Kalma Camp for Displaced Persons Looms as Flash Point in Campaign of Forcible Displacement in Darfur

 

As it has tragically in the past, Kalma camp for internally displaced persons (near Nyala, South Darfur) may soon be the site of brutal violence against unarmed civilians. A dispatch today from Sudan Tribune (see below) makes clear that Kalma is in the cross-hairs of the Khartoum regime. Under cover of the now forcible disarmament campaign Khartoum has launched, it appears increasingly likely that the IDP camps will be assaulted, even as there is no evidence of any significant presence of weapons. I recur to this subject (see my October 23, 2017 analysis) because it threatens to expand vastly the level of human destruction in Darfur. Indeed, it may well mark the beginning of a second phase to the Darfur genocide.

 

I have recently re-posted my analysis of human mortality in Darfur over the past 14 years, in which I conclude—based on an aggregation of all extant data and relevant methodological reasoning—that roughly 600,000 people have died, directly and indirectly from violence in the Darfur genocide (see | http://wp.me/p45rOG-1S4/).  If camps are in the process of being violently dismantled—and Kalma provides strong evidence that this may be the case—this total may double in the coming years. Humanitarian organizations will find it impossible to continue their work without the concentration of people provided by the more than 100 camps and gathering sites for displaced persons in Darfur (see UN map of these widely scattered camps and sites at | http://sudanreeves.org/2017/03/19/map-of-idp-sites-in-darfur/).

 

People will be displaced into areas that are hopelessly insecure; most have lost their farms and lands to Arab militia forces, recruited or countenanced by the Khartoum regime; food and water will simply be unavailable to people already badly weakened by so many years of camp life, with its grossly inadequate humanitarian provisions.

For with respect to the camps, it is clear that Khartoum’s “disarmament” campaign has as its goal intimidation and displacement: forcing people to leave the camps in fear and then ruthlessly dismantling the camps when they are largely empty. The disarmament campaign is being led by Second Vice President of the National Islamic Front/National Congress Party regime, Hassabo Abdelrahman—a man whose brutality, savagery, and indifference to the fate of those in the camps is all too well documented.

 

Vice President Hassabo has served as the regime’s primary engineer of ongoing mass destruction of non-Arab/African lives and livelihoods over the past several years. In 2015 Human Rights Watch published a report about the Rapid Support Forces, the militia that Hassabo directs in most key strategic respects. The report at one point cites the statement of a defecting militia member (“Ahmed”) about Hassabo’s comments prior to the 2014 – 2105 dry season offensive in the East Jebel Marra area (primarily North Darfur):

 

Ahmed said that a few days prior to leaving for East Jebel Marra, Sudanese Vice President Hassabo Mohammed Abdel Rahman directly addressed several hundred army and RSF soldiers:

 

“Hassabo told us to clear the area east of Jebel Marra.

 

To kill any male.

 

He said we want to clear the area of insects…

 

He said East Jebel Marra is the kingdom of the rebels.

 

We don’t want anyone there to be alive.”

 

“‘Men With No Mercy’: Rapid Support Forces Attacks against Civilians in Darfur, Sudan” (Human Rights Watch, September 9, 2015)

 

The conduct of Khartoum’s counter-insurgency that dry/fighting season, as well as the following two, matched precisely the ambitions that Hassabo lays out in these extraordinary exhortations. For a detailed, data-rich analysis of what the campaign in East Jebel Marra looked like, see my monograph:

 

“‘Changing the Demography’: Violent Expropriation and Destruction of Farmlands in Darfur, November 2014 – November 2015″ | December 1, 2015 | (http://wp.me/p45rOG-1P4. (Based on a data spreadsheet with 502 data entries, giving dates, locations, sources, brief characterizations of the violence, injuries/ casualties/ victims, often with names/damages and losses, as well as relevant observations.)

 

About the camps, Hassabo has long made his views perfectly clear: two years ago, it was again Sudan Tribune that reported on the terrifying prospect of the camps being dismantled at Hassabo’s urging:

 

In a speech delivered before the representatives of former rebel groups and IDPs in El-Fasher, North Darfur on Monday, [Second Vice-President Hassabo Mohamed Abdelrahman] said Darfur has “completely recovered from the war and is now looking forward to achieve a full peace, stability and development.”

“IDP camps represent a significant and unfortunate loss of dignity and rights of citizens in their country” he said and called on the displaced “to choose within no more than a month between resettlement or return to their original areas.”

 

He further reiterated his government’s commitment to take all the measures and do the needful to achieve this goal, stressing that “the year 2016 will see the end of displacement in Darfur.” Abdel Rahman told the meeting that he has just ended a visit to Karnoi and Tina areas in North Darfur, adding the two areas which were affected by the conflict have totally recovered. He said his visit with a big delegation to the two areas “is a message sceptics in the fact that security and stability are back in Darfur”… (Sudan Tribune, December 28, 2015 | El Fasher, North Darfur)

 

The mendacity in characterizing conditions in Darfur—and the prospects for 2016 (the year of the savage Jebel Marra assault, which included the use of chemical weapons)—is outrageous, which is to say perfectly in character. What is true, however, is that Hassabo and the regime are indeed prepared to “take all the measures and do the needful to achieve this goal,” i.e., empty the camps of their residents. Those “measures” now include forcible disarmament, with Kalma camp as the first target. And now that U.S. economic sanctions have been lifted, with so little in return—certainly with respect to humanitarian access, one of the key conditions in deciding to lift sanctions—Khartoum is emboldened to pursue its objectives in whatever way it wishes. Having deployed very large numbers of the Rapid Support Forces (RSF) militia to Darfur, Khartoum has its weapon of choice for whatever brutality it chooses to pursue in the camps.

 

Indeed, the distinguished human rights advocate Suliman Baldo has very recently reported the possibility that the U.S. actually approves of Khartoum’s “disarmament” plan:

The government of Sudan scored a major political and diplomatic success with the lifting of U.S. trade and financial sanctions that had been imposed on account of Sudan harboring international terrorist groups in the 1990s and perpetuating atrocity crimes against its own citizens in conflict areas. On the heels of this diplomatic success, the weapons collection campaign appears to be meant to present the regime of President Omar al-Bashir to the international community as a guarantor of domestic and regional stability. The effort appears to have worked, with the U.S. chargé d’affaires in Khartoum reportedly welcoming the disarmament campaign after a briefing by the official overseeing its implementation, Vice President [Hassabo] Abdelrahman. The welcome would appear premature because of the selective and heavy-handed approach the campaign has adopted from the beginning that risks backfiring. (“Ominous Threats Descending On Darfur,” Suliman Baldo, The Enough Project | November 9, 2017 | https://enoughproject.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/11/OminousThreatsDarfur_Nov2017_Enough1.pdf

 

https://enoughproject.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/11/Ominous-Threats-Descending-On-Darfur_Nov-2017_AR.pdf

 

Notably, there has been no public comment from the Trump administration about the issue Baldo raises, and this despite the fact that a very senior State Department official,Deputy Secretary of State John J. Sullivan, will soon be traveling to Khartoum to meet with leaders of the regime. But we should demand an answer: Did the senior U.S. diplomat in Khartoum, Charge d’Affaires Steven Koutsis, indeed “welcome” the plan for disarmament as presented by genocidal Vice President Hassabo?  It would not be the first time Koutsis has been guilty of gross errors in judgment or fact (see | “U.S. Charge d’Affaires in Khartoum Steven Koutsis: Dishonest, Tendentious, Misleading,” Sudan Tribune | June 28, 2017 | http://www.sudantribune.com/spip.php?article62859/).

 

What Should Be Done?
 

It should go without question that the suggestion of the camp leader cited in the Sudan Tribune dispatch (again, see below) should be followed: allow the UN/African Union Mission in Darfur (UNAMID) to conduct searches of the camps. Twice before Khartoum has engaged in bloody assaults on unarmed civilians in Kalma camp, which is the focus of today’s Sudan Tribune dispatch:

 

• “Now Sudan Is Attacking Refugee Camps,” The Wall Street Journal, 6 September 2008, by Mia Farrow and Eric Reeves  |  http://online.wsj.com/article/SB122065894281205691.html?mod=googlenews_wsj

 

• “Yet Again, Kalma camp (South Darfur) for displaced persons is the scene of deadly violence by Khartoum’s security forces” | September 22, 2017 |  http://wp.me/p45rOG-26t

 

It will be an unforgiveable outrage if Hassabo’s plans for Kalma camp are carried out:

 

The residents of South Darfur largest camp for displaced people have rejected a forcible arms collection campaign the authorities plan to carry out in Kalma during the upcoming days and called to leave the operation for the hybrid peacekeeping mission (UNAMID). The IDPs are reacting to a meeting held at the Sudanese presidency to discuss ways to conduct the campaign in the IDPs camps in Darfur including Vice President Hasabo Abdel Rahman, South Darfur Governor Adam al-Faki and UNAMID head Jeremiah Mamabolo.

 

Mamabolo, like his incompetent African Union predecessors in the role of leading UNAMID, has proved an abject failure; and the Mission itself is in the process of being gutted following the UN Security Council decision in June 2017 to cut dramatically both the troop presence of the Mission (by 44 percent) and police presence (by 30 percent). The latter reduction drastically reduces the ability of UNAMID to serve in the role of collecting any weapons that may exist in the camps. In the wake of an extraordinarily brazen and terrifying show of strength in Kalma camp by Khartoum’s military and security forces on November 1, 2017, Mamabolo fecklessly suggested:

“UNAMID peacekeepers on the ground during the incident reported that more than 100 government military vehicles, including trucks with mounted weapons and armoured personnel carriers, briefly entered parts of the camp,” said UNAMID Joint Special Representative, Jeremiah Mamabolo in a press release on Saturday. [Radio Dabanga—a far more reliable source than UNAMID, reported “at least 200 vehicles, including armoured cars and rocket launchers”—ER]. “While UNAMID acknowledges the significance of the ongoing arms collection exercise, it regrets the entry by the Government forces to Kalma IDP camp was not coordinated with the mission to avoid any potential tension and violence,” he added. UNAMID called on the Sudanese government and the IDPs to work with the Mission “in a collaborative way in order to advance the weapons collection campaign.” (Sudan Tribune, November 4, 2017)

 

But Khartoum has never listened to the leaders of UNAMID, or the UN for that matter: the regime stands in egregious violation of countless UN Security resolutions concerned Darfur—going back to July 2004—and has never been punished or sanctioned for any of these violations. Unsurprisingly, several senior regime officials have been indicted by the International Criminal Court—President al-Bashir on multiple counts of genocide and crimes against humanity in Darfur. And yet some thirty countries—even those that are signatories to the Rome Treaty that is the statutory basis for the ICC—have welcomed al-Bashir since the ICC issued its arrest warrants.

It is not difficult to understand why Khartoum feels so free to ensure that its military, militia, and security forces enjoy total impunity in Darfur. The continuing epidemic of rape of non-Arab/African girls and women is symptomatic of a larger climate of impunity, something Human Rights Watch and other human rights organizations have been stressing for years:

 

“Entrenching Impunity: Government Responsibility for International Crimes in Darfur,” Human Rights Watch | December 2, 2005 | https://www.hrw.org/sites/default/files/reports/darfur1205webwcover.pdf

 

See also | “Darfur and the Consequences of Impunity for Sudan,” Dissent Magazine, September 9, 2011 | http://wp.me/p45rOG-Gb

 

The task of preventing the second, possibly more destructive phase of the Darfur genocide falls clearly on the Western democracies. Along with the UN, the African Unioncontinues to accommodate the Khartoum regime, as does the Arab League, the Organization of Islamic Conference—and even Israel is making quiet overtures to Khartoum. China and Russia continue to play the role of spoilers at the UN Security Council, making the mandate of the Council—maintaining international peace and security—little more than a cruel joke.

 

But those Western democracies—including those instrumental in establishing the ICC—are nowhere to be found in addressing the threats to millions of Darfuris. Canada has said nothing, (nor has Japan or India or the countries of Latin America); and the countries of the European Union seem more interested in rapprochement with this savage regime, this in the interest of securing its help in stanching the flow of African migration to the European continent.

 

And the U.S. long ago gave up serious concern for Darfur. Like the EU countries, the U.S. during the Obama administration pretended as though the Doha Document for Peace in Darfur (DDPD; July 2011) was a credible basis for peace in the region. It was never anything of the sort, enjoying no support from Darfuri civil society or any of the consequential rebel groups. Even now the DDPD—a completely dead letter diplomatically—is occasionally invoked because there is simply nothing else to point to. The Obama administration tipped its hand all too fully when a senior administration official declared in November 2011 that Darfur was being “de-coupled” from the major issue of bilateral interest to Washington and Khartoum: Khartoum’s listing by the State Department as one of only three regimes considered a “state sponsor of terrorism” (which Khartoum desperately wishes to end) and Washington’s desire to enlist Khartoum as a partner in gathering counter-terrorism intelligence (the primary purpose of the massive new U.S. embassy in Khartoum, which was only recently allowed by Khartoum to become fully operational).

 

It has become exceedingly unlikely that any of the Western democracies or international actors of consequence will truly care about what Khartoum does in Darfur, and this has brought us to the present moment: violent “disarmament” of the camps for displaced is about to begin, and there will be nothing done to stop the process, however fitfully it may proceed.

 

This made indeed be the beginning of the most destructive phase of the Darfur genocide.

 

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Kalma IDPs call to task UNAMID with weapons search operation | Sudan Tribune | November 14, 2017 (NYALA) | http://www.sudantribune.com/spip.php?article64004

The residents of South Darfur largest camp for displaced people have rejected a forcible arms collection campaign the authorities plan to carry out in Kalma during the upcoming days and called to leave the operation for the hybrid peacekeeping mission (UNAMID). The IDPs are reacting to a meeting held at the Sudanese presidency to discuss ways to conduct the campaign in the IDPs camps in Darfur including Vice President Hasabo Abdel Rahman, South Darfur Governor Adam al-Faki and UNAMID head Jeremiah Mamabolo.

 

The IDPs spokesperson Hussein Abu Sharati said the camps are free of weapons and saying that the weapons search operation the authorities plan to carry out aims to dismantle the camp.

 

“Talk of weapons in Kalma is just an open pretext for the South Darfur government to dismantle the camp after failing to persuade the displaced to return to their villages under the name of voluntary repatriation programme,” he told Sudan Tribune. Abu Sharati added that the voluntary return the government wants to implement is fraught with great dangers for the lives of civilians, stressing that “many of their areas are still under the control of others who refuse to leave.”

 

The IDPs spokesperson is alluding to the nomads who settled in the fertile areas abandoned by the IDPs who fled attacks by the government militias during the years of the counterinsurgency campaign. The Sudanese army and government militia have launched the forcible weapons collection campaign which is the second phase a large scale operation aiming to restore peace and to end tribal violence in the region. The South Darfur government said they would inspect Kalma camp located outside Nyala pointing to the presence of arms inside the camp which is accused of harbouring some activists loyal to the armed groups.

 

Abu Sharati He called on the UNAMID forces” as a neutral body,” to take over the weapons search operation in the camp, pointing out that “Kalma is safe and there has been no security breach, as it is the case from time to time in (the state capital), Nyala” which is at 17 km from the camp. He further disclosed that the UNAMID mission held several meetings with the IDPs to discuss the decision of the South Darfur government to inspect the camp, adding the camp leaders rejected the intervention of the government forces in Kalma. He emphasized that conduct of the arms search by the state government may endanger the lives of displaced persons, calling on the international community and human rights organizations to stand with the displaced to protect them.

 

UNAMID called on the Sudanese government and the IDPs to work with the Mission “in a collaborative way in order to advance the weapons collection campaign.” The call came after a show of force by the Sudanese government forces which surround some parts of the camp before to withdraw on 2 November. The camp residents protested in the past several times against the presence of the government forces. In August 2008, the police killed over 40 IDPs who objected a weapons search operation in the camp. Recently, the government forces killed three civilians during a protest against a visit of the Sudanese president to the area last September. [Emphases added–ER]

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(c) 2017 SUDAN Research, Analysis, and Advocacy

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