opinionBy Eric Reeves
Three weeks ago I wrote at length and in detail about efforts by the leadership of the UN and UNAMID to obscure the acute threats to human security in Darfur ("Darfur in the Still Deepening Shadow of Lies").
This was at a time when a great deal of evidence already indicated that violence was increasing significantly, even as the UN and UNAMID (the UN/African Union "Hybrid" Mission in Darfur) were busily arguing for a reduction in the size of UNAMID because "security had improved in much of Darfur" and the force should reflect the "reality on the ground" (in the words of UN head of peacekeeping operations, Hervé Ladsous). The scale of this cynical mendacity, preeminently on the part of UNAMID head Ibrahim Gambari, has been on conspicuous display throughout Darfur during the intervening three weeks.
These newer events have been even more challenging to disingenuous accounting. Violence has exploded throughout Darfur: in the displaced persons camps and in the towns, even the major town of Kutum--and city of Nyala capital, of South Darfur. On July 31 scores of student demonstrators were gunned down in Nyala down by Khartoum's security forces using automatic rifles. Elsewhere intense fighting between rebel groups and Khartoum's Sudan Armed Forces (SAF) has been reported as well, especially in eastern Darfur (see "Forgotten Darfur: Old Tactics and New Players," Small Arms Survey, July 2012). And various paramilitary elements, including the Abu Tira (Central Reserve Police, CRP), and Border Intelligence Guards--often divided along Arab tribal lines--are engaged in increasingly violent killings and looting. A well-placed, exceptionally well-informed source on the ground reports that:
"Kutum town has been overrun by Arab militia since last Thursday [August 3, 2012]...all of the INGOs [International Nongovernmental Humanitarian Organizations] and UN offices in the area have been thoroughly looted and their staff relocated to el-Fasher. All of the IDPs from Kassab IDP camp have been displaced. The markets in Kutum and in Kassab have booth been thoroughly looted." (email received August 5, 2012; also source for following two quotes)
This source goes on to note that in the case of the fighting in and around Kutum, while beginning in a personal dispute between individual members of two Arab tribal groups:
"The fighting, however, has not been between the two tribes but focused on looting the IDP camps and the INGOs and the markets in the town."
The implications of this violence have not been reported anywhere--by the UN, UNAMID, or even Radio Dabanga. But they are enormous:
"Most of the north part of North Darfur (all the way to Chad) is served from Kutum and now all [humanitarian] organizations have lost all capacity because of the looting, and I do not see the humanitarian community reinvesting in the basic infrastructure because of what has happened. This is going to cause huge humanitarian issues in Kutum and the IDP camps there. All the fuel at the INGOs was looted. This fuel is for vehicles but also for the generators to run water pumps in town and outside of town. This could turn bad, as it is the rainy seasons right now."
Radio Dabanga (August 2, Kutum) also reports eyewitness accounts of the destruction of compounds belonging to (among others) the UN World Food Program and (Irish) GOAL, as well as Kutum's market areas:
"Eyewitnesses from Kutum, North Darfur, told radio Dabanga that pro-government militias stormed the Al Gusr, Al Dababeen and Al Salam areas and the entrance of a large market. They added that the pro-government militias attacked humanitarian organizations' compounds in Kutum town."
Agence France-Presse reported (August 10, 2012) on UN OCHA's finding that "'during the violence, the premises of five humanitarian organisations were looted. Humanitarian staff have been evacuated to El Fasher town.' The World Food Programme previously announced that its Kutum compound was looted for about 12 hours from around midday on August 2" (Khartoum). (all emphases added)
These developments may prove catastrophic for hundreds of thousands of people; and yet UNAMID is largely silent or perfunctory in its comments in the wake of its own painfully weak response to events in and around Kutum. These events include violence against IDPs, overwhelmingly from non-Arab or African tribal groups.
"Radio Dabanga was informed that another four displaced persons were killed and seven were wounded at the Internally Displaced Person (IDP) Kassab camp near Kutum town, North Darfur. Since the outbreak of this conflict, in the beginning of August, a total of seven people were killed and seven were wounded. A relative of one of the victims told Radio Dabanga that three of them were shot dead by border guards inside the camp. The victims, who previously fled the camp, were returning home to recover the belongings they left behind." (Radio Dabanga [Kutum] August 6, 2012)
Following this uncontrolled violence, the best that UNAMID chief Ibrahim Gambari could offer was the "hope that the government will restore law and order in the area, fulfilling its responsibility to protect civilians and allow those recently displaced to return to their homes" (UN News Center, August 6, 2012). This impotent plea for protection of newly displaced persons is directed at an obdurate regime in Khartoum that has heeded no previous plea for civilian protection--in Darfur or anywhere else in Sudan.
We must wonder how well all this comports with Gambari's recent crowing about the (highly suspicious) number of those who have returned to their homes, mainly in West Darfur. Radio Dabanga and other sources are reporting that the entire population of Kassab camp--more than 30,000 people--fled in the wake of the violence: "The witnesses added that more than 32,000 IDPs scattered and fled towards Kutum from Kassab camp. Others fled towards the areas of Ain Seerou, west of Kutum" (Radio Dabanga, Kutum, August 3, 2012; the UN figure for Kassab is 25,000). The same dispatch reports "pro-government militias arrested more than 300 IDPs [following three consecutive days of violence].... A number of IDPs expressed their anger and condemnation of the alleged failure of UNAMID troops to protect those subjected to raids, murders, torture and plundering for three consecutive days by pro-government militias."
Nearby Fata Borno IDP camp was also assaulted:
"Refugees from Fata Borno camp claim that pro-government militias stormed the homes of the remaining IDP's in the areas of Misri, Amrallah and Nando by night, looting properties and assaulting people. Some of the IDPs who fled the camp towards the city of Kutum were also subjected to looting and plundering by pro-government gunmen, near to the area of Mourgy on the road between Fata Borno and Kutum. The gunmen stripped the IDPs from all their belongings and their cattle after beating them severely."
In its most recent dispatch on these developments (August 9), Radio Dabanga reports:
"Representatives of the Kassab and Fata Borno camps in North Darfur, revealed on Wednesday [August 8] that the situation in both camps remains critical and over 70,000 IDPs fled so far. UNAMID promised to provide support to both camps within 24 hours. The head of the camps' representatives, Ahmed Bishara, demands that Tijani Sese, President of Darfur Regional Authority in Khartoum, provides immediate assistance to the Internally Displaced Persons (IDP). Bishara especially requests food and blankets. He describes the IDPs' food security as critical as humanitarian organizations' shops were looted and IDPs lost everything. Sese demands that camps' leaders work to secure the camps and that they participate in resolving the conflict."
Of course it is Sese himself--who committed to representing all Darfuris in signing the "Doha Document for Peace in Darfur" (July 2011), with its absurdly inadequate provisions for human security--who bears greatest responsibility for "resolving conflict." Camp leaders are not the ones responsible for this avalanche of violence and its aftermath:
"Witnesses from Kutum town informed Radio Dabanga that schools and government institutions remain closed. And although some shops and markets are partially open, basic commodities are scarce or lacking and the prices of basic goods rose sharply." (August 9, 2012)
If 70,000 people have indeed been newly displaced--and there is corroborating evidence for the figures cited by Radio Dabanga--this rather overshadows the optimistic UN assessment that some 38,000 people have safely and voluntarily returned to West Darfur (with some to North Darfur). About the 1,145 refugees the UN claims have returned from eastern Chad, there is particular skepticism among Darfuris on the ground and in the diaspora: where precisely are these re-settled people? The representative for the UN High Commission for Refugees in Chad has adamantly denied any such returns since March 2012.
Moreover, even the most recent report (July 16, 2012) from the UN Secretary-General is obliged to acknowledge additional and substantial new displacement directly related to violence and insecurity, and this well before and far away from Kutum:
21. UNAMID received reports of fighting between Sudanese Armed Forces and unidentified movement forces on 17 April in Samaha, 100 km east of El Daein, Eastern Darfur; Saysaban, 140 km south-west of Nyala, Southern Darfur; and Um Dafok, 265 km south-west of Nyala. There were also reports of such fighting on 19 April in Songo, 265 km southwest of Nyala. An SLA-Minni Minawi spokesperson claimed involvement in the clashes in Um Dafok. UNAMID confirmed the fighting in Samaha, but was unable to independently verify the incidents in Southern Darfur because of restrictions imposed by local Government authorities. Humanitarian agencies provided assistance to 19,000 civilians newly displaced from Samaha [East Darfur] to neighbouring villages by the fighting.
And still the violence near Kutum continues--almost a week after the initial onslaught:
"Mohammed Adam Abaker, 50 years old, was shot today by pro-government militias inside the Kassab camp, North Darfur, according to a relative. He added Abaker was shot inside the camp as he returned home to recover his belongings, but his body was found in an open area near the camp." (August 7, 2012)
Much of Kutum remains shuttered, food prices are skyrocketing, and fear is pervasive. The deficit in humanitarian resources following the looting is daily making itself more acutely felt. Even in the urban areas themselves--Kutum, but also Fata Borno and Kabkabiya--the toll has been heavy:
"Abdul Nasser Ibrahim, head of civil society organizations in Kutum, North Darfur, revealed that the recent events in Kutum, Kabkabiya and Fata Borno left 21 people killed, 600 injured, and a thousand missing. Nasser appealed to the Sudanese Ministry of Justice to form a committee to investigate the recent events, to bring the perpetrators to trial as well as to disarm pro-government militias." (Radio Dabanga August 8, 2012)
Most recently (August 13) Radio Dabanga reported attacks on Abu Zereiga in North Darfur; attacks of this character are increasingly common:
"A group of armed men attacked citizens and traders in Abu Zereiga, Dar el Salaam region in North Darfur yesterday. Many shops of local traders and homes of citizens were looted and plundered, undisclosed sources told Radio Dabanga.
Traders from Abu Zereiga told Radio Dabanga that armed groups approached the town with more than ten vehicles. The vehicles were accompanying a trade convoy on its way to Nyala. Abu Zereiga's market was plundered after the convoy passed yesterday night, as some of the armed groups left the convoy. The armed groups shot in the air after which they assaulted the merchants, driving them out of their shops and seizing the opportunity to loot what was inside, money and goods, and fled."
Urban violence has also included extraordinary developments in Nyala, the largest city in Darfur: there Khartoum's security forces used of automatic rifles against protesting students on July 31. Reports from Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, the African Centre for Justice and Peace Studies, and Radio Dabanga suggest appalling totals of 12 dead and approximately 100 wounded, some critically--many under the age of 18. This connects more directly with the broad dissatisfaction that is sweeping Sudan, particularly the growing outrage at surging prices for food and fuel; for these are the painful consequences of years of economic mismanagement, and the costs of relentless military actions that have taken a devastating toll on the northern Sudanese economy. But it is also part of the culture of violence that continues to take deeper and deeper hold on all of Darfur--which, perversely, now serves Khartoum as a kind of "regime security on the cheap."
New violence has also included sustained and immensely destructive aerial bombardment of civilians and civilian targets.
"Hundreds were displaced from east Jebel Mara to Tawila locality, North Darfur. According to a witness, this is the result of the Sudanese Armed Forces' (SAF) intensive bombing on east Jebel Mara throughout the week. A source informed Radio Dabanga that residents from the villages of Arosha, Hijer, Deloomi, Humeda, Sabi, Wadi Mora, Tangarara were moved to Tawila locality in North Darfur. One of the fugitives said that dozens of people, including a large number of women, children and elders, are still in open fields, forests and valleys. They have no food, no medicine and no shelter. He added that after the bombings pro-government militias chased and dragged the people out of their homes and plundered their livestock." (Jebel Marra, August 6, 2012)
"On Tuesday [August 7, 2012] three herders were killed and four were injured in Tabaldiya Dalma village, East Jebel Marra, North Darfur. According to victims' relatives the Sudanese Air Force dropped five bombs on the area from an Antonov airplane. The bombs hit the herders as they returned home at sunset. The fatal victims are: Nona Ahmed Abaker, 11 years old, Adam Omar Abdullah, 10 years old and Rauda Adam Zacharias, 10 years old. The injured herders are: Abdullah Musa Ismail, 7 years old and his sister Um al nas Musa Ismail, 12 years old, Mariam Ahmed Omar 12 years old and Sadia Zakaria, 13 years old. A large amount of livestock was also destroyed." (August 7, 2012)
And the aerial attacks have continued in South Darfur as well:
"Eyewitnesses told Radio Dabanga that an Antonov plane bombed the areas of Hillat Ahmed, Hillat Abaker, Um Kadaldal, Kabka, Lourtik and Trungfawi, South Darfur. In addition, villages southeast of Tabit and the area south of al-Malam in South Darfur were also bombed. This is the fourth day of bombings in the area. Sources cannot confirm if there were any civilian casualties as inhabitants fled in different directions in search of protection and safety in neighboring valleys and mountains. At the same time, one of the fugitives confirmed that three camels and three donkeys died due to the bombings in the village of Trungfawi." (August 8, 2012)
Khartoum also denies access to UNAMID when it tries to investigate the many reports of civilian bombardment that are received by the Mission. Here it is worth noting that from the beginning of 2011 through May 5, 2012 there have well over 100 eyewitness reports of aerial attacks on civilians--every one of them a violation of the ban on military flights contained in UN Security Council Resolution 1591 (March 2005), and every one also a war crime under the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court. And yet Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, in his two most recent reports on UNAMID (together covering the first half of 2012) notes only two such aerial attacks as confirmed by UNAMID. This extraordinary paucity of reporting speaks volumes not only about the impotence of UNAMID as a protection force, but the decision by the UN Secretariat to allow for the collapse of the UN Panel of Experts on Darfur, also mandated by Resolution 1591.
But the most shocking feature of these reports on UNAMID from Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon's office is that they contain not a single reference to or acknowledgement of the epidemic of sexual violence that continues to rage in Darfur: there is not one mention of an incident of sexual violence against girls or women, or even the mention of a report on such violence. This is a morally contemptible acquiescence before Khartoum's hostile sensitivities on the issue. UNAMID carefully records the number of kidnappings, car-jackings (10), acts of banditry (246), and other crimes--all are tabulated under the section "Safety and Security." But despite the countless detailed reports from Radio Dabanga about continual rapes and sexual assaults, UNAMID refuses to report or confirm any of these.
As security continues to deteriorate, attacks against civilians occur even in the immediate vicinity of the main UNAMID base in el-Fasher:
"Local government militias kill 4 people on Friday in the area of Abu Zeraiga, [some 20 miles] south of El-Fasher. A relative of one of the victims told Radio Dabanga that the government militia moved from Dar es Salaam and Shangil Tobay riding vehicles, motorcycles and camels and attacked the area around five o'clock in the evening. The attack resulted in the deaths of Idriss Zakaria Ali, Idriss Abdullah Ali, Abdullah El-Bari Idriss Abdullah and Khalil Adam Bakht and injured Idriss Araja Hassan and El-Omda Ali. The militia plundered approximately 1,245 livestock." (Radio Dabanga [el-Fasher] 30 July 2012)
All too predictably, in excusing the failure to investigate various reports of violence, UNAMID spokesman Chris Cycmanick declares that "the government denied access to UNAMID peacekeepers who tried to reach the area" (Agence France-Presse [Khartoum], August 9, 2012). In fact, this phrase or some version of it ("the Government of Sudan denied access to...") litters the pages of the two most recent reports on UNAMID from the UN Secretary-General (April and July 2012). Again and again Khartoum denies UNAMID access to investigate reports of violent attacks on civilians, as well as military encounters between the SAF and rebel groups. The most recent report (July 16, 2012) reports specifically that Khartoum's authorities denied 357 flights as well as 27 ground missions from April 1 to June 30. These denials come more than four and a half years after UNAMID supposedly secured from Khartoum a Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) (February 2008), guaranteeing complete freedom of movement throughout Darfur--yet another agreement that this cynical regime has signed without any intention of abiding by.
The most recent report from the Secretary-General also notes other restrictions on UNAMID movement:
27. Despite the authorities informing the Department of Safety and Security of the Secretariat on 29 April that the restrictions had been lifted, UNAMID continued to be prevented from accessing the areas by authorities citing insecurity. During the reporting period, access was intermittently restricted to Shaeria and Labado (Southern Darfur) and Shangil Tobaya, Dar al Salam and Thabit (Northern Darfur). The majority of restrictions were imposed in areas where there was alleged to be ongoing or recently concluded military fighting and where authorities suspected the presence of active non-signatory armed movement forces.
28. Restrictions were also imposed on UNAMID civilian personnel. On 15 April, National Intelligence and Security Services agents in Kass, Southern Darfur, stopped a UNAMID civil affairs workshop for local interlocutors on conflict resolution, citing a lack of prior authorization. Also in Kass, on 15 May, a UNAMID human rights monitoring mission was restricted by local authorities, who cited a lack of prior written authorization.
Restricted access also takes the form of delaying or denying visas for various humanitarian and other officials: the Secretary-General's report notes that 822 visas were "pending" as of June 30--403 civilian police officers, 149 civilian personnel, 127 military personnel, and 123 for contractors (ÂÂ§58). Beyond this it should be noted that a UNAMID employee (Sherif Mohamed Abdel-Salam) was arrested by Khartoum's security forces in Zalingei on July 25. This says something actually quite important about Khartoum's estimation of UNAMID.
And even more consequentially, Khartoum continues to deny humanitarian access, which has already cost countless lives and resulted in untold suffering. This is a deliberate part of Khartoum's campaign of attrition:
38. Humanitarian aid workers continued to experience access restrictions and bureaucratic impediments during the reporting period. United Nations Humanitarian Air Services flights between El Fasher and deep field locations in Northern Darfur were suspended from 3 to 10 April by Sudanese military authorities, who cited insecurity. In mid-April, the Government, citing insecurity, introduced a requirement for humanitarian organizations to submit requests for permits to the Sudanese Humanitarian Aid Commission 72 hours prior to travelling in Southern Darfur. On 16 and 17 May, local government authorities prevented United Nations agencies from entering the Zam Zam camp, citing a lack of written authorization. Furthermore, local government authorities restricted access for all aid agencies to the Radom locality on the Southern Darfur-Western Bahr Al Ghazal border throughout June.
39. On 22 April, National Intelligence and Security Services agents entered the offices of two national non-governmental organizations to enforce an order issued by the Sudanese Humanitarian Aid Commission to suspend the agencies' operations. Authorities confiscated vehicles and equipment. One of the organizations was allowed to resume operations on 30 April, whereas the other's operations remain suspended. No reason was provided for the closures. The suspended organization was involved in distributing food for an international non-governmental organization to approximately 100,000 internally displaced persons in camps in Eastern Darfur.
40. Furthermore, health-care assistance decreased in Northern Darfur following the suspension by Médecins Sans Frontières of most of its medical activities in the Jebel Si area. That decision was attributed to difficulties obtaining travel and work permits for staff and to long-standing restrictions on the movement of medical supplies. Authorization to transport medical supplies to the area was last received in September 2011. The organization was the sole health-care provider in an area with a population of approximately 100,000, plus 10,000 seasonal nomads.
[ Medair and Aide Médicale Internationale also withdrew earlier this year, in both cases from West Darfur; nominally this was because of lack of funding, but the particularly intense insecurity in West Darfur played a major role in any decision by these organizations to withdraw, given the number of important health clinics they were running. ]
But what is the most UNAMID and the UN are prepared to do?
29. UNAMID continued to call upon representatives of the Government of the Sudan at all levels to allow the mission full and unrestricted freedom of movement.
Notably, as the most recent report on UNAMID by the Secretary-General is forced to confirm, UNAMID has in fact never fully deployed to its mandated strength. Less than 85 percent of the authorized police have deployed; even more significantly, less than 82 percent of the personnel for Formed Police Units (FPU) have deployed. Even the military personnel are at less the 88 percent of what was authorized. So the very substantial cuts--more than 4,000 in the current phase of the draw-down--will substantially lower these already deficient figures.
UNAMID forces also continue to be badly under-equipped: the July report on UNAMID notes:
60. Deficiencies in the operational and self-sustainment capabilities of military and police contingents remained of concern. Of the 54 units deployed to UNAMID, only 25 met the contingent-owned equipment requirements stipulated in the memorandums of understanding.
UNAMID officially took up its mandate on January 1, 2008--four and a half years ago. It has never been an effective force, and has never reached its mandated strength. The SOFA has never meant anything to Khartoum's officials, and obstruction of security and humanitarian operations is simply another part of a war of attrition against the people of Darfur. The current violence likely derives in part from Khartoum's inability to pay its former Arab militia allies, who have taken to ever more violent looting, seizures of non-Arab property and land, and outright hostility to many of Khartoum's own forces. The regime is only partly dismayed by this turn of events in which violence has grown increasingly chaotic since the dismal failure of the 2006 Darfur Peace Agreement (DPA). Violent chaos is now poised to become even more extreme as the "Doha Document for Peace in Darfur" is increasingly revealed as a sham, without any popular support, and mainly valuable as a diplomatic fig-leaf for the international diplomatic community. As one participant in the Abuja negotiations (leading to the DPA) has put the matter: "Doha is Abuja replayed as farce."
Confronted with so many lies, with so much deep cynicism, with such an expedient view of human life in Darfur, we are likely to lose touch even further with the brutal realities on the ground in the region. And yet all international humanitarian organizations that remain, providing critically needed services, are seriously considering either withdrawal or extreme attenuation of their presence. This comes at a time when food deficits are extraordinarily high: the Secretary-General's report cites a report for "Central Darfur" indicating "resources are only sufficient to cover 64 percent of the population's food requirements for the year" (ÂÂ§37). And how will this vast shortfall be made up? "The release from its strategic reserves of 50 tons of cereals by the Central Darfur State government in May and increased food production by the commercial sector are expected to cover the deficit." This is a scandalously disingenuous suggestion; certainly 50 metric tons of cereals can't begin to touch the needs of such a large population facing a 36 percent food deficit.
The best explanation of recent violent events in the Kutum area of North Darfur--much of it under the very eyes of UNAMID--comes from two different camp directors, one in North Darfur, the other in West Darfur:
"Ahmed Ateem, north Darfur camps coordinator and mayor, believes that the Sudanese government as well as the UNAMID are responsible for the alleged negligence in protecting IDP's in Kassab camp and unarmed civilians in the city of Kutum. He added that the attacks were aimed to dismantle the camps in the region. Ateem indicated that this government scheme started in el-Hamidiya [West Darfur] and Zamzam [near el-Fasher, North Darfur]. And has now spread to Kassab and Kutum." [ ]
"A Zalingei camp coordinator also condemned what happened in the city Kutum and Kassab camp. He said that it is clearly a scheme of the NCP (National Congress Party) and the regional authorities for the implementation of the Doha Document by dismantling IDP camps and thus forcing displaced people to leave the camps." (Radio Dabanga [Kutum] August 3, 2012)
There can be little doubt that whatever the immediate cause of the fighting in Kutum, its ongoing replication throughout Darfur, now over a great many months, surely gives considerable weight to these Darfuri assessments, and should give pause to those inclined to credit various UN and UNAMID pronouncements concerning violence and security in Darfur:
• "'There is no more fighting proper on the ground.' 'Right now there is no high-intensity conflict in Darfur. Call it what you will but this is what is happening in Darfur--a lot of banditry, carjacking, attacks on houses.'" (Rodolphe Adada, former head of UNAMID, August 2009)
• "UN humanitarian agencies are not confronted by pressure or interference from the Government of Sudan." (George Charpentier, former UN Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator for Sudan, January 2011)
• "We are seeing a trend of decreasing overall violent incidents in Darfur." (Charpentier, January 20, 2011)
• "Our figures have shown that the number of armed attacks in all three Darfur states has fallen by as much as 70 percent over the past three years, which has resulted in more displaced people returning to their homes. UNAMID has significantly stabilized the situation in Darfur." (Ibrahim Gambari, current head of UNAMID, September 2011)
• "...the security situation in Darfur is 'relatively calm.'" (UNAMID spokesman, Chris Cycmanick, May 2012)
• "Darfur: security and humanitarian situation improve." (Ibrahim Gambari, April 2012
Precisely because of these transparently falsified claims, Khartoum believes even more strongly that if they eliminate the IDP camps, then they have eliminated the rationale for an international humanitarian presence--and they will meet no resistance from UN officials invested in the "success" of UNAMID. Civilian returns are the essence of the "New Strategy for Darfur," first promulgated by the regime two years ago--and promptly celebrated by UNAMID's Gambari, Thabo Mbeki for the AU "High Level Implementation Panel," and U.S. special envoy Scott Gration. What we are now seeing is this "strategy" in action. Violence continues throughout Darfur (see July 22 analysis), and Radio Dabanga continues to chronicle events in excruciating detail--often with names of bombing and murder victims, ages, precise geographic locations, and sometimes even the names of sources. And yet UNAMID, the UN (including UN DPKO), and the AU pretend that these accounts come from an invisible region, one that they simply don't feel obliged to report accurately to the outside world.