03 November 2005

Sudan Still Sucks.

All hell is breaking loose again in Darfur, Sudan, despite peace treaties that supposedly dealt with some of the problem a few months ago.

The movie "The Constant Gardener" has a scene that aptly displays the kind of violence villages are experiencing (think tribal raiding parties with automatic weapons that are raping, pillaging, kidnapping and killing), even though it apears to place the scene in question in Kenya, rather than in Sudan, where these incidents are more common.

I imagine that the British are aware of what's going on, but the main stream media in the United States is virtually oblivious. A sample of the events there:

[G]unfire in el-Geneina, capital of West Darfur, comes after an unprecedented evacuation of non-essential UN personnel because of violence in the region. All roads from el-Geneina remain “red no-go” because of insecurity, paralyzing humanitarian organizations and leaving more and more vulnerable civilians completely cut-off from food, medicine, and water (for example, many tens of thousands of displaced persons depend upon water that is pumped by engines requiring fuel, which cannot now be transported). The UN has offered contradictory numbers on the numbers of affected people in West Darfur, but the area coordinator for the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs in West Darfur, Andy Pendleton, would seem to have particular credibility:

"‘With each passing day we are in a race against time to get assistance to over half a million people to whom we have lost regular access,’ Andy Pendleton, area coordinator for the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs in West Darfur, said in el-Geneina on Sunday. ‘The situation is desperate, more desperate than ever before,’ he warned.” (UN Integrated Regional Information Networks [el-Geneina], October 12, 2005)

That the violence throughout Darfur is accelerating, and indeed reaching unprecedented levels in various respects, is confirmed in many other UN accounts. Two weeks ago, Juan Mendez, UN special advisor on the prevention of genocide, declared of the attack on Aro Sharow camp for displaced persons: “Until last week, there have never been concerted, massive attacks of an indiscriminate nature against civilians in camps in Darfur” (Washington Post, October 10, 2005). What we must remember is that the attack on Aro Sharow, a camp of some 4,000-5,000 displaced people from African tribal groups, was conducted by Khartoum’s military proxy, the Arab militia force known as the Janjaweed. The collusion between the Janjaweed and the National Islamic Front, which retains full control of the military and intelligence services in Sudan, was recently underscored by the African Union:

“On 28 September 2005, just four days ago, some reportedly 400 Janjaweed Arab militia on camels and horseback went on the rampage in Arusharo, Acho and Gozmena villages in West Darfur. Our reports also indicate that the day previous, and indeed on the actual day of the attack, Government of Sudan helicopter gunships were observed overhead. This apparent coordinated land and air assault gives credence to the repeated claim by the rebel movements of collusion between the Government of Sudan forces and the Janjaweed/Arab militia. This incident [ ] was confirmed not only by our investigators but also by workers of humanitarian agencies and NGOs in the area.” (Transcript of Kingibe press conference, Khartoum, October 1, 2005)

The final death toll from the attack on Aro Sharow was at least 35 defenseless displaced persons. The entire population was made to flee, and the UN High Commission for Refugees estimates that about 25% of their flimsy shelters were destroyed. Kingibe went on to emphasize yet another attack, in North Darfur, that again saw Khartoum’s regular military forces attacking civilians:

“The following day, a clearly premeditated and well rehearsed combined operation was carried out by the Government of Sudan military and police at approximately 11am in the town of Tawilla and its IDP camp in North Darfur. The Government of Sudan forces used approximately 41 trucks and 7 land cruisers in the operation which resulted in a number of deaths, massive displacement of civilians. [ ] During the attack, thousands from the township and the IDP camp and many humanitarian workers were forced to seek refuge near the AU camp for personal safety and security.” (Transcript of Kingibe press conference, Khartoum, October 1, 2005)

Situations like Darfur are one the reasons that I am not a pacifist. A single brigade of Army troops, perhaps cobbled together from several different countries, would be all that it would take to bring these organized attacks from the outside on the people of Darfur to a decisive end.

Hat tip to Curious Stranger for link.

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