The Darfur Consortium

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Darfur in the News

U.S. and European media

March 25, 2023

Reuters: Two killed in Darfur arson attack - peacekeepers. Armed raiders set fire to a refugee camp in Sudan's Darfur region, killing at least two people, peacekeepers said on Wednesday. The attack on Abu Zor camp, close to regional capital El Geneina, came at a time of heightened tension in Darfur, after the International Criminal Court issued an arrest warrant for Sudan's president to face charges of war crimes in the region. Darfur's joint U.N./African Union UNAMID peacekeeping force said residents reported four armed men broke into the west Darfur camp just before midnight on Tuesday and started a fire. "I am in the camp now. The fire went everywhere. It has affected a lot of people," said UNAMID chief of staff Amgad Morsy, speaking to Reuters by satellite phone mid morning on Wednesday.

Reuters: Assessment Finds Gaps In Darfur Aid Delivery: U.N. The Sudanese government has not done enough to fill gaps in humanitarian assistance caused by its recent expulsion of 13 foreign aid groups from the Darfur region, the U.N. humanitarian chief said on Tuesday. "These are band-aid solutions, not long-term solutions," U.N. Under-Secretary-General John Holmes told a news conference called to release the results of a joint UN-Sudanese assessment of the situation in the troubled region of western Sudan. Holmes said that to feed the hungry in Darfur "we need to find some proper partners for the WFP (World Food Program) if the decision is not reversed." The expulsion of aid groups "seems to us a reckless act," he added. A summary of the assessment, co-signed by U.N. and Sudanese officials, said four of the expelled non-governmental organizations (NGOs) served some 1.1 million people.

Reuters: Sudan's Bashir in Egypt despite ICC warrant. Sudanese President Omar Hassan al-Bashir arrived in Cairo on Wednesday on his second trip abroad since the International Criminal Court (ICC) indicted him on charges of war crimes in Darfur. Bashir, who risks arrest when he leaves Sudan because of the warrant issued for him by the Hague-based court this month, is expected to discuss developments surrounding the ICC ruling with Egypt's President Hosni Mubarak. Mubarak met Bashir at the airport before the two headed for consultations, Egyptian state news agency MENA reported. The Sudanese government said shortly after the ICC decision that Bashir would defy the arrest warrant by travelling to an Arab summit in Qatar next week -- and later confirmed the visit by formally accepting an invitation from the Qatari government. But Sudanese officials have released statements raising questions over the wisdom of the trip, prompting speculation they were preparing to send another representative instead.

Sudan Tribune: Activists rally in US cities against aid expulsion. A new round of protests was undertaken against the United States government for failing in its appeal on behalf of 16 aid groups ousted from Darfur by the Government of Sudan. Protesters appeared at the Federal Buildings in San Francisco and Los Angeles, and at Boston's City Hall Plaza. Activists used their cell phones to send text messages to a State Department number for Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, as did a number of church congregations that took part Sunday. The first event started March 23 in Los Angeles, said Susan Morgan, a spokeswoman and member of both the San Francisco Bay Area Darfur Coalition and Massachusetts Coalition to Save Darfur.

The following op-ed by Michael Gerson appeared in today's Washington Post. 

A Killer Forces A Choice in Darfur

For years, the Sudanese regime, headed by President Omar Hassan al-Bashir, has acted the part of a terrorist gang, holding millions of refugees in Darfur camps hostage and warning the world not to make any sudden or aggressive moves. Now the world faces a question: What do we do when the captors begin killing their captives?

After the International Criminal Court issued a warrant for his arrest on the charge of crimes against humanity, Bashir responded by expelling 13 international relief groups -- including four key partners of the World Food Program (WFP) responsible for distributing food to 1.1 million people in Darfur. In a stroke, Bashir removed about 35 percent of Darfur's food distribution capacity. And he has hinted that all international aid groups might be thrown out by year's end.

Mohammed Ahmed Abdallah, a physician and human rights advocate in Darfur, described to me a region "on the verge." Without international aid groups to organize supply, only about 9 percent of people in the camps have access to clean water. There is a serious meningitis outbreak, just as medical aid groups have been expelled. "People are likely to die very soon," says Ahmed.

Bashir claims that his goal is to "Sudanize" the relief efforts, insisting that the international community can drop off supplies "at airports or seaports" so aid can be distributed by Sudan's regime. "They don't have the technical capacity or the know-how," Ahmed counters. "And even if they did, it wouldn't be accepted by the people." It is not realistic to expect the victims of Bashir's genocide to trust in Bashir's generosity. The same is true, Ahmed argues, of promised relief from the Arab Middle East. "Darfur will never trust Arab aid. Though they are also Muslims, they have never been helpful. People think such assistance is easily poisoned."

The WFP has responded to the immediate crisis, providing two months of emergency food assistance to the Darfur camps in an attempt to persuade people to stay put. But this effort, I was told by a WFP official, is "not sustainable." So the WFP has also begun positioning food for the possible influx of tens of thousands of desperate refugees into eastern Chad. Ahmed views this prospect with horror. "People moving to safety and food security from the Kalma camp [Darfur's largest] to eastern Chad would have to cover 500 kilometers, risking attacks from the Janjaweed and rebels in Chad near the border." It would be a long, dry, lethal march.

The international community, led by the United States, faces a decision. It might be possible to back down from confrontation with Bashir in the hope that aid groups would be allowed to return. An atmosphere of heightened hostility also complicates the implementation of the peace agreement between Sudan's north and south, an agreement on which many lives depend. There is a humanitarian argument for this course. But it would confirm the effectiveness of Bashir's strategy of punishing the innocent and confirm the permanence of a violent and unjust status quo in Darfur.

Or the world can increase the pressure on Sudan's regime, knowing that Bashir may cause more short-term suffering and death as such pressure is applied. This approach can be morally justified only if there is a reasonable hope of eventual success. And this requires the development of a thoughtful strategy that leads, step by step, to a government in Sudan that values the people of Darfur and implements the north-south agreement in good faith. This does not necessarily mean regime change, but it probably requires Bashir change -- the emergence of a Sudanese leadership willing to start anew.

In this task, the Obama administration has two great advantages. The first is Bashir himself, whose unhidden, unhinged brutality is destroying the credibility of all who have shielded him in the past. The second is President Obama's extraordinary global standing, which the president could use to persuade Europeans on broader economic sanctions and to peel off traditional supporters of Sudan such as Egypt. But this would require the immediate expenditure of diplomatic capital, the elevation of this issue in relations with both friends and rivals, and the possible use of military force down the road.

Not every global humanitarian crisis justifies this kind of commitment, or else America would be endlessly overextended. But if genocide does not justify such action, it will never be justified. And we would lose the right to say, "Never again."

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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