Darfur: Radio Dabanga, News Digest No. 12 | 17 May 2015

This is the twelfth installment of a digest containing what I believe to be the most important stories reported by Radio Dabanga in the previous week. Radio Dabanga continues to be by far our most important and reliable source of information about what is occurring in Darfur, and provides a great deal more than the UN/African Union Mission in Darfur (UNAMID), the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), and the largely worthless quarterly reports of the UN Secretary-General.  On this occasion, as others, Sudan Tribune also provides important dispatches about Darfur and greater Sudan.

OVERVIEW

This week has again been particularly dense with detailed news about violence and the deteriorating humanitarian situation in Darfur, as well as various political developments, some involving the international community Per usual, there are ten primary stories, with related stories in subsidiary positions in the text.  Of central importance is the first story here, which speaks about the Rapid Response Forces in North Darfur, specifically eastern Jebel Marra, warning civilians that if they remain in their homes and villages, they are fair game for attack. Also of note is the violence that exploded this past week between the Rizeigat and Ma’aliya (Arab) tribes in South Darfur. Assaults on civilians by the Rapid Support Forces, Khartoum’s “militia of choice,” continue throughout Darfur; indiscriminate aerial bombardment of civilians and sexual assaults on girls and women remain standard weapons of war. Humanitarian conditions are deteriorating, and a lack of funding for relief organizations in Darfur, as well as South Kordofan, is highlighted.

All this provides the context for a decision that is imminent in the negotiations between the UN, the African Union, and the Khartoum regime about the re-authorization of UNAMID; current authorization expires in six weeks (June 30, 2015). What we are seeing is Khartoum’s effort to create significant “facts on the ground.” A dispatch today from the regime-controlled Sudan Vision (May 17, 2015) speaks in much more specific and insistent terms about UNAMID’s withdrawal. Such withdrawal would, of course, ensure a rapid escalation of violence beyond even current horrific levels, and leave a total absence of international “eyes on the ground.” Moreover, weak and failing as it is, UNAMID is all that prevents humanitarian organizations from withdrawing; any significant deterioration in what security is presently provided would lead to near-terms exits.

There are growing signs of civil unrest, especially in universities in several locations around the country. Darfuri students are being detained, threatened, beaten, and killed because of their prominence in the strengthening civil society movement that clearly will not end without a change in the regime. Flour and bread shortages continue to fuel civil unrest. Water shortages continue to grow in Darfur, and have now extended to West Kordofan.

All dispatches have again been edited to some degree (often considerable) for length; any editorial comments on my part appear italicized in [brackets] and in blue; all emphases within the cited texts have been added.

I emphasize yet again in this digest that what is now called “Central Darfur” was formerly part of West Darfur (and to a lesser extent South Darfur). The further division of Darfur by the National Islamic Front/National Congress Party (NIF/NCP) regime in 2012 was arbitrary and entirely politically motivated; it has also worked to encourage geographical confusion (the western part of “Central Darfur,” for example, borders eastern Chad). Similarly, “East Darfur” was also created arbitrarily in 2012 from parts of South Darfur. Geographically, it designates the southeastern region of Darfur.

This emphasis on geographical clarification derives from the fact that while North Darfur and eastern Jebel Marra continue to be the site of the greatest violence in Darfur, reports from West Darfur (including what is now “Central Darfur”) as well as South Darfur (including what is now “East Darfur”) are increasing alarmingly. In this connection, see especially Number 7 below.

Darfur: Radio Dabanga Digest, Number 1 | http://wp.me/p45rOG-1CD

Darfur: Radio Dabanga Digest, Number 2 | http://wp.me/p45rOG-1De

Darfur: Radio Dabanga Digest, Number 3 | http://wp.me/p45rOG-1Dt

Darfur: Radio Dabanga Digest, Number 4 | http://wp.me/p45rOG-1Ei

Darfur: Radio Dabanga Digest, Number 5 | http://wp.me/p45rOG-1EL

Darfur: Radio Dabanga Digest, Number 6 | http://wp.me/p45rOG-1Fp

Darfur: Radio Dabanga Digest, Number 7 | http://wp.me/p45rOG-1FL

Darfur: Radio Dabanga Digest, Number 8 | http://wp.me/s45rOG-6452

Darfur: Radio Dabanga Digest, Number 9 | http://wp.me/p45rOG-1Gi

Darfur: Radio Dabanga Digest, Number 10 | http://wp.me/p45rOG-1Gt

Darfur: Radio Dabanga Digest, Number 11 | http://wp.me/p45rOG-1Hq

Darfur: Radio Dabanga Digest, Number 12 | http://wp.me/p45rOG-1HY—and below

Eric Reeves, 17 May 2015

(1) “Tawila is military area, people may be targeted”: militia commander, North Darfur

May 12, 2015 | Tawila, North Darfur

[I discuss the larger implications of the following story in The Huffington Post, May 14, 2015; what is clear is that Khartoum has let loose the Rapid Support Forces with absolutely no constraints in the form of rules of engagement, if there ever were such. North Darfur has become a “free fire zone,” and the people of the region are being told either to leave or face rape, pillaging, and murder.]

A commander of the Sudanese Rapid Support Forces has told people in Tawila locality, North Darfur, that it is a military area now and anyone present there will be a legitimate target for the paramilitary troops—including their money and livestock…. Speaking to Radio Dabanga, Omda Mukhtar Bosh of the internally displaced camps in Tawila reported that a RSF commander presented his demands during a meeting with displaced people of Rwanda camp on Sunday. “He said that East Jebel Marra now has become a theatre for military operations and that whoever is present there, all his money, property and livestock will be seized from them.” The commander, Colonel Gidou Mohamed Hamdan Ahmed, heads a paramilitary force of about 100 armed Land Cruisers, allegedly on its way to fighting the armed movements in East Jebel Marra.

[And of course civilians in the “theater for military operations” are also, as has been abundantly reported by Radio Dabanga, subject to rape, aerial bombardment, and murder.] 

•  Many flee from stealing, raping militiamen in North Darfur

May 11, 2015 | East Jebel Marra

Pro-government militiamen robbed the residents of seven villages in East Jebel Marra from Thursday to Saturday, forcing people to flee to Tabit, south of El Fasher in North Darfur. Displaced witnesses from those villages claimed that pro-government militiamen, driving in 28 Land Cruisers and about 40 camels and horses, also raped seven girls during those days. They told Radio Dabanga that four of these girls were from Kanjara village, and three from Koshna village.

The witnesses also reported the militia’s abduction of girls, and that they stole hundreds of livestock. They estimated that approximately 3,000 inhabitants of these villages fled to Tabit.

[These are the consequences of remaining in a “theater for military operations. Rape continues as an unfathomably destructive weapon of war—see  http://wp.me/p45rOG-Kw

•  RSF hijack guarded vehicles, rob livestock in North Darfur

May 13, 2015 | Tawila

On the road between El Fasher and Tawila in North Darfur, members of the Rapid Support Forces hijacked an army vehicle and robbed dozens of cattle on Tuesday morning.

[It is clear that Khartoum regular army forces (the SAF) can no longer fully control the Rapid Response Forces (RSF); although doing the regime’s bidding, the RSF are now so strong that regional military commanders are forced to yield and even accept attacks on their forces as the price to be paid for the brutal instrument of destruction that is the RSF.]

A leader in the camps for displaced people in Tawila locality reported the incidents to Radio Dabanga. A Rapid Support Force (RSF) led by a colonel, named Gidou Mohamed Hamdan Ahmed, attacked a convoy of 20 commercial vehicles, Omda Mukhtar Bosh said. The convoy was guarded by a group of Central Reserve Forces and Popular Defence Forces and was on its way from Tawila to El Fasher. The militiamen, Bosh explained, hijacked the vehicles and managed to seize a number of weapons from the guards. “And while the force was on its way to El Malam in South Darfur, they robbed about 50 herds of livestock from the areas of Gallab, Bowabat Sigilli, Tayara, Konjara, Um Arda and Kolge.”

•  Robberies cause insecurity in lawless North Darfur town

May 14, 2015 | Kutum

The insecurity in Kutum locality, North Darfur, continues unabated, owing to armed groups and militia members who are using the state of lawlessness to rob and abduct people.

Pro-government militiamen have abducted a fuel merchant from inside Kutum town on Tuesday evening… In another event in Kutum, an armed group pillaged the house of a man named Ibrahim Mohamed Dosa to steal his motorcycle. A woman who happened to be in the house tried to stop the gunmen from taking the motorcycle. One of the men shot her in both her legs.

Also on Tuesday, another group of militiamen broke into three shops and stole goods. Witnesses attributed the chaos and the high rate of attacks on people inside Kutum to the lack of security. The pro-government militiamen have been given the free hand to do what they want, they said. For more than three years, policemen, prosecutors, and members of the judiciary, are absent in the locality. The army is officially in charge of keeping order instead.

[These incidents give us a glimpse of Darfur as a whole if UNAMID is gutted or withdrawn entirely; humanitarian conditions will deteriorate precipitously.]

•  Displaced people in West Darfur beaten or kidnapped by militiamen

May 15, 2015 | Sirba / El Geneina, West Darfur

Militiamen in West Darfur conducted a number of assaults on Thursday. Military intelligence elements searched one of the camps for displaced people in the state, and detained one man. A displaced man was beaten by members of the military intelligence service in Armankul camp in Sirba locality on Wednesday. He was detained immediately after…

In another incident, the coordinator explained that in an attack by militiamen, one man broke his hand and another lost his ear. The incident occurred on the Armankul-Tendelti road. In Sese camp, east of El Geneina, Mohamed Abdallah Idris was kidnapped on Thursday and taken to an unknown destination by pro-government militiamen… Mohamed Abdallah Idris and his wife went out at 4pm to collect firewood east of the camp. Pro-government militia members beat both of them with rifle butts, and pointed their guns at them before taking Idris with them. His wife was left in the open while suffering from the injuries.

[As this dispatch from West Darfur makes clear, one need not be in a declared “military theater of operations” to be subject violent abuses by of Khartoum’s militia forces. Violence against civilians continues apace in West Darfur and South Darfur.]

•  Militiamen rape three, raid South Darfur town day and night

May 14, 2015 | Gereida, South Darfur

Members of the Rapid Support Forces raped three sisters whom they had kidnapped from Gereida in South Darfur on Tuesday. They also beat a number of residents and robbed money and properties from them. A witness told Radio Dabanga that the paramilitary troops drove into Birka neighbourhood, east of the grand market in Gereida, at night. They kidnapped three sisters (aged 17, 19 and 23 years) from inside their house at gunpoint. The men left with the girls to their camp north of the town, and raped them.

[These gross human rights abuses should be seen in light of the dispatch that follows, in which such abuses are—fantastically—blamed on U.S. economic sanctions.]

The source added that on Thursday night, allegedly the same Rapid Support Forces (RSF) attacked the grand market, Abuja, and the northern neighbourhood Turra, assaulting the people who live there.

“A force of the Rapid Support militias came to Gereida locality a week ago, in more than 60 heavily armed vehicles, and stationed themselves near the Sudanese army’s garrison north of Gereida,” the witness said. “They have been scouring the town in broad daylight ever since, in their vehicles and carrying weapons. Items in shops are taken without paying for it, and when people do ask the men to pay, they would be beaten or face a weapon.” In the nighttime, the RSF raid the neighbourhood and robs people at gunpoint, according to the witness.

[The reality is that all of Darfur remains a “military theater of operations” in the eyes of Khartoum and its Rapid Support Forces militia proxies—including, as here, in South Darfur.]

(2) Sudan says US sanctions largest violation of human rights

Sudan Tribune | May 16, 2015 | Khartoum

The Sudanese government reiterated its severe criticism of unilateral sanctions imposed by the United States and described it as the main reason for the deterioration in the human rights situation.

[Although there have been many rivals, I don’t believe I have ever seen a more preposterously mendacious claim by the National Islamic Front/National Congress Party regime. This is a regime that survives only because of its widespread, systematic, and brutal abuses of human rights as well as the international laws governing the conduct of war. It is a regime that has presided over a steadily declining economy for years, accelerating with the loss of oil revenues from South Sudan. The regime has refused to invest in the agricultural sector, for example, choosing instead to make ill-advised sales of arable land to foreign countries looking to provide for their own food security. Khartoum’s political cronies are the only ones benefiting from the current agricultural policies. The regime also refuses to provide adequate services and food to people throughout the country, leaving many people desperately hungry and without educational or medical opportunities.]

At a symposium titled “Unilateral sanctions and their impact on humans in Sudan” held at Sharjah Hall in Khartoum on Saturday, the Sudanese Justice Minister Mohamed Bushara Dousa urged the United Nations Independent Expert on Human Rights Aristide Nononsi, who was present, to refrain from submitting his report to the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) in a political light.

[In other words, Khartoum is asking UN Independent Expert on Human Rights Aristide Nononsi to submit a “report” that will not point out the obvious fact that human rights abuses in Sudan are precisely “political” in nature—they are the politics of a ruthless regime that survives only because of systematic human rights abuses.]

[It was a week for utterly preposterous claims by the regime; here is the justice minister’s assessment of the overall situation of human rights in Sudan:

Sudan’s justice minister called for pressing Washington and informing them that “human rights in Sudan are excellent except for what the US has imposed economic sanctions on.” He asserted that the sanctions pose the biggest violation of Sudanese citizens’ human rights and that should they be lifted human rights situation would be strengthened.

The minister said the annual UNHRC meeting in Geneva ends up being the “dialogue of the deaf” because it is based on political issues. We always get buried in issues of arrests, trials and prisons and leave out the key issues which affect everything, even sports,” Dousa said.

[A revealing statement: “arrests, trials and prisons [too often ‘ghost houses’]” are mere trivia, obscuring the real issues, i.e., lifting economic sanctions, and “sports.” No matter that a vast pattern of human rights abuses defines the very nature of the regime, as does the continuation of wars in South Kordofan, Blue Nile and Darfur by means of war crimes, crimes against humanity, and genocide. There is a complete moral blindness here that the regime is convinced can somehow be imposed on the rest of the world. And indeed, too much of the international response to the regime’s actions has encouraged such conviction.]

•  “Narrow prison cells for non-convicted in South Darfur”: human rights observer

May 15, 2015 | Buram

Police in Buram locality in South Darfur hold dozens of detainees in a narrow prison cells, while the humanitarian and sanitary conditions are very bad. The prison cells do not exceed more than 9 by 9 metres, according to a Sudanese observer who is an expert on human rights. The observer works for a Sudanese human rights organisation known as El Marsat El Sudani. The organisation revealed that more than 200 people are detained in Buram’s prison, and have been held in prison without conviction for varying periods of time… A relative of one of the detainees told Radio Dabanga that the number of detainees exceeds the prison cells’ capacity. This forced the prison administration to lock detainees in a gated square out in the open, under the burning sun, he claimed. “Their feet are bound and their hands are in chains, while the sanitary conditions are very bad.”

[These human rights abuses have nothing to do with economic sanctions; they reflect a contempt for human life, particularly the lives of the non-Arab or African tribal populations of Darfur.]

(3) “The World’s Abandonment of Darfur,” The Washington Post, May 16, 2015

by Eric Reeves

The Darfur genocide in western Sudan—the first genocide of the 21st century and the longest one in more than a century—is about to achieve another distinction. It will be the first genocide in which the victims are abandoned. An international peacekeeping force designed to halt violence against civilians and humanitarians—the United Nations-African Union Mission in Darfur, or UNAMID—is on the verge of being gutted and perhaps eliminated altogether.

This is so despite the fact that some 3 million people have been internally displaced or turned into refugees; almost 500,000 were displaced last year alone. Mortality estimates vary, but we must of necessity speak of several hundred thousands of deaths—perhaps half a million—from violence and its consequences, and mortality rates are rising. The victims come overwhelmingly from the non-Arab tribal groups that have been targeted from the beginning of Khartoum’s brutal counter-insurgency against rebel forces.

Although it’s been reported on only fitfully, planning for UNAMID’S diminished future is well underway. Among the planners? The génocidaires of the regime in Khartoum, who insist that the “exit strategy”—agreed to in principle by the U.N. Security Council in August—be executed as rapidly as possible. The force has already been cut by 10,000 and stands at approximately at 17,000 uniformed personnel. The regime wants another 15,000 gone this year…

[Full text at | http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/the-abandonment-of-darfur/2015/05/15/ca744c46-f8f4-11e4-9030-b4732caefe81_story.html

•  South Darfur requests UNAMID to compensate for Kass before exit

May 13, 2015 | Nyala, South Darfur

South Darfur State government has revealed that it requested the United Nations-African Union peacekeeping Mission in Darfur (UNAMID) to pay the amount of SDG 480,000 ($79,720), as a compensation for the victims of the incidents in Kass on 23 and 24 April. Unknown attackers opened fire on UNAMID troops on 23 April at a water well in Kass, 85 km northwest of Nyala. Four of the assailants were killed in the ensuing gunfight, and one was injured. Two peacekeepers sustained injuries too. The next morning, a UNAMID patrol was attacked near the mission’s base in Kass. Four peacekeepers were wounded, a spokesman for the mission told Radio Dabanga.

[As UNAMID is withdrawn, we can expect to see massive “asset stripping” from the departing elements of the force. The same was true in 2009 when Khartoum expelled thirteen distinguished international humanitarian organizations: collectively they were stripped of tens of millions of dollars of assets, including by means of exorbitant exit fees and factitious salary demands. These were monies that could not then be devoted to other humanitarian crises around the world. Instead, most went into the pockets of regime officials and corrupt political cronies.]

 (4) Funding constraints end aid operations in Darfur and Kordofan

May 15, 2015 | Sirba / Kadugli

Relief organisations working in Sudan have reported that a continuing decrease in humanitarian funding to Sudan has taken its toll on aid partners throughout the country, forcing some to pull out of operations. The organisations currently provide critical services for thousands of vulnerable internally displaced people and children, according to the latest news bulletin by the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA).

The international NGO Human Relief Foundation UK (HRF UK) in West Darfur will be forced to hand over four health care centres to the State Ministry of Health at the end of June 2015 when their current funding runs out. This year, the organisation was unable to raise sufficient funds, “due to competing international and in-country emergencies.”

[This may indeed be the reason for HRF’s withdrawal; it may also be the case that donors will not fund projects in Darfur because it is viewed as a hopeless cause. Or like a number of other organizations, HRF may be withdrawing for security reasons, but prudently does not say as much while it has assets in country, and Sudanese national workers to worry about.]

The State Ministry of Health does not have the capacity to run the clinics, OCHA writes, so the health centres will likely shut down at the end of June if emergency funds cannot be mobilised. Two of the clinics are located in Ryad camp, one in Terbiba village for voluntary returnees, and one in El Geneina area. The closures may create a critical gap in the provision of primary health services and antenatal care to more than 30,000 displaced people.

[Nothing better reflects the Khartoum regime’s budgetary priorities than this unwillingness to fund health clinics. With over half the annual budget devoted to the military and security services, people find that their most basic needs are ignored.]

The Sudanese NGOs El Manar and Sibro will phase out their nutrition operations in South Kordofan’s Dilling and El Goz localities respectively, also owing to a lack of funding. As a result, two nutrition centres have already been handed over to the Sudanese Health Ministry and three more will be handed over at the end of July.

[These funding shortfalls seem destined to continue as intolerable insecurity prevails and the regime pushes actively for the withdrawal of not only UNAMID but all international INGOs. Relief assistance in an increasing number of areas are being “Sudanized,” which means in effect de-funded and abandoned. “Being handed over the Sudanese Health Ministry” will be a disaster for the people presently assisted by Sudanese NGOs.]

•  South Darfur water shortage: displaced people face broken pumps

May 14, 2015 | Mershing / Nyala

Displaced people in South Darfur’s camps still suffer from a scarcity of drinking water after the breakdown of a number of water engines and pumps, along with a lack of fuel. One of the sheikhs of the camps in Mershing locality explained their situation to Radio Dabanga. “Four months there has been a crisis in drinking water in the settlements for displaced people south of Mershing town. This is a result of the disruption of the water pumps.”

The same problem occurs in camp Otash in Nyala locality. The displaced people have complained about the water shortage in the camp, as only one water engine out of six is operative in the camps. As an effect, water prices in the camps have risen. In the past week, Radio Dabanga received reports of a drinking water shortage from displaced people living in El Salam camp, too.

[The regime’s “Sudanizing” of relief efforts in Darfur will see more and more such breakdowns.]

•  Thirst continues in South Darfur, West Kordofan towns

May 17, 2015 | Nyala

The drinking water crisis in Nyala, capital of South Darfur, is still continuing. In En Nahud, West Kordofan, people also complain about a lack of water, besides a recurrent disruption of power supplies…. An official from the South Darfur water corporation stated earlier this month that the power outages are the main reason for the disruption of the water flow to the residential districts in Nyala. He pointed out that the growing demand for drinking water greatly exceeds the 18 available water sources.

[When Darfuris speak of being “marginalized,” they are referring to the Khartoum regime’s refusal to invest in even minimal infrastructure projects such as these that would ensure a continues supply of clean water.]

•  Townships near Sudan’s capital lack basic services

May 17, 2015 | Omdurman

The people living in the outermost parts of Omdurman, the sister-city of Khartoum, are lacking basic services, such as health care, water and electricity supplies, and secondary education facilities. Thousands of poor residents of the five El Fatah neighbourhoods, mostly populated by displaced from the Nuba Mountains in South Kordofan and Darfur, and Hamadab, El Ikhlas, El Ameriya, Teibat El Khalawi, El Sadaga, El Mansouri, El Khalifab, and El Galeea districts do not have access to basic services, a resident of El Fatah II told Radio Dabanga… Furthermore, many women die during childbirth because of the absence of hospitals and health centres in the neighbourhood. “There is also no electricity supply,” he added. “We have to make do with torches at night. “Besides, most of the children who finished basic school are not able to continue their studies because of the absence of secondary schools in the area and the lack of affordable transportation.”

[This refusal to respond to the needs of those who have for one reason or another fled to the Khartoum environs long predates the imposition of U.S. economic sanctions. It is yet another glaring example of what the regime prioritizes—and what it does not.]

(5) World bodies reiterate calls for sanctions on South Sudan

Sudan Tribune | May 13, 2015 | Addis Ababa

Concerned about the renewed clashes between South Sudan’s warring parties in Unity state, the African Union (AU) has said it was time to implement sanctions against leaders responsible for atrocities in the country. In a statement issued Tuesday, the AU’s Peace and Security Council expressed concerns over the “extremely fragile” and “volatile” situation in the country, with the opposition accusing government troops of carrying out offensives in rebel-held areas. “It is equally important to work towards the effective implementation of sanctions against all those undermining the quest for peace, violating international humanitarian law and obstructing the efforts of peacekeepers on the ground…

[Precisely the same could be said of the Khartoum regime in Darfur, South Kordofan, and Blue Nile—and yet about these the AU remains silent. A stench of hypocrisy has settled over the continental organization.]

The United Nations, in a recent statement, equally condemning the ongoing fighting, saying it was time to consider implementing sanctions against parties in the conflict.

[It is true that all parties in the South Sudan conflict have been guilty of horrific human rights abuses; they should be condemned in the strongest possible terms by all who care about the people of South Sudan. But that the African Union and United Nations should be speaking about sanctions against those most responsible for the violence in South Sudan, while saying nothing about sanctions against the Khartoum regime for its even more destructive actions in Darfur, South Kordofan, and Blue Nile is obscene hypocrisy. It reflects nothing so much as a fear, on various counts, of confronting the génocidaires in Khartoum. Juba is regarded as having no ability to push back against sanctions threats.]

(6)   Seventeen wounded in second attack on students in Khartoum

May 13, 2015 | Khartoum

Violence between students continues to rock universities in Khartoum and other Sudanese cities. On Tuesday, members of the ruling party’s student wing renewed attacks on Darfuri students in Bahri University, again in one of the discussion corners. The National Congress Party (NCP) students were accompanied by security troops when they attacked the students at 11am with knives and metal bars, before the police intervened to vacate Bahri University. Seventeen students were wounded, one of them told Radio Dabanga. “They chased students on the roads of El Kadaro district and targeted Darfuri students while doing so,” a student explained.

Three other students also sustained injuries in an attack by NCP students on the discussion corner on Monday. They study at the Faculties of Law and Health. Dozens of students from Darfur were detained after the head of the National Islamist Students Movement, the student wing of the ruling party, was killed in clashes at Sharg El Nil College on 29 April. Even a number of family members of Darfuri students were reportedly held in police custody in Omdurman last week, and at least three Darfuri students were detained in front of Bahri University. A number of civil society activists have launched a campaign protect Darfuri students in Sudanese universities.

[The regime’s war against the people of Darfur has moved to Khartoum, Omdurman, and other major urban sites in Sudan.]

•  Students attack students, others missing in Sudan

May 12, 2015 | Khartoum / Dongola

Students sustained injuries in an attack by members of the ruling party’s student wing, in the University of Bahri on Monday. Other students are missing in Northern state. A student told Radio Dabanga that the attack by National Congress Party students took place when students were addressing a discussion corner in the university. “Numbers of the NCP students were armed with machetes and metal bars when they attacked the corner. They wounded at least three students.”

Meanwhile, the Darfuri students association has announced the disappearance of eight students from its University of Dongola, Sudan’s Northern state. They disappeared after NCP students stormed their residences, torched them, and took a number of Darfuri students with them.

•  Sennar students detained during protest

May 14, 2015 | Singa, Sennar State

Security forces in Sennar state have stormed a university and detained a number of students on Monday. Two are still held in detention. A protest speech by the students had preceded the move by the security service. A student at the University of Sennar spoke to Radio Dabanga about the incident, claiming that 33 students were detained, and 31 of them were released on the same day. The protest was aimed against the fact that the students have not received the benefits, allocated by the student support fund. Members of the security service stormed the university and chased the students up into their dormitories, the student said. “They used sticks to beat us and tear gas.” He said that the two students who are still detained, are members of the Darfuri students’ association in Sennar university: Adam Hussein and Musa Abdallah, of the Faculty of Resources.

In eastern Sudan, the National Movement for Change for East Sudan has condemned “the racist campaign to eliminate Darfuri students in universities and higher education institutes in Khartoum.” El Amin Daoud, the head of the movement, described this phenomenon as a “serious and systematic trend that deserves the condemnation from all the Sudanese…”

(7) Abu Karinka in a state of chaos after tribal clashes, [formerly South] Darfur

May 14, 2015 | Abu Karinka / Ed Daein / Khartoum

The situation in Abu Karinka, where clashes took place between the Rizeigat and Ma’aliya tribes on Monday, is still tense. Witnesses from inside the East Darfur town reported seeing many dead bodies transferred to other areas, a lack of medical services, and that a number of children have gone missing. A woman from Abu Karinka described the humanitarian and health situation there as critical. “There are no medicines. And many people are traumatised. Especially children. Many children and youth have gone missing since Monday.”

The battle between the warring Rizeigat and Ma’aliya that day resulted in—according to multiple sources of Radio Dabanga—at least one hundred deaths. The fighting started north of Abu Karinka and moved to the town’s northern neighbourhoods. A witness said that Rizeigat fighters fired missiles onto houses. The violence has caused a wave of displacement among residents, of which numbers are not yet known.

[This inter-Arab tribal fighting remains an extremely serious concern in Darfur, particularly to the regime in Khartoum, which has long regarded the Arab populations of the region as allies, political and military. But as the next dispatch rightly suggests, the “divide and rule” policies that have so often served Khartoum well in its efforts to subdue peripheral and marginalized populations have now come back to haunt them in Darfur.]

•  “Tribal clashes in Darfur result of government policies”: Sudanese Communist Party

May 17, 2015 | Khartoum

According to the Sudanese Communist Party (SCP), the tribal clashes in Darfur are a result of the “divide and rule” government policies. Yousef Hussein, spokesman for the SCP, told Radio Dabanga in an interview on Friday that the ruling National Congress Party’s (NCP) efforts to achieve full domination over the resources in Darfur are based on “divide and rule” policies. Reacting to the fierce fighting that broke out between Ma’aliya and Rizeigat tribesmen last Monday, he stated that “these policies have destroyed the social fabric in the western region, which has led to the numerous violent conflicts between tribes, in particular the Arab tribes.”

[This is importantly true and not sufficiently appreciated by many observers of Darfur; see also the dispatch below citing the National Consensus Forces assessment of the violence.]

“The policies of the NCP are based on ethnic and political favouritism regarding the appointment of government positions and native administrators, he stated. “For this reason Darfur was re-divided into five states.

[This also is importantly true and not sufficiently appreciated by many observers of Darfur.]

The government now holds Darfur hostage to reach a political peace and control its natural resources.” Hussein considers the attacks on Darfuri students in Khartoum state and some other Sudanese states “an extension of the Darfur crisis.”

•  UNAMID deplores Rizeigat, Ma’alia violence in East Darfur

May 13, 2015 | Khartoum

The United Nations-African Union peacekeeping Mission in Darfur is gravely concerned about the continued mobilisation of the Rizeigat and Ma’aliya tribes in East Darfur state. Clashes in Abu Karinka on Monday reportedly led to more than a hundred dead. In a statement on Tuesday, the peacekeeping mission (UNAMID) expressed its concern despite “a temporary lull in the fighting,” it described. UNAMID stressed that it is “ready to assist the Sudanese authorities in the ongoing evacuation of more than 50 injured tribesmen from both tribes to Khartoum for treatment.”

[And this expression of “grave concern” is about the extent of UNAMID’s ability to address the primary security issues in this region of what was formerly South Darfur.]

From Sudan, the National Consensus Forces (NCF, a coalition of Sudanese opposition parties), has called on both the Rizeigat and Ma’aliya tribes to stop the bloodshed and return stability to the region. It holds the Sudanese government responsible for inciting the tribal conflict, “promoting racism and raising tribalism above citizenship which is the basis of rights and duties.” The coalition added in a statement that the authorities are to be held responsible for the insecurity in Darfur and Sudan. “It has left arms in the hands of citizens and supported one party against the other to serve their goals in splitting Sudan.”

[Why no talk about sanctions against Khartoum for doing exactly what those targeted by the UN and African Union in South Sudan have done? Is it merely because the regime is doing it by proxy, keeping their hands “clean”?]

•  EU concerned about East Darfur tribal fighting

May 13, 2015 | Khartoum

The European Union has expressed its concern about the violence happening in East Darfur and calls for humanitarian access to help those affected by the fighting between the Rizeigat and Ma’aliya tribes. At a meeting of EU diplomats on Wednesday, the inter-tribal fighting at Abu Karinka town was discussed. The fighting caused the loss of lives on both sides, many injuries and a new wave of displacement… They say that the fighting was foreseeable and further undermines the security and stability situation in Darfur.  

[This, sadly, is apparently the best the European Union can do.]

(8)   Contract for Khartoum oil pipeline signed

May 11, 2015 | Sudan

The first Sudanese contract to build pipelines for petroleum between Khartoum and Wad Madani, the capital of El Gezira state, was signed on Sunday. The Sudanese Organisation for Oil and the Jiyad Pipes Co. agreed on building the 220 km-long line, which is 12 inches wide, at the cost of SDG155 million ($25 million). El Gezira is directly south of Khartoum state. Sudan’s Oil Minister, Makawi Mohamed Awad, described the contract as “a very important one.”

[Again, this is a reflection of budgetary priorities under this regime, which has allowed the economy to deteriorate to the point it cannot—for lack of foreign exchange currency—import sufficient wheat for flour to be made into bread—see below.]

•   South Darfur flour distributors embark on strike

May 12, 2015 | Nyala

Flour distribution companies in South Darfur have announced a strike, in protest against the state’s imposition of an additional fee of SDG25 ($4,15) per every sack of flour to be paid by agents. Sega, Seen and Weeta companies have closed all distribution outlets that led to the stop of many of the bakeries in Nyala city. The head of the department of state bakeries, Adam Abu Gitta, has accused the state government of imposing unjustified fees to fight the flour companies operating in the state. He believes they are replaced with flour the Ministry of Finance has imported from Turkey, which is not desired by the bakery owners. Gitta called on the state government to cancel the fees, and pointed out that the decision would bring back again queuing in lines to obtain bread in South Darfur.

[The story here is complex, but reflects a hopelessly corrupt economic decision-making process, which has knock-on effects that the regime seems incapable of foreseeing. Taxing flour can only lead to higher prices, in an economy that is already suffering real inflation in the range of 50 percent—hitting the poorest, those for whom bread is typically a staple food, hardest.

Long queues in front of bakeries have become a common phenomenon in various parts of the country. Radio Dabanga reported on 25 March that the flour gap at Sayga Company, one of the largest flour companies in Sudan, had reached 75 percent. The production by the Seen Flour Mills had been decreased with 50 percent. The flour crisis has been attributed to the scarcity of foreign currency needed for the import of wheat.

(9) Showing off spoils of war, Sudan claims progress in Darfur

Agence France-Presse | May 13, 2015 | Nyala, South Darfur

Stacked with rockets and machineguns, dozens of trucks seized from rebels lined the main square of South Darfur’s state capital. Proof, Khartoum says, that its forces dealt insurgents a knockout blow. “It was a battle beyond description, a decisive victory,” said Major Nimr Khalifa Abdel Hafiz, an officer with the Rapid Support Forces (RSF) who took part in the clash near the Tullus area south of Nyala on April 26.

[This international dispatch is unusual in having a Darfur dateline, and is revealing in several respects. Notably, it indicates how dependent Khartoum now is on the Rapid Responses Forces—the same forces that have declared that civilians remaining in North Darfur are legitimate military targets. Since the regime is determined to resolve the Darfur conflict by military means, this means that the RSF will play an ever more prominent role.]

For President Omar al-Bashir’s government, the battle was a major step forward in its fight in Darfur, which has been engulfed by violence since ethnic insurgents rebelled against Khartoum’s rule 12 years ago. But rebels insist the conflict is far from over, with JEM spokesman Jibril Bilal telling AFP: “We will never stop fighting these criminals as long as they are fighting our people in Darfur.” And analysts say the tactics used by Bashir—who is wanted by the International Criminal Court for alleged war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide in Darfur—are likely to fuel continued unrest.

[This is importantly true.]

Khartoum’s “reliance on a militia-centred counter-insurgency strategy is increasingly counterproductive—not least because it stokes and spreads communal violence,” the International Crisis Group said.

[This is only half right: the ICG statement seems to assume that “communal violence” is not in Khartoum’s interest, when in fact there is very considerable evidence that it often is. The regime can’t pull all the strings, but as Human Rights Watch observed a number of years ago, it has a policy of creating “Chaos by Design.]

But Major Hafiz was bullish about the RSF’s victory at Tullus… “Our forces captured 164 land cruisers mounted with all sorts of weapons,” he told reporters on the government-organised tour of the city.

[Military spokesmen for Khartoum’s regular Sudan Armed Forces and its militia proxies, including the RSF, are notorious liars. The victory was certainly significant, but equally certainly overstated by Major Hafiz.]

(10) Sudanese presidency instructs to finalise consultations on Darfur referendum

Sudan Tribune | May 12, 2015 | Khartoum

Sudanese first vice-president, Bakri Hassan Saleh has directed to finalise consultations for a referendum on the permanent administrative status of Darfur region. In accordance with the Doha Document for Peace in Darfur (DDPD), all the residents of Darfur states should participate in simultaneous vote to decide the administrative status of Darfur region, specifically whether to keep the current states system or to have a single region with states. The DDPD provides that the plebiscite should take place “no sooner than one year after the signing of the Agreement.”

[As all who are honest will admit, the Doha Document for Peace in Darfur (July 2011) is a diplomatic dead letter. Although flogged relentlessly by the Obama administration and the Europeans, it never had any support from Darfuri civil society or the significant rebel groups—only a contrived, makeshift collective—organized by the Obama administration’s special envoy for Sudan and Libya’s Muamar Gadhafi (the “Liberation and Justice Movement”). Gadhafi’s role in creating this “negotiating partner” for the regime should tell us all we need to know about its credibility.]

Following a meeting with Saleh on Tuesday, the head of Darfur peace office Amin Hassan Omer told reporters he briefed the first vice-president about the implementation of the Doha framework agreement signed with several former rebel groups.

[That any sort of “referendum” can be contemplated in the current environment of extreme insecurity and violence is revealing of the Khartoum regime’s utter contempt for representative democracy. See the electoral machinations planned last August by the regime for the April 2015 “national elections,” revealed in leaked minutes of the meeting in which the election is discussed at length. “Consultations,” “referenda” are just words for the regime; they do not connect in any meaningful way with the realities of political life in Khartoum or Sudan.]

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“The victims [of the Holocaust] perished not only because of the killers, but also because of the apathy of the bystanders. What astonished us after the torment, after the tempest, was not that so many killers killed so many victims, but that so few cared about us at all.” 

[Elie Wiesel, “Why were there so few?”]