly we do not know enough about the level of violent deaths in
Darfur, we cannot know more without much greater access and assessment resources
than are presently available. Moreover, Khartoum persists in obstructing all such
efforts of inquiry, even as it continues to use very significant military and
paramilitary resources (including the Janjaweed) to obscure sites of mass
atrocities and executions. Air and ground transport capacity has been tasked with
moving the bodies of those killed; gravesites and other evidence of genocidal
violence have also been obscured with the clear intent of preventing any accurate
final census of violent deaths.

In this context, given the scale of continuing violence reported so
authoritatively for so many months by human rights investigators (working in both Darfur
and Chad), agnosticism about the number of violent deaths is not morally
acceptable. The evidence such as we have it must guide our best efforts at
extrapolation and inference. A figure of over 100,000 seems a minimum in this context.

DEATHS FROM MALNUTRITION AND DISEASE: PREFACE

There are very different views of the current success of humanitarian efforts
in responding to the crisis in Darfur. The range is partially suggested in the
following citations:

"I feel we are slowly but surely getting on top of the health crisis [in Darfur
and Chad]," spokesman for the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian
Operations in Khartoum, August 19, 2004

"The [humanitarian situation] is slipping out of control," Mark Zeitoun, water
engineer for Oxfam, on the ground in a refugee camp in Chad, August 15, 2004

"The UN's Humanitarian Coordinator for Sudan, Manuel Aranda Da Silva,
[declared] "we could see the amount of people needing help rise exponentially over the
next weeks and months." (UN News Centre, August 25, 2004)

"The UN's World Health Organization bulletin [August 17, 2004]
registered 363 [sic] deaths in the camps [with a total population of over
800,000] in the five weeks up to the end of July," (Reuters, August 17, 2004) [This
represents a daily mortality rate less than that for a developing country
experiencing no conflict, displacement or food shortages---ER]

"'Conditions [in the camps] are drastic. People are not getting enough water.
Teams must be put together to clean latrines as it is very ad hoc now and not
really managed by anyone,' International Organization for Migration spokeswoman
Niurka Pineiro told a news briefing." (Reuters August 13, 2004)

"'There certainly has been a marked improvement over the last month,'
[International Committee of the Red Cross spokesperson Julia] Bassam said" (Associated
Press, August 27, 2004)

"'The humanitarian situation in Darfur is still extremely worrying, and by all
accounts could deteriorate further,' said Poul Nielson, EU Commissioner for
Humanitarian Aid and Development." (Agence France-Presse/EU Business Wire, August
25, 2004)

"Stefanie Frease of the Washington-based Coalition for International Justice,
which oversaw the [US State Department] study [of possible genocide in Darfur]
with a grant from the US Agency for International Development [ ] said that in
her personal view, 'If you read the (1948) Genocide Convention, and you look at
the definition [ ] you can definitely see the indicators there. It's not Rwanda
and it's not the Holocaust. It's probably a different, slower sort of
genocide." (Knight Ridder news service, August 25, 2004)

The range of views on the food crisis is perhaps less extreme (and more
generally pessimistic), but finally malnutrition and health are inseparable in Darfur.
If we are to assess the value of the epidemiological work of the US Agency for
International Development ("Projected Mortality Rates in Darfur,
2004-2005")---which suggests statistically that approximately 130,000 people have already
died from malnutrition and disease---we need to look closely at the basic
methodology of the US AID projections (see separate Appendix to this analysis;
available upon request), and at the current provision of food, medical treatment, clean
water, and shelter for an immense "war-affected" population. Any final
estimate of current mortality based on the US AID projections requires a figure of
"war-affected" persons that is an appropriate denominator; this in turn requires
an assessment of the primary engine that is generating "war-affected" persons,
viz. displacement through violence and intimidation, as well as loss of food and
agricultural capacity.

INTERNALLY DISPLACED PERSONS AND REFUGEES

The first task is to estimate the number of displaced persons, in Darfur and
Chad, and secondarily to estimate the necessarily greater number of
"war-affected."

How many internally displaced persons are there in Darfur? and refugees in
Chad? The number in Chad may soon climb by 30,000 according to the UN High
Commission for Refugees, as the highly vulnerable camp population in the Masteri area
of West Darfur is poised to join the hundreds of others who have recently fled
into Chad to escape continuing predations by the Janjaweed:

"The UN High Commissioner for Refugees warned Friday [August 20, 2004] that a
further 30,000 displaced people were poised to flee over the border into
neighboring Chad, joining 200,000 refugees already there, because of the continuing
depredations by the militias." (Agence France-Presse, August 21, 2004)

The BBC reported that "500 Darfuris crossed the border close to the Chadian
village of Berak as a result of renewed violence in the Darfur region" (BBC,
August 16, 2004). Earlier reports speak of many additional tens of thousands of
displaced civilians within 50 kilometers of the Chad/Darfur border, who are also
ready to flee the Janjaweed. In short, the number of refugees is presently in
excess of 200,000 but could soon be in excess of 250,000.

Within Darfur itself, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian
Affairs (OCHA) recently released an estimate of "more than 1.2 million" Internally
Displaced Persons (UN Integrated Regional Information Networks, August 19, 2004);
in OCHA's eyes this represented an increase of 200,000 from the July figure.
But this "newly" proffered figure does not comport, as presented, with a rather
different history of the figure for IDPs in Darfur, one that can easily be
traced from April 2004 using the UN's own public statements. That this in turn
reveals a large understatement of the total number of current IDPs that should be
cause for serious concern.

The IDP figure stood at 1 million in late April 2004, according to OCHA (UN
Integrated Regional Information Networks [Nairobi], April 21, 2004). That figure
was raised by the UN to 1.2 million in late June, and on July 8, 2004 Tom
Vraalsen, the UN's special envoy for humanitarian affairs to Sudan, declared that
"more than 1.2 million [are] internally displaced" in Darfur (Reuters, July 8,
2004). But on July 20, 2004 OCHA estimated that the population of Internally
Displaced Persons in Darfur had increased by 100,000 "over the past month" (UN
Integrated Regional Information Networks, July 20, 2004), suggesting (in concert
with Vraalsen's July 8, 2004 statement) that the total figure already stood at
approximately 1.3 million in the third week of July.

In the intervening five weeks, there have been continued reports of violence
and village destruction, and accompanying human displacement; large influxes of
displaced persons have been reported in the camps. Given the rate of increase
from the end of June to the end of July, it may be reasonably inferred that
another 100,000 have been displaced, bringing the present figure to approximately
1.4 million. Even on its own terms, the OCHA figure of "more than 1.2 million"
is a serious understatement.

But as UN sources admit privately, even a figure of 1.4 million Internally
Displaced Persons does not represent the hundreds of thousands of displaced persons
in areas controlled by the insurgency movements, or regime-controlled areas too
dangerous for a humanitarian presence of any sort. In July 2004 the internal
working number for this unassessed population at the UN's World Food Program was
300,000. Many who have traveled recently to Darfur put the number far higher,
with some estimates ranging up to 1 million. Thus the total displaced
population in Darfur could be well over 2 million.

In the absence of a more compelling and consistent account from the UN, a
conservative figure for the total of Internally Displaced Persons in Darfur and
refugees in Chad is 2 million.

TOTAL NUMBER OF "WAR-AFFECTED" PERSONS

To be displaced or made into a refugee is ipso facto to be "war-affected" (and
inevitably food-dependent). But the number of "war-affected" persons is
clearly much larger than the total of displaced persons and refugees. Many host
families are struggling to accommodate displaced persons, with foodstocks
diminishing or consumed; many more have not been displaced but are unable to be
agriculturally productive, or even to forage for foods that normally make up a survival
diet during famine conditions.

Again, we have no way of determining with any precision a total of
"war-affected" persons. But a useful point of reference is the figure of 2.2 million
"war-affected" persons cited in a joint communiqué signed at a donors conference in
Geneva on June 3, 2004 (signatories were representatives of the UN, the
European Union, and the US). This figure continues to be cited by the UN's Integrated
Regional Information Networks (whose materials are copyrighted by OCHA):

"The UN has described the conflict in Darfur as the worst humanitarian crisis
in the world, at the moment. An estimated 2.2 million people are in urgent need
of food, medicine and other basic items of survival." (UN Integrated Regional
Information Networks [Nairobi] August 16, 2004)

If we use the number in the June 3, 2004 joint communiqué as a base figure,
then the current estimate must be in the range of 2.5 million, and this does not
include the population of over 200,000 refugees in Chad. Violence has
continued, displacement has continued, and insecurity has prevented agricultural
production or the deployment of survival skills in rural areas. "The number of people
in critical need of humanitarian assistance has skyrocketed in Darfur in recent
months, UN's Humanitarian Coordinator for Sudan Manuel Aranda Da Silva. [With
new assessments underway], we could see the amount of people needing help rise
exponentially over the next weeks and months." (UN News Center, August 25,
2004).

This is in large part because foodstocks for times of need continue to dwindle.
The Janjaweed have burned or destroyed huge quantifies of grain reserves, as
well as looting vast numbers of livestock, which are also a key form of food
insurance. This systematic destruction of food, food insurance, and the ability to
be agriculturally productive, continues to increase---through primary and
secondary effects---the number of "war-affected."

The International Crisis Group, which has followed the Darfur crisis extremely
closely for over a year, is currently using a figure of "more than 2.2 million"
war-affected persons ("Darfur Deadline: A New International Action Plan," page
1, August 23, 2004; available at:
http://www.crisisweb.org/home/index.cfm?l=1&id=2920).

Though OCHA in Khartoum has suggested a much lower number, it does so without
addressing any of the issues raised here (especially the total number of
displaced persons), and without responding to previous UN estimates. The effect is
misleading:

"Meanwhile, the number of number of people in need of humanitarian assistance
in Darfur is now estimated at 1.48 million, the UN Office for Coordination of
Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said. These included 1.2 internally displaced persons
(IDPs) and 270,000 in host communities." (UN Integrated Regional Information
Networks, August 18, 2004)

The figure, with its peculiar and quite unattainable precision, suggests some
severe and problematic attenuation of the figure used by the UN (as well as the
European Union and the US) in Geneva, by the UN Integrated Regional Information
Networks, and by the International Crisis Group. As it stands, it is not
helpful.

TOTAL MORTALITY

If we use a figure of 2.3 million to 2.5 million "war-affected" persons as the
denominator in the US Agency for International Development "Projected Mortality
Rates in Darfur, 2004-2005"---which currently indicates a Crude Mortality Rate
of 13 per day per 10,000 of affected population---the daily mortality rate is
very approximately 3,000 and the total mortality figure is well over 200,000
(presuming a total for violent deaths that is well over 100,000---see above). The
number of deaths in Chad significantly increases this total.

It must be stressed again that this is a statistical extrapolation from
severely inadequate data---data that cannot improve until the international community
has much greater access to Darfur. But the severity of the Darfur crisis
demands some effort at global inference---the more so given the existence (and
continual citation) of other mortality figures, figures that may seriously mislead.

The largest alternative figure for total mortality is that offered by Roger
Winter, Assistant Administrator at the US Agency for International Development:
80,000 deaths from malnutrition and disease, as well as violence (Deutsche Presse
Agentur [Washington, DC], July 29, 2004). This is an extremely large figure in
itself, though it makes no concerted effort to include a comprehensive figure
for violent deaths. It does not address the findings of Doctors Without
Borders/MSF. Moreover, the final report of UN Special Rapporteur for Extrajudicial
Executions Asma Jahangir and the preliminary report from the State Department
assessment team on the Chad/Darfur border were unavailable at the time that Winter
made his estimate. If the number here estimated for violent deaths---well over
100,000---is used in conjunction with Winter's more specific estimate of 50,000
dead from malnutrition and disease, the result is a total mortality figure of
over 150,000 (at the bottom end of the margin of error suggested here).

The current UN figure of 30,000-50,000 was offered---without context,
explanation, or differentiation in causes of death---by Jan Egeland, UN Under-secretary
for Humanitarian Affairs, in late July 2004. This in turn represents a
significant jump from the implausibly low number of 10,000, first offered by the UN in
March 2004, and which remained unchanged for four months, through most of July
2004. It is deeply troubling that the UN as a whole has made so little effort
in synthesizing and updating all available data to provide a more persuasive
figure for total mortality, as well as some explanation of methodology and the
data deployed.

The absence of a definitive "body count" will be an insuperable obstacle for
some in accepting the estimate here offered, despite a margin of error
acknowledged to be very wide. Of course the UN has no "body count" either, and its
figure of 30,000-50,000 is no less an inference, though from what data is entirely
unclear. There can be no further help at present in overcoming this obstacle, if
"counted bodies" are what is required. The great preponderance of deaths to
date are from violence and the effects of malnutrition in inaccessible areas or
areas in which Khartoum actively prevents assessments that might lead to
mortality calculations. And even in the camps mortality data is often not kept with
any real care (other tasks are too demanding), and is typically not kept in a
fashion that permits easy collation with data from other camps. Moreover, little
effort is made to ensure the possibility that data may be shared and used
inter-organizationally.

But for anyone who has read the innumerable dispatches, wires reports, and
human rights documents that have been appearing steadily for well over a
year---chronicling endless, remorseless human destruction---the need for such a count may
be less urgent.

LARGER UNCERTAINTIES

The figures for displacement and the number of war-affected in this analysis
are attempts to render a global picture for all of Darfur. This includes areas
to which there is access, as well as the huge swathes of the region that are
completely inaccessible. Here again it is important to note that most estimates
of total population for Darfur are between 6 million and 7 million (though some
are lower, and there are a number of complicating demographic issues); and
estimates of the percentage belonging to the targeted African tribal populations
are generally around 70%. This suggests that there is a
population---systematically attacked and displaced over a period of 18 months---that is greater than 4
million human beings.

Aerial and satellite imagery, as well as reports from humanitarian
organizations on the ground and from Darfurian sources, suggest that well over 50% of the
African villages have been destroyed (see International Crisis Group, "Darfur
Deadline: A New International Action Plan," page 1, August 23, 2004). Some
estimates are over 75%. And many more people who haven't been directly displaced by
violence have simply abandoned vulnerable villages in anticipation of attacks
by Khartoum and its Janjaweed militia.

Where are all these people?

They certainly aren't in the camps, which hold over 1 million people at this
point (including the camps in Chad), but well under 1.5 million. Where are the
other 2.5 million to 3 million people of the African tribal groups that are
trying to survive without food or humanitarian assistance? These people have been
left without the ability to use traditional foraging methods and coping
strategies because of the threat posed by marauding Janjaweed forces. If we address
this large issue honestly, the mortality projections from the US Agency for
International Development are much more readily comprehended (again, see separate
Appendix to this analysis; available upon request).

The humanitarian response in Darfur has begun to address the issue, as
suggested by an important shift in emphasis by the International Committee of the Red
Cross (ICRC) from the camps to presently inaccessible villages:

"Dominik Stillhart, head of the ICRC's delegation in Sudan, told reporters in
Geneva that up to a quarter of the 4-5 million people still living in Darfur's
villages were 'extremely vulnerable and in urgent need of aid.'" (Reuters,
August 27, 2004)

This reference to "villages" outside the context of their massive, systematic
destruction throughout all three states in Darfur Province is seriously
misleading, but there can be no doubting the huge number of former inhabitants of these
villages who are not in camps, who are without resources, and who are in
extreme need of humanitarian assistance.

Still another part of the grim picture of total mortality in Darfur is what a
physician with extensive experience in the region calls "deferred mortality."
This derives from the consequences of "lifelong impairment after experiencing
severe malnutrition"; in the case of mothers, this will result in future
distortions of the lactating cycle: "a second child will receive breastfeeding before
the first child is ready to wean"; confidential source). This same physician
points out that chronic undercounting of children under the age of one in regions
like Darfur (where infants are often not named until they reach the age of one)
is also likely to skew present and subsequent mortality estimates, since this
undercounting creates an artificially low infant population base figure.

CONCLUSION

Even if we assume a margin of error as large as 30% in the total mortality
figure offered here, this nonetheless presents the world with an exceedingly grim
number: at least 150,000 people have died in Darfur and Chad to date---and the
number grows relentlessly, with huge additional mortality threatened by disease
(Hepatitis E, now apparently chronic in the camps, cholera, which has still not
made its appearance but could at any moment, dysentery, and malaria, which is
now exploding), and the cumulative effects of intensifying malnutrition.

The UN World Food Program fell short of reaching the 1 million people targeted
for food assistance in July; August deliveries were to have been to 1.2 million
but are unlikely to reach as many people as were helped in July---and the
figure for September, another very rainy month, is now 2 million (this does not
include refugees in Chad). Logistical and transport capacity problems are
increasing, even as the rains intensify. There is nothing approaching the monthly
capacity to move the required 35,000-40,000 metric tons of food and critical
non-food items into and within Darfur and Chad. The rail line into Nyala, in a
chronically poor state of repair, recently collapsed over a rain-swollen wadi.
International donor response continues to be woefully inadequate, and all major
humanitarian initiatives are badly under-funded.

Without the ability to forage (because of insecurity), these people simply have
no way to feed themselves. Children, already weakened by months of trauma and
displacement, will be especially vulnerable and will inevitably continue to die
in huge numbers. Because no improvement in the security situation is in
prospect, we may expect mortality to continue to rise at extreme rates, rates far
greater than the international community is prepared at present to admit.

We apparently will not offer the people of Darfur even the dignity of
acknowledging their deaths. Their genocidal destruction has been refused the face of
its true horror. This is genocide variously assisted by understatement,
euphemizing, self-exculpation, and political weakness. It is beyond disgrace, and
certainly beyond forgiveness.

Eric Reeves
Smith College
Northampton, MA
ereeves@smith.edu


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