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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.

THE INCIDENT BETWEEN DUMA AND MERSHING, SOUTH DARFUR

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.

KHARTOUM'S ACTIONS IN DARFUR

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
civilians.

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.

HOW KHARTOUM WILL USE THESE KILLINGS: DISPRORTIONAL MILITARY VIOLENCE WILL
ACCELERATE

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.

HUMANITARIAN IMPLICATIONS

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
assessments.

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
million.

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,
2004).

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
Darfur]:

"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,
2004)

KHARTOUM'S ULTIMATE GENOCIDAL AIM

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
witness.

Eric Reeves
Smith College
Northampton, MA 01063

ereeves@smith.edu




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