The Darfur Consortium

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Darfur in the News

U.S. and European Media

September 24, 2023

Reuters: Darfur Attack Wounded 3 in Aid Convoy, U.N. Reports. Gunmen seriously wounded three aid workers in an attack on an aid convoy this week in the Darfur region of western Sudan, the United Nations said in a statement on Saturday. The statement said that two vehicles carrying eight people working for World Vision International, an aid organization, were ambushed Thursday near Bulbul Timisgo, a small village in South Darfur State. “Two W.V.I. staff were shot in the head, and a third in the arm,” the statement said. “The remaining staff suffered minor injuries caused by glass fragments and shrapnel. The vehicles were clearly marked as humanitarian transport.” “This is a horrifying and brutal attack on aid staff who are working to save the lives of Sudanese people,” the statement said, quoting John Holmes, the United Nations under secretary general for humanitarian affairs. The United Nations said attacks on relief workers in Darfur increased 50 percent from June 2006 to this June. Since the beginning of the year, 98 vehicles belonging to aid organizations have been hijacked, 105 employees have been temporarily taken hostage, more than 66 aid workers have been physically or sexually assaulted, and 61 convoys have been ambushed and looted, it said.

Reuters: Attacks threaten Oxfam's Darfur operation. Oxfam could withdraw from Darfur if security worsens, its country director said on Monday, amid reports of 10 attacks in the past four days in Sudan's violent and remote west. Despite a peace deal signed last year by the government and one rebel faction and intense global focus on ending the conflict, Darfur has descended into chaos forcing the world's largest aid operation to evacuate some areas and work at high risk in others to provide assistance to some 4 million people. "It's certainly a strong possibility that if things get any worse Oxfam would have to withdraw," the British aid agency's country director Caroline Nursey told Reuters. "Oxfam is operating at the limits of what it can tolerate as an organization. In most circumstances if the security situation were as bad as it is in Darfur we would withdraw. "The only reason we are still there is that we are aware of very large numbers of people who are totally dependent on us for services," said Nursey, who has worked on Sudan for four years -- the last 18 months based in Khartoum. Oxfam provides water and sanitation to 500,000 people in Darfur and neighboring Chad, where the conflict that began in Darfur in early 2003 has spilled across the border.

Washington Post: A Learned Man Searches for Relevance While Languishing in a Chadian Camp. Sometimes, the amiable professor feels lost here in this circle of sand and sun and interrupted lives. Particularly at night, when he's not so busy, Azhari Ali imagines what new economic theories might be afloat around the university where he once studied. He wonders how out-of-date his ideas are, as he is so cut off from the world. He sits in his tarp-covered hut remembering poets he used to love in school, "like Alexander Pope," he said. "I concentrate on that. Something like, 'the sun will love the flower,' and so on," he said, trying to recall a verse. To be one of the 2.5 million people driven from the Darfur region of western Sudan is to be many things: a farmer without land, a trader without a business, a mother without children, a teacher without students. And, in Ali's case, a holder of two master's degrees stuck in a void with only the books he brought with him when he ran for his life. Since he crossed into eastern Chad, leaving behind his wife and family, Ali has read his old, musty copy of "Macbeth" many times, he said. He's memorized the articles and photographs in his treasured, two-year-old copies of Time and the Economist, magazines that have drifted into the camp in the hands of aid workers. All of which underscores a profound fact about the conflict in Darfur: It has dragged on for more than four years. Inside the vast refugee camps across Darfur and eastern Chad, people, too, have been transformed in small and large ways. Especially in Darfur, some camps are becoming increasingly violent and militarized, as traditional authority has broken down. Mostly, Ali passes the time reading and rereading. A month-old Nigerian newspaper recently found its way into the camp, and an instructional book on Swahili, which he is studying. "Do you think when I finish I'll still be in Chad?" he asked. Then he laughed.

Washington Post: Nomads Describe Persecution in Chad. The Chadian government and its allied militias are indiscriminately targeting Arab nomads in eastern Chad, according to interviews with dozens of nomads, who described raids on their temporary villages, at least two aerial bombings, harassment and incidents of torture over the past year. As a result of the insecurity, an estimated 30,000 Chadian Arabs have migrated into the Darfur region of neighboring Sudan, according to the U.N. refugee agency. And with Chadian and Sudanese nomads broadly vilified as the so-called Janjaweed Arab militias responsible for a brutal campaign in Darfur, nomad leaders say they fear a backlash. "The government is punishing us," said Yusuf Babad, who was among a group of nomads herding cattle north across a sweep of rocky desert here recently, their donkeys heaped with blankets, tarps, pots and other supplies. "They tell us to bring our weapons, and if you don't have weapons, they punish you. Some of us, they have been punished until they died. They put plastic over your head so you cannot breathe. They put hot glass under your knees and say, 'Talk!' They put pepper in your nose until you talk." "The government wants to say that all Arabs are Janjaweed," he said. "As we are Arabs, the land has become narrow to us. Nobody likes us. Only God." Chadian officials say they have targeted only the guilty. They call the nomad migration part of a "satanic" plot by the Arab-led Sudanese government to replenish its Janjaweed militias in Darfur and settle Arab newcomers on farmland belonging to the 2.5 million people displaced by the conflict there.

New York Times: 26 Nations Call for Sending U.N. Peacekeeping Force to Darfur. A meeting of leaders from 26 nations called Friday for the rapid deployment to Darfur of the 26,000-member African Union-United Nations peacekeeping force approved by the Security Council and the participation of all rebel groups in peace talks scheduled for next month. “If they are really leaders and think about the future of Sudan, they should go to the dialogue table,” Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said. The talks are to be held in Tripoli, Libya, and some of the groups fighting the Khartoum government have expressed reservations about attending. Alpha Oumar Konaré, chairman of the African Union, said the groups would have “full guarantees” that their views would be heard. “It is not acceptable that those that claim to be fighting for their peoples refuse to come to the negotiating table,” he said. The participants also witnessed a dispute over the composition of the force, which Sudan was insisting must be all-African but others were saying must have some non-African elements if it was to meet United Nations standards. “We don’t need them,” Lam Akol, Sudan’s foreign minister, said when asked about troops offered by Thailand and Uruguay, countries that traditionally supply trained peacekeepers for United Nations missions. John D. Negroponte, the United States deputy secretary of state, said, “Sudan has nothing to be afraid of” from the inclusion of non-African troops. Saying that the Sudanese government should stop its “foot dragging,” he noted that 18 months after the signing of an original peace agreement for Darfur, “We are still just in the initial phase.”

Seattle Times: Darfur genocide as seen through one man's eyes. "I thought, 'If I were looking through a scope instead of a camera lens, I could end this right now.' " There's a point during the shattering documentary "The Devil Came on Horseback" in which the film's subject, a former U.S. Marine captain turned unarmed observer named Brian Steidle, expresses his deep frustration watching the ease with which genocide unfolds daily in Darfur. A trained warrior with an instinct to protect others, Steidle — who left the military in 2004 to take a six-month stint as a monitor in Sudan for the African Union — encountered many a moment (some caught on film) in which he knew that a gun in his hand could save hundreds from an unspeakable death. "Devil," directed by Annie Sundberg and Ricki Stern, is very much a dynamic, shockingly graphic story of the horrors of Darfur, massive crimes that the rest of the world has not been able to stop. The film has the urgency of a house on fire, partially built around Steidle's enormous catalog of photographs (and eyewitness reports ignored by the African Union), leaving no doubt that the slaughter of black Sudanese by the country's Arab-controlled government is systematic evil. At 32, the weight of his Darfur experience and the support of his sister, Gretchen Wallace, drive Steidle to take his photos and his facts to New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof (who wrote a remarkable series on Darfur), cable news channels, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and numerous public-speaking engagements. The fact that little has come from these efforts, the film shows us, has disillusioned Steidle but also made him a more sophisticated speaker and authority on the phenomenon of genocide.

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

In Darfur, amateurs shame the diplomats

Professionals in any given field are apt to look disdainfully at amateurs. For the pros — in the sports world, the stock market, cooking — their calling is their occupation. Often, their performance justifies an air of superiority.

Sometimes, however, the pros don't perform. Sometimes, it's the amateurs who get the job done — or who at least prod the professionals to perform better.

Such is the case with Darfur. The pros — diplomats — have for four years negotiated, debated resolutions and occasionally passed them. But the diplomatic work has done little to alter the circumstances on the ground, where hundreds of thousands of civilians have been killed and 2.5 million driven from their homes.

Meanwhile, amateurs have delivered humanitarian aid to the people of Darfur. Amateurs have pressured governments in Europe and the United States to address the atrocities in Darfur in a more meaningful way. Amateurs have launched the divestment campaign that grabbed the attention of leaders in Khartoum and their obstructionist allies around the globe.

In fact, if not for the work of amateurs, few people would care or even know about the events in the western region of Sudan. The world's worst humanitarian crisis might simply be a footnote to the world news.

So the recent comments of Andrew Natsios, U.S. presidential envoy to Sudan, to the Boston Herald are especially disconcerting. Natsios said that the work of the Save Darfur community and the divestment campaign especially, though well intentioned, were hurting the effort to bring a peaceful resolution to the conflict in Darfur.

Where exactly has Natsios been since 2003? The pros have had plenty of time to demonstrate their diplomatic ascendancy. Now, all of a sudden, the amateurs are fouling up their superior efforts?

The ethnic cleansing of Darfur is now nearly complete. Natsios might do well to remember the old saw that professionals built the Titanic while it was an amateur who built the ark.

The following column by Jamie O'Connell, professor at UC Berkeley's Boalt Hall School of Law, appeared in Sunday's San Francisco Chronicle.

'Genocide Olympics'

President Bush's recent decision to attend the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games looks as unwise as his May 2004 appearance on an aircraft carrier to proclaim "mission accomplished" in Iraq. Human rights activists have labeled the games the "Genocide Olympics," highlighting the Chinese government's support for genocide in Darfur, in western Sudan.

Just as Adolf Hitler used the 1936 Berlin Olympics to present Nazi society as a model of orderly virtue, they argue, Beijing will use the Games as an international coming out party, casting itself as an economic power, technological innovator and diplomatic leader of the first rank. An international campaign joined by the US Save Darfur Coalition - comprised of organizations as diverse as B'nai B'rith International, the Arab American Anti-Discrimination League, and the NAACP - aims to reverse this image unless China fundamentally changes policy on Darfur. This "Olympic Dream for Darfur" (, along with more action by the U.S. government and rising public outcry in Europe and elsewhere, could help end the first genocide of the 21st century.

Since 2003, the Arab supremacist government of Sudan and Arab militias have bombed and raided hundreds of villages inhabited by non-Arab Muslims in Darfur. Some 2.5 million people have fled and now live in squalid refugee camps inside the country and in neighboring Chad. Congress and the Bush administration have recognized the attacks as genocide. Conservative estimates put the death toll from slaughter, hunger and disease at over 200,000 people. Survivors include thousands of women and girls raped by soldiers and militia to spread terror and destroy communities. Nearly 6,000 under-equipped peacekeepers from the African Union (AU), deployed in Darfur since 2004, have been unable to stop the violence.

China has made the atrocities possible. Oil exports provide 70 percent of Sudan's export revenues, and most of those go to buy the planes, guns and ammunition the government uses against civilians in Darfur. China buys most of Sudan's oil and Chinese state-controlled companies are developing the largest oil fields in Sudan, including important deposits in Darfur itself. This economic support saps the force of the United States' decade-old trade embargo on Sudan: although deprived of American investment, technology and markets, Sudan's economy thrives on China's.

Beijing's diplomatic support has been its most important contribution to the genocide, however. Sudan has been able to turn back pressure from the United States and the United Nations for a U.N. peacekeeping force that could protect civilians, because it knew China would veto any U.N. Security Council resolution to deploy a force without Sudan's consent. Chinese opposition has stymied efforts to impose international economic sanctions.

The "Genocide Olympics" campaign aims to change Chinese policy. Engaged celebrities have generated publicity, most dramatically in March, when actress Mia Farrow compared Steven Spielberg with the director of Nazi propaganda films on the 1936 Berlin Games. If Spielberg continued his role as creative consultant for the 2008 Olympics, she wrote in the Wall Street Journal, he could "go down in history as the Leni Riefenstahl of the Beijing Games."

Grassroots pressure has been just as significant. In July, the San Francisco Bay Area Darfur Coalition ( protested outside the Chinese Consulate with a 42,000-signature petition demanding the government use its leverage with Sudan to stop the genocide. While the official Olympic torch travels around the world to Beijing, activists in August began an alternative relay to carry a torch from Darfur, across sites of 20th century genocides such as Germany and Rwanda, before ending in Hong Kong in December. Darfur Coalition events will mark the torch's passage through San Francisco on Nov. 18.

These and other rallies, petitions, public statements and events around the world have three goals: shaming China into action, persuading the Olympics' corporate sponsors - such as Coca-Cola, Johnson & Johnson and Visa - to urge Beijing to change its policies on Darfur, and educating the public and policymakers on Darfur and China's role in it.

The Genocide Olympics campaign has had some effect. Spielberg wrote the Chinese government to express his concern about Darfur and in July threatened to end his involvement with the Olympics if China did not take stronger action.

China reportedly is very concerned that Darfur activists will tarnish its showcase. In March, its ambassador to the United Nations publicly criticized Sudan for backsliding on its acceptance of a hybrid UN-AU peacekeeping force (which is slightly better than AU troops alone). Two months later, Beijing appointed a senior diplomat as special envoy for Darfur, a very unusual post in its foreign policy structure. And on July 31, it voted in favor of the Security Council resolution establishing the hybrid force, rather than abstain or threaten a veto. China continues to support the government of Sudan, facilitating its atrocities, but its increased diplomatic engagement and more critical posture toward the regime can contribute to peace, and may be only the first fruits of Olympics activism.

The Genocide Olympics movement is not a panacea for Darfur, however. It needs to be part of a larger strategy that targets the U.S. and European governments and corporations operating in Sudan. We need to press our own government to devote more serious attention to Darfur. The Bush administration should assign a new team of senior diplomats to Darfur and elevate its half-time special envoy to full-time status. They should join France, and if possible China, in a major diplomatic initiative to convene peace talks between the Sudanese government and the proliferating number of anti-government rebel groups in Darfur. At the same time, Darfur activist movements in Europe and key developing countries, such as South Africa, need to grow. Divestment from corporations that are part of the problem in Darfur - already undertaken by the state of California - is a fourth essential element of a strategy to end the genocide.

Olympics-related activism also shouldn't go too far. In August, U.S. Rep. Dana Rohrabacher, R-Huntington Beach (Orange County), introduced a resolution calling for the United States to boycott the Olympics over China's role in Darfur and its human rights violations at home.

This may grab Congressman Rohrabacher some attention, but at least for Darfur it is counterproductive. The Genocide Olympics movement uses the Olympic hype to highlight China's complicity in atrocities and generate pressure on it to change its role - so a boycott would erode the marketing power that Darfur activists are harnessing. Boycott calls are also divisive, pitting some activists - and politicians - against athletes, sports fans, and others who are equally concerned about Darfur but believe the Olympics should go forward at full strength.

Finally, Olympic boycotts historically have been ineffective; the Soviets didn't withdraw from Afghanistan when we skipped Moscow in 1980. Fortunately, the Save Darfur Coalition and its allies know all this and reject talk of boycotts.

The genocide in Darfur has attracted the attention and outrage of ordinary Americans, not just a small corps of human rights activists and celebrities. We can all look forward to the awe-inspiring display of human achievement that the Olympics will provide, and enjoy it when it comes. As the excitement builds in the coming months, however, we should also use the opportunity to learn about Darfur, shame the Chinese government for its complicity in genocide, and call on corporate sponsors to push the government to stop supporting the government of Sudan.

If China becomes a force for peace in Darfur, then President Bush's Olympic trip may still draw criticism based on China's domestic human rights violations - but at least he will not be endorsing a "Genocide Olympics."


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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