Thursday, March 31, 2005

Humanitarian Intervention for Darfur: Does the International Will 

No evidence from the UN, US, or Europeans (Part 2 of a two-part

Eric Reeves
March 31, 2005

The signs of a deteriorating humanitarian situation continue to be
evident everywhere in Darfur: from acute water shortages in some of the
largest camps for displaced persons (see below), to the security
pull-back of UN personnel in West Darfur, to the Janjaweed shooting of a
worker for the US Agency for International Development near Bulbul in
South Darfur, to meningitis in North Darfur and dysentery in South
Darfur, to an excessive reliance on very expensive air transport for
food delivery. And at virtually every point, the food, health, and
transport issues defining this vast humanitarian crisis are directly
related to a lack of security.

In turn, this insecurity derives from the Khartoum regime's refusal,
despite a UN Security Council "demand," to control the Janjaweed
militia. Moreover, Khartoum refuses to stand down militarily and in
fact is engaged in a large-scale military build-up in West Darfur. The
insurgency movements for their part are increasingly fractured and
unrealistic in their diplomatic expectations; they have also become
desperate for food, fuel, and supplies, and their resulting actions
often betray the people of Darfur. At the same time, diplomatic
progress is non-existent: more than three months after the collapse of
African Union-mediated talks in Abuja (Nigeria) there is still no date
for resumed peace negotiations.

Caught in a maelstrom of violence, deprivation, and brutal destruction
are more than 3 million Darfuri civilians. Almost 400,000 have already
perished from violence, disease, and malnutrition in more than two years
of conflict and displacement (see March 11, 2005 mortality assessment by
this writer at
Hundreds of thousands more will die cruel deaths in the coming months
and years unless there is urgent humanitarian intervention, with all
necessary military support. The tasks of such intervention are clearly
far beyond the abilities and capacity of the African Union, even if it
had the political will to demand of Khartoum a mandate that included
civilian protection. Instead, under the cynical leadership of Nigeria,
the AU remains content with a force size dramatically inadequate to the
security needs of Darfur and an official mandate merely to monitor a
non-existent cease-fire.

Truly meaningful international response is now so belated that it is
increasingly difficult to see how the mortality total for Darfur will
not eventually exceed that of the Rwandan genocide, whose grim
anniversary (April 7th) is fast approaching. Last year's tenth
anniversary produced a large outpouring of commentary that linked events
in Darfur to international acquiescence in the slaughter of 1994. A
full year later those links are all the more conspicuous, and all the
more shaming. Despite this, there are no signs that international
leaders---in the UN, the US, or Europe---are willing to intervene to
protect civilians in Darfur, though they are as vulnerable to famine,
disease, and the Janjaweed as the Tutsis and moderate Hutus of Rwanda
were vulnerable to the violence inspired by the Interahamwe.

We have failed Darfur and as has been the case for many months, the
only issue is the scale of that moral failure. For though catastrophe
cannot be averted, it could still be mitigated with urgent intervention
(see Part 1 of this analysis:


Shamefully, recent comments by Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice give
clear indication of how little the US is willing to address directly the
issue of humanitarian intervention. Rice was asked by Washington Post
journalists, "how many peacekeepers do you think it would take to stop
the genocide in Darfur?" Rice's response:

"SECRETARY RICE: I can't give a number. The problem right now is that
we've got to find a way to leverage the north-south agreement---"
(Washington Post, March 25, 2005)

As critically important as the north/south agreement is, few think that
it will survive unless the crisis in Darfur is addressed effectively.
Nor can the north/south agreement in itself be a means for civilian
protection in Darfur, or even provide diplomatic incentive for the
Khartoum regime to negotiate meaningfully. On the contrary, Khartoum is
convinced that the international community is so intent on preserving
the north/south agreement that there will be little pressure on the
regime to halt genocide in Darfur. The weak set of sanctions and
nominal "arms embargo" that were part of yesterday's UN Security Council
resolution (March 30, 2005) largely confirm this cynical assessment,
despite the contrived outrage by Khartoum's UN ambassador.

But let us be clear about the meaning of Secretary Rice's response to
the Washington Post: in refusing to answer directly a very specific
question about stopping genocide in Darfur, and immediately changing the
subject to the north/south agreement, she makes clear that this is not
so much a question for which she "can't" provide an answer, but rather
one she simply refuses to answer.

On eventually returning to the question about the force needed in
Darfur, Rice declared:

"The [African Union] ceiling is 3,400 and the AU has said they'd like
to go to five or six thousand. I think we ought to try to fully realize

But of course a force of 6,000---especially lacking a mandate to
protect civilians---is dramatically inadequate to the security needs of
Darfur, and the Washington Post questioner persisted: "But hence my
question. I mean, if you go to six thousand would that be enough?"

Rice's response tells us all too much about the Bush administration's
refusal to consider humanitarian intervention, even as it becomes
increasingly clear that without such intervention Mr. Bush will oversee
precisely the genocide of which he declared early in his first
administration: "not on my watch" (referring to a memo on the Clinton
administration failure to respond to genocide in Rwanda).

"SECRETARY RICE: Well, [the AU] is a monitoring mechanism that has a
chance of making a big difference as even a small monitoring mechanism
has made."

This is at once partially accurate and cynically deceptive. For the AU
force is indeed merely a "monitoring mechanism," not a means of civilian
protection. The AU is tasked with "monitoring" a cease-fire that has
never had any real meaning since first negotiated on April 8, 2004 and
essentially reiterated November 9, 2004. But more importantly, the AU
has made a significant difference only in the very few pockets in which
it has been able to deploy some of the 2,200 personnel who have taken
half a year to reach Darfur.

Yet again the Washington Post questioner persisted, only to be met
again with deliberate obfuscation and cynicism:

"WASHINGTON POST: [Jan Egeland, UN Humanitarian Coordinator] said in
December to the Financial Times that if the deterioration of
humanitarian access continued, he could imagine 100,000 people dying a
month, which would put the number at about six times the death toll in
2004. Does that sound like a plausible---"

"SECRETARY RICE: I just can't judge. We spend every day trying to avoid
the problem, trying to solve the problem." (Washington Post, March 25,

But course Rice and the Bush administration must judge: judgment
involving the fate of many hundreds of thousands of lives at risk cannot
be deferred. If Egeland is right---if insecurity may force the
withdrawal of humanitarian aid workers, and result in as many as 100,000
deaths every month---this is not a matter on which judgment can wait.
The "problem," as the Washington Post question makes perfectly clear, is
one that hinges on civilian and humanitarian protection. The "problem"
cannot be "avoided": it is already upon the people of Darfur and the
humanitarian workers attempting to operate under intolerable security

This is the real meaning of the near-fatal wounding of a US Agency for
International Development worker by the Janjaweed near Bulbul on the
road between Kass and Nyala, in an area where the Janjaweed are very
reliably reported to have increased their presence in the days
immediately prior to the shooting.

Nothing could be clearer than that Secretary Rice is unwilling to
address directly or honestly questions about civilian security in Darfur
and the importance of security for humanitarian operations. In turn,
there is no willingness to speak honestly about the severe limitations
of the AU force or the need for international humanitarian intervention.

Indeed, a measure of how far the Bush administration is willing to go
in keeping humanitarian intervention out of policy discussions can be
discerned in uncritical support for Nigeria as current AU Chair. A
well-positioned and highly reliable government source reports
authoritatively that the Bush administration has fulsomely and
uncritically (though of course not publicly) commended the Nigerians for
their Darfur "leadership." This is not because Nigeria has led
helpfully, but rather because Nigeria cleaves most insistently to the
notion of "African solutions for African problems," thereby obviating
the need for the US to articulate a role in any intervention.

So long as this perverse insistence prevails---and so long as Nigeria
remains insufficiently challenged by countries like Rwanda, Senegal,
Uganda, Kenya, Cameroon, Mozambique, South Africa---then Darfur is well
on its way to becoming a terrible measure of just how badly Africa can
fail Africans.

For the painfully obvious fact cannot be too often stated in the
context of ongoing ethnically-targeted human destruction in Darfur: the
present AU force of 2,200 personnel, or even the contemplated 6,000 AU
personnel, cannot possibly undertake the essential civilian protection
tasks now so urgently evident. To suggest otherwise, as Rice attempts
to do, is to allow us to see the insidious ways in which the people of
Darfur will be abandoned to the Janjaweed, to famine, to indefinite life
in camps that are slow killing grounds.

But there is little evidence that the UN or the Europeans are any more
willing than the US to address honestly the security needs that press
ever more insistently on Darfuris and humanitarian operations in Darfur.
A press statement accompanying the release of a highly important new
report from the UK House of Commons, International Development Committee
("Darfur, Sudan: The responsibility to protect," March 30, 2005)
declares all too accurately that the international response to Darfur
has been "scandalously ineffective":

"[This] report points to a catalogue of failings by the international
community---by governments including the UK's, by the humanitarian
system and by the UN Security Council. Early warnings about the
emerging crisis [in Darfur] were ignored, humanitarian agencies were
slow to respond, responsibilities for helping displaced people and
managing camps were unclear, and the UN suffered from an avoidable
leadership vacuum in Sudan at a critical time."

Even so, the Blair government still refuses to take a serious
leadership role in addressing the various issues raised by this
authoritative new report on Darfur, indeed has already responded
defensively. Certainly no country or international actor is responsibly
articulating the essential civilian and humanitarian protection issues
that must be addressed if the world is to halt the destruction of
additional hundreds of thousands of lives (the Committee Report offers a
mortality figure of approximately 300,000, page 3).

Any honest enumeration of security tasks works to highlight the gross
inadequacy of the currently deployed AU force, and the overall inability
of the AU Peace and Security Commission---with present resources---to
respond in anything like appropriate fashion:

[1] Provision of security to the scores of camps for displaced persons,
with security perimeters that allow for the collection of firewood,
food, and animal fodder;

[2] Securing all humanitarian corridors to and within Darfur, both by
means of active patrols and accompanying security details for all
convoys requesting protection;

[3] The opening of safe passage routes from rural areas currently
beyond the reach of humanitarian operations, thereby allowing the free
movement of people who have depleted food reserves;

[4] The dismantling of checkpoints on key road arteries, many of which
are now maintained by bandits and other lawless elements;

[5] Provision of safe passage and protection to civilians who wish to
return to their villages, or the sites of their former villages, in
order to resume agriculturally productive lives.

Other key military tasks include:

[6] Given the conspicuous impracticability of enforcing a conventional
"no-fly zone"---Chad will not permit deployment of the requisite
aircraft on its territory; Khartoum's helicopter gunships fly too low
for meaningful AWACS coverage; and Antonovs are used for both military
and civilian purposes, and cannot be distinguished in their purpose from
the air---forces on the ground in Darfur must mechanically disable or
destroy any military aircraft implicated in violations of international
law, in particular attacks on civilian targets. Alternatively, Khartoum
must be given an ultimatum: "Remove all military aircraft from the
Darfur region or they will be destroyed on the ground by unmanned aerial
military assets."

[7] Most importantly, cantonment and eventual disarmament of the
Janjaweed, per the "demand" of UN Security Resolution 1556 (July 30,
2004). Until the international community makes good on this singular
"demand," the Janjaweed will continue to be a savagely effective
weapon of civilian terror.

Khartoum discerns all too accurately in the UN's unwillingness to
enforce this "demand" an appropriate gauge for measuring commitment to
the modest sanctions regime and ineffective "arms embargo" contained in
yesterday's Security Council resolution. The resolution creates a
Council Committee that is supposed to monitor the "arms embargo" (sure
to be ignored by Khartoum's most aggressive arms providers, Russia and
China---who both abstained in the resolution vote). The Council
Committee is also tasked with designating individuals "who impede the
peace process, constitute a threat to stability in Darfur and the
region, commit violations of international humanitarian or human rights
law or other atrocities," violate prior embargoes, "or are responsible
for offensive military overflights":

"Governments should freeze the funds, financial assets and economic
resources of these individuals in their countries, as well as the assets
of the entities those individuals own, the Council said." (UN News
Center, March 30, 2005)

But for anyone who understands the National Islamic Front (NIF), it is
patently clear that these measures will simply not change genocidal
calculations among the ruthless survivalists who make up this regime;
nor will such measures do anything to change the behavior of the
Janjaweed, most of whom are unlikely ever to learn of yesterday's
actions in New York.

Compounding the weakness of the Security Council resolution is an
inexcusably expansive time-frame, reflecting a refusal to accept the
urgency of the catastrophe in Darfur:

"The Council asked Secretary-General Kofi Annan, within 30 days of the
approval of the resolution, to appoint for six months a four-member
Panel of Experts based in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, to travel regularly to
El-Fasher and other locations in Sudan. The Panel should report back
within 90 days of the approval of the resolution and submit a final
report no later than 30 days before its mandate expires." (UN News
Center, March 30, 2005)

Such leisure is at once wholly inappropriate to the critical nature of
Darfur's needs, and suggestive of how thoroughly unlikely any more
urgent or vigorous response by the UN has become.


Violent human destruction and genocide by attrition continue in Darfur,
even as the international community refuses to talk meaningfully about
an intervening force that might halt violence and improve security for
humanitarian operations. For their part, some human rights groups have
also found a way to avoid the central issue in Darfur, viz. civilian and
humanitarian protection. For by focusing so exclusively on a referral
of Darfur's war crimes to the International Criminal Court, a few of
these groups reveal themselves to believe that such referral is an end
in itself, an actual means of civilian protection. A Human Rights Watch
(HRW) release of March 24, 2005 is only the most unhappily revealing,
with its claim that the threat of prosecution at the ICC "could
immediately deter further violence in Darfur" (HRW [Brussels], "US
Thwarts Justice for Darfur," March 24, 2005).

There is simply no evidence that this is the case, and in its
overstatement the HRW claim is little more than an expedient effort to
achieve legitimacy for the ICC (which this writer strongly supports,
including as the venue for violations of international law in Darfur).
By focusing so exclusively on the issue of criminal venue---at the
expense of advocacy for intervention that might truly "deter further
violence in Darfur"---HRW has allowed a broader political agenda to
trump real concern for the civilians of Darfur.

Moreover, there seems to be a willingness by HRW and others to ignore
the basic political and diplomatic realities that govern the thinking of
Khartoum's genocidaires. For why would men such as First Vice President
Ali Osman Taha, Head of Security Saleh 'Gosh,' Interior Minister Abdel
Rahman Mohamed Hussein, and many others---already under sealed
indictment for massive crimes against humanity---feel that they have
anything to risk by committing further crimes in Darfur? How could
their culpability possibly increase? How, then, can there be a
deterrent effect?

We may be sure that only forcible extradition will ever see those most
guilty of genocide and crimes against humanity in Darfur delivered to
The Hague---and forcible extradition will occur only if the regime
falls. Adamant comments from senior NIF officials have repeatedly (and
here quite plausibly) made clear that they will allow no Sudanese to be
tried abroad. Support for this position exists within both the Arab
League and the AU, only encouraging Khartoum's intransigence.

In short, there is nothing credible about HRW's argument for
deterrence; it ends by becoming another way of avoiding meaningful
discussion of what will truly deter violence: robust humanitarian
intervention with all necessary military support. To be sure, HRW is
far from alone in refusing to offer a frank assessment of the inadequacy
of the AU force, as well as the political failure of the AU to push for
a clear civilian protection mandate. But in suggesting that there is an
alternative means of halting the violence, in the form of an ICC
referral for war crimes in Darfur, the organization actually works
against the possibilities of true civilian protection.

It is finally not surprising in this context that we find greater
honesty coming from some of the humanitarian organizations that are
actually operating in Darfur, and attempting to save lives amidst
intolerable security risks:

"Oxfam believes that by agreeing governments' responsibilities to
protect civilians, and clear criteria for UN-authorized military
intervention as a last resort, the international community could make
significant strides towards ending the obscene levels of civilian
suffering in today's conflict zones.
'From Rwanda to Darfur, the United Nations system has time and again
failed to mobilise the political will and funds needed to protect
civilians,' said Oxfam's [Nicola] Reindorp. 'Ultimately governments have
the power and the responsibility to act to save lives.'" (Oxfam press
release [New York], March 21, 2005)

These powerful words reflect essential truths about Darfur. Will they
be heeded? It appears extremely unlikely, though there may be a slow
(and no doubt exuberantly praised) increase in the size of the AU force.

Here we must recall yet again that it has required half a year to
deploy 2,200 personnel--inadequately equipped and supplied---and without
a civilian protection mandate. Moreover, AU administrative capacity in
Addis Ababa headquarters is still clearly inadequate to this operation,
as are AU logistics and transport capacity. The mooted increase in the
size of the AU force (to 6,000 personnel), and the recent proposals from
the UN's Jan Pronk and Jan Egeland for an AU force only slightly larger
(8,000-9000 personnel), represent a refusal to accept honestly the
violent realities in Darfur---or the real scale of humanitarian need,
especially in the form of increased security for humanitarian workers
and operations.


Without humanitarian intervention that vastly exceeds what has been
proposed by the AU or the UN (see detailed analysis by this writer at
we must assess humanitarian conditions going forward on the basis of
current capacity and the relentless increase in conflict-affected
persons. Moreover, as the rainy season approaches (June through
September), logistical and transport shortcomings that are even now
evident will become overwhelming, and the possibilities for immensely
destructive epidemics from water-borne diseases will increase
dramatically in hopelessly overcrowded camps for displaced persons (who
have essentially doubled in number since the start of last year's rainy

The most recent (and truncated) UN Darfur Humanitarian Profile is
offered as both Nos. 11 and 12 (March 1, 2005). Data in this Profile(s)
reflect only accessible populations, those captured statistically
primarily by UN World Food Program registrations. Using these data, the
UN concludes that the number of conflict-affected persons has increased
by only about 50,000 since January 1, 2005 (the date of record for
Profile No. 10), to 2.45 million people. Significantly, this figure
does not include the Darfuri refugee population in eastern Chad
(approximately 200,000 according to the UN High Commission for
Refugees); nor does it include the highly distressed populations in
rural areas that are presently beyond humanitarian reach (as many as 1
million additional people).

Though we may be sure that much of this rural population is desperate
for humanitarian assistance, and that food reserves are increasingly
exhausted, insecurity in the form of an unconstrained Janjaweed presence
makes safe passage impossible for many of these people. Creating such
safe passage is one of the most urgent tasks for a humanitarian
intervention force.

The static nature of the UN reporting for both "conflict-affected"
persons and Internally Displaced Persons (unchanged since January 1,
2005 at approximately 1.85 million) strongly suggests the limitations of
the data presented. For January was an extraordinarily violent month,
with many reports from the ground suggesting displacement far greater
than what is reflected in WFP registrations. A more useful guide is the
authoritatively researched new House of Commons report, which speaks of
a population in need of humanitarian assistance "that looks likely to
rise to 4 million over the course of 2005," page 3).

To be sure, Khartoum is blocking deployment of UN World Health
Organization mortality epidemiologists; and as Profile Nos. 11/12
suggest, Khartoum is also impeding humanitarian activities:

"Increasing levels of harassment, detentions, accusations through
national media outlets and others security incidents involving relief
workers are placing further strains on humanitarian operations. Though
responsible for the overwhelming majority of incidents, the Government
of Sudan is not the only party guilty of intimidating humanitarians and
denying Darfurians access to humanitarian assistance." [The insurgency
groups are here criticized] (UN Darfur Humanitarian Profile Nos.11/12,
page 5)

Such deliberate obstruction and intimidation of relief efforts will not
end without a robust intervening force. Indeed, as the Profile
explicitly declares: "Security is currently the paramount factor
limiting the delivery of humanitarian aid" (page 5). This simply will
not change without humanitarian intervention, and to wish it otherwise,
or prefer further "negotiations" with Khartoum, is simply to acquiesce
before the genocidal ambitions of a regime that senses a ghastly
victory. For within as little as another half-year, genocide by
attrition will see the overwhelming majority of African populations in
Darfur displaced and dispossessed, killed, or threatened with chronic
food shortages.

The larger agricultural economy has collapsed (threatening all of
Darfur's populations), and food markets are experiencing exorbitant
inflation that will make it impossible for increasing numbers of
displaced and non-displaced persons to purchase food. Food dependency,
the warehousing of human beings in large camps characterized by
appalling conditions, insufficient water (see below), and gradual
cultural extinction define the bleak future for as many as 4 million
Darfuris. This is the outlook for Darfur without humanitarian


Despite many months of humanitarian deployment and effort, over 40% of
the people in displaced persons camps have no access to clean water
(Darfur Humanitarian Profile Nos. 11/12, page 7). In a related issue of
gravest concern, approximately a third of the camp populations have no
access to sanitary facilities. This latter shortcoming will have
enormous consequences in the coming rainy season (June through
September) when many of these camps will again become open sewers, with
tremendous increases in the risk from water-borne diseases.

A shortage in clean water derives from the extraordinarily difficult
circumstances of present humanitarian operations in Darfur (which is
experiencing a severe drought), and the intolerable overcrowding
produced by pervasive, extreme insecurity. Voice of America provides a
recent account of telling problems in Kalma Camp, South Darfur:

"Aid workers say people living in the largest displaced persons camp in
[Darfur] are facing serious water shortages, primarily because of a
severe drought in the area. A senior program officer at the UN
children's agency, Marc Salvail, tells VOA that Kalma camp, which
contains as many as 150,000 people who have fled fighting in the
war-torn region, is running short of water. He says the water shortage
is causing major problems in the camp. 'You have a lot of cases of
diarrhea, you have a lot of cases of skin diseases due to the fact that
water is not sufficient,' Salvail said. 'When you do not have sufficient
water, people may not use water to wash their hands after going to the
toilet. People also wash less frequently. So a lot of diseases are
transmitted because of this.'"

"Salvail says each person in the camp should get a minimum of 20 liters
of water a day for personal use. But most people are getting 10 to 15
liters a day. He says water supplies are only catering for about 60% of
the population, with the remaining 40% not having access to safe
drinking water." (VOA, March 16, 2005)

The Christian Science Monitor also recently reported on the water
crisis in the camps, and the violence it has sparked among people who
are getting far less water than humanly required:

"Aziz Rahman Azizi, an Afghan water-sanitation engineer working for
Doctors Without Borders [said], 'This is the middle of the dry season,
and it is getting hot. These people have been getting about six liters a
day. The minimum should be 10 liters,' he says. 'Of course [these camp
residents] are frustrated; we have not expanded our water supplies since
November, when there were only 80,000 people here,' [Azizi] says. Now
150,000 inhabitants share one well, five boreholes, and 18 hand pumps
that usually run dry by sunset." (CSM [South Darfur], March 14, 2005)

Drought, severe camp overcrowding because of pervasive insecurity,
Khartoum's obstructionism, and the ongoing threat to humanitarian
workers: in the extremely arid environment of Darfur this ensures that
lack of adequate clean water now serves as yet another instrument of
genocide by attrition, yet another means by which the regime is
"deliberately inflicting on the [African tribal populations of
Darfur] conditions of life calculated to bring about [their] physical
destruction, in whole or in part."


Absent international will to intervene, large-scale genocide in Darfur
will proceed unchecked. Present humanitarian efforts, though heroic,
are not enough; current humanitarian capacity is already overwhelmed by
the sheer numbers of displaced persons, and logistical and transport
difficulties will increase dramatically during the impending rainy
season. Another primary planting season (late spring/early summer) will
be lost, ensuring that there is no fall harvest. The size of the
food-dependent population confronting humanitarian efforts for the
foreseeable future will be far in excess of 2 million, even as present
capacity has stalled around 1.5 million---only approximately half those
in need within Darfur itself.

No successful humanitarian intervention can afford to ignore the
possibility that the insurgency groups will attempt to take military
advantage of any deployment of an appropriate number of troops, viz.
those required for the civilian and humanitarian protection measures
outlined above. But this needn't oblige a mindless military neutrality:
the mission should be defined by the needs of civilians and humanitarian
operations; military responses to Khartoum's regular military forces,
the Janjaweed, and the insurgents should be proportional to their
interference with this primary mission of human protection.

Nor can such intervention afford to ignore what will likely be
Khartoum's effort to retaliate for a claimed intrusion upon its
"national sovereignty." But the regime long ago surrendered any
claim of national sovereignty with its obdurate refusal to protect its
own civilians. As part of any humanitarian intervention, a highly
robust and mobile military force, with aggressive rules of engagement,
must be deployed quickly to react to any retaliatory attacks by the
Janjaweed against civilians or humanitarian workers.

The ominous foreign presence in Darfur---Yemeni, Saudi, Jordanian,
Iraqi---that has been reported by several authoritative sources can be
expected to engage in terrorist activities and must be actively
confronted. Khartoum must be put on forceful notice that it will be
held accountable for not only its own military actions and interference,
but those of the Janjaweed and any other non-regular military presence
allied with Khartoum.

The world is choosing to skirt these challenges, relying instead on the
fiction of near-term "diplomatic progress" and expedient arguments that
the African Union can somehow provide adequate human security in Darfur.
Such fiction and expediency, along with the dilatory proceedings at the
UN, provide an all too appropriate backdrop for next week's grim
anniversary of the Rwandan genocide.


Eric Reeves
Smith College
Northampton, MA 01063

Tuesday, March 22, 2005

Thousands suffer in Darfur Posted by Hello

The Moment of Decision for Darfur: 

Will humanitarian intervention truly offer civilian protection?

Eric Reeves
March 21, 2005

Recent statements from UN human rights specialists, international
policy organizations, human rights groups, and even the UN political
leadership make clear there is now broad international consensus on the
need for expanded humanitarian intervention in Darfur, with the primary
task of civilian protection. What is far from clear is a willingness to
provide adequate military resources for the various tasks entailed in
protecting the extraordinarily vulnerable populations in Darfur, both in
camps and less accessible rural areas. Nor is there evidence in recent
statements of considered estimates of what is necessary to provide
security for humanitarian workers and operations in Darfur, and to
augment currently inadequate humanitarian capacity.

Certainly there should be no underestimating the difficulties of this
very large undertaking. For having deferred a meaningful decision on
humanitarian intervention for such an unforgivably long time, the
international community now faces a far more challenging security
environment than in previous months. This writer argued over a year ago
(Washington Post, February 25, 2004):

"There can be no reasonable skepticism about Khartoum's use of these
militias [the Janjaweed] to 'destroy, in whole or in part, ethnical or
racial groups'---in short, to commit genocide. Khartoum has so far
refused to rein in its Arab militias; has refused to enter into
meaningful peace talks with the insurgency groups; and most
disturbingly, refuses to grant unfettered humanitarian access. The
international community has been slow to react to Darfur's catastrophe
and has yet to move with sufficient urgency and commitment. A credible
peace forum must rapidly be created. Immediate plans for humanitarian
intervention should begin. The alternative is to allow tens of
thousands of civilians to die in the weeks and months ahead in what will
be continuing genocidal destruction."

Scandalously, this assessment remains fully accurate. Indeed, the
threats to humanitarian aid delivery grow more perilous by the day: this
writer has received from multiple, highly authoritative sources
intelligence indicating that Khartoum has ambitious plans for
accelerating the obstruction of humanitarian access by means of
orchestrated violence and insecurity, including the use of targeted
violence against humanitarian aid workers (see below). Along with
increasing bureaucratic and legal obstructionism on Khartoum's part
(highlighted recently by Kofi Annan), as well as rapidly accelerating
military activity in West Darfur, these developments suggest there is
very little that is truly "consensual" or "permissive" about current
humanitarian deployment in Darfur.

Khartoum's inflammatory expressions of hostility toward international
humanitarian presence are notorious, and received yet further expression
in a preposterous claim reported yesterday by Agence France-Presse:

"Sudan has accused humanitarian agencies operating in the war-torn
region of Darfur of using only a fraction of funds from donors on the
crisis and retaining much of it for their own activities, the
independent al-Sahafa daily reported Sunday. The paper quoted the
governor of South Darfur state, Al-Hajj Atta al-Mannan, as saying that
just over 10% of the total amount of financial assistance donated for
the crisis in Darfur had reached the needy."

"He claimed that the majority of the money was used to fund activities
not related directly to the plight of the people of Darfur. 'The share
of the people of Darfur from this fund was only 12% while the remainder
was spent on administrative operations and workers of the international
organisations in Darfur,' Mannan charged."

"The charges are the latest by Khartoum against international
humanitarian organisations in the Darfur region. [ ] In October [2004],
Sudanese President Omar el-Beshir launched an attack on aid agencies in
the region, calling them enemies. 'Organizations operating in Darfur are
the real enemies,' the president [said]. And earlier in May [2004],
Sudanese Interior Minister Abdul Rahim Hussein accused a number of aid
organizations of supporting ethnic minority rebels in the region,
[claiming] that they 'used humanitarian operations as a cover for
carrying out a hidden agenda and proved to have supported the rebellion
in the past period.'" (AFP, March 20, 2005)

These comments, while transparently absurd to most of the world outside
Sudan, are clearly designed to whip up domestic anger toward the
international relief effort in Darfur; they are in short recruitment
messages, and highly authoritative intelligence indicates they have
already generated a very considerable threat of near-term violence
against humanitarian workers and operations in Darfur.

It is critically important to recognize fully these threats to
humanitarian organizations in assessing what will inevitably be an
argument against intervention in some quarters, viz. that expanding
international intervention to protect civilians imperils the current
"consensual" or "permissive" environment for humanitarian actors.
The notion of a "permissive" or "consensual" environment in Darfur is a
transparent fiction, and to lay unqualified claim to such an environment
by way of arguing against humanitarian intervention is disingenuous; it
nonetheless must be expected and addressed.

But in assessing the consequences for humanitarian operations of robust
international intervention, we must first survey honestly the
consequences of the shameful belatedness that will define even the most
urgent action that might presently be undertaken. For the human
consequences of delayed response are already unforgivably great.
Perhaps 200,000 people have died since the moral imperative of
humanitarian intervention became clear for all to see (cf. most recent
mortality assessment by this writer [March 11, 2005] at
The current UN estimate of 130,000 deaths during the period between
February 2004 (a time of particularly violent civilian destruction) and
the present is certainly low, particularly in assessing violent
mortality; but even accepted at face value, it provides what should be a
traumatizing sense of the cost of our belatedness.

We must also accept honestly that there has been no meaningful progress
in the peace process under AU auspices, nor even a clear date set for
resumption of talks. Indeed, as political and military divisions deepen
within the increasingly fractured insurgency movements, as
command-and-control issues multiply and desperation for provisions
grows, a political way forward seems increasingly unlikely in Abuja

Further, despite the explicit "demand" of UN Security Council
resolution 1556 (July 30, 2004) that Khartoum disarm the Janjaweed and
bring its leaders to justice, the Janjaweed continue to pose the
greatest threat to civilian populations and humanitarian relief in
Darfur. There has been no progress whatsoever on this essential issue,
and will not be until a robust military force has been introduced into
Darfur with a mandate that permits aggressive response to all Janjaweed
threats to civilians and humanitarian operations.

For seeing a complete absence of consequences for failing to respond to
this singular UN Security Council "demand"---eight months after it was
issued---Khartoum has continued to deploy the Janjaweed as the primary
instrument of genocidal destruction, and for many months has also
incorporated elements of the Janjaweed into police forces, the
paramilitary Popular Defense Forces, and increasingly the Border
Intelligence Guard (see excellent discussion of this transformation of
the Janjaweed in "Darfur: The Failure to Protect," International Crisis
Group, March 8, 2005, page 8:

Finally, the scale of the humanitarian crisis has grown dramatically
over the past year, and humanitarian needs now (and in near prospect)
far outstrip humanitarian capacity. Insecurity is attenuating
humanitarian access and delivery at precisely the moment they should be
expanded; transport and logistical capacity are stretched to the
breaking point. At the same time, there is no prospect of a spring
agricultural planting in Darfur (and thus no likelihood of significant
fall harvest); nor are there resources adequate for responding to the
"hunger gap" (May/June through September). And the heaviest months
of the rainy season---late July through the end of September---will
again create what the UN described last year as a "logistical

More than 3 million people already need humanitarian assistance in the
greater Darfur humanitarian theater, and present capacity is only
approximately half this, despite tendentious claims by the UN World Food
Program. This number of desperately needy civilians could grow to
exceed 4 million, according to a recent estimate from UN Under-Secretary
for Humanitarian Affairs Jan Egeland (UN News Center, February 18,

Thus despite a recent decline in mortality rates within the accessible
camps for displaced persons in Darfur, hundreds of thousands of people
face death in the coming months and years because of the failures to
date to intervene in this massive, engineered crisis. All that can
mitigate vast human destruction is militarily supported humanitarian
intervention that assesses fully and honestly the security, food, water,
and medical needs of vulnerable civilians.

Such intervention requires a force of 25,000 to 60,000 military
personnel, with the ability for rapid, staged deployment and fully
adequate transport/logistics; such a force must have a fully explicit
mandate to protect threatened civilian populations, and to confront
directly any military force---regular, militia, or
paramilitary---threatening civilians; it must have a fully credible
means of deterring Khartoum's use of aerial military assets; and it must
introduce augmented humanitarian transport capacity into and throughout
the humanitarian theater during the upcoming rainy season. Such an
intervention clearly requires that the present AU force be very
substantially augmented by non-AU personnel, resources, and equipment.

Deployment of such a task-defined intervening force faces many
difficult obstacles: inertia and political calculation on the part of
the UN political leadership and other international actors; glib
sloganeering by AU countries such as Nigeria and Libya ("African
solutions for African problems"); AU and UN rivalry over a Darfur
response (see "Darfur: The Failure to Protect," International Crisis
Group, March 8, 2005, pages 6-7); expedient accommodation of Khartoum's
inevitable assertion of "national sovereignty"; and a claimed poverty of
resources. If the international community allows these obstacles to
block or compromise meaningful intervention, we will only compound the
already shameful moral failure to date. We will be acquiescing yet
further in genocidal destruction.


Nine leading human rights groups and organizations working on issues of
international peace and security released an extraordinary open letter
to the UN Secretary-General and Security Council members on March 9,
2005, signed in eight instances by the chief executive officers of these
distinguished organizations. The document begins bluntly:

"After reviewing the most recent draft of the proposed Security Council
resolution on Sudan, we unanimously urge members to reject this
resolution on the grounds that another weak resolution will exacerbate
rather than ameliorate the situation in Darfur. The current draft
resolution sends precisely the wrong signal after one year of
unfulfilled promises and continued attacks, further emboldening the
Government of Sudan. Council members should instead adopt a strong
resolution that aims to end the crisis."
(March 9, 2005. Signatories: International Crisis Group, Security and
Peace Institute, Physicians for Human Rights, Open Society Institute,
Africa Action, Citizens for Global Solutions, Human Rights Watch,
Coalition for International Justice, Center for American Progress)

These organizations also rightly insist that it is "unconscionable to
repeat the same stale rhetorical demands with little hope of
enforcement," and that Security Council "responsibility and authority to
protect international peace and security [ ] requires bold and effective

But there is, unfortunately, not nearly enough in this letter that
speaks to the specific security demands in Darfur, the actual "bold and
effective measures" required. There is here (and in many quarters)
over-reliance on a "no-fly zone" that presents currently insoluble
problems in basing the required AWACS and fighter aircraft. Chad is the
only realistic basing option, and neither the French (who have a
military presence in Chad) nor President Idriss Deby gives the slightest
sign of being willing to accept the required US or UK aerial combat

Moreover, little attention has been given to the almost impossible
difficulties of patrolling for helicopter gunships flying low to the
ground over an area the size of France. Additionally, the Antonov
aircraft that are implicated in civilian bombing attacks are the same
aircraft (and indistinguishable from the air) used for humanitarian
transport purposes and frequently carry civilians. A conventionally
conceived "no-fly zone" is impracticable in any timely fashion, faces
strong (if silent) opposition from within the US Defense Department, and
is of only limited relevance to the key security issues in Darfur.

The threat of sanctions seems similarly tangential to the essential
issues of human security in Darfur. However fully justified robust,
targeted sanctions against the Khartoum regime may be, they will have
little immediate impact on the ground. Moreover, such sanctions seem to
have no chance of political success in the Security Council, given the
clear opposition of veto-wielding Russia and China. Referral of
Khartoum's genocidaires and other war criminals to the International
Criminal Court will have equally little impact in addressing either the
immediate protection needs of vulnerable civilian populations or the
humanitarian shortfalls that are now growing rapidly, especially outside
the camps.

The key phrase lying insufficiently articulated in this rhetorically
powerful letter is the demand for a resolution that "provides
enforceable mechanisms to protect the people of Darfur." What
mechanisms are being referred to here? And precisely how will they
"protect the people of Darfur"---now?

The letter rightly acknowledges that the AU monitoring mission is
"laboring alone in Darfur with a near impossible burden." But such
acknowledgement does nothing to suggest how the UN "can provide the AU
with the backing needed"---or how such backing will "send a clear,
enforceable message to Khartoum that [the UN] intends to hold the
government to its promises and treaty commitments." The AU force is
transparently incapable of sending such a message on its own: deployment
has only now (after half a year) crept past 2,000 personnel. Moreover,
there is no acknowledgement here of the political resistance within the
AU to seek UN, European, or other international assistance.

Equally strong in its hortatory language is a statement of March 16,
2005 from fifteen distinguished UN human rights experts:

"We are gravely concerned about the ongoing violations of human rights
and humanitarian law in the Darfur region of Sudan [and] call upon the
international community to take effective measures to end the violations
on a basis of utmost urgency. [ ] Despite efforts by the international
community to commit troops and assistance to the region, the violence
continues virtually unabated in a context of wholesale impunity, and the
threat of famine is looming."

"The violations in Darfur have been staggering in scale and harrowing
in nature. [ ] If the vow that the international community will 'Never
Again' stand idly by while crimes against humanity are being perpetrated
is to have any meaning, now is the time for decisive action." (UN Human
Rights Experts Call for Urgent, Effective Action on Darfur," UN
Information Service [Geneva], March 16, 2005)

But in calling on the international community to "take effective
measures to end the violations on a basis of utmost urgency," these
experts provide no specific guidance. Certainly "now is the time for
decisive action"; and what is termed a "robust international solution"
is indeed "urgently needed." But we are offered no suggestion as to
what these experts believe this solution consists in, and this creates a
dangerous policy vacuum.

[Notably, the International Crisis Group has taken the first tentative
steps in identifying the nature of an intervening force ("Darfur: The
Failure to Protect," pages ii-iii:

"Recommends that the UN Security Council pass a resolution that:

[f] calls for close cooperation between the AU and UN missions in Sudan
and encourages the use of UN assets to support a strengthened AU

[g] recognizes that a force with fewer than 10,000 troops is likely to
be inadequate given Darfur's size, the ongoing violence, and the largely
non-cooperative attitude of the Government of Sudan;

[h] calls on member states (African and non-African) to contribute
troops and other support to such a strengthened AU mission, and on NATO
to begin planning to assist the mission;

[i] calls on the EU, the UN, and AU to work together to augment the
civilian police capacity in Darfur."

"Recommends that the African Union Peace and Security Council:

[14] work with the UN Security Council to facilitate inclusion and
assistance of non-African forces to supplement the mission's force
levels and capabilities.

[15] Elaborate in conjunction with the UN Security Council and the
Secretary-General a strategy for neutralisation of the Janjaweed
militias in the absence of Government of Sudan cooperation."

Unfortunately, a number of significant issues are unaddressed here: [1]
the appropriate size of the intervening force (the implied "at least
10,000" skirts the issue, since an appropriate size is certainly more
than double this number; [2] the nature of intervention in the event
that Khartoum works more aggressively to create a non-permissive
environment for additional deployments; [3] a strategy for pressuring
the AU to accept non-AU forces; [4] rules of engagement in confronting
the Janjaweed.]


Because there has been no comprehensive discussion of civilian and
humanitarian protection requirements, the character of an expanded
"humanitarian intervention" in Darfur is already sinking toward a
lowest common political denominator, governed more by expedient
estimates and a sense of the politically practicable than by clearly
articulated security tasks.

Recent press reports suggest three different versions of a constrained
intervening force, coming from the AU, from Kofi Annan's special envoy
for Sudan, Jan Pronk, and from UN Under-Secretary for Humanitarian
Affairs Jan Egeland. All build on the premise that personnel in the
force will come virtually entirely from the AU, thereby severely
limiting the possible increase in force levels.

The African Union:

Reuters reports several key statements by AU leaders, political and

"The AU is seeking to double its forces in Darfur to about 6,000
troops, a number that could stabilize Sudan's troubled western region,
Rwanda's foreign minister said. With security rapidly deteriorating, the
AU troop commander in Darfur has told Rwandan officials that a
6,000-strong force would be able to secure all major refugee camps and
roads, Rwanda's Foreign Minister Charles Murigande said. 'They have
asked us if we are willing to increase our participation, and we have
promised that we are willing,' Murigande told Reuters in an interview
during a visit to Singapore."

"The Nigerian commander of the AU's force in Darfur, Festus Okonkwo,
told Rwandan President Paul Kagame that 6,000 troops would be enough to
'bring the level of violence to probably what would be acceptable,'
Murigande said." (Reuters, March 18, 2005)

But it is transparently clear that 6,000 AU troops are not nearly
enough to address the security issues in Darfur, though this may be an
intervention force that can secure the major camps for displaced
persons. This is certainly not a force able to "bring the level of
violence to probably what would be acceptable." The Nigerian provenance
of this disingenuous assessment should be seen in light of Nigerian
President Obasanjo's recent remarks on the Darfur crisis: "'Things are
greatly better in Darfur'" (Agence France-Presse, February 28, 2005).
Obasanjo, also chair of the African Union, offers this outrageous
mendacity out of pure political expediency and a desire to forestall
non-AU participation in humanitarian intervention for Darfur.

For Obasanjo has already declared---with the Presidents of Egypt,
Libya, Chad, and Sudan---that Darfur is an "Africa only" problem:

"In a joint statement issued after the overnight meeting [in Tripoli]
the regional leaders stressed their 'rejection of all foreign
intervention in this purely African question'" (Agence France-Presse,
October 18, 2004).

Nigerian Commander Festus Okonkwo offers not a serious assessment of
military requirements but simply the upper range of what Obasanjo thinks
the AU might plausibly claim. So, too, AU envoy (and former Nigerian
foreign minister) Baba Gana Kingibe. Though Kingibe is a skilled
diplomat, with significant political stature, he has already proved
himself capable of disingenuous commentary. While acknowledging that
the security situation in Darfur has continued to deteriorate seriously,
he declares to Reuters that, "more troops [are] not the answer." "'They
can do with a little strengthening (but)...even if you put 50,000 you
will still say its not enough,' he said, pointing out that Darfur was
the size of France" (Reuters, March 18, 2005).

Who is the "you" invoked here as declaring that 50,000 troops are
insufficient? Kingibe offers no answer because he can't. Nor does he
explain why significantly more troops are not part of the answer to the
critical security issues in Darfur. It is indeed a region the "size of
France," and this makes the task very difficult. But how then can the
present AU deployment of 2,000 personnel be in need of only "a little
strengthening"? Why aren't the size of Darfur and difficulty of the
operation precisely arguments for a very substantially augmented force?
Kingibe isn't even bothering with consistency in attempting to take
non-AU participation off the table.

Jan Pronk:

Jan Pronk, whose ill-fated August 2004 "Plan of Action" has figured
prominently in much of the violence of the past half year (see "Darfur:
The Failure to Protect," International Crisis Group, March 8, 2005, page
6-7, http://www.crisisgroup.org/home/index.cfm?l=1&id=3314), has
recently argued for limited humanitarian intervention:

"A force of 8,000 peacekeepers is needed in Darfur for the nearly 2
million people displaced from the western part of Sudan to feel safe
enough to return home, the chief UN envoy to Sudan said Thursday. 'I
have made it very clear to the [UN] mission [in Sudan] that we need a
robust force, I mean 8,000 military, for a duration of about four
years...so that people can return to their areas,' Pronk told a news
conference afterward." (Associated Press [Khartoum], March 17, 2005)

That this is still an AU force, however, is made clear from a dispatch
from the UN Integrated Regional Information Networks:

"Jan Pronk [the UN Secretary-General's Special Representative for the
Sudan] felt that, for the AU to strengthen its role in Darfur, it would
need to expand its capacity to 8,000 troops and adopt a mandate with a
stronger focus on protection,' [said UN spokeswoman] Radhia Achouri."
(IRIN, March 18, 2005)

Such reliance on the AU, which has taken six months to deploy 2,000
under-equipped and insufficiently supported personnel, is a substitute
for actions that will truly have meaning in the current environment.
Pronk is guided by political considerations, not speaking about the
intervention necessary to protect civilians and humanitarian operations.
He is certainly not speaking of a force that can oversee the return of
displaced persons or provide them with adequate security away from the

Jan Egeland:

In assessing the need for forces on the ground in Darfur, Egeland, like
Pronk, is constrained politically by what is judged within the UN to be
practicable, and this presently excludes non-AU forces. Egeland is
pleading for a force of very approximately 10,000---a figure arrived at
not through any military calculation, or assessment of the security
situation or the capabilities of the AU, but an understandably desperate
desire to increase in any fashion the security presence on the ground.
In the end he is content with the mere serendipity of one soldier for
every humanitarian worker (this numerical relationship is of course
completely unrelated to any meaningful assessment of security issues
involving hundreds of thousands of extremely vulnerable Darfuri

"Jan Egeland, the humanitarian relief coordinator currently touring
Sudan, said the African Union needed 10,000 troops in Darfur. 'There
should be as many AU forces as there are humanitarian workers in Darfur,'
he [said]. 'The world is only putting an expensive humanitarian plaster
on the open wound in Darfur.'" (Reuters, March 7, 2005)

If we judge by the public comments of AU and UN officials, it is clear
that there has been no serious attempt to define the "bold and effective
measures" that human rights groups and UN human rights specialists have
called for. There is nothing contemplated that "provides enforceable
mechanisms to protect the people of Darfur." Nor is there a proposal
for the "robust international solution"---declared to be "urgently
needed"---to "stop further death and suffering in Darfur."

Are these mere words? Do these powerful phrases connote a willingness
to support commensurate military actions and deployment? We must hope
so, but absent a much fuller and more honest articulation of the
security issues in Darfur, skepticism must remain high.


Two public military assessments of the crisis have come from
individuals with first-hand experience in confronting genocide in
Africa. They comport very well with analyses that have come
confidentially to this writer from military experts.

Lt. General Romeo Dallaire, UN force commander during the Rwandan
genocide, has argued for half a year now that what is required is an
intervening force of 44,000 troops of NATO-quality, with a robust
civilian protection mandate that includes disarmament of the Janjaweed.
General Dallaire most recently affirmed this force assessment during a
tour of South Africa, insisting that "44,000 troops are needed to bring
peace to the Darfur region of Sudan rather than the 3,340 the AU intends
sending to the region, [Dallaire said]" (Business Day [Johannesburg],
February 25, 2005). Darfur, Dallaire argued at the Institute for
Security Studies in Pretoria, is a "perfect example" of a "lack of
political will to prevent crises developing:

"Dallaire said the AU mandate [in Darfur]---which is similar to a UN
Chapter VI-type 'observe and monitor' mission---was far too weak and
would result in its being ineffectual. He said the mandate should be
more robust and allow for the protection of civilians and the
disarmament of militias." (Business Day, February 25, 2005)

Another military assessment comes from (Ret.) Marine Captain Brian
Steidle, who served for several months as a military observer in Darfur,
attached to the AU monitoring mission. He has recently spoken out in a
number of news venues and before the US Congress. His primary
recommendations are for a vastly increased force and a "no-fly zone":

"This success story of the African Union [creating a presence in
Muhajeryia, South Darfur, which deterred Khartoum's extension of its
December 2004 offensive against civilians] can be replicated throughout
Darfur, but only if they see their numbers increase. Right now there are
fewer than 4,000 troops there. To repeat this kind of success all over
Darfur, they need 25,000 to 50,000 troops." [ ]

Steidle reiterates this force assessment:

"Most importantly, we need to increase our support for the AU mission
in Darfur on all levels. We need to multiply the existing AU mission
there manifold and support a more robust force of 25,000 to 50,000.
Further, the international community needs to expand their mandate to
allow them to protect civilians and open up roads between the villages
for humanitarian access." (American Prospect, March 17, 2005)

Both Dallaire and Steidle have made their assessments on the basis of a
survey of the requisite security tasks to be undertaken by any
intervening force. It is worth rehearsing these, if only because this
is only basis on which to calculate force requirements:

[1] Provision of security to the camps for displaced persons, with
adequate security perimeters that allow for the collection of firewood,
food, and animal fodder;

[2] Securing all humanitarian corridors to and within Darfur, both by
means of active patrols and accompanying security details for all
convoys requesting protection;

[3] The opening of safe passage routes from rural areas currently
beyond the reach of humanitarian operations, thereby allowing the free
movement of people who have depleted all food reserves;

[4] The dismantling of checkpoints on key road arteries, many of which
are now maintained by bandits and other lawless elements;

[5] Provision of safe passage and protection to civilians who wish to
return to their villages, or the sites of their former villages, in
order to resume agriculturally productive lives.

Other key military tasks include: mechanically disabling or destroying
any military aircraft implicated in violations of international law, in
particular attacks on civilian targets. (Alternatively, Khartoum must
be given an ultimatum: "Remove all military aircraft from the Darfur
region or they will be destroyed on the ground by unmanned aerial
military assets.") And most importantantly, cantonment and eventual
disarmament of the Janjaweed (per the terms of UN Security Resolution

It is clear that no configuration or deployment of AU forces can
possibly undertake these various tasks. It is thus incumbent on those
insisting that the AU be the only international security presence in
Darfur to explain which of these tasks can be abandoned or ignored, and
why this is morally acceptable.

At the same time, it is also incumbent upon those calling for
humanitarian intervention to declare how resistance by Khartoum to the
deployment of intervening forces will be overcome. By some military
estimates, such resistance could double the number of forces required
for the security tasks articulated above.

In addition to the recommendations from the International Crisis Group,
the US House of Representatives' "Darfur Genocide Accountability Act of
2005" offers a series of important recommendations for military
intervention in Darfur. It deserves close analysis and urgent
legislative and grass-roots support.

[This is Part 1 of a two-part analysis that will be extended in the
week of March 28, 2005.]

Eric Reeves
Smith College
Northampton, MA 01063

Thursday, March 17, 2005

The International Failure to Confront Khartoum: 

Consequences going forward for southern Sudan and Darfur

Eric Reeves
March 17, 2005

"The United Nations has withdrawn all international staff in part of
western Sudan to the state capital after Arab militias said they would
target foreigners and UN convoys in the area, the top UN envoy in Sudan
said on Wednesday. 'The Janjaweed militia have said that they will now
target all foreigners and all UN humanitarian convoys, so we have
withdrawn all people to El-Geneina [capital of West Darfur],' [the UN's
Jan Pronk] said. The militias gave the warning to the drivers of seized
UN trucks, he said." (Reuters, March 16, 2005)

The Janjaweed are not an independent force issuing this threat: they
are the military proxy of the National Islamic Front regime in Khartoum.
The "targeting of all foreigners and all UN humanitarian convoys" must
be heard as a threat ordered or sanctioned by Khartoum. The facts are
unambiguous: the Janjaweed militia have since spring 2003 militarily
coordinated with the regime's regular ground and air forces; Khartoum
has supplied and heavily armed the Janjaweed since first recruiting this
brutal militia as a counter-insurgency force; and the regime has for
almost two years paid, rewarded, and directed this savage genocidal
weapon of destruction.

The direct, ongoing relationship between Khartoum's regular military
and intelligence forces and the Janjaweed has been established beyond
any reasonable doubt by human rights groups (particularly Human Rights
Watch), the UN Commission of Inquiry, the African Union monitoring force
in Darfur, and by virtue of variously obtained internal regime
documents. The full extent of the present Janjaweed threat to
humanitarian workers in West Darfur is unclear but deeply ominous; the
origin of this threat in Khartoum is unmistakable.

We must see this Janjaweed threat against humanitarian personnel in
West Darfur both as a means of curtailing the international witnessing
of Khartoum's accelerating military efforts in the area (see below), as
well as an extension of Khartoum's resumed campaign to obstruct relief
efforts, a development highlighted by Kofi Annan in his February 2005
briefing of the UN Security Council:

"December and January saw increasing harassment of international
nongovernmental organizations by [Khartoum's] local authorities [in
Darfur], particularly in South Darfur. In a worrying sign that earlier
progress is being rolled back, systematic arrest, false and hostile
accusations through the national media outlets, and outright attacks
were combined with renewed restrictions on travel permits and visa
applications. Almost all NGOs operating South Darfur faced some form of
intimidation that delayed and restricted their operations." (February 4,
2005 Report of the Secretary-General pursuant to Security Council
resolution 1556, Paragraph 21)

This obstructionism marks resumption of a strategy that was evident as
long ago as December 2003, when UN Special Envoy for Humanitarian
Affairs Tom Vraalsen reported Khartoum's "systematic" denial of
humanitarian access to non-Arab or African tribal populations in Darfur.
Even more insistently, in recent testimony before the House of Commons
(UK), Mukesh Kapila describes what he witnessed as UN Resident and
Humanitarian Coordinator for Sudan prior to being forced from his
position by Khartoum in March 2004 (the regime was outraged at Kapila's
frank assessment of what he testifies was clearly then in Darfur a "form
of genocide"):

"[Kapila:] I would say that 75-80% of the problem we had on the
humanitarian side [in responding to Darfur] was certainly due to the
systematic obstruction by the Sudanese government of humanitarian
access." (Q 185 from Corrected Transcript of Oral Evidence; to be
published as HC 67-v; taken before the International Development
Committee, House of Commons, February 22, 2005)

It is almost impossible to conceive a more brazen defiance of the
international community than Khartoum's renewed, calculated assault on
humanitarian efforts in the most distressed region in the world today.
The direct human consequences, if this present act of genocidal
destruction is not reversed, will be many tens of thousands of lives
lost. In a statement issued in mid-December 2004, UN Under-Secretary
for Humanitarian Affairs Jan Egeland declared that mortality in Darfur
could reach to 100,000 deaths per month if insecurity forced the
withdrawal of humanitarian assistance (Financial Times, December 15,
2004). What we are witnessing in West Darfur is the first step in that
forced withdrawal.

For West Darfur is the most precariously situated of the three states
that make up Darfur Province, and the geographic region where the UN's
World Food Program must work hardest to pre-position food before the
advent of the rainy season in late spring/early summer. Every day of
delay in this effort will add more casualties to an already unforgivably
large number (the most recent Darfur mortality assessment by this
writer, based on a survey of all extant data, argues for a figure of
380,000 dead since the outbreak of large-scale conflict in February
2003; see


It is long since time that international community accepted fully the
most important truth about Sudan:

Peace will neither come to Darfur nor survive in southern Sudan without
a fundamental shift in world attitudes towards the National Islamic
Front regime in Khartoum, even when it is nominally succeeded in July
2005 by a "government of national unity" as a result of the January 9,
2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement signed in Nairobi. For years the
international community has behaved---despite all evidence to the
contrary--as though this military junta is capable of fundamental
reform, that it can be "moderated" in significant ways, and that it can
be weaned of it recourse to genocidal domestic security policies.

In fact, the only shifts within the regime have been calculations about
which of its policies must be accommodated to international pressures
that wax and wane. The very same brutal men who came to power by
military coup in June 1989 continue to rule the country, with the
complex exception of Hassan al-Turabi. The senior members of the NIF
now under sealed indictment for massive "crimes against humanity" (per
the UN Commission of Inquiry in Darfur) were all part of the regime that
came to power in large measure to abort the peace process that was
reaching towards culmination during the government of Sadiq el-Mahdi

[Africa Confidential (February 18, 2005, Volume 46, No. 4) has
published an extensive list of members of the National Islamic Front who
have been implicated in "crimes against humanity," and who have as a
consequence increasingly little interest in accommodating international
concerns about justice and "accountability." Included is First
Vice-President Ali Osman Tahja, with primary responsibility for
Khartoum's Darfur policy.]


The process that produced the Comprehensive Peace Agreement between the
National Islamic Front (NIF) and the Sudan People's Liberation Movement
(SPLM) must be seen for what it is: a process that is still very much
underway, and extremely vulnerable. For Khartoum counts on the
remarkable, and unprecedented, international pressure that sustained
this process diminishing under the costly burdens of ongoing commitment
to protecting the peace, both financially and militarily (in the form of
a UN peace-support operation). There is already considerable evidence
that Khartoum's calculation is all too accurate.

Moreover, since the regime acceded to the agreement of January 9 so
clearly under duress, so obviously needing to offer the international
community something while it pursued a genocidal counter-insurgency
policy in Darfur, it is difficult to see this context of "agreement" as
auguring any but an ominous future. When the Darfur matter is resolved,
Khartoum will be in a position to resume war in southern Sudan, the Nuba
Mountains, and Southern Blue Nile if it wishes.

Certainly the massive human destruction and displacement already
achieved in Darfur suggest that the genocide is so far along as to be
unstoppable before there has been a fundamental shift in the region's
demographics, as well as its economic and political power arrangements.
Khartoum's counter-insurgency operation has achieved ghastly success:
the rebel groups have fractured politically and militarily, and
agricultural production among the non-Arab or African populations from
which the insurgents have recruited has collapsed.

Why would the regime choose to resume war with the south? Why would
the historic opportunity of peace be foregone? Because there is great
oil wealth in the south that the NIF still believes it can control in
its entirety (rather than share evenly with the people of southern
Sudan); because the regime remains committed to an Islamizing and
Arabizing agenda; and because it calculates that the international
consequences of resuming war, and reasserting full political control in
Khartoum, will be manageable. It is no secret that a number of powerful
voices within the regime have felt that in accommodating international
pressure through the Naivasha peace process, too much was given away to
the south. These voices, of a more brutally calculating survivalism,
may very well prevail when Darfur is extinguished or becomes merely a
chronic humanitarian warehousing operation.

And how can we gainsay such vicious calculation? If the world
continues to conduct business as usual with this regime, if commercial
and capital investment continues to come from European and Asian
countries even at the height of the 21st century's first great episode
of genocidal destruction, if the World Bank blandly declares it "expects
to normalize relations with heavily indebted Sudan within a year"
(Reuters, March 9, 2005), why should the regime believe that things will
be any different after a carefully contrived breakdown of the peace
agreement with southern Sudan? Certainly there will be ample
opportunities for such contrivance; the regime-allied militias of Upper
Nile Province are only the most conspicuous means available. For this
reason alone the international community should be registering a great
deal more concern about recent militia activities in the oil regions of
Eastern Upper Nile, particularly the Akobo and Nasir areas (see below).

At the same time, Khartoum is more than willing to use the peace
agreement of January 9 as a means of deflecting or warning off greater
international pressure over Darfur, declaring in effect that the
north/south peace agreement is in danger if the world community decides
to act more aggressively on Darfur. We have what is only the most
recent installment in this pattern of behavior in comments by Khartoum's
Justice Minister Ali Yassin (one of those who is under sealed indictment
for "crimes against humanity").

Yassin was speaking on the convening of the UN Commission on Human
Rights (the NIF regime holds a seat on this now disgraced international
body), and his reference to Sudan's impending "government of national
unity" was a clear invocation of the power-sharing agreement that was a
central part of the January 9 Comprehensive Peace Agreement:

"'Unmeasured, uneven and unbalanced pressure and signals have
exacerbated the already volatile situation in Darfur,' Sudan's Justice
Minister Ali Yassin said in a speech to the 53-strong committee [of the
UN Commission on Human Rights] which began its 61st annual session here
on Monday. 'Any undue pressure on the government of national unity will
retard its ability to implement the comprehensive peace agreement,' he
said." (Agence France-Presse [Geneva], March 14, 2005)

This strategy of using as a threat the possible collapse of the
completed north/south peace agreement is entirely continuous with the
strategy the regime deployed for months in holding out the prospect of
an "impending" agreement. In recent, quite remarkable testimony before
members of the UK Parliament, former UN Resident and Humanitarian
Coordinator for Sudan Mukesh Kapila was asked pointedly by the Chair of
the International Development Committee (Tony Baldry):

"[Baldry:] Did you have any suggestion from the UK Government that you
should ease up your comments and your criticisms on Darfur until the
Naivasha agreement was concluded?"

"[Mukesh Kapila:] Yes."
(Q 201 from Corrected transcript of Oral Evidence; to be published as
HC 67-v; taken before the International Development Committee, House of
Commons, February 22, 2005)

In other words, for well over a year, Khartoum used the southern peace
process as a means of muting international criticism---especially by the
UK, the US, and Norway---of genocide in Darfur. Now the regime's
diplomatic manipulation has reversed itself: as criticism over Darfur
mounts, Khartoum is resorting to clear threats to undermine the
Comprehensive Peace Agreement. The assumption is that the international
community will again find expediency the easiest way to respond to
Sudan's ongoing agony, and make a series of trade-offs and
concessions that will cumulatively compromise the effectiveness of any
response to Darfur or to the urgent transitional needs of southern
Sudan. This attitude on the part of the international community is
perfectly reflected in comments attributed to a "senior US official,"
likely Charles Snyder, the chief State Department official working on

"A senior US official argued that the main US constraint [in
considering humanitarian intervention in Darfur] was fearful that too
much pressure over Darfur would destroy the US-mediated agreement signed
in January that ended Sudan's separate north-south conflict, Africa's
longest-running civil war, which cost some 2 million lives." (Financial
Times, March 14, 2005)

In other words, despite the finding by the US State Department that
genocide is occurring in Darfur---a finding nominally echoed by the
White House---and despite hundreds of thousands of casualties to date,
and with many more clearly in prospect, the US is worried about
excessive pressure on the regime orchestrating this genocide.

The National Islamic Front is easily able to sniff out such expedient
instincts and fashion responses accordingly. This is moral cowardice on
the part of the US, which in its painful transparency constitutes very
poor policy.


There are a number of deeply worrying signs and trends in southern
Sudan. Some can be easily identified; others require closer examination
of geography, recent history, the terms of the peace agreement, and the
particular needs of a land ravaged by 21 years of brutally destructive
civil war and scorched-earth clearances, particularly in the oil regions
of Upper Nile Province.

The lack of financial commitment to emergency transitional aid is one
obvious measure of the fragility of the peace process. Speaking of the
agreement, UN Under-Secretary for Humanitarian Affairs Jan Egeland

"'In the south of Sudan, the world has really achieved something
fantastic in putting an end to the bloodiest war in this region. But it
is not willing to foot the bill of building the peace and providing for
the return of refugees,' [Egeland] said. 'My (UN) people have built up
very dramatically in anticipation that the money will be coming because
they simply cannot believe that the donor community will not assist

"[Egeland] told the New York Times in an interview that only 25 million
dollars of the total 500 million dollars pledged by donors last October
had been received by his office. The funds are destined to economic
development and build a democratic system to support the peace accord."
(Deutsche Presse Agentur, March 7, 2005)

Only 5% of the internationally pledged emergency assistance has been
received, this as southern Sudan has entered into what will be the most
precarious moment of a nascent peace. Even the food needs of southern
Sudan have not been funded: senior spokesman for the World Food Program
Peter Smerdon recently noted:

"The reality is that as of this week the 2005 [UN World Food Program]
operation for south and east Sudan, totaling [US] $301, is less than 10%
funded." (UN Integrated Regional Information Networks, March 9, 2005)

The failure to commit to substantial resources for emergency
transitional needs in southern Sudan ensures that the means for
accommodating the many hundreds of thousands of returning Internally
Displaced Persons and refugees will not be in place in a timely fashion.
The threats to stability created by such a large influx of bereft
civilians, in regions that are destitute and bearing the terrible scars
of war, are far too many.

At the same time, the UN Department of Peacekeeping Operations has
proposed an exorbitantly expensive and very poorly conceived
peace-support operation for southern Sudan---one that will cost over $1
billion per year and yet still fails to address in meaningful fashion
the greatest military threat to the negotiated peace, viz. the potent
Khartoum-allied militias, especially in Eastern Upper Nile (EUN). The
Akobo and Nasir regions of EUN have seen heavy recent fighting between
these militias and forces of the Sudan People's Liberation Army. Akobo
has been captured and re-captured, and present insecurity ("red no-go")
prevents all humanitarian relief operations in the area (e.g., Akobo,
Nasir, Wandeng, Mandeng, Wanding, Kier, Thot liet).

Citing "humanitarian sources," the UN's Integrated Regional Information
Networks [IRIN] gives us an unusually good account of these
under-reported developments:

"Recent movements of armed militias around the eastern Sudanese town of
Akobo in Jonglei State have led to increased tension in the area,
humanitarian sources told IRIN. 'Some 700 militia were heading to Akobo
from Nasir [near the Ethiopian border], during the first week of March,'
one source said on Wednesday. 'The troops came very close, up to an
hour's walking distance, and camped there for a day or so.'"

"On 17 [2005] February, fighting broke out when armed militias attacked
Akobo. They were reportedly under the command of Taban Juoc, who was
recently promoted to the rank of Brigadier by the Sudanese government.
'The unprovoked attacks on SPLM/A positions in the town of Akobo by
renegade Commander Taban Juoc are a direct violation of the
Comprehensive Peace Agreement,' Samson Kwaje, spokesman for the SPLM/A
said in a 4 March [2005] statement." [ ]

"The SPLM/A retook Akobo on 20 [2005] February and its Commander Dou
Yaak said the armed group that briefly occupied Akobo had killed three
SPLM/A soldiers. He also said the armed men had destroyed part of the
hospital and the church, and burnt down approximately 2,000 tukuls
(grass huts)." (IRIN [Nairobi], March 11, 2005)

What is the nature of the UN peace-support operation that must confront
such situations as the most likely threat to peace in southern Sudan?
How well is this force prepared to avert military confrontation in Upper
Nile? or the three contested areas of Abyei, the Nuba Mountains, and
Southern Blue Nile? Very poorly indeed, even as its budget is absurdly

We should first recall that the Protocol on "implementation modalities"
that became part of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) of January
9, 2005 was signed on December 31, 2004 by the Khartoum regime and the
Sudan People's Liberation Movement/Army (SPLM/A) ("Agreement on
Permanent Ceasefire and Security Arrangements Implementation
Modalities"). This key protocol is the only language concerning a UN
peacekeeping operation to which the SPLM/A has committed itself and on
which it has been consulted. The Protocol stipulates:

"The Parties [Government of Sudan and SPLM/A] agree to request the UN
to constitute a lean, effective, sustainable, and affordable UN Peace
Support Mission to monitor and verify this Agreement and to support the
implementation of the CPA as provided for under Chapter VI of the UN
Charter;" (Section 15.1)

There is no evidence that the proposed UN peace support operation for
southern Sudan (UNMISUD) will be either "lean" or "affordable" for the
purposes that should guide deployment. It is thus difficult to see how
such an operation can be "sustainable." The force proposed in the
original US-drafted Security Council resolution of February 2005 ("up to
10,000 uniformed personnel, plus 715 civilian police, and an appropriate
civilian component") could hardly be more vaguely described. Moreover,
though articulated under the auspices of Chapter VII of the UN Charter,
the proposed deployment of this force is not defined in terms that are
specific to the particular military situation in southern Sudan.

There is no indication of how UNMISUD would confront military
hostilities initiated by Khartoum-controlled militia forces, even as
present evidence makes clear that this is distinctly the most likely
source of cease-fire violations and the greatest single threat to the
peace agreement. The US proposal speaks of a mandate to "monitor and
verify the Ceasefire Agreement, and support implementation of the CPA,"
and "to observe and monitor the movement of armed groups," and to
"investigate violations of the ceasefire agreement" Section 2,
(a)(b)(c), but not how it would respond to violations that threaten the
existence or viability of the ceasefire.

The mandate includes "assisting in the establishment of the
disarmament, demobilization, and reintegration program as called for in
the CPA and its implementation through voluntary disarmament, and
weapons collections and destruction." But without much more specific
rules of engagement, and a much clearer role in the disarmament of the
militias, the bulk of this vast UNMISUD force, well in excess of 10,000,
will have no role other than to protect approximately 750 actual
monitors on the ground.

Indeed, as described by Jan Pronk in a briefing of the UN Security
Council, UNMISUD will have 750 military observers, a 5,000-strong
"enabling force," and a "protection component" of 4,000 (UN Press
Release [New York], February 7, 2005). Observation and monitoring are
certainly of fundamental importance, and must without question be
provided, and protected. But a force well in excess of 10,000, costing
over $1 billion per year, without a meaningful mandate other than
observation, is the very opposite of "lean" and "sustainable,"
especially in the context of the overwhelming transitional needs of
civilian southern Sudan.

The present international commitment to southern Sudan reflects a poor
allocation of resources, a failure to recognize the real threats to the
tenuous peace, and an unwillingness to confront the realities in
Khartoum that remain so insistently evident. In short, the similarities
to the international response in Darfur are many and deeply troubling.


For in Darfur, we see a version of the same unwillingness to confront
Khartoum: instead of the humanitarian intervention that has been clearly
dictated for over a year, the international response has been to provide
only what humanitarian assistance Khartoum permits. The woefully
inadequate African Union monitoring force of 2,000 under-equipped
personnel constitutes the entire international response to the vast and
urgent security needs of a region the size of France. Whether we look to
the UN, the European Union, the US, or the AU itself, there has been
such a consistent lack of willingness to confront Khartoum over its
intransigent pursuit of genocidal counter-insurgency policies in Darfur
that we can hardly be surprised by the regime's willingness to threaten
humanitarian operations by means of its Janjaweed militia proxy.

Moreover, it is not accidental that the violent threat to humanitarian
workers has been so bluntly issued in West Darfur, which has been
relatively more quiet in recent months. For increasingly, this is the
region within Darfur where fighting is concentrated. Khartoum has seen
the AU deploy its highly limited resources in North and South Darfur,
and as a consequence has simply shifted the military "front," thereby
eluding a great deal of whatever scrutiny the thinly deployed AU might

Reuters recently reports (dispatches of March 14 and 16, 2005) on
fighting between Khartoum's forces and the National Movement for Reform
and Development (a third Darfuri rebel movement) in the Jabel Moun area
of West Darfur. The Darfur Relief and Documentation Center (Geneva) has
also recently reported in detail on intense fighting in the same area,
and gives a much fuller sense of the impact of fighting on humanitarian

"Lawlessness, banditry activities, violence and the threat of violence
are rampant in the region with serious implications on the situation of
food security in many affected areas especially in the Jabal Marra
massive and Jabal Moun in West Darfur. Banditry activities and growing
security risks are leading to suspension of relief operations and
delivery of food and other lifesaving material to thousands of
internally displaced persons and vulnerable host communities. Fighting
and violence are also causing more displacement and casualties among the
civilian populations. DRDC received reports of fighting and intensive
unrest in the Nertiti, Wadi Azoum, Habilla and Seleia areas (West
Darfur) since the beginning of March 2005. As a direct result the UN
declared these areas as No-Go Zones."

"Threat of violence by militiamen forced UN agencies in West Darfur to
withdraw their personnel from the countryside into El-Geneina town since
10th March 2005. Other humanitarian organisations followed the UN and
are withdrawing their workers into the town from the countryside."

"DRDC is concerned that most of the attacks and banditry activities
were carried out in areas controlled by the government of Sudan, and in
some cases the army and police were visibly present. The indiscriminate
targeting of humanitarian organisations and relief workers appears to be
a calculated attempt to cause starvation among the internally displaced
populations." (Darfur Relief and Documentation Center, Geneva, March 14,

But the UN Security Council remains paralyzed, unable to reach
consensus on even a mildly threatening sanctions regime. This is so
despite the urgent call for humanitarian intervention yesterday (March
16, 2005) from fifteen distinguished UN human rights experts:

"We are gravely concerned about the ongoing violations of human rights
and humanitarian law in the Darfur region of Sudan [ ] and we call upon
the international community to take effective measures to end the
violations on a basis of utmost urgency. [ ] Despite efforts by the
international community to commit troops and assistance to the region,
the violence continues virtually unabated in a context of wholesale
impunity, and the threat of famine is looming."

"The violations in Darfur have been staggering in scale and harrowing
in nature. [ ] If the vow that the international community will 'Never
Again' stand idly by while crimes against humanity are being perpetrated
is to have any meaning, now is the time for decisive action."

"A robust international solution is urgently needed, as the
Secretary-General affirmed when he called upon the Security Council, on
16 February 2005, 'to act urgently to stop further death and suffering
in Darfur, and to do justice for those whom we are already too late to
save.'" (UN Human Rights Experts Call for Urgent, Effective Action on
Darfur," UN Information Service [Geneva], March 16, 2005)

But instead of humanitarian intervention, with all necessary military
support, "'the world is only putting an expensive humanitarian plaster
on the open wound in Darfur.'" [Jan Egeland, UN Under-Secretary for
Humanitarian Affairs] (Reuters, March 7, 2005)

This substitution of humanitarian relief for humanitarian intervention
ultimately reflects an unwillingness to address the Darfur crisis
honestly, to confront Khartoum directly over its genocidal ambitions.
It reflects as well an international inability to speak honestly about
the massive shortcomings of the African Union as a source of civilian
protection. This in turn reflects a dishonest accommodation of the
views of such African leaders as Nigerian President and AU Chair
Obasanjo, Libyan President Ghaddafi, and Egyptian President
Mubarak---views that would substitute the slogan "African solutions for
African problems" for a meaningful response to genocide in Darfur.

Meanwhile, the humanitarian crisis continues to deepen. The UN World
Food Program's disingenuous claim of a 33% increase in food deliveries
in February 2005 (over January 2005) masks a greater truth: the average
monthly food delivery for January and February 2005 (1.4 million
recipients) is actually 100,000 fewer than the December 2004 total of
1.5 million recipients. Moreover, there is little chance for the
significant increases that are necessary to help the 2.4 million people
described by the UN as "conflict-affected" (UN Darfur Humanitarian
Profile No. 10, January 1, 2005---the most recently available, even as
this number has surely increased significantly in the past two and a
half months). As the World Food Program (WFP) acknowledged recently:

"WFP is reaching the limits of its Cooperating Partners' capacity on
the ground in the three [Darfur] States, an issue that requires
attention in the course of this month." (WFP Situation Report on Darfur,
March 2-8, 2005)

In other words, the capacity of those humanitarian organizations that
enable the WFP to reach intended beneficiaries has reached its
limits---at a level more than 1 million human beings below what is
currently required. This statistical/logistical reality is clear if we
consider the food-distressed populations in rural areas that are
presently inaccessible and not likely to reach camps, either for
security reasons or because they are waiting until all coping mechanisms
and food-stocks are exhausted. A recent report from the US Agency for
International Development notes:

"Some nongovernmental organizations have voiced concerns that potential
[food] beneficiaries may not seek food assistance until their coping
mechanisms are exhausted and no food-stocks remain. Relief agencies
report that registrations are increasing in supplementary and
therapeutic feeding centers, confirming the fact that additional
communities are beginning to lack sufficient food." (US Agency for
International Development, "Darfur Fact Sheet," March 4, 2005)

The chief AU envoy for Darfur, Baba Gana Kingibe, reports just today on
an even more ominous development: "'There was a two-month food security
gap before. Our estimates now are giving us a four-month food security
gap,' [Kingibe] said" (Reuters, March 17, 2005).

Additionally, WFP is reporting a serious current break in the food
pipeline for "pulses" (leguminous food) essential for any healthy human
diet. Other non-cereal shortcomings are also in evidence. The current
curtailment of humanitarian operations in West Darfur also poses an
extremely serious risk to belated efforts by WFP to pre-position food in
West Darfur prior to the rainy season (which affects West Darfur most

This is the context in which to assess Khartoum's use of the Janjaweed
to threaten and obstruct humanitarian relief efforts in West Darfur.
There is precious little evidence that sufficient honesty will obtain in
that assessment.

Eric Reeves
Smith College
Northampton, MA 01063

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