Monday, June 16, 2008

Darfur: Millions of Vulnerable Civilians Sliding Closer to Starvation

The international community fails to heed the warning signs or hold Khartoum accountable

Eric Reeves
June 15, 2008

Despite five years of genocidal counter-insurgency warfare in Darfur, millions among its ravaged civilian population will soon enter a third month receiving only half the necessary food rations from the UN’s World Food Program (WFP). Despite the presence of the world’s largest humanitarian relief operation, the people of Darfur begin the current rainy season with only half the minimum kilocalorie diet necessary to sustain human life. Since the rainy season coincides with the traditional “hunger gap”---the period between spring planting and fall harvest---we may expect to see significant human starvation in the coming months, relentlessly adding to the hundreds of thousands who have already died from ethnically-targeted violence, displacement, and consequent malnutrition and disease. A grim genocide by attrition is set to enter its deadliest phase.

How can this be? And why don’t the alarms sounded by humanitarian organizations compel greater international response? Answers tell us too much about why Darfur’s agony shows no signs of abating.

Since the beginning of May, WFP has delivered to Darfur only half the required food tonnage. The reason is insecurity, as food convoys face the constant threat of violent hijacking. Drivers are beaten, robbed, and too often killed; as a result, they increasingly refuse to make the dangerous trip through the western part of Kordofan Province and especially inside Darfur. The Khartoum regime should of course provide military escorts for these critical, though highly vulnerable, convoys. But the National Islamic Front comprises the very men responsible for orchestrating the Darfur catastrophe. Although they have made soothing noises about protecting food convoys, they have in fact done nothing of significance. Indeed, an ill-advised Darfuri rebel attack on Khartoum’s twin city of Omdurman in May has occasioned redeployment of military force away from the convoy routes. Those waiting for Khartoum to protect the vital corridors for urgently needed increases in foodstocks will wait in vain.

Indeed, Khartoum is much more interested in militarily supporting its proxy force of Chadian rebel groups, reportedly massing for a new assault on N’Djamena and the regime of Idriss Déby. Khartoum holds Déby responsible for supporting the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) attack on Omdurman, and this would appear to be the moment in which the regime means to settle the score. Read more >>>>>>

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