Wednesday, November 24, 2004

DARFUR, Sudan: The dying is only just beginning 

Darfur in the UN's Geopolitical Calculus:
How the international community is acquiescing in genocide by attrition

Eric Reeves
November 23, 2004

The recent unanimous UN Security Council Resolution on Sudan (No. 1574,
November 19, 2004) marks an extraordinary triumph for the National Islamic Front
regime in Khartoum, and it has been appropriately celebrated in the regime's
state-controlled press. Official commentary, as well as Saturday editorials in
Al-Ayam and Al-Rai Al-Aam, were effusive in praising the UN Security Council's
"progressive move toward supporting Sudan" (UN Daily Press Review, November 20 and
21, 2004).

Such a reaction to the UN resolution is hardly surprising. By demoting massive
genocidal human destruction in Darfur as the primary agenda item; by settling
for yet another paper promise from Khartoum to complete the Naivasha peace
process (stalled for half a year by Khartoum's refusal to negotiate a comprehensive
cease-fire and modalities for implementing the protocols signed May 26, 2004);
and by moving from a strategy of coercive measures and demands upon Khartoum to
cynical offers of various financial inducements, the Security Council has fully
convinced the regime that despite the bluster concerning Darfur from various
Western nations and UN officials, there will be no meaningful international
response to genocide.

In short, Khartoum got precisely what it wanted, indeed demanded. For the
regime was prepared to scuttle the highlighted event of the Nairobi Security
Council meeting if the Council had proved insufficiently accommodating. The Los
Angeles Times is just one of many sources for the following diplomatic threat from

"Khartoum has sought to use its participation in the peace talks with the
southern rebels to avoid reproach over Darfur. The government's main negotiator, Ali
Osman Mohammed Taha, even threatened not to come to Nairobi if the Security
Council put too much emphasis on the violence and humanitarian crisis in Darfur."
(Los Angeles Times, November 17, 2004)

In the end, Khartoum had no cause for concern. In a conspicuous moment of
dishonesty, the new Security Council resolution shamelessly declares that it
"recalls" various previous resolutions, including Resolution 1556 (July 30, 2004).
Evidently "recollection" is very partial, for there is no sign that the members
of the Security Council recall their singular "demand" in Resolution 1556: that
Khartoum disarm the Janjaweed and bring the leaders of this brutal militia
force to justice. The Security Council is no longer "demanding" what is essential
in restoring security to Darfur, even as the Council hypocritically "expresses
its serious concern at the growing insecurity and violence in Darfur."

Instead of identifying the Janjaweed, or declaring the well-established
connections between Khartoum and the Janjaweed (including close military coordination,
and the common basing of Janjaweed and the regime's regular military forces),
the Council can bring itself only to "condemn all acts of violence and
violations of human rights and international humanitarian law by all parties" (Security
Council Resolution 1574, November 19, 2004).

The genocidal acts of the Janjaweed and the Khartoum regime have been rendered
here, as well as in comments from the office of the Secretary-General, morally
equivalent to those of the Darfuri insurgents, whose military actions are a
response to decades of political and economic marginalization, as well as the
impunity accorded by Khartoum to Arab militia groups that have for years attacked
African tribal villages.

As has been the case so many times in the past, the achievement of "moral
equivalence" is for Khartoum an extraordinarily important diplomatic victory. Here
again, the genocidaires and their victims are rendered indistinguishable.
Small wonder that China, Russia, Pakistan, and Algeria found no need to abstain in
this resolution, and that Khartoum moved from its strenuous objection to
previous resolutions to an enthusiastic welcoming of the most recent.

As US ambassador to the United Nations John Danforth all too aptly
characterized the resolution, "'There is nothing threatening about it,' Danforth said"
(Associated Press, November 18, 2004).


Unwilling and thus unable to confront Khartoum any longer over the human
catastrophe in Darfur, international diplomacy has now devolved to the point of
passing weakly hortatory resolutions, promising money to this obscenely profligate
regime, and reiterating support for a slowly deploying African Union force that
is fundamentally inadequate to any of the growing security challenges within
Darfur (in a telling vignette, a humanitarian organization operational in Darfur
recently "passed the hat" to collect money to purchase boots for a particularly
ill-equipped group of AU troops). Unsurprisingly, the response of human rights
groups and humanitarian groups to the Security Council Resolution has been

"'From New York to Nairobi, a trail of weak resolutions on Darfur has led
nowhere,' said Caroline Nursey, from Oxfam." (Financial Times, November 19, 2004)

"'There has been lots of talk over the last year, and commitments from all
sides to end abuses, but security in Darfur has not improved. In fact, in the last
two months it has started to deteriorate,' Caroline Nursey, Oxfam's regional
director, said. The charity's Brendan Cox, who was attending the Security
Council meeting, accused the UN of failing the people of Darfur. 'The atmosphere at
the meeting here in Nairobi is very flat. Nobody seems very concerned,' he said.
'The only people who will benefit from this meeting are the travel agents and
those people who will collect their free air miles. There is no optimism about
the outcome of the meeting. We are expecting an even weaker draft resolution
than before. It will probably be passed, but it will not make any difference.'"
(The Scotsman, November 19, 2004)

Human Rights Watch declared even before passage of the resolution that
"security in Darfur is a 'farce'" (New York Times, November 15, 2004); in a November
19, 2004 response to the Security Council resolution, Human Rights Watch insisted

"The UN Security Council has retreated from its previous stance to hold the
Sudanese government accountable for the ongoing human rights abuses in Darfur,
Human Rights Watch said today. A new resolution was passed today by a unanimous
vote of the Security Council's 15 members. While today's resolution recalls prior
Security Council resolutions passed in July and September, it leaves out the
explicit demand in those resolutions for Khartoum to disarm and prosecute the
government-backed Janjaweed militias."

"In addition, the new resolution omits language in the Resolutions 1556 and
1564 that specifically threatened 'further measures,' including the possibility of
sanctions. Instead, it includes a much milder warning to 'take appropriate
action against any party failing to fulfill its commitments.'"

"'We fear that the Sudanese government will take this resolution as a blank
check to continue its atrocities against the civilian population in Darfur,' said
Jemera Rone, Human Rights Watch's senior Sudan researcher." ("Darfur: U.N.
Backtracks in Sudan Resolution," Human Rights Watch [Nairobi], November 19, 2004)

Oxfam International declared yesterday:

"The European Union must immediately take robust action to force the warring
parties in Darfur to comply with their commitments to protect civilians in
Darfur, urged international agency Oxfam. The call came as EU Foreign Ministers meet
to discuss the crisis at the General Affairs Council meeting today. 'The
European Union must step in to the void left by the UN Security Council's failure,
and take action to stop the violence in Darfur,' said Jo Leadbeater, Head of
Oxfam's EU Advocacy Office." (Oxfam International Press release, November 22, 2004)

The Scotsman cited a recent letter sent by Doctors Without Borders/ Médecins
Sans Frontières to the UN:

"Six months ago, Médecins Sans Frontières briefed the Security Council on the
massive suffering and death in Darfur which had resulted from militia attacks on
villages and the forced displacement of hundreds of thousands of civilians.
Despite several resolutions and pledges since then, neither the government of
Sudan nor the international community has provided sufficient assistance and
security to the people in Darfur. After over 18 months, people's lives are still
under daily threat." (The Scotsman, November 19, 2004)


It is not enough for the Security Council and other international actors simply
to lament the growing insecurity in Darfur, or to note the obviously dire
implications for humanitarian efforts, which continue to fall further and further
behind human needs. There must be an understanding of why insecurity has
accelerated so rapidly in recent weeks, and what is required to begin to restore
security in parts of Darfur. Though there are reasons why the international
community is unwilling to accept this basic obligation to assess Darfur honestly, and
even more reasons for continued inaction, none will pass any serious moral

Increasingly, the US, the UN, and other international actors have taken to
blaming the insurgency groups for the violence that rages in Darfur. Having proved
incapable of restraining Khartoum or the Janjaweed, despite the "demand" of UN
Security Council Resolution 1556 (July 30, 2004), many have found that the most
convenient response is to hold the insurgents responsible for continuing
fighting and insecurity. The expedient calculation here is that rather than reveal
their impotence---and rather than offer an honest assessment of the dynamics of
violence and insecurity---international actors can shirk responsibility for
responding to Darfur's catastrophe simply by shifting the focus of blame. This is
disingenuous and misguided on numerous counts.

People like Charles Snyder, the senior State Department official with
responsibilities for Sudan, seem to have forgotten that the US government has found that
the assaults by Khartoum and the Janjaweed constitute genocide. Secretary of
State Colin Powell declared as much unambiguously in his Senate testimony of
September 9, 2004 (even if he would go on to say that "nothing new follows from
this determination [of genocide]"). President Bush has declared that the
massive, ethnically targeted human destruction in Darfur is genocide. So, too, have
both houses of Congress---unanimously.

But despite the fact that Khartoum's genocidal campaign has claimed over
300,000 lives (see November 16, 2004 mortality assessment by this writer; available
upon request); that as many as 2.5 million people have been displaced by
Khartoum's orchestrated mayhem (see below); and that 3 million people are now
conflict-affected and in need of humanitarian assistance---despite this massive
campaign of human destruction and displacement, Snyder, UN political officials, and
other Western governments purport to be surprised that the two insurgency groups
are not prepared to take at face value Khartoum's renewed pledge to abide by a
cease-fire (the Abuja [Nigeria] accord of November 9, 2004).

For context, let us recall the events that followed within hours of Khartoum's
agreeing in Abuja to "take all steps required to prevent attacks, threats,
intimidations and any other form of violence against civilians" ("Protocol on the
Improvement of the Humanitarian Situation in Darfur," Abuja, November 9, 2004):
the El Geer camp for displaced persons saw brutal forced movement of civilians,
tear-gas used on women and children lining up at a health clinic, men badly
beaten, and a rubber bullet fired at a BBC reporter near a UN vehicle.

Let us also recall how widely and systematically Khartoum has violated the
April 8, 2004 cease-fire, and with what extraordinary impunity.

Let us also recall that the consensus among Darfuris in exile, with contacts
inside Darfur, is that 90% of African villages have now been destroyed, reducing
very substantially the need for the kind of organized military violence against
civilians that the US, the UN, and the international community have proved so
hopelessly inept in halting for well over a year.

Why should the Sudan Liberation Movement/Army or the Justice and Equality
Movement believe that now it will be different? that now the international
community is determined to halt the violence, and ensure that Khartoum will respect the
terms of the April 8, 2004 cease-fire, terms that have proved meaningless
enough that Khartoum agreed to reiterate them in the November 9, 2004 Abuja security
protocol? In fact, the international community has done nothing meaningful to
address the issue of cease-fire violations, ongoing predations by the
Janjaweed, extreme insecurity in the camps and camp environs, or to protect the
civilians trapped in inaccessible areas.

Nor has international community committed to a meaningful provision of the
troops or equipment that might reduce violence. An African Union force of 3,500
troops and monitors---even if it is fully deployed (and it is not at all clear
that the task will be completed before February 2005)---will be without the
equipment, logistics, transport, or mandate to respond in any effective fashion to
current violence. The insurgents know this perfectly well, and they also know
that Khartoum has been reassured by the most recent Security Council resolution
that no one is serious about disarming the Janjaweed.

In such a context, what possible justice can there be in blaming the insurgents
for attacking military targets in Darfur, including police stations? (Police
stations are, given the relationship between security and military organs in
Darfur, not truly civilian targets.) To be sure, this can never be an excuse for
abductions or attacks on civilians, or the threatening of humanitarian workers;
nor can there be any excuse for the looting of humanitarian convoys.

But to expect that the Darfuri insurgents will put any stock in international
promises or negotiated agreements is either foolish or disingenuous, and quite
conceivably both. Moreover, under acute military pressure, and confronting an
increasingly desperate supply situation, the insurgents are evidently beginning
to splinter, and command-and-control is slipping away. This is entirely
predictable if we look at comparable situations historically, and must be measured as
one of the costs of deferring full-scale humanitarian intervention for so many
months after its need became obvious.

We have long since passed the point at which anything other than a large,
robust, and fully credible peace-making force can restore security in Darfur. To
pretend otherwise is simply part of the inevitable search for self-exculpation in
the face of unchecked genocide. It is difficult to imagine a more disgraceful
expenditure of energies in light of current realities.


As a result of ongoing fighting and consequent insecurity, humanitarian efforts
are beginning to falter badly. From the ground, at least in certain contexts,
it will inevitably appear that all combatants are equally responsible, despite
the realities suggested above. Thus today's report from the UN Integrated
Regional Information Network:

"The humanitarian agency Save the Children said on Monday that its staff had
been forced to flee the town of Tawilla in the troubled Darfur region of western
Sudan when fighting broke out between government forces and rebels, despite an
existing ceasefire agreement. 'Both sides have demonstrated utter disregard for
the ceasefire,' Toby Porter, director of emergencies at Save the Children said
in statement issued by the agency. 'Yet again, innocent civilians, particularly
women and children, are suffering at the hands of the rebels and their own
government, and still the international community fails to protect them.'" (UN
Integrated Regional Information Networks, November 23, 2004)

But the IRIN dispatch goes on to note Khartoum's renewed use of aerial military
assaults, despite the regime's pledge at Abuja to "refrain from conducting
hostile military flights in and over the Darfur Region" ("Protocol on the
Enhancement of the Security Situation in Darfur," Abuja, November 9, 2004):

"[The Save the Children] statement said that an aerial attack by the government
[of Sudan], including one bomb which landed 50 meters from a Save the
Children/UK feeding centre, forced more than 30 of its staff to flee into the desert.
African Union helicopters were used to evacuate the Save the Children staff to
safety." (UN Integrated Regional Information Networks, November 23, 2004)

This attack offers a clear glimpse of the savagery and cynicism of the Khartoum
regime in continuing genocide in Darfur, and reflects the most callous attitude
toward the safety of humanitarian workers and operations. This is what the UN
Security Council is unwilling to confront or respond to.

In the same dispatch, IRIN notes:

"In a related development, the UN Children's Fund (UNICEF) has said that
reports of violence against women and children in and around IDP camps in Darfur
appeared to be on the increase. UNICEF's Executive Director Carol Bellamy said in
New York last week that reports by aid-agency monitors 'strongly dispute claims
[by Khartoum] that the situation is under control.' She said aid agencies in
Darfur have expressed dismay at the increasing number of people arriving in the
camps, as well as a surge in violent incidents in and around the camps

"A UNICEF statement said armed militias were raping girls and women in Darfur
as a tactic to terrorise and humiliate individuals as well as families and
communities. UNICEF also lamented that children had, in a series of incidents, been
loaded on to lorries and transported to a new camp without their parents, while
others had been injured during government attempts to relocate people from
camps." (UN Integrated Regional Information Networks, November 23, 2004)

These unpunished actions---turning camps into sites of violence, rape,
humiliation, and forcible displacement of children without their parents---are the
actions of Khartoum's regular military and security forces and the Janjaweed. They
are most emphatically not the actions of the insurgents. The failure to accept
this as the broader context for understanding ongoing violence in Darfur
reveals only willful ignorance.


This writer estimated in last week's Darfur mortality assessment that "well
over 2 million people have been internally displaced or made refugees [in Chad]"
(November 16, 2004) This and other figures have been greeted in some quarters
with considerable skepticism. Significantly, the UN World Food Program has
today radically revised upwards its estimate of internally displace persons,
indicating a total of 2 million people by December (Agence France-Presse, November
23, 2003):

"World Food Program (WFP) executive director James Morris said that estimate on
the region's torrents of displaced people was a staggering 300,000 people
higher than a WFP estimate issued just one week ago." (Agence France-Presse,
November 23, 2004)

This figure of 2 million is for internally displaced persons in Darfur; it does
not include the more than 200,000 who have already fled to Chad (with between
100,000 and 200,000 poised to flee to Chad in the coming months, according to
officials of the UN High Commission for Refugees), and it does not include the
very large population of displaced persons in areas that are presently
inaccessible (and unassessed). If we aggregate the new WFP number and reasonable
estimates for this last population group, it is clear that an estimate of "well over 2
million people internally displaced or made refugees [in Chad]" is terrifyingly

The people displaced continue to be overwhelmingly from the African tribal
populations of Darfur. And as long as insecurity remains so extreme, as long as
the Janjaweed are not militarily neutralized, as long as Khartoum feels
unconstrained in using its aerial military assets---even when in dangerously close
proximity to known humanitarian operations---displacement will continue within the
populations that are in inaccessible rural areas.

As Human Rights Watch emphatically declared on the release of its newest report
on Darfur ("'If We Return We Will Be Killed': Consolidating Ethnic Cleansing in
Darfur," November 15, 2004; full report available at

"Unless the international community squarely faces the fact that Khartoum is
using both militias and its military to target ethnic groups in Darfur as it did
in the south [of Sudan], the appalling violence will continue."

Security Council Resolution 1574 of last week gives no sign whatsoever of
squarely facing these basic realities.


A number of recent signs and sobering reports give a yet fuller sense of the
challenges to humanitarian relief in Darfur. Of particular concern is the threat
of drought, reported today in emphatic fashion by Andrew Natsios, Administrator
of the US Agency for International Development:

"Sudan's Darfur region [ ] faces a new threat---a drought that has all but
wiped out this year's harvest, the top US aid official says. Andrew Natsios, head
of the US Agency for International Development, said farmers who stayed on their
land during the 21-month conflict are now beginning their major harvest, but
they're expected to reap just 10 percent to 15 percent of the normal yield.
'They have enough production from this crop to last perhaps until March, but
certainly not until the end of December' 2005, when the next harvest will be
completed, he said."

"The dearth of rain is already having an impact because 'the boreholes, the
wells, are drying up from water much earlier,' [Natsios] said." (Associated Press,
November 23, 2004)

And this account is of those who were able to stay on the their land; as
indicated above, far more than 2 million have been displaced and have no means of
food production. This comes in the wake of extremely ominous reports on food
availability and prospects.

The US Agency for International Development notes in its most recent "fact
sheet" that the "World Food Program anticipates that the December caseload of 2
million beneficiaries will rise in 2005 to reach 2.3 million people," and this
does not include the 200,000 refugees in Chad (US AID "Darfur: Humanitarian
Emergency" fact sheet, November 19, 2004). (The World Food Program reached only 1.1
million people in October, a decline of 175,000 from September.) US AID also
reports "some areas of total crop failure in the normally fertile Jebel Marra
region." The Jebel Marra region is probably the most fertile in all of Darfur;
crop failures in this region indicate how badly agricultural production has

This is confirmed in the most recent "Food-Needs Assessment: Darfur" from the
International Committee of the Red Cross (October 2004). Surveying villages in
all three of Darfur's administrative states, the ICRC found:

"The situation assessed in the survey was found to be alarming as coping
mechanisms developed over years of drought and conflict had been nearly exhausted.
Most rural communities assessed were found by the survey to be suffering from
food shortages, which are expected to become worse in the longer term."
("Food-Needs Assessment: Darfur" from the International Committee of the Red Cross,
October 2004, page 2)

And in a dismayingly familiar conclusion, the ICRC found:

"Rural communities are currently affected by both drought and conflict, but it
is the latter that prevents these communities from using their normal
drought-time coping strategies." (page 14)

"Levels of physical insecurity were found to be the main cause of food
shortages as people are reluctant to venture outside their villages for fear of attack"
(page 2)

We need to be more explicit than the ICRC here: these "fears of attacks" are
fears of attacks by the Janjaweed, Khartoum's most powerful genocidal instrument.
It is not enough to say with the ICRC that "insecurity is the root cause of the
collapse of agriculture, pastoralism, and trade in Darfur" (page 2). We must
also say that this insecurity has identifiable causes, and
that---overwhelmingly---these causes are attacks by the Janjaweed and Khartoum's regular military
forces. The vast majority of insecurity in Darfur derives not from conflict
between the Darfuri insurgency groups and Khartoum's opposing military forces: it
derives from relentless, deliberate, ethnically targeted attacks on civilian
noncombatants from Darfur's African tribal populations.

The ICRC food assessment also offers us some chilling glimpses of impending
food shortages in rural Darfur. Food markets are already seeing severe inflation
in food prices of "150% to 300%" (page 9). And in concluding that "food
insecurity was an obvious and vast problem among the resident rural population," and
that "coping mechanisms were about to be exhausted," the ICRC declared bluntly
that "Darfur is experiencing a long-term major food crisis" (page 14). In the
early months of 2005, there will be large additional displacements in rural
areas because there is simply no more food (page 11).


The vast human destruction in Darfur is now being accomplished primarily by
virtue of insecurity that directly threatens not only the lives of Darfuri
civilians but humanitarian personnel and operations. The attenuation of humanitarian
relief, in the context growing shortages of food, will be translated into
additional hundreds of thousands of deaths in the coming months and years. This is
genocide by attrition.

That Khartoum intends to diminish international humanitarian presence, and thus
increase human destruction, is clear beyond doubt---and continues to be
demonstrated on an almost daily basis. Two weeks ago it was the UN High Commission
for Refugees (UNHCR) forced to withdraw staff from Nyala because of Khartoum's

"UNHCR said today it is temporarily withdrawing some key international staff
from strife-torn South Darfur because Sudanese authorities are preventing them
from carrying out vital protection work on behalf of thousands of internally
displaced people. Jean-Marie Fakhouri, UNHCR's operations director for the Sudan
situation, said UNHCR staff had been restricted to Nyala for nearly three weeks
on orders of Sudanese officials following an incident on October 20 when UNHCR
and other UN colleagues intervened to stop the involuntary relocation of
displaced people." (UN Integrated Regional Information Networks, November 12, 2004)

Yesterday, in a press release from Save the Children, we learn of "an aerial
attack by the Government [of Sudan], including one bomb which landed 50 metres
from a Save the Children UK feeding centre, forced over 30 of our staff to flee
the town into the desert" (Save the Children press release, November 22, 2004).

Such aerial military attacks represent intolerable security risks to
humanitarian personnel and UN operational personnel.

Moreover, life-threatening insecurity in the camps for displaced persons and in
rural areas makes physical survival increasingly tenuous. Physical insecurity,
directly and indirectly, has been the overwhelming source of human destruction
in Darfur, and this insecurity has been overwhelmingly the responsibility of
the Khartoum regime. UN Security Council pretense and "diplomatese" cannot
change this fundamental fact. US, UN, and other international efforts to create a
contrived moral equivalence between the insurgents and Khartoum, a factitiously
equal responsibility for violence and insecurity, is disingenuous and
expedient. It reflects nothing so much as the international failure to compel Khartoum
to disarm the Janjaweed and provide meaningful protection to vulnerable

As has long been clear, Khartoum has no intention of protecting the African
civilian populations; on the contrary, the regime has largely achieved success in
Darfur by destroying and displacing these people by genocidal means. The
present splintering of the insurgency groups likely portends precisely the military
victory that Khartoum's genocide was designed to achieve. Indeed, this
fissuring within the insurgency movements, produced in part by a lack of effective
political and military command structure, may intensify dangerously as physical
survival becomes as important as military action.

These realities seem not to register with the likes of Charles Snyder of the
State Department, John Danforth, the foolishly complacent US ambassador to the
United Nations, the ever-expedient Kofi Annan, or his special representative Jan
Pronk. Nor are the countries of the European Union or other international
actors willing to respond meaningfully to Darfur's vast crisis. Indeed, though
some European governments insistently declare in sanctimonious terms their "deep
concern" over Darfur, this has not led them to constrain the commercial,
financial, and economic activities of their multinational corporations operating in
and supporting the genocidal National Islamic Front regime (see

Recently the American Catholic Task Force in Africa issued a pleading letter to
President Bush, his cabinet members, and leaders in the US Senate: "We call
upon you to exert the full influence of the US government to halt...the genocidal
killings, rapes and other forms of violence and abuse of fundamental human
rights being inflicted upon the people in the Darfur region of Sudan" (Letter of
October 19, 2004, American Catholic Task Force).

But this, like so many others, is a call in vain. The US-convened Security
Council meeting in Nairobi has made painfully clear that nothing will be done to
change the fundamental dynamics of insecurity in Darfur---and thus the genocide
will continue remorselessly. 300,000 have already died; as many as 2.5 million
have been displaced; and 3 million are conflict-affected and in need of
humanitarian assistance. But we know now that this assistance will not be adequate,
and thus we may be sure that at least 30,000 human beings will continue to die
monthly for the foreseeable future.

We have seen precisely this ghastly indifference and obfuscation in Africa
before, and no one speaks more authoritatively of international failure in Rwanda
than Romeo Dallaire, the general in charge of the UN peacekeeping force during
the 1994 genocide. General Dallaire has recently found a more articulate voice
on Darfur, but his first public utterances were among his most powerful:

"'What should be done is an outright intervention,' he said. 'When I compare it
to Rwanda, there are so many similarities it makes you sick.' Khartoum, he
said, is 'getting away with slaughter and genocide,' while the world reacts, much
as it did then, with embargos and restrictions, [Dallaire said]." (The Toronto
Star, September 21, 2004)

Disgracefully, a complacent international community can't bring itself even to
impose "embargoes and restrictions." On the contrary, as UN Security Council
Resolution 1574 of November 19, 2004 proves beyond reasonable doubt, there will
be no actions of consequence to compel Khartoum to halt genocide in Darfur. We
are as far today from humanitarian intervention as we were when the genocide
became apparent a year ago.

The dying is only just beginning.

Eric Reeves
Smith College
Northampton, MA 01063

Monday, November 22, 2004

from The Washington Post (lead editorial) 

"Mr. Bush's Better World"

Sunday, November 21, 2004; Page B06

THE BUSH administration shrugged its shoulders last week at the genocide in
Sudan's western province of Darfur. At an extraordinary meeting of the U.N.
Security Council in Kenya, it sponsored a resolution that not only failed to advance
those that passed in July and September but actually stepped back. The veiled
threat of sanctions on Sudan's government was dropped. So was the demand that
Sudan's government disarm and prosecute its allies in the Janjaweed death squads,
which have burned villages, raped and murdered their inhabitants, and left
nearly 2 million people homeless and at risk of starvation.

The Bush administration presents this abdication as a triumph. It argues that,
by tolerating a weak U.N. resolution on Darfur, it was able to secure a
unanimous 15-0 Security Council vote and that this may bring about peace in the
separate conflict between Sudan's Muslim-led northern government and the Christian
and animist southern rebels. The north-south civil war has been running for two
decades and has led directly or indirectly to the deaths of an estimated 2
million people: Ending it would indeed be a victory. The two sides have already
agreed to a cease-fire and to a complex power-sharing arrangement that guarantees
rights and representation for southerners. Only details remain to be worked out,
and Friday's resolution sets a deadline of Dec. 31 for their resolution.

This isn't the first such deadline in negotiations over the north-south
conflict. Last year Sudan's government promised Secretary of State Colin L. Powell
that it would conclude negotiations soon -- by Dec. 31, 2003 -- and the White
House hoped that the two sides would mark their reconciliation by attending the
president's State of the Union address. The Bush administration hopes that the new
deadline will prove more meaningful because it has the imprimatur of a U.N.
resolution. With luck it will be proved right, but the power of such resolutions
has been compromised by Friday's failure to sanction Sudan's government for its
flouting of past resolutions on Darfur. The Bush administration also argues
that a north-south deal will improve Darfur's prospects: The power-sharing formula
will be extended to all parts of the country, assuaging the grievances of
rebels in Darfur whose violence provoked the government's genocidal response. Again,
this may prove true, but probably not in the short term: Power-sharing will
take months or years to implement.

Darfur's people cannot wait that long; their catastrophe is immediate. The
families that have been driven from their villages have no means to plant crops or
raise animals; they depend on food aid that is hostage to the budgetary whims
of Western governments and Sudan's murderous tendency to restrict aid workers'
access. The death toll is already enormous. The commonly cited number of 70,000
victims is a monstrous sugarcoating of reality: It leaves out deaths in areas
not visited by aid workers, nearly all deaths from violence as opposed to
malnutrition and all deaths before March. The Bush administration itself has
described the killing there as genocide. How can it regard an uncertain and only
loosely related advance in the north-south conflict as a substitute for punishing the
perpetrators? How can it recognize genocide, shrug its shoulders and then carry
on claiming that its vigorous foreign policy is about creating a better world?

Saturday, November 20, 2004

Context on "historic" agreement  

Some context for today's "historic" agreement on a prospective peace
deal between the Khartoum regime and the Sudan People's Liberation
Movement/Army: a return to January 2004---

Eric Reeves
November 19, 2004

[excerpt from analysis of January 22, 2004]

Some very recent history [bearing on progress in the Naivasha peace
talks]. First there was a missed December 31, 2003 deadline for
concluding an agreement---a deadline demanded by the US, and to which
both Khartoum and the SPLM/A committed themselves. Even as the deadline
was passing, however, President Omer Beshir was reported as declaring
emphatically that:

"a definitive peace deal with the rebel Sudan People's Liberation Army
[would be reached] next week, the official daily Al-Anbaa reported
Tuesday. 'Next week could see the signing of a final agreement on the
questions of sharing of power, sharing of resources and the three
contested areas,' Beshir was quoted as saying." (Agence France-Presse,
December 30, 2003 [Khartoum])

Though Khartoum did nothing to see this prediction into reality, the
same general, if troublingly extended, time-frame was promulgated by NIF
foreign minister Mustafa Ismail the week following the completion of a
wealth-sharing agreement between the two sides on January 6, 2004.
Speaking in Cairo, Ismail declared,

"'I am optimistic that in a short while we will manage to sign the
peace accord,' he said, adding the time-frame proposed up until now was
the end of January. 'We are continuing to hope (to be able to respect
the deadline), but in my opinion, even if we exceed this date, it will
not take much time' to conclude a settlement, the minister said. 'I'm
not speaking of months, but perhaps weeks.'" (Agence France-Presse,
January 13, 2004 [Cairo])

But of course the day after Ismail's pronouncement President Beshir
precipitously declared that the last major issue outstanding---the
status of the three contested areas of Abyei, the Nuba Mountains, and
Southern Blue Nile---was not within the purview of the Naivasha
negotiations, despite the fact that such status was precisely what
Khartoum's negotiators acknowledged they were then discussing, and
despite Beshir's own earlier (December 30, 2003) reference to
negotiations on this very subject (see above). But Beshir's
disingenuous and peremptory comments again retarded the diplomatic
process and commandeered what news attention was being garnered by the
peace talks.

Now, following this pattern of clear delay, misdirection, and
obfuscation, the key negotiator has decided out of the blue that he will
depart on January 24, 2004 for Mecca. Taha no doubt counts on the fact
that the Haj is an act of Islamic religious devotion, and will thus
insulate him from criticism that this is an inappropriate time for
religious observance, given the extraordinary urgency of peace for
Sudan. But there is good reason for skepticism about the genuineness of
Taha's religious urges. This pilgrimage on his part was not announced
in any fashion, or even known of, prior to its becoming expediently
useful. Indeed, as the comments above on peace agreement deadlines by
Beshir and Ismail make clear, there was nothing on the horizon as
represented by the NIF even ten days ago.

In short, Taha's Haj has come without any warning, without any
explanation, even as he would certainly have known that his absenting
himself from Naivasha would force a suspension of the peace negotiations
(a fact baldly acknowledged on January 21, 2004 [Reuters] by Ahmed
Dirdeiry, the NIF deputy ambassador in Nairobi who broke the news of
Taha's Haj). How likely is it that, knowing of the extremely
consequential nature of his Haj, Khartoum's key negotiator would have
said nothing earlier to the man who is leading the IGAD talks, Kenya's
Lazarus Sumbeiywo?

Indeed, Sumbeiywo was incredulous when confronted by Reuters with the
news of Taha's Haj:

"The chief mediator of the talks, Kenyan Lazaro Sumbeiywo, said Taha
had not mentioned any upcoming absences or a break in the talks and cast
doubt on the comments [about the Haj] out of Khartoum. 'He hasn't told
me of any break that is coming up,' Sumbeiywo said. 'I don't think he
would want to leave without an agreement. It would mean that he is not
serious, and yet I know he is serious in these talks. There are two
camps in Khartoum: those who want to get an agreement and those who
don't,' Sumbeiywo said. 'This claim that he is going for the Haj could
be from those who are against.'" (Reuters, January 20, 2004)

Sumbeiywo has it exactly right: Taha's leaving for his Haj "would mean
that he is not serious" about the peace talks---that this is the action
of someone who "doesn't want" a peace agreement.

[end excerpt]


November 19, 2004:

Khartoum has signed an agreement committing the regime to reach a final
peace agreement by the end of the year. Yet it refused from May until
October of this year to engage in negotiations over the remaining
technical issues (all issues of substance had been negotiated, and
codified in protocols signed on May 26, 2004).

The National Islamic Front regime in Khartoum counts on short
international spans of attention. It has been richly rewarded in such

Tuesday, November 16, 2004


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

Eric Reeves
November 16, 2004


As the UN Security Council convenes in Nairobi for an unusual meeting outside
New York, it has become clear that there has been an ominous shift in approach
to the Darfur crisis. This shift in strategy is twofold. First, having seen
that it cannot muster sufficient resolve to confront the Khartoum regime with
serious consequences for ongoing genocide in Darfur, the Security Council, along
with other international actors, has decided to substitute "carrots" for
"sticks"; contrived inducements for Khartoum to improve its behavior have taken the
place of any threat of sanctions or more robust consequences. Moreover, the
language of "demands" has been abandoned, as has any consideration of near-term
actions that might reverse the rapidly deteriorating security situation in Darfur,
or increase humanitarian capacity for a conflict-affected population now in the
range of 3 million human beings (see below).

Second, the larger international diplomatic effort, in the wake of the meager
achievements reflected in the Abuja accord (November 9, 2004), is now to
complete the agreement in Naivasha between the Khartoum regime and the southern
opposition Sudan People's Liberation Movement/Army (SPLM/A). But while there is
certainly a compelling logic here if Khartoum were serious about signing a peace
agreement that was essentially completed in May 2004, there are all too many
signs that the regime is again stringing out the diplomatic process, and indeed
re-opening previously negotiated issues (e.g., the fate of the southern militias
aligned with the regime, the status of Abyei).

Moreover, the only person able to make the real political decisions for the
regime---Khartoum's negotiating principal and First Vice President, Ali Osman
Taha---isn't scheduled to return to the Naivasha talks until December 11, 2004,
over three weeks after the Security Council meeting. The UN was unable and
unwilling to work to ensure that the principal negotiators for Khartoum and the
SPLM/A would be present during this historic session. In turn, conceived as a means
of highlighting the urgent need for a peace agreement to be consummated, the
Nairobi UN Security Council meeting is more likely to highlight UN and
international impotence. The current draft of the Security Council resolution to be
voted on this week is, almost inconceivably, weaker and more useless than the two
previous resolutions (No. 1556, July 30, 2004 and No. 1564, September 18, 2004).

There are simply no meaningful provisions in this new document---nothing that
will convince Khartoum that it must accelerate the time-table for peace in
Naivasha, or respond to the earlier Security Council "demand" that it disarm the
Janjaweed in Darfur and bring the leaders of these savage proxy forces to justice
(Paragraph 6 under "Measures," UN Security Council Resolution 1556, July 30,
2004). This new resolution is essentially, and weakly, hortatory.

Indeed, it is not an overstatement to say that in the war of nerves between
Khartoum and the international community, Khartoum has prevailed. Even as
genocide continues in Darfur, with increasing mortality from disease and malnutrition,
even as the Naivasha process shows no signs of being completed this year, there
are no real consequences for the National Islamic Front regime. On the
contrary, the US, Britain, and the UN have determined upon a course of absolving,
indeed rewarding the genocidaires if they will only provide the diplomatic fig-leaf
of a signature in Naivasha.

If we are in any doubt about the confidence that Khartoum is feeling, this
should have been fully dissipated by last week's actions immediately following the
regime's signing of the Abuja protocols on security and humanitarian access.

On November 9, 2004, the Khartoum regime agreed to:

"Take all steps required to prevent attacks, threats, intimidations and any
other form of violence against civilians." ("Protocol on the Improvement of the
Humanitarian Situation in Darfur," Abuja, November 9, 2004)

The day following its commitment to this agreement, Khartoum's actions at the
El Jeer (also El Jir and Al Geer) camp for displaced persons were reported by
the BBC:

"Sudanese government forces stormed a refugee camp in Darfur, attacking men,
women and children, within hours of Khartoum signing a security agreement with
rebels that was supposed to bring peace to the region. BBC television footage
showed Sudanese security forces entering the El Geer refugee camp near Nyala,
bulldozing it, firing tear gas at women and children, beating some of the male
inhabitants and moving others to a nearby camp. The violence came hours before Jan
Pronk, the United Nations' Sudan envoy, arrived to visit the camp, the BBC
said. At one point during his visit a plastic bullet was fired at a cameraman
standing next to a UN vehicle." (BBC, November 10, 2004)


Though there has been much celebration of the Abuja accord by Kofi Annan and
others, including US special envoy for Sudan Charles Snyder, this is
conspicuously disingenuous. For the two protocols (on security and humanitarian access)
that make up the accord add almost nothing to the terms of the failing April 8,
2004 ceasefire agreement. The security protocol speaks of Khartoum's
"refraining from hostile military flights," but the constraining quality of this clause
was almost immediately trimmed by Khartoum to the point of meaninglessness
("defensive" and re-supply military aerial missions are still permitted, Khartoum
has argued).

The security protocol also endorses the very slightly expanded mandate of
African Union (AU) forces operating in Darfur, per the terms of the October 20, 2004
African Union "Communiqué" on Darfur" (Peace and Security Council of the
African Union, Addis Ababa, October 20, 2004). AU forces may now "protect civilians
[including "humanitarian operations"] whom it encounters under imminent threat
and in the immediate vicinity, [ ] it being understood that the protection of
the civilian population is the responsibility of the Government of Sudan"
(Communiqué, section 6). In other words, AU forces may respond only if civilians are
being killed or attacked before their very eyes, and only if such action is
"within resources and capability."

Though a UN daily press briefing reported Kofi Annan as "especially welcoming
the broad [sic] mandate given to the AU Mission" (UN Daily Press Briefing,
October 21, 2004), it is difficult to see this change in mandate as of anything
other than minimal significance in how the AU forces will operate in Darfur.
Nothing remotely approaching a peacekeeping mandate for the AU has been approved by
Khartoum, and Annan's disingenuously suggesting otherwise is yet another
measure of his failure in responding to the human catastrophe in Darfur.

An all too telling image of the constraints upon the movements and actions of
the AU is offered in today's Washington Post account of Khartoum's attack last
week on the Al-Jeer camp for displaced persons, hours after the "expanded"
mandate had been secured in Abuja:

"Last week, more than 100 Sudanese police officers with guns, sticks and
teargas overran a refugee camp in an attempt to force occupants to move to another
location. Some refused to leave and took refuge in a mosque, while the soldiers
careered through the camp in trucks, swinging their batons. Two African Union
officers arrived from a nearby base to investigate, but they were armed only
with notebooks and cameras. Lt. Col. Henry Mejah, a Nigerian, said he tried to
interview a Sudanese commander, but the man yelled at him and stormed away. Other
police officers screamed at Capt. Rex Adzagba Kudjoe, a Ghanaian, when he tried
to take photographs of the site. Shortly afterward, the two officers left."

"Two days later, another bulldozer rammed into the camp, crushing homes that
had just been rebuilt." (Washington Post, November 16, 2004)

Abuja adds nothing of real significance to the mandate of the AU forces, or to
the nominal military constraints of the April 8 cease-fire agreement. In turn,
the security situation on the ground in Darfur continues its extremely rapid
deterioration, with many observers fearing a wholesale collapse. In July 2004
Jan Egeland, UN Undersecretary for Humanitarian Affairs, worried that "Darfur was
becoming too dangerous for aid workers"; and in a chilling moment of
speculation, Egeland described, "'my worst scenario: 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).

This is precisely what is now in evidence, and implications for mortality among
the civilians in Darfur are terrifying.


The last mortality assessment by this writer (October 8, 2004; available upon
request) concluded that approximately 300,000 people had died over the course of
20 months of brutally destructive conflict and genocidal counter-insurgency
warfare in Darfur. The present estimate, based on both new data as well as
underlying disease and malnutrition mortality, is 335,000 dead since February 2003.

Of these, 200,000 are estimated to have died from violence. Primary sources
for this figure are the report from the Coalition for International Justice
("Documenting Atrocities in Darfur," September 2004, publication of the US State
Department; available at: http://www.state.gov/g/drl/rls/36028.htm); an
epidemiological study of violence in West Darfur by Doctors Without Borders and others
(The Lancet, October 1, 2004, "Violence and mortality in West Darfur, Sudan
(2003-04): epidemiological evidence from four surveys" (available online at:
http://www.thelancet.com/journal [requires (free) registration]); and the UN's
"Darfur Humanitarian Profile," No. 6, September 16, 2004;

There have been no additional studies or releases of data since the previous
mortality assessment that allow for any significant change in this estimate of
violent deaths, though certainly these continue to be reported. (The section of
the October 8, 2004 analysis treating mortality from violence is included here
as Appendix 1.) Indeed, Khartoum's continuing refusal to curtail violence or
to permit meaningful AU peacekeeping has created what UN High Commissioner for
Human Rights Louise Arbour recently described as a "climate of impunity."
Violence in the camp environs and in the rural areas is very likely claiming many
more lives than are being reported.


Mortality figures and reports continue to be very badly misrepresented in news
accounts; this is true in particular of the assessment by the UN World Health
Organization (WHO) study of health-related mortality in Darfur. This
misrepresentation has had the extremely unfortunate effect of giving apparent UN authority
to a putative total morality figure of "50,000" deaths (and more recently
"70,000"). What the WHO study and accompanying public commentary represented---as
explicitly confirmed to this writer by David Nabarro, chief of emergency
operations for WHO---was a figure of more than 50,000 deaths from disease and
malnutrition, from early April 2004 to mid-September 2004, in camps to which there has
been humanitarian access.

The WHO figure did not include violent deaths; it did not represent morality in
Chad; and it did not represent mortality in areas inaccessible to humanitarian
operations. Most significantly, it did not include deaths from disease and
malnutrition prior to April 2004 (again, the conflict began in February 2003). In
short, the mid-September WHO figure was of highly limited relevance. Further,
as Dr. Nabarro confirmed to this writer by telephone communication, the WHO
figure for monthly mortality should be closer to 10,000 in the "6,000 to 10,000
deaths per month" range reported as coming from WHO. Only such a higher number
begins to take adequate account of populations more difficult to assess.

In the two months since the WHO report was published (assuming with Dr. Nabarro
the higher mortality rate), 20,000 people have died, suggesting that more than
70,000 people have died in accessible areas since April 2004.

Mortality in rural areas to which there is no access is best assessed on the
basis of the US Agency for International Development projections ("Projected
Mortality Rates in Darfur, 2004-2005"
(http://www.usaid.gov/locations/sub-saharan_africa/sudan/cmr_darfur.pdf). We
may use as a very conservative denominator for these projections the figure of
500,000 inaccessible persons in need of humanitarian assistance, promulgated by
the UN in its September "Darfur Humanitarian Profile" No. 6 (troublingly, no
updated figure was estimated in the October "Darfur Humanitarian Profile" No. 7).
For the past five months, US AID projections indicate an average Crude
Mortality Rate of almost 10 per day per 10,000 (for a population without humanitarian
relief and experiencing severe food shortages). Over 150 days, assuming an
average denominator of 500,000, total mortality is approximately 75,000. These
deaths would be primarily among very young children, the elderly, and those made
vulnerable from violent trauma.

Still, a figure of 75,000 may be too high for several reasons, primarily the
highly developed foraging abilities of these people and the use (and likely
exhaustion) of food reserves. On the other hand, insecurity produced by continuing
Janjaweed predations would compromise both of these food sources. If we assume
(very conservatively) that a figure of 75,000 overstates by 100%, this still
leaves a figure of over 35,000 deaths from malnutrition and related disease over
the past five months in inaccessible areas of Darfur. Together with the figure
deriving from the September WHO report and data, this suggests a composite
figure of 105,000 deaths from malnutrition and disease since April 2004.

Still excluded from this figure, however, is the number of deaths from disease
and malnutrition during the period February 2003 to April 2004. During this
period several humanitarian organizations reported high Crude Mortality Rates at
various junctures. Many thousands died in the camps, especially children,
though there is no systematic data that permits extrapolation of a total figure. If
we assume a level of death from disease and malnutrition only one-fifth the
current rate estimated by WHO (for a stronger camp population, and one that has
only gradually grown to its present size), then another 30,000 have died from
these causes.

Total mortality from disease and malnutrition is thus approximately 135,000.


Darfur's ultimate insecurity is evident in the UN's most recent "Darfur
Humanitarian Profile" (No. 7) and an "Emergency Nutrition Assessment of Crisis
Affected Populations, Darfur Region," prepared by WFP and the US Centers for Disease
Control and Prevention. For food insecurity threatens the populations of Darfur
and Chad in the most fundamental way. Darfur's African tribal populations have
been driven from the lands and livelihoods they know, have been deprived of
virtually all resources, and are now forced into camps that are dramatically
inadequate in providing for their basic human needs, including security.

"Darfur Humanitarian Profile" No. 7 indicates that 48% of the people targeted
for humanitarian assistance have no shelter, 60% have no access to clean water,
and 58% are without sanitary facilities. A third have no access to primary
health care. (October "Darfur Humanitarian Profile" No. 7, page 15; based on data
as of October 1, 2004). These percentages are essentially unchanged for the
past few months.

Troublingly, the number of conflict-affected persons defining humanitarian need
in the eyes of the UN continues to rise rapidly, as does the number of
internally displaced persons. The number of conflicted-affected persons has risen,
according to this most recent "Darfur Humanitarian Profile," from just over 1
million in June 2004 to over 2 million at the beginning of October 2004---an
average monthly increase of 250,000 (page 9). The number of internally displaced
persons has increased from approximately 1 million in June 2004 to 1.6 million at
the beginning of October 2004---an average monthly increase of 150,000. The
straight-line graphs representing these two increases, over four months, strongly
argue that additional increases must be estimated as of November 16, 2004,
producing an updated total of 2.4 million conflict-affected persons and 1.8 million
internally displaced persons.

These figures do not include the more than 200,000 people who are refugees in
Chad; nor do they represent the increasingly distressed rural populations that
are beyond humanitarian access or even assessment, again a figure likely in
excess of 500,000---perhaps well in excess. Together these figures suggest that the
total conflict-affected population now exceeds 3 million in Darfur and Chad,
and that well over 2 million people have been internally displaced or made
refugees. Data in the October "Darfur Humanitarian Profile" suggest that the average
Crude Mortality Rate (CMR) for this vast conflict-affected population is
approximately 3.0 per day per 10,000, a figure very likely significantly higher for
the rural populations without humanitarian assistance. In short, approximately
1,000 human beings are dying every day; 30,000 every month.


Data from the World Food Program/CDC study (collected between September 2 and
September 20, 2004) strongly suggest that there is still a significant
statistical understatement of the scale of Darfur's humanitarian crisis. For example,
22% of the Internally Displaced Persons households "did not have a ration card"
("Emergency Nutrition Assessment of Crisis Affected Populations, Darfur
Region," page 3), and thus were not entitled to food distributions. Since food
registration by the World Food Program is the primary tool in assessing food need and
actual distribution, such a high percentage of people without ration cards is
deeply troubling.

Further, food needs are greatly exceeding humanitarian capacity. A telling
example is offered in the WFP/CDC study:

"Of those households with a ration card [78%] that received a ration in
September [2004], more than half did not receive oil or pulses [leguminous foods]
(64.5% and 72.8% respectively). [ ] More than half of households (57%) only
received a cereal in the general ration in September" (page 3).

This is the context in which to assess the meaning of the figure of 70%
receiving food aid in September, claimed in the most recent "Darfur Humanitarian
Profile" (page 15). People cannot live on cereal indefinitely. 21 months into an
extraordinarily destructive and traumatic conflict, many of those receiving only
cereal will suffer severe health consequences; a great many will die.

Even more troubling is the report from the UN's World Food Program that it was
able to reach 175,000 fewer people in October than in September (Agence
France-Presse, November 9, 2004). At precisely the moment that huge numbers of people
are becoming food dependent, WFP is actually being forced to reduce its reach
because of insecurity. As Bettina Luscher, a public affairs officer with the
World Food Program, recently declared:

"'We need a political solution quickly here. Things are getting far worse and
more complicated by the day. We are really concerned about how we will feed
these people by the end of the year.'" (Washington Post, November 16, 2004)

There are simply no adequate plans to address either the shortfall in
humanitarian capacity, or the insecurity that cuts ever more deeply into presently
deployed capacity. Indeed, insecurity is so central an issue for humanitarian
operations in Darfur, and so clearly has the international community failed to
address this critical issue, that six humanitarian organizations operating in Darfur
have felt compelled to speak bluntly to the UN Security Council, condemning the
meaningless actions taken to date:

"Six international aid agencies working in Sudan said Monday [November 15,
2004] the humanitarian situation in Darfur is deteriorating. The groups also called
for the Security Council to take stronger action. 'Previous UN resolutions on
Darfur have amounted to little more than empty threats, with minimal impact on
the levels of violence,' said Cynthia Gaigals, speaking for a group of
organizations including CARE International and Oxfam International. 'The Security
Council must now outline specific and time-bound compliance measures and agree to
implement them if there is no clear and sustained progress.'" (Associated Press,
November 15, 2004)

It is highly unusual for operational nongovernmental organizations (i.e., those
with personnel on the ground) to speak so openly. But the utterly desperate
situation in Darfur, and the growing threat to humanitarian workers, makes
silence the riskier option.

Even Jan Pronk, Kofi Annan's special representative for Sudan, finally seems
aware that the UN performance has been thoroughly ineffectual. Pronk, who has so
often in the past proved dismayingly accommodating of Khartoum's duplicity and
bad faith, and who has made so many serious miscalculations in responding to
the crisis, recently declared to the UN Security Council that "'Darfur may easily
enter a state of anarchy, a total collapse of law and order. The conflict is
changing in character.'" (Washington File [New York], November 5, 2004)

The international humanitarian intervention that was so clearly required many
months ago as a response to the catastrophe in Darfur may now be too late.
Though the world community continues to pretend the slowly deploying African Union
force is somehow adequate to the crisis, it is clearly not and cannot be even
at full strength as presently contemplated. The AU is certainly unable, and
without a mandate, to secure Khartoum's compliance with the singular UN Security
Council "demand" that the regime disarm the Janjaweed: instead of disarming these
brutal militia forces, the Khartoum continues to arm them, and support them
logistically and through direct military collaboration.

The larger effects of Janjaweed predations on the increasingly vulnerable
civilian population have been made clear in numerous reports, including a superb new
report from Human Rights Watch ("'If we Return, We Will Be Killed':
Consolidation of Ethnic Cleansing in Darfur," Human Rights Watch, November 2004 at:

But one of the sharpest images of current insecurity is registered in an
account offered by the distinguished Oxfam International:

"More than a hundred thousand people are essentially being held captive by
armed militias in West Darfur, international aid agency Oxfam reports today
[November 4, 2004]. 'It is clear that the security situation has deteriorated in many
areas,' says Adrian McIntyre, spokesperson for Oxfam in Darfur. 'The presence
of militias and other armed groups around towns in West Darfur not only poses
direct and daily threats to tens of thousands of displaced people who have sought
shelter there. Local residents are also living in fear of violent attacks. In
one particular town, villagers cannot venture even one kilometre beyond the edge
of the settlement to tend their crops for fear of being brutalised or killed.'"
(Oxfam International press release, November 4, 2004)

This ghastly situation now prevails in most of Darfur, with the most deadly


Romeo Dallaire, head of the UN peacekeeping mission in Rwanda during the
genocide of 1994, has spoken out with growing authority on genocide in Darfur, and
recently bluntly noted the lack of response from the US, despite an unambiguous
finding of genocide announced by Colin Powell during Senate testimony of
September 9, 2004:

"'The use of the word "genocide" was nothing more than the US playing politics
with a term that should be sacrosanct.'" (Washington Post, November 16, 2004)

The searing truth of this assessment was only confirmed in a statement by the
State Department's senior representative on Sudan, Charles Snyder, in speaking
of the US genocide determination:

"'The word "genocide" was not an action word; it was a responsibility word.'"
(Washington Post, November 16, 2004)

This debased and misleading venture in semantic analysis by Mr. Snyder does far
too much to explain why the US, the UN, the EU, and virtually the entire
international community has allowed genocide to continue for so long, so
destructively, so utterly inexcusably. Genocide must always be a word whose use implies
both action and responsibility: to sever one from the other is a formula for
impotence, precisely what is represented by the UN Security Council gathering in

Eric Reeves
Smith College
Northampton, MA 01063

Appendix 1: October 8, 2004 Retrospective Assessment of Violent Deaths

The previous mortality analysis by this writer (September 15, 2004; available
upon request) highlighted several important new sources of mortality data. The
most important of these was a very extensive study conducted by the
distinguished Coalition for International Justice ("Documenting Atrocities in Darfur").
On the basis of 1,136 carefully randomized interviews, conducted among the
Darfuri refugee population in Chad at a number of camp locations along the border,
the Coalition for International Justice (CIJ) found that "sixty-one percent [of
those interviewed] reported witnessing the killing of a family member."

The total number of refugees in Chad is now greater than 200,000. If we assume
that this population of persons displaced from Darfur is representative of many
hundreds of thousands of violently displaced persons within Darfur, then the
total number people represented by the CIJ study is over 1.5 million, and may
reach to 2 million.

How do we establish the approximate figure for those people violently
displaced, either into camps, into towns, within inaccessible rural areas in Darfur---or
into Chad?

In its most recent "Darfur Humanitarian Profile," the UN Office for the
Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) estimated that 1.45 million people have
been displaced into accessible camps within Darfur; this figure is based on food
assistance registrations by UN and nongovernmental humanitarian organizations
("Darfur Humanitarian Profile," No. 6, September 16, 2004, page 5). The UN
report also estimates that an "additional 500,000 conflict-affected persons are in
need of assistance" (page 9), and it is reasonable to assume that most of these
are displaced persons in inaccessible rural areas. (Even a figure of 500,000
almost certainly understates the number of displaced persons in rural areas.)
Moreover, the UN report does not attempt to assess either the host communities
or the size of displaced populations in the three state capitals (Nyala,
el-Fasher, and el-Geneina) because there are still no systematic food registrations in
these large urban areas.

Thus out of a total displaced population in Darfur of over 2 million, we
require an estimate of the number of persons who experienced violent displacement of
the sort that created refugees in Chad. Given the extremely high level of
village destruction throughout Darfur, and the tenacity with which these people
have sought to cling to their land and livelihoods, displacement per se is a very
likely indicator of violent displacement.

Moreover, a recent epidemiological study published in The Lancet (Britain's
premier medical journal) offers clear evidence that displacement is overwhelmingly
related to violent attacks. In two camps, Zalingei and Murnei, statistically
rigorous assessments found that "direct attack on the village" accounted for
displacement of 92.8% of the Zalingei population and 97.4% of the Murnei
population (the combined camp populations is approximately 110,000) (The Lancet, October
1, 2004, "Violence and mortality in West Darfur, Sudan (2003-04):
epidemiological evidence from four surveys").

If we conservatively assume that 80% of the total displaced populations that
have remained in Darfur were driven to flee by "direct attack on villages," the
number of violently displaced persons is 1.6 million.

This yields a total figure of violent displacement, for Chad and Darfur, of
very approximately 1.8 million. The average family size in Darfur is slightly
more than five, suggesting that a population of 1.8 million represents almost
360,000 families. If randomized interviews by the Coalition for International
Justice (CIJ) find that "sixty-one percent [of those interviewed] reported
witnessing the killing of a family member," then this yields a mortality figure for
violent deaths of over 200,000 human beings.

Caveats and other considerations:

There is some chance that despite randomizing of interviews in Chad, and
multiple camp locations at which interviews were conducted, overlaps exist in the
"family members" identified as having been seen killed. This is a negligible
number if "family" refers to nuclear family. Indeed, the chances of overlap even
for members of extended families are quite small, given the diversity of
interview locations.

More significant is the fact that those conducting interviews for the CIJ found
that interviewees often reported more than one family member had been killed,
often several more than one. Yet the statistical derivation offered here
presumes that only one family member has been killed among the 61% who reported
seeing (at least) one family member killed.

Secondly, the study cannot take account of the number of families in which all
members were killed, and who thus had no reporting presence in the camps where
interviews took place. The CIJ study does report that 28% of those interviewed
"directly witnessed" persons dying from the consequences of displacement before
reaching Chad. These deaths must be considered the direct consequence of
violence, if not violent deaths per se, and would significantly increase violent
mortality totals.

Moreover, the CIJ study indicates that 67% of those interviewed "directly
witnessed" the killing of a non-family member." As the raw data from the CIJ study
is soon scheduled for release, it may be possible to put this extraordinary
figure in a statistical context that is yet more revealing of violent mortality.
Given the number camp locations (19), and the randomizing techniques used
within the camps---

"refugees were selected using a systematic, random sampling approach designed
to meet the condition in Chad. Interviewers randomly selected a sector within a
refugee camp and then, from a fixed point within the sector, chose every 10th
dwelling unit for interviewing. [ ] One adult [from the dwelling unit] was
randomly selected [for interviewing]" (CIJ study, page 5)---

---the figure of 67% of refugees "directly witnessing" the death of a
non-family member strongly suggests that assumptions made in this analysis may lead to
significant underestimation.

In light of these various CIJ findings, and data reported in The Lancet, a
figure of 200,00 violent deaths over the past 20 months of conflict seems a
conservative estimate. The Lancet article, which concludes that West Darfur is the
site of a "demographic catastrophe," has other important implications.

Friday, November 12, 2004

Agreement in Abuja (Nigeria): An Inadequate Answer to Darfur's Crisis; 

Reiterating cease-fire commitments will not halt genocide

Eric Reeves
November 11, 2004

Though the agreement between the Khartoum regime and the two insurgency
movements in Darfur (signed in Abuja on November 9, 2004) represents a modest
achievement for African Union (AU) diplomats, it is extremely unlikely that Khartoum
will adhere to its commitments. And despite the signing of a security protocol,
the agreement is even less likely to halt the relentless deterioration in
security throughout Darfur. Moreover, the humanitarian access promised in the
second of the two protocols means nothing if insecurity threatens the movement and
reach of the UN and humanitarian organizations.

In addressing the question of how likely it is that Khartoum will abide by the
protocols, our best guide is the regime's most recent behavior. In a sign of
just how much contempt the regime holds for the international community and its
efforts to respond to the Darfur crisis, Khartoum yesterday (November 10, 2004)
again violently displaced internally displaced persons (at the El Geer camp),
and wrought further havoc upon a humanitarian aid operation that is in the
process of collapsing in much of Darfur.

These actions constitute flagrant violations of not only international law but
the terms of Article 2 ("Protection of Civilians") of the newly signed
humanitarian protocol. In addition to repeated emphasis on the need to "protect the
rights of Internally Displaced Persons," Article 2 specifically declares that the
parties to the agreement will:

"Take all steps required to prevent attacks, threats, intimidations and any
other form of violence against civilians." ("Protocol on the Improvement of the
Humanitarian Situation in Darfur," Abuja, November 9, 2004)

The day following its commitment to this agreement, Khartoum's actions at the
El Geer (also El Jir and Al Geir) camp for displaced persons was reported by the

"Sudanese government forces stormed a refugee camp in Darfur, attacking men,
women and children, within hours of Khartoum signing a security agreement with
rebels that was supposed to bring peace to the region. BBC television footage
showed Sudanese security forces entering the El Geer refugee camp near Nyala,
bulldozing it, firing tear gas at women and children, beating some of the male
inhabitants and moving others to a nearby camp. The violence came hours before Jan
Pronk, the United Nations' Sudan envoy, arrived to visit the camp, the BBC
said. At one point during his visit a plastic bullet was fired at a cameraman
standing next to a UN vehicle." (BBC, November 10, 2004)

Further details were provided earlier today in a BBC dispatch from the El Geer

"Government forces staged two assaults on displaced people, and would not
desist from bulldozing their camp, despite the presence of UN representatives, the
African Union and international aid agencies. Tear gas was fired at people,
mostly women and children, queuing at a nearby medical clinic." (BBC, November 11,

Amnesty International reports in a press statement of November 10, 2004:

"The latest assault on residents at the El-Geer camp near Nyala is the fourth
time over the past ten days that displaced persons' camps have been attacked.
The attacks come just a day after Sudan's government signed humanitarian and
security agreements with armed opposition groups in the Nigerian capital of Abuja."
(Amnesty International, Press Release, November 10, 2004)

An incredulous BBC reporter declared:

"I've been covering Africa for 21 years and I thought I'd seen everything, but
to watch the officials and the police of a state like Sudan---which has just
signed a peace agreement---demolishing people's shacks under the eyes of
international observers and breaching international law, is quite extraordinary and
unique." (BBC November 10, 2004)


Such extraordinary brazenness, growing directly out of the international
failure to respond adequately to last week's similar actions by the regime, is
finally not surprising. But it gives us an ominous sense of how terribly insecure
the areas outside the camps have become. This is one reason that the UN's World
Food Program reached 175,000 fewer desperate people in Darfur during October
than in September (UN Integrated Regional Information Networks, November 10,

This decline in the provision of food to civilians without resources of their
own comes even as data from the UN's most recent Darfur Humanitarian Profile
(No. 7) strongly suggest that the number of conflict-affected persons increased by
250,000 in October (as it has on average for every month since June 2004).
This represents, then, a total increase of 425,000 people in need and beyond the
reach of humanitarian relief.

Collectively, UN data indicate that 2.25 million civilians in Darfur are in
need of relief, not including the huge populations beyond humanitarian
assessment---between 500,000 and 1 million people. An additional 200,000 in Chad are also
in need of humanitarian assistance. In short, approximately 3 million people
are either in need or very soon will be---and yet Khartoum continues actions
deliberately designed to exacerbate insecurity and produce a further attenuation
of international relief efforts.

While much attention has recently been focused on actions by the insurgency
groups---the Sudan Liberation Army/Movement and the Justice and Equality
Movement---it is deeply hypocritical for the international community to do so little to
ensure Khartoum's compliance with the various terms of the April 8, 2004
cease-fire agreement, and then blame the insurgents for failing to curtail their
military actions. To be sure, all attacks on noncombatants and humanitarian
workers, by whatever party, must be vigorously and unambiguously condemned in the
strongest possible terms. But despite the expedient efforts to create various
forms of "moral equivalence" between genocidaires and victims, between Khartoum
and the Janjaweed on the one hand and those resisting decades of oppression and
marginalization on the other, there can be no justification for such moral


It is critically important to ask, at every juncture in Darfur's crisis, who
benefits from various actions and developments. While there are increasingly
suggestions to the effect that it is simply impossible for Khartoum to disarm the
Janjaweed (as "demanded" in UN Security Council Resolution 1556, July 30,
2004), the more basic truth is that the regime has no interest in disarming this
brutally effective proxy military force. This is one reason that the regime has
still not brought to justice Janjaweed leaders (also "demanded" in Resolution
1556) or complied with its agreement (in the August 5, 2004 "Plan of Action") to
provide the UN with a list of Janjaweed leaders.

For what must be understood is that the current genocidal status quo serves the
strategic goals of the regime. Virtually all the African villages in the three
states of Darfur have now been destroyed. Estimates from Darfuris with
extensive contacts on the ground in Darfur suggest that 90% of villages away from the
major towns have been destroyed. Among the numerous estimates provided to this
writer, that of Eltigani Seisi Ateem---former governor of Darfur---is the most
detailed: he asserts that about 90% of Fur villages have been destroyed (with
the exception of major centers such as Zalingei, Garsila, Mukjar, Kass, and
Kebkabia); and that 99% of Zaghawa and Massaleit villages have been destroyed. The
most conservative estimate received, from a Darfuri with a distinguished human
rights background, is that over 80% of all African tribal villages have been

There is as a consequence much less need for the kinds of violence that have
displaced well over 2 million people within Darfur and into Chad, and created a
population of approximately 3 million in need of humanitarian assistance. And
still the international community---most conspicuously the UN Security
Council---refuses to move toward significant action. All the while the National
Islamic Front observes studiously. The regime sees that the currently circulating
draft of a new Security Council resolution is weaker than both its predecessors.
The regime sees that deployment of the expanded AU monitoring force is slow and
has already show signs of acute distress in both logistics and transport
capacity. And the regime notes carefully that the threat of sanctions continues to
substitute for the urgent humanitarian intervention that is all that can save
hundreds of thousands of lives.

Nothing fundamental has changed; genocide by attrition will continue for the
foreseeable future. Khartoum understands that it has set in motion a process of
irreversible destruction that will fundamentally change the demographics of
Darfur, and in the process profoundly alter the possibilities of political and
military resistance. Genocide as a weapon of war has been deployed with uncanny
skill, and victory seems assured.


Those celebrating the diplomacy that secured humanitarian and security
protocols in Abuja should look first at how limited these agreements are: they are
little more than a reiteration of the demands contained in the April 8, 2004
cease-fire, with the exception of a restriction on military flights by Khartoum. But
we should also note the expediency motivating Khartoum. For while the
international outcry of last week focused on the violent displacement of many thousands
of extremely vulnerable displaced persons from various camps in Darfur, this
volubility merely required that Khartoum conceive a means of changing the
diplomatic subject. And by agreeing to yield on the issue of a ban on military
flights over Darfur, thus satisfying a key demand of the insurgents, a change of
subjects was indeed effected.

This of course doesn't change the fact---as Kofi Annan's special representative
for Sudan Jan Pronk rightly declared---that last week's and yesterday's actions
are egregious violations of international law (indeed, the aggregated actions
directed against women, children, and noncombatants constitute war crimes).
Pronk was also right to declare that last week's actions, including the
destruction of UNICEF-installed water pumps and generators, must be "reversed." But they
have not been "reversed," and the completely ineffectual response of the UN and
the international community ensures that they will not be. Looking forward, we
may be certain only that yesterday's violent and brazen attacks will be
repeated many times in the future.

Here we should remember that forcible displacements have been reported for
months. In mid-July 2004, Jan Egeland, UN Undersecretary for Humanitarian Affairs,
made clear the nature of the problem:

"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 UN 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." (Associated Press, July 15, 2004)

The UN's Jean Ziegler, Special Rapporteur on the right to food, also issued a

"Calling for immediate action to stop armed militias destroying food and water
sources in the violence-wracked Darfur region of Sudan, a United Nations
rapporteur today urged the UN Commission on Human Rights to convene a special session
on the situation in Darfur. Mr. Ziegler said Khartoum wanted to send people
back to their homes even though [Janjaweed] militias have either destroyed,
damaged or looted crops, agricultural areas, livestock and drinking water
installations." (UN News Service, [New York] July 9, 2004)

These concerns have been shared by humanitarian aid workers:

"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)

And most bluntly:

"'[Khartoum] wants the internally displaced to go home, the UN wants them to
stay,' said an aid worker. 'There is no food in their villages: they will go back
to die.'" (UN Integrated Regional Information Networks, July 12, 2004)

This did not deter NIF Interior Minister Abd-al Rahim Muhammad Hussein from
"announcing on Sudanese government-controlled radio on 9 July [2004] that 86
percent of the Internally Displaced Persons had already returned to their villages"
(UN Integrated Regional Information Networks, July 12, 2004).

Of course this was not so much a retrospective account as an indication of
prospective ambition, one that Hussein has several times reiterated, even while
nominally agreeing with a UN demand that forcible displacements be halted. We can
see clear evidence in recent UN dispatches that this policy is being conducted
in areas that are not as carefully monitored:

[Radhia Achouri, spokeswoman for the UN Advance Mission in Sudan, told IRIN on
Friday]. '[Foreign Minister Mustafa] Ismail provided [UN Special Representative
for Sudan Jan] Pronk with an update [indicating that] 70,000 internally
displaced persons in Darfur were claimed to have been repatriated.'"

"She said that Pronk took note of the number of people who had been returned to
their homes, but he needed more information to establish whether this had
occurred on a voluntary basis. 'He was particularly concerned that neither the UN
High Commissioner for Refugees nor the UN Organisation for Migration had been
consulted prior to the repatriation, as had been agreed upon earlier,' Achouri
added." (IRIN, October 25, 2004)

Given prevailing conditions, it is extremely unlikely that these 70,000
displaced persons returned voluntarily; for if the returns were indeed voluntary,
Khartoum would have made much of the fact, and would have eagerly consulted with
both the UN High Commission for Refugees and the UN Organization for Migration,
as the regime had agreed to do. The failure to abide by this agreement is
entirely in character for Khartoum, and a clear sign that the policy of forcible
expulsions from the camps continues on a widespread basis.

Even more troubling is the report yesterday from Agence France-Presse that
Khartoum is claiming "more than 270,000 people have voluntarily returned to their

"'More than 270,000 people have voluntarily returned to their homes. This is a
very good sign and indicator that the situation in Darfur is improving,'
[Khartoum's] Humanitarian Minister Ibrahim Mahmoud Hamid told a news conference in
Nairobi." [ ]

"Hamid's figures do not tally with those of the United Nations. 'The UN is
aware of returns in the very low thousands,' Manuel Aranda da Silva, the UN's
humanitarian coordinator for Sudan told AFP through an aide. 'We have received no
information from the government about 270,000 returnees so are unable to say
whether the figure is accurate,' he added, noting that Khartoum had an obligation
to respect mechanisms designed specifically to assess whether displaced
civilians who return home do so of their own free will." (Agence France-Presse,
November 10, 2004)

The "obligation" Aranda da Silva refers to is of course but one more that
Khartoum has failed to respect (see below), and we must hope that a figure of
270,000 is another of Khartoum's preposterous statistics. For certainly if these
people have been returned, a very great many have become additional casualties of

In short, by signing in Abuja, the Khartoum regime is convinced that the
international community---evidently including the AU---will be more interested in
celebrating an extremely partial diplomatic achievement than in looking honestly
at the clear intentions of one party to the negotiations. The real truth of
this moment is that a change of subjects has indeed been effected: instead of
talking about the regime's war crimes, the UN, the US, the AU, and other parties
are offering unguarded praise of a highly limited agreement---one that
conveniently serves as a fig-leaf for international impotence.

Khartoum has long been exceedingly skilled in making concessions in one
diplomatic venue even as it remains intransigent in another. And during the present
phase of this characteristic policy of delay and duplicity, strategic and
genocidal military goals are being served, both in Darfur and in southern Sudan.


In assessing the November 9 Abuja accord, it is of critical importance to
recall Khartoum's record in observing previous agreements. For the regime has never
abided by a single agreement with any Sudanese party---not one, not ever.

Concerning Darfur, the language of the April 8, 2004 cease-fire agreement
should be recalled, including agreements to:

"Refrain from any military actions, and any reconnaissance operations"
"Refrain from supply or acquiring arms and ammunition"
"Refrain from any act of violence or any other abuse on civilian populations"
"Stop any restriction on the movement of goods and people"
"Ensure humanitarian access"
(Article 2, "Humanitarian Cease-fire Agreement on the Conflict in Darfur,"
April 8, 2004, N'Djamena, Chad)

None of these terms has been observed by Khartoum.

On July 3, 2004, in a Joint Communiqué signed by Khartoum and Kofi Annan, the
regime committed to:

"Ensure that no militias are present in all areas surrounding Internally
Displaced Persons camps"
"Immediately start to disarm the Janjaweed and other armed outlaw groups"
("Joint Communiqué between the Government of Sudan and the United Nations,"
July 3, 2004 [Khartoum], Section 3)

These agreements have been flagrantly violated or contemptuously ignored.

On August 5, 2004, in response to the "demand" of UN Security Council
Resolution 1556 (that it "disarm the Janjaweed militias and apprehend and bring to
justice Janjaweed leaders"), Khartoum agreed to provide Jan Pronk with a list of
Janjaweed leaders.

More than three months later, Khartoum has not complied with this agreement.

On November 9, 2004 Khartoum agreed to:

"Expeditiously implement its stated commitment to neutralize and disarm
Janjaweed/armed militias."

"Strictly abide by the provisions of the N'Djamena [April 8, 2004] agreement"

"Take all steps required to prevent all attacks, threats, intimidation and
other form of violence against civilians" and "protect the rights of Internally
Displaced Persons" (Protocols on the Security Situation and Improvement of the
Humanitarian Situation, Abuja [Nigeria], November 9, 2004)

Khartoum's actions yesterday at El Geer camp are clear violations of these
latter terms of the agreement.

None of the regime's commitments in Darfur has been kept, and there is simply
no reason to assume that present commitments will be kept.

In southern Sudan, the number of agreements broken and vitiated is even
greater. The painfully disingenuous 1997 Khartoum Peace Agreement that brought Riek
Machar and Lam Akol into the Khartoum regime was never implemented. Indeed,
this agreement was transparently a means of removing dissident elements in the
southern opposition from the larger military equation. Shortly after the Khartoum
Peace Agreement was signed, the massive scorched-earth clearances of civilians
began in the oil regions of Western Upper Nile, as well as Eastern Upper Nile.
Riek Machar and Lam Akol would eventually defect from Khartoum back to the
SPLM, belatedly recognizing how badly they had been duped.

The cessation of offensive hostilities agreement of October 2002 stipulated
that Khartoum, its allied militias, and the Sudan People's Liberation

"cease hostilities in all areas of the Sudan, ensuring a military stand-down"
"retain current military positions"
"refrain from any offensive military action by all forces"
"cease supplying all areas with weapons and ammunition"
"refrain from any acts of violence or other abuse on the civilian population"
("Memorandum of Understanding Between the Government of Sudan and the SPLM/A on
Resumption of Negotiations on Peace in Sudan," October 15, 2004)

Khartoum has not respected any of these terms of the agreement. Resupply has
been constant and massive. There have been continuous and large deployments of
military resources, including offensive resources. Violence against civilians
has never stopped; perhaps the most egregious example is the continuing
military offensive against civilians in the Shilluk Kingdom (north of Malakal in Upper
Nile Province).

The February 4, 2003 Addendum to the October 2002 agreement stipulated, in
addition to the terms of the original agreement, that Khartoum was to:

"Suspend work on the Bentiu-Adok Road until the final, comprehensive Peace
Agreement is signed." ("Addendum to the Memorandum of Understanding of Cessation of
Hostilities," February 4, 2004 [Nairobi]).

There has been no suspension of the work on this key oil road.

The widely hailed Nuba Mountain ceasefire (January 19, 2002) was almost
immediately violated by Khartoum's redeployment of two brigades (a very substantial
force) from Khartoum-controlled parts of the Nuba Mountains to fighting in the
oil regions of Western Upper Nile (not covered at the time by a cease-fire).

Khartoum has also violated on countless occasions the terms of humanitarian aid
delivery set out in the UN's Operation Lifeline Sudan agreement (1989). This
has entailed the repeated blocking of humanitarian aid deliveries to many
hundreds of thousands of civilians in critical need. Indeed, such obstruction was
the key factor in the terrible Bahr el-Ghazal famine of 1998, in which perhaps
100,000 people died.

Recently UNICEF complacently reported on Khartoum's ratification of two
protocols for the protection of children's rights, one protecting children from
recruitment into armed forces (UN Daily Press Review, November 3, 2004). But even as
this signing was occurring, intelligence from an extremely reliable source
operating on the ground in southern Sudan reveals Khartoum's widespread forced
recruitment into regime-controlled militias of boys in both Bentiu and Rubkona, the
epicenter of the Western Upper Nile oil fields.

These serial violations force an inevitable question: are we to believe that
suddenly this brutal, genocidal regime has found in Abuja an agreement that it
intends to keep? that it will respect the terms of the security protocol,
including the ban on military flights? Are we also to believe that in a new policy,
proceeding from some inexplicable change of heart, the same regime that has so
long deliberately obstructed critical humanitarian relief will no longer find
ways to impede and delay such aid?

These questions also provide the context in which to ask about Khartoum's
declared agreement to cooperate with an international commission of inquiry into
genocide in Darfur. Notably, several wire services have reported recently on new
efforts by Khartoum to conceal the sites of atrocities. Agence France-Presse
reports that:

"As the team began work, one of the two Darfur rebel factions accused
Khartoum-sponsored Arab militias of destroying the evidence of their abuses in the
restive western region. Sudan Liberation Movement spokesman Mahmud Hussein said
militiamen had been seen emptying a mass grave in Kabkabiya, west of the North
Darfur state capital of El-Fasher. 'They were removing corpses,' he told AFP by
telephone from the Nigerian capital Abuja. 'It's a plan to obliterate the truth.'"
(Agence France-Presse, November 8, 2004)

This account was confirmed to Deutsche Presse-Agentur by both an aid worker and
the African Union:

[Dateline: Kabkabyia, Sudan] "Unknown assailants desecrated several mass graves
in the Darfur region of Sudan, an aid worker in Kabkabyia told Deutsche
Presse-Agentur on Sunday. The attackers removed the bodies from the graves, possibly
in an attempt to conceal the traces of a massacre, said the aid worker who did
not want to be named. Members of the African Union's peacekeeping mission in the
region (AMIS) confirmed the destruction of the graves." (Deutsche
Presse-Agentur, November 8, 2004)

The US and other governments have known for months that Khartoum has committed
substantial military and transport resources to obscuring evidence of genocide,
and yet have chosen to be silent. Current efforts to obscure the most
conspicuous evidence of genocidal executions derive in large measure from this silence.

To those familiar with Khartoum's past behavior it will seem reasonable to
assume that the regime will keep the present (or any other) agreement only so long
as this does not prove militarily too disadvantageous. As a corollary, we may
expect that when international attention drifts or changes in focus, the regime
will resume previous military practices---confident, as it has been for many
years, that any subsequently renewed international attention will be guided by a
scandalously renewed moral agnosticism about the regime's motives.


Unable to respond effectively to either Khartoum's intransigent refusal to
abide by agreements or the growing insecurity that proceeds directly from this
intransigence, the international community has begun to make an argument for "moral
equivalence"---between Khartoum's forces and the Darfur insurgents fighting
against one of the world's great tyrannies, with no prospect of meaningful
international intervention.

As has always been the case in the past, "moral equivalence" is a smashing
diplomatic triumph for the regime. If Khartoum's genocidaires---brutally active in
the Nuba Mountains, the southern oil regions, and now Darfur---can achieve any
sort of "moral equivalence" with the victims of their policies of targeted,
deliberate human destruction, then their victory is complete.

What is the evidence of a growing international attitude of moral equivalence?
Some of the evidence if inferential: if Kofi Annan fails to declare in briefing
the Security Council that Khartoum controls the Janjaweed (a failure Human
Rights Watch has called "shocking"), this works to exculpate the regime from the
atrocities committed by the Janjaweed. The same tendency may be discerned in Jan
Pronk's refusal to use the term "Janjaweed" in his most recent (November 4,
2004) briefing of the UN Security Council: he speaks instead only of "militia,"
thereby seeking to finesse the issue of Khartoum's continuing refusal to disarm
the Janjaweed, so explicitly named in Security Council Resolution 1556 and in
the August 5, 2004 "Plan of Action" negotiated by Pronk. The generic "militias"
will eventually become simply the even more generic "armed groups," and the
moral distinctiveness of the atrocities committed by the Janjaweed will be

At the UN Security Council, Pronk recently urged members to put "firm pressure
on all the parties"; US Ambassador John Danforth echoed Pronk (UN Integrated
Regional Information Networks, November 5, 2004). US special envoy for Sudan
Charles Snyder has made his contribution: Reuters recently reported that "[Snyder
said the government of] Sudan was making some efforts to respect the cease-fire
and to curb the Janjaweed," and that his "concern" was for attacks by the
insurgents (Reuters, October 29, 2004).

It is hardly an accident that US Ambassador to the UN John Danforth has also
recently weighed in with comments on the north/south peace agreement that
similarly suggest moral equivalence. In speaking of Khartoum's ongoing refusal to
finalize a peace agreement that was substantively completed last May 26, Danforth
complains that he doesn't understand "why [that] one remaining issue can't be
wrapped up in short order." But rather than hold Khartoum responsible, Danforth
added, "there is plenty of blame to go around" (Washington File [US State
Department], November 4, 2004).

Danforth, as he has done on many occasions previously, deliberately ignores
diplomatic realities and the responsibility of the Khartoum regime. Both the
SPLM/A and the US State Department have been urgently requesting Khartoum to resume
final negotiations on a comprehensive cease-fire, as well as the modalities of
implementation for already negotiated protocols on power- and wealth-sharing,
security, and geographical issues. But Khartoum has relentlessly refused while
it pursues genocide in Darfur. Principle negotiator and First Vice President
Ali Osman Taha made a very brief appearance at the Naivasha talks in early
October 2004 in order to secure from the Bush administration a positive
determination per the terms of the Sudan Peace Act (viz., that it is "negotiating peace in
good faith"). He then decamped for Ramadan and is not expected back in
Naivasha until several weeks after the UN Security Council convenes in Nairobi on
November 19 and 20.

There is no moral equivalency between Khartoum and its various opponents in
Sudan. Though both the Darfur insurgencies and the SPLA have been guilty of
serious human rights abuses and violations of international law, they have done
nothing that is remotely comparable to the actions of Khartoum's genocidaires and
their various militia proxies, in the south and in Darfur. Nor is there on
Khartoum's part any equivalent willingness to engage in good faith negotiations:
the regime's record is one of deceit, duplicity, reneging, bad faith, and delay.
Neither the Darfur insurgents nor the SPLM has anything to gain from such
negotiating behavior.

Jan Pronk warned last week that "Darfur could sink into a 'a state of anarchy,"
and that "within the rebel movements there is a leadership crisis and splits in
the groups, and political leaders are increasingly unable to control their
forces on the ground." Pronk also, extraordinarily, suggests that the insurgents
should "take responsibility for the needs of the people [in the territory they
control]" (Washington File [US State Department], November 4, 2004).

If the weaknesses and increasingly desperate situation of the insurgents are
becoming more evident, this should only make it clearer that they are quite
incapable of "taking responsibility" of the sort Pronk indicates. But, it must be
added, so too are the presently deployed resources of the international
community; and in failing to note this basic fact, Pronk obliges us to wonder whether he
has begun to lose his bearings completely.


Months ago Undersecretary Egeland declared 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 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).

This worst case scenario has arrived. Insecurity is rapidly increasing, both
in the camps and rural areas. Khartoum, which first relied on outright
obstruction to impede humanitarian access, and subsequently on the heavy summer rains,
is now prepared to see humanitarian aid be forced by insecurity to "step back"
at the critical moment. With 3 million people increasingly in need throughout
Darfur and in Chad, with 300,000 already dead and 1,000 dying every day, the
cataclysm is well begun.

Those who would apportion blame while ignoring responsibility for genocide
ensure only that the descent into darkness will be accomplished more quickly.

Eric Reeves
Smith College
Northampton, MA 01063

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?