Thursday, December 30, 2004

A peace "agreement" between Khartoum and the Sudan People's Liberation 

A peace "agreement" between Khartoum and the Sudan People's Liberation
Has the regime done anything but change the subject?

Eric Reeves
December 29, 2004


What should we make of the various announcements that a final peace
agreement between Khartoum and the Sudan People's Liberation
Movement/Army (SPLM/A) will be signed in Nairobi within the next two
weeks? Is such an agreement, which could easily have been reached
months ago, anything other than a cynically timed diplomatic ploy,
designed to deflect international attention away from the regime's
accelerating genocidal destruction in Darfur? Such questions can only
be answered on the basis of recent history, particularly the history of
the past two and a half years: from the time the National Islamic Front
(NIF) regime nominally committed to self-determination for Southern
Sudan (in the Machakos Protocol, July 2002) to the present apparent
culmination of diplomatic efforts.

Most notably, this has been a period marked on Khartoum's part by
relentless deceit, delay, obfuscation, reneging, mendacity, and bad
faith. The regime has in particular systematically, continuously, and
consequentially violated the cessation of hostilities agreement, signed
with the SPLM/A on October 15, 2002. The regime has similarly violated
the February 4, 2003 "Addendum" to the October 15th agreement, an
"Addendum" necessitated by Khartoum's massive, authoritatively
documented violations in the oil regions, especially during January

The forceful investigations of the Civilian Protection Monitoring Team
(CPMT) were an especially authoritative source of documentation for
violations from January through early March 2003 (this writer was also
able to interview at the time a number of wounded civilians, including
children, targeted by Khartoum's deadly helicopter gunships). None of
the terms of the agreements has been kept by Khartoum, including a
commitment to halt work on the militarized oil road south of Bentiu in
Western Upper Nile.

Large-scale civilian destruction by Khartoum and its militia allies has
also been documented earlier this year in the Shilluk Kingdom, a
conspicuous violation of both the October 2002 cessation of hostilities
agreement and the February 2003 "Addendum." The Shilluk, like the Dinka
and Nuer, are part of the larger Nilotic tribal group in Southern Sudan;
the Shilluk Kingdom comprises an area mainly north of Malakal town in
Upper Nile Province. The defection of Shilluk commander Lam Akol from
the Khartoum regime back to the SPLM/A in October 2003 does much to
explain, though certainly cannot justify, Khartoum's decision to launch
intense military offensives in this area, with deliberately destructive
consequences for civilians.

The CPMT, though now badly compromised by political expediency, was
still able to assess earlier in 2004 the effects of Khartoum's military
offensive in a series of "sitreps" (situation reports). These included
the following excerpts (March/April 2004):

"Popwojo [Shilluk Kingdom]: Assessed as 97% destroyed (Photo 4); CPMT
witnessed/photographed fresh grave mounds (Photo 5);

Thousands of civilians displaced and in urgent need of humanitarian
intervention (numbers given by witnesses in this village estimate
displaced at 19,100 between the villages on Diny and Popwojo);

[***NB***] A CPMT member with 18 months of CPMT field investigative
experience described this as the worst systematic
destruction/displacement of civilians he has personally observed since
the formation of the CPMT in August 2002.

[***NB***] A second CPMT member with over 8 years of Sudan experience
and 16 months with CPMT described the Government of Sudan offensive in
the Malakal area as reminiscent of the devastating 'clearing' of the oil
region in the Western Upper Nile in the late 1990s." (Malakal Area
Destruction SITREP # 2; March 31, 2004)

Another Khartoum-initiated attack is described in the same "sitrep":

"Nyilwak: Assessed as 75% destroyed (Photo 1); eight civilian men (aged
18-60) killed while trying to flee (CPMT witnessed/photographed fresh
grave mounds [Photo 2] and interviewed surviving family members);

Close to 30 civilians wounded; exact count not yet established because
of widespread displacement;

Reportedly several thousand head of cattle had been stolen and taken to
Malakal; reportedly all grain stocks had been stolen or burnt;

[Humanitarian] compounds and clinic (VSF Germany and World Vision) have
been looted and razed (Photo 3);

Thousands of civilians displaced and in urgent need of humanitarian
intervention." (Malakal Area Destruction SITREP # 2; March 31, 2004)

These are the actions of a regime that had committed to:

"To retain current military positions"; "Refrain from any offensive
military action by all forces," "including allied forces and affiliated
militia"; "Refrain from any acts of violence or other abuse on the
civilian population."
(Section 3 of the "Memorandum of Understanding [MOU] between the
Government of Sudan and the SPLM/A on Resumption of Negotiations on
Peace in Sudan," October 15, 2002])

There have also been numerous, consequential violations of the terms
governing work of the UN's Operation Lifeline Sudan, the umbrella for
humanitarian operations in Southern Sudan: these violations all
represent a refusal to honor another key term of the October MOU:

"The parties shall allow unimpeded humanitarian access to all areas and
for people in need, in accordance with the Operation Lifeline Sudan
Agreement." (Section 5)

The relentless, flagrant nature of these violations on the part of
Khartoum's regular and militia forces---committed with impunity, with a
cessation of hostilities agreement nominally still in force---suggests
the highly limited value of any agreement the NIF regime may be prepared
to sign under diplomatic duress and by way of shifting attention from
genocide in Darfur.


For its part, the international community is most conspicuously defined
by its consistent refusal to hold Khartoum accountable for its
violations of the many agreements signed since the Machakos Protocol.
There has also been an expedient international willingness to allow
Khartoum to play off negotiations concerning Darfur against what has
only in recent stages come to be called the "Naivasha peace process"
(Nakuru, for example, was a previous Kenyan diplomatic venue marked by
such failure that we never hear of it). This behavior on the part of
the international community, unsurprisingly, encourages Khartoum in the
belief that this impending peace agreement can also be reneged upon,
continually trimmed and compromised, and abandoned whenever convenient.

For what will prevent the NIF from abrogating a Southern Sudan peace
agreement, assuming it is finalized? Put differently, what guarantees
are required for a sustainable peace? what resources must be in place
on the ground? And just as urgently we must ask how the international
community can ensure that an agreement signed by Khartoum in Nairobi
does not have the effect of consigning Darfur's civilian population to
continuing genocide by attrition. For there should be no mistaking the
nature of present realities in Darfur, realities that will be entirely
unchanged by any diplomatic ceremony in Kenya. There is certainly no
prospect for the resumption of meaningful negotiations in Abuja
(Nigeria) between Khartoum and the insurgency movements, on either
security or political issues. Indeed, it is clear that all-out fighting
has resumed in the wake of a complete breakdown in the Abuja

Darfur is illustrative of the difficulties in securing a truly
meaningful north/south agreement in other ways as well. For there is no
evidence of an international will to intervene to protect civilians or
humanitarian operations, despite the growing insecurity that threatens
both. The quite confused signals coming recently from the UK government
are symptomatic of broader indecision and diffidence. The Independent
(UK) reported (December 26, 2004) that 3,000 British troops were being
prepared for humanitarian intervention in Darfur; but a spokesman for
the Blair government promptly denied the account.

This most recent posturing should be filed with the account that
surfaced this past summer: "General Sir Mike Jackson, the head of the
Army, said in August that the Army could find a brigade of troops [5,000
soldiers] for a humanitarian mission to Darfur" (The Independent,
December 26, 2004). And yet another report earlier this fall indicated
that the UK might commit 8,000 troops to Darfur for peacekeeping, but
only after a peace agreement had been negotiated---a development that is
nowhere in sight. These are ultimately meaningless gestures; indeed,
they amount to mere saber-rattling that only convinces Khartoum there
will be no timely international effort to halt the genocide, despite the
enormous numbers of victims.


If the agreement between Khartoum and the SPLM/A is to have any
meaning, there are two primary conditions that must obtain; neither is
in evidence.

[1] PEACE-SUPPORT OPERATION: There must be a timely and robust
peacekeeping force, defined by an appropriate mandate, fully equipped
and staffed, with the means to investigate all reported violations of
the Security Protocol, signed originally in September 2003, included
within the May 26, 2004 signing of various protocols in Naivasha, and
formally to be included in the final peace agreement. Current reports
indicate UN plans for a force size of 7,000 to 10,000. This number is
sufficient only if the forces are skilled and well-trained, containing
an appropriate contingent of personnel with experience or knowledge of
Southern Sudan.

Moreover, peacekeepers must be fully provided with all necessary
transport and communications capacity. The absence of these key
logistical elements has led to gross inadequacies in the performance of
the vastly undersized African Union monitoring force in Darfur. For its
part, Khartoum has carefully taken note of the ease with which the
effectiveness of the AU force has been undermined by logistical
problems---problems of a sort that can easily be manufactured in still
larger Southern Sudan. The regime has also for several months been
redeploying Janjaweed militia forces from Darfur to various garrison
locations in Southern Sudan, Abyei, and Southern Blue Nile.
Confirmations of these redeployments are numerous and highly

The success of the peacekeeping mission in Southern Sudan will depend
to a considerable degree on rapid deployment. It will also be essential
to establish in the very near term effective liaison with civil society
leaders, especially in northern Bahr el-Ghazal, Western and Eastern
Upper Nile, and the Juba area. Moreover, the contested Abyei region,
Southern Blue Nile, and the Nuba Mountains all received less than
satisfactory outcomes in the Naivasha negotiations, and are potential
flash-points of renewed conflict, particularly Abyei and the Nuba
Mountains. They must receive particular attention from peacekeepers.

Among leaders from the Nuba Mountains there is considerable resentment
of the terms of the final agreement, and this will likely result in
various challenges in coming months. This writer well remembers his
experience in the Nuba in January 2003, and the fierce determination by
both military and civil society leaders not to be left out of any new
agreement. There was a very strong belief that the Nuba had been
excluded both in pre-independence negotiations (1955) and in the
ill-fated Addis Ababa peace accord of 1972---and an equally strong
resolve that this would not occur again.

If the international community is serious about deploying an effective
peacekeeping force, it must ensure that these potential flash-points
receive particular scrutiny. It is also essential that Khartoum be
encouraged to redeploy its regular military forces out of Southern Sudan
as rapidly as possible. The dominant military force in Southern Sudan
must consist of the various "Joint Integrated Units" (teams consisting
of Khartoum's regular armed forces and those of the SPLA) stipulated in
the Security Protocol. To the degree Khartoum argues that its slow
redeployment of troops is a function of lack of funding, these funds
must be found (e.g., from increasing oil revenues) so as to accelerate
such redeployment, and prevent de facto control of Southern Sudan by the
remnants of Khartoum's regular forces. The sooner that Khartoum's
massive military build-up in Southern Sudan, reaching back to the
"cessation of hostilities agreement" of October 2002, is reversed,
the sooner it will be possible to ascertain whether there is any real
commitment to the key terms of the peace agreement.

Another key test will be the ability of a peacekeeping force to oversee
the disarmament of militias, armed and sustained by Khartoum, in
Southern Sudan (such disarmament is stipulated in the Security
Protocol). Khartoum has long supplied, armed, and controlled most of
these militias. These are forces, now including elements of the
Janjaweed, that must be disarmed; otherwise the regime will have a
potent, long-term military tool for destabilizing Southern Sudan even
after a peace agreement.

The peace-support operation should comprise two forces. The first
element should consist of several thousand monitors, located throughout
Southern Sudan and the contested areas, with particular concentrations
in the areas noted above.

These monitors must be deployed in accompaniment with a brigade-sized
rapid reaction force, spread between several strategic locations. This
reaction force should have fully adequate helicopter transport
capability, as well as the mandate and weaponry ensuring that those who
might violate the formal ceasefire agreement will face an unsustainable
military response. Since it is distinctly likely that ceasefire
violations will be initiated by Khartoum-allied militias, Khartoum must
even now be seriously pressured to stop supplying these forces, and to
begin the difficult process of disarming them. This requires a reversal
of the flow of weaponry and deployment policies that have been clearly
in evidence for months.

[2] TRANSITIONAL ASSISTANCE: It is not enough merely to provide a
peace-support operation for Southern Sudan: there must be very
substantial emergency transitional assistance to allow for the
resumption of agriculturally and economically productive lives.
Currently there are still over 3 million Southern Sudanese living as
internally displaced persons (IDPs), a tremendous number of
them---perhaps 2 million---living in squalid camps around Khartoum.
There is strong evidence that as many as 1 million of these IDPs, from
throughout northern Sudan, will be moving back to their homelands in the
first year following a peace agreement. Over 100,000 have moved back
this year according to UN and other estimates (especially in Bahr

These people, many with only the most meager of possessions and obliged
to run a gauntlet of Arab and other militias intent upon stripping
remaining assets, will be returning to a part of the country that has
been brutally ravaged by war for twenty-one years, and that has never
seen a fair share of Sudanese wealth for economic development,
education, or basic infrastructure requirements. The oil regions of
Upper Nile Province in particular have endured terrible scorched-earth
warfare for a number of years, and will be especially inhospitable to
returning indigenous people.

Financial commitments to emergency transitional aid are presently
woefully inadequate, and there is no prospect of appropriate levels of
funding coming from wealthier European, Asian, or Arab nations, or those
nations that have benefited most from rapacious oil development in
Southern Sudan (Canada, China, India, and Malaysia in particular). The
US for its part is far from fulfilling the promise made by former
Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs Walter Kansteiner:

"[The United States] stands ready to support reconstruction and
development in post-war Sudan.... [If peace comes] there will be a large
peace dividend for reconstruction and development if, but only if there
is peace." (Congressional testimony before the House International
Relations Committee, May 13, 2003)

Nothing in past or present budgetary requests by the Bush
administration begins to suggest that these promises are being kept in a
meaningful way. Obviously funding critical transitional aid for
Southern Sudan will be neither cheap nor easy. But as expensive as such
aid may be, resumed war will be far more expensive---no matter what
calculus of costs we use.

What in particular must be done? The US Agency for International
Development provided a superb overview in a document published over a
year ago: "The Sudan Interim Strategic Plan, 2004-06" (available at:
Articulating as its central goal establishing the "foundation...for a
just and durable peace with broad participation of the Sudanese people,"
this extensive report lays out the key areas in which transitional aid
will be essential---offering headings for key objectives, with
particular needs organized under these rubrics.

One heading is "Increased Use of Health, Water and Sanitation Services
and Practices." This will entail "increased use of health, water and
sanitation services and practices"; "increased access to high-impact
services"; "increase Sudanese capacity, particularly women's, to deliver
and manage health services"; "improved access to safe water and
sanitation." Another heading speaks to establishing a "Foundation for
Economic Recovery." This entails responding to the "food security needs
of vulnerable communities"; "market support programs and services
introduced and expanded"; "transparent policymaking and processes
encouraged." And yet other headings are "Improved Equitable Access to
Quality Education" and "More Responsive and Participatory Governance."

As more particular context for these goals, especially those of
"economic recovery," we should keep in mind the agricultural base of
micro-economies throughout southern Sudan, and understand that this
means in large measure economies in which cattle have always been of
central importance. The re-stocking of herds is essential, as is timely
provision of veterinary inoculation against prevalent diseases. So, too,
is the provision of agricultural implements, a tremendous number of
which have been destroyed in the war.

In the area of health care, we should recall how deeply compromised
even emergency humanitarian medical assistance has become. Despite the
agreement that created Operation Lifeline Sudan in 1989---at the time a
precedent-setting arrangement for humanitarian access---health
facilities and delivery capacity have been seriously diminished in
recent years. A telling account of the disastrous fate of emergency
health care in Western Upper Nile---most of it directly related to oil
development---was provided by Doctors Without Borders/Medecins Sans
Frontiers: "Violence, Health, and Access to Aid in Unity State/Western
Upper Nile" (MSF, April 2002,

The urgent need for dramatically increased sources of potable water,
especially in Western Upper Nile, yet again highlights the tremendous
pressures that will be exerted by the return of hundreds of thousands of
IDPs and refugees---many having originally fled the most ravaged areas
of Southern Sudan. It is to these areas that they will be seeking to

All of these represent key needs if Southern Sudan is to withstand the
serious challenges that will inevitably confront any peace agreement.
For a signed agreement will not in itself ensure anything---will not in
itself bring stability or a full military stand-down, by all parties, in
this part of the country. Peace has a realistic chance in Sudan only
with a full commitment to support, on a transitional basis, these
essential areas of development and reconstruction.

The international community must accept that Khartoum has gone this far
down the road of negotiations only because it must---because of domestic
demands for peace, military pressure from the insurgency movements in
Darfur, and because of unusually concerted attention to Sudan's civil
war. With considerable encouragement from recent diplomatic history,
Khartoum held out until it was simply not possible to hold out any

We may be sure, then, that sustaining peace in Sudan will likely be as
much about overcoming the obstacles Khartoum puts up as about positive
efforts at reconstruction and development. Only the most relentless
pressure on members of this regime in any "national government," only
the clearest signaling of consequences for failing to honor the terms of
this peace agreement, can work to make the expenditures of wealth and
distribution of power truly meaningful in Southern Sudan and other
marginalized areas.

The battle is only half won with a peace agreement; if the struggle for
peace is not completed, then we may be sure that there will be a
relentless slide back toward war. And surely there could be no crueler
fate for Sudan than to see a peace agreement wither because it was not
supported financially at the critical moment of transition from peace to
war. The massive commitments to reconstruction in post-war Iraq and
Afghanistan, many tens of billions of dollars, amply demonstrate our
capacity for helping Sudan. If the US reneges on its promises, refuses
to accept the compelling moral challenge presented by Sudan's
transitional needs, then it will share deeply in the blame for any
renewed war.


One reason that Khartoum has delayed a final peace agreement so long is
that there is no obvious way in which the proposed new "national
government" (per the terms of the Power-sharing Protocol, January 2004)
can accommodate SPLM views of genocide in Darfur. Nor is there any
obvious way in which John Garang, Chairman of the SPLM, can take up his
post as Vice President in a government that continues to be responsible
for massive human destruction of precisely the sort that has defined
Southern Sudan for so many years. Khartoum put off negotiations for
many months (which it did without consequence), and in this time had
hoped to find a final solution to its "Darfur problem."

But in fact, civilian destruction has accelerated---35,000 now die
every month and total deaths number approximately 400,000 (see December
14, 2004 morality assessment at www.sudanreeves.org), even as the
insurgencies continue to demonstrate their military determination and
resilience. But there is also a growing desperation that has resulted
in increased looting of humanitarian convoys, both for food and
vehicles. Such actions must be unequivocally condemned, and it is
incumbent upon the leadership of the Sudan Liberation Movement/Army and
the Justice and Equality Movement to halt such deeply destructive
actions, actions inevitably most consequential for desperate civilians.

At the same time, we must recognize that the notional cease-fire that
emerged from the Abuja Accord (November 9, 2004) is now utterly
worthless, despite its recent reiteration by both parties. Moreover,
despite suggestions that the insurgents are trying with their actions to
provoke an international intervention, the preponderance of evidence
indicates just the opposite. The insurgents, convinced that the
international community is content to allow genocidal destruction to
proceed without meaningful action, are fighting with an increasingly
desperate air. But such desperation cannot in itself confer legitimacy
upon actions taken in perceived service of their military cause,
especially attacks on international humanitarian convoys.

Moreover, it is extremely short-sighted of the insurgents not to
recognize that these attacks are profoundly counter-productive. Indeed,
violence that threatens humanitarian aid in Darfur only assists Khartoum
in its larger genocidal aims. The Independent (UK), citing a senior aid
official, puts the matter with acuity:

"The aid agencies are wary of criticising the Sudanese government in
public, but a senior official said: 'We are going to continue to see the
humanitarian organisations drawing back. It is simply too dangerous.
This means that the Sudanese government is effectively winning in its
campaign to keep independent observers out of Darfur. It'll also be even
more of a humanitarian disaster than it is now. It is astonishing the
outside world does not realise this.'" (The Independent, December 26,

But if the "outside world" doesn't realize what is happening, or rather
refuses to look, humanitarian organizations certainly understand the
situation on the ground:

"International charities working in Darfur are considering drastically
reducing their presence in the wake of Save the Children's decision to
pull out, and the murder of yet another aid worker [the Doctors Without
Borders (MSF) worker killed by Khartoum's forces in an assault on
Labado, South Darfur, December 17, 2004---ER]."

"A number of organisations are reviewing their positions after a week
which saw a further unraveling of security in what the United Nations
has called the 'world's worst humanitarian crisis.' [ ] Oxfam staff now
only fly by UN helicopters because the roads are considered too
dangerous. A small African Union force, deployed to monitor a fragile
ceasefire, grounded all its helicopters after one was damaged by ground
fire." (The Independent, December 26, 2004)

Khartoum is now looking for the most advantageous pretexts for attacks
and counter-attacks against the insurgencies; the net result is not a
military stand-off, but the furthering of civilian destruction. For
example, the UN News Center reported yesterday:

"About 260,000 people in Sudan's strife-torn Darfur region will miss
their food ration this month because the UN's World Food Program has
been forced to suspend its relief convoys after rebels yesterday
launched a large-scale attack on a nearby town and government forces
retaliated." (UN News Center, December 28, 2004)

These people, already displaced and vulnerable because of earlier
violent attacks by Khartoum's regular forces and its Janjaweed allies,
are now extremely vulnerable, and desperate for food as well as other
forms of humanitarian aid. They are directly threatened by current
violence, and countless thousands will die without food and assistance.


These basic facts are too well known; and in the absence of a robust
international peacekeeping force, we must accept as an inevitable
conclusion that the world is prepared to look on while this massive
human destruction, genocidal in nature, continues. The African Union
force, both as presently deployed (approximately 1,000 personnel) and as
contemplated at fully deployed strength (approximately 3,500 personnel)
is transparently inadequate to address the multiple and daunting
security tasks in Darfur.

Total mortality in the region is now approximately half that of the
Rwandan genocide---400,000 human beings (again, see most recent
[December 14, 2004] mortality assessment by this writer at
www.sudanreeves.org). The UN, the US, the European Union refuse to
accept these terrible statistical realities, even as they are conducting
no comprehensive mortality studies that might give a clearer sense of
the scale of Darfur's genocide. It is difficult to resist the
conclusion that this refusal to estimate total mortality derives from an
unwillingness to see rendered a more accurate account of what is
transpiring before our very eyes. Darfur is Rwanda in slow motion---or,
as Alex de Waal of Justice Africa has recently suggested, it is
genocidal destruction in Southern Sudan speeded up.

However we characterize Darfur's genocide, it provides an impossibly
difficult context in which to imagine a "national government" being
formed. Comments from various international actors, suggesting
wishfully that conclusion of a formal north/south peace agreement in
Kenya will somehow conveniently provide the template for an end to
conflict in Darfur, reflect either ignorance or disingenuousness. For
despite the superficial plausibility of such a notion, Khartoum has done
nothing to suggest how the Naivasha process can be adapted to
negotiations with Darfur's insurgency movements. On the contrary, the
regime has sent a number of very strong signals to the opposite effect.

In any event, negotiations to end genocide in Darfur could stretch for
months; but the present monthly mortality rate of 35,000 could easily
grow to 100,000 deaths per month if humanitarian aid is suspended: this
is the figure indicated by Jan Egeland, UN Undersecretary for
Humanitarian Affairs, in an interview of December 16, 2004 (Financial
Times [UK]). To pretend that a timely response to Darfur's catastrophe
lies implicit somewhere in a Kenyan signing ceremony is simply a moral
grotesquerie. It is as true now as it was a year ago: without robust
international humanitarian intervention, there is nothing that will stop
massive genocidal destruction.

We have known this all too well, as we have known the real nature of
the relationship between Darfur and negotiations in Naivasha. We have
chosen not to act upon that knowledge:

(On Genocide in Darfur)

Eric Reeves
December 30, 2003 [sic]

from Africa InfoServe (Sudan publications of AfricaFiles.org)


"It is intolerable that the international community continues to allow
what all evidence suggests is genocide. For surely if we are honest
with ourselves we will accept that the term 'ethnic cleansing' is no
more than a dangerous euphemism for genocide, a way to make the ultimate
crime somehow less awful. As Samantha Power has cogently observed, the
phrase 'ethnic cleansing' gained currency in the early 1990s as a way of
speaking about the atrocities in the Balkans---'as a kind of euphemistic
halfway house between crimes against humanity and genocide.' But
linguistic half-measures are not enough when the question is whether an
'ethnical [or] racial group' is being destroyed 'in whole or in
part'---'as such' (from the 1948 UN Convention on the Prevention and
Punishment of the Crime of Genocide).

"The present realities in Darfur must urgently be rendered for the
world to see and understand---fully, honestly, and on the basis of much
greater information than is presently available. In turn, these
realities must guide a humanitarian effort that will not allow
Khartoum's claim of 'national sovereignty' to trump the desperate
plight of hundreds of thousands of innocent civilians caught up in a
maelstrom of destruction and displacement. [ ]

"Indeed, the logic of the situation is so compelling that one can only
surmise that the failure of the international community even to speak of
the possibility of a humanitarian intervention in Darfur derives from
some morally appalling failure of nerve, and an unwillingness to roil
the diplomatic waters with a peace agreement [apparently] so close
between Khartoum and the SPLM/A. [ ]

For unless the international community shows its concern for the
various marginalized peoples of Sudan, peace will be only very partial
and ultimately unsustainable."
Eric Reeves
Smith College
Northampton, MA 01063

Wednesday, December 22, 2004

Khartoum Triumphant: Abuja talks end without progress;  

Save the Children/UK withdraws from Darfur;
MSF worker murdered by Khartoum's forces in Labado (South Darfur);
African Union fired upon and forced to curtail monitoring activities

Eric Reeves
December 22, 2004

There should be no doubt about the extent of Khartoum's brutal triumph in
furthering its genocidal policies in Darfur over the past several weeks. Indeed,
the regime is fairly trumpeting its "successes," which culminated with
yesterday's acrimonious and ominous suspension of "negotiations" in Abuja (Nigeria):

"The head of the Sudan government delegation [to Abuja] Majzoub al-Khalifa said
talks had reached a 'successful end and we are all committed to the talks
again.'" (Reuters, December 21, 2004)

Khartoum's conclusion that the Abuja talks have been "successful" derives
primarily from the regime's not having faced any consequences for its ongoing
massive military offensive in Darfur. Following huge deliveries of weapons and
armaments to Darfur (see below), the regime began its offensive shortly before the
scheduled re-convening of the Abuja talks (December 10, 2004) and deliberately
sustained is military actions beyond the urgent deadline (December 19, 2004) set
by African Union mediators for cessation of hostilities. Associated Press
reports from Abuja:

"Sudan's government kept up attacks on rebels in Darfur on Saturday, defying a
deadline set by African Union mediators for an end to active hostilities, AU
officials said. AU mediators at peace talks being held in the Nigerian capital,
Abuja, gave Sudan and rebel delegates a 24-hour ultimatum Friday to stop
fighting by 6 p.m. Saturday [December 18, 2004] or face possible referral to the UN
Security Council. AU officials said the government continued attacks. AU
spokesman Assane Ba told reporters government helicopters were attacking the town of
Labado." (AP [dateline: Abuja], December 19, 2004)

A dispatch from Agence France-Presse was equally unambiguous:

"The African Union has been very clear in its condemnation of [the government
of] Sudan's latest actions [i.e., failure to observe the AU deadline for
cessation of all offensive attacks]. Khartoum's decision also deals a severe blow to
the AU's bid to resolve the crisis without broader international intervention
and increased the likelihood that the United Nations will be asked to take

"AU spokesman Assane Ba said the 53-nation body's chairman President Olusegun
Obasanjo of Nigeria and the head of the AU Commission Alpha Oumar Konare would
be informed of the clashes and take a decision on the future of the talks. As
Saturday's deadline came and went with no sign of the government [of Sudan]
backing down, the commander of the AU observer force in Darfur told international
envoys in Abuja that government helicopters were bombarding Labado. At the same
time, from his headquarters in Addis Ababa, Konare issued a statement calling on
Khartoum 'to immediately stop its present military offensive and withdraw its
forces to their former positions.'" (AFP, December 19, 2004)

And Reuters reports on the inevitable consequences of Khartoum's indiscriminate

"Thousands of Darfuris are fleeing the fighting, streaming towards Nyala town
from the east, bringing reports of government bombardment with helicopters and
Antonovs. They say government forces and Arab militias, known as Janjaweed,
attacked their villages and in some cases set up bases there." (Reuters, December
19, 2004)

What was Khartoum's response to these emphatic findings and urgent warning by
the African Union, at the most critical moment in the Abuja negotiations?

"'What the government is doing in these areas is actually within its sovereign
rights,' Sudan's Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Najib Abdulwahab said in
a statement issued by Sudan's embassy in Nigeria."
(Associated Press [dateline: Abuja], December 19, 2004)

In Khartoum's mind, "sovereign rights" include the right to ignore
international commitments, to attack civilians targets indiscriminately (the fighting in
Labado resulted in the death of an aid worker for Doctors Without
Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières: see below), indeed to commit genocide. The threat of
meaningful UN action against Khartoum has long since faded from the regime's

This highly provocative military offensive ensured that negotiations in Abuja
had no chance of a meaningful start, even as Khartoum clearly feels it need do
no more than "commit to the talks again" at the next session (tentatively
scheduled for January 2005).

This is precisely as the National Islamic Front regime wishes: it has no
interest in genuine political negotiations, or in negotiations to resolve the
deteriorating security conditions that threaten the lives of 3 million civilians now
affected by conflict and in need of humanitarian assistance. Indeed, it is
quietly celebrating the killing of two aid workers for Save the Children/UK by a
drunken soldier of the Sudan Liberation Army (on the road north of Nyala). For
these deaths have precipitated the withdrawal of Save the Children/UK, one of
the most important international humanitarian organizations operating in Darfur.

Khartoum's military offensive has also resulted in the murder of an aid worker
for Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières, as reported by the
organization today:

"International medical relief organisation Médecins Sans Frontières is shocked
by the murder of one of its Sudanese aid workers in South Darfur. According to
reliable reports the aid worker was killed on Friday, December 17, during an
attack led by Government troops on Labado in South Darfur." (Médecins Sans
Frontières [Amsterdam], press release, December 22, 2004)

Khartoum's continued indiscriminate use of aerial bombing and helicopter
gunship attacks; its refusal to rein in or militarily neutralize the Janjaweed; the
regime's increasingly restrictive policies on visa and travel permits for
humanitarian workers; and the general commitment to military victory in Darfur by
genocidal means---all work to make the prospect of a total collapse in
humanitarian relief efforts frighteningly real. The consequences of such a collapse would
be catastrophic: current monthly mortality of 35,000 human beings in the
greater humanitarian theater (see mortality assessment at www.sudanreeves.org) would
grow to more than 100,000, a figure recently suggested by Jan Egeland, UN
Undersecretary for Humanitarian Affairs:

"[The monthly death toll could rise to 100,000] if countries did not do more to
protect aid workers and punish the guilty. 'We're ending the year more or less
how we started, with huge areas inaccessible to humanitarian workers, Mr
Egeland said.'" (Financial Times, December 16, 2004)


The National Islamic Front has from the beginning of conflict in Darfur done as
much as possible to prevent any meaningful "internationalizing" of the crisis
in order to forestall diplomatic or political pressure; the attenuation of
international humanitarian relief presence and operational reach directly serves
this primary goal.

We must ask in this context about the motives lying behind the recent firing
upon an African Union helicopter, en route to monitor Khartoum's offensive in the
area of Labado:

"International efforts to bring peace to Sudan suffered a major setback
yesterday when the African Union suspended operations in south Darfur following an
attack on one of its helicopters amid renewed fighting. The incident in the Labado
area east of Nyala, capital of south Darfur, came as the helicopter was on its
way to investigate an upsurge in fighting between Sudanese government and rebel
forces. The AU's role is to monitor the ceasefire, which has been blatantly
disregarded in recent weeks."

"'We have to condemn this,' said Jean-Baptiste Natame, a senior AU political
officer based in Khartoum, who noted it was not the first time that an AU vehicle
has been targeted in the past few days. 'If we can't go anywhere without being
shot at, it is a serious problem for us.'" (The Telegraph [UK], December 21,

Restrictions on the movements of AU monitors clearly benefits Khartoum
disproportionally, especially in the deployment of its aerial military assets and more
conspicuous ground assets. Here we should bear in mind another recent finding
of the African Union:

"General Festus Okonkwo, the AU's chief ceasefire monitor said in Abuja last
Friday that vast quantities of [government of Sudan] weapons had poured into
Darfur in recent weeks, turning the arid region into 'a time bomb that could
explode at any moment.' 'The quantity of arms and ammunition brought into Darfur to
meet the present build-up of troops in the region is (so) astronomical that the
issue is no longer whether there will be fighting or not, but when fighting
will start,' the Nigerian general said." (UN Integrated Regional Information
Networks, December 21, 2004)

Khartoum's determination to prevail militarily, by means of conventional
military tactics as well as genocidal destruction, has never been in doubt. But
given these reports of a massive increase in arms and ammunition, in conjunction
with a clear willingness to engage in offensive military action in the midst of
"peace negotiations," it is hardly surprising that the regime is ignoring an
African Union call for a military stand-down. The firing upon the AU helicopter is
almost certainly the work of a regime fully committed to restricting the access
and deployment of international observers in Darfur.


The failure of international resolve (particularly at the UN), the lack of
African Union capacity, the expediency of President Obasanjo of Nigeria, the
weakness of President Deby of Chad, and the duplicity of Libya and Egypt during
October's Tripoli "summit"---all have worked to ensure that Khartoum has not had to
negotiate under effective auspices, with clear prospect of diplomatic pressure.

This explains why negotiations over a military cease-fire in Darfur, first in
N'Djamena (Chad) and subsequently in Abuja (Nigeria), have never had any real
significance. For example, when early on in cease-fire negotiations the
distinguished Henry Dunant Center for Humanitarian Dialogue (Geneva) offered its
auspices, Khartoum peremptorily rejected the offer of mediation (even as the
insurgents accepted), preferring to deal only with the weak and beholden government of
Chad's President, Idriss Deby. In turn, the African Union auspices under which
the present "cease-fire" was negotiated in November (essentially a reiteration
of the April 8, 2004 N'Djamena "cease-fire") have proved similarly ineffectual.
And there is no prospect of more meaningful international engagement.

As a means of justifying its failure in Darfur, the international community
increasingly resorts to the assertion of an expedient "moral equivalence" between
Khartoum's genocidaires and the insurgents in Darfur. There have, of course,
been actions by the insurgents that deserve unambiguous condemnation. But there
has never been a conflict in which culpability lies wholly on one side. And
here we must continue to bear in mind that the UN High Commissioner for Human
Rights, following her return from a September mission to Darfur, reported to the
UN Security Council: "My mission received no credible reports of rebel attacks
on civilians as such" (Statement to the Security Council on the Human Rights
Situation in Darfur, Louise Arbour, High Commissioner for Human Rights, September
30, 2004).

But this doesn't prevent the UN's Jan Pronk, or diplomats from the US and the
UK, from asserting a specious equivalence. Chris Mullin, UK Foreign Office
Minister, recently declared that "news reports often [give] the impression that
'there is only one party, the government of Sudan, involved.' 'There are actually
two parties and according to UN special representative Jan Pronk, in the last
two months at least, the rebel forces have been responsible for a greater number
of violations than the government side,' Mullin told lawmakers in the House of
Commons" (Associated Press, December 14, 2004).

This account comports extremely poorly with the events of the past week, but is
muddled on many other counts as well. Mr. Mullin evidently feels no need to
include Khartoum's brutal Janjaweed militia in his larger assessment, no doubt in
part because the UK has failed, along with many others, to have the Janjaweed
included as a named party in the "cease-fires" negotiated in N'Djamena and
Abuja. But given the central role of the Janjaweed in genocidal destruction
throughout Darfur, this is simply disingenuousness on Mullin's part. Nor does Mullin
acknowledge that the African Union's ability to monitor fighting in Darfur, an
area the size of France, is hopelessly limited. The AU still has fewer than
1,000 troops, monitors, and other personnel on the ground in Darfur. It is very
badly under-equipped and simply unable to provide any quantitative assessment
that has real authority. Some contrived census of "incidents" and "violations"
can't begin to tell the real story about what is happening on the ground in
Darfur, or how human destruction is being accomplished.

Most fundamentally, Mullin and others of his expedient ilk simply refuse to
acknowledge the genocidal context that obtains in Darfur, and the increasing
desperation of Darfuris, combatants and non-combatants, over international failures
of the sort embodied in Mullin's own government. We have heard brave words
from UK Prime Minister Tony Blair, but to date there have been no actions remotely
adequate to the scale or nature of human destruction in Darfur.

To be sure, Mullin and the UK have plenty of company. In an especially
disingenuous maneuver, US envoy to the UN Stuart Holliday yesterday attempted to give
an impression of US engagement by simultaneously misrepresenting the Security
Council and laying the blame for international action on Kofi Annan's

"After Tuesday's [UN Security Council] meeting, US envoy Stuart Holliday said
the 15-nation council took its responsibilities 'seriously' but added that Annan
should make another visit to Darfur to see the horrors of the situation
first-hand. 'The continued engagement of the secretary general on this question is
absolutely critical,' Holliday told reporters." (Agence France-Presse, December
21, 2004)

What possible evidence is there that the UN Security Council has taken its
responsibilities for Darfur "seriously"? Mr. Holliday should begin by explaining
UN Security Council failure to secure compliance with the only "demand" it has
yet made of Khartoum: that it disarm the Janjaweed and bring its leaders to
justice (Security Council Resolution 1556, July 30, 2004 [section 6]). He should
also explain why the Security Council, five months after diffidently alluding to
the possibility of sanctions against Khartoum, has not done anything to
threaten the regime for its genocidal intransigence. And he should confess that the
still mooted US proposal of an "oil embargo" is simply fatuous: China alone,
which has many allies in retarding UN Security Council action, could purchase
every barrel of Sudan's petroleum exports without the slightest difficulty.

And just why should we believe, with Holliday, that another trip to Darfur by
Kofi Annan, where "horrors" certainly abound, would make any difference? Can
anyone imagine that Khartoum would not provide an even more fully sanitized
itinerary than during Annan's previous high-profile visit (the highlight of which
was the over-night removal of all the displaced persons from a camp scheduled to
be visited by Annan and UN personnel the following morning)? Holliday seems
also to have forgotten that Khartoum promised Annan that it would disarm the
Janjaweed (Joint Communiqué, July 3, 2004), a promise notable only for being
contemptuously ignored. Just what is to be gained from another visit, other than a
contribution to the illusion that the UN is responding to Darfur's agony?

Annan for his part engaged yesterday in sanctimonious exhortation, clearly
meant to give the impression that he was making an important statement, even as his
words were without discernible implications for specific action:

"'If additional support is needed and additional action is needed, the Council
has to assume its responsibility,' [Annan] told a press conference at UN
headquarters in New York. 'After all, it has the ultimate primary responsibility for
international peace and security,' Annan said, also raising the possibility of
slapping sanctions on the war-torn nation. 'There comes a time when you have to
make a reassessment as to whether the approach you've taken is working or not,'
he said." (Agence France-Presse, December 21, 2004)

Amidst this vague sententiousness and statement of the obvious, Annan
disingenuously neglects to mention China's public and fully explicit threat to veto any
sanctions measure against Khartoum, and the lack of any evidence that a
sanctions regime might seriously affect the regime. Again, talk of an "oil embargo"
is expedient nonsense. Moreover, Annan conveniently makes no mention of other
diplomatic sources of assistance for Khartoum and its present policies: from
China, Russia, Pakistan, and Algeria within the Security Council; from an
uncritically supportive Arab League, especially Egypt; and from an equally uncritical
Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC). Even the African Union is
divided, in addition to being without the organizational or material resources to make
good on its commitment to increase AU presence on the ground in Darfur. Here
the failure of the AU to secure from Khartoum a peacekeeping mandate for its
forces has become the symbol of political and diplomatic impotence.


As part of its efforts to prevent any internationalizing of the Darfur crisis,
the Khartoum regime has long systematically denied humanitarian access,
restricting the entry and deployment of humanitarian aid workers, as well as
equipment. This behavior was first highlighted in November 2003 by Tom Vraalsen, UN
Special Envoy to Sudan for Humanitarian Affairs: he spoke at the time of the
"systematic" denial of humanitarian access to areas of the Fur, the Massaleit, and
Zaghawa---perceived by Khartoum as the ethnic base of support for the
insurgents. Khartoum has again begun to use denials of visas and travel permits as a
means of restricting current humanitarian assistance; the regime is also taking an
increasingly aggressive and hostile attitude toward humanitarian organizations
that are critical of the regime. Even Kofi Annan was obliged to note in his
December 3, 2004 report to the Security Council that,

"during the last two weeks [of November], [Khartoum's] process of issuing visas
has slowed down for the nongovernmental organizations [NGOs] compared to
previous months. In addition, some Government authorities seem to have hardened their
position towards international NGOs in allowing them to continue their work
unconditionally." (Section VII, paragraph 28)

This ominous development has continued, symbolized in the expulsion of Shaun
Skelton, Oxfam International's head of country operations for Sudan. This
followed Oxfam comments that were critical of the most recent and useless in a series
of UN Security Council Resolutions on Darfur (1574, November 19, 2004). It is
likely that in the coming weeks and months Khartoum will continue to restrict
humanitarian workers; put in place increasing numbers of obstacles designed to
impede the movement of humanitarian supplies; allow growing insecurity to
restrict humanitarian access and efficacy; and simply prevent personnel from carrying
out their work.

Indeed, though it received relatively little notice at the time (mid-November
2004), Khartoum deliberately obstructed the protection work of the UN High
Commission for Refugees, forcing the organization to withdraw key international
staff from South Darfur:

"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)

Further killing of aid workers could also lead to the full-scale withdrawal of
essential international humanitarian aid organizations. Jan Egeland, UN
Undersecretary for Humanitarian Affairs, warned even before Khartoum's killing of an
MSF worker in Labado that "the 7,000 aid workers in Darfur already felt they
were on the brink of being reckless, and if more such attacks occurred they would
have to withdraw, leading to hundreds of thousands of deaths" (BBC, December
15, 2004). Here we must bear in mind the additional grim news that was also
included in today's press release from Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans
Frontières (MSF):

"[MSF emergency co-coordinator Ton Koene said, 'Other national staff members
who were present in the town [of Labado] are still missing. MSF employs 38
national staff in Labado of whom 29 are still unaccounted for today.'" (Médecins Sans
Frontières [Amsterdam], press release, December 22, 2004)

We must pray for the safety of these MSF staff, even as we must recognize that
Khartoum's murderous and indiscriminate attack on Labado may well have killed
other aid workers.


Security issues take a different form in neighboring Chad, where more than
200,000 refugees have already fled from attacks by Khartoum's regular and Janjaweed
militia forces. The UN High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) recently warned
that well in excess of 100,000 additional refugees could be expected during the
first half of 2005; yesterday UNHCR gave new urgency to this warning:

"Anticipating a potential influx of refugees into Chad, UNHCR said the latest
phase of its emergency airlift had enabled it to build up an overall contingency
stock of relief items for up to 50,000 more people over and above the 200,000
who have already sought shelter in Sudan's western neighbour. 'But we are also
extremely concerned about the capacity of eastern Chad to sustain any
substantial new influx, given the chronic water shortage in an extremely arid region,'
agency spokesman Ron Redmond told a news briefing in Geneva." (UN News Center,
December 21, 2004)

There have already been reports of serious violence in Chad as the indigenous
population and refugees compete for exceedingly scarce water and pasturage. A
large influx could spark expanded and deadly fighting.

And finally, within the camps for the displaced in Darfur, there remain no
guarantees of security. This was revealed clearly in Khartoum's decision to storm
the El Jeer (also Al Geer) camp for displaced persons in the second week of
November 2004:

"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 UN's 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)

Many of the "police" controlling the camps are simply Janjaweed militiamen who
have been recycled by Khartoum into the role of security officers, tasked with
protecting the very people they have killed, raped, and tortured, and whose
villages and livelihoods they have destroyed. The continuing violence in the
camps has been widely and frequently reported by both humanitarian and human rights
groups, particularly the raping of women and girls who search for firewood:

"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)

There is no meaningful security in Darfur, and the great likelihood is that
human and humanitarian security will deteriorate rapidly in the very near term.


We can see a good deal of the context for recent developments on the ground in
a series of distressing news reports, as well as in the belated release of the
UN's Darfur Humanitarian Profile No. 8. Despite its date of November 1, 2004,
this is still the most current official global view of the humanitarian crisis.


Polio is a growing threat in Darfur, one that will be compounded by the
inability of humanitarian workers to complete what has been a very partial vaccination
program. Voice of America recently reported [dateline: Hara al-Zawiyah, South

"Officials from the World Health Organization (WHO) say the number of confirmed
cases of polio in Sudan has made a dramatic rebound in a country that had been
declared polio-free three years ago. [ ] Since then, WHO officials say the
number of confirmed cases of polio-induced paralysis in Sudan has soared to 54.
Because paralysis of limbs occurs in only one in 200 cases, health experts say
there is a high probability that more than 10,000 Sudanese have been infected with
the virus, prompting several UN aid agencies to issue repeated warnings that
Sudan is in the midst of a massive outbreak."

"Particularly disturbing for health workers is the virus' potential for
spreading in the crowded, festering camps of western Sudan and neighboring Chad, where
nearly two million people have sought refuge in the wake of atrocities by
pro-government Arab militias aiming to crush a rebel uprising."

[Nor is the threat confined to Darfur: the medical implications of Khartoum's
genocidal campaign are international in scope (see Voice of America report at


To date, humanitarian organizations have been able to prevent serious outbreaks
of cholera and dysentery, two diseases that pose tremendous risk within the
terribly overcrowded camp environs. But the humanitarian organization Medair
announced in a recent press release that it is presently responding to a serious
outbreak of dysentery in West Darfur:

"8,000 villagers fled their homes in November [2004] when Arab militia came on
horseback to attack a remote part of West Darfur. These internally displaced
people (IDP's) settled a kilometre away from a Medair run health clinic in Abu
Suruj, 2.5 hours drive north of our base in the Provincial Capital, El Geneina.
In early December we received reports of a suspected outbreak of Shigella
Dysentery amongst these displaced people, as well as an acute need for shelter, safe
water, improved sanitation and food." (Medair press release, December 16, 2004)

Both dysentery and cholera pose grave dangers to the camp populations, and in
the absence of medical treatment capacity, many tens of thousands of lives could
be claimed in a matter of weeks from these diseases alone.


The shamefully belated Darfur Humanitarian Profile No. 8 provides at least a
snap-shot of humanitarian relief coverage in Darfur through October 2004. At the
time, 57% of the targeted population received some food distribution (the
"targeted population" refers to accessible populations in Darfur; it does not refer
to the refugee population in Chad or the very large inaccessible populations in
Darfur itself). The quality, quantity, and balance within food distributions
is clearly inadequate, as a recent study by the UN World Food Program and the US
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention makes fully clear. Moreover, while
reaching 1.3 million people in October, the World Food Program has conceded
that the figure for November was only slightly over 1.1 million. In other words,
even as the population in need of food assistance was rising sharply (it was
well over 2.5 million in the greater Darfur humanitarian theater), the provision
of food aid was falling.

Darfur Humanitarian Profile No. 8 also reveal that 39% of the nominally
accessible populations had not received any shelter; 57% had no access to clean water
(a terrible harbinger of future disease); and only 52% had access to sanitary
facilities (another clear health risk). 40% had no access to primary medical
care, and this figure may decline precipitously with the withdrawal of additional
aid organizations. The loss of resources provided by Save the Children/UK will
certainly have a consequentially negative impact on humanitarian capacity.


The humanitarian situation in Darfur continues to deteriorate, as does security
throughout the region; the international community remains effectively
paralyzed; and the genocidal Khartoum regime feels no pressure to enter into meaningful
negotiations with the insurgency groups.

Nor is there prospect for change, despite the continuing bluster from variously
embarrassed and ashamed international actors. Indeed, even the pointless
bluster has begun to fade in the interests of expediency. Jan Pronk, who has made
so many disastrous comments and negotiating blunders in dealing with the Darfur
crisis, recently declared that labeling the vast, ethnically-targeted human
destruction in Darfur "genocide" was "counter-productive." It is not clear what
counts as "productive" in Mr. Pronk's expedient mind, but the notion that the
word "genocide" should not be deployed, even if true, because of "production"
calculations is morally shocking, and suggests how fatally compromised UN thinking
about Darfur has become.

We may hope (however tenuously) that the UN Commission of Inquiry, set to
report in late January, will ignore Pronk's expedient advice and render honestly a
determination concerning genocide. There are reasons to be skeptical that such
honesty will obtain; but if it does, then there should be an immediate referral
to the International Criminal Court (ICC). The US should end its unjustified
opposition to the ICC, and support this as the only international legal forum in
which justice might be meted out in timely fashion to the genocidaires in
Khartoum, as well as to all those guilty of war crimes, crimes against humanity, and
genocide in Darfur. Such action is all that presently suggests a way of
pressuring the regime to halt its genocidal activities.

Tragically, this opportunity is likely to prove only another measure of
international failure. If politics of expediency govern the decision of the
Commission of Inquiry, or if the US refuses to yield on its unreasonable opposition to
the ICC, then Darfur will have been betrayed yet again. At this point, there
are few Darfuris who expect anything else.

Eric Reeves
Smith College
Northampton, MA 01063


Friday, December 17, 2004

Humanitarian aid in Darfur threatened with utter collapse: 

Insurgents' killing of two aid workers, Khartoum's disproportional military
responses threaten to create intolerable insecurity conditions

Eric Reeves
December 17, 2004

Exactly one year after Jan Egeland, UN Under-Secretary for Humanitarian
Affairs, declared that Darfur "is in all probability the world's greatest humanitarian
crisis," this crisis threatens to tip precipitously into a cataclysm of human
destruction, with humanitarian operations suspended or ended because of
completely unacceptable security conditions on the ground. At this moment of essential
truth, the expedient international equating of actions by military insurgents
in Darfur and those of Khartoum's National Islamic Front and its Janjaweed
militia allies ensures only that the regime will feel unconstrained in its pursuit
of a final solution to the Darfur problem. For at every turn in recent weeks,
Khartoum has been guilty of massively disproportional military "responses" to
actions, real or contrived, on the part of the insurgents. For their part, the
insurgents have shown inadequate discipline, even as they confront appalling
provocation. This is mostly conspicuously true in the recent barbaric killing of
two aid workers from Save the Children/UK.


Multiple, highly reliable reports from the ground in Darfur inform the
following account of this outrage. On December 13, 2004 (Monday) two Sudanese national
aid workers for Save the Children/UK were shot and killed in South Darfur
between the small towns of Duma and Mershing, on or near the main road north of
Nyala. The person responsible for shooting the two aid workers, a member of the
Sudan Liberation Army (SLA), was himself summarily shot and killed by his fellow
combatants. There are somewhat conflicting accounts of the perpetrator of this
terrible crime: there is strong evidence, but no confirmation, that the
perpetrator was drunk. He was evidently engaged in a heated debate with his fellow
combatants about what to do with the aid workers, who were part of a well-marked
three-vehicle humanitarian convoy that had been stopped (the workers in the
other two vehicles escaped safely). The key point of difference in accounts
currently available bears on whether the perpetrator was a commander or subordinate
within the military contingent involved. In the end, particularly given the
apparent issue of alcoholic inebriation, it is of little consequence.

These killings are intolerable crimes. Indeed, no killing can be more
destructive than the murder of humanitarian aid workers. The nationality or ethnicity
of the workers is of no relevance. The Sudan Liberation Army/Movement (SLA/M)
must publicly acknowledge its larger responsibility for this crime and ensure
that further justice, if merited, is swiftly meted out to any other complicit
party. The SLA/M must also work to control much more effectively the relations
between its combatants in the field and aid operations in Darfur.

At the same time, in considering the larger issue of military comportment by
the insurgency movements, we must bear in mind the recent assessment offered to
the UN Security Council by Louise Arbour. The UN High Commissioner for Human
Rights, following her return from a September mission to Darfur, reported to the
UN Security Council: "My mission received no credible reports of rebel attacks
on civilians as such" (Statement to the Security Council on the Human Rights
Situation in Darfur, Louise Arbour, High Commissioner for Human Rights, September
30, 2004).

Still, the effects of this action, even if by a single drunken soldier, will be
profound. The suspension of humanitarian access has already put many tens of
thousands of people beyond the reach of food and medical relief. Altogether,
the UN's World Food Program has announced that security issues have now put
360,000 formerly accessible and needy civilians, in North Darfur and South Darfur,
beyond humanitarian reach (Reuters, December 15, 2004). Much more consequential
in the long term will be the effects of this single incident on world opinion
concerning the insurgents. For while not part of a pattern (two other Save the
Children/UK workers were earlier killed by a landmine laid for clearly military
purposes, and only perhaps by the insurgents), this murderous action is one of
several that have called into question the military and political goals of the
insurgency movements.


In the main, however, as serious as this incident is, we must bear clearly in
mind that the SLA and the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) have not been
guilty of the sorts of atrocities that have defined the very means by which
Khartoum and the Janjaweed have waged war throughout Darfur---indiscriminately,
brutally, with the overall effect of displacing well over 2 million civilians,
creating a war-affected population of approximately 3 million, and producing over
350,000 deaths. This genocidal war has been waged deliberately, without
discrimination between combatants and non-combatants, and with relentless cruelty. Rape
has been a widespread and systematic weapon of war, particularly by the
Janjaweed (though also by Khartoum's regular forces). Women and girls, some as young
as eight, have been brutally raped before their families, and often branded or
scarred. Children have on many occasions been thrown screaming into raging
fires. Mass executions of men and boys have authoritatively been reported by
Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, and the International Crisis Group.

The destruction that has produced such massive death and displacement, as well
as the near total collapse of Darfur's agricultural economy, has been designed
to destroy the ability of the non-Arab, or African, tribal populations of
Darfur to survive. Dwellings and buildings are burned; food- and seed-stocks
destroyed, along with agricultural implements and irrigation systems; precious water
wells are poisoned with human or animal corpses; fruit trees are cut down. The
clear intent is to create for the African tribal populations of Darfur
"conditions of life calculated to bring about their physical destruction" (from the
language of the 1948 UN Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime
of Genocide, article 2, clause [c]).

Moreover, Khartoum for many months---from November 2003 through mid-summer
2004---systematically obstructed humanitarian relief and the deployment of
humanitarian personnel and equipment. This undoubtedly cost many thousands of innocent
human lives. And this obstruction has resumed: even Kofi Annan has been
obliged to note the recent return of obstructionism on Khartoum's part (December 3,
2004 briefing of the UN Security Council). Moreover, as the Sudan Organization
Against Torture (SOAT) reports today, Khartoum has actually resorted to the
arrest of humanitarian aid workers:

"On 14 December, security forces arrested 5 employees of the international
relief organisation International Rescue Committee at Nyala national airport, South
Darfur State." (SOAT Human Rights Alert, November 17, 2004)

SOAT identifies the humanitarian workers as four Dutch nationals and one
Sudanese national working for the distinguished International Rescue Committee. In
this case we have no ambiguity as to the circumstances in which this egregious
violation of international humanitarian law was perpetrated---and we know that
the purpose is to obstruct humanitarian relief efforts for acutely vulnerable

These are the crimes that have failed to galvanize international action, and
that have left unresolved a highly volatile military confrontation. There is no
present or prospective deployment of an international force capable of
assisting in constraining combatants, the disengagement of forces, or authoritative
reporting on war crimes, crimes against humanity, and further acts of genocide.
Indeed, the Janjaweed militia---an essential instrument in ongoing destruction
and military provocation---has been neither disarmed, militarily neutralized or
constrained, nor even identified by Khartoum. This is so despite the regime's
commitment to disarm the Janjaweed in the July 3, 2004 "Joint Communiqué,"
signed in Khartoum by Kofi Annan and representatives of the National Islamic Front;
this is so despite the singular "demand" of UN Security Council Resolution 1556
(July 30, 2004): that Khartoum disarm the Janjaweed and bring its leaders to
justice; this is so despite Khartoum's negotiated agreement with Jan Pronk (in
the August 5, 2004 "Plan of Action") to identify the leaders of the Janjaweed.

None of this has happened. The Janjaweed have not been disarmed; their leaders
have not been brought to justice; indeed these leaders have not even been
identified. Moreover, negotiations in N'Djamena (Chad) and Abuja (Nigeria) failed
to make the Janjaweed a named party to the "cease-fire" agreements. As a
consequence of the international community's abysmal failure to follow through in
confronting the genocidal menace posed by the Janjaweed, this potent force
continues to operate throughout Darfur, with a growing sense of impunity. This is the
real cause of the fighting that has received so much attention in the Tawilla
area of North Darfur.

Unconstrained Janjaweed forces also account in large measure for the growing,
raging incomprehension on the part of the insurgency movements in Darfur. How
is it that they are being asked to show military restraint even as the Janjaweed
are not party to the cease-fire, and continue their savage predations? Why is
this continuing murderous violence against civilians not sufficient to provoke
a meaningful international response? Why is an African Union (AU) force,
deploying with painful slowness (there are still fewer than 1,000 of the proposed
3,500 troops, police, and logistical officers on the ground in Darfur), allowed
to serve as the only international guarantor of security in an area the size of
France? Why is the force deploying without a peacekeeping mandate? Why does
the international community accept Khartoum's demand that the AU force serve in
only a monitoring capacity? Why is there no immediate effort to increase by at
least ten-fold a force that should have a clear mandate to protect the
vulnerable civilian populations throughout Darfur, to monitor cease-fire violations
throughout Darfur, and to protect increasingly vulnerable humanitarian aid workers
and operations?

There are no morally intelligible answers to these questions---only answers
that grow out of the expediency and disingenuousness of an international community
that is not prepared to halt the 21st century's first great episode in
genocidal destruction. This is no excuse for the killing of aid workers north of
Nyala: there can be no excuse. But the failure of the international community to
provide answers to these desperately urgent questions is a moral failure much
greater and more consequential than the drunken actions of a single combatant.


Khartoum of course welcomes, if not publicly, the killing of these aid workers.
For the inevitable and rightful international condemnation of this barbarism
makes it all the more likely that there will be no effort to discriminate between
Khartoum's present military actions and those of the insurgents.

What is presently clear is that in the context of a cease-fire that has never
had any real meaning, with a wholly inadequate African Union monitoring force,
and with no peacekeeping operation in sight, Khartoum has begun a highly
significant military offensive. This is not related to or commensurate with any
military actions by the insurgency groups. But it is perversely revealing that
Khartoum is attempting to use as a bargaining chip in the failing negotiations in
Abuja a willingness to "halt" this offensive:

"The Sudanese government agreed on Wednesday to halt its military offensive in
Darfur, mediators said, raising hopes for the restart of suspended peace talks
with rebels. The Justice and Equality Movement and Sudan Liberation Movement
rebel groups suspended formal talks in the Nigerian capital Abuja on Monday,
accusing the Khartoum government of launching a new offensive against their
positions." [ ]

"'The government has given an undertaking that it has agreed to stop the
current military attacks,' African Union mediator Sam Ibok told reporters after
consultations with the Sudanese government delegation. 'If we verify the
information, then it should pave way for full discussion on the political issue, Ibok
said." (Reuters, December 15, 2004)

But of course Khartoum has not halted its current offensive, and numerous
highly authoritative reports from within Darfur indicate continuing aerial
bombardment of civilian targets, coordinated ground attacks, and a massive inflow of
military equipment.

Reuters reports:

"The [humanitarian aid] sources, who asked not to be named, said an Antonov
plane last week bombed Marla, a town south of Nyala [South Darfur]. They said the
attack was confirmed privately by African troops monitoring a shaky ceasefire,
but African monitors declined to comment to the press. The [humanitarian aid]
sources said Darfur residents reported several other recent aerial
bombardments." (Reuters, December 15, 2004)

Such bombings, and the numerous others throughout Darfur, have been reliably
reported not only be news-wires, but by Darfuris in exile with contacts on the
ground in Darfur. Eltigani Seisi Ateem, former governor of Darfur, reports in an
email to this write not only on the bombing of Marla, but of large numbers of
civilian casualties. He also reports on another attack, on Adwa in the Tawilla
area of North Dafur, "carried about by a joint force of 1,000 Government of
Sudan troops and Janjaweed militia" (email communication to this writer, December
8, 2004). Eltigani also reports that "since Monday [December 5, 2004],
villages around Tur to the west of Jebel Marra have come under continuous attacks by
the Janjaweed militia." "Seventeen women and children have been killed in one
village near Tur."

The representatives of the insurgency movements, presently in Abuja, spoke out
forcefully yesterday (December 16, 2004) of their own commanders' reports from
the ground in Darfur:

"Rebel leaders on Thursday accused the Sudanese government of pursuing an
offensive in the western region of Darfur despite an earlier promise to rein in its
troops in order to revive stalled peace talks. Representatives of the rebel
Sudanese Liberation Movement and the Justice and Equality Movement said in Abuja,
Nigeria, that they will not return to African Union-sponsored negotiations
until Khartoum calls off its alleged attack. 'The information I'm hearing now from
our commanders in the field is that they've not stopped their attacks,' said
Ibrahim Baha, an SLM spokesperson. 'Even as of this morning there are attacks in
areas of Tawilla, about 40km to the west of El-Fasher,' he said. 'The
government is using helicopter gunships and artillery. The Janjaweed is burning
villages.'" (Agence France-Presse, December 16, 2004)

This comports with all other reports, confidential and otherwise, on the
military situation in North Darfur and South Darfur. And indeed, there can be little
doubt that what we are seeing is a major military offensive. Eltigani Seisi
Ateem reports earlier this week the text of an extremely ominous communication
from Khartoum to the commander of AU monitoring forces in Darfur:

"The letter informs the AU forces that 'according to the N'Djamena agreement'
the Government of Sudan is committed to open up the roads between the various
towns of the region. According to the letter, Justice and Equality Movement and
Sudan Liberation Movement forces should withdraw from 43 locations in Darfur
within four hours (4) or face the consequences." (email communication to this
writer, December 14, 2004)

This in turn comports with a dispatch from Associated Press, in which the AU
speaks of Khartoum's clear violation of the cease-fire in service of this effort
to re-secure areas it has lost to the insurgents:

"The African Union strongly condemned the Sudanese government on Friday
[December 10, 2004] for launching a military attack on the eve of renewed peace talks
to end the crisis in the western Darfur region." [ ]

"Sudanese government troops launched a new assault in the strife-torn Darfur
region that sparked fighting with rebels on the eve of renewed peace talks to end
the crisis this week, the AU said Friday, condemning the [Khartoum] military
for the attack. The troops conducted the sweep to 'clear roads of lawless
elements' near the towns of Bilel and Isham on Wednesday, prompting battles with
rebels, said Alpha Oumar Konare, chairman of the AU commission. Konare condemned the
'serious and unacceptable' violation of the cease-fire agreement between the
government and the rebels---particularly because it came a day before peace talks
began in Abuja, Nigeria." (Associated Press, December 10, 2004)

Apparently Khartoum means its current military offensive to serve as the key
bargaining chip in Abuja, at least with respect to "security issues": either the
insurgency movements capitulate militarily or the offensive will proceed. This
is made clear in an Associated Press account filed yesterday from Abuja:

"Yesterday, the top [Sudan] government negotiator, Majzoub al-Khalifa Ahmad,
said Sudan would stop fighting if rebels withdrew from positions captured after
the signing of a roundly ignored April ceasefire." (Associated Press, December
16, 2004)

Of course there is no reasons for anyone to take Khartoum at its word about a
termination of the current offensive. If the regime finds it expedient to
suspend the offensive for a time, it will do so. But the ultimate goals of this
genocidal regime are unchanged, and their military actions on the
ground---particularly as reflected in reports on village destruction---show that genocidal
tactics are also unchanged. As Agence France-Presse reports today from Abuja:

"The Sudanese government has carried out an offensive in the western region of
Darfur and appears to be preparing further military action despite promises to
respect a truce, the commander of the African Union observer force in Darfur
warned Friday. 'One thing that must be said today is that the situation in Darfur
has become more dangerous with the build-up of forces in the last two weeks....
The present situation in Darfur is therefore that of a time-bomb which could
explode at any moment,' General Festus Okonkwo said at meeting in Abuja." (AFP,
December 17, 2004)

Eyewitness accounts from civilians amply confirm this assessment. Reuters
interviewed newly displaced civilians in South Darfur at the sprawling Kalma Camp,
now providing tenuous shelter to more than 100,000 human beings and a site of
growing unrest:

"Darfuri Dowsa Ahmed Hassan said he was standing in the market place when he
heard the Antonov plane's drone and watched it drop three bombs on his village,
killing a mother and her three children. The 30-year-old farmer fled his home in
Marla village and walked for two days with his two young boys and wife to
arrive at the overflowing Kalma camp, which is struggling to keep up with new
arrivals from recent attacks on villages in South Darfur state."

"'I was standing in the market. The first thing I heard was the Antonov and the
helicopters,' Hassan said of the attacks on Dec. 9th or 10th. 'The bombing
killed a woman and her three children in the wadi next to the village,' he added."
(Reuters, December 16, 2004)

And in a terribly familiar pattern, Reuters continues:

"Aid agencies evacuated their staff from Marla, a village of around 2,000, last
week after reports of fighting between government troops and rebels there.
Hassan said 30 vehicles, filled with around 1,000 government soldiers, and a number
of Arab militia on camel and horses attacked the village soon after the bombing
and two helicopter gunships opened fire. Villagers, rebels and aid workers have
often reported air raids are frequently followed by ground attack by Arab
militias, known as Janjaweed. The government is accused of backing the Janjaweed but
denies the charges, calling them outlaws." (Reuters, December 16, 2004)

The Sudan Organization Against Torture (SOAT), an increasingly important source
of intelligence from the ground in Darfur, reports today:

"On 13 December 2004, a the armed forces riding military cars and the
Janjaweed (militias) on horseback attacked Tartoura village in Kass province, west of
Nyala, Southern Darfur state. Reportedly, at least 8 civilians were killed,
with tens wounded and 2 civilians disappeared during the attack. The village was
burnt; villagers' livestock and belongings were looted and destroyed. The
details of the civilians killed and wounded are as follows [names provided]." (SOAT
press release, December 17, 2004

In another attack reported by Reuters:

"Mohamed Ali Adam, 24, has not seen his wife and seven-month-old baby since his
village was attacked last Saturday. He said he was on his farm between the
villages of Um Ze'eifa, Hashaba and Nira when an Antonov plane and four helicopters
attacked. The helicopters fired but the Antonov just circled ominously above.
Then the Janjaweed came riding in on camels and horses. 'They killed many
people, I cannot count.'" (Reuters, December 16, 2004)

And the Khartoum regime's response to these countless eyewitness accounts?

"Al-Hajj Attar al-Manan, the governor of South Darfur state, also denied
reports government planes had bombarded from the air Marla last week. 'No, there is
no utilising of Antonov planes,' he said. 'Our evidence is that the rebels
burned this village.'" (Reuters, December 15, 2004)

Much of this genocidal violence, as "justified" by Khartoum, derives from the
extremely ill-considered plan for "safe areas," negotiated by UN special
representative for Sudan Jan Pronk in the August 5, 2004 "Plan of Action," a
disastrous scheme that has now been silently abandoned. But Khartoum still expediently
invokes, if indirectly, the "safe areas" rationale as articulated by Pronk.


The breakdown in security and the increasing threat to humanitarian operations
comes during what is clearly a deterioration in the overall ability of
humanitarian organizations to respond to the crisis. This is partially obscured by the
belatedness of the UN's Darfur Humanitarian Profile No. 8 ("DHP 8"), which has
only just been released. The date on this key overview document is November 1,
2004---a month and a half ago. The consequences of this belatedness are
nowhere more conspicuous than in the account of the number of internally displaced
persons. While "DHP 8" offers a number of 1.65 displaced, in areas where
assessments can take place, this number has been overtaken by subsequent realities and

Indeed, it should be borne in mind that the figure of 1.65 internally
displaced, which does not include the more than 200,000 Darfuri refugees in Chad, is
based overwhelmingly on UN World Food Program registrations. And yet it was the
head of the World Food Program, James Morris, who declared to Agence
France-Presse on November 23, 2004: "By December, there will be two million displaced
persons," and that "this estimate of the region's torrents of displaced persons was
a staggering 300,000 people higher than a World Food Program estimate issued
just one week ago [November 16, 2004]" (AFP, November 23, 2004).

The "DHP 8" figure of 1.65 is already clearly badly out of date, even as it is
cited constantly in news-wire reports. The real figure, counting not only the
2 million that Morris refers to, but 200,000 refugees in Chad, and the several
hundred thousand displaced in inaccessible rural areas, is in the range of 2.5

Moreover, though "DHP 8" indicates a conflict-affected population of
approximately 2.3 million, this too is a thoroughly outdated figure. Indeed, this
document stresses that the "number of conflict-affected in the Humanitarian Profile
is almost exclusively those assessed by international humanitarian agencies and
their implementing partners, the majority via World Food Program registration"
(page 4). But since it is clear that the World Food Program head has
dramatically increased its estimate of displaced persons, by over 350,000 persons, this
must also affect the number of conflict-affected persons. Again adding figures
from Chad (over 200,000) and estimates for inaccessible areas, the true figure
for the conflict-affected population is in the range of 3 million.

The sectoral needs section of Darfur Humanitarian Profile No. 8 reveals that
humanitarian capacity remains severely inadequate. Only 57% of those assessed as
in need of food aid received such aid, a decline from 70% the previous month
(pages 13, 16); 57% of the population in need is without access to clean water,
one reason there has been a very serious outbreak of dysentery in West Darfur
(see below). Only about half the population in need has any access to sanitary
facilities, compounding the problem of clean water (pages 13, 21). 40% of
people in need are without shelter and without any access to primary health care
(page 13, 18).

These figures showing no significant improvement over the previous reporting
period, and the decline in food delivery, from 70% to only 57% of those in need,
is ominous in the extreme, especially with dire forward-looking food
assessments from the International Committee of the Red Cross and the US Agency for
International Development. The collapse of agricultural economy in Darfur, and
ongoing insecurity, now seem certain to prevent a spring/early summer planting in
2005, creating what are clearly ongoing famine conditions. The withdrawal of
humanitarian relief, with the foraging abilities of an already badly weakened
population rendered useless by marauding Janjaweed, will make it impossible for
many hundreds of thousands of civilians to survive. The present death toll of
approximately 370,000 could ultimately reach to 1 million.

Disease will also take an ever greater toll, with or without an attenuated
humanitarian presence. The humanitarian organization Medair is presently
responding to a serious outbreak of dysentery in Western Darfur:

"8,000 villagers fled their homes in November [2004] when Arab militia came on
horseback to attack a remote part of West Darfur. These internally displaced
people (IDP's) settled a kilometre away from a Medair run health clinic in Abu
Suruj, 2.5 hours drive north of our base in the Provincial Capital, El Geneina.
In early December we received reports of a suspected outbreak of Shigella
Dysentery amongst these displaced people, as well as an acute need for shelter, safe
water, improved sanitation and food." (Medair press release, December 16,

Polio is also a growing threat, one that will be compounded by the inability of
humanitarian workers to complete what has been a very partial vaccination
program. Voice of America recently reported [dateline: Hara al-Zawiyah, South

"Officials from the World Health Organization (WHO) say the number of confirmed
cases of polio in Sudan has made a dramatic rebound in a country that had been
declared polio-free three years ago. [ ] Since then, WHO officials say the
number of confirmed cases of polio-induced paralysis in Sudan has soared to 54.
Because paralysis of limbs occurs in only one in 200 cases, health experts say
there is a high probability that more than 10,000 Sudanese have been infected with
the virus, prompting several UN aid agencies to issue repeated warnings that
Sudan is in the midst of a massive outbreak."

"Particularly disturbing for health workers is the virus' potential for
spreading in the crowded, festering camps of western Sudan and neighboring Chad, where
nearly two million people have sought refuge in the wake of atrocities by
pro-government Arab militias aiming to crush a rebel uprising."

Nor is the threat confined to Darfur: the medical implications of Khartoum's
genocidal campaign are international in scope:

"Bruce Aylward, head of WHO's global polio eradication initiative, explains why
the surge in Sudan's polio cases is sending shockwaves through the
international health community:

"'There're three factors that make the situation in Sudan particularly
alarming. First of all, it's the largest country in Africa in terms of land mass and
borders nine other countries. So there are porous borders with nine countries
across which this virus could now spread. Secondly, there's the internal
situation in the country where there's civil unrest or disturbances in two large areas
of the country, which really could allow the continued propagation of the virus
within the country. And then finally the Sudan being both an Arab and an
African country in many ways has got important international links which could lead
to the further dissemination of the virus and even the re-infection of the
Middle East." (Voice of America [dateline: Hara Al-Zawiyah, Darfur], December 15,


The tragedy of SLA responsibility for the killing of aid two workers on
December 13, 2004 is made all too clear in an assessment offered by the most honest of
senior UN officials, Jan Egeland:

"The United Nations may have to withdraw from humanitarian operations in
Sudan's Darfur region if attacks on its workers continue, a top official has warned.
Jan Egeland, head of the Office for the Co-ordination of Humanitarian Affairs,
said the conflict was costing 10,000 Sudanese lives a month, but that could
rise tenfold if countries did not do more to protect aid workers and punish the
guilty 'We're ending the year more or less how we started, with huge areas
inaccessible to humanitarian workers,' Mr Egeland said." (Financial Times, December
16, 2004)

In fact, monthly mortality is already over 30,000 (see December 12, 2004
mortality assessment by this writer, at
www.sudantribune.com/article.php3?id_article=6984). But the withdrawal of humanitarian aid would certainly produce a
monthly casualty rate well in excess of 100,000 civilians---with no end in sight.
Camps for displaced persons would become vastly more vulnerable to the Janjaweed;
there would be no medical care or efforts to provide clean water, with
consequent dramatic increases in disease mortality; agricultural production would
remain at a standstill; and no resources would be available for those attempting to
resume agriculturally productive lives.

All this serves the same genocidal ambitions that have clearly been in evidence
for a year and a half.

The failure of the international community to intervene months ago in Darfur
has produced the current inability to respond to the rapidly growing insecurity
so threatening to humanitarian relief. Moreover, the current willingness, in
many quarters, to declare a "moral equivalency" between the actions of Khartoum's
military forces and those of the insurgents only works to embolden the regime
in its genocidal violence, and thus to accelerate insecurity throughout Darfur.

Genocidal destruction is poised to become cataclysmic, and an expedient and
morally bankrupt international community will be able to do little more than bear

Eric Reeves
Smith College
Northampton, MA 01063


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