The UN Secretary-General has apparently assumed as his primary responsibilities in responding to the Darfur crisis a contrivance of meaningless optimism, a whitewashing of deteriorating security conditions in the greater humanitarian theater, and a purveying of absurd faith in the genocidal regime in Khartoum. Ban Ki-moon now counsels a “patience” that does nothing so much as encourage the gnocidaires of the National Islamic Front to believe that they may “run out the clock” in their ethnically-targeted human destruction in Darfur, and as much of eastern Chad as necessary. At the same time, Ban—and his economic advisor Jeffrey Sachs—now indulge a preposterous account of the origins of the Darfur crisis, one that elides all political history and substitutes instead meteorological explanation (see http://www.sudanreeves.org/Article174.html). The ambitions of self-exculpation are disgracefully in evidence.
Any reasonable overview of humanitarian indicators and human security in Darfur and eastern Chad reveals a crisis of incomprehensible, but still growing dimensions. It is not a “situation,” as Ban Ki-moon would have it: it is a catastrophe. Indeed, eastern Chad appears to be in the throes of violence as great as the most violent phase of the Darfur genocide (2003-2004). But Darfur itself, and its relentlessly growing population of conflict-affected persons, makes a mockery of Ban Ki-moon’s fatuous optimism about “credible and considerable progress” in halting massive human suffering and destruction. At the same time, there is no progress in negotiating a cease-fire, in advancing an inclusive peace process—or in deploying meaningful security forces to Darfur.
Despite Khartoum’s purported “unconditional agreement” to the deployment of an African Union/UN “hybrid force” to Darfur, there is now almost universal skepticism that this “agreement” means anything more than Khartoum’s countless abrogated “agreements” over the past 18 years. Only fools and the obscenely expedient believe that without much greater pressure on the regime any effective international force, “hybrid” or otherwise, will deploy in the coming year, or even two. Critically, there is neither clear agreement on overall command-and-control of the mission nor a willingness by critical troop-contributing countries to commit forces in the absence of UN command of the operation. African Union countries cannot possibly provide either the troops or—critically—the civilian police required by the “hybrid force” as it has been promulgated. The key resources—comprehensive logistics, rapid and widely dispersed air transport and tactical combat aircraft, communications, and intelligence-gathering—are nowhere in evidence. UN funding will no doubt attract some of the traditional troop-contributing countries (e.g., Bangladesh and Pakistan)—presuming Khartoum eventually agrees to accept non-African troops, something it has so far not done unambiguously. But the operation will succeed only if there are critical resources and personnel coming from first-world military powers. And to this Khartoum has and will vehemently object.
This is the context in which Ban Ki-moon appears to have invited an assessment of his first six months as Secretary-General and in responding to the Darfur crisis in particular:
“During the last six months, we have made slow but credible and considerable progress in helping resolve this Darfur situation,’ [Ban] told a news conference in Geneva.” (Reuters [dateline: Geneva], July 2, 2007)
What does the evidence at hand suggest of this self-congratulatory assessment?
This analysis, in two parts, looks first at the security conditions in Darfur and eastern Chad, based on the most recent assessments by humanitarian organizations—UN and nongovernmental—on the ground. This section is meant to serve primarily as a supplement to my recent comprehensive overview of security issues as they affect civilians and humanitarians (“Human Security in Darfur and Eastern Chad: An Overview,” June 11, 2007:
The second part of the analysis assesses the diplomatic efforts around a still merely notional “peace process,” as well as the likelihood of efforts to negotiate a cease-fire (or at least a cease-fire more effective than the present meaningless one). It concludes with a survey of military options for improving civilian and humanitarian security on the ground in Darfur and eastern Chad.
A governing assumption in both parts is that the crisis in eastern Chad has long since ceased to be merely a “spillover” from Darfur: Khartoum’s ethnically-targeted destruction in Darfur may have been the catalyst for much of the violence we are now seeing, but that violence and growing ethnic hatred clearly have a life of their own, and the security crisis in many regions of eastern Chad is now more severe than in much of Darfur. It is perhaps notable that in his self-congratulation on managing the Darfur crisis, Ban Ki-moon is not reported as mentioning the catastrophe in eastern Chad, now affecting some 500,000 civilians. As he did in eliding political history from his meteorological account of the origins of the Darfur genocide, so in speaking about “Darfur” Ban is deeply distorting the broader crisis without devoting sustained and focused attention to eastern Chad.
That no international actors of consequence have rebuked or challenged Ban’s claim of “credible and considerable progress in helping resolve this Darfur situation” is hardly surprising: the Secretary-General’s factitious optimism provides cover for the callous and cowardly behavior of many, including those countries that have postured most conspicuously on Darfur.
SECURITY IN DARFUR AND EASTER CHAD: RELENTLESS DETERIORATION
How does Ban Ki-moon’s claim of “credible and considerable progress” square with the evidence coming from UN and nongovernmental humanitarian organizations? How well has Ban represented the conditions on the ground? How well has he read the reports and assessments by the UN itself?
 “‘The security [in Darfur] is worse today than it has ever been,’ [said UN humanitarian coordinator for Sudan Manuel Aranda da Silva].” (Reuters [dateline: Khartoum], June 8, 2007)
 “UN humanitarian coordinator [for Sudan], Manuel Aranda da Silva, said that despite the May 2006 peace accord [the Darfur Peace Agreement (DPA)], the violence and threat to humanitarian workers continued unabated.” (Agence France Presse [dateline: Al Salaam Camp, North Darfur], May 26, 2007)
 “‘The humanitarian situation in Darfur remains absolutely critical. At any time we could face a catastrophe if the security situation gets worse than it is already,’ Simon Crittle, the [UN World Food Program (WFP)] spokesman in Khartoum, told World Politics Review. ‘WFP would welcome any improvement in the situation that an international force could bring.'” (World Politics Review [dateline: London], June 18, 2007)
 “Car-jackings, abductions and ambushes are hindering aid workers involved the world’s biggest humanitarian relief effort in Sudan’s violent Darfur region, a UN report obtained by Reuters on Monday [June 18, 2007] said. A record 68 aid vehicles were ambushed in the first five months of 2007 and 23 of those attacks involved abductions, the UN security report said. ‘The trend is still going upwards,’ [the report] added. ‘Altogether 77 humanitarian workers have been abducted in that way.'” [ ]
“The report said there was a high risk of being injured in the confrontations between car-jackers and security forces or in car chases or by being abandoned without communications gear, water or protection. With roads becoming more dangerous, humanitarian workers rely for help on aircraft operated by the World Food Programme (WFP), which has enough funding to keep flying until October.” (Reuters [dateline: Khartoum], June 18, 2007)
 “In other developments concerning Darfur, the [UN] spokesperson reported that a UN Mission in Sudan [UNMIS] Human Rights team this week visited Kutum, Kabkabiya, and Al Kuma in the troubled western region of Sudan. ‘In Kutum, the team documented increased attacks on civilians by Arab militia and continued gender-based violence incidents at Fataborno IDP camp,’ said [UNMIS spokeswoman Rahdia] Achouri, adding that UNMIS also documented an attack by Janjaweed on Mutu village on 8 June  resulting in two deaths.”
“Incidents of car-jacking, particularly in West Darfur and South Darfur, and temporary detention of international non-governmental organization (NGO) staff, as well as forced entry into their compounds, continue to be reported, according to UNMIS.”
“In South Darfur, insecurity continues to cause the displacement of thousands of people, causing the population at camps housing them to swell. Ms. Achouri cited the example of Al Salam camp, which had a population of 13,300 in March  and now houses 28,000 internally displaced persons (IDPs), ‘with reports of 5,000 IDPs still on their way.’ ‘Overall, insecurity, including attacks on humanitarian workers, continues to seriously affect humanitarian access, and has a significant impact on the quality of humanitarian interventions by reducing the number of visits, affecting continuity of programmes and presence of humanitarian personnel in outlying areas.'” (UN News Service, New York, June 27, 2007)
 “The United Nations Mission in Sudan (UNMIS) said today that more people had been displaced in the western Sudanese region of Darfur due to the volatile security situation. Around 2,700 newly displaced have arrived to Al-Fasher, the capital of North Darfur from eastern Jebel Marra due to the increasing insecurity there during June.”
“In South Darfur, insecurity continues to cause the displacement of thousands of IDPs to Al Salam camp and to Um Dukhum. Al Salam camp, which had a population of 13,300 in March, now houses over 33,000 IDPs, with over 2,300 IDPs still to be verified. In Um Dukhum, West Darfur, where the nutrition level was reported to be critical.” (Sudan Tribune [dateline: Khartoum], July 4, 2007)
 “The security situation in the southern Darfur town of Gereida [South Darfur] has not improved and militia attacks against civilians, especially women, are continuing, the United Nations Mission in Sudan (UNMIS) said today after wrapping up a four-day visit to the town.[ ] Gereida is a key town [and site of the largest concentration of displaced persons in the world], about 90 kilometres south of the provincial capital, Nyala. The UNMIS team found that Janjaweed attacks outside towns were ongoing and women were still subject to rape and harassment.” (UN News Center, New York, June 18, 2007)
 “The United Nations Mission in Sudan (UNMIS) reports that attacks are continuing on humanitarian convoys operated by international non-governmental organizations (NGOs) in the country’s strife-torn Darfur region. On Tuesday [June 19, 2007], an unknown armed man shot at a vehicle in South Darfur hired by an international NGO, while in West Darfur, two men stopped an international NGO convoy made up of two vehicles with five staff members, and robbed them of personal effects and communication equipment. Also in West Darfur, an international NGO vehicle with four staff members was carjacked on Tuesday.” (UN New Service, New York, June 21, 2007)
Reports from nongovernmental humanitarian organizations are, if anything, grimmer:
 “Aid workers in Sudan’s Darfur region are coming under increasingly frequent and savage attack, with June  among the worst months recorded, according to a confidential security report compiled by an international charity. Thirty serious incidents took place in the last month alone—up from an average of 10 per month one year ago—as armed bandits and militia groups launched daily violent attacks.”
“The report, by a charity working in Darfur, which cannot be identified for safety reasons, reveals that 28 people working for international aid agencies were abducted, while more than 35 vehicles were either hijacked, shot at or stolen. Two people were shot dead and five were injured during attacks. In one of the most daring incidents, a convoy of 37 UN vehicles was ambushed near Kebkabiya in North Darfur. Two of the vehicles were hit by bullets and one of the drivers was injured. Three days later, 15 armed men forced their way into an aid agency compound, assaulting a guard and stealing a vehicle. Dawn Blalock, spokeswoman in Sudan for the UN’s humanitarian co-ordination body, OCHA, said: ‘Security has always been an issue but what has changed in the last year is that humanitarians are now direct targets. It is now a daily occurrence.'”
“A spokesman for Mdecins Sans Frontires [Doctors Without Borders/MSF], which has more than 2,000 staff on the ground in Darfur, said security problems were preventing them from providing the standard of medical aid that is required. ‘It is very difficult for aid workers to move outside the camps, which means it is hard to do exploratory missions to areas where we think there is a need. The situation is very bad and is not getting better,’ he said.” (The Independent [UK], Steve Bloomfield, Africa Correspondent, July 6, 2007)
 Danish Church Aid (DanChurchAid/Denmark) declares bluntly in a July 4, 2007 dispatch: “DanChurchAid continues to work in Darfur despite the worsening security situation. 72,000 people are being provided with access to clean water, latrines, and skills in good hygiene practices. The situation in Sudan’s Western Darfur province is worsening by the day.”
 “[Oxfam spokesman Alun Macdonald declared from Khartoum that Darfur] ‘is certainly the most dangerous it has been.’ ‘Every place we work has had a security incident in the last three months. If it was to get much worse, we would certainly have to consider if we can stay at all.'” (Reuters [dateline London], June 19, 2007)
 “British aid agency Oxfam said on Saturday [June 16, 2007] it was withdrawing permanently from Gereida in Sudan’s Darfur region, home to the largest population of Darfuris driven from their homes over four years of conflict. In a coordinated attack on three aid agency bases in Gereida in December , an aid worker was raped, an Oxfam staff member badly beaten and others subjected to mock executions.” [ ]
“‘Despite our repeated requests, none of the perpetrators [from the Minni Minawi rebel faction] have been held to account, none of the assets stolen in the attack have been returned, and we have not received credible assurances that similar attacks would not take place if we did return,’ said Caroline Nursey, Oxfam’s Sudan programme manager.” (Reuters [dateline: Khartoum], June 16, 2007)
 “Increasing violence in the western Sudanese region of Darfur has cut aid workers’ access to affected civilians to its lowest level since the early days of conflict, the British charity Oxfam said. As a result, large parts of rural Darfur were now completely inaccessible for aid agencies. Humanitarian workers and operations, it added, were increasingly being targeted.”
[For a UN mapping of areas with limited or no humanitarian access, see
“The worsening insecurity had forced many humanitarian agencies to use helicopters. However, these tended to be limited to the larger towns and camps. ‘In villages and rural areas we are often simply unable to get there,’ Oxfam said.
Even inside the camps, it was becoming more insecure. ‘Armed men have entered the camps to harass civilians and aid workers, steal vehicles and loot equipment—all in broad daylight and without fear of getting caught,’ the charity noted.”
“According to the statement, attacks on civilians had forced more than 80,000 out of their homes in the first two months of 2007. ‘Many of these people have had to flee for the second, third or even fourth time as they desperately seek refuge and protection,’ it said. ‘Many of the vast camps are already operating at capacity—some are the size of cities and shelter around 100,000 people.'” [ ]
“The United Nations Mission in Sudan (UNMIS) said another 300 displaced families had arrived in Um Dhukum [West Darfur] last week. ‘A very visible consequence of the continued pace of displacement is the swelling population of IDP [internally displaced persons] camps—many of which can no longer absorb new arrivals,’ UNMIS spokesman George Somerwill told reporters in the Sudanese capital of Khartoum.” (UN Integrated Regional Information Networks [dateline: Nairobi], June 11, 2007)
 [From an extensive interview published by the Yorkshire Post (UK) of June 3, 2007. Jonathan Henry, project director for Doctors Without Borders/Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) in Muhajariya, South Darfur, spoke with blunt honesty in describing a situation he says “has worsened since he arrived in 2005”:
“‘It is still a massive humanitarian disaster and the level of suffering has become dramatically worse. We were the only agency in Muhajariya when I left because the other organisation had evacuated because of security.’ The town has come under heavy attack from government-backed forces. But as is so often the case in times of war, it is the innocent who suffer most. ‘When I left, 90 per cent of the patients in our 60-bed hospital were women and children under five,’ says Henry.” [ ]
“‘There’s a lot of severe malnutrition, with children having lost nearly half their body weight because they can’t access food, and they can’t go and farm the land because it’s too dangerous. We are seeing an increase in water-borne diseases like diarrhoea and respiratory infections. Malaria is endemic in Darfur, we saw outbreaks of meningitis and measles, and mortality rates are increasing.'”
The effects of uncontrolled violence are striking in Henry’s account:
“‘We had staff abducted and seven were beaten despite them all wearing the MSF T-shirts.’ When Muhajariya was attacked last October, its population was about 47,000, but this has dwindled to 13,000. It is a situation mirrored throughout Darfur where the number of indiscriminate attacks has escalated. ‘These so-called militia on camels with AK-47s and rocket-propelled grenades go into towns and torch them shooting men, women and children.'” [ ]
“Henry warns the situation is becoming increasingly chaotic with many refugees flooding into already over-populated areas. Many of the camps, some spread over a 15-mile radius, consist of nothing more than a sea of makeshift tents, with no protection from the elements or local militia. ‘Many of these refugees are dispersed among bushes in the middle of the desert. They drink muddy water from pools full of bacteria that carry water-borne diseases. They have no food because they’ve had to abandon their land, they have no shelter in 50 degree heat and no health care.'”
“‘I think we’re going to be there for a while to come. But unless the agencies get improved access, it’s going to be very difficult to keep delivering this medical response. There is massive fear and massive insecurity in the everyday lives of these people,’ says Henry.”
Such accounts as we have are all the more important because of Khartoum’s efforts to silence these voices:
“Most aid agencies in Darfur cannot speak openly about the humanitarian situation in the violent west of Sudan for fear of jeopardising their work or being thrown out, a Reuters AlertNet poll showed on Thursday [May 24, 2007]. Four-fifths of those surveyed said they could not talk about who was behind attacks on civilians and aid workers in case they upset the government or suffered reprisals from militias and rebels. More than two-thirds would not discuss rape. ‘Speaking about touchy issues might result in restrictions and an order to leave the country which we do not want to risk, considering many people depend upon our support,’ one agency told [Reuters].” (May 24, 2007)
How, Secretary-General Ban, can you possibly discern in these numerous reports “credible and considerable progress in helping resolve this Darfur situation”? If you fail to speak honestly of the terrible human suffering and destruction that are ongoing, if you fail to heed the desperate pleas and anguished reports of humanitarian organizations, you will not be facilitating diplomacy but betraying the profoundly courageous and compassionate humanitarians who have committed and risked so much. You will have betrayed them in deepest consequence. You will, of course, have much company.
Moreover, Secretary-General Ban, to elide the realities of eastern Chad from your responses to Darfur is culpable in equally dismaying ways. Certainly these realities are well reported, if not as fully as we might wish:
 [Doctors Without Borders/Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) recently issued a particularly dire warning (“While attention is focused on Darfur, an emergency situation is unfolding in eastern Chad,” June 8, 2007)]:
“In [eastern] Chad 150,000 IDPs are caught up in a growing humanitarian crisis. Although an MSF survey has confirmed the emergency situation, assistance is still largely insufficient and MSF is coming up against numerous obstacles to increasing its activities. In eastern Chad, repeated deadly attacks on villages over the past 18 months have forced tens of thousands of people to flee their homes. Grouped together in camps where security is not always guaranteed, they live in basic huts and lack food, water and access to medical care.” [ ]
“Until recently, the assistance provided by many organisations in Chad was focused on the refugees arriving from Darfur and neglected the IDP population. In April  the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) finally launched a three month emergency plan, but its objectives in terms of food, water and shelter are inadequate. ‘In Goz Beida, the IDPs receive three to eight litres of water per person per day, whereas they should have 20 litres. Only around 100 malnourished children are receiving treatment, but our survey estimated at least 2,000 children suffering from acute malnutrition,’ explained Franck Joncret, MSF Head of Mission in Chad. ‘This policy of rationed aid for IDPs is unacceptable.'”
 Oxfam has also spoken out forcefully about the consequences of Darfur’s ethnic violence spreading rapidly into Chad:
“‘The humanitarian crisis is quickly deteriorating with increased needs because of the recent numbers of people forced to flee the fighting,’ Oxfam said, pointing out that since last May , ‘the numbers of Chadians forced to flee the fighting in the eastern part of the country has more than quadrupled, from 30,000 to 140,000.'” (Agence France-Presse [dateline: N’Djamena, Chad], May 3, 2007)
The UN figure for Chadian Internally Displaced Persons is now, in early July 2007, approximately 180,000 and rising rapidly.
 “The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) has temporarily suspended operations in an area of eastern Chad bordering Sudan’s Darfur after attackers beat up two local employees, a WFP spokesman said on Friday. The attack took place on Thursday [May 24, 2007] in Chad’s Biltine district at the town of Iriba, from where WFP supplies food to three UN-run camps sheltering 56,000 Sudanese refugees who have fled fighting in Darfur.” [ ]
“‘We feel threatened and targeted and we really want to know that the security situation will improve before we can become fully operational again,’ [WFP spokesman Marcus] Prior said. UN relief agencies were waiting for Chadian army reinforcements to arrive in Iriba.” (Reuters [dateline: N’Djamena], May 25, 2007)
 The views of those Chadians most directly threatened have been rendered with stark clarity:
“Chadian civilians displaced by violence in the east appealed for United Nations military protection on Wednesday [March 26, 2007], but a top UN official said political solutions were need to make peacekeeping effective.” [ ]
“‘There is no security and we live in constant fear,’ Abderamane Adam Issa, a displaced villager living in a camp at Gouroukoum near Goz Beida in southeastern Chad, told Reuters during a visit by UN humanitarian chief John Holmes. [ ] ‘If the Chadian government refuses to send a force we will be killed. It’s that simple,’ Issa said, adding he and many others would flee to other countries if violence did not end.” (Reuters [dateline: Gouroukoum, eastern Chad], March 28, 2007).
 Shortly after the visit by UN humanitarian aid chief Holmes, word emerged of an especially violent, and terribly revealing, attack on civilians. The Los Angeles Times reported (April 11, 2007):
“In the latest sign that violence plaguing Darfur is spilling into neighboring Chad, more than 200 Chadians were feared dead in an attack against two remote farming villages near the Sudanese border, the UN’s refugee agency said Tuesday [April 10, 2007]. Humanitarian workers who reached the villages of Tiero and Marena on Sunday [April 8, 2007] found mass graves, decomposing bodies, scores of dead livestock and hundreds of torched huts, some still smoldering from the March 31,  attack.”
“‘The scale is mind-boggling,’ said Matthew Conway, Chad spokesman for the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, who visited the site. ‘Complete desolation and destruction. And the stench, my God, the stench.'”
“The attacks were among the deadliest to hit southeastern Chad in 18 months, when violence from the Darfur region of western Sudan began spilling over the border. The death toll is estimated between 200 and 400. Officials said exact figures are unclear because many victims had been buried in common graves by the time humanitarian workers arrived.”
Commenting on the spreading ethnically-targeted violence even before the terrible events at Tiero and Marena, Matthew Conway of UNHCR declared: “‘We are seeing elements that closely resemble what we saw in Rwanda in the genocide of 1994.'” (The Observer [UK] [dateline: Chad/Darfur], March 4, 2007).
UN workers are making comparisons to Rwanda, Secretary-General Ban, and you blandly declare that you are making “credible and considerable progress in resolving Darfur situation.” The stench is not simply of rotting human flesh but of a ghastly mendacity and expediency.
Humanitarian indicators are terrifying as well:
 “Epicentre, MSF’s research and epidemiological survey centre, carried out a survey at the end of May in the camps around Goz Beida. This survey revealed that one child in five was suffering from acute malnutrition and that the mortality rates from March 30 to May 20, 2007, were catastrophic.” (Doctors Without Borders/Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF),”While attention is focused on Darfur, an emergency situation is unfolding in eastern Chad,” June 8, 2007)
“Mortality rates from March 30 to May 20, 2007 were catastrophic,” Secretary-General Ban.
UN’s Darfur Humanitarian Profile No. 27 (representing the situation as of April 1, 2007) found 4.2 million conflict-affected persons and ominous developments.
Because of continuing violence, insecurity, and displacement, “the good harvests for those who could plant during the 2006 agricultural season have frequently been lost through theft and deliberate destruction, leaving [people] entirely dependent on external food aid” (Darfur Humanitarian Profile No. 27, page 8). Nutrition for children under five, a highly sensitive barometer of overall food availability, shows disturbing signs:
 “Admissions for children under five years of age into Supplementary Feeding Centres (SFCs) across Darfur have almost doubled during the [current] reporting period [January through March 2007] compared to the previous three months [October through December 2006]. Similarly, admissions into Therapeutic Feeding Centres (TFCs) have almost doubled during the reporting period” (page 10).
Although these numbers correlate with the early beginning of the “hunger gap,” they are cause for concern and do much to explain the consistent finding that “levels of malnutrition are consistently higher in children of 6-29 months compared to 30-59 months.” Moreover, DHP 27 reports concern over “three localized nutrition surveys have been undertaken during the reporting period. Tearfund reported from Ed Daien [South Darfur] (February 2007) an alarming rate of Global Acute Malnutrition (GAM) of 21.9% and Severe Acute Malnutrition (SAM) of 3.9%” (page 11).
Perhaps one may be forgiven, Secretary-General Ban, for wishing that you could look first-hand at those human beings in Chad who have suffered the agonizing deprivation that produces Severe Acute Malnutrition, and tell them that they should take comfort, for you have overseen “credible and considerable progress in resolving the Darfur situation.”
(Part 1 of 2; part two will be available at http://www.sudanreeves.org/News.html)