On the Invisibility of Darfur: Causes and consequences over the past five years (Part Two) |
October 2016 | Annex B (2013) | http://wp.me/p45rOG-1Xu |
Excerpts from representative analyses and descriptions:
• Newly Leaked Minutes: Another high-level meeting of Khartoum regime officials (10 September 2014) stands revealed
Eric Reeves | 4 April 2015 (below appear an English translation with a link to the original Arabic text) | http://wp.me/p45rOG-1Ff
I received early this morning (Khartoum time) another set of minutes recording yet another meeting of the most senior officials of the National Islamic Front/National Congress Party regime. The English translation is headed:
IN THE NAME OF GOD, MOST GRACIOUS, MOST MERCIFUL
THE SUDANESE ISLAMIC MOVEMENT
POPULAR SECURITY ADMINISTRATION – INFORMATION SECRETARIAT
Minutes of the meeting between the Secretary General of the Sudanese Islamic Movement and the President of the Republic held in the residence of the President of the Republic in the Army General Headquarters. Wednesday, 10 September 2014
I will be posting the Arabic original as soon as possible—it is now in my possession in its entirety—but am posting first (because technically easier) the English translation. The minutes come from the same source in Sudan who provided to me the minutes of the 31 August 2014 meeting of senior regime security and military officials (available in English and Arabic) and also for the 1 July 2014 meeting (again available in English and Arabic). For a compendium of expert opinion on the authenticity of the former (leaked first), see | http://wp.me/p45rOG-1w5). http://wp.me/p45rOG-1tC.
[ The Arabic text for the minutes of the 10 September 2014 meeting can be found at | http://wp.me/p45rOG-1Fn ]
I will be commenting further on the highly revealing words and policies articulated in this meeting. What the brutal men of this regime say among themselves—thinking that their words will never leave the room—gives us extraordinary insight into minds of génocidaires.
I will focus in good measure on language that seems to be disturbing evidence of diplomatic malfeasance on the part of the African Union’s Thabo Mbeki, Haile Menkerios, and Mohamed Ibn Chambas. Their imbalanced mediation between the belligerents in Sudan’s ongoing civil wars, as well as their poisonous relations with South Sudan—particularly over Abyei—are put in a context not previously available from public sources.
Khartoum has obviously been well pleased by the efforts of the three men, as suggested by the comments of various senior officials:
“By the way, Haile Menkerios is cooperating with us fully and likewise are Thabo Mbeki and Mohammed Ibn Chambas who are so keen to serve and protect our interest, even more than us.”
Defense Minister Abdel Rahim Mohamed Hussein completes his contribution to this theme in the discussion by declaring:
“When they visited Qatar they were accorded a good reception and treated generously; they [Mbeki, Menkerios, Chambas—ER] are now under our control. These are the ones we use to dismantle the rebellion… [W]e will also use them [again, Mbeki, Menkerios, Chambas—ER] to subjugate the South to our will and implement the agreement the way we want. All of these envoys promised to submit to the African Union and the United Nations positive reports on Sudan records on human rights and freedoms.”
• Darfur in 2014: A nightmare impossible to “slumber” through: A detailed timeline for events leading to present intensifying threats of displacement and violence against civilians throughout Darfur: Part One
Eric Reeves | December 30, 2014
Overview (all references are in the detailed timeline that follows in two parts; the two parts of this account may be found, with all links and formatting preserved, at:
PART ONE: http://wp.me/p45rOG-1y6
PART TWO: http://wp.me/p45rOG-1y3
There have been no meaningful or consequential statements from the international community about the broad character of the latest phase of Darfur’s ongoing catastrophe, or about the strategy of the Khartoum regime in orchestrating a policy of destruction of the region by military and political means. The former entails loosing the “new Janjaweed” —the Rapid Support Forces (RSF)—and regular army units in widespread village destruction reminiscent of the early years of the genocide. The massing of SRF forces in North Darfur, reported only by Radio Dabanga, can have only one purpose, one made clear by numerous recent attacks and widespread destruction. Much of the recent activity has been reported near Tabit (scene of a massive sexual assault on girls and women by Khartoum’s regular army forces) and Tawilla, which has long been the center of violence and displacement in North Darfur. Scores of villages have been destroyed in recent months, and the campaign is far from over. Political means for the destruction of Darfur are discussed below.
[I have rendered in bold names, phrases, locations, and dates of significance, often repeatedly; emphases in quotations have all been added.]
Fatou Bensouda, the Gambian jurist who serves as the Prosecutor for the International Criminal Court, recently declared to the UN Security Council that she was “hibernating” the investigation and prosecution of atrocity crimes in Darfur because she had received so little support from the Security Council, despite the Council’s having referred to the ICC the task of investigating and prosecuting violations of international law (March 2005). Whatever the understandable frustration Ms. Bensouda has felt in working without international support, she has given the Khartoum regime and President Omar al-Bashir (indicted on multiple counts of genocide and crimes against humanity) what is being claimed as a “victory,” and has certainly emboldened Khartoum going forward.
Certainly he has little to fear from the disastrously conceived UN/ African Union “hybrid” Mission in Darfur (UNAMID). Indeed, the feckless response of UNAMID to the mass rape of women and girls in Tabit, North Darfur (October 31 – November 1, 2014) is emblematic of the Mission’s character. UNAMID was denied access to the site, and only reached the town a week later. Their public report indicated that there were no problems, no rapes, and peaceful relations between the townspeople and the Sudan Armed Forces (SAF) stationed nearby. A leaked internal UN report, however, has made clear that the investigation was meaningless because of the extreme intimidation of witnesses and victims, many of whom had already fled Tabit.
The UN Security Council demanded that there be a new investigation, but Khartoum refused; subsequent Security Council acquiescence after this refusal represents yet another capitulation before the regime’s obduracy, which includes defiance of the terms of some 17 UN Security Council resolutions, going back to the beginning of the genocide. Some of the Resolutions have been flouted with particularly dire consequences. Resolution 1556 (July 2004) “demanded” that the Janjaweed (named as such in the resolution) be disarmed and that those most culpable in the genocidal destruction be brought to justice. Khartoum’s contemptuous ignoring of this “demand”—without meaningful Security Council response—prefigured the fate of all other resolutions concerning Darfur, as well as other parts of greater Sudan.
Khartoum’s current strategy in resolving its “Darfur problem” also takes the form of a severe political crackdown, diplomatic intransigence, and increasingly hostile moves against the nongovernmental humanitarian organizations and the UN, both in its humanitarian capacities and in its peacekeeping presence in the form of UNAMID. The International Committee of the Red Cross saw its operations suspended by the Khartoum regime from early February 2014 through late September 2014. Two senior UN officials were expelled this past week, including the Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator, Ali al-Za’atari, and Yvonne Helle, the UN Development Program’s country director.
This continues a well-established practice of expelling individual relief officials as well as organizations. Khartoum had earlier this year expelled other UN officials as well as British Merlin and the French Agency for Technical Cooperation and Development (ACTED). These are only two of the most recent victims of a pattern that has seen more than two dozen organizations expelled or threated sufficiently to compel withdrawal. Thirteen of the world’s finest humanitarian organizations were expelled at once in March 2009, with no meaningful international response. Many of the expelled organizations experienced severe “asset stripping” at the hands of the regime on leaving Sudan—assets and resources that could have been used in other humanitarian emergencies around the world.
This continues a policy of harassment, threats, obstruction, and expulsions that has defined the regime’s response to international relief efforts from the beginning. Signs of the continuing contraction in the provision of food, primary medical care, medicines, and clean water are everywhere, with significant mortality totals in the camps reported on a regular basis, if again only by Radio Dabanga. Assistance is becoming increasingly difficult and dangerous to provide, and this is likely to increase dramatically as Khartoum compels UNAMID to use the last six months of its current authorization to draw down remaining forces, already reduced by the UN’s Department of Peacekeeping Operations (UN DPKO) in tacit recognition of how ineffective the force is in protecting civilians and humanitarians, tasks given a re-emphasized priority in the most recent Security Council authorizations for continuing the mission.
• “Malnutrition Data for Darfur Still Being Withheld,” Sudan Tribune
Eric Reeves | February 10, 2014 | http://www.sudantribune.com/spip.php?article49907
For several years now, one of the great deficiencies in our understanding of and response to the humanitarian crisis in Darfur has been a lack of data relevant to assessments of malnutrition, hygiene, primary medical care, access to clean water, and education. A UNICEF report of January 29, 2014 suggested a breakthrough on this score:
For the first time in Sudan, the Simple Spatial Survey Methodology (S3M) has been used to collect data on child malnutrition, showing the difference in performance of health and nutrition services right down to locality level; in each of Sudan’s 18 states. “The S3M survey is a gold mine of credible data on child malnutrition and its underlying causes. Up-to-date, reliable data are indispensable to realize the right of every child in Sudan. They are essential to plan, budget, refine and deliver services for children in every locality of the country,” said Mr Geert Cappelaere, UNICEF’s Representative in Sudan. “Up to now, Sudan has only had general data on the nutritional status of its children, and we know that national and even state level averages often mask disparities at lower levels. With these new survey results, we know exactly where the pockets of high need are located. This means that investment can be tailored to make sure that every single child in need is reached.”
Readers of the report were informed that for more information—presumably about the specific findings of the S3M report—they should contact UNICEF:
The reply to my February 1, 2014 request for such information came today (February 10, 2014) in the form of a terse, all too predictable email:
Dear Mr Reeves
Thank you for your interest in the survey.
The results are with the Federal Ministry of Health and are not with UNICEF to distribute, we can however put you in touch with the relevant person in the Ministry of Health if that would be helpful.
Nutrition Specialist (Surveillance)
But of course it is the Ministry of Health and the perversely named Humanitarian Aid Commission (HAC) that have been responsible for the suppression of data for a number of years, have refused to allowed completed reports and analyses be promulgated publicly, and has generally done all it can to obscure humanitarian realities in Darfur. Both regime organs have also been responsible for or complicit in the obstruction of humanitarian relief operations and delivery of supplies into Darfur. The notion that they would offer anything to an inquiring American who has been critical of Khartoum’s actions in Darfur for over a decade is of course preposterous—and known by Ms. Nyawo to be so.
Fortunately for those interested in the realities of Darfur at present, Geert Cappelaere, UNICEF’s Representative in Sudan, spoke subsequently at a press conference, although this was reported only by Radio Dabanga (Khartoum, February 5, 2014):
Half of the children in Darfur are out of school, and 40 percent of them suffer from chronic malnutrition, the Representative of the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) in Sudan revealed on Monday [February 3]. UNICEF Representative Geert Cappelaere on Monday briefed the press about the conclusions of a study carried by UN agencies in Sudan. He stated that minors constitute 65 percent of the population in Darfur. Most of them are living in camps for the displaced. A total of 1.2 million children in Sudan’s western region do not have access to basic services. Half of the Darfuri children are out of school, and 40 percent of them suffer from chronic malnutrition. Only six women out of 100 give birth in health centres. 300 out of 100,000 women die in childbirth.
These are extraordinary and terrifying findings, and nothing in the report released by UNICEF suggests just how frightening these figures should be. Notably, this account by Cappelaere does not indicate whether the “chronic malnutrition” that afflicts 40 percent of Darfuri children is Global Acute Malnutrition (GAM), for which the “critical emergency” threshold is 15 percent (see “Glossary: Global Acute Malnutrition (GAM),” Complex Emergency Database) or Global Chronic Malnutrition (GCM), commonly known as “stunting.” Context and information from sources on the ground strongly suggest that it is the latter, but that leaves us with a critical question: what is the Global Acute Malnutrition rate for Darfur? It has, in various locations at various times, been reported as well over the 15 percent “critical emergency” threshold: what is the situation now? Why is this figure not part of the report? or Mr. Cappelaere’s otherwise revealing news conference? A number of ominous possibilities suggest themselves.
[The UN OCHA report of January 27 – February 2, 2014 was no more revealing on this critical question.]
For context, for an understanding of Khartoum’s attitudes towards humanitarian assessments and efforts in Darfur, we should recall the regime’s February 1, 2014 suspension of the International Committee of the Red Cross from all humanitarian activities in Darfur. Reliable sources indicate that what was initially glossed over as a bureaucratic issue was in fact much more ominous: the Khartoum regime, desperately cash-strapped, had demanded of the ICRC that it deliver a substantial portion of its own operating funds to the Sudanese Red Crescent, a demand that the ICRC rightly refused. Although it has been suggested that the SRC had itself demanded substantially more direct funding from the Geneva-based ICRC—and that this was what Khartoum meant by declaring the ICRC was “working outside its mandate”—no such high-profile incident as we have seen unfold could have been provoked without regime authorization. And nothing could better capture Khartoum’s contempt for the integrity of humanitarian operations or the desperate plight of the people of Darfur.
The heading given to the January 29, 2014 official UNICEF release of its report was, “Sudan launches new data on child malnutrition; UNICEF calls for all-out effort to support the fight against malnutrition in Sudan.”
But as long as UNICEF refuses to provide access to these data, as long as it remains fully under the control of the Khartoum regime, then we know that no watershed for the disclosure of humanitarian data has been reached, at least for Darfur. And as long as we don’t know the critically revealing Global Acute Malnutrition rate for Darfur, we are in danger of misunderstanding the nature of a vast and accelerating emergency.
Why won’t these data be released?
• Darfur: Violence and Humanitarian Crisis in South Sudan Further Obscure Relentless Suffering and Destruction
Eric Reeves | 12 January 2014 | http://wp.me/p45rOG-1ap
The present obscuring of Darfur holds true as well for South Kordofan (especially the Nuba Mountains) and Blue Nile, perhaps the inevitable consequence of news media and diplomatic attention to the growing crisis in South Sudan. These sites of vast humanitarian crises in Sudan, of cruel human suffering and destruction, have gone almost completely unnoticed and unreported for the past month. And to be sure, the events and developments in South Sudan warrant the attention they are receiving; but only the regime in Khartoum can welcome the widespread ignoring of what is occurring in western Sudan, where the Darfur region has now entered its second decade of profoundly destructive conflict. That the region refuses to disappear entirely, that our understanding of this grim genocide by attrition survives even tenuously, is largely due to the reporting of Radio Dabanga.
There are or have been other reports of considerable importance—from the Sudan Tribune (cited here), the Darfur Relief and Documentation Center, the African Center for Justice and Peace Studies, and international human rights groups (Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, and Physicians for Human Rights). Small Arms Survey has over the many years of violence provided a series of superbly informed reports. But reports from these sources have become fewer in number and detail, and it is Radio Dabanga alone that gives us a sense of the vast, pervasive, and destructive nature of the violence and deprivation that continue to define this immense area (only slightly smaller than South Sudan). And, dismayingly, if we had any doubts about the inadequacy or crippling lack of credibility in UN reporting—that of UNAMID in particular—Aicha Elbasri has dispelled those doubts definitively. As I wrote a month ago, reporting on an event in The Hague that I “attended” via Skype:
On Friday evening, December 13, 2013, Radio Dabanga celebrated its fifth anniversary of reporting on Darfur from The Netherlands. It was, inevitably, a somber event—and not simply because of the grim, often unspeakably cruel news that Radio Dabanga daily reports from all corners of Darfur. On this occasion, Aicha Elbasri, former spokesperson for the UN/African Union Mission in Darfur (UNAMID) made clear her intense dismay at the lies that UNAMID tells about itself, lies that are replicated within the UN system: the Secretariat, the humanitarian agencies, and most consequentially, the UN Security Council.
And yet while well aware of realities in Darfur, and the terrible inadequacy of UNAMID in fulfilling its mandate to protect civilians and humanitarians, the Security Council does nothing. The deeply distorted reports from Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on UNAMID and Darfur are also reflections of a fundamental dishonesty in what UNAMID says—and does not say—publicly about the terrifyingly chaotic insecurity that has engulfed the region over the past several years. (December 14, 2013)
The day following this account, December 15, 2013, the Dutch newspaper Trouw published a story focusing on Elbasri ‘s remarkable account, offered here in translation (received from a Dutch native speaker, lightly edited for stylistic and idiomatic clarity):
The United Nations and the African Union are spreading lies about the war in the western [Darfur] region of Sudan. This is according to Aicha Elbasri (48), former spokesperson for the peacekeeping mission known as UNAMID, a UN and African Union [hybrid]. [Ms. Elbasri gave an interview to] Trouw, the first time she has done so since leaving her job with the mission over a year ago. She does so, dismayed at how the mission has performed.
Elbasri says the internal policies of the peacekeeping mission are designed to suggest that things are getting better in Darfur. Since 2003 a bloody battle is ongoing between rebel groups and marginalized African tribes on the one side, and the primarily Arabic regime and Arabic militias at the other side. “In fact,” says Elbasri, “the war the past four years has become much worse. Arabs are now fighting Arabs and Africans are fighting Africans. And the Sudanese government is fighting everybody. UNAMID is sending reports to New York on a daily basis, but the UN remains silent about the violence.”
Trouw was allowed to look at evidence that shows how the UN is distorting the truth, but was obliged to promise not to publish these details, as such publication could harm the safety of UN staff and citizens in Darfur. The peacekeeping mission comprises a force of more than 20,000 men, authorized since 2007 to protect citizens in Darfur; their mandate permits the use of weapons [to protect civilians and humanitarians]. (“VN liegen over oorlog in Darfur,” or “The UN Lies Over War in Darfur,” Trouw [The Netherlands, December 14, 2013]; original text appears as Appendix A).
I have argued for a number of years that UNAMID and much of the UN humanitarian operation in Darfur have systematically distorted information, have yielded to Khartoum’s restrictions on dissemination of key humanitarian data and analyses, have failed to report on critical humanitarian issues (global morbidity, malnutrition, and mortality), and have repeatedly downplayed the continuing, intense violence affecting civilians. See for example:
“Darfur: UN Failure and Mendacity Culminate in Avalanche of Violence,” August 12, 2012 http://sudanreeves.org/2012/08/13/3376/
“Darfur in the Still Deepening Shadow of Lies,“May 25, 2012 http://sudanreeves.org/2012/05/25/darfur-in-the-still-deepening-shadow-of-lies/
“How many Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) are there in Darfur?” April 28, 2011 http://sudanreeves.org/2011/04/28/how-many-internally-displaced-persons-idps-are-there-in-darfur-dissent-magazine-on-line-april-28-2011/
“Who Speaks for the UN on Darfur? The Role of Nigeria’s Ibrahim Gambari,“August 25, 2010 http://sudanreeves.org/2010/08/25/who-speaks-for-the-un-on-darfur-the-role-of-nigerias-ibrahim-gambari/
“Civilians at Risk: Human Security and Humanitarian Aid in Darfur,” January 27, 2010 http://sudanreeves.org/2010/01/17/civilians-at-risk-human-security-and-humanitarian-aid-in-darfur/
These lengthy accounts point not to accidental omissions, slight misrepresentations, or forgivable distortions: too often the UN accounts have been lies—outright mendacity. Just as culpably, UNAMID and the past UN humanitarian coordinator have not only lied, but they have acquiesced in Khartoum’s deliberate effort to prevent global reporting or even systematic collation of humanitarian data.
These efforts have resulted, to take one egregious example, in wild and expedient swings in figures promulgated as representing the number of Internally Displaced Persons (from 2.7 million people in January 2009; to 1.4 million in summer/fall 2013 according to OCHA; to the more recent UN figure of either 1.9 million (according to UN “officialdom”) or 2.3 million according to the UN Integrated Regional Information Networks (IRIN): (“An estimated 2.3 million people remain displaced by Darfur’s decade-long conflict” (IRIN [Nairobi], April 19, 2013). It is not clear whether IRIN meant to include Darfuri refugees in this figure, but even these numbers have been overtaken by subsequent reporting.
In May 2013, the head of UN humanitarian operations, Valerie Amos, declared that 300,000 had already been newly displaced in the preceding four and a half months of 2013; hundreds of thousands were displaced in the subsequent months of 2013. And yet there has been a relentless and deliberate effort to minimize the number of IDPs, both to convince the world of the UN’s successful “intervention” in Darfur—and to please Khartoum, which is especially sensitive to reporting on issues of rape, mortality, and displacement.
Moreover, the Darfuri refugee population in eastern Chad (with some in Central Africa Republic) is rarely mentioned, even as it now stands at approximately 330,000 refugees in eastern Chad alone, and humanitarian conditions are often appalling in this remote and difficult region. Rapprochement between President Idriss Déby of Chad and President Omar al-Bashir of Sudan has made refugees much more vulnerable, on both sides of the border. Eastern Chad, along with Central African Republic, is a crisis unto itself and must be highlighted as such.
What even the UN acknowledges is that more than 3 million Darfuris—half the pre-war population—remain in need of humanitarian assistance, some indeed desperate for food, water, and medicine. Many of these people will die, given present levels of insecurity and the inability of relief workers to move securely. Darfuris were the victims of the genocidal onslaught in the early years of the conflict, an avalanche of violence on the ground and from the air; however, ethnically-targeted human destruction has slowly become something more like be described as “genocide by attrition.”
Many Arab groups in Darfur have been caught up in the current conflict, and suffer greatly as a result of the general crisis in Darfur as well as large-scale inter-tribal fighting. But it remains the case that the overwhelming numbers of victims are from the non-Arab, or African, tribal groups in Darfur. In addition to the vast number of displaced, and the even greater number in need of humanitarian assistance, human mortality has been shockingly high: extant data strongly suggest that the figure is in the range of 500,000 for Darfur and eastern Chad—from all causes—since conflict began in 2003.
Ms. Elbasri makes clear that the “lies” she has shown to Trouw are of a consequential nature and reveal unambiguously the mendacity of UNAMID and various UN personnel. This comes from a peacekeeping mission with an extraordinarily important, if challenging, mandate: protect civilians and humanitarians in Darfur, guided by the mandate of UN Security Council Resolution 1769; it was to have been guided as well by the Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) negotiated with Khartoum in January 2008. From the very beginning, however, this SOFA has been ignored by the Khartoum regime, which routinely obstructs UNAMID’s movements and investigations.
On several occasions, there has been clear complicity between Khartoum and Arab militia groups in attacks on UNAMID personnel; more than 50 blue-hatted peacekeepers have been killed in Darfur to date. The UN has on several occasions known of this complicity, but do date, no one responsible for the killing of UN peacekeepers has been brought to justice. It remains only for Ban Ki-moon to repeat his identically unctuous, but finally cynical “demand” that the perpetrators be rapidly brought to justice…by the Khartoum regime itself.
Why does UNAMID continue? What justifies continuation of what was once the world’s largest and most expensive peacekeeping operations, and is still a bloated (if under-equipped), costly, incompetent, indeed failing mission? There are many reasons, including the inability of the UN Department of Peacekeeping Operations to justify pulling out forces when the violence is clearly expanding. In early summer 2012 head of UN peacekeeping Hervé Ladsous said “conditions on the ground” (i.e., improved human security) justified a drawdown of some 6,000 troops.
But an extensive spike in violence was already well underway, and quickly made nonsense of such a claim. July through October of 2012 were extremely violent months in Darfur. There is also great fear of the humiliation of both the UN and African Union if the mission were to be terminated in the midst of uncontrolled violence, reminiscent in some ways of the UN abandonment of Rwanda in 1994. At least one expert on the operation points out the deep reluctance of African troop-contributing countries to end a mission that has proved quite lucrative, as remittances home by UNAMID force members are of considerable value to the economies of these countries.
For it is highly unlikely that the Mission will have its mandate renewed in meaningful fashion or with significant troop levels as the June 30, 2015 termination date approaches. Recent comments by Russia make clear that it will side with the Khartoum regime, which has recently demanded that UN DPKO make a final and formal exit strategy for the Mission. And as UNAMID is forced to contract, the fig-leaf of protection that it has provided will be stripped away and international nongovernmental humanitarians organizations (INGOs) will withdraw. Many are already perilously close to leaving Darfur in any event, with a taut trip-wire for the event(s) that would prompt urgent withdrawal. While 97 percent of the workers for these organizations are Sudanese nationals, withdrawal will be not so much of personnel but of resources, oversight and management, and the protection provided by the name of the organization.
Without that meager protection, current workers will be at acute risk and there may be widespread retribution against Sudan aid workers by the regime, which has long had extremely hostile views of these organizations. UN agencies—primarily the World Food Program—have already been hit hard by a lack of implementing partners in food distribution, sometimes resorting to local food “brokers,” an exceedingly poor expediency.
UNAMID is rapidly disintegrating as a credible protection force anywhere in Darfur, and support for its continuation is weak within the UN’s Department of Peacekeeping Operations. And yet in spring 2012 Hervé Ladsous, head of UN DPKO, disingenuously claimed that “conditions on the ground” in Darfur justified a substantial drawdown of UNAMID forces, and 4,000 have in fact been withdrawn (the Mission never reached 100 percent of its authorized total, and a great many units have never met UN peacekeeping standards). Ladsous’ expedient assessment was made even as violence, especially in North Darfur.
• “Watching the Bubble Burst: Political Implications of Sudan’s Economic Implosion,” Enough Project Forum publication, 17 September 2014 |
Despite very considerable evidence that the economy of Sudan is collapsing under the weight of numerous unsustainable pressures, there is no full extant account of these pressures at this critical moment in the political history of Sudan. Understanding the human and political consequences of economic collapse in Sudan is also critical in making sense of the future of now independent South Sudan. Nominally tasked with monitoring the Sudanese economy, the International Monetary Fund (IMF), and to a lesser degree the World Bank, have failed to present a full or accurate picture—too often dancing around difficult issues and simply accepting at face value figures provided by the Government of Sudan. Every one of the eight key charts in the IMF’s July 2014 report indicates as its source of data: “Sudanese authorities and staff estimates and projections.”
Most conspicuously, the two organizations have failed to provide anything approaching realistic figures concerning military and security expenditures. There is in the July 2014 IMF report not a single line item—not one—reflecting or indicating the scale of military and security expenditures. We may learn about “Regulatory capital to risk-weighted assets”; but we will learn nothing about investments in weapons acquisitions from abroad or the growing domestic armaments production. We learn nothing of salaries and logistical expenditures for the Sudan Armed Forces or the militias the government supports. Since the Government of Sudan—essentially the National Congress Party (formerly the National Islamic Front)—is deeply threatened by a fuller understanding of the dire straits in which the economy currently lies, it has an obvious interest in doing what it can to minimize popular understanding of growing economic threats, and in particular the excessive budgetary commitments to the Sudan Armed Forces, various security forces, and militias.
Certainly there is no dearth of studies, statistics, or analyses of the economy (see Bibliography). But none does enough to assess the impact of Sudan’s growing economic distress on various crises within Sudan itself and the region as a whole, most particularly in South Sudan. Continued serious fighting in Darfur, the Nuba Mountains of South Kordofan, and Blue Nile mean that the Government of Sudan is obliged to spend inordinate amounts of annual revenues on armaments, soldiers’ salaries, logistics, and the security services that are an integral part of the military power wielded by the government. Estimates vary widely, but the consensus is that significantly more than fifty percent of budgetary expenditures are directed to the military and security services. Moreover, the oil revenues that fueled the decade of economic growth following the first oil exports (August 1999) are now only a fraction of what they have been. This augurs extreme difficulties in negotiating with South Sudan over final boundaries, since many of the contested areas—including Abyei—have significant oil reserves.
• Darfuri Refugees in Eastern Chad: Among the world’s most forgotten people
Eric Reeves | 18 July 2014 | http://wp.me/p45rOG-1lP
Refugees from Darfur in eastern Chad fall awkwardly between the reporting responsibilities of various UN organizations and the country responsibilities of different UN and nongovernmental organizations (no cross-border relief from Darfur to eastern Chad is permitted). As a consequence, there appear to be in the eyes of the UN humanitarian organizations, particularly the UN High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR), rather different views of the plight of Darfuri refugees in eastern Chad, many having lived there now for over a decade. There is the relatively upbeat account offered by UNHCR in its broad overview, “UNHCR: Providing for basic needs,” June 2014:
Thanks to sustained focus on acute malnutrition management measures undertaken in all camp health centres, the result of the nutritional survey conducted amongst Sudanese refugees in eastern Chad indicated the Global Acute Malnutrition fell from 11.6 percent in 2011 to 10.1 percent in 2013.
This suggestion of “improvement” is belied, however, by every other reporting source we have, including the UN itself. Indeed, even UNHCR seems to be speaking differently to different audiences:
For its part, UNHCR needs $39 million for nutrition support to malnourished and vulnerable refugees in Africa. Supplies have been cut by at least 50 percent for nearly 450,000 refugees in remote camps and other sites in the Central African Republic, Chad, and South Sudan.
The cuts [to funding for the UN World Food Program (WFP) and UNHCR] threaten to worsen already unacceptable levels of acute malnutrition, stunting and anaemia, particularly in children. (Radio Dabanga [Geneva], 2 July 2014)
Agence France-Presse reports in broader terms on the grim outlook for Africa that emerged from Geneva:
Nearly 800,000 refugees in Africa have had their food rations slashed due to a lack of global aid funding, threatening to push many to the brink of starvation, the UN has warned. The cuts of up to 60 percent are “threatening to worsen already unacceptable levels of acute malnutrition, stunting and anaemia, particularly in children,” the United Nations’ World Food Programme and refugee agency UNHCR said in a joint statement. The heads of the two agencies were in Geneva on Tuesday to make an urgent appeal to governments for more funds to help feed Africa’s refugees. “It is unacceptable in today’s world of plenty for refugees to face chronic hunger,” said UNHCR chief Antonio Guterres. (AFP [Geneva], 1 July 2014)
It seems inappropriate in this context to speak simply of a funding “shortfall”: as of March 2014, a graphic produced by the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) shows that in response to a “Strategic Response Plan for 2014,” with a request for US$527 million, less than 1 one percent had been funded (US$46 million).
The funding situation for eastern Chad is simply disastrous, with funding cut annually, even as the budget was grossly inadequate for the number of people in need. Of the 450,000 refugees referred to in the UNHCR/WFP report, 362,000 are from Sudan, virtually all from Darfur (http://www.unhcr.org/528a0a22b.html/). And reporting from the ground, as opposed to Geneva, gives us a clear sense of what the consequences of these cruel cutbacks have been. Perhaps no refugee population in the world is as under-served as that of Darfuris in eastern Chad (the much smaller number of refugees from Central African Republic are equally poorly served). And contrary to any upbeat account of treatment of malnutrition, especially among children, the word from Geneva on this occasion was at sharp variance:
Nutritional surveys conducted between 2011 and 2013 showed that stunting and anaemia among children was already at critical levels in the majority of the refugee sites. (Radio Dabanga [Geneva], 2 July 2014)
Over the past year a number of reports from the ground in eastern Chad by Radio Dabanga suggest the grim truth of the nutritional situation:
“Reduced WFP rations for Sudanese refugees in eastern Chad” (GAGA CAMP, 20 May 2013) – The Sudanese refugees of camp Gaga in eastern Chad are suffering from a reduction in food rations, poor medical services and a lack of medicine.
Yassin Abdel Karim, the deputy president of the camp told Radio Dabanga that the World Food Programme (WFP) has reduced sugar, salt and oil supplies by 50 percent. The WFP has also withdrawn millet mixture from the food ration since the beginning of this year, without providing any explanation.
There may be another side to this story, but it comports all too well with a host of other reports about the performance of the World Food Program in both eastern Chad and Darfur, including a number of reports from the past half year:
“WFP stops food rations for Gaga refugee camp in Chad: Sheikh” (CHAD / GAGA CAMP (22 January 2014) – The refugees of the Gaga refugee camp in eastern Chad will not receive food rations in 2014.Speaking to Radio Dabanga, sheikh Juma reported that the 23,200 Darfuri refugees residing in the camp received reduced food rations from the World Food Programme (WFP) in December and January.
Representatives of the WFP told the refugees that there is no budget for food rations for the year 2014. The refugees received rations of sorghum, sugar, beans, and oil, all reduced by 75 percent, in December and by 50 percent in January. These rations, paid from WFP’s 2013 budget, were the last ones for the camp.
“Darfur refugees in Chad’s Farchana camp eating grass,” Radio Dabanga (EASTERN CHAD, 29 April 2014) – Darfuris in the eastern Chad refugee camps are on the brink of starvation after food rations were reduced in December last year. Darfuri refugees in South Sudan’s Western Bahr El Ghazal state, are also living in poor humanitarian conditions. “The Gaga, Farchana, Treguine, Bredjing, and Touloum refugee camps are witnessing a rapid deterioration of the humanitarian situation owing to the reduction of food rations,” Haider Suleiman Gadiria, the head of the Tuloum camp reported to Radio Dabanga. “The World Food Programme reduced the rations of sorghum and sugar for the refugees in eastern Chad camps by 50 percent since December last year. In April this year the distribution of salt and a mixture of soap was stopped.”
The head of the Farchana camp, Mohamed Dafallah told Radio Dabanga that the camp population has reached the brink of starvation. “They are now eating grass, and digging in ants’ hills in search of food…. The situation in the camps is nearing a humanitarian disaster.
• “Pretending Darfur Isn’t: the world continues to avert its eyes from accelerating human suffering and destruction”
Eric Reeves, 2 June 2014 | http://www.sudantribune.com/spip.php?article51213
The international community is by now quite experienced in pretending that the massive humanitarian crisis in Darfur doesn’t really exist, or exists in some acceptable and remediable form, destined to improve with time. The world has been encouraged in this dangerously expedient ignorance by the likes of Ibrahim Gambari and Rodolphe Adada (both former special representatives of the UN and AU to UNAMID); U.S. special envoy Scott Gration; former UN humanitarian coordinator Georg Charpentier, and UNAMID spokesman Chris Cycmanick.
All have suggested, some dismayingly recently, that things aren’t really so bad in Darfur. Charpentier and Cycmanick supported the claims by UNAMID as recently as 2011 that the fighting was minimal. Adada claimed at the end of his tenure in 2009 that there was merely “low intensity” fighting and some carjackings; Gambari claimed at the end of his tenure in September 2012 that he had “achieved all he set out to do” as special representative, and minimized fighting, mortality, displacement, and human suffering. Scott Gration was taken to task by an inter-agency humanitarian group for suggesting (July 2009) that conditions were ripe for returns by Darfuri IDPs.
The history of misrepresentation is long and ugly. Current U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry (then Senator and unofficial presidential representative) declared in April 2009 that Khartoum’s expulsion of half the humanitarian capacity in Darfur—thirteen of the world’s finest humanitarian organizations—would be replaced in “a few weeks.” Cynically, he declared that he had Khartoum’s promise on the matter, as if the regime’s promises have somehow meant something in the past. This was an anticipation of the Obama administration’s subsequent “de-coupling” of Darfur from U.S. Sudan policy, and the appointment of a diplomatic lightweight as special envoy for the region (Dane Smith).
Some within the UN system have begun to speak out, and the truths at last spoken are terrifying in their implications:
“Entire generation may be lost in Darfur”: UNICEF Representative in Sudan (Radio Dabanga, KHARTOUM, 12 May 2014) – The UN children’s rights and relief organisation, UNICEF, has warned that an entire generation in Darfur may be lost as a result of more than ten years of violence in the region. “Life in the camps might produce a new generation without ambition,” the UNICEF Representative in Sudan, Geert Cappelaere, said in a press statement issued on Saturday. “In particular as about 60 percent of the displaced in Darfur are minors.”
It requires a willful blindness not to see what is occurring in Darfur, unless one is willing to dismiss entirely the reports that come from the ground—by way of Radio Dabanga, Sudan Tribune, and Radio Tamazuj, and the UN itself on notable occasions. But even the dismissing of these repeatedly confirmed and highly detailed accounts does not explain the silence that has followed the most dire warning from a range of humanitarian organizations still working in Darfur. It is a silence, or near silence, that accompanies even such extraordinary announcements as these about the work in Darfur and Sudan of the International Committee of the Red Cross:
The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) has expressed regret for Sudan’s suspension of its activities, saying it has led to negative humanitarian implications. ICRC also announced it is laying off 195 employees of its local staff while imploring on Khartoum to reverse its decision and allow it resume its work to help the affected population. Last February, the Sudanese government ordered the ICRC to halt its activities in the country saying that the aid organisation needs to comply with the humanitarian work guidelines and the voluntary work law in order to continue operating in the country.
The ICRC said in statement on Monday [May 19] that its negotiations with the Sudanese government did not yield progress. The ICRC director of operation in East Africa, Eric Marclay, said they expressed willingness to return to the agreement signed with Sudan in 1984 regarding their presence in the country and humanitarian work. He underscored that suspension of their activities which continued for 15 weeks had adverse consequences on the affected population in the conflict zones, adding that they are ready to complete negotiations with the government on the basis of 1984 agreement.
“We are increasingly concerned about the humanitarian situation in some parts of the country and are calling on the Sudanese authorities to lift the suspension – be it on a temporary basis while discussions take place – in order that the humanitarian needs of people benefiting from ICRC programmes can be addressed,” said Marclay from the organisation’s Geneva headquarters.
Last year, more than 426,000 Sudanese living in areas affected by conflict received food aid from the ICRC, and over 325,000 received farming tools and seed. For nomadic communities in Darfur, whose livestock-based livelihoods have been affected by conflict, it supported vaccination campaigns for over a million animals.
In Darfur, a region where water is scarce, access to clean water was improved for over 708,000 people. More than 72,500 patients visited ICRC-supported health facilities last year and over 1,400 persons injured in armed clashes were treated with medical supplies provided by the ICRC. Throughout Sudan, over 6,100 physically disabled people, many of whom lost their limbs as a result of fighting, received services from ICRC-supported limb-fitting and physiotherapy centres.
Last February, Dafalla al-Qureshi, a spokesman for the ICRC office in Khartoum, said that Sudan’s Humanitarian Aid Commission (HAC) sent them a letter asking them to suspend their activities until they comply with certain conditions. He said that among these stipulations is placing the ICRC budget and funds at the disposal of the Sudanese Red Crescent and not to undertake any activity on the ground before informing Sudanese authorities about its nature and timing. Qureshi said that these conditions are unfair and that the ICRC cannot accept them pointing out that all ICRC offices throughout the world work independently of the authorities of the countries in which they operate. The ICRC began working in Sudan in 1978 according to its website. The organisation says it is helping people affected by the conflict in Darfur, providing seed, tools, food and water and re-establishing contact between people separated by the fighting. The ICRC also promotes international humanitarian law and the protection of civilians affected by the conflict. (ICRC News Release, May 19, 2014; Sudan Tribune, May 19, 2014; Radio Dabanga, May 20, 2014)
Of Western news agencies and newspapers, only Agence France-Presse (AFP) reported briefly on this extraordinary treatment of the ICRC—the very embodiment of neutrality and good faith in conflict situations.
• “The Obama Administration, Terrorism, and Hypocrisy,”Sudan Tribune
Eric Reeves | 6 May, 2014 | http://www.sudantribune.com/spip.php?article50897
Khartoum is again designated by the U.S. State Department as a “State Sponsor of Terrorism (April 2014); the regime targets a critical hospital in the Nuba for aerial attack—terror in another form.
The stench of hypocrisy continues to settle more deeply over the Obama administration in its relationship with the National Islamic Front/National Congress Party regime in Khartoum, and two events from the past week only make more obvious the failure of the administration’s Sudan policy. First, the Sudan Armed Forces (SAF) attempted to kill Dr. Tom Catena, an American citizen, in Mother of Mercy hospital in Gidel (Catholic Diocese of el-Obeid). Dr. Catena is sure that he was specifically targeted in the May 1, 2014 attack by virtue of a number of compelling facts:
 He is the only surgeon performing life-saving operations on civilians wounded in Khartoum’s relentless aerial assault on the people of the Nuba Mountains; the Mother of Mercy hospital is the only one in the Nuba mountains, and treats some 150,000 civilians per year; the unmistakable intent on the part of the regime is to block all humanitarian assistance to the people of the Nuba, even if it means attacking a civilian hospital marked with a red cross and far from any active fighting;
 Dr. Catena observed an observation drone over the hospital in the days before the attack;
 The bombing was carried out by a Sukhoi-24 air-to-ground attack aircraft; it is a sophisticated weapon from the arsenal of the former Soviet Union and has a good deal of advanced targeting equipment; and indeed one bomb caused major damage to the facility;
 The following day (May 2, 2014) an Antonov aircraft again attacked Dr. Catena and the Mother of Mercy Hospital; many patients, even seriously injured ones, have fled to the hills, as have many staff, thus diminishing the capacity of the hospital significantly; one person was seriously injured.
(All information here comes by way of an email received from Tom Catena, May 2, 2014; see also, however, today’s highly detailed account of the attack by Nuba Reports: http://nubareports.org/sudan-targets-only-hospital-in-nuba-mountains/)
In short, an American citizen, working to save the lives of wounded Nuba civilians, was targeted by the Khartoum regime for murder. This is an act of terrorism, if we have even the slightest imagination for what the word might mean for most of the world. And it is continuous with bombing campaigns against civilians over the past 25 years by the current regime (see “They Bombed Everything that Moved”: Aerial military attacks on civilians and humanitarians in Sudan, 1999 – 2013, www.sudanbombing.org).
The U.S., the EU, the UN, and the African Union have all failed abjectly in deterring Khartoum from continuing such bombing attacks, all of which are war crimes under international law (see especially the Rome Statute, Part 2 Article 8, [b] (5)); in aggregate, these attacks constitute crimes against humanity (Rome Statute, Part 2, Article 7 [a] [d] [g] [h] and [k]);). In both the Nuba and in Blue Nile this aerial terrorism has forced over a million people from their homes, and created a refugee population in South Sudan and Ethiopia that approaches 300,000. Well over a million people have lived with the prospect of starvation for almost three years, as the bombing campaign has made farming too dangerous. People live in caves and gullies, struggling to keep their families alive with a minimum of food and almost no primary medical care.
This is what makes the attack on Dr. Catena so heinous: he is alone in providing surgical treatment for victims of these largely indiscriminate bombings (when there is evidence of more precise targeting, it is generally for a civilian gathering, village, or farming locale that has been targeted). He is alone as a surgeon, working heroically at the Mother of Mercy hospital in Gidel since before the conflict began in June 2011. He is a modest and extraordinarily kind man (see my interview with Dr. Catena, March 9, 2013). There is absolutely no reason for the attempt on his life by military aircraft other than to deny civilians of the Nuba what is frequently life-saving medical care. Nor of course is there justification for terrorism of the more familiar kind; however, U.S. pursuit of such terrorism often has a mindless singularity, a pursuit that obliges ignoring attacks like that on Dr. Catena—and those attacks by SAF military aircraft that have affected millions of civilians in greater Sudan over the past quarter century.
Appendices A and B: “The Obama Administration, Terrorism, and Hypocrisy” |
Eric Reeves | 5 May 2014 | http://wp.me/p45rOG-1i6
• “Humanitarian Organizations Working in Darfur Continue to be Targeted for Expulsion,”Sudan Tribune
Eric Reeves | 20 April 2014 | http://www.sudantribune.com/spip.php?article50718
On Friday, April 18 Radio Dabanga reported that Khartoum had expelled yet another critical humanitarian organization working in Darfur, this time Merlin (UK). The reason? Because Merlin had merged with Save the Children, which Khartoum had earlier expelled from Darfur on absurdly contrived grounds (March 2009). For according to Khartoum’s Humanitarian Aid Commission, this merger violated “Sudanese law.” Merlin—active in Sudan since 1997—has been providing medical assistance to some 600,000 people, including running 28 permanent health facilities.
At the end of January of this year, Khartoum announced that it was suspending the activities of the International Committee of the Red Cross, the very embodiment of international neutrality and humanitarian assistance. The reason? The ICRC refused to accommodate Khartoum’s extortionate demand that funds and resources be transferred to the Sudan Red Crescent. For a range of principled, as well as practical, reasons the ICRC declined to be a victim of Khartoum’s extortion and its immensely important and wide-ranging work was halted.
On March 19, 2014 Radio Dabanga reported that the National Islamic Front/National Congress Party regime was expelling the French organization Agency for Technical Cooperation and Development (ACTED) from Darfur:
ACTED provides support to the displaced people in Zalingei, including water and sanitation for the camps and the surrounding villages before the rain season starts. “At least 50 members of the national staff are employed in the Central Darfur office,” a local staff member said. According to its website, the programme has 83 national staff and 3 internationals working in Sudan. “The action against ACTED comes at a critical time,” the [ACTED] staff member told Radio Dabanga.
These and other expulsions, as well as the creation of impossible working conditions, follow the massive March 2009 expulsion of thirteen distinguished international relief organizations, including two sections of Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières, the International Rescue Committee, Oxfam/Great Britain, Save the Children/US, and a number of others. Several Sudanese humanitarian organizations were also shut down.
At the time, according to a highly knowledgeable UN official, this represented roughly half the humanitarian capacity in Darfur, and left many areas and humanitarian sectors without effective management or oversight; a great deal of local knowledge and institutional memory was lost. The international community tried to find its voice in demanding that the decision be revoked. But this soon came to nothing in the face of Khartoum’s obduracy, and the huffing and puffing died down quickly, to be replaced in the case of the U.S. with a policy of expedient accommodation. Then-Senator John Kerry, representing the Obama administration as well as the Senate, mendaciously declared on April 17, 2009 that full restoration of humanitarian capacity would be a matter of weeks: “We have agreement [with Khartoum] that in the next weeks we will be back to 100 percent capacity.”
This capacity was in fact never recovered, and is now even less than it was at the time of the expulsions. And Kerry went further, holding out the promise of rewards for a regime that had just grossly violated international humanitarian law on innumerable counts:
Kerry, who says a new dialogue has been brought about by Obama’s special Sudan envoy Scott Gration, suggested diplomacy could eventually result in a lifting of sanctions against Sudan and its removal from a US list of state sponsors of terrorism. ‘Absolutely. That is entirely on the table. I can’t tell you when, that’s a decision President Obama makes,” said Kerry. (Reuters [el-Fasher], April 17, 2009)
Moreover, with the expulsion of relief organizations and the consequent denial of humanitarian assistance to desperately needy civilians, the regime was perpetrating what amounted to “crimes against humanity” (see “On the Obstruction of Humanitarian Aid” in African Studies Review). Such unseemly haste to make a deal with the very men who had orchestrated this massively consequential humanitarian expulsion defines both Kerry and the Obama administration’s Sudan policy.
• “Darfur: A Bibliography of Violence and International Indifference,” Sudan Tribune
Eric Reeves | 13 April 2014 | http://www.sudantribune.com/spip.php?article50631
The accelerating avalanche of violence that continues to sweep across Darfur has finally compelled acknowledgement by the international community, which inevitably refers to this as a “recent” development. This is despicably disingenuous. UNAMID, the UN, and all international actors have long had available voluminous evidence of extreme violence in Darfur that goes back years. To be sure, we know from the superb account by Colum Lynch in Foreign Policy (April 7, 2014) that UNAMID and the UN did a great deal by way of obscuring, hiding, or failing to report the evidence of this violence that they had in hand. This is shameful beyond reckoning, and Part One of Lynch’s searing account of UNAMID (“They Just Stood Watching”) concludes with a quote that sums up the cynicism of UNAMID, in particular its special representatives for the UN and African Unity—Rodolphe Adada, Ibrahim Gambari, and currently Mohamed Ibn Chambas:
[Former UNAMID spokesperson Aicha] Elbasri says that she raised concerns about UNAMID’s refusal to acknowledge the government role with one of the peacekeepers’ local commanders, Maj. Gen. Wynjones Matthew Kisamba. She still remains shaken by his answer. The UNAMID forces, she recalls Kisamba saying, had to occasionally massage the truth. “You know, sometimes we have to behave like diplomats,” he told her. “We can’t say all what we see in Darfur.”
As culpable as such an attitude may be, responsibility also lies with news organizations that did not press UN and UNAMID officials nearly hard enough about the realities with which they were being presented. There is no other way to account for the grotesque caption to a photograph in a piece by the New York Times (“A Taste of Hope Sends Refugees Back to Darfur,” dateline: Nyuru, West Darfur; March 2, 2012): it reads in part, “peace has settled on the region.” The correspondent, according to all my Darfuri sources—some of them from this region of Darfur—was quite simply taken in by Khartoum’s and the UN/AU’s version of a “Potemkin Village” (see my account based on Darfuri sources and reports from Radio Dabanga at http://wp.me/p45rOG-Mb). Notably, this is the last dateline by a major news organization from an area significantly away from the urban areas and displaced persons camps—over two years ago.
There are notable exceptions: see below my discussion of the Reuters dispatch reporting on the massacre of non-Arab/African civilians at Tabarat (North Darfur) in September 2010. But since that time, reports of such honesty and detail have rarely been produced by journalists “covering” Darfur.
As a means of demonstrating just how much evidence has been available, I have organized a “bibliography of violence and indifference” below, in roughly chronological order. Pieces range from formally published articles of 1,000 – 2,000 words to lengthy analyses as long as 10,000 words. Detailed and often lengthy sourcing, referencing, and quotation account for the longer word counts. My ambition has been archival in many respects, an obligation that has come to seem increasingly important as the UN and African Union try to sanitize the unspeakably grim history of Darfur, especially since deployment of UNAMID (January 1, 2008).
UNAMID refuses, for example, to acknowledge or speak about the total number of Darfuris displaced on its watch: more than 2 million civilians according to UN data from the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (see “Taking Human Displacement in Darfur Seriously”—below). Coupled with the Obama administration’s decision to “de-couple Darfur” from the key bilateral issue between Washington and Khartoum, Darfur’s fate appears sealed and the shame that should attend that failure will not be felt adequately unless we have a substantial archive of all that has managed to be reported.
I have frequently assigned responsibility for particular developments in Darfur, including to individuals as well as organizations and governments. I have argued for robust action of a sort that long ago became politically impossible. Indeed, we should note the recent comments by the present head of UNAMID (Mohamed Ibn Chambas) who spoke yet again of a drawdown in UNAMID, even as violence surges and insecurity for civilians and humanitarians increases by the day. The reasoning by the UN Department of Peacekeeping Operations is evidently that with so many peacekeeping needs worldwide, it would be foolish to commit continuing full support to an enormous—and enormously expensive—peace support operation that is failing. This is a tacit but clear admission of failure, despite various claims by African Union leaders that the AU was up to the task of bringing peace or at least security to Darfur. Chambas is here simply the messenger for the grim calculus of a cynically led UN DPKO.
Many will disagree with my assessments. And there is the inescapable fact that were UNAMID withdrawn entirely, or even substantially, humanitarian organizations would take this as a signal that they should depart as well, leaving millions of people completely vulnerable to violence, hunger, and disease. Having allowed UNAMID to continue so ineffectively, so disingenuously, so fecklessly for so long, the international community now has no good options, even at the moment when there appears to be growing acknowledgement that the Darfur genocide never ended, it simply changed in character. Moreover, the violence we have seen recently involving the Rapid Response Forces (essentially former Janjaweed), working in clear concert with Khartoum’s regular Sudan Armed Forces (SAF), has been likened by many observers to that of the most violent period early in the genocide.
Sources include, inter alia, personnel for the remaining humanitarian organizations, who can speak only indirectly, through outside channels, for fear of expulsion by Khartoum. Here we should keep in mind the regime’s recent suspension of the work the International Committee of the Red Cross as part of a crude extortion scheme.
But I wish to emphasize that the question here is not whether one agrees with my conclusions or judgments. The question is rather how—with so much information about widespread, ethnically-targeted human destruction readily available—Western nations, the African Union, the Arab League, the Organization of Islamic Conference, and many other international actors of consequence were able to pretend for so long that such information as has guided my analyses did not exist. Such pretense, and the necessary actions it worked to prevent, deserve the profoundest opprobrium.
What cannot be doubted is that the world has either known or deliberately chosen not to know about the brutal human destruction and suffering in Darfur, orchestrated by the National Islamic Front/National Congress party regime in Khartoum; the archival evidence offered here is simply overwhelming.
The failure in Rwanda of twenty years ago continues in slow motion throughout Darfur.
•Massive Air and Ground Attacks Against Civilians in Darfur: New Reports from the Satellite Sentinel Project
Eric Reeves | 28 March 2014 | http://wp.me/s45rOG-4541
In a series of recent reports, the Satellite Sentinel Project has provided substantial, professionally analyzed satellite imagery indicating unambiguously the continuing escalation of assaults on Darfuri civilians, primarily those from ethnically African tribal groups. Numerous reports from the ground confirm these findings (my commentary appears following these texts). The most recent reports on Darfur and the Nuba Mountains are of particular importance:
“Janjaweed Torches South Darfur IDP Camp Next to UNAMID Base,” March 28, 2014
Confirming reports that first emerged from local sources and Radio Dabanga, new Satellite Sentinel Project (SSP) imagery from March 26, 2014 shows more than 400 huts, tents, and temporary shelters burned by Sudanese government-backed Janjaweed forces in Khor Abeche, at a South Darfur camp for internally displaced people (IDPs) located near a peacekeeping base. DigitalGlobe Intelligence Solutions (DGIS) image analysis finds that most of the destruction affected the structures adjacent to the African Union – United Nations Mission in Darfur (UNAMID) peacekeeping compound, which itself was not damaged.
[CAPTION TO SATELLITE PHOTOGRAPH: The temporary shelters adjacent to the UNAMID camp and a portion of Khor Abeche village suffered significant fire damage, as observed on DigitalGlobe imagery dated March 26, 2014. DGIS analysis estimates over 400 huts, tents, or shelters are destroyed in the areas closest to the UNAMID camp, including groupings of residences in “family unit” configurations. No damage was found to the UNAMID compound.]
UNAMID has said it is protecting thousands of displaced civilians at several bases, including Khor Abeche, and the SSP image shows a large group of people towards the top middle area inside the UNAMID compound.
A UNAMID spokesman tells SSP that peacekeepers and IDPs at Khor Abeche were first alerted of a possible attack to the camp on March 21. The population of the camp, about 3,000 people, took refuge at the UNAMID’s base. The following day, while the peacekeepers protected those within the compound, about 300 heavily armed men set fire to the nearby IDP camp.
Eyewitnesses to the attack on Khor Abeche camp say the assailants burned to death a sheikh, injured many residents, kidnapped local leaders, and looted property and livestock while also destroying water wells, homes, and a hospital.
Despite praise UNAMID has received for its efforts from the African Union, the deaths and injuries raise critical questions about the will and capacity of the peacekeeping force to deter such attacks and implement its civilian protection mandate outside its compound.
News reports indicate that Sudanese government-supported Rapid Support Forces (RSF), also called the Rapid Response Forces (RRF) led the attack on Khor Abeche. The group of 6,000 fighters is attacking civilians and torching homes throughout the area. In North Darfur’s mountainous East Jebel Marra area, some areas have been both bombed and burned as Janjaweed ground attacks and Sudan Air Force (SAF) attacks escalate.
SAF air strikes and Janjaweed attacks have exacerbated conditions for 215,000 people who are newly displaced across Darfur since the beginning of the year, including almost 68,000 who are displaced in South Darfur’s violence. Humanitarian organizations estimate that some 59,000 people are displaced from South Darfur’s Um Gunya area, in the wake of clashes between the RSF and the rebel Sudan Liberation Army-Minni Minawi (SLM-MM) group.
Civilians throughout areas beyond South Darfur are also fleeing waves of violence, including infighting among rebel forces, political power struggles, and intercommunal clashes in North Darfur.
Without holding the government of Sudan responsible for the atrocities committed by the Janjaweed militia, the U.S. Department of State condemned the attack in Khor Abeche and expressed concern at the escalating violence committed by Sudanese government-backed forces and rebel groups.
• “Khartoum: A Criminal Regime in Its Death Throes Lashes Out With More Violence”
Eric Reeves | Sudan Tribune, 14 March 2014 | http://www.sudantribune.com/spip.php?article50293
Even by the extraordinary standards of the National Islamic Front/National Congress regime, the past few weeks have seen exceedingly grim news throughout Sudan, but especially in Darfur. No doubt convinced that the world’s attention is focused on the massive humanitarian and political crises in South Sudan, the ruthless survivalists of Khartoum have demonstrated yet again a capacity for unsurpassed cruelty, destructiveness, barbarism, and bad faith in negotiations. And yet in all this they remain unchecked by an international community apparently more interested in discussing debt relief for the regime than relief from the unending human rights abuses and regime-sanctioned violence causing suffering and destruction for millions of Sudanese civilians.
Over the past weeks Darfuris have seen with dismay the regime signal its unambiguous refusal to countenance any move away from the failure known as the “Doha Document for Peace in Darfur.” Signed in July 2011, the agreement has proved—like the Darfur Peace Agreement (May 2006) before it—worthless as a means of bringing peace or security to Darfur. Indeed, since the signing of the DDPD violence has steadily escalated and almost one million people have been newly displaced—almost half a million in 2013 alone (see new report on Darfur by Amnesty International: “We Can’t Endure Any More,” with an accompanying press release titled “Half a Million Civilians in Darfur Forced to Flee”).
Humanitarian relief has never been more tenuous; security never more precarious; and the chaotic nature of the violence never greater. Khartoum has failed to abide by the terms of the Doha agreement, most conspicuously the financial terms of the agreement that were to have begun the process of reconstruction. Moreover, even if it wished to abide by the financial terms, the regime has run the Sudanese economy into ruin and bankruptcy: it cannot meet many of its domestic and international obligations, and Darfur is far, far down the list of priorities.
The international community—especially the UN and African Union—have been flogging this dead horse of a “peace agreement” since it was signed by factitious, unrepresentative “rebel groups” in July 2011, failing to acknowledge how very little support it has among Darfuri civil society and the major rebel groups (who must answer for their own severe abuses of the civilian population). This “support for the Doha process” has persisted long after all observers not part of the AU or the UN clearly have come to see that it is a failure. It was left for expedient international actors to pretend that “progress” was being made in negotiating an end to the Darfur catastrophe, thus giving the Doha process a credibility that could hardly be provided by its Qatari auspices. The U.S. has been front and center in this pretense, shamelessly asserting the potential success of the DDPD. Both previous U.S. special envoys for Sudan—Scott Gration and Princeton Lyman—were complicit in this diplomatic travesty.
• “Janjaweed in Darfur Reconstituted as the ‘Rapid Response Force,'” Sudan Tribune
Eric Reeves | 1 March 2014 | http://www.sudantribune.com/spip.php?article50134
There have in the past been various tendentious claims made about “peace” slowly settling over Darfur, about the end of the terrible predations of 2002 – 2005, about a status quo having settled over the region, if perhaps rather grim. But this has never been the case, violence never ceased, and has accelerated rapidly over the past two years and more. One need only ask the relentlessly bombed people of Jebel Marra, or the tens of thousands of victims of rape, or those who have been killed trying to return to their lands, or children dying for lack of medicine because of restrictions on aid access. Inevitably, the emphasis has shifted to the problems of security for displaced persons, and the millions in need of humanitarian assistance. But the violence continues.
As a direct consequence, the space for relief aid has steadily contracted, and the danger is so great that personnel from many organizations, including those of the UN, rarely leave the capital cities of Nyala, el-Fasher, and el-Geneina. Capacity is so stretched that the UN’s World Food Program has been obliged to hire food traders to distribute food in a number of camps, a development that has left displaced Darfuris furious. Camps housing over 2 million people are dangerously at risk of extortion, violent attacks, and arson. Disease, malnutrition, and death are constants. While the UN has released figures showing that the rate of Chronic Malnutrition among the Children of Darfur is approximately 40 percent, they have so far refused to release the more telling figures for Global Acute Malnutrition (GAM) and Severe Acute Malnutrition (SAM) (see February 10, 2014 analysis at http://wp.me/p45rOG-1aK). Most children with SAM will die without medical and nutritional intervention.
The UN peacekeeping force UNAMID (UN/African Union Mission in Darfur) continues to fail abysmally in taking on its mandate of civilian and humanitarian protection mandate, and indeed is increasingly unable to protect itself: more than fifty troops and personnel have been murdered since the force took up its mandate. A recent report by a re-vitalized UN Panel of Experts on Darfur, based on highly detailed investigations of the deadly ambushes, found clear and compelling evidence that the attacks on Khor Abeche and Muhajeriya were carried out by regime-allied militias, using weapons provided by Khartoum:
A United Nations committee that is tasked with monitoring compliance with Sudan-related sanctions has pointed fingers at Khartoum for attacks that took place on African Union-United Nations peacekeepers in Darfur (UNAMID) in the towns of Muhajiriya and Khor Abeche last year. “Janjaweed groups almost certainly played a leading role in the most prominent attacks against UNAMID (in Khor Abeche on 13 July 2013 and in Muhajeriya on 18/19 April 2013); the attackers fit the profile of some well-known Janjaweed elements. These groups have also been behind violent crimes against internally displaced persons, tribes and even, in some instances, the Government itself,” reads the report prepared by the UN Panel of Experts on the Sudan established pursuant to resolution 1591 and transmitted to UN Security Council this week. (Sudan Tribune, February 16, 2014; http://www.sudantribune.com/spip.php?article49984)
Earlier attacks have also clearly been carried out by these same brutal militias at Khartoum’s behest, including the deadly attack on a large UNAMID convoy near Hashaba, North Darfur (see “Violence in Hashaba, North Darfur: A brutal portent, another UN disgrace,” 30 October 2012 at http://wp.me/p45rOG-UR).
The evidence of militia involvement has in fact long been substantial, but the UN prefers not to offend Khartoum with accusations, despite Ban Ki-moon’s repeated, if perfunctory, demands that investigations be carried out and perpetrators brought to justice. To date not a single arrest has been made for any of the fatal attacks on UN-authorized forces. (See “Killing UN Peacekeepers: A Ruthless Proclivity of Khartoum’s SAF, Militia Proxies,” 9 May 2013; http://wp.me/p45rOG-11S)