The Darfur Consortium

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Darfur in the News

U.S. and European Media

September 11, 2023

Associated Press: Sudanese Army Attacks Darfur Rebel Town. Sudanese government forces resumed air strikes in Darfur on Monday with an attack on a town that killed more than a dozen civilians, African Union peacekeepers and rebels said. Air raids on Darfur are banned by the United Nations and in breach of several cease-fire agreements. Despite frequent accusations by the international community, Sudan's military regularly denies it conducts air strikes, as was the case Monday. The attack comes days after U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon visited Sudan and announced new peace talks between the government and rebel groups to end four years of fighting that have killed more than 200,000 people in Darfur. The raid on the small town of Haskanita in northern Darfur started at about 9 a.m. local time with heavy bombardments by Sudanese army planes and helicopter gunships, said Abdelazziz Ushar, a commander from the Justice and Equality rebel group in the area. ''We just finished the fighting, there are many casualties,'' Ushar told The Associated Press by satellite phone from Haskanita. He said more than a dozen civilians were killed when government aircraft bombed the rebel-held town, which was later raided by the army. Seven rebels were killed and 12 injured in the counteroffensive, he added. An AU officer stationed in Haskanita told the AP there had been full-fledged combat all day. The officer said the AU forces heard air bombardments and near constant gun battles. The officer spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the issue. ''I don't know how many casualties there are, but the town took a strong hit,'' the officer said. He said AU peacekeepers did not intervene because they have been confined to their small compound in Haskanita since June due to violence in the area.

Associated Press: Head of Darfur Peacekeepers Confident. A large and complex peacekeeping operation planned for Darfur will launch on time and could, within months, improve security in the war-torn region of western Sudan, the mission's head said. Rodolphe Adada, chief of the United Nations and African Union joint mission to Darfur, said contributing nations have already committed more than the 26,000 required troops for the force, and he expects the peacekeepers to deploy in October. "That won't mean we'll have all the elements of the force on the ground, but we'll be operational," he said in an interview with The Associated Press late Sunday. He said the joint mission, called UNAMID, would meet the deadline set by the U.N. Security Council to replace the African Union force by Dec. 31. "Hopefully, we'll be in full gear by March," Adada said. "Still we are lacking in the specialized areas, like air transportation and experts in finance. We'd like to have contributions from non-African Union countries, particularly European countries," Ban told reporters at U.N. headquarters in New York. Adada said the UNAMID's rules of engagement, under which troops are allowed to shoot, will provide for stronger protection.

Reuters: Violence Threatens Darfur Peace Talks: UK Minister. Ongoing violence in Sudan's Darfur region threatens to undermine planned peace talks between Khartoum and rebel groups, a British minister said as he flew into the war-torn area on Tuesday. British Foreign Office Minister for Africa Mark Malloch Brown made the remarks a day after rebels said government aircraft had bombed a rebel-held Darfur town. A Sudanese army spokesman was not immediately available for comment. Malloch Brown, on a day-long trip to Darfur, told Reuters: "Ongoing volatility on the ground could undermine peace talks. My message is that the government should try to stop all offensive action and the rebels should do the same." "At the moment, we are pushing a constructive diplomatic engagement trying to get everyone to the talks. If that approach fails, then we'll come down hard on whatever side is responsible for that, whether that is the rebels or the government," Malloch Brown said. He said that sanctions were "in reserve," and that measures taken against rebel groups could include a reduction in the support offered them in foreign countries.

Reuters: U.N. Chief Defends Libya as Venue For Darfur Talks. U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on Monday defended Libya as the venue for crucial peace talks on Darfur despite its spotty human rights record. Ban and the Sudanese government last week set Oct 27 as a date for talks in Tripoli between the Sudan government and Darfur rebels to push for peace ahead of the deployment of 26,000 peacekeepers in Darfur. Before the Libya talks, Ban told reporters he would hold a high-level meeting on Darfur on September 21 in New York, shortly before the annual U.N. General Assembly debate. The secretary-general, who just returned from a trip to Sudan, Chad and Libya, said that Tripoli was chosen because "they had initiated a very important mediating role" since 2006, including meetings in April and July. While saying it was his obligation to protect human rights, Ban said "there may be many different understandings or, again, interpretations" but that he appreciated "Libya's flexibility and kind gesture to hold this meeting." "They have experience and they have know-how, and there are quite a number of leaders of movements and groups residing in Libya. So that was one of the factors," Ban added.

The following editorial appeared in Monday's Philadelphia Inquirer.

The U.N. tries again

When Ban Ki-moon succeeded Kofi Annan this year as U.N. secretary general, the South Korean diplomat vowed to make a priority of ending the genocide in Sudan's Darfur region.

He's working on fulfilling that pledge. Ban's trip to Sudan last week helped set the time and place for the next peace talks between the Khartoum government and rebels - Oct. 27 in Libya.

If only ending a genocide were as easy as scheduling a meeting. The situation in Darfur has gotten more complicated while staying just as dangerous for civilians.

The two main rebel factions have splintered into numerous groups that are now fighting each other.

Violence by rebels and the government has forced international aid groups to withdraw their workers from hot spots. One million people in need of aid are believed to be in areas relief groups cannot reach.

Apparently, using his forces and allied militia to kill 200,000 Darfur residents and displace 2.5 million isn't enough for Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir. His government stands accused of resettling Arabs in villages that black Africans fled. That could complete the ethnic cleansing that has been going on since 2003.

Bashir has agreed to an expanded peacekeeping force that supplements the African Union contingent with U.N. troops. But assembling that peacekeeping operation is moving much too slowly.

Ban deserves praise for focusing minds and attention on Darfur. But his approach is risky.

Bashir seems to be responding to Ban's overtures. But Bashir and his ruling National Congress Party have repeatedly broken promises. And Ban must not let his cultivation of Bashir minimize the Sudanese government's role as the state sponsor of genocide.

The rebels have committed hideous crimes, but international law and common decency call upon nations to protect their citizens - not target a group to be raped, murdered and displaced.

Ban, an experienced negotiator, must recognize the complexities of his task, including helping rebels to unify. He must continue to pressure Bashir to end attacks and cooperate in reaching a long-term political settlement. A cease-fire is needed immediately.

But Ban's cannot be a solo effort on behalf of the world community.

The secretary general's aggressive diplomacy is no fig leaf for the earlier failure of the United Nations - especially the Security Council - to intervene.

Security Council members could help Ban by agreeing upon a single negotiating track, rather than allowing Darfur combatants to pursue myriad paths. They could draw up sanctions against Khartoum to encourage the government's participation.

They must stop wasting time and find the resources to send U.N. peacekeepers to Darfur with a mandate to disarm gunmen and protect civilians.

The following editorial appeared in Monday's San Antonio Express-News.

Once again, Khartoum dashes hopes for Darfur

The international effort to end the violence in Darfur has occasionally produced some signs of hope ... and many more confirmations of despair.

Every Security Council resolution that aims to increase security for Darfur's 2.5 million refugees has met with obstinacy and evasion by the government of Sudan and more attacks and atrocities.

Hopes were high for U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon's recent visit to Khartoum ahead of what is anticipated to be a massive U.N.-African Union peacekeeping operation. As Ban arrived in Sudan, President Omar al-Bashir's government named leaders of a committee it had created to probe human rights violations in Darfur.

The committee itself was a source of optimism, an indication that international pressure might have finally compelled the Sudanese government to examine the dreadful events in Darfur. Those hopes were dashed when Khartoum revealed that Ahmed Haroun will serve as committee co-chair.

Haroun is one of two people the International Criminal Court has indicted for war crimes in Darfur. He currently serves as minister for humanitarian affairs — an outrage on its own.

Maybe this time will be different. Maybe a 26,000-strong peacekeeping force will quickly deploy in Darfur and end the bloodshed. But if Haroun's new human rights appointment is any indication, Khartoum is still up to its dirty and deadly tricks.


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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