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Posts Tagged ‘UNAMID’

The Killing of Seven UN Peacekeeping Personnel in Darfur

Posted by African Press International on July 23, 2013

All evidence to date strongly suggests that the armed force responsible for the killing of seven Tanzanian members of the UN/African Union Mission in Darfur (UNAMID) is a Khartoum-allied militia force led by Hamouda Bashir (seventeen peacekeeping personnel were wounded, some very seriously).  Radio Dabanga reports today (July 18, 2013), on the basis of a series of interviews with witnesses on the ground, the following (all emphases have been added; there are a few very small edits for clarity, chiefly punctuation):

[Excerpts]

• The UN says the identity of the armed group that ambushed a UNAMID patrol in South Darfur on Saturday morning “has not yet been established”; however, witnesses have told Radio Dabanga that “UN vehicles” were spotted in the area being driven by members of a known government militia.

• During his daily press briefing in New York on Monday, spokesman for UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, Martin Nesirky…said that “the peacekeepers were attacked when they were undertaking a routine confidence-building patrol. The peacekeepers were outnumbered four to one by their attackers who numbered between 100 and 150.  [The attackers] had trucks mounted with anti-aircraft guns. Nesirky said the “the UN is conducting its own investigations and calls on the Government of Sudan to identify and bring to account those responsible.”

• Various witnesses from South Darfur have reported to Radio Dabanga that “two UN cars were spotted on Saturday being driven by members of the government Central Police Reserve, nicknamed Abu Tira.”

• “The soldiers driving the cars were dressed in uniforms with the distinctive ‘eagle insignia’ on their shoulder,” they said. Apparently, the vehicles had “at least five uniformed members of the Central Police Forces of Sudan on each side of the back.”

• Observers say that the vehicles were driven from Hamada Forest (Khaba Hamada), through the area of Manawashi, across the bridge of Musko (Wadi Abu Hamra) in the direction of Shengil Tobaya. “When they reached Shengil Tobaya, they turned west towards one of militia’s bases in Jebel Afara, just cross the border in North Darfur.” The UN vehicles are now reportedly parked in the fenced base in Jebel Afara. The witnesses also confirmed that “nine Abu Tira vehicles” were at the market of Manawashi early on Saturday early morning to buy food. [The UN reported] that about ten vehicles were involved in the attack on the Tanzanian force—ER]

• “They bought meat before driving off in the direction of the Hamada Forest, a bush area that lies a few kilometres off the main road connection between El Fasher and Nyala.”

• Over the past few days, several people have reported in detail to Radio Dabanga that the local Abu Tira commander, Hamouda Bashir, was recognised.  Bashir is the right-hand man of Ali Kushayb, one of the main commanders of the Abu Tira [and who] has been indicted by the International Criminal Court (ICC) for alleged war crimes.

• The local population of the villages who testify to the presence of Abu Tira on Saturday morning mainly consist of Arab tribes and people from the Birgid, Barno and Tama tribes. They confirmed to Radio Dabanga that no SLA-MM troops were present.

Only several furgan (tent encampments) of traditional nomad camel caravans of the three main Arab tribes of Irigat, Awlad Beni Mansour, and Itifad roam this area.

• UNAMID has confirmed that the ambush occurred about 25 kilometres north/northwest of the Mission’s Khor Abeche base [i.e. a few kilometers off the main Nyala/el-Fasher road (see above)—ER]. “The UNAMID patrol was a relatively small one. It was ambushed by a large group, so we were completely outnumbered. We came under heavy fire from machine guns and possibly from rocket-propelled grenades,” a spokesman told Radio Dabanga. Several UNAMID vehicles, including armoured patrol vehicles and Land Cruisers had to be towed from the scene. The wheels of the patrol vehicles were all blown.

*************

This account comports with previous reports I have received from the region, which have made the same claims about responsibility for the attack.  And yet the story of this outrageous crime is about to disappear into the abyss of UN expediency.  For the simple fact is that neither the UN nor the AU has any interest in an investigation that clearly establishes Khartoum’s responsibility.  For all the vigorous rhetoric that has come from various UN officials and others, it is merely rhetoric (an exception may be Tanzanian President Jakaya Kikwete).  Past behavior makes clear that neither element of the UNAMID “hybrid”—the UN and the AU—has any stomach for confronting Khartoum.  This was made especially clear following the deadly attack on a UNAMID convoy traveling to Hashaba in North Darfur last October, a mission that had as its task the investigation of a civilian massacre in the Hashaba area.  The attack was clearly the work of Khartoum-allied militia, as a great deal of evidence made clear (see “Violence in Hashaba, North Darfur: A brutal portent, another UN disgrace” at http://www.sudanreeves.org/?p=3525).  To date, there has been no assignation of responsibility, and the rhetoric of the moment has proved entirely empty. 

There is a compelling historical precedent here.  For the same failure to assign responsibility for a deadly attack defined the response of the UN Secretariat and Security Council following an extraordinarily fierce attack on a UNAMID patrol on July 8, 2008 by what were clearly Khartoum-allied militia forces.  During a three-hour fire-fight near the village Umm Hakibah, North Darfur (approximately 100 kilometers southeast of el-Fasher), seven UNAMID personnel were killed and 22 wounded, some critically (see http://www.sudanreeves.org/?p=2219).  This remains the highest casualty total among the many attacks on UNAMID over the past five and a half years.  The head of the UN peacekeeping at the time, Jean-Marie Guéhenno, was explicit about responsibility in his July 11, 2008 briefing of the Security Council (we have had nothing comparable from the current head of UN peacekeeping, Hervé Ladsous):

[1] Guéhenno told the Security Council that the attack on UN-authorized peacekeepers “took place in an area under Sudanese government control and that some of the assailants were dressed in clothing similar to Sudanese army uniforms. He also said the ambush was ‘pre-meditated and well-organized’ and was intended to inflict casualties rather than to steal equipment or vehicles” (Voice of America [UN/New York], July 11, 2008). The peacekeepers who were attacked reported seeing approximately 200 fighters, many on horses—a signature feature of the Janjaweed (often translated as “devil [or spirit] on horseback”).

[2] Agence France-Presse reported: “Guéhenno was quoted as saying that the ambush was designed ‘to inflict casualties’ and was carried out with ‘equipment usually not used by (rebel) militias'” (UN/New York], July 11, 2008). Separately and confidentially, a UN official went further in confirming to me that some of the arms used, including large-caliber recoilless rifles, have never been seen in the arsenals of the rebel groups. This official said that Guéhenno, who is retiring, had rarely been so explicit in assigning responsibility for attacks in Darfur.

There was additional conviction that the Janjaweed—armed and in this case almost certainly directed by Khartoum’s military command—were responsible for this attack on 61 Rwandan soldiers, 10 civilian police officers, and two military observers, who were returning to their el-Fasher base after investigating the killing of two civilians:

[3] Agence France-Presse reports from Khartoum on the views of UN and African Union officials on the ground in Darfur: “Officials in the African Union and UN peacekeeping mission in Darfur, known as UNAMID, said on Wednesday [July 9, 2008] that suspected Janjaweed militia, who have fought with the state [i.e., Government of Sudan], were behind the attack that killed seven peacekeepers” (July 10, 2008).

Why, then, is this UN-authorized peacekeeping force so intimidated by Khartoum?  Why has the regime not been directly confronted over these brutal, criminal attacks?  For the same reason that the UN has deferred on so many other occasions to sensibilities of the National Islamic Front/National Congress Party: because a direct accusation of Khartoum would likely prompt a crisis in which the regime, particularly the more militaristic elements, would demand that UNAMID withdraw.  And with an environment that had suddenly become “non-consensual,” UN instincts would almost certainly be to use this as an excuse for abandoning a mission that has failed and has been targeted for “draw-down” on the basis of supposedly improved security “conditions on the ground” (this was Ladsous’ assessment this past April).

This in turn would almost certainly lead to wholesale withdrawal by international non-governmental humanitarian organizations, and UN security regulations would restrict all UN agencies to exceedingly small areas of Darfur.  Nearly all the displaced persons camps would be beyond reach.  Without strong support from international actors such as the U.S., the EU, and individual African nations, this scenario would play out with a grim relentlessness.

This is why the UN and AU—despite the rhetoric—wish for nothing so much as that this story disappear and that some suitably ambiguous report be accepted as “definitive.”  Its most likely form will be to acknowledge the fact of Khartoum’s claiming that the Minni Minawi faction of the Sudan Liberation Army (SLA/MM) is responsible—but that there is “other evidence” on the ground that contradicts this claim.  The language of the report (if in fact one is issued) will be as irresolute, as ambiguous, and as non-confrontational as possible.

This is the UN and AU tribute to the courage of the seven Tanzanian personnel who lost their lives, and the seventeen who were wounded in the attack of July 13, 2013.


END

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Norway condemns attack on UN and AU in Sudan

Posted by African Press International on July 20, 2013

Norway condemns the attack against UN peacekeeping forces in Sudan on 13 July. “The attack must be investigated and those responsible brought to justice,” said Minister of Foreign Affairs Espen Barth Eide.

On Saturday 13 July, seven people were killed and 17 injured in an attack on an African UnionUnited Nations Mission in Darfur (UNAMID) patrol. UNAMID has a mandate from the UN Security Council to bring stability to Darfur.

“The attack against UN/AU personnel cannot be tolerated. They have a right to be protected in their work for the hard-pressed civilian population in Darfur,” said Mr Eide.

All seven of the people killed were UN military personnel from Tanzania. Among the injured were two female police advisers, also from Tanzania.

Saturday’s attack was the most serious since the UN and the AU took on joint peacekeeping responsibility in the conflict-torn region of Darfur in Sudan in 2008. Approximately 40 UNAMID personnel have been killed in Darfur since 2008. It is not yet clear who was behind the attack. Norway has previously participated in UNAMID, but no Norwegian personnel have taken part in the mission for the last couple of years.

 

End

 

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Taking Human Displacement in Darfur Seriously

Posted by African Press International on June 5, 2013

OVERVIEW

A brief moment of shocking clarity accompanied confirmation by the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) and the UN High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) that some 300,000 Darfuris have been newly displaced in the first four and a half months of 2013, an estimate first reported by Radio Dabanga on May 16, 2013, a week before other news sources:  

“In its latest report, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) confirms that more than 300,000 people have been forcibly displaced in Darfur since the beginning of this year. It attributes the displacement to inter-tribal fighting and conflict between the Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF) and armed rebel movements.”

[In this brief, numbers (including for mortality), names, dates, and locations are in bold throughout; italics are used for emphasis, which has always been added in quotations; spelling, transliteration, and the punctuation of quotations have often been regularized for clarity.  I have also continued to use the division of Darfur into three states: West, South, and North Darfur states.  This division is preserved in the highly detailed UN Field Atlases for Darfur: http://www.sudanreeves.org/?p=3938 ]

It is worth noting a peculiar use of this staggering figure for human displacement, by both Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and OHCA head Valerie Amos, in comparing it with the previous two years:

“The United Nations estimates that 300,000 people have fled fighting in all of Darfur in the first five months of this year, which is more than the total number of people displaced in the last two years put together,” Amos said [in Khartoum].” (Agence France-Presse [Khartoum], May 24, 2013]

The statistical claim here is highly dubious, as the data collated here suggest (see Section One below).  And to the extent the claim is meant to suggest that 2011 and 2012 were not years of extraordinary levels of violence and displacement, this was simply disingenuous.

Moreover, displacement continues at a shocking rate: even subsequent to the mid-May figure reported by OCHA, tens of thousands of additional people have been displaced.  Nor does the Secretary-General or any other voice of consequence in the international community offer meaningful and realistic proposals for halting this displacement, which over the past ten years has correlated highly with mortality.  Indeed, the UN Department of Peacekeeping Operations has done nothing to signal that it plans to change course in beginning to draw down the UN/African Union Mission in Darfur (UNAMID), which has a UN Security Council mandate to protect civilians—including from displacement.

In their comparisons, the Secretary-General and OCHA chief appear to be continuing a pattern that has been evident since UNAMID first took up its civilian protection mandate (January 1, 2008), viz., trying to overstate previous “successes” in the face of ongoing catastrophe.  But UNAMID’s inability to provide civilian and humanitarian protection has been conspicuous from the beginning, and was all too continuous with that of the preceding and grossly inadequate African Union Mission in Sudan (AMIS), UNAMID’s primary source of men and equipment early on.  There is simply no sign that violent displacement will end or even diminish, or that aerial bombardments of civilians—rarely investigated by UNAMID—will cease to be a primary agency of human displacement, despite the wildly mendacious protestations of the Khartoum regime:

“‘It is absolutely not true that the Sudan Armed Forces (SAF) bombed civilian targets in the two regions, or in any other areas of Sudan,’ said on Thursday [May 30, 2013] foreign ministry spokesperson, Abu Bakar Al-Siddiq.” (Sudan Tribune, May 31, 2013)

[ I will soon be updating “They Bombed Everything that Moved”: Aerial Military Attacks on Civilians and Humanitarians in Sudan, 1999 – 2011
(analysis and bibliography of sources, 80+ pages with accompanying Excel spreadsheet, at www.sudanbombing.org); analysis and data spreadsheet previously updated June 5, 2012.  More than 2,000 such aerial attacks on civilians and humanitarians have been authoritatively reported since 1999. ]

Section One below offers the data and reports—from the UN, non-governmental organizations, and news reports—that support the following summary of findings about human displacement in Darfur over the past six and a half years:

2007:                         300,000 civilians newly displaced

2008:                         317,000 civilians newly displaced

2009:                         250,000 civilians newly displaced

2010:                         300,000 civilians newly displaced

2011:                         200,000 civilians newly displaced

2012:                         150,000 civilians newly displaced

2013:                        320,000 civilians newly displaced as of June 1, 2013

The total for civilians newly displaced, 2007 – June 2013, is more than 1.8 million.

This figure is itself greater than the total number of IDPs, for all years, promulgated most often by OCHA (1.4 million); and of course the figure of 1.8 million does not include the figures for the years of greatest displacement, 2003 – 2006.  At the end of 2008, according to OCHA’s last Darfur Humanitarian Profile (No. 34), there were 2.7 million people in displaced persons camps. 

There is glaring, finally shocking statistical incoherence here.  Whatever over-count is reflected in the OCHA figure for the end of 2008; whatever duplication has been generated by the fact that displacement figures do not disaggregate those displaced for the first time and those who have been displaced multiple times (and on each occasion been counted as “newly displaced”); whatever the ambiguity of status for many who live in the camps but attempt to work their lands; and whatever the highly limited success of the UN push for “returns” of IDPs to their lands and homes—none of this can possibly obscure the basic statistical fact represented here: there are clearly a great many more than 2 million Darfuris presently internally displaced; and—according to Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) and UNHCR—there are also 330,000 Darfuri refugees in eastern Chad (as well as a significant Darfuri refugee population in Central African Republic).

There is something deeply, disturbingly inaccurate about the figure for displacement that OCHA promulgates, and that news services, for the most part, simply repeat.  OCHA sometimes acknowledges in its reports that another 300,000 people are in the IDP camps, but not being fed by the UN World Food Program.  It is quite unclear why not being fed by WFP makes a person any less displaced.  But even the figure of 1.7 million is not as great as the figure for those newly displaced since 2007—again, more than 1.8 million.  And this of course says nothing about those who remain displaced from before 2007.

Section One (below) provides detailed accounts of sources for the data summarized above, as well as explanations of inferences and representative accounts of particular episodes of displacement.  I offer as well some thoughts about why the UN has distorted this most basic reality in Darfur today.  Section Two looks at the lives of displaced persons from the standpoint of health and malnutrition reports, as humanitarian relief aid continues to shrink amidst growing insecurity.  Section Three looks at reports of attacks on displaced persons attempting to return to their lands and homes, the violent means of intimidation deployed, and other factors limiting the civilian “returns” that the UN disingenuously celebrates.

SECTION ONE: Human displacement in Darfur

Here are the data totals for the years since 2007:

• Displacement for 2007: OCHA estimated that more than 300,000 Darfuris were newly displaced (UN OCHA, Darfur Humanitarian Profile No. 30: conditions as of January 1, 2008; http://reliefweb.int/report/sudan/sudan-darfur-humanitarian-profile-no-30-situation-01-jan-2008

• Displacement for 2008: OCHA estimated that 317,000 Darfuris were newly displaced; (UN OCHA, Darfur Humanitarian Profile No. 34: conditions as of January 1, 2009; http://reliefweb.int/report/sudan/sudan-darfur-humanitarian-profile-no-34-situation-01-jan-2009  

By the end of 2008, OCHA estimated that 2.7 million Darfuris were internally displaced; this did not include the more than 250,000 Darfuri refugees then in eastern Chad.   http://reliefweb.int/report/sudan/sudan-darfur-humanitarian-profile-no-34-situation-01-jan-2009 

• Displacement for 2009: In this year of humanitarian expulsions, OCHA promulgated no figure of its own, indeed ended publication of its data-rich “Darfur Humanitarian Profiles.”  But data were still being collected: the Canadian “Peace Operations Monitor” found evidence suggesting that “over 214,000 people were newly displaced [in Darfur] between January and June [2009] alone.” (http://pom.peacebuild.ca/SudanRelief.shtml)

Given the reports of violent displacement that followed June 2009, a total figure for the year of 250,000 seems conservative.

• Displacement for 2010: the Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre collected data suggesting that approximately 270,000 people were newly displaced in Darfur (http://tinyurl.com/n6fzjx).  This figure was last updated on January 4, 2011, and thus is highly unlikely to have taken full account of the large-scale displacement of December 2010. The OCHA Sudan Bulletin (January 7 – 13, 2011) reported that the “overall number of people displaced during the December 2010 fighting in the area of Khor Abeche stands at 43,000.”

300,000 newly displaced for the year again seems a conservative figure;

• Displacement for 2011: There is no aggregation of the data, and what data there are cannot be considered adequate to measure the full scale of displacement; but various reports suggest that the scale of displacement certainly did not diminish dramatically, and may well have increased significantly in eastern regions of Darfur following the defection of Minni Minawi and his Sudan Liberation Army (SLA/MM) fighters from the Khartoum regime in late 2010:

§ UN IRIN (Nairobi) reports, March 16, 2011:

“Tens of thousands of people continue to flee their homes in Sudan’s western region of Darfur for the safety of internally displaced people’s camps after recent fighting between government forces and armed militias.  According to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), an estimated 66,000 IDPs have arrived in camps in North and South Darfur since JanuaryAt least 53,000 are in and around North Darfur State’s Zam Zam IDP Camp.”

[These OCHA figures almost certainly do not include the many Zaghawa displaced in eastern Darfur; see “Forgotten Darfur: Old Tactics and New Players” (below)].

§  Radio Dabanga [Nertiti, West Darfur], 24 July 2011:
Twenty families fled from Nertiti camp to Zalingei camp in West Darfur, after repeated attacks by militias. Coordinator of the Zalingei camps, told Radio Dabanga from camp Hamidiya, that new displacements are being caused by militia attacks, as well as by members of the uniformed services. These attacks include sexual assault and abuses at farms. He told Radio Dabanga, that, this month, the two camps (north and south) near the city of Nertiti, have seen armed militias take over in the territory of the displaced. §

§  Tens of Thousands flee violence from the air and on the ground North Darfur Radio Dabanga, June 1, 2011

The aerial bombardments, killings and rapes have caused a reported 140,000 people to flee for safety since mid-December. The fighting in December already caused 40,000 people to flee from their homes. Since January, an additional 83,000 newly arrived IDPs have been reported at Zam Zam camp, and another 15,000 in camps near Nyala, Tawila and Khor Abeche. Shortage in food, water and fuel increase humanitarian suffering in the camps, where there is a sharp increase in deaths among children and infants since April. The renewed fighting began after the Sudanese government severed ties with the Sudan Liberation Army rebel faction loyal to Minni Minawi (SLA-MM). The bombardments and fighting is mainly located in the area of east Jebel Marra.  §

§  from Small Arms Survey, “Forgotten Darfur: Old Tactics and New Players,” Claudio Gramizzi and Jérôme Tubiana, July 2012

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. Significantly, the Government of Sudan has partly shifted away from using Arab proxy militias only to rely on newly formed (and newly armed) non-Arab proxies. This development has fundamentally changed the ethnic map of eastern Darfur, drawing on previously latent tensions between non-Arab groups over land, ethnicity, and local political dominance—and generating some of the most significant ethnically directed violence since the start of the conflict in 2003.  §

NB: There is little evidence that the UN or UNAMID took any statistical account of the displacement that resulted from Khartoum’s new orchestration of ethnically-targeted violence in eastern Darfur. 

In light of the evidence and reports presented here, the most reasonable estimate for 2011—based on inadequate data, inadequate because the UN and UNAMID refuse to collect it—is approximately 200,000 newly displaced, again a conservative estimate.

• Displacement for 2012: Again, there is no detailed aggregation of data that I am aware of that looks with any specificity at violence that displaced or killed civilians in 2012. 

[ In fact, mortality data and quantification have long been a taboo subject concerning the Darfur conflict, even as the extant data suggested that in August 2010 some 500,000 people had already died from violence as well as the disease and malnutrition that have come in the wake of the violence (http://www.sudanreeves.org/?p=2269).  Khartoum’s evident sensitivities over any discussion or release of data on the subject have produced a complete silence. ]

With respect to displacement, the UN appears content with a figure of 90,000 – 100,000 newly displaced civilians for the year 2012.  I believe this significantly understates the scale of displacement for the year and offer here a compendium of reports that must figure in any accounting:

Section Two, which follows, includes relevant excerpts bearing on the threats that the displaced encounter—both in flight and in the camps—as well indications of mortality among the displaced.  Section Three examines the fearsome dangers encountered by displaced persons—overwhelmingly from the African/non-Arab tribal groups of Darfur—on attempting to reclaim their homes and lands. ]

§  UNAMID: alleged air strikes cause displacement North Darfur (Radio Dabanga [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 displacements of civilians from Daly, Kotto, Msaleet, Nomaira, Dawa Sharafa, Dolma and Hemaida villages in Shangil Tobaya area.  §

[Other reports received by Radio Dabanga indicated] 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 2012.  §

§  Displaced present demands to UNHCR (Radio Dabanga [Zam Zam Camp] December 13, 2012)

Displaced, sheikhs, omdas and camp’s representatives from Zam Zam, North Darfur, presented a package of demands and needs to the UN High Commissioner for Refugees that was visiting the site, an activist told Radio Dabanga…. On the same day, the UNHCR representative and other humanitarian organizations spoke to about 1,350 displaced persons arrived from East Jebel Marra to Zam Zam, the activist said.  §

§  1,000 people flee Sigili (Radio Dabanga [Sigili], November 10, 2012)

About 1,000 people, or 140 families, from Sigili in Shawa area, North Darfur, have reportedly fled their village following the militia attack that left 13 people dead last Friday, 2 November, locals told Radio Dabanga.  According to sources, virtually all inhabitants left the Shawa area and are moving to El-Fasher and to Zam Zam camp, they explained to Radio Dabanga on Thursday, 8 November. In addition, reports concerning a new imminent attack in Sigili by a militia based in Kalimandou, have also influenced the large displacement of residents, according to witnesses.  §

§  280 displaced families arrive at Zam Zam (Radio Dabanga [Zam Zam camp], December 7, 2012)

An activist from Zam Zam camp near El-Fasher, North Darfur, announced that 280 families from East Jebel Marra have arrived at the camp on Friday, 7 December. He asserted these families are fleeing aerial bombardments and ground assaults, in addition to the looting of thousands carried out by pro-government militias around East Jebel Marra one week ago. Many of the individuals are in poor health after walking for seven days to reach the camp. §

§  More than 12,000 fled Hashaba (Radio Dabanga [Hashaba], October 19, 2012)

Residents from Hashaba, North Darfur, estimate that between 12 and 13 thousand people have fled the area due to recent attacks, Radio Dabanga was informed on Friday, 19 October. They described the region as “virtually deserted” after the militia attacks and aerial bombings last September. According to witnesses, Hashaba and surrounding areas including Umm Laota, Khashim Wadi and Tabadiya are completely abandoned…. Sources added that villages got completely burnt during the recent attacks and that the situation in the region is now tense, as fear and insecurity dominate local residents. They said the humanitarian situation in the area is critical and that it requires urgent intervention.  §

§  Arrival of more than 2,000 people fled Hashaba attacks (Radio Dabanga [Mellit], September 30, 2012)

More than 2,000 people who fled the recent attacks around Hashaba have arrived to Ba’ashim area, north of Mellit, North Darfur, on Sunday, 30 September, Radio Dabanga was informed. Sources told Radio Dabanga that these people traveled for three days by foot, hiding around mountains and valleys when it was light and moving only by night. This way, sources explained, the victims could avoid being found by pro-government militias during their journey to Ba’ashim. Witnesses said these people are suffering from fatigue, adding that they barely ate or drank anything during the three days they traveled.  They added that the 2,000 people who arrived in Ba’ashim represent only one fourth of the victims who fled the Hashaba attacks.  According to witnesses accounts, Hashaba and surrounding villages saw intense aerial bombardments last Wednesday and Thursday, 26 and 27 September. In addition, pro-government militias were also accused by sources of invading the area during the same period. The attacks allegedly resulted in more than 80 people dead or injured around Hashaba area, sources told Radio Dabanga.  §

§  Sudan army and SRF clash, bombs kill 15 (Radio Dabanga [East Jebel Marra], September 19, 2012)

Heavy clashes between the Sudan Armed Forces (SAF) and the Sudan Revolutionary Front (SRF) took place between Tabet and Khazan Tinjur, in East Jebel Marra, North Darfur, on Wednesday morning, 19 September, according to witnesses. The amount of fatal victims is not yet known.   Victims who fled their villages in east Tabet due to the SAF bombings informed Radio Dabanga on Wednesday that the Sudanese army is carrying out a retaliation campaign against them. They claimed to having been beaten, insulted and humiliated, adding that many were also arrested. Residents also said that their conditions are dire, as they have no water or food…. 

On Tuesday, 18 September, 13 people died in two separate incidents took place between Zam Zam and Tabet. Radio Dabanga was informed that both accidents were caused by bombs dropped by the SAF. On Wednesday, September 19 witnesses affirmed that SAF bombings killed a nine-year-old girl and left her mother in critical condition. They said Suad Bakr Hamid and her mother, Khadija Omar Mohammed Issa, were hit when traveling from their farm to their home in El-Kunjar, north of Tabet, on a horse cart. Another farmer was killed by an SAF bomb while working in his land in the same area, Radio Dabanga has learned.

The aerial bombardments in East Jebel Marra led to a new wave of civilian displacement from cities and villages to IDP camps, camps leaders from Dali and Rwanda told Radio Dabanga. They said that 87 families arrived in their camps, located in Tawila locality, between Saturday and Wednesday this week. The leaders pointed out that people are coming from the villages of Goz Duru, Timo, Derty and Argo in East Jebel Marra. In addition, they said the condition of these families is critical.  §

§  Hundreds displaced due to bombings in North Darfur (Radio Dabanga [Jebel Marra], August 6, 2012)

Hundreds were displaced from east Jebel Mara to Tawila locality, North Darfur. According to a witness, this is the result of the Sudanese Armed Forces’ (SAF) intensive bombing on east Jebel Mara throughout the week. A source informed Radio Dabanga that residents from the villages of Arosha, Hijer, Deloomi, Humeda, Sabi, Wadi Mora, and Tangarara were moved to Tawila locality in North Darfur. One of the fugitives said that dozens of people, including a large number of women, children and elders, are still in open fields, forests and valleys. They have no food, no medicine and no shelter. He added that after the bombings pro-government militias chased and dragged the people out of their homes and plundered their livestock.  §

§  UN: 25,000 displaced by latest unrest in Darfur (Radio Dabanga [Kutum], August 10, 2012)

UN reports indicate that the entire population of Kassab IDP camp in North Darfur has fled as a result of the recent fighting. There were more than 25,000 IDPs in Kassab camp. The fighting erupted after a district chief, Abdelrahman Mohammed Eissa, was shot dead in Kutum during a carjacking attempt.  Eissa’s tribesmen retaliated by killing two displaced persons and a police officer.  §

§   Thousands displaced on border of Darfur-South Sudan (Radio Tamazuj [Juba] July 11, 2012)

Border clashes and insecurity along the border between Western Bahr El Ghazal and South Darfur have affected thousands of people in Raja County, causing displacement and sufferingaccording to the county executive.  §

§  7,000 flee after government forces raze villages in North Darfur (Radio Dabanga [Khartoum], April 2, 2012)

More than 7,000 people have fled their homes in North Darfur after government forces and militants reportedly burned down their villages last week. ‘7,000 have left the villages of Adam Khatir, Nagojora, Hamid Dilli, Amar Jadid, Koyo and Duga Ferro near Donki Hosh and fled to the surrounding areas where there is no food, water or shelter,’ said a newly displaced witness to Radio Dabanga from a safe area. ‘They attacked us for three days, from Tuesday until Thursday evening. They burned down five villages, looted more than 20 and destroyed water wells and pumps,’ added the witness. §

§  3,000 displaced in North Darfur (Radio Dabanga [Khartoum], March 27, 2012)

The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the UN said on Monday that about 3,000 people from the areas of Dar Es Salam and Zam Zam camps in North Darfur have been displaced to Kalimdo and other areas with El Fasher. The FAO said that the displaced people are in need aid, food and medicines.  §

§  Heavy shelling forces villagers out of homes in North Darfur (Radio Dabanga [North Darfur], March 15, 2012)

Heavy shelling took place across five villages in North Darfur forcing residents to flee from their homes. Witnesses said an Antonov plane bombed the villages of Dika, Bain, Keda, Jok and Senagarai over the past three days and is still circling the area. They said planes dropped more than 40 bombs as ground troops in six tanks and 150 vehicles moved in to the villages beating male residents, looting and burning houses. The soldiers also reportedly raped more than 30 women and girls and arrested ten of the men. Witnesses said villagers fled to Wadi Maghrib in the desert area where they are now surrounded by government forces.  §

§  1,500 displaced need food assistance in El Daein (Radio Dabanga [El Daein], March 6, 2012)

1,500 displaced people from the villages of Uzban, Um Kurkut, Keiluk in northeast Darfurare experiencing severe lack of access to food in el-Daein, East Darfur. The group consisting mainly of women, children and the elderly, arrived in el-Daein in February last year. A witness told Radio Dabanga the World Food Programme distributed tarpaulins and tents for the displaced, and promised them food which is yet to materialise.  §

§  Abu Delik displaced families seeking refuge at UNAMID HQ (Radio Dabanga [Zam Zam camp], February 29, 2012)

120 families displaced from Abu Delik, the area that witnessed heavy fighting last week, and an adjacent area Sag Al Nagam have refused to leave the UN/African Union Mission in Darfur (UNAMID) headquarters, in Zam Zam internally displaced persons (IDP) camp, near El Fasher. Newly displaced families were reportedly attacked by Abu Tira forced on arrival to the camp… The witness said there are 60 families currently seeking protection inside UNAMID’s HQ, and 160 families have been staying just outside the base since Tuesday. He noted that the new IDPs are mainly children, women and the elderly, and added that Zam Zam is experiencing an daily influx of IDPs traveling on foot and donkey.  §

§  Government forces storm village near El Fasher (Radio Dabanga [Abu Delik], February 24, 2012)

On Thursday, government forces attacked  Abu Delik village, southeast of el-Fasher in North Darfur, killing one person and injuring six others…. Eyewitnesses said the force stormed the area at 10:00am indiscriminately attacking, beating, and abusing villagers, who had welcomed the soldiers into the area. They said the troops killed a man, named as Salih Adam El Daw, and injured six others. The soldiers looted homes and shops before burning some of them down. Many residents fled the area.  §

Perhaps the most remarkable statement concerning displacement in Darfur came the previous year from the Humanitarian Protection Strategy section of the UN/AU mission in August 2011:

§  400,000 displaced in West Jebel Marra; region needs urgent humanitarian aid (Radio Dabanga [Jebel Marra], August 16, 2011:

Nearly 400,000 people have been displaced in West Jebel Marra areas, the Humanitarian Protection Strategy of the United Nations African Mission in Darfur (UNAMID) said on Tuesday. “The assessments so far conducted confirm that approximately 400,000 people are displaced in Jebel Marra area,” said Oriano Micaletti, head of the UNAMID Humanitarian Protection Strategy. “They have received very limited assistance during the last few years and are in urgent need of humanitarian aid.” There is an urgent need for humanitarian aid according to the Humanitarian Protection Strategy of the Mission.  §

There is no evidence that this extraordinarily large figure is included in UN calculations about total human displacement in Darfur; indeed, statements by former UN/AU joint special representative Ibrahim Gambari would seem almost pointedly to ignore this finding when he was busy trumpeting his successful accomplishments as JSR last summer before leaving UNAMID.

It should be emphasized that in the absence of any meaningful security provisions for Darfur, fighting between Arab tribal groups has also dramatically increased displacement in recent years, and Arab groups make up a much greater percentage of the total displaced population.

• Displacement for 2012: The total for 2012 suggested by the reports above—far from complete and with many offering no estimates of numbers displaced—appears to be between 150,000 and 200,000.  Moreover, the character and consequences of displacement are certainly much more fully represented in these dispatches than in any recent UN or UNAMID accounts.  I include in calculations for total displacement a figure of 150,000 displaced for 2012, but accept that it is only a crude estimate, based chiefly on calculations of displacement during the episodes presented above.  If this figure is even approximately accurate, given the displacement estimate for 2011 (approximately 200,000), it is not true, as claimed by Amos and Ban, that the figure of 300,000 “exceeds the total for the preceding two years”—2011 and 2012.

Accepting the UN figure of 300,000 newly displaced in 2013, and aggregating the other figures offered here for human displacement in Darfur from 2007 to the present, yields a ghastly total of approximately 1.8 million human beings newly displaced.  This is a figure greater than the current UN figure for total current displacement in all of Darfur, i.e., those displaced before and after 2007. 

Whatever qualifications must be made for double-counting (i.e., those people who have been displaced more than once), temporary displacement (the 30,000 people at Kassab camp displaced in August 2012 returned to this insecure location within a matter of weeks following brutal attacks), whatever (highly limited) success there has been in returning IDPs to their lands and homes, such a vast figure incinerates the credibility of people such as Joint AU/UN Special Representatives Aichatu Mindaoudou, who—with former JSR Rodolphe Adada and Ibrahim Gambari—has taken her place in a continuing spectacle of mendacity.  For on the basis of almost no understanding of Darfur, Ms. Mindaoudou very recently joined her predecessors in offering a culpably distorted characterization of Darfur, declaring last month that “the numbers of people affected by violence had decreased each year between 2008 and 2011.”  Such lies ensure that Darfur’s crisis will continue to intensify, and its suffering will be rendered even less visible.

Moreover, all signs are that large-scale human displacement will continue so long as security remains in free-fall in Darfur (see March 20, 2013 analysis of security conditions at http://www.sudanreeves.org/?p=3838).  Even since mid-May of this year, when the UN first promulgated its figure of 300,000 newly displaced civilians in 2013, there is clear evidence of substantial, ongoing human displacement:

§  Gimr-Beni Halba clashes leave 94 dead, 6,500 displaced in South Darfur (Radio Dabanga [Katayla, South Darfur], May 30, 2013)

[The Gimr are one of the smaller non-Arab/African tribal group in South Darfur—ER]

Tribal clashes involving the Gimr and Beni Halba in South Darfur have left a total of 94 people dead and another 65 injured since they resumed in March in Katayla locality, a Gimr stronghold. A UN OCHA report released on Thursday states that an estimated 6,500 people have fled Katayla and have sought refuge in Tullus.  

Speaking to Radio Dabanga, Gimr spokesman Abkar Al Toum, added that 1,200 houses were torched, five water wells destroyed, 14 villages were set ablaze and all the property of the inhabitants stolen.  Al Toum said that 22 Gimr died in attacks on Monday and Tuesday in Kabba, Butab Abu Bashir, Umm Gutiya, Kabo, Amud Al Sah, Ati Kena, and Ajuekheen, while 32 were wounded, of whom 11 were taken to Nyala hospital on Thursday.  §

§  Central Darfur’s Umm Dukhun “virtually deserted” after clashes resumed (Radio Dabanga [Umm Dukhun], May 30, 2013)

Umm Dukhun city in [formerly West] Darfur, which has witnessed renewed violent tribal clashes between the Salamat and Misseriya tribeswas virtually deserted as of Thursday morning. In addition, shops and markets have been closed since hostilities resumed earlier this week.  §

UN figures on displacement in Darfur

In the past that both the UN and UNAMID have deliberately distorted and misrepresented displacement figures, a corruption I have addressed at several moments in recent years, including:

 “How many Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) are there in Darfur?” Dissent Magazine [on-line], April 28, 2011 http://www.dissentmagazine.org/blog/how-many-internally-displaced-persons-are-there-in-darfur

• Updated, August 31, 2012, with a critical examination of UN statistical methodology: http://www.sudanreeves.org/?p=2320

Also dismaying is the repeated failure to highlight the total of Darfuri refugees in eastern Chad, a population that has recently increased dramatically. There are now 330,000 Darfuri refugees in eastern Chad, a surge of some 50,000, confirmed by both the UN High Commission for Refugees and Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF); the latter reported from Tissi, eastern Chad (April 26, 2013): “Violent clashes in Sudan’s Darfur region have driven approximately 50,000 people across the border into southeastern Chad since early March [2013].

Even more invisibly, Darfuri refugees continue to suffer in Central African Republic, thousands of whom were only recently displaced into this exceedingly remote area:

§  UNHCR new release, May 31, 2013 (http://www.unhcr.org/51a8b7756.html)

The UN refugee agency has established contact with some 3,500 Sudanese refugees who made their way to northeast Central African Republic after fleeing inter-tribal conflict in Sudan’s Darfur region two months ago. Refugees are presently scattered in the Birao, Boromata and Roukoutou districts, which are difficult to access. UNHCR staff in Central African Republic were finally able to meet some of the refugees in Birao on May 23. The refugees said their villages in Am Djeradil district had been torched during the clashes in March and many people killed. Some families were also separated during the confusion, with hundreds heading to Central African Republic and thousands of others crossing the border into southeast Chad.  §

SECTION TWO: Displacement and Humanitarian Conditions

The fact that many people in camps are not receiving WFP food rations, or rations that are shamefully meager, should give pause and raises serious questions about the competency of WFP, OCHA, and UNAMID.  Most urgently: why is the international community not being informed about the scale of deterioration in the humanitarian conditions throughout Darfur? 

Certainly a number of the dispatches (below) from particular camps make painfully clear the severe deprivation that Darfuris are suffering.  Here it is important to bear in mind that many of the various threats faced by displaced persons are a function of the rampant insecurity throughout Darfur, which makes adequate humanitarian response impossible.  Khartoum’s security forces continue to deny access on a regular basis—to both UNAMID and relief organizations, including those of the UN.  Humanitarian conditions in the camps are clearly deteriorating rapidly, with food and clean water in particularly short supply.  This comes just as the heavy seasonal rains are about to begin, making transport extremely difficult to many locations. Conditions will become ideal for water-borne diseases; the rains will also exacerbate the problem of finding clean water and addressing acute sanitation and hygiene issues.  The potential for skyrocketing mortality is yet again clearly present.

And reports from Chad indicate that the Darfuri refugees are an increasingly invisible and under-served population.  The reports are scattered, but telling:

§   Serious water shortage in eastern Chad camp; refugees facing threat of diseases as they use contaminated water from nearby valleys (Radio Dabanga [Brejean, also Bredjing], August 9, 2012)

Nearly 45,000 Sudanese [Darfuri] refugees from the Brejean camp (eastern Chad) are suffering from acute water shortage after the water pump’s generator broke down, residents complained on Tuesday. This has resulted in refugees traveling to nearby valleys in search of water for drinking and domestic purposes. The water from the valleys is, however, not suitable for consumption. Refugees in the camp told Radio Dabanga that the water was contaminated by both human and animal waste and carcasses leading to the spread of waterborne diseases, especially among children.  §

§  Food shortage in eastern Chad camp (Radio Dabanga [Eastern Chad], August 22, 2012)

537 Sudanese refugees in eastern Chad’s Gaga camp have not received their food rations since last June, a sheikh in the camp told Radio Dabanga on Monday. Sheikh Mohammed Ismail said, “The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) has asked the veteran refugees in the camp to share their food rations with the new arrivals until August, which should have been the next date for replenishing the food stocks.” However, the refugees were surprised when the UNHCR asked them to prolong that initiative until October. The decision was therefore vehemently rejected by the refugees. Sheikh Mohammed Ismail added, “The new arrivals were registered as refugees and must receive food on showing their food ration cards.”

From the camps in Darfur itself, Radio Dabanga yet again provides our most concrete and revealing examples—indeed, in most cases the only examples.  The selection here is representative, but hardly exhaustive.  What is indisputable is that humanitarian conditions in Darfur have been deteriorating ever more rapidly over the past year, often for reasons directly related to insecurity, especially in the transport of food:

§  22 displaced die in two weeks (Radio Dabanga, [Garsila, West Darfur], October 16, 2012)

The increasing spread of diseases in Garsila camps, West Darfur, led to the death of 22 displaced persons in the first half of October, camp representatives told Radio Dabanga, on Tuesday October 16. A camps’ sheikh told Radio Dabanga that residents of three of Garsila’s camps (Jeddah, Ardeeba and Jebelain) are facing critical health conditions as diseases like malaria, dry cough and diarrhea are spreading rapidly.

He added that mainly children and elderly are suffering.  §

§  16 deaths in Kendebe camp (Radio Dabanga [Kendebe camp] October 8, 2012)

Kendebe camp activist, in West Darfur, announced that 16 displaced persons have died in the past few weeks due to different kinds of diseases, Radio Dabanga has learned on Sunday, 7 October. He explained that many doctors prescribe medications that must be purchased from the market, instead of providing it to patients, adding that most displaced cannot afford buying medicines.  §

§  Diseases spreading rapidly in Darfur (Radio Dabanga [el-Fasher], September 16, 2012)

Health Minister of the Darfur Regional Authority, Osman El-Bushra, revealed the spread of diseases such as leprosy, scabies, tuberculosis, night blindness, river blindness, malaria, schistosomiasis and typhoid among the population of Darfur. He attributes the spread of these diseases to malnutrition, poverty, a lack of health and therapeutic institutions, and the deteriorating security situation in the region.  §

§  “Catastrophic” medical services in Darfur region (Radio Dabanga [el-Fasher], September 18, 2012)

The Minister of Health from the Darfur Regional Authority, Osman Al-Bushra, told Radio Dabanga that health and medical services in all five states of Darfur are “tragic and catastrophic.” The minister stated that West Darfur, with a population of 1,202,506 inhabitants according to the last census in 2010, is the state with the worst health conditions in the region.  §

§  Starvation in three camps of South Darfur after pull out aid organizations (Radio Dabanga [Nyala], June 22, 2012)

Children have died due to malnutrition after aid organizations pulled out of three camps, 40 kilometers outside the South Darfur capital of Nyala. Community leaders have urged aid organizations to resume health and food support in the displaced camps of Mershing, Manaoshi and Duma in South Darfur…. In the past week tens of children and several elderly people died of to malnutritionThe community leader says that starvation is the result of the aid organizations stopped providing food rations to IDPs for more than eight months. He added that since circumstances are increasingly challenging an insufficient number of health centers near the IDP camps. Camp leaders told Radio Dabanga that around 60 percent of camp residents are suffering of continuous hunger, since food rations were stopped, forcing some to go for days without a meal.  §

§  Poor health conditions leave dozens dead in Mornei (Radio Dabanga [Mornei], September 21, 2012)

Residents of Mornei camp in West Darfur are suffering from poor health conditions as diseases like malaria, typhoid and diarrhea are spreading rapidly. In addition to the rapidly spreading diseases, the residents suffer from malnutrition and a lack of health-care and medication. One of the sheikhs told Radio Dabanga that the report [composed by the camp sheikhs] revealed the death of 64 elderly and 30 children between the ages of one and five over the past two weeksIn addition, the report confirmed that the majority of deaths are a result of diseases like malaria and typhoid.  §

§   El Riyadh camp: one medical clinic for 30,000 residents (Radio Dabanga [el-Geneina] August 28, 2012)

Radio Dabanga was informed today that there is only one medical clinic available at the El Riyadh camp in El-Geneina, West Darfur. The camp counts 30,000 residents who claim to face a serious humanitarian crisis. A camp’s activist told Radio Dabanga that the three most serious issues in El Riyadh are lack of security, lack of water and lack of medical services. He added there is also scarcity of nurses and of midwives at the camp. The source said this situation arose after June 2011 when the Government of Sudan expelled medical international humanitarian organizations from the camp. He explained the international organizations were substituted by the Sudanese Ministry of Health.  §

§  Several camps Darfur do not receive food aid for four months (Radio Dabanga [Khartoum], June 23, 2012)

Several camps in North Darfur have not received food aid for several months. The ten thousands of internally displaced people (IDP) of Zam Zam-camp in North Darfur and the camps of Jeddah and El Jebelayn close to the town of Garsila in [formerly West] Darfur, said the World Food Programme does not enter the camps anymore to support the families most in need. Several camps in North Darfur have not received food aid for several months. A camp leader of Zam Zam tells Radio Dabanga that the WFP has not delivered food rations to over 800 poor and malnourished families as it did in the past.  §

§  Six children die from measles in Seraf Umra camps (Radio Dabanga [Seraf Umra, North Darfur], June 6, 2012)

Six children have died from measles in over past week in Jebel, Dankoj and El Naseem camps in Seraf Umra in North Darfur. They expressed deep concern at the quick spread of diseases in the camp due to the lack of health care….  §

§  Six months with no aid for South Darfur camps (Radio Dabanga [South Darfur], June 5, 2012)

Residents of Mershing, Manaoshi and Duma camps for displaced people in South Darfur have received not humanitarian aid or support for over six months. Camp leaders told Radio Dabanga that around 60 percent of camp residents are suffering with continuous hunger, since food rations were stopped forcing some to go for days without having a meal. One leader said they have been complaining for months about the situation with no help coming from the international community….  §

§  Sheikh, displaced concerned about food distribution in Darfur camps (Radio Dabanga [Nyala], June 2, 2013)

The displaced people of Attash [also Otash] camp near Nyala, the capital of South Darfur, have voiced concern about the World Food Programme (WPF) distribution plans. The WPF have decided to delegate the distribution of food to traders, while the displaced would prefer it occur via the distribution centres established by World Vision, launched on 30 May. The Sheikh of the camp Abdel Karim Abkar, explained to Radio Dabanga on Saturday that “the displaced base their rejection on their negative experience in the past with Elbadrain Charity Organization (ECO) which distributed coupons to be used for grinding corn.” “The owners of mills later refused to accept the coupons under the pretext that they had not been not been paid, as a result this led to the collapse of the project,” he addedIn camp Attash, about 3,200 newly displaced families are suffering a humanitarian crisis due to the lack of water and health services.  §

§  Abu Suruj camp: no food aid for six months (Radio Dabanga [el-Geneina], May 28, 2012)

Residents of Abu Suruj camp for internally displaced people said they have not received food aid for more than six months. Witnesses said the camps north of El Geneina are reaching a desperate situation and called for the World Food Programme to immediately intervene and deliver food aid to people in need of urgent assistance.  §

§  Jebel Marra residents stranded with no aid access (Radio Dabanga [Jebel Marra] May 27, 2012)

The coordinator of internally displaced person camps in North Darfur, Ahmed Atim said the situation of civilians in Jebel Marra is becoming desperate. He said civilians are stranded with no access from humanitarian organisations including the World Food Programme (WFP).  §

§  Mornei camp food rations reduced by half (Radio Dabanga [Mornei camp] May 29, 2012)

Mornay camp residents have complained that the World Food Programme have reduced food rations by half. A camp leader told Radio Dabanga that the rations were reduced without any explanation from the WFP. He appealed to the WFP to resume full rations and remember the difficulties facing displaced people in buying food from the market, amid food shortages and high prices.  §

§  WFP: 30 per cent of Darfur threatened with food insecurity (Radio Dabanga [el-Fasher] May 22, 2012)

The World Food Programme says that 30 percent of the population of Darfur is threatened with food insecurity and in need of urgent aid. The Programme conducted surveys in Darfur finding around 30 percent to be in need of urgent assistance, said WFP Field Coordinator Adham Mesallami to Radio Dabanga. He said that families told the WFP about their inability to cover their daily needs for food.  §

§  Kassab displaced describe situation as famine (Radio Dabanga [Kassab camp], May 9, 2012)

Displaced people in Kassab camp in North Darfur have described their current condition as ‘famine,’ due to the reduction in food provided by the World Food Programme and the unprecedented high prices of food at the market. An activist from Kassab told Radio Dabanga that many families are now eating berries and nuts as they are unable to survive on the reduced rations.  §

§  WFP reduces rations in El Geneina camps (Radio Dabanga [el-Geneina], May 9, 2012)

A group of displaced people from 10 camps across El Geneina said the World Food Programme told them on Monday that their rations of maize will be reduced by 50 percent. They said this have caused widespread discontent in the camps that are already suffering from food shortages and hunger. A camp leader that attended the meeting told Radio Dabanga that the WFP representatives justified the reduced ration by not being able to transport the required quantities, as truck drivers are reluctant to move around with the current security situation.  §

The future for the children who have known nothing but life in the camps is grim beyond description, though susceptible of some quantification:

§  Measles outbreak kills 25 children in Gereida camp (Radio Dabanga [Gereida, South Darfur], May 4, 2012)

At least 25 children have died from measles during a recent outbreak in Gereida camp in South Darfur. A camp official said there is a high rate of infection spreading amongst children. She appealed to humanitarian organisations, health officials and the World Health Organisation to immediately act to intervene and stop the disease from spreading and risking more lives.  §

§  75 per cent of Darfur’s refugee children show PTSD symptoms; study conducted by a UK journal says 38 per cent meet clinical criteria for depression    (Radio Dabanga, August 12, 2011)

75 per cent of the children in Darfur’s refugee camps met diagnostic criteria for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), according to an interview-based study released by The Lancet, a UK-based health journal, on Thursday. The study also concluded that 38 per cent of refugee children in camps fulfilled clinical symptoms for depression. The research carried out by the Oxford-based group is meant to add to information about mental health issues faced by refugee children.  §

SECTION THREE: Are there meaningful “returns” of displaced persons in Darfur?  What guarantees are there that the returns will be safe and voluntary?

When addressing the question of displaced persons in Darfur, the UN and UNAMID inevitably speak of their success in beginning a program of “safe and voluntary returns.”  The claims made are hotly disputed by Darfuris, and the success stories are often revealed to be shams or, worse, set-ups for violent confrontation with well-armed Arab group that have opportunistically seized farms and land; there are continuous reports of these Arab groups coming from Chad, Niger, Central African Republic, and even Mali.  Certainly the UN and UNAMID are particularly culpable in failing to report “returns” that are unsuccessful, often dramatically so. 

For such honesty would compromise a narrative that has been relentlessly and shamelessly promulgated for several years, viz., that safe and voluntary returns have begun in significant numbers, and that the UN and African Union have succeeded in Darfur.  But the frequency and detail of Radio Dabanga reports indicate that the lands of sedentary African/non-Arab tribal groups displaced by violence remain too dangerous to return to.  The numbers of “returns” the UN claims—in the tens of thousands and still but a very small fraction of the number of newly displaced persons—seem to be based on a counting method that takes little account of the violence that characteristically returning displaced:

§  Armed herders burn village of voluntary return in West Darfur (Radio Dabanga [Mesteriha], December 10, 2012)

Armed herders have reportedly injured five members of the armed forces and burnt the village of Ronja for voluntary return as well as two other villages to the grounddestroying crops and around 10 kilometers of agricultural lands, sources informed Radio Dabanga on Sunday, 9 December. Sources from the area reported that the attacks started on Friday when farmers informed the police about trespassing of herders onto their farmlands.  §

§  Armed group shoots man, expels farmers from land, (Radio Dabanga [Gereida, South Darfur] June 14, 2012)

An armed group of 30 members traveling on horses shot a man and tried to expel farmers from their land near Gereida in South Darfur. Witnesses said the men entered a village and shot Muhannad Yacob from Al Safa while he was tending to his farm. They said Yacob was taken to hospital in Gereida for treatment. They added that militias try to take over farmlands belonging to displaced people as many are still living in the camps, forgoing the right to their land.  §

§  Armed militias seize farms in Kreinik, West Darfur (Radio Dabanga [el-Geneina], July 8, 2012)

IDPs returning to their lands in Kreinik, 36 km east of Geneina, found that their properties had been seized by armed militias. A sheikh [told Radio Dabanga that] IDPs returning to cultivate their lands during the rainy season in West Darfur were stopped by militias.  §

Further dispatches from the past year concerning threats to returning civilians can be found, along with a conclusion to this brief, in Part 2: http://www.sudanreeves.org/?p=4022

 

 

End

 

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Killing UN Peacekeepers: A Ruthless Proclivity of Khartoum’s SAF, Militia Proxies

Posted by African Press International on May 11, 2013

  • By Eric Reeves, 9 May 2013, USA

The recent (May 4, 2013) deaths of two UN peacekeepers in Abyei have a chilling familiarity, though to this point there has been no firm establishment of responsibility. Familiar also are the formulaic declarations of outrage coming from various quarters when UN peacekeepers are killed in greater Sudan. There are three large peacekeeping missions there—operating at tremendous expense, and limiting peacekeeping capacity throughout the world. Two of these peacekeeping missions have experienced serious losses because of actions on the part of the Khartoum regime’s Sudan Armed Forces (SAF) and its militia and paramilitary proxies, typically armed and directed by the SAF and the security apparatus in Khartoum, especially Military intelligence (MI).

The SAF has not been especially discreet in making its contempt for UN peacekeepers known. On August 2, 2011 SAF officers, with brutal callousness, denied medical evacuation to three mortally wounded Ethiopian peacekeepers in Abyei (see below). And in Darfur the threats against the UN/African Union Mission in Darfur (UNAMID) have been constant and extremely serious. Reuters reports, for example, on one such instance from January 2011:

“UNAMID spokesman Kemal Saiki confirmed the bombing was by ‘the Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF) air force.’ Later on Wednesday [January 26, 2011], a group of 200 Sudanese government soldiers in 40 vehicles arrived at UNAMID’s camp in the nearby settlement of Shangil Tobay [North Darfur], UNAMID said. ‘(The soldiers) surrounded the team site’s exit as well as the adjacent makeshift camp, where thousands of civilians recently displaced by the December 2010 clashes have settled,’ read the statement. The Sudanese army detained four displaced people at the camp, said UNAMID. ‘The SAF commander at the scene … then threatened to burn down the makeshift camp and UNAMID team site, if the peacekeepers continued to interfere.'” (Reuters [Khartoum], January 27, 2011)

By “interference,” of course, Khartoum and its SAF meant UNAMID’s fulfilling the mandate of its mission, authorized by UN Security Council Resolution 1769 (July 2007).

What we know

The present account offers a brief history of those incidents in which Khartoum’s responsibility for the killing of UN peacekeepers has been well established.

[ The three UN peacekeeping missions in greater Sudan are:

• UNAMID (UN/African Union Mission in Darfur), established in July 2007 by Security Council Resolution 1769; it was formed initially from its virtually impotent predecessor force, the African Union Mission in Sudan (AMIS);

• UNMISS (the UN Mission in South Sudan), successor to the woefully infective UNMIS (UN Mission in Sudan); UNMISS was authorized in July 2011 by UN Security Council Resolution 1996;

UNISFA (the UN Interim Security Force in Abyei), deployed to Abyei following military seizure of the regime by Khartoum in May 2011; it comprises an Ethiopian armed brigade, and was authorized in June 2011 by UN Security Council Res. 1990 ]

• Deaths of UNISFA peacekeepers May 4, 2013—Abyei:

The details of the recent killing of two Ethiopian peacekeepers in Abyei, along with Paramount Chief of the Dinka Ngok, Kuol Deng Kuol, are not fully clear (an Appendix provides relevant excerpts from newswire reports and other accounts). But the details as rendered by various parties strongly suggest that some leaders of the Arab Misseriya militia forces, likely at Khartoum’s suggestion or encouragement, deliberately provoked an armed confrontation that resulted in the killings. Certainly the killing of Paramount Chief Kuol creates an immediate political crisis in South Sudan and has the effect of making immensely more difficult any peaceful resolution of the ongoing Abyei crisis. This has been Khartoum’s goal since the Abyei self-determination was aborted—a decision announced by senior presidential advisor Nafie Ali Nafie, now headed to the U.S. (see http://www.sudanreeves.org/?p=3904).

Khartoum seized Abyei militarily in May 2011; this followed the regime’s conspicuous and well-documented military build-up in the areas abutting Abyei—as well as inside the region—over the preceding months. Although UNISFA deployed subsequently—an Ethiopian armed brigade—it has been unable to secure the region sufficiently for the indigenous Dinka Ngok to return. Virtually the entire population—some 110,000 civilians—had fled to various locations in South Sudan following Khartoum’s May 2011 military seizure. That military action created a de facto annexation of Abyei, and Khartoum has regularly declared that “Abyei has always been part of the north,” thus defying the terms of the Abyei Protocol of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (2005). Moreover, the June 2011 UN/AU-brokered agreement between Juba and Khartoum on an interim administration of Abyei has provided yet another example of contemptuous reneging by the National Islamic Front/National Congress Party (NIF/NCP) regime.

The military seizure of Abyei was accomplished using both regular SAF forces and Misseriya militia allies. The latter remain and serve as a highly threatening military presence, deterring the vast majority of Dinka Ngok from returning, certainly to areas north of Abyei town (which is in the south of Abyei and very close to the Warrap state in South Sudan). The Misseriya have been heavily armed and some of its political leaders have been seduced by Khartoum’s propaganda or money—or both. What is clear is that some Misseriya leaders do not want a resolution of the Abyei crisis on the terms formally proposed by African Union diplomats, terms fully endorsed by the African Union Peace and Security Council. There could be no more effective way of short-circuiting further negotiations than killing Kuol Deng Kuol.

Beyond the death of a good man critical to any settlement of the Abyei crisis, there have been many recent instances of killings, village burnings, and lootings in Abyei. In responding to the death of Kuol Deng Kuol, Foreign Affairs minister Nhial Deng declared:

“‘The killing of [the] chief was not just an incident. It was preceded by reports of regular killings in the area. The list of those who have been killed has been filed and the United Nations has the details and we believe the killing of the chief will not be taken lightly nor [do] we expect the international community to consider [Kuol’s death] a normal thing or usual business … We hold the government of Sudan responsible because those who killed the chief are under the control of the government of Sudan. They are no stranger to Sudan,’ he added.”

The weakness of the UN in responding to such incidents, implicating the Khartoum regime, has for many years been contemptible. Despite the strong words from Nhial Deng, little is likely to change—and when it suits its purposes, the Khartoum regime will again kill or allow for the deaths of UN peacekeepers.

• Refusal to allow the medevac of critically wounded UNISFA peacekeepers, August 2, 2011—Abyei:

An incident of August 2, 2011 is revealing of Khartoum’s contempt for the lives of UN peacekeepers. On that date the SAF refused to allow for the urgent medical evacuation (medevac) of three mortally wounded UNISFA peacekeepers in Abyei (their vehicle had run over a mine). Despite repeated attempts to secure permission from the SAF in Kadugli (South Kordofan) for helicopter evacuation, the UN was rebuffed on each occasion until it had become too late. One of the mortally wounded soldiers would have likely survived if he had reached Kadugli in timely fashion. Alain Le Roy, then head of UN peacekeeping, declared bluntly that, “We didn’t get the clearance for the Medevac helicopter to take off immediately. They [Khartoum’s SAF] prevented us to take off by threatening to shoot at the helicopter.”

“They [Khartoum’s SAF] prevented us to take off by threatening to shoot at the helicopter.” This extraordinary refusal should have been the occasion for consequential outrage; it was not, even as there could hardly be a more revealing moment in the recent history of peacekeeping in greater Sudan.

• Attack on heavily armed UNAMID convoy, October 17, 2012—traveling to Hashaba, North Darfur (scene of major atrocity crimes involving SAF and militia forces):

The village of Hashaba North and its environs (approximately 55 kilometers northeast of Kutum in North Darfur) was attacked from September 26 through October 2, 2012 by what were repeatedly described—by eyewitnesses—as Arab militia forces and SAF aerial military assets. Very high civilian casualties figures 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 at the time, and total displacement in North Darfur alone since August is now well over 100,000 civilians.

Even more disturbing and significant, however, was a subsequent attack on the follow-up investigation, an unusually robust UNAMID investigative 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 from Kutum—fired from high ground down upon the vulnerable UNAMID forces. UNAMID returned fire, but faced very intimidating weaponry and was at an 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 UNAMID.

The character of the weapons used in the attack on UNAMID forces was reported in revealing and unusually detailed fashion (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, later declared 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 was immediately clear that the UNAMID convoy was attacked, on the basis of advance intelligence, in order to prevent the investigation of atrocity crimes reported from Hashaba. Indeed, although the UN merely hinted at this reality, I am aware of no analyst not connected with the UN or UNAMID who has disputed this conclusion or offered a plausible alternative explanation. UNAMID declared that it would proceed with a subsequent mission to investigate the crimes at Hashaba; in the event, however, this did not occur within a reasonable time-frame. As on countless previous occasions, after Khartoum’s proxies finish sanitizing the site there was little left in the way of evidence from the attacks of late September/early October.

Further, this attack on the UN must be seen in light of the regime’s repeated, utterly false claims about human security in Darfur, viz. 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, uttered on the day the UNAMID force was attacked:

“‘[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)

We may reasonably infer that the assault on UN Security Council-authorized peacekeepers was designed in part to ensure that this perverse narrative was preserved as much as possible, at least with respect to civilian massacres and other atrocity crimes.

Indeed, the evidence was so clear in this attack on civilians in Hashaba, and in the subsequent assault on UNAMID, that only one issue remains undetermined: what was the nature of command responsibility for the specific atrocities in Hashaba on this particular occasion? How far up the Military Intelligence (MI) chain-of-command did foreknowledge of the attack on Hashaba go? (MI long ago took the lead in organizing “security” for Darfur.) This has not been determined and is highly unlikely to be. But the more important question is how far up the MI chain-of-command did foreknowledge of the assault on UN peacekeepers go? Again, we can’t be sure, 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 officers in North Darfur were involved in or at least 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 is 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 Janjaweed militias for carrying out the ‘barbaric attack’ [on Hashaba] and held the government responsible for the incidents. [ ] Rifa said that the leader of the Janjaweed 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)

[ For a highly detailed account of the locations and purposes of bases such as that at Damrat al-Quba, see Sudan Tribune (October 1, 2012): “Darfur war crimes, changes in demographic composition, and ethnic displacement,” by Hamid Eltgani Ali of the American University in Cairo.]

In short, the UN—by refusing to do more than plead with Khartoum to investigate crimes committed by the regime’s own proxies forces—remains complicit in an appalling silence despite clear evidence that Khartoum is responsible for a brutal attack on a major UN peacekeeping convoy.

• Attack on UNAMID, October 2, 2012—near el-Geneina, West Darfur:

On October 2, 2012, four UNAMID soldiers were killed and eight injured in West Darfur, approximately a mile from their main base in (regime-controlled) el-Geneina, capital of West Darfur—and very close to a Khartoum-allied militia checkpoint. Although the evidence is only circumstantial, it points clearly to SAF or allied militia forces.

Reuters reported (October 2, 2012) a UNAMID statement that the force “came under fire from all sides”; it is unlikely that a rebel force could have deployed in this way so close to el-Geneina and a Khartoum-allied militia checkpoint.

Subsequently we heard from the UN:

“In a statement to the press, Council President Gert Rosenthal of Guatemala said the Council members called on the Sudanese Government to swiftly investigate the incident and bring the perpetrators to justice.”

And from the U.S. State Department:

“The State Department said on Thursday [October 4] it was ‘appalled’ by an attack that killed four Nigerian peacekeepers and wounded eight others earlier this week in Sudan’s western Darfur region. State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said the United States condemns the ambush on UNAMID personnel that occurred on October 2, and called for an investigation into the attack and for those responsible for the violence to be held accountable.”

The European Union completed the familiar refrain with its own entirely predictable statement (October 4, 2012):

“[EU High Representative Catherine Ashton] deplores the attack on UNAMID peacekeepers that left four Nigerian peacekeepers dead and eight others injured in an ambush in El Geneina, West Darfur. She strongly condemns the attack and calls on the Government of Sudan to work closely with UNAMID to bring the perpetrators to justice.”

Almost as if to emphasize the impotence of this condemnation and demand, Ashton also spoke vaguely about “reports of a violent incident in Hashaba,” the very “incident” that would lead to a UNAMID investigating force, and the brutal assault upon that force by Khartoum-allied (and likely -armed) militia forces:

“The High Representative is also deeply alarmed at reports of a violent incident in Hashaba in North Darfur, which appears to have cost the lives of large numbers of civilians, including through aerial bombardment. She calls for UNAMID to be allowed immediate access to the area and urges all Parties to end the cycle of violence in Darfur and to pursue a comprehensive and inclusive peace settlement.”

Only diplomats are trained to such euphemistic usage: “incident” for “large-scale atrocity crimes,” the reality that was already clear by the date Ashton spoke (see, for example, http://reliefweb.int/report/sudan/more-2000-people-fled-hashaba-attacks and Radio Dabanga, September 28, 2012). And the effect of these unctuous condemnations and “demands” for accountability? Agence France-Presse reported (October 22, 2012) comments by various officials on investigations of previous attacks on UNAMID:

“The dead South African is the 43rd peacekeeper from UNAMID to be killed in hostile action, but UN sources have said they were unaware of anybody previously being brought to justice for the attacks.”

• Attack on UNAMID, January 7, 2008—near Tine, West Darfur/North Darfur border, across the border from eastern Chad:

At approximately 10pm on January 7, 2008 Khartoum’s regular Sudan Armed Forces attacked, deliberately and with premeditation, a UNAMID convoy. The convoy, comprising more than 20 cargo trucks and armored personnel carriers (APCs), came under heavy, sustained fire near Tine, just inside North Darfur near the border with West Darfur and eastern Chad. One truck was destroyed, an APC was damaged, and a driver was critically wounded with numerous bullet wounds. The SAF assault on the convoy lasted 10-12 minutes, during which time UNAMID military personnel did not return fire. The motive for the attack, certainly ordered by senior SAF military commanders, was to inhibit the movement of UNAMID ground and air forces during night hours. In other words, the attack was meant to serve warning that UNAMID would be restricted in the same ways that the impotent African Union Mission in Sudan (AMIS) was restricted from the time of its initial deployment in 2004.

Evidence that the SAF attack was deliberate and premeditated was overwhelming, a conclusion shared by the head of UN peacekeeping, Jean-Marie Guéhenno, and many others within the UN, and the Department of Peacekeeping Operations in particular. In his January 9, 2008 briefing of the UN Security Council, Guéhenno offered a number of compelling details, details amplified in confidential interviews conducted with UN officials by this writer. The most basic facts of the attack and its circumstances made unambiguously clear that Khartoum lied at every step of the way in its account of events, including initially denying that its forces were in any way involved in the attack on the UNAMID convoy:

[1] The transport trucks and APCs were painted in UN white, with clear UN markings on the vehicles. Even at night it is impossible to mistake UN white for the camouflage green used by rebels, who do not travel with either the configuration or the makeup of the UNAMID convoy. Rebel groups typically move using 4×4 Landcruisers and pick-up trucks, and at high speed. The UNAMID convoy, with heavy transport vehicles and APCs, was moving very slowly to allow the APCs to pick their way in the dark. There was simply no ambiguity as to the identity of the convoy vehicles.

[2] Critically, UNAMID had carefully notified all relevant SAF commanders, including the general at the base near Tine where the attack occurred (the convoy was on its way from Umm Baru to Tine). Redundant notification of the SAF by the UN was designed to forestall precisely any misunderstanding about the nature, location, and timing of this convoy mission, one of UNAMID’s very first.

[3] The convoy did not return fire during the entire 10-12 minute assault by SAF forces, an extraordinary and quite revealing act of restraint given the length of time the firing continued. Moreover, the commanding SAF officer who accepted responsibility for the attack (responsibility initially denied by senior officials in Khartoum and the regime’s ambassador to the UN) had the rank of general: in other words, he was no junior or inexperienced officer, and would not have ordered the attack on his own authority—nor would he have countenanced such an attack by young or frightened officers. Senior SAF military officials ordered the attack, even if the specifics of duration and degree of firepower were left discretionary (both automatic weapons and rocket-propelled grenades were used).

In the absence of a seized cable or other intercepted communication, there could of course have been no definitive proof that Khartoum ordered what had all the hallmarks of a deliberate and premeditated attack. But the likelihood that this was an independent military action, given the political and diplomatic stakes, is vanishingly small. This was certainly the conclusion of Jean-Marie Guéhenno and other informed officials at the UN in New York. UN career officers understood full well that Khartoum had engaged in a relentless war of obstruction in opposing effective deployment of UNAMID, and equally well understood that this convoy attack was part of the regime’s larger campaign.

Khartoum’s goals in ordering the attack can be readily discerned by noting issues that at the time remained outstanding in the deployment of UNAMID:

[1] The regime refused to grant night flight rights to UNAMID except for medevac purposes. But as UN and African Union peacekeeping officials continually emphasized, the mandate to protect civilians and humanitarians did not and could not be allowed to end at sunset. Khartoum was able to impose curfews, flight restrictions, onerous aircraft re-certification requirements, and a host of other crippling measures on AMIS. These extended to the brazen commandeering of AMIS aviation fuel supplies for use by Khartoum’s helicopter gunships in attacks on civilians. The attack on the convoy near Tine was a way of signaling that UNAMID would face the clear prospect of attack, harassment, and obstruction if it persisted in traveling at night.

[2] The regime had refused at the time to grant landing rights to heavy transport aircraft, the sort that can move large quantities of logistical supplies, as well as heavy vehicles. Initially Khartoum insisted that the runways at el-Fasher and Nyala—the two key destinations—could not handle such heavy aircraft. This was patently false. Subsequently the regime insisted that aircraft could not land at night because of a lack of lights—an easily remedied engineering problem.

[3] Khartoum also refused to allow for the deployment of helicopters—or the construction of critically necessary maintenance hangars—until UNAMID completed an upgrading of the runways at el-Fasher and Nyala. Although there were no helicopters to deploy, and none in prospect—a disgraceful betrayal of Darfur by militarily capable UN member states—there was no way that they would be allowed to deploy under the circumstances that obtained at the time. Of the importance of helicopters in Darfur, particularly in the face of attacks by combatants, Undersecretary Guéhenno declared at the time in his Security Council briefing:

“‘If we had had helicopters capable of flying at night and quickly reinforcing a convoy under attack, of course we would have been in a position to deter, probably the attack [near Tine] would never have occurred,’ Guéhenno said.” (Agence France-Presse [UN/New York], January 9, 2008)

[4] Most generally, Khartoum at the time had still refused to enter into a Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) with the UN and African Union. This was the agreement designed to govern the mutual understanding between Khartoum and the UN/African Union about the mandate, actions, and prerogatives of UNAMID. (The SOFA was not signed until February 2008—over half a year after UNAMID received UN Security Council authorization.) Well-placed UN officials indicated at the time that the issues holding up conclusion of a SOFA were various and continually changing: Khartoum would relent in one area, only to raise a new issue in another area. There was a continuous and debilitating changing of the terms of negotiations; the continual switching, shuffling, and disingenuousness on the part of the regime was clearly designed to forestall completion of the SOFA for as long as possible.

As a result, issues such as night flights, night movement of resources and personnel, land rights for bases (an acute problem in West Darfur), adequate access at Port Sudan—all remained unresolved at the time UNAMID officially took up its mandate (January 1, 2008). Khartoum also demanded that it be notified of all UNAMID movements and actions beforehand, and that UNAMID accept Khartoum’s right to suspend all communications within UNAMID while the regime is conducting military operations. These conditions were completely unacceptable to the UN. The overall effect was to create a crisis outlined in the direst possible terms by then-Under-secretary Guéhenno:

“The top United Nations peacekeeping official today [January 9, 2008] warned the Security Council that the new, critically under-manned and under-equipped mission in Sudan’s strife-torn Darfur region faced ‘probably the greatest risk’ to a UN operation in more than a decade. [ ] ‘Today we have the convergence of three factors which put UNAMID at great risk, probably the greatest risk since the 1990s,’ he said after briefing the Council, citing the ongoing war in Darfur, the lack of a clear signal from the parties that they want a robust mission, and the mission’s own ‘tragic’ lack of essential resources. Under-manned UN missions in the 1990s were unable to prevent the Rwandan genocide of 1994 and the massacre of Bosnian Moslems in Srebrenica in 1995.” [ ]

“‘Five months after the adoption of Resolution 1769 (setting up UNAMID), we do not yet have guarantee or agreements from the Government [of Sudan] on the basic technical issues,’ [Guéhenno said]. ‘And finally, the mission itself will not have the personnel or assets in place to implement its mandate for many months even in the best case scenario,’ he added, noting that no offers for essential transportation and aviation assets had been made, including 24 helicopters.”

“‘When you combine those factors you see that you have the possibility of failure unless the political situation is rectified, unless the war situation is ended and a strategic choice is made by all the parties that it is not by military action that peace will be brought to Darfur but by negotiation, and unless there is a decisive reinforcement of the mission,’ he told journalists after the Council session.” (UN News Center [UN/New York], January 9, 2008)

It is difficult to imagine a fuller or clearer indication of Khartoum’s attitude toward the deploying peacekeepers of UNAMID—or the fatal nature of the weaknesses of characterizing the mission—than by examining the history of the attack on Tine.

Janjaweed attack on UNAMID, July 8, 2008—Umm Hakibah, North Darfur:

On July 8, 2008, at approximately 2:45pm local time, heavily armed Janjaweed militia attacked a UNAMID joint police and military patrol in an area approximately 100 kilometers southeast of el-Fasher, near the village of Umm Hakibah (North Darfur). In a firefight that lasted approximately three hours, seven UNAMID troops and police were killed and twenty-two were injured, seven of these critically. Ten vehicles were destroyed or taken during the attack. Although there was initial uncertainty about the identity of the attacking force, this uncertainty was quickly eliminated in the course of an urgent investigation. In addition to various published reports, UN Undersecretary for Peacekeeping Guéhenno again offered a compelling July 11, 2008 briefing to the Security Council (in closed session), making a number of telling observations that point unambiguously to Janjaweed forces as those responsible:

[1] Guéhenno told the Security Council that the attack on UN-authorized peacekeepers “took place in an area under Sudanese government control and that some of the assailants were dressed in clothing similar to Sudanese army uniforms. He also said the ambush was ‘pre-meditated and well-organized’ and was intended to inflict casualties rather than to steal equipment or vehicles” (Voice of America [UN/New York], July 11, 2008). The peacekeepers attacked reported seeing approximately 200 fighters, many on horses—a signature feature of the Janjaweed.

[2] Agence France-Presse reports: “Guéhenno was quoted as saying that the ambush was designed ‘to inflict casualties’ and was carried out with ‘equipment usually not used by (rebel) militias'” (UN/New York, July 11, 2008). Separately and confidentially, a UN official went further in confirming to this writer that some of the arms used, including large-caliber recoilless rifles, have never been seen in the arsenals of the rebel groups. This official said that Guéhenno, who is retiring, had rarely been so explicit in assigning responsibility for attacks in Darfur.

[3] Agence France-Presse reported from Khartoum on the views of UN and African Union officials on the ground in Darfur: “Officials in the African Union and UN peacekeeping mission in Darfur, known as UNAMID, said on Wednesday [July 9, 2008] that suspected Janjaweed militia, who have fought [together] with the state [i.e., Government of Sudan], were behind the attack that killed seven peacekeepers” (July 10, 2008).

[4] The motive for the attack was not been established, but an assessment of who benefitted from an attack of this scale and intensity could leave no doubt as to responsibility. The rebels knew full well that such an attack would make insecurity in Darfur all the greater; and UNAMID—predictably—pulled back significantly from patrolling and investigating operations. Some deployments of additional forces were put on hold because of the attack (Australia, for example, announced at the time that it was suspending deployment of nine much-needed military specialists).

• Darfur rebel attack on UNAMID, September 2007—Haskanita, North Darfur

Some have made facile comparison of the July and January 2008 Khartoum-directed attacks on UNAMID to the attack in September 2007 on the African Union mission base in Haskanita (the mission was then known as the African Union Mission in Sudan, or AMIS). The motive for the earlier rebel attack appeared at the time to be the taking of weapons and supplies from an AU force that had long been perceived by the rebels as siding with Khartoum, particularly in excluding from ceasefire meetings the rebels groups not party to the ill-conceived Abuja peace agreement (May 2006). Indeed, in the case of Haskanita the attacking rebels—not one of the major factions, but probably an ad hoc collaboration of breakaway elements—may have mistakenly believed that the AU post was passing on bombing coordinates for rebel positions to Khartoum’s regular military forces.

But however irresponsible the rebels have been—and they have a fearsome list of offenses and abuses to answer for—all the larger factions urgently wanted a larger UN security presence, to protect both civilians and humanitarians. Rebel leader Abdel Wahid el-Nur, who had an enormous following in the camps for displaced persons, made such a security presence his condition for participating in any renewed peace talks. The Sudan Liberation Movement/Unity—with forces closest to the location attacked—was also the most responsible of the rebel factions, and certainly realized that the attack was a disaster for the people of Darfur. For the rebels knew full well that it would make insecurity in the region all the greater.

The killing will continue

Altogether approximately 50 United Nations peacekeepers have been killed in greater Sudan over the past five years, and a great many more seriously wounded. This is in large measure because of international refusal to support the missions, especially UNAMID, with sufficient transport aircraft, adequate surveillance and communications capacity, and—most significantly—pressure on Khartoum to allow unfettered access and freedom of movement to UNAMID forces—guaranteed by the February 2008 Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA).

Given the lack of consequences for its murderous ways with UN peacekeepers, Khartoum’s regular and militia forces will almost certainly kill more peacekeepers. Most—as long been the case—will occur in circumstances that do not permit full determination responsibility without much greater investigative determination. Yet we have seen enough incidents in which responsibility is fully established to make reasonable inferences about a number of the cases in which UNAMID has offered—at least publicly—only a confession of ignorance about the perpetrators of these war crimes.

Calls for “accountability” coming from the U.S., the EU, the AU, and the UN have proved continually worthless—indeed, they are worse than worthless: for every time that the men of National Islamic Front/National Congress Party regime hear such “demands,” they look back on the long history of previous “demands” that they have ignored…and simply smile complacently.

APPENDIX: Reports on the killing of UN peacekeepers and Paramount Chief of the Dinka Ngok in Abyei on May 4, 2013:

The event—details report from Agence France-Presse:

“The United Nations said the ‘attack by a Misseriya assailant on a UNISFA convoy’ also seriously wounded two of its peacekeepers.” [One of the two wounded soldiers later died from his wounds—ER]

“Despite negotiations, ‘a clash happened when a UNISFA soldier shot one of the Misseriya who was readying his weapon,’ said the Misseriya chief who asked to remain anonymous. During the resulting clash, the Dinka leader’s car was hit by an explosion and he and his driver were killed.'”…

“Negotiations continued ‘for a long time’ until a Misseriya youth, shouting and armed with a weapon, climbed onto the roof of [the Paramount Chief’s] car, the resident said, declining to be named.” (Agence France-Presse [Khartoum], May 5, 2013)

Given the Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) in place for UNISFA, there should have been no negotiation over the passage of either a UNISFA convoy or an important political interlocutor in the Abyei crisis. That “negotiations” were prolonged is highly suspicious. And that the car carrying Kuol Deng Kuol was hit by an explosion suggests it had been particularly targeted by a rocket-propelled grenade (RPG).

On the timing of the killings:

On May 4, 2013 Sudan Tribune reported the UN decision allowing…

“UN personnel to access the contested oil-producing region of Abyei, using any travel means available. Nhial Deng Nhial, the country’s Foreign Affairs minister, said the move was in line with last year’s Status of Force Agreement (SOFA), signed by both Sudan and South Sudan, allowing UN to access Abyei without placing conditions. UN personnel, as part of the SOFA, are allowed to travel to the disputed region, either for immediate assessment, or to conduct and respond to daily needs of the humanitarian related activities in the region. But the world body insists it has often been difficult for its personnel to obtain visa approval, mainly from the Sudanese Foreign Affairs ministry, despite the agreement, which the two countries signed.”

This was the same day that UNISFA peacekeepers were killed.

The killings also occurred the same day as a meeting held between members of the Abyei Joint Oversight Committee (AJOC), a development that some Misseriya leaders have been encouraged by Khartoum to see as threatening.

Evidence of responsibility:

Reuters reports (Khartoum, May 5, 2013):

“Kuwal Deng Mayok [Kuol Deng Kuol], the top Dinka leader in Abyei, was killed by members of the Misseriya, another Dinka leader told Reuters, asking not to be named. ‘The Misseriya targeted him after he had held a meeting in Abyei town with Misseriya leaders,’ he said. ‘The Misseriya opened fire on his convoy and killed him and another person.'” [Reuters is extremely unlikely to use a witness they have not vetted—ER) “A Misseriya official, Saddiq Babu Nimr, confirmed the death of Mayok but blamed it on a shooting incident with Ethiopian UN peacekeepers, which administer Abyei.”

That the attack occurred after Kuol held a lengthy meeting with Misseriya leaders in Abyei town strongly suggests that forces within the Misseriya opposed to such meetings ensured that they would not occur again. This comports fully with Khartoum’s determination to keep the Abyei crisis festering, a means of distracting or commandeering international diplomatic attention. Diplomacy—whether involving the AU (Thabo Mbeki in particular), the UN, or Western actors—has been singularly ineffective in resolving the Abyei crisis (see http://www.sudanreeves.org/?p=2312). This is in large part a legacy of the terrible decision by the Obama administration in fall 2010 to pressure Juba to make further “compromises” on Abyei—beyond those already reflected in the Abyei Protocol of the CPA (2005) and the ruling by the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague (July 2009).

Sudan Tribune (May 7, 2013) reports on the reaction of the Government of South Sudan:

“‘The killing of [the] chief was not just an incident. It was preceded by reports of regular killings in the area. The list of those who have been killed has been filed and the United Nations has the details and we believe the killing of the chief will not be taken lightly nor [do] we expect the international community to consider [Kuol’s death] a normal thing or usual business … We hold the government of Sudan responsible because those who killed the chief are under the control of the government of Sudan. They are no stranger to Sudan,’ he added.”

And just what will the UN do with these “details”? The most cynical skepticism is fully warranted.

Motives for the killings:

Kon Manyieth, a former head of physical infrastructure in the Abyei Area Administration, described a meeting with Government of South Sudan cabinet member Deng Alor Kuol:

“‘Our meeting with cabinet affairs minister Deng Alor Kuol was fruitful. We briefed him about general situation of the area, particularly about the massive settlement plan of members of the Misseriya who are getting direct support from the government of Sudan to the area. The other matter and the main reason of the visit is the continued killing and raiding of cattle and burning of villages in the area by the government of Sudan backed militia group,’ Kon told journalists Thursday [May 2, 2013].” (Sudan Tribune, May 3, 2013)

The timing of this dispatch is well worth noting, with its report of a “massive settlement plan of members of the Misseriya who are getting direct support from the government of Sudan to the area. The other matter and the main reason of the visit is the continued killing and raiding of cattle and burning of villages in the area by the government of Sudan backed militia group….”

May 3: the day before Kuol Deng Kuol Deng was killed following negotiations over precisely such attacks, inter alia.

In scrambling for Misseriya political support, in sustaining controversy over the fate of Abyei and uncertainty concerning the delineation and demarcation of the North/South border, Khartoum is more than willing to let the Misseriya militias have their way, not only in Abyei but elsewhere. For the border regions are rich in arable land and pasturage, and this—not oil—is what matters most to the vast majority of people who live there.

Consequences:

Sudan Tribune reports (May 7, 2013):

“South Sudan on Monday lodged a strongly worded complaint to the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) over the killing of Abyei tribal leader Kuol Deng Kuol, warning that until the perpetuators are identified and brought to justice, it is no longer ‘business as usual.’ South Sudan’s minister of foreign affairs and international cooperation, Nhial Deng Nhial, said his country takes the death of the paramount chief of the Dinka Ngok ‘more seriously’ and will not tolerate the case being taken lightly by the international community. ‘We have started with clear procedures, legal steps. We have now officially filed and deposited our complaint about this brutal act which violates not only the international law but also humanitarian law. Chief Kuol Deng Kuol was not in combat; he was not carrying a gun, not in possession of any weapon. He was purely [an] unarmed civilian killed in the hands of the United Nations. His security and safety was in the hands of the United Nations,’ Nhial said, while addressing thousands of mourners who turned out for Kuol’s burial on Monday in Abyei town.”

All this Khartoum well knew.

End

 

 

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A Key Report on Darfur by UN Panel of Experts Consigned to Oblivion

Posted by African Press International on April 29, 2013

  • Eric Reeves, USA

To understand the surging violence in Darfur over the past year, a lengthy and highly authoritative “unofficial” report covering most of 2011, from former members of the UN Panel of Experts onSudan (Darfur), is critically important. Why does the UN continue to keep it confidential? The answer lies in the incompetence and political bias of successors on the Panel, and the failure of the “unofficial” report to square with the highly distorted UN/African Union narrative about Darfur.

 

Reporting on Darfur by non-Sudanese news organizations has picked up significantly in recent months as violence accelerates dramatically, massive new human displacements occur continually in all three major regions of Darfur, and large-scale fighting continues between the Khartoum regime’s regular Sudan Armed Forces (SAF), along with its militia allies, and rebel forces that have become stronger and more aggressive. These dispatches have come from Reuters, Associated Press, Agence France-Presse, and the IRIN. Although not allowed into Darfur for a number of years, journalists are finding that enough information is making its way out that reporting has become obligatory. To be sure violence in Darfur has long continues, at much higher levels than the UN and African Union have reported, either via the UN/AU “hybrid” Mission in Darfur (UNAMID) or the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. Former UN Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator George Charpentier set the terrible precedent of refusing to speak honestly about humanitarian and security conditions on the ground, declaring with an utterly shameful mendacity:

“‘UN humanitarian agencies are not confronted by pressure or interference from the Government of Sudan,’ [Charpentier said in a written statement to the Institute for War and Peace reporting (IWPR)].” (“UN Accused of Caving In to Khartoum Over Darfur: Agencies said to be reluctant to confront Sudanese government about obstructions to humanitarian aid effort,” January 7, 2011) (all emphases in all quotations have been added)

This statement was and is patently untrue, and was contradicted at the time by UN officials speaking on and off the record, and by non-UN relief workers in confidential interviews. But Charpentier set the tone, and international non-governmental humanitarian organizations were forced to follow suit or face expulsion by the Khartoum regime—a regime that has expelled a great many organizations over the years, and made the work of many others impossible.

The UN and AU continue their disingenuous ways, but no longer do we see such deeply misleading reporting as appeared in The New York Times just over a year ago. With a dateline of Nyuru, West Darfur (less than 20 miles north of the major town of Mornei), the Times dispatch (“A Taste of Hope Brings Refugees Back to Darfur,” February 26, 2012) provides an astonishingly misleading account of realities in Darfur:

“More than 100,000 people in Darfur have left the sprawling camps where they had taken refuge for nearly a decade and headed home to their villages over the past year, the biggest return of displaced people since the war began in 2003 and a sign that one of the world’s most infamous conflicts may have decisively cooled.”

A UN official cited in the dispatch declared simply: “there are pockets of insecurity in Darfur.”

“‘It’s amazing,’ said Dysane Dorani, head of the United Nations peacekeeping mission [UNAMID] for the western sector of Darfur. ‘The people are coming together. It reminds me of Lebanon after the civil war.'”

“On a recent morning, thousands of Nyuru’s residents were back on their land doing all the things they used to do, scrubbing clothes, braiding hair, sifting grain and preparing for a joint feast of farmers and nomads. Former victims and former perpetrators would later sit down side by side together, some for the first time since Darfur’s war broke out, sharing plates of macaroni and millet—and even the occasional dance—in a gesture of informal reconciliation.”

In fact, what is “amazing” is not the returns, many of whom do not, in fact, stay in areas to which they have “returned” because of security concerns; the UN makes no mention of these, although Radio Dabanga has repeatedly. What is truly of note is the number of newly displaced civilians—more than 1.2 million since UNAMID took up its mandate on January 1, 2008 (see Appendix One). Some fifty thousand people have recently not returned from but fled to eastern Chad from Darfur, according to the UN High Commission for Refugees and Doctors without borders/Medicins Sans Frontiers (MSF), increasing the number of Dafuri refugees in eastern Chad from 280,000 to 330,000 (see Appendix One). For those interested in the realities of Darfur—instead of the UN propaganda to which the Times correspondent succumbed during his highly controlled visit to one location in West Darfur—Radio Dabanga and the Sudan Tribune have long reported in detail on developments relating to both security and humanitarian conditions. In a series of contemporaneous articles, Radio Dabanga offered detailed research and interviews with people from the Nyuru region that completely undermined the credibility of the Times’ claimed findings. Highly informed Darfuris with whom I spoke and communicated directly expressed their disbelief that a distinguished American newspaper could so misrepresent the situation in Darfur.

It should be noted in this context that Radio Dabanga has become a truly extraordinary resource, offering both a substantive and textured sense of what is occurring on the ground in Darfur. Developed by Darfuris, operating out of Radio Netherlands Worldwide, Radio Dabanga has an astonishing number of contacts on the ground in Darfur, including sheikhs, omdas, nazirs, camp leaders, and the leadership of the various rebel factions. The standards of their journalism continue to improve at a rapid rate, with particularly valuable instruction coming from the Institute for War and Peace Reporting, which has co-produced Radio Dabanga since its initial reporting in late 2008. For every disingenuous, misleading, or mendacious declaration by the UN and AU leadership, Darfuris have been able to respond in their own voices.

But there was in fact also much in the “unofficial” report from the former members of the Panel of Experts that sharply and directly contradicted the UN’s politically motivated official accounts, especially from eastern regions of Darfur. From January 2011 through August 2011 three members of the UN Panel of Experts on the Sudan (Darfur) conducted the last professional investigation as mandated by UN Security Council Resolution 1591 (March 2005): (1) monitoring the arms embargo on Darfur and (2) monitoring compliance with the Security Council “demand” that the Khartoum regime cease all aerial military assaults on Darfur. Following their resignation from the Panel in August and September 2011, weapons experts Mike Lewis (Britain) and Claudio Gramizzi (Italy), and Darfur and Chad specialist Jérôme Tubiana (France) prepared a last, extensive report on their findings. This document has, unfortunately, not been widely circulated outside the UN (where it remains “confidential”), even as it remains the most authoritative account we have from any international investigators on the ground in Darfur. It also provides a clear warning of what was to come in the following two years. What appears now a vast and incoherent mélange of violence has a great deal more intelligibility if we examine closely this highly detailed, professional, ground-based research from 2011. 

The Document

In a significant scoop, the highly authoritative Africa Confidential provided the first account of the report in April 2012 (along with the URL for the report itself):

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

“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 (available to download at the end of this article), 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.”

I have also written previously (April 17, 2012) about this report and its striking contrasts with the “official” UN Panel of Experts report submitted by the highly politicized Panel that succeeded that of Gramizzi, Tubiana, and Lewis. This “official” report is, by comparison, a travesty:

[1] The “official” Panel of Experts offered only a very superficial account of events in eastern Darfur, especially in the Shangal Tobay region, where violence flared viciously in the wake of Minni Minawi’s defection from the Khartoum regime in late 2010. But the Panel experts who resigned investigated much more fully, spent much more time on the ground in the region, and interviewed a much greater range and number of witnesses. On the basis of this extensive research, they concluded that the attacks on Zaghawa civilians were deliberate (Minawi is the Zaghawa leader of the Sudan Liberation Army/Minni Minawi, or SLA/MM) and that the evidence was sufficiently compelling to characterize the violence as “ethnic cleansing” by the Khartoum regime and militia proxies.

[2] The “official” Panel of Experts offers only a few weak conclusions—and even less research—about violations of the UN arms embargo on Darfur (again, monitoring this embargo and the ban on offensive military flights are the primary mandates for the UN Panel of Experts on Darfur, per UN Security Council Resolution 1591). For its part, on the basis of wide and impressively deep research, the “unofficial” Panel of Experts finds overwhelming evidence that weapons and ammunition manufactured after 2005 in Russia and China continue to make their way to Khartoum and then onto Darfur. Unsurprisingly, resistance to discussion of the “unofficial” Report comes primarily from these two veto-wielding members of the Security Council.

[3] Nowhere is the contrast between the two reports greater than in the broader generalizations drawn about insecurity on Darfur. Again, it must be stressed that in character and quality of field research, depth of analysis, annexes, footnotes, and time on the ground, there is simply no comparison between the two reports. Indeed, the official report of the UN Panel of Experts has five factitious and skimpy annexes. The fifth is simply make-work—a “Summary of the Outgoing Communications Sent by the Panel of Experts” (e.g., we learn that on “February 18 Ethiopia [was contacted] for visa assistance”).

By contrast the report of the Experts who resigned has twenty-eight key annexes. It also has more than 150 detailed footnotes for references. For its part, the “official” Panel of Experts typically provides trivial and often meaningless sourcing, a large majority of them baldly citing UNAMID (e.g., Footnote 50, on the important subject of carjackings over the past four years has simply, in toto, “UNAMID source”; Footnote 46 declares equally baldly, “Figures provided by UNAMID”). Indeed, the entire report by the “official” Panel of Experts reads like an uninspired, uninformed, and dismayingly listless political exercise, allowing the UN and AU to check off a box on the “to do list.”

The conclusions drawn about human security are correspondingly, and unsurprisingly, at odds in the two reports. On the basis of what is finally paltry evidence from the ground, the “official” Report concludes that:

“there has been a clear and relatively positive change compared to the [security] situation in the previous years. Significant and tangible changes have taken place in the political and security situation. The Doha Document for Peace in Darfur (DDPD) has set in motion a peace process that has been garnering support from the Darfur population at large.”

These conclusions are simply preposterous: all evidence suggested that even at the time of this statement violence was significant and expanding; it has continued to escalate dramatically. And reports from Darfuri leaders in the camps make clear that the Doha agreement is a dead letter, a blue-print for nothing other than the perpetuation of the status quo. This “agreement” is purely expedient UN political posturing in the face of a situation in which it has made no progress either diplomatically or in providing human security. Indeed, the Sudan Tribune reports April 25th, 2013 that relations between Khartoum and the one small rebel group to sign the peace “agreement” in July 2011 (el-Tigani Seisi’s “Liberation and Justice Movement”) are on the verge of collapse—a collapse that cannot be averted by the recent signing on to the agreement by a justice and equality movement splinter group.

By contrast, the report from the Experts who resigned notes:

“Nonetheless, from their [the authors’] experience and direct observation elsewhere in Darfur, and from information and testimonies gathered from sources in Darfur, Khartoum and countries neighboring the Republic of Sudan, the Members of the Panel consider that some elements emerging from the Shangal Tobay case-study represent a reliable illustration of more generic trends of the recent evolution of the conflict in neighboring areas of the same region [i.e., the area of Shangal Tobay, between el-Fasher and Nyala and east], straddling the border between North and South Darfur. Members of the Panel also found that the most intense violence in Darfur during their mandate happened in those areas of eastern Darfur, and in particular Shangal Tobay area.” [ ]

“Members of the Panel found that government officials and forces under the control of the Government of Sudan had a primary role in the violence in Shangal Tobay” [though, they note, some officials also tried to stop the violence].”

The scandalous lack of even desk research by the “official” Panel of Experts is constantly in evidence. So too is the inadequacy of desk research, given the reporting patterns of UNAMID. The “unofficial” report, for example, notes that,

“…events [the former members of the Panel] witnessed alongside UNAMID personnel were not fully reported in UNAMID Patrol Reports or Situation Reports.”

The largest conclusion of the “unofficial” Report of the Experts on Darfur is reflected in the violence that has been exploding in Darfur since last July:

“UNAMID forces have not been able to protect Zaghawa or other civilians, including those already living in IDP camps, from attacks, harassment, and displacements, some of which took place just in front of Shangal Tobay UNAMID team site.”

These Experts also note that the failure to understand sufficiently the “chain of violence” in Shangal Tobay was due to “under-reporting or deliberately omitting to report some incidents.” This has been true for years and includes the dramatically inadequate and misleading reporting by the AU and UN leadership (again, see Appendix Two for some of the most telling examples). UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and the Secretariat as a whole, in various reports on UNAMID and Darfur, have been either spectacularly credulous or disgracefully disingenuous. One revealing example: in the first two reports on Darfur and UNAMID in 2012, Ban’s report mentions not a single incident of sexual violence—not one—even as the epidemic of rape continues unabated; reporting by Radio Dabanga also makes clear that UNAMID refuses to respond to threats or acts of rape.

This “under-reporting or deliberately omitting to report” has contributed greatly to the failure of the international community to understand the dynamics by which violence has escalated to the point where there is simply no security anywhere in Darfur, and mass civilian displacements from violence are reported on an almost daily basis. This comparison of the two reports will be continued in subsequent briefs. Of particular significance for this period, the “unofficial” report of the Panel of Experts estimates that approximately 70,000 people were newly displaced from the greater Shangal Tobay/Khor Abeche region during their time on the ground in 2011:

“This cycle of violence provoked one of the most significant displacements that Darfur has experienced since the height of the conflict between 2003-2005, with the reported registration of around 70,000 new IDPs…. Most of those new displaced persons belong to the Zaghawa group.”

Presently human displacement is surging throughout Darfur and into Chad; MSF reports some 50,000 new refugees in eastern Chad in recent weeks, including 40 percent of the major town of Umm Dukhum in West Darfur. Altogether, many hundreds of thousands of people have fled their homes within Darfur over the past months and years into highly uncertain circumstances, amidst rapidly decreasing security 

 

Despite overwhelming evidence of a rapidly deteriorating security environment—posing a wide range of acute dangers for civilians, both in the camps and rural areas—the UN and African Union continues to minimize the scale of current violence, as it has done for many years now; this is true even as UNAMID’s performance continues to deteriorate and morale falls. It is especially revealing that the UN Department of Peacekeeping Operations, and its Undersecretary Hervé Ladsous, continues to claim that circumstances on the ground actually permit a draw-down of peacekeeping forces. There is evidently no inclination within UN DPKO to continue funding at present exorbitant levels a peacekeeping force that is performing so poorly, given other acute needs for peacekeepers around the world.

Realities

The UN Integrated Regional Information Networks (IRIN) has very recently offered not only a more realistic assessment of the total number of displaced—2.3 million in Darfur and Chad—but cites an estimate by the International Monitoring Centre:

“An estimated 2.3 million people remain displaced by Darfur’s decade-long conflict. A number of peace agreements – most recently the 2011 Doha Document for Peace in Darfur—have failed to halt the intermittent clashes between the government and rebel groups in the region…. According to the Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre, more than 150,000 people were displaced by renewed violence in Darfur in the first three months of 2013.” (April 19, 2013)

Many additional tens of thousands of people have been displaced since violence began to accelerate so dramatically last July, producing a figure of newly displaced that dwarfs highly dubious UN claims about the number of “returning” displaced persons (see Appendix One). An epidemic of rape continues to surge throughout Darfur amidst a climate of complete impunity; displaced persons camps are increasingly attacked or subject to brutal, often violent extortion schemes by militias and the feared Abu Tira (Central Reserve Police); major roads are too insecure for travel except with the heaviest of armed escorts. Relief efforts are ever more endangered, and there is a steady increase in reports of food shortages, food inflation, lack of clean water and primary medical care, and a lack of livelihoods. In many cases, returns by displaced persons to their villages and lands is impossible because they are now occupied by Arab pastoralists—typically armed and threatening—including groups from Chad and Niger.

Indiscriminate aerial bombardment continues unabated, particularly in the Jebel Marra region, but in a great many other locations in Darfur. UNAMID confirms virtually none of these, in part because it is so frequently denied access by the security forces of the Khartoum regime. Humanitarian access—both because of insecurity but also because of Khartoum’s denial of access—continues to deteriorate rapidly. Assaults on camps and even in towns have become more frequent and more indiscriminate. Basic services, including water and always sparse electricity, continue to be degraded. And there is no end in sight to the violence. But current realities have a history, and our most detailed account for 2011 comes from the reporting work of Mike Lewis, Claudio Gramizzi, and Jérôme Tubiana. §

§ The report of the former members of the Panel of Experts, with its highly defined mandate, is amply supplemented by a report from the Small Arms Survey by Claudio Gramizzi and Jérôme Tubiana. They have provided a remarkably full overview of this violence in a report from the Small Arms Survey (Geneva): “Forgotten Darfur: Old Tactics and New Players,” (July 2012). Their report 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.

APPENDIX ONE: Displacement, “returns,” and current trends (a compendium of reports; see also, “How many Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) are there in Darfur?” Dissent Magazine [on-line], April 28, 2011):

It is important to realize that the UN, in totaling the number of returning IDPs, takes no obvious account of those who must abandon their attempt to regain their lands and way of life. For example,

“[Seven] families who came back to the Guldo region [West Darfur] in the framework of the Sudanese Government’s voluntary repatriation initiative were found in an extremely worrying state. Witnesses told Radio Dabanga that they were part of 25 families who left Kalma Camp (South Darfur) as a part of the Voluntary Return program. However, the journey was too dangerous, and 18 families were forced to travel back to their original camp in South Darfur. Furthermore, they reported to Radio Dabanga that the remaining families did not receive any support from the province of West Darfur, even though it organized the deportation. They now call for international action to save these families, who are currently in a critical state.” (Radio Dabanga, July 26, 2011, “Voluntary Repatriation: 7 families found in a critical state”)

Displacement and returns have been central issues in Darfur since the beginning of major fighting in 2003. Darfur Humanitarian Profile No. 34 (representing conditions as of January 2009) was the last that OCHA produced. Its release in March 2009 came just as Khartoum was expelling thirteen distinguished international humanitarian organizations and closing three important Sudanese relief organizations—altogether roughly half the humanitarian capacity in Darfur. This last Profile found that there were “nearly 2.7 million Internally Displaced Persons in Darfur.” An accompanying graph showed a slow but steady increase, much of it clearly the result of massive civilian destruction and attacks such as had occurred in the Muhajeriya area of South Darfur (October 2007) and the regions north of el-Geneina in West Darfur (February 2008), the latter described in brutal detail by one of the last meaningful UN human rights reports on Darfur (March 20, 2008):

“Military attacks in Sirba, Silea and Abu Suruj (8 February), involved aerial bombardments by helicopter gunships and fixed-wing aircraft, accompanied by ground offensives by militia and SAF. Consistent information gathered by UNAMID Human Rights Officers indicated that these actions violated the principle of distinction stated in international humanitarian law, failing to distinguish between civilian objects and military objectives. Moreover, the scale of destruction of civilian property, including objects indispensable for the survival of the civilian population, suggests that the damage was a deliberate and integral part of a military strategy. Information on extensive pillaging during and after the attacks was also gathered. In addition, consistent and credible accounts of rape committed by armed uniformed men during and after the attack in Sirba were collected.”

Such reports worked to explain the steady rise in IDPs that had featured prominently in news and human rights reporting on Darfur; both the U.S. Agency for International Development and the Internal Displacement Monitoring Center used the 2.7 million figure. But OCHA issued a massive (and unexplained) “correction” in July 2010, tied to no public or private report. As of July 2010 OCHA referred to 1.9 million IDPs—800,000 people had suddenly become “undisplaced” . The only “source” offered by OCHA for this radical downsizing of an intensely distressed population was buried in a terse footnote, referring simply to work by the intergovernmental International Organization for Migration (IOM): “IOM Sudan (2009).” There was no indication of precise date, title, researchers, links, or anything that would allow a reader to understand what was signified by this reference.

The IOM did not announce a publication or completed study on displacement in Darfur; nor did OCHA subsequently explain what IOM had uncovered that justified such an enormous decline in the population considered “displaced.” IOM’s 2009 annual report makes no reference to research on IDPs in Darfur, although the report does note that Khartoum prevented IOM missions from traveling to South Darfur for much of the year (in summer 2010 Khartoum expelled two senior IOM officials for no reason).

What had happened? Since 2009, many within the humanitarian community in Darfur had thought some recalibration of IDP numbers was necessary, for a variety of reasons: double-counting of people registered in two locations; manipulation within the camps of UN World Food Program ration cards; the many deaths (but of course also many births) that had occurred in the camps; and confusion over whether a person already displaced counted for one or two “IDPs” if displaced a second time.

But the new IOM “figure” was relevant for the year 2008, not 2010, even less for 2011, 2012, and 2013. Moreover, during the period of study IOM’s database was significantly incomplete. For example, only 488,997 IDPs were registered with IOM in South Darfur, a region with half of Darfur’s total population (6.5 million). Some camps and concentrations of IDPs had never been registered. This was not an issue of bad faith on the part of IOM, which was simply doing the best it could with limited data (including data from the UN World Food Program). For the beginning of 2008, a figure of 1.9 million was at least representative of the data available to IOM. IOM made clear to OCHA that the figure was a work-in-progress with very significant limits; OCHA ignored this and peremptorily reduced the figure on the basis of the “IOM Sudan (2009)” reference. IOM had no intention of the figure of 1.9 million IDPs replacing earlier assessments, precisely because of the issues that are raised here, according to former IOM officials.

The Data Extant

To gain any true sense of scale of displacement in Darfur, we should also bear in mind UN and other figures for total displacement, of all kinds, in the immediately preceding years.

• OCHA estimated that 300,000 Darfuris were newly displaced in 2007;

• OCHA estimated that 317,000 Darfuris were newly displaced in 2008;

• In 2009—the year of humanitarian expulsions—OCHA promulgated no figure of its own, but the Canadian “Peace Operations Monitor” found evidence suggesting that “over 214,000 people were newly displaced [in Darfur] between January & June [2009] alone  Given the reports of violent displacement that followed June 2009, a total figure for the year of 250,000 seems conservative;

The Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre collected data suggesting that in 2010 approximately 300,000 people were newly displaced. The OCHA Sudan Bulletin (January 7 – 13, 2011) reported that the “overall number of people displaced during the December 2010 fighting in the area of Khor Abeche stands at 43,000.” 300,000 newly displaced for the year again seems a conservative figure;

UN IRIN (Nairobi) reports, March 16, 2011:

“Tens of thousands of people continue to flee their homes in Sudan’s western region of Darfur for the safety of internally displaced people’s camps after recent fighting between government forces and armed militias. According to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), an estimated 66,000 IDPs have arrived in camps in North and South Darfur since January. At least 53,000 are in and around North Darfur State’s Zam Zam IDP Camp.”

On March 27, 2012 Radio Dabanga reported a finding by the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (these are precisely the sorts of stories—accounts from UN humanitarian agencies—that so rarely figure in international reporting on Darfur):

“The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the UN said on Monday [March 26, 2012] that about 3,000 people from the areas of Dar Es Salam and Zam Zam camps in North Darfur have been displaced to Kalimdo and other areas with El Fasher. The FAO said that the displaced people are in need aid, food and medicines.”

• Radio Dabanga reported, April 2, 2012:

7,000 flee after government forces raze villages in North Darfur

“More than 7,000 people have fled their homes in North Darfur after government forces and militants reportedly burned down their villages last week. ‘7,000 have left the villages of Adam Khatir, Nagojora, Hamid Dilli, Amar Jadid, Koyo and Duga Ferro near Donki Hosh and fled to the surrounding areas where there is no food, water or shelter,’ said a newly displaced witness to Radio Dabanga from a safe area. ‘They attacked us for three days, from Tuesday until Thursday evening. They burned down five villages, looted more than 20 and destroyed water wells and pumps,’ added the witness. She appealed to the UN and humanitarian organisations to protect them and provide them with desperately needed assistance.”

• Radio Dabanga reported, April 16, 2012:

5,000 South Sudanese forced out of Darfuri camp (Sharef [South Darfur] 16 Apr 2012)

“South Sudanese citizens living in a camp in the Sharef area of East [formerly South] Darfur had their homes burned down and destroyed on Monday by a group of militia. Witnesses told Radio Dabanga their camp was completely looted yesterday including the clothes they were wearing. They said today the militants came back and indiscriminately burned down their homes forcing the traumatised camp residents out into the surrounding areas.”

UN OCHA reported, April 29, 2012:

“According to IOM [the International Organization for Migration], some 3,400 newly displaced people have been verified and registered in Zamzam IDP camp, North Darfur. These newly displaced people fled their homes because of inter-tribal fighting between Zaghawa and Birgid tribesmen in Alauna village (approximately 25km north of Dar el Salam, North Darfur) that started on 22 February.”

August 5, 2012: a report from a highly reliable and experienced source on the ground in North Darfur (received via e-mail):

“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 [approximately 30,000 civilians—ER]. The markets in Kutum and in Kassab have both been thoroughly looted.”

Radio Dabanga reported, August 9, 2012:

“Representatives of the Kassab and Fatta Barno camps in North Darfur, revealed on Wednesday that the situation in both camps remains critical and over 70,000 IDPs fled so far. UNAMID promised to provide support to both camps within 24 hours.”

Radio Dabanga reported, September 30, 2012:

“[M]ore than 2,000 people who fled the recent attacks around Hashaba have arrived to Ba’ashim area, north of Mellit, North Darfur, on Sunday, 30 September. Sources told Radio Dabanga that these people traveled for three days by foot, hiding around mountains and valleys when it was light and moving only by night. This way, sources explained, the victims could avoid being found by pro-government militias.

“Witnesses said these people are suffering from fatigue, adding that they barely ate or drank anything during the three days they traveled. Upon arrival in Ba’ashim, a remote area, most people were transferred to Mellit city where there are enough facilities to support them, sources explained. They added that the 2,000 people who arrived in Ba’ashim represent only one fourth of the victims who fled the Hashaba attacks.”

UN IRIN reported February 8, 2013:

“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.”

Reuters (AlertNet), reported (February 13, 2103):

“The latest violence left more than 100 people dead and forced some 100,000 to flee their homes in what aid agencies say is the largest displacement in recent years inside Sudan’s troubled western region of Darfur. The United Nations said in mid-January it was alarmed by confirmed reports of killings of civilians, as well as the burning of more than three dozen villages.”

Radio Dabanga reported (March 19, 2013):

“Some 4,000 people in South Darfur were displaced after having their villages ‘burnt by aerial bombings by the Sudanese air force’ during last week’s battles.” 

Radio Dabanga reported, March 26, 2013:

“A Nertiti camps activist disclosed on Tuesday [February 26, 2013] that between 23,000 and 25,000 families [likely over 100,000 civilians] have arrived in the area fleeing the battles between government and rebel forces in [formerly West] Darfur that erupted on 23 December last year. Speaking to Radio Dabanga, he noted that some 15 or 20 families continue arriving in the camps every day from Golo and the Jildu garrison area in West Jebel Marra, where much of the fighting took place. Nertiti is already home to more than 42,000 displaced persons according to the UN OCHA.”

Radio Dabanga reports, April 23, 2013:

“Pro-government militias reportedly attacked 300 civilians who were fleeing battles between government forces and rebels in South Darfur on Monday. The displaced were heading to El Salam camp near the state’s capital which has received ‘7,000 families’ [perhaps more than 30,000 civilians] since March.”

Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) reported, April 26, 2013:

“TISSI, CHAD/NEW YORK, APRIL 26, 2013—Violent clashes in Sudan’s Darfur region have driven approximately 50,000 people across the border into southeastern Chad since early March, where a lack of food, water, shelter, and basic services is developing into a humanitarian crisis, the international medical humanitarian organization Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) said today.”

UN IRIN reported, April 19, 2013:

“An estimated 2.3 million people remain displaced by Darfur’s decade-long conflict. A number of peace agreements—most recently the 2011 Doha Document for Peace in Darfur—have failed to halt the intermittent clashes between the government and rebel groups in the region…. According to the Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre, more than 150,000 people were displaced by renewed violence in Darfur in the first three months of 2013.”

Radio Dabanga reports, April 26, 2011:

2,200 families fleeing Sudan army, rebels battles arrive in camp (KALMA CAMP)

“In line with “preliminary assessments” at least 2,200 families have arrived in a South Darfur camp over the last month due to clashes between Sudanese and rebel troops in two states of the region.”

NB: the IRIN figure in its April 19 dispatch evidently includes much of what is excluded from the commonly cited UN figure of “1.4 million internally displaced in Darfur”:

330,000 refugees in Chad;

300,000 IDPs registered in camps, but not registered for feeding by the UN’s World Food Program; it is this population that when omitted yields the figure of 1.4 million displaced that OCHA itself has done far too much to promulgate without qualification.

• Recently displaced persons who figure in no census—perhaps as many as 200,000, judging from reports from the UN, Radio Dabanga, and other sources (see above);

• Those displaced but living with host families or villages, not in camps; early in its reporting, the UN Darfur Humanitarian Profiles estimated this figure to be as high as 600,000.

This readily available data, in aggregate suggests that more than 1.2 million civilians have been newly displaced since January 1, 2008, the official beginning of UNAMID’s mandate. Indeed, the figure may be much greater than 1.2 million. Yet despite these data, most news reports continue to cite a figure of “1.4 million” as “remaining displaced” in Darfur; this is a gross misrepresentation of realities on the ground. Even so, the new UN/AU Joint Special Representative Aichatu Mindaoudou claims on the basis of this figure that “the numbers of people affected by violence had decreased each year between 2008 and 2011.” It did not take Ms. Mindaoudou long to learn the mendacious ways of UNAMID (see Appendix Two below).

 

UN and African Union misrepresentations of Darfur’s realities

[ It is worth noting here that the spokesman for UNAMID, Aicha Elbasri, resigned on April 23, 2013, as Radio Dabanga and the Sudan Tribune reported:

“The spokesperson of the African Union-United Nations Mission in Darfur (UNAMID), Aicha Elbasri, announced her resignation on Tuesday eight months after her appointment, saying she was blocked from accessing information. ‘I resigned from my post because I wasn’t receiving the support I needed in terms of access to information in a timely manner, including the accurate and up-to-date information the media was asking for,’ Elbasri told Radio Dabanga.”

A “rogue’s gallery” of UN and AU commentary:

• August 2009 statement by departing head of UNAMID forces Martin Agwai: “as of today, I would not say there is a war going on in Darfur, [but rather] very low intensity engagements.”

[In 2009 data suggest that some 250,000 Darfuris were newly, and typically violently displaced—ER]

• Departing UN/AU special representative to UNAMID, Rodolphe Adada (August 2009):

“‘I have achieved results’ in Darfur. [ ] ‘There is no more fighting proper on the ground.’ ‘Right now there is no high-intensity conflict in Darfur. Call it what you will but this is what is happening in Darfur—a lot of banditry, carjacking, attacks on houses.”’ 

• UN Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator for Sudan, Georg Charpentier offered a similarly optimistic assessment of Darfur in early 2011: “We are seeing a ‘trend of decreasing overall violent incidents in Darfur.'” (January 20, 2011)

• In a truly despicably moment of mendacity, Charpentier declared: “‘UN humanitarian agencies are not confronted by pressure or interference from the Government of Sudan,’ [Charpentier said in a written statement to the Institute for War and Peace reporting (IWPR)].” (January 7, 2011)

• A year and half ago former JSR Ibrahim Gambari gave a statistical account of UNAMID’s success: “Our figures have shown that the number of armed attacks in all three Darfur states has fallen by as much 70 percent over the past three years, which has resulted in more displaced people returning to their homes.” (Radio Netherlands International, September 14, 2011)

• In an interview with Radio Dabanga (May 20, 2012), the spokesman for the UN/African Union Mission in Darfur (UNAMID), Christopher Cycmanick, “described the security situation in Darfur as ‘relatively calm.'”

• Former JSR, “I am gratified to note that barely 31 months on, all the objectives I set out to meet have largely been met.”

Fearing no contradiction, UN and AU officials—including senior UN officials in New York—have deliberately and disastrously understated the scale of insecurity and humanitarian need in Darfur.

End

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