Darfour, un génocide sans témoins – Darfur, Genocide without witnesses

24 Apr

Go to Original Darfur: Genocide Without Witnesses

By Jacky Mamou Libération

Monday 24 April 2006 Khartoum

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By Jacky Mamou Libération Monday 24 April 2006

Khartoum is deliberately hindering international humanitarian action. While the international community commemorates the twelfth anniversary of the genocide in Rwanda – and, hand on heart, swears "Never again!" – murders, rapes, pillages and the forced displacement of black African populations, the Fur, Massalit, and Zaghawa, have continued for over three years in western Sudan.

The Khartoum government has strengthened its military by arming Janjaweed militias recruited from nomadic tribes that claim Arab ethnicity to subdue the little-armed groups that have emerged from those populations. The repression is of an unheard-of ferocity: apart from massacres, Islamist National Front partisans in power organize slow death through hunger and disease. The death toll is terrible: 300,000 deaths, more than two million displaced persons who survive thanks to international humanitarian aid, 250,000 refugees in Chad and the Central African Republic. The number of Darfur inhabitants is estimated to be six million, of whom the larger half is black African (the remainder considered "Arab"). That means that, counting the dead and those displaced from their lands, more than two thirds of the black peoples of Darfur are involved. They are truly dislocated.

Faced with this drama amply documented by innumerable reports, even if there are few photographs, the international community, well curbed by Khartoum's self-interested allies – Russia and especially China – has delegated an observation mandate to the African Union. With a presence of 7,000 soldiers in Darfur – a region as large as France – the African Union has found its mission systematically hindered by Khartoum: paralysis in the delivery of armored vehicles, refusal to supply airplane fuel, Sudanese government vehicles painted white to pass them off as African Union vehicles. And all the while, the exactions go on…. Let us recall that the United Nations investigation on the ground concluded that war crimes and crimes against humanity were taking place. The International Criminal Court, referred by the Security Council, pursues its investigations of 51 Sudanese leaders suspected of having organized these horrors. All observers, led by the UN's special envoy, Jan Pronk, say – diplomatically, of course – that the African Union mission is a failure.

In an attempt at remediation, the Security Council planned to prepare a mission transfer on March 24 from the African Union to the Blue Helmets. But a six month postponement followed, to respect the recent African Union decision to see the mission through. In April 1994 in Rwanda, Blue Helmet numbers fell drastically right at the beginning of the genocide. Today, we allow six additional months for "the dirty work to go on." And no one responds to the threats of Sudanese President Bechir, who promises "to make Darfur a cemetery" for the Blue Helmets sent to protect civilians. While the official in charge of UN peace-keeping missions, Jean-Marie Guéhénno, declared: "Obviously, it's a mission that will deploy with the consent of the Sudanese government …"

On the ground, the situation is alarming. The High Commission for Refugees (HCR) announced a 44% reduction in its operations the beginning of March because of the deterioration of security conditions. Jan Pronk declared a few days ago that "in southern Darfur, militias continue their cleansing operations, village after village." Murders, rapes, lootings increase without pause, while the World Food Program (WFP) sounds a death knell in the face of new floods of refugees in Chad, who flee combat from both sides of the border. This situation, the UN agency advises, threatens aid to millions of people fleeing the violence. For its part, UNICEF, in charge of children, estimates that insecurity prevents humanitarian agencies from reaching 500,000 people. UNICEF indicates that if, for the moment, the nutritional situation within the displaced persons camps is stable, in two northern Darfur camps (Mellit and Hay Abassy), the threshold of a malnutrition emergency has been breached, with malnutrition reaching 18%.

This whole situation has been deliberately organized by the Sudanese government, which wants to create a situation of no-return. One must acknowledge the Sudanese government's true talent for hindering humanitarian action, a practice in which it already excelled during the long decades of its war against the southerners.

But they have now gone a step further with the refusal to allow UN Assistant Secretary General for Humanitarian Affairs Jan Egeland to go to Darfur and with the expulsion of the Norwegian NGO, National Refugees Council (NRC), which has been intervening in Darfur's largest refugee camp. What does Khartoum want to hide? The Swedish Cooperation Minister, Carin Jomtin, had already been prevented from going to the region, while two offices of a Sudanese association, the Organization for Sudan's Social Development (Sudo), were closed by the military in the eastern state of Darfur. These closings must be seen as part of a policy of intimidation and harassment of all humanitarian or human-rights actors operating in Sudan. Organizing matters so that there are no more witnesses thus seems to be the Sudanese authorities' main line of conduct.

Every minute lost in sending the Blue Helmets in to protect civilians in Darfur is consequently time gained by the Sudanese government to maintain what Kofi Annan called "hell on earth" there. France has long demonstrated a certain caution – some would say connivance – with respect to the Islamist regime in Khartoum. The confiscation of power by war and terror by a government that itself issued from a coup d'état cannot be eternal. A re-equilibration will someday take place in terms of greater participation in government by southern animist black Africans and Christians, the Beja populations in the east, and Darfur populations in the west. If not, the risk of the country's partition, and ensuing chaos, will be great. The very strong tension with neighboring Chad illuminates the risks of a regional conflagration.

A jolt is therefore urgently necessary from the international community, first to allow humanitarian access without delay to the populations. The African Union must be considerably reinforced on the levels of logistics and communications and new life must be breathed into it to protect populations in the case of immediate danger. We must demand that Sudan dissolve its militias, arrest the authors of atrocities and cooperate with the ICC. France, a Security Council member, has the opportunity to demonstrate the new role it wishes to play in (non-Francophone) Africa. It must hold to that role … resolutely. ——–

Jacky Mamou is president of the Emergency Darfur collective and former president of Doctors of the World.

Translation: t r u t h o u t French language correspondent Leslie Thatcher.


Posted by on April 24, 2006 in The Sudan


2 responses to “Darfour, un génocide sans témoins – Darfur, Genocide without witnesses

  1. Philo

    April 25, 2006 at 9:00 am

    Nick Kristof has more on Bin Laden’s outcry on Darfur: (Pay link)

    In that tape, released on Sunday, Osama rails against the agreement that ended Sudan’s civil war with its Christian and animist south and accuses the U.S. of plotting to dispatch “Crusader troops” to occupy Darfur “and steal its oil wealth under the pretext of peacekeeping.” Osama calls on good Muslims to go to Sudan and stockpile land mines and rocket-propelled grenades in preparation for “a long-term war” against U.N. peacekeepers and other infidels.

    Osama’s tape underscores the fact that a tougher approach carries real risks. It’s easy for us in the peanut gallery to call for a U.N. force, but what happens when jihadis start shooting down the U.N. helicopters?
    The first step to stop the killing is to dispatch a robust U.N. peacekeeping force of at least 20,000 well-equipped and mobile troops. But because of precisely the nationalistic sensitivities that Osama is trying to stir, it shouldn’t have U.S. ground troops. Instead, it should be made up mostly of Turks, Jordanians, Bangladeshis, Pakistanis and other Muslims, and smaller numbers of European and Asian troops. The U.S. can supply airlifts, and NATO can provide a short-term bridging force if necessary.

    Second, the U.S. and France should enforce a no-fly zone from the French air base in Abéché, Chad. American military planners say this is practicable, particularly if it simply involves destroying Sudanese aircraft on the ground after they have attacked civilians.

    Granted, these approaches carry real risks. After we shoot up a Sudanese military plane, Sudan may orchestrate a “spontaneous” popular riot that will involve lynching a few U.S. aid workers — or journalists.

    But remember that the Sudanese government is hanging on by its fingernails. It is deeply unpopular, and when it tried to organize demonstrations against the Danish cartoons, they were a flop.

    The coming issue of Foreign Policy magazine publishes a Failed States Index in which Sudan is ranked the single most unstable country in the entire world. If we apply enough pressure, Sudan’s leaders will back down in Darfur — just as they did when they signed a peace deal to end the war with southern Sudan.

    A no-fly zone and a U.N. force are among the ways we can apply pressure, but another essential element is public diplomacy. We should respond to Osama by shining a spotlight on the Muslim victims of Darfur (many Arabs have instinctively sided with Sudan’s rulers and have no idea that nearly all of the victims of the genocide are Muslim).

    The White House can invite survivors for a photo-op so they themselves can recount, in Arabic, how their children were beheaded and their mosques destroyed. We can release atrocity photos, like one I have from an African Union archive of the body of a 2-year-old boy whose face was beaten into mush. President Bush can make a major speech about Darfur, while sending Condi Rice and a planeload of television journalists to a refugee camp in Chad to meet orphans.
    The U.S. could organize a summit meeting in Europe or the Arab world to call attention to Darfur, we could appoint a presidential envoy like Colin Powell, and we could make the issue much more prominent in our relations with countries like Egypt, Qatar, Jordan and China.

    Americans often ask what they can do about Darfur. These are the kinds of ideas they can urge on the White House and their members of Congress — or on embassies like Egypt’s. Many other ideas are at and at

    When Darfur first came to public attention, there were 70,000 dead. Now there are perhaps 300,000, maybe 400,000. Soon there may be 1 million. If we don’t act now, when will we?

  2. None

    July 15, 2006 at 9:50 am


    some cool info related to this site


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