Tuesday, May 19, 2015

The World’s Abandonment of Darfur,” The Washington Post, May 16, 2015

By Eric Reeves
The Darfur genocide in western Sudan—the first genocide of the 21st century and the longest one in more than a century—is about to achieve another distinction. It will be the first genocide in
which the victims are abandoned. An international peacekeeping force designed to halt violence against civilians and humanitarians—the United Nations-African Union Mission in Darfur, or UNAMID—is on the verge of being gutted and perhaps eliminated altogether.
This is so despite the fact that some 3 million people have been internally displaced or turned into refugees; almost 500,000 were displaced last year alone. Mortality estimates vary, but we must of necessity speak of several hundred thousands of deaths—perhaps half a million—from violence and its consequences, and mortality rates are rising. The victims come overwhelmingly from the non-Arab tribal groups that have been targeted from the beginning of Khartoum’s brutal counter-insurgency against rebel forces.

Although it’s been reported on only fitfully, planning for UNAMID’S diminished future is well underway. Among the planners? The gĂ©nocidaires of the regime in Khartoum, who insist that the “exit strategy”—agreed to in principle by the U.N. Security Council in August—be executed
as rapidly as possible. The force has already been cut by 10,000 and stands at approximately at 17,000 uniformed personnel. The regime wants another 15,000 gone this year.
Criticism of UNAMID is longstanding; indeed it preceded deployment of the civilian-protection mission in January 2008. For the mission was set up to fail, largely because Khartoum was given excessive control over the deployment of personnel and equipment. This led to poor troop quality, with the regime rejecting many highly qualified peacekeeping contributions (such as a Swedish-Norwegian engineering battalion). Essential weaponry and aircraft were also denied. Despite a status-of-forces agreement that was supposed to give UNAMID unrestricted access, Khartoum has systematically obstructed, delayed or compromised countless protection and monitoring missions.

As badly as UNAMID has performed, however, it is all that allows international humanitarian organizations to remain in Darfur. If UNAMID withdraws, or is hopelessly compromised, these organizations may well be forced to end their work. To date, some 25 to 30 international relief organizations have been expelled by Khartoum or withdrawn because of insecurity. This has occurred against a backdrop of extreme malnutrition in many locations, a desperate lack of clean water and sanitation, and a rapidly collapsing system for providing primary medical care.
Decisions about reconfiguring UNAMID are being made at this very moment, and yet we hear nothing of significance from the Obama administration about the urgency of preserving key elements of the force. Yes, a facile international chorus has declared “Darfur won’t be abandoned,” but there are reasons to be skeptical. Leading this chorus is the expedient HervĂ© Ladsous, head of U.N. peacekeeping operations, who not so long ago argued that a drawdown of UNAMID was justified by improved security conditions, even as violence has escalated for three years. Read more >>>>>>>>

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Is Britain not bothered about raped children in Darfur?

Eight years ago, David Cameron said: 'We cannot remain silent in the face of this horror'

On 31 October, when most of our children were playing trick or treat, 200 women and girls (as young as seven) in Darfur were raped. According to locals, the perpetrators were the Sudanese Armed Forces. One month later, the victims of this egregious assault are no closer to justice.

Rape has been a weapon of war in Darfur for decades. The attack in the village of Tabit, however, is on an unprecedented scale. Despite numerous sources verifying it, the discredited hybrid United Nations/African Union force (Unamid) issued a press release that claimed: "None of those interviewed confirmed that any incident of rape took place in Tabit." What the release didn't say is that, according to a Unamid officer, military personnel accompanied the Unamid delegation so, "no one could speak freely".
Unamid's chicanery emerges at the same time as a UN investigation exonerated the force of previous allegations of cover-up. Despite finding instances in which Unamid officials withheld evidence indicating the culpability of Sudanese government forces in crimes against civilians and peacekeepers, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon concluded: "There was no evidence to support the allegation that Unamid intentionally sought to cover up crimes against civilians."
To the uninitiated, withholding evidence of crimes against civilians may sound like a cover-up. But in UN land, unless the scandalous event was the result of an intentional cover-up, and you can prove it, it doesn't count.
Where is the UK in all this? Instead of calling for an independent investigation into the mass rape in Tabit at the time, our government diverted attention away from it. Issuing a press release about food vouchers for displaced people in Darfur (440,000 beneficiaries over seven months) was, in my view, an act of either wilful obfuscation or gross ineptitude.
The cash/vouchers have been in place since 2011, but there's no evidence that I could find that anyone other than the government of Sudan benefits from the UK's £11m contribution. A local UN official told me he was unaware of the scheme. The three million Darfuris living in camps want reinstatement of the humanitarian organisations expelled by the genocidal regime in 2009. Not gimmicks. Read full story >>>>

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Security Council Press Statement on Darfur

19 November 2014

The following Security Council press statement was issued today by Council President Gary Quinlan (Australia):
The members of the Security Council expressed their concern at the allegations reported in the media of mass rape in Thabit, North Darfur, on 30 and 31 October 2014. They called on the Government of Sudan to conduct a thorough investigation into these allegations. They called on the Government of Sudan to fulfil its obligation to allow, in accordance with the Agreement between the United Nations, the African Union and the Government of Sudan concerning the status of the African Union-United Nations Hybrid Operation in Darfur (UNAMID) and relevant United Nations Security Council resolutions, the full and unrestricted freedom of movement without delay throughout Darfur to UNAMID, so as to enable them to conduct a full and transparent investigation, without interference, and verify whether these incidents have occurred. They further called on the Government of Sudan to ensure accountability, if the allegations are verified.
They noted that proper access to Thabit and its population for UNAMID is essential to conducting a full investigation into the allegations in order to determine their veracity and, if verified, to ensure accountability.

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Darfur Crisis, a decade after! Where do we stand?

Darfur Crisis, a decade after! Where do we stand?

Darfur Union in The Netherlands will hold, on October 4th, 2014 at 13.00
hours a conference on Darfur under the title Darfur Crisis, a decade after!
Where do we stand?

Dr. Sharif Harir, a former teacher at Bergen University, civil society
organizations, individuals committed to peace and stability in Darfur and
representatives of Darfur movements will be attending the conference.

Place and address:
Potgieterstraat, 1053 XX, Amsterdam
By public Transport:
Tram 13, 14 and 17 from Amsterdam Centre Station
Darfur Union cordially invites you to attend the conference. Your presence
and input will contribute to the success of the conference.
For more info, please contact the following numbers:
+31 643663089
+31 642330058
+31 686300855

Saturday, June 07, 2014

Colorado Groups Rally to Stop Genocide in Sudan

Friday, 30 May 2014 – Denver, the American center of the modern day abolition movement, is at the forefront of freeing thousands of people who are still living in slavery in Sudan. Over a dozen Colorado groups active in both Sudans, including the Colorado Coalition for Genocide Awareness and Action, rally at a press conference and petition drive to pressure President Obama to free thousands of slaves and stop the genocide in Sudan. The event is in response to Sudanese communities requesting global support to end crimes against humanity, genocide, and slavery perpetrated by the Sudanese Islamist regime against indigenous Black Sudanese Africans.
Approximately 35,000 indigenous Black South Sudanese are still enslaved in both Sudans. Christian and Muslim peoples are subjected to an ongoing genocide by their government in Sudan's Darfur, Nuba Mountains, and Blue Nile regions. Bishop Acen Phillips remarks, “I don’t think anyone here left Sudan because they wanted to. Many refugees deeply miss their families.”
Emmy award winning journalist Tamara Banks emcees the event, and other speakers include refugees speaking about their stories of survival escaping genocide, and for justice and freedom in their former countries. Other speakers include Colorado citizens who are refugees from the genocides in Sudan (including Darfur), a Coloradan teen who is responsible for freeing hundreds of slaves, and representatives from 20 Colorado groups active in both Sudans.
The rally is fostering hope in both countries. Refugee speakers express appreciation to the support of Denver communities, saying they want their families at home to feel hopeful instead of abandoned or forgotten. George Tuto from the Nuba mountains, Omhagain Dayeen and Ahmed Ali (from Darfur), and Oja Gafour from the Nuba Mountains all spoke about escaping genocide.
The event organizer, Pastor Heidi McGinness, Director of Outreach for Christian Solidarity International (CSI), says, “We need to stop genocide and slavery; they are crimes against International Law and humanity.” CSI has been active in Sudan and South Sudan since 1995, delivering humanitarian aid to the victims of war and genocide, and assisting the South Sudanese Underground Railroad in bringing their family members out of slavery. Andrew Romanoff, former Speaker of the Colorado House, speaks about the successful petition launch to end slavery and the two genocides in Sudan. His legislative work has led to divestment of public pension funds that have done business with Sudan, a major victory in cutting one link to the genocide. Full story >>>>>>>https://www.freespeech.org/text/colorado-groups-rally-stop-genocide-sudan

Tuesday, June 03, 2014

Pretending Darfur Isn’t: the world continues to avert its eyes from accelerating human suffering and destruction

Eric Reeves, 31 May 2014

The international community is by now quite experienced in pretending that the massive humanitarian crisis in Darfur doesn’t really exist, or exists in some acceptable and remediable form, destined to improve with time. The world has been encouraged in this dangerously expedient ignorance by the likes of Ibrahim Gambari and Rodolphe Adada (both former special representatives of the UN and AU to UNAMID); U.S. special envoy Scott Gration; former UN humanitarian coordinator Georg Charpentier, and UNAMID spokesman Chris Cycmanick. All have suggested, some dismayingly recently, that things aren’t really so bad in Darfur. Charpentier and Cycmanick supported the claims by UNAMID as recently as 2011 that the fighting was minimal. Adada claimed at the end of his tenure in 2009 that there was merely “low intensity” fighting and some carjackings; Gambari claimed at the end of his tenure in September 2012 that he had “achieved all he set out to do” as special representative, and minimized fighting, mortality, displacement, and human suffering. Scott Gration was taken to task by an inter-agency humanitarian group for suggesting (July 2009) that conditions were ripe for returns by Darfuri IDPs.

The history of misrepresentation is long and ugly. Current U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry (then Senator and unofficial presidential representative) declared in April 2009 that Khartoum’s expulsion of half the humanitarian capacity in Darfur—thirteen of the world’s finest humanitarian organizations—would be replaced in “a few weeks.” Cynically, he declared that he had Khartoum’s promise on the matter, as if the regime’s promises have somehow meant something in the past. This was an anticipation of the Obama administration’s subsequent “de-coupling” of Darfur from U.S. Sudan policy, and the appointment of a diplomatic lightweight as special envoy for the region (Dane Smith).
Some within the UN system have begun to speak out, and the truths at last spoken are terrifying in their implications:
“Entire generation may be lost in Darfur”: UNICEF Representative in Sudan (Radio Dabanga, KHARTOUM, 12 May 2014) – The UN children’s rights and relief organisation, UNICEF, has warned that an entire generation in Darfur may be lost as a result of more than ten years of violence in the region. “Life in the camps might produce a new generation without ambition,” the UNICEF Representative in Sudan, Geert Cappelaere, said in a press statement issued on Saturday. “In particular as about 60 percent of the displaced in Darfur are minors.”
It requires a willful blindness not to see what is occurring in Darfur, unless one is willing to dismiss entirely the reports that come from the ground—by way of Radio Dabanga, Sudan Tribune, and Radio Tamazuj, and the UN itself on notable occasions. But even the dismissing of these repeatedly confirmed and highly detailed accounts does not explain the silence that has followed the most dire warning from a range of humanitarian organizations still working in Darfur. It is a silence, or near silence, that accompanies even such extraordinary announcements as these about the work in Darfur and Sudan of the International Committee of the Red Cross:
The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) has expressed regret for Sudan’s suspension of its activities, saying it has led to negative humanitarian implications. ICRC also announced it is laying off 195 employees of its local staff while imploring on Khartoum to reverse its decision and allow it resume its work to help the affected population. Last February, the Sudanese government ordered the ICRC to halt its activities in the country saying that the aid organisation needs to comply with the humanitarian work guidelines and the voluntary work law in order to continue operating in the country.