The Darfur Consortium

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Darfur in the News

U.S. and European Media

August 2, 2023

Associated Press: Sudan Praises U.N. Peacekeeping Force. Sudan on Wednesday endorsed a U.N. resolution to send 26,000 peacekeepers to Darfur, raising hopes for a force that could for the first time provide real protection to civilians in one of the world's most embattled regions. If fully deployed, the troops would be the United Nation's largest peacekeeping operation and, under the U.N. resolution passed Tuesday, would be under orders to prevent attacks against civilians. Attack helicopters expected to be sent in would give the troops a major edge in moving quickly across the large territory in central Africa -- about the size of France -- to stop attacks by Arab janjaweed militias on villages. ''The Sudanese government is committed to implementing its part of the resolution,'' Sudanese Foreign Minister Lam Akol told reporters Wednesday. ''This force is only going to have a significant impact on security (for Darfurians) if two things happen: a sufficient deployment of troops with requisite material, and a real political agreement for peace in Darfur,'' said Colin Thomas-Jensen, a Sudan expert at the Enough Project, a U.S.-based research and advocacy group. Western activists warned that Khartoum could eviscerate the new Darfur mission by, for instance, not granting entry visas to blue helmets, holding up key military gear at customs or impeding contractors sent in to build peacekeeping bases. ''That kind of obstruction is likely how Sudan is going to try to slow down and eventually kill the deployment of this force, which I'm fully confident it's going to try to do,'' said Larry Rossin, head of the Save Darfur Coalition. ''It will do it like that rather than by frontally rejecting the resolution.''

Reuters: Daunting Task to Unify Darfur Rebels. With a 26,000-strong force now authorized by the United Nations to police Sudan's Darfur region, diplomats this weekend turn to the difficult task of bringing unity to the rebel side of the four-year-old conflict. The aim at talks starting on Friday in Arusha, Tanzania, will be to get roughly a dozen rebel factions to agree on a common platform for peace talks with the government and to decide where and when those will happen. The challenge has taken on new importance since the U.N. Security Council on Tuesday approved deployment of the joint U.N. and African Union force to quell violence in Darfur. U.N. envoy Jan Eliasson and African Union counterpart Salim Ahmed Salim have been pushing hard to get the rebels to the table, but persuading them to agree a deal that could lead to a comprehensive peace pact for Darfur is a daunting task. Even getting the rebels to Arusha is a logistical challenge, let alone trying to get them to bridge internal divisions. Talks are also likely to take place without one major player, Sudan Liberation Movement faction leader Abdel Wahed Mohamed el-Nur, who has spurned calls from the African Union and United Nations to attend. Although Nur does not have many troops, his support among refugees and other Darfuris gives him a power diplomats say is key to unifying rebels fighting in an area the size of France.

The following editorial appeared in today's Wall Street Journal.

Spectators to Genocide

Four years, 200,000 dead and two million displaced people later, the United Nations has finally authorized a peacekeeping contingent for Sudan's Darfur region. Good intentions and eternal hope aside, this latest mission looks ready-made to continue the U.N.'s sorry record on stopping genocide.

The 26,000 troops -- a combination of the current 7,000-strong African Union force and a new U.N. brigade -- will be stretched to cover an area the size of France. But the bigger handicap of the "hybrid" force is its mandate, watered down by China and Russia, which blocked tougher action. This is what happens when "consensus" is given higher priority than achieving actual security on the ground.

The resolution approved Tuesday by a unanimous vote of the Security Council goes out of its way to respect Sudanese sovereignty. Fine as that goes, except that Khartoum has consistently invoked "sovereignty" to prevent peacekeepers from interfering in the mass murder of Darfur's black Africans. The composition of the force itself will be done "in consultation" with Sudan, which has insisted that it stay strictly African -- a limitation that, if accepted, would ensure that troops will be difficult to mobilize. African countries have hesitated to fill out the ranks of other African Union missions, and the first troop offers yesterday came from France, Denmark and Indonesia.

In any case, the troops' ability to use force will be severely limited by another concession to Sudan. The soldiers will not be allowed to seize weapons from the government-supported Janjaweed killers, the Darfur rebels fighting against Khartoum, or other wandering thugs toting guns. Instead, they will "monitor whether any arms or related material are present in Darfur." If they find any? Oh, well.

The resolution also removes sticks to get Sudan to cease hostilities and let the U.N. troops and humanitarian groups do their work. As originally worded, backsliding would have triggered the threat of sanctions. No more. China's ambassador to the U.N., Wang Guangya, said the resolution was intended "to authorize the launch of a hybrid operation, rather than exert pressure or impose sanctions," according to a U.N. summary of delegations' statements. More accurately, the resolution is intended to suggest the U.N. is finally doing something about Darfur and thus shield China from growing criticism that it is protecting Khartoum.

In the 1990s slaughterhouses of Rwanda and Bosnia, the road to genocide was paved by U.N. peacekeepers. Blue helmets armed with weak mandates stood by powerless or were even exploited by the ethnic cleansers to enable their killing sprees. After watching nearly a million Rwandans murdered in 1994, the West realized that the U.N. mission in Bosnia was also doomed to failure. NATO countries finally stepped in to stop Bosnia's war with the credible use of force and diplomatic pressure.

Now the same U.N. mistakes may be repeated in Sudan. Khartoum won't tolerate a potent force in the absence of outside pressure -- and China and Russia won't permit the U.N. to apply that pressure. Liberal moralists calling on the world to "do something" in Sudan while also putting faith in the U.N. above all else need to face up to this contradiction. Otherwise, there will be more Rwandas, Bosnias and Darfurs.

The following editorial appeared in today's Philadelphia Inquirer.

Help for Darfur: Any delay costs lives

At least one unknown U.S. senator is withholding a tool for ending the genocide in Darfur by blocking a bill to financially pressure Sudan and its ally, China, into ending atrocities. That anonymous official deserves scorn. Colleagues should press the holdout for passage this week of the Sudan Divestment Authorization Act of 2007.

The legislation would make it easier to enforce current U.S. prohibitions against doing business with Sudan, whose leaders are helping to perpetuate mass killings and dislocation of civilians in its western region of Darfur.

The government in Khartoum is thought to use the money it gets from oil revenue to finance the genocide in Darfur.

The House overwhelmingly passed a similar bill this week. But fast-tracked passage, even though it has widespread support, is stalled in the Senate by a maneuver that allows the obstructionist to be anonymous.

Since the Democratic caucus has given the bill its blessing, rumors of who is blocking it revolve around Republicans.

This isn't an issue that can afford the time-consuming machinations that are so prevalent on Capitol Hill. The world's dithering already has contributed to hundreds of thousands dead and more than two million civilians displaced from their homes since fighting began in 2003.

The divestment movement puts badly needed pressure on China, Sudan's biggest purchaser of oil. Because China craves Sudanese oil, Beijing has used its veto power as a permanent member of the United Nations Security Council to shield its trade partner from sanctions.

The economic pinch from divestment has had an effect, as U.N. action this week has shown.

The Security Council, including China, approved a resolution to deploy 26,000 peacekeepers to Darfur. The measure has its flaws, including not authorizing peacekeepers to disarm militias. It also lacks provisions for future sanctions should Sudan's leaders violate their pledge to cooperate.

Still, getting the Security Council to authorize a hybrid U.N.-African Union contingent with what is called a "Chapter 7" mandate could bring real protection to Darfur's suffering millions.

That mandate means peacekeepers can use force to protect civilians and humanitarian workers. Unlike the passivity of the few peacekeepers in Rwanda during the 1994 genocide, blue berets in Darfur will be able to take action if atrocities occur.

U.N. members must do better, however, than organizing and dispatching a peacekeeping force by the end of the year.

As with the holdup in the U.S. Senate of the Sudan Divestment Authorization Act, action needs to be swift. Those who cause delays on action that could help end genocide should understand that makes them accomplices in the suffering of innocents.


The Darfur Daily News is a service of the Save Darfur Coalition.  To subscribe to the Daily News, please email [email protected]. For media inquiries, please contact  Ashley Roberts  at (202) 478-6181, or [email protected].

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