The Darfur Consortium

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Darfur in the News

U.S. and European Media

December 12, 2022

Reuters: Fate Of U.N. Rights Envoy For Sudan Hangs In Balance. The fate of the United Nations human rights investigator for Sudan, who has reported war crimes in Darfur, hangs in the balance this week as African and Islamic countries seek to end her mandate. Sima Samar, a former Afghan deputy prime minister, has served in the independent post of the U.N. special rapporteur on the human rights situation in Sudan since 2005. But African and Islamic countries told the U.N. Human Rights Council on Tuesday that conditions in Darfur had improved and that Khartoum had been cooperative with recent U.N. inquiries. They saw no need to renew both Samar's investigative mandate and that of a separate group of seven independent experts that she leads. The larger group does not have the power to carry out fact-finding missions on the ground, deemed crucial. Manfred Nowak, the U.N. torture investigator who is among the seven experts, said he feared that some of the support for that group's work "might be used as a pretext to abolish a country-specific special rapporteur." "In situations where there are gross systematic human rights violations it is my deep conviction that country-specific special rapporteurs carry out a very important function. Sudan is one of those countries," Nowak told a news briefing. The seven experts, in their latest report last week, said that Sudanese forces and their allied militia had carried out ground attacks and aerial bombardments on villages in Darfur in the past six months, killing hundreds of people. Keeping the world's spotlight on the Sudanese government -- which has been accused of sanctioning killings, rapes and looting in the vast Darfur region -- is widely seen as a litmus test of the 47-member Human Rights Council, set up in June 2006. The Council, holding a week-long session, is due to vote on Friday on a series of resolutions about countries including Sudan.

Associated Press: Darfur Rebels Claim Attack in Oil Field. A Darfur rebel group claimed it attacked an army garrison in a Chinese-run oil field in central Sudan on Tuesday, forcing more than 1,000 soldiers to flee the area. Khalil Ibrahim, leader of Darfur's rebel group the Justice and Equality Movement, said the attack by his group and local Arab tribesmen was meant to drive away Chinese oil companies operating in Sudan. Two rebels were killed and several injured in the attack, Ibrahim said. He claimed many more government forces were killed and injured but he had no specific figures. U.N. security reports in the area confirmed there was an incident in Heglig early Tuesday. There were unconfirmed reports of three Sudanese army fatalities, the U.N. said. The Sudanese army called the rebel claims baseless. ''We are doing these attacks because China is trading petroleum for our blood,'' Ibrahim told The Associated Press by telephone. ''We are calling on the international community to help us keep China out of Sudan.'' Darfur rebels, along with many international rights activists, accuse China of indirectly funding Khartoum's war effort in Darfur by massively investing in Sudan's oil industry. Sudan's government receives large royalties for the estimated 500,000 barrels that are pumped each day, and observers consider that up to 70 percent of that cash goes to the military. Speaking from North Darfur near the border with Chad, Ibrahim said the rebels were not threatening the 300 Chinese peacekeepers deployed in Darfur, but insisted they were ''not welcome, because China is not neutral.'' He also said the attack was carried out on International Human Rights Day to highlight human rights violations in war-torn Darfur. 

Reuters: Former Southern Rebels to Rejoin Sudan Government. Sudan's former southern rebels said on Tuesday they would order ministers to rejoin a national coalition government, ending one of the biggest political crises to hit the country since the end of a two-decade civil war. The Sudan People's Liberation Movement (SPLM) said it would end its boycott of the Government of National Unity on Wednesday after leader Salva Kiir met President Omar Hassan al-Bashir and resolved a string of grievances. The SPLM pulled its ministers out of the coalition government in October, accusing Khartoum of stalling on a 2005 peace deal that ended Africa's longest civil war. The move sparked a bitter row between the sides and stirred fears of a return to conflict. But SPLM Secretary General Pagan Amum told reporters that Kiir and Bashir had now resolved almost all the points of contention, including a timetable for the withdrawal of troops to either side of Sudan's north-south border. The SPLM and Khartoum were still at loggerheads over the demarcation of the central oil-rich Abyei region, he said. But both Bashir and Kiir had agreed to discuss the issue again in a week and were confident it could be resolved, he added. "We have achieved a lot... We have resolved all the outstanding issues that caused the crisis, with the exception of Abyei," said Amum.

The following op-ed by Mia Farrow appeared in Tuesday's Wall Street Journal.

A Critical Moment for Darfur

United Nations Resolution 1769 entered the world with promise. The infant resolution was destined to accomplish great things: It authorized the deployment of 26,000 peacekeepers to protect millions of imperiled people in the anguished Darfur region of Sudan.

It was ushered through with no shortage of midwives. Even China, Sudan's closest business partner and ally on the Security Council, signed onto the resolution under intense international pressure. Thus, when it was adopted on July 31, 2007, there was new hope for Darfur's desperate people, and the aid workers struggling to sustain them.

But despite those hopes, violence continues to escalate in Darfur.

The United Nations documents that hundreds of people have been killed in about 20 land and air attacks carried out by the government of Sudan and its affiliated militia in the past six months. Humanitarian workers have also been victimized.

This week, Oxfam's director in Sudan, Alun MacDonald said, "Our staff are being targeted on a daily basis. They are being shot, robbed, beaten and abducted." The security situation, he insisted, "is the worse since the entire conflict began." Seven aid workers were killed in October, according to Mr. Macdonald. "These aren't conditions we can keep working in."

Where has Resolution 1769 been amid all this? Slowly suffocating at the hands of a regime that will stop at nothing to ensure its demise.

Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir has blocked the peacekeepers with every conceivable obstacle. Last week, he rejected the offers of Nepal, Norway, Sweden, India and Thailand to contribute troops. "Even if there is a shortage of troops from the African continent," he said, "we are not going to accept those people."

Resolution 1769 says the force "should have a predominantly African character and the troops should, as far as possible, be sourced from African countries." But predominantly African in character is not the same as exclusively African.

Deadlines for assembling the force have come and gone, thwarted by Mr. Bashir's regime. Khartoum has not given the U.N. mission the land or water access to base and sustain its troops. It places restraints on U.N. helicopter flights. It denies landing rights to transport aircraft. It refuses to allow night flights essential for civilian protection and medical evacuations. It refuses to allow off-loading of equipment in Port Sudan. And it demands advance notice of U.N. troop movements, as well as the right to shut down all communications.

This week, U.N. Director of Peacekeeping Operations Jean-Marie Guéhenno informed the Security Council that Khartoum's demands "would make it impossible for the mission to operate." Mr. Guéhenno raises the grim question, "Do we move ahead with the deployment of a force that will not make a difference, that will not have the capability to defend itself, and that carries the risk of humiliation of the Security Council and the United Nations, and tragic failure for the people of Darfur?"

As Resolution 1769 lies dying, the world seems content to look on in silence. The diplomatic pressure needed to end Mr. Bashir's pattern of obstruction is nowhere to be found.

China alone holds diplomatic and economic leverage over Khartoum. It is support from China's leaders that allows Sudan's president to smugly thumb his nose at the world. And yet there has been no outpouring of diplomatic pressure on China to use its influence to end Khartoum's obduracy.

Similarly, the basic logistical support needed to move the force forward is lacking. The commander of the proposed mission, Gen. Martin Luther Agwai, is pleading for a mere 24 helicopters "essential" for security and protection operations, but no nation has offered a single chopper. Zero.

This week, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon appealed to Security Council members and all countries for help. "While helicopters alone cannot ensure the success of the mission," he said, "their absence may well doom it to failure." Mr. Ban has personally contacted every country with the potential to contribute a helicopter, to no avail.

"We are at the critical moment for Darfur," Mr. Ban said. "Member states have spoken clearly about what must be done. It is time for them to walk their talk."

And so a promising young resolution continues its death throes. World powers are standing by mutely watching Mr. Bashir strangle the infant U.N. resolution, with China at his side.


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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