The Darfur Consortium

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Darfur in the News

U.S. and European Media

July 9, 2023

Agence France Presse: Darfur nearing 'moment of truth': UN envoy. The special United Nations envoy to Sudan Jan Eliasson said on Sunday that the "moment of truth" for the country's war-torn western region of Darfur is imminent. Together with his African Union (AU) counterpart Salim Ahmed Salim, Eliasson has been struggling for the past four years to bring the warring sides in Darfur together, and in an interview with AFP he outlined the key steps ahead. "We are now on a daily contact with the movements and we hope that, by the (July 15) meeting in Tripoli... we will start what we call the pre-negotiation period" of shuttle diplomacy, the former Swedish foreign minister said. The Tripoli meeting on Darfur, to which 13 countries have been invited, will mark the end of the "convergence" phase for initiatives put forward by various countries including Libya, Eritrea and Egypt to end the crisis. In August, a shuttle process is planned between the various parties to bring the many rebel groups which have not yet signed up to a 2006 peace agreement to the table, Eliasson added.

Agence France Presse: Head of planned Darfur hybrid peacekeeping mission optimistic. The head of the planned hybrid African Union-UN peacekeeping force for Sudan's war-torn western Darfur region is optimistic for his mission while acknowledging the complexity of the task. "This is a major mission and a challenge for Africa ... a heavy operation," said Rodolphe Adada, the former Republic of Congo foreign minister who in May was named the special AU and UN representative for Darfur. In an interview with a group of journalists including AFP, Adada also said that despite everything, he is looking to tackle his new mission with "enthusiasm and hope." The United Nations is currently drafting a resolution to fund the estimated 15,000 personnel -- 10,000 troops and 5,000 support personnel -- to be provided by its member states to supplement a 3,000-strong UN contingent that is to serve as the backbone of the force. Adada, who arrived in Khartoum on Friday, will head the African mission in Sudan (AMIS) while the new force is put into place and will be working to save the foundering mission that is in danger of losing its largely European funding. "The support for AMIS, which we already have from our partners, is today indispensable to the success of the mission," he said amid African fears the Europeans are reluctant to continue financing the operation. "The most important thing today is to support AMIS because this will guarantee the continuation of the operation and the success of the hybrid mission," he said. "This is the message we must convey to our generous partners." "It is clear that a peacekeeping mission will only work backed by a political accord," he said, adding the efforts of the UN and AU could well make the agreement succeed.

Voice of America: ICRC Stepping Up Aid in Darfur Before Rainy Season. The rains in Sudan have already started.  But, the peak of the rainy season does not occur until the end of the month.  It goes on until September.  Red Cross spokeswoman, Anna Schaaf, says it is critical to get aid to people in the rural areas now.  Once the heavy rains begin, she says, the roads will become flooded.  Trucks will get stuck in the mud and planes will not be able to land.  She says many places will become unreachable.  Security is another problem.  Schaaf tells VOA Red Cross delegates talk to all parties involved in the conflict to get guarantees aid workers can travel safely to different areas of Darfur. "The problem is, as you know, the situation in Darfur is such that the different armed groups are splitting up more and more, which means that there are more armed groups now than there were maybe last year," she added.  "Smaller groups, but more of them.  So, it is more and more difficult to keep up a regular contact with all these different groups who are controlling different areas in Darfur.  And for us, this makes it very difficult to be able to get security guarantees." "With the rainy season, dirty water can lead to diseases, especially in the camps when they are crowded and there are lots of people there," she explained.  "So, we try to keep up the clean water supply, drinking water.  It is also important in the rural areas to be able to distribute seeds and tools, because people have to plant just right now before the rainy season so that they can harvest at the end of the rainy season in September-October and be independent again and assure their livelihood."

BBC: Executive aid for Darfur refugees. The Scottish government is to give £250,000 to to help the victims of the violence in Darfur. Announcing the grant, External Affairs Minister Linda Fabiani said the cash would support more than 120,000 people. Britain has allocated £104m since April, and the Scottish Executive is already contributing by supporting an educational project in south Sudan with a £190,000 award. Ms Fabiani said: "With the arrival of the rainy season, we are looking at immediate and practical solutions to support impoverished and displaced people. "In an area where three quarters of the population are farmers, this money from the Scottish government will provide essential seeds, tools and training to allow people to begin planting to feed themselves and their families."

The following op-ed by Nicholas Kristof appeared in today's New York Times.

Spineless on Sudan

In May 2006, President Bush declared: “The vulnerable people of Darfur deserve more than sympathy. ... America will not turn away from this tragedy.”

Since then, Mr. Bush has turned away — and 450,000 more people have been displaced in Darfur. “Things are getting worse,” noted Mudawi Ibrahim Adam, a human rights campaigner in Sudan.

One of the most troubling signs is that Sudan has been encouraging Arabs from Chad, Niger and other countries to settle in Darfur. More than 30,000 of them have moved into areas depopulated after African tribes were driven out.

In the last few months, Sudan’s government has given these new arrivals citizenship papers and weapons, cementing in place the demographic consequences of its genocide. And if Sudan thinks it has gotten away with mass murder in Darfur, it is more likely to resume its war against southern Sudan — which seems increasingly likely.

Within Darfur, aid groups have increasingly become targets, and in April alone three aid workers were shot and 20 were kidnapped, while hijackers tried to seize aid workers’ vehicles at a rate of almost one a day. As for African Union peacekeepers, seven of them were shot dead the same month — so they’re in no position to rescue aid workers.

The cancer has also been spreading into Chad and the Central African Republic, compounding each country’s intrinsic instability. Last month a 27-year-old French woman, Elsa Serfass, on her first assignment with Doctors Without Borders, was shot dead in C.A.R. as she drove through an area where militias had been burning villages. So Doctors Without Borders has had to suspend much of its work in the area.

Something similar is happening in eastern Chad. Mia Farrow, the actress — who has shown a toughness about genocide that no Western leader has — has just returned from her sixth visit to the region and says that eastern Chad now feels like Somalia.

“Pick-ups with machine guns bolted onto the rear and loaded with armed, uniformed men careen through the dusty streets terrorizing people,” she told me. “No one knows who they are.” While Ms. Farrow was visiting the town of Abéché, an elderly guard at a U.N. compound there was killed and two people were badly beaten.

Then there’s rape. Ever since Sudan began the genocide, it has been using rape to terrorize populations of Africans — and then periodically punishing women who seek treatment on charges of adultery or fornication.

So far this year, at least two young women have been sentenced to death by stoning for adultery. As Refugees International puts it in a new report: “The government is more likely to take action against those who report and document rape than those who commit it.”

Much of the news on Darfur has been a bit optimistic lately, because it has focused on recent flurries of international diplomacy. While it’s true that China is belatedly putting some pressure on Sudan to admit international peacekeepers, at the same time China continues to supply Sudan with the guns used to slaughter Darfuri children. China also just signed a 20-year agreement to develop offshore oil for Sudan, and in April China pledged “to boost military exchanges and cooperation” with Sudan.

Let’s hope that athletes who go to Beijing for the Olympics next year will wear T-shirts honoring the victims of the genocide that China is underwriting.

In the burst of diplomatic activity, one person who stands out is Nicolas Sarkozy, the new president of France. Mr. Sarkozy is pushing to send a European Union force, including many French troops, to stabilize Chad and the Central African Republic. If they arrive by October, as planned, they just might pull those two countries back from the brink of collapse.

In contrast, Mr. Bush has been letting Darfur rhyme with Rwanda and Bosnia. For years, Mr. Bush’s aides have discussed whether he should give a prime-time speech on Darfur to ratchet up the pressure; he still hasn’t. Laura Bush just completed a four-nation swing through Africa, but she didn’t include a visit to any of the areas affected by the Darfur crisis.

Ultimately, the only way the genocide will end will be with a negotiated political settlement — but the only way to get that is to put much more pressure on Khartoum.

So how about if Mr. Bush invites Mr. Sarkozy — along with Gordon Brown, Hu Jintao and Hosni Mubarak — for a joint visit to Chad and C.A.R. to meet Darfuri refugees? Maybe Mr. Sarkozy could lend Mr. Bush and the others a little backbone.

The following op-ed by Nat Hentoff appeared in today's Washington Times.

In Darfur, the genocide continues

Proclaimed as the start, at last, of a true solution to ending the genocide in Darfur, the June 17 agreement between the United Nations Security Council and the Sudanese government permits the sending of a joint force of more than 20,000 "peacekeepers" to Darfur. But they will not arrive until next spring; and without a cease-fire agreement, the governments's janjaweed militia will keep on killing and raping, while the fighting among rebel groups also continues.

Moreover, Sudan's leader, Lt. Gen. Omar Bashir, may hold the world's record among heads of state for breaking agreements he has signed. He has pledged, for example, that he would disarm the Janjaweed. He has not. Since 2003, some 450,000 black African Muslims have lost their lives. Also, with Sudan viewing the new infusion of troops as an African Union peacekeeping mission, the Economist (June 16) cautions: "Since Sudan is a powerful member of the African Union, it would be able to exercise a degree of control over any AU force on the ground." And, "Mr. Bashir knows there is still no enthusiasm for enforcing a no-fly zone over Darfur," so no one will be responsible for stopping the government's attack planes accompanying the hard-riding janjaweed.

Accordingly, Ruth Messinger, president of Jewish World Service, emphasizes that "Divestment is an absolutely critical strategy for stopping the flow of money that funds the genocide." Jewish World Service is the first national Jewish organization to endorse the growing movement by American governors and legislatures (among other investors in Sudan) to divest funds going to that criminal government.

Mrs. Messinger points out that: "As a result of divestment campaigns across the United States, four major companies have withdrawn from Sudan." And as I reported four years ago, Talisman, an important Canadian oil firm, ended its arrangement with Sudan after repeated pressure from opponents of genocide.

Further evidence of the effect these forceful humanitarians are having is that last year, a Swiss firm, the Cliveden Group, ended its operations there. The Economist adds (June 23) that "Marathon, an American oil company, may dispose of its 32.5 percent share in Block B in southern Sudan." Sudanese officials, including their emissaries to other countries, read the newspapers. I expect that Gen. Bashir was informed of a June 12 New York Post story that New York State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli "announced he will use the state's $155 billion pension fund to pressure the Sudanese government to end the genocide in Darfur."

Only a very small percentage of the billions in New York state's pension funds flow to Sudan; but it is significant that the sole trustee of America's second-largest public pension fund is keeping track of companies and corporations that believe "business is business" can justify profits from a government that commits mass murder.

Adding to the momentum against Sudan's crimes against its own people: In June, Texas and Hawaii became the 16th and 17th states to enact laws requiring that state pension funds be withdrawn from investing in companies doing business with Sudan.

Internationally, there is now a powerful infusion of energy by the vivid presence of the new French president, Nicolas Sarkozy, as a warrior against this genocide. Addressing officials from more than a dozen countries whom he invited to a June 25 meeting on Darfur in Paris, he told them: "As human beings, and as politicians, we must resolve the crisis in Darfur. Silence kills! We want to mobilize the international community to say 'enough is enough!" Going beyond rhetoric, Mr. Sarkozy is willing to have France contribute $13.46 million to the U.N.-African Union force. But he realizes that without sustained, insistent international involvement in negotiating a political solution with real, hard consequences to a faithless Gen. Bashir, there will only be more resolutions, conferences, rallies and killings.

However, a New York Times headline the day after the Paris conference reflects how much support Mr. Sarkozy needs from international leaders: "Little Visible Progress on Darfur at International conference." Said French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner: "There is a little light at the end of the darkness." Meanwhile, China, Sudan's quintessential partner in preparing for the summer Olympics, has removed large-scale industrial operations from Beijing. It did this to assure visitors to the games that air pollution will be controlled.

But the stench of murdered bodies in Darfur will nonetheless permeate the celebratory athletic achievements intended to glorify the People's Republic of China if by then the darkness still engulfs Darfur.


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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