ICC Underscores Need for Justice for Genocide in Darfur

During the month of April, the international community remembers the victims of genocide and recognizes the horrendous crimes still being committed around the world. The genocide in Darfur began a decade ago this spring and despite international action the Sudanese government continues to target ethnic groups in Darfur as well as women through sexual violence. This week, the Chief Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court, Fatou Bensouda, issued the below statement marking the beginning of genocide awareness month and the Court’s efforts to provide justice for the victims of genocide in Darfur.

ICC Prosecutor marks Genocide Awareness Month


In 2010, the International Criminal Court (ICC) issued its first warrant of arrest for genocide; a warrant which remains outstanding. Judges found that the evidence presented by the Prosecutor showed reasonable grounds to believe that Sudanese President Omar al Bashir is responsible for genocide by killing, causing serious bodily injury or mental harm and by deliberating inflicting conditions of life calculated to bring about the physical destruction of the Fur, Masalit and Zaghawa ethnic groups in Darfur.

Unfortunately for the victims in Darfur, their suffering continues because of lack of implementation of the arrest warrant. This April marks genocide awareness month and I call on all States, whether parties to the Rome Statute or not, to cooperate with the ICC in seeking/pursuing accountability for genocide. As we observea moment of silence for past genocides, we must not forget victims of the Darfur genocide.

To the Government of Sudan and other parties to the conflict, I remind you of your legal obligations to comply with Security Council Resolution 1593 adopted under Chapter VII of the UN Charter. To ICC States Parties, I remind you of yourcooperation duties under the Rome Statute. The Office of the Prosecutor appreciates the cooperation it has received to date from many states and international and regional organisations. But more can, must and should be done. Consistent concerted efforts are needed toenforce the warrants and ensure justice at last for the victims in Darfur.

To Contracting Parties to the Genocide Convention I recall article VI of the Convention which calls for persons charged with genocide to be tried “by a competent tribunal of the State in the territory of which the act was committed, or by such international penal tribunal as may have jurisdiction”.

The International Criminal Court is an independent, permanent court that investigates and prosecutes persons accused of the most serious crimes of international concern namely, genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes. The Office of the Prosecutor is currently investigating and prosecuting such crimes in Uganda, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Central African Republic, the Darfur region of Sudan, Kenya, Libya, Ivory Coast and Mali. The Office is also conducting preliminary examinations in Colombia, Georgia, Afghanistan, Nigeria, Honduras, Guinea and South Korea.

DWAG Calls on the International Community to End Violence Against Women in Darfur

March 14, 2013

During the 57th session of the Commission on the Status of Women at the United Nations, the Darfur Women Action Group urges members of the international community to address the systematic violence directed toward women and their families throughout the 10 years of violence in Darfur.

The situation has been exacerbated by the lack of meaningful participation of female Darfuri civil society leaders in the regional and international forums, which provide them with opportunities to voice their demands or articulate their issues. Despite many years of suffering, women in Darfur have been doing incredible work supporting their communities and serving the most vulnerable populations in the camps. However, they still lack resources and effort needed to build the institutional capacity for their local NGOs.

Today, the situation on the ground in Darfur is truly dire. Girls as young as seven and eight years old are raped and some die as the result. Countless others have been ostracized because of the social stigma surrounding sexual and gender based violence. Women are considered spoiled because of rape and abandoned by their husbands and families. Many of the children born as the result of rape are left to die without care.

Despite the alarming rate at which rape and other forms of sexual violence occur as part of the ongoing genocide in Darfur, little has been done to address this deadly phenomenon. There have been no studies to determine the exact number of women raped or the actual impact of sexual violence on women and girls in Darfur. Women survivors are in desperate need of trauma counseling and psychosocial support as well as projects designed to provide fuel alternatives that could keep women safe inside the camps. Instead, women are left to go in search of firewood and other means of sustenance and risk facing this cruel act of violence on a daily basis.

The government of Sudan continues to obstruct any effort to put an end to this tragic situation which has persisted for years. The African Union-United National Hybrid Operation in Darfur (UNAMID), the largest UN peacekeeping mission in the world, is failing to meaningfully impact the security situation on the ground or provide protection for civilians. Despite Sudan’s ratification of several international human rights and humanitarian laws that are favorable to women rights, Sudan has no political will to meet its obligation on those terms. Further, Sudan continues to be reluctant to ratify the Convention on Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW). All the international instruments that concern violence against women such as UN Security Council Resolutions UNSCRs 1325, 1820 and 1888 have not been implemented. Furthermore, many Sudanese laws and policies are discriminative and create unfavorable conditions for women in Darfur and all parts of Sudan including the capital, Khartoum.

Women represent about half of any nation’s talent and human resources, and even more so during times of war. In the midst of crises during which states’ resources are typically stretched to the limit, no society can afford to sideline those resources. Sadly in Sudan, where rape has been used as a weapon of war, women are extremely affected and they are still oppressed, having been forced to live in silence for all these years.

Women represent the overwhelming majority of the IDPs and refugees in Darfur and neighboring countries. Despite being victims of war and the long suffering that they have been enduring, women have demonstrated an outstanding resilience, strength and resolve to combat genocide and serve as spokespersons and leaders within their communities. Nevertheless, the abilities of women have not yet been utilized effectively by actors and stakeholders working to bring peace to Darfur. Unless women’s issues are brought to the forefront first, a sustainable end to the crisis will remain unattainable.

Ten years after the conflict began the situation for women in Darfur remains dismal. Widespread rape and sexual violence against women and girls continues to spread even in the absence of fighting. Recent trends show that Darfuri women are being systematically targeted even within other regions of Sudan especially in the capital Khartoum. There is also an increase in violence against female civil society leaders within the Sudan at large. Female civil society leaders are continuously abused by the authorities for raising their concerns about the repressive laws that restrict women’s freedoms and that allow impunity for security agents to abuse women under the Popular Discipline Act of the Sudanese security laws in the capital of Sudan. Female activists and human rights defenders have been subject to arrest and tortured for peaceful protests calling for legal reforms and even the simple act of wearing pants.

According to Niemat Ahmadi, the President of Darfur Women Action Group and survivor of the genocide in Darfur, “Women are raped everyday. They are raped during attacks on their villages while fleeing to safe refuge. They are raped in displacement and refugee camps when searching for firewood or water. Women are risking their lives every day because their basic needs are not being met.”

Ms. Ahmadi will brief members of the international community on the many challenges facing women in Sudan, particularly on violence against women in Darfur on March 14, 2013 during a side event during the Commission on the Status of Women at the United Nations and urge the world not to stand idly as rape and other forms of sexual violence become a norm in the lives of Sudanese women.

Security Council ignores realities of aerial attacks on civilians in Darfur

By Eric Reeves

The retreat on the part of the United Nations Security Council in responding to Khartoum’s continuous aerial military assaults on civilians in Darfur could not be clearer. In Resolution 1591 (March 2005) the Security Council had “demanded,”

“that the Government of Sudan, in accordance with its commitments under the 8 April 2004 N’djamena Ceasefire Agreement and the 9 November 2004 Abuja Security Protocol, immediately cease conducting offensive military flights in and over the Darfur region, and invites the African Union Ceasefire Commission to share pertinent information as appropriate in this regard with the Secretary-General, the Committee, or the [UN] Panel of Experts established under paragraph 3(b).”

On February 14, 2013—eight years and 500 UN Security Council resolutions later—this was reduced to the vague and tepid “demand,”

“that the [combatant] parties to the conflict exercise restraint and cease military action of all kind, including aerial bombardments….”

Rather than note the number of aerial attacks that have occurred, and their destructiveness within the civilian population—particularly in the Jebel Marra area, but throughout Darfur—aerial bombardment was simply one among many kinds of “military action.” No mention was made of the fact that literally hundreds of aerial attacks have been conducted in violation of Resolution 1591. In turn, this silence sends a clear message to Khartoum: “although we are obliged to say something publicly, we will not hold you accountable for these attacks, and will do as much as we can to equivocate in linking them to military actions by rebel groups.” Indeed, the language preceding mention of “aerial bombardments” was predictably equivocal, as the Resolution spoke to a new topic that focused mainly on the rebel groups:

“Expressing concern about the political and military links between non-signatory armed groups in Darfur and groups outside Darfur, and demanding that any form of direct or indirect external support for such groups ceases, and condemning any actions by any armed group aimed at forced overthrow of the Government of Sudan.”

No matter that the Sudan Revolutionary Front (SRF) is now broadly representative of the marginalized populations of Darfur, Blue Nile, South Kordofan, and eastern Sudan—and is working explicitly for regime change. The SRF comprises not only Darfuri rebel groups, but also the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement/Army-North (South Kordofan and Blue Nile), and the Eastern Front. Moreover, in an historic alliance, the coalition of political forces in northern Sudan known as the National Consensus Forces (NCF) signed a political agreement with the SRF in Kampala on January 5, 2013. It commits the coalition to removing the National Islamic Front/National Congress Party regime by political and military means.

In repudiating such broadly representative efforts by the Sudanese people to escape twenty-four years of vicious tyranny, the UN Security Council has decided that it will support Khartoum’s génocidaires and the principle of “national sovereignty” rather than those who suffer and die as a result of the regime’s continuing barbarism. It is this same commitment to “national sovereignty” that has immobilized the Security Council in the face of Khartoum’s continuing blockade of humanitarian relief to almost 1 million people in South Kordofan and Blue Nile. And it is this same commitment that leads to the Security Council’s looking away from more than a year and a half of relentless aerial attacks on civilians in South Kordofan and Blue Nile. On February 17, 2013, on behalf of the SPLA-N, Yasir Arman issued a statement that speaks precisely what the UN chooses to ignore:

“The Sudanese army and their allied militia have re-started a military dry season campaign beginning February 14th up to this morning, February 17th, in a heavily populated area with internally displaced civilians at Muffa Village and the surrounding area, 21 kilometers southwest of Kurmuk. The fighting has gone on for the last three days with heavy aerial bombardment from Sudan’s air force on the displaced camps in the village that resulted in putting 8,000 civilian displaced populations on the run towards the Ethiopian and South Sudan borders. It is to be noted seriously that the aerial and ground bombardment of the Sudanese army and their allied militia resulted in the displacement of more than 70 percent of the inhabitants of the rural Blue Nile, and as of now, nearly 200,000 from the civilian populations are refugees in Ethiopia and South Sudan.”

Such aerial attacks are now a constant, and extend well back in time. In December 2010 Khartoum bombed Kiir Adem (Northern Bahr el-Ghazal)—shortly before the Southern self-determination referendum (January 9, 2011); Khartoum denied the attack, but an Associated Press journalist present at the time confirmed the bombing. In November 2011—five months after it had begun its bombing campaign in South Kordofan, Khartoum’s military forces bombed the Yida refugee camp in Unity State, South Sudan. Khartoum again baldly denied the attack, but it was confirmed by a UN team on the ground, as well as by reporters for the BBC and Reuters who were present during the actual bombing attack. UN cowardice and disingenuousness, however, leave Khartoum’s UN ambassador unembarrassed as he makes the most absurd claims. Following the bombing of the Yida refugee camp,

“The Sudanese UN ambassador, Dafalla Haj Osman vehemently denied that SAF carried out any bombings inside their southern neighbour’s territories. “There is no aerial bombardment; we did not exercise any kind of military activity outside our borders,” he told reporters following the UNSC session on Sudan. Asked about confirmation from the BBC and Reuters correspondents at the scene, the Sudanese envoy suggested that the two are ’biased media’ outlets that are favouring rebels.” (Sudan Tribune, November 11, 2011)

In surveying the civilian destruction and suffering in Blue Nile and South Kordofan, one must conclude that the “Responsibility to Protect,” embodied in the Outcome Document unanimously adopted by the General Assembly (September 2005) and subsequently by the Security Council itself, has no legal or moral force:

“The international community, through the United Nations, also has the responsibility to use appropriate diplomatic, humanitarian and other peaceful means, in accordance with Chapters VI and VIII of the Charter, to help protect populations from genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity. In this context, we are prepared to take collective action, in a timely and decisive manner, through the Security Council, in accordance with the Charter, including Chapter VII, on a case-by-case basis and in cooperation with relevant regional organizations as appropriate, should peaceful means be inadequate and national authorities manifestly fail to protect their populations from genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity.” (International Coalition for the Responsibility to Protect)

Darfur has now entered its second decade of enduring “genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity.”

Following passage of Resolution 2091 Khartoum’s Permanent Representative to the UN Daffa Alla Alhag Ali Osman indulged in characteristic, which is to say obscene mendacity:

“[Daffa Alla] further denied that Sudan uses technical assistance for military purposes, describing the statement [concerning aerial bombardment] as a ’fallacious’ claim, saying Sudan used its air capacities only ’for peaceful and civilian purposes.’” (Reuters and Sudan Tribune, February 14, 2013)

In fact, there have been altogether more than 700 hundred confirmed aerial attacks on civilians in Darfur since the beginning of the conflict—more than 500 since UN Security Council Resolution 1591 was passed in March 2005 (a detailed spreadsheet, with specific incidents, casualties, sources of confirmation, as well as a broader analysis are available at: www.sudanbombing.org).

In Darfur the rebel forces have no aircraft of any kind. The more than 500 hundred attacks by the Khartoum’s Sudan Armed Forces (SAF) since March 2005 have been carried out overwhelmingly by highly inaccurate and inherently indiscriminate Antonovs (retrofitted cargo planes from which crude barrel bombs are rolled out the cargo bay).

Dismayingly, Khartoum is on the verge of completing a deal with Ukraine to purchase five more of these Antonovs (Reuters [Khartoum], February 13, 2013). Moreover, reliable sources in South Sudan report that Khartoum continues to use Antonovs to ferry supplies to the increasingly vicious Murle militia force of David Yau Yau in Jonglei State (South Sudan). Yau Yau’s forces were responsible for the February 8, 2013 attack on Walgar (Jonglei), in which some 120 people were killed, more than 100 of them civilians, including women and children. Yau Yau’s forces were reportedly wearing the uniforms of Khartoum’s Sudan Armed Forces (SAF). A UN investigative team has presumably filed its field report from Walgar, but we may be sure that it will not likely be made public. Nor will it place blame where it belongs for supplying the arms, ammunition, and equipment that allow Yau Yau’s forces to remain so potent in an area where re-supply of any sort is extremely difficult. Khartoum’s arming of the rebel forces is a flagrant violation of international law and a clear attempt to destabilize the South by exacerbating ethnic tensions.

None of this figures in the quarterly updates provide by Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, who in his October 2012 report mentions only a single bombing attack (§16: July 8, 2012 south of Tawila, North Darfur). And yet dozens of aerial bombing attacks against civilians have been reported by eyewitnesses during the period covered by Ban’s report. The UN Secretary-General has essentially ignored the relentless and well-reported bombing of civilians in Darfur and thus egregious violations of the “demand” made by UN Security Council Resolution 1591. Moreover, there is nothing in Ban’s report about the campaign of annihilation that animates Khartoum’s relentless bombing campaigns in Blue Nile and the Nuba Mountains: it is as if there were no connection between what is occurring in Darfur and these regions. And nothing about Khartoum’s violation of the airspace of South Sudan to supply a renegade military force that is without a political agenda and trades almost exclusively on ethnic grievances that Yau Yau has deliberately inflamed.

Of course in the case of Darfur Ban has precious little data provided to him by UNAMID: the force is completely intimidated by Khartoum’s SAF and its militia allies, and has access only to those few regions of Darfur that Khartoum’s Military Intelligence designates. This most certainly does not include Jebel Marra, especially eastern Jebel Marra, where the bombing has been most intense. But the implicit suggestion that mentioning only a single aerial attack does justice to the relentless terror, destruction, and displacement experienced by many tens of thousands of human beings is a measure of Ban’s character as well as UNAMID’s dismal performance.

The UN’s New Fig-leaf: A reconstituted “Panel of Experts” for Darfur

At least partially in response to the outrageous disparity between what is occurring and what is being reported within the UN system, Resolution 2091 also “renews” the mandate of the so-called “UN Panel of Experts on Darfur.” But this is little more than a fig-leaf, if we are to judge by the most recent efforts of this politically eviscerated Panel. The highly authoritative Africa Confidential reported last April:

“A seismic diplomatic row is rumbling at United Nations headquarters in New York over the circulation of a damning report by former UN experts pointing to the supply of Chinese-made ammunition to the Sudan government for use against civilians in Darfur. The row exposes fresh divisions on Sudan at the UN Security Council and disarray in Secretary General Ban Ki-moon’s office. It may also unpick Beijing’s careful diplomacy as it seeks to realign its relations between Sudan and South Sudan.

“The report, which is circulating clandestinely at UN headquarters, was written by three of the original members of the UN’s Panel of Experts, which monitors violations of the UN arms embargo in Darfur. It argues that the Darfur crisis, far from winding down as Khartoum and some press reports suggest, is worsening, with new incidents of ethnic cleansing, arms deliveries and aerial bombing. Africa Confidential has obtained two separate reports on Darfur, one commissioned by Ban’s Under-Secretary for Political Affairs, B. Lynn Pascoe, which is highly conservative in its findings, and a more forthright, detailed unofficial version by the three specialists who resigned from Pascoe’s appointed Panel on Darfur in 2011.

“Weapons experts Mike Lewis (Britain) and Claudio Gramizzi (Italy), and Darfur and Chad specialist Jérôme Tubiana (France) resigned, Africa Confidential has learned, after Pascoe’s department declined to take seriously their complaints about the standards of competence and neutrality on the Panel. The trio have now sent their own report – with lengthy annexes – to the Security Council. This unofficial report details Sudan army ammunition found in Darfur that appeared to be Chinese-made. Some may have been made in the Sudan Technical Centre, a Sudanese military company in Khartoum. The findings upset China, which says the report is not an official document and should not be given a hearing. Diplomats from the United States and Britain are nonetheless backing the report in private.”

(“UN clash over Beijing bullets claim: UN experts’ reports differ over Darfur arms violations,” Africa Confidential 13th April 2012)

China is used to throwing its weight around at the UN, especially when it finds itself the target of criticism, which it clearly was in the reporting of the original Panel of Experts. As a consequence, Under-secretary Pascoe and Secretary-General Ban ensured that the make-up of the new Panel of Experts would be completely unthreatening because completely incompetent in the tasks demanded. I offer a detailed, side-by-side comparison of the weak “official report” that the UN has chosen to accept and the extraordinarily detailed and authoritative report by Mike Lewis (UK), Claudio Gramizzi (Italy), and Darfur specialist Jérôme Tubiana (France), the report that created such an angry response from China because it was so compelling in its findings.

What we are about to see, then, is the nominal renewal of mandate for the UN Panel of Experts on Darfur, but for a Panel that will in all likelihood be a reincarnation of the incompetent and politically pliable last Panel. Moreover, Resolution 2091 makes no explicit reiteration of the mandate of the UN Panel of Experts to monitor aerial military flights in Darfur. That more recent Panel was notable among other things for its laziness and lack of ambition: time on the ground in Darfur was minimal, and members of the Panel offered virtually no push-back when Khartoum denied them access, even as such access has been guaranteed by Khartoum in yet another (dishonored) agreement.

We should also be troubled by the recent assessment from UN Independent Expert on the situation of human rights in the Sudan, Mashood Adebayo Baderin, who claims that here has been “some significant progress towards the promotion and protection of human rights by the Government [of Sudan]” (Geneva, February 15, 2013). This is utterly preposterous, a gross misrepresentation that expediently ignores what has been reported by every single credible human rights group and news organization over many years. Baderin offers not a shred of evidence that justifies such a claim because of course there is none: praise is meant simply as a gesture to Khartoum to ensure future access to the country (during his first mission to Sudan, Baderin was denied entry to Darfur).

Baderin was sufficiently honest to point out a basic violation of the Doha Document for Peace in Darfur (DDPD), a farce the UN and the rest of the international community pretend is a viable arrangement for peace despite a complete lack of support among Darfuri civil society and consequential rebel groups:

“Darfur war crimes are being tried by ordinary courts, said on Sunday [February 10, 2013] UN expert on human rights in Sudan Mashood Adebayo Baderin who expressed concern over the lack of special courts. In accordance with the Doha Document for Peace in Darfur (DDPD), a Special Court for Darfur will be established to try gross violations of human rights and serious violations of international humanitarian law committed in Darfur, since February 2003.” (Sudan Tribune, February 10, 2013)

This ensures that no justice will be rendered and impunity will continue to prevail for Khartoum’s militias and proxies in the region (see below). There is no good news for Darfur from the UN; on the contrary, having given the illusion of doing something meaningful, the UN—the Secretariat, the Security Council, and the Human Rights Council—are likely to turn away from the worsening military and humanitarian situation in Darfur at precisely the wrong time.

Current realities:

I recently offered a lengthy overview of humanitarian conditions in Darfur (February 10, 2013, at http://www.sudanreeves.org/?p=3790). In just the intervening week, the reports from Radio Dabanga, Agence France-Presse, and the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) make clear there has been yet further acceleration of the violence and threats to all humanitarian relief efforts:

§ Critical humanitarian aid delivery continues to be blocked by Khartoum using various means:

• Aid delivery is in jeopardy for an estimated 100,000 people affected by violence in Sudan’s Darfur region unless authorities grant better access, the United Nations warned on Thursday. One humanitarian agency has said the number of displaced people is the largest in recent years in Darfur, where a decade of civil war has been compounded by inter-Arab violence, banditry and tribal fighting. But the true extent of the problem is unclear because UN workers have had only limited access to the affected area of Jebel Amir, the UN humanitarian agency OCHA said in its weekly bulletin. Foreign aid workers, diplomats and journalists routinely face restrictions on their movement in Sudan’s far west. “The UN has informed the Sudanese authorities that it will not be able to continue providing food and other relief unless the relevant UN officials in North Darfur are permitted to travel to the area to register those in need of assistance and to carry out a comprehensive assessment,” OCHA said. (Agence France-Presse [Khartoum], February 14, 2013)

§ Some relief organizations have quietly withdrawn from various camps; others have been re-directed by Khartoum from humanitarian work to “resettlement” of displaced persons; many camps are bereft of critical food and medical supplies:

• Nine West Darfur camps dire conditions after agencies left: sources

Residents of nine displaced camps near El-Geneina, West Darfur, are facing dire conditions after humanitarian agencies left the sites months ago, sheikhs, leaders and activists told Radio Dabanga on Thursday [February 14, 2013]. UNAMID has reportedly halted its night patrols around the camps since the beginning of January, the sources said.

In addition, the distribution of grains has stopped for two months and the camps’ residents are now “receiving only lentils, sugar and salt.” Health centers are “lacking medicines,” the sources continued, explaining that medical organizations left the camps six months ago before the ministry of health took responsibility for running the establishments. Representatives of the following camps spoke with Radio Dabanga: Kirendink 1 and 2, Ardamata, Dorety, Riyadh, El-Sultan, Abuzer, Alhujaj and Jamiaat Zalingei. (Radio Dabanga [el-Geneina], February 14, 2013)

§ Increasing displacement of civilians inevitably adds to the crushing burden facing relief organizations:

• Tens of thousands of people flee fighting in Darfur in massive new displacement

Tens of thousands of people who have fled fighting in the largest displacement in western Sudan’s restive region of Darfur in recent years, face a severe shortage of clean water and sanitation services, Oxfam warned Thursday [February 14, 2013]. The international agency has called for increased access for humanitarian aid agencies in the El Sireaf, Garra Zawia and Kebkabiya areas of North Darfur following the fighting around Jebel Amir in January. “Tensions in the El Sireaf area are still high and have the potential to spread more widely. We are worried that there will be more displacement and we are already struggling to meet the needs of those who have already been forced to flee their homes,” El Fateh Osman, Oxfam’s Sudan Country Director, said. “We need key roads to be opened and for the authorities to allow for a full assessment of what the humanitarian needs are,” it said.

According to the UN, the displacement from Jebel Amir area in the past weeks has been more than the number displaced through all of 2012. “People are really in a panic and very fearful of more violence. Those who have been able to flee are not sure when they will return to their home areas, many of which have been destroyed in the fighting,” Oxfam’s Humanitarian Coordinator for North Darfur, Hamouda Kanu, said. “They have inadequate shelter for this colder time of year and are forced to defecate in the open. This could lead to the spread of disease,” he added….

An estimated 60,000 people have been displaced from surrounding villages to El Seraif town. Oxfam and [and it national Sudanese humanitarian partner] are attempting to send materials to construct 200 latrines in El Sireaf together with two technical experts but called on government authorities to improve access for humanitarian groups that so far has been limited.

Oxfam said the road linking Kebkabiya to El Sireaf town must be immediately opened to allow for bulky aid supplies to be transported to the area in order to help prevent the humanitarian situation there from worsening. The agency also warned that the areas affected by the new surge in fighting may also experience food shortages. Farmers were preparing for a good harvest this year but many crops in the area were burned in the conflict. Last year’s poor harvests in North Darfur have left people vulnerable. “The world has moved on from this entrenched conflict and humanitarian work is already severely under-funded. We are struggling to meet already existing needs even as more are pushed into crisis,” Osman said. “This conflict in Darfur is now 10 years old and we need to see a renewed effort to bring about stability and peace in this devastated area.” (PANA [Dar Es Saalam], February 15, 2013)

• Mornei camp in West Darfur facing water crisis

Displaced residents of Mornei camp in West Darfur are facing an acute drinking water crisis, due to the lack of fuel to operate the water stations in the camp. One of the camp’s sheiks told Radio Dabanga on Sunday, 10 February, that the camp is facing a water crisis due to the lack of fuel to operate the water stations in the camp. The sheikh added the water stations have not been operating for five consecutive days due to the lack of fuel. He claims that the responsible humanitarian organization has stopped providing fuel to the camp due to the fact that UNICEF suspended its fuel support. (Radio Dabanga [Mornei Camp], 11 February 2013)

§ Zam Zam camp (just outside el-Fasher, headquarters for UNAMID) has been particularly distressed in recent months:

• North Darfur camp closed for one week due to “constant attacks”

Displaced living in Zam Zam near El-Fasher in North Darfur are complaining the camp has been closed for one week due to constant attacks by pro-government militias and Central Reserve Forces (known as Abu Tira). Assaults began on 5 February at the camp when Abu Tira forces reportedly looted eight shops and fired random shots in the air in and outside the camp. Sources told Radio Dabanga they believed the incursion was in retaliation of the murder of two of their forces by “unknown gunmen” at a water station earlier that day. (Radio Dabanga [Zam Zam Camp], February 13, 2013)

• Tawila residents North Darfur complain about lack of medicine

Citizens from Tawila locality, North Darfur, have complained about scarcity and lack of medicine due to the restrictions imposed by government authorities on bringing medicine from El Fasher. Besides, the citizens complained about the deterioration of health services in the region. A number of patients from Tawila complained to Radio Dabanga about the scarcity and lack of medicine in addition to the poor health services being offered in the region. They revealed that the locality’s only health center, which is managed by Doctors Without Borders, receives more than 300 patients a day. It was added that the center’s staff informed patients that the authorities only allows them to bring medicine from El Fasher once every three months and that the medicine runs out in less than a month. (Radio Dabanga [Tawila], February 10, 2013)

§ In what me be the greatest threat to any peaceful resolution of the Darfur conflict, the lands of displaced African farmers continue to be appropriated by Arab groups from Darfur, but also Chad, Niger, and most ominously, Mali:

• Herders “settling” in displaced home-villages, West Darfur

[By “herders” Radio Dabanga typically refers to nomadic Arab groups, often heavily armed and part of the pro-regime militias—ER]:

Displaced living in different El-Geneina camps, West Darfur’s capital, are claiming that new herders’ groups have recently began settling in their home-villages and are threatening farmers to “voluntarily hand over their lands or die.” The areas, where the civilians lived before fleeing to camps, include Mujamra, Teriya, Mara, Kajan Kising, Habila and Kanary, they told Radio Dabanga on Friday. They are all located south of El-Geneina. A camp’s leader denounced the threats by the herders, calling them “unethical and irresponsible.” He appealed to the new comers to “resort to the voice of reason and dialogue” with the lands’ owners instead of using riffles. The leader called on state authorities to address the problem “before it turns into a disaster.” (Radio Dabanga [el-Geneina], February 15, 2013)

• Mali militants on 200 vehicles arrive in Kutum, North Darfur: sources

Multiple sources assert that 200 Land Cruisers with Islamist militants from Mali fleeing the hostilities in their country have arrived in Kutum, North Darfur, in the past 10 days. They told Radio Dabanga on Monday the groups are stationed in three different areas around Kutum, adding they are “inciting a state of fear and terror” among citizens. The first group can be found just one kilometer north of camp Kassab for displaced, the second in Jebel Mari, seven or eight kilometers northeast of Kutum, and the third in Sijana, about 10 kilometers north of Kutum, sources affirm. Upon arriving in Kutum, the militants’ vehicles were covered with thick green tarps and they were carrying heavy artillery, eyewitnesses pointed out. Some of the alleged Malian militants have “long beards, wear outfits resembling those found in Western Sahara and black shawls.” Witnesses added a number of them speak French and most do not speak Arabic. These groups go shopping at the Kutum market on a daily basis and use sign language to purchase goods, considering they do not speak the local language. They were last seen at the market on Monday and eyewitnesses claim they use Francs (savah), a currency mostly used in western African countries, while others use US dollars.

Displaced living in Kassab told Radio Dabanga they do not feel safe to leave the camp to collect firewood or to fetch water due to the presence of militants from Mali nearby.

Civilians are urging local and federal authorities to expel these groups from Sudan and keep them away from the country. They further urged the UN and international organizations to intervene. (Radio Dabanga [Kutum], February 11, 2013)

§ Fires have been a constant in camps for displaced persons, a great many of them of suspicious origin:

• Fire destroys 25 homes in South Darfur camp, Abu Tira blamed

A fire broke out on Monday night in the Dreige camp in Nyala, South Darfur, destroying 25 homes. The displaced are blaming the Sudanese Central Reserve Forces (known as Abu Tira) for setting the area ablaze. The accusations come after a member of the Abu Tira threatened to burn the camp just hours before the fire due to a discussion with a young man in a shisha place, sources informed Radio Dabanga. Families whose homes were destroyed are living out in the open and are in “urgent need of assistance.” Meanwhile, fellow camp’s residents have pledged to help them rebuild their houses. Displaced say Abu Tira are responsible for much of the insecurity around the camp, noting the forces periodically fire shots in the air in the evenings. Dreige’s activists stressed they cannot press charges at the police for fear of being murdered if identified by the perpetrators. (Radio Dabanga [Dreige Camp], October 14, 2013)

§ Spillover violence from the fighting in the Jebel Amer area continues to plague ordinary citizens, even as Khartoum seems content with the status quo. The regime has squarely aligned itself with one of the Arab groups in the conflict, the Northern Rizeigat (Abbala)

• Series of “killings, lootings” by Abbala militias in North Darfur

Abbala militias “armed by the Sudanese government” have been carrying a series of killings and lootings in North Darfur in the past two days, multiple sources affirm. On Tuesday [February 12, 2013], they opened fire on two high school students who were collecting hay killing them on the spot, the relative of one the victims told Radio Dabanga. The victims are Bashir Hammad Gassim and Abul Qasim Mohamed Abdul Rahman, who is deaf, the source noted.

Saraf Omra: five injured

Also on Tuesday, five people were injured in a two separate incidents in Saraf Omra, local sources informed Radio Dabanga. They alleged that Abbala militiamen stormed the city’s market late in the afternoon and started firing fiercely in the air. Two citizens were injured and the market was closed until Wednesday, according to eyewitnesses. About 500 citizens marched to the locality’s headquarters protesting against the market’s incident and demanding security. Guards responded by firing shots in the direction of the “angry” demonstrators wounding three of them, sources noted. Four out of the total five wounded victims were transferred to a hospital in Saraf Omra and the fifth was taken to a hospital in El-Geneina due to his serious injuries….


A passengers’ vehicle on Tuesday was stopped in an area called Jebel Ireinat by Abbala militias, who stripped the commuters of all of their belongings, including their money and mobile phones, sources said. The vehicle belonged to a certain Ahmad Jelab and was traveling from Saraf Omra to Al-Sref Beni Hussein. On Wednesday, Abbala tribesmen looted a total of 80 cows and 320 goats in the areas of Korguleh north and Umm Khojara, Al-Sref Beni Hussein locality, sources reported. Members of the Arab Abbala and Beni Hussein tribes firstly clashed on 5 January in Jebel ’Amer, Al-Sref Beni Hussein locality, over control of gold mines in the region. Thousands were displaced as a result and the UN stated the tribal clashes led to the biggest forced displacement in Darfur in years, estimating that about 100,000 people fled their homes. Civilians fled mainly to the nearby towns of Al-Sref Beni Hussein, Saraf Omra, Kabkabiya and Abu Gamra. (Radio Dabanga [Seraf Omra], February 13, 2013)

§ The scale of the displacements continues to be extraordinarily great, with no end in sight:

• Abbala attacks in [West] Darfur “displace thousands” in 3 days

Attacks by Abbala militants have led to the displacement of thousands of people in the last three days in Central Darfur, sources allege, adding that three people were killed in the assaults. The three victims, who include two police officers, were killed in Umm Shalaya locality while several others were wounded. Sources speaking to Radio Dabanga on Friday from Mornei locality in West Darfur, assert that thousands of people fleeing the Abbala assaults have arrived in the area in the past three days. “Hundreds of families,” composed mostly of women and children traveling by foot or on the backs of horses and donkeys have been arriving in the locality’s capital, sources say. The displaced are now living in the outskirts of Mornei, without shelter or food, according to witnesses’ reports.

Other families reportedly fled to Zalingei. Clashes between the Arab Abbala and Beni Hussein tribes over control of a gold mine in North Darfur in the beginning of January spilled over into other states of Darfur. Coalition groups supporting each tribe were formed and also [formerly West] Darfur has witnessed a series of attacks in the past month. In addition, sources in West Darfur informed Radio Dabanga about the “increasing” presence of militias after the tribal clashes erupted. (Radio Dabanga [Umm Shalayla], February 15, 2013)

§ The level of impunity enjoyed by Khartoum’s militia and paramilitary allies is strikingly clear in the following incidents:

• North Darfur civilian killed for asking militia “to speak politely”

Four pro-government militiamen shot a civilian dead who asked them to speak politely to him at a Kabkabiya market in North Darfur. Onlookers said the gunmen wanted to purchase fuel at the city’s market on Thursday and asked the victim Adam Adam to remove his car from in front of the pump and give way to them. Adam asked the militia to speak to him “politely” prompting the gunmen to shoot him two times on the chest.

The victim, a resident of the Kirekir village, passed away upon arriving at the Kabkabiya hospital. (Radio Dabanga [Kabkabiya], February 15, 2013)

• SAF leader refuses to hand over alleged rapist to court, [West] Darfur

The leader of a Sudan Armed Forces (SAF) military base in Bindissey, [formerly West] Darfur, is reportedly refusing to hand over a colleague to court who is accused of raping two displaced girls last December. According to previous reports the girls were abducted at gunpoint and dragged outside the Bindissey camp where they were raped. The victims knew who the perpetrators were and their family pressed charges against them at the police station. On Wednesday, policemen announced one of the alleged perpetrators was scheduled to appear in court, but the local army commander said he would not hand over his soldier. He claimed not to recognize the testimonies provided by the victims, nor the accusations by the police or the court. (Radio Dabanga [Bindessey, West Darfur], February 13, 2013)

• Militants attack livestock traders in Kutum, North Darfur

A pro-government militia has been accused of beating four livestock traders in the area of Sandou, northern part of Kutum in North Darfur. Besides, the militants have been accused of looting the money the traders were carrying, 65 sheep and four mobile phones after beating them and stripping them of their clothes and shoes at gunpoint. The victims claim that several of the gunmen threatened them at gunpoint to remove their clothes. They added that they were held, without their clothes, for more than three hours, while the remaining gunmen took the money and livestock and fled. (Radio Dabanga [Kutum], February 18, 2013)

• Gunmen threaten to arrest Bindissey camp’s sheikhs, [West] Darfur

The Zakat Chamber in Bindissey locality, [formerly West] Darfur has threatened to arrest the sheikhs and omda’s of Bindissey camp unless they collect zakat (alms) from the camp’s residents. A camp activist informed Radio Dabanga that seven gunmen in a Land Cruiser vehicle arrived in the camp on Friday, 15 February, to arrest the camp’s sheikhs for not collecting zakat from the camp’s residents, as instructed by the Zakat Chamber. He stated that the displaced intervened and were able to prevent the arrests from taking place. The activist explained that the camp’s sheikhs and omda’s informed the Zakat Chamber previously that the displaced deserve to receive alms and are not able to give them. (Radio Dabanga [Bindissey, West Darfur], February 18, 2013)

§ Fighting is not, as press reports often suggest, confined to North Darfur—both West Darfur and South Darfur have seen heavy fighting and aerial bombardment:

• Fierce battles erupt in South Darfur between Sudan army and SLA-MM

The Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF) and Sudan Liberation Army of Minni Minnawi (SLA-MM) have clashed in different parts of South Darfur on Thursday [February 14, 2013] amid reports of heavy casualties. The deputy South Darfur governor Amin al-Sakin in remarks before a student convention in the state confirmed that fighting broke out in Oum-Gounga, which lies south of the capital town of Nyala…. [M]ultiple sources told Sudan Tribune that SAF suffered heavy losses in the battle and that the rebels managed to seize a number of army vehicles.

In Nyala, tension was growing among the residents amid rumors that rebels are closing in on the city. The local government has started mobilising paramilitary units to secure the state and stop any possible rebel attack. Saleh Abakr, a spokesperson of Sudan Revolutionary Front (SRF), of which SLA-MM is a member, claimed that they are now in control of Oum-Gounga, Baleel locality and South Railroad region. He said that they have inflicted heavy losses on SAF and captured 11 military vehicles and a large cache of ammunition. (Radio Dabanga [Khartoum], February 14, 2013)

§ And aerial bombardment, which apparently warrants only a single instancing in the October 2012 Darfur report of the UN Secretary General, is relentless:

• Rebels: shelling kills 12 in [West] Darfur, thousands displaced

The military spokesman of the Sudan Liberation Movement-Abdel Wahid (SLM-AW) is accusing the Sudanese government of shelling the Gidu village in West Jebel Marra, [formerly West] Darfur and killing 12 civilians on Thursday. Mustafa Tambour said an Antonov airplane bombed Gidu around 3:00pm, burning nine homes and all 12 civilians in them. He added three of the victims were children. In addition, more than 20 people were injured due to the shelling; some of them are in critical conditions. Tambour declared the Sudanese government is bombing civilians’ areas and called on the UN Security Council to establish no-fly zones over Darfur. Gidu residents fled the attacks and are hiding around valleys and mountains, he said.

9,000 displaced

The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs affirms that recent fighting in West Jebel Marra has led to a new wave of civilian displacement with over 9,000 people arriving in Nertiti over the past week, bringing the total to 17,000. Nertiti is already home to 42,000 displaced, OCHA reported. (Radio Dabanga [Gidu, West Darfur], February 14, 2013)

• “Airstrike South Jebel Marra leaves several dead”

An airstrike by the Sudanese Air Forces in the area of Narwa, South Jebel Marra on Sunday, 17 February, has left several people killed and injured. Also, a number of livestock was killed as a result of the airstrike. Sources from the area told Radio Dabanga that an Antonov warplane dropped more than 10 bombs in two separate bombings on Sunday afternoon. According to the sources, several people have been killed and wounded as a result of the bombings in the area of Narwa, South Jebel Marra. Witnesses added that they were not able to count the number of dead and wounded victims as people fled in all directions. They pointed out that most of the people fled in the direction of Yama, on the way from Nyala to Zalingei. (Radio Dabanga [Narwa, South Jebel Marra], February 18, 2013)

§ The avalanche of rape, unreported by the UN, also continues to sweep across Darfur; again Ban Ki-moon’s report is wholly inadequate to this widespread and vicious brutality that goes completely unpunished:

• “Nine raped” in just over a week in Gereida camps, South Darfur

Displaced camps around Gereida in South Darfur have witnessed nine rapes in just over one week by pro-government militias, sources say, adding the general security situation at the camps is “worsening.” The first incident occurred on 5 February when seven militiamen raped three women from the Hashaba camp in Gereida while they were collecting firewood. Witnesses told Radio Dabanga two of the victims were minors. Six women who were also collecting firewood were raped by the same faction on 7 February. According to sources these victims live at camp Foreeka. Females suffer the most from the lack of security around camps, a source explained. Besides, he noted that pro-government militias commonly invade camps at night and start firing shots “at random.” The source demanded state and local authorities to provide security and protection to displaced persons. He further demanded UNAMID to establish patrols so women can collect firewood. (Radio Dabanga [Gereida, South Darfur], February 13, 2013)

• Militants rape displaced woman in West Darfur

Pro-government militants raped a displaced woman from Sirba locality in West Darfur on Saturday and wounded four other displaced women, sources informed Radio Dabanga. A witness claims that pro-government militias on horses attacked the neighborhood of “Shafo Helou” and beat the village’s residents in addition to seizing their belongings and livestock. After beating and looting residents, approximately nine militants raped an 18-year-old displaced woman in turns, the witness continued. (Radio Dabanga [Sirba], 11 February 2013)

• Militants kidnap displaced girl near Garsila, [West] Darfur

A pro-government militia kidnapped a displaced girl on Saturday from Garsila camp in Wadi Saleh locality, [formerly West] Darfur. It was reported that the child was taken to an unknown destination. A sheikh from Garsila camp told Radio Dabanga that the militants arrived on camels and attacked a group of children, aged between six and 13. Among the group were seven displaced girls. The sheikh added they were attacked while they were on their way back to the camp from collecting firewood. He stated that the girl is still missing, while the other children returned to their homes on Saturday evening. (Radio Dabanga [Garsila, South Darfur], February 18, 2013]

§ Khartoum has sent a clear signal to the embryonic Panel of Experts in an account that comes from the UN itself:

• UN Spokesman: “On 26 September 2012, two Sudanese Armed Forces helicopters flew at low altitude over a UNAMID patrol that was returning from an assessment mission to Thabit (North Darfur). The authorities claimed the aircraft mistook the patrol for an armed movement convoy. The patrol, which was clearly displaying UNAMID/United Nations insignia, returned to base safely. The mission was a pre-planned verification patrol that a Panel of Experts member availed himself of the opportunity to join.” (Inner City Press UN/New York], February 14, 2013)

This was no mistake or accident: it was the clearest possible signal to the UN and its new “Panel of Experts” that they will travel only to those areas that Military Intelligence designates.

Why Khartoum believes it has succeeded

Despite its open contempt for various elements of the UN, Khartoum too often continues to have its way within the UN. In one of the most bizarre and morally incomprehensible decisions every made by any UN body, Khartoum appears poised to head the committee charged with monitoring humanitarian access:

“A UN subcommittee dealing with economic and social matters selected Sudan to chair a special session in Geneva in July on the promotion of humanitarian assistance, prompting European and other Western governments to request the decision be reversed and that Sudan be given a less controversial assignment, diplomats told Turtle Bay. Nestor Osorio, the president of the UN Economic and Social Council, was expected to announce Sudan’s selection for the post tomorrow at a meeting at UN headquarters. But European governments requested that a decision be postponed as government scrambled to convince Sudan to abandon its quest for the job. Susan Rice, the U.S. ambassador to the UN, spoke with Osorio this week to express Washington’s concerns about the selection of Sudan.

“Western powers are concerned that appointment of Sudan would set the stage for another embarrassing UN spectacle in which a country routinely denounced for denying access to humanitarian aid workers is given the job of advocating for their interests. The move comes against a background of troubled relations between Khartoum and humanitarian aid workers. In March 2009, one day after the International Criminal Court accused Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir of committing genocide, his government expelled 13 international relief agencies from Darfur. Sudan has also prevented international aid workers into the restive Sudanese regions of Southern Kordofan and Blue Nile states, where conflict has displaced nearly 700,000 people and forced more than 200,000 to flee to Ethiopia and South Sudan. (Colum Lynch, Turtle Bay, February 14, 201)

Khartoum persists in its barbaric ways because the world refuses to take the suffering and destruction in Darfur seriously, and nowhere is this more conspicuous than within the United Nations. The National Islamic Front/National Congress Party long ago calculated that it could simply outwait the international community on “changing the demography of Darfur,” in the words of notorious Janjaweed leader Musa Hilal. It has taken a full ten years, but success for Hilal and his partners in Khartoum is now in sight.

Humanitarian Conditions in Darfur: The most recent reports reveal a relentless deterioration

accelerated in recent weeks. This has created an insecurity that endangers not only millions of civilians—within and outside the camps for displaced persons—but humanitarian personnel. Most transportation corridors are unsafe without the heaviest of escorts. Whole sections of Darfur—e.g., Jebel Marra—remain subject to Khartoum’s humanitarian embargo. The National Islamic Front/National Congress Party regime relentlessly obstructs not only humanitarian personnel and operations but any meaningful investigations of atrocity crimes attempted by the UN/African Union Mission in Darfur (UNAMID). Dismayingly, humanitarian assistance now faces another disturbing obstacle. The US Agency for International Development (USAID) warned on January 25, 2013:

“The moratorium on restrictions on humanitarian aid in Darfur is expected to expire on January 31, potentially complicating the delivery of emergency assistance and implementation of early recovery programs in Darfur. Renewed annually by HAC since 2007, the moratorium expedites bureaucratic approvals that allow international organizations to conduct humanitarian assistance activities in Darfur, including processing of travel permits and visas for international staff.” (USAID Fact Sheet #2, FY 2013, January 25, 2013)

The moratorium has in fact expired according to several sources within the humanitarian community. This is most likely to affect international nongovernmental humanitarian organizations registered only in Darfur (as opposed to Sudan generally). But a number of these organizations are key implementing partners for both the UN’s World Food Program and USAID. It is once again “open season” for Khartoum in the harassment, abuse, obstruction, and denial of access to those working to provide food, primary health care, shelter, and clean water to desperate civilians.

[ In early February 2013 NIF/NCP President Omar al-Bashir pardoned Mubarak Mustafa, a man convicted of assisting in the escape of four men who in 2008 brutally murdered USAID official John Granville and his driver, Abdurrahman Abbas Rahma. The message to the U.S. in al-Bashir’s pardon was clear, as was the regime’s complicity in the escape of the assassins. ]

International response to Khartoum’s most recent decisions is unclear and indecisive. But unless the moratorium is renewed—at least nominally securing what are in fact standard humanitarian operating conditions in virtually all countries—we may be sure that people will suffer and die as a consequence.

For its part, the U.S. issued yet another perfunctory statement, “calling on the Sudanese government to grant UN agencies unrestricted access to all areas of Darfur [in order to meet humanitarian needs, State Department spokeswoman Victoria] Nuland said” (Statement of February 8, 2013, U.S. Department of State, Washington, DC). Nuland also urged Khartoum “to cease aerial bombardments,” an urging that will have as little impact on the regime’s thinking as the many previous such perfunctory statements. Indeed, as with all such “urgings,” there is no evidence that Khartoum hears or cares about U.S. statements, since they have never amounted to more than posturing when it comes to Darfur. The fact that all military flights in Darfur have been banned by the UN Security Council (Resolution 1591, March 2005) is equally inconsequential. Unless there are clear and credible consequences to continued indiscriminate aerial attacks on civilians, they will continue—as they have for more than 20 years (see www.sudanbombing.org).

Already we have seen signs of what is to come with international failure to secure renewal of the moratorium on restrictions of humanitarian assistance:

“As of 1 January 2013, the government of Sudan halted the work of 50 percent of the NGOs working in El-Geneina camps, West Darfur’s capital, several sources told Radio Dabanga on Wednesday. Five out of the 10 foreign organizations were informed by the government in mid-2012 that they could no longer exercise their activities at the camps [beyond the end of the year], sheikhs from 10 different sites affirmed. They emphasized the organizations were not expelled from Sudan. Instead, [the sheikhs] continued, organizations were ordered to stay in El-Geneina, hand over their resources to camps’ residents and focus their programs on voluntary return villages.

The emphasis on returns by Khartoum has a grim but simple logic: if there are no longer displaced persons in the camps, the rationale for an international humanitarian presence disappears. Moreover, the regime has not hesitated to restrict, re-direct, or expel organizations that don’t follow this re-fashioned mandate, even organizations such as these:

The Swiss Human Being’s Earth, the French Triangle, the International Medical Corp, and the Canadian War Child are the organizations ordered to alter their programs. While working at displaced camps, these NGOs offered services such as health, education, medicine, distribution of non-food items, kindergartens, water services and livelihood programs.”

Again, Khartoum has re-defined these critical humanitarian tasks, “ordering [these organizations] to stay in El-Geneina, hand over their resources to camps’ residents and focus their programs on voluntary return villages.” (“Sudan government halts work of 50 percent NGOs in West Darfur capital,” Radio Dabanga, el-Geneina, 23 January 2013 ) (all emphases in all quotes have been supplied—ER)

Compounding the challenges facing humanitarian efforts in Darfur, the Jebel Amir area of North Darfur has recently seen extremely intense clashes between two Arab groups: the Beni Hussein (who for the most part have sought to stay out of the Darfur conflict and Khartoum’s genocidal assault on non-Arab populations) and the Northern Rizeigat, particularly the Um Julal subsection from which a great many Janjaweed were drawn, including the most notorious of Janjaweed leaders, Musa Hilal. The fighting has been over the newly significant gold mines that lie in Beni Hussein land, but which—according to one Darfur expert who has recently been on the ground in Darfur—

“…Hilal’s ‘Border Guards’ consider it their own. It’s not unsimilar to the latest Hashaba incidents—according to local sources, the Um Jalul Border Guards killed 80 civilians there, but most [of them] were not from the area but gold searchers from other parts of Sudan.” (email received February 4, 2013)

[For a detailed account of the Hashaba fighting, see: www.sudanreeves.org/?p=3525 ]

With the Sudanese economy imploding, in large measure for lack of foreign exchange, the Khartoum regime has given gold mining and gold sales to the Central Bank of Sudan inordinate importance. This has skewed attitudes towards land tenure and toward other areas of potential economic development (e.g., the regime has allowed the agricultural sector to decline for more than two decades). And it has created powerful incentives for violent seizure of territory. According to UNAMID, more than 100 Beni Hussein civilians were killed in recent fighting near the gold mine region of Jebel Amir, which began accelerating in early January 2013. Unsurprisingly, humanitarian sources told Agence France-Presse that the toll was much higher than that reported by UNAMID (January 31, 2013).

In a compelling and timely report, Amnesty International cites a source who, while requiring anonymity for safety, said the violence in Jebel Amir “was the worst example of inter-Arab violence to emerge in the past two years as government-linked Arab groups got ‘out of control’ and turned on each other.” In this connection AFP cites another humanitarian source who said the Beni Hussein had refused to pay newly imposed government mining fees that added up to “huge, huge money.” In short, this was another regime-sanctioned extortion racket in Darfur. Amnesty noted in particular:

“Reports that members of Sudan’s security forces were involved in January attacks that left up to 200 people dead near a goldmine in Darfur must urgently be investigated, Amnesty International said today. Fighting broke out on 5 January between members of Beni Hussein, an Arab tribe that lives locally and the pastoralist Rizeigat community, when a Rizeigat leader, who is also an officer in Sudan’s Border Guard, reportedly laid claim to a gold-rich area in Beni Hussein territory.

“Gunmen driving government vehicles are alleged to have opened fire on people in the mostly Beni Hussein area of Kebkabiya using grenades and heavy machine guns. While many among the local population own automatic rifles, heavier weaponry of the sort used in these attacks is not normally available to civilians. These events come as the government is attempting to exert greater control over licensing and export of gold, in a context of fiscal crisis, depleted foreign exchange reserves, and widespread gold smuggling.

“Residents of Kebkabiya identified individual officers of the Border Intelligence Brigade (BIB, known as ‘Border Guards’) as being among the instigators of the violence. The Border Guards are part of Sudan’s Military Intelligence. Other villages were also attacked by Rizeigat tribesmen and Border Guards. One witness told Amnesty International that 53 residents of his village in Martam Bay were killed in the early hours of 9 January. He said the attack was carried out by a group of gunmen in eight vehicles which included Border Guard officers whom he identified by name.” (Amnesty International, January 30, 2013)

Amidst this rising violence, humanitarian conditions in a broader sense are rapidly deteriorating in ways the UN refuses to clarify or even speak about. This in turn makes it impossible for international nongovernmental relief organizations (INGOs) to speak out or promulgate their own data and findings: for they know that if they get ahead of the UN in speaking honestly about conditions, they will be expelled by Khartoum. Difficulties in obtaining visas to Sudan and the required travel permits for Darfur are particularly daunting at present—a blunt reminder by Khartoum that it full controls access to the region.

All this has been confirmed again and again, publicly and privately, by those working for the UN and for INGOs, and yet the UN leadership and that of UNAMID refuse to speak fully and honestly about these grim facts.

Ban Ki-moon, the UN Secretary-General, has offered in his most recent report on Darfur and UNAMID (October 2012) what can only be considered a pusillanimous and misleadingly limited account of Darfur’s most conspicuous realities, an account that is likely to contribute to the loss of a great many civilian lives. This comes after earlier reports in 2012 by Ban that say absolutely nothing about sexual violence—not even a mention of what is one of the most pervasive means of an ongoing “genocide by attrition.” Sexual violence receives only parenthetical mention in the October report and a terse, absurdly unrepresentative summary:

“UNAMID documented 30 cases of sexual and gender-based violence involving 42 victims, 13 of whom were minors. This represents a slight decrease from 33 cases involving 37 victims, including 23 minors, in the previous reporting period. UNAMID monitored police investigations into the incidents, and court hearings, and facilitated the provision of legal aid and psychosocial assistance.” (page 11)

This latter claim, about UNAMID monitoring of police investigations and assisting in other ways, is emphatically and repeatedly denied by Darfuris. As Radio Dabanga reports from West Darfur (January 22, 2013) (by “herders” Radio Dabanga means here to refer to nomadic Arab groups, often heavily armed and part of the pro-regime militias):

“West Darfur, five herders armed by the government raped two displaced women at the Misa area. Misa is located about four kilometers south of camp Mornei for displaced, a sheikh told Radio Dabanga. He said the men abducted the women at gunpoint from Misa, as they were collecting firewood at about 10:00am on Monday. According to the sheikh, the gunmen took turns when raping the victims, who were not released until late that night…. The sheikh said this is the second rape case in about three weeks, adding that all of these assaults in the area are carried out by the same group of herders. The police have been informed about it, he pointed out. Citizens have decided to no longer go to UNAMID when crimes occur, as the mission always tells them to first go to the police, the sheikh stressed. He complained about the lack of cooperation of UNAMID.”

The blunt reality is that Darfuri women simply have no access to a justice system in cases of rape, so it is quite unclear what “legal aid” UNAMID might be providing, as the UN Secretary-General claims. Clearly the impression UNAMID is making on the people in the Misa area of West Darfur is one of callous indifference.

UN silence, misrepresentation, and inaction come even as the avalanche of rape continues to roll through Darfur, threatening girls and women everywhere (see http://www.sudanreeves.org/?p=2884 ). It would seem incumbent upon the Secretary-General to provide a fuller account of sexual violence and its nature in Darfur; in particular, he should identify those most responsible, as well as the racial animus that works to define nearly all instances of rape, especially in light of incidents such as these:

“Different pro-government militias raped two young girls, aged thirteen and nine, in two different incidents in North and West Darfur last week. The first occurrence took place at camp El-Amiya Sharq, in Kabkabiya city, North Darfur last Thursday evening, 31 January. An eyewitness told Radio Dabanga. The victim, a 13-year-old girl who is mentally disabled, was snatched her from her mother’s arms after three gunmen invaded their home, sources recounted. Bystanders found the girl on Friday lying on the ground out in the open bleeding and in critical condition. She was taken to a UNAMID hospital and the mission later transferred her to Kabkabiya for treatment. Witnesses informed UNAMID and the police about the incident.”

“Separately, two pro-government militiamen raped a nine year-old girl from Alban Jadid in Sirba locality, West Darfur on Saturday at 9:00am. A relative of the girl told Radio Dabanga the victim and a friend of about the same age were collecting firewood in the outskirts of Alban Jadid when the alleged perpetrators, riding camels, attacked them. They took both girls to a nearby forest, although one of them managed to escape, a source said. The other was raped in turns and was not released until after the afternoon prayers. According to sources, the girl is being treated according to traditional methods in Alban Jadid and her condition is ‘very bad.'” (Radio Dabanga, February 3, 2013)

At the same time, large-scale violence against those within the camps is continuous, despite the numerous “patrols” that UNAMID boasts of. Ban Ki-moon again offers a deliberately bland and untenable account of such attacks:

“Attacks on internally displaced persons have continued, resulting mostly in violations of the right to physical integrity. UNAMID recorded 37 incidents involving 100 victims, a decline from the 49 incidents involving 153 victims recorded in the previous reporting period.”

“Thirty-seven incidents involving 100 victims”? Are we really being asked to take such a preposterous statistical rendering seriously? Indeed to see it as representing “improvement” over the previous reporting period? UNAMID knows, Ban Ki-moon knows, and Darfuris certainly know that this is more than a grotesque understatement: it is a deliberate misrepresentation, designed at once to mollify Khartoum and paper over the gross failure of UNAMID in fulfilling its civilian protection mandate. Such reports are also used to support the decision made by the UN Department of Peacekeeping Operations to draw down the failing UNAMID. Ban mentions this—”reductions to the mission’s overall troop and police strengths are on track to reach the authorized ceilings”—but does not begin to have the honesty to confess that this is not because of improved security but rather because of the calculation that it no longer makes sense to fund a dysfunctional UNAMID at present levels, given the need for UN peacekeepers globally.

Very recently Zam Zam camp—less than ten miles south of el-Fasher, headquarters of UNAMID—was subject to three days of terror, with no response from the nominal civilian protection force (“Three consecutive days of attacks at North Darfur displaced camp,” Zam Zam Camp, 7 February 2013):

“Schools, health centers and water stations at Zam Zam [IDP] camp near El-Fasher, North Darfur, are closed for three days since members of the Central Reserve Forces launched attacks on the area. Witnesses speaking to Radio Dabanga said the assaults took place between Tuesday and Thursday. They added the Abu Tira, as the Central Reserve Forces is known, looted and destroyed eight shops and fired random shots in the air in and outside the camp ‘terrorizing the displaced….’ Displaced are saying the security situation at the camp is ‘alarmingly deteriorating’ making them unable to leave their homes. They claim there is almost ‘no life’ at the camp at moment and all institutions have temporarily ceased their functions. Zam Zam’s residents are urging international organizations to protect them from attacks by Abu Tira, who are ‘terrorizing and intimidating’ everyone.”

One would learn little of such violence, violence that is all too typical, reading UNAMID’s relentlessly upbeat dispatches, or Ban Ki-moon’s report on UNAMID and Darfur, which itself relies largely on UNAMID reporting. Together they produce shameful understatements of violence and Khartoum’s relentless denial and obstruction of humanitarian relief. Nor would one learn much of significance about actual humanitarian conditions: there are in Ban Ki-moon’s report no global data, or indeed data of any sort about: levels of malnutrition and morbidity, mortality rates, and the adequacy of clean water supplies and primary medical care.

The UN’s Integrated Regional Information Networks (IRIN) is a better source of news about Darfur, and because it is much less politically constrained provides more useful information about humanitarian conditions. Most recently (February 8, 2013) IRIN reported:

“According to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), at least 100,000 people have been displaced or severely affected by the fighting, which left more than 100 dead.”

“It is unclear at this stage how long the people displaced from the Jebel Amir area are likely to remain displaced. The area is still insecure and over 120 villages have been destroyed,” OCHA’s public information and reports officer in Khartoum, Damian Rance, told IRIN.”

“In the locality of El Sireaf [where Jebel Amir is located] education has also been disrupted as the displaced have taken refuge in schools. Some of the displaced came to the town with their animals, and there is concern about insufficient pasture and health risks posed by animal deaths.”

“The Darfur-based Radio Dabanga reported on 6 February that some 16,000 newly displaced people had arrived in the North Darfur towns of Kabkabiya and Saraf Omra following threats by rival tribal militias. Many of the displaced are living on the streets with no humanitarian support.”

This is the first time that I have seen Radio Dabanga cited by IRIN, or indeed any news wire-service, in such fashion. Crediting the research and interviews from Radio Dabanga is a critical first step in understanding humanitarian realities in Darfur.

History of Humanitarian Efforts in Darfur

Khartoum’s deeply hostile relationship with international humanitarian efforts has been well documented since July 2004, when a “Memorandum of Understanding” was signed in Khartoum by then Secretary-General Kofi Annan and regime officials. Despite this MOU, violent assault, abuse, imprisonment, and harassment of relief workers has been constant; appropriation of humanitarian resources, obstruction, denial of key resources imported from abroad, and expulsions have also been consistently and authoritatively reported during the entire period. (See also overviews from December 2006 and June 2007.)

Expulsions of critical international relief agencies were most conspicuous in March 2009, when the Khartoum regime expelled thirteen INGOs, representing roughly half the total humanitarian capacity. Although new U.S. Secretary of State (then Senator) John Kerry declared at the time (April 27, 2009) “We have agreement [with Khartoum] that in the next weeks we will be back to 100 percent [humanitarian] capacity,” this was shamefully disingenuous. Kerry knew such restoration of capacity was completely impossible, whatever Khartoum might “agree to”—neither the resources, logistics, nor critical experience on the ground could possibly have been replaced in the time-frame Kerry indicated. What his cynical comment did do was send to Khartoum a signal that they would not be seriously pressed by the U.S. on the reporting of humanitarian conditions in Darfur, or even humanitarian access. In an important sense, the refusal to renew the moratorium is an outgrowth of what Khartoum felt had been signaled by U.S. and international acquiescence in 2009.

The process of turning Darfur into a “black box” has also continued relentlessly, abetted by key UN relief officials, but also by UNAMID leaders, who are certainly aware of how badly their mission of civilian and humanitarian protection is failing (see http://www.sudanreeves.org/?p=2356 ). The response, however, is not to confront Khartoum over its relentless obstructionism but to declare a completely contrived “mission accomplished.” And as violence escalates, particularly in North Darfur but throughout all three Darfur states, there is no international reporting presence, no human rights presence, and what UN “assessment missions” are permitted into Darfur are choreographed in detail by Military Intelligence. This ensures that only misleading representations emerge by way of these official visits, and that the suffering and destruction of Darfuris is more fully obscured.


My goal here is to provide the very most recent information bearing on humanitarian conditions coming primarily not from official UN sources but Darfuris themselves, either via Radio Dabanga, Darfuris in the diaspora, and sources on the ground. I preserve here and elsewhere the division of Darfur into three states: West, North, and South. These are the divisions reflected in the key cartographic resource for Darfur, the three-part Darfur Field Atlas (March 2006); Khartoum’s recent creation of a “Central Darfur” and an “East Darfur” has no basis in history, and is little more than an effort at geographic obfuscation.

The balance of this analysis has four parts, surveying representative reports from the past two weeks:

[1] Current medical well-being, including mental health and the provision of primary health care;

[2] Current standard humanitarian measures of well-being, particularly morbidity indicators, malnutrition rates, as well as water quality and availability;

[3] Current measures of well-being, including: freedom from fear of rape; the ability of families and villages to work their lands; access to meaningful employment; availability of needed humanitarian assistance;

[4] Current figures for civilian “returns” and ongoing displacement, as well as the number of civilians classified as displaced.

History of Humanitarian Assistance Following March 2009 Expulsions

It is important to note first that any account of the humanitarian situation in Darfur will be defined much more by what we don’t know statistically than by what we do; but the evidence is sufficiently extensive and disturbing that we must do our best to infer what may be gathered from a wealth of detailed anecdotal reporting.

The drop-off was precipitous in UN reporting on this vast, continuing humanitarian crisis. We see the decline most clearly seen in the failure of OCHA to secure permission to continue publishing its quarterly, highly detailed, statistically rich “Darfur Humanitarian Profiles.” The last, No. 34, was published for January 1, 2009; two months later Khartoum expelled thirteen INGOs; in the process the regime made it perfectly clear to the UN what was expected, indeed required in the way of accommodation of the regime’s “sensitivities” in all reporting on Darfur.

Khartoum’s officials have on countless previous occasions prevented the UN and INGOs from gathering data, collating data, analyzing data, or promulgating the results of these analyses. Again, the quid pro quo here—continued humanitarian access to Darfur in return for an end to full UN and INGO reporting on the consequences of a continuing “genocide by attrition”—could hardly be clearer, or its moral implications less demanding of scrutiny. In any event, the amount of globally useful information and data about malnutrition, morbidity, and medical care is negligible. That this should be so is in the interest of only one actor in this brutal drama.

In the absence of the “Darfur Humanitarian Profiles,” OCHA now provides a section on Darfur in its weekly “Humanitarian Bulletin: Sudan” (typically about four Website pages, with photographs, for all of Sudan and South Sudan). There are also quarterly reports, but the most recent is for the third quarter of 2012 (conditions as of November 1, 2012); the most recent of the “monthly reports” on the OCHA website is for July 2012. But although there are relatively precise data for the number of displaced in particular areas—surprisingly precise, indeed—there are still no detailed accounts of key humanitarian issues. To be sure, OCHA also publishes “Humanitarian Bulletin: South Sudan” (also about four Website pages); and these reports have a considerable amount of data relevant to understanding the many humanitarian crises presently festering in South Sudan. But this only makes that much clearer what is missing from OCHA’s reporting on Darfur in the more encompassing “Humanitarian Bulletin: Sudan.”

In fact, our best global view of the humanitarian crisis came over two years ago in an unpublished but widely circulated report from Tufts University (“Navigating Without a Compass: The Erosion of Humanitarianism in Darfur,” a report completed in late 2010 and based on extensive research, including field research in Darfur). It was first reported and discussed in an extensive and devastating critique of the UN humanitarian response by the Institute for War and Peace Reporting (“UN Accused of Caving in to Khartoum,” January 7, 2011). On the basis of my own reading of the Tufts document, I found a series of appalling conclusions about humanitarian capacity—most notably:

“International humanitarian capacities have been seriously eroded and impaired to a point that leaves Darfuris in a more vulnerable position now than at any other time since the counter-insurgency operations and forced displacements in 2003.”

Again, this analysis represents conditions as of late 2010. Moreover, the warning of humanitarian erosion and impairment was not limited to the authors of the Tufts study. Seventeen international human rights organizations declared, inter alia, in a lengthy statement on January 8, 2011 that:

“There are clear signs that the situation in Darfur is getting worse. But the international community is failing to monitor and respond properly to what is happening in Darfur.”

The lengthy critique provided by the Institute for War and Peace Reporting noted:

“UNICEF reported early last year [2010] that as many as 21 nutritional surveys were conducted since June 2009, but only seven have been released by the humanitarian affairs commission [HAC]. Six of those showed [Global Acute] malnutrition rates of between 15 and 29 per cent, the report stated.”

15 percent is the threshold for a “humanitarian emergency.” Nothing has changed to make possible a more encouraging characterization of conditions in Darfur. On the contrary, two years later violence continues to intensify and humanitarian conditions deteriorate yet further. And still the UN refuses to publish or promulgate data relevant to understanding this deterioration, something highlighted by IWPR two years ago in a series of interviews with UN officials speaking confidentially. In one courageous case, the UN official—Nils Kastberg, head of UNICEF in Sudan—spoke publicly:

“‘Nils Kastberg [said in October 2010] that Khartoum is preventing his agency from releasing reports about malnutrition in IDP camps. ‘Part of the problem has been when we conduct surveys to help us address issues, in collaboration with the ministry of health, very often other parts of the government such as the humanitarian affairs commission [HAC] interferes and delays in the release of reports, making it difficult for us to respond [in a] timely [manner],’ he said.” (IWPR)

In an earlier interview with Radio Dabanga, Kastberg had also declared:

“‘Sometimes it is security services that hinder access or delay access, sometimes it is the humanitarian affairs office [HAC] that delays the release of nutritional surveys. Sometimes it is delays in granting permissions and visas. It is different sections of different [government] institutions which interfere in our work.'” (http://www.radiodabanga.org/node/4997 )

Here it is important to note the rather different view of the chief UN aid official for Darfur at the time, Georg Charpentier—Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator for Sudan:

“‘UN humanitarian agencies are not confronted by pressure or interference from the Government of Sudan,’ [Charpentier said in a written statement to IWPR].”

This is simply despicable mendacity, which in its capitulation to Khartoum has made it a great deal more difficult for UN and other humanitarian operations to secure access. This is lying that costs lives and occasions greater human suffering.

A year earlier—January 2010—I had warned of precisely these developments: “Civilians at Risk: Human Security and Humanitarian Aid in Darfur” (January 17, 2010), and have offered substantial follow-on analyses, building on both the Tufts report and, again, information provided by Darfuris in the diaspora, Radio Dabanga, and relief officials on the ground in Darfur (all appeared in the Sudan Tribune, and are selectively noted, with links, in the Appendix).

What has been reported most recently… (this lengthy analysis continues at http://www.sudanreeves.org/?p=3787 )


Eric Reeves
Smith College
Northampton, MA01063

Eric Reeves’ new book-length study of greater Sudan (Compromising With Evil: An archival history of greater Sudan, 2007 – 2012) is available in eBook format, at no cost: www.CompromisingWithEvil.org

Websites: www.sudanreeves.org



Skype: ReevesSudan
Twitter: @SudanReeves

Human Security in Darfur, Year’s End 2012 by Eric Reeves

Human Security in Darfur, Year’s End 2012: North Darfur

An assessment of the most violent region of Darfur since July 2012 (Part 3 of 3), including the grim first weeks of 2013

Eric Reeves, 17 January 2013

In an interview with Radio France (January 14, 2013), former U.S. special envoy for Sudan Princeton Lyman declared himself worried about an “uptick” in violence in Darfur. “Uptick” is such a preposterous understatement as to amount to a dismissal, given present extraordinary increases in violence and civilian displacement. I have recently offered overviews of violence in West Darfur (December 27, 2012 at http://www.sudanreeves.org/?p=3692) and South Darfur (January 11, 2013 at http://www.sudanreeves.org/?p=3727). In the case of North Darfur, such an overview is considerably more challenging in light of the extent of the violence, its various causes, and geographic extent.

Yet again Radio Dabanga is our primary source of information about what is occurring on the ground, as the UN/African Union Mission in Darfur (UNAMID) continues in its completely dysfunctional ways, reporting painfully little, and denied access to the most important sites of reported violence—and showing only indifference in the face of too many such incidents. Notably, UNAMID has done nothing to slow the relentless aerial onslaught on civilian targets, especially in the eastern Jebel Marra region where the three Darfur states come together. Military aircraft regularly depart from the airbase at el-Fasher, capital of North Darfur and UNAMID headquarters. This is so despite the fact that UNAMID is responsible for enforcing UN Security Council Resolution 1591 (March 2005), which bans all military flights over Darfur. The impotence and silence of UNAMID and the international community in the face of such continuous, egregious violations of international law stands in sharp contrast with the active debate about how to respond to the well-reported violence of the Assad regime in Syria. One must wonder why there is such a bizarre mismatch in reporting and concern; the answers that come most readily to mind don’t bear moral scrutiny.

In the case of North Darfur the timeline must be extended further back than my overviews for West and South Darfur and return to events of July 2012. This is still in many ways an arbitrary point from which to begin; violence in North Darfur—as well as the other two Darfur states—has always been considerable, and has again risen to extreme levels over the past three years. But beginning at the end of July 2012, violence exploded in North Darfur—no mere “uptick” as the disingenuous Lyman would have us believe. I have offered extensive reviews of particular moments in this six-month history, all of them offering a great many contemporaneous accounts by eyewitnesses in North Darfur as reported by Radio Dabanga, UNAMID itself, and confidential sources.

• “Darfur Moves Yet Deeper into the Shadow of Lies,” July 22, 2012, http://www.sudanreeves.org/?p=3344

• “Darfur: UN Failure and Mendacity Culminate in an Avalanche of Violence,” August 12, 2012, http://www.sudanreeves.org/?p=3376

• “The Avalanche of Violence Continues to Accelerate in Darfur,” October 11, 2012,http://www.sudanreeves.org/?p=3473

• “Violence in Hashaba, North Darfur: A brutal portent, another UN Disgrace,” October 30, 2012, http://www.sudanreeves.org/?p=3525

• “UNAMID Evacuates Wounded SAF Soldiers in Darfur: Larger Implications,” November 18, 2012, http://www.sudanreeves.org/?p=3576

• “Growing Violence in Darfur Deserves Honest Reporting, Not More UN Nonsense,” December 1, 2012, http://www.sudanreeves.org/?p=3627

Only very recently has the international community found it necessary to offer a significant corrective to the UN/UNAMID assessment, which has for more than three years depicted a conflict winding down and a steady decrease in violence. This assessment has found dismayingly broad international acceptance. Indeed, as recently as September 2012, the U.S. diplomat working on Darfur, Dane Smith, declared the security situation in West Darfur to be “relatively calm.” In an interview with Radio Dabanga (May 20, 2012), the spokesman for UNAMID, Christopher Cycmanick, also “described the security situation in Darfur as ‘relatively calm.'” Former UN/AU joint representative Ibrahim Gambari celebrated his retirement by declaring in September 2012 that he was “gratified to note that barely 31 months on, all the objectives I set out to meet [in Darfur] have largely been met.”

Such grotesque misrepresentation of Darfur’s realities only works to confirm that the region and the suffering of its people have fallen off the map of international concern, despite the persistence of violence that once galvanized a broad advocacy and even political movement to halt genocide. This is in large measure because Khartoum has succeeded in making of Darfur a “black box”: the regime permits no journalists into Darfur (with extremely rare and tightly controlled exceptions), permits no human rights monitors, regularly denies access to various UN officials, and blocks investigations by UNAMID. UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has, in typically expedient fashion, allowed the UN Panel of Experts for Darfur to become a non-functioning collection of political appointees—an assessment rendered by a distinguished former member of the Panel, Jérôme Tubiana.

Notably, Tubiana and fellow researcher Claudio Gramizzi published in July 2012 an extremely important study of violence in the eastern part of Darfur, a region on which Radio Dabanga reports relatively less frequently. In their report Tubiana and Gramizzi define “eastern Darfur” as roughly the strategic region straddling North and South Darfur, lying east of the axis between el-Fasher and Nyala, including Shangil Tobay. Released through the authoritative Small Arms Survey (Geneva) in July 2012, “Forgotten Darfur: Old Tactics and New Players” is based on field research conducted from October 2011 through June 2012 and supplemented by extensive interviews, a full desk review of available reports, and a wide range of communication with regional and international actors. The opening paragraphs in their Executive Summary gives a sense of what UNAMID has resolutely chosen not to see:

“Since 2010 Darfur has all but vanished from the international agenda. The Sudanese government has claimed that major armed conflict is essentially over, that armed violence of all kinds has declined significantly, and that such violence is now dominated by criminality rather than by military confrontation [ ]. This view has been bolstered by statements from the leadership of the joint United Nations–African Union peacekeeping force in Darfur and by those invested in the under-subscribed 2011 Doha Document for Peace in Darfur who have hailed declining violence and wider regional transformations as conducive to a final resolution of the conflict [citation of statements by Ibrahim Gambari].”

“Notwithstanding such celebratory assertions, Darfur’s conflict has moved largely unnoticed into a new phase. While several parts of Darfur have become demonstrably more peaceful since 2009—particularly as the geography of conflict has shifted eastwards away from West Darfur and the Sudan/Chad border—late 2010 and the first half of 2011 saw a significant offensive by the Sudan Armed Forces (SAF) and militias, backed by airstrikes and aerial bombardments, targeting both rebel groups and the Zaghawa civilian population across a broad swathe of eastern Darfur.” [all emphases in all quotations have been added—ER]

Although this generalization about the geography of violence has been partially overtaken by events, it is notable that the authors highlight yet again the ethnic targeting of a non-Arab/African tribal group, the Zaghawa. The “old tactics” of genocidal destruction are indeed at work. (For an overview of the geography, locations, and administrative organization of Darfur, see my initial account of West Darfur: December 27, 2012, http://www.sudanreeves.org/?p=3692.)

It is extraordinary and beyond shame that Darfuris in the diaspora, even those with excellent contacts on the ground in the region, have found their voices silenced in the international community by virtue of this broad indifference. In the main, with some important exceptions, only Radio Dabanga persists in chronicling the violence, displacement, suffering, and deprivation that define the lives of millions of Darfuris, including a refugee population in eastern Chad that has recently begun to increase with the extremely intense fighting in the Jebel Amer area of North Darfur, which has displaced well over 100,000 civilians. Recent fighting in the Golo area of West Darfur has displaced an additional 30,000 people. And of course mortality in the Darfur conflict—once a subject of considerable controversy, even notoriety—is no longer an issue for investigation, largely because Khartoum has insisted—to the UN and international relief organizations—that no relevant data be released. Certainly, however, it is difficult to believe that the figure of approximately 500,000 dead, supported by data extant in August 2010, has not grown significantly.

The Elements of Violence in North Darfur

Like both West Darfur and South Darfur, North Darfur has seen a continuation of an atmosphere of near total impunity for Arab militia groups allied with the regime, as well as the Central Reserve Police (Abu Tira), both of which are repeatedly cited by the eyewitnesses Radio Dabanga interviews. Violence in the camps, rapes, murder, intimidation of those seeking to return to their lands—even to villages designated as “return villages”—is widespread and completely out of control. Numerous examples of the latter—in all three Darfur states—are of particular note since they run so directly counter to attempts by the Khartoum regime, UNAMID, and the UN generally to emphasize the importance of displaced persons returning: either to their own lands (despite the fact that these are often newly settled or used for grazing by nomadic Arab groups) or to designated “return villages.” But returnees are often those most particularly targeted for attack by militia forces and Arab groups that have seized control of land they have no intention of giving back; these Arab groups come not only from Darfur, but Chad, Niger, and even as far as Mali, according to numerous reports.

[ The Appendix to this overview offers a representative compendium of more particular violence from the past month in North Darfur. ]

Most notable in several respects are recent reports of massive displacements in North Darfur and West Darfur—notable in part because they have been reported by international news organizations. Reuters is, typically, leading the way:

“A surge in violence in Sudan’s strife-torn Darfur region has killed more than 100 people and forced 100,000 to flee, the United Nations said on Wednesday, sharply increasing its estimates after weeks of clashes. Fighters caught up in a dispute over control of a gold mine had set fire to around three dozen villages in the north of the region, the UN Humanitarian Coordinator in Sudan, Ali Al-Zatari, said in a statement. More than 100 people had died and around 70,000 people had been displaced by the fighting between rival Arab tribes that broke out in the Jebel Amer area last week, he added. Another 30,000 people had left their homes after separate fighting between the army and a rebel group in the central Jebel Marra area that started late in December, the UN said.” (Reuters [Khartoum], January 16, 2013)

The engine of displacement in the Jebel Amer area has been best and most authoritatively described by Radio Dabanga (January 10, 2013):

“Abbala gunmen have enclosed the capital of al-Sref Beni Hussein locality, North Darfur, and burned another four villages in the vicinity on Thursday, 10 January, according to the local omda. Noreen Abkar Ishaaq of the Khedera area, near al-Sref Beni Hussein, told Radio Dabanga that fighting continues in the region for the fifth consecutive day. He claimed to still hear sounds of gunshots and to see large clouds of smoke rising from communities located near al-Sref Beni Hussein city. Ishaaq is the omda of six villages and affirmed that four of those were burned. He gave Radio Dabanga the names of three of them: Dur Dur, Sugra, She’era. The population of the four villages that were set ablaze has currently moved to the omda’s Khedera, which on its turn has also been set on fire by Abbala men ‘riding horses.'”

“Ishaaq affirmed these villagers decided not to abandon their homes, but predicted that another attack may happen at any time. He told Radio Dabanga that no government officials have yet come to the region and complained about its ‘neglect.’ Although ‘very high,’ exact death figures are still unclear, the omda said, adding he saw several bodies ‘lying around out in the open near creeks and valleys.'” (“Gunmen enclose capital, burn another four villages in North Darfur,” Jebel Amer, January 10, 2013)

Radio Dabanga also offers a much larger figure for displaced persons, referring not to 100,000 people, but 100,000 families:

“More than 100,000 displaced families have arrived in the capital of al-Sref Beni Hussein locality, North Darfur, following clashes between the Arab tribes of Abbala and Beni Hussein that began one week ago at the gold mining area of Jebel ‘Amer.” (“Tribal clashes displace over 100,000 families to N. Darfur town,” AL-SREF BENI HUSSEIN, 14 January 2013)

In a matter of weeks violence has newly displaced more people than the UN claims have “returned” in the past year (see my skeptical assessment of UN accounts of numbers of returns and newly displaced, January 11, 2013 at http://www.sudanreeves.org/?p=3727). And it is likely that many more than the 100 confirmed dead will be added to a grimly rising mortality total. Humanitarian resources are already stretched to the breaking point, even as Radio Dabanga reports that the figure for displaced,

“does not include families displaced to other localities, such as Kabkabiya and Saraf Omra or those who are still wandering around. Commissioner Haroun Hussein declared on Monday, 14 January, that a committee has been working continuously for the last three consecutive days to count the exact number of displaced. The commissioner pointed out that some of them are living in schools, in government buildings, at the locality’s headquarters, or in homes of residents of al-Sref Beni Hussein city. However, he continued, many others are living under trees or completely out in the open, without any food or water. Hussein pointed out their condition is getting more critical as the winter approaches and that help is need ‘now, not within days.’ The locality has nothing left to provide support to the displacement families, he added.”

In another dispatch (January 10, 2013), Radio Dabanga reports on the assessment of the omda (chief coordinator) for the North Darfur camps:

“Omda Ahmed Ateem, coordinator of North Darfur camps for displaced, declared the government has closed off all access ways to East Jebel Marra, North Darfur, trapping civilians in the area. Speaking to Radio Dabanga on Thursday, 10 January, he said that citizens are now prevented from fleeing to nearby displaced camps like Zam Zam and Tawila. According to Ateem, this is a strategy of the government to keep civilians living under ‘deteriorating humanitarian circumstances’ in order to ‘wipe them out,’ as there is not any kind of control in the area and the movement of UNAMID is restricted.”

And yet again there is the anguished plea for rescue from what is felt to be genocidal destruction:

“Residents of East Jebel Marra are suffering as a result of the continuous aerial strikes carried out by the Sudanese air force, the omda claimed. He said the shelling is focused on civilian areas, such as villages, water sources and farms. ‘Livestock are killed and water supplies are destroyed, leaving citizens without any kind of provision,’ Ateem asserted. The following villages are being persistently targeted by the government, according to the omda: Fanga, Aradib El-Ashara, North Darfur, and Hasina though Jilbat, Golo and Jildu, [formerly West] Darfur. He said the current situation is worse than in 2003 when the war started and that people ‘no longer have a reason to live.’ In addition, medicine, food and basic provisions are lacking, which is negatively affecting women and children in particular, Ateem stated to Radio Dabanga. The omda urgently called on international organizations and on the UN Security Council to immediately intervene and stop the ‘genocide’ of civilians in East Jebel Marra.”

There are countless such reports from East Jebel Marra (lying at the convergence of the three Darfur states), North Darfur, and other parts of Darfur; they make painfully clear the pervasiveness of violence, displacement, and acute deprivation.

Current fighting in Jebel Marra is between the SLA rebel faction of Abdel Wahid el-Nur and Khartoum’s Sudan Armed Forces (SAF); in North Darfur, the fighting in the Jebel Amer area is between two Arab groups fighting for control of a potentially gold-rich area (the Khartoum regime has placed a tremendous emphasis on gold production as a means of generating the foreign exchange it so desperately needs as the economy continues to implode). In both cases, responsibility for violence and displacement clearly belongs to Khartoum.

The consequences of the violence in Jebel Amer are already being felt in eastern Chad, to which many people have fled, and many have died in the attempt to flee or been left behind:

“About 40 families fleeing the week-long tribal clashes between Abbala and Beni Hussein members in North Darfur arrived at the Touloum refugee camp in eastern Chad on Monday, 14 January, a source told Radio Dabanga. The families from al-Sref Beni Hussein, North Darfur, traveled for nine days by foot and by donkey before reaching the camp, the refugee Soukara Adam Hashim recounted. She left five of her children, aged between three and 14 years old, behind. Hashim told Radio Dabanga that, with the exception of two elderly men, all of the families arriving at the camp consist of only women and children. Several other people fleeing the clashes in North Darfur did not manage to reach the refugee camp. (Radio Dabanga, “Families fleeing North Darfur tribal clashes arrive at Chad camp,” TOULOUM CAMP, 15 Jan 2013)

The violence in Jebel Amer, Jebel Marra, Hashaba, Kutum, Kabkabiya, Kassab camp and so many other locations in North Darfur has left civilians completely without protection. And within this security vacuum, into which UNAMID refuses to enter, the consequences are all too predictable:

“Pro-government militiamen alleged looted a village for voluntary return located near Kabkabiya, North Darfur on Monday, 14 January. On the same day, another group seized two trade cars and raped four passengers, also near Kabkabiya, eyewitnesses say. The voluntary return village of Marghouba, situated about 14 kilometers west of Kabkabiya, was invaded from different directions by gunmen riding horses, camels and driving Land Cruisers, different sources affirmed. According to testimonies, the perpetrators looted a Central Reserve Forces (known as Abu Tira) police base in the town forcing them to withdraw to Kabkabiya. Next, the pro-government militia group looted ‘all houses’ of the village and fled.

“Another militia group looted two fully-loaded trade vehicles traveling from Kutum to Kabkabiya also on Monday. Sources reported that the vehicles were intercepted by militiamen at the Arimba area, located seven kilometers from Kabkabiya. Before seizing the vehicles with its contents, the perpetrators beat the passengers, looted all of their belongings and raped four students who were also in the cars, one of the witnesses said.” (Radio Dabanga, KABKABIYA,15 Jan 2013)

There are several prominent and recent precedents for the current violence in North Darfur. See in particular the detailed contemporaneous accounts at:

• “Darfur: UN Failure and Mendacity Culminate in an Avalanche of Violence,” August 12, 2012, http://www.sudanreeves.org/?p=3376http://www.sudanreeves.org/?p=3376

• “The Avalanche of Violence Continues to Accelerate in Darfur,” October 11, 2012, http://www.sudanreeves.org/?p=3473

• “Violence in Hashaba, North Darfur: A brutal portent, another UN Disgrace,” October 30, 2012, http://www.sudanreeves.org/?p=3525

August 2012: Kutum and Kassab Camp

In early August 2012 various paramilitary elements, including the Abu Tira (Central Reserve Police, CRP), and Border Intelligence Guards—often divided along Arab tribal lines—engaged in massive killings and looting. A well-placed and exceptionally well-informed source on the ground reports of Kutum, a major town in North Darfur:

“Kutum town has been overrun by Arab militia since last Thursday [August 3, 2012]…all of the INGOs [International Nongovernmental Humanitarian Organizations] and UN offices in the area have been thoroughly looted and their staff relocated to el-Fasher. All of the IDPs from Kassab IDP camp have been displaced. The markets in Kutum and in Kassab have booth been thoroughly looted.” (email from North Darfur received August 5, 2012; also source for following two quotes)

This source goes on to note that in the case of the fighting in and around Kutum, while beginning in a personal dispute between individual members of two Arab tribal groups:

“The fighting, however, has not been between the two tribes but focused on looting the IDP camps and the INGOs and the markets in the town.”

The implications of this violence have not been reported anywhere—by the UN, UNAMID, or even Radio Dabanga. But they are enormous:

“Most of the north part of North Darfur (all the way to Chad) is served from Kutum and now all [humanitarian] organizations have lost all capacity because of the looting, and I do not see the humanitarian community reinvesting in the basic infrastructure because of what has happened. This is going to cause huge humanitarian issues in Kutum and the IDP camps there. All the fuel at the INGOs was looted. This fuel is for vehicles but also for the generators to run water pumps in town and outside of town. This could turn bad, as it is the rainy seasons right now.”

Radio Dabanga (August 2, 2012—Kutum) also reports eyewitness accounts of the destruction of compounds belonging to (among others) the UN World Food Program and (Irish) GOAL, as well as Kutum’s market areas:

“Eyewitnesses from Kutum, North Darfur, told radio Dabanga that pro-government militias stormed the Al Gusr, Al Dababeen and Al Salam areas and the entrance of a large market. They added that the pro-government militias attacked humanitarian organizations’ compounds in Kutum town.”

Agence France-Presse reported (August 10, 2012) on UN OCHA’s finding that “‘during the violence, the premises of five humanitarian organisations were looted. Humanitarian staff have been evacuated to El Fasher town.’ The World Food Programme previously announced that its Kutum compound was looted for about 12 hours from around midday on August 2″ (Khartoum).

This violence defines the environment into which more than 100,000 people have been newly displaced. Humanitarian capacity is woefully inadequate and far too often relief workers and supplies have no access, especially to Jebel Marra and North Darfur. And yet UNAMID was largely silent or perfunctory in comments offered in the wake of its own painfully weak response to events in and around Kutum. The violence against IDPs, overwhelmingly from non-Arab or African tribal groups, anticipated much of what we are now seeing, making a mockery of the plans for “returns” and “return villages.” And yet UN peacekeeping chief Hervé Ladsous has declared that conditions on the ground have improved sufficiently to warrant a draw-down of UNAMID forces—a preposterous conclusion meant only to justify the UN Department of Peacekeeping Operations in its reduction of the world’s largest, costliest, and least effective UN-funded peacekeeping operation.

September – October 2012: Hashaba

The atrocity crimes in North Darfur do not occur in a political or military vacuum. Khartoum has settled upon a policy of supporting, actively and implicitly, “security forces” that rule by terror. In the case of Hashaba, in late September to early October 2012 this clearly meant Arab paramilitary forces. The village of Hashaba North and its environs (approximately 55 kilometers northeast of Kutum in North Darfur) were attacked from September 26 through October 2 by what have been repeatedly described by eyewitnesses as Arab militia forces and Sudan Armed Forces (SAF) aerial military assets. Very high numbers of civilian casualties were soon reported by Radio Dabanga (“between 250 and 300 people,” October 4, 2012), along with repeated descriptions of the attackers on the ground as belonging to “pro-government militias.” Many thousands of civilians were newly displaced.

Even more disturbing and significant, however, was a subsequent attack on the follow-up investigation, an unusually robust UNAMID patrol comprising 16 vehicles in all. On October 17, 2012 a very heavily armed militia group—which had carefully anticipated the route of the UNAMID convoy traveling to North Hashaba—fired from high ground down upon the highly vulnerable UNAMID forces. UNAMID returned fire, but faced intimidating weaponry and overwhelming tactical disadvantage; with the killing of one UNAMID soldier and the wounding of three others (one critically), the force retreated back to Kutum. The South African soldier killed was the 43rd to die in a mission that has been consistently poorly led, betrayed by militarily capable nations such as the U.S. that have for years refused to help equip the force properly, and by a lack of political will on the part of UN and African Union leadership in demanding of Khartoum security and access for UNAMID personnel, and accountability for atrocity crimes committed by the NIF/NCP regime’s soldiers and militia proxies.

The character of the weapons used in this attack on UNAMID forces was reported in uncharacteristic detail (Agence France-Presse [Khartoum], October 22, 2012):

“‘[The attackers] used arsenals of high-calibre weapons that were never used before,‘ UNAMID spokeswoman Aicha Elbasri said in a written reply to AFP questions. ‘This includes mortars, medium machine-guns, rocket-propelled grenades, AK-47 rifles, and anti-tank guns.'”

Edmond Mulet, deputy head of UN peacekeeping operations, would later declare in an October 24 briefing of the UN Security Council that the attacking force used “heavy machine guns,” a fearsomely destructive weapon when fired with the advantage of significantly higher ground position.

This was no ordinary militia assault: it is clear that the UNAMID convoy was attacked, on the basis of advance intelligence, so as to prevent the investigation of atrocity crimes reported from Hashaba. Indeed, although the UN itself has merely hinted at this reality, no analyst not connected with the UN or UNAMID has disputed this conclusion or offered a plausible alternative explanation. At the time UNAMID declared that it would proceed with a third mission to investigate the crimes at Hashaba, but yet again the site of atrocity crimes was sanitized before UNAMID actually reached the area.

This attack on the UN must also be seen in light of the regime’s repeated claims about human security in Darfur, chiefly that there is no major fighting in Darfur and that civilians are secure and able to return safely to their homes and lands. In the words of Deputy Governor of North Darfur, al-Fateh Abdel Aziz Abdel Nabi:

“‘[T]here is very good improvement in the security situation’ compared with its peak in 2004, he said, with incidents limited to Kutum and Mellit. ‘And they are isolated and they are under control.’'” (Agence France-Presse [el-Fasher], October 17, 2012)

The assault on UN Security Council-authorized peacekeepers attempting to investigate at Hashaba was designed to ensure that this perverse narrative was preserved as much as possible, at least with respect to civilian massacres and other atrocity crimes. The perversely limited truth of this claim by Khartoum about “the peak [of violence] in 2004” has somehow—in some quarters—made it acceptable to consign these early years of the genocide to a past that no longer concerns us directly or bears on an understanding of recent events such as those at Hashaba. This inevitably works to skew the history of the region profoundly, from 2005 to the present (see the sections on Darfur in my recent Compromising with Evil: An archival account of greater Sudan, 2007 – 2012).

Indeed, the evidence is so clear in this attack on civilians in Hashaba, and in the subsequent assault on UNAMID, that there is only one issue left undetermined: what was the degree of command responsibility for the specific atrocities in Hashaba on this particular occasion? How far up the Military Intelligence chain-of-command did foreknowledge of the attack on Hashaba go? (Military Intelligence long ago took the lead in organizing “security” for Darfur.) And more importantly, how far up the Military Intelligence (MI) chain-of-command did foreknowledge of the assault on UN peacekeepers go? UNAMID has never answered these questions, but given evidence of growing powers for the military and security elements within the NIF/NCP regime, it is highly unlikely that such an action would have been undertaken without at least tacit prior approval from someone senior in the Army or Military Intelligence/Khartoum.

The alternative is to believe that a field officer for MI with foreknowledge of the attack felt it to be insufficiently important to report back to Khartoum. For certainly some MI officer(s) in North Darfur was involved in or knew of the attack, especially given the nature of the weaponry—again, a UNAMID spokesperson has spoken of “arsenals of high-calibre weapons that were never used before,” and deputy head of UN peacekeeping operations Edmond Mulet reported specifically on the attackers use of “heavy machine guns.” This kind of weaponry simply could not have gone unnoticed, and yet the UN was characteristically diffident in drawing the most obvious of conclusions.

Further, Radio Dabanga reported in late September that the governor of North Darfur had been warned of the impending militia attack on Hashaba by a local official from the town itself, Abdella Rifa:

“Rifa blamed the Jangaweed militias for carrying out the ‘barbaric attack’ [on Hashaba] and held the government responsible for the incidents. [ ] Rifa said that the leader of the Jangaweed militia that carried out the attack is called Al-Nur. He also said that the group moved to attack from their base in Damrat Al-Quba. According to Rifa, they knew beforehand that the militia was going to attack and they informed the authorities including the governor of the state, Mohammed Osman Kibir, ‘but they did nothing.'” (Radio Dabanga, September 28, 2012)

“They did nothing”: this will be a phrase that does too much in providing an appropriate summary of international response to Darfur’s agony, whenever it may end.

November 2012: Abu Delek/Sigili, North Darfur

By November of 2012 it had become increasingly difficult not to highlight specific atrocity crimes that were being reported in detail by Radio Dabanga. An especially brutal and deadly attack on the village of Sigili, near Abu Delek, proved to be a catalyst, although its distinction lies in the fact that it was much more widely reported, not that it was yet another village was attacked by pro-regime militia forces. Reuters reported:

“Peacekeepers said they had discovered homes burned and dead animals and ammunition littering the ground in a Darfur village allegedly attacked by pro-government forces last week…. Events in Darfur are often hard to verify because journalists’ access is restricted. An African Union-United Nations Mission in Darfur (UNAMID) team that went to Sigili on Tuesday found the village ‘completely deserted, with apparent signs of an abrupt departure,’ the peacekeepers said in a statement late on Wednesday. It also noticed several signs of destruction of housing and property, killed animals, and burnt houses. Ammunition was also found in different sites across the village.”

“Last week, UNAMID said government forces had blocked an earlier attempt to access the site, which is about 40km southeast of North Darfur’s capital El Fasher. On Wednesday, Human Rights Watch said 13 civilians including two infants were killed in Sigili on 2 November, when scores of armed men in vehicles and on camels attacked the village, firing on civilians and looting and burning shops and homes. It said witnesses identified the attackers as ethnic Berti members of the Popular Defence Forces, a militia the government has deployed alongside the army, but added it could not confirm this.

“UNAMID said it had also tried to go to the Abu Delek area southeast of El Fasher, but was stopped by members of the Popular Defence Forces. ‘After lengthy discussion, the team decided to turn back to El Fasher and postpone the mission to Abu Delek,’ UNAMID said. The attempt was the peacekeepers’ second to get to Abu Delek to check reports of clashes between government forces and armed groups. During an 25 October attempt, the team came under heavy gunfire from an unidentified armed group, it said.” (“Homes burned at Darfur attack site,” (Reuters [Khartoum], November 8, 2012)

Human Rights Watch reported, on the basis of its own sources (November 7, 2012):

“Witnesses told Human Rights Watch that at around 8 am on November 2, scores of heavily armed men in vehicles and on camels attacked Sigili, an ethnic Zaghawa village 40 kilometers southeast of El Fasher, the capital of North Darfur [the North Darfur Field Atlas does not list in its Gazetteer or on its maps “Sigili,” though it does locate the town of Abu Delek “40 kilometers south of El Fasher,” presumably defining the location of Sigili—ER]. The attackers entered the village, fired on civilians, and looted and burned shops and homes. Thirteen civilians, including two infants, were killed and several more were wounded or abducted.”

“A shopkeeper told Human Rights Watch that a vehicle full of armed men arrived at the market, and then one of the attackers shot dead an unarmed man standing near his shop. ‘I was afraid. My whole body was shaking when someone shouted loudly, “Janjaweed [militia] attack, run!”‘ the shopkeeper said. ‘I found myself running like everyone else. I left behind my shop but saved my life.'”

“Several hundred villagers fled the village to El Fasher and nearby villages. That afternoon, villagers brought the bodies of their relatives to the El Fasher hospital. The next day, hundreds marched with the bodies in a funeral procession from the hospital to the UNAMID headquarters, demanding justice and compensation for the loss of life and property.”

“Authorities prevented displaced villagers from returning home on November 3 to attend the burial of their relatives. The village representative, Sheikh Musa Mukhtar, lodged a complaint against the attackers with the police, petitioned the governor’s office for justice, and asked UNAMID to investigate the case independently, victims’ families told Human Rights Watch. But local authorities have yet to investigate the incident, despite a report by the government-run SUNA news service that authorities had established an investigative committee. Domestic as well as international law applicable in Darfur obligates the Sudanese authorities to investigate the killings, Human Rights Watch said.”

“The authorities blocked UNAMID peacekeepers from visiting the area until November 6, according to UN sources. Sudan has repeatedly blocked UNAMID from visiting various locales in Darfur, seriously undermining the mission’s ability to carry out its mandate to protect civilians and investigate human rights abuses.”

The consequences of the Khartoum regime’s refusal of more than ten years to hold accountable those responsible for atrocity crimes in Darfur are all too clear in such accounts. In turn, the willingness of the international community to permit such obduracy by these brutal men, to abandon its commitment to the International Criminal Court (whose Prosecutor is now Gambian jurist Fatou Bensouda—see her recent comments on Darfur to the UN Security Council), to pretend that security has improved sufficiently to draw down UNAMID forces—rather than create a robust force capable of truly protecting innocent civilians—and to abandon any effort to secure compliance with UN Security Council resolutions bearing on Darfur…this willingness is all the encouragement Khartoum’s génocidaires have needed. And if we wish to understand current realities in the Nuba Mountains, Blue Nile, and Abyei, we can do no better than to start with what the regime has learned in Darfur about the meaning of impunity.

The Face of Impunity

The Seraf Omra merchant Abbakar Ismail Musa is only one among the countless dead and dying in Darfur, but the manner of his death is all too revealing. Seraf Omra town lies on the volatile border between North and West Darfur, and is the location for a large camps for displaced persons. It should be an obvious location for a robust UNAMID presence; instead, a recent dispatch from Radio Dabanga reveals in excruciating detail the reality of impunity in Darfur:

“Two people were killed and a third was severely injured after a gunman refused to pay for the chicken he had just purchased at the Saraf Omra market, North Darfur, on Tuesday, 15 January. An onlooker told Radio Dabanga the perpetrator, a pro-government militiaman, shot and killed the merchant Abbakar Ismail Musa after he demanded him to pay for the chicken. Next, the gunman started firing randomly at the market, killing another merchant and severely injuring a third one, a source recounted. Following the events, civilians, the police and security forces, who were at the market during the shooting, fled the scene and shops were closed. The pro-government militiaman escaped…..” (SARAF OMRA, 15 January 2013)

Until the world re-awakes and responds vigorously to the continuing horror and suffering of Darfur, to Khartoum-supported destruction that is nothing less than a grim “genocide by attrition,” we may be sure that countless civilians will be murdered, thousands of girls will be raped, indiscriminate military aircraft will bomb with relentless ferocity civilian targets, hundreds of thousands of people will be newly displaced (well over a million people since UNAMID took up its mandate in January 2008), humanitarian capacity and access will continue to wither, the appropriation of land belonging to African tribal groups by heavily armed Arab militias will be ongoing—and thus provide a continual impetus for new conflict.

Appendix of incidents from the past month;

Radio Dabanga is the source unless otherwise indicated:

• Militiamen loot North Darfur voluntary return village, rape four

KABKABIYA (15 January 2013): Pro-government militiamen alleged looted a village for voluntary return located near Kabkabiya, North Darfur on Monday, 14 January. On the same day, another group seized two trade cars and raped four passengers, also near Kabkabiya, eyewitnesses say. The voluntary return village of Marghouba, situated about 14 kilometers west of Kabkabiya, was invaded from different directions by gunmen riding horses, camels and driving Land Cruisers, different sources affirmed. According to testimonies, the perpetrators looted a Central Reserve Forces (known as Abu Tira) police base in the town forcing them to withdraw to Kabkabiya. Next, the pro-government militia group looted “all houses” of the village and fled.

Four raped

Another militia group looted two fully-loaded trade vehicles traveling from Kutum to Kabkabiya also on Monday. Sources reported that the vehicles were intercepted by militiamen at the Arimba area, located seven kilometers from Kabkabiya. Before seizing the vehicles with its contents, the perpetrators beat the passengers, looted all of their belongings and raped four students who were also in the cars, one of the witness.

• Militias ‘sent to village by North Darfur security’ loot, rape

EL-FASHER (8 January 2013): Pro-government militiamen, allegedly sent by the North Darfur security from El-Fasher to the village of El-Ayet Jar El-Nebi, raped three women and looted eight people in the area in two consecutive days of attacks, according to local reports. The troops entered the town located in the eastern part of the state, El-Ayet locality, on Sunday morning, 6 January, and began the plundering in the same evening, witnesses recounted to Radio Dabanga. Three men were looted and were stripped from all of their belongings, including of their mobile phones. Their names are Mohammed Bireedo, Ahmad Nour al-Din and Osman Ali. On the same occasion, three women were collectively raped by the perpetrators, sources added. According to them, the militia group is composed of about 150 members and is led by an army Lieutenant. The day after, local residents gathered a delegation of seven people responsible for informing the El-Ayet commissioner about the incidents and for asking him to expel the militias.

Nevertheless, they predicted the request would lead to more looting and decided to shut down the market before anything happened. Reports suggest that citizens also gathered any kind of weapons they could find to protect themselves from attacks by the militiamen. Yet, five people were looted on Monday morning in a neighborhood in the eastern side of El-Ayet, sources informed Radio Dabanga, adding that all of their money and mobile phones were taken. Three of the victims are Abdullah Mohamed Adam, Mohammed Dualbet and Ibrahim Mohamed Ali.

This event led residents from the western part of the town to create popular patrols to protect their homes and possessions, one of them said. But members of the patrols eventually clashed with the perpetrators, what led to the injury of two people: Adel Abdullah Nur and Abdul Baki Mohamed Seddik, sources asserted.

• Gunmen accused of raping 14-year-old girl

KASSAB CAMP (23 December 2012): An armed group reportedly raped a 14-year-old displaced girl from Kassab camp, locality of Kutum in North Darfur, on Friday, 21 December. Head of Kassab camp, Sheikh Taher Ismail, told Radio Dabanga that an armed group, allegedly pro-government, attacked a number of women who were collecting firewood in the area of Jebel Mary, about 3 kilometers north of the camp. The gunmen reportedly fired heavily in the air before capturing the girl. While some of the women managed to escape, the 14-year-old girl was raped by several of the gunmen. The sheikh added that the girl was taken to the hospital in Kutum for treatment and that the incident was reported to the army.

• Displaced Dankoj reject camp relocation plans

DANKOJ CAMP (23 December 2012): Residents from Dankoj camp in Saraf Omra locality, North Darfur, have rejected the locality’s decision to move the camp. The locality’s leadership has announced its decision to move the camp to a new location, at about 2 kilometers northeast of the city. A camp activist told Radio Dabanga on Friday, 21 December, that the executive director of Saraf Omra locality, Ismail Ahmed, informed the displaced in a meeting on the decision to move the camp to an area northeast of the town. It was reported that the executive director also announced that the price for a piece of land in the new area would be around 900 Sudanese pounds and to obtain a piece of land certain documents would be required.

The activist explained that the displaced rejected the decision for a number of reasons; the displacement is temporary and they will return to their areas of origin when peace and security prevails, the new area lacks basic services such as water, schools and health care in addition to the lack of financial means for the relocation. He has appealed to the local authorities not to add any more burdens and troubles to the present ones and to cancel the plans for the relocation of the camp.

• UNAMID: alleged air strikes cause displacement North Darfur

EL FASHER (21 December 2012): A press statement issued by UNAMID on Friday, 21 December, claims that the Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF) have allegedly carried out air strikes in Shangil Tobaya and Tawila localities, North Darfur. It was added that UNAMID deployed a patrol to Dalma and Dady villages to verify the reported air strikes in the area, but was denied access by SAF. The statement said that UNAMID received reports of an increased number of displacement of civilians from Daly, Kotto, Msaleet, Nomaira, Dawa Sharafa, Dolma and Hemaida villages in Shangil Tobaya area. According to the mission’s sources, a clash between SAF and an unidentified armed group at a village south-east of Shangil Tobaya, resulted in the death of one combatant and the wounding of two civilians. Rape and looting by the armed groups was also reported.

Furthermore, reports were received claiming that civilians from Kunjura, Hashaba, Namira and Masal villages have fled to Argo camp in Tawila area as a result of air strikes allegedly carried out by SAF on 18 December. It was added that UNAMID is arranging for further verification of the incidents. Lastly, UNAMID called on all parties involved to keep civilians out of harm’s way and unrestricted access and freedom of movement across Darfur. NB: The Mission also warned that continued fighting could lead to a catastrophic humanitarian situation for the displaced civilians in North Darfur.

• Sudanese army bar UNAMID from investigating fresh clashes in North Darfur (Sudan Tribune, December 21, 2012 (KHARTOUM) – Sudanese army prevented an investigation team from the joint peacekeeping mission from investigation recent fight that caused new wave of internal displacement in North Darfur. The African Union—United Nations Mission in Darfur (UNAMID) in a statement released on Friday said concerned “about the safety of civilians and the humanitarian situation in these IDP camps,” which is the core of its mandate. According to the Mission, new civilians, displaced from different villages in Shangil Tobaya and Tawila areas, arrived to Naivasha and Tawila camps in North Darfur following new attacks by alleged armed groups and air strikes by the Sudanese army. Shangil Tobaya attacks occurred on 12 December while the clashes in Tawila villages took place on 19 December. Citing its sources, the UNAMID further said one combatant was killed and two civilians were wounded during a clash between Sudanese forces and an unknown armed group at Tibadiyat village, in the south-east of Shanghil Tobaya. The hybrid mission also reported unverified reports about rape and looting by the armed groups. Following these reports, UNAMID dispatched a patrol to investigate the ground and air attacks but it was denied access at Shanghil Tobaya. North Darfur state is one of the most troubled states in the region where different rebel groups clash regularly with the Sudanese army.

• Tens of families flee Numu after fighting between militia and Darfur police

KABKABIYA (28 December 2012): Approximately hundred families have left the Numu village in Wadi Bare near Kabkabiya in North Darfur after clashes between pro-government militia and the police forces. Several families found refuge in Muhallaga and others went to the central town Kabkabiya. The administration told Radio Dabanga many families have left Numu for security reasons. On Thursday 27 December, the commissioner of Kabkabiya, security officers, peacekeepers from UNAMID and representatives of the displaced families tried to find a solution to prevent mass migration. The discussion will continue on Friday, the commissioner’s office explained to Radio Dabanga. The families refused to return unless the government and UNAMID can protect the village from further attacks by Border guards and other pro-government militias. The community head of Dar Tia, Altayeb Abdukora, has been asked to convince the villagers to return to their home-area.

On Tuesday four policemen were injured when a government-armed militia attacked a police station in the village of Numu. After the shooting, the militants looted the police station and seized the weapons. They also fired shots in the air to scare the local population, Radio Dabanga reports. Frightened citizens asked the governor to take action and protect the civilians in the locality.

• Abu Tira injure displaced, loot Zam Zam market

ZAM ZAM CAMP (7 January 2013): A large group composed of Central Reserve Forces (known as Abu Tira) and of “local forces trained and armed by the government” attacked and “completely looted” the central market of the Zam Zam camp, North Darfur, different sources told Radio Dabanga. The assault, which occurred at 3:30pm on Monday, lasted for more than two hours, camp leaders, witnesses and activists reported. According to them, several Abu Tira and local militiamen infiltrated the market and pretended to be “shopping” before they began firing gunshots in the air. Next, they divided themselves into three groups and launched a “fully organized” attack, as an onlooker described it.

The first group would shoot in the air, the second would stab and beat up victims and the third would loot “money and any other goods they could carry with them from the market,” one of the sources recounted. Eight victims were critically injured and taken to a hospital for treatment, including the displaced Mukhtar Adam Rajab and Najib Adam Mohamed. Witnesses said four of these victims were stabbed and the others were injured from beatings. Speaking to Radio Dabanga, a witness explained that this attack occurred at a time in which the flow of displaced to Zam Zam has significantly increased, with several people coming in from East Jebel Marra. NB: He pointed out that about 600 individuals are currently arriving at the camp on a daily basis.

“UNAMID merely monitored”

A witness told Radio Dabanga that Zam Zam’s traders’ union informed the military and the police about the assaults, who “helped evacuating the displaced to the hospital.”

UNAMID, on its turn, “merely monitored” the ongoing attacks at the camp from its watchtowers, according to testimonies. Different sources called the circumstances of the incident at the market as “strange,” given it happened in the afternoon and in front of the police, of the army, and of UNAMID. The camp’s population called on UNAMID’s headquarters in El-Fasher to assume its responsibility of protecting the “defenseless displaced.” A displaced student called on the North Darfur government to assume its responsibility and protect its people from those who are armed by the government, or to resign, if it cannot fulfill its duty. The student pointed out that normally attacks by Abu Tira or pro-government militias occur in much smaller-scale, with no more than four members attacking small groups of displaced. She stressed not seeing an attack of this magnitude in about four years now.

And as is the case in so much of Darfur, the absence of primary health care—to which far fewer than half the population has access—is responsible for a sharp uptick in disease:

• Almalha residents complain about spread of diseases

AL MALHA (31 December 2012): The locality of Almalha in North Darfur is suffering from spreading diseases such as ‘kala azar,’ typhoid, abdominal pains as well as the prevalence of malnutrition, lack of health care services and high prices of medicine. Citizens told Radio Dabanga that the region has recently witnessed a spread in ‘kala azar’ disease, especially in the area of Jebel Issa in addition to rising malnutrition and paralysis among children. A source stated that diseases such as kidney problems, abdominal pains and typhoid are also spreading and attributed the emergence to water pollution and poor health care services. He added that the rising spread of diseases is also due to the instability of available doctors in locality, as a result of a conflict with the local authorities as well as the high prices of medicine.

And finally an honest assessment from UNAMID about humanitarian conditions:

The Mission also warned that continued fighting could lead to a catastrophic humanitarian situation for the displaced civilians in North Darfur. (EL FASHER (21 December 2012)

Fighting has continued, and there is no sign of any diminishment—nor any sign that Khartoum is feeling international pressure to improve human security in Darfur. The worst is yet to come.

Eric Reeves

Smith College
Northampton, MA01063

Eric Reeves’ new book-length study of greater Sudan (Compromising With Evil: An archival history of greater Sudan, 2007 – 2012) is available in eBook format, at no cost: www.CompromisingWithEvil.org

Websites: www.sudanreeves.org



Skype: ReevesSudan
Twitter: @SudanReeves

Dear supporters of Darfur Women Action Group

As this Holiday season is approaching and you are all excited to meet with families and friends, the people of Darfur are deprived, not only from the minimum means of sustenance but from their beloved ones, like their mothers, daughters, sisters and brothers, with no hope for peace.

Please, take the time to stand in solidarity with your sisters in Darfur and Sudan as a whole, by making a tax deductible donation to DWAG.Your donation enables us to continue to raise our voices louder to bring their plight to the policy maker’s attention.

As you all know, the women of Darfur are still being forced to live in makeshift shelters, with continued bombing and rape being used as weapons of war. They have been and are still, suffering through unimaginable torture and brutality.

While all of this is happening, the world has looked the other way and said that it’s over. In fact, it is NOT over, and our people should decide our own fate, and that of the indicted war criminal president Omar Al Bashir. This is why, more than ever before, we need your help to make our voices heard, to say that this is far from over. At this moment, rape is still being used as a weapon of war against women in Darfur, and girls as young as three years old are being pulled from the backs of their mothers, as in the case of the girl from Kass, vast amounts of women continue to cry in silence. It is absolutely crucial that we stand up for these women, to hold the UN accountable for fulfilling its responsibilities and to call upon the US to lead the effort to protect civilians and stop the violence against girls and women in Darfur and all of Sudan.

Please donate to the Darfur Women Action Group to enable us to speak up for the suffering, by sending representatives to the UN, AU and the US governments. Your donation will raise awareness, to inform these groups that the violence and brutality are still ongoing and we demand protection and security for our people.

Speak up for the women of Darfur

In the span of the 16 days of activism on violence against women, I would like to appeal to you all to join Darfur Women Action Group to stand in solidarity with the people of Darfur and particularly women who have been through unimaginable suffering for 10 years. Educating the public and the policy makers about the current situation on the ground and the challenges that women are particularly facing, raise your voice to demand effective action from the international community to stop the violence, protect women, men and the children of Darfur and to hold the perpetrators accountable.

As of today, genocide has been going on for 10 years in Darfur. Rape has been and is still being used as a weapon of war and women remain the most affected, enduring unimaginable pain.

Stories of women being raped are constant, first when they attack the villages while they are fleeing their homes then while living in the internally displace camps and refugees camps. Darfuri refugee women continue to be vulnerable to attacks by varies actors, including Chadian solders.

Suffering for Darfuri women is doubled or tripled in most cases because of the fact that during the attacks, the janjaweed and the government army target men and boys, who are the sons and the husbands for killing then singling women out for rape that further exacerbate their suffering. .

As described by Hawa Mahamad, a mother of 6 who has survived the Arwalla Massacre and is currently living in Houston TX. “I have suffered the worst but the personal assault was less on me than witnessing 7 members of my family who were coming to my rescue being killed one after another, and the destruction of the entire village where I grew up and had a lot for me to be proud of and connected to; and further the killing of over 1000 people in one day that I have witness and continued to see it every day in my nightmares as if it happened just today”.

Do you know that there are still over 3 million people who have been forced out of their homes, and still living as refugees or IDPs, and the overwhelming majority of the populations in the camps are women and children? Can you all imagine with me how much physical and psychological pain each of these human beings has to live with? It’s a nightmare in itself.

Since 2009, the governmement of Sudan has expelled the most viable international NGOs who were not only providing adequate relief services to the needy but they were implementing programs that were very vital to the protection and survival of women. With those NGO’s completely shut down, women are left vulnerable, not only to the repeated attacks but to suffer the physical and the psychological harm and the social stigma with nowhere to turn for treatment or justice. Instead, the government has a allowed few NGOs with less capacity and later has extremely restricted their movement which has limited their access to the majority of those in need.

The United Nations African Union Mission in Darfur UNAMID is a shameful example of the UN failure, not only to protect the people of Darfur that they are there to protect but they can’t even protect themselves, as they are constantly attacked. They have not only failed to provide protection but they fail to adequately monitor the situation on the ground , verify incidents or present adequate reports. There hasn’t been systematic reporting coming out about rape or sexual violence against women and in most cases there has been a concern from our people on the ground that whatever reports are coming out, are either downplaying the numbers or overlooked the coverage of all the incidents and lack a proper reporting on violence against women that occurs every single day. UNAMID mission’s movement is completely restricted by the government of Sudan and the UN has been passive in holding the government of Sudan accountable for restricting UNAMID access .We therefore call on you to raise your voice with us to demand that the international community stop neglecting Darfur and neglecting the plight of women. These are the people who of course have voices but their voices have been oppressed and silenced. So its morally imperative that we speak up for them and give them a voice to speak for themselves.

Please join us in our series of blogs to take you with us to learn about some examples of the situations that our sisters in Darfur and Sudan continue to suffer and in most cases the world has decided to look the other way. If the world has accepted to do so, we will not and that is why we need your solidarity more than ever before to stand with us to make our voices louder.