The Darfur Consortium

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Darfur in the News

U.S. and European media

March 9, 2023

New York Times: U.N. Panel Deadlocks Over Taking Any Action on Sudan. The Security Council deadlocked on Friday over taking any action on the tempest that erupted over the indictment of President Omar Hassan al-Bashir of Sudan on war crimes charges and his subsequent expulsion of 13 aid organizations. Mr. Bashir's supporters, led by Libya and China, insisted that any official statement issued by the Council simultaneously address the potential humanitarian crisis and a possible deferral of the charges, while Western nations blasted the idea of linking the two issues and warned of a potential humanitarian catastrophe that could affect millions. Aid organizations reached Friday said they had already suspended most deliveries to Darfur, the region that is home to the conflict that led to war crimes charges against Mr. Bashir, and much of the country. Expatriate staff members had their work permits revoked and were leaving, the organizations said.

Washington Post: U.S. Pushes Sudan to Readmit Aid Groups. The U.S. ambassador to the United Nations demanded Friday that Sudan reverse its "callous" decision to expel foreign aid workers from Darfur, saying it endangers the lives of millions and threatens to damage Khartoum's relations with the rest of the world. But the effort by Susan E. Rice to pressure Sudan ran into stiff opposition from China, which blocked the adoption of a draft Security Council statement demanding that the relief workers be allowed to return to Darfur. The standoff in the council underscored the challenges the Obama administration faces in rallying international backing for a tougher line on Sudan. Rice detailed U.S. demands in a "forceful conversation" Friday morning with Sudan's U.N. ambassador, Abdalmahmood Abdalhaleem Mohamad. "The United States is gravely concerned by the reckless decision of the Sudanese government," Rice told reporters after the meeting. Rice said that her Sudanese counterpart told her that U.N. relief agencies and others could easily "pick up the slack and that his government will do its part to protect its civilians. I noted that that was hardly a credible proposition in light of the last five years' history."

Associated Press: Sudan Frees Islamist Opposition Leader. An Islamist opposition leader detained after suggesting Sudan's president give himself up to face war crimes charges was released Monday after seven weeks, his son said. Hassan Turabi was sent home from an eastern Sudanese prison at dawn. The 76-year-old's deteriorating health was a factor in the release, said his son, Siddique Turabi. He was held without charge, he said. The opposition leader was arrested Jan. 14 after telling reporters that al-Bashir should give himself up to the International Criminal Court to save Sudan from internal strife.

Gulf News: Keep NGOs in Darfur for safety. A US-Charity coalition to support Darfur expressed concerns over the current situation in the troubled province and called the UN to intervene in favour of the security of around two million displaced citizens in the province. Jerry Fowler, head of the Save Darfur Coalition, told Gulf News that the arrest warrant against the Sudanese President Omar Al Bashir by the International Criminal Court (ICC) on charges of crimes against humanity and war crimes represents a victory for millions of people in the province, but at the same time the reaction of the Sudanese leaders to expel the international workers was very dangerous against the lives of millions of people who depend on charity in Darfur.

ABC7 (San Francisco): Local Darfur hero's driving passion. A Bay Area teenager with a big heart and some big ideas has been honored for his efforts to help the people of Darfur. Pleasanton is a long way from the ravaged region of Africa, but not too far for Jon Brian to think he could make a difference. 18-year-old Jon Brian has a couple of passions; one is cars and the other is helping other people. "It feels good when you help out and also you get a lot of support," said Brian. Brian hopes his efforts can serve as an example for others. "Hopefully it will inspire people to pick a cause they're interested in and find a way to help that cause that fits them," said Brian. 

The following editorial appeared in Saturday's New York Times. 

Holding Mr. Bashir Accountable

After the International Criminal Court this week ordered his arrest on war crimes, Omar Hassan al-Bashir, Sudan's ever-ruthless leader, ordered the expulsion of 13 international aid groups that keep millions of impoverished Sudanese alive with food and medical care. If Mr. Bashir does not reverse the expulsion, it should be considered added proof of his guilt.

It is the first time the 7-year-old court has sought to arrest a sitting head of state. The warrant -- for war crimes and crimes against humanity -- is undeniably deserved. The judges said that Sudan's president played an "essential role" in the murder, rape, torture and displacement of large numbers of civilians in Darfur.

We share the concerns of those who fear that Mr. Bashir and his henchmen will now crack down even harder on Darfur -- where an estimated 300,000 people have been killed and 2.7 million driven from their homes -- and provoke a violent backlash in other parts of Sudan. But the world must not cower before such blackmail. That will not bring stability to Sudan or justice for its victims. There can be no impunity for such atrocities.

The African Union (seeking to protect one of its own), some Arab states (Libya rates special condemnation), and China (mesmerized by Sudan's oil riches) are pressing the United Nations Security Council to delay the indictment for a year to give peace talks in Darfur a chance. The United States and its allies should block any such move. Mr. Bashir's defenders have made that same argument ever since the court prosecutor sought the arrest warrant in November. Four months later, government attacks continue, and it is clear that Mr. Bashir has absolutely no interest in peace.

During the campaign, President Obama pledged strong action to halt genocide in Darfur. Strong action is definitely needed.

The following editorial appeared in today's Boston Globe. 

Justice for Darfur

THE INTERNATIONAL Criminal Court affirmed its reason for being when it issued an arrest warrant on Wednesday for Sudan's President Omar al-Bashir, charging him with crimes against humanity in Darfur. The charges include murder, rape, torture, the forcible transfer and extermination of targeted groups, and the pillaging of their property. These are war crimes that too often escaped punishment in the past - acts perpetrated by a merciless criminal endowed with political power.

Well-meaning critics of the arrest warrant worry that its issuance now could interfere with efforts to reach a negotiated peace agreement between Bashir's regime and rebel groups in Darfur. They also warn about the repercussions on a fragile power-sharing arrangement between Bashir's ruling group and representatives of southern Sudan. A tenuous north-south peace accord in 2005 ended a two-decades-long war that took 2 million lives.

Humane as the intentions behind these reservations may be, they are outweighed by the need for justice.

Bashir has gotten away with mass murder in Darfur for more than six years, in large part because he and his cronies have had nothing to fear from any legal authority. In that time, their soldiers and their proxy militias known as Janjaweed killed between 300,000 and 450,000 members of the Fur, Masalit, and Zaghawa tribes. While the rest of the world looked on, expressing futile outrage, Bashir's Arab regime drove 2.7 million black African villagers of Darfur into desolate refugee camps where they depend on international relief agencies for their survival.

The judges at the Hague have now spoken for everyone around the world who watched in horror as these crimes against humanity were being committed. The warrant for Bashir's arrest tells him - and any other ruthless ruler with similar inclinations, in Sudan or elsewhere - that a serving head of state will no longer enjoy legal impunity for a massacre of innocents.

There is also a chance that the court's arrest warrant for Bashir could have a transforming political effect. If members of his regime become sufficiently nervous about serving with a wanted criminal, and if they come under the right kind of pressure from other African Union and Arab League governments, they might decide it is in their interest to remove Bashir, make peace with resistance movements in Darfur, and enable the 2.7 million displaced people of Darfur to return to their villages.

The Obama administration should exert its influence in the United Nations Security Council and with African nations to help bring about this outcome. It would be acting on the adage that says without justice there is no peace.

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

Watching Darfuris Die

The first gauntlet thrown at President Obama didn't come from Iran, Russia or China. Rather, it came from Sudan, in its decision to expel aid groups that are a lifeline keeping more than a million people alive in Darfur.

Unfortunately, the administration's initial reaction made Neville Chamberlain seem forceful. The State Department blushingly suggested that the expulsion "is certainly not helpful to the people who need aid."


Since then, the administration has stiffened its spine somewhat. Susan Rice, the ambassador to the United Nations and designated hitter on Sudan, told me, "If this decision stands, it may well amount to genocide by other means."

That's exactly what we may be facing, for President Omar Hassan al-Bashir is confirming the International Criminal Court's judgment when it issued an arrest warrant for him on Wednesday for "extermination," murder and rape. Now Mr. Bashir is preparing to kill people en masse, not with machetes but by withholding the aid that keeps them alive.

More than one million people depend directly on the expelled aid groups for health care, food and water. I've been in these camps, so let me offer an educated guess about what will unfold if this expulsion stands.

The biggest immediate threat isn't starvation, because that takes time. Rather, the first crises will be disease and water shortages, particularly in West Darfur.

The camps will quickly run out of clean water, because generator-operated pumps bring the water to the surface from wells and boreholes. Fuel supplies to operate the pumps may last a couple of weeks, and then the water disappears.

Health clinics have already closed, and diarrhea is spreading in Zam Zam camp and meningitis in Kalma camp. These are huge camps -- Kalma has perhaps 90,000 people -- and diseases can spread rapidly. Children will be the first to die.

Hundreds of thousands of people in the camps may try to flee to Chad, but that would overwhelm Chad's own impoverished and vulnerable population. And to top it off, Mr. Bashir has armed a large proxy force of Chadian rebels who are said to be preparing an attack on the Chadian government.

"This is a whole new kind of hell for the people of Darfur," Josette Sheeran, the head of the United Nations World Food Program, told me. "The life bridge for more than a million people has just been dismantled."

My hunch is that Mr. Bashir's calculation is twofold. First, he hopes that if there's enough suffering in Darfur, the United Nations Security Council will approve a one-year delay in the court's proceedings (he miscalculated, for that won't happen). Second, he has long wanted to get rid of aid workers in Darfur, partly because they are the world's eyes and ears there.

I was on the Chad-Darfur border a couple of weeks ago, talking to Darfuri refugees, and they worried that Mr. Bashir might lash out after an arrest warrant. But they still rejoiced at the prospect, as a sign that the deaths of their loved ones mattered and as a sign that impunity for murder and rape might be coming to an end. Not a single Darfuri I spoke to favored a delay in International Criminal Court proceedings.

Our greatest problem in responding to Darfur is that we have never held either carrots or sticks. It's difficult at this point to offer carrots, but the United States and other countries can wield some sticks.

Gen. Merrill McPeak, the former Air Force chief of staff and a co-chairman of the Obama presidential campaign, suggested one in an op-ed article in The Washington Post on Thursday: a no-fly zone over Darfur. The aim is to attach costs to brutality and gain leverage.

Sudan cares deeply about maintaining its air force, partly because it is preparing for renewed war against South Sudan. That means that a denial of air cover or the loss of helicopter gunships would deeply alarm Sudan's military, and that gives us leverage.

Another option is for the government of South Sudan to take over administration of Darfur. The leaders of South Sudan have periodically offered to send 10,000 of their troops into Darfur, and if the north Sudanese government cannot provide security or look after Darfur's needs then the south can try, with international backing.

Madeleine Albright, the former secretary of state, says she was intrigued by General McPeak's proposal for a no-fly zone and adds, "I don't think the international community can stand by and watch as thousands more people starve to death."

"We were criticized, rightfully so, on Rwanda," Ms. Albright said. But she noted that the Rwandan genocide ended quickly, while Darfur has dragged on for years. "You can't watch this and not feel that there has to be something done," she said. A United Nations peacekeeping force is still short of troops and equipment. Mr. Obama should press America's allies to contribute both -- and guarantee that the Pentagon will get them there quickly. He should encourage China to stop supplying the weapons wielded by Khartoum's army and militias and call on the rest of the world to tighten sanctions on Mr. Bashir's cronies in hopes that they will finally oust him.

Mr. Obama should also name a special envoy to revive a serious peace process. And he should urge all of America's allies to comply with the arrest order if Mr. Bashir decides to leave Sudan -- there is talk that he may try to attend an Arab summit in Qatar later this month. Any country that continues to enable Mr. Bashir should be branded as an accomplice to his many horrors.

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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