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Thursday, February 24, 2005


Famine in Darfur Posted by Hello

Engineered Famine: Khartoum's Weapon of Genocidal Mass Destruction; 

Catastrophic food shortfalls in Darfur can no longer be avoided

Eric Reeves
February 23, 2005

If there is a voice of conscience within the UN, a voice that refuses
to allow Darfur's terrible truths to remain unsaid, it belongs to Jan
Egeland, UN Under-Secretary for Humanitarian Affairs. It was Egeland
who first sounded the alarm concerning the scale of Darfur's
humanitarian crisis over a year ago, declaring in a radio interview that
Darfur had already become the world's greatest humanitarian crisis ("The
World," BBC/Public Radio International, December 18, 2003). It was
Egeland who, on the basis of his own research and travel to Darfur,
dared to say that what was occurring in Darfur was "ethnic cleansing"
(Reuters, April 4, 2004), even as UN Secretary-General Kofi would
maintain more than two months later that he'd seen nothing to convince
him that what was occurring in Darfur was either genocide or "ethnic
cleansing." It was Egeland who in April 2004 also appropriately
described Khartoum's military actions as "scorched-earth tactics"
directed against the non-Arab/African tribal populations of Darfur.

Now Egeland has again sounded the alarm and offered the most ominous
of
warnings:

"'Since [the world belatedly awoke to the Darfur crisis] the number of
internally displaced persons (IDPs) has doubled to between 1.8 million
and 1.9 million 'and it's growing by the day.' The number of IDPs and
the many hundreds of thousands of others now outside of the camps who
are in desperate need of assistance is bound to increase, he warned,
adding: 'Some are predicting 3 million, some are predicting 4 million,
some are predicting more than that, of people in desperate need of
life-saving assistance as we approach the hunger gap in mid-year...whose
lives will be at stake.'" (UN News Center [New York], February 18,
2005)

These numbers represent a crisis that will overwhelm currently
available humanitarian resources in this remote and extremely difficult
theater of operations (see section below on food supplies and logistics,
market collapse, and production shortfalls). A critical lack of
international funding, completely unacceptable levels of insecurity for
humanitarian operations, and growing politicization of the Darfur crisis
also work against the achievement of adequate humanitarian resources,
deployment, and reach. And, as Egeland insists, still the numbers
continue to grow:

"Some are predicting 3 million, some are predicting 4 million, some are
predicting more than that, of people in desperate need of life-saving
assistance as we approach the hunger gap in mid-year...whose lives will
be at stake."

For context, we should recall that the UN World Food Program reached
1.2 million needy recipients in January 2005---a decline of 300,000 from
December 2004. Instead of increasing food deliveries, humanitarian
operations saw a 20% decline. Even as overall agricultural production
remains essentially paralyzed because of insecurity, and food reserves
continue to fall, 300,000 fewer people received food last month, and the
decline may continue in the current month.

Internal World Food Program documents now estimate---and on the basis
of unreasonably optimistic assumptions about the integrity of food
markets in Darfur---that 2.8 million people will be in need of food
assistance during the coming "hunger gap"---the period of time between
spring/early summer planting and fall harvest. This period also largely
coincides with the rainy season that paralyzes transport for much of
Darfur, cutting off large parts of the population, as was the case
during the rainy season of last year. A more realistic assessment of
the food crisis suggests that Egeland is right to offer the numbers he
does: between 3 million and 4 million people will be affected by
Khartoum's engineered famine. Hundreds of thousands of people will
starve to death.

Previous warnings of famine have already come from the US Agency for
International Development and the UN's respected Food and Agricultural
Organization (FAO):

"'All the indicators are there for a famine,' says Marc Bellemans, the
Sudan emergency coordinator for the UN's Food and Agriculture
Organization. In a report to fellow UN agencies late last year, the FAO
warned 'a humanitarian crisis of unseen proportions is unfolding in the
Darfur region.'" (The Wall Street Journal [Dateline: Fur Baranga,
Darfur] February 7, 2005)

This famine warning was also given explicit and increased urgency by
Egeland:

"While relief workers were able to prevent the massive famine that had
been predicted for the area a year ago, 'now it is time to say we may
not perhaps be able to do so in the coming months if the situation keeps
on deteriorating as it has,' Egeland told a news conference." (Reuters,
February 18, 2005)

And though full-scale famine has heretofore been averted, areas in
rural Darfur are now experiencing famine or famine-like conditions.
Moreover, overall mortality has still been massive during the past two
years of extremely violent conflict and displacement: data currently
available from humanitarian, UN, and human rights reports strongly
suggest that more than 350,000 people have already perished (see most
recent mortality assessment by this writer: "Darfur Humanitarian Update,"
February 10, 2005 at:
http://www.sudanreeves.org/modules.php?op=modload&name=News&file=article&sid=37&mode=thread&order=0&thold=0).


[Significantly, there is no evidence that the UN World Health
Organization (WHO) has succeeded in obtaining access to Darfur for its
mortality epidemiologists, an effort first reported over two weeks ago
by the Washington Post:

"The World Health Organization has been in tense negotiations with
Sudan for about a month over allowing a team of international
epidemiologists to conduct a study of mortality in Darfur. A UN official
familiar with the discussions said Khartoum has so far refused to grant
visas to the agency's specialists because Sudan is 'just terrified' that
a new mortality study will heighten international criticism of the
government." (The Washington Post, February 8, 2005)

On the contrary, there are strong indications that even if the WHO
gains access, its work will be fundamentally compromised by Khartoum
(see below).]

The food crisis in Darfur is of course in many ways a security crisis,
a fact highlighted repeatedly by Egeland, even as he made insistently
clear the woeful inadequacy of the present African Union force:

"'Eight workers have been killed, our helicopters have been shot at,
our trucks are being looted there---we are paralyzed,' Mr. Egeland
added." (UN News Center [New York], February 18, 2005)

"Egeland criticized world leaders for leaving aid workers to apply a
'bandaid' instead of taking political action to resolve the conflict.
'You cannot have this kind of situation and put in 10,000 unarmed men
and women with blankets and foodstuffs and field hospitals and say, "You
stop this war." We cannot. Others have to help us,' Egeland said."

"'We're front row witnesses to more massacres. We're front-row
witnesses to more displacements. We are front row witnesses to massive
misery and suffering of Darfur and we shouldn't be,' [Egeland] said.
'The armed men in militias are getting away with murder of women and
children and it is still happening. Those who direct the militias, these
forces are also getting away with murder. It's impunity what we have
seen taking place in Darfur,' he said." (Associated Press, February 19,
2005)

Of course the "armed men in militias getting away with murder of women
and children" are the Janjaweed, Khartoum's savage military proxies and
the unconstrained instrument of violent, ethnically-targeted human
destruction. Though the insurgency movements are culpable on many
counts, especially in impeding humanitarian efforts, and also give
evidence of both political and military fracturing, it is important to
bear in mind the conclusions of both the UN Commission of Inquiry for
Darfur and the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights:

"Although attacks by rebel forces have also taken place, the Commission
has found no evidence that these are widespread or that they have been
systematically targeted against the civilian population. Incidents of
rebel attacks are mostly against military targets, police or security
forces" (Paragraph 240 of the Report of the International Commission of
Inquiry, [Geneva] January 25, 2005)

"My mission received no credible reports of rebel attacks on civilians
as such but did receive reports of attacks on police officers."
("Statement to the Security Council on Darfur," Louise Arbour, UN
High Commissioner for Human Rights, September 30, 2004)

If the international community is to take Egeland's urgent and
impassioned warning seriously, it must be prepared to provide a massive
increase in the size and mandate of forces committed to augmenting the
presently deeply inadequate African Union force. Egeland speaks
generally of a force perhaps five times greater than that presently
deployed: "Maybe we would need five times the number there is now of
African Union forces," (Associated Press, February 19, 2005).

But the truth is that this is not so much a considered estimate of the
military force necessary for the various security tasks that must be
undertaken if humanitarian operations and acutely vulnerable civilian
populations are to be protected; rather, it is a desperate plea by
Egeland for "the Security Council and world at-large [to] act now to put
a robust force on the ground" (UN News Center, February 18, 2005):

"'Humanitarian workers are frustrated and angry with the situation.
Many of
them feel that we are alibis or a substitute for the political action
and the security action that the world is not taking,' [Egeland] said."
(Reuters, February 18, 2005)

"The basic lesson of earlier crises like Bosnia, Kosovo and Rwanda is
'that too often the world sends us, the band aid, and the world
believes that we keep people alive and then they don't have to take a
political and security action. This is wrong and that's why we are
really tired of being that kind of a substitute for political and
security action,' [Egeland] said." (UN News Center, February 18, 2005)

The balance of this analysis focuses on the interrelated issues of [1]
security requirements for Darfur, and [2] current indications of the
scale of the food shortages that can be expected over the next nine
months to a year.

SECURITY REQUIREMENTS

The remoteness of a political settlement to the Darfur crisis makes all
the more urgent an assessment of what is required in the way of
international humanitarian intervention. For there are simply no signs
that the African Union-sponsored talks in Abuja, Nigeria will yield any
diplomatic progress in the near term, nothing that might diminish the
need for very substantial deployment of security forces throughout
Darfur---forces far in excess of what the African Union has fielded or
is capable of providing.

The inadequacy of AU diplomatic auspices is suggested all too clearly
by recent wire reports indicating that a possible resumption of the
peace talks has been very badly managed (the previous round of talks
collapsed in disarray in December 2004, following Khartoum's initiation
of a major military offensive on the very eve of these talks).
Associated Press reports from Khartoum:

"Kamal Obeid, secretary of the National Congress [i.e., the National
Islamic Front] party's foreign relations committee, said Sudan has
received official notification from the African Union and the Nigerian
presidency, which is chairing the talks, that [peace talks] will resume
this month [February 2005].
'We actually received an official notification from the parties
brokering the talks on the resumption of the negotiations by the end of
this month, but no specific date has yet been set,' Obeid said.
However, an African Union spokesman, speaking on condition of anonymity,
said he had not received any indication of a scheduled resumption of
talks." (Associated Press [Khartoum], February 21, 2005)

To add to the confusion, Reuters reports that the insurgency movements
claim not to have been notified of any resumption in talks:

"The Sudanese government said talks to end violence in Darfur would
resume at the end of February, but rebels said they had not been told of
the date and would need more time to prepare themselves for any talks.
The rebel Sudan Liberation Movement (SLM) said a return to talks
depended on the government creating a 'conducive atmosphere,' and that
the African Union, which is sponsoring the talks, had not given it a
date."

"SLM spokesman Adam Ali Shogar said on Sunday the government must
within two weeks withdraw from areas it has captured since a
much-violated ceasefire was signed and respect a no-fly zone before the
rebels would consider a return to talks. 'We have not received any
notification from the AU regarding the restarting of the talks,' he
said. 'If the government delivers on its pledges and creates a conducive
atmosphere then we will return to talks,' he said."

"SLM Chairman Abdel Wahid Mohammed Ahmed Nour said the AU must force
the government to implement agreements signed in November on security
and humanitarian issues for peace talks to have any meaning. He told
Reuters the SLM also needed at least 20 days to prepare for any talks."
(Reuters, February 20, 2005)

Given the ease with which Khartoum has forestalled progress in previous
rounds of talks, and the growing divisions evident within the both the
political and military wings of the two primary insurgency movements
(the Sudan Liberation Movement/Army [SLM/A] and Justice and Equality
Movement [JEM]), such diplomatic chaos is ominous in the extreme. It is
hardly surprising that Khartoum continues to express its unqualified
support for the AU as the exclusive diplomatic resource for peace talks,
and has worked relentlessly to forestall broader international
participation in negotiations.

In the absence of a negotiated settlement, and given the deepening
humanitarian crisis that Khartoum has engineered, Egeland is right to
insist in his remarks of February 18, 2005 that a security force many
times the size of the currently deployed AU force is required.

Such a force must be defined by a comprehensive survey of the specific
security requirements generated by the Darfur crisis. While long
evident, these requirements have been little discussed at the UN or by
international actors well aware of the inadequacies of the AU force.
Notably and commendably, many of these are articulated in a new report
by Amnesty International ("Sudan: Amnesty International's
recommendations on the deployment of a UN peace support operation," AI
Index: AFR 54/025/2005; February 21, 2005). Of particular significance
is Section 4 of the recommendations: "A strong and unambiguous mandate
and sufficient means to protect civilians" (pages 6-7).

But Amnesty doesn't specify all the tasks that must be undertaken; nor
does the organization offer any concrete force proposals. Only very
general suggestions are made, and without any clear acknowledgement that
virtually all would entail significant infringement on the national
sovereignty that Khartoum is already claiming, with considerable support
from the Arab League (especially Egypt and Libya), some African states,
China, Pakistan, and other nations. Moreover, Amnesty's proposal for an
arms embargo that would cut off the flow weapons to the Khartoum regime
is clearly politically impossible within the UN Security Council, as
both Russia and China have made abundantly clear in public statements.

This lack of specificity on Amnesty's part indirectly highlights the
essential political problem facing any humanitarian intervention of the
sort that Egeland has called for ("[UN Under-Secretary for Humanitarian
Affairs Egeland] urgently called on world leaders Friday to vastly
increase the number of troops in Sudan's Darfur region to protect
unarmed civilians and humanitarian workers facing a wave of murder, rape
and looting" (Associated Press, February 19, 2005). For where are these
troops to come from? How many will be needed? How can countries outside
Africa enable and work with AU forces to create an effective force?
Under what auspices will they be deployed? How will the threat of a
Chinese or Russian veto in the UN Security Council be overcome? How
will such a force be deployed without UN approval?

Egeland recognizes that answers to these questions are not his to
provide, but there is little evidence that others are taking up the
planning tasks in effective or forceful fashion.

It must first be said that these troops and security personnel for
Darfur must be in addition to the UN peacekeeping operation that will be
deployed to southern Sudan in support of the January 9, 2005 peace
agreement between Khartoum and the southern Sudan People's Liberation
Movement/Army. This force, as articulated in the most recent US draft
Security Council resolution, is bloated, exorbitantly expensive, and
militarily ill-conceived in many respects (see analysis by this writer
[February 17, 2005] of the US proposal at:
http://www.sudanreeves.org/modules.php?op=modload&name=News&file=article&sid=38&mode=thread&order=0&thold=0).
But most consequentially, the US proposal contains nothing that
suggests how eventual deployment of such a peace-support operation will
directly address extremely urgent security needs in Darfur.

To save the lives that are now acutely at risk, an emergency resolution
at the UN must receive immediate consideration. If China and/or Russia
block such consideration or veto an eventual resolution, NATO, the
European Union, the US and other willing countries (e.g., Australia, New
Zealand) must act outside UN auspices. All possible diplomatic,
political, economic, and moral leverage should be used to convince the
African Union to accept the basic fact of its inability to provide
adequate security to the people of Darfur, and the consequent need for
broad international assistance.

What are the essential security tasks?

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

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

[3] The opening of safe passage routes from rural areas currently
beyond the reach of humanitarian operations, thereby allowing the free
movement of people who have depleted all food reserves and are
preventing by ongoing Janjaweed predations from using their superb
foraging skills;

[4] The dismantling of checkpoints on key road arteries, many of which
are maintained by bandits and other lawless elements that have emerged
from the chaos of two years of violence;

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

[6] Mechanical disabling or destruction of any military aircraft
implicated in violations of international law, in particular attacks on
civilian targets;

[7] Cantonment and eventual disarmament of the Janjaweed (per the
terms of the heretofore flouted "demand" of UN Security Resolution 1556,
July 30, 2004).

These tasks suggest very significant force requirements. Romeo
Dallaire, UN force commander in Rwanda during the 1994 genocide, has
estimated that approximately 44,000 troops would be required for a
mission similar in ambition to one defined by these security tasks. The
world may choose to ignore actual military requirements in responding to
Darfur's massive crisis, and focus instead on what appears politically
practicable; this substitution of expediency for the honest assessment
of what is required to halt genocide ensures only that many tens of
thousands who might be saved will die.

THE FOOD CRISIS

Even with dramatically increased security in Darfur, the consequences
of two years of extreme violence, poor planning by the UN, inadequate
international funding, and Khartoum's relentless obstruction of
humanitarian responses have created a situation in which there are now
massive and insurmountable food shortages. The steady collapse of
agricultural production in Darfur, the extreme disruption of markets,
and rapidly escalating inflation in food prices all portend
extraordinary human mortality during the coming "hunger gap" (May/June
to October).

The UN's Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and World Food Program
(WFP) estimate that 2004/2005 gross cereal production (primarily millet
and sorghum) will be one half to two-thirds below any of the most recent
five year's harvests. And even this very likely understates the
severity of the crisis: the International Committee of the Red Cross,
with the most substantial presence in rural Darfur, has indicated that
net cereal production will be far less than suggested by FAO/WFP
figures.

At a minimum, Darfur faces a cereal food gap of 250,000 metric tons
(MT), according to UN and non-UN food planners. For a sense of what
this figure alone represents, we should bear in mind that humanitarian
logisticians estimate that food needs for 1 million people (cereal,
pulses, and oil) are approximately 17,000 MT per month. A 250,000 MT
shortfall represents the total cereal food consumption of more than a
million people for approximately 14 months---without any balancing
complement of pulses (leguminous foods) or cooking oil.

From a somewhat different quantitative perspective, early in fiscal
year 2005 the US Agency for International Development (US AID) estimated
that without a dramatic improvement in security on the ground in Darfur,
the region's emergency food needs would reach to 750,000 MT for the
current calendar year (2005). US AID evidently now regards even this
enormous estimate as low.

The effects of what are now inevitably huge shortfalls in food aid and
availability can already be measured in terms of devastating inflation
in food prices:

"Sharp food price rises signal worrying grain shortages in many areas
in Sudan, already suffering widespread hunger, the UN World Food
Programme (WFP) said on Tuesday. WFP spokesperson Laura Melo said a near
doubling of sorghum prices in the past 12 months indicated the supply of
cereals could be even tighter than thought and the number of people
possibly at risk of food shortages greater than feared. 'WFP is
extremely concerned about a rapid rise in food prices in Sudan,' she
said. 'Many more people than we had anticipated could be facing food
shortages and the shortages of cereals could be worse than we thought.'"
(Reuters, February 22, 2004)

Of particular concern is the very recent spike in food prices:

"The UN's food agency warned Tuesday that there were signs that Sudan
was facing a food crisis, following a sharp rise in crop prices in the
country in recent weeks. The World Food Programme said the price rises
added to shortages caused by failed harvests, poor aid deliveries or
violence, especially in the south and east of the country, and the
strife-torn western region of Darfur. 'The increase in crop prices in
the last weeks has been sudden and significant,' [WFP] spokesman Simon
Pluess told journalists." (Agence France-Press, February 22, 2005)

The disruption of food markets, especially smaller food markets, has
already been severe, with increasingly strong ripple effects in the
urban areas. Moreover, even Darfuri villagers who have not been
displaced depend on these markets for the majority of their food, given
the collapse in agricultural production. Rising prices will put food
beyond the economic reach of these people, creating an even larger
population dependent upon humanitarian food distribution. Indeed, a
cascade of destructive effects has been set in motion, and only the most
urgent humanitarian intervention---both in the provision of security and
additional food supplies, transport, and logistics---can mitigate in
significant ways the cataclysm of human destruction that is impending.

Rural areas are in fact already giving strong signs of famine
conditions, and a recent important analysis from Refugees International
reports clear indications of the direction of the food crisis.
Assessing Global Acute Malnutrition, Refugees International notes that
while rates in camps have improved:

"Outside of camps, however, malnutrition rates may run between 20% and
25%, and wild foods are turning up for sale in markets in North Darfur,
an indicator of severe food stress." ("Sudan: Food shortages spreading
beyond conflict areas," Refugees International, February 16, 2005)

THE NEXUS OF INSECURITY

Ultimately, the threats to civilian life in Darfur are only arbitrarily
distinguished as physical insecurity and food insecurity: the two are
relentlessly intertwined by virtue of the Khartoum regime's inexorable
pursuit of genocidal ambitions. We may see the relationship in the
terms articulated by Egeland:

"'We are very afraid of the security of our workers in the field,'
[Egeland] said, noting that 'armed men in the militias are getting away
with murder of women and children and it is still happening and those
who direct these militias are also getting away with murder,' due to
massive impunity for what an inquiry commission has called massive war
crimes and crimes against humanity." (UN News Center, February 18,
2005)

We may also see the relationship in terms of Khartoum's deliberate
obstruction of humanitarian operations, as reported by Kofi Annan to the
UN Security Council:

"December and January saw increasing harassment of international
nongovernmental organizations by [Khartoum's] local authorities [in
Darfur], particularly in South Darfur. In a worrying sign that earlier
progress is being rolled back, systematic arrest, false and hostile
accusations through the national media outlets, and outright attacks
were combined with renewed restrictions on travel permits and visa
applications. Almost all NGOs operating South Darfur faced some form of
intimidation that delayed and restricted their operations." (Paragraph
21 of the February 4, 2005 Report of the Secretary-General on Sudan
Pursuant to Security Council Resolution 1556 [2004])

We may also see the relationship between physical insecurity and food
insecurity in Khartoum's continuing refusal to restrain it brutal
Janjaweed militia allies, and the effects of Janjaweed predations on
agricultural production and the ability of Darfuris to forage for food.
Though Security Council Resolution 1556 (July 30, 2004) "demands" that
Khartoum disarm the Janjaweed and bring its leaders to justice, the
regime has exhibited nothing but contempt for this "demand," now issued
over half a year ago. Indeed, recent comments from the most notorious
Janjaweed leader, Musa Hilal, give a clear picture of Khartoum's
relationship to this instrument of human destruction:

"An Arab tribal chief suspected of human rights abuses in Darfur said
on Sunday he was doing only what the government told him when he
recruited militiamen to help put down an uprising there. Musa Hilal, who
tops the [US] State Department's list of Darfur human rights abuse
suspects, said Khartoum had entrusted tribal leaders with recruiting
young men to join the militias in Darfur. 'The war in Darfur was not in
our hands. The decision to make war was taken by higher powers in the
state. We, the leaders of the tribes, Arabs and others, were charged by
the government to take part in the conscription effort and we only
obeyed,' Hilal said." (Reuters, February 20, 2005)

Hilal also gives us a sense of just how unintimidated he is by the
threat of international prosecution:

"A UN-appointed panel has drawn up a confidential list of 51 people
suspected of 'heinous crimes' in Darfur and has recommended they be
tried at the new International Criminal Court. UN sources say Hilal is
on the list. Hilal said he would not agree to the 'humiliation' of being
prosecuted abroad. 'As an individual who is independent and has a sense
of his own freedom in his own country, I do not accept that I be
prosecuted outside of Sudan. I reject it completely,' he said."
(Reuters, February 20, 2005)

Hilal has of course been strongly encouraged in these views by every
single statement coming from senior members of the National Islamic
Front regime, including First Vice President Ali Osman Taha and Justice
Minister Ali Muhammed OsmanYassin. We should of course expect such
intransigence: men like Hilal, Taha, Yassin, and many others have
deliberately orchestrated Darfur's genocide and will never submit to
anything but forceful extradition. The evidence against them is
overwhelming and only grows more compelling. Indeed, an extraordinary
op/ed from Nicholas Kristof in today's New York Times (February 23,
2005) reveals the existence of a document, obtained by African Union
forces and leaked to Kristof, that almost certainly records fully
explicit genocidal intent on the part of Khartoum and its Darfur
governmental surrogates:

"This [African Union] archive, including scores of reports by the
monitors on the scene, underscores that this slaughter [in Darfur] is
waged by and with the support of the Sudanese government as it tries to
clear the area of non-Arabs. Many of the photos [of atrocities] show men
in Sudanese Army uniforms pillaging and burning African villages. I hope
the African Union will open its archive to demonstrate publicly just
what is going on in Darfur."

"The archive also includes an extraordinary document seized from a
janjaweed official that apparently outlines genocidal policies. Dated
last August, the document calls for the 'execution of all directives
from the president of the republic' and is directed to regional
commanders and security officials. 'Change the demography of Darfur and
make it void of African tribes,' the document urges. It encourages
'killing, burning villages and farms, terrorizing people,
confiscating property from members of African tribes and forcing them
from Darfur.'"

"It's worth being skeptical of any document because forgeries are
possible. But the African Union believes this document to be authentic.
I also consulted a variety of experts on Sudan and shared it with some
of them, and the consensus was that it appears to be real." (New York
Times, February 23, 2005)

But even without the document that Kristof reports, all evidence from
the ground in Darfur makes clear that the genocidal intent so explicitly
declared in this damning text has animated human destruction for many
long months as the international community has watched with indifference
or impotence. Now the consequences of this impotence and impotence are
fully in evidence, and the famine that has become inevitable will take
lives in unforgivably large numbers. Darfur's death toll may very well
exceed that of the Rwandan genocide, and even humanitarian intervention
of the most robust sort will, at this belated date, be unable to halt
starvation on a massive scale.

We have failed Darfur, and the most energetic humanitarian and military
protection efforts will still leave us the obscene task of counting
again the number of deaths defining genocide in Africa.

Eric Reeves
Smith College
Northampton, MA 01063
ereeves@smith.edu
www.sudanreeves.org

Friday, February 18, 2005

Darfur Genocide and the Current Faces of International Failure: 

A "perfect storm" of indifference and disingenuousness

Eric Reeves
February 17, 2005

Despite the current rhetorical sound and fury at the UN, nothing of
substance has yet emerged to signify that the situation on the ground in
Darfur will change soon. Genocide by attrition continues unabated, with
staggering total mortality to date; the humanitarian crisis deepens,
especially in the provision of food to badly weakened populations,
foreshadowing even greater mortality in the longer term; no significant
pressure has been exerted on Khartoum, pressure that might fundamentally
change the regime's behavior on the ground in Darfur; meaningful peace
negotiations, which address key issues of severe political and economic
marginalization in Darfur, cannot be achieved under current African
Union auspices; and the intense politicization of a possible
International Criminal Court referral for Khartoum's genocidaires has
too often been at the expense of meaningful discussion of humanitarian
intervention.

Indeed, despite yesterday's strong language from UN Secretary-General
Annan and UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Louise Arbour, despite
yet another US-proposed resolution for UN Security Council
consideration, and despite the peculiar optimism of the belated UN
"Darfur Humanitarian Profile No. 10" (which speaks to developments
only through January 1, 2005), Darfur's crisis continues to deepen. Any
global assessment of recent commentary and developments must discern a
pattern of disturbing disingenuousness, an expedient reaching for the
lowest common denominator of international agreement, and a profound
moral failure to value, as fully human, Darfuri lives---daily lost in
huge numbers amidst what Annan has accurately described as "little short
of hell on earth."

THE VOICES OF LT. GENERAL ROMEO DALLAIRE AND KOFI ANNAN

Dallaire, UN force commander in Rwanda during the 1994 genocide, is
currently traveling the US in connection with the publication of his
memoir, "Shake Hands with the Devil: The Failure of Humanity in Rwanda"
(2003). Citing the US commitment in Iraq, Dallaire draws an ominous
historical parallel:

"The Western world did not put enough resources into preventing the
Rwandan genocide because it was focused on tensions in Yugoslavia, said
Dallaire. Likewise, said Dallaire, Sudan is being sacrificed for another
conflict. 'We're not going to Darfur (because) we're so involved in
Iraq. There are no lessons learned in stopping the violence and rape
and decimation of an ethnic group.'" (Inter Press Service [IPS],
February 15, 2005)

Dallaire also speaks with unprecedented frankness about the role of
Annan in the Rwandan genocide (Annan appears, and merely innocuously, on
only four pages of Dallaire's 560-page book):

"Dallaire says he was told by Kofi Annan, then under-secretary-general
for peacekeeping operations, not to act on the information [i.e.,
intelligence about Hutu extremist plans for genocide]. Further, Annan
told him to give the data [from his confidential source 'Jean-Pierre']
to the leader of the official Hutu political party---and one of the
orchestrators of the secret plot. Dallaire deeply regrets not acting on
'Jean-Pierre's' advice and preventing the genocide: 'My failure to
persuade (UN headquarters in) New York to act on Jean-Pierre's
information still haunts me.'" (IPS, February 15, 2005)

We might wish for a fuller transcript of Dallaire's actual words, so
important is this assessment of Annan's role before and during the
Rwandan genocide; Inter Press Service (IPS), however, is the only
news-wire reporting on these extraordinary remarks. As Dallaire
continues with his book-related travel in the US, we must hope that this
most powerful voice receives due coverage.

But we do now have Annan's words concerning the current genocide in
Darfur, and though they have finally achieved an appropriate level of
expressed outrage, there is deep disingenuous in his suggested time-line
for what the world has known about Darfur, and the authority with which
we have known it. For using the report of the UN International
Commission of Inquiry (with a January 25, 2005 date of record), Annan is
clearly attempting to suggest that this Report marks a "terminus a quo,"
some point of departure in our understanding of Darfur's horrific
realities. This is not true, and Annan's suggestion to the contrary is
motivated at least in part by his desire not to be seen as having stood
idly by for so many months during which these realities were unfolding:

"'This report is one of the most important documents in the recent
history of the UN,' Annan said." (Reuters, February 16, 2005)

"'This report [of the International Commission of Inquiry] demonstrates
beyond all doubt that the last two years have been little short of hell
on earth for our fellow human beings in Darfur,' Annan said." (Agence
France-Presse, February 16, 2005)

But Annan's reference to the "recent history of the UN" is deliberately
misleading; certainly such "doubt" as Annan suggests in this comment was
incinerated long ago, indeed over a year ago, by continuous reports from
Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, the International Crisis
Group, as well as subsequent reports from Physicians for Human Rights,
various UN human rights investigations, and the Coalition for
International Justice. There is virtually nothing new in the Report of
the Commission of Inquiry; indeed, it did scandalously little forensic
work, despite having forensic specialists on the Commission team, and
failed badly in not investigating the sites of reported mass executions
of non-Arab/African men and boys.

Annan declared, as if revealing something heretofore in doubt:

"The Commission has established that many people in Darfur have been
the victims of atrocities perpetrated on a very large scale, for which
the Government of Sudan and the Janjaweed are responsible." (UN News
Center, February 16, 2005)

But again, these atrocities and Khartoum's responsibility were long ago
established with full authority by numerous human rights investigations,
including investigations by UN human rights experts. The websites of
Human Rights Watch (see hrw.org/campaigns/darfur/index.htm), Amnesty
International (www.amnesty.org), and the International Crisis Group
(www.crisisweb.org) are filled with such reports. Here we must recall
that Annan declared on June 17, 2004, when many of these reports were
already extant, that "'based on reports that I have received, I am not
ready to describe [Darfur] as genocide or ethnic cleansing yet'" (Voice
of America, June 17, 2004; The Globe and Mail [Canada], June 19, 2004).
These remarks, either remarkably ignorant or deeply disingenuous, stood
in the starkest contrast to assessments coming earlier from the UN
humanitarian coordinator for Sudan, Mukesh Kapila, who in March 2004
explicitly likened ethnically-targeted human destruction in Darfur to
the Rwandan genocide, and from UN Under-Secretary for Humanitarian
Affairs Jan Egeland, who had on a number of previous occasions
insistently described the actions in Darfur as "ethnic cleansing."

We should be grateful that Annan is finally describing truthfully the
nature of human destruction in Darfur; but this must not be the occasion
for a re-writing of the historical time-line defining our understanding
of this destruction. The belatedness of Annan's remarks cannot be
expunged by merely rhetorical means.

UN HIGH COMMISSION FOR HUMAN RIGHTS LOUISE ARBOUR

We catch another glimpse of the belatedness of Annan's remarks in
comments on the Report of the Commission of Inquiry coming from UN High
Commission for Human Rights Louise Arbour. Arbour commented in detail
on the horrific conditions at Kailek (March/April 2004):

"In one of the most chilling examples catalogued by the commission,
Government forces and Janjaweed militiamen twice attacked Kailek, a
village populated mainly by members of the ethnic Fur group, in South
Darfur. After the second attack, during which many civilians were shot
and killed, about 30,000 villagers were confined for 50 days within a
small area where they then endured 'the most abhorrent treatment,' Ms.
Arbour said."

"'Some men were singled out and summarily shot. There are reports of
people being thrown on to fires and burnt alive. Women and children were
separated out, confined in a walled area, and periodically taken away by
their captors to be raped, [with] some subjected to gang rapes.'" (UN
News Centre, February 16, 2005)

But we learned of these realities long before the UN Commission of
Inquiry reported on Kailek; and the suggestion by Arbour that the
realities of Kailek are in any way new, or receive new authority from
the Commission of Inquiry, appears but another disingenuous effort to
obscure how much we have known and how long we have known it.

This writer detailed conditions in Kailek on the basis of substantial
reports coming from Eltigani Seisi Ateem, former Governor of Darfur and
chairman of the Darfur Union (UK), beginning in March 2004:

"Two weeks ago the Janjaweed militia attacked the villages to the south
of
Kass. All the villages in the Shattaya and Hamiya areas have been
torched and a number of innocent civilians have been killed. The attack
on Sindo which I [Eltigani Seisi Ateem] have reported earlier has led to
mass displacement. Between 11,000 and 13,000 people have fled to Kailek
area where they have been surrounded by the [Janjaweed] militia."

"These people have no access to water or food as the militia has
prevented any supplies of water and food. We have just received
information that those who are now surrounded in Kailek are dying of
thirst and hunger. The situation requires immediate intervention to save
the lives of about 13,000 innocent civilians trapped by the Janjaweed
militia in Kailek, dying of thirst and hunger." (Received by e-mail,
March 24, 2004) (Analysis by this writer, March 25, 2004 at:
http://www.sudanreeves.org/modules.php?op=modload&name=Sections&file=index&req=viewarticle&artid=160)


This analysis helped to galvanize a UN inter-agency investigation of
conditions at Kailek, an investigation whose conclusions were widely
disseminated at the time, by this writer among others:

"What did the UN team find in Kailek? It is important to note first the
team's keen awareness that it caught only a glimpse of the horrors in
the camps: 'We are sure that the team would have learned more about the
crimes committed against civilians in the region had it been granted
wider access to the areas of conflict. The stories that we have received
from the survivors of the acts of mass murder are very painful for us
and they remind us of the brutalities of the Rwanda genocide.' ('Report:
A UN Inter-Agency fact-finding and humanitarian needs assessment
mission, Kailek, South Darfur,' 24 April 2004.)"

"The UN team found that 'the circumstances of the internally displaced
persons in Kailek [must] be described as imprisonment.'"

"The team found that, 'with a under five child mortality rate of 8-9
children per day due to malnutrition, and with the Government of Sudan
security representatives permanently located in the town without having
reported this phenomena to the UN, despite it having taken place for
several weeks, [this] also indicates a local policy of forced
starvation.'"

"The team found that, 'the numerous testimonies collected by the team,
substantiated by the actual observations on the ground, particularly the
longstanding prevention of access to food, alludes to a strategy of
systematic and deliberate starvation being enforced by the Government of
Sudan and its security forces on the ground.'"

"The team found that, 'the Government of Sudan has deliberately
deceived the United Nations by repeatedly refuting claims to the
seriousness of the situation in Kailek as well as having actively
resisted the need for intervention by preventing the UN access to the
area.'" (Analysis by this writer, May 12, 2004 at:
http://www.sudanreeves.org/modules.php?op=modload&name=Sections&file=index&req=viewarticle&artid=191)


The realities of Kailek were established definitively over nine months
ago: it is either culpable ignorance on the part of Arbour to suggest
that these realities have been reported with new authority by the
Commission of Inquiry---or an even more culpable disingenuousness. As
Darfur's realities intrude themselves ever more forcefully into
international awareness, their historical time-line must not be
re-written over the blood of the many hundreds of thousands who have
perished or been displaced and left totally bereft in this cataclysm of
genocidal destruction.

THE US DRAFT PROPOSAL FOR A SOUTHERN SUDAN PEACE SUPPORT OPERATION

The US draft proposal for a new UN Security Council resolution on Sudan
faces almost certain defeat or major revision, given opposition from
veto-wielding China and Russia. But it is important to understand that
not only does this resolution fail to offer effective measures to halt
genocide in Darfur, but in acquiescing before the proposed peace-support
operation for southern Sudan (as fashioned by the UN Department of
Peacekeeping Operations), the US proposal does positive harm. Even in
the process, however, the draft proposal misleadingly attempts to
suggest that such a southern Sudan peace-support operation will have
significant implications for Darfur. This is untrue.

What is true is that the international community appears willing to
contribute forces to a peace-support operation in southern Sudan,
despite a cease-fire that has largely held since October 2002 (with
notable violations on the part of Khartoum and its militia allies), even
as it refuses to intervene to halt civilian slaughter and ongoing
genocidal destruction in Darfur. Let us at least be clear about the
choice that is reflected here.

The force for southern Sudan:

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

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

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

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

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

Indeed, as described by Jan Pronk in a recent briefing of the UN
Security Council, UNMISUD will have 750 military observers, a
5,000-strong "enabling force," and a "protection component" of 4,000 (UN
Press Release [New York], February 7, 2005). But despite the Chapter
VII auspices specified in the US proposal, it is unclear how the mandate
articulated can be fulfilled by a force of such composition---except in
terms of observation and monitoring alone. Such observation and
monitoring are certainly of fundamental importance, and must without
question be provided. But a force well in excess of 10,000, costing
over $1 billion per year, without a meaningful mandate other than
observation, is the very opposite of "lean" and "sustainable,"
especially in the context of the overwhelming transitional needs of
civilian southern Sudan.

Here we might consider the almost total lack of funding for emergency
transitional aid in southern Sudan, particularly in the context of
returning displaced persons:

"Secretary-General [Annan] states that substantial aid is required to
resettle refugees and Internally Displaced Persons [in southern Sudan],
with between 500,000 and 1.2 million displaced people expected to return
to their homes this year alone." (UN News Service, February 3, 2005)

These 500,000 to 1.2 million bereft returnees represent a huge
financial challenge. How can a bloated and extremely expensive
peace-support operation, with no practicable mandate beyond monitoring,
be justified in the context of such desperate human need? Unless a much
clearer mandate is articulated, with specific goals and functions, this
force will reflect not the needs of southern Sudan but the very worst of
UN bureaucracy and inefficiency---it will be neither "lean" nor
"affordable" in any meaningful context of cost effectiveness.

Moreover, there are deeply troubling features to the nature and
composition of UNMISUD. Again, this force has been negotiated by the UN
Department of Peacekeeping Operations exclusively with the same Khartoum
regime that has been found by the UN Commission of Inquiry to be
responsible for massive and ongoing "crimes against humanity" in
Darfur---and which has been guilty of genocide in the Nuba Mountains and
the southern oil regions of Sudan. The SPLM/A has not been consulted or
included in the planning of the peace-support operation. This is
short-sighted and invites conflicting views of the UNMISUD mandate,
terms of deployment, and difficulties expected by the Parties to the
ceasefire agreement.

Further, the makeup of presently committed forces is troubling: India,
Malaysia, China, and Russia---all countries with very substantial
investments in Sudan's oil sector---are among the relatively few nations
that have volunteered forces. The presence of Pakistan and Jordan in
this mix is also a concern: Pakistan, which proved such an
obstructionist force on the Security Council last year in efforts to
confront the crisis in Darfur; Jordan, which supplied Khartoum with much
of the ordnance used by the regime's Antonovs in attacks on civilians
during the 1990s. There has been far too little effort to secure the
presence of countries that have not demonstrated a morally compromised
solidarity with Khartoum and which are not interested parties in
preserving oil development access.

The relevance of this force for Darfur:

Though the US proposal repeatedly refers to Darfur in the context of
UNMISUD, there is never any indication of how deployment in southern
Sudan will have any effect on the ground in Darfur. The proposed
resolution speaks of UNMISUD carrying out its mandate in "continuous
liaison with the AU Mission in Darfur"; but if the UNMISUD is
exclusively to monitor the ceasefire in southern Sudan, the significance
of "continuous liaison" is quite unclear.

Elsewhere the draft resolution speaks of UNMISUD in terms of "an
effective public information campaign in coordination with the AU."
This would seem to be the quintessence of UN "non-speak," and irrelevant
to the desperately real security needs in Darfur, needs far beyond the
capacity of the present (or contemplated) AU force.

The closest the draft resolution comes to speaking meaningfully about
the connection between Darfur and UNMISUD is: "[The Security Council]
requests the Secretary-General to brief the Council within 60 days on
options for how UNMISUD can reinforce the effort to foster peace in
Darfur, including through appropriate capacity building assistance to
the AU Mission" [3]. But what does this mean? How are we to imagine
that the "options" Kofi Annan will offer two months from now are
different from the "options" now evident on the basis of months of slow
and uninspired deployment by the AU?

The proposed US resolution is but another diplomatic place-holder: it
is neither specific nor resolute in moving the international community
toward humanitarian intervention in Darfur, the only "option" that gives
any promise of slowing the massive, ethnically-targeted human
destruction that has been clearly in evidence for over a year. The
proposed "arms embargo" will never be approved by China or Russia,
Khartoum's two key arms suppliers. And the carefully hedged, "targeted"
sanctions against Khartoum (Sections 11-13, Annex 1)---restrictions on
travel and potential asset-freezes---are of little more than symbolic
significance to a regime that has already declared it will strenuously
resist any international effort to have Sudanese nationals tried abroad
for crimes against humanity, genocide, and war crimes in Darfur.

It is easy for the resolution to "declare" in its penultimate paragraph
that the Security Council is determined "that perpetrators of the crimes
and atrocities identified by the International Commission of Inquiry
[for Darfur] must be brought to justice through international accepted
means and that the climate of impunity in Sudan shall end" (Section 19).


But without specifying the means for ending violence in Darfur; without
providing expanded humanitarian capacity; without suggesting
consequences for Khartoum's continuing flouting of the previous Security
Council "demand" that the regime disarm the Janjaweed and bring its
leaders to justice (the singular "demand" of Resolution 1556, July 30,
2004); without committing to anything more than vague support for a
clearly inadequate AU force, the US proposal seems little more than
vacuous rhetoric.

The same must be said of the transparently empty threat of "actions
relating to Sudan's oil sector" (Section 18). Though Kofi Annan is much
given to this threat, as was former US Secretary of State Colin Powell,
it is simply meaningless with China sitting on the Security Council.
Not only has Beijing made clear that it will veto any sanctions
provision that might include such "actions," the Chinese economy could
easily absorb every barrel of Sudanese crude available for export.
Since the Chinese are the dominant player in southern oil development
and production, and view Sudan as a strategic off-shore asset that must
be protected diplomatically at all costs, threats of "actions" against
"Sudan's petroleum sector" are far from threatening: they simply make
plain that the international community is content with posturing.

HUMANITARIAN CONDITIONS: THE GROWING FOOD CRISIS

Because insecurity in Darfur is not seriously addressed by the US
proposal, nor by proposals from any other international actor, we must
assess the future of humanitarian aid delivery on the basis of current
conditions and capacity. The conclusions are unspeakably grim.

The UN World Food Program (WFP) reached 1.5 million recipients in
December, a figure that defines the humanitarian situation as rendered
in the UN's "Darfur Humanitarian Profile No. 10." But this document has
a January 1, 2005 date of record. It thus does not reflect the
extremely ominous drop in food deliveries from January 1 to January 31,
2005: 300,000 fewer people received food (1.2 million according to
various UN sources), even as food needs became globally more acute in
the greater Darfur humanitarian theater. The International Committee of
the Red Cross (ICRC) declared in a recent report that it, "concurs with
WFP figures that estimate between 2.5 and 3 million people in Darfur
will need food assistance this year" ("Darfur: A deteriorating
situation," ICRC, February 9, 2005).

In short, a massive food deficit and the threat of famine loom ever
greater, and the UN's respected Food and Agricultural Organizations has
declared as much explicitly:

"'All the indicators are there for a famine,' says Marc Bellemans, the
Sudan emergency coordinator for the UN's Food and Agriculture
Organization. In a report to fellow UN agencies late last year, the FAO
warned 'a humanitarian crisis of unseen proportions is unfolding in the
Darfur region.'" (Wall Street Journal, February 7, 2005)

Despite these clear features of the humanitarian situation, Darfur
Humanitarian Profile No. 10 glibly suggests that "the catastrophic
mortality figures predicted in some quarters have not materialized"
(page 3), but gives no indication of what mortality data inform this
assessment. There is certainly nothing that speaks to mortality
assessments by this writer or Dr. Jan Coebergh (Parliamentary Brief,
February 2005; see http://www.thepolitician.org). There is no account
in this or any other UN Profile of violent mortality, mortality in
inaccessible rural areas, mortality in Chad, mortality from February
2003 through March 2004. We are offered simply the bald assertion that
"catastrophic mortality" has "not materialized," despite the
substantial number of reports and data suggesting that in fact mortality
is well in excess of 300,000. Perhaps those assembling the monthly
Darfur Humanitarian Profiles do not consider this figure catastrophic.

What cannot be concealed, even by the belatedness of the current
Profile's appearance, are dimensions of the humanitarian crisis that
ensure prospective human mortality in Darfur will certainly continue to
be "catastrophic," at least by most standards. An important factor in
amplifying the effects of famine mortality will be what appears to be an
impending second missed opportunity by international aid organizations
to pre-position food in Darfur prior to the rainy season (June/July
through September). Moreover, funding for food is far short of what is
needed, and the appropriate mix of foods---i.e., a diet that can sustain
human life---is clearly threatened. Two days ago WFP reported from
Geneva that any previous improvements in the provision of food would
soon be reversed:

"The United Nations urged donors on Tuesday to speed the flow of food
aid to Sudan's Darfur or risk worsening shortages in the conflict-ridden
region." (Reuters, February 15, 2005)

WFP spokeswoman Christiane Berthiaume noted key deficiencies in the
food provided, deficiencies with extremely serious health implications
over the longer term: "In addition, much of the food aid received so far
had been in the form of cereals, but other commodities, such as beans,
sugar and salt, were in perilously short supply, she said." (Reuters,
February 15, 2005)

Yesterday, Voice of America reported another important part of
Berthiaume's comments:

"[Berthiaume said] it is crucial that the agency pre-position food
stocks before the rainy season that begins in July and August. 'And the
case is particularly critical in West Darfur where there are large areas
that will be cut off by the rain,' she said. "'The food aid requirement
at the peak of the hunger season in July and August is estimated at just
over 11,000 tons of food. So, that means that we need to pre-position
23,000 tons of food for July and August and that is on top of the
monthly requirement.'" (VOA, February 16, 2005)

There is nothing remotely approaching this transport or logistical
capacity for West Darfur.

Refugees International (RI), in an important and very recent Sudan
food-needs assessment, reports a number of deeply troubling
contingencies and considerations that figure nowhere in Darfur
Humanitarian Profile No. 10 or its assumptions about mortality:

"Without an increase in food commitments, WFP anticipates to run out of
food at the end of March for the South, Eastern and Central regions of
Sudan. If new commitments are not made for Darfur, food could run out
this summer. Moreover, the food needs in southern Sudan could rise
sharply if larger than expected numbers of refugees and internally
displaced people decide to return following the signing of a peace
agreement last month." ("Sudan: Food shortages spreading beyond
conflict areas," RI, February 16, 2005)

Assessing Global Acute Malnutrition, RI notes that while rates in camps
have improved:

"Outside of camps, however, malnutrition rates may run between 20% and
25%, and wild foods are turning up for sale in markets in North Darfur,
an indicator of severe food stress."

RI also notes with particular concern that "the WFP says that it
doesn't currently have enough food in the pipeline to pre-position all
the food it needs for the rainy season, when muddy roads make
transportation and deliveries difficult." This will be most
consequential for West Darfur, which has been spared much of the current
violence, but may because of its geographic remoteness during the rainy
season see the highest levels of mortality.

THERE IS NO "ON THE CHEAP" RESPONSE ADEQUATE TO GENOCIDE IN DARFUR

The US draft Security Council resolution does not meaningfully advance
the international response to massive genocidal destruction in Darfur.
The supposed connections between a bloated and vaguely tasked UN
peace-support operation in southern Sudan and the urgent human security
requirements in Darfur are facile and largely rhetorical. Though the
cessation of hostilities agreement in southern Sudan has largely held
since October 2002, more than 10,000 uniformed personnel are evidently
likely to be deployed for essentially monitoring purposes.

In Darfur, where the AU has managed to deploy only about 1,500 troops
over several months, violence directed against civilians continues
unabated in a climate of virtually total impunity. Khartoum flouts the
only meaningful demand that the UN Security Council has made (to disarm
its brutal Janjaweed allies and bring Janjaweed leaders to justice), has
accelerated its deliberate obstruction of humanitarian operations (see
February 10, 2005 "Darfur Humanitarian Update" by this writer at
http://www.sudanreeves.org/modules.php?op=modload&name=News&file=article&sid=37&mode=thread&order=0&thold=0),
and speaks contemptuously of international accountability.

These realities cannot be changed by rhetoric, by newly contrived
historical time-lines, by lowest-common-denominator UN resolutions, or
by the threat of international criminal trials---despite the inflated
claims by human rights organizations using Darfur as an occasion to
lobby for the International Criminal Court.

Absent robust humanitarian intervention, what is indeed catastrophic
human mortality---animated by genocidal ambitions---will continue
essentially unchecked.

Eric Reeves
Smith College
Northampton, MA 01063
ereeves@smith.edu
www.sudanreeves.org

Friday, February 11, 2005

"We are speaking about a severely deteriorating situation. There is no
place for optimism as far as the Darfur conflictual dynamics are
concerned."
(International Committee of the Red Cross, February 9, 2005)

Eric Reeves
February 10, 2005

The bleakly abstract assessment offered by the Delegate-General for
Africa of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) is
supported by an ominous series of recent reports, news dispatches, and
announcements from humanitarian organizations. Together, they depict a
catastrophe poised to grow rapidly, and in an important sense
irreversibly: for it has become clear that the "world's greatest
humanitarian crisis" (the UN description of Darfur) will now claim
hundreds of thousands of additional lives no matter what the
international community may decide to do.

The most recent report by Kofi Annan to the UN Security Council takes
the form of a retrospective six-month summary of the Darfur crisis, and
offers a terrifying, if partial, statistical update. The
conflict-affected population in areas within Darfur that have been
assessed by humanitarian relief organizations ("known to the
humanitarian community") has "now reached approximately 2.5 million"
(Paragraph 22 of February 4, 2005 Report of the Secretary-General on the
Sudan pursuant to Security Council Resolution 1556 [July 30, 2004]).

To this figure we must add the 220,000 refugees in Chad (see below for
an update on this figure), as well as the inaccessible rural populations
within Darfur (those people not "known to the humanitarian community").
Given the pre-war population estimates of Darfur's population
(approximately six million, with a number of estimates somewhat higher),
and estimates defining camp populations and pre-war urban populations,
it is difficult to imagine that the distressed rural population numbers
fewer than 500,000, the figure offered in the UN's Darfur Humanitarian
Profile No. 6, September 1, 2004---and dismayingly the last such UN
estimate of these most beleaguered victims of Khartoum's genocidal
campaign.

Darfur's rural population is beyond humanitarian relief and vulnerable
to ongoing Janjaweed predations and Khartoum's continuing military
offensive (explained now by the regime as "road clearances"). As a
consequence of severe insecurity, these people are unable to deploy
their superb foraging skills. These facts were stressed by the ICRC's
Christoph Harnisch in yesterday's press release in Geneva ("Darfur: A
deteriorating situation," February 9, 2005), with particular emphasis on
the implications for food supplies in coming months. Indeed, the ICRC
global food needs assessment must be juxtaposed to the very limited
success of the UN World Food Program (WFP) and others in reaching needy
populations in January 2005:

[1] "The ICRC concurs with WFP figures that estimate between 2.5 and 3
million people in Darfur will need food assistance this year." ("Darfur:
A deteriorating situation," February 9, 2005)

[2] The UN World Program, straining hard in an exceedingly difficult
logistical environment, reached 1.2 million people in January 2005
(according to UN sources), an extremely disturbing decline from the
December figure of 1.5 million (it is the dry season and there are no
obstacles of the sort encountered during July to September 2004).

In short, as many as 3 million people in Darfur and Chad are now
food-dependent to a greater or lesser degree, and of these (even
assuming fully adequate food distribution in Chad) over 1.5 million are
going without any international food aid. Most of these people have not
had adequate food assistance to this point in the crisis, and are thus
badly weakened and acutely susceptible to disease and the effects of
malnutrition.

The belated Darfur Humanitarian Profile No. 10 (which will bear the
date January 1, 2005) has still not appeared, so for detailed
humanitarian sectoral needs we must rely on Darfur Humanitarian Profile
No. 9, December 1, 2004 (Annan's report is simply too general in its
statistical summary). For the conflict-affected population of 2.2
million reported as of December 1, the following shortfalls were
recorded:

[1] shelter: 32% were without;
[2] clean water: 54% were without;
[3] sanitary facilities: 49% were without;
[4] primary health care: 36% were without

Together, these realities reflect the culmination of Khartoum's
genocidal policies in Darfur. Though violent death continues to be
reported on a large and profoundly troubling scale, this is no longer
the primary instrument in targeted human destruction of the
non-Arab/African tribal populations in Darfur. Destruction has for some
time best been defined by Article 2, clause [c] of the 1948 Convention
on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide:

(2)[c] "deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life
calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in
part."

All evidence available suggests that genocidal destruction by attrition
continues to accelerate in Darfur, with little prospect of meaningful
international response to the growing security crisis that is so
powerfully threatening of current humanitarian operations. The African
Union, for all its weakness on the ground in Darfur, has put the nature
of this threat clearly:

"The security situation in the western Sudanese states of North and
South Darfur has deteriorated progressively over the past four months,
with unacceptable consequences for the peace and tranquility of the
civilian populations, according to the AU. 'While all sides to the
conflict in Darfur were responsible for the situation, the worst
perpetrators were the Janjaweed/armed militia,' [said the AU's] Baba
Gana Kingibe." (UN Integrated Regional Information Networks [IRIN],
February 8, 2005)

Indeed, the AU is itself under attack by Khartoum and its militia
allies. Annan notified the Security Council in his February 4, 2005
report of a series of attacks that were clearly initiated by Khartoum,
including an attack of January 31, 2005: "[an AU patrol] investigating
ceasefire violations in the area of Shangil Tobai [site of aerial
bombardment by Khartoum on January 26, 2005; see below] was fired upon
in the proximity of craters that appeared to confirm allegations of
bombing" (Paragraph 41). Reuters had earlier reported on AU reports
that Khartoum had obstructed an AU investigation to this area:

"'African Union observers in Darfur were denied access to investigate
the death and damage caused by aerial bombings,' the AU source, who
declined to be named, told Reuters at [AU] headquarters in Addis Ababa."
(Reuters January 28, 2005)

At the same time, as indicated above and discussed below, there are now
overwhelming shortfalls in humanitarian capacity, with staggering food,
water, shelter, and medical needs that continue to be unmet in Darfur
and Chad. Recent reports make clear that famine is impending and in
some areas may have arrived; and it is famine that will be the greatest
killer in Darfur, even given the staggering mortality already in
evidence. For it is now impossible to foresee humanitarian operations
catching up to the scale of the crisis, even with a full and immediate
commitment of resources. We have waited far too long, and the means of
overcoming our belatedness simply are not available. We may diminish
the scale of the continuing catastrophe; but mitigating, not averting
massive additional genocidal destruction has become our greatest
possible success.

THE NATO "RESPONSE"

To achieve even this shamefully limited success, NATO must press the
African Union much more vigorously to accept assistance from the
alliance---in various logistical, financial, material, and military
forms. It is not enough for NATO simply to make vague suggestions:

"NATO Secretary-General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer on Thursday suggested the
alliance could play a supporting role in the Sudanese region of Darfur,
but stressed that neither the AU nor the UN had asked it to do so."
(Associated Press, February 4, 2005)

For regrettably, if unsurprisingly, there has been no unambiguous and
public AU welcoming of this offer. This reflects in part sentiments
evident at an October 2004 Tripoli summit, involving the presidents of
Chad, Nigeria, Libya, Egypt and the Khartoum regime. At the conclusion
of this diplomatically expedient summit, President Deby of Chad, Libyan
President Ghaddafi, Egyptian President Mubarak, and Nigerian president
(and AU Chairman) Obasanjo closed ranks on Darfur:

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

NATO must press hard to overcome this attitude. And for those
wondering about the irresponsible belatedness of AU deployment to
Darfur, we can do no better than to consider the terrifying implications
of this joint statement---"rejecting all foreign intervention in this
purely African question"---issued almost a third of a year ago.

The most important nations within NATO---Germany, Italy, the UK, the
US, in particular---must make clear that the security threat to human
lives in Darfur is morally intolerable, and that mortality consequent
upon current shortfalls in humanitarian assistance is also morally
intolerable. And it must be an intolerance that carries conviction.
For despite the unspeakably grim statistics and assessments that follow,
there is as yet no real evidence that such intolerance takes more than
merely rhetorical form.

CURRENT STATISTICS OF HUMAN DESTRUCTION IN DARFUR

A number of recent reports, individual statistics, and accounts from
the Darfur region paint a picture of accelerating human destruction.
Emphasis here is given particularly to:

[1] February 4, 2005 Report of the Secretary-General on the Sudan
pursuant to Security Council Resolution 1556 [July 30, 2004];

[2] Press Briefing [Geneva], International Committee of the Red Cross
ICRC Delegate-General for Africa, Christoph Harnisch, on returning from
his recent mission to Sudan, February 9, 2005);
http://www.icrc.org/Web/Eng/siteeng0.nsf/html/69FLU5?OpenDocument

[3] Wall Street Journal extended dispatch [dateline: Fur Baranga
(Darfur)], February 7, 2005;
http://www.sudantribune.com/article.php3?id_article=7884

GLOBAL MORTALITY IN THE DARFUR

It is worth remarking initially that global Darfur mortality has
recently seen significant news coverage. Research by this writer and,
independently, by Jan Coebergh, MD (Parliamentary Brief [February 2005],
at http://www.thepolitician.org/) now informs reporting and editorial
writing on Darfur at the Washington Post, the New York Times, the Boston
Globe, ABC News, the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, Bloomberg
newswire, and a number of other news sources. Coebergh's figure of
305,000 is based on data through December 2004. Given the necessarily
large margin of error in any Darfur mortality assessment, the Coebergh
figure offers very considerable confirmation of the estimates that have
led this writer, over the past ten months of research and publication,
to argue that approximately 370,000 people had died as of the
statistical time-frame governing Coebergh's analysis (see December 12,
2004 mortality analysis by this writer; at www.sudanreeves.org).

Because the December figures derived by Coebergh and this writer are
statistically commensurate, and indeed are derived, by different
methodologies, from essentially the same data (though weighting in
slightly different fashion the significance of the data available), it
has seemed statistically appropriate to average the two numbers by way
of creating a new base figure for global mortality as of January 1, 2005
(this averaged figure thus supercedes that offered by this writer in a
January 18, 2004 mortality assessment). Since both assessments have very
significant margins of error, these margins are likely to be reduced at
the high and low ends by a simple averaging. Thus the figure to be used
heretofore by this writer, representing global mortality in Darfur as of
January 1, 2005, is 340,000.

In the absence of future mortality studies that are derived from more
or better data, or substantial correction to the methodologies used by
Coebergh and by this writer, total mortality in Darfur will henceforth
be estimated by adding monthly mortality figures to this beginning-year
figure of 340,000 dead.

ALTERNATIVE MORTALITY NEWS REPORTING

Such a figure stands in very conspicuous contrast with the figure that
continues to be most cited by news sources as a global figure for
Darfur's mortality: "70,000." The exclusive source for this number,
whether cited or not, is a UN World Health Organization (WHO) study
announced on September 13, 2004, and supplemented by an October 15, 2004
WHO update and press release (see
http://www.who.int/mediacentre/news/briefings/2004/mb5/en/).

Dr. David Nabarro, head of the WHO emergency response division, has
made clear to this author by telephone and email communication---on
repeated occasions---that the news media representation of this figure
of "70,000" is very seriously inaccurate. Dr. Nabarro first emailed this
writer immediately following the September 13, 2004 report and
accompanying announcement:

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

This was confirmed publicly in the October 15, 2004 WHO update:

"I estimate that up to 70,000 of the displaced people in the States of
Darfur, Sudan, have died as a direct result of the conditions in which
they are living since March 1st 2004. Further work will be needed to
estimate the proportions of these deaths that are due to different
causes, but most are due to diarrhoeal diseases exacerbated by
malnutrition." ("WHO Mortality Projections for Darfur," October 15,
2005, presented by David Nabarro, MD)

WHAT IS NOT INCLUDED IN THE W.H.O MORTALITY FIGURE

As a reading of the actual September WHO report and October press
release/update makes fully clear, the figure of "70,000" represents only
a fraction of Darfur's global mortality:

It does not include deaths prior to March 2004 (14 months of the
two-year-old conflict): it purports to say absolutely nothing about
mortality from disease and malnutrition---even in the very same camps
that are part of the WHO study---prior to March 2004. During this
period various humanitarian organizations, including Doctors Without
Borders/Medecins Sans Frontieres (the humanitarian organization that
responded most effectively early in the crisis), reported "catastrophic"
mortality rates in camps for the displaced.

The September WHO report and October update/press release do not
include mortality in Chad, where conditions in some camps have been
fearsomely destructive at various points over the past two years.
Moreover, the number of refugees in Chad is quietly rising again: the UN
High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) estimates that 213,000 people are
now in camps in eastern Chad (figure cited in Fact Sheet #19, "Darfur:
Humanitarian Emergency," February 4, 2005; US Agency for International
Development). The very precision of this updated figure is both
suggestive and troubling, for it clearly reflects actual UNHCR
registrations: it does not represent new arrivals, or those who have
chosen not to enter the camps or have not been registered, refugees who
must push the total figure well over 220,000.

There are no data for deaths from malnutrition and disease in Chad,
even as conditions have in some of the refugee camps have been horrific
for much of the conflict. Indeed, at times Global Acute Malnutrition
(GAM) rates, especially for children, have been higher in Chad's camps
than in Darfur's. Moreover, large populations of vulnerable Darfuris,
such as that in the Masteri area of West Darfur, continue to be poised
to flee into Chad. The UNHCR reported in September 2004 that at least
another 100,000 people would flee to Chad over the subsequent seven
months:

"100,000 is the figure [of Darfuris fleeing into Chad] we think we will
reach before the next rainy season, that is to say, May 2005. And that's
on the optimistic side, it could be as many as 150,000, [UNHCR
coordinator for Chad Kinsley Amaning] told IRIN." (UN IRIN, September
27, 2004)

Tensions between indigenous Chadians and Dafuri refugees have flared on
a number of occasions, as resentment builds over the food available from
humanitarian organizations for Darfuris but not their impoverished
hosts. Competition over the exceedingly scare resources of water and
pasturable land in the difficult environment of eastern Chad have led to
violence in the past, and may well do so again as the number of refugees
continues to increase.

Most importantly, the WHO figure does not include violent mortality,
even as violent mortality continues to be the largest single cause of
death over the course of two years of brutally destructive conflict (the
figure for the December 2004 mortality assessment by this writer is
"over 200,000"; the Coebergh figure, which assumes that violence is
the cause of "56.4% of 306,130 excess deaths" [Parliamentary Brief,
February 2005, page 6] is approximately 172,000 deaths).

Though mortality from disease and malnutrition likely overtook violence
as the leading cause of death by summer 2004, violence continues to
claim a great many civilian lives. We have only to look at recent
aerial bombings by Khartoum's Anonovs against villages, or reports of
Janjaweed attacks, to see that any meaningful mortality assessment must
continue to include deaths from violence. The New York Times recently
reported that:

"As many as 25 [villages] have been burned to the ground in recent days
in this restive patch of Darfur, a vast arid region roughly the size of
France. On January 14, [2005], an attack on the town of Hamada left more
than 100 people dead, including many women and children, said foreign
military and aid officials in Darfur." (New York Times [dateline:
Labado, South Darfur], January 24, 2005)

Jan Pronk, UN special representative to Sudan, recently spoke of these
attacks:

"[Pronk] said the government bombers and helicopter gunships fly
regularly over north and south Darfur, and 40 villages had been hit by
pro-government militia. [These 40 villages] had been attacked by
government-linked Janjaweed militia in the area around Labado in South
Darfur." (BBC, January 28, 2005)

The AU futilely attempted to investigate Khartoum's bombing of Shangil
Tobaya (near the North Darfur/South Darfur border):

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

Khartoum's military campaign has continued elsewhere, including an
especially destructive bombing of Hamada (South Darfur):

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


This account comports with that offered by the Sudan Organization
Against Torture (SOAT):

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

These are but the most conspicuous examples of continued violent
mortality within the civilian populations of Darfur.

Finally, returning to the WHO mortality assessment and the sources of
total mortality that are excluded from the WHO figure, we must consider
mortality among the inaccessible rural populations of Darfur. Annan, in
his report to the Security Council, frankly acknowledges the severe
limitations on what we know of this desperate population:

"Owing to insecurity and the limited capacity of agencies, serious
assessment of the condition of the population outside the internally
displaced persons gatherings covered by humanitarian assistance has not
been possible." (Paragraph 25)

Without the benefit of humanitarian assistance---food or non-food
items---these people are extremely vulnerable, though of course most of
their deaths are invisible and unreported. But we know, in part because
of the limited presence of the ICRC in some rural areas, that the
situation is desperate:

"The most vulnerable [people in Darfur] are those living in rural
areas, said [ICRC Delegate-General for Africa Cristoph] Harnisch, where
there is no protection system in place at all other than that provided
by the ICRC and a few NGOs active among these isolated communities."

"Although the distribution of essential food and non-food items is now
well established for hundreds of thousands of people sheltering in camps
for internally displaced people (IDPs) nearer to cities, rural residents
are still highly exposed. This led to the ICRC shifting its emphasis
from IDPs to the rural population during the course of 2004." ("Darfur:
a deteriorating situation," ICRC Press release, February 9, 2005)

"'In these rural areas, populations live in an environment where there
is no elementary protection mechanism,' Harnish said." (Associated
Pressed February 9, 2005)

Nonetheless, this population was not intended to figure in the WHO
Darfur assessment mortality.

Though the extremely limited relevance of the WHO study and update
should be fully clear to all, and though there are alternative sources
of mortality data and estimates available (and in use by major news
organizations), news reports continue in most cases to represent the WHO
figure of "70,000" as a global mortality estimate.

This is journalism at its very worst. As Coebergh rightly observes:
"Counting the dead also values them. And it allows us to properly
estimate the cost in lives the war will claim in the months ahead.
After all, these were, and are, preventable deaths." Journalistic
refusal to accept the obligation to report responsibly on Darfur's
mortality contributes to ignorance about the immense human destruction
consequent upon continuing war, and thus makes this destruction more
likely.

THE KHARTOUM REGIME'S ATTITUDE TOWARD MORTALITY ASSESSMENTS

The importance of mortality studies is confirmed indirectly by efforts
the National Islamic Front regime in Khartoum has made to forestall more
comprehensive research by the WHO:

"The World Health Organization has been in tense negotiations with
Sudan for about a month over allowing a team of international
epidemiologists to conduct a study of mortality in Darfur. A UN official
familiar with the discussions said Khartoum has so far refused to grant
visas to the agency's specialists because Sudan is 'just terrified' that
a new mortality study will heighten international criticism of the
government. 'They think any attempt to look at mortality is going to
lead to a new headline figure that is going to dominate the news for the
next couple of weeks,' said the official." (The Washington Post,
February 8, 2005)

Khartoum's "terror," while fully understandable, must not be allowed to
govern the work of international epidemiologists seeking to register the
level of genocidal destruction.

DARFUR HUMANITARIAN UPDATE

Humanitarian Capacity:

It is widely accepted by the UN, humanitarian organizations, and
international political actors that insecurity on the ground in Darfur
is the primary limiting factor for greater humanitarian reach and
efficacy (see below). But there are also huge shortcomings in total
capacity that must be much more honestly acknowledged than at present.
For statistical context, it should be borne in mind that humanitarian
logisticians estimate monthly food needs for a population of 1 million
people at 17,000 metric tons (MT).

3 million people in need of food in Darfur and Chad would thus require
monthly food capacity and transport---into and within the humanitarian
theater---of over 50,000MT. In addition to this, we must estimate the
significant tonnage requirements for critical non-food items: medicine,
shelter, water-purification equipment and supplies, cooking fuel.
Current capacity, estimated on the basis of deliveries of food and
non-food items, is variable but ranges up to about 25,000-30,000MT in
Darfur and Chad. In short, there is only about half the sheer
humanitarian capacity presently required in the greater humanitarian
theater. This is so despite the blunt reality declared of Darfur's
population as a whole by the ICRC: "Food shortages in the next few
months will affect most people in most areas [of Darfur]" (Associated
Press, February 9, 2005).

Khartoum's renewed assault on humanitarian relief efforts:

Annan speaks of this extremely ominous development at some length in
his report to the Security Council:

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

Annan, in remarking on abuses by the insurgencies, also notes that the
Khartoum regime is "responsible for the overwhelming majority of
incidents" (Paragraph 21).

This is much more than "worrying," as Mr. Annan declares in absurd
understatement: this represents Khartoum's resumption of a highly active
role in reducing the effectiveness of international efforts to mitigate
the consequences of the regime's genocidal ambitions. All the efforts
described by Annan are certainly costing innocent lives---a great many
innocent lives. Indeed, so many hundreds of thousands of lives are
poised precariously between survival and destruction that we may be sure
this deliberate, systematic obstruction of humanitarian relief efforts
is costing thousands of lives, presently and in the near future.

These lives are the victims of genocide just as certainly as those
killed by Janjaweed attacks on non-Arab/African villages, or by Antonov
bombing attacks on these same villages, or by other violent means
currently deployed against what is perceived by the regime as the
civilian base of support for the insurgencies.

Food production:

Too little attention has been paid to the larger dynamic by which food
production has ground to a halt in Darfur, or to the short-, medium-,
and longer-term implications of agricultural collapse. Thus the
particular importance of a lengthy recent dispatch from the Wall Street
Journal (October 8, 2005). The article (available at:
http://www.sudantribune.com/article.php3?id_article=7884) gives an
excellent account of growing food inflation, the cumulative effects of
poor crops over the past two years, and the effects on WFP deliveries:

"'The window of opportunity [for ensuring pre-positioning of food
before the beginning of the next rainy season in May/June 2005] is
narrowing,' says [WFP's] Veloso. If enough food isn't available for
Darfur, the WFP may be forced to reduce the size of the monthly rations,
or limit the number of recipients." (The Wall Street Journal [Dateline:
Fur Baranga] February 7, 2005)

Moreover, the urgent need for farmers to plant their seeds prior to the
heaviest rains is presently overwhelmed by fear of attack by the
Janjaweed and Khartoum's regular military forces:

"With surviving farmers huddling in domestic refugee camps, two
harvests have already been lost. And a third ruinous year looms, as
farmers too afraid to leave the camps are giving up on this spring's
planting season. [ ] Farmers in the refugee camps say they have given up
hope of returning in time to plant, fearing attacks from the same
militias---known as the Janjaweed---that drove them away in the first
place. 'No way I'm going back this year,' says Matair Abdall,
emphatically shaking her head." (The Wall Street Journal [Dateline: Fur
Baranga] February 7, 2005)

Collectively, food inflation, the inability to pre-position sufficient
humanitarian food aid, and a collapsing agricultural economy portend
gruesome famine:

"'All the indicators are there for a famine,' says Marc Bellemans, the
Sudan emergency coordinator for the UN's Food and Agriculture
Organization. In a report to fellow UN agencies late last year, the FAO
warned 'a humanitarian crisis of unseen proportions is unfolding in the
Darfur region.'"

Unfathomable, perhaps, but certainly not unseen: it is visible even
now.

CONCLUSION: "'It is. It's another Rwanda,' [Major General] Dallaire [UN
peacekeeping force commander in Rwanda during the 1994 genocide"
(CTV [Canada], February 8, 2005)

Dallaire has for several months argued for an international peacemaking
force for Darfur on the order of 44,000 NATO-quality troops, this to
supplement the hopelessly inadequate AU contingent, which the AU now
admits won't be fully deployed until April. Dallaire's forthright
honesty is finally finding at least a faint echo within the UN.
Under-Secretary for Humanitarian Affairs Jan Egeland---long the most
stalwart of senior UN officials with responsibility for Darfur---today
declared of current levels of humanitarian assistance:

"'A plaster [i.e., band-aid] on a wound. A wound that can only be
healed by much tougher political pressure and a stronger military
presence. I think more than 5,000 troops are needed to disarm the
militias,' he said." (Reuters, February 10, 2005)

Even Jan Pronk, so often hopelessly expedient in dealing with Khartoum,
is reported two days ago,

"[appealing] to all parties, including the AU and members of the
Security Council, 'to find a creative way to expand the present third
force into one which can stop all attacks.'" (Reuters, February 8,
2005)

Given such growing consensus on the need for humanitarian intervention
in Darfur, it is intensely dismaying to find so much international
attention presently devoted to arguing about the appropriate legal venue
in which to try Khartoum's genocidaires---especially since so much of
this debate has to do with issues extraneous to Darfur, and is certainly
largely irrelevant to halting genocide in this tortured land.

To be sure, the Bush administration, on the one hand, and human rights
groups such as Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch on the
other, have large vested interests in the fate and legitimacy of the
International Criminal Court, and are trimming their arguments about
Darfur accordingly. But Darfur at the present moment is not the
appropriate context for this debate, certainly not when First Vice
President Ali Osman Taha and other of Khartoum's genocidaires are
adamantly and repeatedly insisting that no Sudanese citizen will be
tried abroad for international crimes in Darfur.

Justice and accountability are essential issues in the longer term; but
stopping Darfur's genocide in the present should be all that matters
now.

Eric Reeves
Smith College
Northampton, MA 01063
ereeves@smith.edu
www.sudanreeves.org

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