Friday, April 29, 2005

Darfur Posted by Hello

"[US's] Zoellick reluctant to describe Darfur violence as genocide," 

Financial Times (UK) headline, April 15, 2005

Eric Reeves
April 20, 2005

Comments made during a recent trip to Sudan by US Deputy Secretary of
State Robert Zoellick suggest a significant effort is underway by the
Bush administration to downplay the catastrophe in Darfur. Not only did
Zoellick make a series of comments that fully justify the Financial
Times headline of April 15, 2005 ("Zoellick reluctant to describe Darfur
violence as genocide"), but he offered a disturbingly, indeed untenably
low estimate of human mortality in Darfur over the past 26 months of
conflict. Zoellick also endorsed a level of troop strength for
intervention in Darfur that clearly cannot address in adequate fashion
any of the security issues defining the crisis; nor has Zoellick or the
US State Department explicitly called for a peacekeeping mandate for
forces operating in Darfur.

The ultimate purpose of this statistical and semantic lowballing of
Darfur's urgent requirements and brutal destruction is evidently to
forestall any need for a US commitment to humanitarian intervention.
Unable to fashion a policy that halts genocide in Darfur, the Bush
administration has instead committed to a strategy of re-definition.
The administration's previous genocide determination---formally rendered
by former Secretary of State Colin Powell in Senate testimony of
September 9, 2004---has devolved into a "former Secretary of State"
simply "making a point" to Congress (Financial Times, April 15, 2005).
"I don't want to get into a debate over terminology," [Zoellick]
said, when asked if the US believed that genocide was still being
committed in Darfur against the mostly African villagers by Arab
militias and their government backers" (Financial Times, April 15,

A determination that the ultimate human crime is being committed, with
hundreds of thousands of victims to date, has been rendered a mere
"debate over terminology." No matter that the US is a contracting
party to the 1948 UN Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the
Crime of Genocide, with an explicit obligation to "prevent genocide"
(Article 1). No matter that there hasn't been any change in the
character of evidence making fully clear the genocidal nature of human
destruction in Darfur. Indeed, current evidence continues to be of the
same nature as that which justified Powell's fully researched genocide
determination in September.

Given the rapid deterioration of security conditions in Darfur, and the
likelihood of huge increases in human mortality in the coming months,
the timing of Zoellick's backtracking remarks could hardly have been
poorer, even as they are entirely consistent with the views implicit in
recent remarks to the Washington Post (March 25, 2005) by current US
Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice (see analysis of Rice's comments by
this writer, March 31, 2005;

But reneging words on the part of the Bush administration cannot change
Darfur's ghastly realities. All indications are that insecurity for
humanitarian operations in Darfur is accelerating, with armed attacks
increasingly directed at humanitarian personnel (see below). The crisis
is still defined by huge and increasing numbers of displaced persons, a
decline in nutritional health in many quarters, the collapse of Darfur's
agricultural economy (with attendant food inflation), a failure to
pre-position adequate quantities of food prior to the approaching rainy
season, and famine conditions that are already evident in many rural

All of these reflect the ghastly success of Khartoum's National Islamic
Front regime, and its Janjaweed militia proxies, in "deliberately
inflicting on the [African tribal populations of Darfur] conditions of
life calculated to bring about [their] physical destruction in whole or
in part" (Article 2, clause [c] of the 1948 Genocide Convention). To
date, approximately 400,000 human beings have died in the course of
conflict (see March 11, 2005 mortality assessment by this writer;
Given the extreme vulnerability of Darfur's civilian populations, this
number could double in coming months if insecurity forces the suspension
of humanitarian operations.

What is especially disturbing about the weakening US moral and
diplomatic commitment to halting genocide in Darfur is that it occurs
amidst broad, bipartisan support for a stronger, more decisive US
policy. The Congress declared last July---in a unanimous, bipartisan,
bicameral vote---that Khartoum and its Janjaweed allies are guilty of
genocide in Darfur. There are in the House of Representatives sponsors
on both sides of the aisle for the Darfur Accountability Act. Senators
Corzine (Democrat) and Brownback (Republican) were original sponsors of
the Senate version of the bill. Republican and Senate Majority Leader
Bill Frist recently "urged the United Nations to recognize the killings
in Darfur as genocide" (Associated Press, April 15, 2005):

"'The Khartoum government will not stop this killing until it is faced
with stiff international pressure, Frist said on the Senate floor
Friday. 'Every day the world fails to act, Khartoum gets closer to its
genocidal goal, and every day the world fails to act it compounds its
shame.'" (Associated Press, April 15, 2005)

But the Bush administration refuses to accept this fundamental truth
about Darfur, and refuses to fashion or advocate an international,
multilateral policy that reflects the urgency of ongoing genocidal


The most recent report to the UN Security Council by Secretary-General
Kofi Annan highlights a number of important security issues, and Annan
focuses squarely on the role of Khartoum:

"Sudanese officials fearful of being tried for war crimes in Sudan's
Darfur region may be behind a wave of attacks on international aid
workers in the turbulent area, the United Nations said on Monday. Among
the rash of attacks in March were three that stood out because they
appeared aimed at harming or killing relief workers, UN
Secretary-General Kofi Annan said in his monthly report to the Security
Council on the situation in Darfur."

"A UN panel of experts drew up a list of 51 war crimes suspects in
Darfur that it sealed and turned over to Annan in January. The Security
Council voted March 31, [2005] to refer the suspects to the
International Criminal Court in The Hague. 'The possibility cannot be
excluded that those who may believe that they are on the commission's
sealed list of war crimes suspects will resort to direct attacks
against...international personnel, or will try to destabilize the region
more generally through violence,' Annan said." (Reuters, April 18,

Annan also stressed more generally Khartoum's refusal to end military
activities that are directly responsible for insecurity in Darfur:

"'The government continues to pursue the military option on the ground
with little apparent regard for the commitments it has entered into to
end its attacks and protect civilians,' Annan said." (Reuters, April 18,

"'Reports of Janjaweed attacks against villages were received
throughout the month [of March 2005],' Mr. Annan says of the militia
accused of committing atrocities in [Darfur]." (UN News Centre, April
19, 2005)

Annan's monthly report also noted that, "March saw a rise in 'banditry,
looting and hijacking of vehicles.' Three attacks in particular were
troublesome, including one on March 22, [2005] that seriously wounded a
US foreign aid worker, Annan said" (Associated Press, April 18, 2005)

Other parts of Annan's report were noted in The Washington File (April
19, 2005):

"In his monthly report to the Security Council, UN Secretary-General
Kofi Annan said he is 'troubled by the rash of attacks during March on
international personnel operating in Darfur. Three incidents stand out
because of the apparent intent to do harm to, or kill, those who have
come to help the people of the Sudan.'"

"The secretary-general said that on March 8, [2005] suspected Jingaweit
fighters fired on African Union Mission in the Sudan (AMIS) troops
guarding a military observer campsite in northern Darfur. On March 22,
[2005] two employees of the US Agency for International Development
(USAID) were seriously injured during an apparent ambush on their convoy
of clearly marked vehicles on a road in southern Darfur. On March 29,
[2005] an AMIS patrol was fired upon, in what appears to be an ambush,
while investigating a report of fighting near Nyala in southern Darfur.
One observer was shot and two others suffered injuries from flying glass
when a bullet shattered a window."

"Concern that international personnel in Darfur might be under
increasing threat resulted in the relocation of UN staff from western
Darfur to Geneina March 10-19, [2005], Annan said."

"Khartoum 'continues to pursue the military option on the ground with
little apparent regard for the commitments it has entered into,' Annan
also reported." Even though the government has arrested some individuals
alleged to have committed war crimes in Darfur, [Annan] said, 'Reports
continue to be received that government forces operate jointly with
armed tribal militias.'" (The Washington File, Bureau of International
Information, State Department, Washington, DC, April 19, 2005)

Given its ongoing genocidal ambitions, it is hardly surprising that the
Khartoum regime issued yesterday a brazen warning to the feckless UN
Commission on Human Rights, currently meeting in Geneva:

"Khartoum warned the United Nations on Tuesday against appointing a
special human rights rapporteur for Sudan, arguing such an 'irrational'
move would only complicate the Darfur crisis. The government issued its
warning as the Geneva-based UN Human Rights Commission prepared to vote
on a resolution aimed at piling more pressure on Khartoum over its
responsibility in atrocities committed in Darfur. 'The unwise tackling
by the (UN) Security Council of the Darfur conflict now prevails in the
deliberations of the Human Rights Commission as manifested in the
insistence of the European group to place the Sudan under the special
rapporteur article,' State Foreign Minister Naguib al-Khair Abdel Wahab
told reporters."

"He described two UN Security Council resolutions passed earlier this
month on Darfur as 'irrational' and warned that Khartoum would also
refuse to cooperate with a rights rapporteur if one was appointed."
(Agence France-Presse, April 19, 2005)

Here the National Islamic Front regime can be taken at its word.


The consequences of Khartoum's escalating violence against humanitarian
operations in Darfur are as clear as the regime's growing scorn for the
UN. And as humanitarian operations are curtailed because of violence
and direct attacks, genocide by attrition claims ever more tens of
thousands of lives. As the rainy season looms closer, so too do
hundreds of thousands of civilian deaths.

Even the most intrepid aid organizations are confronting insecurity
that is directly and consequentially impeding humanitarian assistance.
The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), which has been
virtually alone in seeking to deliver food to distressed rural
populations in Darfur that are beyond the reach of camp-based food aid,
recently indicated a changed view of the security situation:

"Ongoing insecurity was impeding efforts to help people who lacked even
the most basic necessities and were becoming increasingly dependent on
external aid, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) said.
'Until now we have not changed our operations in Darfur, but we are
very concerned about the ongoing insecurity,' Lorena Brander,
spokesperson for the ICRC in Khartoum, told IRIN." (UN Integrated
Regional Information Networks, April 18, 2005)

Reuters also reports on the ICRC statement:

"Attacks on aid convoys in Sudan's Darfur have increased over the past
two weeks, stopping urgently needed food from getting through, the Red
Cross (ICRC) said on Monday. Unidentified attackers ambushed and looted
numerous aid trucks with essential items for remote villages and
refugees forced to flee their homes by fighting in the western Sudan
region, the International Committee of the Red Cross said."

"The international relief group said the attacks were denying help to
people who lacked even the most basic necessities. The attacks had been
carried out against a number of aid agencies and had not targetted the
ICRC itself, a spokesman said. 'These attacks against humanitarian
convoys are hampering the humanitarian activities that are taking place
in Darfur,' said ICRC spokesman Marco Jimenez, without giving further
details of the attacks." (Reuters, April 18, 2005)

Various other humanitarian organizations have also recently reported
that "violence in Darfur has continued to affect humanitarian operations
during the past two weeks"; in particular, "the Danish Refugee Council
reported that a local staff member was shot and killed on Friday evening
in Golo, in the Jebel Marra region of West Darfur state":

"'We don't know who is responsible for this tragic incident, which
happened when our staff member was off duty, but investigations are
ongoing,' Anne-Sophie Laenkholm, programme coordinator for the Danish
Refugee Council, told IRIN. The [UN] World Food Programme reported
ongoing insecurity in the region was adversely affecting its food
distributions." (UN Integrated Regional Information Networks, April 18,

Senator Bill Frist, with high-level access to US intelligence, last
week introduced into the Senate a statement on the March shooting of a
worker for the US Agency for International Development. In the context
of assessing the mayhem orchestrated by "Janjaweed death squads," Frist
says of the shooting:

"I am informed that the shooting was not random. The attackers
intentionally targeted a humanitarian convoy in order to intimidate the
world." (Statement introduced into the US Senate, April 15, 2005)

Frist also notes that the four-vehicle convoy "ambushed" was "clearly

A recent UN "situation report" on Darfur (April 12, 2005) also reports
on the effects of deteriorating security for humanitarian operations:

"One International Nongovernmental Organization (INGO) announced its
withdrawal from East Jebel Marra until the security situation improves.
Another INGO left the area in early March, leaving no healthcare in
SLA-controlled Jebel Marra." (UN "situation report" on Darfur; April 12,

Such reports are now coming with deeply ominous regularity.


Although the African Union has been able to provide marginal protection
to some of the internally displaced persons in Darfur, 2,200 AU
personnel cannot begin to provide meaningful security for the more than
1.85 million internally displaced persons the UN estimates are now
registered in over 150 camps---in a region the size of France. The
consequences are all too clear, as women and girls continue to face
violent rape and assault if they leave the camps to collect firewood,
water, or animal fodder. Men and boys continue to face execution.

Even in the camps insecurity often prevails, as UN High Commission for
Refugees Wendy Chamberlin discovered in her visit to El Hamadya camp
(one of four near Zalingei in West Darfur):

"Darfur women who said they were chased from their villages by
Janjaweed militia told visiting Acting High Commissioner Wendy
Chamberlin on Tuesday that they were terrified to go home anytime soon.
In a women's centre in El Hamadya camp for displaced people, some 50
women told her they don't even feel safe inside the camp. El Hamadya is
one of four camps in Zalingi, in Sudan's West Darfur state, that
together house nearly 63,000 displaced people. They have totally swamped
the town's original population of about 16,000."

"When the women receive donations of plastic sheets and tents, armed
men come into the camp in the middle of the night and steal the goods,
the women said. 'Midnight---that's when the AU is not there,' said
Chamberlin, referring to the African Union troops who are spread
throughout Darfur---the size of France---to provide a measure of safety
for civilians traumatised by the two-year conflict."

"About 25 of the 50 women said they had lost a husband or male relative
to Janjaweed attacks. 'We will stay here in the camp for 20 years until
they collect the guns from the Arab troops,' vowed one woman. 'There are
people who are armed and they kill us, they rape us and they rob us.
They are the Janjaweed,' one woman said."

"On the one-hour helicopter flight to Zalingi, Chamberlin passed over
numerous burnt-out villages in the barren desert which she said
'graphically illustrate why these people left their villages and
sought safety and security in the camps.'" (Release by the UN High
Commission for Refugees, April 19, 2005)

This is but one of many scores of reports on insecurity encountered by
displaced persons in the camps and urban areas. Most are reduced, if
they appear at all, to line items of the sort we see in the UN
"situation report" for April 10, 2005:

"South Darfur: Due to the continued harassment of Internally Displaced
Persons [IDPs] in Kass, it has been reported that there is a renewed
movement from Kass to Kalma camp, where five newly arrived families were
registered on 9 April [2005]."

"West Darfur: The Interagency Assessment mission to Tendelti on 4 April
[2005] confirmed a population of approximately 1500 IDPs (225
households), mainly displaced from Juruf village. The IDPs fled
Tendelti approximately over a month ago as a result of heightened

Significantly, Kofi Annan's report to the UN Security Council
highlights the terrible fate of rape victims in camps for the displaced
(where the rapes themselves often occur):

"In one case several pregnant rape victims were detained [by local
officials] on adultery charges and, although eventually released, were
beaten and sexually assaulted while in detention, thus discouraging
others from registering complaints, [Annan reported]." (UN News Centre,
April 19, 2005)

The National Islamic Front regime's attitude towards internally
displaced Sudanese has long been evident in its brutal treatment of
people (mostly southern Sudanese) who have migrated toward the Khartoum
area over the course of 21 years of civil war in the south. Recently
there has been a spate of reports on this brutality, a defining feature
of the regime for many years:

"As a new peace accord in southern Sudan opens up the prospect of the
return home of millions of people uprooted by two decades of civil war,
the top United Nations refugee official has called on the Government to
live up to its duty to protect its own citizens after it demolished a
camp [for internally displaced persons] and dumped its residents in the
desert with no services."

"'We have seen conditions people are living in after their village was
levelled, and we stress the Government's responsibilities for its own
citizens,' Acting UN High Commissioner for Refugees Wendy Chamberlin
said yesterday after visiting the squalid squatter camp of Shikan, near
the capital Khartoum. About 30,000 southerners lived there until the end
of December, when the Government evicted them, dumping them in a desert
area. But 5,000 have now drifted back, living in cardboard and burlap
structures." (UN News Centre, April 19, 2005)

Reuters' superb journalist Opheera McDoom reported in late March 2005
on the "dumping" ground known as the al-Fatha camp (which is also
McDoom's dateline):

"Almost 40 km (25 miles) past the [Khartoum] suburb of Omdurman, in the
middle of the desert, is an emerging city. Row after row of makeshift
housing and tents accommodate more than 300,000 people who have fled
Sudan's many conflicts to try to make a life in the national capital.
[Displaced persons] in al-Fatha are from the southern Dinka tribe or
from Darfur, where a 2-year-old rebellion is raging, forcing 2 million
to flee their homes. Al-Fatha has no running water, no food, no
electricity, no schools or medical facilities. The top UN envoy in
Sudan, Jan Pronk, calls its residents the forgotten people. 'The people
in these camps are probably worse off than the people of Darfur,' he
said." (Reuters, March 23, 2005)

"All the inhabitants tell the same story. 'The government came on
December 28, [2004], destroyed our houses and forced us to come here,
where there is nothing,' said Barbary Marjan, from the Nuba Mountains.
Most of the people in al-Fatha come from Shikan, about 15 km closer to
town and now a wasteland covered in rubble since the authorities
bulldozed the houses last year because they were built without
permission. Residents said nine children died in the move because they
could not cope with the severe night desert cold after their houses were
destroyed without warning." (Reuters, March 23, 2005)

This important dispatch continues:

"Khartoum's Arab-dominated government has a policy of demolishing what
it calls slum housing, which stretches for miles around the capital, and
moving the residents to planned areas further out to create satellite
cities. Aid officials say the government moves people forcibly to areas
where there are no services, even food or water, and the people are too
poor to get back to town where they work. The UN estimates there are
more than 2 million people living in the camps outside Khartoum and
demolitions take place regularly." (Reuters, March 23, 2005)

If we are to assess Khartoum's attitudes towards the populations of
camps in Darfur, we have no better guide than the regime's brutally
callous behavior in creating al-Fatha.


The April 7, 2005 attack on Khor Abeche was a particularly
well-reported military assault in Khartoum's genocidal conduct of war in
Darfur; but despite the proximity of African Union observers we are only
now getting some of the horrific first-hand accounts:

"Arafa Abdullah Hadi hid for a week in a dry creek outside her Darfur
village, fearing the Arab militiamen she saw shoot dead her two uncles
and brother-in-law would come back. Arab militias, known as Janjaweed,
rampaged through Hadi's previously rebel-held town of Khor Abeche in
South Darfur state 11 days ago, burning, killing and looting all in
their path. 'They came early, at 6 am. I heard the screaming first and
then shooting," Hadi,' 19, said. She ran outside with her family to see
the Janjaweed turn up on horses and camels and in vehicles with machine
guns on top. They killed about 30 people that day, she said, dressed in
a colourful wrap but shyly covering her face."

"After hiding in the dry river bed with her family, Hadi walked for six
days without food to the nearest safe camp, Otash, on the outskirts of
Nyala town, South Darfur's capital. No planes or helicopters were used
in the Khor Abeche attack, but witnesses accuse the government of
involvement and cooperation with the Janjaweed. Both army and Janjaweed
use vehicles and they wear the same green khaki uniform, the Khor Abeche
survivors say. But the Janjaweed wear red cloth bands around their
heads. The bloodshed on April 7, [2005] finished off Khor Abeche, which
had come under attack many times, residents said. About 25,000 people
were displaced." (Reuters, April 19, 2005)

But the attack on Khor Abeche (see April 12, 2005 analysis by this
writer, at
is far from alone. As is inevitably the case in a region as vast,
remote, and difficult as Darfur, we often learn only weeks afterwards of
particular attacks. Real-time reporting of the sort that accompanied
the attack on Khor Abeche is the exception rather than the rule. The
Sudan Organization Against Torture (SOAT), an increasingly valuable
source of news from the ground in Darfur, reports only on April 18, 2005
of a March 7, 2005 attack on Hejair Tono village, south of Nyala (South

"On 7 March 2005, armed militias on horseback, camels and in cars
numbering more than 200 attacked and looted Hejair Tono Village, 35 km
south of Nyala town, Southern Darfur state killing three men and
wounding a fourth man. The militias looted approximately 150 camels."
[SOAT provides considerable detail on the victims (all Zaghawa) and
other features of the attack] (SOAT Press Release, April 18, 2005)

Another recent attack in South Darfur, on the village of Thor, is
reported by Reuters:

"Survivors of militia attacks in Darfur have accused African Union
forces of doing nothing to stop the bloodshed and demanded peacekeepers
be sent into the war-torn region. Hassan Abdel Karim said African Union
(AU) troops were just 5 km (3 miles) away when Arab militiamen rampaged
through his home village of Thor, killing 22 people. 'They were so close
they would've heard the shooting but they did nothing,' said Abdel
Karim, who told how he fled for his life as gunmen burned and looted

"He said the militias, known as Janjaweed, caught the villagers by
surprise by attacking early morning. He was sitting at home with his
wife and two young children when he heard the shooting. 'I panicked, ran
outside---there were horses, camels, shooting, burning and more
shooting---it was total chaos,' he said. 'My wife grabbed one child, I
grabbed the other and we ran into the bush leaving everything we owned
behind. 'This attack could have been avoided had they (AU troops)
intervened to stop it,' he said, tears welling up in his eyes. 'But they
just come afterwards and make useless reports.'" (Reuters, April 18,


If we are to believe Deputy Secretary of State Zoellick, an increase in
African Union personnel---from 2,200 to "7,000-8,000"---will stop such

"Zoellick expressed his intent to keep pushing the expansion of the
African Union force now serving as monitors in Darfur from roughly 2,000
to 7,000 or 8,000, and to persuade NATO or various NATO members to
provide logistical support for the AU mission." (Reuters April 15,

But no mention is made of a need for a peacekeeping mandate. Nor does
Zoellick offer any meaningful enumeration of essential security tasks in
specifying this force level. For to do so would reveal the complete
inadequacy of even 8,000 AU personnel, were they available, and whose
deployment speed could almost certainly be measured in terms of the many
months it has taken to put 2,200 personnel on the ground in Darfur.
(Unsurprisingly, Zoellick's figure is conveniently congruent with those
recently offered by the UN's Jan Pronk, Kofi Annan's special
representative for Darfur, and Jan Egeland, UN Under-secretary for
Humanitarian Affairs). And certainly no mention is made of using non-AU
personnel, which is essential to any meaningful humanitarian
intervention in Darfur---and not simply for "logistical support."
Instead, Zoellick is content with an entirely arbitrary number, as
plausible in fulfilling its purpose as his estimate of total mortality
to date in Darfur:

"Zoellick said the State Department estimated the dead at between
60,000 and 160,000. 'There are numbers that are higher, and what I would
emphasize in this is that nobody knows for sure,' he said." (Washington
Post April 14, 2005)

Of course "nobody knows for sure" how many people have died in 26
months of extremely violent conflict and massive privation among the
civilian populations of Darfur. Such surety will never come. But any
credible analysis of extant data will surely reveal that an estimate of
"60,000 to 160,000" obliges, among other examples of statistically
irresponsible behavior, ignoring the very data that served as the basis
for the original genocide determination which former Secretary of State
Colin Powell offered as part of his September 2004 Senate testimony.
The distinguished Coalition for International Justice, on the basis of
an extraordinary 1,134 interviews along the Chad/Darfur border,
presented data making clear that at least 200,000 people have died as a
result of violence since September 2003 (again, see analysis of this
data at

Data from a variety of other sources, including the UN's World Health
Organization (WHO), also work to demand of Zoellick and the State
Department why a figure of "60,000 to 160,000" can be proffered so
irresponsibly. For example, the WHO publicly reported that in camps to
which there is humanitarian access, 70,000 people died in the period
March-October 2004 from disease and malnutrition. This figure excluded
mortality prior to March 2004 and subsequent to October 2004; it
excluded mortality in Chad; it excluded mortality in inaccessible rural
areas; and most significantly, it excluded nearly all violent mortality.
And the WHO assessment still yields a figure 10,000 human beings
greater than the lower end of the State Department assessment.

Absent a detailed account of methods and data, the figure offered by
Zoellick must be regarded as a shamefully expedient lowballing of
Darfur's mortality for political purposes. It is as disgraceful as

The same must be said of Zoellick's refusal, in which he has a great
deal of Bush administration company, to re-affirm a determination of
genocide. Here we learn too much of what we need to know if we simply
observe that President Bush hasn't mentioned the word "Darfur" publicly
for over three months---and then only in passing. As Nicholas Kristof
recently observed in a New York Times column:

"Incredibly, Mr. Bush managed to get through recent meetings with
Vladimir Putin, Jacques Chirac, Tony Blair and the entire NATO
leadership without any public mention of Darfur." (New York Times, April
17, 2005)

But Darfur's agony, and ongoing genocidal destruction, cannot be ended
by silence, expediency, or contrived statistics. This is the moment for
Presidential leadership, and it is nowhere in sight. To be sure, Mr.
Bush has plenty of company in Europe and perhaps this is all that he
requires, despite the determined maginalis that the President added to a
memorandum on the Rwandan genocide that came to him early in his
presidency: "Not on my watch!"

Without a meaningful and urgent commitment to ending genocide in Darfur
now, these words ring hollow to the core.

Eric Reeves
Smith College
Northampton, MA 01063

Sunday, April 17, 2005

map of Darfur Posted by Hello

Humanitarian Intervention in Darfur 

[from The Boston Globe (Sunday), April 17, 2005]

"Humanitarian intervention in Darfur?"
By Eric Reeves | April 17, 2005

EXTANT MORTALITY data strongly suggest that genocide in the Darfur region of
western Sudan has now claimed approximately 400,000 lives. Ethnically targeted
human destruction, directed by the National Islamic Front regime in Khartoum
against African tribal populations of the region, has also displaced well over 2
million, and left 3 million in need of humanitarian assistance.

Though shamefully deferred, the question of international humanitarian
intervention in Darfur can no longer be avoided. Without such intervention---including
all necessary military support and a robust mandate for civilian
protection---extreme insecurity amid rapidly accelerating famine conditions will push the
genocidal death toll much higher. UN humanitarian chief Jan Egeland has predicted
that mortality rates could climb to 100,000 people a month if insecurity forces
humanitarian organizations to suspend work.

The present partial contingent of 2,200 African Union cease-fire monitors and
protection forces has taken six months to deploy (the original target figure was
3,500). A proposed increase to 6,000---still far from adequate for the security
tasks in Darfur---could not be completed until late summer, even accepting an
optimistic African Union assessment. Moreover, African Union forces have serious
deficiencies, not only in numbers but in transport capacity, communications,
intelligence, as well as logistics and administrative resources.

Most consequentially, the African Union has been unable to secure from Khartoum
a mandate for civilian protection. The mission is tasked only with monitoring a
cease-fire that has virtually no meaning and doesn't include the Janjaweed,
Khartoum's now notoriously brutal militia proxy in Darfur.

The African Union force alone is all too clearly vastly inadequate to the
urgent needs for civilian protection in Darfur. But because the UN is so unlikely to
provide auspices for an effective intervening force, the international
community has expediently allowed the African Union to serve as a default policy.
Recent Security Council resolutions on Darfur, as well as comments from the UN
political leadership, only highlight the improbability of UN-mandated humanitarian

But the current African Union deployment can't conceal the continuing
deterioration of security for both civilians and humanitarian operations. Moreover,
there is now compelling evidence that Khartoum has begun to organize more targeted
attacks on humanitarian aid workers, part of an ongoing policy of hindering
relief operations in this immense region. The recent shooting of a worker for the
US Agency for International Development grimly highlights the regime's tactics.

Humanitarian intervention in Darfur should be defined by security needs, not
the capacity of the African Union or the political limitations of the UN. Scores
of large camps for displaced persons must have secure perimeters that allow
women and girls to search for firewood, water, and animal fodder without fear of
rape by the Janjaweed; humanitarian corridors and convoys must be provided all
necessary protection; safe passage must be created for hundreds of thousands of
Darfuris trapped in inaccessible rural areas and beyond humanitarian reach;
those wishing to return to the sites of their former villages and resume
agriculturally productive lives must have security; and the Janjaweed militia must be
cantoned and eventually disarmed (as futilely demanded by UN Security Council
Resolution 1556, July 30, 2004).

There are clear risks to such intervention, and to the Western military
resources and personnel that alone can enable African Union forces to become truly
effective. There are highly credible reports of Saudi, Yemeni, Jordanian, and
Iraqi nationals in training camps in Darfur---certainly with Khartoum's knowledge.
Attacks on civilians and humanitarian workers in the early stages of
intervention present a clear risk, and a highly mobile, well-armed early contingent of
troops must be deployed to counter such threats. Khartoum must also be put on
notice that it will be held fully and immediately accountable for attacks on
civilians by its own forces and its paramilitary allies. Similarly, the Darfuri
insurgency groups may attempt to take military advantage of any intervention; they,
too, must be put on notice that any actions impeding efforts to protect
civilians and humanitarian workers will be met forcefully.

There are other risks to what would be a large, expensive, and long-term
deployment in a forbidding region. But as the third year of genocidal conflict grinds
on, let us be clear about the costs of inaction or further pretense that the
African Union alone can respond adequately to this vast episode in deliberate
human destruction. Hundreds of thousands of innocent civilians will die. They are
as vulnerable to the consequences of insecurity, famine, disease, and the
Janjaweed as the Tutsis and moderate Hutus of Rwanda were vulnerable to the violence
inspired by the Interahamwe. The 11th anniversary of the terrible events of
1994 only makes more conspicuous our failure, again, to intervene.

[Eric Reeves is a professor at Smith College]

Eric Reeves
Smith College
Northampton, MA 01063

Tuesday, April 12, 2005

Darfur Victims Posted by Hello

The Destruction of Khor Abeche, South Darfur, April 7, 2005: 

A symbol of international impotence in confronting Darfur's genocide

Eric Reeves
April 12, 2005

Relatives and friends of the many innocent civilians slaughtered last
week in the village of Khor Abeche (South Darfur, east of Nyala) may be
forgiven for concluding that piously irresolute UN Security Council
resolutions offer little protection from ongoing Janjaweed attacks. In
a savage, daylong attack on April 7, 2005, militia forces from the
neighboring village of Niteaga "rampaged through the village [of Khor
Abeche], killing, burning and destroying everything in their paths and
leaving in their wake total destruction" ("Joint Statement by the
African Union Mission in Sudan and the UN Mission in Sudan," April 7,
2005). The attack is described by the UN and AU missions as "savage,"
"pre-meditated," and ultimately a function of "deliberation official
procrastination" that prevented the deployment of AU observers who might
have been able to forestall the clearly impending attack.

The dead and surviving residents of Khor Abeche may also be forgiven
for concluding that mere referral of war crimes to the International
Criminal Court will do nothing to deter ongoing, ethnically-targeted
civilian destruction in Darfur. Certainly none of the three resolutions
recently passed by the UN Security Council made the slightest difference
to those victims whose brutal murder led the UN and the AU to declare
their "utter shock and disbelief of the relentless daylong attack on
Khor Abeche." But neither "shock" nor "disbelief" is any longer an
appropriate response to the genocidal violence in Darfur. As the third
year of conflict grinds on in Darfur, as the African tribal populations
and villages of the region continue to be destroyed as part of
Khartoum's unspeakably brutal counter-insurgency warfare, there is no
basis for either "shock" or "surprise."

Indeed, the attack on Khor Abeche is so entirely in character that, for
precisely this reason, we must attend carefully to the frank UN and AU
account of the circumstances leading up to this all too representative

"The African Union had been engaged in discussions with the Wali
[Khartoum-appointed governor] of South Darfur and Nasir al Tijani Adel
Kaadir [commander of the Arab militia/Janjaweed force] on several
occasions in the past on how to maintain the security situation in the
area. Indeed, the AU had prepared to deploy its troops in Niteaga and
Khor Abeche since 3 April [2005], to deter precisely this kind of
attack, but was prevented from acting by what can only be inferred as
deliberate official procrastination over the allocation of land for the
troops' accommodation."

"The callous destruction of Khor Abeche by Nasir al Tijani and his
lieutenants is in clear violation of not only the N'Djamena and Abuja
Agreements, but also runs counter to numerous UN Security Council
Resolutions, including Resolution 1591, which seeks to ensure that the
perpetrators of such acts no longer enjoy impunity and are brought to
justice." ("Joint Statement by the African Union Mission in Sudan and
the UN Mission in Sudan," April 7, 2005)

Of particular significance in this account is fact that for several
days prior to the attack, the AU and UN had been in communication with
Khartoum's highest appointed official in South Darfur, the Wali
(governor). From this we may infer, with full certainty, that senior
officials in Khartoum were well aware of the impending attack and of
efforts by the AU and the UN to forestall it. The "deliberate official
procrastination" in agreeing to a deployment location for AU forces can
only mean that Khartoum fully intended for this attack to go forward:
with such intense UN and AU involvement, over a period of days, the Wali
of South Darfur would not have made such a decision on his own authority
alone. The 350 Janjaweed militia forces, attacking on camel and
horseback, were not acting autonomously; they were not acting under some
false sense of impunity; and they were not acting as rogue elements.

The attack on Khor Abeche occurred only because Khartoum sanctioned it;
the regime deliberately allowed a militia proxy to "rampage through the
village [of Khor Abeche], killing, burning and destroying everything in
their paths and leaving in their wake total destruction" ("Joint
Statement by the African Union Mission in Sudan and the UN Mission in
Sudan," April 7, 2005). It was, in short, chillingly similar to the
many, many hundreds of such attacks over the past two years.


The attack on Khor Abeche highlights yet again the fundamental
limitations of the African Union mission in Darfur, a mission that
remains defined by a mandate only to monitor the non-existent cease-fire
(originally of April 8, 2004, essentially reiterated on November 9,
2004). The approximately 2,200 personnel in the present AU mission,
deployed over a region the size of France, simply cannot function as a
peacekeeping force. Even when courageously willing to deploy in a
fashion that creates a presence that might deter violence against
civilians (as has happened on a number of previous occasions), the AU
force has no ability to stop a determined attack by Khartoum's regular
forces or its militia proxies (the Janjaweed) or the regime's
paramilitary Popular Defense Forces (PDF). Indeed, neither the
Janjaweed nor the PDF is a party to the ceasefire, and are not
officially included in the monitoring mandate guiding the AU.

In the absence of a vastly larger force---with a robust civilian
protection mandate, and guided by a comprehensive sense of the manifold
security tasks in Darfur---there will continue to be attacks of the sort
witnessed at Khor Abeche. For it is fully, indisputably clear that
neither current nor contemplated AU personnel and resources are adequate
for such a force. In turn, either the AU makes clear its need for
substantial assistance, both personnel and material, from non-AU actors
such as NATO, or the people of Darfur will be consigned to the ongoing
risk of merciless military attacks. Again, there have been many, many
hundreds of these attacks over the past two years. If they have
diminished in frequency, it is largely because so many of the African
villages in Darfur have already been destroyed: 90% is the consensus
figure among Darfuris in exile with contacts on the ground.

In assessing the political and diplomatic performance of the AU, we
must ask what it means that there has still been no successful effort to
force Khartoum to accept a mandate for civilian and humanitarian
protection in Darfur. Certainly there has been no public demand for
such a mandate issued out of Addis Ababa (headquarters of the AU); nor
has putative "quiet diplomacy" on the part of the AU moved with any
evident success toward the achievement of such a mandate. In fact,
evidence strongly suggests that the AU continues to be guided by the
fundamentally mistaken belief (if accepted at face value) that a
cease-fire monitoring mission can function de facto as a means of
halting ongoing genocidal violence amidst what has for months been
universally described as a "climate of impunity" in Darfur. This is a
thoroughly untenable belief, for which civilians and humanitarian
operations in the region are paying a terrible price.

Diplomatically, the AU has a similar record of impotence. The last
round of peace negotiations, in December 2004, collapsed because
Khartoum launched a major military offensive in Darfur on the very eve
of resumed talks in Abuja, Nigeria. Since that time, the AU has been
unable even to schedule a date for the resumption of talks. The
insurgency movements (the Sudan Liberation Movement/Army [SLM/A] and the
Justice and Equality Movement [JEM]) have, to be sure, performed poorly
at times in what is for them the novel arena of diplomacy, though much
of this derives from a deep and fully comprehensible mistrust of
Khartoum as a negotiating partner. Only in the last few days have the
SLM/A and JEM dropped unreasonable pre-conditions for resumed talks
(Agence France-Presse, April 11, 2005). But despite claims that there
are back-channel negotiations between various mediators, the insurgency
movements, and the Khartoum regime, there is no evidence that a peace
settlement is anywhere in sight. And the rainy season begins in less
than two months.

[Of very significant diplomatic concern is the government of Chad's
recent suspension of its mediation efforts in the search for peace in
Darfur. The weak government of Idriss Deby has declared that it cannot
help further in mediation because Khartoum is "supporting rebels [in
Darfur] determined to destabilize [the government of Chad] (Reuters
[dateline: N'Djamena], April 11, 2005). In particular Chad has accused
Khartoum of "recruiting and supplying some 3,000 rebels close to the
border between the two countries" (Reuters, April 11, 2005). Last week
Chad's Communications Minister, Barthelemy Natoingar Bainodji, said
"Arabs from Chad had been recruited to join the Janjaweed militias
accused of widespread atrocities in Darfur" (BBC, April 8, 2005).

Given the extremely precarious position of Deby, internally and in his
relationship to Khartoum, it is thoroughly unlikely that these
accusations are contrived. They are rather almost certainly a desperate
effort to awaken the international community to the growing threat to
regional stability that is posed by ongoing conflict in Darfur. This
warning is ignored only by the most foolishly expedient.]


Even before the attack on Khor Abeche, it was clear that growing
insecurity in Darfur was continuing to attenuate humanitarian relief
efforts (see "Current Security Conditions in Darfur: An Overview," April
7, 2005 at
And insecurity is not all that currently constrains humanitarian
operations. In addition to a fundamental shortage of overall capacity
for the more than 3 million people now affected by the conflict,
humanitarian operations in Darfur are also being affected by a lack of
adequate funding:

"The UN World Food Programme said today [April 8, 2005] that for the
first time since WFP's major emergency operation for Darfur began, a
drastic shortage of funds will force it to cut rations for more than one
million people living in the western region of Darfur. Starting in May
[2005], WFP will have to cut by half the non-cereal part of the daily
ration. This is a last resort to help stretch current food supplies
through the critical months of July and August---the region's
traditional lean months, when food needs become most acute."

"While the reduction will not affect programmes for malnourished
children and nursing mothers, it will impact significantly on the diet
of more than one million poor and vulnerable people. A cut by half in
non-cereals---the most nutritious part of the ration---means that the
daily minimum recommended diet of 2,100 kilocalories per person will
drop to 1,890."

"While donations to WFP for cereals have been generous and thus the
ration's cereal portion remains unchanged, there has been little
response to repeated appeals for non-cereals---pulses, vegetable oil,
sugar, salt, and blended foods." (UN World Food Program statement
[Khartoum], April 8, 2004)

This critical shortcoming, in the almost immediate wake of generous
international responses to the victims of the terrible Southeast Asia
tsunami, is a terrible failure, a scandalous example of the inequities
in humanitarian assistance that have so often victimized those suffering
in Africa.

But issues of overall capacity also emerge in the World Food Program
statement, particularly in the context of the most recent figures from
the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), which
indicates approximately 2.5 million people as conflict-affected, a
figure which does not include the refugee population in Chad (200,000)
or the very large rural populations currently beyond humanitarian

"The situation [in Darfur] will become even more dramatic when food
needs escalate during the rainy season in July and August, prompting an
additional 500,000 people at least to require food aid. Continuing
conflict and insecurity, low rainfall and a poor past harvest threaten
to push numbers even higher." [ ]

"Widespread conflict, banditry and insecurity to people in villages
beyond the state capitals still made many areas inaccessible for much of
March. As a result, WFP food assistance reached an estimated 1.4 million
people in Darfur, some 200,000 fewer than the record 1.6 million people
fed in February. 'The people of Darfur need urgent aid. They don't have
other options. The conflict in the region has robbed them of their homes
and livelihoods,' Carlos Veloso, the WFP emergency coordinator for
Darfur, said." (UN World Food Program statement [Khartoum], April 8,

The nutritional effects of food ration cuts are consequential in
themselves, but also compound the serious issue of declining morale in
the camps for the displaced, which increasingly have come to seem
prisons for those who seek or remain in them out of a desperate need for
protection from the continuing attacks of the sort witnessed at Khor

"'We are very concerned about the negative effect this drastic
ration-cut will have on the health and psychological well-being of
thousands of people---who are already weakened and traumatised by war,'
Veloso said." (UN Integrated Regional Information Networks, April 8,

In some places in Darfur, deteriorating nutritional conditions are
already in evidence. The most recent "fact sheet" from the US Agency
for International Development (April 8, 2005) highlights a recent survey
by TearFund in the Al Deain locality of South Darfur:

"On March 31 [2005], TearFund reported preliminary findings of a 30x30
cluster nutritional survey conducted from March 14 to 18 [2005] in the
Al Deain locality of South Darfur in collaboration with the UN
Children's Fund, the Ministry of Health, and a local NGO. The survey
revealed high malnutrition rates amongst the under-five population, with
a global acute malnutrition (GAM) rate of 25.2 percent and a severe
acute malnutrition (SAM) rate of 4.3 percent. TearFund also reported a
high prevalence of diarrhea, with 86 percent of severely malnourished
children reported to have had diarrhea within two weeks prior to the
survey." (US Agency for International Development "fact sheet" on
Darfur, April 8, 2005)

These malnutrition rates for children (25.2% Global Acute Malnutrition
and 4.3% Severe Acute Malnutrition) are terrible harbingers heading into
the rainy season and the traditional "hunger gap," especially in light
of huge shortcomings in the pre-positioning of food throughout the
Darfur humanitarian theater (West Darfur and Chad in particular).
Though malnutrition and mortality rates have declined recently in the
larger, more well-established camps, both rates are set to rise
again---and rapidly---with the onset of the seasonal rains (May/June
through September).

And there is considerable evidence that even now a great deal of human
privation and suffering is under-reported for various populations. For
example, the humanitarian organization HelpAge International recently
conducted an assessment of the older population in the camp areas of

"Older people are neglected and forgotten in Darfur camps, because they
are frequently not included in international humanitarian aid food and
health programmes, warns new research by HelpAge International. A health
and nutrition assessment of older people by HelpAge International, in
five camps in West Darfur, found older people felt isolated and lonely
because of food insecurity. On average, 'older' people over the age of
50 years old, comprise 10 per cent of a camp's population. Although
older people, along with children, are classed as a vulnerable group,
many interviewed, were not being directly targeted by aid agencies."

*Over 20 per cent of older people were not accessing World Food
Programme food rations, with this figure rising to 26 per cent in one

*45 per cent of older people claimed not to have proper shelter;

*61 per cent of older people claimed to have a chronic disease that
needed specialised treatment or drugs, which were not available to

"The research found few people older people had adequate food, either
in quality or quantity. Around 20 per cent were only eating one meal a
day. Often they were sharing rations with orphaned and separated
children, not always related, in their care. Those not receiving food,
had missed out on registration due to disability or being unable to move
without support or a guide. Half of all the older people interviewed by
HelpAge International live alone, most are widows, without extended
family support." ("Older people are neglected in Darfur," HelpAge
International, April 11, 2005)

A more accurate registration of the elderly would certainly show a much
larger conflict-affected population in Darfur, as well as much greater
dependence on international food and medical relief. As this writer has
noted on a number of previous occasions over the past year and a half,
under-reporting of the Darfur crisis---including the number of victims
and the scale of humanitarian need---has been a chronic feature of the
international response from almost the very beginning.

It is also important that the growing needs for food and medical relief
in neighboring Chad not be ignored. Chad, which has been burdened from
the beginning of the Darfur conflict with a huge refugee influx in an
eastern border region that can barely provide subsistence to the local
Chadian population, has been little discussed in recent months by
humanitarian organizations; but there are ominous signs. The UN High
Commission for Refugees recently noted significant increases in severe
malnutrition in refugee camps along the Chad/Darfur border, and the UN
World Food Program today issued an urgent warning:

"The UN World Food Programme has warned that unless donations are
rapidly forthcoming, nearly 200,000 refugees who have fled into Chad
from the Darfur conflict in neighbouring Sudan risk going hungry in the
months ahead. WFP is appealing for US$87 million in food aid to cover
needs in the refugee camps of eastern Chad until the end of next year.
However, contributions are urgently needed to ensure sufficient stocks
are delivered to the camps ahead of this year's rainy season, during
which road transport becomes all but impossible across most of the
region. 'We need food now,' said WFP Chad Country Director Stefano
Porretti. 'With the rains only a matter of two or three months away, it
is absolutely imperative that we move food to the places where it will
be needed later this year. This process has already begun but is far
from complete.'"

"Under a revision of its current emergency operation, WFP will also be
assisting over 150,000 Chadian nationals as well as providing for the
possibility that an additional 150,000 people could cross the border
from Darfur if the conflict continues." (UN World Food Program
statement, April 12, 2005)

In other words, the total population in Chad in need of humanitarian
assistance could reach to 500,000: 200,000 current Darfuri refugees;
150,000 local Chadians who have been overwhelmed by the presence of such
a large refugee population in the impoverished border region; and
another 150,000 Darfuris who may flee to Chad because of ongoing
violence in Darfur, again of the sort witnessed in Khor Abeche. This
part of Chad is inaccessible from N'Djamena to the west during the rainy
season, and the alternative supply route (overland from Libya) cannot
possibly supply even the current refugee population. Extremely
expensive airlifting of food will be the only alternative, and there is
no such airlift capacity in the Darfur humanitarian theater. This is an
extremely vulnerable refugee population.


In addition to an acute food crisis, water supplies continue to dwindle
in Darfur even as problems in current water provisions for the camps are
revealed more conspicuously. Gallab camp for displaced persons in North
Darfur is only one of many examples that have recently been reported:

"In February [2005], an interagency assessment found that 14,000 IDPs
in the Gallab Internally Displace Persons camp in North Darfur were
sharing two hand-pumps with limited capacity to cover their water needs."
(US Agency for International Development "fact sheet" on Darfur, April
8, 2005)

Two hand-pumps for 14,000 people.

Like so many humanitarian issues in Darfur, many of the current
shortcomings in water supplies can be directly related to insecurity.
The US Agency for International Development "fact sheet" for April 1,
2005 reports:

"Insecurity [throughout Darfur] has reduced the number of accessible
water sources, at the same time that accessible water sources are
becoming more scarce from declining water tables, slow recharge rates,
and lack of maintenance for wells and pumps."

These humanitarian realities collectively have led recently to more
urgent warning from various INGOs (International Nongovernmental
Organizations) and UN organizations, although the urgency that should
have informed these warnings is belated in many quarters. Moreover,
continuing violence has quietly produced over the past couple of months
a net reduction in the presence of international aid organizations and
corresponding capacity on the ground (this decline is not reflected in
the UN Darfur Humanitarian Profiles, which provide much too superficial
and mechanical an account of humanitarian capacity). Some of this is
clearly a response to Khartoum's strategy of obstructionism and
intimidation, recently highlighted by Human Rights Watch:

"The Sudanese government has sought to intimidate humanitarian relief
agencies in Darfur by arbitrarily arresting or detaining at least 20 aid
workers since December, Human Rights Watch said today. In several
incidents, the rebel movements in Darfur have also detained or attacked
aid workers. Human Rights Watch called on all parties to the conflict in
Darfur to ensure the safety of humanitarian aid workers and facilitate
their access to Sudanese civilians in need of assistance. 'The Sudanese
authorities are using the same strong-arm tactics against Darfur aid
workers that they have used against human rights defenders,' said Peter
Takirambudde, Africa director at Human Rights Watch. 'Donor governments
should condemn Khartoum's attempts to intimidate aid workers and others
assisting civilians in Sudan.'"

"Few of the humanitarian organizations involved have publicized the
arrests and detentions due to fear of further reprisals by the Sudanese
government against their staff, activities and the displaced persons
they assist." (Human Rights Watch, "Darfur: Aid Workers Under Threat,"
April 5, 2005)

These ominous realities were highlighted in the most recent UN Darfur
Humanitarian Profile (March 1, 2005; Nos. 11/12) as well:

"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)

Extremely serious and threatening security incidents also continue to
be reported with ominous frequency, and these are part of the reason
that there has been a net decline in humanitarian capacity on the part
of humanitarian INGO's. The most recent "fact sheet" from the US Agency
for International Development (which saw one of its workers shot and
nearly killed on the road between Nyala and Kass in a recent incident
clearly involving the Janjaweed) reports:

"According to the USAID Disaster Assistance Response Team, on April 6
[2005], a two-vehicle non-governmental organization humanitarian convoy
was fired upon near Teige, approximately 7 kilometers west of Mershing,
South Darfur. The lead vehicle was hit three times and the second
vehicle was hit twice and received a flat tire. No one was injured."
(US Agency for International Development "fact sheet," April 8, 2005)

Such incidents, particularly if they again result in fatalities, could
easily trigger an additional exodus of humanitarian presence and

At the current annual meeting of the UN Human Rights Commission in
Geneva, a series of observations by Emmanuel Akwei Addo ("the
independent UN expert on the situation of human rights in Sudan") should
be noted carefully, particularly his comments that "aid workers were
pulling back due to deteriorating security," that "2,000 African Union
troops lacked power to deter crimes in the remote region of [Darfur],"
and in particular, that "aerial bombardment [by Khartoum] still goes on"
(Reuters, April 8, 2005):

"The Khartoum government, which had responsibility to protect all
citizens, had ignored repeated demands to disarm the militia who are
waging a ruthless campaign in near total impunity, according to Addo, a
justice from Ghana." (Reuters, April 8, 2005)

Addo's metaphor of a "time bomb" seems highly unfortunate ("the present
situation in Darfur is [ ] a time bomb, which could explode at any
moment"), given the realities of genocide by attrition in Darfur that
have so far claimed approximately 400,000 lives since February 2003 (see
"Darfur Mortality Update: March 11, 2005 at
But the metaphor at least serves to suggest how much greater human
destruction may become, precipitously, if the status quo prevails. For
despite the exorbitant human destruction and displacement that has
already occurred, a huge upsurge in mortality is increasingly likely in
the near term.

In light of these disturbing developments, the need for humanitarian
intervention only becomes more urgent. To be sure, international
determination to avoid honestly confronting this issue continues to
prevail---at the UN, in Washington, and in European capitals. But
neither dishonesty nor callous silence can change the massive
demographics of Darfur's catastrophe.


Recent UN comments from UNICEF offer an unusual and grimly welcome
acknowledgement of the larger demographic realities of the Darfur

"Some four million people in Sudan's strife-torn western region of
Darfur face deeper hardship over the next 18 months because local crops
have collapsed, the UN Children's Fund said Friday [April 8, 2005].
Crops had not been tended because of the violence in the region and the
situation was being aggravated by a worsening drought, according to
UNICEF spokesman Damien Personnaz. 'The next 18 months will be extremely
difficult at the humanitarian level,' he told journalists. 'About four
million people are threatened by food insecurity and one million under
five year-olds are suffering or will suffer from severe malnutrition,'
Personnaz added."

"One million under five year-olds are suffering or will suffer from
severe malnutrition" represents a statistic almost too horrific to

"The UNICEF official estimated that about two-thirds of the local
population were 'still out of reach of humanitarian networks.' 'We only
have access to two million people out of the six million that the region
had before the conflict,' he said." (Agence France-Presse, April 8,

These staggeringly large numbers occur in the context of unrelenting
violence by Khartoum and its militia proxies, exemplified in the
"savage," "premeditated" (the word choices of the UN and African
Union) attack on Khor Abeche. The agricultural economy of Darfur has
collapsed; food inflation threatens to produce huge increases in the
food-dependent population; and rural populations not only remain
vulnerable to attack but have lost much of their ability to forage
because of relentless Janjaweed predations. There are clearly
insufficient humanitarian resources; indeed, it must be emphasized
again, there has been a quietly declining humanitarian resource base,
even as the most perilous phase of the Darfur crisis approaches with the
impending seasonal rains.

For additional context we should consider the results of a March 2005
US Agency for International Development DART (Disaster Assistance
Response Team) assessment, conducted in a rural area in North Darfur
that is beyond humanitarian reach. Despite its despite locality, the
assessment suggests a good deal about the conditions defining life for a
huge percentage of this "two-thirds of [Darfur's population] still out
of reach of humanitarian networks" (UNICEF description):

"The [US Agency for International Development] assessment concluded
that traditional coping mechanisms are being depleted for both
internally displaced persons (IDPs) and host communities as a result of
ongoing conflict. In addition, conflict has eroded much of the
population's livelihoods through the looting of animals, inaccessibility
of migratory routes for pasture and water, and distance from markets for
the sale of livestock and purchase of grains/cereals." (US AID "fact
sheet," April 1, 2005)

These enormously destructive economic realities, as well as the
continuing threat of spiraling food inflation, prevail throughout Darfur
and will do so for the foreseeable future.


As Khartoum continues with its tightening clamp-down on news reporting
in Darfur, as journalists encounter more and more difficulties in
securing visas, travel permits, and the means of moving through Darfur,
there is a danger that the crisis will become excessively
"statistical"---not so much invisible as lacking the kind of
visibility that must compel even the most obtuse moral instincts. It
will not be the first time that abstraction has made the intolerable
somehow too wearying for energetic response, or that sheer size and
scale have made the unspeakable the occasion for callous silence.

In a harrowing op/ed yesterday in the International Herald Tribune, Lt.
General Romeo Dallaire, UN force commander in Rwanda during the 1994
genocide, reflects on the reasons for international failure in
situations such as Darfur:

"Above all, there is a tendency to be too abstract both in identifying
causes and in assigning blame for the total lack of a serious
international response. [ ]

"If there is any useful lesson that can be drawn from the events of
April 1994, it is surely one about just how personal genocide is: for
those who are killed, of course, but also for those who kill, and for
those, however far away, who just do nothing. Our governments are no
better than we are. The United Nations is no better than its
governments." (International Herald Tribune, April 11, 2005)

"Our governments are no better than we are. The United Nations is no
better than its governments." As the international community continues
in its refusal to stop genocide in Darfur, there could be no more
damning indictment of us all.

Eric Reeves
Smith College
Northampton, MA 01063

Friday, April 08, 2005

Current Security Conditions in Darfur: An Overview 

Disturbing trends suggest further attenuation of humanitarian relief

Eric Reeves
April 7, 2005

All signs are that physical security for humanitarian operations in
Darfur continues to deteriorate at a very serious rate. The current
reality and future risks of armed attacks on workers (both national and
expatriate), humanitarian convoys, and humanitarian resources are
reflected in a wide range of published and confidential reports. The
latter have come to this writer in very considerable number from sources
within the community of aid organizations, the UN, Darfuris in exile,
refugee and human rights organizations, as well as other intelligence

Together, these reports suggest that in the run-up to the rainy season
(May/June through September) overall humanitarian capacity has begun to
decline, transport of food is badly compromised, the pre-positioning of
food (especially in West Darfur) is far behind schedule, disease is
starting to bite more deeply within a badly weakened population, and
water-supply issues have become critical. This occurs even as the
conflict-affected population continues to rise, and certainly now
exceeds 3 million if we include the refugee population in Chad (which
has also begun to show signs of growing severe malnutrition, according
to the UN High Commission for Refugees). Food inflation in the region
ensures that ever-greater numbers of people cannot obtain food at market
prices and thus become dependent on humanitarian food assistance.

Populations arriving from rural areas are typically entering camps for
the displaced with more advanced malnutrition, indicating that people
are waiting until food reserves are entirely depleted before seeking
assistance. A recent UN report (March 27, 2005) notes "a rapid
deterioration of local coping mechanisms among the local population," an
extremely ominous sign among these highly resilient people. The many
hundreds of thousands of civilians still caught in rural areas to which
there is no humanitarian access clearly represent a population in very
deep distress, and among whom catastrophic mortality rates must be
assumed (i.e., at least 3 deaths/day/10,000 of affected population).

Military violence on the part of Khartoum's regular and Janjaweed
militia forces continues to be reported in a wide range of locations,
and violent civilian deaths continue to be a significant part of overall
mortality. A very substantial military build-up by Khartoum in West
Darfur continues to be confirmed by multiple sources, including Darfuris
with contacts on the ground. There are also multiple reports of an
offensive underway in the area east of Jebel Marra, where a number of
Sudan Liberation Army (SLA) garrisons are located. Fighting on the
ground continues to be reported daily, as does Khartoum's ongoing arming
and supplying of the Janjaweed. There is not a shred of evidence that
the UN Security Council referral of violations of international law to
the International Criminal Court (ICC) has had any effect on the
behavior of members of the Khartoum regime, its military, or the


On the contrary, one nongovernmental organization (NGO) that has had an
especially important reporting presence in Darfur indicates
confidentially that it received explicit threats from the Janjaweed and
Khartoum officials in February 2005 to the effect that if there were an
ICC referral from the UN, "there would be an explosion of violence
against NGO and UN workers"; "Musa Hilal [the most notorious of the
Janjaweed commanders] will join Osama bin Laden; the Janjaweed will
become a branch of al-Qaeda---these were the types of threats we

A Darfuri in exile, with exceptionally good contacts on the ground in
Darfur, also reports that in the wake of the UN's referral of Darfur war
crimes to the ICC, there is a "feeling among the NGO and humanitarian
aid community that the Janjaweed would escalate their attacks on
foreigners." This source also refers to Khartoum's opening of "camps
for training foreign Janjaweed and Arab mujahadeen from other countries
to fight [foreigners]. These people may now target the foreign
[humanitarian aid] community in Darfur."

This is hardly surprising if we survey the overwhelming climate of
impunity that has prevailed in Darfur, even as the UN Commission of
Inquiry was concluding its investigation. As the distinguished Refugees
International reports in an early March 2005 assessment ("Sudan: A
Climate of Impunity in Darfur"):

"Humanitarian workers say that as long as government officials believe
that they are immune from punishment for these actions, the violence
will go on. 'We need to attack impunity. Sudan has to be held
accountable,' says one worker in Darfur. The UN's International
Commission of Inquiry on Darfur concluded that government, militia and
rebel forces are guilty of violations of human rights and international
humanitarian law. It recommended that 51 people be referred to the
International Criminal Court. Yet, government officials and tribal
leaders continue to call the violence a series of tribal disputes rather
than military, militia and rebel actions that target civilians."

"Remarkably, the Khartoum government demonstrated its sense of impunity
during the work of the UN commission. The panel's January 25, 2005
report says: 'The Commission is particularly alarmed that attacks on
villages, killings of civilians, rape, pillaging and forced displacement
have continued.' Some of the most horrific attacks by armed men on
horseback or camel---called Janjaweed---and other paramilitary operating
with government direction or acquiescence ***took place in December and
January as the commission was finishing its inquiry into the crimes
against humanity in Darfur*** [emphasis added]." (Refugees
International, "Sudan: A Climate of Impunity in Darfur," March 2, 2005)

In its March 2005 report, Refugees International also quotes Khartoum's
foreign minister, Mustafa Osman Ismail, clearly threatening
international aid workers at the time---and in ways that are entirely
consistent with the belligerent tones that presently accompany attacks
on the Security Council recommendation of an ICC referral:

"Sudanese officials greet the ICC recommendation [by the UN Commission
of Inquiry] with a combination of annoyance and arrogance. Foreign
Minister Mustafa Osman Ismail recently threatened the 800 to 1,000
international humanitarian workers in Darfur by warning that referrals
to a criminal court could lead to 'a direct threat to the foreign
presence... Darfur may become another Iraq in terms of arrests and
abductions.' A [paramilitary Popular Defense Force] official told
Refugees International that 'if the wanted on the list are penalized, it
will not solve the problem. It will start war again.' His colleague
added, 'There will be an explosion.'" (Refugees International, "Sudan: A
Climate of Impunity in Darfur," March 2, 2005)

We should hardly be surprised, then, at the current tenor of response
from Khartoum officials, from regime-organized demonstrations, and in
statements from various state-sanctioned religious and political

"President Omar al-Beshir solemnly swore 'thrice in the name of
Almighty Allah that I shall never hand any Sudanese national to a
foreign court.'
And Information Minister Abdel Basit Sabdarat said the government would
launch 'an extensive diplomatic campaign' to explain its defiance of the
world body." (Agence France-Presse, April 4, 2005)

The claim of national sovereignty on the part of the National Islamic
Front has been all too predictable, and now is made repeatedly:

"Sudan slammed a UN Security Council resolution to bring individuals
suspected of war crimes in Darfur before an international court as a
'violation' of national sovereignty. 'The council of ministers has
reached a conclusion that the resolution is contradicting justice and
objectivity and violating national sovereignty,' Information Minister
Abdel Basit Sabdarat said after a cabinet meeting chaired by President
Omar al-Beshir." (Agence France-Presse, April 3, 2005)

Those beholden to or dependent upon the regime are easily made party to
this bombastic invocation of "national sovereignty":

"'No Sudanese national will be handed over for trial outside Sudan,'
Fatahi Khaleel, the president of the pro-government Lawyers Union. 'We
will resist it by all means.'" (Associated Press, April 2, 2005)

"'We will not allow any arrest or trial of a Sudanese official, unless
they will arrest the 30 million Sudanese people and try them,' Abdul
Galeel Nazeer Karori, a leading Islamist and member of Sudan's ruling
National Congress party, said on state-run TV. 'This is a direct
intervention in the affairs of the country, it is meant to ban the
government from carrying out its mission.'" (Associated Press, April 1,
2005 [dateline: Khartoum] "Ruling party, religious leaders say UN
decision targets Islam")

These sentiments find their counterpart in other statements coming from
the National Islamic Front apparatus and Janjaweed leaders, including
Musa Hilal, the most powerful and notoriously brutal of the Arab militia
commanders, and the regional figure most conspicuously working with the
Khartoum regime (he is also certainly under indictment at the ICC):

"'This resolution first of all we reject it,' [Musa] Hilal said, leader
of the largest Arab tribe in the region. 'The situation is not one of
the people of Darfur [anymore]---it has become one of a principle of
foreign encroachment on the sovereignty of Sudan,' he said." (Reuters,
April 5, 2005)

There is little difference between the claim of Hilal and the official
position of Khartoum at the UN:

"Sudan's Ambassador [to the UN] Elfatih Erwa noted his country's deep
opposition to the referral to the ICC, describing it as 'a tool to
exercise the culture of superiority and impose the culture of
superiority.'" (Associated Press, April 1, 2005)

And a BBC dispatch of today suggests the extremes to which the Khartoum
regime will go to ensure that there is no possible domestic constituency
for an ICC referral:

"Sudan's main opposition party says it has been banned from political
activities after police stormed its headquarters in the city of
Omdurman. Dozens of Umma party members were arrested by armed police on
Wednesday, party officials said. They said the party was targeted
because its leader, former Prime Minister Sadiq al-Mahdi, backed sending
Sudanese war crimes suspects to [the International Criminal Court]."
(BBC, April 7, 2005)

The UN Integrated Regional Information Networks also reports that, "the
Umma Party is being targeted for their public support of the ICC
resolution,' a Sudanese official, who declined to be named, told IRIN on
Thursday." (UN IRIN, April 7, 2005)

Just as predictable as these domestic sentiments are the statements
from Egypt and Libya, which are clearly meant to encourage Khartoum to
hold out against cooperating with the ICC:

"Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi has condemned a UN vote to refer
Sudanese accused of war crimes in Darfur to the International Criminal
Court as a blatant violation of Sudan's independence. 'The Sudanese laws
are the only ones that apply on Sudanese citizens in Sudan. Sudanese
courts are the only ones entitled to try people inside Sudan,' said
Gaddafi, in a statement reported by state news agency Jana late on
Saturday. [The UN referral to the ICC] is an affront to all Sudanese and
a blatant violation of Sudan's independence.'" (Reuters [Tripoli], April
3, 2005)

Egypt has been only slightly more oblique in rejecting ICC
jurisdiction, but no less effective in convincing Khartoum that it will
not face a united international community when it comes to extraditing
such figures as First Vice President Ali Osman Taha, Director of
Intelligence Saleh 'Gosh,' and Interior Minister Abdel Ramin Mohamed
Hussein, all certainly on the list of 51 indicted war criminals that has
been passed on by Secretary-General Kofi Annan to chief ICC prosecutor
Luis Moreno-Ocampo at The Hague. PANA reports from Khartoum:

"Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmad Abu al-Ghait has expressed dismay at
last week's UN Security Council resolution, which demanded that war
crime suspects in Sudan's troubled region of Darfur should be tried by
the International Criminal Court, Khartoum dailies affirmed Tuesday.
'The international community should avoid measures or resolutions
that could have the opposite effect of what was intended,' the Egyptian
minister was quoted as cautioning." (PANA, April 5, 2005)

Reuters reports from Cairo ("Sudan Darfur Trials Can Evade Hague

"Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Aboul Gheit said on Wednesday Sudanese
war crimes suspects need not go to the International Criminal Court
because Sudan's judiciary could try the accused at home. The UN Security
Council for the first time last week referred suspects accused of
carrying out war crimes in Darfur to the ICC in The Hague. Egypt has
spoken against the 'internationalisation' of the Darfur conflict. 'The
International Criminal Court...issues accusations, but if the internal
judiciary in the country concerned plays its role then it negates the
need for the criminal court,' Aboul Gheit said after meeting his
Sudanese counterpart in Cairo." (Reuters [Cairo], April 6, 2005)

None of these statements---from Khartoum, Tripoli, or Cairo---change in
the slightest the justice and appropriateness of a UN referral to the
ICC; violations of international law that have occurred in Darfur,
including genocide and massive crimes against humanity, are certainly
best adjudicated in this important international legal forum. And such
referral may well serve in the future as a forceful deterrent to other
state and non-state actors (though the failure of the ICC to secure
extradition of Khartoum's genocidaires may have the opposite effect).


But none of this can be allowed to obscure or diminish the urgency with
which present security conditions in Darfur must be assessed, an
assessment as urgent today as it was a year ago. As the BBC reports
today, "In his annual address [to the UN Human Rights Commission] last
year [April 7, 2004], [Kofi] Annan warned that the conflict in Sudan's
province of Darfur bore worrying similarities to the Rwandan genocide"
(BBC April 7, 2005). Nothing has changed; a year later, the awful
similarities between ethnically-targeted human destruction in Rwanda and
Darfur remain all too conspicuous; there is only the disgraceful
dishonesty and sanctimony that would have us believe new moral resolve
has been found.

For example, UK Foreign Secretary Jack Straw recently "accused other
members of the UN Security Council of turning a blind eye to the
atrocities in the Darfur region of Sudan," implying that Britain's role
has been to keep a clear focus on Darfur (The Scotsman, April 6, 2005).
This implicit claim is thoroughly belied, however, by a new
Parliamentary report ("Darfur, Sudan: The Responsibility to Protect,"
March 30, 2005, pages 35-39), which makes clear the ways in which the UK
(along with the US and Norway) muted its criticism of genocide in Darfur
in order to secure a north/south peace agreement.

Nor does Mr. Straw address honestly the patent inadequacy of the AU
force in Darfur, or its inability to undertake "the responsibility to
protect" vulnerable civilians and humanitarian workers. Under the
current desperate circumstances, this is simply inexcusable: either
there is honesty about what is required to protect civilians and
humanitarian operations in Darfur, or talk about "turning a blind eye to
Darfur" is viciously ironic, simply another chapter in the
disingenuousness with which the West has expediently chosen to accept
the presence of a small African Union cease-fire monitoring mission as
an adequate means for halting massive genocidal destruction.

Like his American counterpart, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice,
Straw remains content with rhetorical gestures rather than meaningful
support for the robust international humanitarian intervention that is
clearly dictated by the conspicuous realities of insecurity throughout
Darfur. For her part, Secretary Rice recently declared:

"'The international community has to act on Darfur. It has to act with
great speed. It is a humanitarian crisis. It is a moral crisis, and it
is a crisis that is extraordinary in its scope and in its potential for
even greater damage to those populations.'" (Voice of America, April 1,

But it was this same Secretary Rice who gave evasive answers in
response to pointed questions from the Washington Post about
humanitarian intervention.

WASHINGTON POST: "How many peacekeepers do you think it would take to
stop the genocide in Darfur?"

"SECRETARY RICE: I can't give a number." (Washington Post, March 25,

The Washington Post questioner persisted, asking about a reported AU
effort to increase its force to 6,000 by August 2005: "But hence my
question. I mean, if you go to six thousand would that be enough?"

Rice refused to offer a direct answer, only the vaguest of

"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."

Yet again the Washington Post questioner persisted, asking about the
consequences of continuing insecurity for humanitarian operations, only
to be met again with the refusal to provide a meaningful answer:

"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." (Washington Post, March 25,

These are hardly the responses of someone who truly believes that:

"'The international community has to act on Darfur. It has to act with
great speed. It is a humanitarian crisis. It is a moral crisis, and it
is a crisis that is extraordinary in its scope and in its potential for
even greater damage to those populations.'"

The stench of hypocrisy is in the air.


The nexus between humanitarian aid delivery and insecurity is best
highlighted by looking at recent reports on food deliveries in Darfur.
In a lengthy release of April 1, 2005, the UN's World Food Program (WFP)

"Shootings, attacks on drivers and thefts of WFP-contracted trucks
carrying critically needed food aid are part of a rapidly deteriorating
security situation in the Darfur region of western Sudan. The incidents
are seriously threatening the ability of the UN World Food Program to
assist millions of people---at a time when needs are increasing daily.
'The security situation is so bad that many drivers are now refusing
to move through sections of the road corridors to the three Darfur
states,' said Ramiro Lopes da Silva, WFP Sudan Country Director."

"A driver of a WFP-contracted truck was shot dead in a raid in January.
Drivers have been taken hostage, and two are still missing. This month
alone, a driver was shot and wounded, another had his hands broken, and
others were severely beaten. A total of 13 WFP-contracted trucks are
still missing after a string of raids; eight of these are known to be
held by the Sudan Liberation Army. 'These attacks are completely
unconscionable. They create a climate of fear that together with truck
seizures pose a real threat to our ability to deliver food to the
Darfurs,' said Lopes da Silva."

"The drivers of WFP-contracted trucks are vital to achieving such
targets. While accustomed to a certain degree of risk in the region,
they nevertheless halted a 37-truck convoy in Ed Daien last week,
because it was just too dangerous to leave."

"Banditry is part of growing insecurity across Darfur that has seen
attacks on humanitarian teams from WFP partner organisations. The Danish
Refugee Council has temporarily withdrawn from the Jebel Marra region
after two of its aid workers were abducted from a vehicle on 20 March
[2005]. The two were released, but the vehicle is still missing. In West
Darfur, areas to the north of the capital of El-Geneina remain 'no go'
for UN agencies." (UN World Food Program, April 1, 2005)

Notable as well are the recent UN Sudan "sit reps" (situation reports),
all of which reflect both deteriorating humanitarian
conditions---especially in the prevalence of disease---and insecurity
that prevents camp populations from returning to their former villages
(or the burned-out remains of their villages), or even foraging for
firewood and animal fodder. Sample excerpts provide a relentlessly
consistent picture of the humanitarian situation: the camps for the
displaced have become in effect huge, overcrowded prisons; morale is
declining according to many reports; and health conditions are
deteriorating badly:

"North Darfur: UNICEF conducted a visit to Abu Shouk camp on 21 March
[2005] to monitor water tanking and hand pump operations. Key findings
were: inadequate tap stands in some blocks; five platforms for the
bladders were damaged; slow water discharge into tanks; long queues at
water points and non-functioning of several hand pumps."

"Vector control campaigns have been interrupted in all IDP [Internally
Displaced Persons] locations due to lack of pesticides. As a result, fly
infestation at all the camps continues to worsen. To date, UNICEF has
been unable to procure the spraying chemicals as there is only one
supplier in El Fasher [North Darfur]."

"South Darfur: Agencies remain concerned that the targeted measles [a
highly contagious and potentially deadly disease among children in IDP
camps] vaccination campaign carried out by [the Khartoum Ministry of
Health]/EPI in the past week (reaching only 500 children in Battery
camp) will not prevent the continuation of the outbreak, as Battery camp
is very near other IDP gatherings and the host community in Kass [town]."

"The population outside the camp shares much of the same city
infrastructure, including water, schools, and the market and, as such,
the possibility of spreading the virus is high. The humanitarian
community continues to push for a mass campaign to cover the entire
population of Kass as well as the major IDP gatherings in South Darfur
before the rainy season. WHO has recommended a mass campaign both as a
means of preventing further outbreaks, and for covering those who were
excluded from last year's blanket campaign due to violence." (UN Sudan
"sit rep," March 29, 2005)

"On 30 March [2005], members of the North Darfur protection working
group met with AMIS representatives to review the progress made by AMIS
[AU Mission in Sudan] on patrolling the routes used by women collecting
firewood and fodder around the Abu Shouk and Zam Zam IDP camps. Lack of
sufficient personnel to conduct regular patrols is cited as a major
constraint to AMIS."

"South Darfur: A recently concluded INGO protection assessment reveals
that sexual violence and assaults on IDPs continue unabated in Kass town
and surrounding areas. IDPs report an increase in harassment

"Two fires in the IDP areas of Kass town on the night of 26-27 March
[2005] destroyed some 300 huts according to a NGO assessment of the
damages. Reportedly, the fires were the result of arson and two other
fires were put out before spreading. IDPs in Kass suspect that the fires
were part of a scheme to push IDPs to accept moving to a new site which
has so far been rejected by the IDPs mainly due to security reasons."
(UN Sudan "sit rep," March 31, 2005)

"North Darfur: The inter-agency assessment to the Dar Zaghawa area
arrived safely on 23 March [2005] in El Fasher... The preliminary
findings suggest a rapid deterioration of local coping mechanisms among
the local population, exacerbated by war and the longstanding neglect of
the area.... The findings are identical for IDP and resident
populations in the area." (UN Sudan "sit rep," March 27, 2005)

Reports from Darfuris in exile, with contacts on the ground in Darfur,
confirm the purpose of arson in the camp near Kass, i.e., Khartoum's
continuing policy of forced expulsion of displaced persons. These
reports also confirm the general decline in morale among those displaced
persons now enduring extremely grim existences in camps that become more
permanent without becoming more livable. Again and again, these reports
reveal the central role of insecurity in defining humanitarian
conditions, humanitarian operations, and humanitarian capacity.

Even within the environs of the camps themselves, insecurity remains
pervasive, as men and boys from African tribal groups continue to be
arrested, tortured, and executed; and women from the African tribal
groups---as Doctors Without Borders/Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF)
recently reported---face extreme sexual violence:

"Women told MSF that they were beaten with sticks, whips or axes
before, during or after the act of rape. Some of the raped women were
visibly pregnant, as much as five to eight months, at the time of the
The majority of survivors of rape and sexual violence tell MSF that the
attacks occurred when women left the relative safety of villages and
displaced camps to carry out activities indispensable of the survival of
the families, such as searching for firewood or water."

"81% of the 500 rape survivors treated by MSF reported being assaulted
by militia or military who used their weapons to force the assault. In
Darfur, as in other conflicts, rape has been a regular and deliberate
tool of war. It is used to destabilize and threaten a part of the
civilian population, often a particular group. Rather than receiving
appropriate medical and psychosocial care, women and child survivors of
rape and sexual violence in Darfur often face rejection and stigma. In
some cases, victims of rape have even been imprisoned while the
perpetrators of the crime go unpunished, adding to an appalling pattern
of neglect and abuse. (MSF, "Rape And Sexual Violence Ongoing in
Darfur, March 78, 2005; at

Human Rights Watch has also recently addressed the issue of insecurity
in Darfur, and specifically Khartoum's continuing intimidation of
humanitarian workers ("Darfur: Aid Workers Under Threat," April 5,

"The Sudanese government has sought to intimidate humanitarian relief
agencies in Darfur by arbitrarily arresting or detaining at least 20 aid
workers since December, Human Rights Watch said today. In several
incidents, the rebel movements in Darfur have also detained or attacked
aid workers. Human Rights Watch called on all parties to the conflict in
Darfur to ensure the safety of humanitarian aid workers and facilitate
their access to Sudanese civilians in need of assistance. 'The Sudanese
authorities are using the same strong-arm tactics against Darfur aid
workers that they have used against human rights defenders,' said Peter
Takirambudde, Africa director at Human Rights Watch. 'Donor governments
should condemn Khartoum's attempts to intimidate aid workers and others
assisting civilians in Sudan.'"

The incidents Human Rights Watch points to involve "arbitrary arrest
and detention" by "Sudanese security officials and representatives of
military intelligence."

Why do we not hear more of these and other outrages against
humanitarian operations by Khartoum?

"Few of the humanitarian organizations involved have publicized the
arrests and detentions due to fear of further reprisals by the Sudanese
government against their staff, activities and the displaced persons
they assist. 'The government's arrests and threatened charges are a
grossly disproportionate reaction to the so-called offenses,'
Takirambudde said. 'These incidents represent nothing less than a
campaign to harass and threaten aid agencies to keep them in line.'"
(Human Rights Watch, "Darfur: Aid Workers Under Threat," April 5, 2005)

This campaign against humanitarian organizations receives continuous
propagandistic support in Khartoum's state-controlled press, as
represented here in a recent dispatch from Sudan Vision Newspaper
[Khartoum], via the UN Daily Press Review for Sudan (March 27, 2005):

"Sudan Vision has learned that one of the foreign organizations used to
send althuria [Thuraya satellite phones] for communications scratch
cards to the Darfur rebels. The said organization was also seen
photographing some governmental locations where photograph is
prohibited, sending these photographs to the rebels."

"[Sudan Vision] also learned that the organization announced that
rebels abducted three of its employees; a move it intended to use as a
smoke screen after it felt that its plans were unfolded. Observers also
believe that the organization's announcement came as a cover of the
presence of the three with rebels doing certain tasks. It is worth
mentioning that this same organization used to provide rebels with fuel.
It was caught doing that in January and it officially apologized to the
authorities concerned for that act."

Though clearly these are preposterous charges---and of course if they
had any merit the (notably) unnamed organization would have been
expelled from Sudan---they reveal a pattern of domestic incitement that
has already had a pervasive effect on the way in which humanitarian
organizations are treated by various of Khartoum's military,
intelligence, and political officials.


Despite recent comments from Jan Pronk (the Secretary-General's special
representative for Sudan), Jan Pronk (UN humanitarian coordinator), and
the African Union about increasing the present vastly inadequate AU
force in Darfur, there is no evidence of a willingness by the
international community to consider the serious inadequacies of even
this proposed larger force (ranging from 6,000 to 10,000 AU
personnel)---or to assess realistically the ability of the AU to move
substantially and rapidly beyond its present force of an inadequately
equipped 2,200 personnel (which has required half a year to deploy and
is still well short of its original target figure of 3,500 to 4,000
personnel). Nor is there frank international acknowledgement that the
AU has been politically unable to secure from Khartoum a meaningful
mandate for civilian protection in Darfur. In turn, this military and
political weakness ensures that the AU has been unable to provide
effective diplomatic auspices or a credible peace-negotiating forum.
There is still no date set for a resumption of peace talks.

Relentlessly, amidst international disingenuousness, expediency,
indifference, and callous self-interest, security deteriorates in
Darfur. Whatever hopes for meaningful humanitarian intervention that
may have flickered over the past weeks have been extinguished. The UN
has passed its resolutions; Western leaders have either expended their
rhetorical energies or simply remained silent.

For lack of humanitarian intervention, so especially conspicuous on the
11th anniversary of the Rwandan genocide, human destruction in Darfur
continues to grow---inexorably, unforgivably.

Eric Reeves
Smith College
Northampton, MA 01063

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