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Displaced populations in Darfur increasingly face annihilation

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Displaced Populations in Darfur Increasingly Face Annihilation:
Growing number of Janjaweed attacks on camps;
UN High Commissioner for Refugees warns of impending "catastrophe"

By Eric Reeves

Jan 28, 2006 — The ghastly final stage in the ongoing violent destruction of non-Arab or African tribal populations in Darfur has begun. An increasing number of reports highlight attacks on camps for displaced persons by Khartoum’s murderous Arab militia proxy, the Janjaweed. In late September 2005, an attack by the Janjaweed on Aro Sharow camp for displaced persons in West Darfur prompted Juan Mendez, UN special advisor for the prevention of genocide, to declare:

"Until last week [September 28, 2005], there have never been concerted, massive attacks of an indiscriminate nature against civilians in camps in Darfur" (Washington Post, October 10, 2005).

The attack on Aro Sharow was not only fully confirmed, but gave evidence of continuing military coordination between Khartoum’s regular military forces and the Janjaweed. AU special representative to Sudan, Baba Gana Kingibe, gave a revealing summary of this military coordination in an extraordinary press conference (Khartoum, October 1, 2005):

"On 28 September 2005, some reportedly 400 Janjaweed Arab militia on camels and horseback went on the rampage in Aru Sharo, Acho, and Gozmena villages in West Darfur. Our reports also indicate that the day previous, and indeed on the actual day of the attack, Government of Sudan helicopter gunships were observed overhead. This apparent coordinated land and air assault gives credence to the repeated claim by the rebel movements of collusion between the Government of Sudan forces and the Janjaweed/Arab militia. This incident [ ] was confirmed not only by our investigators but also by workers of humanitarian agencies and NGOs in the area."

But what seemed unprecedented at the time of the Aro Sharow attack, in which more than 35 innocent civilians were murdered, is no longer so. Christian Aid recently reported (January 27, 2006) that "as the international community debates who should protect displaced people in [Darfur], attacks on the camps where many seek refuge---some run by Christian Aid partners---continue unabated." Christian Aid highlights the situation near Mershing, South Darfur:

"There have recently been attacks by the government-backed militia, the Janjaweed, in the Mershing camps in South Darfur. The peacekeeping troops of the AU had promised to protect these camps last autumn. Armed Sudanese police are also located in the area. But neither these troops nor the police were able to stop these latest attacks. Around 90% of the people from Mershing’s eight camps, which hold 35,000 people, have fled and are understood to be sleeping in the open without water or security. Christian Aid’s partner, the Sudan Social Development Organisation, has a clinic in Mershing; all employees have been forced to leave the camp." (Christian Aid release, January 27, 2006)

The withdrawal of employees from Mershing’s medical clinic is part of a terrifying larger pattern of humanitarian evacuation that has left many hundreds of thousands of acutely vulnerable civilians beyond humanitarian reach. At the same time, humanitarian workers are no longer present as witnesses to offer at least a modicum of protection from attack.

The UN Integrated Regional Information Networks (IRIN) (January 27, 2006) also reports attacks on displaced persons and humanitarian evacuation in South Darfur:

"[The spokeswoman for the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs in Sudan said] some 400 internally displaced persons in Sharia, South Darfur, had been harassed by militiamen on horseback [i.e., Janjaweed]. Most of them were women and children."

"The UN Mission in Sudan said it evacuated seven of its staff from Sharia to Nyala, the capital of South Darfur, on Thursday [January 26, 2006]."

Speaking of West Darfur, a UN spokeswoman noted that "by Friday [January 27, 2006] at least 90 humanitarian staff working for several international nongovernmental organizations had been evacuated from Golo and Daya [sites of intense fighting]."

These evacuations are in addition to the previous UN withdrawal of all non-essential humanitarian personnel from West Darfur.

Further, a spokesman for the UN High Commission for Refugees recently declared that hundreds of additional Darfuri refugees had fled to Chad since the beginning of the year, even as "the worsening security situation in West Darfur" had led UNHCR to "reduce the number of aid workers operating in the [West Darfur] and [ ] security concerns had also forced UNHCR to reduce the staff numbers in eastern Chad" (UN News Center, January 24, 2006). The larger situation in Chad is of extreme concern, and current insecurity is already intolerable:

"Nearly 200 aid workers pulled out of two humanitarian bases in eastern Chad at the weekend after unknown armed men kidnapped government officials and stole two vehicles from aid organisations, the UN refugee agency said." (UN IRIN [dateline: N’Djamena, Chad], January 23, 2006)

Reuters reports:

"Chad said earlier this month that Sudanese militiamen had killed nine civilians in a raid across its border near the town of Adre, where government forces repulsed assaults by Chadian rebels and army deserters on December 18, 2005. Chad accuses Sudan of sheltering and backing the Chadian rebels who attacked Adre. Sudan denies supporting the rebels." (Reuters [dateline: N’Djamena, Chad], January 22, 2006)

In assessing Khartoum’s denial of support for Chadian rebels, we should bear in mind that the regime also vehemently denies supporting the Janjaweed, even as every credible report from Darfur, for more than two years, establishes clearly the hand-in-glove military relationship between the regime and the Janjaweed. Human Rights Watch has offered the most authoritative and detailed accounts of how the Janjaweed and Khartoum have coordinated, particularly in its December 2005 report ("Entrenching Impunity: Government Responsibility for International Crimes in Darfur"):

"Since early 2003, the leadership in Khartoum has relied on civilian administration, the Sudanese military and Janjaweed militias to implement a counterinsurgency policy that deliberately and systematically targeted civilians in violation of international law. Ultimate responsibility for the creation and coordination of the policy lies in Khartoum, with the highest levels of the Sudanese leadership, including President Omar El Bashir, Vice-President Ali Osman Taha, and key national ministers and security chiefs."
(http://www.hrw.org/english/docs/2005/12/09/sudan12186.htm)

The danger also facing humanitarians in Darfur was tragically underscored by the death of a young worker for the Irish aid agency GOAL, who was killed in a helicopter crash-landing during a rescue evacuation near the village of Daya in the contested Jebel Marra region (Reuters, January 26, 2006).

IMPLICATIONS

The significance of these newly reported Janjaweed attacks on camps for displaced persons can scarcely be overstated. Because there are so few non-Arab or African villages left to attack, the Janjaweed are beginning to turn their deadly sights upon the camps to which some 2 million people have fled. A recent (January 26, 2006) report from the British Parliament echoes the earlier conclusions of UN Secretary General Kofi Annan and Juan Mendez:

"It is clear to us that the reason for the decline in the type of attacks seen in 2004 is that the de facto ethnic cleansing has succeeded and people have fled their homes for the protection of the camps." (House of Commons, International Development Committee, "Darfur: The Killing Continues," page 5, http://www.parliament.uk/indcom/)

But these intense concentrations of bereft civilians, scattered over more than 200 sites in Darfur (an area the size of France), are extremely vulnerable. As Malcolm Bruce, the Liberal Democrat Member of Parliament chairing the International Development Committee, remarked with terrifying accuracy, international "inaction could lead to ’another Rwanda’" (BBC, January 26, 2006). Of course this would be a continuation of "inaction" by the international community, which has for more than two years acquiesced in genocidal destruction throughout Darfur. The deployment of a radically inadequate African Union observer mission represents the only international response to date, beyond humanitarian assistance. Bruce charitably describes the AU force as "very small though effective"; but he certainly recognizes the implications for the "millions of people at risk":

"If the [Janjaweed] militias ’were to turn on those camps, there is nothing on the ground that could save those people.’" (BBC January 26, 2006)

With such an understanding fully in mind, Antonio Guterres has recently made explicit the consequences of continued international failure to provide civilian and humanitarian protection, declaring that "averting a catastrophe [in Darfur] would require ’bold measures’ and the full involvement of the AU and the UN" (UN IRIN, January 25, 2006). Of course such "bold measures" are nowhere in prospect, despite Kofi Annan’s recent proposal for a robust international force that far exceeds the capabilities of the AU (see below). In the UK, the Parliamentary report elicited from Prime Minister Tony Blair only a confession of the obvious: the international community is "failing" Darfur. But Blair predictably made no concrete proposals and said nothing meaningful about how past failure would be overcome. Nor have other members of the international community offered any concrete proposal to augment the AU force, or to overcome AU intransigence in moving to an adequate force level, with an appropriate civilian protection mandate.

Indeed, Sam Ibok, lead AU negotiator at stalled peace talks in Abuja (Nigeria), very recently declared in response to various proposals for bringing the AU mission in Darfur under UN auspices:

"’We [the AU mission in Darfur] don’t need the UN. We have the requisite people who can do the job,’ he said." (Reuters [dateline: Abuja], January 27, 2006)

This is a cruelly arrogant lie, representing a prideful willingness to expose civilians and humanitarians in Darfur to destruction amidst uncontrolled violence, violence that is only accelerating despite AU presence. Ibok seems shamefully unwilling to acknowledge the inescapable truth offered by UNHCR’s Guterres: "If we fail, if there is no physical protection for those in need of aid, the risk is a much greater calamity than what we have seen so far" (UN IRIN, January 25, 2006).

As a series of reports from human rights and policy organizations have made abundantly clear over the past half-year, the AU has neither the present ability nor the available capacity to respond to the security crisis in Darfur. Refugees International, the Brookings Institution/Bern University, Human Rights Watch, International Crisis Group---all have contributed to a broad and sobering assessment of AU abilities and inabilities, strengths and weaknesses. That the latter are so preponderant, and so resolutely unacknowledged by the AU leadership, ensures that no matter what happens in Abuja, the security situation on the ground in Darfur will continue to deteriorate until the AU is dramatically augmented. (See my analysis of reports on the AU, "Ghosts of Rwanda: The AU Failure in Darfur," November 13 & 20, 2005,
http://www.sudanreeves.org/modules.php?op=modload&name=Sections&file=index&req=viewarticle&artid=535&page=1
and
http://www.sudanreeves.org/modules.php?op=modload&name=Sections&file=index&req=viewarticle&artid=534&page=1).

POLITICAL POSTURING

As humanitarian evacuations continue, and humanitarian reach is correspondingly attenuated; as civilians in camps for the displaced become increasingly targeted by Khartoum-backed Janjaweed; as broader genocide by attrition settles more viciously over Darfur; as more and more civilians are affected by the collapse in agricultural production (the current UN estimate is more than 3.5 million people, many of them from Arab tribal groups); and as this vast tableau of human suffering and destruction gives every sign of extending, we may be sure only that history will demand a reckoning of what those with the power to stop genocidal destruction did at this critical moment.

We must wonder, then, what in particular will be said of the various nations of Europe and North America, and throughout the world community, that just this past September (2005) unanimously accepted---at the UN World Summit---the principle of an international "responsibility to protect" civilians acutely threatened and unprotected within their own country. All member states declared that they were,

"prepared to take collective action, in a timely and decisive manner, through the Security Council, in accordance with the UN Charter, including Chapter VII, on a case by case basis and in cooperation with relevant regional organizations as appropriate, should peaceful means be inadequate and national authorities manifestly failing to protect their populations from genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing, and crimes against humanity and its implications, bearing in mind the principles of the Charter and international law." (Summit Outcome document, Paragraph 139)

How is this "responsibility to protect" being shouldered right now, when the protection needs of civilians in Darfur are unsurpassably urgent? What actions are being taken to deter Khartoum from continuing its military actions against civilians in Darfur? What is being done to see that Khartoum complies with the key security demand made by the UN Security Council---that the regime disarm the Janjaweed and bring its leaders to justice (UN Security Council Resolution 1556, July 30, 2004)? What price are Khartoum’s leaders, the security cabal that is the National Islamic Front (NIF), paying for obstruction of AU forces, for ongoing interference with humanitarian operations, for their open contempt for the International Criminal Court investigation of crimes against humanity in Darfur?

Certainly rebel groups in Darfur must also be pressured, both to show military restraint and to negotiate in good faith in Abuja, which entails a demonstration of political unity and genuine concern for the people of Darfur that has been sorely lacking. The recently reported unification of the Justice and Equality Movement and the Sudan Liberation Army/Movement (Minnawi faction) could make for a more effective and organized diplomatic presence in Abuja; but the formidable increase in potential military strength on the ground might harden rebel negotiating positions (The Sudan Tribune, January 22, 2006). There is also concern that because both the leader of JEM (Ibrahim Khalil) and the SLA/M’s Minni Arko Minnawi are of the Zaghawa tribal group, a split may develop within the larger insurgency movement along ethnic lines (Abdel Wahid al-Nur, leader of the other SLA/M faction, is a Fur---the largest ethnic group in Darfur).

But given the current extreme levels of insecurity in Darfur, and increasingly Chad, a robust peacemaking force is urgently required, no matter what the promised actions by combatants. Camps for displaced persons must be protected, as must camp environs; humanitarian workers, operations, and transportation corridors must be secured; rural populations at acute risk must be protected; those wishing to return to their villages and lands must be offered credible security, especially through the first planting/harvesting cycle; and the Janjaweed and other militia elements must be disarmed or neutralized.

These are the clear tasks at hand, and have long been. But the AU remains intransigent, refusing to acknowledge its severe limitations and inability to undertake these multiple, challenging security tasks. What, then, will be the international response to Ambassador Ibok’s assertion: "We [the AU mission in Darfur] don’t need the UN. We have the requisite people who can do the job’"? And to the further insistence by new AU chair, Congo Republic President Denis Sassou Nguesso:

"The AU would want to maintain control of peacekeepers in Sudan’s Darfur region even if UN soldiers were sent to bolster the mission, the new head of the continental body said. [Nguesso], who was appointed by African leaders on Tuesday [in Khartoum] as chairperson of the AU, said he would welcome UN support for around 7,000 AU troops in Darfur but that the force had to remain African-led. ’The UN can bring forces, but all of that should be to support the AU forces, under the command of the AU and its officers who are there,’ ’I believe that the international community will understand that it is better to operate like that.’" (Reuters, January 25, 2006)

In fact, it is a military reality, as much as a political reality, that US and European forces will not serve under the command of AU officers (many of them manifestly incompetent, such as the former Nigerian commander of the AU operation in Darfur, General Festus Okonkwo). If Nguesso wants to ensure that the force described by various UN leaders in recent weeks never reaches the serious planning stage, then he will insist unyieldingly on this principle of command. Yet the UN seems to be willing to speak as though AU reservations did not exist---or at the very least to make broad assumptions on the basis of a single paragraph from an AU Peace and Security Council communiqué (January 12, 2006):

"[The AU] expresses its support, in principle, to a transition from AU Mission in Sudan to a UN operation, within the framework of the partnership between the AU and the UN in the promotion of peace, security and stability in Africa, and decides to convene a meeting of the Peace and Security Council at ministerial level, in Addis Ababa, before the end of March 2006, to review the situation and make a final decision on the issue of the transition towards a UN operation in Darfur and its modalities [ ] and the financial aspects of the ongoing operation in Darfur." (Paragraph 5)

Behind this garrulous declaration lies only a thoroughly hedged commitment to consider a UN mission, on terms that the AU is evidently presuming to dictate---and only because the AU mission is running out of money, and will collapse financially without a change in "ownership" of the Darfur mission. It would seem, then, premature for UN Under-secretary (for peacekeeping operations) Jean-Marie Guehenno to declare that:

"The UN understands that it will eventually have to take over peacekeeping duty from the AU in Sudan’s troubled Darfur region, the top UN peacekeeping official said on Friday [January 27, 2006]. Guehenno said such a mission would require a robust, rapidly deployable force with sufficient firepower to deter marauding gunmen in an area the size of France where there was no real peace to keep."

"Speaking to reporters after talks with the European Union and NATO, Guehenno said members of the two organisations had most of the military capabilities required and should consider how they could help with tactical transport and firepower." (Reuters [Brussels], January 27, 2006)

Notably, Guehenno fails to say that various UN bureaucracies are ensuring that no significant planning for such a "robust" operation is presently occurring.

Even more presumptuous, in the context of AU recalcitrance, are comments by Kofi Annan in his recent op/ed in The Washington Post ("Darfur Descending," January 25, 2006):

"[The AU forces] have neither the equipment nor the broad mandate they would need to protect the people under threat or to enforce a cease-fire routinely broken by the rebels, as well as by the Janjaweed militia and Sudanese government forces. [ ] The transition from the AU force to a UN peace operation in Darfur is now inevitable. A firm decision by the Security Council is needed, and soon, for an effective transition to take place."

The "inevitability" that Annan speaks of may be a matter of wishful thinking, especially since in comments made on January 13, 2006 Annan had spoken of the need for not only AU approval of a UN force, but approval from Khartoum and from the Security Council. In The Washington Post Annan implicitly dismisses an AU rejection of the transition in Darfur (the transition is now "inevitable"), and ignores entirely his previously signaled wish to obtain Khartoum’s agreement (which of course could never be secured). Moreover, Annan only alludes to the most difficult political problem, viz. securing an authorizing UN resolution for a peacemaking force deploying under Chapter VII of the UN Charter:

"But let no one imagine that this crisis can be solved simply by giving the present AU mission a ’UN hat.’ Any new mission will need a strong and clear mandate, allowing it to protect those under threat, by force if necessary, as well as the means to do so. That means it will need to be larger, more mobile and much better equipped than the current AU mission. Those countries that have the required military assets must be ready to deploy them."

In his comments of January 13, 2006, Annan also spoke of the need for "’tactical air support, helicopters and the ability to respond very quickly.’" Asked if this would include rich countries, like the US and European nations, Annan said, "’Those are the countries with the kind of capabilities we will need, so when the time comes, we will be turning to them. We will need very sophisticated equipment, logistical support. I will be turning to governments with capacity to join in that peacekeeping operation if we were to be given the mandate’" (Reuters, January 13, 2006),

With his new language of "inevitability," Annan has moved well beyond the highly conditional "if we were to be given the mandate." Now, presuming AU support for transition to a UN force, and ignoring Khartoum, Annan argues that,

"this puts the Security Council on the spot. The UN Charter gives the council primary responsibility for international peace and security. And in September, in a historic first, UN members unanimously accepted the responsibility to protect populations from genocide, ethnic cleansing, war crimes and crimes against humanity, pledging to take action through the Security Council when national authorities fail."

But though Annan is entirely right in what he says here, the question of political will in the Security Council looms as extraordinarily difficult, particularly for a resolution authorizing a force under Chapter VII---even as only such a force matches the military description Annan offered on January 13 and again in The Washington Post. China’s veto threat is the critical issue, and to date China has relentlessly protected its NIF clients, including most recently by obstructing delivery of a sanctions committee report to the Security Council (indicating which culpable parties in the Darfur conflict should be subject to travel restrictions and asset freezes). The strategic value of Sudanese crude oil, and the Chinese role in crude oil production and exploration in Sudan, is almost impossible to overstate.

So which nation will introduce a meaningful authorizing resolution to the Security Council? Certainly not the US, which has played its own sinister role in refusing to confront Khartoum’s genocidaires at the Security Council. Most consequentially, as reported by this writer, behind the scenes the US has been working to revise the list of those to be targeted for sanctions, this in return for securing Khartoum’s supposed "cooperation" in providing intelligence on international terrorism. The most significant effort has been to remove the names of senior government ministers and military officials responsible for ongoing genocide and crimes against humanity in Darfur, including Major General Saleh Abdalla Gosh, head of the National Security and Intelligence Service.

The cynicism of such an effort undermines any possible faith in Bush administration efforts to confront Khartoum seriously or to exert maximum diplomatic effort to secure deployment of the urgently required peacemaking operation. US officials are authoritatively reported to have been sought deletion of other senior NIF members from the sanctions list, including Abdul Rahmin Mohamed Hussein, currently minister for defense and former minister of the interior---and like Gosh an architect of the Darfur genocide.

What other evidence is there that the US is failing at the Security Council? Even as the US is poised to assume the Presidency of the Security Council on February 1, 2006, it gives no signs of meaningful action. A draft US "Statement by the President of the Security Council," seen by this writer, is scandalously insipid and noncommittal, proposing language that says only:

"The Security Council requests the Secretary General initiate contingency planning, in close and continuing consultation with the African Union, AU Mission in Sudan, and the parties, for a possible transition from African Union Mission in Sudan to a UN operation. The Security Council will return to this issue following the AU Peace and Security Council Ministers’ further review of the situation [March 2006]."

This proposed US "Statement by the President of the Security Council" reflects none of the appropriate urgency required by rapidly deteriorating security in Darfur and along the Chad/Sudan border, where open hostilities are daily closer. The latter is a development, currently completely unchecked by the AU mission, that could at any moment unfold into a massive catastrophe for the many hundreds of thousands of vulnerable civilians on both sides of the border. Indeed, this is precisely the development that prompted UNHCR Guterres’ dire warning:

"UN refugee agency chief [Antonio Guterres] noted that the insecurity in Darfur has now spread across the border to Chad, where last Friday [January 20, 2006] armed rebels took several government officials hostage and attacked the village of Guéréda, where the UN refugee agency is caring for more than 25,000 Sudanese refugees in two camps. ’The international community could face a catastrophe in Darfur,’ Guterres warned. ’Averting it will require bold measures and the full involvement of the AU and the UN. If we fail---if there is no physical protection for those in need of aid---the risk is a much greater calamity than what we have seen so far.’" (UN High Commission for Refugees release [dateline: Gaga Camp, Chad], January 24, 2006)

For the millions of people suffering and dying in Darfur, international "failure" takes many forms. US willingness to propose, as the only additional international response to massive threats against civilian life, that "the Security Council requests the Secretary General initiate contingency planning," with a further review of the situation after the AU meets sometime in March, is an egregious form of such failure. The US clearly has no intention of expending real political or diplomatic capital on Darfur; posturing and disingenuous remarks by Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs Jendayi Frazer seem to be as much as the Bush administration is prepared to commit.

"PEACE FOR OUR TIME"

There have been two recent and peculiarly optimistic reports about the chances for a peace agreement in Abuja, including one by the AU’s senior diplomat in the talks, Sam Ibok. They are all the more peculiar in light of statements recently made by Ibok ("’We have been here [in Abuja] for more than a month now, but I can’t even report any progress" (UN IRIN [dateline: Abuja], January 9, 2006) and by AU special envoy for Darfur Salim Ahmed Salim, who "described the talks to end the conflict as ’disturbingly and agonizingly slow’" (Reuters [dateline: Abuja], January 19, 2006). But now Ibok has suddenly declared that there will be a peace agreement in a couple of weeks, offering as explanation the fact that Khartoum’s chairmanship of the AU has been delayed a year:
"’Unless something very dramatic happens in Darfur, we shall have a peace agreement in the next couple of weeks,’ Ibok [said], adding he hoped to see a deal signed by mid-February." (Reuters, January 27, 2006)

Of course it could be argued that temporarily denying Khartoum the AU chair provides incentive to accelerate human destruction in Darfur over coming months in order to effect a final solution to its "Darfur problem" before the next AU summit (see my analysis in The New Republic, http://www.tnr.com/doc.mhtml?i=w060123&s=reeves012506). In any event, the current intensity of fighting on the ground, and accelerating violence by the Janjaweed and other armed elements, suggests how far off real peace is without international humanitarian intervention.

Predictably, Ibok left himself an escape clause: speaking of the promised February "peace agreement," Ibok also declared that "implementation [of any agreement] is another thing." This "other thing" is of course the essential matter: Khartoum’s NIF has signed---and flaunted---any number of agreements regarding Darfur, including disarming the Janjaweed (on multiple occasions), facilitating humanitarian relief (which it continues to obstruct in a host of ways), and permitting deployment of the AU force (Khartoum has repeatedly hindered AU actions, and has blocked both critical equipment and personnel from deploying).

More broadly, we must keep in mind that the NIF has never honored an agreement with any Sudanese party---not one, not ever. The slow withering of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement with Southern Sudan is only the most recent example. There is simply no reason to believe that any nominal "agreement" in Abuja will make a difference on the ground in Darfur or diminish in any way the need for a large, well-equipped international force, guided by a robust peacemaking mandate.

But Ibok has company in his peculiar optimism, and is joined by the ever-expedient UN special representative for Sudan Jan Pronk, who recently described the negotiating behavior of the NIF in Abuja as "quite constructive," and declared that, "I have no reason to believe the Government [of Sudan] would not be interested in getting a peace agreement" (Agence France-Presse, January 23, 2006). In assessing Khartoum’s supposed good faith negotiating, perhaps the best measure is the regime’s behavior while hosting the recent AU summit (itself a terrible compromising of AU credibility).

Even as Khartoum was signing an agreement by which it "volunteered" for review by African nations (for "government performance and transparency") (Reuters, January 22, 2006), the regime’s security forces were engaged in the arrest and detention of Sudanese and international human rights workers, as well as international journalists and diplomats. The extraordinary details of these actions by NIF security forces, as reported by Amnesty International, the Open Society Justice Initiative, and wires services, include: forcible photographing of those detained and arrested, the seizing of documents and laptops; confiscation of recording equipment; verbal abuse of those detained and searched, as well as physical assault.

Perhaps only the UN’s Mr. Pronk can explain how a regime capable of such actions while the eyes of the world are upon it will honor agreements it may expediently choose to sign in Abuja, where more than a year’s negotiations have yielded almost nothing worth noting. Certainly the world has not meaningfully signaled that it intends to hold Khartoum to any agreement, in Abuja or anywhere else. Most conspicuously to Khartoum, despite the noticeable increase in rhetorical volume in some international quarters, those with the power to halt human suffering and destruction in Darfur shamefully avert their eyes and do nothing.

Eric Reeves
- Smith College
- Northampton, MA 01063
Email: ereeves@smith.edu
Tel: 413-585-3326
Website: www.sudanreeves.org



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