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Friday, May 20, 2005


Darfur Posted by Hello

The "Two Darfurs": Redefining a Crisis for Political Purposes; 

Amidst genocide by attrition, expedient misrepresentations are proliferating

Eric Reeves
May 20, 2005

Despite the unrelenting genocidal destruction that continues daily in Darfur,
there is a growing effort in various quarters to re-define the crisis in ways
that would make it less urgent, less demanding of international humanitarian
intervention---less the deliberately engineered catastrophe that will now
inevitably produce obscene human mortality in the months and years to come. But the
grim realities of the actual Darfu make clear that despite the efforts to create
a factitious, less demanding "Darfur," the crisis continues throughout the
region and in many ways deepens. Thus we may be sure that if this contrived
"Darfur" comes to govern the response of the international community, the real Darfur
will have been dealt its deadliest blow since the outbreak of major hostilities
in February 2003.

A survey of recent reports and data appears below, including figures from the
most recent UN Darfur Humanitarian Profile (No. 13; representing conditions as
of April 1, 2005 but released May 12, 2005). Also discussed are the most recent
report on Darfur by the Secretary-General; news dispatches from the ground;
evidence of growing insecurity for humanitarian operations, as well as shortfalls
in humanitarian capacity; and the recent African Union decision to ask that
NATO augment AU deployment in Darfur only with enhanced logistical support.

But first an assessment of the "new Darfur."

THE "NEW DARFUR": NO LONGER GENOCIDE

What does and doesn't characterize the new "Darfur"? Conspicuously, the new
"Darfur" is not the site of genocide, despite massive evidence that the five
particular acts of genocide specified in the 1948 UN Convention on the Prevention
and Punishment of Genocide have all been committed, both by the military forces
of the Khartoum regime and its Janjaweed militia allies. Though this was
unambiguously declared by former US Secretary of State Colin Powell in testimony
before the US Senate on September 9, 2004, there is now on the part of the Bush
administration only word-mincing and hesitation. Most conspicuously, Deputy
Secretary of State Robert Zoellick pointedly refused to confirm the US genocide
determination (Khartoum, April 15, 2005). President Bush, who had also previously
declared the realities of Darfur to be genocide, hasn't mentioned the word
"Darfur" in over four months---this despite Mr. Bush's now well-known maginalis
concerning genocide in Africa: "not on my watch!"

[An important "open letter" to President Bush, demanding that he do more to
halt genocide in Darfur, will be released (along with a full list of signatories)
at a media briefing hosted by Africa Action in Washington, DC on May 24, 9:30am
in the John Hay Room at the Hay Adams Hotel, 16th and H Streets, NW. The
letter has support from several members of Congress, as well as many national
organizations and religious denominations.]

But Mr. Bush has plenty of feckless company. The Parliament of the European
Union voted 566 to 6 (September 2004) to declare that Khartoum's actions in
Darfur are "tantamount to genocide"; there has been no meaningful comment or action
by the EU Parliament since. The German defense minister, speaking for the
German government, also declared that genocide was occurring in Darfur (September
2004); nothing has followed from this declaration, though it should be noted
that Germany's Siemens AG is one of the largest commercial partners of the
genocidal Khartoum regime. UK Foreign Secretary Jack Straw recently (April 2005) said
genocide was occurring in Darfur (The Scotsman, May 3, 2005). Nothing
commensurate with such a determination has been evident in UK policy, and British
commercial firms (e.g., Weir Pumps [Glasgow]) continue to do business as usual with
Khartoum.

Much of this balking and dodging takes cover from a scandalously politicized
and deeply compromised assessment of violations of international law in Darfur by
a UN Commission of Inquiry (COI), which unpersuasively concluded that there is
insufficient evidence of "genocidal intent." The January 2005 COI report,
submitted to Secretary-General Kofi Annan (whose office assembled the Commission
team), is an intellectual disgrace, marred by egregious errors of logic, poor
legal reasoning, and critical failures in considering and gathering evidence (see
two-part critique by this writer at:
http://www.sudanreeves.org/modules.php?op=modload&name=Sections&file=index&req=viewarticle&artid=489&page=1
and
http://www.sudanreeves.org/modules.php?op=modload&name=Sections&file=index&req=viewarticle&artid=488&page=1).

A prominent feature of the effort to deny genocide in Darfur is an attempt to
use the decline in large-scale violence as evidence of the changed character of
human destruction. And to be sure there has been a diminishment---though far
from an elimination---of the violence that produced such extreme human
destruction in 2003 and 2004. But genocide has proceeded, massively, on the basis of
efforts by Khartoum to "deliberately inflict on the [African tribal groups of
Darfur] conditions of life calculated to bring about their physical destruction in
whole or in part" (UN Genocide Convention, Article 2, clause [c]).

Sometime in the summer of 2004 (we will never know precisely when), genocidal
destruction in Darfur became more a matter of engineered disease and
malnutrition than violent killing. In other words, disease and malnutrition proceeding
directly from the consequences of violent attacks on villages, deliberate
displacement, and systematic destruction of the means of agricultural production among
the targeted non-Arab or African tribal groups became the major killers.
Violence may still be the largest source of overall mortality among the
approximately 400,000 who have perished (see mortality assessment of April 30, 2005 by this
writer at:
http://www.sudanreeves.org/modules.php?op=modload&name=News&file=article&sid=51&mode=thread&order=0&thold=0).
But there came a point within the last year in which ongoing genocide was no
longer primarily a result of direct slaughter, but of a cruel attrition.

The full nature of the genocidal ambitions of Khartoum and its Janjaweed
militia allies was long ago articulated unambiguously by former UN Humanitarian
Coordinator for Sudan, Mukesh Kapila. In March 2004, shortly before Khartoum's
actions forced Kapila to resign, he declared:

"'I was present in Rwanda at the time of the genocide [ ]. The only difference
between Rwanda and Darfur now is the numbers involved. [The slaughter in
Darfur] is more than just a conflict, it is an organised attempt to do away with a
group of people.'"

"The pattern of organised attacks on civilians and villages, abductions,
killings and organised rapes by militias is getting worse by the day and could
deteriorate even further. One can see how the situation might develop without prompt
[action]...all the warning signs are there."

The "developments" that Kapila so clearly foresaw have come fully to pass; if
genocide by attrition has replaced direct genocidal violence as the primary
source of human destruction, this does nothing to diminish or change the nature of
the ongoing crime.

HUMAN MORTALITY IN DARFUR

Global human mortality has become a significant, indeed controversial issue in
defining the Darfur crisis. There are several causes for this, including the
consistent failure of the UN to provide credible mortality figures. In January
2004 (sixteen months ago) the figure promulgated by the UN was a preposterous
3,000 deaths. When the figure was raised by UN officials to 10,000 in March 2004
(fourteen months ago), there were no accompanying data, statistical
explanations, or references. The same was true when the UN again arbitrarily raised the
figure to 50,000 in July 2004.

UN shortcomings in representing human mortality continued to be in evidence
throughout 2004. Far too little was done by the UN World Health Organization
(WHO) to explain that its figure of October 2004 (70,000 deaths) did not represent
a global mortality assessment but only an assessment of deaths from disease and
malnutrition (and to a very limited extent violence)---and only in the camps
for displaced persons to which the UN had access.

It remains unclear whether or not the most recent UN figure
promulgated---180,000 dead---includes violent mortality. This is because yet again no context,
methodology, data, or explanation was provided when the figure was offered.
Indeed, the figure appeared only one week after UN Under-Secretary for Humanitarian
Affairs Jan Egeland had suggested a mortality range of between 210,000 and
350,000 (Reuters, March 9, 2005).

Even more scandalous than UN mortality figures, however, is the recent figure
promulgated by US officials, including again Deputy Secretary of State Robert
Zoellick: 60,000-160,000. The State Department document from which these figures
are derived---previously classified and de-classified only in response to a
sharply critical Washington Post editorial---is an obvious tissue of
unsubstantiated assertion (there are simply no citations or references), intellectual and
methodological confusion, factual error, and deliberate misrepresentation. Its
failings are so many and conspicuous that one must assume political motives
animated its composition and promulgation (this revealing travesty is available at
http://www.state.gov/s/inr/rls/fs/2005/45105.htm).

Even so, journalists seem unwilling to challenge either the State Department or
the UN---they refuse to demand actual figures, data, statistical derivations,
and citations. This is the same journalistic slovenliness that allowed the UN
WHO figure of 70,000 to stand for months---clearly inaccurately---as a global
mortality figure.

The issue of human mortality in Darfur is of very considerable significance:
only by understanding the nature and extent of human destruction to date can we
anticipate with any usefulness what lies in store for the region, especially as
access for journalists and human rights reporters is ever more effectively
constricted by Khartoum.

THE RHETORIC OF "CONTAINMENT"

What else defines a "new Darfur"? How is it described? Sadly, we have little
to choose between Khartoum's propagandistic efforts and the language of Jan
Pronk, Kofi Annan's Special Representative for Sudan:

"There is good news about Darfur. There is no bad news about Darfur more than
in the past. I think it is important to make it clear that there is stability as
far as relations between the government and the parties on the ground is
concerned. During the last couple of weeks, there were some attacks by militia but
not more than in the past." (Transcript of Pronk's press conference in Khartoum,
May 11, 2005)

This painfully disingenuous optimism was predictably picked up with delight by
several pro-regime newspapers in Khartoum (Alwan, Al-Ray Al-Aam, Al-Sahafa and
Al-Anbaa):

"The UN expressed satisfaction over the 'great' improvement in the security and
humanitarian situations in Darfur. The special envoy of the Secretary General
to the region, Alakhder Al-Ibrahimi, accompanied by the SRSG, Jan Pronk at the
outset of his visit to South Darfur State said, 'The UN acknowledges the
improvement in the situation in the region.'" (UN Daily Press Review, May 16, 2005)

The accuracy of Pronk's assessment will be addressed below.

At the same time, there is a growing refusal to state explicitly what has long
been recognized as Khartoum's direct support for and control of the Janjaweed
as a military proxy. Not only is Khartoum no longer being held to the singular
"demand" of UN Security Council Resolution 1556 (July 30, 2004)---that the
regime disarm the Janjaweed and brings its leaders to justice---but the intimate
military relationship between Khartoum and the Janjaweed is consistently denied
through elision and indirection.

For example, Kofi Annan's most recent report to the Security Council (May 10,
2005), though providing a grim picture in the abstract of violence and
insecurity, does not once directly articulate the relationship between Khartoum and what
have now become simply "militia." But of course these "militia" were formerly
called by name: the Janjaweed. What is important, of course, is not the name,
but the fact that Annan's abbreviated designation has had the perverse effect
of suggesting that Khartoum is not militarily active in Darfur. Thus Annan's
opening comments on "Insecurity in Darfur" (Section 1):

"While April saw comparatively few systematic attacks, troop movements and the
illegal occupation of new positions increased, as did harassment, burning of
unoccupied villages, kidnapping, banditry [ ], attacks on civilians and rape by
militia." (Paragraph 2)

In other words, attacks on and rapes of civilians by the Arab militia formerly
designated as the Janjaweed "increased" in April. Harassment and "burning of
unoccupied villages" also increased, and these again are the characteristic
activities of the Janjaweed. But the closest Annan can come to acknowledging the
relationship between Khartoum and the Janjaweed is in the following, thoroughly
muffled account:

"Militia attacks [viz., Janjaweed attacks] are by far the greatest cause of
terror and suffering for civilians. For while it has been noted the Government
[of Sudan] has restrained its forces, it has still not taken action to stop
militia attacks and end the climate of impunity that encourages those responsible
for ongoing violations." (Paragraph 30)

But this account is disingenuous in suggesting that the "militia" may be
independent military agents. As Human Rights Watch and many other human rights
organizations and investigations have demonstrated beyond reasonable doubt, the
Janjaweed is Khartoum's military instrument, not an independent force. No doubt
some elements of the Janjaweed have become part of the larger problem of
"banditry" that is increasingly used as a catch-all term for variously motivated
violence, and as such are not controllable. But the essential truth of the situation
was definitively established by Human Rights Watch in July 2004, when the
organization obtained confidential Sudanese government documents that directly
implicated high-ranking government officials in a policy of support for the
Janjaweed:

"'It's absurd to distinguish between the Sudanese government forces and the
militias---they are one,' said Peter Takirambudde, executive director of Human
Rights Watch's Africa Division. 'These documents show that militia activity has
not just been condoned, it's been specifically supported by Sudan government
officials.'" ("Darfur Documents Confirm Government Policy of Militia Support,"
Human Rights Watch release, July 20, 2004)

Even when Darfur's victims use the term "Janjaweed" to describe such violent
attacks, UN officials increasingly won't. For example, the agent of action is
deliberately not described in a recent official release by the UN High
Commissioner for Refugees (she offers an especially good example of the abuses of
language made possible by passive verb constructions):

"UNHCR is alarmed by the fact that abandoned villages in West Darfur are once
again being burned to discourage the people who once lived there from returning
home. [Last] week, a resident of Seraf Village [West Darfur] took our staff
inspect the village, which he said had been burned the previous Monday (April 18).
This man told us the 200 families of Seraf had fled attacks by Janjaweed
militias a year ago. Then on Monday last week, they saw smoke and feared their
village was being burned. All that remains now are broken grain storage jars and
blackened mud-brick shells of houses, the thatching having turned to ashes."

"This gratuitous act is clearly a message to the former residents not to return
home. We are concerned because acts like this---on top of the displacement of
some 2 million people from their homes---threaten to change the social and
demographic structure of Darfur irrevocably." (Official statement by UN High
Commissioner for Refugees Wendy Chamberlin, April 26, 2005)

But despite the deeply consequential nature of the violence described here,
only the victims use the word "Janjaweed"---not the very UN officials who
witnessed the consequences of Janjaweed actions. The effect is to relieve Khartoum of
responsibility for the actions of its military allies---actions that directly
advance Khartoum's genocidal ambitions in Darfur and that remain animated by the
regime's desire to reshape Darfur's demographic and political realities.

THE REAL DARFUR

If we leave the world of contrivance and disingenuousness, and look at reports
and dispatches that come from the ground in Darfur, a rather different crisis
emerges, one distinguished by immense and unrelieved human suffering, continuing
civilian destruction, and the prospect of massive mortality in the rainy season
that has now begun.

Even Kofi Annan, in his report to the Security Council, is obliged to
acknowledge some of the truths of the real Darfur:

"The month of April [2005] witnessed a sharp decline in the security of
humanitarian staff, operations and access, in particular in Southern Darfur. On
several occasions clearly marked humanitarian vehicles came under fire." (Paragraph
13)

Annan also notes that:

"Despite existing agreements on unimpeded access for humanitarian workers, NGOs
continued to be harassed by the local authorities, particularly in South
Darfur." (Paragraph 14)

The insurgency movements (the SLA and JEM) are also justly held accountable for
much of the insecurity that threatens humanitarian operations:

"SLA/JEM carried out a number of attacks on police and militia in April and
continue to take commercial, private and NGO vehicles at gunpoint on a scale that
suggest that these acts are approved by their leadership." (Paragraph 7)

As Annan also notes:

"Both the JEM and the SLA have demonstrated signs of deeper internal divisions
during the last month." (Paragraph 26)

These divisions augur poorly for the kind of discipline that will be necessary
if the insurgents are not to become an increasingly significant part of the
security crisis in Darfur---and a greater challenge to whatever force is deployed
to restore order in Darfur and allow for the resumption of agricultural
production.

It cannot be stressed often enough that nothing is more threatening to the
highly distressed populations of Darfur, both those displaced in camps and those
isolated in rural areas, than the collapse of humanitarian operations because of
insecurity. Jan Egeland has estimated that mortality could climb to 100,000
deaths per month in the wake of such a collapse (see Egeland's most recent
comment on this issue below).

Famine-related mortality is already far greater than is generally acknowledged
by the UN, and reflects significant shortfalls in humanitarian capacity. An
exceptionally well-informed dispatch was filed by Rick Hampson of USAToday (May
16, 2005) from Deleij, South Darfur:

"A Tufts University study released earlier this year says that because of
problems unprecedented even in Darfur's tortured history, 'regionwide famine appears
inevitable.' If so, the international community---already struggling to reach
the 2.6 million of Darfur's 6 million people who need help---may have to feed
and shelter even more. 'People are starving and no one is reporting it, because
technically they are not starving,' says Bir Chandra Mandal, the UN Food and
Agriculture Program emergency director in South Darfur. They die from
tuberculosis or malaria or diarrhea, their immune systems weakened by malnutrition. He
calls it an 'invisible famine.'"

The Tufts University study also declares:

"Never before in the history of Darfur has there been such a combination of
factors causing the failure of livelihood strategies and the loss of assets.
These factors include systematic asset-stripping [a euphemistic description of
Janjaweed attacks on villages---ER], [agricultural] production failures, markets
failures, failures of access to natural resources [ ]." ("Darfur: Livelihoods
Under Siege," Helen Young et al, Tufts University, February 17, 2005, page 2)

The prospects for agricultural production are particularly grim. There is no
evidence whatsoever that a spring planting will take place (the major planting
in the agricultural calendar):

"This year, most experts expect a smaller harvest [than last year's terribly
compromised harvest]. Darfur's roads are still so unsafe that a farmer would have
trouble getting a crop to market. 'Under those conditions, I'd only plant what
I could eat myself,' says Arif Hussain, head of the World Food Program [WFP]
Vulnerability Analysis and Mapping unit." (USAToday, May 16, 2005)

And humanitarian food relief is still far from adequate in capacity, and has
yet to reach more than 1.71 million needy Darfuris in a month. This is the
figure for February; according to a May 12, 2005 World Food Program press release,
140,000 fewer people (1.57 million) were reached in April (the most recent
reporting month). Moreover, as the USAToday dispatch from Darfur notes:

"Darfur's fragile food pipeline could be cut by a number of factors, especially
for hundreds of thousands living outside the camps and towns served by aid
agencies---the people who are most likely to die. In the spring Darfur's dry
riverbeds become torrents, its roads turn into streams. A drive that usually takes
four hours might take two days. So food trucks must reach Darfur before the
rains. The WFP says it has pre-positioned enough food; if not, it will have to rely
on costly airlifts that would compound its financial problems. Keith McKenzie,
UNICEF's special representative for Darfur, says: 'The food pipeline is in a
terrible situation.'"

The grim assessment by UNICEF's McKenzie is confirmed by any number of reports,
including the most recent from the UN Joint Logistics Committee (UNJLC),
Bulletin #59 (May 16):

"The security situation continues to hinder effective transport in South
Darfur. Sporadic outbreaks of fighting and attacks on humanitarian vehicles have
kept closed the three main road transport corridors for UN travel in the region:

Nyala [capital of South Darfur---Manawashi---el-Fasher [capital of North
Darfur]
Nyala---Kass---Nertiti---Zalingei---el-Geneina [capital of West Darfur]
Nyala---Labado---Ed Daen [key road juncture to the east of Nyala]"

This ongoing closure represents a potentially catastrophic blockage of the main
transport arteries in Darfur. As WFP Sudan director Ramiro Lopes da Silva
recently declared, "'such attacks only make drivers extremely reluctant to
transport food aid in Darfur and are making it very difficult to deliver enough food
before the rains'" (BBC May 12, 2005).

This is the context in which to assess the figures in the recently released UN
Darfur Humanitarian Profile (DHP) No. 13 (representing conditions as of April
1, 2005 but released May 12, 2005; at
http://www.unsudanig.org/emergencies/darfur/profile/index.jsp). Almost two
million people (1.96 million) are categorized as internally displaced: this does
not include the 200,000 refugees in Chad or the large displaced population in
inaccessible rural Darfur. Total displacement from the effects of conflict
exceeds 2.5 million. The DHP also indicates that 2.62 million people are now
"conflict-affected"---and again, this does not include the 200,000 refugees in Chad
or the very large conflict-affected population in inaccessible rural areas. The
total figure is certainly well in excess of 3 million, and growing rapidly.

And as the assessed number of conflict-affected people has grown, the UN
ability to teach them has diminished. DHP No. 13 shows a decline from 88%
"accessible by the UN" (January/February 2005) to 83% for March (page 11). And even with
access, UN provision of food, clean water, shelter, and primary medical care
continues to see very large shortfalls (43%, 43%, 25%, and 33% respectively).
These people will be acutely at risk from disease during the rainy season.

The DHP also notes,

"Trends reminiscent of the situation in Darfur prior to the signing of a Joint
Communiqué between the UN and the Government of Sudan in July 2004 have merged
with particularly worrying indications of an increase in travel permit and visa
restrictions reported. This development compounded with systematic arrest,
false and hostile accusations against humanitarian workers through national outlets
and outright attacks may very well set back [humanitarian achievements]." (page
3)

This assessment is picked up by Egeland in his statement to the Security
Council about "Challenges in Africa" (May 10, 2005):

"Humanitarian workers [in Darfur], in particular from NGOs, are being subjected
to a constant stream of harassment, threats, and attacks. Any further
deterioration could have disastrous consequences, including the withdrawal of hundreds
of humanitarian staff from smaller or larger areas of Darfur."

THE COMING RAINS: A SEASON OF DEATH

Despite claims in some UN quarters, it is impossible to believe that enough
food has been pre-positioned in Darfur in anticipation of the rainy season,
particularly in West Darfur, where transport is most severely affected by the rains.
Nor is there any evidence of the capacity to provide the more than 60,000
metric tons per month of food and critical non-food items that will be required by
the needy population of 3.25 million people that Lopes da Silva now acknowledges
must be planned for (WFP press release, May 12, 2005). And the actual figure
may be considerably greater: Egeland has several times suggested it could reach
to 4 million. And again, this does not include 200,000 refugees in Chad, who
will be cut off by the rains.

As a lack of food pulls more people into camps for displaced persons, as food
inflation makes more people dependent upon international food relief, security
issues in the camps continue to be a major concern. And for many, the camps are
all they have. Human Rights Watch finds that "an estimated 2,000 villages have
been totally or partially burned to the ground in these [Janjaweed] attacks"
(Human Rights Watch press release, May 9, 2005). The consensus among Darfuris in
exile with contacts inside Darfur is that over 90% of African villages have
been destroyed. Indeed, one reason violence has diminished is that the genocidal
destruction of villages and agricultural resources is so far advanced.

A final ominous note: amidst the many other emphatic warnings of security risks
to civilians and humanitarian workers, one issue stands out as profoundly
threatening. Khartoum continues with a policy of forced or induced movement of
displaced persons: from one camp to another, and from camps to former villages or
village sites. This ongoing policy of deportations, clear from several recent
humanitarian reports, holds the potential for extraordinary human destruction,
as those people moved involuntarily are at risk from both Janjaweed attack and a
lack of food. Certainly neither the present nor contemplated AU deployment can
begin to provide security for involuntary returnees, nor for humanitarian
access to those who return without sufficient foodstocks to survive through the
"hunger gap." As Annan notes in his report:

"Even if a secure environment were established throughout Darfur, the lack of
food security, the devastation of the economy, and the almost total disruption
of normal patterns of life would limit the number of returns in the near
future.'" (UN IRIN, May 11, 2005)

AN AFRICAN UNION DETERMINATION TO GO IT ALONE

It has been authoritatively reported to this writer that Kofi Annan declared to
the Security Council in January 2005 that it was "politically impossible" to
send troops into southern Sudan as part of a UN peace support operation without
using some of them to help bring peace in Darfur. Unsurprisingly, Annan has
changed his tune---as he has frequently on Darfur---and now asserts, in
disingenuous "diplomatese," that the UN operation in southern Sudan can offer no real
support to the AU in Darfur:

"'The operation in southern Sudan, which is the result of months of careful
planning, should not be compromised or unduly strained, especially not during the
delicate start-up process [by being tasked with responsibilities for Darfur],'
Annan said." (UN IRIN, May 11, 2005)

In the view of some, this change in attitude likely represents the growing
influence of Annan's chief of staff, Mark Malloch Brown. Malloch Brown for his
part is trying to pass responsibility for Annan's failure of leadership onto
Security Council members, who are certainly deserving of much blame, but not for
Annan's weak-hearted efforts to use for Darfur the opportunity provided by an
immense, indeed bloated deployment of forces to southern Sudan, where there has
been relatively much less fighting since October 2002:

"A top aide to [ ] Kofi Annan said the crisis in [Darfur] reflects a lack of
political will by UN member states. 'Everybody wants to stop Darfur (from)
happening. Nobody wants to put their own troops in harm's way,' Mark Malloch Brown,
Annan's chief of staff, told the House International Relations Committee on
Wednesday. Malloch Brown told the panel that 'all this talk we've had of UN
reform will ultimately amount to nothing if Darfur happens on our watch.'" (AP, May
19, 2005)

"'Darfur is the litmus test. It has the potential to be the Rwanda on our
watch,' [Malloch Brown ] said." (Reuters, May 19, 2005)

True enough, but Darfur is occurring on the "watch" of Kofi Annan, not just the
members of the Security Council. There can be no evading responsibility simply
by blaming others.

For its part, the AU has decided---or at least acquiesced in a decision by
Nigeria, Libya, and Egypt---to maintain the monitoring force in Darfur as an
exclusively "African" operation. The refusal to accept non-AU troops was made
insistently in a communiqué issued from a Tripoli summit hosted by Muamar Khaddafi;
this communiqué was subsequently echoed by AU President Alpha Oumar Konare (AP,
May 17, 2005). Only NATO logistical help will be sought in moving toward a
deployment goal of 7,500 hundred troops and police by August/September (notably,
the very height of the rainy season), and 12,500 by spring 2006---a full year
from now.

This prideful, finally callous AU insistence ensures that critical security
tasks will not me met, even with the various "force multipliers" that would come
with NATO logistics, transport assistance, and provision of equipment. Securing
the camps and camp environs; protecting humanitarian workers, convoys, and
operations; providing safe passage to vulnerable civilians in rural areas;
beginning the process of allowing civilians to return to their lands; and disarming the
Janjaweed: these collectively are tasks far beyond any plan or concept that has
been presented by the AU.

The pointed refusal of the Khartoum regime to allow Canadian military personnel
to deploy to Darfur---accepted without protest by the Canadian
government---augurs poorly for meaningful humanitarian intervention, and strongly suggests that
Khartoum will also block any effort by the AU to secure an appropriate civilian
protection mandate for its forces in Darfur. Knowing full well the extreme
improbability of timely AU deployment of the additional forces (it has taken well
over half a year to deploy approximately 2,500 personnel), Khartoum sees little
likelihood that genocide by attrition can be halted.

There is no reason to dissent from the regime's brutal assessment.

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

Friday, May 06, 2005


Darfur Victims Posted by Hello

"A Statistical Link Between the Holocaust and Darfur" 

[fromThe Washington Post]

Monday, May 2, 2005; Page A16

The State Department's surprisingly low estimate of the death toll in
Sudan---60,000 to 160,000, as compared with the 400,000 estimated by
human rights groups [editorial, April 24]---is disturbingly reminiscent
of a controversy involving the State Department during the Holocaust.

In November 1943 Assistant Secretary of State Breckinridge Long, who
was in charge of the Roosevelt administration's immigration policy,
testified before the House Foreign Affairs Committee concerning a
congressional resolution urging creation of a U.S. government agency to
rescue refugees from Hitler. Long, who was privately anti-Semitic as
well as bitterly opposed to refugee immigration, sought to undercut the
rescue resolution. Trying to demonstrate that a new rescue agency was
unnecessary, Long testified that "we have taken into this country since
the beginning of the Hitler regime and the persecution of the Jews,
until today, approximately 580,000 refugees."

But the actual number of immigrants was not more than 250,000, and many
of them were not Jews. Long's wild exaggeration backfired. His testimony
set off a firestorm of criticism from the media, Jewish organizations
and members of Congress, giving important new momentum to the campaign
for U.S. rescue action.

Today we know why the State Department in 1943 presented an implausibly
high estimate of Jewish immigration to the United States. By contrast,
we do not know what shaped the State Department's recent decision to
embrace an implausibly low estimate of the Sudan death toll. All we can
say is that today, no less than in 1943, government officials have an
obligation to present statistics that are not tainted by political
considerations.

Accuracy and a determination to stop genocide should be their only
motives.

RAFAEL MEDOFF, Director
David S. Wyman Institute for Holocaust Studies
Melrose Park, PA


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

Wednesday, May 04, 2005

DARFUR MORTALITY UPDATE: April 30, 2005 

Current data for total mortality from violence, malnutrition, and
disease

Eric Reeves
April 30, 2005

Attention to Darfur's staggering death toll---which has grown to
approximately 400,000 over the course of more than two years of
genocidal conflict---has increased dramatically in the past several
months. Once an afterthought or simply an ignored issue, global
mortality in Darfur is now widely recognized as a terrible
prognosticator: what we have seen in the way of past human destruction
portends all too well what we may expect in the coming months and years.
For even with urgent humanitarian intervention, many tens of thousands
of innocent civilians will eventually fall victim to this engineered
catastrophe. Badly weakened by malnutrition and disease, caught amidst
a collapsed agricultural economy, facing acute water shortages in often
appalling camp conditions, and threatened at every turn by the
consequences of ongoing insecurity, too many people in Darfur simply do
not have the means to sustain themselves.

Superb coping and foraging skills that might sustain lives in a famine
without genocidal animus cannot be deployed because the Khartoum regime
refuses to disarm or control its brutal Janjaweed proxies. At the same
time, humanitarian capacity is not nearly adequate to present needs, and
will be overwhelmed by the 3.5 to 4 million people needing food and
medical assistance at the height of the impending rainy season. Most
threatening is the possibility that insecurity will force the suspension
of humanitarian operations: if this occurs, UN Undersecretary for
Humanitarian Affairs Jan Egeland has estimated that Darfur's mortality
rate may increase to 100,000 per month. Increasingly acute water
shortages are also an extensive problem and are likely to remain
chronic, given the extent of deliberate destruction of wells and
irrigation systems by the Janjaweed (maintenance of water resources has
also been severely curtailed by insecurity). And violent mortality
continues to take a terrible, if presently diminished toll.

News that the African Union has very belatedly sought logistical help
from NATO for its small and under-equipped mission in Darfur is only
modestly encouraging. Both the time-frame and nature of the help sought
suggest that nothing approaching the required humanitarian intervention
is in the offing (see below). This reflects a lack of urgency that must
be the point of departure for this current mortality assessment.

BUSH ADMINISTRATION RE-DEFINITION OF THE DARFUR CRISIS

During a recent trip to Khartoum and a brief excursion into Darfur, US
Deputy Secretary of State Robert Zoellick pointedly refused to confirm
the Bush administration's previous genocide determination. This
determination was made unequivocally in Senate testimony by former Bush
administration Secretary of State Colin Powell: "genocide has been
committed in Darfur, and that the government of Sudan and the Janjaweed
bear responsibility" (testimony before the Senate Foreign Relations
Committee, September 9, 2004).

This decisive conclusion has degenerated into politically guarded
word-mincing: Zoellick, when specifically asked about Powell's
determination, declared it a "former Secretary of State" simply "making
a point" to Congress (Financial Times, April 15, 2005). "'I don't want
to get into a debate over terminology,' [Zoellick] said, when asked if
the US believed that genocide was still being committed in Darfur
against the mostly African villagers by Arab militias and their
government backers" (Financial Times, April 15, 2005). This is part of
a larger effort by the Bush administration to re-define the Darfur
catastrophe in ways that make it less urgent, and thus less compelling
of an appropriate US response.

No doubt Zoellick was also well aware that the Bush administration
would soon be flying to Washington one of Khartoum's most notorious
genocidaires, Major General Saleh 'Gosh,' head of security and
intelligence for the National Islamic Front regime. The Los Angeles
Times reports in an exclusive dispatch (April 29, 2005) that "last week
[April 18-22], the CIA sent an executive jet [to Khartoum] to ferry the
chief of Sudan's intelligence agency to Washington for secret meetings
sealing Khartoum's sensitive and previously veiled partnership with the
[Bush] administration." Of particular note is that Saleh 'Gosh' is
certainly on the list of 51 names referred by UN Security Council
Resolution 1593 under sealed indictment to the International Criminal
Court for massive "crimes against humanity" in Darfur. He is also a
central participant in what the Bush administration and the US Congress
have declared to be genocide.

In his role as longstanding head of security and intelligence, Saleh
'Gosh' is directly responsible for tens of thousands of
extra-judicial executions, killings, "disappearances," as well as
countless instances of torture, illegal imprisonment, and other
violations of international law. But it is his central role in the
Darfur genocide---where both Khartoum's intelligence and security
services (finally indistinguishable) have been key elements in directing
the Janjaweed---that must have given pause to Zoellick when he was asked
to confirm Colin Powell's genocide determination. Perhaps the Bush
administration thought it just too jarring to be offering such a public
reconfirmation while inviting a known genocidaire to Washington on an
executive jet, even if for the purpose of gathering intelligence on
international terrorism.

But just as important and revealing as Zoellick's pointed refusal to
stand by Powell's genocide finding is his tendentious, finally viciously
preposterous estimate of global mortality for Darfur: 60,000-160,000.

US STATE DEPARTMENT DARFUR MORTALITY "ASSESSMENT":
PROPAGANDA, NOT EPIDEMIOLOGY

The State Department document from which these figures are derived had
been classified prior to a Washington Post editorial that appropriately
excoriated Zoellick's mortality estimate ("Darfur's Real Death Toll,"
The Washington Post, April 24, 2005;
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A12485-2005Apr23.html).
The State Department decision to de-classify the document was evidently
intended to indicate that serious analysis lay behind Zoellick's
numbers. In fact, the effect of de-classification was just the
opposite: the document (now available at
http://www.state.gov/s/inr/rls/fs/2005/45105.htm) is an obvious tissue
of unsubstantiated assertion, intellectual and methodological confusion,
factual error, and deliberate misrepresentation. Its failings are so
many and conspicuous that one must assume political motives animated its
composition and promulgation. It is a disgrace to reason and justice.

Most notably, no sources are given in the entire course of the
document, only vague references to uncited "studies." There is not a
single bibliographic reference; there is not a single statistic that is
more than simply bald assertion, appearing without derivation or
explanation or context; there is not a single website or URL reference.


Moreover, no analysis is offered of extant mortality assessments
(including twelve by this writer over the past year). Nothing is said
of the extraordinarily important assessment by Jan Coebergh, MD: "Sudan:
genocide has killed more than the tsunami," Parliamentary Brief,
February 2005 (Volume 9, No. 7). No specific reference is made to such
important studies as the mortality analysis that appeared in Britain's
premier medical journal last fall (The Lancet, October 1, 2004,
"Violence and mortality in West Darfur, Sudan [2003-04]:
Epidemiological evidence from four surveys"). Indeed, there is no
effort to analyze even the critical data on violent mortality produced
by the Coalition for International Justice, whose report served as the
basis for the State Department genocide determination in September
2004.

Over a full page of the meager four pages of this "report" ("Sudan:
Death Toll in Darfur," US State Department, March 25, 2005) is taken up
by graphs that---incredibly---have no sources or independent data. The
document simply refers to them as "drawing on available information,"
but without any specification of what the sources of this "information"
are or how the document supposedly "draws" upon them. A third graph is
simply a replication of a dated UN graph (January 2005) of
"conflict-affected" persons, offered with no explanation of
relevance..

At the same time, the State Department document appears to be aware
that serious mortality assessments have been conducted, and thus
attempts peremptorily to dismiss them. The reasoning in these
dismissals is revealing.

For example, the document refers to "wildly divergent death toll
statistics, ranging from 70,000 to 400,000." But this is deeply
disingenuous comparison of incommensurate estimates, at least if the
author(s) are not wholly ignorant. "400,000" represents a global
mortality assessment offered by this writer and more recently by
scholars assessing data from the Coalition for International Justice
(see below); "70,000" clearly represents the UN World Health
Organization (WHO) figure of October 2004, estimating mortality only in
camps to which the UN had access for the several months represented by
the study (see WHO study announcement [September 13, 2004] supplemented
by October 15, 2004 update and press release, at
http://www.who.int/mediacentre/news/briefings/2004/mb5/en/).

This WHO figure, based on careful epidemiological work, is not a global
mortality assessment, as the State Department "report" misleadingly
suggests: it is rather a very partial glimpse of human destruction in a
very limited context. The WHO study does not include deaths prior to
April 2004 or deaths subsequent to October 2004; it does not include
violent mortality (still the largest overall element in global
mortality), or mortality in rural areas of Darfur or in Chad.

And yet strikingly, the WHO study (which receives no analytic attention
or citation in the "report") still estimates that in the limited period
in question---and in camps to which there was humanitarian
access---70,000 people died of war-related disease and malnutrition.
70,000 exceeds by 10,000 the low-end figure (60,000) that the State
Department document invites us to believe may represent all mortality,
from all causes, in Darfur over 26 months of extremely violent and
disruptive warfare. This is not epidemiology: this is propaganda.

The "report" alludes to (without citing) the work of this writer, and
by implication the recent academic study commissioned by the Coalition
for International Justice (CIJ)---an analysis which uses the WHO study
and the CIJ data from refugee camps along the Chad/Darfur border to find
that approximately 390,000 have died to date in the conflict. (A
critique of this new mortality assessment appears here as Appendix 1.)
The "report" declares that "wildly divergent death toll statistics
[including the figure of 400,000] result from applying partial data to
larger, nonrepresentative populations over incompatible time periods."
The phrase "applying partial data to larger, nonrepresentative
populations" is semantically incoherent; for of course "larger
populations" are ipso facto more "representative" statistically than
smaller populations represented by "partial data."

If we are charitable, we may construe the author(s) of the State
Department document as ineptly attempting to say that a problem exists
in "applying partial and insufficiently representative data to larger
populations." But this is not what is said; instead, in the lead (and
italicized) paragraph to the study, the authors say what makes no sense
at all. What editorial supervision attended publication and
promulgation of this "report"? How many authors signed off on such
nonsense? What does it say that the incoherence of the sentence cited
here did not register?

The "report" proceeds to speak of "incompatible time periods" and
offers what purports to be a crude time-line for human mortality in
Darfur: "violent deaths were widespread in the early stages of this
conflict, but a successful, albeit delayed, humanitarian response and a
moderate 2004 rainy season combined to suppress mortality rates by
curtailing disease outbreaks and substantial disruption of aid
deliveries." It is difficult to imagine more distortion and subversion
of the truth in a single sentence.

While it is certainly true that mortality, from both violence as well
as disease and malnutrition, has fluctuated over the course of 26
months, the suggestion here that "violent deaths were widespread in the
early stages of the conflict," but somehow not in more recent months, is
simply false. Though there has been a diminishment in violent
mortality---in part because genocidal warfare has destroyed or displaced
such a large percentage of the non-Arab or African tribal populations of
the region---violence remained (according to the overwhelming consensus
of operational humanitarian organizations) the largest cause of death in
Darfur through mid-summer 2004. And very substantial violent mortality
continues, as evidenced by numerous attacks reported by the UN and AU in
December, January, and February, and continuing through April.

Moreover, the claimed success of the "delayed" humanitarian response
did not forestall the terrible toll from malnutrition and disease in the
camps that the WHO report details: 70,000 from April to October 2004 in
accessible camp areas alone. Though mortality has slowed in many of the
camps, insecurity threatens to accelerate mortality rates in the coming
months of the rainy season, and insecurity is currently creating
precisely the "substantial disruption of aid deliveries" that the State
Department document claims have been avoided. Monthly mortality is
still in the range of 10,000 to 15,000 deaths per month (see below).

The overall view of the Darfur crisis presented by the "report"
comports with neither the history of the conflict, with recent
assessments coming from humanitarian organizations and the UN, nor with
the clear prospect of rapidly accelerating mortality during the
impending rainy season. The "report" takes no cognizance of extremely
acute and rapidly expanding water shortages in many camps. Nor does the
"report" assess the implications of a continuing lack of sanitary
facilities for large percentages of camp populations, and the consequent
threat of immensely destructive outbreaks of cholera, dysentery, and
other water-borne diseases.

All that permits these serial distortions of human destruction in
Darfur is the "report's" relentless refusal to cite sources. It
declares without apparent intellectual shame that "the following
analysis draws on available information---epidemiological surveys,
displacement trends, and patterns of village destruction to estimate the
progression of the conflict and associated mortality rates throughout
[Darfur]." But then not a single epidemiological survey is cited, let
alone analyzed; "displacement trends" are similarly undocumented in any
fashion; and we learn nothing whatsoever of the "patterns of village
destruction" referred to.

The "report" declares of itself that "separate [mortality] rates were
applied to displaced and otherwise affected populations with different
levels of vulnerability." But these in fact are mere phrases, without
statistical or evidentiary substance. The "report" offers no assessment
of "trends," "levels," or "separate mortality rates." There is not a
single source for any of this purported analysis---not one statistical
derivation is offered. When actual mortality numbers are rendered, they
are merely asserted: "Figures on displaced populations and mortality are
scant, but 4,100-8,800 excess deaths are estimated to have occurred
primary in North and West Darfur [during the period March-September
2003]." Nothing further is provided: no source for these "excess
deaths," no statistical evidence or calculation of any kind.

Moreover, in conceiving of violent mortality in Darfur, the "report"
suggests an egregious misunderstanding of the very subject. Speaking of
the period between April-June 2004, the "report" declares that, "major
battles, resulting in large loss of combatants on either side, sharply
declined," and that from this point on "mortality reflects almost
entirely civilian rather than combatant losses." But this reveals the
grossest misconception: violent mortality in Darfur has from the
beginning been overwhelmingly among the civilian populations, not among
combatants (whether those of the insurgents, the Janjaweed, or
Khartoum's regular and paramilitary forces). Not to recognize this
basic fact suggests the author(s) of the "report" have failed
fundamentally in understanding the dynamic of violent human destruction
in Darfur.

As to mortality from disease and malnutrition, the "report" is equally
unconvincing and uncomprehending: "The highest rates of mortality were
already subsiding [ ] when the international community realized the
scope of crisis in Darfur in the spring of 2004." There is simply no
evidence to support this claim, and much that directly contradicts it.
And yet the author(s) of the "report" again offer no sources, no
explanation, no studies or data---simply bald assertion.

A final example of poor prose and illogical thinking may be found under
the entirely unjustified heading, "Why are deaths lower than expected?":
"The fact that many prognosticators overemphasize the degree to which
violent deaths contribute to large-scale mortality in a region as big
and diffuse as Darfur continues to result in grossly overestimated
projections of overall deaths." The size and diffuse nature of Darfur
of course make violent death more difficult to assess---but certainly no
more less likely to occur. The logic by which the authors move from a
reasonable characterization of Darfur geographically to a key conclusion
about "grossly overestimated" morality projections is utterly
incoherent. What constitutes an "overemphasis on violent deaths"? What
is the statistical or epidemiological evidence of such "overemphasis"?
The author(s) offer no answer.

The incoherent and tendentious prose, the gross failures of logic, and
the complete lack of sources and evidence wholly vitiate the State
Department "report," calling into question not only the motives of those
who have compiled it, but the moral and intellectual integrity of those
such as Deputy Secretary of State Robert Zoellick who would cite it.
Even as propaganda if fails.

THE AFRICAN UNION INVITES NATO TO HELP IN DARFUR

A credible assessment of human mortality in Darfur provides the urgent
context in which to assess the recent AU acknowledgment that it is
incapable of protecting civilian populations and humanitarian operations
in Darfur. This acknowledgment, while welcome, is terribly belated.
The AU request for substantial logistical help from NATO is similarly
welcome, but equally belated. Those paying the grim price for this
inexcusable belatedness are innocent civilians and aid workers in
Darfur. While it is important to assess what this AU commitment means
going forward (the subject of the next analysis by this writer, May 6,
2005), it is also important that we see how trammeled by politics this
refusal to speak honestly of AU incapacity has been. An appropriate
snapshot comes from the observer for Human Rights Watch (Belgium) at a
discussion of Darfur in Berlin in early March 2005:

"Lotte Leicht, director of the Brussels office of Human Rights Watch,
argued at the [Darfur] panel discussion [in Berlin] that the AU had
failed to protect the people in Darfur. The AU should accept help from
the EU, she said. 'I have never seen that 25 foreign ministers are
almost down on their knees, begging the AU to take more help from the
EU.'" (Inter Press Service [dateline: Berlin], March 3, 2005)

And yet only now, two months later, has the truth been spoken by the
AU. NATO has been well aware of AU limitations but for its part has
refused to declare this publicly, instead issuing noncommittal
statements:

"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)

Preliminary reports indicate that the AU will seek to increase its
present force of 2,300 to 7,700 by the end of September 2005, and
possibly to 12,300 by spring 2006 (Reuters [UN, New York], April 29,
2005). But given the painfully slow deployment of the present force
(still only two-thirds of what the AU has been seeking to deploy since
September), and the lack of required equipment, these projections must
be regarded with extreme skepticism. So too the declaration by AU
officials that the force deployed will be given a stronger mandate to
protect civilians. The Khartoum regime has immediately and pointedly
refused to countenance a stronger AU mandate, and no doubt relies on the
hopelessly slow past deployment of AU forces as a guide to what can be
expected in coming months, even with NATO logistical support.

But the most significant reality is that even a successful deployment
of 12,300 AU forces by the spring of 2006 will do nothing to stop
genocide in Darfur now. The required intervention is not represented by
this new, all too nebulous, and distant commitment; people presently
requiring urgent assistance cannot be protected or sustained by possible
deployment a year from now. Aid workers require a much more
substantial force---in the very near term---if they are to accomplish
their vital missions without enduring intolerable levels of insecurity.
Recent announcements from Addis Ababa, Brussels, and New York can do
nothing to change these grim and all too present realities.

Eric Reeves
Smith College
Northampton, MA 01063

413-585-3326
ereeves@smith.edu
www.sudanreeves.org

APPENDIX 1: Data assembled by the Coalition for International Justice
(comprising 1,134 interviews with Darfuri refugees along the Chad/Darfur
border, August 2004) offers what remains the most important means of
understanding violent mortality in Darfur, and a new independent
assessment of this data must be welcome. Previous assessments of the
CIJ data have been undertaken by this writer and by Jan Coebergh (see
above). Nonetheless, the new academic review of CIJ data, undertaken by
John Hagan (Northwestern University) and Patricia Parker (University of
Toronto), is marked by significant methodological problems and a clearly
untenable figure for total displacement at the defining moment for the
two studies reviewed (the August CIJ report and the September/October
2004 WHO assessment). The results of these shortcomings are a
significant understatement of violent mortality and a significant
overstatement of mortality from disease and malnutrition. (Relevant
documents for the Kagan/Parker study are available at
http://www.cij.org/index.cfm?fuseaction=homepage).

VIOLENT MORTALITY

The key weakness in the assessment offer by Hagan and Parker is the
figure of 1.5 million for total displaced Darfuris in refugee camps in
Chad and camps for displaced persons in Darfur. This represents not
only a significant factual error (i.e., failure simply to add the extant
figures available from the UN High Commission for Refugees and the UN
Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs), but ignores what
was clear at the time: huge numbers of displaced persons were not
counted, either because they had not been registered by the UN World
Food Program (WFP) or were inaccessible to humanitarian relief and
registration.

What is a credible number for total displacement at the end of August
2004, the point of reference for the CIJ study by Hagan and Parker?
OCHA indicated in Darfur Humanitarian Profile No. 6 (September 1, 2004)
that over 1.45 million were internally displaced, even as UNHCR
indicated that there were over 200,000 were refugees in Chad. OCHA
would report 1.6 million internally displaced persons in Darfur
Humanitarian Profile No. 7 (October 1, 2004). It is clear, then, that
1.7 million is the appropriate figure for Hagan and Parker to use in
representing the total UN census for September 1, 2004, and yet they
deploy as their denominator for the study the figure of 1.5 million.
This is a serious, finally indefensible understatement.

Just as significant is the failure to attempt to account for human
displacement that did not figure directly in the UN census, though was
known to exist on a very substantial scale. For example, Darfur
Humanitarian Profile No. 6 "estimates that an additional 500,000
conflict-affected persons are in need of assistance based on preliminary
reports" from insurgency-held territory to which there was no
humanitarian access. Other estimates range as high as 1 million, given
the pre-war population estimates for Darfur (6 to 6.5 million). It is
certainly the case that if preliminary estimates indicated "500,000
conflict-affected persons in need of assistance," the majority of them
had been displaced. Between under-counting/under-registration in the
camps and this large, inaccessible population of "conflict-affected
persons" in rural Darfur, an additional 300,000 displaced persons should
be added to the formal UN census.

Thus a total figure of (at least) 2 million internally displaced
persons and refugees is required to represent the actual situation on
the ground at the end of August 2004. This in turn strongly suggests
that the Hagan/Parker derivation (from CIJ data and a denominator of 1.5
million displaced persons) of approximately 143,000 violent deaths
understates by 33%. Using the more fully justified denominator of 2
million, their study yields a total for violent mortality of 190,000,
well within the range established by Coebergh's study ("between
172,542-232,269 violent deaths," Parliamentary Brief, February 2005),
and generally consonant with the current figure offered by this writer
(200,000-240,000 violent deaths; see March 11, 2005 mortality
assessment, Appendix 1 at:
http://www.sudanreeves.org/modules.php?op=modload&name=Sections&file=index&req=viewarticle&artid=497&page=1).


MORTALITY FROM DISEASE AND MALNUTRITION

The CIJ-commissioned study by Hagan and Parker analyzes only one other
study bearing on Darfur's global mortality, the WHO study of deaths from
disease and malnutrition in accessible camps in Darfur from April
through September 2004. Though the study is of very considerable
importance if understood not to be a global mortality figure, it must
still be deployed with caution, and Hagan and Parker are surprisingly
incautious. In relying exclusively upon the WHO study to calculate
mortality from disease and malnutrition over 26 months, they homogenize
humanitarian conditions that have varied quite widely. Initially in the
conflict, disease and malnutrition were not nearly as consequential for
the affected population, though deaths from health-related causes
certainly quickly appeared. The food and medical crisis accelerated
over the first year of conflict, but did not emerge full-blown in
February 2003.

And yet the statistical methods used by Hagan and Parker create
precisely such a scenario, one in which a high-point in food- and
health-related mortality is assumed to be equally relevant for the
beginning months of the humanitarian crisis as well as for the past few
months. This mechanical deployment of the WHO study is inappropriate,
and the figure of 253,619 deaths from health causes is unjustifiably
high, given the single study analyzed.

APPENDIX 2: This writer has offered a 2004 year-end global mortality
figure of 340,000 (see Darfur Humanitarian Update, February 10, 2005 at
http://www.sudanreeves.org/modules.php?op=modload&name=Sections&file=index&req=viewarticle&artid=490&page=1),
and suggested that the primary task in ongoing mortality assessment is
establishing the most credible monthly mortality rate. The previous
mortality assessment (March 11, 2005) argues that monthly excess
mortality, for all populations in the humanitarian theater, is
approximately 15,000.

The UN figure promulgated by Jan Egeland is currently 10,000 excess
deaths per month, though it must be said that Egeland's Office for the
Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs has proved inconsistent in speaking
about mortality estimates. Some of this is apparently frustration with
broader UN failure to offer credible mortality figures: shortly before
promulgating the current UN figure (which may or may not include violent
mortality: accounts vary), Egeland declared that "the old figure of
70,000 dead from last March [2004] to late summer [2004] was unhelpful.
'Is [the global figure for mortality in Darfur] three times that
[70,000]? Is it five times [i.e., 350,000 dead]? I don't know, but it's
several times the number of 70,000 that have died altogether,' [Egeland
told reporters]" (Reuters, March 9, 2005).

The Hagan/Parker figure for a monthly mortality rate is 15,000, but the
authority of this figure is again compromised by the study's implausibly
homogeneous picture of health-related deaths over the past 26 months.

In the absence of more compelling and fuller data, a calculation of
monthly mortality must consider the following:

Evidence from a variety of sources suggests that mortality rates have
in recent months come down significantly in camps for the displaced in
Darfur. The WHO estimate of excess mortality up to 10,000 per month in
the camps (September/October 2004) is no longer relevant for the larger,
(relatively) more secure camps.

But if mortality rates have dropped in the camps, the number of
conflict-affected persons in Darfur has grown dramatically: from 1.84
million in (Darfur Humanitarian Profile No. 6; September 1, 2004) to
over 2.6 million currently (US Agency for International Development
Darfur "fact sheet," April 22, 2005, citing UN OCHA figures). To this
must be added the 200,000 refugees in Chad, and hundreds of thousands
who remain in inaccessible rural areas of Darfur. There are currently
many more than 3 million conflict-affected persons in the greater Darfur
humanitarian theater, and this number is rising relentlessly and very
rapidly. UN estimates for the impending rainy season are between 3.5
and 4 million persons in need of aid; Egeland has suggested the number
may exceed 4 million.

If we take these figures seriously, and if we accept that there are
very large and extremely vulnerable rural populations not presently
captured in UN estimates, then even a Crude Mortality Rate significantly
lower than that obtaining in September/October 2004 indicates a very
high monthly mortality rate (the Crude Mortality Rate [CMR] indicates
deaths per day per 10,000 of population). Darfur Humanitarian Profile
No. 7 (October 1, 2004), in addition to recording high Global Acute
Malnutrition (22%) and Severe Acute Malnutrition (4%), reported a CMR of
1.5 for North Darfur and 2.9 for West Darfur (South Darfur, where
violence was then and now greatest, was too insecure for assessment,
though there are strong indications that the CMR was in excess of 3.0).


An ongoing average CMR of even 1.5 for a conflict-affected population
of 3 million (including the most vulnerable rural populations) would
indicate a monthly excess mortality rate of over 13,000 human beings.
Continuing violent mortality (including the consequences of violent
displacement) in Darfur almost certainly brings total monthly mortality
to over 15,000, or 60,000 for the current year. Total mortality is thus
approximately 400,000.

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