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Sudan: Still Delaying on Darfur

AfricaFocus Bulletin
Jul 23, 2006 (060723)
(Reposted from sources cited below)

Editor's Note

Despite wide consensus that the current African Union force is inadequate to stop the violence and ensure implementation of peace agreements in Darfur, there is no sign that the international community is willing to escalate pressure on Khartoum to accept its replacement by a stronger United Nations force, "The United Nation Security Council has threatened us so many times, we no longer take it seriously," a Sudanese official remarked early this month.

[Quoted in "A Dying Deal in Darfur," by John Prendergast, in the Boston Globe, July 13, 2006; available at]

A donors' meeting in Brussels last week agreed to provide additional funding for the African Union force, but only committed enough to sustain the force through September.

This AfricaFocus Bulletin contains a summary report on the Brussels donors' meeting, the executive summary of the latest International Crisis Group report on Darfur, and excerpts from a critical commentary by U.S. Sudan activist and commentator Eric Reeves. The full Reeves commentary (available through the links below) also contains a summary of a confidential commentary from a U.S. government analyst stationed in Khartoum.

Another AfricaFocus Bulletin sent out today contains excerpts from commentaries by Alex de Waal on the detailed provisions of the Darfur Peace Agreement.

For previous AfricaFocus Bulletins on Sudan and additional links, visit

For regular updates see

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

Donors pledge to boost African force in Darfur

Integrated Regional Information Networks

[This material may not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations or its agencies.]

Brussels, 19 Jul 2006 (IRIN) - Aid donors meeting in the Belgian capital have pledged about US $220 million in additional funding to the African Union (AU) force struggling to keep the peace in Sudan's western region of Darfur.

The funding will help the Africa Mission in Sudan protect civilians and monitor the implementation of a Peace Agreement signed in May between the Sudanese government and some of the rebel groups in Darfur.

During Tuesday's pledging conference in Brussels, representatives of the international donor community insisted that the AU peacekeeping mandate must be transferred to the United Nations by 1 January 2007.

"I can't foresee any realistic exit of the Darfur conflict without such a transition [from AU to UN peacekeeping], and I can't either imagine that the government of Sudan would continue to oppose it," the EU's foreign policy chief Javier Solana said at the conference.

Limited funding and lack of equipment have impaired the capacity of the 7,000-strong Africa Mission to effectively carry out its peacekeeping mandate in Darfur.

Early this month, the AU extended the Mission's mandate in Darfur to the end of 2006 as the international community grappled with the Sudanese government's reluctance to have the African troops replaced by a UN force.

At the same time relief agencies warned of a worsening humanitarian crisis in the region with more civilians caught in escalating violence between armed groups.

The United States said it would give $116 million to be used to strengthen the Africa Mission in Sudan, while the EU will make available $31.2 million to the Mission on top of an additional $50 million for the humanitarian effort in Darfur. The Netherlands pledged $31.2 million, Britain $36.6 million, France $2.5 million and Belgium $1.25 million.

The pledges would only be enough to sustain the Mission until the end of September; it needs an extra $450 million to operate until year-end, to pay for extra soldiers to be deployed, communications equipment, air support capability and more vehicles.

"The situation is precarious. The strengthening of [the Africa Mission] should be our priority because the next six months are critical," said the UN Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping, Jean-Marie Gu‚henno. "If we have a strong [Africa Mission], we will have a strong UN mission," he added.

A senior European Commission official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the real problem was that the "the AU is snowed under with the complexities of financial management".

UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan said the world body had no "hidden agenda" in Sudan. "United Nations peacekeeping forces - which will come primarily from Africa and Asia, with some additional, and much needed, support from developed countries - will come to Darfur not as occupiers, but as helpers," said Annan.

Darfur's Fragile Peace Agreement

Africa Briefing N 39
20 June 2006

International Crisis Group


The Darfur Peace Agreement (DPA) signed under African Union (AU) auspices on 5 May 2006 between Sudan's government and the faction of the insurgent Sudan Liberation Army led by Minni Arkou Minawi (SLA/MM) is a first step toward ending the violence but strong, coordinated action is needed if it is to take hold. The document has serious flaws, and two of the three rebel delegations did not accept it. Fighting between rebel and government forces is down somewhat but violence is worse in some areas due to clashes between SLA factions, banditry, and inter-tribal feuds, while the Chad border remains volatile. If the DPA is not to leave Darfur more fragmented and conflict-prone than before, the international community must rapidly take practical measures to shore up its security provisions, improve prospects for the displaced to return home, bring in the holdouts and rapidly deploy a robust UN peacekeeping force with Chapter VII authority.

Two parties to the negotiations in Abuja - the SLA faction of Abdel Wahid Mohamed Nur (SLA/AW) and the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) - have refused to sign. Abdel Wahid demands more direct SLA participation in implementation of security arrangements and is also dissatisfied with the DPA's provisions for political representation and a victim's compensation fund. JEM maintains that the protocols on power and wealth sharing do not adequately address the conflict's root causes: the structural inequities between Sudan's centre and its periphery that led to the rebellion in 2003. Indeed, the DPA has accelerated the break-up of the insurgency into smaller blocs along loose ethnic lines.

Broadening buy-in and implementation of the security protocols will either make or break the peace in the short term. Maximum use needs to be made of the opportunity provided by the Darfur-Darfur Dialogue and Consultation, a communal reconciliation process prescribed by the DPA, to get acceptance of the agreement from segments of the population that were not represented in Abuja. Women's full participation will be important.

Security will not improve, however, unless Khartoum disarms its proxy Janjaweed forces, a commitment it has already broken on five occasions. Though there are formal guarantors to the agreement and provisions in the security arrangements designed to help reinforce it, the DPA offers no effective guarantees on implementation. The AU Mission in Sudan (AMIS) is already overstretched and lacks the capacity to perform the additional monitoring and verification duties now asked of it. The DPA also does not address the takeover of peacekeeping operations by the UN, which is daily becoming more necessary. Khartoum continues to obstruct and delay the planning process for that UN mission. If AMIS and then UN peacekeepers must ask the government's permission at every step, they will not be able to create the confidence refugees and displaced persons (IDPs) need to go home.

Current scenarios envisage a further six to nine months before the UN force is deployed. Many policymakers recognise that is unacceptably slow, because it means more deaths and no refugee and IDP returns, but have been reluctant to suggest more effective alternatives. The following steps are urgently required:

  • The Security Council should apply sanctions that target any side, including the government, that violates the ceasefire or attacks civilians, peacekeepers, or humanitarian operations.
  • The AU should spare no effort to widen acceptance of the DPA by all stakeholders, including by maintaining the dialogue with the SLA/Abdel Wahid faction and seeking further compromises on power and wealth-sharing issues, and its international partners, including the U.S. and the European Union (EU), should provide the political and financial backing that is needed for a successful Darfur-Darfur Dialogue and Consultation.
  • The UN and other international partners should assist the AU in immediately strengthening AMIS by providing resources, logistical support and technical expertise, and troop contributing countries in Africa should bring the force up to its authorised ceiling, so it can better carry out its current mandate as well as the additional tasks in the DPA.
  • The Security Council should authorise deployment of a robust UN force, starting with a rapid reaction component, to take over from AMIS by 1 October 2006, with a clear Chapter VII mandate to use all necessary means to protect civilians and assist in the implementation of the DPA, including to act militarily as necessary to contain or neutralise Janjaweed, rebel and hard-line government spoilers.
  • The EU and NATO should work with the UN and the AU to ensure that the peacekeeping force has the capability to react rapidly to ceasefire violations or provocations by any party, and countries with advanced military capabilities should detail senior officers to the headquarters of the peacekeeping force to bolster its professionalism.

Security in Darfur: Donors' Conference in Brussels fails to take action

The African Union is marginally funded; no diplomatic progress toward the robust international protection force required in Darfur

By Eric Reeves

Eric Reeves, Smith College, Northampton, MA 01063 He can be reached at Website :

[Excerpts from much longer article at]

July 21, 2006 - Yet again the international community seems determined in its refusal to take seriously the precipitous decline in human security throughout Darfur, both for civilians and humanitarian workers. The July 18, 2006 meeting of Western donors in Brussels was touted as a way to address the growing security crisis, but failed in all ways. Western donors failed to provide the AU force in Darfur with the resources it requires and can usefully absorb, even as the AU is the only force on the ground and will remain so for the foreseeable future. At the same time, these donors failed to acknowledge the radical shortcomings of even an augmented AU force, and the correspondingly urgent need for deployment of a robust international peacemaking force. And most abjectly, they failed to convince Khartoum's National Islamic Front regime of any need to accept such a force, even under the aegis of the UN.

The consequences of these ongoing failures can be measured most fully in a survey of current conditions in Darfur: AU performance is declining rapidly while civilians are caught up in ever more violent conflict between factions of the Sudan Liberation Army (SLA), as well as ongoing Janjaweed predations; several aid workers have recently been shot and killed in Darfur and another badly wounded in eastern Chad; many thousands more civilians have very recently been displaced; no progress is being made by the AU in implementing the Darfur Peace Agreement, which has essentially collapsed; the political leadership within the AU is demoralized and badly divided, and is failing to speak out about the most consequential developments on the ground. This AU silence occurs even as all evidence strongly suggests that Khartoum's regular military forces have taken the side of the SLA faction of Minni Minawi, instigating what many observers on the ground are calling a 'new war'---between the Zaghawa-dominated SLA faction of Minawi and the relatively new SLA coalition called SLA/United or SLA/19 (after the 19 commanders who broke with former SLA chairman Abdel Wahid el-Nur).

As more of Darfur moves deeper into the heaviest part of the rainy season (which runs through September) humanitarian logistics are becoming increasingly difficult, even as insecurity has closed many humanitarian corridors to large and highly distressed populations. Almost two-thirds of a million people are beyond the reach of humanitarian assistance (Jan Egeland, UN Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs, statement to Security Council, April 20, 2006). Hundreds of thousands of civilians have only the most tenuous humanitarian access. The cholera outbreak shows no signs of abating. Funding for humanitarian operations remains critically low, both for Darfur and eastern Chad, as well as for other traditionally marginalized areas of Sudan. Food rations for extremely distressed civilian populations remain at only about two-thirds of what the UN estimates is required to sustain human life. The Gereida region of South Darfur has a huge population of displaced civilians poised to experience catastrophic mortality. The humanitarian crisis in eastern Chad deepens, with a total lack of security in many areas. And amidst this vast humanitarian crisis, Khartoum continues to obstruct and impede humanitarian relief---actions that are directly responsible for large numbers of human deaths and widespread suffering.

This is the context in which to assess the Brussels donors' conference, and its various failures.

What Did and Did Not Happen in Brussels: Funding the AU

Donors in Brussels committed $220 million dollars to the African Union force in Darfur, enough to sustain current AU operations through the end of September, but certainly not until the end of the year. This permits no significant expansion of AU capacity, and leaves an already badly demoralized mission wondering about its future. At the same time, what went unspoken in Brussels was the widely recognized truth that the AU is hopelessly incapable of taking on full responsibility for security in the immense Darfur region, or of undertaking the various labor-consumptive tasks stipulated for the AU in the Darfur Peace Agreement (DPA), or of staunching the flow of ethnically-targeted violence into eastern Chad. The refusal to fund the AU more generously is essentially a calculation that the AU can effectively absorb relatively little beyond what it presently has in the way of resources.

In an extraordinarily telling moment, a senior European Commission official told the UN Integrated Regional Information Networks (IRIN)---and only on condition of anonymity---that "the real problem was that 'the AU is snowed under with the complexities of financial management'" (UN IRIN [dateline: Brussels], July 19, 2006). In fact, this is hardly news: many observers of the AU mission in Darfur have remarked the unorthodox nature of AU budgeting, the lack of administrative capacity, and even outright corruption in the appropriation of equipment. AU logistics in the field have also come in for extremely harsh criticism from those most familiar with AU operations, as have AU intelligence and communications abilities.

Many of these shortcomings have been detailed over the past year---by the International Crisis Group, Refugees International, and the Brookings Institution/Bern University ...

In understanding why this week's donors' conference in Brussels gave so little to the AU, essentially sustaining present operations through September 2006, these and many other fundamental, structural shortcomings weighed heavily in deliberations. For of course an appropriate intelligence capacity or operating efficiency cannot be "airlifted" to the AU; nor can they be "purchased" along with appropriate equipment. In this and other crucial areas, the AU mission will fail so long as it is solely responsible for security in Darfur.

This cannot be an excuse, however, for a failure by the countries of the EU and North America to provide the training, equipment (especially transport), and other resources that can indeed be effectively absorbed by the AU. To say that the AU is fundamentally incapable of providing adequate security in Darfur hardly precludes saying as well that the force can be significantly, if only incrementally improved. Given the overwhelming need for security, donors in Brussels had a compelling obligation to fund the AU in all ways that would increase its performance on the ground. These wealthy nations did not, and this is a conspicuous failure.

Political Failure in Brussels

Just as conspicuous as the failure to fund the AU in adequate fashion was the inability of the donors' conference to compel Khartoum to accept a robust UN force, with Chapter 7 authority, and with appropriate military resources from NATO countries. While minimalist ambitions were most evident in funding decisions---one EU diplomat is reported by Agence France Presse as declaring that, "'the international community's [funding] goal is to ensure that [the AU] can function at its current level until the end of the year'" (dateline: Brussels, July 17, 2006)---there was also a general reluctance to do more than gesture vaguely, and with an excessively expansive time-frame, toward the force necessary to protect acutely vulnerable civilians and humanitarians: ...

[The foremost issue] is whether the international community will continue to allow Khartoum to determine whether an international force deploys to Darfur or not, and whether this force will be appropriate to the security needs of the region. Kofi Annan has tried to declare that deployment of a robust UN force is "inevitable":

"The transition from the AU force to a UN peace operation in Darfur is now inevitable. A firm decision by the Security Council is needed, and soon, for an effective transition to take place." ("Darfur Descending," The Washington Post, January 25, 2006)

Half a year later there is no longer talk of an "inevitable" transition, only "hopeful" talk of a consensual one. Nor is a "firm decision" on such transition anywhere in prospect at the UN Security Council. The simple truth is that declaring the transition to be "inevitable" does not make it so, certainly not in dealing with the experienced National Islamic Front in Khartoum. Nor do feckless and empty threats from the UN create fear in these brutal men. John Prendergast of the International Crisis Group notes in a Boston Globe op/ed a recent conversation:

"As one high-ranking Sudanese government official brazenly told me this week, 'The United Nations Security Council has threatened us so many times, we no longer take it seriously.'" ("A dying deal in Darfur," Boston Globe, July 13, 2006) ...

Perversely, at the same time the NIF regime is speaking and acting so brazenly in defiance of all putative "threats," international actors continue to speak only of consensual deployment, as if the National Islamic Front regime will eventually succumb to some yet unspecified pressures or incentives. But several months of relentlessly obdurate refusal by Khartoum to countenance any UN force should have forestalled such complacency. ....

Almost 4 million people in Darfur and eastern Chad have been affected by genocidal conflict and are desperately in need of humanitarian assistance. And yet the world community remains unwilling to act with appropriate urgency or force to protect either them or the humanitarian workers and operations upon which they have become increasingly dependent.

This international callousness is emblematized in President Bush's bland words of yesterday (July 20, 2006) about US "strategy" for Darfur: "Our strategy is that we want AU forces to be complemented and blue-helmeted. In other words, the United Nations should be invited in." This is not a "strategy," it is a politically expedient wish, expressed with no evidence of a willingness to commit the substantial diplomatic and political assets required to secure an "invitation" for UN deployment. ...

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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