The Darfur Consortium

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Darfur in the News

U.S. and European Media

October 5, 2023

New York Times: Darfur Rebels Find Refuge in Eritrea, but Little Hope. An alliance of rebel leaders from Darfur said Thursday that it needed more time to heal internal splits, and that unless something changed quickly, the much anticipated peace talks scheduled for later this month would probably fail. Khamis Abdullah Abakar, chairman of the United Front for Liberation and Development, an umbrella group of several Darfur rebel factions, said, “We are trying to consult with each other, but there are still serious divisions.” “Right now we’re headed toward another Abuja,” he said, referring to Abuja, Nigeria, where a peace deal signed by the Sudanese government and one rebel faction in 2006 hardly stopped Darfur’s bloodshed and may have only added to the chaos. In the past few months, Eritrea has opened its doors to rebel commanders from its neighbors, especially Ethiopia, Sudan and Somalia, which is part of the reason American officials are alarmed. The State Department says Eritrea has been shipping arms to Islamist fighters in Somalia, an allegation that the Eritrean government denies. At the same time, American diplomats have been quietly working with the Eritreans to push Darfur’s ever expanding galaxy of rebel groups to peace talks scheduled for the end of October in Libya. The Eritreans have a decent track record, American officials say, when it comes to Sudan. Last year, the president of Eritrea, Isaias Afewerki, brokered a peace deal between the Sudanese government and rebels in a separate conflict in eastern Sudan that had ground on for 15 years and that cost thousands of lives. The situation on the ground in Darfur seems to be degenerating by the day, as evidenced by the massacre of 10 African Union peacekeepers over the weekend. The rebel leaders in Asmara denied that their fighters were responsible, even though African Union officials have blamed groups allied to some of them for the attack. Several rebel leaders said they feared the bloodshed would only get worse if the talks in Libya failed.

Associated Press: Peacekeepers Slain in Darfur Are Buried. A sob rose from the crowd of mourners Friday as white ambulances entered Nigeria's main military cemetery, carrying the bodies of seven soldiers killed while on peacekeeping duty in Darfur. Nigeria, the biggest troop contributor to African peacekeeping missions, suffered the heaviest losses when Darfur rebels overran an African Union post in North Darfur last weekend. In all, seven Nigerians and one peacekeeper each from Botswana, Senegal and Mali were killed. Nigerians, including those mourning Friday, said the attack would not bury hope that they and other Africans can bring peace to the world's poorest continent with missions like the one in Sudan's Darfur. ''Anywhere you have war, you will have losses,'' said Matthew Edoh, whose uncle, Lance Corp. Danjuma Madaki, was among the seven Nigerians brought home for burial Friday. ''But if you can go for peace, even if you sacrifice yourself, you must go. We are all fellow human beings.'' The deaths in Darfur ''will not deter us,'' said a military spokesman, Col. Mohammed Yusuf. ''If your neighbor's house is on fire, you can't just stand there. You must help. Also, it can spread to your own house.'' Nigeria, a peacekeeping leader on the continent, has sent troops to Sierra Leone, Liberia, Congo and elsewhere. It has suffered losses before, particularly when Nigerian troops helped battle rebels trying to seize the capitals of Liberia and Sierra Leone.

Agence France Presse: Nigerian soldiers to re-occupy attacked Darfur camp Monday. Nigerian troops serving in an African Union (AU) force in Darfur will by Monday have re-occupied the position where seven of their soldiers were killed in an attack, a top general said Friday. "To show our resolve, by Monday Nigeria will go back to occupy the position at Haskanita with strength, daring whosoever come to attack us again," Defence chief General Andrew Owoye Azazi said. "We promise that the circumstances of the death of our colleagues will always give us more resolve. Whereever Nigeria sends us we will go," the general said, speaking at the state burial of the seven soldiers killed. The September 29 attack on the AU military base at Haskanita in south Darfur was carried out by an organised group of heavily armed men in 30 vehicles. It was the the most deadly assault on the peacekeeping force since its deployment in 2004 and the AU, which is now looking to the United Nations to beef up its strength with a planned joint mission, has launched an enquiry into the incident.

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

China Can Do More on Darfur

As Khartoum's largest and closest business partner, China has provoked outrage from the international community for underwriting genocide in Darfur. In recent months, Beijing has responded with steadily increasing talk about its commitment to promoting peace in the region. But it has taken no meaningful action.
[More on Darfur]
Chinese President Hu Jintao, right, shakes hands with Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir.

Beijing apparently has two strategies. The first is to preserve its alliance with Sudan in order to meet its massive oil needs. The second is to fashion its brand new image -- one that befits the host of the 2008 Olympic games. The two are inconsistent.

Genocide Sudanese style is expensive. It requires the purchase of bombers, attack helicopters and a steady flow of arms and ammunition for their proxy killers, the Janjaweed militia. It is no longer a secret that some 70% of Sudan's Chinese oil revenues, which now top $1 billion per year, have been used by the Khartoum government to attack the non-Arab population in the remote Darfur region.

Under intense international pressure, China for the first time did not abstain from signing on to the newest United Nations Resolution to provide a protection force for Darfur. But scrutiny of the various incarnations of U.N. Resolution 1769 reveals that China signed only after removing some of its sharpest teeth: The resolution has no mandate to disarm the Janjaweed, and no provision to protect Darfur's borders in eastern Chad and the Central African Republic. The Darfur spillover is threatening to topple both impoverished and unstable countries. Although China has made numerous glib statements in support of the proposed peacekeeping force, the force's command, capabilities and composition effectively remain in the hands of the Sudanese regime.

China, a veto-wielding member of the Security Council, has rejected imposing any form of sanctions on its Sudanese partners, thereby allowing Khartoum to continue its campaign of destruction with impunity. Furthermore, Beijing has refused to commit to an arms embargo even in the face of documented and increasingly publicized evidence that Chinese arms shipments to Sudan are destined for Darfur.

Despite claims by both the Chinese and the government of Sudan that the situation in Darfur has improved, the U.N. and humanitarian organizations on the ground present a very different picture: Security is rapidly declining, and the threat of humanitarian organizations withdrawing grows by the day.

On Sept. 24, Oxfam announced that it is on the threshold of pulling out personnel due to worsening security. This week, escalating violence in the region caused World Vision, a New York-based aid group, to cut its team by two-thirds. World Vision had been feeding 500,000 people.

Many camps are so unsafe that humanitarian work is grinding to a halt. Attacks on aid workers rose 150% in the last year. An unprecedented one million vulnerable civilians are currently outside of humanitarian reach. UNICEF reports that in several camps 30% of the population is suffering from acute malnutrition.

Meanwhile, aerial attacks on civilians continue, according to an Amnesty International report of Aug. 24, 2007. Just this week in north Darfur, a breakaway faction of the rebel groups JEM and SLA Unity attacked the African Union base in Haskanita, killing at least 10 peacekeepers. Dozens are reported missing. The attack was strongly condemned by Suleiman Jamous, the most respected elder statesman among the rebels in Darfur.

"As rebels, we are losing the sympathy of the international community because of lack of control and divisions within the movements," said Mr. Jamous, a leading figure in the original Darfur rebel movement, the Sudan Liberation Army. "People are frustrated that the African Union is not able to protect them."

This latest horror underscores the urgent need for a rapid deployment of well-trained, well-supplied troops and fully qualified civilian police. Ironically, however, it is likely to make it more difficult for the U.N. to assemble the necessary peacekeepers.

What better time for China to step up and change its image? In the face of mounting criticism of its support of brutal repression and cultural destruction in Burma and Tibet, Darfur represents an opportunity for Beijing to create a positive impression -- and desperately needed favorable PR in anticipation of the 2008 Olympic games.

The Chinese have hired more than one prestigious international public-relations firm to clean up their image. But the words they are churning out about Darfur are, at this point, simply that. The undeniable fact remains that China continues to underwrite genocide and the immeasurable suffering of millions of human beings in the Darfur region of Sudan.

If Beijing elected to act rather than talk, there is plenty it could do. It could refuse to sell weapons to Sudan. It could insist that the Janjaweed be disarmed. It could demand that the regime stop bombing civilians. It could suspend new oil deals with Khartoum until there is security in Darfur. Even the threat of such actions would have an immediate effect.

The world should urge China to apply its unique and powerful leverage to bring an end to this continuing nightmare in Darfur and make its Olympic slogan -- "One world, one dream" -- a reality.


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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