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Darfur in the News

U.S. and European Media

August 9, 2023

Reuters: Sudan Says Will Free Darfur Rebel Jamous For Talks. Sudan said on Thursday it would lift a threat to arrest Darfur rebel figure Suleiman Jamous when peace talks start to end more than four years of conflict. Jamous is seen as key to uniting fractured insurgents in Sudan's remote west. "When there are real talks for sure he will be set free," State Minister for Foreign Affairs Ali Karti told Reuters. He declined to say whether there would be conditions on his release. Jamous has been virtually imprisoned in a U.N. hospital near Darfur for more than 13 months after the United Nations airlifted him there for medical treatment. Khartoum was not informed of the U.N. move and calls Jamous a criminal. It had said he would be arrested if he leaves U.N. care. Jamous was the rebel Sudan Liberation Army humanitarian coordinator and helped the world's largest aid operation get access to hundreds of thousands in need in the vast region. Last week 11 prominent activists including South African Archbishop Desmond Tutu, former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Richard Holbrooke, former Czech President Vaclav Havel and Nobel Peace Prize laureate Jody Williams asked Bashir to release Jamous.

The following editorial appeared in Wednesday's Chicago Tribune.

UN 'resolve' on Darfur

It's hard to be optimistic about the UN Security Council's toothless resolution -- gee, why does that phrase ring a bell? -- to send a peacekeeping force to Darfur. Four years in the making, the resolution calls for of 26,000 international troops who will be authorized to defend themselves or to protect civilians -- but not to disarm the rebels or the deadly government-sponsored militias before they attack civilians.

The resolution dutifully promises not to disrespect Sudan's sovereignty. That's an open invitation to more stonewalling from President Omar Hassan al-Bashir, who has long railed against Western interference in the genocidal morass that he insists is Sudan's business alone.

The resolution also requires UN officials to consult with Sudan on the composition of the force, assuring that it won't be in place by the Dec. 31 deadline if al-Bashir continues to insist on a mostly African makeup. The African Union, whose 7,000 troops have struggled and failed to contained the chaos since 2004, can't come close to mobilizing another 19,000. (France, Denmark and Indonesia have offered to contribute personnel.)

The threat of sanctions if Sudan fails to cooperate also was removed from the final draft. Why?

The resolution had been blocked by China, Sudan's most important trading partner, until it had been watered down enough for al-Bashir to sign off on it. China has invested billions in Sudan's oil industry, buys two-thirds of its oil and sells Sudan's army the weapons that end up in the hands of the murderous militias. For months, pressure has been mounting on China to urge Sudan to stop the killing. A campaign to boycott the 2008 Summer Olympics -- which human rights activists have dubbed the "Genocide Olympics" -- finally prodded China into action.

The resulting resolution is riddled with enough loopholes to suit al-Bashir (for now), thus giving China the cover it needed to join the rest of the Security Council in unanimous approval.

But there's nothing unanimous about the intended message: In for-the-record statements, the U.S. said it would call for "unilateral and multilateral action" if Sudan fails to cooperate with the arrival of peacekeepers, while China praised the Sudanese government's "vigorous efforts" to address the crisis -- and stressed that the resolution was not meant to pressure Khartoum. Whatever.

Twice in recent history, we've seen what happens when UN peacekeepers are hamstrung by half-hearted mandates. They couldn't stop the civil war that killed more than 100,000 in Bosnia in the 1990s. They watched helplessly as Hutu soldiers slaughtered 800,000 Tutsis in Rwanda in 1994.

In Darfur, the death toll already is at least 250,000, with millions more living in refugee camps. The dead and homeless, most of them civilians, were attacked by marauding horsemen known as janjaweed who were unleashed by Sudan's government in response to a 2003 uprising.

Ethnic Africans in Darfur accuse the Arab-dominated government of discrimination. The country's oil wealth largely benefits the elite who live in the capital, while poor farmers and nomads struggle to survive with dwindling resources, especially water. The government has brutally repressed those who rebelled against the inequities, and has openly violated the terms of a partial peace agreement struck last year. UN mediators are currently working to bring the parties back to the table.

It's crucial for the international community -- and yes, that includes China -- to insist that Sudan's government negotiate a wealth- and power-sharing agreement with its fractious rebel population. Righting the economic wrongs is as essential to peace as stopping the slaughter.

But "insisting" is a noise the UN often makes without companion resolve to stop human slaughter. If that pattern doesn't change, the death toll in Darfur will only rise higher.


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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