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Sudan: Late Response, Limited Focus

AfricaFocus Bulletin
Jun 4, 2004 (040604)
(Reposted from sources cited below)

Editor's Note

"We admit we are late - some agencies have been so slow, some donors have been so slow, the government restrictions have been so many." - Jan Egeland UN Under-Secretary General for Humanitarian Affairs

International agencies and NGOs are accelerating their response to what is widely acknowledged to be "the worst humanitarian crisis" in the world today. Tellingly, however, yesterday's donor meeting to mobilize greater international action rated only a few lines on page 20 of the Washington Post and page 6 of the New York Times. Despite the scale of the crisis and the testimony to continued atrocities, the death and devastation in western Sudan is still on the periphery of international attention.

Most significantly, even the welcome attention to stepping up humanitarian relief fails to add real pressure on the Sudanese government to stop the campaign of slaughter by governmentsponsored militia. Ironically, the peace process inching towards conclusion in the parallel war between the Sudanese government and southern rebels (see and for latest developments) seems only to have added an excuse for looking away from Darfur rather than the lesson that more international pressure is needed.

Samantha Powers and John Prendergast, writing in the Los Angeles Times on June 2, put it this way: "With the specter of forced famine looming, the United States and its allies are treating symptoms and ignoring causes. They have pressed for humanitarian access to Darfur without demanding that the homeless be returned to their torched villages and farms. They have supported the deployment of international cease-fire monitors but have settled for 60 African Union observers to patrol a region the size of France. And they have denounced atrocities without attempting to create mechanisms for punishing the perpetrators. ... humanitarian actions do not solve what are, at base, political problems; only by urgently applying high-level and sustained pressure on Khartoum will lives in Darfur be saved."

This issue of AfricaFocus Bulletin contains a summary from the UN's Integrated Regional Information Service (IRIN) on the donor meeting in Geneva, as well as brief statements from Oxfam International, Amnesty International, and Human Rights Watch.

For the Powers/Prendergast op-ed, the latest analytical report from the International Crisis Group released on 23 May, and other resources, see

For extensive daily updates from a variety of sources, visit

For links to additional background and to previous AfricaFocus Bulletins on Sudan, see

++++++++++++++++++++++end editor's note+++++++++++++++++++++++

Sudan: Donor Meeting On Darfur Appeals for US $236 Million

UN Integrated Regional Information Networks

June 4, 2004


A high-level donor meeting in Geneva, Switzerland, on Thursday appealed for at least US $236 million to help an estimated 2.2 million victims of war and "forced ethnic displacement" in western Sudan's Darfur region, the United Nations reported. In total, about $126 million has been pledged for 2004, leaving a deficit of $110 million, it added.

Representatives of 36 states and institutions, including donor governments, Sudan, the Arab League, the African Union (AU) and NGOs, were present at the conference.

Addressing journalists midway through the meeting, UN Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs Jan Egeland said this was the most important conference in recent history as the world's biggest humanitarian crisis was unfolding in Darfur.

Even with humanitarian aid, many lives would be lost, he said. "We are late in responding and the Janjawid [militia] attacks [are] so harsh that even under the best of circumstances [in terms of donor response] it will still be a humanitarian crisis."

A joint statement issued by the UN, US and EU added that hundreds of thousands of lives were at risk in Darfur "unless immediate protection and relief are provided".

Donors aim to feed, shelter up to a million IDPs in three months

Egeland said the conference participants had agreed to try to meet a series of key targets in Darfur over the next 90 days. These included:

- feeding up to one million people across the region; - drilling new boreholes, and providing water pumps and tanks for camps for displaced people and host communities; - providing basic drugs and health care for 90 percent of the displaced; - providing basic materials to help displaced people and refugees construct temporary shelters; - providing seeds and tools to 78,000 families; and - deploying human rights and protection staff to the area.

Unanimous concern was expressed at the conference about the continuing attacks being perpetrated by the government-allied Janjawid militia.

Despite a ceasefire agreement signed by Khartoum and Darfur's two rebel groups in the Chadian capital, N'djamena, on 8 April, the Janjawid were still very active, with reports from the region indicating an increase in attacks and human rights violations, said Egeland.

He added that the rainy season would render roads impassable within just a few weeks, making the delivery of aid "a race against the clock".

New restrictions to access deplored

Andrew Natsios, the head of the US Agency for International Development, said too few NGOs were operating in Darfur to deliver sufficient quantities of aid. Coupled with this was the fact that whereas the Sudanese government had removed permit requirements for NGOs, it had imposed new restrictions on vehicles and air transport, thereby effectively limiting the movement of NGOs to and within Darfur.

James Morris, the executive director of the World Food Programme, commented that the government needed to remove administrative roadblocks like visas, permits and laborious checks on basic necessities such as medical supplies.

Bertrand Ramcharan, the UN acting high commissioner for human rights, raised the issue of protection. "Let me say it again: More than one million people are utterly vulnerable, living in a state of fear and without any means of protection... We know all this, we have no excuse for not knowing it: now is the time not to assess but to act," Ramcharan said in a statement.

He stressed that the humanitarian crisis was the direct consequence of a human rights crisis. "It is not impersonal, unswayable elements that are behind this tragedy: this tragedy is entirely man-made." It was the government's responsibility to resolve the crisis in line with its legal obligations, he added.

No rights mechanisms protect Darfurians - HCHR

A key concern was that there were "no human rights or protection mechanisms currently in place" to help Dafurians, he continued. He had requested his office to dispatch six human rights officers as soon as possible to Darfur to provide support to UN counterparts on monitoring ceasefire violations and protecting civilians, he said. The officers would also work closely with the AU mission to be sent to Darfur.

An "advance team" of 10 AU staff members had been deployed to Khartoum on Wednesday to prepare the logistics for a team of 90 ceasefire monitors, 60 of whom would be soldiers, an AU spokesman, Desmond Orjiako, told IRIN. The rest of the observer mission would go to Darfur as soon as "conditions" were ready, he added.

Amnesty International noted this week that nearly two months after the 8 April ceasefire, the monitors were not yet in place in Darfur. "It is not clear how effective 90 monitors - 60 military and 30 civilians - will be in an area the size of France where daily killings and rapes are still being reported," Amnesty said in a statement.

The Sudanese News Agency reported, however, that during meetings held on Wednesday and Thursday between the Sudanese government and the AU mission, the two sides had expressed "their confidence on achievement of a peaceful solution for Darfur".

Government expresses commitment to ceasefire

The Sudanese External Relations Ministry also issued a statement this week, affirming "the government's deep resolve" to abide by the N'djamena ceasefire accord, and stating that the government was keen to provide "more security, tranquillity and trust".

But ceasefire violations are being frequently reported. On 28 May, an Antonov aircraft and two helicopter gunships bombed a crowded market, killing at least 12 people in a village near Al-Fashir, Northern Darfur, Human Rights Watch (HRW) reported. "There have also been numerous credible reports of continuing attacks on civilians in displaced camps and settlements under government control," it added.

On 22 May, Janjawid killed at least 40 villagers and burned five villages, including Tabaldiyah and Abqarjeh, both south of Nyala, Southern Darfur, AI reported. They had reportedly arrived - some in army uniform - on horses and camels. "The government is not addressing the impunity of the Janjawid; it is integrating them into the army," HRW added.

The government has denied the attacks and accused the Darfur rebels of violating the ceasefire.

World Must Boost Aid to Sudan, Chad Humanitarian Crisis - Geneva Donors' Meeting a Vital Opportunity

Oxfam International /


June 2, 2004

International agency Oxfam today urged rich governments to boost their contribution to the relief effort in western Sudan and Chad on the eve of an emergency meeting in Geneva to discuss the crisis.

The June 3 meeting has been convened by the United Nations to look at how to get aid to an estimated two million people affected by what the UN describes as "the world's worst humanitarian crisis". These include up to one million people who've been forced to leave their villages inside Darfur, and another 150,000-200,000 who have crossed the border into Chad.

"The scale of the challenge facing us in Darfur and Chad is immense," said Oxfam Regional Director Caroline Nursey who will be attending the Geneva meeting.

"People have fled their homes with nothing and are struggling to survive in desperately harsh desert conditions. Rich-country governments must come through with a much greater injection of cash to help aid agencies save lives.

"It's very telling that in the first three months of the 2003 Iraq appeal, donors mobilized nearly US$2bn, whereas the UN's appeal for the whole of Sudan has received less than US$200 million - not even a third of what the UN have asked for.

"When a crisis is considered important in western capitals, money flows easily. The suffering of people in Africa needs to be given equal prominence."

Oxfam has been scaling up its relief work in Darfur since the Sudanese government approved extra visas for expert staff last month. However, the agency said, this access must be sustained over the next three months and beyond if aid workers are to significantly improve the health of thousands of displaced people and prevent outbreaks of disease.

"No-one's pretending that international humanitarian aid is the only thing that's needed to end this crisis," said Oxfam's Caroline Nursey. "But if we are going to save lives, aid is needed and it's needed now."


For Sudan as a whole, the UN has appealed for US$644,722,042. This includes an extra US$141,067,595 announced in March 2004 to cope with increased needs in Darfur. So far, the UN has received less than one third of its appeal, US$ 196,616,419.

The UN has received pledges amounting to less than a third (US$50m) of the US$171m it appealed for to aid Sudanese refugees in Chad.

Death and devastation continue in Darfur

Amnesty International
3 Jun 2004
AI Index: AFR 54/060/2004 (Public)
News Service No: 137

For online content and actions on the Darfur crisis, go to:

Amnesty International delegates, who recently returned from a research mission among Sudanese refugees in Chad, are calling on the international donors' conference on Darfur, meeting in Geneva on 3 June, to ensure that the protection of civilians is addressed with the same urgency as humanitarian aid.

"The armed militias (Janjawid) supported by the Sudanese government armed forces have been responsible for massive human rights violations against the civilian population in Darfur," the delegates said.

"Our research confirmed again the systematic and well-organized pillaging and destruction of villages, which led to the forced displacement of the rural population of Darfur," said Amnesty International's delegates. "The Janjawid, often in military uniform, accompanied by soldiers, attacked each village not once, but often three or four times before the population fled. Local people gave us more details of the two large-scale extrajudicial executions in Murli and Deleij carried out by security forces and Janjawid."

The international concern about the horror and devastation in Darfur needs to be translated into real changes on the ground, said Amnesty International's delegates.

The Sudanese government has so far failed to take concrete and prompt measures to stop the horrendous cycle of killings and rape committed by the Janjawid militias against the civilian population of Darfur.

"While the logic of peace is emerging between the Khartoum authorities and the Sudan People's Liberation Army (SPLA), the dynamic of war is still well rooted in Darfur."

"The violence against civilians breached not only international human rights standards but also appeared often to be an intentional attempt to humiliate and destroy the social fabric of the communities. We heard accounts of summary and systematic killing of civilians including in mosques, rape of women and girls with their husbands or parents nearby and the burning of old women in their homes," organization's delegates said.

Hundreds of thousands of civilians have been forced to abandon their devastated villages in Darfur. Some of them have been compelled to seek refuge in overpopulated centres in the region. These centres face serious scarcity of basic needs such as food, water, tents and medical supplies.

Thousands of others have braved serious risks to life to reach eastern Chad. A refugee told Amnesty International's delegates: "I have lost everything now; I have nothing but the fingers of my two hands." Another added: "As long as the safety of my family is not guaranteed, I don't wish to return home."

A 13-year old boy told how he was abducted by security forces and the Janjawid from a farm and taken to a camp near Khartoum. There, he was stripped naked and flogged. Another youth told how he was held in a Janjawid camp for three weeks until he escaped.

One of the focuses of the Amnesty International mission was violence against women. "They came and took away our wives and daughters; they were not ashamed to rape them in the open," a village chief said of the violence done to women during the conflict.

A woman told how she and a group of girls were taken away by attackers wearing civilian clothes and khaki uniforms and raped repeatedly over a three-day period. They told them: "next time we come, we will exterminate you all, we will not even leave a child alive".

"The 8 April cease fire agreement between the Sudanese government and the Sudanese Liberation Movement/Army (SLM/A) and Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) has not changed the disastrous daily plight of civilians in Darfur and in the refugees in eastern Chad," said the delegates.

Nearly two months after the ceasefire, signed on 8 April 2004, the ceasefire monitors, who are mandated to report on violations, are not yet in place. It is not clear how effective 90 monitors, 60 military and 30 civilian, will be in an area the size of France where daily killings and rapes are still being reported.

"The international community should provide the African Union with the necessary political and logistical support for them to be effective and they must report publicly," the organization urged.

Amnesty International is repeating its call for human rights monitors under a mandate of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights to closely monitor the human rights situation in Darfur. "Given the many cases of rape and accompanying trauma, monitors must include a component with expertise in gender and sexual violence," it said.

On 22 May, Janjawid violated the ceasefire and killed at least 40 villagers and burnt five villages including, Tabaldiya and Abqarajeh, 15 km south of Nyala. They reportedly arrived, some in army uniforms, on horses and camels. On the day the observer agreement was signed on 28 May the Sudanese air force bombed the village of Tabet on a market day, reportedly killing 12 people. The Sudanese authorities have denied these attacks and accused the SLA and the JEM of violating the ceasefire.

"The Janjawid who attacked the Tabaldiya villages reportedly came from the former army training camp of Dumai, near Nyala," said Amnesty International. "The government is not addressing the impunity of the Janjawid, it is integrating them into the army."

Delegates stressed the continuing fear of the refugees in the Chad border area of attacks by the Janjawid.

"Only if steps are taken to ensure that the militias are no longer in a position to abuse human rights will the displaced have any confidence in the future," they said. "Consistent reports from Sudanese in Chad and Darfur suggest that the Janjawid are actually occupying many of the villages left empty by the fleeing population."

Darfur needs action on human rights

Human Rights Watch
3 Jun 2004

(Geneva, June 3, 2004) -- Donor governments meeting in Geneva today should address the human rights crisis in Sudan as well as the humanitarian crisis, Human Rights Watch said today.

Currently one million people are internally displaced within Darfur, an arid region in western Sudan, and another 110,000 refugees have fled to Chad. All of them desperately need humanitarian assistance. The United Nations has called Darfur "the worst humanitarian crisis in the world today."

But the root cause of this humanitarian crisis is the Sudanese government's campaign of "ethnic cleansing" against civilians of three ethnic groups. Only by addressing the human rights crisis can donor governments hope to solve the humanitarian disaster, Human Rights Watch said.

"The crisis in Darfur is a manmade emergency," said Kenneth Roth, executive director of Human Rights Watch. "Humanitarian aid is urgently needed, but it is not enough. A political solution is necessary: the Sudanese government's ethnic cleansing must not stand."

The Sudanese government has armed, trained and deployed militias known as Janjaweed who have attacked and burned to the ground hundreds of villages, killed thousands of civilians, looted hundreds of thousands of animals and destroyed farming supplies and water sources. Khartoum has backed up the Janjaweed with Sudanese army forces and air support from Antonovs and attack helicopters.

These joint forces are targeting civilians from three ethnic groups -- the Fur, Masalit and Zaghawa -- from which rebels in Darfur draw their recruits. After attacks, the Sudanese government has prevented the surviving civilian population from returning to their homes.

Roth urged donor governments to insist that the Sudanese government disarm, disband and withdraw the Janjaweed from the areas they have occupied, as well as assure protection and assistance for the displaced so that they may return home voluntarily and in safety.

If the Sudanese government fails to act, Roth said, the U.N. Security Council should be prepared to invoke Chapter VII of the U.N. Charter, which permits the Security Council to take all actions necessary to "maintain or restore international peace and security."

On April 8, the Sudanese government signed a ceasefire agreement with Darfur's two rebel groups. But attacks against civilians, including murder and rape, have continued. The Janjaweed militia has continued its campaign of ethnic cleansing in South Darfur, burning villages, killing civilians -- as many as 56 in one village, according to survivors -- and displacing thousands.

Meanwhile, a Sudanese government Antonov airplane and two helicopter gunships bombed a crowded market on Friday, May 28, killing at least 12 persons in a village near El Fashir, capital of North Darfur. There have also been numerous credible reports of continuing attacks on civilians in displaced camps and settlements under government control.

In the April 8 ceasefire agreement, the parties tasked the African Union with creating a commission to monitor the ceasefire, but the accord did not give it a specific mandate to protect civilians.

Donors need to generously fund not only the emergency relief program but also human rights monitors to observe that the return of the displaced is done in safety and voluntarily. These monitors should also investigate the safety of the displaced in camps where they are now subjected to Janjaweed looting, rape and murder. Monitors also need to watch villages not yet attacked.

If and when the Janjaweed withdraw from Darfur, measures also will be necessary to prevent the rebels from taking advantage of a government militia pullout.

The Sudanese government took up the campaign in Darfur in early 2003 in response to surprise rebel attacks on its military garrison in El Fashir, the capital of North Darfur. The rebels destroyed at least seven military planes on the ground, inflicted casualties and held Sudanese military personnel.

Khartoum has obstructed international efforts to set up a relief campaign. Although it has recently promised to facilitate visa applications for relief workers, the Sudanese government has stalled on approving the appointment of a U.N. official to coordinate the massive relief operation. Donors must insist that the Sudanese government immediately accept the United Nations' senior resident representative and allow him to take up his posting in Khartoum.

"Humanitarian assistance will save lives, but strong political action is also needed to stop the gross human rights abuses causing the displacement and starvation of these farmers," Roth said.

AfricaFocus Bulletin is an independent electronic publication providing reposted commentary and analysis on African issues, with a particular focus on U.S. and international policies. AfricaFocus Bulletin is edited by William Minter.

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