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Tuesday, August 24, 2004

Impending Failure in Abuja, UN Security Council Inaction 

Humanitarian Deterioration: The Darfur Crisis out of Control

Eric Reeves
August 24, 2004

COMPOUNDING FAILURES

As Darfur enters its moment of greatest crisis, as engineered genocidal
destruction is poised to accelerate uncontrollably during present August rains, the
Khartoum regime remains intransigent. The international community, for its part,
is failing both in diplomacy and in bringing pressure to bear on an obdurate
National Islamic Front. At the same time, international humanitarian efforts are
falling far short in providing for huge numbers of the increasingly desperate
displaced populations of this vast region.

At the UN in New York, there is no sign that meaningful action will follow upon
the expiration of the August 29, 2004 deadline set by Security Council
Resolution 1556 (passed July 30, 2004). Permanent Security Council member Great
Britain has signaled that the Security Council is set to accept the status quo in
Darfur; this is in large part because Kofi Annan and his special representative
for Sudan, Jan Pronk, have negotiated away the only meaningful demand in
Resolution 1556, viz. that within 30 days Khartoum must "disarm the Janjaweed militias"
and bring to justice those guilty of "human rights and international law
violations."

Pronk and Annan evidently hope that their renegotiation of this key "demand"
can be muffled or obscured by vague commitments from Khartoum, part of a nebulous
"Plan of Action" Pronk signed on August 5, 2004. But the "Plan of Action" is
without sufficiently clear deadlines or benchmarks, and is susceptible of
various interpretations on key issues. The document certainly provides Khartoum
with all the maneuvering room it could have hoped for.

To be sure, Annan and Pronk hoped that a substantial African Union force might
be deployed to obscure the inability of the Security Council to act under
Chapter VII of the UN Charter (Resolution 1556 had Chapter VII auspices). But this
hope has also been thwarted, largely because the evisceration of Resolution
1556 ensures there is no effective means for bringing UN pressure to bear on
Khartoum. Thus in peace talks in Abuja (Nigeria), Khartoum is refusing to
countenance an African Union force of several thousand peacekeepers.

This in turn creates an insuperable obstacle in negotiations with the two
Darfur insurgency groups: they understand full well that insecurity in Darfur cannot
be diminished without a forceful international presence of precisely the sort
that Khartoum is blocking. UN expediency has perversely worked to create a
diplomatic stalemate, despite the clear willingness of African Union members
Nigeria and Rwanda (and perhaps Tanzania) to work to bring security to Darfur.

Meanwhile, misleading and disingenuously optimistic comments from some quarters
in the UN about an "improving" humanitarian situation in Darfur also work to
lessen pressure on Khartoum. Indeed, the effect of these comments is to give
credence to a series of preposterous claims about Darfur by regime officials
intent on downplaying the scale of the catastrophe. Such comments also encourage
Khartoum's ominous plans to empty the camps of displaced persons, forcing them to
return to burned-out villages and a countryside that remains highly insecure
because of Janjaweed predations.

But despite such skewed UN pronouncements, other voices from the UN and
humanitarian organizations---especially when recorded off-the-record and without fear
of running afoul of the UN political line on Darfur---make clear that the
situation continues to deteriorate badly, and that the scale of human suffering and
destruction is expanding.

Present failures are compounding egregious previous failures, and the
consequences will inevitably be measured in Darfuri lives. Whether we look at
diplomatic efforts (especially in supporting deployment of African Union forces with a
true peacekeeping mandate), efforts at forcing Khartoum to improve security in
Darfur, or efforts to improve overall humanitarian capacity and delivery, we see
dangerous failures. The successes of the intrepid and courageous humanitarian
organizations with a real presence on the ground in Darfur are being
overwhelmed by the size of the catastrophe, by the paralyzing rains (now at their
height), and by the slow withering of human resources among those displaced and
traumatized by violence.

This analysis looks at diplomacy in Abuja, at the security situation as
revealed by a flurry of recent dispatches from Darfur and Chad, and briefly at the
realities of humanitarian need and the still-growing mismatch between need and
capacity.

DIPLOMATIC DEAD-END

Unless the international community commits to humanitarian intervention in
Darfur---an increasingly unlikely prospect---or at the very least commits to full
support for the deployment of an African Union peacekeeping force of at least
several thousand troops, it is unclear how progress can be made in saving the
many hundreds of thousands of civilian lives at acutest risk in Darfur. The huge
transport and logistical requirements for more than 2 million war-affected
persons are nowhere in sight, and security issues---both in the camps and the rural
areas---compound an already catastrophic humanitarian crisis. The only way
forward is to secure agreement from Khartoum on the deployment of African Union
peacekeeping forces, and a commitment from the international community to do all
that is necessary to provide adequate transport capacity into and within
Darfur.

But meaningful agreements from Khartoum do not exist, nor are they in prospect.
Khartoum, which has an extremely long history of violating or reneging on every
agreement ever signed with a southern Sudanese party, is preserving this record
of bad faith in Darfur. The regime has now reneged on various agreements: the
April 8, 2004 cease-fire agreement (signed in N'Djamena, Chad), the commitments
in a joint communiqué signed in the presence of UN Secretary General Kofi Annan
on July 3, 2004 (in Khartoum), and the commitments made to US Secretary of
State Colin Powell (again in Khartoum). And of course Khartoum has failed to
respond to the only demand of Resolution 1556, a demand contained in the original
April 8, 2004 cease-fire agreement.

This is the context in which to assess current negotiations in Abuja, Nigeria,
which commenced on August 23, 2004. As of this writing, Khartoum is
predictably holding fast to its refusal to allow an African Union peacekeeping force into
Darfur. All the regime will permit is a force with a mandate to protect the
120 planned "cease-fire" observers. Lead NIF negotiator (Agriculture Minister
Majzoub al-Khalifa) made Khartoum's position perfectly clear on the opening day of
the negotiations, and echoed previous statements by senior NIF officials
(including the especially hard-line army spokesman, General Mohamed Bashir Suleiman):

"'Nobody agreed about that (a peacekeeping force). There was an agreement about
a force to protect observers,' Agriculture Minister Majzoub al-Khalifa Ahmad
said. 'The security role is the role of the government of Sudan and its security
forces.' He said Sudan might consider an expanded African Union role later.
'If there's a need, it will be discussed.'" (Associated Press [Abuja, Nigeria],
August 23, 2004)

This vague promise to revisit the issue of an African Union peacekeeping force
in the unspecified future is the direct result of insufficient international
pressure on Khartoum. The diminishment of pressure, in turn, is primarily the
responsibility of Kofi Annan and Jan Pronk, who expediently negotiated away the
singular "demand" of Resolution 1556.

For their part, the insurgency groups refuse to disarm so long as the Janjaweed
remain a force of terror and continuing human destruction and displacement:

"'We're an independent movement and we're fighting for our people and our
rights. This force is our guarantee. How can we disarm them?' said Abdelwahid
Muhamed El Nur, chairman of the Sudan Liberation Army rebel group." (Associated Press
[Abuja, Nigeria], August 23, 2004)

Khartoum won't permit a peacekeeping force into Darfur to disarm the Janjaweed,
or at least protect civilians from ongoing attacks by these brutal militia
forces. At the same time the regime---which previously had refused to acknowledge
the reality of the Janjaweed, let alone their military coordination with the
militia forces---admits it can't do so itself in the foreseeable future. And the
rebels won't disarm as long as the Janjaweed remain such a potent threat. This
is diplomatic stalemate.

Either the international community devises means of pressuring Khartoum in
highly concerted fashion, without UN support, or this stalemate will continue
indefinitely. Extreme insecurity will continue to be a major source of displacement
and death, and will prevent a resumption of agricultural production in Darfur.
Insecurity will also continue to pose major threats to humanitarian aid
workers, as well as humanitarian operations and transport.

CONTINUING INSECURITY IN DARFUR: THE CAMPS
FOR DISPLACED PERSONS

The connection between insecurity and humanitarian operations is on vivid
display in various camps. There are numerous and continuing reports of forcible
expulsions from camps, as well as violent treatment (including torture) of those
resisting expulsion. Aid workers are also confronting the effects of
insecurity. Khartoum's security forces shut down the huge Kalma Camp (near Nyala) for
several days in mid-August following the killing of a worker identified by camp
residents as a Janjaweed collaborator. Khartoum's soldiers prevented aid
workers from entering, even as many people within the camp---especially severely
malnourished infants---were put at extreme risk by this action.

The camp at Kass was also closed by Khartoum's security forces on August 17,
2004. And there are reports that the normally intrepid Doctors Without
Borders/MSF has been forced to withdraw from Mukjar Camp in West Darfur. If true, this
would be an especially disturbing development, given MSF's early and courageous
presence in Darfur.

A British official traveling with UK Foreign Minister Jack Straw today gave a
terse but telling account of insecurity in the immediate environs of the Abu
Shouk Camp in North Darfur:

"A British official traveling with Straw described the area around the Abu
Shouk camp as 'bandit country' and said the Janjaweed were 'doing what they want,
where they want, when they want to non-Arabs.'" (Reuters [Abu Shouk Camp]
August 24, 2004)

The Janjaweed are "doing what they want, where they want, when they want to
non-Arabs." This tells us far too much about the reality confronting displaced
Darfuris and the risks facing those who do not enjoy even the tenuous security of
the camps. Other recent global assessments are just as discouraging; Kitty
KcKinsey, spokesperson for the UN High Commission for Refugees in Chad, recently
noted that:

"'We have seen some people who have tried to go home to their villages, but
when they go home, they said the security was very bad and they either flee to be
displaced once more inside Darfur or they cross over into Chad.'" (Voice of
America, August 17, 2004)

The UN is reported by Reuters as "concerned by Sudan's lack of progress in
bringing security to Darfur," noting insecurity in the camps for the displaced in
particular:

"'We are still concerned, very much so, by the lack of progress on the ground,'
[UN] spokeswoman Radhia Achouria told reporters in Khartoum, referring to camp
security." (August 18, 2004)

Another recent dispatch from the UN's Integrated Regional Information Networks
provides the same grim view:

"'Protection and security remain of paramount concern to Internally Displaced
Persons,' [UN spokeswoman Jennifer] Abrahamson noted. 'General insecurity
persists on the ground with continued violence carried out by various armed groups in
addition to incidents of banditry and ongoing lawlessness,' she added. She
quoted Internally Displaced Persons as telling a UN team that visited Zam Zam camp
[North Darfur] on 16 August [2004], that Janjawid militias had moved closer to
El Fasher town and were hiding at Jamena village, 4 km south of the town." (UN
Integrated Regional Information Networks, August 18, 2004).

Another recent dispatch, from Agence France-Presse, reports on the sexual
violence and exploitation of women in camps for the displaced. AFP focuses in
particular on the "police" charged with providing security in the camps. As many
reports from the ground have made clear, the ranks of these "police" have been
greatly increased as Khartoum simply gives paramilitary or police uniforms to
the Janjaweed. According to a UN report released August 14, 2004, women in the
camps are "reporting increasing incidents of sexual abuse and exploitation in
Abu Shouk Camp near El Fashir committed by police officers"; "the police are
exploiting women's inability to venture outside of the camp to collect firewood out
of fear of Janjaweed attacks, by collecting firewood for the women in exchange
for sexual favours' the UN report said"; "'[the displaced women] further report
that some police officers had followed the women to the forests and threatened
to beat them unless they succumb to their demands'" (Agence France-Presse,
August 15, 2004).

Even the expedient Jan Pronk has been forced by the undeniable realities of
Darfur to admit that "there is no improvement in terms of safety, there is more
fighting, the humanitarian situation is as bad as it was" (New York Times, August
16, 2004).

Moreover, there are a growing number of camps, spontaneously created by the
most bereft of the displaced, to which no humanitarian organizations are permitted
and in which security is non-existent. And there will be more of these camps
as Khartoum continues with its announced policy of forcing displaced persons to
return to their burned-out villages. Encampments like Otash and Siref, near
Nyala (South Darfur), are "unauthorized," according to Khartoum, and the regime's
Humanitarian Affairs Commission has,

"refused permission for the international agencies to operate [in these camps].
That decision is being partly modified, but apart from the charity CARE putting
in water at Otash, there has been no change to the appalling conditions." (The
Independent (UK), [Nyala], August 14, 2004)

There are also a great many concentrations of displaced persons, in Khartoum-
and insurgency-controlled territories, that are completely unregistered and
unassessed. These are the people dying helplessly and invisibly.

Further, as a recent and superbly authoritative report from the International
Crisis Group reports:

"Many of the displaced [persons in Darfur] are restricted from relocating and
are effectively trapped, often in poorly run government camps, without their
normal means of survival in difficult times." ("Darfur Deadline: A New
International Action Plan," International Crisis Group, August 23, 2004; available at
http://www.crisisweb.org/home/index.cfm?l=1&id=2920)

This raises the issue of the so-called "safe areas" that were negotiated by
Pronk in the August 5, 2004 "Plan of Action." What sort of security will be
afforded these areas, reminiscent in all too many ways of the "safe area" that was
Srebrenica? We catch a glimpse in a recent Reuters dispatch reporting on
conditions at Sani Deleiba in South Darfur---one of the places NIF Foreign Minister
Mustafa Ismail designated a "safe area" on August 16, 2004:

"Villagers returning to their homes in Sudan's Darfur region are living in fear
of the Arab militiamen who initially drove them away, the UN says in a report
received by Reuters. [ ] 'A UN team reported on August 12 [2004] that it found
approximately 2,700 returnees in Sani Deleiba that lived in fear due to heavy
Janjaweed presence in the area,' the UN said in a weekly report on the situation
in Darfur." (Reuters, August 16, 2004)

Camp insecurity is also an issue that may send tens of thousands of already
displaced Darfuris fleeing into Chad. The Masteri Camp in West Darfur is a site
of particular concern:

"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. 'We are concerned that such an influx of 30,000
refugees in one single spot along the Chad-Sudan border, if it were to
materialize, would put a strain on our ability to care for and feed refugees in our camps
there,' the UN agency said."

"'This group of displaced people said they want protection from UN
peacekeepers,' the agency's statement said. 'If they do not get international security
guarantees, they said they will all cross to Chad as soon as the rain-swollen river
that marks the border with Sudan dries up.' Most of the displaced people in
the Masteri camp fled attacks on their own villages earlier this year, but are
still prey to state-sponsored Arab militias, the UNHCR said." (Agence
France-Presse, August 22, 2004)

These huge numbers of refugees would be in addition to the many hundreds who
have very recently entered Chad. Approximately 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). Further north, in the Bahai region,
additional new refugees "describe attacks by Sudanese government planes and militia
on horseback," and their testimonies indicate "the campaign against Sudanese of
African descent continues" (BBC, August 16, 2004).

We must bear in mind that conditions for the more than 200,000 refugees in
Chad, as well as their Chadian host communities are extremely difficult. Indeed,
in many ways conditions are worse in Chad than in Darfur itself--- "appalling"
is the word used most frequently by camp workers. Child malnutrition rates are
36-39% (the range in Darfur is 16% to 39%); a very high percentage of women are
no longer able to breast-feed their infants; and transport and logistics are
extraordinarily difficult, even judged by the standards of this crisis. As Mark
Zeitoun, a water engineer for Oxfam, recently wrote in the International Herald
Tribune, "the situation is slipping out of control" (International Herald
Tribune, August 15, 2004)

The reality is that insecurity in and around camps for the displaced in Darfur
remains extremely severe and threatens the survival of hundreds of thousands.
This is so despite the comment by Jan Pronk on August 5, 2004 (the same day he
signed, on behalf of Kofi Annan and the UN, the "Plan of Action"):

"[Pronk] said that security in the Internally Displaced Persons camps had
generally improved." (UN Integrated Regional Information Networks, August 5, 2004)

We may be sure that so long as Khartoum believes the UN capable of such absurd
and expedient statements, it will be commensurately less responsive to
international demands, confident that the UN political leadership is not serious about
bringing meaningful pressure to bear.

GLOBAL INSECURITY IN DARFUR

Reports from displaced persons on insecurity in the rural Darfur areas are
numerous, extraordinarily consistent---and ominous in the extreme. They make clear
that Khartoum has not begun to make good on the demand of Resolution 1556 that
it "disarm the Janjaweed." Instead of such effort, Khartoum has made a series
of promises: first 6,000 "police," then 10,000---then for good measure 20,000.
It has promised to reduce its paramilitary forces in the region by 30% (a tacit
admission that these have been part of the security problem). But there is
nothing that responds meaningfully to the extreme violence of the Janjaweed
militia and the general lawlessness that follows in its wake of widespread
destruction.

The refugees that have newly fled to Chad (see above) report that they "have
tried to go home to their villages, but when they go home they said the security
was very bad and they either flee to be displaced once more insider Darfur or
they cross over into Chad" (Voice of America, August 17, 2004). Obviously with
every forced movement these populations of civilians become weaker and more
traumatized.

The same Voice of America dispatch reports that instead of improving security,
Khartoum is employing violent means to create an appearance of restored order:

"Aid workers in Chad and Darfur say the situation appears to be deteriorating,
not improving. Unnamed sources within UN relief organizations have been quoted
as saying they believe [Khartoum's] government troops are preventing many more
terrorized civilians from fleeing Darfur in an effort to show the government is
restoring stability in the region." (Voice of America, August 17, 2004)

The fact that Khartoum continues to coordinate militarily with the Janjaweed
has been reported in many news dispatches, including this from the New York Times
(dateline: Bahai, Chad):

"The latest refugee influx [ ] is an alarming barometer of continuing violence
inside Darfur. [ ] United Nations officials here, relying on accounts by
refugees, have been documenting new attacks by the Sudanese military and their proxy
Arab militias, the Janjaweed. On August 6 [2004], these [UN] officials said,
Janjaweed forces attacked a displaced peoples camp near the Darfur village of
Ardjah. On August 10 [2004], the [UN] agency said, cargo planes dropped bombs on
a section of the Djabarmoun mountains commonly used as a hiding place for
villagers trying to flee the fighting." (New York Times [Bahai, Chad], August 20,
2004)

The date "August 6" reported here was the day after the Khartoum regime signed
the "Plan of Action" that Jan Pronk had presented on behalf of the UN. Aerial
attacks on civilians by Khartoum's air force, one day after the "Plan of
Action" went into effect, make clear how much meaning this "Plan" has for the regime.

HUMANITARIAN SITUATION IN DARFUR

A fuller account of the present humanitarian situation in Darfur will be
offered in conjunction with a fourth update by this writer on total mortality in
Darfur (forthcoming August 27, 2004). Particular attention will be devoted to
several highly disturbing and misleading assessments offered by UN agencies and
spokespersons. Especially disturbing is the suggestion that the number of
"war-affected" persons has declined from 2.2 million to under 1.5 million. (In fact,
the number of "war-affected" persons has grown considerably since the UN, the
EU, and the US expressed deep concern for 2.2 million "war-affected" persons in
a joint communiqué [Geneva, June 3, 2004].) Further, a preposterously low
total mortality figure of 363 deaths among over 800,000 displaced persons, over a
five-week period (to August 17, 2004), has been put forward by the UN's World
Health Organization. This figure will be subjected to vigorous scrutiny.

The general assessment offered by Mike McDonagh, who manages the Darfur relief
effort for the Khartoum office of the UN Office for the Coordination of
Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), offers a clear, if troubling, point of reference: "I feel
we are slowly but surely getting on top of (the health crisis" (Knight Ridder
news service [Khartoum], August 19, 2004). For a closer look at the health
crisis and the humanitarian situation, we must leave the Khartoum office of OCHA
and hear the comments coming from those unencumbered by either UN bureaucracy or
politics. These voices, guided by no ulterior motives, are our best means of
understanding what the situation is currently.

The outbreak of Hepatitis E in camps in both Darfur and Chad continues to be
cause for extreme concern, especially given the very high weekly rates of
increased infection. Hepatitis E---a disease for which there is no vaccine, cure, or
treatment---has an incubation period of 28-40 days; the feces of an infected
person can carry the virus for over 2 weeks (Gerald Mandell, et al, "Principles
and Practice of Infectious Diseases"). This suggests that the outbreak of
Hepatitis E that we are seeing (rare in epidemic form, especially for a region in
which the disease is not endemic) may prove a major health catastrophe.

Mortality among pregnant women can be 20-25%. But even the lower mortality
rates of 1 to 4% suggested by medical personnel in the humanitarian theater are of
extreme concern, given the incubation period and the duration of fecal
infection. This may not be one of the major killers that still lurks (cholera,
dysentery), as camps have become open sewers following the near daily rains. But it
could claim a great many lives beyond those it has already, and could spread
much more widely. There are already concerns that the disease has jumped from
refugee camps in Chad to host communities (UN Integrated Regional Information
Networks, August 20, 2004). Last week the UN Population Fund (UNFPA) warned that,

"unless immediate action was taken to avert the spread of the disease
[Hepatitis E] in Darfur, it could spread quickly among the hundreds of thousands of
Internally Displaced Persons living in camps with poor sanitation." (UN Integrated
Regional Information Networks, August 20, 2004)

But of course there are no additional resources in place to make possible this
"immediate action." The disease seems destined to become yet another source of
trauma, another factor in the general debilitation of the huge populations of
displaced persons.

Darfur and Chad have also entered the high malaria season and between July 3
and August 6, 2004 the World Health Organization reported "104,859 cases in
Internally Displaced Persons camps." (UN Integrated Regional Information Networks,
August 20, 2004)

Malaria, too, is a debilitating disease that even among survivors can mean
increased vulnerability to other diseases.

Polio represents yet another threat, especially since so many children in
Darfur were not part of the recent vaccination campaign because of insecurity. The
Associated Press reports today that "epidemiologists fear a major [polio]
epidemic this fall---the start of the polio 'high season'---leaving thousands of
African children paralyzed for life, [the UN] World Health Organization has said"
(Associated Press, August 24, 2004). This is yet another grim feature of the
terrible autumn of suffering and dying in Darfur and Chad that is so clearly in
prospect.

More globally, Barbara Stocking, director of Oxfam/Great Britain, declared
following a recent assessment trip to Darfur that "large swathes of north-western
Sudan still remain inaccessible to aid organizations" (The Independent, August
15, 2004). This key issue---the huge numbers of inaccessible people in the very
large areas with no humanitarian presence---must loom large in any
comprehensive understanding of Darfur's crisis.

Richard Lee, a spokesman for the UN World Food Program, gives a sense of the
magnitude of the key task by noting that the number of people assessed as in need
of food assistance "is expected to rise to two million by September [2004]"
(Voice of America, August 18, 2004). Lee also declared that the heavy rains had
contributed to the creation of a "logistical nightmare," and that "more areas
[are becoming] inaccessible" (UN Integrated Regional Information Networks, August
18, 2004). This should not be surprising, since this is typically the month of
heaviest rains in Darfur; it does highlight yet again the failure of the World
Food Program in not pre-positioning large stocks of food in Darfur before the
rainy season.

Another World Food Program spokesman, Peter Smerdon, is reported as saying that
WFP fell short of its target of 1 million people in July 2004, and that the
organization would have trouble in August reaching even July's total because of
difficulties in reaching West Darfur (Knight Ridder news service, August 19,
2004). This augurs extremely poorly for the 2 million people the WFP estimates
will need food assistance in September, another very rainy month.

Significant shortfalls have defined the WFP response in Darfur for months now,
with a number of gaping holes in the delivery system that have been only very
partially closed:

"The world's biggest international relief effort has delivered less than one
third of the special food needed for acutely malnourished children in Darfur, the
United Nations said yesterday. [ ] According to [the UN] World Food Program
figures, 8,220 tons of corn and soya blend were needed to feed malnourished
children between April and last month. But only 2,455 tons were delivered, barely 30
per cent." (The Telegraph [UK], August 18, 2004)

Doctors Without Borders/MSF reported in late July that "in one big camp around
El Geneina, only 35% of the displaced people even have a card entitling them to
food from the UN. And the last time they received any was at the end of
May---over seven weeks ago." (MSF press release, July 26, 2004)

The Washington Post reports that a recent survey by the US Centers for Disease
Control and Prevention found that "four out of ten Sudanese refugee children
younger than five in Chadian camps are acutely malnourished" (Washington Post
[Bahai, Chad], August 22, 2004).

On top of all this, Khartoum continues to impede humanitarian
relief---deliberately increasing both morbidity and mortality among these terribly weakened
populations. The most recent "fact sheet" from the US Agency for International
Development records several UN and other aid group findings on this score:

"On August 17 [2004] the UN reported that the Government of Sudan [GOS] had
imposed additional bureaucratic obstacles that limit humanitarian access and
relief agencies' capacity to respond to the emergency. The GOS recently denied
access to an aircraft carrying relief supplies on the basis that the aircraft was
more than 20 years old. A non-governmental organization already working in
Darfur reported that one of its vehicles was denied customs clearance by the GOS
Humanitarian Aid Commission. Other nongovernmental organizations reported
restrictions on the hiring of national medical staff and additional delays in customs
clearance for essential equipment." (US AID, fact sheet #19,
"Darfur---Humanitarian Emergency, August 20, 2004)

This is genocide by attrition---no less destructive ultimately than attacks on
civilians of the sort reported by the intrepid journalist Kim Sengupta, whose
dispatches from Nyala have been some of the most revealing by any news reporter
working in Darfur:

"On 30 July [2004], three weeks after the United Nations Secretary-General,
Kofi Annan, announced that he had reached agreement with the Sudanese President,
Omar al-Bashir, on ending the violence, the village [of Silaya] came under
sustained and murderous attack from government troops and their Janjaweed allies. [
] More than 100 people were killed in one raid. Most of them were shot, but 32
were tied up and burned alive. Twenty-five young women and girls were taken
away; the bodies of some were found later. Also discovered were the remains of
many who fled the onslaught but were pursued and slaughtered."

"Survivors say that the raiders had specific, targeted victims whom they hunted
down and set alight---teachers, clerics and those who had returned after
further education in the cities." (The Independent [UK], August 22, 2004)

Genocide by attrition amidst the world's greatest humanitarian crisis, genocide
by violent destruction and cultural obliteration, genocide by means of
diplomatic and political intransigence. Khartoum's regime presents all aspects of
genocidal ambition.

Eric Reeves
Smith College
Northampton, MA 01063
ereeves@smith.edu

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