Slashed humanitarian access and funding will produce massive near-term mortality
March 15, 2006
No voice has been more honest or courageous throughout the Darfur catastrophe than that of Jan Egeland, head of UN humanitarian operations. It is only appropriate, then, that our understanding of ongoing genocidal destruction in western Sudan and eastern Chad be framed by Egeland’s assertion that this is the “test case for the world for having no more Rwandas and no more massive loss of innocent lives.” It is a test that the international community has now failed—massively, conspicuously, irredeemably. Security has essentially collapsed in large areas of Darfur, and as a result humanitarian operations cannot reach hundreds of thousands of desperate civilians; ethnically targeted destruction is expanding unchecked into eastern Chad; and remaining rural populations are completely vulnerable to ongoing predations by Khartoum’s regular and militia forces. The prideful yet cowardly African Union decision to maintain its control of the current mission in Darfur for another six months ensures that conditions will deteriorate rapidly and precipitously.
The consequences of the AU decision, which effectively forecloses robust international humanitarian intervention for the foreseeable future, are also implicitly articulated by Egeland:
“As a result of [deteriorating insecurity], Egeland said, UN relief officials and relief organizations cannot reach more than 300,000 people on the Chad border in western Darfur and the central mountainous region of Jebal Marra because they are too dangerous. These unreachable areas, he said, ‘will soon get massively increased mortality because there is nothing else but international assistance.’ He expected deaths to increase markedly within weeks.” (Associated Press [dateline: United Nations], March 13, 2006)
Additional hundreds of thousands of civilians are inaccessible in South Darfur and North Darfur states. Egeland declared that “Darfur is returning to ‘the abyss’ of early 2004 when the region was ‘the killing fields of this world.’ ‘We’re losing ground every day in the humanitarian operation which is the lifeline for more than 3 million people.'” In fact, aggregated UN estimates for the conflict-affected population in Darfur and eastern Chad now total approximately 4 million human beings. Tens of thousands of these people will certainly die in the coming weeks and months; the number of deaths could easily range into the hundreds of thousands over the full course of this rapidly accelerating catastrophe.
Knowing full well the consequences of leaving humanitarian personnel and vulnerable civilians without protection, the international community has nonetheless disingenuously welcomed the African Union decision to retain control of the Darfur mission—suggesting that somehow this decision represents either a triumph of tactful diplomacy or, at worst, the innocuous preservation of a status quo that couldn’t be fundamentally changed in any event.
Such dishonesty will be recorded by history as the defining moment of the Darfur genocide, inaugurating what will become the greatest cycle of human destruction. It no longer matters what happens in Abuja (Nigeria): peace has been irretrievably lost on the ground and only exhaustion through destruction will bring an end to the killing and dying.
THE AFRICAN UNION PEACE AND SECURITY COUNCIL COMMUNIQUE
The dramatically contrasting responses of the National Islamic Front regime in Khartoum and humanitarian organizations in Darfur to the decision by the AU are well captured by the Africa correspondent for The Telegraph (UK):
“Sudan’s regime hailed a ‘major achievement’ yesterday as it managed to delay the deployment of United Nations peacekeepers in the war-torn Darfur region for at least six months. [ ] Aid workers in Darfur fear that Sudan’s regime has won a free hand to continue a bloody campaign without any hindrance from an effective outside force.” (March 13, 2006)
The dispatch continued by citing the views of Oxfam, one of the leading nongovernmental organizations operating in Darfur:
“‘Further delay [in responding to the security crisis on the ground] is putting the lives of millions of civilians in danger. While the debate drags on the situation in Darfur is getting worse,’ said Paul Smith-Lomas, Oxfam’s regional director. Mounting violence is making the delivery of aid increasingly difficult. This has forced the UN’s refugee agency to cut its Darfur budget by 44 per cent. ‘The people of Darfur urgently require protection from daily threats of violence and harassment. They cannot wait,’ said Mr Smith-Lomas.”
“But the Khartoum regime revelled in its diplomatic success. ‘Sudan scored a major achievement by maintaining the AU’s role in Darfur and ensuring that a resolution to the conflict remains within the framework of the AU, said Jamal Ibrahim, the foreign ministry spokesman [in Khartoum]. He added that Sudan remained opposed to a UN peacekeeping force even after September 30 . ‘It has been agreed that should there be a need for the UN to intervene, its role shall be that of a peace support mission and not a peacekeeping mission,’ said Mr Ibrahim.” (The Telegraph [UK], March 13, 2006)
Lam Akol, the SPLM puppet “foreign minister” in the “Government of National Unity,” enthusiastically shared the National Islamic Front line on the Addis Ababa decision:
“Sudanese Foreign Minister Lam Akol called the AU decision a ‘success’ for Sudan. ‘The mandate of the AU has been extended for six months and this is what we had been calling for,’ he told Reuters.” (March 10, 2006 [dateline: Addis Ababa])
Further, lest the comments of Foreign Ministry spokesman Ibrahim seem excessively confident in dismissing even the future role of the UN in Darfur, we should take careful note of an Associated Press dispatch (dateline: Khartoum), quoting Vice President Ali Osman Taha, arguably the most politically powerful figure within the National Islamic Front:
“Sudan will reject the proposed deployment of UN forces to Darfur after the African Union’s peacekeeping mandate expires in September, Vice President Ali Osman Mohammed Taha told reporters Tuesday [March 14, 2006], according to the official Sudan Media Center. His comment conflicts with the agreement announced in Addis Ababa on Friday, when Sudan and the African Union agreed to extend the mandate of the AU peacekeepers in Darfur to September, and then allow them to be merged into a larger United Nations force.”
“Referring to the UN force, Taha was quoted by the official media center as saying: ‘Sudan’s stand is to reject those forces even when the period of six months has elapsed.’ He did not explain how the government reconciled that position with its acceptance of the Addis Ababa accord.” (Associated Press [dateline: Khartoum], March 14, 2006)
In short, Khartoum has been sufficiently encouraged by the spineless response of the world community that it has been emboldened to announce even now that it has no intention of allowing a UN or any other international protection force into Darfur. This obduracy is made a good deal easier by the weak and ambiguous terms of the Communiqu from the recent meeting of the AU Peace and Security Council (Addis Ababa, March 10, 2006). The transition to a UN force so widely celebrated as an outcome of the meeting is in fact no more than a re-statement of a position already endorsed by the Peace and Security Council (January 12, 2006), viz. that it would accept “in principle” a transition to a UN force:
“[The AU Peace and Security Council] decides to support in principle the transition from AU Mission in Sudan to a UN Operation, within the framework of the partnership between AU and the United Nations in the promotion of peace, security and stability in Africa.” (Communiqu of the 46th Meeting of the Peace and Security Council, Addis Ababa, March 10, 2006, clause )
There is simply nothing new here. Moreover, the Communiqu went on to indicate a large number of conditions constraining the very possibility of transition to a UN force:
“[The AU Peace and Security Council] stresses that the transition from the African Union Mission in Sudan to a UN operation in Darfur should be informed by the following:
[a] “The preparedness of the Government the Sudan to accept the deployment of a UN operation in Darfur;
[b] “That the decision on the mandate and size of any future UN peacekeeping operation in Darfur is informed by the evolving situation on the ground. In this respect, a successful outcome of the Abuja Peace Talks and a significant improvement in the security and humanitarian situation on the ground will be key factors in any decision by the UN Security Council on the nature of the peacekeeping operation in Darfur;
[c] “That the African character of the mission, including through its composition and leadership, is maintained in order, as much as possible, to secure the cooperation of all the parties, which is necessary to achieve a lasting solution to the conflict in Darfur;
[d] “That the lead role of the African Union in the overall Darfur peace process is maintained, including the conduct of the Abuja Peace Talks and the Darfur-Darfur dialogue and consultation provided for by the Declaration of Principles signed in Abuja on 5 July 2005, as well as in the implementation of existing and future agreements between the parties;
[e] “That, during and after the transition, consultations are maintained between the AU and UN, including between the Peace and Security Council and the UN Security Council, as well as between the Chairperson of the Commission and the Secretary-General of the United Nations, particularly prior to any decision by the UN Security Council regarding the envisaged UN peacekeeping operation in Darfur.” (Communiqu of the 46th Meeting of the Peace and Security Council, Addis Ababa, march 10, 2006, clause )
The various contingencies and ambiguities in this language provide Khartoum with more than enough room to maneuver endlessly in forestalling an actual AU transition to a UN mission. It is in this context that we may for once take Ali Osman Taha at his word:
“Referring to the UN force, Taha was quoted by the official media center as saying: ‘Sudan’s stand is to reject those forces even when the period of six months has elapsed.'”
Indeed, Khartoum has decided not to wait six months to make clear through its actions that it has no intention of cooperating in any way with a UN mission in Darfur. Reuters reports from the United Nations in New York (March 14, 2006):
“Sudanese government opposition is preventing a UN team from laying the groundwork for its planned peacekeeping mission in the troubled Darfur region, a senior UN official said on Monday. Without a visit by the assessment team, which the government is opposing, it would be difficult for the Security Council to send in peacekeepers to take over from an under-equipped African Union force, said Hedi Annabi, a UN assistant secretary general for peacekeeping.”
This obstructionism is entirely in keeping with the character of the National Islamic Front, which has not simply obstructed and relentlessly harassed the AU mission in Darfur, but has for two and a half years deliberately and consequentially impeded international humanitarian assistance, by both the UN and nongovernmental aid organizations. A recent survey by the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs echoes the findings of the UN Secretariat, human rights organizations, individual UN humanitarian organizations, and nongovernmental humanitarian organizations over a period of more than two years:
“the cooperation level of the Government [of Sudan] with the humanitarian partners, including facilitation of access and provision of assistance has declined. UN and NGOs [nongovernmental humanitarian organizations] alike are experiencing an increased in harassment episodes and increasing ‘administrative’ difficulties in carrying out programs. The Government of Sudan increased restrictions on NGOs with regard to obtaining travel permits, entry/exit visas, customs issues; and hiring restrictions are limiting the operational capacity of NGOs.” (“Preliminary analysis of the impact of reduced access and funding shortages on humanitarian activities in Darfur,” February 25, 2006)
Such obstruction of humanitarian assistance extends to indigenous Sudanese aid and human rights groups, such as the Sudan Social Development Organization (SUDO). No organization in Darfur is working harder to bring about reconciliation on the ground in Darfur, and to bring about peace talks across an increasingly hardening ethnic divide. But Reuters reports today that Khartoum is deliberately thwarting such peace efforts:
“The Sudanese human rights organisation SUDO said on Wednesday the West Darfur authorities had closed down three of its offices because it did not like its work overcoming divisions in the troubled region. SUDO, one of the few rights groups based in the country, is often targeted by the government. International non-governmental organisations (NGOs) complain of harassment by authorities who they say create obstacles to their activities. ‘They don’t want our work on peace building and human rights because we are uniting the people and they want to divide them,’ said Mudawi Ibrahim, head of SUDO.'” (Reuters [dateline: el-Geneina], March 15, 2006)
4 million people are in increasingly desperate need of humanitarian assistance and Khartoum’s genocidaires are deliberately harassing, impeding, and obstructing such assistance—and working at the same time to obstruct the critical process of ethnic reconciliation in Darfur. The regime continues in these monstrous crimes against humanity because it encounters no significant resistance or international willingness to halt such deliberate efforts at human destruction.
For the same reason Khartoum is actively engaged in ethnically targeted violence against non-Arab or African tribal populations, both by means of its own regular military forces and its brutal Arab militia proxies, the Janjaweed. A recent dispatch from the UN Integrated Regional Information Networks highlights in particular the threats against those few remaining rural populations:
“In North and South Darfur, a deliberate strategy—by government forces and proxy militias in particular—to target civilians in an effort to stamp out alleged support for enemy groups, has provoked further displacement. In South Darfur, thousands of people have fled the Shaeria area and villages around Gereida town.” (UN IRIN [dateline: Nyala, South Darfur], March 9, 2006)
Such ongoing violence—the responsibility of the insurgency movements as well—has a devastating effect on humanitarian access:
“‘Today, the humanitarian agencies in Darfur are reaching fewer people than they did when that ceasefire agreement was signed [April 2004]. The humanitarian situation is catastrophic,’ said Sam Ibok, head of the AU mediation team in Abuja.” (Reuters, March 12, 2006) (It was Ibok who in January 2006 optimistically predicted that a peace agreement would be reached in mid-February)
As Salih Booker of Africa Action cogently observed after the issuing of the Addis Ababa Communiqu:
“By deferring to the Government of Sudan on the timing and the terms of a UN operation in Darfur, the African Union and the larger international community are essentially granting veto power to the very author of this genocide. It is deeply disturbing to consider the degree to which this dynamic, and Khartoum’s increasing audacity, have been facilitated by Washington’s relationship with the government of Sudan and by the successive failures of the international community to hold Khartoum accountable for the crisis in Darfur.”
Africa Action went on to note that “the Communiqu from Friday’s AU meeting expressed support ‘in principle’ for a transition from its own mission in Darfur to a United Nations (UN) peacekeeping operation, essentially reiterating its January statement to the same effect, but agreeing on no firm plan for such a transition nor on immediate measures to protect the people of Darfur. For the last two years, the AU mission in Darfur has lacked the capacity, the troop strength and the mandate to stop the genocide, and there are no indications that this will change in the coming months.” (Africa Action press release, Washington, DC, March 13, 2006)
THE BUSH ADMINISTRATION IN THE PRESENT MOMENT
Despite the overwhelming urgency in Darfur, a time-frame of months, extending even into next year, seems not particularly disconcerting to the Bush administration State Department. A March 10, 2006 dispatch by the Christian Science Monitor (dateline: Nyala, South Darfur) notes that Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs Jendayi Frazer declared as recently as January 2006 that “she expected ‘the situation in Darfur to be resolved by next year . I think you’ll see a UN peacekeeping force and resettlement’ of displaced villagers.” It seems not to matter sufficiently to Ms. Frazer—then or now—that such an expansive time-frame inevitably encompasses massive human destruction and suffering. (We should recall that in November 2005 it was Ms. Frazer who “cautioned against dwelling too much on the current level of violence (in Darfur)” [Washington Post, November 4, 2005]—this as insecurity was rapidly accelerating and humanitarian access relentlessly contracting.)
What amounts to a factitious, expedient optimism on Frazer’s part has been one of the hallmarks of the Bush administration State Department in speaking about Darfur for the past two years. UN and humanitarian organizations, for example, have long stressed Khartoum’s genocidal clearances of the rural areas of Darfur, a process that a recent dispatch by UN IRIN suggests is largely completed. The dwindling rural populations that remain are at extremely acute risk and in desperate need of credible security:
“‘We must be ready to have more strength on the ground, much stronger than we have now [with the African Union],’ [Gemmo Lodesani, humanitarian coordinator for North Sudan for the UN Mission in Sudan,] urged. Neither the Sudanese government nor the SLA or any other actors—the government militias, Arab militias, Chadian rebels and other splinter groups would ‘comply with a piece of paper’ [negotiated in Abuja] he said.”
“‘The emptying of the countryside has been a slow process that lasted three years, with the result that we have now,’ Lodesani said. ‘[Darfur is] eventually reaching the end of this process, because there is not too much left in the countryside to keep on emptying.'” (UN Integrated Regional Information Networks [dateline: Nyala, South Darfur], March 9, 2006)
On the other hand, the senior State Department official with full-time responsibilities for Sudan and Darfur, Michael Ranneberger, offered a rather different assessment last October—at once celebrating the effectiveness of the AU and the vibrancy of agricultural production in rural areas:
“Even now what you are seeing is not these systematic Janjaweed attacks against villages. You know, somebody said, It’s because all the villages were burned. Well, it’s not. You fly over Darfur, almost all…you see thousands of villages fully populated, farming going on, and everything else. So, it’s because of the presence of these African Union forces.” (Michael Ranneberger, October 7, 2005 transcript from National Public Radio, “Morning Edition”)
Notably, the Janjaweed had, in large numbers, attacked the completely undefended Aro Sharow camp for internally displaced persons in West Darfur two weeks prior to Mr. Ranneberger’s comments; subsequent attacks on villages and camps, as well against civilian targets in eastern Chad, have accelerated steadily. Mr. Ranneberger has not felt it necessary to offer a public correction or emendation of his October assessment.
A “NON-PERMISSIVE ENVIRONMENT”: KHARTOUM’S TRUMP CARD
The disingenuous assessments by officials like Ranneberger and Frazer serve ultimately to forestall, deliberately, the need for immediate and robust action. The success of similar efforts, in many Western capitals, is evident in the fact that no international leader is prepared even to discuss forcibly halting genocide in Darfur—not the US (which has made an official genocide determination for Darfur), not the UN, not Europe (in September 2004 the Parliament of the European Union declared, by a vote of 566 to 6, that the realities in Darfur were “tantamount to genocide”).
No one is willing to ask the obvious question: “what if Khartoum continues to resist all efforts to deploy a UN or other international protection force in Darfur?” The self-serving claim of “national sovereignty” by the National Islamic Front has paralyzed international will. The regime’s implied threat of creating a “non-permissive environment” for the deployment of civilian protection forces works as a trump card. As one UN diplomat had the honesty to admit (though only on condition of anonymity):
“Without government approval, the only way to send in a UN peacekeeping mission would be ‘to shoot our way in, and what country would want to provide troops for that?'” (Reuters [dateline: United Nations, New York], March 14, 2006)
Unprepared to challenge Khartoum, the international community fails the “Rwanda test” as miserably as the African Union. It is easy for EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana to declare sanctimoniously: “‘We cannot continue the situation in Darfur as it is now'” (Associated Press [dateline: Brussels], March 8, 2006). But what does this actually mean in the face of ongoing civilian destruction, dead-end peace talks in Abuja, and a genocidal regime that adamantly cleaves to an assertion of “national sovereignty”? Indeed, what was the point of the unanimous UN World Summit declaration (September 2005) concerning a “responsibility to protect” innocent civilian populations? Paragraph 139 of the Summit Outcome Document declares that the international community must be,
“prepared to take collective action, in a timely and decisive manner, through the Security Council, in accordance with the UN Charter, including Chapter VII, on a case by case basis and in cooperation with relevant regional organizations as appropriate, should peaceful means be inadequate and national authorities manifestly failing to protect their populations from genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing, and crimes against humanity and its implications, bearing in mind the principles of the Charter and international law.”
Clearly this does not apply to Sudan and Darfur—or to Chad, where there are numerous reports of civilians being attacked by Khartoum’s Janjaweed militia in conjunction with the regime’s regular military forces (see Human Rights Watch, “Darfur Bleeds: Recent Cross-border Violence in Chad,” February 2006, http://www.hrw.org/backgrounder/africa/chad0206/).
Kofi Annan declared in his January 25, 2006 op/ed in The Washington Post (“Darfur Descending”) that a transition from the AU to the UN was “inevitable.” This seems either foolish or expedient—and as is so often the case with Annan, it is difficult to know which. Annan certainly struck a different note in comments reported today by UN IRIN:
“‘Although the Government of the Sudan is expressing reservations at the moment, we hope to gain its cooperation as we carry out the planning,’ Mr. Annan writes. ‘In fact, Government cooperation will be a requirement, since the Security Council request to start planning for a possible transition stipulates, quite rightly, that we do so in cooperation and in close consultation with the parties to the Abuja peace talks.'” (UN Integrated Regional Information Networks, March 15, 2006)
But what if Khartoum refuses to meet this “requirement”? Will the genocide be allowed to continue? Will international deference continue as the regime’s genocidaires predictably and relentlessly assert the claim of “national sovereignty”? How many must die before the world says, “Enough!”? Extant data strongly suggest that the total number of dead is in excess of 400,000 (see my mortality analysis of August 31, 2005, http://www.sudanreeves.org/index.php?name=News&file=article&sid=67)—perhaps well in excess. Will this number be allowed to grow to half a million? to 800,000? to 1 million? Is there some ghastly, unarticulated threshold of human destruction that will finally supersede Khartoum’s assertion of “national sovereignty”? Annan is not alone in refusing to answer this most urgent question.
Despite the distorted version of Darfur’s realities with which Michael Ranneberger, Jendayi Frazer, and others in the Bush administration State Department have sought to mislead a powerful domestic political constituency, conditions in Darfur are still reported with credibility by a number of humanitarian organizations. And these realities are simply horrific. Agricultural production has collapsed in Darfur, leaving people utterly dependent on food aid. The end result—ration cuts for civilians in need—was very recently reported by the UN’s World Food Program:
“A ‘critically slow’ response to appeals for emergency operations in Sudan has forced the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) to reduce rations of pulses [greens and leguminous], sugar and salt for some 3.5 million beneficiaries in that country. While supplies of some commodities such as cereals, which form the major part of general food-distribution rations, have not yet been affected, complete breaks in the supply of other rations are now imminent, WFP said in statement released on Friday [March 10, 2006]. ‘Ration cuts are a last resort, but we simply have no alternative,’ said Bradley Guerrant, WFP Sudan deputy country director. ‘We are cutting amounts of these three items in general food distributions so that we can keep some supplies going for longer. And we need to set aside stocks for the highest priority groups.”
“‘In particular, we are earmarking remaining sugar for feeding centres across Sudan to make sure that malnourished children and pregnant and lactating mothers get this vital part of their diet,” he added. Towards the end of February, WFP said it had received only 4 percent of the US $746 million it needed to feed more than six million people across Sudan in 2006. Even now, WFP has received only 15 percent of its target, leaving the agency critically short of funds.”
“‘[Cash is desperately needed] so that we can continue to move food stocks into place in Sudan, in advance of the rainy season,’ said Guerrant. Roads become impassable during the rainy season, which coincides with the ‘hunger gap,’ or the period before the harvest, when needs peak. ‘If we cannot truck in stocks before the rains start, we are forced to rely on much more expensive airdrops and airlifts,’ he added.” (UN Integrated Regional Information Networks, March 13, 2006)
In a communication to senior aid officials at the UN, Jan Egeland noted (March 10, 2006) the scale of the broader shortfall in humanitarian funding for Darfur: of the $650 million that the United Nations believes it requires for 2006, only $130 million has been committed—less than 20 percent of what is needed. It is not at all clear where the more than $500 million in additional funds will come from. “These shortfalls are extremely troubling given the overwhelming needs and deteriorating conditions in many areas,” wrote Egeland, adding that the financial commitments that have been made “are most welcome but are not nearly enough to maintain the largest humanitarian operation in the world.” He went on to note that,
“A number of major agencies are warning of pipeline breaks, cuts in essential services, including health and water, and the closure of entire field offices. Yet again, we are rapidly running out of time to preposition relief supplies before the onset of the rainy season.”
And most compellingly, we have the grim roster of those who can no longer be reached at all:
“UNICEF estimates that over 100,000 internally displaced persons and 71,000 conflict-affected people in host communities cannot be reached due to ongoing conflict in North Darfur. In West Darfur, the situation is worse, with more than 184,000 displaced people and about 209,000 members of host communities isolated by poor security.” (“Rural populations at risk as Darfur violence escalates,” UN Integrated Regional Information Networks [dateline: Nyala, South Darfur], March 9, 2006; the URL for this exceptionally important dispatch is http://www.irinnews.org/report.asp?ReportID=52098&SelectRegion=East_Africa)
To this total of over half a million people beyond humanitarian reach because of Khartoum’s orchestrated, genocidal violence we must add hundreds of thousands more from South Darfur state.
WAITING FOR DEATH
What does it feel like to be in Darfur or eastern Chad, sensing impending destruction? What thoughts pass through the minds of those who have been abandoned to die from violence, malnutrition, or disease? We can’t know, but Nicholas Kristof of the New York Times—during his sixth visit to the region—recently offered as clear and compelling an answer as we are likely to receive (dateline: Koloy [Chad], March 12, 2006):
“Politely but insistently, the people in this town explained that they were about to be massacred. ‘The janjaweed militias have already destroyed all the villages east of Koloy,’ Adam Omar, a local sheik, explained somberly. ‘Any moment, they will attack us here.’ This remote market town of thatch-roof mud huts near the Chad-Sudan border is on the front line of the genocidal fury that Sudan has unleashed on several black African tribes. After killing several hundred thousand people in its own Darfur region, Sudan’s government is now sending its brutal janjaweed militias to kill the same tribes here in Chad.”
Noting international paralysis, and that “the African Union can’t even muster the courage to call for immediate UN peacekeepers,” Kristof grimly concludes: “So the people here are probably right to resign themselves to be slaughtered—if not sooner, then later.”
Such resignation can certainly be found throughout Darfur—and increasingly eastern Chad, where many tens of thousands of people have been displaced or killed. We have no way of knowing because there is so little in the way of humanitarian presence.
But given how little the world cares about the lives that have already been lost, and those that are now doomed to destruction, numbers would seem to matter little. The disgraceful reporting on mortality in Darfur, with supposedly distinguished news organizations citing “180,000 deaths”—a figure promulgated first by the UN a full year ago, and representing even then only deaths from disease and malnutrition over the preceding 18 months—is emblematic. Darfuri lives are not worth protecting or evidently even counting—no matter that they have been engulfed in a holocaust, and remain ongoing victims of the ultimate human crime.
The AU decision in Addis Ababa marks no new abandonment, no new act of cowardice or shame; it merely serves to ratify all too fully the international acquiescence before genocide in Africa, “yet again.”