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

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