Home | Comment & Analysis    Wednesday 1 September 2004

The Dead of Yassin

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What These Civilian Casualties tell us about the National Islamic Front regime in Khartoum

By Eric Reeves

August 31, 2004 — African Union cease-fire monitors based in Darfur have now confirmed accounts of a Khartoum-backed military assault on the village of Yassin, southeast of Nyala in South Darfur State; this occurred in conjunction with other attacks against villages near el-Fasher (North Darfur). The authority of the African Union confirmation of these new atrocities---64 civilians are reported to have been killed on August 26, 2004 at Yassin alone---is underscored in a statement by Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo, who is also current chairman of the African Union:

"Nigerian President and African Union (AU) chairman Olusegun Obasanjo said on Monday that AU monitors had confirmed allegations by Darfur rebels that the Sudan government launched fresh attacks on civilians last week. ’The reported attacks by the government forces have been confirmed to me by the AU chairman of the ceasefire monitoring commission,’ Obasanjo told a news conference in the Nigerian capital Abuja, where peace talks are being held between the Sudanese government and rebels." (August 30, 2004)

What makes the attack on Yassin of particular importance?

While the Khartoum regime has continued to deny that this now-confirmed attack ever occurred, the two insurgency groups represented at peace negotiations in Abuja (Nigeria) felt so strongly about the outrage, and other very recent military assaults by Khartoum, that they suspended talks for 24 hours. They did so arguing that deliberate military attacks on civilians, occurring simultaneously with negotiations to end such attacks, was bad faith in the extreme and conspicuously damaging of any possible negotiating progress.

There can be little quarreling with this argument. Indeed, the issue is not the diplomatic behavior of the Sudan Liberation Army/Movement and Justice and Equality Movement; the issue is centrally and critically the outlook of the Khartoum regime in sanctioning such attacks during the Abuja negotiations. For this attack involved both Janjaweed and Khartoum’s regular forces; moreover, Khartoum’s military air assets (Antonov bombers and helicopter gunships) were deployed, both in the attack on Yassin as well as on other villages, including Um Hashab in North Darfur State.

The Associated Press, reporting from a completely destroyed Um Hashab, records the accounts of a civilian eyewitness:

" ’Three days ago they came and dropped bombs on my village,’ said Adam Salim Abu Bakir, who fled to nearby Zam Zam camp for displaced people [ ]. I was in the fields planting and the whole village was in flames and everybody was running at the same time. What caused this fire were the planes and the things that they threw on us, and the helicopters with those things that turn around,’ he said, waving his hand to mimic rotors." (Associated Press [dateline Um Hashab, North Darfur State], August 30, 2004)

QUESTIONS RAISED BY RECENT ATTACKS ON CIVILIANS

Khartoum’s behavior---during critical peace negotiations and on the eve of a UN assessment of the regime’s performance in response to Security Council Resolution 1556 (July 30, 2004)---raises a number of questions whose answers should, but almost certainly will not, inform any final action by the Security Council.

[1] Since Khartoum has so vigorously and consistently denied the very attacks confirmed by African Union observers on the ground, is there any reason to give credence to further denials offered by Khartoum? In light of many other continuing UN reports, human rights reports, and the accounts of humanitarian workers---detailing military violence directed against civilians, as well as violence (particularly sexual violence) directed against displaced persons---what possible reason is there for believing Khartoum’s claims that it is working to improve security?

[2] Since the only "demand" contained in Security Council Resolution 1556 is that Khartoum "disarm the Janjaweed militias," and since the Janjaweed were involved in the attack on Yassin, do we have any conceivable reason to doubt that, despite Khartoum’s denials, Human Rights Watch is accurate in speaking of ongoing official military collaboration and coordination with the Janjaweed? ---

"The government of Sudan is permitting abusive Janjaweed militia to maintain at least 16 camps in the western region of Darfur"; "despite repeated government pledges to neutralize and disarm the Janjaweed, Human Rights Watch investigators in West and North Darfur were able to gather information on the militias’ extensive network of bases"; "throughout the time Khartoum was supposedly reining in the Janjaweed, these camps have been operating in plain sight,’ said Peter Takirambudde, executive director of the Africa division of Human Rights Watch"; "five of the 16 camps, according to witnesses, are camps the Janjaweed share with the Sudanese government army." ("Sudan: Janjaweed Camps Still Active," Human Rights Watch [New York], August 27, 2004; report available at: http://www.hrw.org/english/docs/2004/08/27/darfur9268.htm)

[3] Extreme insecurity remains the greatest threat defining the vast humanitarian crisis in Darfur: is there any conceivable reason to believe that this threat can be mitigated by Khartoum if the regime is left to its own devices? Is there any reason to believe that attacks on villages like Yassin and Um Hashab will cease? that African tribal populations will cease to be the deliberate targets of the regime and its military proxies? that the camps for the displaced will cease to be scenes of rape, torture, forcible expulsions, and executions? To be sure, these activities will on occasion be trimmed as necessary for public appearances. But they continue to this day (see below), with no indication of diminishment.

[4] Is there a shred of evidence that if the Security Council extends the 30-day deadline contained in the one demand of Resolution 1556, Khartoum will then improve the security situation? And if such improvement is indeed so inconceivable, why is the UN not considering all actions necessary to provide security, whether Khartoum creates a permissive environment for humanitarian intervention or not?

[5] Given the brazen nature of the attack on Yassin---five days before scheduled resumption of UN discussion on Darfur---do the members of the Security Council, or those within the office of the UN Secretary-general, have any reason to believe that Khartoum does not hold the world body in complete contempt? ---

"Asked whether Sudan would seek to meet the terms of the UN ultimatum, which expires on August 30, Agriculture Minister Majzoub al-Khalifa [Khartoum’s chief negotiator at the Abuja talks] said: ’Not at all. It’s never crossed our minds or our hearts.’" (Agence France-Presse, August 26, 2004)

[6] How much of this contempt, revealed also with such clarity in the deliberately provocative military attacks by Khartoum’s regular and militia forces, derives from calculations based on the Secretary-general’s misguided re-negotiation of Security Council Resolution 1556? In other words, what cues did Khartoum take from the expedient capitulation represented in UN special representative Jan Pronk’s August 5, 2004 "Plan of Action"?

PRONK’S DEADLY FOLLY

Pronk, negotiating on behalf of Kofi Annan, abandoned the key demand that Khartoum disarm the Janjaweed, as well as "bring to justice Janjaweed leaders and their associates who have incited and carried out human rights and international humanitarian law violations and other atrocities" (Paragraph 6 of UN Security Council Resolution 1556). Indeed, as the hapless and dangerously ineffectual Pronk admits, he has not even been provided a promised list of the Janjaweed leaders:

"Pronk told reporters that he has not yet been given the names of the Arab militia, known as the Janjaweed, suspected of violence in the troubled Darfur region, despite a promise from Khartoum to disclose their identities. "I have not yet received an list of Janjaweed," Pronk said." (Associated Press, August 25, 2004)

The likelihood of Pronk’s receiving a meaningful list of names (as opposed to one containing the names of petty criminals hauled from prison to perform in Khartoum’s show trials of "Janjaweed") is suggested in an assessment by Abdel Rahim Mohamed Hussein, Khartoum’s brutal Minister of the Interior and the man in charge of Darfur policy:

"’I think that we expended a huge effort and have fulfilled our commitments to the United Nations 100 percent," Hussein told reporters in the Sudanese capital on Sunday." (Reuters, August 29, 2004)

In other words, with a complete "fulfillment of its commitments," Khartoum feels as though there is nothing left to do. When it might prove expedient, pronouncements of a different sort will emanate from other members of the National Islamic Front regime; but the thuggish Hussein’s comments carry all too much authority, and reveal all too clearly his contempt for those in the international community who feel that more should be expected of Khartoum.

What accounts for such brazen contempt? What statements and actions on the part of the international community encourage such behavior on the part of what seasoned Sudan observer Julie Flint has recently referred to as a regime dominated by "Arab-supremacist, fundamentalist generals"? (The Independent, August 30, 2004)

There are all too many answers, beginning with the original UN Security Council resolution. For the US (as co-sponsor) was unable to secure sufficient support to pass this resolution with any explicit provision for sanctions. Moreover, veto-wielding (and Permanent Member) China abstained, along with Pakistan, in the final vote. China’s explanation was that it felt a 30-day time-frame was too short for Khartoum to fulfill its obligations. This argument was subsequently picked up by the Arab League and the Organization of the Islamic Conference, diplomatic developments not lost on Khartoum.

Subsequently, on August 5, 2004, Jan Pronk signed---on behalf of the UN and Kofi Annan---an agreement that came to be known as the "Plan of Action." In fact, it was a roadmap for inaction, removing the clear time-frame of the Security Council Resolution and blurring various benchmarks and expectations. A number of so-called "safe areas" were also created as an ominous part of the "Plan of Action"; given the exclusive security role accorded Khartoum’s "police" and military services (now filled with Janjaweed), the consequences for displaced persons are in too many cases likely to be deadly.

Pronk himself seems to have slowly come to the realization that Khartoum’s nominal commitments in the August 5 "Plan of Action" are meaningless:

"The UN special envoy to Sudan [Pronk] on Wednesday [August 25, 2004] said there has been ’hardly any progress’ in the final 10-day phase of a plan of action signed between the UN and Sudan [just days before a deadline for the African nation to comply with a Security Council resolution]." (Associated Press [Khartoum], August 25, 2004)

Pronk is referring to the period of time, following the supposed final detailing of obligations under the "Plan of Action," for actual implementation. In other words, while there have been plenty of formal commitments, there has been "hardly any progress" on the ground that actually matters.

IMPENDING UN INACTION

Despite Khartoum’s contemptuous response to the obligations specified in Security Council Resolution 1556, the UN will not be acting in any meaningful way when later this week it faces the (perhaps) embarrassing task of putting an acceptable diplomatic face on its acquiescence before Khartoum’s conspicuous intransigence. This task is made all the more difficult if we note that Resolution 1556 has been flouted by the regime in other ways as well. For example, the first paragraph of the Resolution,

"calls on the Government of Sudan to fulfill immediately all of the commitments it made in the July 3 2004 Communiqué [signed by the regime and Kofi Annan], including particularly by facilitating international relief for the humanitarian disaster by means of a moratorium on all restrictions that might hinder the provision of humanitarian assistance and access to the affected populations, by advancing independent investigation in cooperation with the United Nations of violations of human rights and international humanitarian law, by the establishment of credible security conditions for the protection of the civilian population and humanitarian actors, and by the resumption of political talks with dissident groups from the Darfur region, specifically the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) and the Sudan Liberation Movement and Sudan Liberation Army (SLM/A) on Darfur."

Two months later and none of this has happened. The "political talks" with the insurgency groups are nominally in session, though Khartoum’s provocations have ensured a poisonous negotiating atmosphere; it is highly unlikely that these talks will survive this week’s UN disposition of the "Darfur matter."

Kofi Annan, who has continually sought an expedient way to respond to the massive crisis in Darfur (as a means of preserving the "integrity" of the Security Council and the office of the Secretary-general), has perversely created a political context in which it is more surely the case that the UN will be revealed as morally bankrupt. Genocide will continue, Khartoum will face no meaningful consequences, and the international response will continue to be limited to attempts to improve the humanitarian response to the consequences of genocidal ambition.

DOES THE UK GOVERNMENT CARE ABOUT DARFUR?

To be sure, there are voices that would have us believe things have changed for the better in Khartoum. The British government in particular has recently been willing to play this absurd role. Hilary Benn, Britain’s international development secretary, wins honors for most fatuous assessment: "The Sudanese government had been in denial but was now facing up to the situation. [ ] ’The situation has changed substantially and that is a result of huge international pressure, [Benn said]" (BBC August 30, 2004). Perhaps Mr. Benn might travel to Yassin, Um Hashab, and other villages very recently attacked by the "substantially changed" Khartoum regime, and explain the nature of this "change" to the survivors. Or perhaps he might offer corrections to the humanitarian workers who assessments reflect no such "change" (see below).

Julie Flint, who has recently traveled extensively in Darfur, offers this withering account of British Foreign Minister Jack Straw’s most recent pronouncement:

"Jack Straw [recently] extended a lifeline to Khartoum by saying the government ’appeared’ to have made progress in some areas. Straw said aerial bombardment of villages ’appeared’ to have stopped since June. ’Appear’ just isn’t good enough. The Janjaweed, supported by the Sudanese air force, destroyed 34 villages inhabited by the Birgit and Mima tribes in three days in July. More than 400 people died." (The Independent, August 30, 2004)

Perhaps for fuller context here we might bear in mind a list of Khartoum’s largest commercial partners, assembled by the highly authoritative Sudan Focal Point (South Africa):

"China is reportedly Sudan’s largest trading partner, followed by Japan, Saudi Arabia, India, UK, and Germany." (Sudan Focal Point, "A View of Sudan from Africa: Monthly Briefing August 2004")

Sudan Focal Point also reports:

"’A comprehensive oil development infrastructure,’ including a new oil pipeline, is to be established to export oil from the Adar Yel oil field, according to Sudanow magazine. Its implementation involves companies from China, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, India, Italy, Japan, the Netherlands, Oman, Sudan and UK." (Sudan Focal Point, "A View of Sudan from Africa: Monthly Briefing August 2004")

And finally, we should note a report in the Evening Standard (UK) on British arms shipments to Sudan, as revealed by Comtrade (the official UN commodity trade database):

"Britain has sent more than 180 tons of arms to war-torn Sudan in the last three years, according to the United Nations. The revelation, which will embarrass Foreign Secretary Jack Straw as he visits Darfur today, is contained in the official UN commodity trade database, Comtrade, which compiles information supplied by national customs services."

"The weapons which, according to Comtrade, have been supplied by Britain are exactly the types which are being used by the Janjaweed in their campaign of rape, ethnic cleansing and murder. The Comtrade website shows that weapons weighing 184 tons and with a net value at 2001 prices of 441,000 [Pounds] were imported by Sudan from the UK in 2001 and 2002." (The Evening Standard, August 24, 2004)

Though Prime Minister Tony Blair has previously spoken vigorously about Darfur, his voice has not been heard recently; nor has there been any reiteration of commitment from General Sir Michael Jackson, Chief of the General Staff, who had said previously that a brigade of 5,000 men could be provided for humanitarian intervention in Darfur.

It becomes increasingly difficult to see in Great Britain---or in any other member of the Security Council, including the US---a champion for Darfur. Neither meaningful UN Security Council action nor humanitarian intervention seem at all likely. The more than 2 million war-affected people of Darfur are to be helped only with what food, medical aid, and shelter can be provided amidst what the UN calls a "logistical nightmare"; security will remain in the hands of Khartoum.

PRESENT INSECURITY IN DARFUR

In addition to very recent attacks on villages by Khartoum’s regular military forces, coordinating with the Janjaweed, there have been many other highly authoritative reports of military attacks on civilians. Insecurity remains extreme throughout Darfur, including in the environs of camps for displaced persons:

"Attacks on refugees in Sudan’s Darfur region are still a major problem, a senior UN official has said. Dennis McNamara, special advisor to the UN Emergency Relief Co-ordinator on Displacement, said on Monday the attacks included multiple rapes by armed militia of Darfuri women and girls. ’It hasn’t stopped. There are enough first-hand, credible reports that this remains a major problem. [ ] Security needs to be improved and perpetrators need to be prosecuted,’ he told a news conference in Nairobi after visiting victims in the camps."

"McNamara said that, though there had been improvements in getting humanitarian aid through, many refugees were still living in atrocious conditions. ’There is a protection crisis in Darfur today. We are not able to adequately protect displaced civilians.’ ’This is essentially a very traumatised population. [ ] We do not see any realistic prospects for large scale returns of displaced people to their home villages in the near future.’" (Reuters, August 30, 2004)

The UN’s Integrated Regional Information Networks also reported yesterday on McNamara’s account of insecurity in the camps and their environs:

"’There is a major protection crisis in Darfur in general. All the agencies confirm that, and so do the Internally Displaced Persons we saw,’ Dennis McNamara, special adviser on displacement to the UN Emergency Relief Co-ordinator, told IRIN." (UN Integrated Regional Information Networks, August 30, 2004)

Ominously, McNamara---who has just returned from an assessment mission to the camps of Darfur---also spoke of Khartoum’s continuing policy of forcibly expelling extremely vulnerable people from the camps that offer their only tenuous refuge:

"’There is still undue pressure by the authorities for the displaced to return to unsafe areas, while general insecurity continues around the settlements,’ added McNamara." (UN Integrated Regional Information Networks, August 30, 2004)

McNamara also highlighted the threat of rape and murder outside the camps:

"’This crisis in protection needs urgent attention by [UN] agencies, NGOs, Sudanese authorities and donor governments,’ said McNamara. [He] said most of the rapes occurred when women and girls ventured out of the camps to collect firewood. Men told his mission, which included human rights adviser Bjorn Pettersson and Internally Displaced Persons adviser Beatrice Bernhard, that they could not help the women fetch firewood because they risked being shot if they went out into the bushes."

"The rapists were ’men in military uniform,’ Internally Displaced Persons said. Displaced civilians told the mission that ’men in military uniform’ were responsible for the sexual violence, according to Pettersson.
’There is no indication that the armed militia have been brought under control,’ said McNamara, adding that Internally Displaced Persons were still terrified of the militias, known as Janjawid." (UN Integrated Regional Information Networks, August 30, 2004)

This doesn’t comport well with another UN assessment of the security situation in Darfur, that offered by Jan Pronk on August 5, 2004---the day he signed with the Khartoum regime a "Plan of Action":

"[Pronk] said that security in the Internally Displaced Persons camps had generally improved." (UN Integrated Regional Information Networks, August 5, 2004)

The more pervasive insecurity in Darfur is suggested by recent findings from the US State Department study of atrocities and genocide in Darfur (conducted on the Chad/Darfur border):

"The refugees [a senior Bush administration official said] reported rapes of women of all ages; the targeting of males over age 12 for execution; the burning of villages and killing of livestock; and deliberate destruction of wells and irrigation systems. ’It was not random, it was systematic,’ he said. More than 60 percent of those interviewed reported that government aircraft were used to bomb villages, and some mentioned the presence of tanks as well." (Knight Ridder news service, August 25, 2004)

THE HUMANITARIAN SITUATION IN DARFUR

A grim overview of the humanitarian situation in Darfur is offered in a dispatch today from Reuters:

"Conditions are worsening for refugees in Darfur, UN agencies said on Tuesday [August 31, 2004]. The UN agencies said the Darfuri refugees were facing violent attacks and spreading disease, while heavy rains were wreaking havoc with aid convoys."

"’The humanitarian situation in Darfur continues to worsen, with ongoing violations and the rainy season at its peak which is hampering and disrupting the flow of international aid very often,’ Simon Pluess, spokesman for the UN World Food Program, told a news briefing in Geneva. The World Health Organization also reported on Tuesday a near doubling in hepatitis cases in Darfur in the past month due to insufficient clean water and poor sanitary conditions." (Reuters, August 31, 2004)

This again doesn’t comport well with another recent UN assessment:

"’I feel we are slowly but surely getting on top of (the health crisis),’ said Mike McDonagh, who manages the Darfur relief effort for the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs in Khartoum." (Knight Ridder news service)

Such assessments, flying in the face of overwhelming evidence, call into serious question the reliability of pronouncements from various quarters within the UN. Nongovernmental humanitarian organizations operating in the field have typically provided more accurate characterizations of the crisis (though not always, as these organizations calculate what they must not say in order to preserve the access that Khartoum may easily revoke). Yesterday (August 30, 2004) Oxfam International issued a telling statement of conditions:

"Despite international attention and visits by foreign dignitaries, the humanitarian situation in Darfur and eastern Chad remains critical, warned the international aid agency Oxfam today. The onset of the rainy season has contributed to the deterioration of public health, with high rates of malnutrition, bloody diarrhoea, and waterborne diseases such as hepatitis E reported throughout Darfur. The threat of cholera or malaria epidemics is a critical concern, as displaced people continue to arrive at already overcrowded sites with limited water and sanitation facilities."

"’The scale of this disaster is immense,’ said Caroline Nursey, Oxfam’s Regional Director, who has just returned from Darfur. ’People are still arriving daily at camps throughout Darfur and Chad and putting more strain on an already overstretched infrastructure.’"

"Thousands of people have recently arrived at Kalma, a camp of more than 70,000 displaced people in South Darfur. Many of them are desperate and pleading for help. ’I met a group of families from Silia who said they haven’t received any assistance since coming to Kalma several weeks ago,’ said Adrian McIntyre, an Oxfam aid worker in Darfur. ’They are drinking contaminated water from the nearby wadi (dry river bed), which is also serving as an open-air toilet for hundreds of people. It is making them sick, but there simply isn’t enough clean water available.’" (Oxfam International press release [Boston], August 30, 2004)

Hepatitis E continues to expand rapidly, the UN World Health Organization reports from Geneva:

"A deadly outbreak of hepatitis E in Sudan’s Darfur region has spread rapidly, with the number of cases almost tripling in less than a month, the World Health Organization [WHO] said Friday [August 27, 2004]. 1,788 cases, 35 of them fatal, were reported on August 22, as compared to 625 cases, 22 of them lethal, reported on July 30."

"Hepatitis E has a low mortality rate compared with hepatitis B and C, but its outbreak in Sudan---a country that until recently was free of the disease---and Chad could have a devastating impact among vulnerable people such as pregnant women and children, WHO has said." (Agence France-Presse, August 27, 2004)

And ominously, "three new cases [of polio] were also detected in the Darfur region of west Sudan, according to the Global Polio Eradication Initiative" (Reuters, August 24, 2004). Any effort at global polio vaccination in Darfur, given the high level of insecurity, is bound to fail; this may ensure that polio---a highly contagious disease---has a terrible "high season" this fall.

The ghastly upshot of the deteriorating humanitarian crisis is suggested by Manuel Aranda Da Silva, the UN Humanitarian Coordinator for Sudan, clearly too desperate to worry about failing to toe any UN political line on Darfur:

"The number of people in critical need of humanitarian assistance has skyrocketed in Darfur in recent months." (Associated Press, August 25, 2004)

And as assessment missions continue to reveal ever-larger numbers of war-affected persons in "critical need," the future looks even more deeply disturbing:

"’We could see the amount of people needing help rise exponentially over the next weeks and months, [Aranda Da Silva said].’" (Reuters, August 25, 2004)

As this writer has insisted for months now, the steadily widening mismatch between humanitarian capacity and rapidly growing humanitarian need will become ever more deadly. In the absence of humanitarian intervention, we are consigning hundreds of thousands of people to terrible suffering and agonizing deaths. The UN World Food Program has struggled, using extremely expensive airdrops on an ever more frequent basis, to reach 1 million people this August (it did not reach the target figure of 1 million in July). The WFP estimate of those in need of food assistance for September is now 2 million---and this certainly understates significantly overall food need in Darfur.

It is impossible to imagine present resources and capacity serving this growing number of people.It is equally difficult to imagine, given present recourses, how humanitarian conditions in the camps can be improved sufficiently to prevent huge casualties from disease. But at the root of this vast humanitarian crisis, we must always remember, lies the genocidal determination of the National Islamic Front regime in Khartoum. This is not a crisis that simply happened: responding to a military insurgency, Khartoum has engineered a monstrous human catastrophe, deliberately targeting the African tribal groups of Darfur, primarily the Massaleit, the Fur, and the Zaghawa.

THE AFRICAN UNION: HAMSTRUNG ON ALL COUNTS

Given the impending political and moral failure of the UN, the only meaningful effort at present to respond to the engine of genocidal destruction, as opposed to its terrible human consequences, lies with the African Union observer force, now bolstered by the presence of just over 300 Rwandan and Nigerian troops (the Nigerians deployed on August 30, 2004).

This is not a peacekeeping force: Khartoum continues to deny that it will permit such a mandate for this force, or permit the larger force (2,000-3,000) being contemplated by Nigeria and the African Union. The most recent in a long series of denials on this score, from various National Islamic Front leaders, came just two days ago from Khartoum’s lead "negotiator" at the Abuja talks:

"The Sudanese government said here Sunday [August 29, 2004] that it must approve any increase in the number of African Union troops to crisis-ridden Darfur above the 300 soldiers agreed last month with the AU. ’AU troops are welcome in Sudan. But for any increase of the AU force there...they will seek Sudan’s government permission,’ the head of the official delegation to the AU peace talks, Majzoub al-Khalifa, told journalists in a reaction to the AU chairman’s reported statement that he was setting aside two battalions from Nigeria for Darfur."

"’The deployment of 150 troops on Monday (to Darfur) is in fulfillment of the July 8 accord between Sudan, the AU and Nigeria for the sending of a total of 307 officers approved as monitors. The whole protection in Darfur is primarily the responsibility of Sudan and its armed forces and no other body,’ he said." (Agence France-Presse [Abuja], August 29, 2004)

And even the observer force presently in Darfur, now to be protected by the 300 Rwandan and Nigerian troops, is hamstrung by very poor logistics. An excellent Agence France Presse dispatch (http://www.sudantribune.com/article.php3?id_article=5072) offers a telling account of the lack of transport, lack of fuel (this by design on Khartoum’s part), and a lack of communications gear:

"Many institutions, including the European Commission, have pledged funds to support the operations of the mission but only a fraction of that help has actually arrived. ’The timelines as not being met,’ complained [Colonel Anthony] Amadoh [the monitoring mission’s chief military observer]." (Agence France Press, August 29, 2004)

The US is also particularly culpable here.

ABANDONMENT

Impending failure by the UN, a relentlessly growing mismatch between humanitarian capacity and need, and a lack of political will to support humanitarian intervention. Rampant insecurity throughout the rural areas and camps of Darfur, ongoing attacks against civilians and villages by Khartoum’s regular military forces and its Janjaweed militia proxy, no prospect of resumed agricultural production---a social order destroyed. Disease, famine, and more than 200,000 already dead. Genocide by attrition is the present instrument of human destruction---made superbly efficient by the morally slovenly response of the international community.

The genocidal evil that is the National Islamic Front regime now triumphs before the world’s very eyes.

- Eric Reeves
- Smith College
- Northampton, MA 01063

- Tel: 413-585-3326
- email: ereeves@smith.edu



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