As UNAMID deploys out of Darfur: ethnically-targeted violence continues on a wide scale

The failed UN/African Union “hybrid” Mission in Darfur (UNAMID)—which has shamelessly and with gross inaccuracy celebrated its success for the almost ten years during which it has been charged with protecting civilians and humanitarians—continues (per its most recent reauthorization by the UN Security Council | June 2017) to draw down its forces on a scale ensuring that what exceedingly limited protection the Mission has offered will be greatly reduced. 44 percent of military personnel are now deploying out of Darfur and 30 percent of the policing personnel. The knock-on effects of withdrawing this hopelessly misconceived, demoralized, ill-equipped, and badly led Mission are many.

Some of the greatest consequences will be a reduction in humanitarian access; for example, since the UN Humanitarian Air Service (UNHAS) flies only to areas militarily protected, locations abandoned by UNAMID troops will no longer be accessible. This is especially perverse since a condition for the permanent lifting of U.S. economic sanctions by the Trump administration was the improvement of humanitarian access in Darfur. The UN’s current estimate of the number of people in Darfur in need of humanitarian assistance is 3 million.

The recent kidnapping of a Swiss aid worker, thankfully released, is a reminder of how vulnerable humanitarians are in Darfur—and the reason that 97 percent of all personnel for international nongovernmental humanitarian organizations (INGOs) are Sudanese nationals—who face reprisals and arrest by the vindictive Khartoum regime for their work in Darfur. They have repeatedly been labeled “criminals,” “spies,” “Zionists,” and “thieves” by Khartoum.

Tragically, the greatest consequence of UNAMID’s deployment out of Darfur are the continuation, and in some places acceleration, of daily ethnically-targeted attacks on civilians throughout Darfur, primarily by Arab militias controlled or sanctioned by Khartoum. Non-Arab (African) civilians continue to be—as they have been for more than fourteen years—subject to murder, rape, displacement, and loss of property and goods.

There is good reason to believe that we will see in the reports from Darfur (conveyed primarily by Radio Dabanga) continuation, even expansion, of these attacks. Only the fact of previous vast destruction of African villages and the violent expropriation of farmlands, and the massive concentration of displaced persons (some 2.7 million in Darfur itself,another 320,000 in eastern Chad refugee camps) limits the scale of attacks. Moreover, we should remember that some 600,000 people have been killed as a direct or indirect result of violence over the past fourteen years: this approaches ten percent of the pre-war population in Darfur (see | http://sudanreeves.org/2017/01/05/quantifying-genocide-darfur-mortality-update-august-6-2010/).

As a crude barometer of the scale of violence, I have been assembling a brief bi-weekly compendium of foreshortened dispatches from Radio Dabanga and Sudan Tribune (all with sources on the ground). For surveys covering more extensive periods the violent expropriation of African farmlands (November 2014 – November 2016) and the rape of girls and young women (for the years 2014 and 2015), see:

http://sudanreeves.org/2016/02/17/changing-the-demography-violent-expropriation-and-destruction-of-farmlands-in-darfur-november-2014-november-2015/

http://sudanreeves.org/2017/03/07/continuing-mass-rape-of-girls-in-darfur-the-most-heinous-crime-generates-no-international-outrage-january-2016/

Herewith the fourth (bi-weekly) compendium of violence reported from Darfur during the withdrawal of UNAMID. Particular emphasis has been given to reports bearing on the “disarmament” policy of the Khartoum regime, which is entered its “forcible collection” stage with ominous implications for the IDP camps, most notably Kalma camp near Nyala. Other dispatches with broader and long-range implications have been put at the beginning of the compendium:

• U.S. urges Sudan and rebels to reach permanent ceasefire | Sudan Tribune | November 17, 2017 (KHARTOUM)

The visiting U.S. Deputy Secretary of State John Sullivan has demanded the Sudanese government and the armed groups to reach a permanent and general ceasefire in Darfur, the South Kordofan and Blue Nile states. The Sudanese army has been fighting Sudan People’s Liberation Movement/North (SPLM-N) rebels in the Blue Nile and South Kordofan states, also known as Two Areas since 2011 and a group of armed movements in Darfur since 2003.

[Sullivan offers no specifics, nor any criticism of the corrupt and incompetent leadership of the AU’s Thabo Mbeki in the futile “peace process”—or the imperative (as Khartoum sees it) of a disarmament campaign in Darfur that will inevitably lead to massive new violence in the region—Sullivan is simply offering diplomatic boilerplate—ER]

Following six days of talks in Addis Ababa in August 2016, the armed movements and the government failed to conclude a deal on the security arrangements and humanitarian access in Darfur and the Two Areas prompting the African Union mediation to suspend the talks indefinitely. Since two years, the two sides continued to declare a unilateral cessation of hostilities in the conflict areas.

[Khartoum’s strategy in accommodating U.S. conditions for lifting economic sanctions has been to shift to a policy of starving the Two Areas into submission. AU inability to secure humanitarian access over more than six years is an apt measure of its diplomatic incompetence and unwillingness to confront Khartoum—ER]

Speaking in a lecture at the University of the Holy Quran in Khartoum Friday, Sullivan called on the Sudanese government to stop its military attacks in the conflict zones and declare a permanent ceasefire to achieve peace and stability in the country. He also demanded the SPLM-N to accept the US proposal to deliver humanitarian assistance to the affected civilians in the Two Areas.

[Predictably, given previous disingenuous pronouncements by the senior U.S. diplomat in Khartoum, Charge d’Affaires Steven Koutsis, Sullivan makes no mention of the scale or length of Khartoum’s humanitarian embargo on rebel-controlled areas of South Kordofan and Blue Nile. No “U.S. proposal” has been put forward that is remotely adequate to the critical needs for food and medicines in these areas. This is more shameful U.S. posturing, from which only Khartoum benefits. More disingenuous U.S. posturing on this human catastrophe is a terrible disgrace—ER]

• Displaced set strict rules for camp searches by Sudan forces | Radio Dabanga | November 17, 2017 | ZALINGEI

[The weapons collection at the relatively small Hamidiya camp in Central Darfur (near Zalingei) occurred with only minor violence (“three soldiers troops assaulted displaced people in the market and seized a number of telephones”)—and of course there was no cache of weapons to be found. The conclusion to this dispatch is what is of most importance in looking forward—ER]

In a statement this month, UNAMID called on the Sudanese authorities to coordinate the search of illegal weapons in camps for the displaced with the peacekeepers. The mission immediately reacted to the “show of force” by heavily armed government forces in Kalma camp on November 1, which caused panic among the displaced people.

[We can expect to see a great deal more of this as the forcible phase of the disarmament campaign continues—ER]

[Hussein Abusharati of the Displaced People’s Association said], “At the top of the conditions for the inspection is the formation of a tripartite committee, comprising of the camp administration, UNAMID, and the government, for supervision. Secondly, the inspection should be conducted by UNAMID. “Thirdly, the purpose of the inspection should be only for arms without the exposure of the displaced to questioning or holding their leadership. Fourthly, the government forces must immediately depart