Home | News    Tuesday 10 November 2009

Tide of munitions for Darfur war still flows despite embargo - UN report

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November 9, 2009 (WASHINGTON) – A new report by monitors of an UN-imposed arms ban on Darfur has documented the continuing flow of war materiel to the nominally embargoed region.

Sudan’s westernmost province is the launching point for dry-season offensives against Chad, a battleground for a civil war of national implications, and a diverse landscape of more localized conflicts.

The UN Security Council placed arms import restrictions on Darfur in 2005, but refrained from placing the whole country under the embargo. In a report presented to the Council last month, the Panel of Experts convened by the UN has presented evidence of serial violations of the arms ban.

“Almost all sides in the conflict have failed in their obligation to comply with Security Council sanctions and to cooperate with the monitoring efforts of the Panel of Experts,” stated the introduction of the report.

The UN weapons monitoring team, comprised of Enrico Carisch of Switzerland, Awni Al-Momani of Jordan, and Abdelaziz Abdelaziz of the United States of America, conducted much of their research in Chad, Darfur and other parts of Sudan. Two other members of the panel – a Canadian and an Indian – had resigned in May and June 2009.

While the bulk of the report consists of technical documentation of violations of the arms embargo, the experts also highlight the human costs of warfare in Darfur, citing for instance the death of scores of civilians in fighting in 2009. They note, additionally, that “the women of Darfur, roughly half of the population of the region, continue to suffer from all forms of gender-based violence.” The report furthermore contains some documentation of recruitment and employment of child soldiers by the Darfur rebel Justice and Equality Movement and by Chadian opposition groups operating from Darfur.

This is expected to be the last report of these particular experts for the UN Security Council.

ARMING THE SUDAN ARMED FORCES

The UN panel found that the Sudan Armed Forces (SAF) in Darfur have been using mostly equipment brought to Darfur after the 2005 sanctions measures, and thus in violation of the UN measures: “Almost all the documented ammunition, vehicles and aviation equipment, and much other military materiel is of post-embargo production…”

Sudan also violated the arms embargo by deploying entire armed units to the Darfur region as belligerents. For instance, the army transferred its 5th Brigade from El Obeid to Darfur during fighting to retake the town of Muhajeriya in early 2009. Other units included attack and transport helicopters, Antonov aircraft, and jet aircraft.

The Experts Panel contended that the army and Janjaweed are using hundreds of relatively new Toyota Land Cruisers.

The Panel cited the “prominence of Chinese manufactured arms and ammunition found among the materiel that the Panel documented in Darfur.” China’s arms imports to Sudan are considered legal but any subsequent transfer of the munitions to Darfur would be violations of the UN embargo.

Nonetheless, Chinese munitions of recent manufacture were found not only among government units in Darfur, but even made their way into the hands of rebel forces. Among the Chinese companies cited in the report, China North Industries Corporation and China Xinshidai Company are described as makers of the type of ammunition – 7.62 x 54 mm rounds – that is said to be “omnipresent among Darfurian groups.”

ARMING THE CHADIAN REBELS

The Darfur-based Chadian rebels are directly tied to the National Intelligence and Security Services of Sudan (NISS) in terms of supplies, training, and command structure. After a period of fragmentation in 2008, the main coalition of Chadian opposition fighters formed under Timan Erdimi. The group (UFR) took shape during reunification talks in Khartoum that were finalized on December 15, 2008.

In an annex to the UN report is a scanned copy of a signed letter from Timan Erdimi addressed to the Sudanese Director of Security Services. The translated document states, “In my own name, and on behalf of all the combatants of our movement, I would like to express my deep respect and feelings of gratefulness for all the support you have provided us and the efforts you exerted to give us material and moral support in order to help our cause…”

The letter – which is dated April 15, 2009, within weeks of a failed motorized rebel assault into Chad – included a detailed request for equipment and weaponry. Erdimi asked that the Sudanese security service provide 2,000 vehicles, 12,000 SPG-9 rockets, 10,000 rocket-propelled grenades, 4,800 107 mm rockets, and other armaments.

According to the Experts Panel, Sudanese security personnel provided equipment to the Chadian opposition groups, escorted deliveries of vehicles to opposition bases in West Darfur, and attended training sessions. For its sources, the Panel drew on leaked documents, interviews and videos.

“Financing provided by the Government of the Sudan to Chadian armed opposition groups enables them to rent houses in El Geneina and in Khartoum, where their leadership has been observed spending months during reunification and alliance-building talks, and to work closely with the Sudanese security services,” stated the report. “Convalescent combatants are given housing in Khartoum and are eventually returned to their West Darfur bases in Government of the Sudan aircraft and vehicles.”

ARMING THE DARFUR REBELS

The panel found that Arabic-speaking nations, particularly the United Arab Emirates, were a main source of Toyota pick-up trucks converted into fighting vehicles (“technicals”) by rebel forces in Darfur. Official Toyota distributors in these countries, as well as Iran, France and Gibraltar, were identified as the source of some trucks used in the Darfur conflict. “Some of these vehicles were trans-shipped or brought by persons residing in the following States: Algeria, Egypt, Nigeria, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Tunisia,” said the experts.

The report emphasized the alleged role of dealers based in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) in shipping trucks to Chad that were ultimately used by the Justice and Equality Movement in its May 2008 raid on Omdurman. For example, the panel was able to view airline manifests that showed that 90 Toyota Land Cruisers were shipped from Fujairah airport in UAE to N’Djamena, the capital of Chad.

Al Aumdah Commercial, a Dubai-based exporter, was identified as having transferred some of the vehicles that were found in Omdurman after JEM’s raid.

The UN experts cited all of the major Darfur rebel groups for using “technicals” in violation of the arms embargo, including JEM, SLA/MM, SLA Unity, SLA/AW. But they specified that “the most prolific users of 4x4 vehicles in combat during the current mandated were JEM and Chadian armed opposition groups.”

(ST)

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Kind regards,

The Sudan Tribune editorial team.
  • 10 November 2009 11:27, by DASODIKO

    I don’t know if these experts were in Khartoum to see Toyota pick-up trucks loaded with weapons and armies in Khartoum. The same trucks are captured by the rebels from cowards soldiers of SAF like SPLM/A in war times. so do not blame Darfur freedom fighters but blame Russians and Chinese who supply Khartoum with jet fighters and pilotless aircrafts.

    repondre message

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