The Darfur Consortium

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Darfur in the News

U.S. and European media

February 23, 2023

Agence France-Presse: Sudanese aid workers killed in Darfur attack: UN. Two Sudanese working for a French humanitarian aid group in Darfur were shot dead in a weekend attack that also left four people wounded, a spokesman for UN peacekeepers said on Monday. A gang of 24 men on horses and camels ambushed the workers on Saturday on a road between Kurunji and Khor Abeshe in South Darfur. "A Land Rover jeep carrying three people with Aide Medicale Internationale arrived at the site. The armed men opened fire," said Kamal Saiki, a spokesman for the joint United Nations African Union Mission in Darfur. "Two Sudanese humanitarian people were killed and four civilians were injured," he said. "It seems to be a villainous act without political motivation."

Associated Press: Sudan to release 24 Darfur detainees before talks. The Sudanese government will release 24 detainees involved in the Darfur conflict as a goodwill gesture before planned peace talks with rebels, the country's justice minister said Saturday. Sudan and Darfur's strongest rebel group, the Justice and Equality Movement, agreed during talks last week to exchange prisoners as a goodwill gesture before more talks. JEM has said they released 21 government soldiers. JEM spokesman Ahmed Hussein said it was not yet clear if those to be released are even members of the rebel group. The group wants the release of its members detained after an attack it launched on the capital in May. Human rights groups said hundreds of Darfurians were detained after the attack. Some 50 JEM members, including senior commanders, were tried and sentenced to death in August in hastily convened trials.

Associated Press: Clooney visits Darfur refugees. George Clooney says refugees from Sudan's war-wracked Darfur region that he's been visiting this week are echoing a message: "Bring us justice." Clooney said his trip to the camps in Chad comes at an "extraordinarily important moment" with the International Criminal Court about to decide whether to seek the arrest of Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir for alleged war crimes in Darfur. Despite concerns of heightened violence if the arrest is sought, Clooney said that most Darfur refugees he spoke with told him they see hope in the international community.

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

Sisters, Victims, Heroes

So I'm bunking with George Clooney in a little room in a guest house here in eastern Chad, near Darfur in Sudan. We each have a mattress on the floor, the "shower" is a rubber hose that doesn't actually produce any water, and George's side of the room has a big splotch of something that sure looks like blood.

He's using me to learn more about Darfur, and I'm using him to ease you into a column about genocide. Manipulation all around -- and, luckily, neither of us snores. (But stay tuned to this series for salacious gossip if he talks in his sleep.)

The slaughter in Darfur has continued for six years largely because world leaders have been complacent and preoccupied. In the coming weeks, the International Criminal Court is expected to issue an arrest warrant for Sudan's president, Omar Hassan al-Bashir, for orchestrating the killings -- and that will give the world a new opportunity to end the slaughter.

But to seize that opportunity, world leaders will have to summon some of the same moral courage that Darfuris show all the time.

Take Suad Ahmed, who is in the pantheon of my personal heroes. I introduced her to George in her little thatch hut.

Suad, 27, fled from Darfur to a refugee camp in Chad five years ago with her husband and beloved younger sister, Halima, who is now 12 -- if she is still alive.

Then Sudan dispatched its janjaweed militias into Chad to slaughter members of black African tribes -- applying to eastern Chad the same genocidal policies that had already gutted Darfur.

Shortly before I met Suad two years ago, she was out gathering firewood with Halima. A group of janjaweed fired into the air and yelled at them to stop.

Suad, who was married with two children and another on the way, ordered Halima to run back to camp. Then Suad made a decoy of herself and ran loudly in the opposite direction, making sure that the janjaweed saw her.

That night, after the janjaweed had left, the men from the camp found Suad semiconscious in the bush, brutally beaten and raped.

Suad refused medical treatment, for fear that word would get out that she had been raped, and she didn't even tell her husband, instead saying that she had been robbed and beaten. Yet she revealed the full story to me and allowed me to use her name.

I grilled her to make absolutely sure she understood the dangers of publicity -- from stigma and revenge -- and finally asked her why she was willing to assume the risks. She replied simply, "This is the only way I have to fight genocide."

Ever since, in a world that has proved so craven in the face of Sudan's genocide, Suad's courage has haunted me. Thus on this trip I tracked her down and introduced her to George and to Ann Curry of NBC News, who for years has borne powerful witness to the madness of Darfur.

Alas, Suad's latest news isn't good. Her back, injured in the beating, still pains her. She doesn't dare go outside the camp to get firewood, so she must buy wood, which leaves the family poor and short of food. Her baby, Abdel Malik, whom she was carrying at the time of the rape, is one and a half years old and was just hospitalized for malnutrition.

The most heartbreaking news concerns Halima. Ten months ago, Halima decided to go back to Darfur to the camp where her parents were living. They had sent messages that they were sick, and that there were too many soldiers around for them to escape to Chad.

So Halima, at age 11, resolved to walk back through janjaweed lines into Darfur to rescue her parents and bring them to safety.

The girl disappeared into the desert.

"I haven't heard from her since," Suad said grimly. "I don't know if she got there, or if she was killed on route." Suad has spent a fair amount of money trying to call people in the camp to find out news of her sister and parents, but she has found out nothing. We tried with our satellite phones and couldn't get through either.

This is my 10th trip to Darfur and the area around it, and people always ask how reporters and aid workers keep their sanity among such horrors. Yet the truth is that genocide spotlights not only the worst of humanity, but also the best -- the courage and altruism of people like Suad and Halima.

So the most indelible memories I will take back from the region aren't from my famous roommate on the mattress beside me, but from uncommon heroes like Suad and Halima. We can learn so much from them. 

The following op-ed by Rebecca Hamilton appeared in Saturday's Boston Globe.  

An inkling of hope, justice for Darfur

THE PRE-TRIAL chamber of the International Criminal Court is soon expected to formally announce an arrest warrant against the president of Sudan, Omar Al Bashir, for crimes in Darfur. When word reaches Darfuri refugees over short-wave radio, a rare cry of jubilation will echo across their sprawling camps. As 33-year-old Amira of Oure Cassoni camp told me: "Only if Omar Al Bashir is arrested can there be peace in Sudan."

In the short term, Amira's hope is unlikely to be fulfilled. It is the Sudanese government's responsibility to execute the arrest warrant, and it will not hand over its own president anytime soon. And yet the court's announcement should not be dismissed as (yet more) words in lieu of action.

Khartoum is terrified of the court. In the seven months since the ICC prosecutor announced he was seeking an arrest warrant against Bashir, Khartoum has gone to extraordinary lengths to stop the case. It has promised to allow jurists from neighboring countries to oversee prosecutions it claims to be conducting in relation to crimes in Darfur. This week, it even signed a "confidence-building agreement" with one of the Darfur rebel groups. These apparent concessions are unlikely to reflect any genuine shift in Khartoum's approach to Darfur. However, they speak volumes about the power the Sudanese government attributes to the ICC.

The court began its first trial only last month. It has no police force, and depends on states to carry out its orders. Why does an embryonic institution with no independent enforcement mechanism instill such fear in one of the world's most brutal regimes? Because in at least the 108 states that have signed up to the court, and in several more that have not yet joined, the ICC's judicial authority is seen as legitimate.

Despite multiple condemnations by human-rights groups and the US government's determination that the situation in Darfur was genocide, law-abiding states have not united against the actions of the Sudanese government. Many governments have been unwilling to jeopardize their economic and diplomatic relationships with Khartoum by pointing the finger. China, for instance, has feared the disruption of its oil contracts with Sudan. And Khartoum has masterfully exploited the resulting divisions in the international community.

An arrest warrant against Bashir can change all this: No longer does the dividing line have to be between those who criticize the Sudanese government and those who do not. Instead it can be about those who want to align themselves with legally punishable behavior and those who reject it. Overnight, the costs of lining up silently alongside Khartoum have increased.

Ahead of the court's announcement, even those who have perpetrated some of the massive crimes in Darfur have started to abandon Khartoum. In video footage released by the Aegis Trust last week, one former commander begins his testimony about the atrocities by stating: "The Sudanese Government, all time said, no genocide there, no rape there. I am from the PDF -- Janjaweed -- I want to tell the world the truth."

Following the announcement, we may see allegiances shift away from Bashir within Sudan's ruling National Congress Party. Of course a power struggle alone is no solution; those who would vie for the leadership of the party have as bad, if not worse, human rights credentials than Bashir himself. However, the warrant may at least deter anyone with leadership aspirations from the behavior that led to Bashir's indictment.

Even a small increase in the vigor with which the crimes in Darfur are condemned could lead to behavioral change in Khartoum. No one in the ruling party wants their government to be an international pariah. If the price for avoiding this is to ensure that Sudanese citizens are not the victims of mass atrocity in the future, then it is a price that Khartoum's current and aspiring political leaders may well be willing to pay - even before Bashir is in the dock.

Rebecca Hamilton is a fellow at the Open Society Institute. She has worked with displaced populations in Sudan and is writing a book about the impact of citizen advocacy on Darfur policy.

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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