Tuesday, August 02, 2005

The Weekly Darfur Report

Courtesy of Eugene and Feddie of the Coalition For Dafur. They have some unfortunate news to report.

From their weekly email to Coalition members:
For those who may not know, Sudanese vice-president and former rebel
SPLM leader John Garang died in a helicopter crash in southern Sudan
over the weekend. Just three weeks ago, Garang was inaugurated as
Vice President under the peace agreement designed to bring an end to
the 20 year North/South civil war.

Much of the world's hope for a peaceful solution rested on Garang's
ability to reign in the genocidal regime in Khartoum and, with his
death, the future of Darfur and the North/South peace accord is now
hard to predict.
They follow-up this news with related reports.

From Reuters UK, a report on the violence that followed Mr. Garang's untimely death:
Northern and southern Sudanese clashed in Khartoum on Tuesday in a second day of violence sparked by the death of ex-rebel leader John Garang who helped end two decades of war in Africa's largest country.

Authorities sent in police and helicopters to quell the clashes. The number of people killed in the capital after Garang's weekend death reached 46, police said.

Garang, leader of southern Sudan's former rebel Sudan People's Liberation Movement (SPLM), died in a helicopter crash.

Some southerners fear his absence could weaken their hand in the country, divided between an Arabised Muslim north and the south, which is a mix of African ethnicities with Christians, animists and Muslims.

"There were some limited clashes in different places in the outskirts of the capital. Police have established control over these areas now," State Minister for the Interior Ahmed Mohamed Haroun told journalists in Khartoum.

Police said the death toll from the violence in Khartoum had risen to 46, but did not make clear if this included new victims from Tuesday's clashes. A security official had said Monday's riots killed at least 36 people.

William Ezekiel, editor of the daily Khartoum Monitor, which has close ties to Sudan's southern community, told Reuters residents reported clashes in outlying areas of the capital.

Two southerners were shot dead by northerners about 18 km (12 miles) north of Khartoum, he said. In the south a church and school were attacked, and 26 people injured in another area. "Today, it is northerners who started (the clashes)," he said.

In some of the worst riots in the capital in years, angry southerners rampaged through Khartoum on Monday, burning shops and vehicles. After a curfew overnight, armoured vehicles were deployed at strategic points around the capital on Tuesday.
Mr. Garang's death could put the peace treaty between Northern and Southern Sudan in jeopardy. The SPLM quickly selected his deputy, Salva Kiir, to succeed him. Can he walk in the footsteps of his legendary predecessor. Will both Khartoum and the South accept him? Can his presence move the government to reverse it's genocidal policy on Darfur? So many questions, so few answers.

The Coalition also notes Eric Reeve's response to Garang's death (registration required. See Bug me not):
...the NIF--which still dominates the national unity government (including the executive branch, the military forces, the intelligence and security services, and the various paramilitaries throughout the country)--has created a ghastly quid pro quo, admonishing the West: Don't press us too hard over Darfur or we will scuttle the north-south agreement. The NIF has also reversed this diplomatic equation, saying in effect to the international community: Your humanitarian organizations presently have acceptable access to Darfur; but that can change quickly if we are blamed or punished for any renewed conflict in southern Sudan. Which means anything that increases Khartoum's ability or inclination to renew conflict in the south also raises the likelihood of NIF obstructionism in Darfur.And the threat of renewed violence in southern Sudan is very real in the wake of Garang's death. The new SPLM leader, the collegial Salva Kiir Mayardit, does not have nearly the diplomatic or political skills of Garang, and will also have a very difficult time holding together the incipient Government of South Sudan. He is likely to be severely tested in the coming weeks, in various ways. Most ominously, the Khartoum-backed militias (the South Sudan Defense Forces) could easily provoke renewed fighting in the oil regions of Eastern and Western Upper Nile. If this occurs, Khartoum will hold out the threat of accelerating genocide in Darfur. The regime will, in effect, say: New fighting in Sudan is to be regretted, but any interference will prompt us to reconsider issues of humanitarian access in Darfur.

The NIF is constantly underestimated by Sudan observers--one reason this cruel deviousness may seem implausible to some. But the NIF comprises intelligent men who are ruthlessly survivalist by instinct, and who have been amply encouraged by the international community in the belief that claims of national sovereignty will always outweigh the moral claims of humanitarian intervention.
Khartoum uses Darfur to blackmail the International Community. The NIF will be able to do whatever the hell they want. And what they want is the oil fields in the South. Not a good situation for the survivors.

More later.

Updated:Finally, Medecins Sans Frontieres presents the world with a reality check. Many refugees are going to die if immediate and compelling action is not taken to save them. The malnutrition and disease that has followed Sudan's scorched-earth campaign campaigne will finish what the their Janaweed mercinaries started:
"The humanitarian situation in Darfur today has recently been described as at an 'equilibrium' point, but if you ask the people living in one of the crowded, unsanitary and unsafe displaced camps in Darfur whether they feel they are experiencing an equilibrium, I have no doubt they will more likely tell you that their lives are dangling by the thin thread that is humanitarian aid," said Nathalie Civet, head of mission in Darfur for the humanitarian organisation Medecins Sans Frontieres.

In a briefing to the United Nations Security Council, Dr Civet warned that the situation in Darfur remained far from secure. "The situation is not stabilising in Darfur and the need for humanitarian assistance grows as the conflict continues," she said.

Latest figures suggest two million people now have been displaced by the conflict, with another two million affected by the war.

The number of refugees fleeing across the border into neighbouring Chad has doubled in the last 12 months, while 125,000 are now living in the Kalma refugee camp in South Darfur - up from 25,000 a year ago, MSF said.

"The scorched-earth campaign of 2003-04 has now been replaced by less overt and large-scale, but equally devastating, forms of violence and intimidation of civilians, including the effects of sporadic fighting direct attacks and sexual violence," said Dr Civet.

All should grieve
for the dead and dying.
All should mourn
for the sick and starving.
All should rage
at the hordes of heartless
that roam the desolation still.

Break the ground
for the dead and dying.
Salve the needs
of the sick and starving.
break the back
of the hordes of heartless
that roam the desolation still.

Blood cries out
screaming up to heaven!
Justice waits
for the Nations' conscience.
The Lord weeps
for the hordes of heartless
that roam the desolation still.

Somehow, we'll find the audacity to say once again, "Never again!"