Another Ceasefire Declaration by Khartoum, More Expedient International Celebration -- What implications for Darfur?

 

Another Ceasefire Declaration by Khartoum, More Expedient International Celebration

What implications for Darfur following Khartoum's June 17, 2016 "ceasefire" declaration for South Kordofan and Blue Nile? Expect more of the same...

Eric Reeves | June 29, 2016 | http://wp.me/p45rOG-1Ui

It is worth looking closely at what U.S. State Department spokesman John Kirby recently asserted about realities in Sudan in the context of Khartoum's declaration of a "unilateral cessation of hostilities" for South Kordofan and Blue Nile:

The United States welcomes the Government of Sudan's declaration of a unilateral cessation of hostilities in Southern Kordofan and Blue Nile. We find this an important and welcome step towards a peaceful resolution to conflict in those states, which we would like to see extended to the Darfur region. An end to military offensives and fighting in these areas would bring much needed relief to thousands of Sudanese and create an improved environment for dialogue leading to a political solution.

We urge the Sudan Revolutionary Front to reciprocate by ceasing all military action against the Sudanese Armed Forces and recommit to the cessation of hostilities it declared nearly two months ago. We encourage bot‎h the Government of Sudan and the opposition to work under the auspices of the African Union High-Level Implementation Panel to translate their cessation of hostilities declarations, which must ultimately include the region of Darfur, into a sustainable end to this conflict. A negotiated solution that addresses the key political and security drivers of conflict in all areas of Sudan will be needed in order to establish a lasting peace.

We encourage all sides to commit to allowing unfettered access for humanitarian organizations to deliver lifesaving aid to all Sudanese citizens affected by the conflict. (State Department press statement, June 21, 2016) (all emphases in bold have been added)

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John Kirby, U.S. State Department Spokesman

A parsing of this nasty addition to Obama administration disingenuousness on Sudan is revealing of why the people of Darfur are destined to continue to suffer unspeakable violence-including murder, rape, village destruction, aerial bombardment, displacement and consequent acute privation. The death toll during the current rainy season is poised to spike again, although mortality and morbidity data are no longer collected, let alone promulgated by the UN; this effectively silences nongovernment humanitarian organizations with relevant data.

Most notably, the State Department makes no mention of the similar declaration made by the al-Bashir regime in late 2015-and violated shortly thereafter. Here it should be noted that the Sudan Armed Forces (SAF) and its militia allies (mainly the Rapid Support Forces, or RSF) essentially completed their military destruction of Darfur with an extraordinarily violent and brutally successful assault on the last major rebel redoubt, the Jebel Marra massif. The success of this campaign, which began in earnest in January 2016, allowed redeployment of RSF elements to South Kordofan, ensuring the ceasefire would not survive.

The current ceasefire announcement also coincides with the start of the heavy rainy season in the South Kordofan and Blue Nile regions. As Agence France-Presse reported of the ceasefire (the only major news organization to do so): "The ceasefire was anticipated ahead of the start of the rainy season that leaves roads in these regions impassable" (Khartoum, June 17, 2016). In short, given the tremendous advantage Khartoum enjoys in military ground transportation, the ceasefire makes very good tactical sense. But to see this as having strategic implications is to forget the countless previous such "ceasefires" the regime has violated when it became advantageous to do so. The four-month duration announced by al-Bashir extends to mid-October, when the rains have ceased and the ground is beginning to dry out.

A second notable feature of this declaration by the U.S. State Department is the perfunctory nature of the reference to the vast, ongoing human catastrophe in Darfur. For as Khartoum has made explicit, the cease-fire does not extend to the region-a decision justified in perversely illogical fashion:

The new ceasefire announced Saturday will not apply to the Darfur region, as "there was no real rebellion now" in the area, according to [army spokesman Brigadier Ahmed Khalifa] al-Shami. "There are only small groups that are trying to disturb the security in Darfur. Sudanese forces have ended the rebellion in Darfur."

In a strategic military sense al-Shami may be right; but as the reports compiled below make clear, violence is anything but "small." Yet the State Department could bring itself to say only that "we would like to see [the ceasefire] extended to the Darfur region." This manages to be both pusillanimous and disingenuous, since it is followed by the deeply misleading statement that:

An end to military offensives and fighting in these areas would bring much needed relief to thousands of Sudanese....

"Thousands"? Why not the decency to speak honestly of the terrible figures defining the desperate state of millions of Sudanese. Figures from UN agencies, national and international nongovernmental relief organizations, as well as local reporting, make clear that:

· More than three million people have been displaced from their homes in Darfur alone; additionally, many hundreds of thousands of people have been forced from their homes in South Kordofan and Blue Nile;

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New arrivals in ZamZam camp near El-Fasher, North Darfur; the IDP camp now has a population of more than 230,000

• 5.4 million people are targeted for humanitarian assistance by UN OCHA for 2016-4.2 million for food and livelihood assistance; Director of Operations for the European Commission's Humanitarian and Civil Protection department, Jean-Louis De Brouwer, put the matter bluntly: "More than 5 million people are in need of urgent assistance."

• Severe and Acute Malnutrition affect more than a million people in Darfur, South Kordofan, and Blue Nile;

  • The traditional agricultural economies of all three regions have been largely destroyed, affectingmany millionsof people;
  • Khartoum has imposed a humanitarian embargo on large areas of South Kordofan and Blue Nile, severely affectinghundreds of thousandsof people. It is thus deeply disingenuous of the State Department to speak with equanimity about "all sides" needing to "commit to allowing unfettered access for humanitarian organizations to deliver lifesaving aid to all Sudanese citizens": the obstacle is Khartoum, not theSudan People's Liberation Movement/Army-North (SPLM/A-N), which signed immediately onto aFebruary 2012 UN, African Union, Arab League proposal for humanitarian access.
  • Khartoum has expelled from Darfur, or compelled to leave by other means, some 30 international humanitarian organizations, crippling humanitarian capacity that benefited a great many of the2.7 million internally displaced personsin Darfur (another300,00 are refugeesin eastern Chad, where the Déby regime has acceded to Khartoum's wishes to force repatriation and make humanitarian services difficult to render).

Sources:      

UNICEF

UN OCHA

EU chief humanitarian representative

Radio Dabanga

"Thousands" is not just a slight statistical misrepresentation: it is a deliberate, finally grotesque diminishment of the scale of suffering and destruction the Obama administration State Department has decided should not be presented accurately during the ongoing rapprochement with the Khartoum regime. This reflects the policy priorities of the intelligence and military communities in the Obama administration, and it augurs terribly for the people of Sudan, and for none more than Darfuris.

Finally, the State Department declares:

A negotiated solution that addresses the key political and security drivers of conflict in all areas of Sudan will be needed in order to establish a lasting peace.

This is little more than a diplomatic tautology, and in the case of Darfur one that allows the Obama administration to remain silent about its cynical attitude toward the Doha Document for Peace in Darfur (DDPD, Qatar | July 2011). Dead on arrival because it lacked any support from Darfuri civil society or the consequential rebel groups, the DDPD was shamelessly flogged as a viable diplomatic opportunity until very recently-by the Obama administration, by the EU, by the AU, and by the UN. This has had the perverse effect of encouraging Khartoum to believe that it could continue to cleave indefinitely to the DDPD as a means of forestalling meaningful diplomatic negotiations that truly represented the people of Darfur. Sudan Tribune reported recently:

The Sudanese government Tuesday said the Doha Document for Peace in Darfur (DDPD) wouldn't be opened for negotiation and stressed it won't review any of its items, as the document became part of the constitution. ("Sudan says Darfur peace document won't be opened for negotiation" | Khartoum, June 7, 2016)

Here is the perfect example of how cynicism and appeasement have proved disastrous in dealing with the Khartoum regime. The permanence of the Doha framework was announced in different form with the dissolution of the Darfur Region Authority and permanent implementation of features that Khartoum had explicitly demanded:

Sudanese government Monday, announced the official dissolution of Darfur Regional Authority (DRA) and Darfur Peace Office, indicating [completion of] the implementation [of the] peace agreement in Darfur region. (Darfur Regional Authority officially dissolved | Khartoum, June 13, 2016)

To be sure, other international actors are also culpable in refusing to acknowledge honestly the fate of Darfur, and are content to take al-Bashir's ceasefire announcement for South Kordofan and Blue Nile as something other than a tactical military move, one that will surely be reversed with the onset of the next dry (fighting) season. The EU has said nothing of consequence about the ceasefire, and UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon does not even mention Darfur in "welcoming" the ceasefire: the UN News Center dispatch of June 22, 2016 does not contain the word "Darfur."

Darfur in the Absence of an International Commitment to Protect Civilians

As Darfur disappears further and further from any news reporting radar screen (again, the only true non-Sudanese news organization reporting on the cease-fire was AFP), it is important to look squarely at the consequences of the region's remarkable fall from international concern, coincident with the advent of the Obama administration that had traded heavily on Darfur as a political issue in the 2008 presidential campaign (it was not mentioned in the 2012 campaign).

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Presidential candidate made much of the moral stakes in abandoning Darfur--already, he declared, a "stain on our souls"; his words have proved empty campaign rhetoric 

The levels of violence over the past three years in particular have been reported in detail by Human Rights Watch:

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

 "Mass Rape in Darfur: Sudanese Army Attacks Against Civilians in Tabit" (Human Rights Watch | February 11, 2015)

Amnesty International will be issuing in September a comprehensive account of the immensely destructive assault on Jebel Marra (Central Darfur) this year-especially brutal even by the extraordinary standards of violence in Darfur.

I have chronicled at length in two monographs the extent of violence in Darfur's East Jebel Marra region (North Darfur) over the past two and a half years:

• "Continuing Mass Rape of Girls in Darfur: The most heinous crime generates no international outrage" | January 2016 | http://wp.me/p45rOG-1QG [Arabic translation of this report | http://wp.me/p45rOG-1R/]

• "Changing the Demography":  Violent Expropriation and Destruction of Farmlands in Darfur, November 2014 - November 2015" December 1, 2015 |  http://wp.me/p45rOG-1P4

I have also pointed to the massive catastrophe looming in Darfur if displaced persons are forced from camps in Darfur-expulsions that will be a prelude to the camp dismantling promised by Khartoum's Second Vice-President, Hassabo Mohamed Abdelrahman, in late December 2015. These highly vulnerable populations of displaced persons, many of them badly weakened by years of compromised humanitarian services, will confront a vast, chaotic, immensely destructive maelstrom of violence, chiefly that orchestrated by Khartoum's regular Sudan Armed Forces and the regime's primary Arab militia ally, the Rapid Support Forces (RSF). Sudan Tribune reported at the time on Hassabo's views:

In a speech delivered before the representatives of former rebel groups and IDPs in El-Fasher, North Darfur on Monday, [Second Vice-President Hasabo 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."

Hassabo also declared 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..."  He said his visit [to] two areas "is a message [to] sceptics in the fact that security and stability are back in Darfur"... (Sudan Tribune, December 28, 2015 | El Fasher, North Darfur)

On top of this, the international fig-leaf of civilian protection-the UN/African Union "hybrid" Mission for Darfur (UNAMID)-is on the verge of total collapse after years of unacknowledged failure. Burkina Faso and South Africa are in the process of withdrawing their forces, and the best that can be hoped for is a Security Council resolution that merely re-authorizes a hopelessly incompetent and demoralized UNAMID.

But most alarming are the reports that come continuously from Sudan Tribune and Radio Dabanga. In the past month alone a great many reports suggest that ongoing violence of the most destructive sort will prevail in Darfur, as well ghastly humanitarian conditions-in the camps and among the displaced populations with nowhere to go. The many tens of thousands who fled the brutal Jebel Marra offensive-beginning in January 2016-are in particularly dire circumstances; many have already perished.

These are some of the "thousands" the Obama administration State Department thinks might be assisted if a (unspecified) peace process for Darfur were to take hold. [Dispatches are from Radio Dabanga and-where indicated-from Sudan Tribune; all emphases in bold are mine; all commentary by me is in blue italics followed by my initials-ER]

HUMANITARIAN NEED:

For background, see especially:

[1] "An Internal UNICEF Malnutrition Report on Sudan and Darfur: Why have these data been withheld?" | 5 September 2014 | http://wp.me/p45rOG-1pL

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First page of a UNICEF report on malnutrition in Sudan (2014); although leaked to the New York Times, the report remains unreleased because of Khartoum's intimidation of UN humanitarian agencies

[2] "Blue Nile: Sudan's Forgotten Front," UN Integrated Regional Information Networks (IRIN) June 21, 2016.

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Children in Blue Nile--nothing to look forward to...

[3] "Current military activities in Sudan and their humanitarian consequences" | May 23, 2016 | http://wp.me/p45rOG-1TI

[4] OCHA/Sudan data | http://www.unocha.org/sudan/

[5Sudan Consortium

[6] Nuba Reports

[7] "The International Community Continues to Accept Khartoum's Humanitarian Blockade in the Nuba Mountains and Blue Nile" | June 20, 2016 | http://wp.me/p45rOG-1Ue

***********************

Militiamen's roadblock causes water shortage in Sortony, North Darfur | May 23, 2016 | KABKABIYA

[Given this blocking of water trucks to the camp for displaced persons from Jebel Marra, the UN has begun airlifting people to el-Fasher, where camps are already badly overcrowded. Khartoum is clearly sanctioning this action by its militia proxies as a way of further clearing the region of African tribal populations (nearly all those in Jebel Marra are from the Fur tribe)-ER]

 

 

Sortony camp

Well over 100,000 civilians--perhaps as many as two hundred thousand--have been displaced from their homes in Jebel Marra; many have ended up in the Sartony displaced persons camp in North Darfur, where Khartoum's militia proxies prevent them from receiving critical humanitarian supplies, including water

41,700 South Darfur displaced still without aid | May 19, 2016 | KALMA CAMP | More than 41,000 displaced people in Kalma camp near Nyala in South Darfur have now been waiting ten months without aid. On Wednesday, Kalma camp secretary-general Saleh Eisa, told Radio Dabanga that around 41,700 displaced people who have arrived at the camp since 2013 and 2014 have not received food rations for ten months.

Starvation as less than half receive rations in North Darfur camp | June 5, 2016 | EL FASHER |Only about 100,000 of the 237,000 displaced in Zamzam camp, south of El Fasher, capital of North Darfur, have been receiving rations. They describe the humanitarian and security situation as dire. An activist told Radio Dabanga that there have been deaths among children and the elderly from malnutrition and hunger.

Drinking water scarce in Sirba, West Darfur | May 23, 2016 | SIRBA

Sudan ‘expels' OCHA Head of Office | May 22, 2016 | KHARTOUM | The Sudanese government has de facto expelled the Head of Office of the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) by refusing to renew his annual "stay permit" for another year. In a press statement today, the UN Humanitarian Country Team in Sudan expressed shock and disappointment at the de facto expulsion by the government of Sudan of Ivo Freijsen, one of its senior UN humanitarian affairs officials, and Head of Office of OCHA.

Water shortage in Darfur: Mother and daughter 'die of thirst' | June 17, 2016 | EL RADOOM / HABILA

Woman dies of thirst in North Darfur desert | May 27, 2016 | EL MALHA

Malnutrition growing among Sudanese children | May 24, 2016 | KHARTOUM

Thirst in North Darfur's Zamzam camp | June 21, 2016 | EL FASHER | Displaced people in Zamzam camp in North Darfur say there is not enough drinking water for the entire camp's population. Some residents are unable to pay the high water prices that resulted from the shortage. A source in Zamzam camp, near El Fasher, reported to Radio Dabanga that less than 30 out of 79 pumps are operative. "They are broken down and there is the problem of a scarcity of surface water. Local authorities should speed up finding a solution by digging wells." He pointed out that these pumps do not provide enough water for the residents of the camp, totaling 235,000 people. The people spend long times in queues without getting enough water, according to the source.

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Water shortages are intensifying throughout Darfur, creating enormous lines of desperate people

‘Hungry' Darfur displaced call for food aid | June 19, 2016 | EL GENEINA / KABKABIYA

Food is expensive for Darfur displaced during Ramadan | June 17, 2016 | TAWILA / ZALINGEI / YIDA CAMP

Food prices, power outages on the rise in Darfur | June 13, 2016 | NIERTETI / NYALA / EL FASHER

RAPE:

The epidemic of sexual violence as a weapon of counter-insurgency warfare continues unabated, with tens of thousands of girls and women raped over the past thirteen years. See: "Continuing Mass Rape of Girls in Darfur: The most heinous crime generates no international outrage" | January 2016 | http://wp.me/p45rOG-1QG [Arabic translation of this report | http://wp.me/p45rOG-1R]

Six gang-raped in North Darfur, East Jebel Marra | June 28, 2016 | TAWILA / TABIT / EAST JEBEL MARRA

[This dispatch was augmented later on the day of June 28: see immediately below-ER]

Ten girls gang-raped in incidents in Darfur | June 28, 2016 | SHANGIL TOBAYA / TAWILA / EAST JEBEL MARRA  | Ten girls were gang-raped in separate incidents in East Jebel Marra and North Darfur's Shangil Tobaya in the past week. Displaced people have staged a protest to urge UNAMID to protect women who leave the camp to collect firewood. Omda Mukhtar Bosh, coordinator of the Tawila camps for the displaced, told Radio Dabanga that militiamen ambushed a group of farmers from a camp about 10 kilometres east of Tawila, on Monday. The attackers beat them and seized two young women (16 and 18), taking turns to rape them. Relatives of the victims, supported by the police, have transferred the victims to a clinic of doctors without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF), Bosh reported.

In a separate incident, armed robbers gang-raped a 16-year-old girl in Um Arda village, near Tabit in North Darfur. On Monday morning, three militiamen raped three young women (15, 16, and 17) from Zamzam camp near a village close to Khazan Tunjur, East Jebel Marra.

NewSerifNyalaDarfurSchoolchildren

Young girls in Darfur from African tribal groups--all potential targets for sexual assault

Man tortured to death, two raped in Darfur's Jebel Marra | June 7, 2016 | FANGA / BINDISI

Hail of gunfire as farmer gang-raped in North Darfur | June 12, 2016 | TAWILA | A 16-year-old girl has been raped while tilling her fields in North Darfur. Her attackers drove-off other farmers with gunfire.

Gunmen attack herders, kill woman in South Darfur | June 3, 2016 | MERSHING / FANGA

Mother, daughter abducted in North Darfur | June 10, 2016 | EL FASHER / EAST JEBEL MARRA

Two more North Darfur rape attack victims found, five still missing | June 24, 2016 | SHANGIL TOBAYA

Young girls abducted in North Darfur road heist | May 25, 2016 | KABKABIYA

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Young rape victim whose cheek has been deliberately scarred to make permanent the humiliation of having been raped, perhaps destroying her chances for marriage and a family (photograph by Mia Farrow)

'Laws, impunity in Sudan foster sexual violence': international organisations | June 20, 2016 | KHARTOUM / KAMPALA | On the occasion of the International Day for the Elimination of Sexual Violence in Conflict, 24 international and Sudanese civil society organisations called on the Sudanese government to reverse the atmosphere of impunity that fosters sexual violence committed by its security forces. "The scale of sexual violence is likely much greater than any reports indicate." Human Rights Watch, Sudan Democracy First Group, Waging Peace, El Khatim Adlan Center for Enlightenment & Human Development (Kace), African Centre for Justice and Peace Studies and Sudan Consortium, among others, signed a joint statement on Sunday that demands from Sudan to hold perpetrators of sexual violence accountable, and review its laws and policies. The public discussion about it in Sudan is impeded by severe restrictions on freedom of the press.

15 women detained for 'indecent dress' in Sudanese capital | June 28, 2016 | KHARTOUM | Sudan's Public Order Police detained 15 young women on charges of indecent dress during patrols in the centre of Khartoum on Monday. The Public Order Police began its swoops after the Commissioner of Khartoum, Ahmed Abu Shanab, issued a decree on Sunday in which he forbade women to wear trousers and short sleeves, and men to wear shorts.

[While the Khartoum regime resolutely denies that rape occurs in Darfur, it finds plenty of occasions to condemn attire that violates its interpretation of shari'a-ER]

VIOLENT EXPROPRIATION OF AFRICAN FARMLANDS AND ATTACKS ON FARMERS

See in particular: "Changing the Demography":  Violent Expropriation and Destruction of Farmlands in Darfur, November 2014 - November 2015" December 1, 2015 |  http://wp.me/p45rOG-1P4

Farmers driven-off, villagers robbed in Tawila, North Darfur | June 28, 2016 | TAWILA | A group of gunmen attacked farmers in Tawila locality on Monday. They robbed them of their belongings and drove them from their farms. In the area of Tabit, armed robbers shot three villagers and raped another. "The attackers threatened to kill the farmers should they return to Gallab, Bababat Sigili, and Hillet Tayara," Omda Mukhtar Bosh, coordinator of the Tawila camps, informed Radio Dabanga.

Militiamen attack farmers in Gallab, North Darfur | June 26, 2016 | EL FASHER

Man dead, children missing after raid in Tabit, North Darfur | May 30, 2016 | TAWILA LOCALITY | One man was killed and four children have gone missing in a raid by a group of militants in the area of Tabit in North Darfur, last Sunday. Four people sustained injuries, while the attackers stole 225 head of livestock. Residents have taken refuge in the military garrison near Tabit. A witness told this station that members from the Popular Defence Forces, moving on five motorcycles, a vehicle, and about 30 camels, initially accosted villagers on Sunday morning. This resulted in the death of Haj Adam Jido. Haider Adam Bakhit, Awadulkarim Hassan and Hamed Adam Yagoub were injured.

‘Central Darfur displaced prevented from returning to homes': Activist | June 4, 2016 | GOLO

Farmers injured, vehicle hijacked by Darfur bandits | May 29, 2016 | MURNEI / EL FASHER

South Darfur farmers abducted; thirst in El Salam | June 16, 2016 | GIREIDA / EL SALAM CAMP

Seven dead, six wounded in West Darfur herder attack | June 23, 2016 | UM TAJOK | Seven people were killed, including the Imam of a mosque, and six others were wounded on Wednesday in an attack by herdsmen on farmers in Um Tajok, Kereinik locality in West Darfur. Witnesses told Radio Dabanga that a group of farmers went out on Wednesday to cultivate their lands. A group of Abbala herders intercepted them. The herders argued that the land has been ‘liberated' and has become a pasture for camels and cattle. When the farmers refused and insisted that the land belongs to them for farming, the herdsmen opened fire, killing seven of them outright, and wounding six others. Some of the wounded are in serious condition.

VIOLENT ASSAULTS ON IDP CAMPS AND RESIDENTS

In understanding the ongoing assaults on camps for displaced persons and residents of these camps who leave to collect water, firewood, or to tend their lands, we should bear in mind the words of [Second Vice-President Hasabo Mohamed Abdelrahman, who declared late last year:

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."

Hassabo stressed 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..."  (Sudan Tribune, December 28, 2015 | El Fasher, North Darfur)

Four North Darfur girls gang-raped; seven others missing | June 23, 2016 | SHANGIL TOBAYA |On Wednesday morning a paramilitary group raped four girls from camp Shaddad for the displaced in Shangil Tobaya, North Darfur. Seven other girls are missing. The rapes occurred near Jebel Kosbi, 10 kilometres from camp Shaddad, where a group of girls were collecting straw and firewood. Witnesses told Radio Dabanga that four girls, two aged 15, and the others aged 13 and 16 respectively, were repeatedly raped by the men. One of them also suffered a broken hand, while others were stabbed and whipped. Seven other girls from the group are still unaccounted for, witnesses reported.

Sortony, North Darfur, under siege - displaced urged to leave | May 30, 2016 | KABKABIYA

Fourteen displaced kidnapped by South Darfur militiamen | May 20, 2016 | GIREIDA | A number of displaced people from a camp in Gireida locality, South Darfur, were kidnapped during a shooting in the camp on Thursday morning. The abductors, members of the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces, arrived in Foreka camp in five vehicles at 9am. They drove to a water pump and opened fire into the air, scaring the displaced people gathered there.

Witnesses said that the perpetrators abducted 14 people by force of arms to their headquarters in the area of Shanga, 5 kilometres south of Gireida.

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Some of Khartoum's militia forces in Darfur--more heavily armed and supplied than previously

Attacks in South Darfur camp: woman killed, two injured | June 21, 2016 | NYALA / KABKABIYA

AERIAL BOMBARDMENTS OF CIVILIANS AND CIVILIAN TARGETS

Khartoum's relentless aerial bombardment of civilian targets throughout greater Sudan for more than two decades has received astonishingly little condemnation from the international community. UN Security Council Resolution 1591 (March 2005), which effectively bans all military flights in Darfur, has been treated with utter contempt by the Khartoum regime. All forms of militarily aircraft have been deployed during the more than eleven years the ban has been in place. Even when large numbers of violations of the flight ban were authoritatively reported by earlier teams of the UN Panel of Experts on Darfur, there was no action at the UN.

Because Khartoum has never been appropriately rebuked or punished for these egregious violations of international law, they all too predictably persist-most consequentially now in South Kordofan and Blue Nile. But the history of Khartoum's aerial attacks on civilians and humanitarians, including hospitals and feeding stations is indeed a long one, entailing thousands of confirmed attacks (see monograph and data spreadsheet | "‘They Bombed Everything that Moved': Aerial military attacks on civilians and humanitarians in Sudan, 1999 - 2013" | www.sudanbombing.org/)

Air raids in Jebel Marra, Darfur claim six lives | June 10, 2016 | NIERTETI

Two die in Jebel Marra mosque bombing | June 7, 2016 | NIERTETI / JEBEL MARRA

Two killed in air raid on Darfur's Jebel Marra | June 19, 2016 | JEBEL MARRA

An26-Cargo-Aircraft-exterior

The infamous Antonov "bomber"--a retrofitted Russian-built cargo plane from which crude barrel bombs are dropped, at high altitudes and without bomb-siting equipment. They have no militarily useful precision, but are extraordinarily effective as instruments of civilian terror and destruction.

[The aftermath of Khartoum's crude bomb-making is often also deadly-ER]

UXO explosion kills child in North Darfur camp | June 10, 2016 | EL FASHER

UXO blast kills two East Darfur children; four injured | June 16, 2016 | EL RIYADH / EL GENEINA / TAWILA

UXO blast kills two in Darfur's East Jebel Marra | May 25, 2016 | FANGA

VIOLENCE AS A FACT OF LIFE IN DARFUR

Beyond the categories of violence above, there are the constant reports of violent assaults, murders in towns, abductions, extortion, random shootings, beatings, and torture my regular and militia forces as well as Khartoum's Military Intelligence (MI), the security organ with greatest authority in Darfur. Notably, at this point a good deal of violence let loose by thirteen years of brutal counter-insurgency warfare is uncontrolled. It may serve the regime's ultimate genocidal purpose indirectly, but is not governed my military or even paramilitary authorities. This violence has become woven into the very fabric of life as Darfuris now experience it in the homeland.

West Darfur: Six displaced killed in mosque, protest erupts | May 23, 2016 | EL GENEINA | Eight displaced people were slain in attacks by armed tribesmen near El Geneina, including a shooting in a mosque on Sunday evening. The attacks sparked thousands of people to go out in a march. A tribal member and a Sudanese soldier were killed the same day.

23 now dead, 12 wounded in West Darfur clashes | June 24, 2016 | UM TAJOK

Killings, hijacks, abduction in Darfur | June 28, 2016 | DARFUR

18 people killed and injured after attacks in Central Darfur | Sudan Tribune: June 21, 2016 (NERTITI), At least 18 people were killed and injured on Monday and Tuesday in attacks carried out by gunmen in Thur area, 80 km southeast of Zalingei the capital of Central Darfur...

Security forces and carjackers exchange heavy fire in S. Darfur's Nyala | Sudan Tribune: June 14, 2016 (NYALA) - On Monday night law enforcement forces in the capital of south Darfur state, Nyala, clashed with armed men who stole a vehicle belonging to a leading member of ruling (...)

Unknown gunmen storm a pharmacy in the capital of South Darfur | Sudan Tribune: June 12, 2016 (NYALA) - Unidentified gunmen Saturday have stormed Silik pharmacy in downtown Nyala, capital of South Darfur state and stole cash money before fleeing.

N. Darfur governor accuses unnamed parties of seeking to destabilize the region Sudan Tribune: June 27, 2016 (EL-FASHER) - North Darfur governor Abdel-Wahid Youssef has accused unnamed parties of seeking to keep the "insecurity and instability" situation in Darfur, pointing to "hidden hands"...

Four injured ‘still in serious condition' after West Darfur shooting | May 26, 2016 | EL GENEINA

Tension in Kutum, North Darfur, as clash kills four | June 7, 2016 | KUTUM

South Darfur Imam slain in pre-dawn raid | June 2, 2016 | EL RADOOM / KASS / TABIT

Man killed in Central Darfur, relatives chase perpetrators | June 3, 2016 | BINDISI

Convicts freed from North Darfur prison | June 3, 2016 | SARAF UMRA

Passenger shot in West Darfur | June 10, 2016 | EL GENEINA

Two injured as Darfur bus driver refuses to pay ‘toll' | June 9, 2016 | NYALA

Prosecutors beaten by troops in East Darfur market | June 9, 2016 | ED DAEIN

Relief convoy robbed in South Darfur | June 24, 2016 | KASS | On Wednesday, four vehicles loaded with relief materials were stopped and pillaged on the road between Kass and Shattai localities in South Darfur. A witness told Radio Dabanga that the vehicles, which belong to the regional authority, were intercepted by a group of militiamen in Land Cruisers, motorcycles and camels under a hail of fire.

Militiamen pillage MSF office in North Darfur | June 24, 2016 | UMM BARU | The headquarters of Doctors Without Borders (MSF) in the area of Muzbat in Umm Baru, North Darfur, has been pillaged by militiamen. The independent MP for Umm Baru and Kornoi, Tina Mohamed Ahmed Minawi Deghih, told Radio Dabanga that the group of militiamen was travelling in a convoy of 30 vehicles from Kutum and Kabkabiya to Umm Baru locality.

Army, police clash with bandits at North Darfur market | June 24, 2016 | KABKABIYA

South Darfur pharmacists strike after spate of robberies | June 23, 2016 | NYALA

Stock thieves wound two in Darfur's Jebel Marra | June 22, 2016 | JEBEL MARRA / UM BARU

Passengers beaten in Darfur bus heist | June 21, 2016 | NYALA

Robbers kill man in North Darfur capital | June 20, 2016 | EL FASHER / KUTUM

Attacks on North Darfur police station, security agent June 17, 2016 | EL FASHER / EL SAREI

Militiamen clash with army, police in Darfur | June 15, 2016 | ZALINGEI / NYALA

Large control of stolen vehicles in South Darfur | June 14, 2016 | NYALA

Attacks on South Darfur market 'wound five' | June 13, 2016 | NYALA

One dead, several injured in West Darfur robberies | June 12, 2016 | MURNEI

Admin change causes tension in Central Darfur camps | June 1, 2016 | GARSILA

Militiamen abduct passengers in Darfur's Jebel Marra | May 27, 2016 | FANGA

North Darfur Student kidnapped by militia | May 25, 2016 | ABDUL SHAKOOR

West Darfur camp killings claim child's life | May 24, 2016 | EL GENEINA | A child has succumbed to injuries he sustained during the shooting in a mosque in Azerni camp, West Darfur, on Sunday. His death raises the toll to 11. The 14-year-old Juma Ismail Mohamed was buried next to the hospital in El Geneina, where the bodies of eight other displaced people were buried on Monday. Thousands of people accompanied the bodies as they were carried to El Geneina...

CONCLUSION

Yasir Arman recently accused Khartoum of "copying and pasting the Darfur genocide onto Blue Nile" (Radio Dabanga, June 2, 2016 | Blue Nile):

The Secretary-General of the Sudan People's Liberation Movement-North (SPLM-N), Yasir Arman, says that Sudan's President Omar Al Bashir "is copying and pasting the Darfur genocide experience into Blue Nile." In a press statement issued today, Arman says that instead of ending the genocide and war crimes in Darfur committed by their militias, the Khartoum government "is borrowing heavily from his experience in Darfur to extend it into the Nuba Mountains and Blue Nile, especially after they failed to recruit local militias in the Two Areas."

Arman's comments coincide with reports on Radio Dabanga yesterday of large contingents of the Rapid Support Forces (RSF) militia moving into Blue Nile state to reinforce the government forces there. "In the last three years, Al Bashir and his security and military agencies have mobilised the Janjaweed militia, which have been organised by the government into the RSF and are attached to the security and military organs of the government and are being sent in thousands to the Nuba Mountains and Blue Nile.

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Front page of Human Rights Watch's report on the Rapid Support Forces (RSF), "MenWith No Mercy"; here RSF fighters celebrate a victory against the rebel Justice and Equality Movement, Goz Dango, South Darfur, April 28, 2015

Little is heard about the Nuba Mountains of South Kordofan these days-like Darfur, once something of a cause célèbre for journalists and human rights advocates. But even less is heard about Blue Nile, appropriately the focus of a recent and excellent documentary by UN IRIN: "Blue Nile: Sudan's Forgotten Front," UN Integrated Regional Information Networks (IRIN) June 21, 2016. Even a few excerpts from this searing report give some sense of what the cost of treating Darfur as a sideshow has been for the people of Blue Nile:

There's no concrete number, but humanitarian and human rights monitors on the ground say more than 4,000 bombs have been dropped on SPLA-N-controlled territory in Blue Nile in the past five years. In one week, between the 6th and the 12th of May, 69 bombs were dropped. Like everyone else in Blue Nile, Ahmed's family is attuned to the Antonov threat. They know from the hum of the plane's engines when they are passing at a safe distance, and when to take them seriously. The Antonovs are sent by President Omar al-Bashir, the man who has ruled Sudan for 26 years. The first sitting head of state to be indicted by the International Criminal Court for genocide and crimes against humanity (committed in the western region of Darfur), Bashir has had a hand in well over two million deaths across Sudan...

The Famine Early Warning Systems Network rated Blue Nile at Phase Four: Emergency. Phase Five is Famine. Khojli Bashir, director of the Funj Youth Development Association, a local NGO, believes the coming year will be worse. "We are expecting so many people will die," he says. Drought and the bombing of farms have kept harvests from bearing fruit. Food stores are meagre...

Ayat [a mother of ten] doesn't want to go to Maban, across the South Sudanese border, because she hears people can't move freely as a result of tensions with the host community. She worries for her children's safety there. She also worries for them here. The kids, in school until recently, were bombed on the way to class and now refuse to go back. Ayat says her life is so hard she sometimes thinks she'd be better off dead, if she could guarantee her children would be okay....

On the outskirts of Bunj, the main town in Maban County, are four sprawling refugee camps in which 130,000 people [from Blue Nile] now reside... [This area is particularly unsuitable for agriculture or provision of sanitation and clean water-ER]

The Obama administration State Department speaks of "thousands of Sudanese" who might receive additional humanitarian assistance if a cease-fire were signed.

This is the most despicable form of deception: the figure for the embattled and desperately needy people of Sudan, including refugee populations, is millions, not "thousands." And given Khartoum's history of serial reneging on all agreements signed with Sudanese parties over the past 27 years, it is simply disingenuous to pretend there is any reason to think that a cease-fire declared-for only South Kordofan and Blue Nile-at the beginning of the rainy season is a sign of anything other than a tactical attempt to gain diplomatic and military advantage.

-- 

Eric Reeves, Senior Fellow at Harvard University's François-Xavier Bagnoud Center for Health and Human Rights

 

ereeves@smith.edu

www.sudanreeves.org

Twitter@SudanReeves

About Eric Reeves: http://sudanreeves.org/about-eric-reeves