The Darfur Consortium

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Darfur in the News

U.S. and European media

September 29, 2023

Reuters: Peacekeepers probe deadly Darfur helicopter crash. A helicopter working for peacekeepers in Darfur crashed on Monday, killing two people, and the mission said it was checking whether the aircraft had come under fire. The private helicopter, hired by the U.N.-African Union force, came down minutes after leaving the town of Nyala with a crew of four, a spokesman for the UNAMID force said. It crashed near a camp for displaced people in the region of western Sudan. At least four helicopters in use by the force have been shot at since August, but no casualties have been reported before. "We are looking into unconfirmed reports there was shooting," spokesman Kemal Saiki said.

BBC: Vow to pursue Sudan over 'crimes'. The International Criminal Court's (ICC) chief prosecutor has told the BBC he will continue to push for Sudan's leader to be charged with war crimes. Luis Moreno Ocampo said there was strong evidence that President Omar al-Bashir was behind attacks on civilians in Darfur province. The Sudanese government has rejected the allegations, saying the ICC's case threatens peace efforts in Darfur. A number of countries want the UN to block the attempt to indict Mr Bashir. "We found evidence that al-Bashir himself was controlling the attacks on these people who normally live in Darfur," Mr Ocampo told the BBC's Arabic Service.

Washington Post: Low-Profile U.N. Chief Struggles as Diplomatic Peacemaker. After more than 20 months in office, Ban is straining to make his mark as a diplomatic peacemaker as his efforts to stem bloodshed in Sudan's Darfur region have faltered and Burma's political players refuse to meet with his special envoy. The United Nations has been relegated to a supporting role in many of the world's diplomatic flare-ups, including in Kenya and Zimbabwe. In Darfur, Ban has been in control, cultivating a relationship with Sudanese President Omar Hassan al-Bashir to help secure support for a U.N.-African Union peacekeeping mission and a political settlement. But fighting has resumed, political talks have stalled, and the peacekeepers' deployment is months behind schedule.

Washington Post: United by Country, Divided By Their Tribal Differences. Although the five-year conflict in Sudan's vast, parched Darfur region has spawned dozens of U.S.-based support groups, and the killings by militias have been labeled genocide by U.S. officials, very few of Darfur's victims have actually reached the United States. In the Washington area, many Sudanese are longtime emigres from other parts of the country: an accountant in an Oxford shirt, a night nurse who leads a church choir, an architect who moonlights as a political activist. Theirs is an extraordinarily diverse emigre group, often separated by religion and politics.

The following column by Ruth Messinger appeared on the Huffington Post Friday.  

A Farewell to Arms in Darfur

The summer Olympics provided a high-wattage showcase for China's ascendance on the world stage, one nonetheless marred by ongoing concerns about its support for the Sudanese regime's genocide in Darfur. These concerns will only intensify when China assumes the presidency of the United Nations Security Council in October, where it will nominally lead efforts to maintain peace throughout the world, even as it continues to underwrite the mass killings in Darfur.

This is because China is the largest supplier of small arms to Sudan, among other countries. Human rights organizations are calling for expansion of an arms embargo that would eliminate loopholes China and Sudan currently exploit to transfer arms into the hands of Sudanese government forces and the Janjaweed militia, now responsible for the deaths of more than 450,000 people. The same call has been echoed by Congress: last week [Sept 15], Sens. Bill Nelson and James Inhofe introduced a Senate resolution calling for an expanded and enforced arms embargo against Sudan, followed closely behind by a House resolution with the same aim introduced by Reps. James McGovern, Brad Miller and Scott Garrett.

Yet expansion and enforcement of the embargo will not happen without concerted pressure from other members of the UN Security Council, including the United States. And this time China must feel the heat.

The continued flow of arms, and small arms in particular, is fueling violence against Darfuris by the government of President Omar al-Bashir. Last month Sudanese government forces attacked one of Darfur's largest camps for displaced people. Civilians using sticks, spears and knives faced down machine guns and automatic weapons of the kind sent by China. More than 30 people were slaughtered. Humanitarian workers have been detained, kidnapped, assaulted and killed by criminals armed with such weapons, jeopardizing the delivery of desperately needed aid.

Many countries are implicated in the continued supply of arms, but the primary responsibility lies with two Security Council members: Russia and China. While Russia is a major supplier of heavy weapons, China bears the distinction of providing an estimated 90 percent of Sudan's small arms imports, the very weapons used to kill civilians. A recent BBC report indicated that China had also supplied military trucks and was training pilots to fly fighter jets used in Darfur.

China denies that its actions contravene the arms embargo. It has tried to wash its hands of any role in the genocide with a shifting deck of denials: We are no longer supplying any arms to Sudan. Our sales comprised just a fraction of Sudan's imports. We do our best to prevent weapons from falling into the wrong hands. But in light of Khartoum's refusal to cooperate with the embargo, China cannot ensure that arms are not being transferred to Darfur. China's continued sales of arms to Khartoum may constitute a breach of the Genocide Convention, which requires states to prevent and refrain from complicity in genocide.

Why does China persist? Reports conducted by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute indicate that the revenues China generates through the sales of arms to Sudan are minimal. Rather, the weapons transfers serve to strengthen ties between the two countries and ensure China's continued access to Sudan's oil reserves. In addition, China uses its permanent seat in the U.N. Security Council to provide Khartoum with diplomatic protection. China has, for example, abstained from voting on the arms embargo resolutions.

It is of course imperative that the U.S. press Russia and other suppliers to suspend arms sales to Sudan, but particular attention must be paid to China because of its trade relationship and close diplomatic ties to Sudan. The United States can begin by introducing a resolution to expand the current U.N. arms embargo this October.

Stemming the flow of arms to Sudan alone won't stop the bloodshed. But it is a profound and important step the world's nations can take responsibility for, right now, toward disarming criminals actively perpetrating genocide. While it is not a substitute for peace, the embargo can and will save lives and improve the situation on the ground in the immediate term. The international community -- China included -- owes the people of Darfur at least that much.

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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