A Shameful Promotion of Evil

Recently the group, UN Watch, released this article which brought up a major issue within the UN. This July, Sudan’s Ambassador to the UN, Daffa-Alla Elhag Ali Osman, chaired the UN Economic and Social Council’s (ECOSOC) sessions in Geneva. ECOSOC oversees many human rights and humanitarian issues. The committee’s importance is described in a separate article by UN Watch’s executive director: “ECOSOC is the sole principal organ under the UN Charter mandated to adopt resolutions for the purpose of promoting respect for, and observance of, human rights and fundamental freedoms for all.” It almost goes without saying that having Sudan chair meetings that focus on humanitarian aid and the promotion of human rights, is not only hypocritical, but also counterproductive. With the Sudanese president and other senior government officials indicted by the International Criminal Court (ICC) for genocide, crimes against humanity, and war crimes, it is outrageous that this same government is heading sessions aimed at preventing mass atrocities and dealing with other human rights issues. The Sudanese government’s abysmal record with dealing with humanitarian organizations has long been documented. In 2009, they expelled 16 international and domestic aid organizations from Sudan that provided approximately 50% of the aid to the people of Darfur. The government also continues to limit the access of organizations to certain parts of the country. Most recently, on August 6, 2013, Sudan ejected 20 staff members of the UN High Commission on Refugees (UNHCR) working in the country after refusing to renew their work permits. Sudan continues to make it difficult for humanitarian workers to aid the millions of displaced currently living without basic necessities.

This current controversy began in January when Sudan was elected to the position of Vice President of ECOSOC. Their position was extended in February when it was announced they would chair the “humanitarian affairs segment.” In reaction to this turn of affairs, the US and members of the European Union protested the appointment in February. Fortunately, this participation by several members of the international community led to the post being given to Pakistan in March, while still taking a leading role in ECOSOC. Countries including China, Venezuela, and Cuba spoke against the claims against the Sudanese government and supported its appointed to the humanitarian affairs segment.

The UN can be a massive tool for change; however, when events like this take place the entire validity of the UN is called into question. These actions show that members of the international community are actively promoting Sudan’s status in humanitarian and human rights efforts, instead of enforcing any responsibility to protect the Sudanese people. The genocide against the people of Darfur has been occurring over the past 10 years with over 500,000 people killed and millions becoming internally displaced or international refugees. The government is responsible through acts of both omission and commission in the perpetration of these crimes. It is therefore reprehensible that an organization such as the U.N., which is responsible for ensuring basic human rights as well as international peace and security, can allow the representatives of this state to be responsible for an international forum whose is tasked with the promotion of humanitarian aid and human rights.

Events from on the ground in Sudan

Dear DWAG Supporters,

Darfur Women Action Group is pleased to inform you that we will be soon launching a new page dedicated to citizens’ reports, including eye witness accounts of the incidents on the ground in Darfur, where we will be sharing reports, similar to the following one, to give voice to those whose voices have been oppressed. Please find our first series below, which came last week from ordinary citizens on the ground in Darfur, Sudan.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Fighting in Nyala between Janjaweed and security forces began when the Commissioner of Nitega’s car was stolen by Janjaweed; both the car and the militia person who stole it were caught by Nyala security. Militia leader Dekron went to the Security office in Nyala to free that militia member, and was killed when he tried to shoot the security leader after it was clear the security forces were not going to let the person who stole the Commissioner’s car go. Dekron was taken to the hospital, but it was confirmed he was dead.

Wednesday, July, 3, 2013

Janjaweed militia from El Geneina, Ed Daein surrounded the security headquarters in Nyala.

At 11 am gunfire between security and Janjaweed started. The violence involved the use of large weapons including Kalishnikovs.

Between 1 pm and 2 pm the Janjaweed traveled to a district of Nyala containing security and NGO offices. Here they shot at the World Vision International compound, broke into World Vision houses, shot people inside and stole things. The Janjaweed also set up a roadblock on the road from the city to the airport, robbing anyone who was stopped by. They continued to rob people in the Malaja market and stole 28 motorcycles from Nyala.

At 5pm, the shop owners in the Nyala markets asked police for assistance to stop the looting of their shops, but there was no response from either the government or police.

At 8pm, Janjaweed went into Malaja market in the Riyad district of Nyala. They broke into and looted only the shops that belonged to Fur, not Arab tribe, owners. They broke into the shops by shooting down doors and set fire to any shops into which they could not force entry.

Friday, July 5, 2013

The Janjaweed continue to loot the city’s markets and shoot the inhabitants with no action taken by police and security forces. The Janjaweed are currently still inside Nyala, taking goods from markets without paying for them. There is still no security in Nyala.

In other news, it is reported that on July 27 and July 28, 94 people were killed between Zalengei and Nyala due to fighting between the Misseriya and Salamat tribes.

Press Release Regarding the Violence in Nyla, South Darfur the First Week of July

Darfur Women Action Group condemns the bloody violence in Nyla, South Darfur and calls on the international community to protect the people of Darfur

Darfur Women Action Group is gravely concerned, about violent clashes between the pro-government militias that erupted in an urban area of Nyla, South Darfur in the first week of July. These clashes resulted in the deaths of a number of civilians, including the shooting of students. These clashes also killed two World Vision humanitarian aid workers and injured of three others. According to World Vision, the staff members were killed in a grenade explosion and their compound was later looted. World Vision has since suspended aid to South Darfur, which has affected one million people.

This is just one instance of rampant violence in Darfur that affects not only NGO workers, but civilians as well. Such violence not only creates extreme danger for the people of Darfur, but also further undermines the flow of the humanitarian work by endangering lives and discouraging and ending aid programs that provide vital services such as food aid, healthcare, and water and sanitation assistance.

Darfur Women Action Group condemns these systematic acts of violence and the ongoing crimes against civilians and aid workers in Darfur. DWAG believes that the government of Sudan should be held accountable for the investigation of this incident, prosecution of the perpetrators, justice for those who lost their lives, and rehabilitation for those who have been injured. DWAG calls on the international community to protect all people in Darfur, including civilians and aid workers, and asks that NGOs and international aid agencies not abandon Darfur, as the aftermath of such violence is a time when support is needed most.

Darfur Women Action Group is a US based, women led anti-atrocity organization. Our core mission is to advance human rights by combating violence, preventing atrocities, and promoting peace. We support grassroots and national organizations both in the US and on the ground in Darfur. We hope to provide opportunities to amplify the voices of those most affected by the conflict and bring them to the attention of the international community.

The Human Rights-based Approach to the U.S. Policy in Sudan

June 19, 2013

This week the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission held a hearing in which several experts from both the government and civil society organizations testified about the current human rights situation in Sudan. The hearing was chaired by James McGovern, a democratic representative from Massachusetts, and Frank Wolf, a republican representative from Virginia. The first panel to testify was made up of government officials including Larry André, the Director of the Office of the Special Envoy for Sudan and South Sudan, Bureau of African Affairs at the U.S. Department of State and Nancy E. Lindborg, Assistant Administrator, Bureau for Democracy, Conflict and Humanitarian Assistance at the U.S. Agency for International Development, whereas the second panel was made up representatives of private organizations including John Prendergast, the Co-Founder, Enough Project, and Co-Founder, Satellite Sentinel Project, Ken Isaacs, Vice President, Programs and Government Relations at Samaritan’s Purse, E.J. Hogendoorn, Deputy Director, Africa at the International Crisis Group, and Jehanne Henry, Senior Researcher on Sudan, Africa Division at Human Rights Watch.

The meeting began with an overview of the situation citing the well-known numbers of 2.3 million displaced persons, 300,000 of whom have fled to Chad, and noting the extreme escalation of violence especially in Darfur, Blue Nile, and South Kordofan that has recently taken place. In fact, the testimony revealed that since January, 2013 there has been a 50% swell in IDP camps in Darfur. Although some of the fighting is inter-ethnic or between rival militias, much of the violence is perpetrated by the government itself, which carries out aerial bombardments and scorched earth tactics against its very own citizens. Not only does the government carry out direct attacks and supply militia groups that do, but also restricts humanitarian access to the displaced and needy within Sudan, while also limiting civil society and imprisoning journalists and political dissenters. The displaced all around Sudan face horrendous humanitarian conditions. Ms. Lindborg stated in her testimony that 5 million people (15% of Sudan’s total population) is now in need of humanitarian assistance, 32% of children in Sudan are underweight, which has led to 35% of the children having stunted growth. In the face of statistics like these and the fact the conflict has now been going on for 10 years with no sign of abating, it is now more important than ever that strong and effective international action is implemented.

Although the hearing covered many different topics throughout the proceedings the co-chairs continued to bring up the question: what concrete actions can the U.S. take to improve the humanitarian crisis? This important question needs to be answered if the crimes against humanity, genocide, and war crimes are going to be put to an end. The general consensus was that a comprehensive peace agreement was needed among all parties, since it was unlikely one side or the other can win militarily and regional approaches to peace would not work either. This process according to the first panel would include the cessation of hostilities followed by an inclusive political process. Mr. André called for a “unified, holistic approach” to the peace process. While creating a comprehensive peace process sounds like a great idea, it is much harder to achieve in reality. Ms. Henry offered the most comprehensive list of actions the U.S. should take to end the conflict, including: (1) the appointment of a new Special Envoy to Sudan, (2) engaging with actors such as China, Qatar, and other regional actors such as the African Union, (3) push for justice and the handing over of war criminals to the International Criminal Court, (4) and working to disarm militias. Another approach was attacking the problem through the weapon supply routes, as Sudan gets many of its weapons from China, Russia, and Iran. There was also a discussion of a stringent withdrawal of non-humanitarian aid to those states who host those members of the Sudanese government who have been indicted by the ICC to attempt to pressure those countries who deal with suspected war criminals; however, is the U.S. one of these states themselves? Mr. André and Ms. Linborg were forced to defend their position on the recent invitation of Presidential Assistant and Vice Chairman of the National Congress Party, Nafie ali Nafie to Washington D.C. Although the specifics of his involvement with the genocide in Darfur are not known, he has been a senior adviser to ICC-indicted President al-Bashir for many years including serving as the head of Sudanese intelligence and in charge of the Darfur portfolio. The invitation to the nation’s capital was the Obama administration’s attempt to promote negotiations, but has been postponed indefinitely in light of Sudan’s recent failure to cooperate with South Sudan. As Mr. André stated in his testimony, there are not many people in Sudanese government who have clean pasts that the U.S. would find appropriate to hold talks with and there is an urgent need to find a comprehensive peace. Although negotiations are necessary, an invitation to Washington D.C. can be seen as a validation of a regime that has perpetrated over 10 years of violence against its own people. Congressman Wolf expressed his opinion that the idea of inviting Nafie to the capital was “immoral” and although there is a need to have negotiations, inviting Nafie to the U.S. was a step too far. The co-chairs asked each of the members of Panel II what their position on this highly controversial subject was. Even among these experts, there was division with some arguing for the high-road and not negotiating with a known criminal, whereas others argued that any chance at a solution is a step we should take. This classic trade-off between peace and justice has posed another conundrum for the U.S. to deal with.

All of these ideas have significant merit, but it is now up to the U.S. government to implement them. What will it take for the U.S. to take a moral stand and end genocide? Overall, the U.S. foreign policy needs to take into account the human rights record of the states that it deals with in order to ensure a more peaceful world. Hearings like this bring the crisis in Sudan to light and to focus the government’s attention on it, but it is now time to take real steps to make the U.S. policy in Sudan more effective. Some new proposed legislation is titled the Sudan Peace, Security and Accountability Act of 2013. This legislation has been introduced this bill on April 24, 2013. If you wish to support the bill, call your congressperson and voice your opinion. If any action is to be taken on behalf of the U.S. the government has to be aware of the will of the public to take action.

Ten years with no choice

Ten years with no choice

June 20, 2013

By: Haley Aubuchon

Today is World Refugee Day. The UN adopted world Refugee Day in December 2000 and on this day we recognize the struggles, impossible decisions, and resilience of refugees around the world.

The theme of this World Refugee Day is choice. The UN states that “refugees have no choice” and is unveiling a new campaign called “Decisions” that depicts the terrifying decisions refugees have to make between staying in their conflict ravaged homes and the possible dangers and hardships of fleeing. The goal is to help “the public to empathize with, and understand, their dilemma”. Although I believe it is impossible to understand the dilemma of a refugee and the horrors they have experienced, in the spirit of this year’s theme, here are some insights into the lives of Darfuri, refugees, taken directly from recent news.

As of September 2012, Chad was hosting more than 288,000 refugees from Darfur in camps along the Chad-Sudan border. As of January 1, 2009 there were more than 2.6 million internally displaced persons (IDPs) in Darfur. Darfur has remained violent and unsafe, so return has not been an option for most IDPs. In fact, more people continue to flee affected areas; 300,000 Darfuris have been displaced between January and mid-May 2013. Although these IDPs are not considered refugees, as they have not crossed international borders, they have fled their homes and are living in camps and they deserve recognition on this day. Unlike refugees, IDPs remain under the protection of the Sudanese government, the very government that has perpetrated genocide against them.

Life in IDP and refugee camps is characterized by poor conditions and a lack of resources. In early June, five of nine IDP camps in West Darfur were found to have insufficient water supplies. In Chad, refugees were being transported away from camps on the border with Sudan because of the rainy season and safety concerns. The settlement that they have been moved to does not yet have adequate water to support all of the newcomers.

Huge influxes of newly displaced persons put strains on camp resources and newly displaced people must often wait for food and shelter that they need desperately. More than a month after an early April clash in Central Darfur 2,500 newly displaced families had not received any aid and were living out in the open with no food. The number of primary school aged-children in Kamala camp in South Darfur has risen to 22,000. There is a severe lack of teaching materials and space in schools; 4,357 of the children to not attend school at all.

One reason for this lack of aid is clearly related to budget and capacity. $685 million in aid went to Darfur in 2010 for food, health, infrastructure, sanitation, education, and other needs. This is clearly not enough to keep up with demand as more and more people are being displaced, markets are closing, and water pumps break and need to be replaced. However, another huge obstacle to providing aid to Darfur is a lack of cooperation from the Sudanese government. In mid-June Sudanese authorities refused to grant humanitarian groups access to 4,000 people affected by fighting in Central Darfur. Only four NGOs are currently operating in the affected area.

Disease is another huge problem for refugees and IDPs living in camps. These camps provide a deadly combination of a lack of sanitation, close living quarters, and a lack of health services which together can cause disease to run rampant. The recent arrival of new IDPs in El Salam, a South Darfur camp overwhelmed camp resources and disease killed twelve children and two women. The symptoms of diarrhea, coughing, and vomiting have spread through the camp and are too much for the single small health center to combat. The rapidly arriving rainy season will only make the situation worse in Darfur. Displaced people are often living out in the open with no shelter from rain or sun, which was the case on Thursday, June 6, when torrential rain in the Kamala camp in South Darfur led to the deaths of three children and the illness of many more. Sixteen people from the camp were reported to be ill, including seven who were considered severe and being treated at the understaffed and undersupplied camp hospital.

Security concerns also pose a threat to Darfuri refugees and IDPs. They have left their homes to escape violence and instability, but the camps do not keep them safe. Rape, beatings, and gun violence happen often in and around many IDP and refugee camps as displaced people are often targeted by militia groups. Even refuge camps on border regions in Chad are at risk, as refugees were moved away from the Tissi camp due to security risks as well as the approaching rainy season. The police, the Sudanese Army, UNAMID, and camp directors at El Salaam camp in South Darfur agreed upon a nighttime ceasefire to improve security in the camp, however, the ineffectiveness of this agreement was made clear when another shooting occurred shortly after it was signed.

Newly displaced persons at Garsila camp in Central Darfur live in fear of attacks by the rival tribesmen or pro-government militiamen that caused them to leave their homes in the first place. They receive no protection from UNAMID or government entities and feel that they would have no recourse should an attack occur. This is prompting many displaced Darfuris to consider moving yet again to another area they consider safer. These threats do not only put displaced persons and refugees in physical danger and haunt them emotionally. Fear of violence in West Darfur caused the Armenkol market to close. This, combined with fear of being caught by militias while traveling, caused a food shortage in the area, as there was nowhere to buy it.

There are few solutions to these complex and interconnected problems. Security concerns can cut IDPs and refugees off from food or safe water and the influx of new people is constantly overwhelming camp resources. Many people hope for resettlement, but the conflict in Darfur is not ending, instead is intensifying and more people are becoming displaced. Although camps are overwhelmed, voluntary resettlement is certainly not an option for these Darfuri people. However, IDPs at El Salam camp have reported that officials of the Darfur Regional Authority have attempted to coerce them into agreeing to return to their homes. The officials threatened to withhold the 100 sacks of sugar that had been sent as aid to the camp until inhabitants agreed to return home. This attempt to force people back to dangerous locations is doubly disturbing, as the 100 sacks of sugar would provide only a miniscule amount for each of the thousands of people in the camp. It is clear that the only way for these people to return home is to end to the violence and genocide that has been happening for more than ten years.

This tiny snapshot of life in refugee and IDP camps for Darfuri people demonstrates that they truly have no choice, no recourse, and nowhere to turn. World Refugee Day is an important day to think about the lives of refugees, but also to remember the second part of the UN theme; “Refugees have no choice. You do.” It is not enough to simply “empathize with, and understand” what refugees face, but to do something about it. Tell someone you know about the refugee situation in Darfur. Donate to provide the aid that is so desperately needed. Most importantly, lobby your government to work to create peace and bring refugees and IDPs home. You have a choice; choose to take action.

Haley Aubuchon,, Communication Intern at Darfur women Action Group

Read our past blogs :Justice cannot be ignored

By Haley Aubuchon

June 5th

Justice cannot be ignored

Darfur Women Action Group strongly supports the recent briefing by the ICC prosecutor given to the UN Security Council on June 5. The briefing calls on the international community, particularly the member states of the UN Security Council and the states parties to the ICC to fulfill their commitment, uphold to their legal obligation and provide all the necessary support needed to implement the pending arrest warrants against Albashir of Sudan, Abdelrahim Hussien, Ahmed Haroun and the notorious Janjaweed leader Ali Kushy.

On Wednesday, June 5, 2013 The UN Security Council was briefed by International Criminal Court Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda on the current situation in Darfur. The ICC Prosecutor briefs the Security Council twice a year on the current situation as well as the ICC’s progress and point of view. This is the seventeenth briefing that has been given on Darfur.

In her presentation, the Prosecutor addressed a number of concerns relating to Darfur and urged the Security Council to act. She stated that the situation continues to intensify and worsen, causing the daily suffering of millions. Bensouda cautioned that unmonitored business relations with Sudan can contribute financially to violence against civilians.

The prosecutor described the April 8 attack on the town of Um Dukhun. Several witness spotted Ali Muhammad Ali Abdel-Rahman, who is wanted by the ICC for several counts of war crimes and crimes against humanity, participating in the attack. She referenced the number of visits to Chad made by Sudanese president Omar al Bashir. As a signatory to the Rome statute, Chad is obligated to not only refuse to welcome al Bashir into the country, but to arrest him should he enter it.

Additionally, Bensouda pointed out the UN’s own visit to Khartoum, the capitol of Sudan, that included meetings with al Bashir. She encouraged the UN to analyze critically whether such contact was truly necessary and useful given his lack of cooperation with the ICC. The Prosecutor explained that such contact would embolden criminals. She stressed the need for strengthening relations between the ICC and the Security Council.

“We have done our part and it is up to this Council to live up to the legitimate expectations of Darfur’s victims, namely that individuals alleged to be responsible for their daily sufferings are brought to justice,” the Prosecutor stated.

For this reason DWAG call on the members of the UNSC to support the prosecutor’s report and to tell the Sudanese government that impunity for genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity, particularly those perpetrated against women, are not acceptable. We call on our supporters to add their voice to our voice and press world leaders to bring long awaited justice for victims in Darfur.

For more information on the briefing, read articles at AllAfrica.com, UN News Centre, and the Sudan Tribune.

“My mother trapped between fires for ten years in Darfur”

“My mother trapped between fires for ten years in Darfur”

Please help Darfur Women Action Group speaks up for Darfur on this Mother’s Day

Dear Friends and Supporters of Darfur Women Action Group,

This mother’s day marks ten year since my mother has been caught up between the fires. Surviving genocide is not an easy task. It takes a lot of courage and resolve. Ten years for my aged mother is too long.

It’s because of my mother I survived. When I was under threat, she begged me and encouraged me to leave for my own safety and gave me the hope that I strongly hold onto until today by being a voice for my people.

When I left I had hope that I could speak for my people and the world would listen and do something to stop it. Sadly, a decade later my mother and millions of women are still trapped between the fires of Janjaweed and the government army’s attacks on a daily basis.

I continue to hold on to my commitment by speaking for my people everywhere to keep the hope alive, but the international community has shown a little commitment to end the suffering of millions mothers, fathers and children in Darfur and other regions in Sudan

This spring marks the 10th year of the genocide in Darfur where over 300, 000 people have been killed, over 2.7 million people have been displaced and many more have crossed the borders to live as refugees in the neighboring countries.

Recent reports indicate violence in Darfur has one again escalated and the security situation is deteriorating. This month the UN reported that 200,000 have been newly displaced in Darfur alone, among whom women and children are the most affected making up the overwhelming majority of the camps dwellers. The blockade of humanitarian access and attacks against the peacekeeping mission is ongoing.

Four years ago President Bashir of Sudan was been indicted by the International Criminal Court for crimes of genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity committed in Darfur, yet he remains a fugitive of justice. Due to in-action by the international community Bashir extended attacks to the regions of South Kordofan and Blue Nile and has blockaded them from aid assistance for two years.

Today hundreds of men, women, and children continue to face death and are at extreme risk of starvation and disease. That is why we need your voice and we need your help more than ever before to continue speak up for them. With your support we are able to make our voices louder, and with your support to Darfur Women Action Group today we will continue to empower the most affected to stand up for themselves and to hold Bashir accountable to bring justice and lasting peace to our people.

Please make a tax deductable contribution today to honor your mother and many others in Darfur. Only with your generous support we can make a difference. Donate

Please feel free to share it with your network

Thank you,

Niemat Ahmadi& Darfur Women Action Group’s team