Sunday, January 30, 2005

Genocide continues in Darfur Posted by Hello

Khartoum Continues Genocidal Assaults on Darfur Civilians, 

According the international community a well-earned contempt

Eric Reeves
January 30, 2005

Reports of large-scale military assaults on civilians in Darfur, by both
Khartoum's regular forces and its murderous Janjaweed militia allies, have been
continuous for many weeks. Bombing attacks, ground assaults, and comprehensive
village and town destruction have sustained the National Islamic Front regime's
genocidal policies toward non-Arab/African tribal populations and villages. These
attacks include the razing of the town of Labado town on December 16, 2004, an
event that made progress impossible in negotiations that had convened at the
very same time in Abuja, Nigeria, under African Union auspices (the destruction
of Labado was part of a larger military offensive by Khartoum, clearly timed to
begin immediately before the talks and thus to paralyze them). To date there
has been no diplomatic progress in halting genocidal violence in Darfur; next
month's scheduled talks, again in Abuja, offer little promise.

Even as meaningful diplomacy is nowhere in evidence under AU auspices, so the
ineffectiveness of the AU monitoring force on the ground in Darfur has been
highlighted by Khartoum's most recent military attacks, attacks so brazen as to
have captured again some significant news-wire attention. A compendium of these
attacks is included below, since there has been a good deal of inaccurate or
contradictory reporting.

But it is worth noting in particular the aerial bombing attack against the town
of Shangil Tobaya (approximately 40 miles south of El Fasher, the capital of
North Darfur state) on January 26, 2005. Jan Pronk, UN special representative to
Sudan, is reported by the BBC to have said the attack left 100 civilians dead.
Pronk's comments on wider destruction are also reported by the BBC:

"[Pronk] said the government bombers and helicopter gunships fly regularly over
north and south Darfur, and 40 villages had been hit by pro-government
militia." (BBC January 28, 2005)

These forty villages had been attacked by "government-linked Janjaweed militia
[ ] in the area around Labado in South Darfur" (BBC, January 28, 2005).

Incomprehensibly, Pronk had just a few days earlier declared that:

"'fighting between government and rebels troops in Darfur has decreased in the
past month, but Arab militias still attack, rape, and abducted villagers in the
troubled region," Pronk said." (Associated Press, January 23, 2005)

We must wonder seriously about either the peculiar ignorance or the expedient
motives that lie behind such a gross inaccuracy.

The most revealing feature of Khartoum's bombing attack against Shangil Tobaya
is the regime's subsequent refusal to allow the African Union monitoring force
to investigate:

"African Union monitors have been trying to investigate the report air attack
on the town of Shangil Tobaya since Wednesday [January 26, 2005, the day of the
attack], where 100 people are believed to have died. The were turned away by
Sudanese soldiers on Thursday [January 27, 2005], an AU official told the BBC
earlier." (BBC, January 28, 2005)

This obstruction of the AU monitoring team continues a longstanding pattern on
Khartoum's part. Indeed, as an AU helicopter flew to investigate following the
Labado attack of December 16, 2004, it was fired upon while over territory
controlled militarily by Khartoum. This forced the return to base of the AU
helicopter, and there is still no full account of the Labado attack (though the New
York Times filed an important dispatch from Labado on January 24, 2005, giving
an excellent assessment of what occurred).

Khartoum's reasons for obstructing investigations of the attacks on Labado and
Shangil Tobaya are perfectly clear: under the terms of the third cease-fire
agreement, signed on November 9, 2004 in Abuja, the regime committed to halting
offensive military flights over all of Darfur. This commitment is most
conspicuously violated by aerial assaults on non-Arab/African civilians and villages,
though of course this is not "offensive military action" in the ordinary
sense---only in the context of genocidal ambitions.


These attacks have other consequences as well. The UN reports that:

"Fighting in districts [near Shangil Tobaya] of South Darfur last week caused
more than 9,000 people to flee their homes, a UN spokesman said Wednesday
[January 26, 2005]." (Associated Press, January 28, 2005)

This adds to a still-growing population of displaced persons in Darfur and
Chad, which now numbers approximately 2.4 million (1.65 million in accessible camp
areas in Darfur according to the UN Darfur Humanitarian Profile No. 9, December
1, 2004; more than 200,000 refugees in Chad; an estimated figure of 500,000
displaced persons in inaccessible rural areas; an estimated 50,000 additional
displaced persons since December 1, 2004). In turn, continued displacement adds to
the humanitarian requirements for Darfur, even as humanitarian capacity is
falling further and further behind increasingly desperate needs. Insecurity
consequent upon Khartoum's unconstrained military actions is of course a major factor
limiting humanitarian capacity:

"This [attack on Shangil Tobaya] is the latest of several serious ceasefire
violations in recent days that are having a devastating effect on civilians, and
severely disrupt our relief operations," [Kevin M. Kenney, Director of the
Coordination and Response Division of the UN Office for the Coordination of
Humanitarian affairs] said." (UN New Service [New York], January 27, 2005)

Jan Egeland, UN Undersecretary for Humanitarian Affairs is reported as
declaring that:

"The high level of insecurity in the western Sudanese region of Darfur is
seriously hampering the ability of international humanitarian organizations to
deliver aid to many internally displaced persons." (UN Integrated Regional
Information Networks, January 29, 2005)

Egeland's comments also offer a measure of how seriously inadequate present
humanitarian relief efforts are:

"'In December [2004], the World Food Program managed to reach 1.5 million
people, a significant achievement, but still 500,000 less than the target for
December,' Egeland told the [UN Security] Council." (UN Integrated Regional
Information Networks [IRIN], January 29, 2005)

And a figure of 500,000 people certainly vastly understates food needs in
Darfur. Indeed, the most recent UN Darfur Humanitarian Profile (No. 9, dismayingly,
that of December 1, 2004) finds a conflict-affected population (displaced
persons and affected residents) of approximately 2.3 million people. This does not
include the more than 200,000 refugees in Chad nor the hundreds of thousands of
civilians in inaccessible rural areas of Darfur.

This latter population should be cause for the most urgent concern. They have
had no benefit of food assistance; the agricultural economy of Darfur has
collapsed, and there is no prospect of revival or a significant harvest in the
foreseeable future; and the continuing marauding predations of the
Janjaweed ensure that these people, while expert foragers, have little
opportunity to use their well-honed survival skills.

Egeland proceeded to offer the UN Security Council an even bleaker assessment
of food distribution for January 2005:

"'In January, [the World Food Program] has reached about 900,000 so far, only
about 50% of the target,' he noted, adding that access problems were resulting
in significant shortfalls in other critical sectors as well." (UN IRIN, January
29, 2004)

In fact, the population targeted for food distributions was 2.2 million in
November 2004 (UN Darfur Humanitarian Profile No. 9; page 12, Chart 8). This means
that the real shortfall in December was at least 700,000 among those actually
assessed by the UN World Food Program. And food need and dependency only
increase throughout Darfur. A figure of 900,000 recipients for January thus
indicates that over 1.3 million people in desperate need have not been provided food in
the current month. And again, this figure does not take into account the
hundreds of thousands of civilians at risk in inaccessible rural areas of Darfur.

Thus when we assess the consequences of Khartoum's continuing aerial and ground
attacks on villages, we must include not only the immediate casualties, not
only the many tens of thousands of newly displaced persons, but the effects on
humanitarian aid deliveries that are already desperately inadequate and leave well
over 1.5 million people without any food assistance at all. Certainly overall
food insecurity continues to deteriorate rapidly, as had been predicted by the
International Committee of the Red Cross (October 2004) and other humanitarian
organizations. The US Agency for International Development-funded Famine Early
Warning Systems Network (FEWS Net) has warned that "the situation in North and
West Darfur [is] extremely food insecure" UN IRIN, January 20, 2005).

All these developments reflect a larger policy of genocide by attrition.
Khartoum is well aware of the precarious humanitarian situation and the consequences
of physical insecurity for humanitarian delivery; it is for this very reason
that the regime deliberately seeks to exacerbate insecurity, to increase
displacement, and to disrupt humanitarian relief. This brutal strategy also explains
Khartoum's actions towards Sudanese nationals working with international
humanitarian relief efforts:

"Aid agencies in Sudan's Darfur region are concerned at systematic arrests and
harassment of their staff working in the strife torn region, a UN official said
on Wednesday." (Reuters, January 19, 2005)

Collectively, these are actions that,

"deliberately inflict on the [non-Arab or African tribal groups of Darfur]
conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or
in part" (language adapted from the 1948 UN Convention on the Prevention and
Punishment of the Crime of Genocide, Article 2, clause [c]).

No news reporting on these attacks---both those of recent weeks and those over
the course of the past 20 months of genocidal counter-insurgency warfare---will
be complete without a full account of their larger civilian impact.


Reports of bombing and ground attacks by Khartoum and the Janjaweed have come
in a welter of news-wire and UN reports, some contradicting one another, some
conflating the same events, others geographically inaccurate or imprecise. This
reflects a lack of news presence on the ground, disarray among UN
spokespersons, and a general lack of attention to Darfur by news media in the weeks
following the signing of a north/south peace agreement (Nairobi, January 9, 2005).

Given the very considerable significance of these ongoing attacks by Khartoum
and the Janjaweed, and their devastating effects upon the non-Arab/African
tribal populations of Darfur (and increasingly the citizenry of Darfur as a whole),
it has seemed worth surveying and synthesizing the reports in aggregate. It is
of course true that fighting occurs between Khartoum's forces and the
insurgency movements, and that the insurgencies themselves have many times inaugurated
hostilities. Moreover, the actions of particular insurgents in relation to
humanitarian aid efforts, especially in the highjacking of convoys and the
abduction or murder of Sudanese nationals serving as aid workers, deserves harsh and
unambiguous condemnation. The leadership of the Sudan Liberation Movement/Army
and the Justice and Equality Movement is failing the people of Darfur in not
halting these terrible actions.

But there is only one air force in this war; only Khartoum deploys Antonov
bombers and helicopter gunships. That these are used as instruments of deliberate,
large-scale, ethnically-targeted civilian destruction and displacement is the
essential fact of this genocidal war. Herewith the most authoritative and
consistent reporting on aerial and ground attacks over the past several weeks.

From the New York Times, presently representing an almost singular news
presence on the ground in Darfur:

"As many as 25 [villages] have been burned to the ground in recent days in this
restive patch of Darfur [Labado is east of Nyala, capital of South Darfur
state." (New York Times [dateline: Labado], January 24, 2005)

The attack on Labado is rendered with particular authority:

"[Khartoum's assault included] pounding Labado with helicopter gunships and
mortar fire. When the smoke cleared, nearly 100 people were dead, according to
village leaders. More than 20,000 town residents fled with the 20,000 residents of
a refugee camp at the edge of town. What happened next is unclear, because few
residents remained to witness it, but today the town is in ruins. Its school
and hospital are destroyed. All of its shops and homes have been looted. Nearly
every hut has been burned." (New York Times, January 24, 2005)

The attack on Hamada is also rendered with particular authority:

"On January 14, [2005] an attack on the town of Hamada left more than 100
people dead, including many women and children, said foreign military [i.e., African
Union] and aid officials in Darfur. Thousands more have fled their homes."
(New York Times [dateline: Labado], January 24, 2005)

This account comports with that offered by the Sudan Organization Against
Torture (SOAT), an increasingly important source of information from the ground in
Darfur, though there is a two-day discrepancy in the date of the attack
(unsurprising for a number of reasons in this part of Darfur---or perhaps representing
two different attacks, a distinct possibility):

"On 16 January 2005, the air forces and the Janjaweed militias attacked and
destroyed Hamada, Birgid tribe village, 50 km northeast of Nyala, Southern Darfur
state using Antonov aircrafts. Reportedly, at least 69 civilians were killed
and 10s were wounded during the attack including five children. The details of
the civilians killed and wounded are as followed [SOAT lists the names of many of
those killed and wounded]." (SOAT, "Darfur: Hamada Village Destroyed," January
19, 2005)

Amnesty International also reports that "over the past ten days, a bombing on
Hamada village killed at least 69 civilians and village near Malam [see below]
were burned in Darfur." (Amnesty International release, January 27, 2005)

UN Spokesman George Somerwill, while not confirming the identity of the
attacking force, confirmed the level of destruction:

"'It has been confirmed that Hamada village was nearly totally destroyed and
that up to 105 civilians may have been killed with the majority of victims being
women and children,' spokesman George Somerwill told reporters at the UN
offices in Khartoum. He did not say whether rebel or pro-government forces were
responsible." (Associated Press, January 28, 2005).

But given the involvement of Antonov bombers reported by SOAT and Amnesty
International, there is no question about Khartoum's responsibility for this attack.
(Hamada is a village lying approximately 30 miles northeast of Nyala, capital
of South Darfur; it is an area in which there are numerous camps for displaced

In a Reuters dispatch the Hamada area is again the focus:

"A UN assessment team was sent last week to the area of Hamada, Juruf, and
Gemiza villages in south Darfur state, where the government launched a military
campaign in December [2004] it said was to clear the roads of banditry. Aid
community sources [i.e., officials of humanitarian organizations working in Darfur]
and rebels have said planes bombed the area on January 19, 2005." (Reuters,
January 26, 2005)

Khartoum is reported by Reuters to "deny dropping bombs," despite the
confirmation of bombing attacks from humanitarian sources. This third date for bombing
attacks (the New York Times reports a bombing on January 14, 2005; SOAT January
16, 2005), strongly suggests repeated use of Antonov bombers against these
civilian targets, though confirmation is impossible without greater access for AU

Other geographical names are used by wire-service news in reports that are not
fully clear about the relation between these locations and those indicated
above. For example, Reuters reports:

"European Union foreign policy chief Javier Solana said he was shocked by
reports of the bombing of a village named Rahad Kabolong in North Darfur." (January
28, 2005)

But since Rahad Kabolong lies so very close to the significant town of Shangil
Tobaya, which is also site of a camp for displaced persons, it is not clear
whether Solana is referring to the attack on Shangil Tobaya (see above), or to a
more specific targeting of Rahad Kabolong.

The same Reuters dispatch also reports:

"Sources in Sudan's aid community [i.e., officials with humanitarian
organizations on the ground in Darfur] said Thursday [January 27, 2005] the government
had bombed al-Malam on the border between North and South Darfur. [ ] 'African
Union observers in Darfur were denied access to investigate the death and damage
caused by aerial bombings,' the AU source, who declined to be named, told
Reuters at [AU] headquarters in Addis Ababa." (Reuters [dateline: Addis Ababa]
January 28, 2005)

It would seem imperative to establish whether attacks reported on Shangil
Tobaya (see above) and al-Malam represent different attacks, or coordinated attacks
in close geographic proximity. (Mallam camp for displaced persons lies
approximately 20 miles southwest of Shangil Tobaya [North Darfur] in the Malam
district of South Darfur state.) But this will not happen so long as "African Union
observers are denied access to investigate the death and damage cause by aerial
bombings." This is of course an admission of guilt by Khartoum; but the regime
calculates that there will be fewer consequences if investigations can be
forestalled and full, detailed accounts of all its attacks is made impossible.

Indeed, domestically the regime goes so far as to deny altogether that the
bombings have even occurred: Associated Press reports today that Khartoum's
governor for North Darfur State has said reports of bombings were "fabricated by
foreigners," "lies diffused by the [humanitarian] organizations and the Western
media," (AP citing SUNA report, January 30, 2005).


Indeed, with good reason, the regime is confident that it can conceal enough,
or create sufficient ambiguity amidst the chaos of violence, so that it will be
held responsible for only a small fraction of its military assaults. The
evidence of success lies in a growing international willingness to indulge in the
language of "moral equivalence" in speaking of Khartoum's genocidal actions.
Here Kofi Annan again leads the way:

"The secretary-general calls on the government of Sudan and the rebel movements
in Darfur immediately to comply fully with their commitments under the
cease-fire agreement and all relevant Security Council resolutions, [Annan's spokesman
Fred] Eckhard said." (Reuters, January 28, 2005)

Unnoted by Eckhard on behalf of Annan is Khartoum's refusal to abide by the
singular "demand" of UN Security Council Resolution 1556 (July 30, 2004), that
Khartoum disarm the Janjaweed and bring Janjaweed leaders to justice. Khartoum
had promised as much to Annan in the "Joint Communiqué, signed by the regime in
Khartoum on July 3, 2004.

The Bush administration also seems increasingly comfortable with a view of
"moral equivalence:"

"'We've been appalled by the violent clashes and blatant violations of the
cease-fire that have been happening in Darfur. All the parties, the government of
Sudan, the militias that are allied with the government, and the rebels are to
blame for this increase in violence. It must stop immediately. As we've always
said, people who have been involved in this violence must be held accountable,'
[said State Department spokesman Richard Boucher." (Voice of America, January
27, 2005)

But of course Boucher gives no evidence of a US commitment to any plan that
might actually increase security, or monitoring effectiveness, or contribute to a
restraining of Janjaweed predations. Nor does he suggest any way in which the
US can effectively "hold accountable" those responsible for the violence.
Indeed, the Bush administration is clearly considering vetoing a UN Security
Council referral to the International Criminal Court (see below). But most
consequentially, Boucher does not distinguish between the violence of genocidaires, and
the violence of insurgency movements growing out of desperate political and
economic marginalization, and Khartoum-sanctioned violence against non-Arab/
African villagers going back many years. This will inevitably have the effect of
encouraging Khartoum in its present policies of disproportional violence, and in
particular genocidal violence against non-Arab/African civilians.

Foreign Minister Jack Straw makes the British contribution to "moral

"The international communication cannot look away at this point. I have asked
our [Britain's] Permanent Representative in New York to raise this action
[Khartoum's bombing of civilian targets]---and those of the rebels---in the Security
Council.'" (Reuters, January 28, 2005)

Aside from the implicit equating of Khartoum's genocidal actions with the
military actions of the rebels, it is worth noting the desperate inaccuracy of
Straw's statement: the international community has more than fully demonstrated its
ability to "look away" from Darfur---at least if we assume that "looking" and
"acting" are in some way related. The international community, after many
months of supposed engagement with the catastrophe in Darfur, is content to see
Khartoum flout the "demand" of Security Council Resolution 1556; deeply disrupt
humanitarian aid deliveries; and violate various cease-fire agreements in
massively disproportional fashion.

By way of response---beyond the provision of humanitarian assistance that falls
far short of actual need---the "international community" is content to look on
as an African Union monitoring force of fewer than 1,300 personnel stands as
the only means of providing security in an area the size of France, without a
peacekeeping mandate, and without a mandate for even civilian protection (other
than to protect civilians who are physically immediate present and in imminent
danger, and only if such protection is militarily possible, i.e., if the risk of
reprisal for protective efforts is judged not to be excessive).

We catch a glimpse in a recent Los Angeles Times dispatch of just how eager
Khartoum is that this language of "moral equivalence" take hold. Commenting on
the as yet unreleased findings of a UN Commission of Inquiry into atrocities in
Darfur (see below), Khidir Haroun Ahmed, Khartoum's ambassador in Washington,
DC, recently declared:

"'If the international community acknowledge that rebels had also committed war
crimes, not just the government and militias, then it would be 'very logical'
to send all the cases to the International Criminal Court.'" (Los Angeles Times,
January 29, 2005)

Khartoum's ambassador reflects the thinking within the National Islamic Front
regime itself: "if we achieve 'moral equivalence' in the discourse of the
international community, and in referrals to the International Criminal Court, and in
other ways as well, then we have no fear of being held asymmetrically
responsible for genocide. This will all conclude with a general condemnation, and our
singular evil will remain unpunished."

Such thinking presumes either that an ICC referral will be blocked---either by
the US or China or Russia---or that the ICC will move so slowly that true
accountability will not come within a consequential time-frame. Such thinking is
almost certainly correct.


A subsequent analysis will follow from this writer when the findings of the UN
Commission of Inquiry are publicly released. But we already catch a glimpse of
how compromised a document this is in a highly revealing dispatch from the Los
Angeles Times. On the basis of interviews with well-informed UN diplomats,
this dispatch reports that there will be no finding of genocide, but rather,
"there was evidence of crimes against humanity with an ethnic dimension"---no
genocide, but "individuals who may have acted with a "genocidal intention." (Los
Angeles Times, January 29, 2005)

If the Los Angeles Times account is correct, then it is transparently clear
that with the release of the UN report we will have entered some semantic
fantasy-land, where adjectives apply to intentions, but not to the actual crimes
committed---where the very high threshold of "crimes against humanity" may be
achieved, and with "an ethnic dimension," but without genocide being committed.

Moreover, in an extraordinary revelation of how politicized the UN report has
already become, the Los Angeles Times reports:

"The commission, headed by Antonio Cassese, an Italian judge, had to reconvene
after the report was completed because of disagreements over whether to
identify implicated government officials who may be in charge of implementing Sudan's
new peace plan with its southern rebels, said diplomats familiar with the
discussions." (Los Angeles Time, January 29, 2005)

It is exceedingly difficult to credit with either intellectual or moral
integrity a report that is governed by "disagreements over whether to identify
implicated government officials who may be in charge of implementing Sudan's new peace
plan"---rather than the facts and evidence as we have them.

It should also be noted that this group of just five individuals cannot
possibly have done research equivalent to that of the Coalition for International
Justice (CIJ), or of the numerous human rights reports of the past two years. In
particular, the 1,136 interviews assembled by several teams of CIJ interviewers
(with variously relevant expertise---forensic, academic, and judicial) and a
full complement of translators along the Chad/Darfur border represents an
empirical data-base that is simply not attempted by the UN team, which evidently
functioned on an ad hoc and spontaneous basis in collecting evidence (by way of
contrast, see methodological section of CIJ report at

For the moment, however, it is imperative that we focus on the politicizing of
a genocide determination, a process that has been in indirectly in evidence in
many quarters, but is now explicitly so:

"The commission had to reconvene after the report was completed because of
disagreements over whether to identify implicated government officials who may be
in charge of implementing Sudan's new peace plan with its southern rebels."

First of course we must ask what the "implicated government officials" (i.e.,
members of Khartoum's National Islamic Front [NIF] regime) are "implicated" in.
Is it "the crimes against humanity with an ethnic dimension" the Los Angeles
Times reports? Or perhaps these NIF officials are among the "individuals who may
have acted with a 'genocidal intention,'" though not part of a genocide that
has been determined not to exist?

Certainly Khartoum is aware that is holds a powerful political and diplomatic
card with its nominal commitment to a north/south peace agreement. And the
regime has already begun to play this card:

"Sudan's ambassador to Washington, Khidir Haroun Ahmed, said he understood that
the names would not be disclosed until a court had concluded that there was
evidence for prosecution. 'It would not be in the benefit of peacemaking to jump
to hasty conclusions and blame the government without 100% evidence because that
will weaken the government as a partner for peace,' he said." (The Los Angeles
Times, January 29, 2005)

Representing the NIF in Washington, Ambassador Khidir Haroun Ahmed is assuming
that the "court" (whether the ICC or an ad hoc tribunal of the sort evidently
preferred by the Bush administration) will not move expeditiously---and then
arguing that any premature disclosure of the names of Khartoum officials would
"weaken the government as a partner for peace."

In other words, the reported political debate within the UN Commission of
Inquiry is reflected exactly in these ominously threatening words ("push us too hard
on Darfur and you'll loose your 'partners' in the north/south peace agreement")
from Khartoum's Washington-based diplomat.

But it is simply not the task of a UN Commission of Inquiry into genocide to
make political calculations about the actions or attitudes of the those whom all
extant evidence makes clear are the genocidaires.

Nothing further can be said prior to the public release of the commission's
report, but the Los Angeles Times has given us very considerable reason for
caution in accepting this report as fulfilling any true mandate of inquiry. This
writer recently predicted that the commission report would be caught up by other
features of the growing politicization of a Darfur genocide determination,
noting in particular:

"the demurral or refusal to speak honestly about genocide in Darfur---by the
Arab League, by the African Union, and by influential AU leaders (such as
President Obasanjo of Nigeria)---will have far more to do with what is said than the
overwhelming evidence of the crime of genocide. The expedient calculation is
likely to be that given a referral to the ICC on the basis of 'crimes against
humanity,' there is no need to roil the international diplomatic waters with the
searing honesty of a genocide determination." (January 24, 2005)

There evidently is indeed a finding of "crimes against humanity, with an ethnic
dimension." There is also apparently a recommendation of referral to the ICC,
which should be strongly supported on a wide variety of grounds. But such
referral is certainly not enough, not nearly enough, to stop the genocidal
realities that cannot be even partially obscured by the UN commission's recourse to
semantic contortions.


Darfur's African peoples have been abandoned, despite the rhetorical sound and
fury that continues to represent a morally cheap substitute for meaningful
action. There is not nearly enough food for people who are desperately needy.
Insecurity acutely threatens many hundreds of thousands of civilians throughout
the greater Darfur humanitarian theater, as well as the operations of
increasingly attenuated relief efforts. 1,300 African Union personnel cannot begin to
staunch the violence that is at once disproportionately the responsibility of
Khartoum and its Janajweed militia allies, and asymmetrically beneficial to the
regime's larger ambition to sustain present genocide by attrition.

No political expediency or semantic disingenuousness by a UN Commission of
Inquiry can change these fundamental realities. Nor can we hope for more from
those who are actively cultivating a moral equivalence between Khartoum's
genocidaires and the insurgency movements of Darfur, however culpable the latter are in
their military behavior, especially toward humanitarian relief efforts.

In short, we will see no progress in halting genocide without the emergence of
real international leadership, with a moral commitment to stopping genocide
regardless of difficulties, political obstacles, or geopolitical and economic
self-interest. Such leadership is nowhere in sight---at the UN, in Washington,
within the European Union, or within the African Union.

Darfur has been abandoned.

Eric Reeves
Smith College
Northampton, MA 01063


Darfur mortality analysis by Jan Coebergh, MD:  

"Sudan: genocide has killed more than the tsunami," Parliamentary Brief
(UK), February 2005 (Volume 9, No. 7; pages 5-7)

A statistical derivation of total mortality for the Darfur conflict,
based upon all extant mortality data and reports: "a total of 306,130
excess deaths between February 2003 and December 2004." Required
reading for all who would presume to report on human destruction in

Moreover, Coebergh concludes, whatever total we begin with in mortality
to date: "This year [2005] looks worse than last year [2004]."

This highly informed and trenchant analysis may be downloaded in PDF
format at http://www.thepolitician.org/

Further, Coebergh makes a number of important observations about
mortality that are not are not readily captured in statistical form:

Does it matter how many have died? ---

"Yes. It gives us a correct picture of the scale of the tragedy in
Darfur and helps us measure our response. Counting the dead also values
them. And it allows us to properly estimate the cost in lives this war
will claim in the months ahead. After all, these were, and are,
preventable deaths."

Underestimates of mortality ---

"Several reasons for underestimating mortality exist in all these
studies. All interviews would fail to detect the death of whole
families. Under-reporting of neonatal and infant deaths in similar
surveys has been documented. People could also be afraid that, despite
assurance, reporting deaths will affect their food rations. In the MSF
and WHO study, more people were absent and had disappeared than had
died. It is difficult to imagine what happened to these people, but some
are likely to be among the dead."

"With the world losing interest, that is more rather than less likely.
In all of this, it is easy to forget the children who are not born
because families are separated or a husband or wife killed. Men cannot
marry because without livestock and female fertility also decreases with
malnutrition and stress. Nor must one forget the children who are born:
rape has been widespread. Malnutrition will affect all those that
survive, for the rest of their lives."

["Jan Coebergh is a doctor with an interest in epidemiology. He worked
in Darfur before the present crisis"---Parliamentary Brief, February
2005 (Volume 9, No. 7); http://www.thepolitician.org/]

Eric Reeves
Smith College
Northampton, MA 01063

Wednesday, January 26, 2005

"At this moment, terrible things are happening today in Darfur, Sudan"--- 

Kofi Annan, January 24, 2005, to the UN General Assembly

Eric Reeves
January 24, 2005

Kofi Annan's statement today of this long conspicuous truth must still gain
significance from its extraordinary context. For Annan was addressing the UN
General Assembly and world leaders on the occasion of an unprecedented UN
commemoration of the Holocaust of World War II. There could be no more powerful
reference to human evil and mass destruction. Moreover, the Secretary-General did
not shy away from naming other genocides, including those in Cambodia, the former
Yugoslavia, and Rwanda. He was powerfully echoed by Holocaust survivor Elie
Wiesel, who painfully observed, ""if the world had listened, we may have
prevented Darfur, Cambodia, Bosnia and naturally Rwanda," (Reuters, January 24, 2005).

But a grim and disconcerting irony stalks Annan's comments. For it was Annan
who headed UN peacekeeping operations during the Rwandan genocide, and who bears
much responsibility for international failure to stop the unspeakable carnage.
Indeed, the irony became savage today when Annan went on to invoke Edmund
Burke's famous declaration, "all that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that
good men do nothing." For "nothing" is precisely what Annan and the US
administration of Bill Clinton engineered in response to the desperate plea for
intervening troops from Lt. General Romeo Dallaire, UN force commander at the time of
the genocide in Rwanda.

Moreover, "nothing" also comes perilously close to defining what the
international community is providing in the way of means for halting current genocide in
Darfur. Though aid organizations continue heroically to confront the
challenges of the world's greatest humanitarian crisis, insecurity has severely
attenuated the reach and efficacy of assistance. This is insecurity orchestrated by
Khartoum, with a clear understanding of its implications for humanitarian access
and transport. This is insecurity that deliberately impedes humanitarian aid
delivery and is fully consistent with Khartoum's larger genocidal ambitions in
Darfur as revealed by almost two years of savagely destructive
counter-insurgency warfare.

To be sure, there are occasional reports that fighting has diminished in some
areas within Darfur; but other accounts indicate continuing intense violence and
village destruction (see below). And in much of Darfur there is simply nothing
left: almost all the non-Arab or African villages have been destroyed and
civilian populations have been virtually entirely displaced. There is nothing to
support either civilians or insurgents; the agricultural economy has totally
collapsed. The consensus within the Dafuri diaspora, among those who have
significant contacts within Darfur, is that 90% of non-Arab/African villages have now
been destroyed. And while some previously closed roads and humanitarian
corridors may now again be open, others remain closed; moreover, the risk of further
attenuation of aid deliveries is extremely high.


And yet there is no international plan to enhance security for humanitarian
operations in Darfur; there is no prospect of diplomatic settlement in next
month's reconvened talks in Abuja, Nigeria (Khartoum ensured the collapse of the last
round of talks [December 2004] by mounting a sustained military offensive
immediately prior to the opening of negotiations); there is no effective monitoring
force in place for a cease-fire that is merely notional (see below); Khartoum
is not abiding by its formal commitment to halt offensive military flights over
Darfur; there is nothing in place, or contemplated, that can stop what has
become the inexorable logic of genocide by attrition. A ghastly status quo has
descended upon Darfur, reflected in the significant diminishment of on-the-ground
news coverage, and the growing lack of effective attention to Darfur in the
wake of the north/south peace agreement.

Perversely, at this very moment of paralysis and diminished attention, the
scale of human destruction in Darfur's catastrophe is finally being recognized in
some news quarters. In general, however, there remains an intellectually
slovenly refusal to report data and evidence that strongly suggest total mortality in
Darfur and eastern Chad, over the course of two years of extremely violent
conflict and displacement, now exceeds 400,000 human beings (see January 18, 2005
mortality assessment by this writer, at

[The Associated Press, to its immense credit, has begun the process of
assessing this evidence and data; see Appendix 1 for an analysis of the January 20,
2005 AP report on violent mortality in Darfur.]

To gather an appropriate sense of urgency, we must bear in mind that the data
and evidence available also suggest that monthly mortality has been
approximately 35,000 human beings throughout the greater Darfur region (including Chad and
inaccessible rural areas of Darfur), and according to UN Undersecretary for
Humanitarian Affairs Jan Egeland, this number may rise to 100,000 per month if
continuing insecurity forces humanitarian organizations to suspend their
operations in Darfur (Financial Times [UK], December 15, 2004).

Food insecurity also continues to grow more severe, as had been predicted by
the International Committee of the Red Cross (October 2004) and other
humanitarian organizations. The US Agency for International Development-funded Famine
Early Warning Systems Network (FEWS Net) has warned that "the situation in North
and West Darfur [is] extremely food insecure" (UN Integrated Regional
Information Networks, January 20, 2005).

But despite the clear and growing risk to a conflict-affected population that
now numbers approximately 3 million human beings (for estimates of monthly
mortality and conflict-affected population, see
there is no evidence of a willingness to intervene, either on the part of the
UN in New York or other actors in the international community. After two years
of brutal warfare, reflecting Khartoum's unmistakable genocidal ambitions in
Darfur, the regime faces no real consequences for its systematic
counter-insurgency policy of "deliberately inflicting on the non-Arab or African tribal peoples
of Darfur conditions of life calculated to bring about their physical
destruction in whole or in part" (from the language of the 1948 UN Convention on the
Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide).

These fundamental realities will not change without a significant international
humanitarian intervention, with all necessary military support. Either
humanitarian operations and transport routes are afforded much more robust security,
or their reach will contract. Extremely vulnerable civilians populations must
be protected or they will continue to fall victim to ongoing military attacks
and Janjaweed predations. Indeed, especially in the wake of a north/south peace
agreement (Nairobi, January 9, 2005), Khartoum will calculate with a vicious
shrewdness just how much international "good will" it has purchased, and how far
this is likely to translate into diminished pressure over ongoing genocide in

We may be quite sure that the National Islamic Front regime---which remains the
only national authority in Sudan, despite the January 9th agreement---will do
only the minimum required to ensure that international consensus does not gather
around a robust course of action. With continuing strong diplomatic support
from the Arab League, China, and much of the Islamic world, Khartoum clearly has
no fear of the sanctions that were first proposed half a year ago by the US in
a July 30, 2004 UN Security Council resolution (No. 1556).

Certainly the regime is well aware of China's explicit threat to veto any
sanctions measure against Khartoum's genocidaires (the threat was made publicly by
the Chinese ambassador to the UN following passage of a second UN Security
Council Resolution [No. 1564] on September 18, 2004). There seems no will even to
impose targeted sanctions on key members of the regime (including travel bans
and asset freezes); and the vague threat of such sanctions has been fully
anticipated by the regime over the many months of their being mooted.


In assessing the UN's commitment to Darfur, Khartoum has been guided above all
else by the inability of the world body to secure any compliance with the
singular "demand" of the July 30, 2004 Security Council resolution, viz. that the
regime disarm the Janjaweed and brings its leaders to justice. (This "demand"
formalized what the National Islamic Front regime had explicitly promised Kofi
Annan on July 3, 2004 in a "Joint Communiqué" signed in Khartoum.) Half a year
later, the Janjaweed face no threat of disarmament, and no Janjaweed leader has
been brought to justice. Can we possibly doubt that there is anything but
contempt on Khartoum's part for UN "demands" or threats?

This is the context in which to assess Khartoum's response to an impending
report from a UN-appointed commission of inquiry (created by the September 18, 2004
Security Council resolution). This report was to have been issued tomorrow
(January 25, 2005), announcing its findings and possible referrals to the
International Criminal Court (ICC). But it now appears that the report will be
deferred, possibly until next week or later. It is clearly enmeshed in UN politics,
as well as the international politics that surround the ICC.

Given this political context, the report will most likely find that massive war
crimes and crimes against humanity have been committed in Darfur, but will not
announce a determination of whether genocide has been committed. This will be
a reticence growing not out of an assessment of the evidence in light of the
1948 UN Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide, but
rather what might be called "the politics of genocide." Here, for example, the
demurral or refusal to speak honestly about genocide in Darfur---by the Arab
League, by the African Union, and by influential AU leaders (such as President
Obasanjo of Nigeria)---will have far more to do with what is said than the
overwhelming evidence of the crime of genocide. The expedient calculation is likely
to be that given a referral to the ICC on the basis of "crimes against
humanity," there is no need to roil the international diplomatic waters with the searing
honesty of a genocide determination.

The politics of the ICC also govern this report, especially as defined by the
attitudes of three key permanent (veto-wielding) UN Security Council members:
the US, China, and Russia. Though much recent opinion writing has focused on
whether the US will block a UN Security Council referral to the ICC (necessary
when a country, like Sudan, is not party to the Rome Statute that created the
ICC), the real issue is whether China will allow such a referral to move forward.
China is distinctly less enthusiastic about the ICC than the Bush
administration (and for good reason), and has plenty of diplomatic support from Russia.
Given China's appalling human rights record, its history of savage repression in
Tibet, the legacy of Tiananmen Square, and its general vulnerability to criminal
prosecution, Beijing is highly unlikely to acquiesce in a UN Security Council
referral to the ICC. Russia's unease over its ghastly brutality in Chechnya
likely ensures another killing vote against referral to the ICC.

And would such a referral make a difference in any event? And in a way that
responds to the urgency of continuing, massive genocidal destruction? Though
some observers claim that the Khartoum regime is genuinely fearful of referral to
the ICC, this is mere speculation---a wishful assessment of the diplomatic
"body language" of a ruthlessly survivalist regime that has proved extraordinarily
adept at evading international censure and meaningful consequences for past
genocidal actions.

Until there is in place a fully credible set of consequences for its failure to
halt massive, ethnically targeted human destruction in Darfur, Khartoum will
continue to act as it has for the past two years and more. And the regime will
continue to be guided by the assumption that the international community is too
eager to preserve the success of a north/south peace agreement to issue
ultimatums over Darfur. There is little reason to quarrel with this assessment.


Khartoum has also been powerfully encouraged by international willingness to
accept, by default, the African Union monitoring force as the sole guarantor of
security in Darfur. For it is now fully clear that the AU force in Darfur
remains---months after initial deployment---woefully inadequate, logistically
incapable, and unable to conduct timely investigations of many of the most egregious
violations of the cease-fire re-negotiated (under AU auspices) in Abuja,
Nigeria on November 9, 2004.

Though Western assistance (including provision of military/logistical
contractors) to the AU has been less than fully robust or aggressive, the last month of
painfully slow deployment is largely the responsibility of the African Union
itself. Months after securing (highly limited) terms of deployment from
Khartoum, there are still fewer than 1,300 AU personnel in the field, and not nearly
enough equipment, especially transport and communications gear. Most
significantly, the AU has no peacekeeping mandate: it is meaningfully charged only with
monitoring violations of the cease-fire by parties to the cease-fire (notably,
this does not include the Janjaweed).

At the same time, Khartoum has grown increasingly canny in exploiting the
weaknesses and lack of capacity on the part of the AU, and has been especially
emboldened by AU inability to conduct an appropriate number of field investigations
and issue prompt assessments of responsibility for violence. Though some AU
personnel are attempting to expand the de facto mandate of the mission, and
though some AU officers are leading as effectively as possible under virtually
impossible constraints, Khartoum clearly sees that no real pressure derives from AU
reporting, and indeed, that the international community is increasingly content
with a new "moral equivalence" between the insurgency movements on the one
hand, and Khartoum and its Janjaweed militia allies on the other.

The insurgency movements have much to answer for over the past two to three
months, especially in failing to do more to alleviate insecurity for humanitarian
organizations. But the expedient assertion of "moral equivalence," made
explicitly and implicitly by the UN and other international actors, convinces
Khartoum that its most mendacious assertions, its most absurd charges, will result in
the stalemate of international judgment.

In a particularly brazen example, Khartoum declared (January 23, 2005) that "a
group of Darfur rebels attack al-Malam areas on the borders of North and South
Darfur states. They burnt eight villages and killed many people." (Reuters
[Khartoum], January 23, 2005).

But this account is unlikely in the extreme: there have been no confirmed
reports of such attacks on villages and civilians by either of the major insurgency
groups during the course of the war. Moreover, the statement to Reuters came
from "an armed forces official, who declined to be named" (Reuters [Khartoum],
January 23, 2005). If Khartoum is doing anything other than trying to deflect
blame from itself, why wasn't this statement issued by an official who allowed
himself to be named and held accountable, should the AU investigate this
incident? This statement gives all signs of being an effort on the part of Khartoum
at "preemptive exculpation."

That the regime is engaged in such efforts is made clear in an important
dispatch today from the New York Times (dateline Labado, South Darfur). Labado was
the site of a brutal attack by Khartoum's military forces on December 16, 2004
in which many civilians were killed and an aid worker for Doctors Without
Borders/Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) was "murdered" (the word choice is that of MSF
in its press release on the occasion of Khartoum's air- and- ground attack on
Labado). Dozens of other MSF workers scattered into the bush with the attack,
and not all have been accounted for. Many civilians were killed, and Labado was
laid waste.

The New York Times dispatch offers a terrifying picture of pure mendacity put
in service of deflecting blame for the war crimes defining the attack on Labado:

"Government soldiers began moving on Labado in early December, camping several
miles outside of town. Then, according to the commanding officer of the troops
that took the town, SLA rebels mounted a surprise attack on their camp, killing
several soldiers. On December 16 [2004] the soldiers retaliated, pounding
Labado with helicopter gunships and mortar fire. When the smoke cleared, nearly 100
people were dead, according to village leaders. More than 20,000 town residents
fled with the 20,000 residents of a refugee camp at the edge of town." (New
York Times [Labado], January 24, 2004)

But the account of the attack from civilians is markedly different:

"Moussa Ahmed Ibrahim, the sheik of the town, said the rebels had been there,
living among them, but had fled at the first sign of an attack by Arab
militiamen, known as the janjaweed."

And the victims of the Labado attack, humanitarian workers report, were
overwhelmingly civilians:

"In Muhagiriya [near Labado], Ran van der Wal, coordinator for the health
program run by Doctors Without Borders here, said virtually all of the patients
treated for war wounds were civilians. 'We are seeing women, we are seeing children
with shrapnel wounds,' Ms. Van der Wal said. 'It is not a war between armies.
It is a kind of war on civilians.'" (New York Times [Labado], January 24, 2005]

In defending these military actions, Khartoum's commanding officer at Labado
offered a transparently absurd explanation:

"Major Morhi el-Din, a senior officer of the government force that led the
charge on Labado, said the fires that burned the huts had been started by bullets
fired at SLA fighters hiding in the town---an explanation that seemed to defy
logic. 'We shot at them in self-defense, and that started the fires,' Major Din
explained. 'We did not start these fires.'" (New York Times [Labado], January
24, 2005)

That such patent absurdity is even offered suggests that Khartoum fears no
consequences from its actions; and unsurprisingly, there is still no authoritative
account of the Labado attack from the AU monitoring force. The AU helicopter
sent to investigate was fired upon while flying over territory militarily
controlled by Khartoum and returned to base.

Moreover, there have been numerous other attacks on villages by Khartoum's
forces that have yet to receive adequate investigation, giving the regime the
inevitable impression that it may operate with essential impunity. For example,
Reuters recently reported the observation of UN spokesman George Somerwill:

"Somerwill said the United Nations had reports of attacks by armed tribesmen in
four villages in South and North Darfur, with heavy casualties inflicted in one
attack on January 9 and 10, [2005]. The attacks had yet to be confirmed by the
African Union, responsible for monitoring a shaky April ceasefire in the
region." (Reuters, January 19, 2005)

Such belated investigations ensure that Khartoum's sense of impunity, along
with that of its Janjaweed militia allies, only grows. Indeed, we have further
evidence of precisely this development in today's dispatch from the New York
Times (currently an almost singular news presence in Darfur):

"As many as 25 [villages] have been burned to the ground in recent days in this
restive patch of Darfur, a vast arid region roughly the size of France. On
January 14, [2005], an attack on the town of Hamada left more than 100 people dead,
including many women and children, said foreign military and aid officials in
Darfur. Thousands more have fled their homes, adding to the two million people
pushed into tattered camps in Sudan and neighboring Chad by the conflict." (New
York Times [Labado], January 24, 2005)

The Sudan Organization Against Torture (SOAT), an increasingly important source
of information from the ground in Darfur, also reported recently on the Hamada

"On 16 January 2005, the air forces and the Janjaweed militias attacked and
destroyed Hamada, Birgid tribe village, 50 km northeast of Nyala, Southern Darfur
state using Antonov aircrafts. Reportedly, at least 69 civilians were killed
and 10s were wounded during the attack including five children. The details of
the civilians killed and wounded are as followed [SOAT lists the names of many of
those killed and wounded]." (SOAT, "Darfur: Hamada Village Destroyed," January
19, 2005)

These are clearly attacks by Khartoum's regular military forces and the
regime's murderous Janjaweed militia allies. They are not the attacks of the
insurgency groups, the Sudan Liberation Movement Army (SLA) or the Justice and Equality
Movement [JEM], or even the groups that have split from the main insurgency
movements. These military actions, including aerial assaults, continue a fully
established pattern of undeterred violence that has been in evidence for over 20
months: non-Arab or African villages and civilian populations have been
relentlessly, deliberately attacked by Khartoum's forces and militia allies, with
comprehensive destruction the inevitable result.

This has been the engine of massive human displacement and destruction in
Darfur, and it signifies the deepest disingenuousness for the clear historical
record of these past 20 months to be ignored in assigning blame for attacks like
that on Hamada. Certainly the present inability of the AU to monitor in effective
fashion the nominal cease-fire does nothing to change this historical record.

Moreover, the Khartoum regime has continued to harass and arrest humanitarian
aid workers. This will inevitably have severe and unfortunate effects on
recruitment efforts in the future. Reuters recently reported from Khartoum ("Darfur
aid agencies complain of staff arrests," January 19, 2005):

"Aid agencies in Sudan's Darfur region are concerned at systematic arrests and
harassment of their staff working in the strife torn region, a UN official said
on Wednesday. The United Nations had raised the issue with authorities in South
Darfur state, one of the most insecure areas in the remote western region, UN
spokesman George Somerwill told reporters in Khartoum. 'The incidents have been
harshest towards local staff,' he said. 'It has been particularly bad in South
Darfur.'" (Reuters, January 19, 2005)

This deliberate disruption of humanitarian operations has been part of
Khartoum's genocidal strategy since December 2003, when UN special envoy for
humanitarian affairs Tom Vraalsen first reported the regime's "systematic" denial of
humanitarian access to areas in which the Fur, Massaleit, Zaghawa, and other
non-Arab/African tribal groups were concentrated. Present tactics of arresting and
harassing Sudanese nationals working for aid groups are especially significant,
since these people constitute approximately 90% of the humanitarian staff
throughout Darfur.


Human Rights Watch today (January 24, 2005) released a new report on Darfur,
"Targeting the Fur: Mass Killings in Darfur." The report reiterates findings
from 2004, including,

"the round-up, detention and execution in March [2004] of more than 200 Fur
farmers and community leaders in West Darfur's Wadi Saleh and Mukjar provinces."
(Human Rights Watch release, January 24, 2005)

Human Rights Watch also documents how, in the same period,

"thousands of Fur men, women and children in the South Darfur province of
Shattaya were attacked by Janjaweed militias and detained, raped, tortured and kept
in inhuman conditions in Kailek camp. In both West and South Darfur, local
government officials were deeply implicated in these crimes."

[See also originating reports on Kailek death camp by this writer: "'Ethnic
Cleansing' or Genocide in Darfur?" at:


"African Auschwitz: The Concentration Camps of Darfur," at

Moving to the present, Human Rights Watch reports:

"An overwhelming majority of the tens of thousands of displaced Fur in these
areas remain all but imprisoned in the larger government-held towns due to
continuing violence in rural areas. Despite the fact that there is no active conflict
in the area, government-backed militias on almost a daily basis continue to
attack and rape women and girls when they leave towns to work in the fields or in
search of firewood." (Human Rights Watch release, January 24, 2005)

These are the realities that the international community is now prepared to
countenance. And though the plea from Human Rights Watch that these atrocities be
prosecuted is of course fully warranted, it is transparently insufficient to
stop acts of genocide and crimes against humanity from continuing.

We may be just as sure that the threat of prosecutions will not improve the
character of humanitarian aid in Darfur. The most recent UN Darfur Humanitarian
Profile (No. 9, December 1, 2004) is forced to acknowledge that even among
accessible populations within Darfur, 54% have no clean water, almost half are
without sanitary facilities, and 36% are without any primary health care. These
people, in terribly overcrowded conditions, remain extremely vulnerable to disease.
And though the UN World Food Program was able to reach 1.5 million people in
Darfur during December 2004 (with 23,600 metric tons of food), this represents
approximately half the total number of conflict-affected persons in the greater
Darfur humanitarian theater. Many hundreds of thousands of people continue to
go without food, or with severely inadequate food rations---especially in
inaccessible rural areas. They are slowly starving to death, or succumbing to
diseases related to severe malnutrition. There is no end in sight.

You are right, Mr. Secretary General: "At this moment, terrible things are
happening today in Darfur, Sudan." And it is no less true today than in the late
18th century: "All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do
nothing." But evil is triumphing in Darfur---the evidence is everywhere.

Eric Reeves
Smith College
Northampton, MA 01063

Appendix One: The Associated Press and global mortality in Darfur

In a moment of impressive journalistic integrity, the Associated Press (January
20, 2005) has responded to evidence of violent mortality in Darfur that has
been continuously cited by this writer since September 15, 2004 (see "DARFUR
MORTALITY UPDATE: September 15, 2004; Current data for total mortality from
violence, malnutrition, and disease," at
The Associated Press thus becomes the first news-wire organization to suggest
the massive scale of violent mortality in Darfur (see dispatch at

At the same time, perhaps inevitably, AP fails to discuss a key epidemiological
report bearing on violent mortality published in The Lancet, the UK's most
distinguished medical journal (The Lancet, October 1, 2004, "Violence and mortality
in West Darfur, 2003-04"). This study, the only one of its kind, finds that
well over 90% of the displaced populations in Darfur (in particular, two large
camps for the displaced in West Darfur) have been violently displaced. The
conservative assumption by this writer has consistently been that only 80% of the
total displaced population in Darfur have been violently displaced.

AP first notes:

"Fritz Scheuren, president of the American Statistical Associations, said the
[Coalition for International Justice] survey methods were correct, and Juan
Mendez, the U.N. envoy for the prevention of genocide, called it comprehensive.
Smith College professor Eric Reeves, a researcher into the conflict, said if the
figure held for all of Darfur's 2 million displaced the implication would be
200,000 killed."

AP then proceeds to observe:

"However, there is no certainty that the experiences of the displaced in
Chad---the group the sample came from---are the same as those of other refugees who
did not reach Chad, or of all of the 6 million people of Darfur.

But the key governing assumption for the figure derived by this writer---of
over 200,000 violent deaths---is in fact considerably more conservative than that
suggested by the only study speaking to the issue of violent displacement as a
percentage of total displacement. This is evidently not understood in the AP

Moreover, AP takes insufficient account of the randomizing techniques used in
the key larger study in question ("Documenting Atrocities in Darfur," by the
Coalition for International Justice, at http://www.state.gov/g/drl/rls/36028.htm):

"Furthermore, projecting a precise death toll estimate from the survey is
problematic because there is no certainty about the size of the group each refugee
would consider to be 'family'---a key element in the calculation. Refugees
included extended family---such as uncles and cousins---in their answer." (AP,
January 20, 2005)

But in fact, even if the "family" in question were an extended rather than a
nuclear family, the randomizing techniques used by the Coalition for
International Justice (CIJ) ensured almost no overlap in familial reporting on mortality:

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

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

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

Given these statistical considerations, a figure of more than 200,000 violent
deaths has a much greater plausibility than the Associated Press is able to

Tuesday, January 18, 2005

Victims of genocide Posted by Hello


Current data for total mortality from violence, malnutrition, and

Eric Reeves
January 18, 2005

The international news cycle continues to be dominated by attention to
the apparently inexorable rise in tsunami casualties toward a figure of
200,000 throughout Southeast Asia. And yet at the same time, evidence
strongly suggests that total mortality in the Darfur region of western
Sudan now exceeds 400,000 human beings since the outbreak of sustained
conflict in February 2003. In other words, human destruction is more
than twice that of the recent tsunami---and has now surpassed the
half-way mark for the most commonly cited total for deaths in Rwanda
during the genocide of 1994 (800,000).

Moreover, as international humanitarian aid continues to stream
abundantly toward the various areas devastated by the tsunami, the
threat of massive secondary death from health-related causes has begun
to diminish. By contrast, in Darfur the current mortality rate from
genocide by attrition is approximately 35,000 per month (see below) and
poised to grow rapidly. Jan Egeland, UN Undersecretary for Humanitarian
Affairs, predicted a month ago that the world might see a figure of
100,000 civilian deaths per month if growing insecurity forces a
withdrawal of humanitarian relief organizations (The Financial Times
[UK], December 15, 2004). This assessment is strongly supported by
prospective assessments of food deficits from the International
Committee of the Red Cross and the US Agency for International

Simply to juxtapose these two human catastrophes is to raise implicitly
a series of deeply troubling questions about the priorities of news
coverage, the commitments of the international political community, the
responsibilities of humanitarian organizations, and the nature of our
response to distant human suffering and destruction. To the extent that
these are questions about the meaning of numbers, scale, and statistics,
it offers an occasion for this writer to provide some explanation of his
continuing efforts to synthesize all data and evidence available by way
of ascertaining the most reasonable current estimate of human mortality
in Darfur.


Why should anyone attempt to achieve greater statistical accuracy in
rendering the realities of human destruction in Darfur? There are in
fact two answers---one moral, one pragmatic (though for some these will
not be conceptually distinct).

This writer believes that it is immoral for people to die invisibly,
victims of deliberately targeted ethnic destruction, without any attempt
made to give to these terrible deaths the exceedingly modest dignity of
a statistical reckoning. To be sure, many tens of thousands have died
beyond the reach of photographic, journalistic, or even forensic reach.
We will never have a anything approaching a full roster of names for
those who have become victims of Khartoum's orchestrated violence
against Darfur's non-Arab/African tribal groups, or the regime's
deliberate efforts to "inflict on these non-Arab/African tribal group
conditions of life calculated to bring about their physical destruction
in whole or in part" (language adapted from the 1948 UN Convention of
the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide, Article 2 [c]).
But this lack of a fully accurate roster does not meaningfully
distinguish genocide in Darfur.

Indeed, it is worth recalling here that while 800,000 is the figure
most commonly cited for the Rwandan genocide, there are other estimates
that continue to be proffered, from "over half a million" to "almost a
million." The most authoritative and comprehensive historical overview
of the genocide ("Leave None to Tell the Story: Genocide in Rwanda,"
from Human Rights Watch; lead author Alison des Forges, at
http://www.hrw.org/reports/1999/rwanda/), concludes:

"Our researchers computed an estimated loss of 75 percent of the Tutsi
population in that prefecture. Based on these preliminary data, we would
conclude that at least half a million persons were killed in the
genocide, a loss that represented about three quarters of the Tutsi
population of Rwanda." ("Leave None to Tell the Story: Genocide in
Rwanda," section on "Numbers," at

But as the Human Rights Watch study also notes:

"Estimates of persons killed at any one site vary widely, often by a
factor of ten or more, perhaps because most have been made by untrained
observers." ("Numbers")

Moreover, we catch a glimpse of the exceedingly difficult demographic
issues in another important moment in this section of the Human Rights
Watch study:

"Whether or not [Rwandan] census data were purposely altered to reduce
the number of Tutsi, the figures underestimated the Tutsi population
because an undetermined number of Tutsi arranged to register as Hutu in
order to avoid discrimination and harassment. Although many Rwandans
know of such cases, there is at present no basis for estimating how many
persons they represented." ("Numbers").

We will never know the real total for genocidal mortality, even as
Rwanda is a country a great deal smaller and more accessible than the
Darfur region of Sudan; moreover, the genocide in Rwanda took place in a
matter of months. By contrast, the conflict in Darfur will soon enter
its third year, and the remoteness and difficulty of the land ensure
that we must of necessity continue to make broad statistical inferences
in arriving at mortality estimates. There is also very substantial
evidence, from a number of highly authoritative sources, that the
Khartoum regime has used this extended period of time to obscure or
obliterate the evidence of genocidal destruction, including the movement
of corpses by means of ground and aerial transport.

But the task of mortality assessment cannot be avoided simply because
of its difficulty, or the inevitably large margin of error. As the new
"Introduction" to the Human Rights Watch study compellingly argues:

"Human Rights Watch reissues this book---substantially the same as the
original printing---to ensure that a detailed history of the genocide
remains available to readers. [ ] The horrors recorded here must remain
alive in our heads and hearts; only in that way can we hope to resist
the next wave of evil." ("Introduction")

The "next wave of evil" is presently engulfing Darfur, and this is at
least in part because of the moral laziness and intellectual timidity
that are responsible for there being no better sense of the scale of
this vast human catastrophe. This is the final justification for
ongoing efforts at mortality assessment.


Most news sources reporting on Darfur continue to cite a figure of
"70,000" for total mortality in Darfur, even though this is a figure
that, when tracked to its origin, is based only upon a September 13,
2004 UN World Health Organization (WHO) estimate of mortality in
accessible camps for displaced persons, limited to the period from April
2004 through early September of 2004.

The figure was not, and was never meant to be, a total mortality
assessment for Darfur (see Appendix 2 below, and the explicit
confirmation of this fact by Dr. David Nabarro, chief of UN World Health
Organization emergency operations, Geneva, Switzerland; email to this
writer, September 15, 2004).

The figure, originally "50,000" (September 13, 2004) and subsequently
updated to the current "70,000" (November 2004), is more significant for
what it does not include than for what it does: it does not include
mortality for the period February 2003 to March 2004; it does not
include mortality among the more than 200,000 refugees in Chad; it does
not include conflict-related mortality in inaccessible regions of Darfur
or among unregistered displaced persons in camp and urban environs; it
does not include mortality since mid-November 2004; it does not include
estimates of what epidemiologists refer to as "deferred mortality"
(consequent upon present trauma and deprivation); and most
significantly, it does not include a figure for violent deaths.

And yet still the figure of "70,000 deaths" persists. In some cases,
even the September 2004 figure of "50,000 deaths" has not been updated:
scandalously, an editorial in yesterday's Los Angeles Times used
precisely this outdated and extremely limited figure: "The death toll in
Darfur is estimated at 50,000" (The Los Angeles Times [editorial]
January 17, 2005).

This is shamefully irresponsible journalism.

So, too, is an Associated Press dispatch of today (January 18, 2005),
which declares simply that "conflict between government-backed forces
and rebels in the western Darfur region has killed an estimated 70,000."
This figure continues a pattern of error that is now months old. And
it appears in various forms: on January 11, 2005, Associated Press
reports, "about 70,000 people have died through disease, hunger and
attacks in Darfur."

Other news-wire services are no better. Reuters reported yesterday (in
a dispatch picked up by many, including the New York Times):

"Ethnic warfare still rages in Darfur, in the west, where fighting
between African rebels opposed to Mr. Bashir's rule and Arab tribes on
the side of the government has killed 70,000." (Reuters, January 17,

On January 12, 2005 Reuters reported: "About 1.7 million people are
homeless and 70,000 are estimated to have died in Darfur."

Agence France-Presse is guilty of similarly irresponsible journalism:

"The [Darfur] conflict, pitting mainly black African rebel groups
against Arab militia in the pay of Khartoum, has claimed the lives of
70,000 people and displaced 1.5 million others." (Agence France-Presse,
January 16, 2005)

Knight Ridder news service reports on January 9, 2005 that "the war in
Darfur has taken an estimated 70,000 lives."

MENA (Middle East On-Line) reports:

"Conflict between the government and rebels continues to rage in the
western Darfur province, having claimed the lives of 70,000 people and
displaced 1.5 million others since February 2003." (January 17, 2005)

Voice of America reports:

"Last year, the African Union began sending peacekeepers to Darfur,
where two years of fighting between rebels and government-backed
militias have claimed an estimated 70,000 lives." (January 14, 2005)

The BBC reports:

"About 70,000 people have died and two million have been made homeless
in Darfur since government-backed Arab militias began a violent campaign
against black Africans in the region." (January 12, 2005)

Even human rights organizations contribute to the viability of this
highly distorted estimate of global mortality in Darfur. In an interview
with Spiegel International (January 14, 2005), the Associate Director
for Human Rights Watch, Carroll Bogert, responded to a question about
the emphasis of the recent Human Rights Watch Annual Report:

"SPIEGEL: In the opening essay of your report, you state that the
torture and Abu Ghraib and the mass killings in Darfur, Sudan, were the
greatest human rights problems of 2004. But in Sudan 70,000 people died.
How can you compare the two?"

"BOGERT: These were very different kinds of events. In Darfur we're
talking about the deaths of over 70,000." (Spiegel International,
January 14, 2005)

But again, it must be stressed that there is no authority---none
whatsoever---for "70,000" as a global mortality figure in Darfur. Only
with explicit, detailed qualification of what lies behind this figure
does it have any meaning. Such qualification is almost never in

Indeed, even when the distorted estimate is qualified, it is worth
noting the poor research lying behind the qualifications. For example,
Agence France-Presse reported inaccurately yesterday:

"Around 70,000 people are estimated to have died in the past several
months alone." (Agence France-Presse, January 17, 2005)

Associated Press does only marginally better:

"There is no official estimate of the death toll of the two-year
conflict, though 70,000 have died from disease and famine since last
March." (January 13, 2005)

To be sure, a number of news organizations, editorial boards, and
journalists have taken cognizance of mortality assessments by this
writer and the data from which they are drawn; and these now either form
the basis for figures of record or are part of the range of estimates
offered. These news sources include: the editorial boards of the
Washington Post and Boston Globe; Bloomberg news; the Canadian
Broadcasting Corporation (see CBC website at:
http://www.cbc.ca/correspondent/feature_050130.html); and experienced
Sudan journalists such as Julie Flint (e.g., see recent article in the
International Herald Tribune and the Daily Star [Lebanon] at

But the dismaying journalistic reality is that news organizations, news
reporters, and news editors have contented themselves with a shockingly
distorting mortality figure for Darfur's ongoing genocide---perversely
at the very moment that tsunami mortality estimates continue to be a
daily staple of news headlines. The larger effect of this slovenliness
is to diminish our general understanding of the scale of human suffering
and destruction in Darfur, and to make meaningful international response
commensurately less likely.

In fact, there is a deeply disturbing pattern of diminished news
coverage of the world's greatest humanitarian crisis (the UN's
assessment of Darfur). For its part, the Khartoum regime is well aware
of this attenuation of news coverage and will certainly act accordingly.
Moreover, in light of the recently signed north/south peace agreement,
Jan Pronk (Kofi Annan's special representative to Sudan) is certainly
right when he recently suggested to the UN Security Council that:

"Sudanese government forces might be tempted to think the conclusion of
the north-south peace accord would provide a brief window of immunity
from international criticism on their actions in Darfur, [said Pronk]."
(UN Integrated Regional Information Networks, January 13, 2005)

Counting on a very finite amount of news coverage devoted to Sudan, and
the numbingly repetitive quality of genocide by attrition, Khartoum has
correctly calculated that the agreement in Nairobi will remove Darfur
from what share of the international spotlight it has been able to
command. Genocidal destruction again occurs mainly in the darkness of a
news reporting eclipse, as was the case for so many months prior to the
spike in news coverage this past summer and fall.


Pronk also reported in his monthly briefing that:

"Conflict was spreading outside Darfur. [ ] The violence, he added, was
affecting humanitarian work more frequently and more directly than
bureaucratic restrictions ever did, 'with fatal and tragic consequences.'
[ ]
'Large quantities of arms have been carried into Darfur in defiance of
the Security Council decision taken in July,' Pronk said. 'December saw
a build-up of arms, attacks of positions, including air attacks, raids
on small towns and villages, increased banditry [and] more looting.'"
(UN IRIN, January 13, 2004)

This returns us to what will be the dominant question in the coming
months, and the primary determinant of how rapidly human mortality in
Darfur accelerates: will the international community do anything to
provide security for increasingly endangered humanitarian operations in
Darfur? Will we see Jan Egeland's prediction of up to 100,000 civilian
deaths per month become a reality? Will there be an international
intervention that offers protection to the extremely vulnerable civilian
populations in camps for the displaced and in inaccessible rural areas?
Will humanitarian transport convoy routes be secured? Will Khartoum's
brutally rapacious Janjaweed militia allies be disarmed, per the "demand"
of UN Security Council Resolution 1556 (July 30, 2004), or allowed to
continue their genocidal marauding?

There are no encouraging answers in evidence. On the contrary, all
evidence suggests that genocide by attrition will continue indefinitely,
requiring numerous future iterations of the present effort.


There are two appendices offered here in support of the conclusions
about global mortality in Darfur with which this assessment begins:
Appendix 1 on violent deaths, which derives largely from the October 8,
2004 mortality assessment; and Appendix 2, which offers an update on
deaths from malnutrition and disease, but still derives primarily from
data in previous assessments.

Overview of Appendix 1: There have been no recent important additions
to the data or reports bearing directly on violent mortality. It is,
however, important to bear in mind a conclusion reached in a key study
of violent mortality (The Lancet, October 1, 2004, "Violence and
mortality in West Darfur, 2003-04," at
http://www.msf.fr/documents/base/2004-10-01-Depoortere.pdf) and
reiterated by Doctors Without Borders/Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) at
the beginning of December 2004:

"Mortality studies carried out by MSF show that during the early phases
of the Darfur conflict the pattern of repeated violence and consequent
displacement was the cause of very high mortality." (MSF,
Brussels/Khartoum, December 1, 2004)

Given the high levels of continued violent displacement in Darfur over
the past three months, we must assume that there have been many more
violent deaths. The most recent UN Darfur Humanitarian Profile (No. 9,
December 1, 2004) indicates an increase of approximately 200,000
displaced persons in accessible camp areas since the estimate of October
1, 2004 (Darfur Humanitarian Profile No. 7). Thus additional mortality
from violence may be calculated using MSF data as the basis for
estimating violent displacement as a percentage of overall displacement;
assuming an average Darfuri family size of five; and relying upon a key
statistical assessment of the likelihood of a family member witnessing
another family member being killed (61% of those interviewed, according
to an authoritative study by the Coalition for International Justice,
"Documenting Atrocities in Darfur," at
http://www.state.gov/g/drl/rls/36028.htm). This calculation suggests
that an additional 15,000 violent deaths must be added to the previous
total, yielding an approximate current figure of 215,000.

Overview of Appendix 2: This account presents data and analysis
indicating that approximately 135,000 people had died of disease and
malnutrition in the greater Darfur humanitarian theater as of November
16, 2004.

The mortality assessment of November 16, 2004 also provided data
(primarily from the UN's World Health Organization and UN Darfur
Humanitarian Profiles, No. 6 [September 1, 2004] and No. 7 [October 1,
2004]) indicating a monthly mortality rate of 30,000 (full text of this
previous mortality assessment is available at:

Given the continuing severe shortfalls in humanitarian relief, this
monthly mortality rate is clearly rising along with the global Crude
Mortality Rate (the CMR measures deaths per day per 10,000 of affected
population); the denominator for the current CMR is certainly also

[January 18, 2004: here the continued increase in the number of
displaced persons is of particular relevance, as is the large growth in
the "conflict-affected population": 2.2 million in the accessible camp
areas and among host populations of Darfur alone, according to the UN's
most recent Darfur Humanitarian Profile, No. 9, December 1, 2004).]

An increasing CMR and a population of more, and more severely affected,
persons justifies extrapolation of a current monthly mortality rate of
approximately 35,000, or approximately 70,000 since the November 16,
2004 assessment.

In short, approximately 200,000 people have died from disease and
malnutrition since the beginning of the sustained conflict in Darfur,
and approximately 215,000 from violence. Total mortality in
Darfur---estimated at 370,000 as of December 12, 2004---now exceeds

Eric Reeves
Smith College
Northampton, MA 01063
Appendix 1: adapted from October 8, 2004 Retrospective Assessment of
Violent Deaths, with interpolations of current data---

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

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

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

In its most recent "Darfur Humanitarian Profile," the UN Office for the
Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs estimated that 1.45 million people
have been displaced into accessible camps within Darfur; this figure is
based on food assistance registrations by UN and nongovernmental
humanitarian organizations ("Darfur Humanitarian Profile," No. 6,
September 1, 2004). The UN report also estimates that an "additional
500,000 conflict-affected persons are in need of assistance" (page 9),
and it is reasonable to assume that most of these are displaced persons
in inaccessible rural areas. (Even a figure of 500,000 almost certainly
understates the number of displaced persons in rural areas.) Moreover,
the UN report does not attempt to assess either the host communities or
the size of displaced populations in the three state capitals because
there are still no systematic food registrations in these large urban

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

Moreover, an epidemiological study published in The Lancet offers clear
evidence that displacement is overwhelmingly related to violent attacks.
In two camps, Zalingei and Murnei, statistically rigorous assessments
found that "direct attack on the village" accounted for displacement of
92.8% of the Zalingei population and 97.4% of the Murnei population (The
Lancet, October 1, 2004, "Violence and mortality in West Darfur,

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

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

Caveats and other considerations:

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

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

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

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

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

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

[January 18, 2005: The population of displaced persons in Darfur has
increased by at least 200,000: from 1.45 million (as reported in UN
Darfur Humanitarian Profile No. 6, September 1, 2004) to 1.66 million
(as reported in UN Darfur Humanitarian Profile No. 9, December 1, 2004).
Using the methodology of this appendix, including the CIJ findings and
data reported in The Lancet, suggests an additional 15,000 have died
violent deaths in recent months. A conservative estimate for total
violent deaths over the past 23 months of conflict is thus 215,000 human
Appendix 2: November 16, 2004: Retrospective Assessment of Deaths from
Disease and Malnutrition, with interpolations of current data---

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

["Dear Eric [Reeves],
I fear that remarks I made at a Press Briefing on September 13th 2004
were misquoted. I said that we estimate that at least 50,000 Internally
Displaced Persons have died from disease (in some cases exacerbated by
malnutrition) since April 2004.
Best wishes,
David Nabarro," (chief, UN World Health Organization emergency
operations, Geneva, Switzerland; received via email, September 15,

The WHO figure did not include deaths from disease and malnutrition
prior to April 2004 (again, the conflict began in February 2003); it did
not represent mortality in Chad; and it did not represent mortality in
areas inaccessible to humanitarian operations. Most significantly, it
did not include violent deaths. In short, the September WHO figure was
of highly limited relevance.

In further communication with this writer, Nabarro indicated that he
estimated that 10,000 were dying every month in camps for the displaced,
i.e., the higher end of the publicly promulgated WHO monthly mortality
range. In the two months since the WHO report was published (assuming
Nabarro's higher mortality rate), 20,000 people have died, suggesting
that more than 70,000 people have died [as of mid-November 2004] in
accessible areas since April 2004.

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

Still, a figure of 75,000 may be too high for several reasons,
primarily the highly developed foraging abilities of these people and
the use (and likely exhaustion) of food reserves. On the other hand,
insecurity produced by continuing Janjaweed predations would compromise
both of these food sources. If we assume (conservatively) that a figure
of 75,000 overstates by 100%, this still leaves a figure of over 35,000
deaths from malnutrition and related disease over the past five months
in inaccessible areas of Darfur. Together with the figure deriving from
the September WHO report and data, this suggests a composite figure of
105,000 deaths [as of November 16, 2004] from malnutrition and disease
since April 2004.

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

[January 18, 2005: Total mortality from disease and malnutrition,
assuming a monthly mortality rate of 35,000 throughout the entire
humanitarian theater, is thus approximately 200,000; again, for an
account of current monthly mortality, see

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