Darfur: Radio Dabanga News Digest Number 26 | 11 October 2015

An ongoing chronicle of human suffering and destruction-and international indifference 

This twenty-sixth installment of Darfur: Radio Dabanga News Digest focuses on events of the past two weeks, including violence and insecurity in North Darfur and the continuing deterioration in humanitarian conditions throughout Darfur and much of Sudan. The digest again focuses on those stories most illustrative of the grim relief needs affecting millions of Sudanese; these are communities that have suffered most and experienced the greatest harm from the actions of various European and other financial institutions (BNP Paribas most conspicuously). Humanitarian programs, including those of the UN's World Food Program, are desperately underfunded. Even a large grant recently from the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) has brought funding for this year's critical humanitarian relief efforts to only 50 percent-with 50 percent unfunded with less than three months remaining in the year.

Two dispatches from the European Commission for Humanitarian Aid and Civil Protection are included here because they give some sense of the scale from the perspective of one important humanitarian assessment team:

"Some 6.6 million people are reliant on some form of humanitarian assistance in Sudan."

"Meanwhile, the conflict in both Blue Nile and South Kordofan states has affected over 1.1 million people, resulting in an increasing number of Sudanese refugees in Ethiopia and South Sudan, as well as nearly 380,000 internally displaced persons. In addition and since conflict broke out in South Sudan, over 190,000 South Sudanese refugees are estimated to have sought refuge in the southern states of Sudan."

"One in every three children aged under five is stunted and one in six weighs too little for his or her height. Four states, including North Darfur, have acute malnutrition levels."


These figures complement the shocking findings promulgated by the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) from this past AugustIn Sudan 3 million children under age 5 suffer from malnutrition.  Data from OCHA also reveal that 2 million children under age five suffer from chronic malnutrition; a further 1 million suffer from acute malnutrition; and of these acutely malnourished children, 550,000 are severely malnourished and at risk of death.

Of particular note is the continuing seizure of lands and livelihoods in Darfur, coupled with the relentless aerial assault on agricultural production. Village destruction in North Darfur remains extremely intense, even as there are increasingly reports of violence from West Darfur and South Darfur. Rape continues to be reported constantly as a weapon of war in Khartoum's brutal counter-insurgency effort. Altogether this violence has created an extremely food insecure environment, reflected in figures from the UN's World Food Program, UNICEF, and the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.


Broadest context:

Throughout Darfur and indeed much of Sudan, various humanitarian indicators continue a relentless deterioration. Additionally, the most recent reports from OCHA present a truly terrifying portrait of malnutrition throughout Sudan, but especially in Darfur, where most of the region is indicated as suffering from Global Acute Malnutrition (GAM) rates that are above the emergency humanitarian threshold; large excerpts from the report and commentary may be found here. Huge swathes of eastern Sudan, Blue Nile, and other areas also have GAM rates above the emergency threshold.

Khartoum's unrelenting campaign of intimidation and humanitarian obstruction proceeds from the weakness of the international community in confronting what are arguably crimes against humanity.  International failure to come to terms with the real nature of the Khartoum regime continues to be on painful display. The U.S. and Europe have never seemed more powerless in bringing about the changes necessary if Sudan is to escape the 26 years of brutal tyranny by the National Islamic Front/National Congress Party, and its endless wars on its own people. Khartoum's imposition of a humanitarian embargo on large parts of South Kordofan and Blue Nile-dating to June 2011-continues without meaningful international objection or pressure on Khartoum to relent this brutal war strategy of killing civilians to weaken rebel forces. The African Union has proved both feckless and corrupt in its dealings with Khartoum.

UNAMID suffered the loss of yet another peacekeeper, even as Khartoum makes increasingly clear its insistence that the Mission withdraw in the near future. Accusations against UNAMID officials, denial of the mass sexual assault on the girls and women of Tabit, North Darfur by SAF troops, and hostile propaganda all signal that pressure to withdraw is rising.

BNP Paribas restitution funds for greater Sudan: These funds (see http://sudancommunitycompensation.org/) will be effective in providing emergency relief aid only if there is greater pressure on Khartoum to grant humanitarian access. As noted above, such money is desperately needed for current programs that are grossly underfunded; but much of what is needed most urgently requires greater access than Khartoum presently provides.

At the same time, the U.S. Department of Justice must release the immense funds earmarked by DOJ for restitution ($3.84 billion, the vast majority for Sudan); this is likely to require a considerable increase in pressure on DOJ from the U.S. Congress. The needs, however, could hardly be more urgent.


The dwindling international humanitarian presence in Darfur

More than thirty international humanitarian organizations have been expelled from Darfur-or compelled to leave because of violence-and increasingly funding shortages. Organizations that remain and are presently at work deserve the most urgent of funding. Norwegian Church Aid is only the most recent:


•  "Funding woes force NGO from Garsila, formerly West Darfur" | October 4, 2015 | Garsila, formerly West Darfur

[Norwegian Church Aid is withdrawing from one of the most desperately need locations in all of Darfur-ER]

[Because the News Digest now appears on a biweekly basis, dispatches will typically be reduced to the title, the URL (always embedded in the title), and perhaps a key sentence-and much diminished commentary will be even briefer.]


[For previous Radio Dabanga Digests, see:

Darfur: Radio Dabanga Digest, Number 1 | http://wp.me/p45rOG-1CD    [28 February 2015]

Darfur: Radio Dabanga Digest, Number 2 | http://wp.me/p45rOG-1De

Darfur: Radio Dabanga Digest, Number 3 | http://wp.me/p45rOG-1Dt

Darfur: Radio Dabanga Digest, Number 4 | http://wp.me/p45rOG-1Ei

Darfur: Radio Dabanga Digest, Number 5 | http://wp.me/p45rOG-1EL

Darfur: Radio Dabanga Digest, Number 6 | http://wp.me/p45rOG-1Fp     [April 6, 2015]

Darfur: Radio Dabanga Digest, Number 7 | http://wp.me/p45rOG-1FL

Darfur: Radio Dabanga Digest, Number 8 | http://wp.me/s45rOG-6452

Darfur: Radio Dabanga Digest, Number 9 | http://wp.me/p45rOG-1Gi

Darfur: Radio Dabanga Digest, Number 10 | http://wp.me/p45rOG-1Gt

Darfur: Radio Dabanga Digest, Number 11 | http://wp.me/p45rOG-1Hq   [May 10, 2015]

Darfur: Radio Dabanga Digest, Number 12 | http://wp.me/p45rOG-1HY

Darfur: Radio Dabanga Digest, Number 13 | http://wp.me/p45rOG-1Ia

Darfur: Radio Dabanga Digest, Number 14 | http://wp.me/p45rOG-1II

Darfur: Radio Dabanga Digest, Number 15 | http://wp.me/p45rOG-1Ji

Darfur: Radio Dabanga Digest, Number 16 | http://wp.me/p45rOG-1JU     [June 14, 2015]

Darfur: Radio Dabanga Digest, Number 17 | http://wp.me/p45rOG-1Kp

Darfur: Radio Dabanga Digest, Number 18 | http://wp.me/p45rOG-1L7

Darfur: Radio Dabanga Digest, Number 19 | http://wp.me/p45rOG-1Lm

Darfur: Radio Dabanga Digest, Number 20 | http://wp.me/p45rOG-1LM

Darfur: Radio Dabanga Digest, Number 21 | http://wp.me/p45rOG-1Mv    [August 2, 2015]

Darfur: Radio Dabanga Digest, Number 22 | http://wp.me/p45rOG-1MX

Darfur: Radio Dabanga Digest, Number 23 | http://wp.me/p45rOG-1Nr

Darfur: Radio Dabanga Digest, Number 24 | http://wp.me/p45rOG-1NH

Darfur: Radio Dabanga Digest, Number 25 | http://wp.me/p45rOG-1NT

Darfur: Radio Dabanga Digest, Number 26 | http://wp.me/p45rOG-1O6         [October 11, 2015]

Per usual, Sudan Tribune has again been the source of several key reports on Darfur and the growing political crisis in Sudan. All emphases in all quoted material (in bold) have been added; all editorial comments are in italics, in blue, with my initials following; a useful and quite recent administrative map of Darfur appears here.


•  EU Humanitarian Aid and Civil Protection | October 5, 2015

Sudan remains a humanitarian and development challenge. The problems are chronic and those addressing them are few, largely due to [Khartoum's] expulsions of many non-governmental organisations (NGOs) in 2009. Malnutrition rates are beyond emergency levels in many regions and disease outbreaks are common. The number of refugees and internally displaced persons remains high, while access to food for the most vulnerable population is an ongoing concern.


Some 6.6 million people are reliant on some form of humanitarian assistance in Sudan. These include over 2.5 million internally displaced persons. Intensified fighting has displaced 430,000 people in Darfur in 2014 alone.


Meanwhile, the conflict in both Blue Nile and South Kordofan states has affected over 1.1 million people, resulting in an increasing number of Sudanese refugees in Ethiopia and South Sudan, as well as nearly 380,000 internally displaced persons.

The humanitarian needs remain huge and are a priority for the humanitarian community, however the situation remains volatile and international humanitarian organisations face harsh difficulties in accessing some areas and delivering aid.


Lack of access to the population in need is a major obstacle. Most of ECHO's partners operating in the eastern states of the country were closed down by the authorities, leaving very limited humanitarian coverage and response capacity. Sources: UNOCHA; UNHCR; ECHO

The European Commission's Humanitarian Aid and Civil Protection department (ECHO) is providing support in several sectors including health and nutrition, water and sanitation, food security and livelihoods, as well as catering for the needs of the conflict-affected people. ECHO mainly focuses on Darfur given the prevailing needs and the access conditions, but also funds interventions in other areas of Sudan. Emergency preparedness and response in the sectors of food assistance and livelihoods, access to health, provision of clean water and sanitation, shelter and non-food items for conflict-affected populations are priority actions for the European Commission.


[One of the clear implications of this latter paragraph in the assessment is that resources are in place to respond to many aspects of the vast humanitarian crisis, even if badly underfunded-ER]

•  "Treating malnutrition in Sudan's North Darfur" | (October 5, 2015), from European Commission Humanitarian Aid Office

Sudan is among the countries in the world with the highest rate of undernutrition. One in every three children aged under five is stunted and one in six weighs too little for his or her height. Four states, including North Darfur, have acute malnutrition levels. The UN World Food Programme (WFP) is responding to the nutritional needs of vulnerable children through a variety of interventions that include a supplementary feeding programme and the treatment of moderate acute malnutrition for all children under five.


From Radio Dabanga: primary reports of violence

•  Herders expel farmers in Sirba, West Darfur | October 4, 2015 | Sirba, West Darfur

The farmers living in the area of Abu Suruj in West Darfur's Sirba locality have complained since Thursday about attacks by militant herders. The police did not intervene, despite an "incentive" paid by the farmers. Speaking to Radio Dabanga, one of the victims said that herders expelled the farmers in the areas of Rijil El Mur and Mordok by force of arms, and released their cattle and camels onto their lands.

[There can be no peace in Darfur unless the land seizures and appropriations by Arab militias ("militant herders") are reversed and restitution occurs for farmers who have lost everything to destruction of crops and villages-ER]

•  Gunmen kill teacher, student in Darfur | October 9, 2015 | Zalingei, Nyala


•  Border Guards raid more villages in Kutum, North Darfur | October 9, 2015 | Kutum, North Darfur

An attack by members of the Border Guards on villages near Kutum town, North Darfur, resulted in the wounding of a number of residents on Thursday. Most of the victims were reportedly women. The paramilitaries robbed the people of their money and livestock and torched their villages. Members of the Border Guards arrived in three Land Cruisers mounted with Dushka machine guns and on the backs of camels at the villages Zakaria Mohamed Idris, Adam Yousif, Edelgarad, Bashar Abdelbanad, Ahmed Babur, and Amarjadid at about 10am. A witness reported to Radio Dabanga that they whipped and beat villagers before taking their money and property, and took off with their livestock. The six villages, mostly inhabited by women, were torched. "The villages were completely burned. Many people, mostly women, were wounded. Three children went missing."

[UNAMID has repeatedly proved it is powerless to halt such brutal, ethnically-targeted attacks on villages, with self-enrichment and expression of racial hatred the motivation-ER]

•  Villages raided, emptied in Tawila, North Darfur | September 27, 2015 | Tawila, North Darfur

An as yet unknown number of people were injured, two women were gang-raped, and three people were abducted during attacks on Saturday in villages in North Darfur's Tawila locality, an area traditionally considered part of East Jebel Marra. Fleeing villagers told Radio Dabanga on Sunday afternoon that groups of militiamen and militant camel herders attacked Kunjara North and Kunjara South, 25 kilometre south of Tawila town, and later in the day, the village of Um Tereiteer. "The attackers robbed the people of their belongings and livestock. We saw them gang-rape two women and kidnapped three people before we fled," one of the victims said. The villagers added that large tracts of farmland were destroyed. "We lost more than 2,500 feddan (1050 ha) with crops in the area of Dubbo and Mashrou Abu Zeid," another villager specified.

Inline image 1

The aftermath of a recent attack on a village near Kutum, North Darfur


•  Displaced farmers abused, robbed in South Darfur | September 28, 2015 | Gireida, South Darfur

A family of three were wounded in an attack on a group of displaced near Gireida, South Darfur, on Sunday evening. Speaking to Radio Dabanga, a farmer reported that gunmen riding on camels and horses attacked a group of displaced people who returned from the Gireida camps to cultivate their land in the area. "The attackers stormed the farms while firing into the air. Most of the people fled," he said. "They found Zakaria Yahya and his family and stabbed him several times. They beat his wife, Fatima Hamed Mahmoud, so hard that one of her legs was broken. They then attempted to slaughter their little son Mustafa Zakaria, causing serious injuries to his neck with a bayonet." The witness said that the three wounded are currently being treated at Gireida hospital. "The boy in a very bad condition." 


Inline image 1

Many of those displaced are great distances from camps and have few resources

[ . . . ]

Full report at http://wp.me/p45rOG-1O6   


Eric Reeves 

Smith College

Northampton, MA  01063