On Thursday, August 31, 2006, the UN Security Council passed Resolution 1706, “inviting” the National Islamic Front regime in Khartoum to allow a large and robust UN to enter Darfur with the primary goal of protecting acutely vulnerable civilians and humanitarians. This force (between 23,000 and 24,000 troops, police, and Formed Police Units) could at the very least begin to halt the accelerating slide toward cataclysmic human destruction, destruction that UN aid chief Jan Egeland warned the Security Council on August 28, 2006 could reach to hundreds of thousands of human deaths.
The same day that Egeland issued his terrifying warning—and while US Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs Jendayi Frazer continued her humiliating two-day wait to meet with National Islamic Front President Omar el-Bashir—Khartoum launched its long-anticipated military offensive in North Darfur. Early reports from the ground suggest that the offensive is massive (see August 30, 2006 dispatch from el-Fasher, North Darfur by New York Times correspondent Lydia Polgreen, at http://www.sudantribune.com/spip.php?article17368); and already there is clear evidence that the offensive entails serious violations of international law and war crimes. Amnesty International reports that Khartoum’s military strategy is following the same pattern of destruction that characterized offensives during the most violent phase of the genocide (2003-2004):
“Amnesty International fears for the safety of all civilians living in areas under the control of armed rebel groups, as a new Sudanese government military offensive against such areas is underway in North Darfur state and is threatening in South Darfur state.”
“Amnesty International has documented how in its conduct of war, the Sudanese government has routinely used indiscriminate and disproportionate bombings on civilians and how the Janjawid, government militias operating alongside the Sudanese army, target exclusively civilians. In such attacks, civilians are usually killed, injured, raped, abducted or forcibly displaced. The current attacks seem to follow the same pattern.” (Amnesty International Index: AFR 54/045/2006; August 31, 2006)
Notably, Amnesty warns of the threat of a military offensive in South Darfur; many sources on the ground, including UN personnel, are also warning of Khartoum’s continuing military ambitions in the Jebel Marra and Jebel Moon areas of West Darfur. In the words of European Union Darfur envoy Pekka Haavisto:
“‘It could be a matter of days or weeks for the conflict to escalate into a widespread military operation,’ Haavisto told journalists on his return from a visit to Darfur.” [ ]
“‘We think this [military offensive by Khartoum] does not comply with the May [2006 Darfur] peace agreement, and appears as a vast military operation,’ [Haavisto said] … ‘Some representatives say the intention is to wipe the non-signatories (of the peace agreement) off the map.'” (Reuters [dateline: Helsinki], September 1, 2006 “Darfur conflict could spread in days—EU”)
This is Khartoum’s bluntest answer to the UN “invitation” to allow into Darfur a meaningful international peacekeeping force. To be sure, there have been public responses from Khartoum’s genocidaires as well. In the words of the BBC, “the Sudanese government has vehemently rejected a UN Security Council resolution that would send a UN force to Sudan’s Darfur area”; the BBC cites a report from the state-controlled SUNA news agency: “‘The Sudanese people will not consent to any resolution that will violate its sovereignty'” (BBC [dateline: Khartoum], August 31, 2006).
More consequentially, Ali Osman Taha (Second Vice President and enormously powerful with the National Islamic Front) has expressed his opposition to UN deployment:
“Sudanese vice-president Ali Osman Taha vowed that the regime would maintain its opposition to a United Nations peacekeeping force for Darfur and hailed Hezbollah as a model of resistance, said reports on Friday [September 1, 2006]. Taha was quoted as saying: ‘We have options and plans for confronting the international intervention.'”
“[Taha] cited the toll Shi’ite militant group, Hezbollah, had ‘exacted in the ranks of the army of the Zionist enemy’ in this summer’s devastating conflict in Lebanon ‘due to the determination, patience and political will the party enjoys.’ The vice-president said: ‘We are prepared for all possibilities,’ adding that ‘the battle with the international community requires patience and strict precautions.’ He called for ‘an effective working programme and strenuous action’ to oppose the UN force approved by the Security Council on Thursday [August 31, 2006].”
“Taha was the third government official to speak out against the Security Council’s decision to take over the longstanding African Union peacekeeping mission in Darfur if Khartoum approved.” (Agence France-Presse [dateline: Khartoum], September 1, 2006)
Taha had earlier clearly signaled to the international community that Khartoum would accept a UN force if a peace agreement were reached in Abuja, Nigeria. The Darfur Peace Agreement (May 5, 2006) was in fact accepted with alacrity by the regime, given its all-too favorable terms; but having secured the desired agreement, and accompanying international praise for making peace, Khartoum has subsequently shown no concerns about reneging on Taha’s commitment to accepting UN troops. Indeed, presidential advisor on Darfur, and chief negotiator in Abuja, Majzoub al-Khalifa could not have been more explicit:
“The [NIF] presidential advisor responsible for Darfur, Majzoub al-Khalifa, told Al Jazeera television that the [UN Security Council] resolution was completely rejected by Sudan. ‘We completely reject this resolution…which is illegal,’ he said. ‘This resolution is opposing the Darfur peace agreement.'” (Reuters [dateline: Khartoum], August 31, 2006)
Understandably, al-Khalifa has little to say about how the current military offensive in North Darfur, and other military actions throughout Darfur, comport with the terms of the Darfur Peace Agreement (DPA). In fact, Khartoum has (with ample assistance from the crumbling African Union mission) refused to meet any of the most meaningful deadlines in the DPA, particularly those bearing on security issues—the key to any possible success for a peace agreement. The UN’s “Darfur Peace Agreement Monitor” (July 2006) catalogs many of these highly consequential failings (see my synopsis of these at http://www.sudanreeves.org/index.php?name=News&file=article&sid=116).
Most perversely, instead of accepting the need for an international force to provide security in Darfur, the Khartoum regime has proposed its own security plan. Assistant Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Hedi Annabi has reported on this “plan” to the Security Council (August 17, 2006):
“the plan does not indicate a willingness on the part of the Government of Sudan to agree to a transition to a United Nations operation in Darfur. In addition, the plan seeks to address the security situation outside the framework of the relevant Darfur Peace Agreement (DPA) bodies. In particular, it envisages the combined deployment of 26,500 additional Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF) and Sudan Liberation Movement (SLM)/Minni Minawi troops to Darfur by the end of the year. As members of this Council will appreciate, this would not only be inconsistent with the DPA’s restriction on military deployments outside of agreed areas of control, but would also violate the arms embargo imposed by the Security Council in paragraph 7 of resolution 1591 (2005).” (Paragraph 8)
A great many of these additional 26,500 troops and SLA/Minni Minawi forces have already been deployed in the current and impending military offensives.
HOW THE US AND UK WOULD “SPIN” THESE REALITIES
Despite Khartoum’s launching of a major military offensive in North Darfur shortly before passage of the UN Security Council peacekeeping resolution, despite the regime’s continuing adamant refusal to accept a UN peacekeeping force, both the US and the UK (co-sponsors of the resolution) feel obliged to celebrate their diplomatic “success.” The US State Department declared itself “pleased” with passage of the resolution, and in the words of Assistant Secretary Frazer, “absolutely confident” Khartoum will accept the UN force (Agence France-Presse [dateline: Washington, DC], August 31, 2006). British Foreign Office Minister David Triesman, with spectacular disingenuous, declared on Thursday (August 31, 2006):
“‘The vital thing to say is that this resolution does address the international humanitarian catastrophe and it does address the security issues which would make it possible to do something about that catastrophe,’ Triesman said.” (Reuters [dateline: London], August 31, 2006)
Just as shamefully, Britain’s deputy UN ambassador Karen Pierce declared:
“‘The test before the council today was whether it was prepared to act to mandate that UN mission and assume its responsibilities to the people of Darfur. The adoption of this resolution shows that it is.'” (Reuters [dateline: UN, New York], September 1, 2006)
But as all news reports have made unambiguously clear, the UN resolution does nothing more than “invite” Khartoum to accept the UN peacekeeping mission. Moreover, in the key compromise language inserted to ward of a Chinese or Russian veto of the resolution, the Security Council declares that it “reaffirms” Khartoum’s claims to national sovereignty—precisely the basis on which the regime has steadfastly refused to countenance any move toward UN deployment:
“Reaffirming its strong commitment to the sovereignty, unity, independence, and territorial integrity of the Sudan, which would be unaffected by transition to a United Nations operation in Darfur…” (UN Security Council Resolution 1706, August 31, 2006).
How can it be that Khartoum’s national “sovereignty” would be “unaffected” by deployment of UN forces, when the regime has explicitly declared such deployment to be the most consequential violation of its sovereignty? By “inviting” Khartoum to participate in the decision about actual deployment, and by conferring upon the regime a guarantee of absolute respect for its national “sovereignty,” the UN has paralyzed itself. Any further decision on deploying a UN force to Darfur now rests with Khartoum, which is far too busy with its military offensive and civilian destruction to be distracted from anything but splenetic rejections of this force.
To pretend otherwise is sheer mendacity. US Ambassador to the UN John Bolton declared:
“‘The resolution simply said we invite their consent. I think what we need is acquiescence,’ he said after the vote. ‘It would be nice to have cooperation. But the United Nation’s role should proceed, the planning should proceed, the operational work should be done, and as they say, “silence gives consent.”‘” (New York Times [dateline: UN, New York], August 31, 2006)
But of course Khartoum has been far from “silent”; and in every comment and action it has been the very opposite of acquiescent or consensual; and China has certainly not forgotten language in the resolution guaranteeing “strong commitment to the sovereignty [of Sudan].” Bolton’s assertion is a foolish effort to dignify US impotence. As the New York Times and every other news report has clearly seen, “the resolution specifically calls for the consent of the Sudanese government before troops can be deployed, which Khartoum has steadfastly refused to give” (lead paragraph, New York Times [dateline: UN, New York], August 31, 2006).
The BBC certainly gives a clear view of diplomatic realities at the UN:
“The BBC’s correspondent at UN headquarters in New York, Mike Sergeant, says diplomats acknowledge that [under the terms of the resolution as passed] a UN force could only go to Darfur with the agreement of the Sudanese government.” (BBC [dateline: UN, New York], August 31, 2006)
Reuters reports, similarly unambiguously:
“The document makes clear that the UN force cannot be deployed without the agreement of Bashir’s government [ ].” (Reuters [dateline: UN, New York, August 31, 2006)
Indeed, by pretending that they have accomplished something they have clearly not, the US and UK are actually constraining the possibilities for meaningful action. As Human Rights First has rightly declared:
“‘There is a real danger that a Security Council resolution authorizing a UN force to protect civilians in Darfur will be an empty promise,’ said Maureen Byrnes, Executive Director of Human Rights First. ‘The resolution even risks being counterproductive because it gives the appearance of action when in fact the Khartoum government will have veto power over the UN’s role in providing security.'” (Human Rights First press release, August 31, 2006)
The blunt truth is that nothing of significance has changed with the passage of Security Council Resolution 1706. While the peacekeeping force detailed in the resolution holds the potential to mitigate vast human destruction and to provide critical security for civilians and humanitarians, this potential will be realized only if there is sufficient international commitment to the UN force contemplated, and political will to act without Khartoum’s consent. There are no other alternatives. Suggestions that sanctions, targeted or otherwise, might cause Khartoum’s genocidaires to re-calculate their present actions are not based on any realistic assessment of the vulnerabilities of the regime.
To be sure, sanctions should be imposed on senior NIF officials. But in “urging the Security Council to apply targeted sanctions to the Sudanese officials responsible for blocking UN efforts to protect civilians in Darfur” (in the “event that Sudan does not consent to a UN force”), Human Rights Watch (August 28, 2006) is not offering a serious means of changing the situation on the ground in Darfur in a reasonable period of time. Even were such sanctions to be imposed (over Chinese and Russian objections), they would simply take too long to bite with any fierceness or efficacy.
The International Crisis Group (ICG) is similarly right to urge significant punishment of Khartoum’s genocidaires:
“‘The regime will only change its behaviour in response to realistic threats of punishments,’ the ICG’s Nick Grono and John Prendergast wrote recently. ‘UN member states must change the calculus of self-interest for the Sudanese regime, and one of the most effective ways of doing this is to target its sources of illicit income and unravel the Sudanese leadership’s shadowy web of commercial interests.'” (Globe and Mail [Canada], September 1, 2006)
But the implicit time-frame here does not correspond at all to the overwhelming urgency of the Darfur crisis. As a longer-term strategy for confronting NIF tyranny, it should certainly be pursued vigorously, though there is little prospect of any real effect without significant cooperation from European nations, heretofore entirely missing.
The question inescapably before the international community is whether the will exists to act if Khartoum continues to refuse the large and robust UN force essential to protect civilians and humanitarians who now have no meaningful security anywhere in Darfur. To date, exceedingly few have had the courage of Senator Barack Obama, now traveling in Chad and witnessing first-hand some of the devastation Khartoum has wrought in Darfur and eastern Chad:
“[Senator Barack] Obama suggested the US needs a special envoy to focus on the issue [of Darfur] and the United Nations might possibly have to move in without Sudan’s permission.” (Associated Press [dateline Mile Refugee Camp, eastern Chad] September 2, 2006)
If the world community is truly serious about Darfur—and it has shown no sign to date that it is—then the decision about non-consensual deployment can no longer be skirted, as it has been by not only US, European, UN officials, as well as members of the US Congress, but by human rights, policy, and advocacy groups, and editorial pages. In the grim shadow of Iraq, and following the crisis in Lebanon, there can be little doubt that the political odds of non-consensual deployment, even to halt ferociously renewed genocidal destruction, are very long against. And there are already many who insist upon seeing any such forceful intervention through the lens of Iraq, rather than in the ghastly wake of international failure in Rwanda.
CONSEQUENCES OF INACTION
But let us be clear about the consequences of refusing to intervene in Darfur; let us look squarely and unflinchingly at the massive human suffering and destruction that are inevitable without such intervention. In doing so, we are best guided—yet again—by UN aid chief Jan Egeland, the conscience of the world on Darfur. In his most recent report to the UN Security Council, made the very day (August 28, 2006) that Khartoum launched its brutal military offensive in North Darfur, Egeland was unsparing in his depiction of impending realities:
“Our entire humanitarian operation in Darfur—the only lifeline for more than three million people—is presently at risk. We need immediate action on the political front to avoid a humanitarian catastrophe with massive loss of life. Since 2004 we have seen tens of thousands of deaths each year. If the humanitarian operation were to collapse, we could see hundreds of thousands of deaths. In short, we may end up with a man-made catastrophe of an unprecedented scale in Darfur. Several factors point to this.”
In fact, UN estimates of conflict-affected persons in Darfur and eastern Chad now approach 4 million (3.6 million in Darfur; over 350,000 in eastern Chad). And mortality to date in the Darfur genocide is approximately 500,000 human beings (see my mortality assessment of April 28, 2006, at http://www.sudanreeves.org/index.php?name=News&file=article&sid=102).
“First, since May there has been a dramatic increase of violence, sexual abuse, and displacement. The fighting between, on one side, Government [of Sudan] forces and SLA-[Minni] Minawi, and on the other, the rebels who did not sign the DPA, has resulted in hundreds of deaths, despicable gender based violence, systematic looting, and an estimated 50,000 displaced in the last 8 weeks. The International Rescue Committee issued a press release last week reporting that more than 200 women and girls have been sexually assaulted in the last five weeks alone around only one camp, Kalma in South Darfur.” [ ]
“Farmers in North and West Darfur are reporting that they are being harassed, beaten, whipped, and in some cases shot and killed to prevent them from cultivating the land. Humanitarian agencies have carried out seed distributions in many areas, but as a result of insecurity and population displacement too little planting has taken place to avoid massive humanitarian needs in Darfur well into 2007.”
“The second factor pointing toward the abyss is more deadly attacks on humanitarian staff than ever before. Attacks against humanitarians are at an all-time high, with 9 humanitarian workers killed in the month of July alone. More than 25 UN or NGO vehicles have been ambushed or hijacked in the last two months, with one organization losing three vehicles to hijackings in a two-day period. If this continues, one organization after the other will be leaving Darfur because we cannot expose our staff to such unacceptable risks to their lives.”
“Thirdly, there has been a dramatic reduction in access. Access is at its lowest levels since it all started in 2003-2004. We have no access at all to large areas in the Jebel Marra, northern North Darfur, and northern West Darfur, and inaccessible areas are expanding by the day. Even in some areas where we do have access, organizations have been forced to suspend all but the most essential operations as a result of insecurity.”
“[Humanitarian nongovernmental organizations] in North Darfur are largely confined to the capital [el-Fasher]. Again, key organizations feel paralyzed and have raised the prospect of full withdrawal. Hundreds of thousands would then be left without any humanitarian assistance. The World Health Organization has reported that 40% of the population in North Darfur are not receiving health care as its NGO implementing partners have been forced to withdraw from numerous locations across the state. Vaccinations in the state have dropped from 90% in 2005 to a mere 20% in 2006. The World Food Program [WFP] have reported that 470,000 people across Darfur did not receive their monthly rations in July, up from the 290,000 who could not be reached in June. We can expect that once again this month [August] half a million people will not receive the food on which they depend for their very survival.” [ ]
“The final piece of this bleak scenario is humanitarian funding. Humanitarian requirements in Darfur are facing a shortfall of almost $300 million for this year alone. The humanitarian component of the Work Plan for Darfur is only 63% funded, with many sectors less than 35% funded. The WFP was forced to cut rations to 50% in May, but thanks to some important contributions announced while I was in Darfur, in early June, they were able to raise rations back up to 85%. Without new contributions in the coming weeks, WFP recently warned that it may be forced to introduce new dramatic cuts in rations in October [next month] in order to stretch limited resources into the early months of 2007.”
“In the past months I have repeatedly called for attention to the deteriorating situation in Darfur. As you have heard today our warnings have become a black reality that calls for immediate action: insecurity is at its highest levels since 2004, access at its lowest levels since that date and we may well be on the brink of a return to all-out war. This would mean the withdrawal of international staff from Darfur, leaving millions of vulnerable Darfuris to suffer their fate without assistance and with few outsiders to witness. A return to war would not just affect Darfur. It would severely impact on neighbouring Chad and the Central African Republic, further destabilizing and endangering the entire region.” [ ]
“[The humanitarian gains of the past two years in Darfur] can all be lost within weeks—not months. I cannot give a starker warning than to say that we are at a point where even hope may escape us and the lives of hundreds of thousands could be needlessly lost. The Security Council and member states around this table with influence on the parties to the conflict must act now. Hundreds of humanitarian organizations from around the world are watching what you will be doing or may refrain from doing in the coming weeks.”
(Briefing by Jan Egeland, Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator, on the humanitarian situation in Darfur Source, from the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, August 28, 2006)
This is no ordinary briefing or update; Egeland offers us the starkest, most unforgiving account of what will ensue if the international community does not provide meaningful security to Darfur in the near term. A very great deal of human destruction is now inevitable, and has been for months. But if deployment of a UN force is governed by Khartoum’s dilatory time-table and obstructionist proclivities, it simply will not occur at all. Unconscionable delay is already built into the UN time-table: Hedi Annabi, Assistant Secretary-General for Peacekeeping, has made clear in a recent briefing of the Security Council (August 17, 2006) that a UN force could not deploy before January 2007—at least not without a significant commitment of NATO-quality logistics and transport resources that are nowhere in sight.
But the humanitarian crisis in Darfur is indifferent to political delay and expediency. In the absence of a large, well-equipped, and robust security force, with an appropriate protection mandate, Egeland has made ferociously clear what we will soon see—and much the sooner with Khartoum’s current and impending military offensives:
“Our entire humanitarian operation in Darfur—the only lifeline for more than three million people—is presently at risk.”
“If the humanitarian operation were to collapse, we could see hundreds of thousands of deaths.”
“as a result of insecurity and population displacement too little planting has taken place to avoid massive humanitarian needs in Darfur well into 2007.”
“If this [violence against humanitarian workers] continues, one organization after the other will be leaving Darfur because we cannot expose our staff to such unacceptable risks to their lives.”
“[humanitarian] access is at its lowest levels since [large-scale violence] started in 2003-2004.”
“[Humanitarian nongovernmental organizations] in North Darfur [where Khartoum has launched its current military offensive—ER] are largely confined to the capital. Again, key organizations feel paralyzed and have raised the prospect of full withdrawal. Hundreds of thousands would then be left without any humanitarian assistance.”
“WFP have reported that 470,000 people across Darfur did not receive their monthly rations in July, up from the 290,000 who could not be reached in June. We can expect that once again this month half a million people will not receive the food on which they depend for their very survival.” [ ]
“We may well be on the brink of a return to all-out war. This would mean the withdrawal of international staff from Darfur, leaving millions of vulnerable Darfuris to suffer their fate without assistance and with few outsiders to witness.”
“A return to war would not just affect Darfur. It would severely impact on neighbouring Chad and the Central African Republic, further destabilizing and endangering the entire region.” [ ]
“[The humanitarian gains of the past two years in Darfur] can all be lost within weeks—not months. I cannot give a starker warning than to say that we are at a point where even hope may escape us and the lives of hundreds of thousands could be needlessly lost.”
International acquiescence before the violence that has produced this catastrophe has not gone unnoticed in Khartoum. Indeed, it is almost impossible to overstate the current confidence of the National Islamic Front regime in conducting ongoing genocidal counter-insurgency warfare. The self-abasing spectacle of the US attempting to turn a hortatory Security Council resolution into a diplomatic triumph only reveals to Khartoum weakness, not strength or resolve. For again, the only real effect of Resolution 1706 is to confer determination of a time-table for UN deployment upon the very genocidaires who have just begun a ghastly new exercise in targeted human destruction.
The evidence of NIF brazenness is everywhere. In particular, the intimidation of humanitarian organizations continues unchecked and very little criticized. For example, in response to the International Rescue Committee’s report (August 24, 2006) on the massive upwards spike in rapes at Kalma camp (South Darfur), an inflammatory headline appeared recently in “Sudan Vision,” the NIF propaganda organ:
“Documents Reveal Cooperation Between International Rescue Committee and International Criminal Court, Shows Involvement of IRC in Non-Humanitarian Activities [in Darfur]” (Sudan Vision, via US State Department News Feed, August 29, 2006)
This headline is of ominous significance, given Khartoum’s vicious contempt for the investigations of the International Criminal Court (ICC), and its refusal to grant access to ICC investigators (many of the most senior NIF genocidaires are on the confidential list of 51 names referred to the ICC for investigation by a UN Commission of Inquiry). The accusation of collaboration on IRC’s part—“Involvement in Non-Humanitarian Activities [in Darfur]”—could be prelude to expulsion, severe harassment, or even arrest (the experience last year of officials from Doctors Without Borders/Medecins Sans Frontieres for reporting on rape in Darfur). IRC is one of the most important humanitarian organizations operating in North and West Darfur.
A recent and important report on human rights abuses by Khartoum comes from Sima Simar, UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights in Sudan. Simar finds that since the signing of the north/south Comprehensive Peace Agreement (Nairobi, January 2005), the National Islamic Front regime “has made no progress in the democratic transition process” (Sudan Tribune, August 17, 2006, http://www.sudantribune.com/spip.php?article17135). She also finds, following her assessment mission to Darfur, that:
“‘there is not only a lack of prevention and protection [in Darfur], but also a lack of justice for the crimes that are committed—whether it is killing of civilians, rape, looting or destruction of property. Where impunity is allowed to prevail, protection will remain elusive.'” [ ]
“Ms. Samar stressed that, during recent clashes in Darfur, ‘there is a clear failure to differentiate between combatants and the civilian population.'” (UN News Center, August 27, 2006)
Elsewhere, the NIF regime continues to display a racist contempt for those marginalized Sudanese who have been forced to seek security in the environs of the capital city:
“The United Nations Mission in Sudan (UNMIS) on Thursday expressed grave concern at the forced relocation of 12,000 people from Dar al Salaam camp for displaced Sudanese on the southern outskirts of the capital and the ongoing destruction of their dwellings by Khartoum state authorities. ‘Residents said bulldozers had begun demolishing hundreds of houses at around 8am that [Wednesday, August 16, 2006] morning, with hardly any notice [given] to families,’ UNMIS said in a statement.
“‘A UN verification mission to the area witnessed heavily armed policemen and tanks stationed around the community,’ the statement added. ‘The UN mission also heard gunshots before being refused entry and told to leave the area. Reports have been received of deaths and injuries of residents within the camps, including the death of a child.'” [ ]
“The residents of Dar al Salaam camp have lived on the current site for more than two decades. Many fled from south and western Sudan during a famine in the 1980s. Sudan’s 21-year civil war ended with a peace deal in 2005, but about two million southern Sudanese remain in camps around Khartoum, unable to return home due to a lack of basic services in the south.”
“UNMIS demanded an immediate cessation of the demolitions and requested access to the area to assess the humanitarian situation and the affected population’s needs.” [There has been no report that UN access has yet been granted—ER]
“Forced relocations have become increasingly common in and around Khartoum as land values have skyrocketed, forcing millions of primarily southern Sudanese to move from their small plots of land. The displaced are often forced further away from the city to desert areas and slums that lack even basic services.”
(UN Integrated Regional Information Networks [dateline: Khartoum], August 17, 2006: “12,000 People Affected by Demolitions Outside Khartoum”)
It is imperative in thinking about security in Darfur to consider the equally compelling needs in eastern Chad (see my July 12, 2006 overview in The New Republic: “Is Chad the New Darfur?” at
http://www.sudanreeves.org/modules.php?op=modload&name=Sections&file=index&req=viewarticle&artid=566&page=1). While the scale of the crisis in eastern Chad is not nearly that of Darfur it is nonetheless immense. In a recent press conference, recording the assessment of Kingsley Amaning, United Nations Humanitarian Coordinator for Chad, the UN Department of Public Information reports (August 29, 2006):
“According to the latest figures, there were now some 220,000 Sudanese refugees in 12 established camps in Chad (two thirds of them women and children), along with 30,000 to 40,000 refugees outside of camps. Also in Chad, there were some 48,000 refugees from the Central African Republic and about 55,000 internally displaced persons.”
If we include the more than 50,000 Chadians who have been affected by the Darfur conflict without being displaced, the total conflict-affected population in eastern Chad exceeds 350,000 human beings. And while humanitarian efforts have had a significant effect on what had been high rates of human mortality and morbidity,
“ongoing hostilities had weakened the administrative structures in the area and had affected the flow of goods to the border areas, [Amaning] continued. Hostilities had also created ‘an environment of militarization’ in Chad. In recent months, there had been threats of attacks, and various armed groups had taken 24 vehicles away from the humanitarian personnel. What was clear was that ‘the whole scenario’ in Darfur, where armed groups attacked innocent civilians, was now spreading to Chad. The Government [of Chad] had been reduced to just trying to protect State structures and not the villages.”
Most broadly, Amaning warned that,
“Unless the Darfur crisis was resolved, the instability in the area could affect the whole sub-region, resulting in a new humanitarian disaster.”
But as in Darfur, the unfolding catastrophe in Chad, one of the poorest countries in the world, has its roots in the genocidal conduct of war by Khartoum and its Janjaweed militia allies in Darfur, and in Khartoum’s support for Chadian rebels groups given sanctuary in Darfur. The Janjaweed have been particularly brutal proxies in their attacks into Chad from Darfur. In July, the UN High Commission for Refugees reported that:
“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 International, in a contemporaneous report, described the evolving nature of Janjaweed attacks in Chad:
“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. [ ] All the villagers’ possessions are taken. Sometimes repeat raids over several days ensure that there is nothing and no one left.” (“Sowing the seeds of Darfur: Ethnic targeting in Chad by Janjawid militias,” Amnesty International, June 28, 2006)
No international response to the crisis in Darfur can ignore the urgent and growing security needs in eastern Chad, and the imperative of protecting extremely vulnerable humanitarian workers.
THE GRIMMEST CALCULUS
The ghastly clock of human destruction continues to tick in Darfur, unaffected by Security Council exhortation, by pity or anger or anguish—or by the apparently inexhaustible capacity for disingenuousness, expediency, and outright mendacity on the part of the international “community.” Hundreds of thousands of human beings will die without a fundamental change in these shameful realities. There will be no progress in saving Darfur until the world finds the will to take seriously the need to deploy a significant, robust protection force to Darfur, with or without Khartoum’s consent (on non-consensual humanitarian intervention, see my op/ed in today’s Washington Post, “Genocide Accommodated,” http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/09/01/AR2006090101453.html?sub=new).
The genocidal end-game has begun in Darfur. Given current diplomatic inertia, there will be little to do but estimate the number of dead and dying—and it will be a “long day’s dying” indeed.