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Sudan: "Deteriorating Situation in Darfur"

AfricaFocus Bulletin
Oct 5 2005 (051005)
(Reposted from sources cited below)

Editor's Note

"In the light of our experience in the past fourteen months we must conclude that there is neither good faith nor commitment on the part of any of the parties. ... we find it utterly incomprehensible that the GOS [Government of Sudan] Forces which had hitherto not only shown restraint themselves, but used their considerable and known influence on the Arab/Armed militia to restrain them as well, suddenly decided to abandon such responsible behaviour and posture and resorted to the violent destructive and overwhelming use of force not only against the rebel forces, but also on innocent civilian villages and the IDP camps." - Baba Gana Kingibe, African Union Special Representative

A few optimists interpret the latest upsurge in violence in Darfur as jockeying intended to influence terms of a peace agreement in negotiations just resumed in Nigeria. Most observers, however, see it as evidence of the failure of international pressure to deter the parties, particularly the Sudanese government and its allied militia. Despite logistical support from NATO and the European Union, the African Union force remains woefully insufficient to effectively deter violence. More than a year ago, the United States declared the violence in Darfur as meeting the criteria for genocide. But, whatever label they choose to apply, neither Washington nor other world powers seem to be willing to escalate their involvement with a stronger international force or effective sanctions against the government in Khartoum.

This AfricaFocus Bulletin contains the press statement by Ambassador Kingibe, a letter from humanitarian agencies in Darfur, and the most recent update from the UN's IRIN on resumption of peace talks on Darfur in Abuja,Nigeria.

For earlier AfricaFocus Bulletins on Sudan, see
http://www.africafocus.org/country/sudan.php

For regularly updated information and analysis from a variety of sources, visit http://www.sudantribune.com and
http://www.reliefweb.int

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

Press statement by Ambassador Baba Gana Kingibe, Special Representative of the Chairperson of the African Union Commission on the Deteriorating Situation in Darfur, Sudan

African Union

Khartoum,

October 1, 2005

http://www.sudantribune.com/article_impr.php3?id_article=11871

Ladies and Gentlemen, good morning and welcome to the AMIS (African Union Mission in Sudan) Headquarters in Khartoum. As you are aware I have not been in the habit of conducting what you might call "microphone diplomacy" by personally addressing the press unless in exceptional circumstances. As you are aware, the procedure AMIS follows to establish violations of the ceasefire on the ground are methodolical and governed by rules of procedure of the Ceasefire Commission (CFC) and the Joint Commission (JC).

Whenever we receive reports of ceasefire violations, an investigation team comprising representatives of the AU, GoS, JEM, SLA, and the US and EU representing the international community, investigate such reports. And after a thorough deliberation by the CFC, its findings are forwarded to the Joint Commission. The JC deliberates on the CFC findings and publishes its report. This is the established procedure.

You might well debate whether this is adequate, especially as the JC has no executive powers to penalize any offending party. You may also question the length of time it takes for an incidence to be conclusively disposed of, between when it occurs and when the JC publishes its findings. Indeed, I am of the view that the mechanism in place could have worked if the parties to the conflict in Darfur were acting in good faith and if they were genuinely committed to their undertakings in the various agreements they have signed.

However, in the light of our experience in the past fourteen months we must conclude that there is neither good faith nor commitment on the part of any of the parties. I also believe that there is a clear need to review the rules of procedure and of especially the JC. I am making this observation by way of introduction to explain why we have taken the unprecedented step of calling a press conference to address the series of violations of ceasefire that occurred in Darfur since the conclusion of the 5th round of the Abuja Peace talks.

The extent of collapse of the security situation in Darfur during this period is even more ironic and regrettable given the high hopes for an early resolution of the Darfur crisis generated by the adoption of the widely acclaimed Declaration of Principles (DOP) on the 5 July 2005. We all hoped the intervening period between then and the resumption of the 6th Round of Talks in Abuja on 15 September, all the parties would endeavour to consolidate these positive gains, to maintain calm on the ground to enable a successful start to the current round of negotiations in Abuja.

Unfortunately, this was not to be. You would recall that in the past one month we witnessed series of violations in Dafur, with widespread violence against villages, commercial and humanitarian convoys and even internally displaced persons (IDP) camps. This rendered the work of the humanitarian agencies and NGOs in the area difficult, and in some cases, they were forced to suspend their activities. These violations were variously attributed to unidentified armed militia, the "Janjaweed" or even some Chadian rebels.

You would also recall that on 28 August 2005, elements of the SLA/M launched a massive attack on Turba near Al Malam. We now know that contrary to earlier information, there were no deaths, although a number of people were abducted together with their camels, the exact number of which is not yet verified. While we were in the middle of trying to mediate between the SLA/M and the Arab nomads over the Al Malam incident, the SLA proceeded to attack and occupy the GOS garrison town of Shearia, as well as some nearby locations on 19 September 2005.

These incidences have had such negative impact on the ongoing talks in Abuja that the Chief Negotiator, Dr Salim Ahmed Salim, had to issue a strong statement urging restraint. It is against this background that we find it utterly incomprehensible that the GOS Forces which had hitherto not only shown restraint themselves, but used their considerable and known influence on the Arab/Armed militia to restrain them as well, suddenly decided to abandon such responsible behaviour and posture and resorted to the violent destructive and overwhelming use of force not only against the rebel forces, but also on innocent civilian villages and the IDP camps.

Since the Shaeria incident, a number of coordinated offensive operations have been undertaken by the GOS and the Janjaweed Arab militia. On 18 September 2005, simultaneous attacks at Khartoum Djadeed, Sandego, Khasantongur, Tary, Martal and Djabain resulted in the death of 12 civilians, 5 seriously wounded, and the displacement of about 4,000 civilians. Heavy and small weapons mounted on vehicles were reportedly used by GOS, in close coordination with about 300 Janjaweed Arab militia. Most of the displaced people moved to Zamzam and Tawilla IDP camps.

As you are probably aware on 28 September 2005, just four days ago, some reportedly 400 Janjaweed Arab militia on camels and horse back went on the rampage in Arusharo, Acho and Gozmena villages in West Darfur. Our reports also indicate that the day previous, and indeed on the actual day of the attack, GOS helicopter gunships were observed overhead. This apparent coordinated land and air assault gives credence to the repeated claim by the rebel movements of collusion between the GOS forces and the Janjaweed/Arab militia.

This incidence, which was confirmed not only by our investigators but also by workers of humanitarian agencies and NGOs in the area, took a heavy toll resulting in 32 people killed, 4 injured and 7 missing, and about 80 houses/shelter looted and set ablaze.

The following day, a clearly premeditated and well rehearsed combined operation was carried out by the GOS military and police at approximately 11 am in the town of Tawilla and its IDP camp in North Darfur. The GOS forces used approximately 41 trucks and 7 land cruisers in the operation which resulted in a number of deaths, massive displacement of civilians and the destruction of several houses in the surrounding areas as well as some tents in the IDP camps. Indeed, the remains of discharged explosive devices were found in the IDP camp. During the attack, thousands from the township and the IDP camp and many humanitarian workers were forced to seek refuge near the AU camp for personal safety and security.

Finally, yesterday, 30 September 2005, we received reports that at about 1230 hours, machine gun and small gun fires were heard loudly in Shearia town and two helicopter gunships were reportedly seen dropping bombs in the direction of Ato village, some 5km south of Shearia. We are still investigating to establish the extent of any casualty and damage. Even as I speak now, AMIS troops are closely monitoring the situation in Kabkabiya, Rokiro, Golo and Nertiti where increased activities of bands of militias dressed in green khaki indicate they are pressing to attack.

Clearly, these incidences, if they continue unchecked will further exacerbate the efforts of the AU in Abuja which are already facing difficulties over procedural questions of representations of the parties, specifically the SLA/M. The initial sour note introduced by the SLA's attack in Shearia had been mitigated by the Movement's compliance with the appeal by the AU Chief Negotiator for them to vacate Shearia and refrain from acts capable of derailing the peace talks.

If the GOS forces claim that their latest acts of ceasefire violations are in retaliation for earlier acts of provocation by the SLA, this cannot be justified given the deliberately calculated and wanton destruction wrecked by the disproportionate use of force on innocent civilians and IDPs in their camps. Whatever the circumstances, we expect a greater sense of responsibility and a greater standard of behaviour on the part of the GOS troops and their allies, than they have exhibited in the last 4 days.

As you may well know, AMIS patrol teams have often encountered restrictions to their movement, particularly in SLA-controlled areas. The SLA commanders have often cited lack of prior notification, and more significantly the use by GOS forces of vehicles painted in AMIS colours which makes it extremely difficult for them to distinguish friend from foe. In these latest incidences, we indeed observed some GOS vehicles painted in white colour, giving credence to the claim by the SLA.

We, therefore, view as unacceptable and in violation of all established norms and conventions the use of a neutral parties colours by belligerents as is done by the GOS forces. This practice of painting some of the vehicles in AMIS colours was witnessed during the attack on Tawila, and a couple of days earlier in Shangil Tobaya. We urge the GOS forces to stop forthwith this unethical practice in order to maintain the integrity and neutrality of the AMIS forces.

We now call upon the GOS forces, as indeed we had called upon the rebel movements before, to immediately cease any further acts of violations of the ceasefire on the ground. I appeal to them to honour the sacredness of the holy month of Ramadan into which we are now entering and stop the bloodshed in Darfur, to stop any further suffering of the innocent population of Darfur, especially those living on handouts in the IDP camps, and allow them to observe the holy month in serenity, peace and dignity.

I also appeal to all Sudanese parties in Darfur to give the serious mediation efforts of the AU in Abuja, so strongly supported by the international community a chance to succeed.

I further appeal to all the humanitarian agencies and NGOs in the recent conflict-affected areas, especially in West Darfur and Tawila to resume their vital work of providing the much-needed life-saving assistance. I recognize and applaud them for the great humanitarian work they are doing under most trying and frustrating conditions. I want to assure them that the AMIS troops will do all they can to extend to them the necessary protection to ensure their ability to work unhindered.

May I finally say that the AU views these recent developments with such seriousness and concern that the Chairperson of the AU Commission, Prof Alpha Omar Konare, has authorized the convening of an emergency meeting of the Peace and Security Council on Monday 3 October 2005 in Addis Ababa to deliberate upon these developments and consider appropriate measures to avoid further deterioration of the security situation in Darfur.


ACT/Caritas letter on Crisis in Darfur to Sudanese peace negotiators et al

TO: The delegations of all parties to the Abuja talks on Darfur

[For more on ACT/Caritas see http://act-intl.org/sudan; for the text of this letter thanks to AfricaFiles (http://www.africafiles.org)]

Dr Salim Ahmed Salim, African Union Chief Mediator
Baba Gana Kingibe, African Union Special Representative on Sudan
Mike McDonagh, Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator, UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA)
Jan Pronk, Special Representative of the Secretary General of the UN

30 September 2005

Dear friends,

We are writing as organisations which have been working in Darfur for more than a year to relieve the suffering of its people and to help them find a solution together to the crisis there. CAFOD, Christian Aid, Church World Service, Dan Church Aid, Lutheran World Relief, Norwegian Church Aid, and Trócaire are gravely concerned about the serious worsening of the security situation in Darfur, and the continuing pattern of harassment of non governmental organisations (NGOs) working there.

In recent days attacks on civilians and on IDP camps have left many dead, such as that reported by the UN High Commission for Refugees at Aro Sharow and Saleah in West Darfur. This follows earlier hostilities between various armed elements in other parts of the region.

Besides the direct effect on civilians, NGOs have also been attacked and their work disrupted. The latest of these involved the abduction of three staff of our partner organisation, Sudan Social Development Organisation (SUDO), at Zam Zam internally displaced persons (IDP) camp on 29 September. The organisation’s vehicle was also taken. The same organisation had its work disrupted earlier this week in a separate incident. Staff members and participants were arrested while taking part in a workshop in El Geneina. This follows a pattern of arrest and obstruction of staff belonging to SUDO and other NGOs, which has clearly increased since the start of this year.

We are urgently asking for the immediate, safe and unconditional release of the three SUDO staff, and we ask all parties:

  • To abide by their ceasefire and other commitments given in the Abuja Protocols, to the UN Secretary General, and in the N'Djamena Humanitarian Ceasefire Agreement, regardless of any provocation or actions by other parties;
  • To abide by the requirement under international humanitarian law not to target civilians;
  • To end all harassment, arbitrary arrest, or obstruction of national or international NGOs carrying out their work;
  • To release those who have been illegally or arbitrarily detained;
  • To exercise control over all elements which they may have armed, supported or supplied in the past, and to disarm irregular units as required in the N'Djamena and other agreements;
  • To cooperate with the African Union Mission in Sudan (AMIS) and UN Mission in Sudan (UNMIS) in their work to monitor the ceasefire and protect civilians.

Yours sincerely,

Rick Augsburger, Deputy Director, Church World Service, USA
Chris Bain, Director, Catholic Agency for Overseas Development (CAFOD)
Justin Kilcullen, Director, Trocaire
Daleep Mukarji, Director, Christian Aid
Atle Sommerfeldt, General Secretary, Norwegian Church Aid
Henrik Stubkjaer, General Secretary, Dan Church Aid
Kathryn Wolford, President, Lutheran World Relief 


Darfur rivals begin direct talks amid growing international irritation

UN Integrated Regional Information Networks

http://www.irinnews.org

[This report does not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations]

ABUJA, 4 October (IRIN) - After two weeks of peace talks and amid signs that world patience is running thin, rival parties in Sudan's Darfur conflict finally entered face-to-face negotiations this week on the key issues that need to be resolved before reaching a deal.

African Union (AU) chief mediator Salim Ahmed Salim brought delegates representing the Sudan government and Darfur's two main rebel groups together on Monday, saying continued violations of truce agreements in Sudan's western Darfur region were unacceptable at a time when peace seemed within reach.

"We cannot understand the rampant acts of banditry in Darfur, the killing of innocent civilians in Darfur, when the major protagonists are all here in Abuja," Salim said.

"Since we have a framework in Abuja for a negotiated settlement of the conflict, why should more innocent lives be lost in such senseless circumstances?" he queried.

The AU at the weekend accused Khartoum of launching attacks on civilian targets in the past two weeks in coordination with the pro-government Janjawid militia. The main rebel Sudanese Liberation Army (SLA) was also blamed for two separate attacks in violation of existing agreements.

The AU's Peace and Security Council on Tuesday called for an emergency meeting, expected to take place on Wednesday, to address the worsening security situation in Darfur.

And in Abuja, where he was visiting for bilateral talks, Dutch Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende warned that funding could fizzle failing a quick accord.

"The international community wants to see results, it cannot go on spending resources on problems which should already have been resolved and still can be resolved in the coming months," said Balkenende.

But at the negotiating table both the government and rebel delegations have expressed their readiness to work for peace.

Majzoub el-Khalifa, head of the Sudanese government delegation, said he expected the current sixth round of talks to be the crucial one to lead to peace.

"We are not satisfied with the delay so far because our people are suffering," he said.

Representatives for the SLA rebels and the smaller Justice and Equality Movement both said they too expected fruitful talks and called for good faith on all sides during the negotiations.

Key issues being negotiated include how to share power and economic resources and ensure lasting security in Darfur between the black African tribes in the region and the Arab-dominated government in Khartoum.

The Darfur conflict pits Sudanese government troops and Arab militias against rebels fighting to end what they call the neglect and oppression of the inhabitants of Darfur, a semi-desert region the size of France.

Most of the Darfur residents are black Africans who say the Arab-dominated Khartoum government wants to chase them out of the country.

The US government has accused Khartoum of genocide.

The United Nations has described the situation in Darfur as the world's worst humanitarian crisis. It estimates that at least 2.9 million people continue to be affected by the conflict of whom 1.85 million have been forced to flee their homes.


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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