The Darfur Consortium

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Darfur in the News

U.S. and European Media

August 27, 2023

Washington Post: Darfur Peacekeeping Force Has 'Unprecedented' Mission. A hybrid U.N.-African Union peacekeeping force for the Darfur region of Sudan has received sufficient pledges for participation, though critical needs remain for technical support and an engineer corps, a top U.N. official said. "It is unprecedented what we are trying to do here," Jane Holl Lute, the U.N. assistant secretary general for peacekeeping operations, said about the coordination between the African Union and the United Nations. But "the political process is the heart of the peacekeeping mission. It can only walk alongside the process, not substitute it," she said. Lute, an American, said the headquarters for the 31,000-member force would be operational in El Fasher, capital of North Darfur state, by the first week of October. Lute, who traveled to Darfur in July, cited enormous operational challenges. The desert terrain is daunting, and sandstorms are frequent. El Fasher is 125 miles from the nearest port, which means massive equipment will have to be transported overland. Roads must be built. Commercial companies will handle the construction of camp sites and the foundations for water and fuel storage, she said. Roving bands operate in the vast, lawless areas of Darfur. "Our mission is critical for the delivery of humanitarian assistance. Even among these opportunists, these are people who want to kill, not who want to die. When they see a supreme force come in, they will find an alternative path," she said.

Reuters: AU Envoy Salim Urges Darfur Parties to Join Talks. African Union envoy Salim Ahmed Salim, seeking support from west Sudan's Darfuris for a ceasefire and peace talks, had a stormy reception when he met community and tribal leaders on Sunday. Some of those Salim met at the African Union base in the town of el-Geneina walked out, accusing him angrily of favoring others. Salim was meeting leaders of the millions who have fled their homes during 4-1/2 years of conflict and live in miserable camps across Darfur -- university professors, community workers and lawyers -- and asking them how best to tackle peace talks due in October. "We want to listen to you," was Salim's message as he missed a formal lunch to demonstrate his commitment to hearing their points of view. After six hours' flying, and facing a 6 p.m. curfew at Darfur's main airport in el-Fasher, Salim spent more than two hours talking to civil society and camp leaders, angering Arab tribal leaders who were then told they had only five minutes of his time. "You spend weeks and months ... talking to the armed groups ... but for us you have only five minutes," said Mohamed Salih al-Amin Baraka, spokesman for the nomadic Arab tribes. "Either you give us the full time allocated to us or we will just leave," he said, supported by angry snorts of agreement from other Arab leaders.

Washington Post: A Crisis of Conscience Over Refugees in Israel. Israel's decision to close its doors to asylum-seekers from Darfur and all other non-Jewish refugees has Israelis and Jews around the world struggling with their distinct identities of Israel: a Jewish state with a Jewish people, or a state born from the Holocaust with a determination to challenge future genocides and succor their victims. Israeli refugee groups said this week that they would challenge in court Israel's new policy of blocking Africans who enter the country from Egypt. International and Israeli rights groups maintain that returning the would-be refugees without assessing their claims for asylum violates international accords, including the 1951 U.N. Refugee Convention, as well as Israeli law and government commitments. In its decision announced last weekend, Israel also said it would expel to Egypt all but 500 people from Darfur already in the Jewish state. Turning back the Darfur refugees "is unconscionable by any standard," columnist Evelyn Gordon wrote in the Jerusalem Post. Jewish groups in the United States have taken a leading role in raising awareness about the killing and in urging the United States and other entities to take action against Sudan. The American Jewish World Service and the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum founded the Save Darfur Coalition, the biggest raiser of private funds for Darfur in the United States. "It's typical that too much of the response has been, 'Here's how I think Israel should have handled it, here's how Israel shouldn't handle it, here's why Israel should be criticized,' " said Ruth Messinger, president of the American Jewish World Service, a member of the executive committee of the Save Darfur Coalition. "Darfur . . . is a world problem." Messinger said she and others would begin an advocacy campaign encouraging the United States to take in more Darfur refugees. Immigration records indicate that the United States accepted fewer than 2,000 refugees from all of Sudan last year. For Israel's part, she said, the country had an obligation to follow the law regarding refugees but needed more assistance from the U.N. refugee agency to do so.

Associated Press: Farrow Presses China to Help End Abuse. After starting an Olympic-style torch relay through countries that have suffered genocide, Mia Farrow on Friday pressed China, the host of the 2008 summer games, to help end abuses in the Darfur region of Sudan. Farrow recently returned from refugee camps in eastern Chad, which she visited in her role as a U.N. Goodwill ambassador and to start the torch relay. She recounted stories from the ravaged area to reporters on Friday, including the tales of women refugees from Darfur who survived attacks by militias only to be imprisoned for months and repeatedly abused. Farrow said China's massive oil interest in Sudan is effectively funding attacks on the people of Darfur, and she urged the government to encourage Sudan to embrace the peacekeeping force. "China is hosting the 2008 Olympic Games and their slogan for the games is 'One world, One dream' but there is one nightmare - that China is not allowed to sweep under the rug - and that nightmare is Darfur," Farrow said. The Darfur torch relay will also go to Armenia, Bosnia, Germany, Cambodia and finally in December to Hong Kong.

NPR: Rights Group: Sudan Still Sends Weapons to Darfur. Amnesty International says Sudan's government continues to send weapons to Darfur in violation of a peace treaty and a U.N. arms embargo. Amnesty International released photos of military aircraft, including Russian-made attack helicopters and Antonov planes, that it says belonged to the Sudanese government, at an airport in west Darfur. The photos also show containers being loaded onto military trucks. The human rights group urged the United Nations to give its planned peacekeeping force for the region the authority to confiscate weapons from combatants. To listen to this story, please follow the link provided above.

The following op-ed by Mia Farrow appeared in today's Independent (UK).

I am a witness to Darfur's suffering

My first visit to Darfur was in 2004. It changed the way I needed to live my life. I have just returned from my seventh trip to the region. I don't think I have the words to adequately represent what I have seen and heard there.

Incomprehensibly, it has now been more than four years since the killing began. Some experts believe half a million human beings have died thus far. Others bicker about the exact death toll - as if it makes a shred of difference to how we must respond.

Only the perpetrators dispute that hundreds of thousands of innocent men women and children have been killed, in ways that cannot be imagined or described. It is all the more appalling that we cannot know - that no one is yet able to count the dead. And the dying continues.

We can, however, know with certainty that more than four million people are dependent on food aid because their homes, villages, and the fields that sustained them, are ashes now. We also know that two and a half million human beings are struggling to exist amid deplorable conditions in squalid camps across Darfur and eastern Chad. I am a witness to their suffering.

The stories of those who survived the attacks are numbingly similar. Without warning, Antonov bombers and attack helicopters filled the morning skies and rained bombs upon homes and families as they slept, as they played, as they prayed, as they tended their fields. Those who could run tried to gather their children and fled in all directions.

Then the Janjaweed - government-backed Arab militia - attacked on horseback and on camels (and more recently in vehicles). They came shouting racial epithets and shooting. They shot the children as they ran, they shot the elderly.

I spoke to mothers whose babies were shot from their backs, or torn from their arms and bayoneted before their eyes, whose children were tossed into bonfires. I met men whose eyes were gouged out with knives. Strong women in frail voices described their gang rapes; some were abducted and assaulted continuously over many weeks.

"No one came to help me," they said, as they showed me the brandings carved into their bodies, and tendons sliced and how they hobble now.

"Tell people what is happening here" implored one victim, Halima. Three of her five children had been killed. "Tell them we will all die. Tell them we need help." I promised her I would do my best to tell the world what is happening there. In the years since 2004, over and over and over, in camp after camp, and deep in my heart I have made this promise.

In October, I will return to the region. People will tell me their stories and again will ask for protection. I will listen, I will take more photographs, and I will keep trying to tell the world what is happening there. The people of Darfur continue to plead for protection, and still no one has come. What does this say about us?

Last week, on the Chad-Darfur border, in a region where genocide is occurring now, we lit a symbolic Olympic flame. The flame honours all those who have been lost, and those who suffer; it celebrates the courage of those who have survived, and is a symbol of hope for an end to genocide everywhere.

We lit the flame again in Rwanda where the agony of survivors is palpable - and without end. We gathered strength from their strength.

In Kigali, survivors expressed their wish to join their spirits with ours as we take the flame to other communities of survivors: Cambodia, Armenia, Germany, Bosnia.

Today, I look at Rwanda and see the abysmal failure of the United Nations and of all the nations of the world. Collectively and individually, we failed in our most essential responsibility to protect the innocent from slaughter and suffering.

We look to world leaders and our own governments and see that they are mired in self-serving interests. What are we to do about this? I tell my children that "with knowledge comes responsibility." Yet our leaders do not reflect this at all.

Most of us do not want innocent people to be slaughtered. Most of us wish others well and hope for a world in which all people everywhere can be safe. Yet, in the face of power and politics, we tend to feel overwhelmed, so we step aside and attend to our own business. The future of the world, if there is to be a future, surely lies in humility and in human responsibility. Let us draw strength and courage from the survivors of genocide and conviction from the voices of the dead.

After the Nazi Holocaust, the world vowed "never again". How obscenely disingenuous those fine words sound today. As we look at Darfur and eastern Chad - a region that has been described as "Rwanda in slow motion" - are we to conclude that "never again" applies only to white people?

I hope that caring people of the world will band together and with one voice demand an end to the terrible crime of genocide.


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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