Part 1: A Timeline for Khartoum’s abrogation of agreements to date in 2012
Eric Reeves, May 7, 2012
( Part 2 at http://www.sudanreeves.org/2012/05/05/part-i-a-timeline-for-khartoums-violation-of-agreements-in-2011/ )
This timeline does not represent all events of significance during the first five months of 2012; in particular, it does not chronicle the terrible ethnic violence in Jonglei State and elsewhere in the South (though it should be noted that the Lou Nuer “White Army” received many of its weapons from former renegade militia leader George Athor, as established authoritatively by the Small Arms Survey). It does not attempt to capture the difficulties of governance in the South, including corruption, human rights abuses, and political repression.
Nor does it represent fully the growing economic crises in both Sudan and South Sudan, though the implications are enormous. Some highlights, particularly those with implications for the stability of the Khartoum regime, would include: a rapidly accelerating inflation rate (currently 28.6 percent); a massive devaluation of the Sudanese pound (which trades on the black market at a discount of more than 80 percent from the official rate); continued resistance to removal of popular subsidies for petrol and sugar; a massive budget shortfall; and a staggering economic contraction in 2012, estimated by the Economist’s Intelligence Unit at 9.4 percent–a catastrophe by any economic standard. It should also be remembered that Khartoum’s external debt remains in excess of $38 billion, a debt that can’t be serviced, let alone repaid.
There is a permanent cloud over any economic future in the north, and it powerfully threatens the NIF/NCP regime. Indeed, extraordinarily, longtime economic, military, and diplomatic ally China recently canceled a loan to extend electricity to an agricultural project in Sudan; the cancelation was for lack of oil collateral. And given the loss of Southern oil revenues, exorbitant expenditures on the military and security services, profligate weapons purchases, and a political patronage system that can no longer be sustained, the economy may well implode in the near term. It must also be noted that the economy of South Sudan is also deeply imperiled, a fact emphasized in an extremely worrying IMF report, summarized by Sudan Tribune on May 7.
But the focus here is squarely on those actions and events that have a bearing on any assessment of Khartoum’s record in respecting signed agreements with Sudanese parties as well as its obligations under international law and conventions, including international human rights and humanitarian law. Considerable detail is provided concerning the various and longstanding efforts by Khartoum to sequester and to conceal the true quantities of Southern oil production. Egregious or particularly consequential violations of these agreements and obligations are noted with a prefatory [ § ].
In nearly all cases there is considerable additional reporting not cited, as well as many parallel or similar incidents not included. Several of my more prominently published analyses are linked here by date of publication. Even so, the timeline here is considerably more detailed than that for 2011, since itcovers only five months. Such detail also permits patterns to emerge more clearly, and it should be evident from a close reading of events that the international community had lost control over nearly all the crises in the Sudans by the end of February, certainly by March (see “Civil War in Sudan: A Cataclysm of Destruction Approaches,”
Dissent Magazine (on-line), February 7, 2012).
§ January 1, 2012: The government of South Sudan accuses Khartoum of bombings in Raja County (Western Bahr el-Ghazal), killing nearly 40 people. (Sudan Tribune)
§ January 4: Khartoum’s “Social Welfare Minister,” Amira Fadhil, tells journalists that fear for the security of foreigners is the reason humanitarian access is denied to South Kordofan and Blue Nile. The rationale for denying humanitarian access will change continually in coming months.
§ January 5: Aerial attacks on civilians in South Kordofan continue relentlessly, indeed on what is frequently described as a “daily basis.” Al Ganaya in Buram locality is attacked on January 5 by Antonov “bombers,” killing nine women and children and wounding 26 others. (Radio Dabanga)
January 5: The food security coordinator for Doro, al Jamam, and Jahlak camps in Upper Nile State asserts that the number of refugees from Blue Nile State is expected to climb to 250,000 civilians—far beyond present or contemplated humanitarian capacity. (Radio Dabanga)
January 6: Yet again, the Obama administration declares that “those responsible for crimes and crimes against humanity have to be held accountable.” But “those responsible” are overwhelmingly senior members of the NIF/NCP political and military leadership, the same leadership that Obama’s Sudan envoy Princeton Lyman declares should not be subject to regime change because they are capable of “carrying out reform via constitutional democratic measures.”
§ January 13: The Small Arms Survey (Geneva) reports that “recent statements suggest that the army will remain indefinitely [in Abyei].” SAS also reports the statement of December 15, 2011 by SAF spokesman Colonel al-Sawarmi Khalid Sa’ad, who told reporters in Khartoum that “the army’s presence in Abyei could not be considered an occupation because Abyei lies north of the 1956 border and is thus part of Sudan.” Such a statement represents a complete abrogation of the Abyei Protocol of the CPA. There is no international response to Khalid’s highly provocative assertion. SAS also notes the December 20, 2011 report by Amnesty International, which “accuses the UN Mission in Sudan [UNMIS] of failing to protect Abyei’s civilian population during the May  invasion.”
January 20: South Sudan carefully begins to shut down its oil production facilities following Khartoum’s arbitrary and unilateral sequestration of more than $800 million “in lieu of what [the regime] called unpaid fees.” (Reuters/Sudan Tribune)
January 23: Southern President Salva Kiir details the precise nature of Khartoum’s massive sequestration of oil revenues. (Reuters)
§ January 24: UNHCR condemns Khartoum for its aerial attack on refugees in South Sudan, which injures one child and leaves 14 other refugees missing. The target is el-Foj in Upper Nile State, 10 kilometers south of the North/South border. The first of the two airstrikes targets a refugee transit site where 5,000 refugees are present. UNHCR notes a number of previous attacks on refugees in South Sudan. (UNHCR/Reuters)
§ January 25: The Satellite Sentinel Project confirms that the SAF is attempting to create a choke point to control the main route used by civilians fleeing South Kordofan for the Yida refugee camp in Unity State. This is confirmed by Sudan Tribune on February 19.
January 27: Regime second vice-president Al-Haj Adam Youssef warns that SAF can “strike as far south as Juba in pursuit of hunting rebels operating in South Kordofan and Blue Nile.” (Sudan Tribune)
January 29: Juba announces that it has completed the shutdown of its oil production facilities in response to Khartoum’s theft of oil/oil revenues and its intransigence over transit fees (the regime has proposed a fee of $36/barrel, a preposterous demand clearly meant to short-circuit all meaningful negotiations. The Southern leadership declares that it will restart oil production only if there is a negotiated agreement covering border security and Abyei. (Reuters)
January 31: Reuters reports that Khartoum has asked the Chinese-Malaysian oil venture firm Petrodar to load 600,000 barrels of South Sudanese crude for export, but the firm refused to be drawn into the regime’s illegal policy of sequestering Southern oil to compensate for “non-payment” of the extortionate transit fee of $36/barrel.
§ February 2: The U.S condemns the February 1 bombing of a Bible school built by an American Christian aid group. The condemnation follows the release of photographs by Associated Press. There have been many hundreds of confirmed bombings of civilian targets prior to this particular attack; two attacks occur the following day, at Buram and Kau Nyaro, with significant casualties. A great many of these attack have been recorded by human rights groups and at www.sudanbombing.org. (Associated Press)
February 3: Foreign Minister Ali Karti tells a senior U.S. official in Addis: “We will see if you can bring in food by force [to South Kordofan and Blue Nile], and we will not allow food to be brought to the rebels.” Karti also “threatens to use ‘security cards’ against South Sudan and it is time for Khartoum to move to ‘Plan B.'” (Sudan Tribune)
February 3: Al-Bashir declares that “Khartoum was entitled to 74,000 barrels a day of southern oil. ‘This is our right,’ he said.” (Reuters)
§ February 3: Cabinet member al-Amin Dafallah, in Kadugli, declares that “Abyei is a northern town.” (Sudan Vision)
February 5: Al-Bashir tells members of his cabinet that they should “expect the worst in ongoing dispute with South Sudan.” “The climate now is closer to a climate of war than one of peace,” al-Bashir says. (Sudan Tribune/AFP)
February 6: Al-Jazeera reports that “President Bashir said last year that if the Nuba did not accept the results of the Southern Kordofan election [ ], ‘We will force them back into the mountains and prevent them from having food, just as we did before.'” Al-Bashir is referring to the extermination campaign against the Nuba in the 1990s, during which Khartoum embargoed all food aid to the Nuba Mountains.
February 7: Khartoum announces that it accepts and welcomes “in principle” an agreement on international humanitarian deliveries to South Kordofan and Blue Nile. The agreement has been fashioned by the Arab League, the African Union, and the UN. The Sudan People’s Liberation Movement/Army-North signs the agreement two days later; three months later Khartoum is still “studying” the proposal. (Sudan Tribune)
§ February 7: President Salva Kiir declares that “while shutting down oil wells they discovered that there were more wells than were recorded during the transition to an independent state last July” (Sudan Tribune). There are 200 more wells than previously known in Upper Nile and almost 50 more wells in Unity, according to South Sudan’s oil minister Stephen Dheiu Dau. (Reuters, February 2)
§ February 8: Juba accuses the controversial oil trader Trafigura of buying oil “looted” from the South by Khartoum. In 2001 Trafigura was allegedly involved in smuggling 500,000 barrels of oil out of Saddam Hussein’s Iraq. (Reuters)
February 8: The UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization and World Food Program predict that without urgent action millions of people in South Sudan will face hunger in the coming year. The number of food insecure people has jumped from 3.3 million in 2011 to 4.7 million in 2012.
Various of Khartoum’s actions—including the arming of renegade militia forces, sealing the North/South border to all trade (including food), aerial attacks on civilian areas, and creating vast refugee populations from South Kordofan, Blue Nile, and Abyei—all work to exacerbate the food crisis.
February 8: President Salva Kiir warns that al-Bashir’s deployment of troops to the North/South border areas indicates an “intention to invade the South and reclaim territory by force after losing oil.” Three months later, this assessment is looking increasingly plausible.
February 9: The Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-North (SPLM-N) formally signs an agreement on aid access to South Kordofan and Blue Nile; the agreement has been proposed by the UN, the African Union, and the Arab League.
§ February 10: Khartoum signs a “non-aggression” Memorandum of Understanding, committing the regime to respecting Southern Sudanese territorial integrity. This does nothing to halt cross-border aerial attacks by the Sudan Armed Forces (SAF). On February 14 South Sudan reports that Khartoum’s forces bombed and shelled the border town of Jau (VOA, AFP). On February 15 Sudan Vision (the regime’s propaganda organ) reports that the SAF has “confirmed [its] commitment to the non-aggression treaty signed between Khartoum and Juba.” The same day the African Union urges Khartoum and Juba to “respect the provisions of the Memorandum of Understanding on non-aggression signed February 10. (Sudan Tribune)
[ February 10: “Passive in the Face of Sudan’s Atrocities,” The Washington Post ]
§ February 12: Auxiliary Bishop Daniel Adwok Kur of Khartoum gives a detailed account of how young men of “Southern” ethnicity are being forcibly recruited into Khartoum’s armed forces, now desperately short of manpower. Young Christians are reported to be fearful of attending Mass, as this identifies them as “Southern” (Independent Catholic News). On February 15 Christian News Today reports that “two Catholic priests abducted at gunpoint in Rabak, Sudan last month have been released amid a wave of forcible conscriptions into rebel southern militias [fighting the SPLA].”
§ February 12: In an agreement between Khartoum and Juba, 500,000 – 700,000 “ethnic Southerners” will lose their citizenship in Sudan on April 8, 2012. This sets the state for a massive culling of the northern Sudanese populations solely on the basis on ethnicity. IRIN reports (February 8) that pressgangs are still active in Khartoum, forcibly recruiting “Southerners” in order to bolster the depleted ranks of the Sudan Armed Forces. On February 7 the refugee rights organization Refugees International describes “as ‘intolerable’ what it said was Sudan’s plan to ’round up and deport hundreds of thousands'” of northern residents. RI’s Stateless Programme Manager, Sarnata Reynolds, declares:
“‘First, the individuals targeted by this plan have a legitimate claim to Sudanese citizenship, since most have lived in Sudan their entire lives, and there is currently no way for them to apply for South Sudanese citizenship. Second, forcing men, women and children into deportation camps and shipping them off to a country that many have never seen would be a legal and moral disaster.”
February 14: The UN Security Council declares that levels of malnutrition and food insecurity in Sudan’s Southern Kordofan and Blue Nile States could become a crisis unless immediately addressed, expressing “deep and growing alarm” at rising hunger levels. The Council calls on “Sudan and the rebels [SPLM-N] to grant immediate access.” The Council seems unaware that on February 9 the SPLM-N has signed precisely such an access agreement.
§ February 14: The International Organization for Migration declares that it will be a “logistical nightmare” to comply with the April 8 deadline for repatriation of “Southerners” (determined by Khartoum solely on the basis of ethnicity). An estimated 500,000 – 700,000 civilians in the North are affected. At the same time, Khartoum halts the use of barges that are critical to the transport of repatriated “Southerners” to South Sudan. The April 8 deadline, IOM declares further, is “irresponsible, unfair, and cruel.” (Reuters, February 22)
§ February 15: The UN warns that refugees from Blue Nile and South Kordofan could reach 500,000 in the coming months. Ryan Boyette, an American aid worker living in the Nuba, warns that “if there is going to be a famine, it’s going to hit very fast and very hard. You’re are not going to see it gradually build up because of this sharing attitude [among the Nuba people].” Boyette describes a visit to a nearby mountain:
“I just visited a mountain that had more than a thousand IDPs (Internally Displaced Persons) on it, mainly women and children. They had absolutely nothing. They had been there for two months. They are living in this mountain, literally under rocks, in caves. Women are giving birth just on these rocks. They are very dirty. They are sick. They don’t have any soap to wash their clothes, to wash their kids, to wash their bodies, to wash their dishes.”
Such dire situations have been repeatedly reported from various parts of the Nuba Mountains. (Reuters AlertNet)
§ February 15: Al-Bashir launches “a fierce attack on international humanitarian organizations, accusing those already operating in [South Kordofan and Blue Nile] of being ‘biased’ and delivering ‘slanted’ aid.” (Sudan Tribune)
§ February 15: Khartoum agrees to delineate and demarcate the North/South border “during the next three months.” Three months later, not a single kilometer has been demarcated.
February 15: Juba accuses Khartoum of confiscating an additional 2.4 million barrels of oil, bringing the total seized to more than 6 million barrels since December 2011. Bloomberg News reports on February 10 that it has obtained documents indicating that Khartoum “ordered companies to load 2.6 million barrels of South Sudanese crude for export” in January, without authority from Juba.
February 16: Juba provides journalists a letter from the Petrodar consortium “informing South Sudan that Sudan had commissioned the tie-in line to transfer crude ‘unilaterally and by force.'” The tie-in would have had the capacity to divert 120,000 barrels/day of Southern oil to Khartoum’s refineries. (Sudan Tribune)
§ February 16: Amnesty International reports that four bombs were dropped on and around a health clinic in Kurchi, South Kordofan, damaging the clinic, which has few remaining supplies. The clinic is near Kurchi markets with was bombed on June 26, 2011, killing 13 civilians and injuring more than 20 others—mostly women and children.
§ February 17/18: Advanced, long-range Chinese WeiShi rockets hit the villages of Um Serdeba and Tabanya in the Nuba Mountains. The identity of the rocket system is established by weapons experts working for Amnesty International. The attacks are reported by American Ryan Boyette, who has long lived and worked in the Nuba Mountains. The New York Times reports from the Nuba:
“The [WeiShi] rockets, fired from more than 25 miles away, travel at 3,000 miles per hour and pack a 330-pound warhead often loaded with steel ball bearings to increase lethality, experts say. Where they land is random, witnesses say, and they often slam into villages instead of legitimate military targets. ‘They arrive without any warning,’ said Helen Hughes, an arms control researcher at Amnesty International. ‘And they are being used indiscriminately, which is violation of international humanitarian law.'”
Khartoum’s military spokesman, asked about the rockets, declares simply that “Rockets are part of combat,” and that the rebel groups have the “same rockets.”
§ February 18: Juba reports that SAF ground and air forces are attacking SPLA positions in the “contested” Kafia Kingi enclave in Western Bahr el-Ghazal (Kafia Kingi is clearly south of the January 1, 1956 border) (SPLM statement). The Juba Citizen reported on February 15 that the SAF had occupied the town of Balbala near Raja.
§ February 19: Foreign Minister Ali Karti again declares to Obama administration envoy Princeton Lyman that international humanitarian access will not be permitted to South Kordofan or Blue Nile, this to prevent “the creation of a Darfur-like situation.” (Sudan Vision)
§ February 19: Sudan Tribune reports that “Lyman has asked the government of South Sudan to agree to conduct the long delayed [self-determination] referendum in Abyei next August, when the Arab Misseriya nomads are in the area.” This is transparently a capitulation to Khartoum’s claim that the Misseriya, who spend only a few months a year in Abyei, are “residents” and eligible to vote per the terms of the Abyei Protocol. This simply extends the previous year and a half of Obama administration pressure on Juba to “compromise” yet further on Abyei. It is an expedient betrayal.
§ February 20: Khartoum continues its crackdown on newspapers in the capital. One day before the independence of South Sudan, Khartoum had suspended six newspapers. This is the regime that Obama administration envoy Lyman is convinced is capable of “carrying out reform via constitutional democratic measures.”
§ February 23: Khartoum’s UN ambassador accuses aid workers of using UN flight to deliver arms and ammunition to the rebels (in Blue Nile and South Kordofan). The UN insists there is no evidence of such activities.
The UN is forced to halt helicopter flights to Kadugli after one of its aircraft is shot at over territory controlled by the SAF (AFP).
Khartoum insists that food security in South Kordofan is “good,” and that the situation in Blue Nile is “under control and within normal levels.” In January the head of UN humanitarian operations declared that “food insecurity and malnutrition had reach ‘alarming levels.'” (Sudan Tribune)
§ February 25: Ahmed Haroun, indicted war criminal and governor of South Kordofan, declares that any assessment of humanitarian conditions in the region not conducted by Khartoum “would be mere political propaganda and attempt to create a humanitarian crisis in South Kordofan.” (Sudan Vision)
§ February 26: Heavy fighting is reported around Jau, on the border between Unity State (South Sudan) and South Kordofan (Sudan). Jau is in a region long belonging to the Panaruu Dinka.
§ February 27: Senior NIF/NCP official Mustafa Osman Ismail declares that “all options are on the table, including the military one in a response to South Sudan’s ‘aggression'” (Sudan Tribune). In response to a crushing victory by the SPLM/A-North in the Tarogi area of South Kordofan (20 kilometers north of Jau) Sudan Vision quotes Mustafa as declaring that Khartoum will respond by attacking South Sudan’s SPLA, which has formally separated from the SPLA-N: “‘The Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF) will no doubt respond to the attack. All political, military and security means are available for us to retaliate to the attack.'” In fact, in a press release of February 26, the northern rebel military alliance known as the Sudan Revolutionary Front (SRF) claims responsibility, and lists in detail the equipment it has captured in the sweeping defeat of SAF forces.
§ February 29: U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton declares that “with Bashir, we have a very determined effort to try to undo the results of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement.” No effort is made to square this assessment with the assessment of U.S. special envoy Princeton Lyman: a-Bashir’s regime is capable of “carrying out reform via constitutional democratic measures.” (Associated Press)
§ March 1: Officials in Juba report that “Sudanese fighter jets have bombed oil and water wells deep inside South Sudan, near Panakuat in Pariang County, and its ground troops have crossed into oil rich border regions.” This marks the first time in recent fighting that MiG fighter jets have been involved in cross-border raids. The attack occurred some 75 kilometers inside the sovereign territory of South Sudan and destroyed two oil well-heads. Khartoum denies the attacks, as it denies all bombing attacks.
Juba also claims that SAF ground forces are 17 kilometers insider the South’s Unity State. (AFP) (Reuters)
There is no international response, even as neutral observers on the ground are able to confirm Juba’s assertions.
March 3: Al-Bashir promises to set up camps across the country for training Popular Defense Forces (PDF), the brutal paramilitary force that is responsible for so much of the violence against civilians—in the Nuba, in South Sudan, and in Darfur:
“‘We direct all the states governors to open PDF camps and equip an entire brigade of these forces, to be named the Deterrence Forces, to confront all the agents and traitors,’ [al-Bashir] said.”
The views of the PDF are bluntly expressed:
“[We have] been monitoring the movements of the forces of evil and aggression represented by American imperialism, world Zionism, and neo-colonialism that are trying to eradicate the cultures of people, plunder their wealth and conquer their will.” (Sudan Tribune)
On March 19, senior officials of the SPLM-North confirm this PDF mobilization, and claim that 45,000 paramilitary troops are involved.
March 5: Khartoum threatens to expel the U.S. diplomatic mission in the country because Washington “continues to propagate claims of famine in [Blue Nile and South Kordofan]. ‘We have informed the U.S. deputy chief of mission in Sudan, Dennis Hankins, that unless they quit their propaganda of famine in the three areas, we will expel them,’ Sudan’s minister of international cooperation [said].” (Sudan Tribune)
March 6: Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) reports that “approximately 30,000 refugees are registered [in Yida refugee camp, Unity State].” But the precise number is not known, and the refugee stream is continuous.
§ March 6: The UK’s Humanitarian Aid Relief Trust releases a report on Abyei compiled by Tim Flatman in February 2012. Some of the starkest conclusions of this grim report:
• More than 100,000 Dinka Ngok remain in South Sudan as refugees, unable to return to their homes and lands because of SAF and militia military presence;
• “some returnees confirmed stories I had heard in Agok about displaced people in Warrap being denied land to bury relatives who had died of starvation”;
• “Water systems have lain in disuse having been vandalised by SAF passing through in March or May 2011. I saw water pumping systems where generators had been ripped out, and smashed borehole pumping systems”;
• “in Abyei north of the river Kiir, people are starving now.”
§ March 6: Addressing a rally at the headquarters of the paramilitary Popular Defense Forces (PDF) in Omdurman on [March 6], the second vice-president of the Khartoum regime, al-Haj AdamYoussef, says that “the Sudanese government had issued directives to close the borders with South Sudan and contain flow of food so ‘it does not reach those who are fighting us.'”
The cynicism here is unspeakable.
§ March 11: Mukesh Kapila, the UN’s leading humanitarian official in Sudan during the early stages of the Darfur genocide, reports on his recent visit to the Nuba Mountains:
“Kapila said he had seen evidence that Sudanese troops were destroying crops in the Nuba Mountains. ‘You walk around and the ground is black. Some of that is seasonal burning in time for planting, but the vast tracts are a result of the bombing. This is to stop people from planting.'”
Asked what he saw, Kapila replied: “What did I see?” he asked. “Basically, as you drive in, you see totally deserted countryside, burnt village after burnt village after burnt village.”
“‘[Sudan] hosted the first genocide of the century in Darfur, and the second one is unfolding in Nuba.'” (Reuters) (Foreign Policy)
March 14: MSF describes the horrific humanitarian conditions—present and impending—in regions of Upper Nile to which refugees from Blue Nile have fled:
“‘The area of the refugee camps is physically inhospitable and a logistical nightmare for humanitarian assistance but the refugees are 100 percent reliant on external assistance for survival,’ said MSF’s regional information officer, Maimouna Jallow, in a statement. The medical charity called for a massive scaling up of aid before the rains start in late April, when the region will likely become ‘a vast swamp with small islands of dry ground.'”
“In Doro and Jamam refugee camps, they have sought a safer place but they have found a harsh environment where their ability to survive is stretched to the breaking point. ‘These refugees are left almost completely reliant on humanitarian assistance because this area has scarce water and food,’ says Julien Matter,MSF’s emergency coordinator. ‘The sheer numbers of refugees fleeing here has grown to far beyond anything anyone anticipated—and in such a remote place, providing the bare survival essentials now, and through the coming rainy season, will be a serious challenge.'” (MSF)
No such scaling up of the sort called for by MSF has occurred, and refugees from Blue Nile continue to pour into the region. On March 10 the UN High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) announced that “contingency plans are being developed for a large influx following unconfirmed reports by refugees that entire communities in Blue Nile State are on the move.” (Reuters)
March 14: Obama administration special envoy Princeton Lyman declares that there is a “growing realization in Khartoum that there isn’t a military solution to this conflict and that simply going on with the fighting and facing the opprobrium of a humanitarian disaster is not in their interest.”
Almost two months later, it is quite unclear what evidence there is of Khartoum’s “growing realization.” Moreover, the Obama administration continues to send a message of “moral equivalence” in assessing responsibility for the violence and humanitarian crises: “The actions of both parties [Khartoum and Juba] are inflaming conflict, fuelling mistrust, and imperiling the efforts of the African Union High-level Implementation Panel to facilitate agreements between the parties on outstanding Comprehensive Peace Agreement issues” (March 7 State Department press release).
Such “moral equivalence” so distorts military and diplomatic realities that it has become increasingly difficult for Juba to accept the U.S. as an honest mediator.
March 14: Washington Post UN correspondent Colum Lynch reports on the views of Valerie Amos, chief UN humanitarian official: “I’ve made it clear on many occasions that I do not support cross-border operations unless they are agreed by both governments, the governments of Sudan and South Sudan.”
The Government of South Sudan has long made clear its willingness to facilitate cross-border humanitarian operations to both South Kordofan and Blue Nile. The inescapable conclusion to be drawn from Amos’ remarks is that absent an agreement from Khartoum on humanitarian access, which has been resolutely refused for many months, the UN is prepared to sit by and watch as many hundreds of thousands of civilians slowly starve.
Almost two months later, there has been no progress whatsoever on securing humanitarian access, even as aerial attacks on civilians in both regions continue mercilessly.
March 14: U.S. development officials estimate that 130,000 refugees have been
driven from the border areas since June 2011, with 360,000 people internally
§ March 14: Juba accuses of moving its SAF troops 70 kilometers across the River Kiir into South Sudan’s Warrap State.
March 15: The Satellite Sentinel Project reports satellite photographic evidence that Khartoum is paving and upgrading the airstrip in Talodi; it is now able to support Antonov “bombers.”
March 16: The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs reports that between February 22 and February 29 it registered 2,300 new refugees from Blue Nile in camps in Upper Nile. (South Sudan) (UN IRIN)
§ March 16: Luka Biong, co-chair of the Abyei Joint Oversight Committee, declares that, “a week ago I was shocked to know that there was a legal opinion by the UN defining Abyei as part of the north and subsequently all the organizations have to get their visa from the north.” This represents yet further capitulation to Khartoum’s repeated insistence that, despite the Abyei Protocol and PCA ruling, “Abyei has always been part of the north.”
March 17: The UN claims it “has made progress in talks with Sudan to deliver more aid to South Kordofan.” It provides no evidence because there is none; this is a purely political move to forestall discussion of non-consensual cross-border relief efforts. (Reuters)
§ March 18: Al-Jazeera reports from South Kordofan:
“What is concerning is the attempts to drive a lot of the African tribes off their lands and to deprive them of resources. In [Buram], which used to be an administrative centre of about 5,000 people, Al Jazeera found a ghost town. ‘A few months ago, the Sudanese army came through here and all the villagers fled into the mountainside,’ [reporter Peter] Greste reported from the town.‘The army destroyed every building. They set fire to each home. They burned the crops, the grain stores. They destroyed the lot.'”
And most ominously: “We saw people up in the hills who are absolutely starving.”
§ March 20: The SPLA shoots down an Iranian drone military aircraft over Jau.
§ March 21: Reuters reports from Doro Camp (Upper Nile): “[Sila] Musa, former commissioner of Kurmuk county in Blue Nile, estimated that up to 100,000 people may be trapped in the state, unable to leave because they cannot carry the food and water they would need for a journey that can take as long as a month.”
“Aid workers and refugees in Doro camp, where some 45,000 people have fled, say food stocks in Blue Nile are likely to run out in the next couple of weeks.”
March 21: Large SAF troop movements north of Tishwin (Unity State) are reported by authoritative sources on the ground; Tishwin is in the area of a major SPLA military base.
March 22: Perhaps in response to these reports, both the U.S. and UK yet again settle on a strategy of “moral equivalence,” demanding that Juba end its support for the SPLM/A-North (without providing evidence of such support in significant quantities) and urging that both Juba and Khartoum “agree on a cessation of hostilities.” No explicit mention is made of the very substantial evidence of Khartoum’s militarily significant support to destabilizing Southern renegade militia forces that have created so much civilian insecurity. There is also a now perfunctory demand that Khartoum cease its relentless bombing of South Sudan. (State Department press release) (Sudan Vision)
The UK Minister for Africa, Henry Bellingham, calls on “both governments to take steps immediately to fulfill their commitment to establish a safe demilitarized border zone, to be jointly monitored by UN peacekeeping forces and the armed forces of both countries.” No mention is made of the fact that such a demilitarized zone has long been sought by Juba, along with a UN peacekeeping/monitoring force. It is Khartoum that obdurately refuses to accept any such deployment, as it continues to refuse humanitarian access to Blue Nile and South Kordofan, even in the face of repeated offers from the scrupulously neutral ICRC. (Sudan Tribune)
March 22: Khartoum tells the UN special envoy for Sudan and South Sudan, Haile Menkerios, that on the urgent question of humanitarian relief for South Kordofan and Blue Nile, and in particular the February 7 proposal on the issue by the Arab League, the African Union, and the UN, “The Sudanese government [has] reservations on some parts and referred the proposal to a technical committee to study it and produce a report on it.” The SPLM-North signed the agreement on February 9. As of May 7, 2012, the proposal is still being “studied” by Khartoum.
§ March 22: UN IRIN reports from Dar (South Kordofan) and offers a forecast of human catastrophe:
“During this reporter’s visit, the sense of security was shattered by the growing roar of an approaching Antonov plane, sending residents fleeing. The aircraft passes by this time, dropping its rudimentary bombs elsewhere, leaving tall pillars of smoke rising in the distance. ‘This is why people are going hungry,’ says Mubarak Ahmed, from the Nuba Youth Association. ‘You can see how everyone is terrified by the bombing, so nobody is able to plant or tend their crops.’ Over a million people now live in rebel-controlled areas, cut off from the outside world, as was the case in the 1983-2005 civil war, when many in South Kordofan sided with southern rebels.”
“With the rainy season due to start in a few weeks, humanitarian agencies are warning that time is running out to bring in life-saving supplies. Local officials say the conflict has severely affected agricultural production, and estimate that the next harvest will be only 20 percent of normal, leaving most of the population dependent on outside aid. They warn that unless supplies are brought in within the next few weeks, the onset of the rains will make it virtually impossible to distribute the relief, just when the annual pre-harvest hungry season reaches its peak.”
Nothing has changed in the intervening six weeks.
March 25: Khartoum’s negotiating position continues to harden, with former NIF/NCP politburo chief Quitbi al-Mahdi declaring the regime negotiators are “softies” who have given away too much to South Sudan. The clear implication is that al-Mahdi is pushing to end all negotiations with Juba.
Not coincidentally Khartoum postpones a meeting to discuss Abyei. Further, the ability of the UN Interim Security Force for Abyei (UNINSFA) to operate effectively is being severely limited by Khartoum’s refusal to negotiate a Status of Forces Agreement for UNINSFA, which it had previously committed to doing. (Sudan Tribune)
§ March 27: Khartoum bombs an area near Bentiu, the major town that is the capital of Unity State; this marks a dramatic escalation in hostilities. The day before, SAF forces attack SPLA positions in the Tishwin area for the first time. A more serious aerial attack on Bentiu will occur on April 23, killing and wounding a large number of civilians.
§ March 29: VOA reports on the experience of refugees from Blue Nile:
“Hamid Yussuf Bashir said he was lucky to survive a 17-day trek with his five children out of Sudan’s war-torn Blue Nile state [to Upper Nile in South Sudan]. ‘We were facing hunger on the way, and that’s how other people starved to death,’ said Bashir, who fled to this camp across the border into South Sudan. ‘With the rains, a lot of people lost their lives from pneumonia,’ he added.”
No mortality assessments are possible in the absence of more data; but all indications are that it is already extremely high and rapidly accelerating.
In the same dispatch, Oxfam reports that it is experiencing enormous difficulty in providing sufficient water because of the character of the ground in this region (ten boreholes drilled into the brittle earth have collapsed). Other aid agencies prepare to relocate the Jamam refugee camp to higher locations—and to prepare for a doubling of the camp size to 80,000.
On April 3 AFP also reports from Jamam: the Oxfam emergency coordinator in the camps describes not only the overwhelming challenges, but the fact that Jamam has become a “forgotten” emergency. But the world’s forgetting will not halt the rains, or the excruciating human suffering and death that is impending. And the bombs continue to fall in Blue Nile, “day and night” according to Sheikh El Rathi Rajab, a Blue Nile Member of Parliament. (AFP)
March 29: Speaking out on the crisis, UN head of peacekeeping operations, Herve Ladsous, apportions blame equally between Khartoum and Juba for the current crises. (VOA)
March 30: Speaking in an interview with Khartoum’s state-run radio on March 30, the “state minister of media, Sana Hamad Al-Awad, said that Khartoum is no longer pursuing a policy of diplomatic engagement with Juba but rather a policy of ‘war, securing borders, an iron fist and double retaliation.'” Such vehemently bellicose language is becoming increasingly common in Khartoum. (Sudan Tribune)
§ March 31: Al Jazeera releases a video in which the governor of South Kordofan, indicted war criminal Ahmed Haroun, appears:
“The footage shows Sudanese troops stationed in a captured base involved in a gun battle with rebel forces. Harun is addressing his soldiers before they enter rebel territory by saying: ‘You must hand over the place clean. Swept, rubbed, crushed. Don’t bring them back alive. We have no space for them.’ ‘Don’t bring them back, eat them raw,’ said Harun.”
This is why Khartoum hand-picked Haroun for the job of governor of South Kordofan.
§ April 1: Khartoum again accuses the SPLA of supporting rebels in South Kordofan, to which Juba replies this is simply not the case and that “if anyone is doubting us, let them send [UN] monitors.” This is a proposal that Khartoum has consistently rejected.
§ April 1: Small Arms Survey reports that anti-personnel mines, captured from the SAF in the seizure of Torogi town (February 27, 2012) have Farsi markings, indicating manufacture in Iran. They have been packed in crates with markings from a Sudanese Military Industrial Corporation subsidiary. SAS points out that Khartoum “signed the Anti-Personnel Land Mine Convention (Ottawa treaty) in 1997, and ratified it in 2003, banning the use, stockpiling, production, and transfer of landmines.”
Yet another agreement abrogated. Anti-personnel mines are an especially vicious and indiscriminate military weapon.
§ April 2: Reliable sources on the ground in Unity State confirm that SAF troops are attacking SPLA positions in Tishwin and Panakwach (Upper Nile). Nearby Lalob and Manga are reported as being bombed at the same time, reports later confirmed authoritatively. AFP reports that on April 1 the SPLA has responded to the SAF offensive in the Tishwin area by driving Khartoum’s forces back to Heglig to the north.
It is crucial to understand that on the basis of all available evidence, much from authoritative sources on the ground, the SPLA moved on Heglig during this first offensive only after repulsing the SAF attack on their base in the Tishwin area of Unity State.
§ April 2: Juba indicates that it is not satisfied with the incompetent and biased mediation efforts of the African Union team led by South Africa’s Thabo Mbeki. Spokesman Barnaba Marial Benjamin declares that his government is “disappointed by a report by the AU to the UN Security Council that he said portrayed South Sudan as the aggressor in hostilities between the two countries.”
Benjamin notes that for the past month Khartoum “has been bombing mostly the Unity State and our oil fields. For the last month they’ve been bombing villages and small towns and as we speak they are still bombing some of these areas.” Nearly all such reports are in fact subsequently confirmed. (Reuters) (confidential source)
§ April 3: Negotiations in Addis Ababa between Juba and Khartoum break down over Khartoum’s insistence that Juba accept its allegations of substantial support to the SPLA/M-North. Issues included an immediate cease-fire, de-escalation of media campaigns, as well as securing the borders and oil production areas. (Sudan Tribune)
§ April 4: Even as Khartoum is pulling out of the Addis talks before signing a prepared agreement, authoritative sources from the ground report that significant SAF military activity is occurring near the borders of Upper Nile and Western Bahr el-Ghazal States.
§ April 5: Navi Pillay, the senior UN human rights official responsible for blunting the UN human rights report on atrocity crimes in Kadugli in June 2011, can brings herself to speak only of an “apparent scorched-earth policy in South Kordofan.” She insists that it is “essential that there is an independent, thorough, and objective investigation into these allegations and that the Sudanese government ensure access for human rights monitors and humanitarian agencies.” Pillay insists, of course, only because she know there is absolutely no chance that the present regime will permit such an investigation: calling for such an “independent and thorough” investigation of “apparent scorched-earth policies” is an exercise in moral self-preening.
§ April 10: SAF troops attack SPLA positions in the Tishwin area of Unity State for a second time; the SPLA again repulses the attack, and to forestall further such offensive military actions, pushes on to Heglig (epicenter of northern oil infrastructure), encountering surprisingly ineffective military resistance. The SPLA seizes Heglig and continues to push northward for approximately 30 kilometers.
In the process of forcing the SAF from Unity, the SPLA discovers a tie-in pipeline, clearly constructed to siphon oil reserves to Heglig from the South. The 25-kilometer pipeline would have had the capacity to divert 15,000 to 20,000 barrels/day of Southern crude to the main pipelines according to Juba. Reuters was provided pictures of the 10-inch diameter pipeline, and told that the SPLA had “captured two earth excavators that were being used by a ‘foreign company’ to help extend the pipelines towards Unity state.” (Reuters)
§ April 10: In an indication of strategic planning, Khartoum heavily bombs the village of Abiemnon and other locations in Abiemnom County (Unity State), which sits on a strategic transport road used by the SPLA. A number of civilians, including a child, are injured by the repeated bombings. (Reuters)
The SPLA also reports large movements of regular and militia forces southward toward Unity. (AFP)
§ April 11: With a bizarrely expedient haste, the U.S. Statement Department presumes to settle the location of Heglig vis-à-vis the 1956 North/South boundary, “strongly condemn[ing] the military, offensive incursion to Southern Kordofan State, Sudan, by the SPLA today [April 11].” The U.S. quickly finds much company:
• “The African Union notes with alarm, the occupation of the Heglig by the forces of (South Sudan) ….”
• “The move by the South Sudanese armed forces to occupy Heglig in Sudan is completely unacceptable,” declares the UK’s Minister for Africa, Henry Bellingham.
• The European Union, through EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton, asserts that “the move by the South Sudanese armed forces to occupy Heglig is completely unacceptable.”
§ April 11: In an important account reported only by the BBC, an oil industry worker in the Heglig area tells the BBC that “the [northern] Sudanese attacked first, but they didn’t have as many soldiers, so they were forced to flee.” Neither this nor a great many other highly authoritative reports from the ground—making clear that Khartoum did in fact initiate hostilities—figure in statements by the U.S., the EU, the UN, or the African Union.
The location of Heglig has turned into an issue on which there has been a great deal of misinformation and poor reporting; the best account to date is that of Sudan historian Douglas H. Johnson. He concludes that there is no map extant locating Heglig in relation to the 1956 border, but that such ethnographic information as we have would place Heglig/Panthou in South Sudan. What can be said with certainty is that the July 2009 ruling by the Permanent Court of Arbitration did not “place Heglig in northern Sudan,” a claim made repeatedly and erroneously. The PCA established the eastern boundary of Abyei and that is all; it made no mention of Heglig/Panthou, and was not tasked to do so. Nor did the PCA make any determination with respect to the location of the January 1, 1956 North/South boundary: it had no mandate to do so, and did not attempt such delineation.
Facts, however, are not guiding international responses, but rather—yet again—a misguided and misconceived “moral equivalence” between Khartoum (which instigated the fighting, even as it continues to bomb and attack Southern territory) and Juba, which had quite legitimate claims to self-defense, and which early in the occupation of Heglig/Panthou expressed a willingness to withdraw if a UN buffer force could be introduced between the SPLA and SAF in order to prevent further ground attacks by Khartoum’s increasingly aggressive generals.
Lost in all this confusion is the basic fact identified by the International Crisis Group in a September 2010 brief:
“The NCP’s early reluctance to implement border demarcation, coupled with a policy of agitation along the boundary, allowed it to maintain greater control of the petroleum sector and management of its revenues.” (Sudan: Defining the North-South Border, Crisis Group Africa Briefing; N°75, 2 September 2010)
This prescient account has been almost completely overlooked by key international actors.
April 11: Fighting quickly intensifies, but the SPLA retains control of Heglig and a substantial area northward. Emboldened by international commentary, Khartoum withdraws from all negotiations with South Sudan (BBC). All international pressure remains focused on Juba, including that of the feckless UN Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon. Ban’s record in responding to military aggression by Khartoum is pathetically weak. Notably, UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) military observers are positioned in locations where they may easily confirm aerial attacks in Pariang County, including Lalob, Munga, and Tishwin. The SPLA reports attacks by MiG-29 military jet aircraft on both April 9 and April 10 in the Tishwin area; these attacks were in addition to the numerous cross-border aerial attacks that had occurred constantly since March.
Both Khartoum and Juba respond with orders of large-scale military mobilizations.
April 12: The claim of “self-defense” by the SPLA is peremptorily dismissed by the U.S. State Department, which still presumptuously and erroneously places Heglig/Panthou definitively in northern Sudan:
“[The U.S.] condemn[s] South Sudan’s military involvement in the attack on and seizure of Heglig, an act which goes beyond self-defense and has increased tensions between Sudan and South Sudan to dangerous levels.”
Although aerial attacks on the South are again perfunctorily mentioned, Khartoum is assigned no blame for military hostilities in and around Heglig/Panthou and Tishwin (Unity State).
April 13: Juba pleads with the UN to “deploy to all contested areas and then the parties need to [go to] international arbitration, and a demilitarized buffer zone should be set up.” No such effort is initiated anywhere at the UN. (Bloomberg News)
§ April 12 – 15: Bentiu, the capital of Unity State, is repeatedly bombed by Khartoum’s military aircraft, with numerous casualties. This continues a major escalation in the conflict, given the size and population of Bentiu. Among the recovered ordnance and debris, Small Arms Survey finds a “Chinese-made 80-mm rocket fired by a jet.” This highlights the difficult position Beijing finds itself in while it attempts to negotiate relationships with both Juba and Khartoum. (AFP)
April 16: Amnesty International offers a revealing report from Yida refugee camp in Unity State:
“In the past week, new arrivals at Yida have increased substantially. This morning we interviewed several refugees among a group of more than 200 who have come in the past two days alone. Most have fled with their entire families—babies and young children as well as the elderly. Some spoke of particular attacks in recent weeks that propelled them to make the final and very difficult decision to leave Southern Kordofan. But more than anything, they all spoke of mounting hunger as the final straw. One man even said that he and his family had become used to running and hiding in caves in the mountains to flee the aerial bombardment. But as he said, ‘we can’t run away from hunger.'”
The International Rescue Committee reports that “as many as 400 people were arriving every day at Yida camp.” (BBC)
§ April 17: Juba accuses Khartoum of launching an attack on its army positions in an area called Warguet, Northern Bahr el-Ghazal; an SPLA soldier was killed in the attack. The SPLA also reports an attack on its positions near Kuek in Upper Nile on April 15. (AP)
Neither attack brings any international attention or investigation by UNMISS. (Sudan Tribune)
April 18: Following the lead of Norway, the International Crisis group declares that,
” … the UN Security Council must reassert itself to preserve international peace and security. It should mobilise all possible leverage to bring the parties back to negotiations and agreement on the Joint Border Verification and Monitoring Mechanism (JBVMM), as well as encourage implementation of the border monitoring tasks outlined for the UN Interim Security Force in Abyei (UNISFA) in Resolution 2024 (2011), particularly near Heglig and Jau.”
More than two weeks later there has been no discernible progress toward taking up these urgent tasks.
§ April 19: Reuters reports from Khartoum that al-Bashir has vowed to “teach South Sudan a final lesson by force” in the wake of the SPLA seizure of Heglig, a military defeat that the regime is unable to explain to public or political satisfaction. The racism that is always just below the surface in comments on Southerners by senior members of the NIF/NCP regime emerges fully in al-Bashir’s remarks, which grimly recall the Rwandan genocide and references to Tutsis as “cockroaches”:
“[Al-Bashir] vowed to ‘liberate” South Sudan from its ruling party, which he repeatedly referred to as “insects,” in a play on its Arabic name.” “Our main target from today is to eliminate this insect completely.”
Justice Africa provides a yet fuller account of the racist context for this remark:
“[Al-Bashir] repeated part of a famous [poem by] Al Motanbi (7th century) saying ‘don’t buy slave [abid] unless you buy stick with him/her, as slaves are wicked and evil.’ [This] encourage[d] many to follow the same line, as it clear in same Friday [April 20 that] some of the demonstrators celebrating the liberation of Heglig were chanting racist slogans. The race relation in Sudan has suffered severe setback in recent years, as that become a policy not an exception …. ”
Al-Bashir’s racist comments are also noted by Africa Confidential.
April 20: The SPLA withdraws from Heglig under heavy international pressure and growing SAF military pressure. Having announced its intention to withdraw, the SPLA is bombed by Khartoum’s forces during this withdrawal. Following the SPLA withdrawal, Khartoum has relentlessly shelled and bombed the Tishwin area where the SPLA are based.
§ April 21: A Muslim mob in Khartoum, whipped to a frenzy by a radical Islamic cleric, sets ablaze a church in the Al-Jiraif district of Khartoum. Most of those who attend services at the church are “Southerners.” Fear of racial and ethnic assaults is dramatically increasing in Khartoum and its environs. (AP)
§ April 23: Bentiu, the capital of Unity State, is yet again bombed; a market is hit, setting stalls ablaze and killing one child, according to the Reuters journalist present during the attack.
Khartoum denies this attack, and all others on South Sudan.
§ April 26: Bloomberg News reports that two members of the UN peacekeeping operation in South Sudan are being held in northern Sudan, two months after they were abducted from Gok Machar in Northern Bahr el-Ghazal State. The story has been very peculiarly under-reported, in part because the UN clearly does not want to explain how this intolerable state of affairs continues, obviously countenanced by Khartoum.
April 26: Oxfam reports that in Jamam refugee camp in Upper Nile, “tens of thousands of Sudanese refugees [from Blue Nile] face desperate, life-threatening water shortages and a growing threat of fatal disease.” The camp is already stretched far beyond its limits and yet confronts the prospect of a massive influx of new refugees from Khartoum’s military campaign against civilians in Blue Nile. (Oxfam)
§ April 27: Yasir Arman, secretary-general of the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement/Army-North, declares that “the government of Sudan is holding more than half a million people hostage in Sudan’s Southern Kordofan and Blue Nile States.” These people lack food, medicine, and shelter, Arman asserts. In the absence of international humanitarian access and assessment, and given previous UN figures, there is no reason to doubt the relative accuracy of Arman’s estimate.
Khartoum’s propaganda organs report that the regime “has agreed to form a joint mechanism to manage coordination between UN agencies and the Sudanese Humanitarian Aid Commission [HAC].” Those who have followed the actions of HAC in Darfur will recognize this as an immensely powerful stalling mechanism. (VOA)
§ April 27: There are reports of a renegade militia force attack on Malakal, the major town in Upper Nile. More generally, there are numerous ominous reports of a military build-up by the SAF in White Nile State near the border with Upper Nile. The SPLA believes that yet another major offensive is imminent; this could put refugees and civilians in Upper Nile at acute risk just as the rainy season makes humanitarian relief most difficult. Renegade militia forces supported by Khartoum, especially that of “Commander” Olonyi, are reported to have been particularly active in recent weeks, and that Khartoum has been unusually active in providing weapons and other equipment. This development is almost completely unreported, despite its immense consequence. Upper Nile is the border state that shares with Unity State virtually all the South’s oil reserves.
April 28: Khartoum declares that UN Security Council involvement in securing a cease-fire and backing the AU peace process would “give priority to a political position which was announced before and has a hidden agenda.” AFP reports that Foreign Minister Ali Karti did not elaborate on this cryptic accusation.
§ April 28: The UN confirms at least 50 casualties from Khartoum’s bombing attacks on the South (AP). The governor of Unity State estimates that 80 civilians have been killed in air raids since the beginning of March 2012.
§ April 28: Khartoum seizes four international experts working on mine removal for the UN in Pariang County, South Sudan; the regime accuses them of being involved in military activities. A week later they are still being held in Khartoum, despite pleas from the UN for their release. Khartoum’s is an act of contempt toward the international community, and would—if it occurred in South Sudan—produce an entirely different reaction from a hypocritical UN.
§ April 29: Ryan Boyette, the American aid worker who has long lived and worked in the Nuba Mountains, provides an account of the April 29 bombing of Kauda: six houses were partially or completely destroyed and four civilians wounded. This was the second bombing of Kauda in five days. Kurchi has also been heavily bombed.
§ April 29: A group of journalists in Panakuach witness an attack by Khartoum’s SAF on SPLA positions in the town.
April 30: The UN reports a “notable number of new arrivals [i.e., refugees]” from South Kordofan. An average of 234 people crossed into Unity State every day in April compared with 83 per day in February. The UN estimate of “more than 114,000 Sudanese refugees in South Sudan” is untenably low.
§ April 30 – May 1: Reuters reports claims by Juba that Khartoum’s warplanes have repeatedly attacked the oil regions of Unity State.
§ May 1: UNHCR in Ethiopia reports a continued surge of refugees from Blue Nile. (Sudan Tribune)
May 2: The UN Security Council passes Resolution 2046, which demands written commitments within 48 hours from Juba and Khartoum that the SAF and SPLA will observe a cease-fire. The Resolution also supports African Union mediation and its “roadmap” for peace.
§ May 3: AFP reports: “Sudanese warplanes and long-range artillery bombarded South Sudan border regions Thursday [May 3], defying a UN Security Council ultimatum to end hostilities or face possible sanctions, the South’s army said. ‘Their aircraft dropped bombs and artillery was fired targeting an SPLA (Southern army) base…this is an indication of preparation for a ground attack,’ said Southern army spokesman Philip Aguer.”
Al Jazeera reports (May 7) that 200 defecting SAF troops have told the SPLA that they were told to target oilfield in Unity State.
The governor of Unity State, Taban Deng, reports that shelling of the Tishwin area continues on May 5—a full day after the 48-hour deadline for the cease-fire to come into effect (confidential source).
§ May 3: The brutal treatment of “Southerners” in the north is exemplified by the callous deadline imposed by the governor of White Nile for those seeking to return to the South. Refugees International “condemns Sudan’s decision to force thousands of southerners to leave White Nile state, and is calling on Khartoum to extend Saturday’s departure deadline immediately. The state’s governor has declared that 12,000 southerners who have spent months at a way station in Kosti waiting for transport to South Sudan must leave the state by May 5th.”
“‘Because of Sudan’s intransigence, these people are not getting enough food, and they are going without shelter and basic health care,’ [Refugees International Statelessness Program Manager Sarnata] Reynolds added. ‘For the White Nile governor to demand these people leave within a week when they have been pushed from their homes with nowhere to go is the height of irresponsibility.'”
The International Organization for Migration (Geneva) expresses similar concerns about the fate of these desperate people (May 1).
May 3: Of the African Union “roadmap” for peace, Khartoum stresses that its “acceptance of the roadmap is ‘preliminary’ due to a great number of reservations.'” Ghazi Salah al-Din goes even further, warning in a published commentary that “the AU resolution roadmap is full of shortcomings and outright bias in favor of the SPLM.” These statements are a formula for delay and recalcitrance, and ultimately the abrogation of any agreement signed for public relations purposes.
Khartoum also goes to considerable lengths to make clear it believes there is no role for either the UN or IGAD in these negotiations; the regime is perfectly happy with Thabo Mbeki. (Sudan Tribune)
May 1 – 4: Encouraged by the international response to military events at Heglig, Khartoum now consistently accuses Juba of military “aggression” and “occupation” of northern territory. In fact, just the opposite is the case, as in Kafia Kingi, Abyei, and other border locations (AFP). In addition to reports from Unity and Upper Nile States, there have now been a great many reports of military aggression by the SAF in Warrap, Western Bahr el-Ghazal, and Northern Bahr el-Ghazal States. In short, military flash-points exist along the entire North/South border. The urgent need for border delineation, demarcation, and neutral patrolling has never been greater or more conspicuous.
§ May 4: Human Rights Watch issues a report on “Crisis Conditions in Southern Kordofan: Nuba Civilians Suffer Indiscriminate Bombing, Severe Hunger.” Among its findings are egregious violations of binding international human rights and humanitarian law:
“Sudanese government forces are conducting indiscriminate bombings and abuses against civilians in the Nuba Mountains area of Southern Kordofan …. Such attacks may amount to war crimes and crimes against humanity, and are creating a humanitarian crisis, exacerbated by the government’s denial of access to humanitarian agencies outside government-controlled towns.”
“Children have been maimed, women have been raped, and many people have no idea whether family members detained by Sudanese government forces are dead or alive.”
“The loss of last year’s harvest, coupled with the Sudanese government’s refusal to allow humanitarian assistance into the Nuba Mountains, has created severe food shortages and prompted many civilians to flee the area. More than 350,000 people are estimated to be internally displaced within Southern Kordofan, according to Sudanese civil society and humanitarian groups.”
“The laws of war require all parties to the conflict, including the Sudanese authorities, to allow and facilitate rapid and unimpeded passage of impartial humanitarian assistance for civilians in need. Although the Sudanese authorities have a right to control the delivery of aid, they may not arbitrarily deny access to humanitarian agencies and must allow access to humanitarian organizations that provide relief on an impartial and non-discriminatory basis if the survival of the population is threatened.”
The various connections to Darfur are painfully clear, for in fact the atrocity crimes committed in South Kordofan have been all too conspicuous since June of last year (see “Genocide in the Nuba Mountains of Sudan,” Dissent Magazine, June 22, 2011).
This timeline includes only a very few of the many developments that have occurred in Darfur over the past year and a half. A wide-ranging survey of conditions and events in Darfur during this time can be found in the following briefs and publications:
“Former Members of the UN Panel of Experts for Darfur Offer a Damning Alternative to the ‘Official’ Report,” April 17, 2012
“Darfur and the Diplomacy of Abandonment,” Dissent Magazine, March 16, 2012
“RAPE AS A CONTINUING WEAPON OF WAR IN DARFUR: Reports, bibliography of studies, a compendium of incidents,” March 4, 2012
“The Seen and the Unseen in Darfur: Recent reporting on violence, insecurity, and resettlement,” March 2, 2012
“Evil and Ignorance: The Case of Darfur,” Dissent Magazine, January 26, 2012
“On the Obstruction of Humanitarian Aid,” African Studies Review, Volume 54, Number 3 (Fall 2011)
“The UN Panel of Experts on Darfur Disappears,” Dissent Magazine, September 27, 2011
“The UN’s Man in Darfur: The Expedient Mendacity of Ibrahim Gambari,” September 19, 2011
“Darfur and the Consequences of Impunity for Sudan,” Dissent Magazine, September 9, 2011
“Darfur: No Way Forward from a Dangerous and Unsustainable Situation,” August 30, 2011
“Does the New York Times Editorial Board really care about accuracy?” August 28, 2011
“Reporting Darfur: Radio Dabanga and the ‘Black Box’ Genocide,” African Arguments (on-line), August 18, 2011
“Darfur Pushed Further Into the Shadows: Contrived and Disingenuous Optimism by African Union and UN Officials” (Parts 1 and 2), July 27, 2011
“A compendium of recent reports on Darfur from Radio Dabanga,” July 17, 2011
“Darfur and Ban Ki-moon’s Bid for a Second Term,” Dissent Magazine, June 10, 2011
“Darfur Is Getting Worse: Why aren’t the UN and U.S. pressuring Khartoum to reverse this horrific trend?” The New Republic, June 4, 2011
“Darfur: Life in the Darkening Shadows,” Dissent Magazine, May 18, 2011
“They Bombed Everything that Moved: Aerial military attacks on civilians and humanitarians in Sudan, 1999 -2011,” monograph (80+ pages and appendices) and data spreadsheet at: www.sudanbombing.org
“How many Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) are there in Darfur?” Dissent Magazine, April 28, 2011
“Amidst Accelerating Darfur Violence: Human Rights Reporting by Darfuris,” March 23, 2011
“Darfur: ‘De-Emphasized,’ ‘De-Coupled,’ and Finally Denied,” February 15, 2011
“Darfur Humanitarian Overview: The Consequences of International Silence: UN mendacity and weakness bring millions of Darfuris closer to destruction—and the world looks on with indifference,” January 23, 2011
“Darfur Moves Deeper into the Shadow of Indifference,” Dissent Magazine, December 17, 2010
“Darkness Visible: The UN Looks at Darfur But Refuses to See,” Dissent Magazine, October 26, 2010
“Arming Khartoum: Chinas Complicity in the Darfur Genocide,” Dissent Magazine, October 18, 2010
“Accommodating Genocide: International Response to Khartoum’s ‘New Strategy for Darfur,'” Dissent Magazine, October 8, 2010
“Darfur Humanitarian Update,” August 31, 2010
“Darfur: The Disappearing Genocide: Victims in Darfur are no longer seen, heard, or helped,” The New Republic, August 20, 2010