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Saturday, November 06, 2004

The Deployment of New African Union Forces to Darfur: 

What it does and doesn't mean

Eric Reeves
October 25, 2004

After weeks of painful delay, the African Union (AU) is poised to begin
augmenting the force of cease-fire monitors in Darfur, as well as troops to protect
these monitors. The US, Canada, and the EU seem finally to have developed some
sense of urgency about this deployment: substantial transport capacity is on
route and significant funding commitments have been made. Even so, the deployment
is very unlikely to be completed soon, and various difficulties and obstacles
should be anticipated. (Agence France-Presse reports today [October 25, 2004]
that Khartoum is refusing to allow US cargo planes to enter Sudan carrying AU
forces and equipment.)

More significantly, the force now planned has no peacekeeping mandate and is
not remotely adequate to confront either escalating violence in Darfur or the
urgent security issues that continue to define the larger crisis. As a
consequence, this deployment may quickly be overwhelmed by fighting that is spreading and
intensifying; and even in the unlikely event that a meaningful cease-fire is
negotiated in the current round of faltering talks in Abuja (Nigeria), the AU
force will only very partially alleviate the multiple security issues facing
humanitarian operations.

Most obviously, the AU force can do nothing to increase humanitarian capacity:
it is most emphatically not a humanitarian intervention, and does not have the
ability to facilitate the movement of desperately needed food, medicine, clean
water, shelter, and other essential non-food items. As the most recent
comprehensive UN humanitarian overview (released October 21, 2004; see below) makes
painfully clear, the basic needs of hundreds of thousands of innocent civilians
are not being met. Genocide by attrition continues to claim 30,000 lives per
month; these are in addition to the approximately 300,000 who have already
perished (see mortality analysis below).

THE AFRICAN UNION FORCE

The present AU contingent of approximately 80 monitors and 310 protecting
troops will be increased several-fold, according to the head of the AU Peace and
Security Council, Said Djinnit:

"'The Commission has completed all the preparatory steps required for the
deployment of additional personnel to meet the envisaged strength of 3,320 (troops),
comprising 2,341 military personnel including 450 observers, 815 police and
support staff of 164,' Djinnit said." (Reuters, October 20, 2004)

What this new deployment must not be allowed to obscure is the failure of the
UN and the international community to secure a broader mandate for the expanded
AU force. The singular mandate that Khartoum has agreed to stipulates only
cease-fire monitoring and the protection of monitors. This is not a peacekeeping
force, which accounts for the fact that neither Kofi Annan, US Secretary of
State Colin Powell, nor representatives of the European Union ever use the word
"peacekeepers."

Two months ago, Rwandan President Paul Kagame declared that troops from his
nation would not stand idly by, watching civilians be slaughtered:

"'Our forces will not stand by and watch innocent civilians being hacked to
death like the case was here in 1994,' Mr Kagame said, referring to UN troops who
did not intervene to prevent the Rwanda genocide. 'If it was established that
the civilians are in danger, then our forces would certainly intervene and use
force to protect civilians.'" (Associated Press, August 17, 2004)

Khartoum's response was swift and clearly threatening:

"Sudan's state minister for foreign affairs, Abdelwahad Najeb, says that as far
as Khartoum is concerned, the protection force in Darfur has only one purpose.
'The mission for those forces is very clear: protection for the monitors. As
far as the civilians, this is the responsibility of the government of Sudan, and
this is very clearly stipulated in the resolution of the African Union in its
meeting on the 8th of July in Addis Ababa. I think the president of Rwanda was
there in the summit of the AU, and he knows what is the mandate of the Rwandan
troops.'" (Voice of America [Nairobi], August 16, 2004)

Nothing has changed in the adamant posture of the regime. National Islamic
Front leaders---including Foreign Mustafa Ismail, lead negotiator in Abuja
(Agriculture Minister Majzoub al-Khalifalea), and Interior Minister Abdel Rahim
Mohammed Hussein---have been relentlessly consistent: an increase in the number of AU
personnel deployed to Darfur will be permitted only as long as there is no
change in mandate.

Thus while the presence of an expanded AU force may bring some security to the
most vulnerable civilian populations in some camp areas, and may report more
fully the ongoing atrocities by Khartoum and its Janjaweed militia proxy---as
well as cease-fire violations by the insurgents---this force will not be able to
provide security corridors for humanitarian aid or protect humanitarian convoys,
and will not be able to protect many hundreds of thousands of acutely
vulnerable civilian populations in rural areas, currently beyond humanitarian reach.

And given the limited mandate under which the AU has deployed, it will most
certainly not be able to disarm to Janjaweed as "demanded" in UN Security Council
Resolution 1556 (July 30, 2004), and as agreed to by Khartoum on July 3, 2004
in a Joint Communiqué signed by the regime and Kofi Annan. Nor will the AU
force be able to compel Khartoum to accede to the other demand of UN Security
Council Resolution 1556:

"[to] apprehend and bring to justice Janjaweed leaders and their associates who
have incited and carried out human rights and international humanitarian law
violations and other atrocities." (UN Security Council Resolution 1556, paragraph
6, July 30, 2004)

Indeed, the reason Khartoum finds a numerical increase in AU forces untroubling
is that its genocidal goals in Darfur have been largely achieved, and the
immensely destructive status quo will remain largely unchanged despite expanded AU
deployment. As seasoned Sudan watcher Dan Connell recently observed:

"The tragic reality is that the Sudanese government has largely got what it
wanted from its janjaweed proxies by now: the routing of the two small rebel
armies---the Sudan Liberation Army (SLA) and the Justice and Equality Movement
(JEM)---that attacked government military installations in 2003, and the draining of
the civilian sea in which they swam. For their part, the janjaweed have got
what they wanted: a treasure trove of booty pillaged from their victims, none of
which is likely to be returned, together with vastly expanded access to grazing
land for their herds." (Middle East Report, October 18, 2004)

Moreover, the deployment of an AU force of fewer than 4,000 will hardly
constrain Khartoum in using its military assets whenever there is tactical or
strategic advantage to be gained. A pretext of "self-defense" or "military
provocation" can always be contrived. This is the real meaning of a highly revealing
interview given recently by Khartoum's extremely brutal chief of security, Salah
Gosh, one of the most prominent architects of genocide in Darfur. In justifying
the use of notoriously inaccurate Antonov bombers to attack civilian villages,
Gosh declared with unsurpassable cynicism:

"Sudan's security chief says rebels in the western region of Darfur have drawn
army fire and aerial bombardment on to Darfur villages by using them as cover
and as bases for military operations. 'Rebels are using those civilians as
shields.' [ ] 'The (rebel) militia are attacking the government from the villages.
What is the government going to do? It will bomb those villages. It will
attack those villages because the villages were attacking them.'" (October 18, 2004)

Of course it is preposterous to declare that "villages are attacking"
Khartoum's heavily armed military forces; and the insurgents certainly would have
learned long ago that Khartoum had no hesitation whatsoever in attacking villages
simply because civilians were present. Indeed, countless human rights reports on
aerial and ground attacks by Khartoum's regular and Janjaweed proxy forces make
clear that civilian destruction is the purpose of these attacks. Gosh's is but
another voice of shameless mendacity in Khartoum, utterly contemptuous of data
such as that collected by the distinguished Coalition for the International
Justice (CIJ). CIJ found in its extensive interviews with Darfuri refugees in
Chad that respondents, when asked about the presence of rebel forces, indicated
that in 91% of the cases their villages were completely unprotected at the time
of attack, and that in only 2% of the attacks were rebels present in the
villages.

Of course security minister Gosh's "human shield" argument permits any
"intelligence" Khartoum "possesses" to justify attacks on any target. Khartoum is
simply not interested in the civilian lives in Fur, Massaleit, Zaghawa, and other
ethnic African villages that have been so relentlessly destroyed. Credible
estimates suggest that more than 2,000 villages have been destroyed: such massive
and systematic destruction has nothing to do with the use of "human shields" or
supposed "collateral damage," as Gosh suggests.

We should also recall that the Antonov bombers implicated in countless village
attacks are completely indiscriminate weapons, notoriously inaccurate, and much
more suitable as weapons of civilian terror. For the very high-flying Antonovs
are actually retrofitted Russian cargo planes, from which shrapnel-loaded
barrel bombs are simply rolled out the back cargo doors. They have no precision
appropriate for military use and often miss villages entirely. These
indiscriminate attacks have for years defined Khartoum's war in southern Sudan, where
Antonov bombings are synonymous with civilian destruction.

Indeed, these bombing attacks in southern Sudan have targeted not only schools,
hospitals, churches, and refugee camps, but humanitarian operations as well.
These include attacks on such distinguished aid groups as the International
Committee of the Red Cross, the International Rescue Committee, Doctors Without
Borders/MSF, and the World Food Program (see article on these attacks by this
writer, The Washington Post, August 15, 2000).

AN APPROPRIATE SECURITY FORCE FOR DARFUR

What is an appropriate size for an international force in Darfur? one that
might genuinely address the urgent security issues? General Romeo Dallaire, head
of peacekeeping during the Rwandan genocide, has recently offered an assessment
based on his own grimly authoritative experience. During a forum at the
Kennedy School of Government (Harvard University, October 18, 2004), General Dallaire
spoke of a force of 44,000 troops---more than ten times what the AU plans to
deploy. He has also previously proposed very specific logistical and equipment
needs for such a force, which are nowhere in evidence during the present rushed
deployment.

As important as the size of the force (and the consensus among military
professionals is close to Dallaire's figure) is the mandate guiding the force.
Dallaire has written previously on Darfur in ways that make clear he believes the
mandate must be robust enough to disarm the Janjaweed and protect vulnerable
populations in both the camps and rural areas:

"A mixture of mobile African Union troops supported by NATO soldiers equipped
with helicopters, remotely piloted vehicles, night-vision devices and long-range
special forces could protect Darfur's displaced people in their camps and
remaining villages, and eliminate or incarcerate the Janjaweed. If NATO is unable
to act adequately, manpower could perhaps come individually from the so-called
middle nations---countries like Germany and Canada that have more political
leeway and often more credibility in the developing world than the Security Council
members." (The International Herald Tribune, October 5, 2004)

In short, the nature of the force required is defined by the most pressing
security issues, all of which must be addressed if further massive civilian
destruction is to be averted:

[1] Khartoum must be put on notice that Antonov bombers and helicopter gunships
that are determined to have been engaged in attacks on undefended villages, or
which have indiscriminately expended ordnance in the proximity of civilians,
will be destroyed or mechanically disabled on the ground (this is much more
practicable than the often mooted "no-fly zone");

[2] the Janjaweed must be disarmed;

[3] all Janjaweed and all of Khartoum's paramilitary forces ("police") must be
removed from security roles in the camps and camp environs;

[4] safe passage routes must be created for vulnerable and increasingly
distressed rural populations in need of humanitarian assistance (see below);

[5] humanitarian personnel and convoys must be afforded must more robust
security protection;

[6] the process of permitting voluntary returns by displaced persons must be
overseen with scrupulous security provisions.

These tasks are many and difficult; it is impossible for even an augmented AU
force to begin to undertake most of them, and it is best if this small force
concentrates its efforts. Additional military capacity simply must be forthcoming
from non-AU countries and NATO, or insecurity will continue to be responsible
for the destructive of many tens of thousands of human lives.

THE CURRENT SECURITY SITUATION IN DARFUR

Some in the international community, typically for reasons of expediency, have
chosen to speak disingenuously about the security situation in Darfur. Agence
France-Presse very recently reported the views of European Union foreign policy
chief Javier Solana:

"European Union foreign policy chief Javier Solana Sunday [October 24, 2004]
noted an improvement in the security and humanitarian situation in Sudan's
crisis-hit Darfur region." (Agence France-Presse, October 24, 2004)

Jan Pronk, Kofi Annan's special representative for Sudan, is also peculiarly
optimistic:

"[A UN spokesperson] said Jan Pronk, the Sudan representative for UN Secretary
General Kofi Annan, feels 'optimistic as to the political situation in the
Sudan and the government commitment to exert more efforts for a peaceful settlement
to the conflict.'" (Associated Press, October 22, 2004)

These views on security and the overall situation in Darfur are echoed by a
spokesman for the Khartoum regime:

"The governor of South Darfur, Al Haj Attal Mannan, has affirmed the stability
of the security situation in his state. He said in an interview to SUNA that
the security situation in the state is improving, especially after the securing
of towns, roads and sites of voluntary return for the displaced citizens."
(Sudan News Agency [SUNA], from the UN Daily Press Review for Sudan, October 20,
2004)

What are the realities on the ground in Darfur, as reported by organizations
actually working in the region?

The UN Integrated Regional Information Networks provides one account:

"The number of ceasefire breaches in the Darfur region in western Sudan
increased considerably during September and early October, Radhia Achouri, spokeswoman
for the United Nations Advance Mission in Sudan, told IRIN on Thursday. 'Since
the ceasefire was signed in April this year, we have not experienced a period
of absolute compliance with it,' Achouri said. 'But, the repeated ceasefire
violations of the past month have had a very serious impact on the UN's ability to
deliver humanitarian assistance to affected populations.'" (IRIN, October 22,
2004)

Ms. Achouri is cited yet again by Agence France-Presse:

"The United Nations charged that pro-government Arab militias were continuing
to commit crimes in Sudan's crisis-hit western Darfur region and urged Khartoum
to crack down on them. 'Although I do not have a precise figure, rape cases are
in the hundreds and are continuing," said [spokeswoman Achouri]. 'Those crimes
are going on and are committed by the Janjaweed,' she said." (Agence
France-Presse, October 20, 2004)

The most recent report on Darfur from the US Agency for International
Development begins by noting:

"The US AID/Disaster Assistance Response Team reports that the security
situation has deteriorated in Darfur, with violent incidents occurring with greater
regularity. Attacks are occurring closer to towns even where the international
humanitarian community and African Union are present."
("Darfur: Humanitarian Emergency," fact sheet #4, October 22, 2004)

The UN Humanitarian Coordinator for Sudan, Manuel Aranda Da Silva, recently
declared:

"Security has deteriorated in Sudan's Darfur region in the past month and
violence drove a further 220,000 people from their homes, the UN Humanitarian
Coordinator for Sudan said on Tuesday [October 12, 2004]."
(Reuters, October 12, 2004)

These are the realities, however inconvenient for Mr. Solana, Mr. Pronk, and
Mr. Annan. They make painfully clear that the security situation is
deteriorating rapidly, that Khartoum has no intention of reining in the Janjaweed or
constraining its own military operations. The deploying AU force is quite incapable
of addressing these urgent issues.

Other security issues abound: large, highly vulnerable populations inside
Darfur and within 50 kilometers of the Chad/Darfur are poised to flee, setting in
motion an even larger refugee crisis in Chad, already overwhelmed by the more
than 200,000 refugees who have fled Darfur. Janjaweed attacks on vulnerable
populations in Chad are widely expected with the conclusion of the rainy season.

Security in the rural areas is non-existent. Neither insurgency group is able
to protect civilians, and Khartoum and the Janjaweed are authoritatively
reported as continuing their genocidal attacks, on the ground and from the air.

Attacks on the camps, especially makeshift camps not formally registered with
the UN, are a particular problem, as noted by a spokesman for the UN High
Commission for Refugees:

"[Ron Redmond, spokesman for the UNHCR, said that security] incidents include
aid workers being stopped at roadblocks by armed 'military people.' Also
attacks on camps for displaced people have been reported. As a result, UN workers
are advised to limit or curtail their efforts until the security situation
improves. As for conditions in the camps, Mr. Redmond says, 'It varies from camp to
camp. I mean we're talking about an area the size of France. So this is a
huge area and there are literally scores of these makeshift camps for internally
displaced people that have been set up over several months. They're scattered
across the Darfur region.'" (Voice of America, October 19, 2004)

These "scores of makeshift camps" do not figure in the recent UN humanitarian
assessment, which is based largely on UN World Food Program registrations in
organized camp settings. But these makeshift camps will only increase in number
as people become more desperate for food; they are extremely vulnerable to
attacks by the Janjaweed.

Finally, the UN adviser on violence and sexual exploitation has recently
offered a terrifying overview of what women and children are enduring in Darfur at
the hands of the Janjaweed:

"Sexual violence and rape of women and girls in the western Sudanese region of
Darfur should be considered a war crime, Pamela Shifman, a United Nations
Children's Fund adviser on violence and sexual exploitation, was reported as saying
on Tuesday. Shifman [said] that she had heard dozens of harrowing accounts of
sexual assaults---including numerous reports of gang-rapes---when she visited
internally displaced persons at one camp and another settlement in North Darfur
State."

"'Rape is used as a weapon to terrorize individual women and girls, and also to
terrorize their families and to terrorize entire communities. No woman or girl
is safe. It is a very effective tool of war. It is a war crime,' UN News quoted
her as saying. Shifman said every woman or girl she spoke to had either
endured sexual assault herself, or knew of someone who had been attacked,
particularly when they left the relative safety of their IDP camp or settlement to find
firewood. 'They know this is a treacherous trip and they fear the trip. But they
have absolutely no choice; they must go out.'" (UN Integrated Regional
Information Networks, October 20, 2004)

Perhaps European Union foreign policy chief Javier Solana can tell us more
precisely what "improvements in security" he noted in Darfur.

DIPLOMATIC DISINGENUOUSNESS

The international community, unable to respond adequately to the Darfur crisis,
is increasingly resorting to expediency and disingenuousness. This is the real
meaning of the suggestion that deployment of additional AU forces, without a
peacekeeping mandate, is an adequate international response to security issues in
Darfur. But nowhere is expediency and disingenuousness more conspicuous than
in the office of UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan. Annan is clearly eager that
the abysmal moral failure of the UN Security Council not be exposed fully, and
so has resorted to a number of stratagems, none of which is guided primarily by
concern for the people of Darfur.

One particularly offensive example comes from an interview conducted with Annan
by the Public Broadcasting System's "The News Hour" (October 15, 2004):

"ANNAN: The impression...which has been gained in some quarters, that if you
were only to label it genocide things will fall in place, I'm afraid, is not
really correct. We know what needs to be done. We need to have the will and the
resources and go in and do it." (The News Hour, October 15, 2004)

This is of course utterly specious. No one has argued that "if you were only
to label Darfur genocide things will fall in place"---no one. And Annan knows
this perfectly well. By setting up what is transparently a straw-man to be
knocked down, Annan avoids responsibility for his own previous refusal to speak
honestly about the realities of human destruction in Darfur. Months after his
Under-secretary for Humanitarian Affairs, Jan Egeland, began speaking of
"scorched-earth clearances" and "ethnic cleansing" in Darfur, Annan continued to declare
that he'd seen nothing that would lead him to use either the term "ethnic
cleansing" or genocide (Statement of the Secretary General, June 17, 2004).

The UN commission of inquiry into genocide in Darfur, only very recently named
by Annan, is many months overdue, and makes a ghastly mockery of Annan's
earlier words on Darfur (these were delivered on April 7, 2004, in the context of the
UN commemoration of the Rwandan genocide):

"Let us, Mr. Chairman, be serious about preventing genocide."

"It is vital that international humanitarian workers and human rights experts
be given full access to [Darfur], and to the victims, without further delay. If
that is denied, the international community must be prepared to take swift and
appropriate action. By 'action' in such situations I mean a continuum of steps,
which may include military action." (UN Press Release of statement by
Secretary-general Kofi Annan, April 7, 2004)

Of course, genocide in Darfur has been neither prevented nor halted; in
retrospect, Annan's empty words on this somber occasion carry the stench of his
previous failure as head of UN peacekeeping during the Rwandan genocide, when he
colluded with the Clinton administration to ensure that Romeo Dallaire would not
receive the 5,000 intervening troops he so urgently requested.

Nor were Annan's demands of April 7, 2004 for "full access...without further
delay" greeted with anything but contempt from Khartoum---the same contempt that
has greeted his demand that the regime disarm the Janjaweed. This more than
anything explains Annan's attempt to deflect blame from himself by setting up an
absurd straw-man on the issue of genocide in Darfur: "[it is believed in some
quarters that] if you were only to label Darfur genocide things will fall in
place." Such disingenuousness is increasingly the hallmark of Annan's statements
and actions on Darfur, and does much to explain why he refuses to characterize
honestly the prospects for an African Union force without a peacekeeping mandate
(the word "peacekeeping" is assiduously avoided by Annan and others).

To be sure, Annan has plenty of company. Javier Solana, Jan Pronk, the British
Foreign Office---and the US administration. A White House statement of October
21, 2004 declares:

"This [US] support, combined with that of other countries, has made it possible
for at least some assistance to reach 90 percent of Darfur." (Statement by the
White House Press Secretary, October 21, 2004)

This "90% figure" is transparently false, and represents yet another shameful
effort to evade responsibility for presiding over genocide. For a partial,
though revealing glimpse of the realities of humanitarian access and delivery, we
must turn to the recent UN "Darfur Humanitarian Profile, No. 7," October 1, 2004
[released October 21, 2004; not currently posted on the web]).

CURRENT HUMANITARIAN CONDITIONS IN DARFUR

The current "Darfur Humanitarian Profile" indicates that only half the affected
population in Darfur has received shelter; only 40% have access to clean water;
and only 40% have access to sanitary facilities. 30% of all people in need in
accessible areas received no food in October---and this doesn't reflect the
very large populations that are beyond humanitarian reach.

Most ominous are the Crude Mortality Rates (CMR) for the assessed populations
of North Darfur (1.9 deaths per day per 10,000) and West Darfur (2.5 deaths per
day per 10,000); South Darfur was not assessed because of security concerns,
but the CMR for the huge Kalma camp near Nyala was 3.5. Thus for the more than 2
million conflict-affected persons reflected in this current assessment,
assuming that Kalma camp is a statistically representative sample for South Darfur,
the average Crude Mortality Rate is 3.0 per day per 10,000. These data indicate
that approximately 600 people are dying every day---every day---in populations
to which there is some access.

But this does not include mortality among the more than 200,000 refugees in
Chad; nor does it include the large populations in inaccessible rural areas. This
latter figure was estimated (conservatively) at 500,000 in the previous "Darfur
Humanitarian Profile" (No. 6, September 1, 2004, page 9). Nor does it include
the people who have fled to the larger towns of Darfur (Nyala, el-Fasher, and
el-Geneina); these people are judged, for the present, not to be in need of
humanitarian assistance, "though many of them may be getting more vulnerable due to
the economic impact of the crisis" ("Darfur Humanitarian Profile No. 7," page
5). And in fact dramatic inflation in food prices has been reported by the
International Committee of the Red Cross:

"The price of basic food staples has risen dramatically. Millet and sorghum,
for example, are now worth twice or even three times as much as last year. The
decrease in production has led to a net loss of income for the households,
making them even less able to deal with the inflation." (ICRC News: Sudan bulletin
No. 16, 18 October 2004)

Moreover, mortality will certainly grow in the coming months. For the current
"Darfur Humanitarian Profile" reveals an ominous trend in the number of
conflict-affected persons: the monthly increases form a very steep and almost
straight-line rise since June 2004, when Khartoum began to allow increased humanitarian
access (page 9). The June figure of just over 1 million conflict-affected has
increased steadily every month to reach the October 1, 2004 figure of over 2
million conflict-affected persons. This strongly suggests that the current
number (late October) is already 2.2 million in Darfur alone, and will continue to
rise as humanitarian access increases (thus including presently distressed and
inaccessible populations not represented in these numbers). Indeed, the UN
report is explicit on this point:

"Even if the fighting would stop immediately and no new people were forced out
of their homes, and assuming no change in the general security situation and
thus no Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) return movement, the number of IDPs
and [conflict-]affected residents are expected to increase further in coming
months." ("Darfur Humanitarian Profile No. 7," page 8).

Including the more than 200,000 refugees in Chad, the extrapolated
conflict-affected figure for late October (2.2 million), and the large number of desperate
civilians in rural areas (again, conservatively estimated at 500,000 in the
September "Darfur Humanitarian Profile"), it is clear that the total number of
conflict-affected persons is in the range of 3 million. If this figure serves as
the denominator for the Crude Mortality Rate of 3 per day per 10,000 (see
above), then the daily mortality rate is 900 persons per day. And given the highly
distressed condition of the rural populations, even this likely understates.

The most representative mortality rate for the rural population is presently
that of the US Agency for International Development ("Projected Mortality Rates
in Darfur, 2004-2005"
(http://www.usaid.gov/locations/sub-saharan_africa/sudan/cmr_darfur.pdf), or
well over 10 per day per 10,000. This very likely increases daily mortality in
Darfur to over 1,000 human beings: 1,000 human beings are dying every day---every
day---even with present levels of humanitarian commitment.

Such an assessment of rural Darfur is strongly supported by a recent report
from the International Committee of the Red Cross, which speaks of "an
unprecedented food crisis":

"Villages throughout Sudan's Darfur region face an 'unprecedented food crisis,'
worse than the famines of recent decades, the International Committee of the
Red Cross (ICRC) says. Tuesday's [October 28, 2004] warning was based on a study
of food supplies in 20 selected villages across the huge region where
villagers---those who have not taken refuge in camps---reported they had more trouble
coping than in earlier severe droughts."

"ICRC officials interviewed 400 villagers and made house-to-house visits in all
three provinces last month after poor crops, looting and theft of livestock, a
spokesman said. 'Most rural communities in north, west and south Darfur are
facing an unprecedented food crisis, worse even than the famines they faced in the
80s and 90s,' the ICRC said in a statement."

'Insecurity is the root cause of the collapse of agriculture and trade in
Darfur,' it added." (Reuters, October 19, 2004)

This stark assessment---rural communities throughout Darfur face "an
unprecedented food crisis"; insecurity has caused the "collapse of agriculture and
trade"---makes clear that despite the factitious optimism on the part of UN, EU, and
US political figures, the catastrophe in Darfur grows steadily greater. And an
African Union force of 3,000 soldiers, with a toothless mandate, cannot reverse
this slide toward cataclysmic destruction.

Kofi Annan is yet again very partially right: "We know what needs to be done.
We need to have the will and the resources and go in and do it." (PBS, The News
Hour, October 15, 2004). The growing moral disgrace is that while it is all
too clear what "needs to be done," the international community and the UN, as
embodied in Kofi Annan, show neither the "will" nor the commitment of "resources"
to "go in and do it."

1,000 human beings are dying every day, violently and from the effects of
Khartoum's "deliberately inflicting on the African tribal groups of Darfur
conditions of life calculated to bring about their physical destruction."

Genocide, whether spoken or not, continues unabated.

Eric Reeves
Smith College
Northampton, MA 01063

ereeves@smith.edu






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