A Permanent Lifting of U.S. Sanctions on Khartoum? Report Card Number Two

President Barack Obama provisionally lifted U.S. economic sanctions on the Khartoum regime by Executive Order on January 13, 2017; Obama cited “positive actions” and his UN Ambassador Samantha Power went so far as to declare that there had been a “sea change” of improvement in humanitarian access in Sudan. These sanctions were first imposed on the regime in 1997 and strengthened during the administration of President George W. Bush.

The Obama Executive Order stipulated the conditions for a permanent lifting of economic sanctions, which are essentially twofold:

[1] Significant improvement in humanitarian access to Darfur as well as South Kordofan and Blue Nile (the “Two Areas”) and,

[2] End organized violence in the regions, including a halt to the indiscriminate aerial bombardment that has defined Khartoum’s genocidal counter-insurgency in Darfur for fourteen years and for over almost six years in South Kordofan and Blue Nile.

What this second criterion does not address is Khartoum’s continuing support for militia proxies in Darfur, which have come to control the region, creating what has recently been quite accurately described as a “militia state.” The U.S. government seems intent on minimizing this defining military reality—and for its distorted representation has been sharply corrected by Hamid Nur, one of the most distinguished and knowledgeable Darfuri civil society leaders:

“Darfur fully dominated by militias”: civil society leader | Radio Dabanga | April 16, 2017 | KHARTOUM | https://www.dabangasudan.org/en/all-news/article/darfur-fully-dominated-by-militias-civil-society-leader

Sudan’s western region is politically, militarily, and economically dominated by militias, says the head of the Darfur Civil Society Platform. The Darfur displaced and refugees have no way to return to their as the places are occupied by militiamen and their families. In an interview with Radio Dabanga, Hamid Ali Nur, head of the Darfur Civil Society Platform, called the repeated statements by the Sudanese government and the recent report by the US military attaché about the improved security situation in Darfur inaccurate and incorrect.

According to the civil society leader, the Khartoum government has, to a large extent, succeeded in changing the Darfur population itself. “Militiamen and their families have occupied the villages and farms left by fleeing Darfuris during all these years.” The civil society activist said that the government's options given to the Darfur displaced, either to return to their villages of origin, or integrate them into the local communities by re-structuring the camps, are fake. “As the displaced are not able to return, Khartoum’s policy is aimed at permanently displacing them from their homes, lands, and heritage.


“The government militiamen known as janjaweed, recruited from Bedouin groups in the region and over the past couple of years also from neighbouring countries, are enjoying full immunity,” he stated. “They can do whatever they want without any accountability. The Khartoum government has given them full political, military and economic dominance, while it denies the other entities in Darfur their basic, legitimate rights. Nur said that the Darfuri people, “in their homes or in the camps for the displaced, are humiliated and oppressed by the militiamen on a daily basis. There is no opportunity to complain or resort to justice because of the immunity enjoyed by these militias.

“Displaced returning to their areas of origin for farming in the rainy season have to hand half of their yields to militias in the area. In other instances, militiamen force displaced farmers to work on their farms as slaves,” he explained. “This situation can never lead to peace, because of the complete absence of justice and accountability.”

Unless these issues are addressed, a U.S. sanctions review will be meaningless, at least for the vast majority of the people now suffering continuing violence and acute deprivation. Appendix A collects those dispatches from the past month bearing on the increasingly insistent threat by the Khartoum regime of camp closures and dismantling. But the violence that makes voluntary returns by displaced persons impossible has been substantially documented, including in numerous dispatches from the past month.

I will continue issuing periodic “report cards” assessing the regime’s performance in meeting U.S. government criteria for a permanent lifting of economic sanctions. This present “report card” focuses on reports from Radio Dabanga and Sudan Tribune since the last “report card (April 8, 2017 | http://wp.me/p45rOG-22o/); Khartoum’s grade continues to be an “F”—failing.


[1] Improve humanitarian access in Darfur as well as South Kordofan and Blue Nile (the “Two Areas”) [all of my comments on these dispatches appear in blue italics, followed by my initials, ER]

• Sheikh foresees “humanitarian disaster” as thirst grips North Darfur camp | Radio Dabanga, May 10, 2017 | SORTONY camp | https://www.dabangasudan.org/en/all-news/article/sheik-foresees-humanitarian-disaster-as-thirst-grips-north-darfur-camp

Sortony camp for the displaced in Kabkabiya, North Darfur, is heading for a ‘humanitarian disaster’ unless a solution is found for the water crisis that has lasted more than two months. One of the camp Sheikhs told Radio Dabanga that the price of a tin of water has soared to SDG 6 ($0.90). He pointed out that the displaced in the camp are currently receiving drinking water from Kabro and Goli areas, which entails a six-hour round trip on the backs of animals.

He said there are four water tankers operating once a day for to bring water to the camp which houses more than 22,000 displaced people. The Sheikh says he foresees “a severe humanitarian disaster by the end of the summer unless the authorities and organisations resolve the problem.”

Last month, a number of displaced people in Sortony told Radio Dabanga that the severe drinking water shortage was caused by the reduction in the number of water tankers carrying water to the camp: from 17 vehicles per day to two vehicles.

[There are many ways for Khartoum to obstruct humanitarian relief in Darfur, including the denial of adequate numbers of critical transport vehicles—ER]

• Lacking resources, equipment cause surgery backlog at North Darfur hospital | Radio Dabanga | May 10, 2017 | EL FASHER | https://www.dabangasudan.org/en/all-news/article/lacking-resources-equipment-cause-surgery-backlog-at-north-darfur-hospital

Health authorities in North Darfur have revealed that there is a waiting list of 24 people who require surgery for urinary fistula* at the obstetrics and gynaecology section of El Fasher hospital.

[In Darfur, by far the most common cause of fistulas is violent sexual assault, specifically rape—ER]

The director of the fistula centre of the El Fasher hospital in the North Darfur capital, Dr Salih El Tahir Salih, told Radio Dabanga that the lack of material resources, medical devices, and equipment, is preventing the operations from being carried out.

[This lack of equipment occurs despite the reality of many tens of thousands of girls and women victimized by rape used as a weapon of war, deployed by Khartoum’s militia and regular military forces for over fourteen years: see | http://sudanreeves.org/2016/04/03/update-to-continuing-mass-rape-of-girls-in-darfur-the-most-heinous-crime-generates-no-international-outrage-january-2016/ —ER ]

• Thirst growing in Darfur camps | Radio Dabanga | April 23, 2017 | | SORTONY / ZAMZAM / GIREIDA | https://www.dabangasudan.org/en/all-news/article/thirst-growing-in-darfur-camps

Displaced living in the Sortony and Zamzam camps in North Darfur complain about a severe drinking water shortage. Residents of the Gireida camps for the displaced in South Darfur suffer from thirst as well. Several displaced told Radio Dabanga from Sortony that two weeks ago the number of water tankers carrying water to the camp was reduced from 17 vehicles per day to two vehicles, resulting in a severe water crisis for the about 63,000 people in the camp. “We cannot afford to buy water for SDG5 ($0.70) per jerry-can, sold by the owners of the donkey carts,” a camp resident said. “And when we leave the camp to get water from a well, we more often than not are assaulted by militiamen.”

[The significance of Darfur having become a “militia state” can hardly be overstated—ER]

In the Zamzam camp, south of the north Darfur capital El Fasher, people also complain about shortages of drinking water and high prices. A Zamzam camp elder told this station that 39 of the 79 pumps in the camp are not operating. He expressed his fear that “Our thirst may become fatal in the summer, when the water level in the wells decreases, and it will be more difficult to collect enough water.” He said that the price of drinking water doubled recently. “We now pay SDG30 ($4.20) to have a water tank filled.”

In Gireida in South Darfur, the price for a barrel of water has risen from SDG12 to SDG20 ($2.80), a resident of the Forika camp reported. “Since last Sunday, five of the water pumps in the camp have stopped working because of a lack of fuel.” He called on the South Darfur authorities and humanitarian organisations to provide fuel to the camps.

[Refusing to allow humanitarian organizations to repair pumps, or to supply them with adequate supplies of fuel, is one way in which Khartoum is increasing pressure on residents of IDP camps to leave—ER]

• Critical water shortage in Port Sudan, North Darfur camp | Radio Dabanga | April 19, 2017 | PORT SUDAN / NYALA | https://www.dabangasudan.org/en/all-news/article/critical-water-shortage-in-port-sudan-north-darfur-camp


The displaced people of camp Otash in Nyala, South Darfur, have complained of a severe drinking water crisis due to a lack of fuel, and the breakdown of a number of pumps and water wells. One of the Sheikhs told Radio Dabanga that WEST water organisation in the camp told them that the cause of the crisis is a lack of fuel to run the pumps, depletion of water levels in a number of wells, and non-operation of wells at 4 Sanatir. He said the organisation has asked the displaced to contribute financially to resolving the problem

• Water outages in hospitals in North Darfur capital | Radio Dabanga | April 18, 2017 | EL FASHER | https://www.dabangasudan.org/en/all-news/article/water-outages-in-hospitals-in-north-darfur-capital

People in El Fasher face an acute lack of water because of ongoing outages in the city's electricity sector. Two hospitals are facing problems. The academic hospital and the Gynecology and Obstetrics Specialist hospital have witnessed continuous water shortages, listeners in the city reported to Radio Dabanga. On Monday, the general directorate of drinking water services in North Darfur confirmed its commitment to address the problem for both hospitals. The service wants to provide them with permanent water supply lines, and wants to re-operate the water tanks that are spread through districts of El Fasher and supply water to the residents. A month ago the Minister of Urban Planning of North Darfur announced the repair of a number of water pumps in the city and to drill seven new wells, so as to prepare for the coming summer period. South of El Fasher in Zamzam camp for displaced people, community leaders have also called upon local organisations to avert the looming drinking water crisis.

[Denial of humanitarian access has knock-on effects, including the denial of critical supplies to hospitals and clinics in Darfur—ER]

• Two medical staff for 90 patients/day in West Darfur’s Sirba | Radio Dabanga | May 1, 2017 | SIRBA | https://www.dabangasudan.org/en/all-news/article/two-medical-staff-for-90-patients-day-in-west-darfur-s-sirba

Patients in Sirba in West Darfur complain about the deterioration of medical services in the area. Speaking to Radio Dabanga on Saturday, an activist reported that the entire staff of Sirba Hospital, the only hospital in the locality, exists of a medical assistant and a nurse. “There are almost no medicines as well.” He said that the number of patients who are daily visiting the hospital amounts to about 90. “They have to wait for hours in a difficult environment, that does not even have drinking water.” He called on the West Darfur state authorities “to speed up the rehabilitation of the hospital and provide it with trained health personnel, doctors, and medicines.”

[Because of Khartoum's actions and the pervasive insecurity in Darfur, 97% of those working for humanitarian organizations in the region are Sudanese nationals; a critical shortage of doctors throughout the country is magnified by Khartoum’s having made it virtually impossible for international aid workers, including medical personnel, to work in Darfur—ER]

• Disease fells children, seniors in West Darfur camp | Radio Dabanga | April 14, 2017 | MURNEI / EL FASHER | https://www.dabangasudan.org/en/all-news/article/disease-fells-children-seniors-in-west-darfur-camp

At least 19 people, including 11 children and eight seniors, have already died during April of an unidentified fever that is spreading fast in Murnei camp for the displaced in West Darfur. The camp coordinator told Radio Dabanga that the situation is made worse by a lack of medicines. The few drugs that are available are too expensive for the displaced to afford. The coordinator has appealed to the authorities to intervene to diagnose and contain the outbreak, which causes severe diarrhoea, and provide medicines and treatment for those infected.

A number of patients and their escorts in the intensive care unit (ICU) of El Fasher Teaching Hospital in North Darfur have complained that the ICU has seen an electricity outage since Monday. They have called on the authorities to intervene immediately to save the patients’ lives. The medical Director of El Fasher Teaching Hospital, Dr Khalil Badawi, has acknowledged that there was an interruption in the electricity. He said that there was a problem with the electricity supplier.

[Again, denial of humanitarian access has knock-on effects, including the denial of critical supplies to hospitals and clinics in Darfur—ER]

• South Darfur survey: hundreds mentally ill | Radio Dabanga | April 30, 2017 | NYALA, South Darfur | https://www.dabangasudan.org/en/all-news/article/south-darfur-survey-hundreds-mentally-ill A survey conducted by the Department of Social Welfare in South Darfur has showed a significant increase in the number of mentally ill people in the region. Social researcher Mohamed Abaker Eisa told the press in the South Darfur capital of Nyala on Thursday that the war and the harsh economic conditions have caused many neurological and mental disorders. “Preliminary results of the survey revealed that at least 423 people in South Darfur are mentally ill.

“The spread of madmen in the streets of Nyala may be very dangerous,” he warned, and pointed to the importance of establishing a special section for mental and neurological patients at the Nyala Teaching Hospital. “There is not a single clinic for psychiatric disorders in the state, which has greatly exacerbated the conditions of the patients, and forced many families to send their mentally ill relatives to El Tijani El Mahi Psychiatric Hospital in Khartoum,” he said.

[Psycho-social services provided by INGOs are among the first to be cut when humanitarian access is curtailed—ER]

[2] End organized violence in the regions, including a halt to the indiscriminate aerial bombardment that has defined Khartoum’s genocidal counter-insurgency in Darfur for fourteen years and for over almost six years in South Kordofan and Blue Nile.

• “Nine dead in RSF militia attacks on 12 Darfur villages” | Radio Dabanga | May 8, 2017 | ZALINGEI | https://www.dabangasudan.org/en/all-news/article/nine-dead-in-rsf-militia-attacks-on-12-darfur-villages

At least nine people were reportedly killed, 22 others were injured, and four were raped in attacks by the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces on western Jebel Marra on Sunday. A Central Darfur official has denied the incidents. “At about 7 am on Sunday, elements of the Rapid Support Forces (RSF) driving 41 Land Cruisers loaded with weapons, and others on camels and horses began to attack 12 villages north of Nierteti,” El Shafee Abdallah, the coordinator of the camps for the displaced in Central Darfur, told Radio Dabanga. “Nine villagers were shot dead, four young women were gang-raped, and at least 22 people were injured,” he reported. “Before torching the houses, they stole all the property. They cut and burned even the lemon trees.”

The camp coordinator said that the entire population of the villages fled into the mountains, “as the roads leading to Nierteti are blocked by the militiamen.”

A Central Darfur government official denied the attacks took place. “Reports about RSF attacks on Jebel Marra villages are sheer lies,” he told this station. “The Jebel Marra region is currently experiencing security and stability it has not witnessed for more than 13 years.”

[Darfur is a “militia state”: there is no denying this basic reality and yet it seems not to figure in the U.S. government’s assessment of Khartoum’s military actions in Darfur. This is a disingenuous form of denial—ER]

• New waves of displacement reported in Central Darfur | Sudan Tribune | May 9, 2017 (NERTITI, Central Darfur) | http://www.sudantribune.com/spip.php?iframe&page=imprimable&id_article=62415

Hundreds of civilians have fled their villages in Darfur’s Jebel Marra area following fresh attacks by Sudanese government militiamen forces, said a local representative of displaced persons. On 26 April, the holdout rebel group Sudan Liberation Movement-Abdel Wahid al-Nur (SLM-AW) said they clashed with the government militia near Nertiti locality, Central Darfur State.

In statements to Sudan Tribune, IDPs coordinator in Central Darfur State el-Shafei Abdallah claimed that militiamen wearing military uniforms and riding four-wheel-drive vehicles and camels recently attacked 122 villages in Jebel Marra. He said the attacks included several villages in the locality of Guldo and eastern part of Nertiti, adding that nine people mostly women and children were killed and their belongings were looted.

He said the government has failed to stop the attacks by the armed militias pointing that the new waves of displacement refute the "state government’s repeated lies about the voluntary return in the state.” In a related development, Adam Abdalla Ishaq, the deputy president of IDPs and refugees association, said more than 410 families (2800 people) fled to Nertiti and Guldo on Monday and called on aid groups to provide them with food and shelter saying they are in poor conditions.

Ishaq blamed the government saying it encouraged the return of the IDPs to their villages and pledged to protect them. Also, he said the local authorities refrained from providing any services before their return to their villages. Central Darfur government officials were not available for comment, as the IDPs representatives are often hostile to the authorities which accuse them of supporting the rebels.

[It is not clear why attacks on “122 villages in Jebel Marra” do not constitute “offensive military campaigns” of the sort that presumably figure in U.S. government assessments of Khartoum’s behavior in Darfur—ER]

• North Darfur: Two dead in attacks on Jebel Marra villages | Radio Dabanga | April 10, 2017 | TAWILA, North darfur | https://www.dabangasudan.org/en/all-news/article/north-darfur-two-dead-in-attacks-on-jebel-marra-villages

Two people were killed and six others wounded in attacks by gunmen on villages in north-east Jebel Marra in North Darfur’s Tawila over the weekend. A resident of El Gabas village told Radio Dabanga that an armed group driving two four-wheel drive vehicles, accompanied by others riding camels and horses raided El Gabas, 25 kilometres west of Katur in Tawila locality, on Friday. “They began shooting. Yousef Haroun (52) and Mahjoub Saleh (42) were killed instantly,” he said. “All the villagers sought shelter in the valleys. The janjaweed then left, taking with them most of our livestock.”

The source said that the same group of militants attacked the village of Rogoli, not far from El Gabas on Saturday. “Yousef Hussein (32), Adam Yagoub (28), and Ahmed Bakhit (18) sustained bullet wounds. All the cattle and donkeys were stolen from the village.” On Sunday, the same men attacked the area around Falluja village, 20 kilometres south of Katur, a listener reported to this station. “Omda Mohamed Omar, Salem, and Maryam Juma were shot. The attackers took the sheep, goats and donkeys from the village.”

• Gunmen threaten to torch South Darfur camp | Radio Dabanga | May 3, 2017 | MERSHING, south Darfur | https://www.dabangasudan.org/en/all-news/article/gunmen-threaten-to-torch-south-darfur-camp

Militants have threatened to storm and torch Keila Camp in Mershing locality in South Darfur unless the inhabitants pay compensation for livestock the gunmen claim to have lost. One of the displaced residents of the camp told Radio Dabanga that they sought help of the locality police, but the militants threatened the police and gave the displaced an ultimatum until Saturday to return 40 cattle or the cash equivalent, or they would pillage and burn the camp.

On Tuesday militants broke into Kushina basic school south Tawila in North Darfur. Omda Bosh told Radio Dabanga that militants on two Land Cruisers mounted with a Dushka machinegun 10 am on Tuesday, seized school equipment, chairs, cupboards and other school objects including doors from the headmaster and teachers’ offices and the storehouse, loaded them into a lorry headed towards Kabkabiya.

[Threats of arson, and actual arson, have long been grim facts of life for those in IDP camps, which have frequently been militarily assaulted. There are two major reasons for these threats and actions: extortion and serving the Khartoum regime’s announced policy of dismantling the camps for IDPs. Arson is an extremely efficient method of “dismantling,” and the camp burnings of more than a decade have often left people to flee into highly insecure environments—ER]

• Mother, child die as militiamen raid five Darfur villages | Radio Dabanga | April 21, 2017 | EAST JEBEL MARRA | https://www.dabangasudan.org/en/all-news/article/mother-child-die-as-militiamen-raid-five-north-darfur-villages

A woman and her five-year-old son have died and three more people wounded when militiamen raided five villages in East Jebel Marra on Thursday. Callers told Radio Dabanga that armed militiamen, riding camels and horses descended on the villages of Jasu, Hai Mudraj, Hillet Sheikh Adu, Hillet Liba and Hillet Adam Abdelmajid, north of Mershing locality which is in South Darfur. A woman and her 5-year-old son were killed by the attackers. Sheikh Adam Abdelmajid, the village leader of the settlement named after him, and his wife and 7-year-old son Iskander sustained injuries. Witnesses said the attackers stripped all five villages of money, property and livestock.

• Deadly ambush, “foreigners bussed-in” in North Darfur’s Gallab | Radio Dabanga | April 30 - 2017 | GALLAB, North darfur | https://www.dabangasudan.org/en/all-news/article/deadly-ambush-foreigners-bussed-in-in-north-darfur-s-gallab

A displaced woman was killed, her sister was injured, and five others went missing in an ambush in Gallab near El Fasher, capital of North Darfur, on Friday. A number of African families reportedly arrived in the area on Thursday. Speaking to Radio Dabanga, a Zamzam camp elder said that a group of gunmen attacked seven women of the camp in the area of Gallab, south-west of El Fasher, on Friday afternoon. “The women were collecting straw in Gallab, when the janjaweed suddenly appeared and began to shoot them. Maryam Osman Eisa was killed instantly and her sister Umeldur was injured,” he said. “The five other women disappeared.” He said that two search parties were formed, one by Zamzam camp elders and another by Adam Jadeed, Commissioner of Tawila locality, “to hunt down the perpetrators.”


People living in the area of Gallab reported the arrival of seven lorries from El Geneina, capital of West Darfur, on Thursday. The vehicles carried “foreigners with their families, who were hosted at the school of Gallab and its health centre.” They said that a lorry arrived from El Fasher on Friday, carrying food for the newcomers, whom they believe came from Chad, Central African Republic, Niger, and Mali. “Militant foreigners who arrived in the past years threatened to beat and kill anyone who goes out to collect straw and firewood or cultivate their lands,” one of the sources said.

[The presence of Arab militiamen from countries to the west of Darfur, whose entry into Darfur has been facilitated by the Khartoum regime, has been well-documented for a decade now. This is but another means of “changing the demography of Darfur,” in the infamous words of notorious Janjaweed leader Musa Hilal in August 2004 | http://sudanreeves.org/2015/11/05/musa-hilal-and-the-changing-of-darfurs-demography/ —ER]

• Two dead, seven injured, Imam beaten in Darfur militia attacks | Radio Dabanga | April 27, 2017 | DARFUR | https://www.dabangasudan.org/en/all-news/article/two-dead-seven-injured-imam-beaten-in-darfur-militia-attacks