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Friday, April 29, 2005

"[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,
2005).

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;
http://www.sudanreeves.org/modules.php?op=modload&name=News&file=article&sid=47&mode=thread&order=0&thold=0).


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
areas.

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;
http://www.sudanreeves.org/modules.php?op=modload&name=News&file=article&sid=44&mode=thread&order=0&thold=0).
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
destruction.

KHARTOUM'S ROLE IN SUSTAINING INSECURITY IN DARFUR

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,
2005)

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,
2005)

"'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.

INSECURITY AND HUMANITARIAN OPERATIONS IN DARFUR

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,
2005)

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
marked."

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,
2005)

Such reports are now coming with deeply ominous regularity.

INSECURITY AND CAMPS FOR THE INTERNALLY DISPLACED

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
insecurity."

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.

ONGOING VIOLENCE IN DARFUR: MILITARY OVERVIEW

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
http://www.sudanreeves.org/modules.php?op=modload&name=News&file=article&sid=49&mode=thread&order=0&thold=0)
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
Darfur):

"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
homes."

"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,
2005)

HUMANITARIAN INTERVENTION? "NOT ON THIS WATCH"---

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
violence:

"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,
2005)

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
http://www.sudanreeves.org/modules.php?op=modload&name=News&file=article&sid=44&mode=thread&order=0&thold=0).


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
this.

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
ereeves@smith.edu
www.sudanreeves.org

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