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Sudan: Policy Debates and Dilemmas

AfricaFocus Bulletin
Oct 11, 2009 (091011)
(Reposted from sources cited below)

Editor's Note

In the debate on international policies towards Sudan, analysts as Alex de Waal and Mahmood Mamdani have convincingly critiqued Save Darfur movement and the International Criminal Court for counterproductive "humanitarian fundamentalism." After recent years of alternating bluster and failure to put real pressure on the Sudanese government from the U.S. under President Bush, the Obama administration and the "international community" seem to be gearing up to give diplomacy a serious chance. But the unanswered question is whether even forceful and skillful diplomacy can overcome Khartoum's long-practiced strategies for delay and deception.

This AfricaFocus Bulletin contains (1) a set of links to regular sources and recent commentaries on the issues of war and peace in Sudan, (2) a nuanced review of Mamdani's book Saviors and Survivors (http://www.africafocus.org/books/isbn.php?0307377237) which applauds his critique of humanitarian fundamentalism, but faults him for an analysis which neglects the fundamental responsibility of the minority ruling faction in Khartoum for reinforcing marginalization and use of repression and divide-and-rule tactics not only in Darfur but as a general practive, (3) an appeal from a Sudanese supporter of the Save Darfur Campaign, Klahid al Nurg, for the campaign to move from the politics of rage to the politics of change doing more harm than good, and (4) a report and policy analysis from Darfuri human rights activist Mohammed Ahmed Eisa.

This web-only AfricaFocus Bulletin is one of three posted today. Also only on the web is Sudan: Between Peace and War, at http://www.africafocus.org/docs09/sud0910b.php; Sudan: African Union Panel Reports was sent out to subscribers by e-mail and is also available on the web (http://www.africafocus.org/docs09/sud0910a.php).

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

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

Sources on the Sudan Debate

(1) Regularly Updated Sources

Sudan Tribune
http://www.sudantribune.com
Comprehensive news and commentary

AllAfrica.com
http://allafrica.com/sudan
News and commentary from African media and other sources

Making Sense of Darfur
http://blogs.ssrc.org/darfur
Commentary from Alex de Waal and others

Enough Project Sudan page
http://www.enoughproject.org/conflict_areas/darfur_southern_sudan
Commentary from John Prendergast and others

(2) Recent Commentaries & Reports

Critique of current U.S. policy as "fundamentally flawed" - John Prendergast
http://www.enoughproject.org/files/publications/Avoiding%20War.pdf

Peace in Sudan: Priorities and Constraints, by Alex de Waal
http://blogs.ssrc.org/darfur / http://tinyurl.com/yjn4zsb

At Issue eZine
http://www.africafiles.org/atissueezine.asp?issue=issue10=issue10
5 Analytical Commentaries - May to September 2009

U.S. Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, Hearings on Sudan
July 30, 2009
http://foreign.senate.gov/hearings/2009/hrg090730a.html
Includes testimony from Maj. Gen. Scott Gration, U.S. Special Envoy to Sudan

U.S. House Committee of Foreign Affairs, Hearings on Sudan
July 29, 2009
http://tinyurl.com/yfe4vqd
Includes testimony by Roger Winter and John Prendergast


Understanding Darfur's Saviours and Survivors

Sudan Tribune
http://www.sudantribune.com/spip.php?article32018

3 August 2009.

Darfur in the crossfire between humanitarian fundamentalism and Khartoum's divide and rule

By Harry Verhoeven, Lydiah Kemunto Bosire and Sharath Srinivasan,

Harry Verhoeven, PhD-student, Dept of Politics & IR, St Cross College, Oxford University; Lydiah Kemunto Bosire, PhD-student, Dept of Politics & IR, St Cross College, Oxford University and Sharath Srinivasan, PhD, Department of International Development, St Antony's College, Oxford University. The authors of this article can be reached at Harry.Verhoeven@politics.ox.ac.uk

Crises in African countries are too often given a media attention-span of a couple of days. Millions of deaths in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Somalia's two decades of disorder, and the famines in Ethiopia only capture the imagination when related to gorillas, pirates and rock stars, respectively, before they return to their footnote status. Darfur, however, is different. A resource-poor region of Africa is at the centre of the most vibrant student activist campaign in a generation. In a unanimous vote in mid-2004, both the US House of Representatives and the Senate labelled it "genocide" (before sending out a mission to inquire into whether it really was, but no matter). For five years since and counting, Darfur has top-billed the agenda for human rights activists, media-outlets and the Western-led international community: aid organisations have set up the world's largest humanitarian operation and more than 15000 UN and AU peacekeepers now operate in Western Sudan. To cap it all, the International Criminal Court has issued an arrest warrant for Sudanese president Omar al-Bashir and is appealing to add a charge of genocide. What is going on?

"Saviours and Survivors" is Prof. Mahmood Mamdani's answer to this question. This is a book about the naming and framing of violence, and its consequences: it explains why this war in particular has received such unusual publicity and become the object of international political and judicial activism. Through an investigation into the roots of the violence, Prof. Mamdani challenges the moral, apolitical rendering of the conflict in the activist - consequently global - consciousness. Combining analytical strength and historical knowledge with a provocative tone, this book has unleashed, since its preview essay in the Nation and the LRB a year ago, one of the most heated discussions of an African conflict in recent time.

According to Mamdani, the ICC's arrest warrants, the campaign of the Save Darfur Coalition (SDC), and the principle of the 'Responsibility to Protect' should be understood in the context of a wider emerging Western thinking and discourse epitomized by the Global War on Terror (GWOT).

"Saviours and Survivors" does not try to tie a conspiratorial thread between the GWOT, the ICC and the SDC as some of its critics allege. Rather, it explicitly aims to highlight the problematic nature of the increasing tendency of the Western-led international community to remove the 'political' - the adversarial, the contestable - from key areas of public life and public decision-making. The SDC, just like GWOT-theorists, depoliticises conflicts, preferring to cast them in intellectually easy, intuitively appealing and politically convenient terms of 'good' and 'evil'. What is effectively a technocratic banner of 'global justice' and 'universal values' obscures quintessentially political questions about the who, what and why of 'global' interventionism and thereby also veils powerful interests and highly partisan decisions. In the GWOT-Zeitgeist, complex violent processes are radically simplified and packaged in catchy soundbites and emotionally charged messages. The contradictions and particular stakes of politics are removed from the war setting and replaced by absolutist norms that leave us with only one 'a-political' (and hence morally obvious) choice: military action. And just like the GWOT, the supporters of military intervention in Darfur cannot be bothered with local nuances, socio-historical processes and the messy nature of on the ground conflict realities that do not fit nice legal or ethical categories. There can be no discussion of how certain 'perpetrators' were once 'victims' and how the 'victims' are at risk of becoming 'perpetrators' due to outside intervention; or of how the 'saviours' of some continue to be the oppressors of others.

The reason for action is moral. Politics is to be kept at bay; it is too messy, analysing and understanding it takes too long; look where politics got us in Rwanda.

And Rwanda is particularly emotive for the Darfur activists. As Mamdani notes, "The lesson is to rescue before it is too late, to act before seeking to understand. Though it is never explicitly stated, Rwanda is recalled as a time when we thought we needed to know more; we waited to find out, to learn the difference between Tutsi and Hutu, and why one was killing the other...What is new about Darfur, human rights interventionists will tell you, is the realisation that sometimes we must respond ethically and not wait. That time is when genocide is occurring. - In other words, prescribe the solution without understanding the problem. What "Saviours and Survivors" suggests is that an understanding of the problem would lead to a vastly different understanding of what solutions are necessary.

Mamdani perceptively contrasts the current wave of Darfur activism the anti-war campaign regarding Vietnam, or the struggle against apartheid- SDC's bottom-line is about military intervention: it mobilises for war, not for peace. The tactics used to influence public opinion too are very different - a particularly striking paragraph is Mamdani's description of how the SDC, in its early days, distributed 'action packets' according to faith with a specific message tailored to religious stereotypes: if Christians were asked to lead (cf. the burden to save) and Jews were uniquely placed to bear witness (cf. the Holocaust), then Muslims, cast in the GWOT-framework, were asked to fight oppressors in their midst and identify perpetrators.

SDC's mischaracterisation of the Darfur conflict as being about 'Arabs' committing genocide against Darfur's 'African' population was meant to appeal to a very broad albeit only American audience, uniting East Coast liberals, African-American churches and Deep South nativists behind Congress resolutions. Lead by movie stars and campus activists who decried Darfur as an 'African Auschwitz', Mamdani rightly criticises this ad hoc coalition of right-wing conservatives and youthful Western progressives for turning Darfur into a place and an issue 'to feel good about yourself because we're doing the "right" thing and not engaging in politics'. Put differently, intervention in this brave new post-9/11 world claims to destroy evil, not to tackle a political problem. Quod non, of course.

The outcome? Humanitarian impunity. Here, Mamdani points out that Africa is the site of experimentation: the logic of societal experimentation in the form of Structural Adjustment Programmes that led to collapse in the public sector continues in the work of the humanitarians. Today, in the messy situations of ongoing conflict, a new idea is being advocated, that of prosecutions at all cost, even when increased violence - as seen with the murderous rebels of the Lord's Resistance Army now engaged in violence in the Congo - becomes a real outcome. What are the implications for the institution of accountability itself and our hierarchies of principles when we embrace the dogma of unconditional, immediate justice - justice by force or through the suspension of peaceful negotiation if necessary? Who gets to decide which right trumps others? And before we say 'the international community', what legitimacy and accountability have those who constitute this group, assuming we can agree to the analytical content of this 'international community'? In theory, prosecution and military intervention are elegant interventions. However, if they go wrong - and humanitarianism is littered with interventions gone wrong - architects do not have to live with the consequences of their action.

Whereas "Saviours and Survivors" offers some excellent reflections on the ideological background of the international community's role in the Darfur conflict, it is less good at analysing what has actually (not) happened. For all Mamdani's claims about the extraordinary efficiency of the SDC and its Congress resolutions, the policy of Washington (and by extension, other Western countries) towards Sudan over the past years has been incoherent and deeply ineffective. Nor has the principle of the 'Responsibility to Protect' (R2P) and its definition of sovereignty transformed the will of interveners. In making a case for the concept, one of R2P's philosophical fathers, Gareth Evans said, "While the primary responsibility to protect its own people properly lies with the sovereign state, if that responsibility is abdicated, through ill-will or incapacity, then it shifts to the international community collectively - who should respond with force if large scale killing or ethnic cleansing is involved, and that is the only way to halt or avert the tragedy." While Mamdani sees this discourse as thrusting open doors for the violation of African sovereignty, this outcome has not been forthcoming.

Instead, America has swung back and forth between long periods of silence, outright confrontation with Al-Bashir, support for the former rebels of the Sudan People's Liberation Army, and attempts at normalising diplomatic relations with Khartoum. It initially supported African Union troops, then considered them to be inadequate, subsequently lobbied for a UN peacekeeping force only to fail to seriously support it when it finally took over in January 2008; simultaneously the Bush administration invited Sudan's intelligence chief to Langley, Virginia for collaboration in the context of the GWOT. Overall then, Washington and other stakeholders who have embraced the genocide-label have struggled to manage competing interests - the Khartoum-SPLA peace agreement, terrorism, regional stability, Darfur - and have failed to develop a coherent long-term policy that really improves the human security of Sudanese civilians. It has been exactly this problem of inconsistency, confusion and the exigencies of Realpolitik, rather than bellicose confrontationalism inspired by militant activism, that has dominated real world Western actions.

This brings us to the second of three major shortcomings of the book: its own portrayal of the violence in Darfur. While "Saviours and Survivors" does a masterful job of exposing the flaws in the orthodox 'genocide'-narrative of the Darfur conflict, demanding that history and politics are injected into our understanding, it offers an account of its own that lacks engagement with critical parts of the historical context of violence in Sudan. In effect, Mamdani diminishes the importance of contemporary Sudanese politics that do matter to the understanding of Darfur.

For Mamdani, Darfur is, essentially, a two decades old war over land, caused by the nefarious interplay of prolonged drought, the colonial legacy of re-tribalisation and the Cold War's negative impact. Building on earlier scholarship, he argues that Darfur's history cannot be constructed as a simple settler(Arab) vs native(African) narrative, as the SDC does, with a bad 'Arab' government as spoiler-in-chief; we need a far more sophisticated analysis in both space and time to understand the contemporary violence. While Darfur served as a launching pad for proxy warfare in neighbouring Chad between France, America and Libya, displacement through desertification in the 1980s unleashed a struggle over ever shrinking quantities of land: as Darfurians responded by resorting to increasingly narrow racial-ethnic constructs, the Malthusian trap became ever more violent. For Mamdani then, the national government's role in all of this has largely been one of misreading local dynamics and failed attempts to broker negotiated settlements. By 2003, the violence had spiralled out of control and acquired broader national implications; the rise of two potent rebel movements lead to a brutal counter-insurgency marked by gross human rights violations.

The problem is not so much that these claims are wrong (though some scholars have taken issue with its reconstruction of the history of land and identity in Darfur), but that through their selectiveness, they could be seen as absolving the current regime in Khartoum from its devastating political, moral and legal responsibility for the atrocities and displacement in the region. Mamdani effectively diminishes the importance of recent deliberate political actions through an under-analysis of why Darfur is not exceptional and of why Sudan has been torn apart since independence by countless macro and micro-conflict: war in Sudan - whether in the East, in the South or in the West - is fundamentally not a "clash of (Islamic and Christian) civilisations", nor a question of irreconcilable 'Arab' and 'African' cultures, but a result of the brutal exclusionary rule of a faction of Sudanese elite who control the country. "Saviours and Survivors" overlooks how since coming to power in 1989, the ruling National Congress Party (NCP) has radicalised these core-periphery tendencies under the banner of militant Islam, rhetorically welcoming as equals all those from the peripheries who wanted to join its cause, but in reality deepening the political-economic realities of exclusion and wealth accumulation in Sudan. During the last decades, Darfur, like other 'backward' parts of Sudan, has been totally deprived of public goods like security provision, decent health care and roads, while its people have been excluded from government jobs at the centre. Historically, Darfurians had a wide range of mechanisms to deal with both climatic changes and tribal-political upheaval and did so without falling into ethno-ecological conflicts; the intensification of violence from the mid-80s onwards has thus less to do with creeping desertification and 'unfortunate' governmental misunderstanding, then with a context of structural exclusion that makes, and keeps, people vulnerable to disasters, whether natural or political. The ruling NCP did not merely fail to 'think through' the colonially crafted divide, as Mamdani sees it, but it reinforced and exploited divisive ideas of race, identity and citizenship in order to manage patronage politics, as it has done elsewhere in Sudan.

The similarities between the tragedy in Darfur and wars elsewhere in the country go beyond their position in the Sudanese state and relate to the dynamics of the conflict itself: there is a vicious and deliberate interlocking of decentralised violence, forced migration, racialised language and ethnic divide and rule. The scorched earth tactics in which displacement and terror are often more important than actual killing; the dehumanising discourse that stirs up hate and antagonises communities; the use of proxy militias, composed of marginalised groups in their own right, who are given total impunity to combat the enemy; the systematic transfer of assets (cattle, land, water holes,...) from those targeted by the government to those fighting for Khartoum; the aerial bombardment of civilians and the use of aid as a weapon against people; the false cease-fires and the relentless obstruction of humanitarian operations to wear down the international community and rebel opposition: the pattern of violence in Darfur eerily mimics that of war in the 80s and 90s in Southern Kordofan, Equatoria and Bahr al-Ghazal. Ahmed Haroun (who has been indicted by the ICC on charges of crimes against humanity), exemplifies how the horrors of Darfur are connected to massacres in other parts of Sudan- Haroun was not only one of the chief organisers of the Janjaweed in 2003-2004, he also led the government militias in their 1990s jihad in the Nuba Mountains, raping, pillaging and killing to break the soul of the local communities.

None of this is to be found in "Savours and Survivors." While Mahmood Mamdani rightfully criticises the international community's simplistic account of 'genocide' in Darfur, he engages in his own distortion through his downplay of the agency of those factions of the Sudanese elites in control of the state. War, exclusion and underdevelopment in Sudan have a history that needs to be told. And Darfur is now more than ever before an integral part of that history.

The third problem with the book is in its vision of the contents of accountable politics. For Mamdani, there are three kind of justice possible - political, criminal and social. Quite apart from the problem of the Court being an extension of the antipolitical humanitarian fundamentalist Zeitgeist - after all, the ICC considers cases in according to technical specifications of gravity and applies the appropriate procedures, unencumbered by the politics that produced the violence - the ICC's focus on criminal justice is inadequate. Seeking to deliver justice in accordance to the 'Nuremberg Model', the court assumes it is possible to tell apart good and evil, perpetrators and victims. It also assumes that the survivors do not have to live together, that the violence has ended and that there is a winner. In Darfur, as South Africa, Mamdani offers, the situation is different. Right and wrong, perpetrator and victim, are far more fluid. People have to live together, there are no winners and losers. Everyone is a survivor. The solution lies in the establishment of political change and inclusive institutions, with an acknowledgement that amnesty may be a price to be paid. Instead of criminal justice, the focus should be political justice based on what Mamdani calls the Kempton Park model that brought an end to Apartheid in South Africa. There, the focus was on political justice, not criminal justice. The process focused on the political needs of the nation, privileging the sovereignty of the country over the principles of the amorphous international community.

What Mamdani does not address is that the 'Kempton Park'-choices of apartheid South Africa, Mozambique and Southern Sudan were easier to make because the outside world was not all mobilized behind one principle, right or wrong. Is Kempton Park still on the table now that the rules of peace negotiations - and of who should end up in parliament and who should be in jail - have been transformed? Might the activists be satisfied with delayed justice, where amnesty and political transformation are privileged, with the knowledge that later, whenever domestic politics allows it, prosecutions can take place? After all, many countries are recently revisiting their old amnesty provisions. Mamdani does not make this proposal but it might be one worth considering, including its moral hazard. Further, South Africa has demonstrated that the Kempton Park model does not automatically address social justice, the other pillar of justice that often part of the root causes of violence. Where does this leave us? This is not addressed.

In conclusion, "Saviours and Survivors" demonstrates how the humanitarian project - with SDC and ICC being just two examples thereof - has shifted and continues to shift the vocabulary through which all local claims are made, how people understand their problems, and what solutions are availed to them and which ones are excluded. This thought-provoking book leaves us with an existential question: what are we do with a humanitarianism which, instead of increasing the agency of those it hopes to support, removes from them the possibilities of acting out of their predicament, turning them into wards, passive subjects in need of saving?


Politics of Rage, Politics of Change

posted by Khalid al Nur, September 25, 2009

Social Science Research Council Blogs

Making Sense of Darfur

http://blogs.ssrc.org/darfur/

Sudan needs its version of the anti-Apartheid movement, one that can combine both the anguished moral outcry against mass atrocities, and also a practical political programme to end them once and for all. Like many Sudanese sympathizers of the Save Darfur Campaign I am worried that the campaign will end up making things worse instead of better.

In Sudanese history, progressive change has always come from within. The 1964 and 1985 Popular Uprisings came from within and even if the 1972 and 1985 peace agreements were facilitated by our African neighbours and the international community, they were negotiated by Sudanese and their implementation succeeded or failed because of Sudanese leadership. Whenever there has been an attempt to change Sudanese politics from outside it has ended in disaster, for example with blood flowing on the streets of Omdurman in 1976 and 2008.

We are deeply appreciative of the American and European wellwishers who have campaigned against the atrocities in Darfur and southern Sudan. They have given hope to many people who believed that they were condemned to suffer and die without the world knowing or caring. But they have also ended up by giving encouragement to some of the most mindless elements in the opposition, who oppose for the sake of opposing, and who mindlessly welcome any condemnation of the NIF government without considering the fate of the nation. Alex is right that when Save Darfur designs its messages for an American audience it makes the government more paranoid and more intransigent. At the moment Save Darfur Campaign is not helping us.

I have some recommendations for the Save Darfur Campaign:

  1. Use the opportunity of the end of mass atrocities in Darfur to support the democratization process. Campaign for free and fair elections.
  2. Define your objectives. There is a lot of misunderstanding and cynicism even among your supporters, and the vagueness of your aims mean that it is easy for your critics to make you out to be agents of neo-imperialism.
  3. Come to visit Darfur and see for yourselves. Ask the people of Darfur how they would like your money to be used.

When Darfur was burning we needed the politics of rage. Now we need the politics of change. I appeal to Save Darfur to become part of that.


United States Senate (Washington, DC)
Sudan: Statement of Mohammed Ahmed Eisa Before Hearing on Sudan

Mohammed Ahmed Eisa

30 July 2009

[Excerpts only. Full statement available at
http://allafrica.com/stories/200907300969.html]

...

I was born and raised in Darfur and have lived in Darfur for most of my life. I am a medical doctor and also serve as a professor of medicine at Al-Fashir University in Darfur in Sudan. I received my medical degree from the University of Khartoum Medical School in Sudan in 1976 and I am a specialist in internal medicine.

... I have addressed major community problems in Darfur and have engaged in peace negotiations on behalf of people in Darfur for the past 20 years, since 1989. In preparing for this hearing, I spoke and consulted with many Darfuris on the ground and in the Diaspora as well as leaders of Sudanese civil society groups. Many of their views are represented in this statement.

...

Humanitarian Conditions and Situation in the Camps

When the genocide in Darfur erupted in 2003, I was living in Darfur and have lived there ever since. I personally have provided medical treatment to hundreds of civilians injured as a result of the conflict. The injuries have been in various forms: gun-shot wounds, rape, torture, beatings and other forms of violence.

From 2004 - 2007, I worked as the Director of Medical Treatment at the Amel Center for the Treatment and Rehabilitation of Victims of Torture (the Amel Center) in Darfur. The Amel Center provided medical and psycho-social services to victims of rape and torture and also documented human rights abuses taking place in Darfur. Most of the cases referred to the Amel Center were from the camps. I regularly treated several victims of rape, torture and other forms of violence on a daily basis. The victims comprised men, women and children and they ranged in age from a boy of 3 years old to an elderly man who was 80 years old. The Amel Center was the only organization on the ground providing medical treatment and psycho-social services to victims of rape and torture.

Many of the civilians who fled their homes as a result of the conflict live in camps in Darfur and Chad. I visited several of the camps in the Darfur area, and worked mainly in three of them: Kalma, Dreij and Otash in Southern Darfur, providing health care services to the men, women and children living there.

There are more women than men living in these camps. A typical camp is composed of about 65% females; 25% children and 10% men, mostly elderly. 30% of children under the age of five in these camps are malnourished. Since the escalation of the conflict in 2003, several of the women and girls living in these camps have been raped and subjected to other forms of sexual harassment. Reports of threats of violence and rape in these camps persist today. In June this year, two girls from Hamdya Camp in West Darfur were attacked, raped and beaten by six janjaweed militia. On the same day, another girl from Abusorroge Camp in West Darfur was kidnapped by armed men in military uniforms. In July this year there have been four cases of rapes in Nyretti Camp in West Darfur. Also in July, an elderly man was killed, and four children were slaughtered in Tawila Camp in North Darfur, by the janjaweed militia. Four young men from Abokaro Camp were also killed by the janjaweed militia when they left the camp to collect firewood and straw.

The expulsion on 9 March 2009 of 16 aid organizations (13 international and 3 national) by the government following the issuance of the arrest warrant for President al-Bashir by the International Criminal Court (ICC) has worsened the deplorable humanitarian conditions in camps in Darfur. Reports from my fellow community leaders on the ground indicate that as of June 2009, no one was providing health care services in Kalma and only two organizations were supplying food there. Kalma is one of the largest camps in Darfur with a population of about 100,000 people. Shadad Camp in Northern Darfur, which previously received food and water supply from the expelled organizations, is also experiencing a severe shortage of food and water supply.

...

Although the government has allowed a few aid organizations to return to Darfur, reports from my colleagues on the ground indicate that the organizations have not yet started operations in the camps as a result of lengthy bureaucratic processes locally. Thus the sufferings in the camps continue.

In addition to the problems within the camps, there are long-term problems in West Darfur which need to be addressed today. Supported by the Sudanese Government, newcomers, from Chad and Mali, are settling on land belonging to the displaced African groups who now live in the camps. Even if conditions finally improve in Darfur and people are able to return home to their villages, they will have nothing to return to and nowhere to go. Any solution for peace must seriously address these issues.

Finally, the continued and prolonged existence of Darfuris in the camps contributes to a serious deprivation of the educational rights of Darfuris. Educational facilities are lacking in the camps. Even before the conflict, the education level of Darfuris lagged far behind that of other groups in Sudan, due to the limited number of schools in Darfur, compared to the rest of the country. The enrollment of Darfur children in elementary school, for instance, was only 40%, compared to 90% in North Sudan State. The limited education in the camps will stunt the educational development of Darfuris, denying them access to positions in key sectors in the country.

Targeting of Civil Society and Local Activists and Organizations

Those of us who try to address the deplorable conditions in Darfur that I just outlined, face constant intimidation by authorities of the Sudanese Government.

In late 2008, we became aware that our operations at the Amel Center were no longer secure as information was being leaked to the Government, thus endangering the lives of the survivors of the Government-sponsored violence. Six of us from the Amel Center therefore started the Sudanese Organization for Rights and Peace Building (Sudanese Organization).

The Sudanese Organization provided legal support for those whose rights had been violated, such as victims of illegal arrest and detention and police brutality, and also provided support to victims of rape and torture. In late October/early November 2008, three of my colleagues, including one who held a British passport, were arrested and detained for about three weeks. The holder of the British passport was spared physical abuse; however, the other two Sudanese were severely beaten to the extent that one of them sustained broken ribs. My three colleagues placed in solitary confinement and denied access to lawyers and visits, even from family members. The incident forced my colleagues and I to keep a low profile.

On March 9, 2009, during my absence from Darfur, national security officers went to the hospital where I worked and to my house looking for me. They enquired about my whereabouts and conducted a search of my home. Fortunately, they took nothing from my house and no one in my household was harmed. On that same day, the national security forces also went looking for Massad Mohamed, Director General of the Sudanese Organization. They went to his home, but did not find him; when they left Massad's home, they left with his brand new car. Personally, I fear that if I return home I will be arrested. The five of my other colleagues who ran the Sudanese Organization with me have also left Darfur and fear for their lives should they return. In effect, this means that the Sudanese Organization is no longer functional and victims of crimes and Government abuse are left without much needed support services.

The Government of Sudan has also prevented civil society groups from traveling outside of Sudan to participate in peace-building efforts. In May 2009, about 300 people representing different groups of civil society members in Darfur were to travel to Addis Ababa in Ethiopia to meet with other civil society groups in the Diaspora to formulate a unified vision for peace. The Government denied exit visas for these members of civil society. As a result, the meeting in Addis Ababa never took place.

United Nations/African Union Mission in Darfur (UNAMID)

The presence of UNAMID forces has not stemmed the violence in Darfur due to lack of adequate manpower and equipment. From the inception, UNAMID has lacked sufficient number of troops, logistical supplies, including critical aviation capabilities and communication equipment, rendering it feeble to stem violence in the region of Darfur. The Security Council Resolution authorized 26,000 troops, but only about 17,000 have been deployed. The required number of helicopters has also not been provided, and with Ethiopia's pledge to deliver five in October, a shortage of 19 still remains. An empowered UNAMID will result in effective partnerships with local village police who can be trained to help provide additional security. It will also increase the effectiveness of UNAMID troops in protecting the camps and enable them to assist with the voluntary return of the civilians in the camps back to their homes when conditions in Darfur improve. However, as long as the janjaweed militia remains armed and UNAMID is inadequately manned and equipped, the prospect of people returning home from the camps remains unrealistic.

The people of Darfur continue to suffer and there seems to be no end in sight. There is an urgent need for peace in Darfur. We are counting on the United States, as a world leader, to play a key role to bring about peace in Darfur and in Sudan.

Comprehensive Peace Agreement

The United States and the international community has focused a great deal of attention on the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) signed in 2005. I welcome the CPA and the international attention on the agreement, as do many people in Darfur. It provides a framework to bring about the necessary changes that must occur to effectively address the root causes of the problems in Sudan as a whole and has relevant application to the conflict in Darfur as well. Although the CPA does not address the issue of accountability and issues unique to the Darfur conflict, such as land re-settlement, it nevertheless encompasses many of the principles that we in Darfur want: freedom of religion; equality of all Sudanese citizens; the right to one's own cultural identity, etc.

However, a number of provisions called for in the CPA, such as the review and amendments of national laws to make them compatible with the CPA agreement and the 2005 interim constitution of Sudan, have to date not been implemented. Further, the result of the 2008 census conducted pursuant to the CPA has been rejected by stakeholders in Southern Sudan and Darfur. We in Darfur and South Sudan are of the view that the census does not reflect the true population of the people of Southern Sudan and is less than the actual number of Southern Sudanese people. These issues must all be resolved within the shortest delay. Failure to do so would have disastrous consequences for the elections scheduled for 2010 and ultimately for the 2011 referendum. The people of Darfur are closely watching the implementation process of the CPA and with keen interest. If the CPA is successfully implemented, it will be a major sign of hope for peace settlement in Darfur. However, if it fails, it will threaten the prospects of peace in Darfur.

It must be emphasized that the situation in Darfur presents pressing needs which must first be addressed before some of the provisions of the CPA, elections, for instance, can be effectively implemented. There must be peace first, before elections are conducted. Further, a sizeable number of the Darfur population lives outside of Darfur as refugees. Without peace, their participation in an election is severely restricted, if not completely impossible.

Solutions to the conflict in Sudan must take into account all of the above factors which threaten to weaken peace. I would like to outline some recommendations to the United States for sustainable peace in Darfur.

Recommendations

(1) The U.S. should urge the Government of Sudan to allow the return and functioning of the 16 humanitarian organizations expelled in March 2009 and remove the bureaucratic red-tape which is preventing the few aid organizations in Darfur from commencing operations.

(2) The U.S. should ensure the inclusion of civil society groups, including representatives from the leadership of the displaced and refugees and women organizations in any peace process. The Government of Sudan should provide requisite documents for international travel and permit civil society organizations to participate in peace-building activities.

(3) As a key player in the peace process, the U.S. should call for the timely implementation of provisions called for in the CPA such as the review and amendments of national laws, in particular national security laws and laws guaranteeing freedom of press, in accordance with the CPA agreement and the 2005 interim constitution of Sudan.

(4) The U.S., through the Security Council, should take measures to strengthen the joint United Nations/African Union peace keeping force, UNAMID.

(5) The U.S., working with the Security Council, should demand that the Government of Sudan fulfill its commitment to disarm the janjaweed militias, pursuant to Security Council Resolution 1556 adopted on 30 July 2004.


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