By Eric Reeves
UNAMID continues to prove powerless in the face of growing violence, with humanitarian access and capacity at greatly increased risk
March 20, 2013 - The relentless stream of news from Darfur makes clear that what is occurring is not an "uptick" in violence, as some would have it, but a massive increase in the threats to human security, including to the humanitarian personnel who continue to sustain the lives of so many Darfuris displaced into camps or living tenuously in rural areas. Nearly all these personnel are now Sudanese nationals, many highly skilled and deeply dedicated; but there is a clear lack of medical physicians, water and sanitation specialists, and those with expertise in the logistics of what is still a staggeringly large humanitarian operation.
And yet after ten years without an end to the violence, "donor fatigue" has set in at the very moment in which humanitarian needs are peaking. Oxfam declared on the tenth anniversary of the outbreak of violence in the region that "sources of funding—from individual supporters to major foundations—have turned their attention elsewhere. Our Sudan programs are in jeopardy at a time when the humanitarian needs are once again on the rise." Unmentioned here, for fear of creating a pretext for their expulsion, is the fact of Khartoum’s continuing, deliberate, and systematic obstruction of humanitarian relief efforts—and the tremendous cumulative toll this has taken on these efforts over many years.
Violence and the need for humanitarian assistance typically rise in tandem in Darfur, as elsewhere in the world. Massive new displacements—likely exceeding 150,000, including a new surge of refugees into eastern Chad—are the surest harbinger of this rising violence and increasing human need; accelerating displacement goes back many months, but has sharply escalated since January 2013. Just as disturbing, however, are reports of displaced persons camps actually under violent siege by Khartoum-allied militia forces, roads closed by these same militia forces and the paramilitary Abu Tira and Border Intelligence Guards, relentless aerial bombardment of civilian targets, extortion schemes with murder as a threat, the forced, often violent appropriation of African lands by Arab tribal groups, and a continuation of the most brutal use of rape as a weapon of war.
The connection between violence and humanitarian need is also emphasized in a March 12, 2013 dispatch from Radio Dabanga concerning Shangil Tobay, in North Darfur:
"The ’lack of medical services’ in two North Darfur camps is forcing its residents to travel to El Fasher amid the ’poor security situation’ on the roads, according to the displaced. The population of Shangil Tobay and Shadad, located in Shangil Tobay, said organizations responsible for the camps’ medical services left almost one year ago, which created the services’ disruption. Besides the poor security conditions between Shangil Tobay camp and El Fasher, the displaced noted that the traveling costs between both areas is ’unaffordable.’ One of the camps’ sheikhs told Radio Dabanga on Monday [March 11, 2013] about the prevalence of diarrhea and coughing among children and the ’suffering of the women in labor’ who cannot resort to health centers." (all emphases in quotes have been added—ER)
The Darfur Document for Peace in Darfur (DDPD, July 2011) continues to prove itself yet another worthless agreement signed by Khartoum, an assessment belatedly rendered by the top U.S. diplomat working on Darfur, outgoing Dane Smith. Even el-Tigani Seisi, coopted by Khartoum to be director of the Darfur Regional Authority, has been obliged to assume a posture of disingenuousness and groveling, implicitly acknowledging that he and his "Liberation and Justice Movement" have no real authority, no resources, and exceedingly little support from the meaningful rebel groups or Darfuri civil society. And yet still the international community continues to flog the DDPD as a viable solution to the Darfur crisis; the Obama administration has repeatedly indulged in this cynical diplomatic expediency, including in its most recent statement, marking the tenth anniversary of extreme violence in Darfur—what President Obama has previously described as genocide (U.S. Department of State press statement, February 26, 2013). The statement is cynically punctuated by "demands"—"demands" that work only to convince Khartoum that nothing is in fact really being demanded. The AU, UN, and EU are no better.
It is thus all the more remarkable that Dane Smith rendered such an accurate assessment on the occasion of his departure, here in an interview with Reuters:
"’My biggest disappointment, a year and a half after the signature of the Doha agreement, is that we have seen very limited implementation, particularly of those provisions that bring tangible benefits to the IDPs (internally displaced people) and refugees,’ he said. He pointed to the lack of money for a fund set up for reconstruction and development in Darfur, and the government’s lack of action to disarm militias as the treaty requires. Militias were ’more and more seemingly out of control,’particularly in North Darfur, Smith said, although other ’disturbing’ incidents had occurred in Nyala in South Darfur and Misterei in West Darfur this month. The Doha treaty suffered another blow last week when the Liberation and Justice Movement [el-Tigani Seise’s small and unrepresentative rebel group that is the sole signatory to the DDPD] accused the government of attacking its forces and spreading false reports about the assault. ’We have to say, quite honestly, that the rule of law is absent from Darfur,’ Smith added…. The government had shown ’very little interest’ in seriously investigating the crimes and bringing perpetrators to justice, he added." (Reuters [Khartoum], December 12, 2012)
At least in part because of such conspicuous failure to end the ten-year holocaust in Darfur, much attention has been devoted to the agreement between Khartoum and Juba over the resumption of oil transport from the South to Port Sudan on the Red Sea. And certainly there can be no denying the importance of oil export income for both countries. The African Union, after years of serial failure—presided over by former South African President Thabo Mbeki—is sounding triumphant, and has much company. This is in large measure because a separation of forces agreement was part of the "breakthrough" permitting the transit arrangement to be finalized. Of course this deal has long been offered to Khartoum by the Government of South Sudan; it was refused by the National Islamic Front/National Congress Party (NIF/NCP) regime, which demanded—preposterously—that for "security arrangements" to be completed on their terms, Juba would have to disarm the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement/Army-North. In fact, Khartoum was trying to create an excuse for or a distraction from its clear goal of completing a campaign of ethnic annihilation in the Nuba Mountains and Blue Nile. It was also hoping that South Sudan would quickly descend into chaos because of economic pressures.
The military defeats that Khartoum has regularly encountered over the past twenty-one months, most recently in Blue Nile, have long been the occasion for demands that Juba "stop supporting the SPLA-N." Notably, there is no evidence of such support, and Khartoum has never provided any, despite its repeated charges. This is because there is in fact no need for such military support: the SPLA-N is a very substantial, well-armed, and well-trained indigenous force that continues to grow rapidly, and has captured tremendous amounts of weaponry, ammunition, fuel, and other materiel.
Here again, the African Union mediation as led by Mbeki is failing badly and has lost virtually all trust of key interlocutors for the SPLM/A-North—just as he had lost the trust of all Dinka Ngok leaders in Abyei before Khartoum’s May 2011 military seizure of the contested region. Khartoum had—without real cost—unilaterally denied the January 2011 Abyei self-determination referendum promised in the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (January 2005)—another agreement dishonored. As a way of minimizing its current diplomatic failure, the AU—with ample support from the UN, EU, and U.S.—has also continuously demanded that Juba stop supporting the SPLA-N, as if such support had in fact been demonstrated and were a real obstacle to peace.
No matter that evidence of such support has never been supplied by Khartoum as it recurs constantly to this claim. All that has been established, with any certainty, is that some SPLA-N soldiers have been seen in the refugee camps along the border between Sudan and South Sudan, and that a Darfuri rebel battalion had temporary barracks near Rubkona some months back (a matter of considerable concern, to be sure, especially given the relative proximity to Yida refugee camp in the very northern part of Unity State). Speculation by the current UN Panel of Experts on Darfur would suggest vaguely that there may also be sanctuary for Darfuri rebels in the remote Timsaha area of Western Bahr el-Ghazal; but they have no first-hand knowledge of either location, and their report (February 2013) has been scathingly reviewed by those with first-hand knowledge of the situation on the ground in greater Sudan and Darfur in particular.
Indeed, despite its claims, the Panel spent very little time in the region compared with previous Panels. In fact, it’s not clear that this Panel has read the work of those who have previously reported: the current panel declares, for example, that the S8 rockets deployed by Khartoum to be a "new weapons system"; in fact, it has been reported by a previous Panel. There are many such errors and evidence that this most recent Panel has not done the appropriate desk research. Another example: despite the suggestion of the new report, all the documentation of acquisition and delivery of SU-25 fighter aircraft comes from the findings of a previous panel. Moreover, all confidential intelligence I have received suggests that this Panel has been created, and will continue to be created, with a powerfully constraining deference to Khartoum, Beijing, and Moscow. The prospective candidates for the new Panel are disturbing on various counts.
None of this is lost on Darfuris, or Sudanese more broadly; and their entirely reasonable conclusion is that the UN is unwilling to confront Khartoum, and will indulge in a hypocritical "moral equivalency" between the regime and the Government of South Sudan as necessary, as well as expediently understate Khartoum’s responsibility for violence in Darfur.
What are the deeper connections here to human security in Darfur? Khartoum is desperate to achieve two things in the near term:
 The oil transit deal helps Khartoum achieve its aim of reducing diplomatic and advocacy pressure over the regime’s relentless campaign of human destruction and starvation tactics in Blue Nile and the Nuba; Khartoum officials are on record publicly as saying that these regions would not be made "another Darfur."
With this declaration the regime is saying both that there will be no international humanitarian presence allowed, and that it will do all it can to prevent the kind of detailed reporting that marked the early years of the Darfur conflict. Signing an oil and security agreement with South Sudan takes much of the diplomatic pressure off—including over Darfur—since the AU, the UN, the EU, the U.S. and other international actors of consequence are tripping over themselves to praise the deal and claim a diplomatic victory in greater Sudan. There has been remarkably little said or reported about the Nuba and Blue Nile since the signing of the agreement, nor any commitment to end Khartoum’s savage humanitarian embargo on these regions.
The agreement on oil, Khartoum assumes, will also do much to ensure that international pressure does not build over its continuing "genocide by attrition" in Darfur. For not only are the Sudan Armed Forces (SAF) and its various allied militia and paramilitary forces over-stretched on multiple fronts, there is considerable evidence of declining morale among front-line troops. We are well into the dry season, during which many expected a major offensive by Khartoum; it may yet come, but the military evidence to date strongly suggests that rather than risk direct military confrontation in Blue Nile and South Kordofan, the SAF—wherever possible—will resort to stand-off military action, preeminently aerial targeting of civilians and civilian agricultural livelihoods (see my interview with Dr. Tom Catena, a surgeon working in the Nuba Mountains; March 9, 2013). In Darfur, this will mean allowing the present insecurity to create intolerable conditions for humanitarian aid organizations as well as a continuation of the seizure of African lands by Arab, typically nomadic militias (see below).
 The northern economy continues to deteriorate in very significant ways, bringing enormous pressure on the regime to halt galloping inflation and the various fiscal and financial crises brought on by an absence of significant foreign exchange reserves. Regime officials believe oil revenues offer a quick means of re-supplying those reserves.
The Sudanese pound has rallied slightly in the black market on news that there may soon be oil exports; but there are other indications that even with oil export resuming on the exceedingly optimistic time-frame being announced, economic problems are already well entrenched and no quick cash infusion will address them all, even partially. As Sudan Tribunereports (March 20, 2013), the NIF/NCP regime has run the country into the ground: "Sudan languished at the lower end of the latest Human Development Index (HDI) published recently by the United Nations, ranking 171 out of 187 countries included world-wide." This is reflected in the range of economic woes that confront Sudan as a whole:
- Inflation generally has increased to around 50 percent annually, with a higher rate for food; this is a potential source of accelerating civil unrest, already more evident than in any time in years; it is likely to continue to accelerate, with ever more damaging consequences for the economy as a whole. The various inflationary pressures that have already been loosed within the economy have yet to reach full potency.
- There is a "brain drain" that will badly hurt the Sudanese economy going forward; this is discussed in detail in a March 7, 2013 dispatch by Agence France-Presse:
"’The national economy is losing so much as a result of this migration,’ which has worsened in the past two or three years, said University of Khartoum economist Mohammad Aljack Ahmad, [speaking of the rising number of migrants in the higher education, health and technical sectors]. He said labour ministry figures might not even reflect the true extent of the movement, which is also driven by non-economic factors."
- Although not much reported, there are significant ripple effects from the economic distress at the center of the northern Sudanese economy. Remarkably, the federal Minister of Health, Bahr Idriss Abu Garda, revealed that "a survey conducted by the ministry in 13 states in Sudan indicates that around 13 million people suffer from food shortages and that a third of the Sudanese population is suffering from malnutrition" (Radio Dabanga, March 4, 2013). The failure, over many years, to provide adequate food for Sudan’s own people, even as it exports large quantities of sorghum and other foods, is a signal failure of the National Islamic Front/National Congress Party regime.
- Sometimes the relationship between a lack of domestic food production and an absence of foreign currency is quite direct. On March 12, 2013Sudan Tribune reported:
"Sudan’s largest flour company has been forced to cut its production by 50% because of foreign currency shortage, Sudan Tribunehas learned. Sayga Flour Mills, which is part of DAL Group, relies on Byblos Bank, Abu Dhabi National Bank and Saudi Sudanese Bank to provide Guarantee Letters for the purposes of importing wheat and other production items. Those banks informed Sayga that the Bank of Sudan did not inject the needed Forex supply in their accounts to issue new Guarantee Letters."
Radio Dabanga subsequently reported (March 14, 2013):
"Discontent has spread in Ed Daien town of [formerly South] Darfur State due to the lack of flour in the town’s markets for the second time within two weeks’ time. The shortage caused long queues to form at the bakeries. A number of citizens from Ed Daien said that the town had again witnessed a lack of flour in its markets and added that the price of bread exceeded 4 pounds this time. It was reported earlier this month that a flour company in Khartoum had cut production by 50% owing to a shortage of foreign exchange.
- Failure to invest in the agricultural sector of the country over many years has now returned to haunt the regime, as a recent report on the important "Gezira Project" makes clear:
"The governor of Sudan’s Gezira state al-Zubair Bashir Taha slammed a government law adopted in 2005, saying it has done nothing to improve productivity of the country’s largest agricultural scheme that contains one of the world’s biggest irrigation projects. There has long been a struggle between farmers and the government over ownership of the land as Khartoum wants to ensure it has control over the project in order to make it subject to its economic and agricultural policies.
"The Gezira governor, who addressed a committee tasked with evaluating the project, said that seven years after the law was enacted there has been no improvement in productivity which has led to increased unemployment and displacement of entire families due to the closure of textile mills and other factories that were benefiting from the project…. The Sudanese government has long pledged to bring about a turnaround in the project in order to make it the breadbasket of the country and beyond. But farmers say none of that has come to pass due to spiralling production costs which have eaten into their margins, with many were jailed over outstanding debt. Observers say that the eroding value of the Sudanese pound has also raised the cost of imports such as fertilisers and other materials." (Sudan Tribune, March 12, 2013)
- Middle East Business Intelligence, in highlighting the various weaknesses of the Sudanese economy, reports (February 28, 2013) that "soaring inflation is hurting a population of which almost half lives on less than $1 a day and which is suffering from 20 percent unemployment." As MEBI notes, the regime’s use of the printing presses to "create" more money may defer the full inflationary blow, but only defer it: even in the near term, of course, simply printing more money with no corresponding increased production in the economy is purely inflationary. Khartoum’s recent targeting of traders in the currency black market is a classic case of focusing on the symptom rather than the cause.
- The desperation of the regime is signaled by bizarre accusations of a UN conspiracy against Khartoum:
"The Sudanese government launched a fierce attack on the Food and Agricultural organization of the United Nations (FAO) accusing it of conspiring against the country. The Secretary General of the General Administration for Protection of Plantation Khidir Gibreel said at a meeting in Sudan’s North State that FAO is plagued with politics. He singled out FAO’s Executive Secretary of the Commission for Controlling the Desert Locust in the Central Region Mamoon Alalawi whom he said is leading the conspiracy. Gibreel said that Sudan will seek to have Alalawi removed from his post over his hostile stance against Sudan. He said that his position is backed by the federal agricultural minister and the president." (Sudan Tribune, March 11, 2013)
This is nothing more than foisting blame on the UN instead of accepting responsibility for inadequately preparing for what is a fairly regular occurrence in this region.
Accommodating Khartoum in Darfur
These two central concerns on the part of Khartoum form the broadest context in which to understand current violence in Darfur. Khartoum cannot prevail militarily, it has long been clear; how much of Darfur the rebels can control is unclear. But in fighting a counter-insurgency war Khartoum has always felt that civilian destruction was key, a means of demoralizing their opposition and denying them the food, shelter, and military intelligence from a broad civilian base of support. The methods have changed since the most violent years of the genocide—2003 through 2005—but the regime has continuously targeted civilians, and has made violent displacement a fact of life for millions of Darfuris.
The UN—particularly in the form of the UN/African Union ("hybrid") Mission in Darfur (UNAMID)—has consistently refused to accept these realities, defensively celebrating its "successes" even as security collapses. Most spectacularly self-celebratory was Nigerian UN careerist Ibrahim Gambari, former Joint Special Representative of the United Nations and African Union to Darfur (JSR), who declared at his September 2012 retirement party that he "was gratified to note that barely 31months on, all the objectives I set out to meet [in Darfur] have largely been met." Several months earlier, in an interview with Radio Dabanga (May 20, 2012), the spokesman for UNAMID, Christopher Cycmanick "described the security situation in Darfur as ’relatively calm.’" Gambari’s predecessor as UN/AU SJR, Rodolphe Adada of Congo, was similarly self-congratulatory on leaving his position in 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." The Nigerian UNAMID force commander Martin Agwai, also retiring in August 2009, declared similarly, "as of today, I would not say there is a war going on in Darfur," but rather "very low intensity" engagements. "What you have is security issues more now. Banditry, localised issues…."
In an eerie echo of Adada’s gross misrepresentation, current acting UN/AU JSR Aichatu Mindaoudou recently claimed that "although hostilities continue in some areas of Darfur due to tribal clashes, criminal elements and confrontation between armed movements and the government, the numbers of people affected by violence had decreased each year between 2008 and 2011" (Sudan Tribune, March 18, 2013). This is in fact sheer mendacity, continuing a long tradition of the African Union in its role as nominal head of UNAMID by virtue of the position of JSR. Such a claim can mean little more than that what UNAMID has been able to confirm statistically in the way of violent incidents and displacement has steadily declined, which in turn becomes evidence of a decline in violence generally. But as the UN Secretary General’s 2012 reports on Darfur and UNAMID reveal, these statistics are utterly absurd, far beyond the pale of the remotely credible.
Notably, in making her claim, Mindaoudou relies on a specious reduction in the number of displaced persons, a process that has taken many forms in arriving at a UN figure of "1.4 million," even as the last detailed UN Darfur Humanitarian Profile (January 2009) put the figure at 2.7 million (for an account of this statistical chicanery seehttp://www.sudanreeves.org/?p=2320). What Mindaoudou does not discuss is the overwhelming statistical evidence—nearly all of it coming from the UN or INGOs—that well over 1 million people have been newly displaced since UNAMID took up its mandate on January 1, 2008. This was true even before the recent large-scale displacements of over 150,000 civilians by mid-March of this year (for the mid-February UN estimate, see Reuters|Alert, February 13, 2013). Such data cannot possibly be made to square with an overall reduction of 1.3 million IDPs.
Realities that Mindaoudou must ignore in her assessment
But the situation on the ground in Darfur has long been reported consistently, by various independent sources, and I have assembled these detailed accounts of violence and civilian destruction for many years. Below are links to a number of reports from just the past three years which make clear just how dramatically Mindaoudou has misrepresented UNAMID’s achievement, indeed its abject failure:
- A detailed recording of confirmed aerial attacks that includes the period of which Mindaoudou speaks—attacks she does not mention ("They Bombed Everything That Moved: Aerial military attacks on civilians and humanitarians in Sudan, 1999 – 2011")
http://www.sudanbombing.org. There have been more than 400 confirmed aerial attacks on civilian targets since UNAMID formally took up its mandate on January 1, 2008.
- An overview of the continuing epidemic of rape in Darfur, which Mindaoudou again chooses not to mention (no doubt because UNAMID’s reporting on this brutal weapon of war is so vacuously thin): "Rape as a Continuing Weapon on War in Darfur: Reports, bibliography of studies, a compendium of incidents," March 4, 2012 http://www.sudanreeves.org/?p=2884
- "Violence in Hashaba, North Darfur: A brutal portent, another UN disgrace," October 30, 2012 http://www.sudanreeves.org/?p=3525
- "Darfur: The Genocide the World Got Tired of," November 24, 2011 http://www.sudanreeves.org/?p=2712
- "Darfur: No Way Forward from a Dangerous and Unsustainable Situation," August 30, 2011 http://www.sudanreeves.org/?p=2584
- "Amidst Accelerating Darfur Violence: Human Rights Reporting by Darfuris," March 24, 2011 http://www.sudanreeves.org/?p=2317
- "Darfur: ’De-Emphasized,’ ’De-Coupled,’ and Finally Denied," February 15, 2011 http://www.sudanreeves.org/?p=2305
- QUANTIFYING GENOCIDE: Darfur Mortality Update, August 6, 2010 What we learn from the new report by “Darfurian Voices” (July 14, 2010)http://www.sudanreeves.org/?p=2269
- "Humanitarian Conditions in Darfur: An Overview" (Part 1), June 19, 2010 http://www.sudanreeves.org/?p=2264
- "Civilians at Risk: Human Security and Humanitarian Aid in Darfur," January 17, 2010 http://www.sudanreeves.org/?p=2254
- Needless to say, Mindaoudou has nothing to say about the March 2009 expulsion of 13 international humanitarian organizations (seehttp://www.sudanreeves.org/?p=2242), or about the steady withdrawal of organizations and expatriate personnel subsequently—or the intolerable risk that many face, or the exclusion of humanitarians from many areas of Darfur. For of course none of this squares with her claim that "the numbers of people affected by violence had decreased each year between 2008 and 2011." This claim in turn is the basis for a disingenuous decision by the UN Department of Peacekeeping Operations to draw down UNAMID because of "improved conditions on the ground."
Out of such lies genocides are sustained.
Further consequences for Darfur deriving from Khartoum’s economic woes
Moreover, in its desperation for foreign exchange currency, the regime has precipitously thrown its support behind gold mining as a national industry and in the process has attempted to control mining, acquisition, and export. In Darfur this has had disastrous results in the Jebel Amer region, part of the Beni Hussein homeland (the Beni Hussein are an Arab tribe that has largely attempted to stay out of the conflict in Darfur). But Khartoum has supported the Northern Rizeigat, another Arab group, from which the regime drew so many of itsJanjaweed recruits, most notoriously those of Musa Hilal’s Um Jalul subsection of the Mahamid section of the Northern Rizeigat (often referred to simply asAballa by Radio Dabanga and others, or "camel herders"). It was Hilal who set the tone for the Darfur genocide:
"The ultimate objective in Darfur is spelled out in an August 2004 directive from [Janjaweed paramount leader Musa] Hilal’s headquarters: ’change the demography of Darfur and empty it of African tribes.’ Confirming the control of [Khartoum’s] Military Intelligence over the Darfur file, the directive is addressed to no fewer than three intelligence services—the Intelligence and Security Department, Military Intelligence and National Security, and the ultra-secret “Constructive Security,” or Amn al Ijabi." (Julie Flint and Alex de Waal, Darfur: A Short History of a Long War [Zed Books, 2005]).
Khartoum has armed and clearly supports the Rizeigat, and the violent confrontation between Beni Hussein and Rizeigat forces over the artisanal rights at Jebel Amer has been the most recent source of displacement, with many tens of thousands of Arab and African civilians fleeing in all directions but primarily south and west. More than 500 are reported to have been killed. This desperation for gold is another reflex of the self-imposed economic destructiveness of NIF/NCP policies. Separately, fighting in the Jebel Marra between Khartoum’s forces and the Sudan Liberation Army/Abdel Wahid el-Nur has also displaced tens of thousands. It is not clear whether the UN figure of 130,000 displaced (February 22, 2013) includes any of the more recent displacements, or those who have fled to eastern Chad (the UN High Commission for Refugeesestimates this figure to be 12,500).
Totals so far promulgated certainly do not include what Radio Dabanga reports (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" (http://www.radiodabanga.org/node/44938). Eight villages were burned, adding to a figure that over the past ten years has grown into the thousands—villages with names, not mere abstract statistics: Tabaldia, along with Abga Radji, Hashaba, Makarin, Um Sayala, Humedah, Sonnut, and Hillet Saleh. The sheikh from Tabaldia uttered an all too common refrain: "UNAMID [must] to do its work and do not stand on the sidelines of what is happening to civilians." Moreover, Radio Dabanga also reports a much higher estimate of the number of displaced in the Jebel Marra region than the January UN figure of 30,000:
"A Nertiti camps activist disclosed on Tuesday [February 26, 2013] that between 23,000 and 25,000 families [well 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 dayfrom 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, February 26, 2013)
The condition of the displaced is often terrible, and they are left terribly vulnerable whenever they cease their flight:
"Sixty-three families from regions affected by the new wave of tribal clashes in North Darfur have recently arrived in camp Hamidiya near Zalingei, in Central Darfur. They come mostly from Umm Jurua, Bela Frash, Kala and Birka Saira, according to a camps coordinator. Speaking to Radio Dabanga the coordinator noted that UN OCHA representatives visited the camp on Sunday and assessed the conditions of the newly displaced, which he described as ’very bad.’ As it appears, these families left all of their possessions behind and are enduring the hot sun without any shelter or other services." (Radio Dabanga [Zalingei], February 25, 2013)
In South Darfur the story is much the same:
"An estimated number of 1,500 displaced families [perhaps 7,500 civilians] arrived at Kalma camp in South Darfur on Saturday and Sunday from the areas of Humiyda, Gereiga, Abag Rajel, Umm Khouja, Hillat Haj Suleiman and Dreeb al Reeh. One of the newly displaced told Radio Dabanga that they fled their villages after clashes took place last week between armed forces and the Sudan Revolutionary Front, in addition to an air strike and extensive looting and plundering of residents’ livestock and properties by alleged pro-government militiamen. He added that two men arrived at the camp with nothing but the clothes they were wearing."
There are other sources of displacement and clearly many camps for those already displaced are on the verge of collapse. Much of this is clearly by design on Khartoum’s part, which has long sought to compel the return of displaced persons without regard to their security. This is dramatically in evidence in the recent replacement of regular SAF troops with the notorious Abu Tira (Central Reserve Police):
"The Sudanese army withdrew from Fata Borno camp on Saturday after a presence of nearly six months. The armed forces moved to the city of Kutum and were replaced by the Central Reserve Forces, known as Abu Tira. Residents from the area also describe these forces as ’pro-government militias.’ Sources from Fata Borno in the locality of Kutum, North Darfur, told Radio Dabanga that upon their arrival to the camp, Abu Tira troops opened fire, which sparked fear and panic among the displaced and prompted them to flee towards neighboring valleys. They revealed that the Abu Tira troops arrived on horses, camels and in Land Cruiser vehicles at about 7:00 pm on Saturday and looted cattle from the displaced." (Radio Dabanga [FATA BORNO], 18 March 2013)
This is the same general region in which pro-regime militias are reported by Radio Dabanga to have "been preventing traffic on the road connecting the state’s capital to a displaced camp for the past three days. People traveling by foot, on vehicles or on animal carts are afraid of being assaulted by the gunmen based near El Salam camp." Life in the camps is deliberately being made intolerable:
"Militias stationed in South Darfur have been preventing traffic on the road connecting the state’s capital to a displaced camp for the past three days. People traveling by foot, on vehicles or on animal carts are afraid of being assaulted by the gunmen based near El Salam camp…. On Wednesday [March 13, 2013], sources declared the militia had closed off El Salam’s gates and had been carrying out a ’raid campaign’ against pedestrians for the last three days. They reportedly looted ’large amounts of money.’ Shops have been closed since the assaults began and the random gunfire in the air by militias led people to hide in their homes in fear, a displaced told Radio Dabanga. Also on Wednesday the militants invaded El Salam’s Quran Learning Center (Khalawi) and beat the students, the teacher Abakar Arbab told Radio Dabanga." (Radio Dabanga, March 13, 2013)
The previous day, from the same location, Radio Dabanga reported:
"A 25-vehicle pro-government militia convoy stationed near a South Darfur town has been inciting panic among citizens across the area since last weekend, multiple sources in Bielel locality say. The outskirts of the Kashalingo mountain area, about 20 meters from the displaced camp Al Salam, the representative of the local Youth Union Ahmed Hassan Mohamed Bakhit told Radio Dabanga on Tuesday. He added the militias are inciting ’fear and terror’ among local residents and urged the UN and UNAMID to remove them from the area. Sources said the same faction entered the Al Salam camp on Sunday at 11:00am and after shopping at the local market, they began firing random shots in the air. This led to the closure of many shops, and frightened residents ran to their homes. Two days before, upon returning from Nyala, the militias carried out assaults on the surrounding villages of Kashalingo, a source asserted. The communities of Bulbula, Abu Garaji, Tebeldina and Kashalingo were targeted, ’prompting its residents to flee the terrorism and indiscriminate gunfire’ by the militants."
Ms. Mindaoudou’s claim that security in Darfur is "improving" will seem the cruelest of jokes to these people.
Yet another strategy for compelling the removal of displaced persons from the camps is in evidence in West Darfur:
"Following the ’removal’ of foreign aid agencies from camps in El Geneina, West Darfur’s capital, displaced are complaining about a severe shortage of drinking water and worsening medical services. A leader of one of the camps who Radio Dabanga spoke to said the displaced are facing difficulties obtaining water and medicines after the organizations’ departure and the ’inability of the government’ in bridging the gap that was left as a result." (Radio Dabanga [el-Geneina], March 8, 2013)
The intention to clear the camps forcibly of displaced persons was captured as well in the following March 8 dispatch:
"Sources informed Radio Dabanga that the Sudanese government halted the work of half of the NGOs working at the ten camps of El Geneina on 1 January 2013. However, they emphasized, the organizations had not been expelled from the camps. They were rather ordered to hand over their resources to the displaced and government agencies and focus their programs on voluntary return villages."(Radio Dabanga [el-Geneina], March 8, 2013)
The tactics of forced displacement are spreading and evolving rapidly. From North Darfur Radio Dabanga reports that:
"Displaced persons from a North Darfur camp were ’panicked’ as a result of fierce shootings in the air by pro-government militias that lasted a whole night between Thursday and Friday…. [F]iring began at 10:00pm on Thursday and lasted until early hours on Friday, sources told Radio Dabanga." (DANKOJ, March 8, 2013)
From Hamidiya camp in West Darfur there is a frighteningly similar report:
"Heavy shooting in Hamidiya camp, Zalingei locality in [formerly West] Darfur has caused widespread panic and fear among the displaced. It was reported that unidentified gunmen opened fire inside the camp early Wednesday morning." (Radio Dabanga[HAMIDIYA CAMP], 21 February 2013)
But it is not merely the camps that are under assault; larger towns have also been subject to the brutal predations of Khartoum’s militia forces, operating with complete impunity:
"Citizens from Garsila, Wadi Saleh locality in [formerly West] Darfur have complained about ongoing attacks by pro-government militants in the streets and looting of shops. A number of citizens informed Radio Dabanga that the region has experienced a series of attacks over the last two days…. [A] commercial vehicle on its way from Garsila to Umm Dukhun was attacked and the militants seized an amount of 10 million SDG from the passengers. The citizens also complained about random shooting at nighttime by the militants." (Radio Dabanga [GARSILA], 20 February 2013)
Also alarming is a Radio Dabanga report of March 14, 2013, signaling among other things the utter impotence of UNAMID in the face of the most conspicuous violence against civilians, even when that violence is very close. Civilians in the Tawila area of North Darfur recently told Radio Dabanga (February 19, 2013) that a small, newly deployed UNAMID battalion as "useless" and went so far as to question the very motives of this deployment.
But most ominously, the Radio Dabanga report of March 14 also suggests that regime-backed militia and the paramilitary Border Intelligence Guards are working together, harkening back to the military cooperation evident in the earlier years of the genocide (the "Border Intelligence Guards"—referred to here simply as "border guards"—are largely re-cycled Janjaweed):
"In the fourth day of assaults at a South Darfur camp, militias have reportedly received the back-up of 500 border guards on Thursday…. The displaced camp of El Salam, home to some 65,000 displaced, has been under attack by militias who arrived in the neighborhood in 25 vehicles in the beginning of the week. Residents of nearby villages also claimed to be ’terrorized’ by the militants.
"[Adam Saleh] Abkar said the rebels killed and injured a number of Sudanese soldiers and seized their weapons and military equipment…and the ’defeated’ SAF-soldiers fled towards Bielel city. Also on Thursday the SLM-MM claims to have clashed with another government convoy coming from Manawashi, north of Nyala, that was heading towards an area ’controlled’ by the rebels near El Salam camp.
"Meanwhile, displaced of El Salam camp told Radio Dabanga that 500 border guards stormed the site at 10:00am on Thursday ’to support’ the pro-government militia convoy that has been stationed in the area. They were wearing military uniforms and riding horses and camels, sources said. According to the displaced, insurgents beat camp’s residents, especially women, with sticks, whips and rifle butts. In addition, homes and properties were looted. Witnesses told Radio Dabanga that border guards have completely surrounded the camp and have also blocked the road between Nyala and El Salam. They claim to be living in fear due to the threat of imminent ’violent’ attacks by the militias. Kashalango and Umm Shagag, villages located near the El Salam camp, were also plundered by militias, sources said, noting they carried out ’a widespread raiding campaign’ in the area looting cattle and shops. Witnesses said these attacks led to a large displacement of inhabitants from these communities to El Salam.
"The Commissioner of Bielel locality Yaqub Mursal Tagal confirmed receiving reports that indicate the displaced of El Salam are being attacked and looted by ’armed groups.’" (Radio Dabanga [Nyala], March 14, 2013)
In South Darfur displaced persons at the large Mershing camp face the challenges of both inadequate medical care and continual harassment by regime-allied militia:
"IDPs from Mershing camp in South Darfur have complained about the spread of fevers, accompanied by coughing and diarrhea. [They also] complained about their exposure to attacks by pro-government militias when they leave the camp to collect firewood and hay. A sheikh from the camp told Radio Dabanga that a wave of fever accompanied by headache and coughing has been spreading in the camp over the past few days…. [C]amp residents complained about their exposure to repeated attacks by pro-government militias when they leave the camp to collect firewood and hay. The displaced explained that the militants threaten to kill them, claiming the lands belong to the herdsmen and are used for grazing of their livestock. (Radio Dabanga [Mershing, South Darfur], February 20, 2013)
Attacks on the camps are often little more than large-scale banditry, again perpetrated with complete impunity and no evidence of action by UNAMID:
"A committee formed by displaced persons from camps Kendebe and Bir Dagig in Sirba locality, West Darfur, announced attacks by Abbala militias left them with ’millions’ in damages. One of the committee members told Radio Dabanga Kendebe lost 1,623 goats, 812 sheep, eight cows, 31 horses, 24 donkeys, five horse-drawn carts, 1,318 blankets, thousands of household plates…." (Radio Dabanga [WEST DARFUR], 21 February 2013)
How fully el-Tigani Seisi—the only signatory to the Doha Document for Peace in Darfur—has been corrupted in his factitious role as "representative" of Darfuris in the Darfur Regional Authority is reflected in his statement to Agence France-Presse (February 2013): "security has improved a lot" across the [Darfur] region" (Agence France-Presse, March 16, 2013). His unwillingness to accept what is being reported by Radio Dabanga, an extraordinary Darfuri news network, completes his move to the "dark side."
A compendium of further violence
There is too much else that is reported by Radio Dabanga to record here, but a very partial compendium of their most recent reports would include the following:
- RAPE AND SEXUAL VIOLENCE
All these viciously assaulted women and girls deserve more than such brief accounting as offered here; sadly, it is more than either UNAMID or the UN Secretariat is prepared to offer:
February 21, 2013: "An armed group raped two women in Kass, South Darfur, on Tuesday. Four gunmen stormed the home of the victims and took the women at gunpoint, a witness told Radio Dabanga. It was added that the women were taken to an unknown destination and were released on Wednesday morning after being raped alternately. The witness explained that a number of young men attempted to rescue the two victims, but the gunmen opened fire and wounded one of them."
February 22, 2013: "A displaced girl aged 13 was raped by militias armed by the government near camp Riyadh, West Darfur, on Wednesday amid a ’worsening security situation in the area,’ sources report. Witnesses speaking to Radio Dabanga said two young girls were collecting firewood two kilometers north of the camp when insurgents captured them, noting one of them managed to escape. The abused victim was taken to a hospital in El-Geneina for treatment and sources confirmed the police was informed about the incident. Displaced persons say the security situation is deteriorating in the area and disclosed that some 300 families arrived this week at camp Riyadh."
March 6, 2013: "There were attacks by pro-government militias in Birkat Seira, Saraf Omra locality, North Darfur, on Tuesday. Militias invaded the home of Kaltoum Adam Ibrahim beating her whips and rifle butts, a source was quoted as saying to Radio Dabanga. Ibrahim was transferred to a hospital and has been in a coma since. In a second attack, gunmen opened fire on Bahr Idriss and Adam Mohamed, who were critically injured…."
March 4, 2013: "Pro-government militias ambushed a group of six women in Fulu, two kilometers northwest of Kassab camp in Kutum locality, North Darfur, in an attempt to rape them. However, five of them managed to escape and the sixth was reportedly raped in turns by the group of perpetrators. An activist speaking to Radio Dabanga said the victim was not released by the militiamen until late night on Sunday. He noted the suspects were riding horses and camels."
March 4, 2013: "A displaced woman living in camp Kendebe in Sirba locality, West Darfur, was critically injured after pro-government militias tried raping her inside her home on Sunday evening, a source affirms. On the same day a fire reportedly burned eight homes in the camp. Gunmen invaded the home of Maria Mahmoud before beating and stabbing her several times on her chest and thighs."
March 14, 2013: "Abbala [here meaning the Arab Northern Rizeigat] insurgents abducted a displaced woman on Monday in North Darfur and ’repeatedly’ raped [her] during the three consecutive days she was held captive, according to a relative. The victim is currently under treatment at a hospital in Saraf Omra. Two militants on camels and one riding a horse, kidnapped the displaced at gunpoint when she was collecting wood to build homes near the Jebel Shamal camp. The site was established after the eruption of tribal clashes between Abbala and Beni Hussein over control of the Jebel ‘Amer gold mine in North Darfur last January."
The UN Secretary General and UNAMID continue to downplay the significance of sexual violence (it was not even mentioned in two of Ban Ki-moon’s reports in 2012). The deference to Khartoum is unmistakable.
- WITHDRAWAL OF HUMANITARIAN ORGANIZATIONS
March 6, 2013: "An American health organization working at one of Darfur’s largest displaced camps left the site at the beginning of March ’leaving a gap’ in the treatment of its population. Zam Zam camp’s activist said the medical center ran by the organization since 2009 received between 300 and 350 patients per day and offered treatment and medicines free of charge. The organization ’suddenly announced the end of its activities and left the camp on 1 March,’ he was quoted as saying to Radio Dabanga, adding there are only three health agencies left in Zam Zam." [Zam Zam is one of the very largest and most desperately needy of the camps for displaced persons in Darfur; it has repeatedly had to absorb large populations of newly displaced persons.]
February 27, 2013: "A health survey carried out by an international organization n North Darfur indicated that more than 30 percent of the children in Almaha locality are suffering from malnutrition while others are infected with the Kala-azar disease. [The emergency threshold for Global Acute Malnutrition among children under five is 15 percent—ER] A source informed Radio Dabanga on Wednesday that the Almaha hospital receives at least five malnourished children aged between six months and six years old every week. Last month, it received 150 children and last year 949 children were admitted at the hospital with the same symptoms. Themain causes of malnutrition are lack of maternity and primary health care along with poor awareness and early warning. The most affected areas are Almaha town, Jebel Isa, Alhara, Ain Basarou, Kundra and Batran."
February 15, 2013: "A displaced man was shot on his leg when members of the Central Reserve Forces (known as Abu Tira) invaded his shop in camp Dreige, South Darfur, on Sunday night. Meanwhile, two foreign aid organizations working at the site announced their imminent departure."
March 4, 2013: Out of order water stations for the last three consecutive days in [formerly South] Darfur’s Assalaya locality are ’threatening the lives’ of local residents, especially of women, children, elderly and the sick, a source says. Mohammed Muslim, who lives in one of the affected areas, informed Radio Dabanga the machine of a water station had already stopped working seven days ago. However, he continued, it was repaired before breaking again shortly after. Gargar, Attared and Angabo villages in Kilaikil Abuslama unit of Assalaya locality are the ones experiencing lack of water…. Besides water shortage, the area is also facing a ’total absence’ of development and of health and security services increasing the citizens’ ’daily suffering,’ Muslim said."
January 10, 2013: Even the expediently understated report of Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon (January 10, 2013)—relying as it does on UNAMID’s self-serving and wildly incomplete statistical data—is compelled to acknowledge the withdrawal of more humanitarian organizations:
"The delivery of humanitarian assistance wasconstrained by the Humanitarian Aid Commission, which deregistered and stopped the operations of six national non-governmental organizations working in Southern Darfur, including the Sudan Council of Churches, Al-Manal Charity Organization, the Strategic Initiative for Women in the Horn of Africa, Fatima Al-Zahra’a for Child Care, Al-Malam Keila and Al-Ban in October 2012. The Sudan Council of Churches was accused of having a religious mandate, not a humanitarian one, while a variety of other allegations including misappropriation of donor funds and corruption were cited against the other organizations. This deregistration of local non-governmental organizations disrupted educational, health and food-security activities for an estimated 30,000 beneficiaries." (§41)
And again, there is the larger problem highlighted very recently by Oxfam: "sources of funding—from individual supporters to major foundations—have turned their attention elsewhere. Our Sudan programs are in jeopardy at a time when the humanitarian needs are once again on the rise."
- ROAD CLOSURES AND ATTACKS
"Three people were injured when alleged pro-government militants opened fire on a commercial vehicle on its way from [Labado] to [Mershing] in the area of Dara, at about 15 kilometers north of Labado in [formerly South] Darfur. An eyewitness told Radio Dabanga that about seven militants opened fire on the vehicle in the area of Dara. The witness revealed that the attack left three people injured and added that the militants looted money, mobile phones and other belongings from the passengers. He stated that two of the wounded victims were taken to a hospital in Nyala for treatment."
"In North Darfur, pro-government militants attacked gold miners on Friday in the area of Turku, northeast of Al Maliha in addition to looting three commercial vehicles. Speaking to Radio Dabanga, an eyewitness said that the pro-government militants in Land Cruiser vehicles, mounted with Dushka machineguns, attacked the gold miners in the area of Turku northeast of Al Maliha on Friday in addition to looting the belongings, money and mobile phones of passengers and the drivers of three commercial vehicles."
"A commercial vehicle was hijacked and its occupants were tied and beaten by the four pro-government militias who reportedly carried out the attack near Bir Dageeg in Sirba locality, West Darfur, on Sunday. One of the victims recounted to Radio Dabanga the four militants took the Land Cruiser vehicle and its passengers to an area called Wadi Ardeba, where the occupants were tied up, beaten and stripped of all of their belongings. (February 22, 2013)
There has been a significant increase in the number of aerial attacks on civilians, including the beleaguered people of the Jebel Marra regions (for an historical overview of aerial assaults on civilians in Darfur from the beginning of the conflict, seewww.sudanbombing.org). One especially disturbing report demands thorough and timely investigation, given the clear possibility that chemical weapons are being used in aerial attacks:
"According to reports from the region of Gorolonbay, three women gave birth to deformed babies last week in the area of Kinga, east Gorolonbay in South Jebel Marra. Sources informed Radio Dabanga that Dar El Salam Yahya Adam, Fatima Suleiman Salih and Nur el-Yigin Mustafa Mohamed gave birth to ’deformed babies’ last week. The sources explained that these deliveries took place three days after seven women gave birth to children without eyes. Residents from the area appealed to doctors and international organizations to access the area in order to examine the cases and determine if the causes are linked to the bombardments. They pointed out that the area has not witnessed any such cases ’throughout history.’" (Gorolobay, March 11, 2013; see also extended dispatch on this issue from March 4,http://www.radiodabanga.org/node/44156)
Bombings also continue to terrorize civilians in other parts of Darfur:
"Kheder Mohamed Ali, spokesman of the refugee and displaced association of South Darfur, confirmed the occurrence of fierce battles between rebels and government troops south of Nyala and in the Kashalango area. He also confirmed that [fleeing] militias killed three displaced of El Salam and injured another three, providing Radio Dabanga the same names other sources have, as stated above. Residents of Nyala, Ali continued, claim to hear sounds of gunshots and bombings alike from nearby displaced camps. The road between El Salam and Nyala remains closed and the situation at the camp is ’very bad’ as a result of the presence of militias in the site, he said. Ali fears the recent events may lead to a new wave of displacement from the El Salam camp and questioned where the displaced would go…." (Nyala, March 15, 2013)
Other bombing attacks:
February 19, 2013: "The death toll as a result of the air strike in South Jebel Marra on Sunday climbed to five. Reports from the region state that the bodies of two children, aged five and seven, were found on Monday in the area of Gorolombay. A witness revealed to Radio Dabanga that the area of South Jebel Marra was exposed to ’heavy bombing’ on Sunday by the Sudanese Air Forces (SAF). Besides, the witness continued, government planes flying over the area from Monday morning eight o’clock until three o’clock in the afternoon, without dropping any bombs. He added that among the affected areas are Yama, Nabagay, Hillat Jallaba, Hillat Touro and Gorolombay. The witness explained that the ’heavy bombing’ resulted in the death of two children, aged five and seven, as well as the death of dozens of livestock."
February 21, 2013: "Three people were killed and at least 15 were injured after an Antonov aircraft shelled a weekly market in Ungdeito, near Nyala in South Darfur on Thursday. Eyewitnesses speaking to Radio Dabanga said this market, located about 15km south of Nyala, attracts villagers from the whole area. They said the injured were taken to a hospital in South Darfur’s capital and urged the government to stop bombing civilian areas like markets and villages."
March 8, 2013: "The Sudanese air force has reportedly shelled the East Jebel Marra region in North Darfur killing several livestock on Thursday and inciting ’fear and terror among civilians,’ according to reports [from local residents]."
March 11, 2013: "The Sudanese Air Forces ’heavily bombarded’ a number of areas and villages in the locality of Al Malaha, North Darfur on Friday and Saturday. According to reports, the bombardments have caused citizens to flee from their villages and destroyed a number of homes as well as killing dozens of livestock."
None of these bombings of civilian targets—all from the past month—has been reported by UNAMID.
- EXTORTION, MURDER, ASSAULTS, TORTURE ARE COMMONPLACE
Examples such as this could be rehearsed endlessly:
"The remaining seven people held hostage by a pro-government militia in West Darfur were released today in ’deplorable state.’ Their bodies were ’swollen’ because of the torture they were subjected to while in captivity. On Wednesday, militants kidnapped nine people in the Murnei camp probably to get revenge for the death of one of their comrades, found dead south of the site on Tuesday. They displaced vehemently denied the claims, ’especially as the man was found kilometers away from the camp.’ Following the local commissioner’s negotiation, the displaced agreed to pay a ransom and two of the hostages were freed in advance [because] the displaced who feared militias would burn down their homes otherwise, Sheikh Khasam Abkar Khamis told Radio Dabanga. He noted the militias had already carried out assaults at the camp on Monday. ’When the militants arrived at the camp, they did not give us any time, not even to investigate together who killed their colleague. They just came, surrounded the camp and started looting,’ the sheikh noted. Khamis said that what happened in Murnei is ’unacceptable’ and demanded that the UN and UNAMID provide them full protection."
Even the police are not safe from the militias; there could hardly be a more dramatic example of the impunity Khartoum has granted these militia forces, directly and indirectly:
"Pro-government militias attacked on Saturday the police station in Gereida locality, South Darfur, killing two police officers and injuring another. Besides, a police car mounted with a Dushka machine gun was looted as well as all the arms and ammunition stored in the police station. Sources informed Radio Dabanga that armed militants in two Land Cruiser vehicles and on horses attacked the police station around sunset from four different sides. The sources revealed that the attack resulted in the death of the chief of police, Mohy el-Deen, as well as sergeant Zakaria Ahmed Zakaria and the injuring of another officer. It was added that a police car mounted with a Dushka machine gun was looted as well as all the weapons and ammunition stored at the station." (March 11, 2013)
"Pro-government militias surrounded Kabkabiya’s police headquarters in North Darfur demanding the release of three of their aides reportedly detained after trying to steal the cart of a civilian at the town’s market." (March 1, 2013)
"Impunity" continues to be the order of the day for those supporting the Khartoum regime (from Radio Dabanga):
"Security authorities reportedly arrested and beat a number of displaced persons from Garsila camp, Wadi Saleh locality in [formerly West] Darfur. A source from the camp told Radio Dabanga that two armed officers, allegedly named Saddam and Ahmed, stormed Ardeeba camp in Garsila on Saturday evening and arrested and beat ’whomever they came across.’" (March 4, 2013)
"A vehicle carrying the administrative officer of Mershing locality, South Darfur, along with his driver and bodyguard was attacked by pro-government militias who opened fire on it at the Bulbul Abu Jazo Bridge at the Al-Gardud-Kass road on Saturday. The driver and bodyguards were seriously injured and were transferred to the Nyala Teaching hospital, witnesses told Radio Dabanga." (March 4, 2013)
"A baker from the city of Kutum in North Darfur was looted inside his own home located at the town’s Jebel neighborhood by members of the Central Reserve Forces, known as Abu Tira, on Monday night. Upon arriving in Jebel, the Abu Tira began firing shots in the air scaring the other residents, a friend of the baker Saddiq told Radio Dabanga." (February 26, 2013)
"An alleged pro-government militia shot dead a displaced man a few kilometers north from the South Darfur Manawashi camp where he lives, a source claims. The attack happened on Sunday when Mohamed Abdullah Musa was returning home from an area called Amarjadeed, just 10 kilometers north of the Manawashi camp." (March 11, 2013)
And in an ominous development, members of el-Tigani Seise’s "Liberation and Justice Movement"—sole signatory, with Khartoum, to the Doha Document for Peace in Darfur—appear to be increasingly at odds with Khartoum’s forces, whatever the terms of the DDPD:
"Members of the Liberation and Justice Movement (LJM) that signed the Doha peace agreement with the government of Sudan in 2011 clashed with pro-government militias at a Kabkabiya livestock market in North Darfur. Sources speaking to Radio Dabanga said tensions between both sides originated on Tuesday at the market when LJM elements tried stopping four militiamen from stealing the cart of the citizen Khatir Ramadan, who had his leg shot and broken." (February 27, 2013)
- RESUMED FIGHTING BETWEEN BENI HUSSEIN AND RIZEIGAT
An immediate and dangerous threat to civilians in the general region of Jebel Amer (location of the much contested gold mine lying in Beni Hussein Locality) is the resumption of fighting between the Northern Rizeigat and the Beni Hussein (see above). Despite a January cease-fire, Reuters reports that the fighting continues:
"New fighting erupted between Arab tribes in Sudan’s troubled Darfur region, tribal leaders said on Saturday, threatening to displace more people after clashes last month killed more than 100 and forced around 130,000 to flee. Law and order has collapsed in swathes of the arid western region since mainly non-Arab tribes revolted against the Arab government in Khartoum in 2003, accusing it of neglect. Violence has ebbed since 2004 but picked up again in recent months. Arab tribes, armed by the government to help quell the Darfur insurgency, have turned their guns on each other in battles for control of a gold mine and other resources, while banditry has spread across the vast region.
"Fighting broke out in January between the Bani Hussein and Rizeigat tribes over the mine in Jebel Amer in North Darfur, displacing 100,000 people, according to the United Nations. Clashes between the army and a rebel group in central Darfur forced another 30,000 to flee. On Saturday, a Bani Hussein leader said Rizeigat fighters attacked El Sireaf in North Darfur from three fronts, killing 53 people and wounding 83. Fighting had started on Thursday, breaking a ceasefire mediated by tribal leaders in January." (Reuters [Khartoum], February 23, 2013)
Two major rebel groups in Darfur (JEM and SLA-Minni Minawi) claim that a large Chadian military force moved 150 kilometers into Darfur. If this proves true, it will hardly be surprising. Rapprochement between Khartoum and N’Djamena has grown since the days of military tension earlier in the Darfur conflict. Indeed, the regime’s propaganda organ "Daily Vision" has recently made clear the mutual admiration of these two brutal tyrannies (http://news.sudanvisiondaily.com/details.html?rsnpid=220601 ).
But this military development would be particularly troubling in light of the large new movement of Darfuri refugees into eastern Chad, victims of Khartoum’s war of attrition against civilians. There has been no investigation or confirmation by UNAMID of what is potentially an extraordinarily significant military development.
Eric Reeves is Professor of English Language and Literature at Smith College in Northampton, Massachusetts. He has spent fourteen years researching and publishing analysis on Sudan. He can be reached at email@example.com , Twitter: @SudanReeves - Websites: www.sudanreeves.org , www.sudanbombing.org , www.CompromisingWithEvil.org