Monday, October 29, 2007

Darfur refugees 'forcibly moved'

Hundreds of refugees in Darfur are being forcibly evicted from a camp by Sudanese soldiers and police, a UN official has told the BBC.

Men and women were loaded at gunpoint onto trucks at a camp in Nyala, the capital of south Darfur, said the official, who asked not to be named.

The UN tried to intervene in the operation, which it described as illegal, but were prevented.

Sudanese officials said the refugees were being taken to a safer camp.

'Dangerous camp'

The refugees were guarded by troops, police and Sudanese national security personnel, the UN official said.

Armed with machine guns, sticks and rubber hoses, they packed around 50 refugees and their belongings onto each truck, as evening fell. Read more >>>>>>>>>>>>

Banks rapped for Darfur "genocide" investments

Several Swiss banks have been accused by NGOs of helping to finance atrocities in Sudan with oil investments that allegedly grease the government's military machine.
A deal by Switzerland's biggest bank, UBS, to underwrite the Shanghai listing of Chinese oil firm PetroChina has come under particular scrutiny. The banks deny their deals help fund the violence.

Some non-governmental organisations believe that the Sudanese government uses up to 70 per cent of its oil revenues to finance continued violence in conflict-ridden Sudan, particularly in the western province of Darfur. They have therefore called on banks to stop investing in companies that do business in this sector.

The Swiss-based Berne Declaration, the Genocide Intervention Network and the Society for Threatened Peoples on Monday named several Swiss banks with alleged combined investments of SFr7 billion ($6 billion) in such firms.

"They are among the biggest shareholders and investors in oil companies that provide revenue for the Sudanese regime," Berne Declaration's Andreas Missbach told swissinfo.

"On environmental issues they realise that they are also responsible for the ecological footprint of their clients. But so far they have not got it in regards to human rights and they are trying to escape the discussion." Read more >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Ask displaced people in a Darfur camp

Four-and-a-half years of fighting between Sudan's government, pro-government Arab militias and rebel groups in the western Sudanese region of Darfur has driven more than 2m people from their homes.

The BBC's Amber Henshaw is at a camp for displaced people in north Darfur, and will be putting your questions to some of its residents. Their answers will be published on Friday.

Read about the Abu Shouk camp below and send your questions to six people who have first-hand experience of the horrors of this conflict :>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

"why the UN staff tries to prevent our unity and appear very keen to bring us divided to the table of talks."

October 22, 2007 (JUBA) — A Darfur rebel faction accused the UN mediation team of refusing to fly them back to their field base in Darfur from Juba in order to force them to go directly to Libya to attend the forthcoming peace talks.

Feb 14, 2007. (UN)A commander from the Sudan Liberation Movement (SLM) Unity faction accused the UN mediation team of keeping them in Juba where they were holding consultations sponsored by the government of southern Sudan.

Commander Adam Idriss Khatir, one of the SLM-Unity delegates to the meeting told Sudan Tribune from Juba that Hideo Ikabe, a Japanese national and the UNMIS contact officer with Darfur rebel groups, refused to transport them back to their bases in Darfur and wanted to fly them directly to Libya for Sirte talks.

Idriss said they needed to hold consultations with their leadership before going to Libya. He add that their mission as delegation is limited to participating in the Juba meeting after which they have to report back to their leadership on the outcome of the meeting. Read more >>>>>>>>>>>>>

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Darfur Adrift: A Skeptical Assessment of Resolution 1769 (Part 2 of 2)

More than 75 days after the culminating UN Security Council resolution to provide security for civilians and humanitarians in Darfur, more reasons than ever to doubt it will succeed

Eric Reeves
October 19, 2007

The recent massacre of civilians in Muhajiriya (South Darfur)---by Khartoum’s regular military forces and its Janjaweed militia allies---represents, in its vicious human destruction, the most conspicuous consequence of ongoing international acquiescence before the genocidal ambitions of the National Islamic Front regime. Muhajiriya also represents the kind of organized, regime-sponsored violence that the UN/African Union (“Hybrid”) Mission deploying to Darfur, per UN Security Council Resolution 1769 (July 31, 2007), must be prepared to confront. While it has become fashionable, indeed de rigueur, in reporting on Darfur to emphasize the complexity of the conflict, the fracturing of the rebel movements, and to make ever more insistent comparisons with violence in Somalia, Muhajiriya serves as a sharp reminder that the current chaos isn’t accidental. It is, as a recent Human Rights Watch report emphasizes, “Chaos by Design” (“Darfur 2007: Chaos by Design,” September 2007 at As it has for many years, stretching back to the second north/south conflict (1983-2005), Khartoum has sown division, engaged in divide-and-rule tactics, and exploited ethnic tensions at every moment of opportunity. The regime’s successes are nothing less than stunning.

To be sure, the tactics in Darfur have been accommodated to the particular nature of the counter-insurgency war currently being fought (see especially Human Rights Watch, “Chaos by Design,” pages 6, 22, 34, 38, 41-43, 45, 51, 53-54). But news reporting on the “complexity” of the Darfur crisis would be much more insightful if given an appropriate context, particularly in attending to the largest conclusion reached by Human Rights Watch:

“The government [of Sudan] continues to stoke the chaos [in Darfur] and, in some areas, exploit intercommunal tensions that escalate into open hostilities, apparently in an effort to ‘divide and rule’ and maintain military and political dominance over the region.” (HRW, page 6)Read more >>>>>>>>>>>>

ICC Struggles to Reach Out to Darfuris

An IWPR investigation shows victims of Darfur conflict remain largely ignorant of the court that’s pledged to deliver them justice.

By Katy Glassborow and Lisa Clifford in The Hague and Caroline Tosh and Daniel Barron in London (AR No. 139, 17-Oct-07)

As conflict rages in Darfur, few local people are aware of the work being done by the International Criminal Court, ICC, to prosecute those responsible for atrocities committed there, a wide-ranging investigation by IWPR can reveal.

According to our research, even educated Darfuris know little about the ICC and often misunderstand what it is trying to do. Among those who have heard of its work, many are frustrated by the lack of arrests, the slow pace of investigations and the court’s low profile on the ground - described as “invisible” by one victims’ group.

Other findings of the report – conducted by IWPR to gauge awareness of the court in Darfur, as well as to find out what justice means to those caught up in the devastating conflict – suggest justice is not uppermost in the minds of Darfuris. Most are far more preoccupied with the daily struggle to survive in a harsh environment where food, clean water and security are in short supply.

“Eighty per cent of the people do not know and are not interested in the ICC. They’re interested in survival,” one interviewee told IWPR.


Conflict broke out in western Darfur in 2003, when rebels took up arms, accusing the government of neglecting their region, which is the size of France.

Since then, numerous crimes have been committed against innocent civilians. The government in Khartoum is accused of deploying regular troops and paramilitary units drawn from local Arab tribes and known as Janjaweed, not only to fight the insurgent groups but also to terrorise the civilian population and drive them from their villages, thus depriving them of their livelihoods and the rebels of sustenance.

Some 2.5 million have been forced to flee their homes, while more than 200,000 have been killed in a conflict which the United Nations has described as one of the world's worst humanitarian crises, and Washington has called genocide.

Civilians have come under attack from government troops, militia and rebel groups, and the conflict has spilled over Sudan's borders into Chad and the Central African Republic.

In May 2007, the ICC - the world’s first permanent war crimes court, based in The Hague - issued arrest warrants for two suspects in relation to Darfur.

Former Sudanese interior minister Ahmad Harun and Janjaweed militia leader Ali Kushayb are wanted for war crimes and crimes against humanity in the region. Read more >>>>>

Thursday, October 18, 2007

New Darfur massacre reported

U.N. looks into claim 30 civilians slain by troops, some at prayers

By Jeffrey Gettleman,

Nairobi, Kenya | African Union and U.N. officials are looking into reports of a new massacre in Darfur, in which witnesses described government troops and their allied militias killing more than 30 civilians, slitting the throats of several men praying at a mosque and shooting a 5-year-old boy in the back as he tried to run away.

According to several residents of Muhagiriya, a small town in southern Darfur, two columns of uniformed government troops, along with dozens of militiamen not in uniform, surrounded the town about noon on Oct. 8 and stormed the market.

Muhagiriya was a stronghold of one of Darfur's many rebel factions, but witnesses said there were few rebels there at the time and that government forces turned their guns - and knives - on civilians.

Ayoub Jalal, a mechanic, said his father was praying at a mosque when soldiers burst in. "They dragged my father and the others out of the mosque and slashed their throats," said Jalal, who was interviewed by telephone.

Both the United Nations and the African Union confirmed that dozens of civilians had been killed and that witnesses consistently identified the attackers as government soldiers and allied gunmen. However, neither group said it could independently verify who was responsible. Read more >>>>>>>>>>

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Email the Olympic Corporate Sponsors

Dear Friend of Darfur:

We are asking for your help to end the suffering in Darfur.

Please take a moment today to click the above link and send a letter to selected companies sponsoring the August 2008 Olympics, hosted by China. (Our email system will let you do this with the touch of a button.) The dozens of Olympic corporate Partners and Sponsors are among the most familiar brands in the world: Coca Cola, Adidas, Johnson & Johnson, and GE, among others.

Why these companies? Let us explain: We are focusing on these companies because they are sponsoring the 2008 Beijing Olympics, and China has unrivaled influence with the government of Sudan. China has an opportunity to help bring security to civilians in Darfur. We are asking everyone associated with the Olympics to express their wish -- within the Olympic movement and to the Chinese host -- that Beijing help ensure there is security on the ground in Darfur before the Games begin. Read more >>>>>

Sudan and militia forces level Darfour village

CAIRO — Sudan has launched a new offensive in the war-torn Darfour province.
Rebel sources said the Sudanese Army and Air Force have attacked rebel positions in southeastern Darfour over the last week. The sources said at least 105 people were killed in a military strike on Haskanita, a rebel stronghold.

The United Nations, which operates in Darfour, said most of Haskanita's 7,000 residents have fled. UN staffers said the mosque and school were the only buildings left in Haskanita. Read more >>>>>>>>>>

24 killed after Sudan government "bombed" Darfur town

Some 24 people were Tuesday reported to have been killed in a new round of bombing in Sudan's embattled Darfur region, an attack squarely blamed on the government by the head of the African Union (AU) force in the region.

The attack on Muhajirya on Monday was the latest in a spate of violence in the embattled region ahead of peace talks in Libya set for October 27.

"The town was bombed and only the Sudanese government forces have aircraft," General Martin Luther Agwai, head of the 7,000-member AU force in Darfur, said.

The United Nations said the clashes took place between Minni Minnawi's Sudan Liberation Movement - one of the few factions that signed an earlier peace agreement - and a group of tribal militia. Read more >>>>>>>>>>>>

Monday, October 08, 2007

Khartoum accused of widening Darfur offensive

by Mohamed Hasni

KHARTOUM, Oct 8, 2007 (AFP) - Rebels and former rebels in the war-ravaged Sudanese region of Darfur accused the Khartoum government on Monday of launching a major offensive against key towns ahead of UN-sponsored peace talks.

A key rebel leader, whose freedom of movement UN chief Ban Ki-moon secured on a visit to the Sudanese capital last month, accused the Sudanese army of razing a Darfur town and killing up to 100 people in retaliation for an attack on African Union troops.

And the sole Darfur rebel movement to have signed a peace agreement with the Khartoum government, accused the military of launching an assault on a nearby town that had been under its control.

The reported upsurge in fighting less than three weeks before new peace talks are due to be held between the government and the rebels drew condemnation from the US embassy although it refrained from specifically blaming the Khartoum government. Read more >>>>>>>>>>>>

Sudan army attacks Darfur partners in peace-rebels

By Opheera McDoom

KHARTOUM, Oct 8 (Reuters) - Sudanese government troops and allied militia on Monday attacked a town belonging to the only Darfur rebel faction to sign a 2006 peace deal, the faction said.

"Government planes have attacked Muhajiriya, which belongs to us, and government forces and Janjaweed militia are fighting our forces," said Khalid Abakar, a senior representative from the Sudan Liberation Army (SLA).

Abakar is from the SLA faction led by Minni Arcua Minnawi, the only one of three rebel negotiating factions to sign a May 2006 peace deal with Khartoum. The movement then became part of the government and controls Muhajiriya town in South Darfur.

"We consider this a very serious development," the head of Minnawi's office, Mohamed Bashir, told Reuters. Read more >>>>>

Sunday, October 07, 2007

Mia Farrow in Darfur documentary

By Lee-Anne Goodman,

TORONTO - When most of the world looked away during the massacre of almost a million people in Rwanda in 1994, the United Nations vowed "never again."

That's why humanitarians, including American actress Mia Farrow, were stunned when, a decade later, the first genocide of the 21st century got underway in Darfur, and again the world - and more significantly, the United Nations - did next to nothing to stop it.

A new documentary by longtime CBC producer Neil Docherty, "Darfur: On Our Watch," is a disturbing look not just at the tragedy of Darfur but the utter failure of the UN, once again, to do anything meaningful to stop genocide. This time it's in an arid region of western Sudan, tense with tribal rivalries.

"The United Nations has been reduced to pandering and begging for the UN peacekeeping force because there is no precedent for the UN to enter a country without the consent of the government," Farrow, a tireless Darfur activist, says during the gripping documentary airing Thursday on CBC-TV. Read more >>>>>>>

Saturday, October 06, 2007

Sudan government, militia forces raze Darfur town - rebels

(Reuters) - Sudanese government forces and militia groups razed a town in central Darfur where African Union soldiers were attacked, rebel leaders said on Friday, adding the troops were also threatening to raid a nearby town.

Sudan's army and Darfur rebel movements blame each other for last week's assault on the AU base in Haskanita in which 10 African Union soldiers were killed -- the worst attack on AU troops since they deployed in Sudan.

On Friday rebel leaders said at least 100 people have been killed and thousands displaced in Haskanita since Wednesday by the Sudanese army and pro-government Janjaweed militia forces. Read more >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

Thursday, October 04, 2007

"Darfur's bitter ironies," from The Guardian (on-line)

By Eric Reeves

It is grimly ironic that a group of international eminences---the “Elders,” as they are called---arrived in Khartoum on Sunday, the same day more than 10 African Union peacekeepers were killed during a large-scale rebel attack near the village of Haskanita, in eastern North Darfur. Chaired by South African archbishop Desmond Tutu, the delegation, which also includes former US president Jimmy Carter and Lakhdar Brahimi, a former UN envoy to Iraq, offered earnest, but now familiar platitudes: “We, the Elders, are here because we care deeply for the fate of our planet, and we feel intensely for the suffering of millions of people in Darfur who yearn for nothing more than peace and dignity.” The rebel force---apparently comprising a faction of the Justice and Equality Movement and rogue commanders from the Sudan Liberation Army/Unity faction---took a savagely more expedient view of the situation, seizing a number of vehicles and other military equipment from the AU outpost.

Nothing can justify this barbaric attack against peacekeepers attempting, however feebly, to provide protection in Darfur. But the AU forces have been badly betrayed by their political and military leaders, particularly AU commissioner Alpha Oumar Konaré, who has become abject in his deference to Khartoum, particularly on security issues. The AU leadership has also refused to respond to the legitimate concerns of rebel groups that did not sign last year’s ill-conceived and disastrously consummated Darfur Peace Agreement, including the rebel demand for more public and timely reports about atrocity crimes committed by Khartoum’s forces. This is also the same AU leadership that stubbornly refused to ask earlier for a UN takeover of the Darfur mission, even as its inadequacies were apparent to all, including a number of African leaders. These failings have all contributed to growing distrust, even hatred of the AU by Darfuris. Read more >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

Italy: Urge Sudan to Arrest War Crime Suspects

(Brussels, September 14, 2007) –
Italian Prime Minister Romano Prodi and Pope Benedict XVI should call on the government of Sudan to fulfill its legal duty to arrest International Criminal Court suspects when Sudan’s President Omar El Bashir visits today, Human Rights Watch said today.

During the visit of United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to Sudan last week, the Sudanese government appointed International Criminal Court (ICC) suspect Ahmed Haroun to chair a committee designated to hear human rights complaints from victims of abuse in war-torn Darfur. Haroun, who is currently the state minister of humanitarian affairs, is wanted by the ICC for 42 counts of crimes against humanity and war crimes. ICC judges found “reasonable grounds to believe” that Haroun is responsible for persecuting, raping, attacking and killing civilians in four western Darfur villages in 2003 and 2004.

Evidence indicates Haroun recruited, paid and supplied arms to the government-backed “Janjaweed” militias who carried out the attacks. Human Rights Watch named Haroun as one of the government leaders implicated in serious international crimes in Darfur in 2003-2004 in its December 2005 report “Entrenching Impunity”. Read more >>>>>>>>

'Elders' Express Horror At What They See in Darfur

A group of elders including former U.S. President Jimmy Carter and Archbishop Desmond Tutu has told of the horrifying stories they heard during a visit to Sudan's Darfur region, and they urged the international community to speed up the deployment of a new peacekeeping mission for the region. Nick Wadhams has the story from Nairobi.

The Elders, a group of prominent international figures, told reporters in the Sudanese capital Khartoum that people in Darfur were desperate for protection, despite the Sudanese government's insistence that the situation in the region is getting better.

Some people they visited slipped them notes full of allegations of rape and other abuse by militias aligned with the Sudanese government. The wife of former South African President Nelson Mandela, Graca Machel, told of her meeting with women in Darfur.

"The first thing they told us they need security," she said. "They need security. They gave us examples of what happened to them, even graphically, to show how women are being raped, are beaten and are brutalized. I think because they thought we may not get a clear translation, they went at length of using gestures to show us how brutal it was, the kind of assault they are subjected to." Read more >>>>>>>>>

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Dwindling resources add to misery in Darfur


The lines for water never stop in the refugee camps in Sudan’s Darfur region. Already ravaged by a violent civil war, Darfur now faces a growing environmental crisis as drought, deforestation and overstressed land have depleted much of the region’s natural resources. ABU SHOUK CAMP, Sudan | Wells at this giant Darfur refugee camp are drying up.

Women wait as long as three days for water, using jerricans to save their places in line. A year ago, residents could fill a 5-gallon plastic can in a few minutes, but lately the flow is so slow, it takes a half-hour.

“The water is running out,” said Mariam Ahmed Mohammed, 35, sweating at the pump with an infant strapped to her back. “As soon as I fill one jerrican, I put another at the back of the line.”

Water isn’t the only endangered resource. Forests were chopped down long ago, and the roots dug up for firewood. Thousands of displaced families live atop prime agricultural land, preventing farmers from growing food. Read more >>>>>>>>>>>

Monday, October 01, 2007

Darfur Activists Seek Pressure on China

Activists are hoping the worldwide attention on next year's Olympics in China will raise international awareness about the genocide in Darfur.

Nearly a hundred people rallied on Church Street Sunday afternoon. They say China has supported Sudan's oppressive regime by supplying arms and importing their oil. The activists say international pressure on China could help bring genocide to an end.

"The real goal here is to call on China to use their special relationship with Sudan to end the genocide in Sudan. So far we have four million people who live in refugee camps, over 200 thousand people have died and China has a real opportunity to play a critical role in ending the genocide in Darfur," said Ben Prochazka with the Save Darfur Coalition. Read more >>>>>

The Darfur Response

The figures are startling for what has been called “the forgotten war” – Darfur.

The continuing conflict between the government of Sudan and the southern rebels of the Sudan People’s Liberation Army began in 2004 and has, according to United Nations estimates, killed more than 200,000 people, left more than 2.5 million homeless and more than 4 million caught in the crossfire. But with many man-made and natural calamities competing for attention and aid, Sudan has, sadly, slipped from the world’s radar.

However, church groups, among them the Action by Churches Together (ACT) International and Caritas Internationalis, have continued to respond to the humanitarian crisis spawned by the crisis in Sudan’s Darfur provinces. (The Primate’s World Relief and Development Fund, the relief and development arm of the Anglican Church of Canada and a member of ACT International, has since 2004, released $130,021 in support of relief and rehabilitation efforts in Sudan.) Read more >>>>>>>>>

Divestment: Ending the Genocide in Darfur

When confronted by the crime of genocide, human rights activists do not typically dash to state capitols. Since 1787, foreign policy has remained outside states’ bailiwick, with Congress and the President serving as more appropriate venues for foreign policymaking. So when the United States declared the atrocities unfolding in Sudan’s vast Darfur region to constitute genocide in 2004, activists rightly responded by flooding Congressional mailboxes and crowding the Washington Mall, demanding an end to the violence.

However, as subsequent failed cease-fires and watered-down UN resolutions demonstrated, too many vital economic interests were at stake to alter Darfur’s bloody status quo. In an attempt to break the logjam, several student activists across the country began to follow the money, discovering that more than 70% of Sudan’s oil revenues is steered towards the country’s military expenditures, fueling the genocide in Darfur. Additionally, the mostly Asian oil companies operating in the country’s petroleum sector have committed human rights abuses of their own, facilitated arms transfers, and in at least one case, refueled military aircraft. Because Sudan’s foreign debt exceeds its gross domestic product, and the country possesses little capability for indigenous oil production, Khartoum lies acutely vulnerable to economic pressure. Although longstanding US sanctions mean that American companies are rarely involved with Sudan, university endowments and city/state pension funds are investing in the very firms that are underpinning the regime. Read more >>>>>>>>>>>