This is the thirteenth installment of a digest containing what I believe to be the most important stories reported by Radio Dabanga in the previous week. Radio Dabanga continues to be by far our most important and reliable source of information about what is occurring in Darfur; it provides a great deal more than the UN/African Union Mission in Darfur (UNAMID), the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), and the largely worthless quarterly reports of the UN Secretary-General.
This week has again been particularly dense with detailed news about violence and the deteriorating humanitarian situation in Darfur, as well as various political developments, some involving the international community. The severe political crackdown on civil society—particularly attacks on Darfuri students in Khartoum and major towns—has grown in intensity and scope. The deterioration of the Sudanese economy is also highlighted by several reports, raising grave questions about possible military actions to restore the oil flowing from Upper Nile, South Sudan. The evacuation of more than 400 Chinese oil workers from South Sudan ensures that a shutdown in production has occurred or will occur soon. Any further loss of foreign exchange currency would be a disaster for Khartoum, which presently doesn’t have adequate hard currency reserves to pay for wheat imports for bread. Flour and bread shortages continue to fuel civil unrest. Water shortages also continue to grow in Darfur, and have now extended to West Kordofan and Eastern Sudan, particularly Port Sudan.
Assaults on civilians by the Rapid Support Forces, Khartoum’s “militia of choice,” continue throughout Darfur; indiscriminate aerial bombardment of civilians and sexual assaults on girls and women remain standard weapons of war. Humanitarian conditions are deteriorating, and the plight of the forgotten Darfuri refugees in eastern Chad is highlighted in one dispatch.
All this provides the context for a decision that looms ever closer in the negotiations between the UN, the African Union, and the Khartoum regime about re-authorization of UNAMID; current authorization expires in less than six weeks (June 30, 2015). What we are seeing in many of these reports is Khartoum’s effort to create significant “facts on the ground” for dealing with any re-configured force, which will certainly be much smaller and have a more restricted mandate. An earlier dispatch from the regime-controlled Sudan Vision (May 17, 2015) spoke in specific and insistent terms about UNAMID’s withdrawal. Such withdrawal would, of course, ensure a rapid escalation of violence beyond even current horrific levels, and leave a total absence of international “eyes on the ground.” Moreover, weak and failing as it is, UNAMID is all that prevents humanitarian organizations from withdrawing; any significant deterioration in what security is presently provided would lead to near-terms exits.
All dispatches have again been edited to some degree (often considerable) for length; any editorial comments on my part appear italicized in [brackets] and in blue; all emphases within the cited texts have been added (bold or bold with underlining). There are ten primary stories, with related stories in subsidiary positions in the text.
I emphasize yet again in this digest that what is now called “Central Darfur” was formerly part of West Darfur (and to a lesser extent South Darfur). The further division of Darfur by the National Islamic Front/National Congress Party (NIF/NCP) regime in 2012 was arbitrary and entirely politically motivated; it has also worked to encourage geographical confusion (the western part of “Central Darfur,” for example, borders eastern Chad). Similarly, “East Darfur” was also created arbitrarily in 2012 from parts of South Darfur. Geographically, it designates the southeastern region of Darfur.
Darfur: Radio Dabanga Digest, Number 1 | http://wp.me/p45rOG-1CD
Darfur: Radio Dabanga Digest, Number 2 | http://wp.me/p45rOG-1De
Darfur: Radio Dabanga Digest, Number 3 | http://wp.me/p45rOG-1Dt
Darfur: Radio Dabanga Digest, Number 4 | http://wp.me/p45rOG-1Ei
Darfur: Radio Dabanga Digest, Number 5 | http://wp.me/p45rOG-1EL
Darfur: Radio Dabanga Digest, Number 6 | http://wp.me/p45rOG-1Fp
Darfur: Radio Dabanga Digest, Number 7 | http://wp.me/p45rOG-1FL
Darfur: Radio Dabanga Digest, Number 8 | http://wp.me/s45rOG-6452
Darfur: Radio Dabanga Digest, Number 9 | http://wp.me/p45rOG-1Gi
Darfur: Radio Dabanga Digest, Number 10 | http://wp.me/p45rOG-1Gt
Darfur: Radio Dabanga Digest, Number 11 | http://wp.me/p45rOG-1Hq
Darfur: Radio Dabanga Digest, Number 12 | http://wp.me/p45rOG-1HY
Darfur: Radio Dabanga Digest, Number 13 | http://wp.me/p45rOG-1Ia—and below
Eric Reeves, 24 May 2015
May 22, 2015 | Khartoum / Gaga Camp (eastern Chad)
The Sudan, Chad and the United Nations High Commissioners for Refugees held a joint meeting in Khartoum to discuss the return of Sudanese refugees residing in twelve camps in eastern Chad. Babiker Ahmad Digna, the State Minister of Interior, confirmed his government’s commitment to achieve sustainable voluntary repatriation of Sudanese refugees in Chad. “It’s the best solution to their problems.” During the meeting, the minister stressed the importance of signing a tripartite agreement for the development of the legal framework for the voluntary return of Sudanese and Chadian refugees to their homes….
The Sudanese refugees in the camps in eastern Chad refused the government’s claims [about] voluntary repatriation and described the situation in Darfur as “more dangerous than when they fled to Chad.” Yassin Yahya, an activist in camp Gaga, told Radio Dabanga that the dream of returning home still entices all refugees, but the serious conditions prevailing now in Darfur cannot allow this. He wondered “where we will stay when we go back.” Yassin denied that the refugees in the camps in eastern Chad have asked any entity to return them home and added that if this happens, it will be a forced return.
[The UN High Commission for Refugees estimates that there are approximately 370,000 Darfuri refugees in eastern Chad. As activist Yassin Yahya of Gaga camp makes clear—and his is a very widely shared perception—“the situation in Darfur as ‘more dangerous than when they fled to Chad.’” And although all refugees desperately want to return to their native land, they all ask the same question Yassin Yahya poses: “where we will stay when we go back?” With so much of the land of the refugees seized by Arab groups, with so much destruction of their villages and farms, the question is presently unanswerable—and so the refugees will stay in eastern Chad.]
May 21, 2015 | Khartoum
At the end of his first mission to Sudan, the UN Independent Expert on the situation of human rights in the country, Aristide Nononsi, gave a press briefing in Khartoum. The UN human rights expert arrived in Sudan on the 13th of May. He visited Khartoum, where he spoke with a large number of government officials, and North and South Darfur, where he also spoke with a number of displaced…
He reported that he visited the Abu Shouk camp in North Darfur, and the Otash and Dereig camps in South Darfur, saying that he is not only concerned about the ongoing displacement of the residents, and the humanitarian crises they are living in, but also about their future. “There is a need for all that human rights include civil and political rights, economic, social, cultural rights, as well as the right to development. These camps receive some humanitarian assistance both from the government and from UN agencies, but it is essential to see that these actions are in response to the rights of civilians, and should be made sustainable.”
“Most of the displaced I met have expressed their willingness to return to their homeland if there is an improvement of the security situation. I urge the government in Khartoum to create the necessary conditions for the return of the displaced to their ancestral homeland, and the international community to support this process as well,” he said.
[This is accurate as far as it goes in reporting on the views of displaced Darfuris; however, merely “urging” Khartoum “to create the necessary conditions for the return of the displaced to their ancestral homeland” is an exercise in feel-good diplomacy. Khartoum hasn’t over the past twelve years responded to such “urging,” and there is no reason to believe that it will do so given present circumstances.]
Nononsi also pointed to the state of insecurity the Darfuris are living in “owing to the presence of various armed elements and criminality that occur within the region,” and called upon the Sudanese government and UNAMID to “fulfil their obligation in creating a safe and secure environment for these displaced communities.”
The human rights expert also referred to the importance to finally achieve peace in Darfur, and urged the warring parties to “put the people of Sudan’s interest first, and return to the negotiation table to resolve their outstanding differences, so as to bring peace and stability in the region.”
[Khartoum refuses to re-open any peace negotiations except as a continuation of the Doha Document for Peace in Darfur (July 2011), thereby ensuring that there will be no further negotiations. The DDPD is a completely dead letter diplomatically and enjoys no support among Darfuri civil society or the significant rebel groups.]
He stressed the need for “serious commitment to effectively end the impunity for crimes committed in the region,” and said that he agreed with the General Prosecutor for the Special Court of Darfur Crimes that he will visit him again to “discuss and advice on aspects of the important work” of the court.
[The “General Prosecutor for the Special Court of Darfur Crimes”—a position that has rotated a number of times, and still has recorded no significant conviction for any of the atrocity crimes committed in Darfur—is an cruelly bad joke. Despite tens of thousands of rapes, the General Prosecutor has not charged anyone in either the militias or the SAF, including for the more than 200 rapes of women and girls at Tabit (North Darfur) last fall. This statement by Nononsi has the effect of giving credibility to a gross judicial sham.]
“I have received reports of restrictions on political rights and freedoms, including the freedom of expression, assembly and association, in particular in the lead up to the April 2015 general elections,” Nononsi told the reporters in Khartoum today. He therefore called on the Sudanese authorities to “respect the political rights and freedoms as enshrined in the Interim National Constitution and allow the Sudanese people to exercise their rights freely,” and to release “all detained persons, or charge them with a recognisable offence, and prosecute them in accordance with the law.”
[The “Interim National Constitution” is another grim joke, and the “freedoms” nominally enjoyed by citizens, and the press in particular, exist nowhere. On the contrary, since initial promulgation of the INC, repression has grown more severe, censorship more rigorous, and political life targeted with growing ferocity.]
He also pointed to the need to ensure the protection of freedom of the press, “with particular reference being made to the use of national security laws to curb the press including closure of media houses, detention of journalists, and confiscation of newspapers and equipment.”
“In conclusion,” he stated, “I underscore the centrality of human rights and rule of law to peace and stability in Sudan. Key to this is an appropriate legal framework, institutional arrangements and democratic reforms. I urge of the government of Sudan to renew its efforts in these areas so as to fulfil its human rights obligations.”
[Fine words, and better than what we’ve heard from most previous UN appointees; but Nononsi’s words fall on deaf ears in the Khartoum regime, which he surely knows. Only international commitment to pressure the regime on all these issues can have any impact; words alone are meaningless, even as the international community consistently substitutes them for actions. There needs to be a response to Darfuri pleas (see immediately below).]
May 22, 2015 Nyala / Khartoum
Displaced people living in the camps in Darfur which were visited by the UN Independent Expert on the situation of human rights in Sudan, affirmed that they will not return to their home areas, unless they are secure and freed of militias and weapons.
Leaders, sheikhs, in the Otash and Dereig camps in Nyala, South Darfur, and Abu Shouk camp in North Darfur’s El Fasher, explained their stance on the matter to Radio Dabanga… “People do not and will not return to their homes, unless security is provided, the pro-government militias are disarmed, and the new settlers in the area are expelled,” one of the sheikhs said.
In addition to this, the people need to be provided with basic services including health, education, water and electricity, he said. The camp leaders stressed these conditions and the need to achieve them to Nononsi, “before we talk or are forced to any voluntary return…”
“Key to [peace and stability] is an appropriate legal framework, institutional arrangements and democratic reforms. I urge of the government of Sudan to renew its efforts in these areas so as to fulfil its human rights obligations,” Nononsi told reporters yesterday. [Segue!] Mohamed Yousif El Bokh and Omar El Faki, two affiliates of the Sudanese Congress Party, were charged on Wednesday with undermining the constitutional order and calling for opposing the Sudanese regime by force…
According to opposition parties and lawyers of the Darfur Bar Association, the general election held in Sudan between 13 and 16 April was marked by widespread fraud. The United States, the United Kingdom, and Norway (the members of the “Sudan Troika”) announced that they do not consider the Sudanese election to be a reflection of the will of the people.
May 18, 2015 | Khartoum
The inflation rate in Sudan climbed to 24.3 percent in April, the Central Statistics Office announced on Sunday. Inflation was slightly up in March to 23.2 percent, from 23 percent in February. However, it has generally been easing since summer last year, when it was in the mid-forties. Prices soared in Sudan after South Sudan seceded in July 2011, taking with it three-quarters of the country’s oil output, the main source of foreign currency used to support the Sudanese pound, and to pay for food and other imports.
Yet according to a report released by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) in August 2010, the Forex reserves held by the Sudanese Central Bank showed a sharp decline years before the secession. They went down from $1.58 billion in 2006 to $390 million in 2009, which is estimated to cover a little over two weeks of imports. The Sudanese authorities have been trying to support the Sudanese pound by deposits from Gulf states, such as a deposit of $1 billion at the Central Bank of Sudan by Qatar in April 2014. Yet, the exchange rate of the pound kept falling.
The main cause for the declining value of the national currency is the “combination of a weakening state economy and a weak productivity in general, together with the increase in government spending, and continued military spending on the armed conflicts in the country,” Sudanese economist Prof Esam Abdel Wahab Bob commented late April 2014.
Fuel subsidy cuts introduced late September 2013 again strongly pushed up inflation. The skyrocketing of food prices, besides the armed conflicts in western and southern Sudan, has led to an increase of malnutrition cases among the Sudanese population. The country has one of the highest levels of malnutrition in Africa. 36 percent of the children are stunted, which is a primary manifestation of under-nutrition. More than 60 percent of the children in the country suffer from severe anemia.
[As grim as these figures are as economic indicators, it is important to remember that the IMF does not assess the quality of the data released by the regime’s Central Bureau of Statistics. This bureaucratic extension of the regime can put out whatever figures it believes will have some vague credibility. But inflation is certainly well above 24 percent, especially for critical commodities such as bread and cooking fuel—both of which must be imported (wheat to be ground into flour for bread; cooking oil because even in the flush years of oil revenues the regime did not invest in domestic refining capacity for this essential commodity. Of particular note is the evidence that Forex reserves were falling to dangerously low levels even before the secession of South Sudan; this reflects, more than anything else, exorbitant spending on the military and security services, as well as highly expensive weapons systems. The army has always taken precedence over providing adequate food to all Sudanese, despite the enormous agricultural potential of the country, a potential almost completely squandered by the National Islamic Front/National Congress Party regime.]
May 19, 2015 | Khartoum
Sudanese economists have warned for a considerable rise in food prices during the coming months. The climbing inflation rate during the past two months is an indication that prices of basic commodities will continue to rise considerably the coming period, various Sudanese newspapers reported on Monday. The economists attributed the inflation to the decreasing value of the Sudanese pound against the American dollar and other foreign currencies. More than five years ago, foreign currency reserves at the Central Bank of Sudan, needed to import foodstuffs and medicines, began declining sharply. The black market rate of the American dollar and the euro skyrocketed accordingly. According to the experts, the market prices are difficult to control, especially because the fasting month of Ramadan will begin mid June, which significantly boosts the demand for sugar, flour, and vegetable oils.
[Few appear to take the implications of Sudan’s high inflation rate seriously; but it will ultimately be the spark for civil insurrection, even if met with the most brutal repressive measures. All the ingredients for hyper-inflation are in place, which will paralyze the economy throughout the country, render the Sudanese Pound completely worthless as a currency, and have disastrous effects on the ability to import the most critical of commodities.]
May 18, 2015 | Omdurman
A group of youth activists in Omdurman have launched the “Emergency Street Initiative” to support the needy patients in the area. On Saturday, an intensive care unit for children was officially opened at the Mohamed El Amin Hamed Hospital in Omdurman. Tea seller Um Gisma was invited to cut the ribbon. At a press conference, members of the Initiative explained that the costs, amounting to SDG2.6 million ($435,880) were raised by voluntary work and fundraising campaigns. The unit is equipped with the latest monitoring capabilities, to treat seven emergency cases a day. The emergency department of the Khartoum Teaching Hospital is located at the Hospital Street in central Khartoum.
[Here again we see a clear reflection of the regime’s spending priorities.]
May 21, 2015 | Gereida, South Darfur
On Wednesday, tea sellers from the Gereida camp for the displaced in South Darfur staged a sit-in, in front of the offices of the security apparatus and the locality commissioner, against the detention of a colleague. The teachers of Gereida town embarked on a strike in protest against the reduction of their salaries. Speaking to Radio Dabanga, one of the protesters reported that tea seller Hawa Adam Mohamed was detained by security officers during a meeting with the commissioner of Gereida locality on Tuesday. “Commissioner Mohamed Abdelrahman Gasem met with the tea sellers of the town to convey his decision to prohibit them to do their work, from Wednesday onwards,” she said.
“He told us that it was a precautionary security measure in order to avoid more friction between militiamen of the Rapid Support Forces and the people in the town. Hawa Adam stood up against him, stressing that most of the tea sellers are poor displaced women and widows whose sole earnings come from the sale of tea and coffee. “The commissioner became angry and called us Tora Bora [slang for Darfur rebels], whereupon security agents took Hawa away. She was released after our protest on Wednesday.”
The teachers in Gereida announced a strike on Wednesday, in protest against a five percent deduction of their salaries. Adam El Zein, Chairman of the Gereida branch of the Teachers’ Union, told Radio Dabanga that five percent was deducted from their salaries last month, “with the argument that the locality is in need of financial support.” He explained that the same percentage was deducted last year…
[More indications of where Khartoum’s budgetary priorities lie. Darfur is certainly not insulated from national economic woes.]
May 19, 2015 | Port Sudan / El Gedaref
The people living in Port Sudan are suffering from long daily power cuts since one month. In El Gedaref state, also in eastern Sudan, villagers are complaining of an acute drinking water crisis. “The eastern Sudanese authorities are totally indifferent towards the conditions the citizens have to live in, especially during the hot summer season,” a listener told Radio Dabanga from Port Sudan, capital of Red Sea state. “The only justification is that the electricity lines needed maintenance. This may last for two, three, or maybe five days, but we do not understand why it takes more than one month,” he said.
In Gala’ El Nahal locality, El Gedaref state, the residents of Kartout and El Areed villages complain about thirst since the water sources dried up. “We have to make do without water since three days,” a villager told Radio Dabanga from Kartout on Monday. “The wells and the water cisterns we created during the past rainy season are entirely depleted.” He appealed to the authorities of the locality to “immediately intervene” and provide drinking water to the affected.
[Because the Khartoum regime’s budgetary expenditures are consumed primarily by the military and security services, critical infrastructure needs and repairs are neglected entirely in some regions, even for such a critical need as clean water.]
May 22, 2015 | Omdurman
Students in a discussion corner in El Ahliya University came under attack by other students on Thursday. At least eleven students, mainly from Darfur, were injured. In addition, two students were detained by security service troops. Hasabel Nabi Mohamoud, the Secretary-General of the Darfur Students Association at El Ahliya University, told Radio Dabanga that armed student members of the ruling National Congress Party (NCP) attacked the discussion corner, where student members of the Sudan Liberation Movement were present. “The NCP students were backed by security services.”
“They targeted all students with metal bars and machetes, and chased the Darfuri students off the university ground, even on to the streets of Omdurman.” Mohamoud pointed out that the number of detained and injured students has not yet been exactly confirmed. However, he confirmed the injury of eleven students including student Idris Babiker, the Deputy Secretary-General of the Darfuri Students Association, Nazar Idris and El Tom Khater. He stressed that Idris was seriously injured and then arrested by a security force, together with another student from Darfur named Sana Abdallah The Darfur Students Association (DSA) reported on Tuesday that 28 Darfuri students are currently being held in detention centres of the National Intelligence and Security Service (NISS) in Khartoum.
[Students, and particularly Darfuri students, are likely to be in the vanguard of the coming civil insurrection; for this reason they are being targeted mercilessly by the regime.]
May 20, 2015 | Khartoum
The head of El Nilein University Students’ Association in El Manaseer, northern Sudan, was held at the centre of Khartoum on Monday, allegedly by security agents, and beaten in an office before he was released. Mohamed El Nazir told Radio Dabanga that “a security officer approached me, and told me to accompany him outside the university building. There were seven people there, who dumped me in the back of a vehicle, blindfolded me, and took me somewhere.” El Nazir said that he was beaten and his clothes were ripped off, before they released him at a dark place near the university, late on Monday evening.
May 19, 2015 | Omdurman
The Darfur Students Association (DSA) reported today that 28 Darfuri students are currently being held in detention centres of the National Intelligence and Security Service (NISS) in Khartoum. At a press conference at the headquarters of the National Umma Party in Omdurman this (Tuesday) morning, Hasabelnabi Mahmoud, Secretary-General of the DSA branch of the Ahliya University in Omdurman, described the situation of Darfuri students at Sudanese universities these days as “dangerous.” He said that militant to create the necessary conditions for the return of the displaced to their ancestral homeland “Darfuris who want to enter the campus are beaten, after which they are detained by security agents.”
“About one third of the Darfuri students in the Sudanese capital have been subjected to beatings the last couple of weeks,” he reported. “The number of Darfuri students who were wounded in attacks at Khartoum universities has risen to 221.” Mahmoud further said that many Darfuri students have not been able to sit for their exams…
The Darfuri students also commented on the upsurge of tribal clashes in the war-torn western region. According to Yasir Mohamed Abdeljabar, Chairman of the DSA branch of the Omdurman Islamic University, the ruling NCP is behind the clashes between various tribes in Darfur. He stressed that there are “no real tribal clashes” in Darfur.
“We, of the DSA, are convinced that the violence is part of a systematic campaign by the Khartoum regime and its security apparatus to set up the people of Darfur against each other, in order to destroy the social fabric in the region. It is the Sudanese government that distributed these heavy weapons to the tribesmen. “The government is now doing the same with the universities. They are setting up students against each other, dividing them into ordinary students and so-called adherents of the armed movements, in order to target the Darfuri students, and deny them academic education,” Abdeljabar said.
[There is a terrifying plausibility to this account of “tribal violence” in Darfur, as well as the current crackdown on students, especially Darfuri students, throughout Sudan. As a tactic, this encouragement of encouraging people of a given region to fight against one another has a long, ugly history.]
May 19, 2015 | Dongola
Security officers detained Talha Hameed Hassan, lecturer at the Faculty of Arts of Dongola University in Northern state, on Monday. He was held after he had accused the police of abuse and corruption on the social media.
May 18, 2015 | Khartoum
The Darfur Bar Association (DBA) has criticised the circumstances accompanying the start of the trial of Mohamed El Bagari, a student from Darfur, who has been charged with killing a member of the student wing of the ruling party in Khartoum late April. About 150 militant students of the ruling National Congress Party (NCP), backed by university guards, assaulted a number of members of the Darfur Student Association who were having a meeting at the Sharg El Nil College campus on 29 April. During the ensuing clashes, one of the assailants, Mohamed Awad El Karim, Secretary-General of the National Islamist Students Movement was killed.
“By coincidence, a lawyer discovered that El Bagari was brought before a judge of the criminal court of central Khartoum North on Thursday, without a defence lawyer present,” El Sadeg Ali Hassan, Secretary-General of the DBA, told Radio Dabanga. “The DBA is currently attempting to get in contact with the student’s family in Omdurman, and at the same time has contacted competent legal sources, to be kept informed about the proceedings, so we will be able to provide legal aid to the accused”, he said. According to Hassan, the reason for the authorities withholding information on El Bagari’s trial dates is “because they want to convict him as soon as possible, in order to make him a scapegoat for the attack by the NCP student members against the Darfuri students on that disastrous day.”
[This is indeed how a great many “judicial” events occur in Sudan under the current regime.]
May 21, 2015 | Khartoum
The Darfur Students Association (DSA) has demanded the release of the Darfuri students being held in Khartoum. In a statement on Wednesday, the Association reported that Darfuri students are still being harassed and assaulted in the country’s capital. More than 100 students from Darfur were detained during the current month. Most of them were released after being charged with crimes “they did not do.” 28 of them are still being held in detention centres. The DSA requested the National Intelligence and Security Service (NISS) and militant student members of the ruling National Congress Party to “immediately stop targeting Darfuri students.”
At a press conference in Omdurman on Tuesday, the secretary-general of the DSA branch of the Ahliya University said that one third of the Darfuri students in Khartoum state have been subjected to beatings the last couple of weeks. 221 of them sustained injuries.
May 22, 2015 | Khartoum
The Khartoum Criminal Court raised charges against two politicians from the opposition, arrested in White Nile state during a large anti-election campaign this year. Mohamed Yousif El Bokh and Omar El Faki, two affiliates of the Sudanese Congress Party, were charged on Wednesday with undermining the constitutional order and calling for opposing the Sudanese regime by force.
May 20, 2015 | Abu Karinka / Khartoum
The Governor of East Darfur has announced granting full authorisation to the forces that are deployed to arrest “outlaws and agitators” who were involved in the tribal clashes between Rizeigat and Ma’aliya in Abu Karinka on 11 May. Sudan’s ruling party has planned the voluntarily disarmament of the two tribes. Colonel El Tayeb Abdelkarim Ahmed said that there is a political and security plan that will be implemented on the ground soon. In an interview with Radio Dabanga, he described the plan as “capable of preventing frictions, deterring any lawlessness and law breakers, providing an opportunity for reconciliation, repairing the social fabric and achieving security and stability in the State.”
[Here we should bear in mind the conclusion of Yasir Mohamed Abdeljabar:
“We, of the Darfur Students Association, are convinced that the violence [in the Abu Karinka area] is part of a systematic campaign by the Khartoum regime and its security apparatus to set up the people of Darfur against each other, in order to destroy the social fabric in the region.
It is the Sudanese government that distributed these heavy weapons to the tribesmen. The government is now doing the same with the universities. They are setting up students against each other, dividing them into ordinary students and so-called adherents of the armed movements, in order to target the Darfuri students, and deny them academic education.”]
[Colonel El Tayeb Abdelkarim Ahmed’s “political and security” plan is merely expedient propaganda; there is no intention do undertake any such measures as are promised, certainly not in a way consistent with basic human rights.]
May 19, 2015 | East Jebel Marra
An unknown number of villagers were injured, others disappeared, and at least three young women were raped in an attack by the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF) on seven villages in the southern part of Tawila locality, North Darfur, which is popularly known as East Jebel Marra, on Sunday and Monday. Speaking to Radio Dabanga, fleeing villagers reported that a large group of RSF troops riding in more than 75 heavily armed vehicles, raided the villages of Abu Zereiga, Sharafa, Humeida, Dolma, Nemra, Masaleet, and Tokomari. “They beat us with batons and whips, before they robbed us of our money, belongings, and our livestock,” they said. “At least three young women, aged 17, 19 and 21, of Humeida village were gang-raped.”
The sources could not give more details about casualties, as the people fled “into various directions, most of them headed towards Shangil Tobaya and Tabit.” They said that the militiamen loaded the pillaged goods, including clothing, household utensils, ceilings and doors of houses and schools, as well as the stolen livestock on large lorries, and left into the direction of Tabit. “The area of Tabit is already facing a huge drinking water crisis, as the militiamen are in control of all the water stations and wells,” a villager explained. “They are using them to provide water to the livestock, stolen from the area during the past months.”
[Such control of water stations and wells is an extremely dangerous development and augurs poorly for a restoration of land and water rights.]
The villages of Dolma, Sharafa, and Nemra were attacked before, on 31 December, during the start of the second “dry season offensive” against the rebels in Darfur, as announced by the Sudanese government.
May 20, 2015 | Tawila
The majority of the population in the areas of Tabit, Shangil Tobaya, and Tawila in East Jebel Marra have left their houses in fear of more attacks by Sudanese paramilitary forces. Witnesses, who have fled themselves, confirmed the displacement to Radio Dabanga. They said that the Rapid Support Forces (RSF) carry out a “scorched land policy” since they are stationed in East Jebel Marra in the beginning of May. They impoverish, and force displacement during their attacks, the witnesses said. Seven villages in the southern part of Tawila locality, North Darfur—which is popularly known as East Jebel Marra—were pillaged on Sunday and Monday. A commander of the RSF reportedly told residents in Tawila locality that it is a military area now, and anyone present there will become a legitimate target for the troops.
[This is an astonishing statement of intent by the RSF commander in the region—although comporting fully with the actions of the troops under his command.]
The witnesses explained that the RSF beat and tortured the citizens, robbed their property, possessions and livestock, and damaged or occupied water sources, which led to the displacement of “90 percent” of the population.
The militias have taken up positions in the region starting from Abu Hamra, Afara, and Kandro, passing through Dobo El Omda, El Madrasa, and Karfola, until Dali and Tokomari. The residents of Abu Hamra, Shangil Tobaya, Tabit, and the surrounding villages complained that they cannot go out for farming, collecting firewood or fetch water, in fear of being beaten by the RSF in the area. They told Radio Dabanga about the disrupted trade, especially the movement of trade between villages and settlements, and that this may endanger their lives.
[This radical attenuation of the lives and livelihoods of the people of the region will conclude only when the radical demand of notorious Janjaweed leader Musa Hilal is completed: “Change the demography of Darfur; empty it of African tribes.”]
May 18, 2015 | Kutum Locality
[The title of this dispatch tells us all too much about Darfur as a whole.]
On Sunday, the fifth day of the Kutum market strike, the fruit and vegetable sellers, and the butchers joined their colleagues. The market is now entirely closed, in protest against the rampant insecurity in the North Darfuri town. The Kassab camp market, near Kutum, was closed on Saturday, out of fear of a robbery. After the abduction of a merchant for ransom early last week, following a series of robberies, the market traders decided to embark on a strike last Thursday. A young activist told Radio Dabanga that as a result of the strike, “life has stopped entirely in Kutum. The water engines providing water to the town broke down earlier, and the bakeries have shut their doors because of a lack of fuel and flour.”
May 19, 2015 | El Fasher Locality
A group of gunmen stole a passenger lorry on the El Fasher-Tawila road on Monday. One of the victims to Radio Dabanga that the gunmen stopped the lorry at gunpoint in the area of Tandobaya, 20 km west of El Fasher, capital of North Darfur. “We were on our way to Tawila town, when gunmen in a Land cruiser mounted with a Dushka machinegun, intercepted the lorry. They told the driver and passengers to disembark, after which they robbed us of our money, mobile telephones, and luggage. “They then took the lorry, loaded with the stolen fuel, sugar, oil, flour, soap, and other commodities, and fled towards Kabkabiya,” he reported.
[Travel is almost impossibly dangerous in many areas of Darfur, especially North Darfur.]
May 22, 2015 | Nyala
Nyala city, the capital of South Darfur state, witnessed a number of violent incidents on Wednesday. A taxi driver was shot dead in El Thora district. A child died and another was seriously wounded when they were playing with a grenade that exploded in their house. In El Sad El Ali district, militiamen hijacked the vehicle of a female doctor at gunpoint, while in El Geer (western Nyala), a grocery store owner was shot and wounded by a stray bullet.
On Wednesday evening, members of the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces stormed the police’s detention offices in Gereida locality. They managed to release two detainees who are accused of murder. An activist in the area told Radio Dabanga that at about 6 pm, a group of paramilitary forces driving seven Land Cruisers stormed the police office and released Sabah Hamdan and Abdel Rahman, accused of killing two displaced people in in Abyad camp for the internally displaced in Gereida last week.
May 19, 2015 | Kereinik Locality
A group of gunmen abducted a resident of Sese camp in Kereinik locality on Thursday. Two days later, they contacted his family, and demanded a ransom of SDG3,000 ($501), one of his relatives told Radio Dabanga. He said that the gunmen, riding in a Land Cruiser, ambushed Mohamed Abdallah Idris and his wife when they were collecting firewood east of the camp. They beat them with their rifle butts, after which they took Idris to an unknown destination.
[Abduction for ransom has become a primary security issue throughout Darfur; it is a way for Arab militia forces to extract whatever wealth may remain among the non-Arab tribal populations in camps and rural areas.]
May 19, 2015 | Wadi Saleh Locality
A group of militiamen assaulted and robbed a group of displaced women near Garsila, capital of Wadi Salih locality, on Sunday. “Seven Janjaweed riding on camels and wearing military uniforms ambushed a group of women, who were harvesting onions in the area of Jedo, east of Garsila, on Sunday morning,” a Garsila camp sheikh told Radio Dabanga. “They beat them severely with their whips, and robbed them of their money, belongings, and nine 100kg sacks of onions,” he added. “Three of the women sustained serious injuries.”
[This is daily life for civilians in Darfur, who enjoy no meaningful protection from such attacks.]
May 18, 2015 | Kalma Camp
A boy was injured in a large fire that broke out in Kalma camp for the displaced near Nyala, capital of South Darfur, on Saturday. Saleh Eisa, Secretary-General of Kalma camp, with more than 160,000 residents one of the largest camps in Darfur, told Radio Dabanga that four-year-old Abdelmajeed Mohamed Abdeljabar sustained burns when the fire broke out at Block 8. “30 homes were destroyed, and 22 other shelters were partially damaged,” he reported. “Two goats and a donkey burned to death.” Eisa said that the affected families have lost all their belongings, and are now living in the open…”
[Arson continues to be suspected in many of these fires, which leave families utterly bereft.]
May 21, 2015 | Tawila Locality
A displaced man was shot near Tina, Tawila locality, on Wednesday, in an attack by militiamen, who wanted to enter their livestock on farmlands in the area. Omda Mukhtar Bosh, coordinator of the Tawila camps for the displaced, told Radio Dabanga that “a joint force of government-backed militiamen, riding in vehicles and others on camels, attacked a group of displaced farmers in the area of Tina, 15 km west of Tawila town.
“They severely beat them with their whips, and shot around them to chase them from their farmlands. Ibrahim Musa Adam was hit by bullets, and had to be taken to El Fasher Teaching Hospital for treatment. The donkey of Hawa Mohamed Abu Bashar was killed,” he said. “The attackers then released their livestock on their lands.” Bosh said that the same happened near Kunjara, Um Burma, Tarny, Jeily, Siswa, Bawabat Sejeli, and Hillet Tendel villages on Wednesday. “Also there militiamen beat and whipped the farmers, and entered their camels and cows on farmlands.”
[Such actions are enormously destructive and threaten any possible reconciliation between predominantly sedentary African farmers and the nomadic Arab groups who range seasonally throughout Darfur with their camels and cattle.]
May 17, 2015 | Kutum Locality
A fighter jet of the Sudanese Air Force bombed Um Sidir, north of Kutum, last Wednesday. A young herder was killed, besides more than 1,000 head of livestock. The only water well in the area was destroyed. Mohamed Ahmed Minawi Digeish, independent MP for Um Baru, Karnoi and El Tina constituencies, told Radio Dabanga that the 13 bombs dropped on the area of Um Sidir, killed herder Ibrahim Ahmed Khareef (17), 800 sheep, 300 camels, and more than 50 donkeys. He added that the bombardments also resulted in the destruction of the only water well in the area. “The people in the area were horrified and many fled to Um Baru camp for the displaced.
[As is the case with all such aerial attacks, this incident is an egregious violation of UN Security Council Resolution 1591 (March 2005). The attack is also another war crimes to be added to Khartoum’s exceedingly long list.]
May 18, 2015 | Deleig Camp
Two militiamen raped a 15 year-old girl of Deleig camp for the displaced in Wadi Salih locality on Saturday. The incident occurred when two government-backed militiamen riding on camels intercepted a group of six displaced, two men and four women, early on Saturday evening, an activist informed Radio Dabanga from Deleig camp. “The displaced were on their way back from Wadi Jamein, when the militiamen stopped them by shooting into the air. The attackers seized the girl, and started beating her severely with their whips. They then raped her alternately for two hours, from 6pm until 8 pm.” The source said that the residents of the camp formed a “rescue team” that found the victim, “in a very bad metal and physical condition,” in the area of Goubi, 6 km east of the camp. “The incident was reported to the police of Deleig.”
[The horror of sexual assaults against girls is unending.]
May 20, 2015 | Kass
People have accused the executive director of Kass locality in South Darfur of raping a 14-year-old, displaced girl. Relatives claimed that the girl and a witness are being held at the police station. According to a family member of the rape victim, the incident occurred in the house of Ahmed Abaker, adjacent to the police office. The Kass executive director has confessed to raping the girl, to both the police and the victim’s relatives, according to the family member speaking to Radio Dabanga…
[T]he incident provoked displaced people in camp El Salam in Kass and residents of the area, because the girl’s father is dead. The sheikhs of El Salam, to which the victim belongs to, decided at their last meeting that in the event no charges are filed against Ahmed Abaker, they will raise the issue to human rights bodies and concerned humanitarian organisations.
[Given past history, it is extremely unlikely that rape charges will be filed against this official, despite his confession.]
May 21, 2015 | Khartoum
Assistant to the President of Sudan, Dr Ibrahim Ghandour received EU Ambassador Tomas Ulicny at his office in the Republican Palace in Khartoum today. At the meeting, the European diplomat discussed the efforts to resume an inclusive national dialogue, the situation in South Sudan, and the rising radicalisation in the Horn of Africa. Ambassador Tomas Ulicny told reporters at the end of the meeting that he re-confirmed EU’s position on the importance of “an inclusive and comprehensive national dialogue” to resolve the country’s problems. He added that both the government and opposition have to put Sudan and its people on the first place. He warned for further delays of the process, saying that this will complicate the situation and threaten its dialogue’s credibility.
He stressed that the EU “believes in Sudan’s territorial integrity, rejects a violent regime change, and wishes Sudan to become a prosperous, secure, successful and stable country.
[Under the current regime, security, stability, and economic success are impossible—as Ulicny knows or should know, given his position.]
The Ambassador further informed the press about EU’s concern on the developing extremism in the region. “The extremists and those who portray the EU as hostile to Sudan refuse to accept a frank and open dialogue about issues of common concerns,” he said. He described them as few but “quite loud”, and warned against the increased fragility and radicalisation in the Horn of Africa to which Sudan is not immune. Ulicny expressed his optimism about the cooperation between Sudan and European countries, to together work for a prosperous region free from radicalisation.
[This last expression of “optimism” reflects either scandalous ignorance or gross expediency; as is often the case with the EU and the UN, it is hard to say which—or which is worse.]
“The victims [of the Holocaust] perished not only because of the killers, but also because of the apathy of the bystanders. What astonished us after the torment, after the tempest, was not that so many killers killed so many victims, but that so few cared about us at all.”
[Elie Wiesel, “Why were there so few?”]