Home | Comment & Analysis    Saturday 3 July 2004

Darfur’s killing fields

separation
increase
decrease
separation
separation

Leader, The Guardian

July 3, 2004 — The shell game that the Sudanese government played with the UN secretary general and the US secretary of state earlier this week when they went to Darfur was outrageous. Colin Powell was taken to what aid workers say is patently a show settlement for refugees, while the first, and more typical, camp that Kofi Annan tried to visit had been "re-located" overnight and was empty when he arrived. While the two visitors tried as best they could to evaluate the situation on the ground for themselves, Sudanese helicopter gunships and militia units attacked Darfur villages not all that far from their travel routes, according to reliable sources. This was in spite of a supposed ceasefire between government forces and the relatively small numbers of still active rebels, and is one reason why rebel negotiators did not turn up for planned peace talks in N’Djamena, the Chad capital, yesterday.
But the visits are at least an indication that the Darfur crisis is being taken seriously at the international level, and not left to a handful of aid workers who can, at best, only ameliorate its effects. Some will is finally being summoned, and possible courses of action are being discussed. It will be difficult to halt and harder still to reverse the process of what is at least a brutal ethnic demolition and which may deserve, as facts are established, an even worse description.

In the first place, the causes are complex. The most fundamental may be the desertification which, as resources of pasture, arable land and water dwindle, is undermining co-existence between human groups across a swath of sub-Saharan Africa, fuelling a chain of conflicts. The more immediate cause was the effort by some leaders of marginalised peoples in the west of Sudan to gain by revolt some of the advantages that the longer established southern rebels seemed on the point of acquiring in a peace settlement. But instead of something like the southern deal, their action led to a campaign by government forces that has killed many of their people (320,000 this year alone, according to the United States Agency for International Development) and swept huge numbers into external and internal exile.

The government has employed both regular forces and militias, mainly from the north and east of Darfur, whose peoples are slightly more "Arab" in their ethnicity, for a campaign that has focused on this project of depopulation rather than on the military defeat of armed rebels. Khartoum’s rationale was presumably that it was not going to allow a western rebellion to take hold in the way that the southern one had done, and that the way to prevent this was to move the people who might give it support.

Although the vicious depopulation goes on, an equally bad problem is the condition of rural refugees packed into settlements outside the bigger towns. There they are policed, oppressed and exploited by the very militias who destroyed their villages. More aid should be sent, but aid alone is not the answer. Much of the aid going in now is stolen, and some of what the refugees receive they sell in order to pay protection money to the militias. What is needed is a large body of monitors on the ground, to shine a hard light on both the continuing attacks and on the mistreatment of the displaced, and to provide evidence that will put pressure on Khartoum to rein in the militias. Khartoum must understand that a southern peace settlement will not unlock the door to the normalisation of political and trade relations unless accompanied by a convincing effort at peace in Darfur.



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.


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



Sudan Tribune

Promote your Page too

Latest Comments & Analysis


Implications of al-Bashir’s regime dismantling 2019-12-12 21:08:55 By Alhadi A. Khalifa The enactment of the law of dismantling the regime of Omar Albashir on 28 November 2019 represents a turning point in the march of the Sudanese revolution given its (...)

Security Arrangements in Sudan: Achilles heels of peace and democratic transformation 2019-12-10 05:47:59 By Elwathig Kameir This article is intended to act as an eye-opener for all the Sudanese political forces. It aims to shed light on the huge challenges that will be faced by the December (...)

Egypt final push to secure zero-sum water-share agreement 2019-12-09 14:11:32 By Ermias Hailu After Egypt’s failure to integrate Eritrea to its territories by the end of the second world war, due to Emperor Haile Selassie’s superior diplomatic skills, the then Egyptian Pan- (...)


MORE






Latest Press Releases


S. Korea supports UN communities building resilience project in Sudan’s Blue Nile 2019-09-09 09:26:41 UNDP Sudan September 5, 2019 (KHARTOUM) - An agreement was signed on 5th of September between the Korean Ambassador, His Excellency. Lee Ki-Seong and Dr. Selva Ramachandran, Resident (...)

Sudanese lawyers and Human rights defenders back calls for civil rule 2019-04-26 10:22:06 Press statement by 55 Sudanese lawyers and Human rights defenders on Sudan Sit-in and Peaceful Protest Khartoum -24/04/2019 We, the undersigned (55) Sudanese lawyers and human rights defenders, (...)

South Sudan’s Lafon youth condemn killings of civilians by Pari community 2019-04-03 21:54:29 Press Statement on the Fighting between Pari/ Pacidi and Lotuko/Lokiri on 24/3/2019 Release by The Lafon County Youth Union: We, the Lafon County Youth Union hereby condemn the atrocities and (...)


MORE

Copyright © 2003-2019 SudanTribune - All rights reserved.