The Darfur Consortium

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Darfur in the News

U.S. and European Media

December 17, 2022

Agence France Presse: Gunmen attack senior Darfur peacekeeper: AU. A senior officer with the African Union peacekeeping force in Darfur in western Sudan was attacked by gunmen who seriously wounded his driver, the mission said on Sunday. "Four unidentified armed men attacked the car of the Ghanaian colonel in El-Fasher in north Darfur, wounding his driver and seizing the vehicle," the spokesman for the 7,000-strong African Union force known as AMIS told AFP. The attack happened on Friday. Joint UN-AU envoy Rodolphe Adada on Sunday met Yussef Kibr, the governor of north Darfur to raise the question of security for the UNAMID mission. The AMIS spokesman said Kibr had said police had recovered the vehicle used in the attack and promised to cooperate in ensuring security for the hybrid force. Khartoum has agreed in principle to UNAMID, but wrangles over its exact make-up and logistics have held up the deployment.

Reuters: Darfur rebels say attack Sudan army, capture 29. Darfur rebels said on Sunday they had inflicted a crushing defeat on Sudan's army in West Darfur in an overnight battle during which they captured 29 soldiers, 32 vehicles and heavy weaponry. The Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) led by Khalil Ibrahim said had also simultaneously attacked for a second time Sudan's Defra oil field, shutting down its pumping station. "We captured a lieutenant-colonel called Mahdi Hamad Ahmed," JEM commander Abdel Aziz el-Nur Ashr told Reuters from the field. He added three other officers including lieutenant Abdel Moneim were also captured. "We defeated two battalions and chased them to within 7 kilometers (4 miles) of el-Geneina," he said, referring to the capital of West Darfur state. Sudan's armed forces said they had no immediate confirmed information on the fighting to release to the media. "The government uses the oil money to buy Chinese weapons in Darfur," said Ibrahim. He said JEM had attacked another field in the area two days previous called the Khadra field.

Reuters: Chadians await EU peacekeepers with hope, skepticism. Muslim tribesmen in east Chad hope EU peacekeepers will shelter their families from civil war and ethnic conflict, but memories of colonial rule have left them wary of Western meddling in their affairs. At Abou Goulem, 60 km (39 miles) from Sudan's Darfur region, farmer Mahamat indicates where government troops attacked a column of Chadian rebels last month, leaving scores of dead. Across a battlefield littered with charred military uniforms and burnt-out pickups, he gestures to the village where stray bullets killed at least three women and set fire to straw huts, burning children alive. Mahamat says he is hopeful about the 3,700-strong European force which is due to arrive next month and is tasked with protecting civilians, aid workers and refugees in eastern Chad. "We are not afraid because they will bring peace," said Mahamat, who refused to give his second name. "We want peace in our country." Foreign peacekeepers remain a sensitive issue in Africa because of its colonial past, and even more so in a Muslim country like Chad, which recently started oil production. "We have never seen the whites do anything for free. There are always interests at stake. They just want our oil," said General Abadi Sayir, prefect of the Chadian border town of Adre. "We would prefer an African Union force to an EU one. Foreigners do not understand the situation in our country." Originally due to be deployed in mid-October, the EU force has been dogged by shortfalls in materials, particularly the helicopters needed to move around eastern Chad. The backbone of the EU force will be made up of French soldiers already based in Chad under a bilateral military accord between Paris and its former colony. Rebels have declared a "state of war" against French and foreign forces.

Associated Press: UN Rights Council Drops Darfur Group. The U.N. Human Rights Council on Friday dissolved a group of experts tasked with monitoring abuses in the Darfur region after demands from African countries to ease political pressure on Sudan. The unanimous decision to halt the mission of the seven rights experts comes a week after the group accused Sudan of failing to protect civilians in Darfur from rape, torture and other violence. The task of overseeing the Sudanese government's progress in protecting human rights in Darfur will now fall to the U.N.'s special envoy to Sudan, Simar Samar, whose mandate was extended for a year. Rights groups condemned the decision not to renew the experts' mandate. "There has been an unacceptable compromise by the council on the issue of Darfur," Julie de Rivero of the New York-based Human Rights Watch told reporters. "We feel that Sudan has been rewarded for its obstruction and its failure to implement recommendations" made by the expert group, she said.

The following editorial appeared in Sunday's Washington Post.

Stuck on Darfur

WHEN THE United Nations Security Council approved an expanded peacekeeping force for the Darfur region of Sudan last summer, some Western politicians may have concluded -- prematurely -- that one of the world's worst humanitarian crises was at last going to be relieved. If so, that's exactly what Omar Hassan al-Bashir was hoping for. Mr. Bashir, Sudan's Arab dictator, has made an art form out of confounding Western attempts to end his genocidal repression of Darfur's African population. His pattern is to resist international pressure until it reaches a peak. He then appears to give in, waits until Western attention wanders and returns to intransigence.

Last June, after President Bush announced new U.S. sanctions, European leaders talked of imposing a no-fly zone and even China pressed for a concession, Mr. Bashir agreed to replace 7,000 African Union peacekeepers with a 26,000-member force that the African Union and the United Nations would jointly organize. U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon proclaimed a success, the Security Council ratified the deal at the end of July and Mr. Ban began raising troops. Now, with the deployment due in two weeks and the world's attention elsewhere, Mr. Bashir has dug in his heels. He is refusing to approve non-African troops for the force, including Nepalese, Thai and Nordic soldiers who would be crucial to its effectiveness.
A U.N. peacekeeping official warned the Security Council on Thursday that the deployment had been endangered by Mr. Bashir's stance and that a sign-off on the troops was urgently needed. Yet the assembled ambassadors didn't react much. That's probably because Sudan's obstructionism is not the United Nations' only crippling problem: Mr. Ban has been unable to find countries willing to supply two dozen helicopters needed to give the peacekeepers mobility in a territory the size of France.
Mr. Bashir's behavior was predictable -- in fact, we were among those who predicted it last summer. But the failure of European or Arab governments to supply helicopters is a disgrace. Over and over, leaders such as Britain's Gordon Brown, France's Nicolas Sarkozy and Germany's Angela Merkel have said the situation in Darfur is "intolerable." Yet, although NATO countries among them have 18,000 helicopters, none have been made available for Darfur. No wonder Mr. Bashir feels free to thumb his nose at the United Nations.

The Bush administration, which called the campaign in Darfur genocide more than three years ago, has done more than most other governments. It provides airlift for peacekeepers and is paying for the construction of their camps. U.S. helicopters might be counterproductive in Darfur even if Mr. Bashir would accept them. But the Bush administration needs to step up its efforts to see that the U.N. force is deployed in January. That means helping Mr. Ban get his aircraft and simultaneously renewing the pressure on Mr. Bashir. The cynical strongman is counting on a failure of will by NATO and the Security Council; it will take an effort by President Bush to disappoint him.


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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