The Darfur Consortium

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Darfur in the News

U.S. and European media

February 26, 2023

CNN: U.N.: 15,000 flee southern Darfur. Fighting has prompted thousands of people in the southern part of Sudan's Darfur region to seek security and shelter at a refugee camp in the northern part of the war-torn area, according to the United Nations. The U.N.'s Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) reported that fighting in Muhajeria and Shearia between Sudanese government forces, and the rebel Justice and Equality Movement (JEM), drove over 15,000 people north to the Zam Zam camp. The water supply to the camp is becoming strained with displaced people arriving there every day, OCHA said Wednesday.

Reuters: FACTBOX-Human rights still poor in Africa, US says. Human rights remained poor in many countries in sub-Saharan Africa in 2008, according to the U.S. State Department's global survey released on Wednesday. Following is a summary of some of its findings. SUDAN: The government's human rights record remained poor as it bombed villages, killed civilians and collaborated with militias in the troubled Darfur region, and rebel groups there continued to commit serious abuses as well. Both sides beat and raped civilians, recruited child soldiers and harassed aid groups. Serious abuses continued in the country's southern region as well, including extrajudicial killings and beatings.

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

Africa's 'Obama' School

After Barack Obama was elected president in November, the Darfur refugees here were so thrilled that they erupted in spontaneous dancing and singing.

Soon afterward, the refugees renamed the School No. 1 in this dusty camp the Obama School. It's a pathetic building of mud bricks with a tin roof, and the windows are holes in the walls, but it's caulked with hope that President Obama may help end the long slaughter and instability in Sudan.

Soon we'll see whether those hopes are justified. Next Wednesday, the International Criminal Court is expected to issue an arrest warrant for Sudan's president, Omar Hassan al-Bashir, for crimes against humanity in Darfur.

That would be historic -- the first time the court has called for the arrest of a sitting head of state. It would be the clearest assertion that in the 21st century, mass murder is no longer a ruler's prerogative.

There has been concern that Mr. Bashir will lash out by expelling aid workers or that Sudan's fragile north-south peace agreement will become unglued if Mr. Bashir is ousted. Those fears are overblown. Time and again, Mr. Bashir has responded to pressure and scrutiny by improving his behavior and increasing his cooperation with the United Nations and Western countries.

It's true that the slogan "save Darfur" should be reconceived as "save Sudan." North and South Sudan are probably on track to a resumption of their brutal civil war that killed two million people until a fragile peace in 2005. But while saving Sudan raises immensely knotty, difficult challenges, President Bashir is part of the problem, and accountability is part of the solution.

In any case, Luis Moreno-Ocampo, the Argentinian who is the chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Court, is right when he says: "The question is not what President Bashir will do. The question is what you will do."

If Mr. Obama needs inspiration, he can look at France, for it has shown that outsiders can make a difference. When I was here in the Chad-Sudan border area in 2006, Sudanese-sponsored janjaweed militias were rampaging through black African villages in Chad, killing and raping. These days, overall security is hugely improved, largely because the French president, Nicolas Sarkozy, led a push to insert a European military force. It was a messy solution, for Chad is corrupt and autocratic, yet at least the skies are no longer thick with smoke from burning villages.

On that 2006 trip here, I met Abdullah Idris, a young farmer who had just had his eyes gouged out by the janjaweed. The mutilation broke my heart, especially when I saw Abdullah's 5-year-old daughter looking at her dad's face in revulsion, seeing a monster.

On this trip, I tracked down Abdullah and found him living with his family in a camp for displaced people. His daughter and wife lead him around, hand in hand. Security has improved enough that a few people are even returning to their villages from the camps.

Hats off to France! There are thousands of problems with the deployment, but it's far better than standing by as militias gouge out men's eyes.

Unfortunately, conditions are still desperate within Sudan's borders. This week, news filtered out from Darfur that two more aid workers had been shot dead -- on top of 11 killed and 4 more still missing in 2008. By the United Nations' count, the number of violent attacks on aid workers almost doubled in 2008 compared with the previous year.

Yet there is a ray of hope: There are whispers in the dusty Sudanese capital, Khartoum, that other senior Sudanese leaders are thinking about pushing Mr. Bashir out of office if the arrest warrant is issued.

At the Obama School here in eastern Chad, the refugees are waiting to see if the school's namesake will resolutely back up the International Criminal Court. I'm betting that he will. In the last Congress, three of the strongest advocates for the people of Darfur were Senators Barack Obama, Joseph Biden and Hillary Rodham Clinton, and one of Washington's strongest advocates for action on Sudan was Susan Rice, who is now the ambassador to the United Nations. (She terrifies Sudanese officials; parachute her into Khartoum, and the entire Sudanese leadership might surrender.)

Meanwhile, the Obama administration is undertaking a review of the policy on Darfur, and it's being co-led by Samantha Power, a White House aide whose superb book, "A Problem From Hell," catalogs all the ways that American politicians have found excuses to avoid confronting past genocides.

The students at the Obama School have nothing to keep them going but hope. Let's not disappoint them.

he 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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