The Darfur Consortium

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Darfur in the News

U.S. and European media

December 29, 2022

Agence France-Presse: Year of failure in Darfur as ICC spectre looms over Sudan. Darfur ends 2008 more dangerous than ever with a much vaunted UN mission unable to protect civilians and a possible war crimes indictment against Sudan's president casting a pall over 2009. Huge hopes 12 months ago that the United Nations could bring some measure of stability to the western Sudanese region by assuming control of peacekeeping have been largely disappointed as the mission struggles to find its footing. "Genocide continues" was the blunt if controversial verdict this month from International Criminal Court prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo, who is seeking an arrest warrant against President Omar al-Beshir over the six-year conflict.

CNN: Stoves help keep Darfur's women out of harm's way. In Sudan's Darfur region, where violence and genocide are rampant, women risk their lives every day performing tasks as seemingly mundane as seeking out firewood. But, from his suburban home, one Maryland teen has dedicated himself to making life a little safer for those women. Spencer Brodsky, 17, learned about the violence and decided to raise money to purchase fuel-efficient stoves to send to Darfur. The stoves burn 75 percent less firewood. 

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

A New Chance for Darfur

If Barack Obama wants to help end the genocide in Darfur, he doesn't have to look far for ideas of how to accomplish that. President Bush and his top aides have been given, and ignored, a menu of options for tough steps to squeeze Sudan -- even destroy its air force -- and those will soon be on the new president's desk.

The State Department's policy planning staff prepared the first set of possible responses back in 2004 (never pursued), and this year Ambassador Richard Williamson has privately pushed the White House to squeeze Sudan until it stops the killing.

Mr. Williamson, who is President Bush's special envoy to Sudan, wrote a tough memo to Mr. Bush this fall outlining three particular steps the United States could take to press Sudan's leader, President Omar Hassan al-Bashir:

  • The United States could jam all communications in Khartoum, the Sudanese capital. This would include all telephone calls, all cellular service, all Internet access. After two days, having demonstrated Sudan's vulnerability, the United States could halt the jamming.
  • The United States could apply progressive pressure to Port Sudan, from which Sudan exports oil and thus earns revenue. The first step would be to send naval vessels near the port. The next step would be to search or turn back some ships, and the final step would be to impose a quarantine and halt Sudan's oil exports.
  • The United States could target Sudanese military aircraft that defy a United Nations ban on offensive military flights in Darfur. The first step would be to destroy a helicopter gunship on the ground at night. A tougher approach would be to warn Sudan that unless it complies with international demands (by handing over suspects indicted by the International Criminal Court, for example), it will lose its air force -- and then if it does not comply, to destroy all its military aircraft on the ground.

Officials frustrated by the administration's passivity shared these possible steps with me, partly to make clear that Mr. Obama can do more if he has the political will.

Mr. Williamson has been one of the unsung heroes of the Bush administration, fighting tenaciously and secretly -- even twice threatening to resign -- to redeem American honor by confronting genocide. President Bush himself seemed open to tougher action, officials say, but Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Stephen Hadley, the national security adviser, always resisted, backed by the Pentagon. Ms. Rice and Mr. Hadley tarnished their own honor and America's by advocating, in effect, acquiescence in genocide.

The naysayers' objection was simple: Those are incredibly serious steps, with grave repercussions.

They're right. But then again, genocide is pretty serious, too.

That's something that Mr. Obama and his aides understand. Partly for that reason, Sudan fears the Obama administration, and now for the first time in years, there's a real chance of ousting President Bashir and ending his murderous regime.

Several factors are coming together. The leaders in Khartoum feel their government wobbling, particularly after rebels clashed with government soldiers on the outskirts of Khartoum earlier this year. They know that the International Criminal Court is expected to issue an arrest warrant for President Bashir, probably in February, but that no other top leader will be indicted after Mr. Bashir.

China, which for years has been President Bashir's most important international supporter, now seems to be backing away -- just as it eventually abandoned genocidal friends like Slobodan Milosevic and the Khmer Rouge. And an Arab state, Qatar, is now leading a serious diplomatic initiative to try to end the slaughter.

Thus there are growing whispers that key figures in the Sudanese regime may throw Mr. Bashir overboard in the coming months. The other leaders are ruthless and have blood on their hands as well, but some of them have in the past proved more willing to negotiate deals than Mr. Bashir has.

Hovering in the background is the risk that the north-south war in Sudan will resume, leading to a slaughter even worse than Darfur. One ominous sign is that Sudan is now stockpiling cash and weapons, apparently so that it can wage war on the south even if Port Sudan is blocked.

Mr. Williamson has suggested providing surface-to-air missiles to the separate government of South Sudan. Such weaponry would reduce the chance that Sudan would attack the south.

If Mr. Obama and his aides can work with Europe, China and Qatar to keep the heat on -- and to make clear that Sudan has no choice but to hand over President Bashir once the court issues the arrest warrant -- then we just might avert a new war and end the first genocide of the 21st century in the new year.

The following editorial appeared in today's Wall Street Journal.

Sudan's Slaves 

Add slavery to the list of Khartoum's crimes in Darfur. Hundreds, perhaps thousands, of people have been enslaved in the region, the human-rights group Darfur Consortium says in a report based on interviews with escaped or released abductees, witnesses and families. The abductions by Sudanese soldiers and government-backed Arab tribesmen, the Janjaweed, are part of a wider strategy to drive civilians from non-Arabic speaking ethnic groups from their lands. The land is "then seized and repopulated by the militia and Arabic-speaking nomadic groups," the Uganda-based group reports.

Women and girls are raped, forced into "marriages" and sexual slavery, the report says. The testimonies are difficult to bear. "They used us like wives in the night and during the day time we worked all the time," one woman told Darfur Consortium. She was able to escape after having been abducted from a refugee camp in 2005 with 20 other people.

President Bush has led international calls to end the slaughter, urging the U.N. Security Council to act. Moscow and Beijing have snubbed his efforts and repeatedly vetoed tough sanctions against Khartoum.

President-elect Obama says diplomacy will be a keystone of his foreign policy. We'll soon see whether he will be more successful than his predecessor in rallying a reluctant international community to stop the atrocities.

The following editorial appeared in Saturday's Florida Times-Union. 

Darfur: Keeping a promise

As Barack Obama prepares to be inaugurated as the 44th president next month, he'd do well to remember another historic moment.

That moment came last June when he and his former rivals, Democratic primary challenger Hillary Clinton and Republican nominee John McCain issued a joint statement pledging their commitment toward ending genocide in the Darfur region of Sudan.

According to news reports, Alain Le Roy, peacekeeping chief for the United Nations, told the Security Council that after six years, scores of Sudanese are being raped and tortured by armed militias, and are subsisting in refugee camps.

Le Roy also said that the joint African Union-U.N. peacekeeping force has been too slow in providing real improvements.

Attacks on peacekeepers and humanitarian workers have intensified. The only route to ending the conflict lies with the Sudanese government and rebel groups agreeing to start U.N. mediation talks.

So far, that hasn't happened.

Susan Rice, Obama's nominee for U.N. ambassador, has made it clear that she wants that conflict to end.

Last year, as a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, Rice testified during a Senate hearing that she believed that "enough is enough."

If Rice brings her passion for ending the Darfur genocide to the U.N., Obama will be wise to listen to her.

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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