Thursday, October 20, 2005

Chaos in Darfur, Peace in the East

October 20, 2005: The UN said that it will withdraw "non-essential staff" from Sudan's western Darfur region. Four to five months ago there were indications that the security situation in Darfur was improving and might continue to improve. African Union (AU) peacekeepers were trickling into the region. Aid convoys were arriving with greater frequency. Reports that the rebel movement was fragmenting began turning up in August-- which meant more "freelance" violence. In September and October, raids by Islamist militias increased. Now it appears that some Arab militias have turned on their chief backer, the Sudanese government. Government control of the militias it backed has always been always iffy. That was the case in southern Sudan when the government paid Moslem militias to fight the SPLA. Often times the militias (many drawn from northern and western tribes) had their own agenda. That agenda included crime. This seems to be the path Darfur is taking.

October 19, 2005: The situation in Darfur is out-of-control. Aid groups are afraid to move relief supplies in some areas because of all the armed gangs, who attack and loot aid convoys. Some of the gangs are technically working for the government, others are just local tribesmen operating as bandits.

October 18, 2005: In the south, SPLA militiamen and Ugandan soldiers cooperated to track down Ugandan LRA rebels who have been operating, and raiding, in southern Sudan.

October 17, 2005: Clashes between troops and Darfur rebels left five civilians dead. In southern Sudan, fighting with Ugandan rebels left two Ugandan soldiers dead.

October 14, 2005: A peace deal has been worked out with Eritrea, ending a decade of bad feelings, and occasional violence. Eritrea had been supporting rebels in eastern Sudan, so the new peace deal will do much to reduce the extent of that rebellion.

October 13, 2005: Two more AU peacekeepers were found dead. The two had been reported missing after an AU patrol was ambushed earlier in the week. Rebels have also kidnapped 40 peacekeepers.

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