The Darfur Consortium

. . .

Darfur in the News

U.S. and European Media

July 20, 2023

Washington Post: Bush Says He Considered Action in Darfur. President Bush said Thursday that he had considered unilaterally sending U.S. troops to Darfur to stop the mass slaughter in that Sudanese region but decided against it in favor of a multinational response that he conceded has been "slow" and "tedious." Bush did not explain why he rejected U.S. military action and pointed instead to economic sanctions that he has imposed against Sudanese leaders and companies, saying he is "trying to be consequential." Aides said they believe it was the first time the president had so explicitly disclosed that he contemplated U.S. military action in the region... "There is only one head of state who had the resources and unilateral ability to end the crisis in Darfur -- and that was Omar al-Bashir," said Allyn Brooks-LaSure, spokesman for the Save Darfur Coalition. "He clearly failed to act. Because of his failure to end this situation, it is now the role of the international community to act -- a responsibility that does not rest with any one nation."

Associated Press:  Brown, Sarkozy Push on Darfur. France and Britain will push for a U.N. resolution to dispatch African Union and United Nations peacekeepers to Darfur, British Prime Minister Gordon Brown said Friday. Following their first meeting since both took office, Brown and French President Nicolas Sarkozy said they will together lobby the U.N. Security Council to act. ''People are dying and people are suffering and it must stop,'' Sarkozy said at a news conference with Brown. Brown also said Britain and France will push for an immediate cease-fire in Darfur and are prepared to provide ''substantial'' economic aid ''as soon as a cease-fire makes it possible.'' ''Unless action is taken, we will be prepared to consider as individual countries a toughening up of sanctions'' against the Sudanese regime, he also warned.

Associated Press: Chadian president accepts idea of EU peacekeepers to protect Darfur refugees. Chadian President Idriss Deby said Thursday that he supports the idea of an interim European Union peacekeeping force in the African nation to protect people affected by violence spilling over from neighboring Darfur. Deby spoke after meeting French President Nicolas Sarkozy, who has been pushing for the force. EU foreign ministers were expected next week to start planning for a possible six-to-12-month peacekeeping mission in Chad , to where masses have fled violence in the neighboring Darfur region of Sudan . "We have not yet finished (discussions), but Chad thinks the presence of the international community is important in one way or another, to protect refugees and the displaced and to prevent incursions by the janjaweed militia inside the national territory," Deby said.

Reuters: Chad's Boy Soldiers Slowly Grasp Lost Childhood. In an anonymous compound in Chad 's capital N'Djamena, young boys clad in matching shirts play volleyball, shrieking and clapping with delight. A fight breaks out in an adrenaline-fuelled frenzy of punching and kicking that betrays their past as child soldiers. "This is nothing," an aid worker said. "When they first arrived here, they'd fight each other with anything they could get their hands on. They'd be covered in blood." The boys, mostly 13-16 years old but some appearing barely 8, have been at this centre run by the Christian Children's Fund (CCF) for 10 days after being demobilized from the FUC, a notorious rebel group whose leader defected to the government. The U.N. Security Council is due to discuss the plight of children in conflict on July 23. In Chad , rights workers say all sides have used child fighters in a 19-month, on-off eastern revolt fomented by violence over the border in Sudan 's Darfur.

Agence France-Presse: Sudan fails to protect village in Darfur from attacks: UN. The Sudanese government has abandoned a village in the strife-torn region of Darfur to attacks by men in military uniform despite UN appeals for protection, the United Nations human rights office said Friday. UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Louise Arbour urged Khartoum to restore police presence to protect the 4,500 people in Bir Dagig from beatings, abductions and sexual abuse by the armed group, spokesman Jose Diaz said. "A number of human rights abuses are said to have been committed in the village of Bir Dagig mostly by armed men in military uniform since July 1," Diaz told journalists. "We're worried this case is symptomatic of either the inability or the unwillingness of the authorities to protect the civilian population in Darfur," he added. UN human rights monitors were forced to leave the village 30 kilometres from Geneina in west Darfur on Wednesday, after it was surrounded by the armed men on horseback or camels.

BBC: Ancient Darfur lake 'is dried up'. A vast underground lake that scientists hoped could help to end violence in Sudan 's Darfur region probably dried up thousands of years ago, an expert says.  Alain Gachet, who used satellite images and radar in his research, said the area received too little rain and had the wrong rock types for water storage.  But the French geologist said there was enough water elsewhere in Darfur to end the fighting and rebuild the economy.  Analysts say competition for resources such as water is behind the unrest.  More than 200,000 Darfuris have died and two million fled their homes since 2003. On Wednesday, Boston University 's Farouk El-Baz said he had received the backing of Sudan 's government to begin drilling for water in the newly-discovered lake, in North Darfur . He said radar studies had revealed a depression the size of Lake Erie in North America - the 10th largest lake in the world. But Mr Gachet, who has worked on mineral and water exploitation in Africa for 20 years, said the depression identified by the Boston researchers was probably full of water 5,000 to 25,000 years ago.The following Op-Ed by Kai Maristed appeared in today's Los Angeles Times.

An American reacts to Darfur 

We inhabit a brave new world indeed, when a pair of Hollywood personalities can apparently achieve within weeks a goal that years of international diplomacy and pressure could not. Hats off to Ms. Farrow and Mr. Spielberg, for their apparently effective insistence that Beijing trade warmongering for peace-brokering in Northern Africa . The case at hand, of course, involves the apocalyptic scandal of Darfur, a vast region peopled mostly by black Africans that was allocated, by opaque post-colonial reasoning, to the mostly Arab-ruled country of Sudan .

Four years ago, in this near-desert territory shared since biblical times by nomads, herders and farmers, the Arab-led (Muslim) government of Sudan launched a policy aimed at the eventual extermination or ejection of the (Muslim) black African population. Since then, a centrally planned genocide, spearheaded by paid janjaweed (loosely translated as "devil on a horse") militia, has ramped up to full terror mode with impunity and increasing audacity. The People's Republic of China , practicing ruthless realpolitik, showered the necessary modern weaponry on the Sudanese government in exchange for present and future oil favors.

Despite the best efforts of outraged humanitarians, outside intervention in Darfur currently consists of the deployment by the African Union of about 7,000 underfunded peacekeeping troops and a few hundred hamstrung "observers." Meanwhile, the rest of the world pulls a pillow over its head, exhausted by the noise of distant misery. As a chance drinking pal put it to Brian Steidle, the former Marine whose experiences as an AU observer in Darfur are chronicled in "The Devil Came on Horseback": "So, like, isn't everyone in Africa killing each other, if they're not starving already?"

Capt. Steidle was initially hired into the Sudan to join an internationally contracted cease-fire-monitoring team stationed in the northern plateau, where for roughly 20 years the government had been waging a separate campaign against a black — in this case, mostly Christian and animist — population. Fresh from a peacekeeping stint in Kosovo, where he had completed his Marine Corps service, Steidle remained "eager to be involved somewhere in the field, using my military background." Packing a camera instead of an M-16, anticipating exotic African adventure, he arrived largely uninstructed on the local situation, "with the enthusiasm of a boy invited to Disney World for the first time."

Young but well trained, the son of a career naval officer and brother of an international rights activist (Gretchen Steidle Wallace, who is coauthor of "The Devil Came on Horseback"), Steidle didn't need long to get his bearings in Sudan . In the northern plateau, he sensed what lay beneath the surface: "We heard baboons at night?. We loved being surrounded by wildlife, but its very existence was due to a darker circumstance?. [M]ost of the tribes had been driven out of the area by war and, thus, there were significantly fewer people hunting animals for food."

Frustrated in the face of continued infractions by government forces, jolted by incoming reports of far more brutal and effective genocidal violence in Darfur, he opted for a job change. As a newly recruited AU observer, he moved to Darfur — or, as his smiling predecessor summed it up, hell.

Steidle's narrative is not overlong, but at some point the reader may begin to feel a bit bleary-eyed. Again and again, the formally balanced observer team (including a Sudanese government representative and representatives of rebel groups, along with Steidle as the U.S. member and several AU officers) sets out to investigate a murder or massacre, the burning of a village or a helicopter and/or horseback raid on a DP (displaced person) camp. They walk on bone fields and among scraps of ordnance, often of Chinese origin. The janjaweed pillage in plain view, unperturbed by witnesses. Although rape is routine and children are discovered shot point-blank and killed in less merciful ways, the team's official reports are watered-down compromises. Local civilians, at first hopeful and helpful, turn bitter and angry toward the outsiders, who appear powerful but inexplicably refrain from giving them any protection.

As writers, Steidle and Wallace are adequate yet somewhat flat stylists. And they do not pretend to be offering an in-depth analysis of the sociopolitical roots of the Sudanese dystopia. But for six months this American member of an AU observer team served the truth, channeling his horror and anger into scrupulous documentation of the hell of Darfur in photographs, notes and e-mails. (His efforts were also chronicled in a recent documentary of the same title.) His work in Darfur lends this absolutely necessary book its compelling immediacy and irrefutable authenticity, as a testament now and for years to come.


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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