Home | Comment & Analysis    Tuesday 2 August 2016

U.S. Special Envoy Donald Booth in Khartoum and Darfur: Consequences and Responsibilities


Eric Reeves August 1, 2016

It is telling that a visit to Khartoum by the U.S. Special Envoy for the Sudans, Donald Booth, generated not a single bit of international news coverage, even as his schedule was known to include a “fact-finding” trip to Darfur. According to one highly reliable Sudanese news source, the Khartoum regime didn’t have to bother with requests from journalists asking to accompany Booth during his visit to Darfur: there weren’t any. Among other things, this encourages Khartoum in its already strongly held belief that the world has forgotten about Darfur, and that it can simply wait for the final stages of “genocide by attrition” to accomplish themselves.

To be sure, the lack of non-Sudanese journalists is perhaps understandable, given the tight control by Military Intelligence and the National Intelligence and Security Services (NISS) over every moment Booth was in Darfur, every location to which he would travel—something that could easily have been foreseen on the basis of previous highly controlled “fact-finding” missions.

But at least Booth went to the right places: North Darfur and what is now called “Central Darfur” (formerly part of West Darfur). The latter is where the Jebel Marra massif is located, site of the particularly savage military assault by Khartoum’s regular and militia forces beginning in January of this year. We still have no fully reliable figures for how many were displaced during the campaign on the ground and from the air; 200,000 seems a reasonable estimate based on UN figures and reports from Radio Dabanga and Sudan Tribune, although it may well be higher. We certainly have no data that can establish mortality totals, but the reports from these two Sudanese news sources, as well as a range of other sources, makes clear that the death toll has been very high, as have the number of rapes, assaults on villages, and instances of large-scale looting and destruction.

North Darfur is the location of what is somewhat loosely referred to as “East Jebel Marra,” the region east of the massif itself and heavily populated, primarily by people of the African Fur tribe. Over the past four years this region in North Darfur has seen the worst violence in all of Darfur, rivaling in intensity and brutality the early years of the genocide (see my January 2016 report on the mass rape of girls and women and “Changing the Demography”: Violent Expropriation and Destruction of Farmlands in Darfur, November 2014 – November 2015" [November 2015]).

Booth has become notorious for not making statements, according to a Sudanese journalist colleague, even when meeting with opposition groups in Paris or Addis Ababa. And true to form, Booth has so far made no statement during his current (and presumably now concluding) trip to Sudan. He did meet with some of those who have witnessed the horrors of recent years, and some apparently spoke honestly, acts of extraordinary courage. Booth was in Nierteti (Central Darfur) and Tawila (“East Jebel Marra” in North Darfur), scenes of some of the very worst human rights abuses and violent destruction. He reportedly also met with civil society representatives in el-Fasher, capital of North Darfur.

For their honesty, outspoken displaced persons and civil society representatives will pay a heavy price, as Radio Dabanga reported yesterday:

Agents of the National Intelligence and Security Service (NISS) detained five men in Nierteti in Central Darfur today. Speaking to Radio Dabanga, multiple sources reported that Adam Siddig, of the Northern Nierteti camp for the displaced, and Abdelkarim Adam Abdelkarim, of the Southern Nierteti camp were held at the town’s bus station this morning. Nasreldin Yousef and Adam Mohamed, the owner of a welding workshop, were detained in the market of Nierteti. Ahmed El Tijani Abdeljabar Yousef was taken from a house in the Dar El Naeem district. The sources said that the NISS officers seem to be still searching for others. Last week, the US special envoy for Sudan, Donald Booth, paid a visit to Darfur. In Nierteti, he reportedly spoke with a number of displaced (July 31, 2016).

Reporting today (August 1, 2016) Sudan Tribune offered a fuller account of events in Nierteti:

Sudan’s National Intelligence and Security Services (NISS) on Monday has arrested at least 21 leaders of the Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) in the locality of Nirtiti, Central Darfur state following a meeting with the United States Special Envoy to Sudan and South Sudan, Donald Booth, said IDPs official. On July 26, the American envoy started a visit to Darfur states to assess the security and humanitarian situation on the ground particularly in Jebel Marra area. Deputy Chairman of IDPs and Refugees Association Adam Abdalla Idris told Sudan Tribune that the NISS is now making intensive efforts to arrest dozens of IDPs leaders after it accused them of providing Booth with misleading information pertaining to the security and humanitarian situation in the region particularly in areas of east Jebel Marra. He added that several IDPs leaders have disappeared from sight for fear of being arrested by the NISS, pointing the latter has a list including names of all IDPs who met with the American envoy.

According to Idris, a security source disguised as an IDP has attended the meeting with Booth and submitted a report including details of the meeting to the NISS. Idris pointed that the hybrid peacekeeping mission in Darfur (UNAMID), human rights groups operating in the area and the IDPs have provided identical reports to the American envoy including numbers of those killed in the recent clashes in Jebel Marra besides numbers of the newly displaced persons and the rape incidents. “The humanitarian situation is at its worst particularly after food and drug supply have stopped besides the lack of blankets and other basic necessities” he said. He added that the American envoy will likely delay his visit to South Darfur state in fear of subjecting dozens of IDPs to harassment and detention by the NISS.

[These reports are partially confirmed by another Darfuri source on the ground near Nierteti—ER]

Despite his reluctance to issues statements, it would seem incumbent upon Ambassador Booth to demand publicly that Khartoum provide assurances that his fact-finding mission did not result in the large-scale arrests of displaced persons, and that he be provided evidence of the safety of those with whom he spoke.

Not to speak out is to allow diplomatic tactical calculations to outweigh the clear risks to those who dared to speak with Booth, at his request, in order to provide what the U.S. surely already knows from the many reports that have appeared in the last year: from UN OCHA, from other UN agencies and humanitarian organizations, from Human Rights Watch (two important reports in 2015, focusing on the mass rape of girls and women at Tabit, East Jebel Marra, by Khartoum’s regular army forces, and the ghastly predations of recent years by Khartoum’s current militia force of choice, the Rapid Support Forces). The Special Envoy’s office is also in possession of a great deal of research—including first-hand interviews of victims—that reveals the scope of human devastation from this year’s campaign against the people of Jebel Marra.

Silence from Ambassador Booth at this critical moment in the lives of courageous Darfuris will be acquiescence in their fate, a fate his visit to their ravaged lands has worked to define.

Eric Reeves, Senior Fellow at Harvard University’s François-Xavier Bagnoud Center for Health and Human Rights. To read more articles, please go to his blog www.sudanreeves.org

The views expressed in the 'Comment and Analysis' section are solely the opinions of the writers. The veracity of any claims made are the responsibility of the author not Sudan Tribune.

If you want to submit an opinion piece or an analysis please email it to comment@sudantribune.com

Sudan Tribune reserves the right to edit articles before publication. Please include your full name, relevant personal information and political affiliations.
Comments on the Sudan Tribune website must abide by the following rules. Contravention of these rules will lead to the user losing their Sudan Tribune account with immediate effect.

- No inciting violence
- No inappropriate or offensive language
- No racism, tribalism or sectarianism
- No inappropriate or derogatory remarks
- No deviation from the topic of the article
- No advertising, spamming or links
- No incomprehensible comments

Due to the unprecedented amount of racist and offensive language on the site, Sudan Tribune tries to vet all comments on the site.

There is now also a limit of 400 words per comment. If you want to express yourself in more detail than this allows, please e-mail your comment as an article to comment@sudantribune.com

Kind regards,

The Sudan Tribune editorial team.
  • 6 August 2016 08:06, by Mohamed

    I see you commenting about 3 or 5 people taken in for questioning.
    But no comments on 200 Nuer girls/women raped in Juba and there men lynched and shot to death!
    If Darfur follows the fate of SS then will you rest?
    But I guess this is all necessary because your financers require this of you....
    I just wonder who they are???

    repondre message

  • 31 March 2017 10:44, by Ronn91

    I would like to say that this blog really convinced me to do it! Thanks, very good post. word cookies game | hill climb racing 2 | five nights at freddy’s 4 | hotmail login

    repondre message

The following ads are provided by Google. SudanTribune has no authority on it.

Sudan Tribune

Promote your Page too

Latest Comments & Analysis

Sudan’s Bashir is playing a dangerous game 2018-05-23 05:09:04 The attempt of the Sudanese president to engage with rival regional interests in a bid to stay in power might fail. By Ahmed H Adam Sudan's political crisis is sliding into a dangerous phase. (...)

Salva Kiir’s cunning strategy 2018-05-19 07:40:06 By Duop Chak Wuol Salva Kiir likes to preach democracy to confuse people, looks for ways to legitimize his atrocious regime, uses deception to promote his despotism, and calculatingly waits for (...)

Lessons for South Sudan and IGAD-Led peace forum 2018-05-16 23:28:16 James Okuk, PhD “The polis exists to assure the good life” – Aristotle. “For however strong a ruler may be, he will always have need of the goodwill of the inhabitants if he wishes to remain in (...)


Latest Press Releases

The Suspension of Hurriyat Online Newspaper 2018-04-29 07:04:37 Sudan Democracy First Group 28 April 2018 The Sudanese civil and political circles and those concerned with Sudan were shocked by the news that the management of Hurriyat online newspaper has (...)

Petition on the Deteriorating Human Rights and Humanitarian Situation in Sudan 2018-04-22 10:01:20 UN Secretary-General, New York African Union Commission, Addis Ababa UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Geneva Petition on the Deteriorating Human Rights and Humanitarian Situation in Sudan (...)

Abyei celebrates Mine Awareness Day 2018-04-05 08:52:03 4 April 2018 | Abyei - The United Nations Interim Security Force for Abyei (UNISFA) and the United Nations Mine Action Service (UNMAS) commemorated the International Day for Mine Awareness and (...)


Copyright © 2003-2018 SudanTribune - All rights reserved.