Minni Minawi faction of SLA now actively coordinating with Khartoum’s military forces in North Darfur
July 11, 2006
The multiples failures of the African Union mission in Darfur have for the past week been spectacularly on display, even as the security challenges in protecting civilians and humanitarian operations grow daily greater. The AU has virtually collapsed as an effective force in much of Darfur, almost on the eve of a donors’ conference in Brussels that is supposed to determine how to sustain AU operations—financially and politically. Despite the tactful commendations of AU efforts that have in the past come from various quarters, the widely understood truth is that this desperately under-manned and under-equipped force is failing in ever more significant ways. It is demoralized, fearful, and attempting less and less in the way of civilian protection. At the same time, the AU leadership is shamefully refusing to speak publicly about the widening violence in North Darfur, which increasingly involves military cooperation between the Sudan Liberation Army (SLA) faction of Minni Minawi and Khartoum’s regular forces.
The murderous and brutal Minawi, who alone signed the ill-fated Darfur Peace Agreement in Abuja (Nigeria), finds himself increasingly isolated—from many of his own commanders, from the SLA faction of Abdul Wahid el-Nur, and from the people of Darfur. Minawi is a Zaghawa (perhaps 8% of Darfur’s population), and there is an increasingly destructive ethnic animus defining current violence, especially in North Darfur. Tensions are particularly high between the Zaghawa (many of whom resent what Minawi has done to inflame ethnic conflict) and the Fur (the largest ethnic group in Darfur, perhaps 30% of the population). Abdel Wahid is a Fur, and though respected for his refusal to sign on to a peace agreement that does not address adequately either security or compensation issues, he is increasingly isolated and viewed as ineffective. This has led to the creation of a new SLA faction, led by many commanders who have deserted both Minawi and Abdel Wahid, and who enjoy broader support among Darfuris.
This new SLA faction, also joined by some elements of the much smaller Justice and Equality Movement, is the force that on July 3, 2006 attacked Hamrat al-Sheikh, a town on the road between Khartoum and the major town of el-Obeid (capital of North Kordofan Province). This signaled both a refusal to accept the terms of the ceasefire defined by the Darfur Peace Agreement, and a deep anger at international refusal to look honestly at how badly security has deteriorated since the May 5, 2006 signing of the DPA. The agreement, doomed from the beginning when only Khartoum and the Minawi SLA faction signed, has collapsed, and Darfur is on the verge of massive and anarchic violence. This not only puts the lives of some 2.5 million displaced persons and refugees at risk; it endangers the humanitarian operations on which almost 4 million people in Darfur and eastern Chad are precariously dependent. Just this week Oxfam International became the most recent humanitarian organization to suspend operations (those of its two offices in North Darfur).
Yet again the head of UN humanitarian operations, Jan Egeland, has sounded the most urgent warning about the intolerable levels of insecurity in Darfur. Nicholas Kristof of the New York Times (July 9, 2006) quotes Egeland declaring, ”’We cannot play with the lives of our own staff beyond a certain limit.’ ‘Our people in the field are increasingly desperate.’ ‘I think we’re headed toward total chaos,’ Egeland said. ‘Will we have collapse in nine days, nine weeks, nine months? I don’t know. But the situation is unsustainable.'”
THE AU DONORS’ MEETING: DOES THE AU HAVE A PLAN?
Aegis Trust (UK) last week published an important press release, indicating that, “contrary to widespread media reports, the AU will pull its troops out of Darfur on 30 September  unless Sudan gives its consent for a transition to a UN force.” The Aegis Trust release included a series of remarkable comments by Ambassador Baba Gana Kingibe, Head of the African Union Mission in Darfur:
“‘The African Union Peace and Security Council did take a decision that the mandate of the African Union forces would be ended on the 30th of September ,’ he stated in a speech at the Royal United Services Institute, London. ‘There is no change to that date.'”
“Addressing mistaken reports that the AU had now decided to stay on to 31 December , he added, ‘What could have been misunderstood as a change of that date to the end of the year is the address given by Kofi Annan, in which he requested that the African Union should consider extending its mandate to 31st December . But at the end of the day, 30th of September was retained.'”
“Speaking to the Aegis Trust, Ambassador Kingibe stated, ‘If the Government of the Sudan gives its consent for a UN deployment, we will be willing to hold the fort until such time as the UN is ready and able to come in.'” (Aegis Trust press release, July 7, 2006; http://allafrica.com/stories/200607070851.html)
Kingibe is being disturbingly disingenuous in suggesting that the AU had not previously signaled clearly its willingness to continue in Darfur until December 31, 2006. During the recently concluded AU summit in Banjul (Gambia), Reuters reported directly the comments of Congo Republic president Sassou Nguesso, who holds the revolving AU presidency:
“UN Secretary General Kofi Annan asked AU leaders at a weekend summit to extend their mission in Darfur, where it is trying to provide security for some of the 2.5 million people living in camps after being displaced by three years of murder, rape and pillage. ‘On the request of the secretary general, the African Union will continue to fulfill its mission until the end of the year,’ said [Nguesso].” (Reuters [dateline: Banjul, Gambia], July 3, 2006)
Kingibe is trying to rewrite very recent history by declaring that such words are subject to misunderstanding: they are subject only to expedient and dishonest denial.
This conspicuous disingenuousness is of a piece with the general AU incompetence in responding to the Darfur crisis. Every significant deadline stipulated in the May 5, 2006 Darfur Peace Agreement (DPA) has slipped, most consequentially the June 23, 2006 deadline for Khartoum to submit a concrete plan for disarming and neutralizing the Janjaweed. The AU has had no effective response to these serial failures. To this writer’s knowledge, no one has yet see Khartoum’s reported plan on Janjaweed disarmament, almost three weeks after it was due to be submitted to the AU. Michael Ranneberger of the US State Department has very recently indicated that US officials, who pressed excessively for a rapid conclusion to the Abuja negotiations, have not seen the plan that was key to whatever chance of success the DPA might have had.
Diplomatic haste has only created the conditions for increased human destruction.
The AU is also reported by a number of very well-informed sources as internally divided in its approach to the July 18, 2006 donors’ conference in Brussels, with plans and proposals for sustaining the AU force a shambles. This fact makes Ambassador Kingibe’s responses, as reported by Aegis Trust, especially alarming: they suggest an expedient maneuvering on the part of some within the AU to secure leverage for both financial demands and the key political demand, a UN handover. Here it is important to realize that until relatively recently the AU Peace and Security Council would approve a handover of its mission to the UN only “in principle.” Now, confronting its increasingly disastrous failure in Darfur, the AU is in effect threatening the international community: “Do as we say or we will pull out on September 30, 2006.”
This threat is made with the full knowledge that the UN Department of Peacekeeping Operations is now discussing, and only as a possibility, a UN deployment that would not take place until 2007—and even this terribly belated deployment would require a Security Council resolution authorizing a UN peace support operation under Chapter 7 of the UN Charter. Such a resolution is nowhere in sight, and forceful comments by both the Chinese and Russian ambassadors to the Security Council make clear that there are enormous political hurdles to authorization that can’t possibly be surmounted in the next week. Something must give in this diplomatic and peacekeeping stalemate, but it is not at all clear what. Meanwhile, the people of Darfur are held dangerously hostage to both the AU and international refusal to confront the crisis honestly.
VIOLENCE IN NORTH DARFUR
A series of recent news reports, none yet sufficiently full, as well as UN reports and confidential intelligence paint a terrifying picture of the security situation in North Darfur. Most significantly, there are many, mutually confirming reports that the Minni Minawi faction of the SLA has been supported by regular military forces of the Khartoum regime in attacks on his SLA rivals and on civilians perceived as supporting these rivals. Minawi’s SLA is becoming the “new Janjaweed” in the eyes of many Darfuris. This vicious collaboration is being justified, in utterly specious fashion, as “DPA implementation,” directed against “outlaws” (those who have not signed or do not support the fatally flawed DPA). Nothing will destroy the last vestiges of credibility in the DPA more rapidly than such continued assaults.
It is also reported, by several highly reliable sources, that Khartoum has deployed in this fighting at least one military helicopter that bears the AU logo and is painted in the white color defining AU vehicles and aircraft. This has already produced a very recently shooting attack on an actual AU patrol helicopter. Khartoum’s use of this disguised helicopter(s) is a clear violation of international law, and constitutes a war crime. Disgracefully, the AU has not spoken publicly about this exceedingly dangerous action, even as there are many scores of witnesses, including UN personnel, who can confirm the facts. This contributes to an already seething anger among people in the camps, who neither trust the AU nor believe the AU mission is committed to serious protection efforts.
Moreover, as one particularly well-placed source remarks, the perception that the AU has sided with the Minawi faction of the SLA is further encouraged by the AU practice of offering “direct support to Minni Minawi, [including providing] housing and driving him and his commanders around” (nominally in the interests of DPA implementation). For these and other reasons, festering resentment of AU impotence has now grown into a full-blown rage that makes various elements of the AU mission impossible, especially in camps with large concentration of Fur displaced persons. In a growing number of camps, the AU patrols simply dare not enter. The camps are also scenes of increasing separation along ethnic lines, with Fur and Zaghawa “ghettoes” appearing in locations where they are both present. The potential for growing ethnic violence throughout Darfur, deliberately and consistently encouraged by Khartoum, is enormous.
If for no other reason, the growing perception of the AU as having taken sides with Minni Minawi—and thus against those oppose Minawi’s faction–fatally compromises the AU mission. In the absence of robust international intervention—with or without Khartoum’s assent, as Aegis Trust rightly argues under present circumstances—millions of civilians will experience the effects of rapidly declining security and the consequences of growing numbers of humanitarian suspensions and evacuations.
A survey of reported violence in North Darfur from the July 9, 2006 UN “sit rep” (situation report) gives some sense of how radically unstable the security situation has become; the terse reporting does little to convey the larger implications, but comes from authoritative on-the-ground UN personnel:
“On 8 July , a G-19 senior field commander (SLA/AW (Abdul Wahid)) reported that Birmaza (G-19 controlled-area) was under attack by SLA/MM (Minni Minnawi) rebels. A Government Antonov aircraft joined by a white helicopter was observed circling the area. Further investigations revealed that it was a white Government helicopter which passed over the town heading in the direction of Muzbat. Comment: As a result of this renewed and potential ongoing fighting, [UN security] issued warnings to the UN Mission in Sudan, UN Agencies and nongovernmental organizations through OCHA that operations in the above reported areas should be reviewed and suspended until further notice.”
“On 8 July , an [African Union mission] helicopter was shot at by unknown individuals carrying an unidentified projectile(s) 12 km Northeast of Shangil Tobayi. The helicopter was completing an air patrol at a 100 meter altitude with about 12 passengers. No further information is available. Comment: [UN security] has temporarily restricted flights to the area.”
“On 8 July , a G-19 senior field commander confirmed that SLA/Minni Minawi rebels, allegedly supported by SAF [Khartoum’s regular military] troops from El Fasher, attacked and captured Umm Sidir (G-19 controlled-area, 90 km North of El Fasher).”
“On 7 July , SLA/Minni Minawi rebels attacked Al Aradib, Ashara, and Faiga villages, both under SLA/AW (Abdul Wahid) influence. Three people were reported killed and one was injured.”
“On 5 July , the SLA/MM and SLA/AW factions were reported fighting in the SLA/AW controlled village of Tina (12 km Southwest of Tawilla). The SLA/MM rebels were based from Susuwa (Southwest of Tawilla). A SLA/AW senior field commander had also participated in the fight with his forces.”
“On 5 July , SLA/MM rebels attacked the villages Dalim, Kathim, and Birka (about 40 km Northwest of El Fasher) which were most likely under SLA/AW influence. The number of injured civilians and large number of stolen livestock is unconfirmed.”
“[The African Union mission] reported that on 6 July , a town leader of Birka village (60 km West of Tawilla) was killed by SLA/MM rebels during the on going fighting between SLA/MM and SLA/AW in the Korma general area. The SLA/MM rebels travelled into the town via Dali IDP Camp (Southwest of Tawilla).”
“Intra-SLA fighting in and around Tawilla has forced the displacement of about 4,000 IDPs. On 8 July , the [African Union mission] reported that about 650 new Internally Displaced Persons, [IDP’s] mostly women and children, arrived in Zam Zam camp who fled from the ongoing fighting between SLA factions in the Tawilla area. All newly arrived IDPs belong to the Fur tribe and fled from 21 villages; Koyo, Kera, Kosheny, Sandingo, Karfolla, Dady, Hashaba, Saby, Khor Mally, Dybis, Hymeda, Dolma, Dawa, Wadadi, M Saleat, Dally, Nemera, D Ba, Carhma, Daybo and Abdia.
[***NB***] The IDPs alleged that the SLA/Minni Minawi faction was indiscriminately killing, raping women, and abducting Fur civilians in Tawilla. One IDP alleged he witnessed fifteen young women being raped and then killed. He further alleged that about forty men were kidnapped and believed to have been executed. The general security situation was reported to be tense.” (UN sit rep, July 9, 2006)
But it is not only North Darfur that is enduring intolerable levels of civilian and humanitarian insecurity. Of South Darfur, the same UN sit rep notes:
“On 7 July , two IDP’s from Kalma Camp were shot dead near Arbaha village (400 meters Northeast of Kalma Camp).”
“On 7 July , two armed men in military uniform attacked a convoy of three UN Agency contracted commercial trucks carrying humanitarian supplies from El Obeid to El Geneina. They beat the drivers and looted about 75,000 SD and their mobile phones.”
“On 6 July , armed men attacked an UN Agency contracted commercial truck in Tortahan (53 km Southeast of Nyala) with 24 passengers while travelling from El Deain to Nyala. The truck overturned and 17 passengers were injured.”
“On 6 July , armed militia attacked the village of Saadon (2 km North of Gereida). In retaliation, Masalit tribesmen pursued them; however, eleven of the tribesmen were killed and seven wounded.”
[For an especially well-informed overview of the murderous alliance between Minawi’s SLA and the Khartoum military, as well as the ineptitude of the AU leadership in responding to the growing crisis in North Darfur, see Julie Flint, “Where is the African Union in Darfur?” Daily Star [Lebanon], July 12, 2006; http://www.dailystar.com.lb/article.asp?edition_id=10&categ_id=5&article_id=73868; Flint has been able to confirm through Darfuri sources on the ground many of the Minawi SLA attacks reported by the July 9 UN “sit rep”]
There will be many more such “sit reps” in the near future, and without robust humanitarian intervention, they will continue indefinitely. At the same time, the African Union is speaking out about none of this, to the intense dismay of the UN, humanitarian organizations, human rights organizations, and other observers of Darfur. The AU seems adrift, leaderless, and increasingly intimidated and inert in the field. The number of patrols per platoon is diminishing; in most places the AU no longer conducts “firewood patrols” to protect women and girls from rape when they leave the camp to collect essential firewood; and the overall effectiveness of patrols mounted has declined precipitously.
In the provision of security, Darfur has effectively been abandoned.
AGREEMENTS MADE WITH THE NATIONAL ISLAMIC FRONT REGIME
This writer has for the past two years been severely critical of Jan Pronk, Special Representative of the UN Secretary General for Sudan (see most recently the conclusion to “Darfur: An Abject Abandonment of the ‘Responsibility to Protect,'” July 4, 2006, http://www.sudanreeves.org/index.php?name=News&file=article&sid=111).
Very recent disingenuous comments by the UN’s Pronk on the failure of the Darfur Peace Agreement (DPA) continue to justify such harsh criticism. For these comments must be seen for what they are: UN political efforts at self-exculpation in the face of a collapsing DPA that was eagerly endorsed by Pronk at the time of its signing. Now, two months later, Pronk admits,
“violence in Darfur had escalated after a May peace deal and violations of the accord had been ignored. [ ] ‘You can compare this situation … I would say to March, February, before we had the peace agreement,’ Pronk told a news conference, referring to violence in Darfur in Sudan’s west. ‘It’s not dying out, it’s increasing at the moment.'” (Reuters [dateline: Khartoum], July 6, 2006)
Reuters also reports that Pronk “renewed his call for additions to the May 5,  agreement, such as international security guarantees and greater compensation for war victims, despite recent objections from the Sudanese Foreign Ministry.” But of course Khartoum signed the May 5 agreement in Abuja only because it did not contain meaningful “international security guarantees” and because the compensation provisions of the DPA were shamefully inadequate. “Additions” now will be adamantly rejected by Khartoum’s National Islamic Front regime, and it is disingenuous of Pronk not to admit as much.
Reuters, in the same dispatch, reports that,
“Fighting has continued despite the deal, and key deadlines, including receiving Khartoum’s crucial plan to disarm pro-government militias by June 22,  have been missed with no repercussions.”
Pronk’s response to these realities is to insist that with respect to the DPA,
“‘The first priority is implementation, implementation, implementation … It’s non-implementation of the text which is creating a problem, not the text,’ [Pronk] added.”
But this suggestion that the “text” of the DPA is “unproblematic” is also deeply disingenuous: Pronk refuses to accept that the only reason Khartoum agreed to sign in Abuja was because the “text” contains no meaningful guarantors of “implementation.” The regime was of course happy to sign an agreement that rested entirely on its own non-existent “good faith,” and that envisions no force on the ground in Darfur other than a hopelessly inadequate African Union (which is tasked in multiple ways by the DPA, even as it doesn’t begin to have the resources to undertake these tasks). The failure to meet every stipulated deadline to date has had no consequences for Khartoum—even its failure to provide in timely fashion the text of a plan to disarm and neutralize the Janjaweed. The AU has said nothing about the missed deadlines, and seems completely incapable of pressuring Khartoum to comply.
A “text” without both vigorous guarantees and guarantors is worthless when signed by Khartoum, as southern Sudan has painfully discovered with the Comprehensive Peace Agreement of January 2005. For example, southerner Deng Alor (Cabinet Affairs Minister in the new “Government of National Unity”) recently accused the ruling National Islamic Front (which has renamed itself the National Congress Party) of,
“dragging its feet on implementing last year’s north-south peace deal to delay being forced to share oil revenues. Cabinet Affairs Minister Deng Alor, a member of the former southern rebel Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM), said the ruling National Congress Party (NCP) had hindered work on the formation of commissions meant to implement the deal. ‘Implementation is very slow. On other issues the implementation is not taking place at all. Because of the oil,’ Alor told Reuters.” [ ]
“One of the [peace agreement’s] key tasks is to demarcate a north-south border which would establish control of oil fields. Under the agreement, oil revenues from the south would be split roughly equally between the northern and southern governments. The south would receive no money from fields in the north. Alor said that after an initial acrimonious meeting, the NCP had refused further talks with the petroleum commission, whose mandate includes examining oil contracts and oil output. The NCP currently receives all oil revenues.”
“‘The NCP would like the status quo to continue so that we do not know much about things associated with oil production,’ Alor said, adding that without accurate production figures it would be impossible to divide oil wealth fairly. ‘Our question now is 50 percent of what? This is what the National Congress does not want us to find out,’ he added.” [ ]
“The SPLM has accused the NCP of unilaterally determining the [north/south] border to include oil-rich areas in the north. ‘The [north/south boundary] commission has been formed, but it hasn’t started its work yet. There’s been no progress… There’s no budget for them to start their work. They need money from the presidency to start their work,’ Alor said.”
“The presidency was not immediately available for comment.” (Reuters [dateline: Khartoum], July 5, 2006)
Khartoum is similarly reneging on its commitment to implement the findings of the critical Abyei Boundary Commission, a distinguished international panel that submitted its report a full year ago. As a consequence, the Abyei region remains a flash-point for renewed war in the south. The National Islamic Front is also refusing to disarm the militia groups it has for many years used to destabilize southern Sudan, especially the oil regions. This disarmament was also called for in the Comprehensive Peace Agreement, now over a year and a half old.
Despite recent reports that the Chadian foreign minister will travel to Khartoum to determine whether diplomatic relations can be restored between the two countries, there is no evidence that Khartoum has any intention of abiding by the terms of yet another flouted agreement, the so-called “Tripoli Agreement” that was to have ended cross-border support for insurgency movements by both Chad and Sudan. Indeed, a recent Amnesty International report offers us a highly authoritative account of the terrifying trajectory of violence directed against civilians in eastern Chad, as well as the growing threat to humanitarians responding to the increasingly desperate needs of over 350,000 human beings (“Sowing the seeds of Darfur: Ethnic targeting in Chad by Janjawid militias from Sudan,” June 28, 2006, http://web.amnesty.org/library/Index/ENGAFR200062006?open&of=ENG-TCD).
Amnesty provides a detailed account that supports the claim made last month by the UN High Commission for Refugees: “the janjaweed attacks against Chadians appear to have become more systematic and deadly over the past three months and there is no sign that this pattern will stop” (UNHCR press release [Goz Beida, eastern Chad], June 6, 2006). Amnesty reports:
“Janjawid attacks on communities within this eastern border area of Chad have tended to take two forms. The first type, beginning in 2003, consisted of continual small-scale raids intended primarily to steal cattle, which were generally kept at some distance from the villages. Those guarding the cattle would be killed if they resisted the better-armed Janjawid, but the villages themselves were not attacked.”
“However, as their incursions became more frequent, the Janjawid began directly to attack villages, sometimes repeatedly on successive days or over periods of months, until most of the inhabitants had been killed or forced to flee and the villages had been totally looted. In the area from Adre to Ade, and parts of the area from Wadi Azum to Tissi, this was the last stage in the evolution of attacks before populations, exhausted of possessions, were finally displaced.”
The ethnic animus in the attacks has also been documented by Amnesty:
“The overall result of these attacks is mass displacement. Two major attacks carried out by Janjawid, on 26 September 2005 in Koloy canton and on 3 March 2006 in Wadi Kadjo canton, in particular appear to have been intended to drive local inhabitants from the area, not only to steal their cattle. Both attacks were followed by assaults on the central villages to which those displaced in the earlier attacks had moved in search of refuge.”
“According to local people, these attacks also have racist overtones, similar to those which have been recorded in Darfur, with the Janjawid proclaiming ‘Death to the Nuba”‘ [‘Nuba’ is a derogatory, racist term for ‘Africans’—ER] and comparable threats, or claiming ‘This land is ours.’ This may help explain why Janjawid raids have resulted in villages being totally destroyed and their inhabitants killed or forced to take flight. The pattern suggests that the attacks are intended not only to bring material gain but, more especially, to break the resistance of local people and to force them permanently from their homes.” [ ]
“Two of the survivors of the Bir Kedouas attack described the killings there of 70-year-old Abdelkarim Abdulaye, the local imam, and Husna Juma, a girl aged three:
‘People were in the village when the Janjawid arrived at 10am. They were more than 300 and they were divided in three columns which were heading in different directions. They were ululating and shouting “We come to kill the black slaves.” They came in the houses and ran after those who were trying to flee. I was running away next to the imam who was very old. He was shot four times in the back and in the leg. They then burned the village. Only 10 out of 100 houses remained intact. The villagers fled to the village of Muruske.'”
The complicity of the Khartoum regime in these savage predations is also addressed by Amnesty. Speaking of the hostile relations between N’Djamena and Khartoum, Amnesty notes:
“The Janjawid, as a force armed and supported by the Sudanese government, has acted effectively as a proxy for that government in creating instability in eastern Chad, thereby weakening the position of President Idriss Deby’s government in N’Djamena. The human cost, however, of the Janjawid’s actions has been incalculable and threatens to become still graver.”
As Amnesty also rightly notes:
“The government of Sudan bears a heavy responsibility for continuing abuses by the Janjawid, who would be unable to function without its support, including the guarantee of a safe haven inside Sudan. The Sudanese government may not exercise total control over all Janjawid forces but the close nexus between them is evidenced, among other things, by the government’s incorporation of large numbers of Janjawid into various divisions of its armed forces, such as the Popular Defence Force (PDF), the Border Intelligence Guard and the Reserve Police. And it has done so, apparently, without taking any steps to ensure that Janjawid responsible for perpetrating human rights violations are excluded.”
And while Amnesty does not find evidence of direct military involvement in attacks within Chad by Khartoum’s regular forces, an earlier report from Human Rights Watch found precisely such evidence:
“Human Rights Watch recently documented dozens of coordinated cross-border raids by Janjaweed militias and Chadian rebels supported by the Sudanese government from bases in Darfur. Since December , their attacks on Chadian border villages have resulted in dozens of civilians killed and injured, and displaced thousands of people in eastern Chad. Sudanese government troops, vehicles, and aerial support were used during several of the attacks in December.” (Human Rights Watch, Press release, February 10, 2006)
The HRW report of February 2006 declared further:
“Witness accounts and physical evidence indicated that government of Sudan troops and helicopter gunships participated directly in attacks, while many people reported seeing Antonov aircraft approach from Sudan, circle overhead, then return to Sudan in advance of Janjaweed raids.” (“Darfur Bleeds: Recent Cross-Border Violence in Chad,” February 2006, http://www.hrw.org/backgrounder/africa/chad0206/).
It was on February 8, 2006 that NIF President Omar el-Bashir and Chadian President Idriss Deby signed the “Tripoli Agreement,” which obliged Khartoum to halt all such attacks and support for Janjaweed cross-border raids. Though it is difficult to conceive a more worthless guarantor of such an agreement than Libyan President Muamar Ghaddafi, Khartoum’s open flouting of all terms of the agreement certainly prevented any possible diminishment of violence directed against civilians or the endangering of humanitarian operations in eastern Chad.
The continuous decline in security in Darfur since last September, and the corresponding attenuation of humanitarian access and capacity, has culminated in a precipitous fall-off that cannot now be reversed. It is, as Jan Egeland has repeatedly declared, only a matter of time before humanitarian operations collapse, both in Darfur and eastern Chad—and the time-frame is continually foreshortened by events. Camps for displaced persons are unstable tinderboxes of rage and despair. Ethnic hatred has been successfully fanned by Khartoum, and this would seem the real legacy of the Darfur Peace Agreement, approved by only a rump of the Zaghawa-dominated SLA faction of Minni Minawi. The African Union is now completely ineffectual on the ground, and has become the target of ever-greater resentment and hatred on the part of the people they are supposed to protect. The AU has no political vision for Darfur, no ability to make the DPA work, and is belatedly desperate for a UN turnover, even as the UN Security Council shows no signs of responding to the current catastrophic chain of events.
As the rainy season deepens in Darfur and eastern Chad, exacerbating the already acute logistical difficulties of humanitarian relief, malnutrition is increasing and compromised water sources are becoming more numerous. The threat of a now well-established cholera presence also continues to loom large. Massive human destruction, on an unprecedented scale, is impending throughout Darfur.