The international community is failing to respond to Khartoum’s continuing military attacks on civilians in Upper Nile and Eastern Equatoria
July 28, 2004
While the extraordinary urgency of the crisis in Darfur has finally begun to garner serious, if so far ineffective, international attention, the various crises of southern Sudan are not receiving either sufficient notice or response. In a perverse reversal of the situation that obtained during the Naivasha (Kenya) peace process—when negotiations between the Khartoum regime and the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement/Army (SPLM/A) worked to eclipse genocide in Darfur, as well as mute international criticism—Darfur is now obscuring the ongoing civilian destruction and displacement that is again accelerating in southern Sudan (and northern Uganda).
For it is hardly lost on the National Islamic Front regime that the international community is simply unable to respond to two critical arenas of human suffering and destruction in Sudan at the same time. While fighting off a meaningful response to genocide in Darfur (with abundant help from various members of the UN Security Council, the Arab League, the leaders of Egypt and Pakistan, and from the Organization of the Islamic Conference), Khartoum has resumed large-scale support for the maniacal Lord’s Resistance Army, has continued to exacerbate a major humanitarian crisis in the Shilluk Kingdom of north-central Upper Nile, and now benefits from an ominous Chinese expansion of a dual-use road network in Eastern Upper Nile (all discussed in greater detail below).
In short, the costs of Khartoum’s genocidal destruction of the African tribal populations of Darfur must also be measured in terms of southern lives that continue to be destroyed or displaced because of the narrow range of international attention. As Darfur suffered in the shadows for so many months, so southern Sudan is again enduring an eclipse of interest and attention—all that might hold Khartoum to the terms of the cessation of hostilities and peace agreements it has signed. The Civilian Protection Monitoring Team (CPMT) and the Verification and Monitoring Team (VMT)—tasked with investigating attacks on civilians and violations of the October 2002 cessation of hostilities agreement—have again proved themselves largely worthless and unforgivably belated.
Unchecked at present in its various southern military ventures, Khartoum will draw the inevitable conclusion: Darfur has freed the regime from the need to complete the (still preliminary) Naivasha agreement of May 26, 2004, or to negotiate a permanent cease-fire and modalities of implementation, or to honor the terms of the cessation of hostilities agreement. The longer-term assumption by Khartoum will be that the diplomatic pressures that brought about the Naivasha agreement are unlikely to be marshaled again, and that if the Darfur genocide can be allowed to accomplish itself, the regime will be able to resume efforts to consolidate political power, attenuate the meaning of the various Naivasha protocols, and eventually establish a de facto north/south border that includes virtually all the contested oil regions.
DARFUR POLITICAL UPDATE
Lacking political will, and burdened by the various obligations of Iraq, the Bush administration has yet to make a determination about whether the realities in Darfur constitute genocide, and has failed to articulate a policy response that is remotely adequate to the accelerating humanitarian crisis. This is so despite the unanimous resolution passed by the Congress on July 22, 2004, declaring that genocide is occurring in Darfur, and calling on the administration to say as much. For the moment, the administration is merely treading water, proposing to the UN a resolution that may (and only may) impose some sanctions, but only after another month (and another 50,000 lives lost). There is in this resolution nothing that responds to the massive and growing mismatch between humanitarian need and humanitarian capacity in Darfur.
Indeed, the third iteration of the US resolution nominally responding to the urgent crisis in Darfur, and put before the UN Security Council just today, is significantly weaker than the previous versions. In addition to “underscoring Sudan’s sovereignty” (Voice of America, July 28, 2004), the new version of the US resolution eliminates the previous call for a “special [UN] adviser on genocide [in Darfur]” (Voice of America, July 28, 2004). This weakening of the US resolution is unmistakably an accommodation of the callous wishes of other Security Council members, as well as a reflection of the lobbying efforts by countries like Pakistan, Egypt and other members of the Arab League, and the Organization of the Islamic Conference. The painful weakness of the resolution signals the end of any real possibility for a UN authorization of the humanitarian intervention in Darfur that is now so conspicuously necessary.
In turn, the inescapable conclusion is that with no UN authorization for humanitarian intervention in prospect, the nations of Africa, North America, Europe, Australia, and New Zealand must forge a coalition of mutual moral resolve—a multilateral commitment to do all that is necessary to avert the destruction of hundreds of thousands of human beings for lack of adequate international humanitarian capacity, and to provide security for the more than 1.5 million uprooted and acutely vulnerable members of the region’s African tribal groups.
DARFUR HUMANITARIAN UPDATE
The deadly mismatch between humanitarian need and humanitarian capacity has recently been repeatedly and emphatically highlighted by humanitarian organizations actually on the ground in Darfur:
 In a July 26, 2004 press release (“Aid Effort Nowhere Near Enough, Says President of MSF”), Doctors Without Borders/ Mdecins Sans Frontires (MSF) declares:
“Despite the increased political and media attention being given to the crisis in Darfur, Western Sudan, the international medical relief agency, Doctors Without Borders/Mdecins Sans Frontires (MSF), says that the desperate condition of the people there is not improving.”
“MSF’s International President, Dr. Rowan Gillies, who has just spent a month working in the clinics and camps in Darfur, said, ‘What you see there is widespread suffering, inadequate relief efforts and continuing violence.’ Despite greater access to the area, more agencies and aid workers arriving, the urgent needs are still not being met. ‘Hardly anyone is getting the care civilians should get in a conflict,’ said Dr Gillies. ‘And there are pockets of real disaster, where people are at grave risk of dying in large numbers.'” (Press release [London/New York], July 26, 2004 at: http://www.doctorswithoutborders.org/pr/2004/07-26-2004_pf.html
 Voice of America reports today (July 28, 2004) that the humanitarian organization Oxfam “says the needs of the displaced people in Sudan’s Darfur region far surpass available supplies. [From a camp near al-Fasher, Adrian MacIntyre of Oxfam says] ‘The scale of the crisis that we’re trying to respond to here is absolutely massive…they lack food; they lack shelter; they lack medicine. And Oxfam specializes in these emergency situations in providing clean water and sanitation facilities. That’s absolutely essential to prevent the spread of disease, like cholera, like typhoid and other life threatening illnesses.” (Voice of America, July 28, 2004)
 In a press release of July 23, 2004 (“Relief Efforts for War-Displaced in Darfur and Chad Must Be Doubled Now”), the IRC urged the humanitarian effort “ramp up the logistical capacity to double the delivery of aid.” IRC president George Rupp has declared that “even with UN and international aid groups ramping up humanitarian assistance, current capacity in the region is by best estimates meeting only 40 percent of the critical needs of the displaced population.”
“The international humanitarian response to the crisis in Darfur, Sudan, and eastern Chad must be boosted immediately and dramatically to save hundreds of thousands of lives that may be lost because of rising levels of disease and malnutrition. IRC health teams in Darfur and Chad report increasing cases of diarrhea and dysentery and the growing threat of cholera and other predatory diseases such as measles and typhoid. According to the World Health Organization, a cholera epidemic striking up to 300,000 could break out within weeks now that heavy rains have begun.” (International Rescue Committee press release, July 23, 2004)
It should be obvious all who are honesty that this is not a crisis that can be resolved by means of sanctions, even sanctions targeted against specific members of the Khartoum regime. While useful over the long term in building up diplomatic leverage, sanctions are simply irrelevant in providing food, medical supplies, clean water, and shelter. Nor is there any evidence that the threat of sanctions will improve security in Darfur: Khartoum promised both UN Secretary Kofi Annan and US Secretary of State Colin Powell weeks ago that it would rein in the Janjaweed militia responsible for most of the insecurity in Darfur. This has not happened, continuing the regime’s intransigent refusal to honor the terms of the April 8, 2004 cease-fire agreement.
The UK and Australia have usefully made it clear that they are willing to send troops for humanitarian intervention in Darfur—Britain as many as 5,000. But yesterday, in yet another display of dangerously consequential political diffidence, US Secretary of State Powell peremptorily and gratuitously dismissed these critically important gestures as “premature.” In turn, the Washington Post asks appropriately in an editorial today (“How Many More Deaths?” July 28, 2004):
“…but how long is Darfur supposed to remain patient? Until 100,000 die? Or 200,000? The rich world’s governments are free to make that choice.” (Washington Post, July 28, 2004)
And since we may be sure than more than 100,000 have already died, and since present mortality exceeds 50,000 per month, we may extend this line of questioning. “When, Mr. Powell, is militarily supported humanitarian intervention no longer ‘premature’? How many hundreds of thousands of lives must be lost? Must the threshold be half a million? a million?” Even in asking such questions we have settled upon an obscene calculus that is part of a moral universe we must hope is very little populated.
Insecurity continues to ensure that nominal humanitarian access to much of Darfur is utterly meaningless. Janjaweed attacks continue to be reported throughout Darfur, as do attacks on humanitarian vehicles and convoys. Many hundreds of thousands of civilians continue to be at risk from murderous Janjaweed attacks, both in camps and in rural areas. Janjaweed incursions into Chad are also continuing, according to Chad’s Prime Minister Moussa Faki (Agence France-Presse, July 28, 2004).
While the African Union considers expanding the role of the cease-fire military support mission to Darfur (the contingent of 300 soldiers agreed to at the AU summit still has not been deployed, in part for lack of transport and logistical capacity), its small observer force on the ground recently conducted an investigation that yielded an especially revealing portrait of Janjaweed violence. Reuters yesterday (July 27, 2004) reported that:
“Arab militia burned alive shackled villagers during an attack violating a fragile truce in Sudan’s Darfur region, African Union (AU) cease-fire monitors said. In a document seen by Reuters on Tuesday, the observers said they had investigated three allegations of cease-fire violations since their deployment on July 11 . They said a fact-finding team dispatched to Suleia concluded that the Darfurian village was attacked on July 3  ‘by militia elements believed to be Janjaweed.’ The document said the attackers ‘killed civilians, in some cases by chaining them and burning them alive.'” (Reuters [Nairobi], July 27, 2004)
Among the dead, according to highly informed sources, were eight schoolgirls, chained together in their school-house; only their charred remains awaited the African Union investigating team. This is the “military” force that the Khartoum regime has chosen to arm, supply, coordinate with, and protect by a host of means. More significantly, this is the same regime that has conducted equally savage war, by the same brutal means, against civilians in southern Sudan for its entire existence.
SOUTHERN SUDAN: Eastern Equatoria
Several recent dispatches from the Equatoria Defense Forces (EDF), now part of the SPLM/A, indicate a highly significant military offensive, involving Khartoum’s regular military forces (including helicopter gunships), in coordination with large elements of the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA). The LRA is responsible for large-scale murder, many thousands of child abductions, notorious acts of barbaric savagery, and the displacement of well over 1 million human beings in northern Uganda and southern Sudan. One of the world’s greatest humanitarian crises festers endlessly because of Khartoum’s ongoing logistical and material support for this maniacal terrorist group.
Khartoum’s active role in supporting the LRA has been well established over a number of years, and shows no sign of truly ending, despite various promises and commitments (see February 24, 2004 analysis by this writer). The LRA—which has no coherent or meaningful political agenda—has been used continuously both as a means of threatening the Ugandan government of Yoweri Museveni and as a proxy militia force against southern Sudanese. This is the context in which to assess the July 26, 2004 press release by the Equatoria Defence Forces. Though there is presently no independent confirmation, there is no reason to doubt the accuracy of this detailed account:
Equatoria Defence Forces (EDF)
July 26th, 2004
“On Saturday 24th July 2004, EDF forces of the SPLA moved back into Moti after our gallant forces made a tactical withdrawal from the village in the afternoon of 23rd July 2004 following heavy fighting with Ugandan LRA rebels who were aided by Government of Sudan logistics and helicopter gunships.”
“Early on Thursday 22nd July 2004, the LRA rebels had been transported by Government of Sudan Army trucks from bases somewhere near Juba to Kor Lakabata near Moti from where they launched an attack on Moti at 5:00 am on 23rd July, 2004. Also on Thursday a Government of Sudan Antonov military transport plane and two helicopters gunships had been circling over Moti suggesting that an attack was imminent. Civilians were immediately evacuated from Moti by our soldiers.”
“During the fighting on 23rd July 2004, helicopter gunships of the Government of Sudan Army strafed EDF/SPLA positions and the Government of Sudan bombarded our positions with heavy artillery from Government of Sudan army barracks in Torit. The LRA forces numbered about 2000, and these combined with all the support from the Government of Sudan meant our forces had no choice but to make a tactical withdrawal form Moti. We then continued to pound the LRA while they razed Moti down and the LRA moved out and continued to march southwards into SPLA-controlled areas.”
“The LRA force is now marching towards Katire where we got forces and we expect a clash in Katire within a short time from now. It seems the LRA are trying to move back into Imatong Hills with Government of Sudan help, an area from which they had been evicted by EDF and Uganda People’s Defence Force (UPDF) in March/April this year. [ ]
“There is now widespread hunger in the area. All food-stocks have been burned or looted by [LRA] rebels. Many of the cattle, goats, and sheep had been looted. Crop seeds which would have been planted but delayed by drought are now destroyed and so the situation can only get worse. All the huts/buildings had been razed or burnt to the ground by the LRA rebels. Hence thousands of people have been displaced without shelter. Also there are no medical facilities for these displaced people.”
(Equatoria Defence Forces (EDF), PRESS RELEASE, July 26th, 2004)
SOUTHERN SUDAN: Upper Nile (Shilluk Kingdom)
The UN Integrated Regional Information Networks (IRIN) reported on July 23, 2004 a very significant uptick of violence in the Shilluk Kingdom. In providing context for this violence, IRIN noted findings from March and April of this year, including those of the Sudan Catholic Bishops’ Conference and the normally inert CPMT:
“Isaac Kenyi, the executive secretary of the Sudan Catholic Bishops’ Conference, undertook a fact-finding mission to the area and estimates that as many as [ ] 100,000 [civilians had been] forcibly displaced.”
(UN Integrated Regional Information Networks (IRIN) reported on July 23, 2004)
IRIN also reported that:
“Government [of Sudan]-allied militia raids on Alek village, home of the revered Shilluk king, Kwango, incited further inter-tribal animosity. The king’s home was burnt to the ground and hundreds of his cattle were looted. The king, or Reth, plays a central role in the Shilluk political and legal administration. One of the eight sacred Shilluk shrines of Nykango, the historical spiritual leader who led the Shilluk tribe across Africa, was also left in cinders.” (UN Integrated Regional Information Networks (IRIN) reported on July 23, 2004)
We know a good deal more about the situation in the Shilluk Kingdom of Upper Nile by virtue of a series of April 2004 “situation reports” (“sit reps”) produced by the CPMT (based in Rumbek, southern Sudan, and Khartoum). In assessing the consequences of attacks by Khartoum-backed militia forces in the Shilluk Kingdom, CPMT reported:
“Popwojo [Shilluk Kingdom]:
“Assessed as [more than] 97% destroyed (Photo 4)
“CPMT witnessed/photographed fresh grave mounds (Photo 5)
“Village pastor/school teacher identified each grave by name and discussed the manner in which he found the bodies
“Thousands of civilians displaced and in urgent need of humanitarian intervention (numbers given by witnesses in this village estimate displaced at 19,100 between the villages on Diny and Popwojo)”
“A CPMT member with 18 months of CPMT field investigative experience described this as the worst systematic destruction/displacement of civilians he has personally observed since the formation of the CPMT in August 2002.”
“A second CPMT member with over 8 years of Sudan experience and 16 months with CPMT described the Government of Sudan offensive in the Malakal area as reminiscent of the devastating ‘clearing’ of the oil region in the Western Upper Nile in the late 1990s.”
(Malakal Area Destruction SITREP # 2; March 31, 2004)
The CPMT “sit reps” comported fully with a report issued at the same time by the Right Reverend Daniel Deng, Bishop of Renk (Episcopal Church of Sudan), and chairman of the church’s Justice, Peace and Reconciliation Committee (report from the Right Reverend Daniel Deng, April 14, 2004):
“Having just visited Malakal Diocese from 4th-12th April on behalf of the Episcopal Church of Sudan, Justice, Peace and Reconciliation Committee, I am writing to appeal against recent activities of government-backed militia in the area.”
“From March 26, 2004 through until the second week of April, Shilluk land was invaded by the government militia. The villages on the west bank of the Nile have been all burnt down by the government militia. 22 villages were burnt down during the period of two weeks [Reverend Deng provides the names of the villages in his dispatch; available upon request]. 12,335 persons have been displaced to Malakal town, a great number of people have been killed and no one has reported about their fate. The UN World Food Program, SCC, and other non-governmental organizations are now very busy running up and down feeding the displaced people. These people had been well-settled in villages for a long time, but now they are re-displaced again, just at the time the country is waiting for a peace agreement to be signed.”
“When this event took place, the whole town was watching across the river, seeing how the Shilluk people were being killed by the government militia. In full view, the militia were going around with guns and shooting people. Soldiers were there just watching like at a football match. The government army garrison on the West bank of the Nile did nothing to intervene to save the life of the citizens under their care. This has made us to conclude that it was the Government who carried out the killing. The militia who carried out the killing were part of the Sudan army because all the militia have been promoted into the government army. In consequence they get direct orders from the senior army commanders.”
“The silence of the Upper Nile State Government, the Coordinating Council of the South and the Federal Government of Sudan has showed that the Sudan Government is responsible for the burning of villages, the killing and the displacement of more than twelve thousand people of the Shilluk Kingdom.” (Report of the Right Reverend Daniel Deng, April 14, 2004; received via e-mail, April 15, 2004)
THE FACE OF EVIL
There are many other developments in southern Sudan deserving of extremely close international attention and urgent response. Eastern Upper Nile, for example is now criss-crossed by Chinese-built all-weather roads, nominally for oil development purposes but also capable of projecting very large military forces in very short time, whatever the season. This fundamentally changes the military situation on the ground in this part of southern Sudan, and poses extremely serious risks to the civilian population in the area. These people, with almost no humanitarian services, have already suffered terribly during the course of the war, and perhaps most invisibly of all the southern Sudanese populations. Khartoum certainly calculates that a rapid military assault would be largely over before it became known and understood outside regional information circles.
There are also extremely ominous reports from the Ngok Dinka region of Abyei, on the Kordofan/Bahr el-Ghazal border (this areas was the focus of extremely difficult negotiations in the Naivasha talks). Movement of Missiriya Arab populations into various Ngok enclaves, Missiriya construction of schools and drilling of water bore-holes, as well as Missiriya militia actions in concert with Khartoum’s regular forces have been recently reported by highly reliable sources. These actions work to undermine the extremely arduous negotiations on Abyei at the Naivasha talks.
If there can be no denying that Darfur is the presently Khartoum’s most conspicuous face of evil, it is far from being alone in Sudan. Khartoum—sensing weakness and lack of focus on the south—sees a perverse advantage in the high profile that Darfur. For if the only international response to massive genocidal destruction is the imposition of sanctions, of limited efficacy, with no immediate amelioration of the vast humanitarian crisis by which the genocide is being accomplished, Khartoum has won two victories—in Darfur and in the south.
The world seems disinclined to do what is necessary to deny the regime these victories. We will be able to measure the consequences of this moral and political failure in deaths throughout Sudan.
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