28 August 2013

Sudan: Events in Darfur Rapidly Spiralling Out of Control

Photo: Pierre Holtz
Displaced in Darfur.

opinion

As the world reacts with horror to chemical weapons attacks on civilians in Syria, and watches with grim anticipation as an American military response takes shape, there appears to be little "band-width" for other international news. It is all easy too overlook the much more widespread suffering and civilian destruction in Darfur, an ongoing catastrophe that is accelerating in such a way that humanitarian organizations may soon be compelled to withdraw, leaving an immense vacuum in the provision of food, primary medical care, and clean water. The UN/African Union Mission in Darfur (UNAMID) appears to be in a state of collapse, unable to protect itself or to serve any deterrent or civilian protection purposes. Several events in particular this past week give a sense of how weak this beleaguered force has become and the consequences of allowing Khartoum to create in Darfur an intolerable climate of insecurity. Their implications are analyzed briefly below.

It seems important as well, however, to understand just how misleading the implicit comparisons are between civilian victims of chemical weapons in Syria and the civilian victims of utterly indiscriminate aerial bombardment by the Sudan Armed Forces (SAF) of the Khartoum regime--not only in Darfur but in Blue Nile and the Nuba Mountains of South Kordofan as well. In the case of Syria, the strenuous language deployed is a pretext for military action in a region of very considerable geostrategic significance. As a consequence, there has been much talk of how the Assad regime's chemical attacks on the outskirts of Damascus are a "moral obscenity," that they are somehow uniquely "gruesome," that such actions are the ne plus ultra of military barbarism. But such descriptions as used by U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry are finally expedient; for presumably Kerry knows full well the consequences of aerial attacks on civilians in Darfur and greater Sudan as a whole. There have been more than 2,000 such confirmed aerial attacks on civilians and humanitarians over the past fifteen years, and this is likely only a small fraction of the actual number of bombings. Many tens of thousands have been killed in these attacks--directly or indirectly--dwarfing the number of casualties from chemical weapons attacks in Syria and even in Iraq during Saddam Hussein's infamous al-Anfal campaign against the Kurds in the late 1980s.

And any comparison of how "gruesome" death is by means of chemical attack on the one hand, and the shrapnel-inflicted wounding of children, women, the elderly on the other, will inevitably be invidious. Histories of the First World War have given us many images, narratives accounts, even poetry representing the agony of mustard gas inhalation; it is without question horrific, indeed "gruesome." But can this justify implicit claims that the nature of death from shrapnel exploding out of crude barrel bombs, inflicting ghastly wounds, is any less "gruesome"? Indeed, it is a pointless and misleading comparison. But if there are those who wish to see photographs of the agony endured by bombing victims--children and women are the most common victims, but they include any and all caught in the broad swathe of crude barrel bombs dropped from an Antonov cargo plane at a height of 5,000 meters--I have posted a number of them on my Tumblr account (caution: many of these are deeply disturbing images, even as they do not include the most "gruesome": http://www.tumblr.com/blog/sudanreeves).

At the time of the First World War, the victims of military conflict were overwhelmingly soldiers; now the figures are completely reversed and in the 21st century, civilians account for over 90 percent of all casualties of war. The treaty banning chemical weapons that followed the First World War was a function of a European response to European soldiers who were killed or whose lungs were horribly scarred by mustard gas. It was a treaty that came into existence at a time when the idea of massive, deliberate, and indiscriminate aerial bombardment of civilians was simply not conceivable. It is the Rome Statute of 1998 that contains language making clear the ongoing, systematic deployments of such aerial attacks against civilians constitute, in aggregate, crimes against humanity (see "'They Bombed Everything that Moved': Aerial Attacks on Civilians and Humanitarians in Sudan, 1999 - 2012," pages 19 - 20, www.sudanbombing.org).

Let us be clear: as "gruesome" as the chemical attacks in the Damascus suburbs and elsewhere have been, the character of human suffering has been rhetorically inflated, in part because the implications of an artificially drawn "red line" are now being amplified as much as politically and rhetorically possible. Why is there no acknowledgement of the "gruesome" suffering of a mother who watches her children die of malnutrition and disease and then slowly dies of starvation herself? Many hundreds of thousands have died in precisely this way in Sudan because humanitarian relief operations have been and still are denied access by the National Islamic Front/National Congress Party regime, as it has done for the entirety of its 24 years of its tyranny. Does it serve any purpose to make these invidious comparisons, explicitly or implicitly, when suffering is so great and the number of dead so staggeringly large? What are we to say to victims of attacks such as this from Radio Dabanga (August 18, 2013)?

At least four people--including a pregnant woman--are reported to have died, many injured, and a village completely destroyed on Saturday and Sunday, following a series of air raids on East Jebel Marra. Multiple reports reaching Radio Dabanga from civilians fleeing the area say that on Sunday, the pregnant Hawaa Suleiman Yahiya died, and at least two people were injured, when "a group of eight Sudanese Air Force aircraft including MiG jets, helicopters and Antonovs bombarded a large area of East Jebel Marra." The North Darfur villages of Tanagara, Sharfa, Dolma, Abu Hamra, Sani Kundo, and Tagali Umagali were all reportedly hit. Tanagara was apparently completely destroyed. (Radio Dabanga [eastern Jebel Marra], August 18, 2013)

Who can presume to compare the "obscenity" of such an attack with what we have seen in Syria?

[An updated report and statistical accounting of the bombing of civilians in Darfur is forthcoming, adding to the substantial data at "'They Bombed Everything that Moved': Aerial Attacks on Civilians and Humanitarians in Sudan, 1999 - 2012," (www.sudanbombing.org) ]

Darfur Now: Key Events

[1] Several recent attacks on or abductions of international relief workers suggest a level of danger and vulnerability that cannot be endured for long. Although receiving little attention, they are highly significant harbingers in light of the killing of two World Vision workers in their Nyala compound (July 4, 2013).

Gunmen in Sudan's troubled Darfur region were holding two employees of the Red Cross on Tuesday but six others have been freed, a spokesman for the organization said. "Two of the colleagues, along with two of their trucks, have still not been released," Rafiullah Qureshi, spokesman for the International Committee of the Red Cross in Sudan, told Agence France Presse... . Government-linked militia and paramilitary groups are also suspected to have carried out many kidnappings, carjackings and other crimes in Darfur. Analysts say Sudan's crisis-hit regime now has less money for militias it deployed against the insurgency, and the militias are acting outside government control. (Agence France-Presse, August 27, 2013; all emphases in all quotations have been added.

Just as alarming are reports of the plundering of humanitarian resources, even in urban areas. Radio Dabanga reports (August 27, 2013):

Masked gunmen reportedly raided the compound of the Red Cross near to the airport of Nyala, capital of South Darfur on Monday morning. Separately, the organisation has confirmed that six of the eight members of staff abducted near Nertiti, also on Monday morning, have been released. A witness told Radio Dabanga that nine masked gunmen scaled the fence into the Red Cross compound in Nyala's airport zone at about 1am. They allegedly beat two guards before removing mobile phones, computers, foreign currency and other property of the organisation's workers before fleeing to an unknown destination. The source said that several international staff members were present in the compound at the time of the attack, including Swiss, Canadian, and Serb nationals. [Nyala is the largest city in Darfur--ER]

Sudan Tribune reports (August 24, 2013):

Unidentified gunmen looted the office of the American Refugee Committee (ARC) in neighbourhood of the airport in Nyala, the capital of South Darfur state, on Saturday. Security sources said the masked assailants threatened two guardians at gunpoint to open the doors of ARC building and stole all computers, electronic devices and all the belongings of the charity group which works in the state since 2004.The looters also tried to open the safe box but left it behind after moving it to outside the two flour building, the police added... . The capital of South Darfur state, Nyala, suffers criminal attacks carried out by former militia members who assault regularly commercial convoys and trade stores... . ARC provides agricultural livelihoods support to the farmers in South Darfur and runs 16 primary health clinics serving remote communities. It also maintains a "mix of emergency and recovery programs, serving 350,000 displaced and war-affected people around the city of Nyala" say the website of the humanitarian group.

[2] What makes these attacks especially ominous is how closely they comport with the announced goals of the Khartoum regime, specifically the removal of international humanitarian workers from Darfur. Radio Dabanga reports (August 22, 2013):

New measures proposed by the Khartoum government to control the activities of international humanitarian groups, including UN agencies in Sudan, will only permit national [i.e., Sudanese] organisations to work in the field of rights in the country. In a statement via the state news agency SUNA, Interior Minister Ibrahim Mahmoud Hamid said that the new rules were agreed upon at a meeting on Wednesday between President Omar Al Bashir, and the Ministers of the Interior, Justice, Foreign Affairs as well as the Director of the security apparatus. Hamid: "The meeting put forward detailed procedures for the work of foreign humanitarian groups in the capital Khartoum and the regions, ensuring that it is in line with government policies and strategy.

This "strategy" was of course first announced in a document promulgated by the NIF/NCP in August 2010 and formally adopted in September 2010. It took no great interpretive skill to see that that the so-called "New Strategy for Darfur" entailed forcing humanitarian organizations out of Darfur by declaring the humanitarian emergency to be over, and that the priority had therefore shifted to returns of the displaced persons and "development," a word that appears constantly in the document (see "Accommodating Genocide: The International Response to Khartoum's "New Strategy for Darfur,'" Dissent Magazine, October 8, 2010http://www.dissentmagazine.org/online_articles/accommodating-genocide-the-international-response-to-khartoums-new-strategy-for-darfur). The official propaganda organs of the regime have recently made the logic of this "strategy" boldly explicit, linking it speciously to "reform" in the regime:

"President Directs Cut-down of Foreign Workers": President of the Republic Omer Al Bashir has underlined the need for continuity of the process of reform and administrative planning and the development of the civil service institutions. At a meeting yesterday with staff of the Ministry of Human Resources Development, the President also directed the importance of reviewing strategy of technical education and vocational training and the need to downsize foreign workers by replacing them with Sudanese workers. [Minister of Human Resources Development Ishraqa Sayed Mahmoud] said the meeting discussed the administrative reform process, development of laws and administrative aspects of civil service. As a ministry, we have taken the permission of the president to inspect government institutions as part of reform process, she said. (Sudan Vision, 26th August 2013)

The message continues to be announced with startling clarity:

"Al Bashir Gives Directive for Continuity of Administrative Reform Process": President of the Republic, Field Marshal Omer Al Bashir called for continuity of administrative reform and planning process and enhancement of the civil service institutions. This came when he received last Monday in his office at the Republican Palace the Minister, State Ministers and leaders of the Ministry of Manpower Development and Labor. President Al Bashir called for reviewing the strategy of technical education and professional training as well as reducing the foreign labor and replacing it with Sudanese manpower. (Sudan Vision, 28th August 2013)

As the recent denial of visas to 20 workers for the UN High Commission for Refugees clearly indicates, the regime is prepared to take "reduction of foreign labor" into its own hands by whatever means it chooses.

[3] The continuing collapse of UNAMID is extraordinarily dangerous: it is a force no longer capable of protecting itself from increasingly emboldened militia forces, let alone protecting civilians and humanitarian, its primary mandate from the UN Security Council. The deterioration in the effectiveness of a mission that was never nearly adequate to this mandate occurs even as the UN Department of Peacekeeping Operations (UN DPKO) continues to plan for a drawn-down of not only soldiers but civilian personnel. A "review of uniformed personnel" was carried out last year, and the decision was to cut the number substantially by June 2014; currently there is a review of civilian UANMID personnel that is also likely to result in substantial cuts. All this occurs against the backdrop of a dramatic increase in violence and insecurity over the past year and more. The claim by UN DPKO head Hervé Ladsous that the force is "sufficiently robust" is pure mendacity--and has been contemptuously dismissed by those who know the current situation on the ground in Darfur best; recent developments only justify this contempt further. How else to explain events such as this, reported by Human Rights Watch on the basis of satellite photography and witness reports? -

Satellite images confirm the wholesale destruction of villages in Central [formerly West] Darfur in an attack in April 2013 by a militia leader sought by the International Criminal Court, Human Rights Watch said today. The images show the town of Abu Jeradil and surrounding villages in Central [formerly West] Darfur state almost completely burned down, Human Rights Watch said. Villagers who fled the area told Human Rights Watch in May that Sudanese government forces, including the militia leader Ali Kosheib, had attacked the area. More than 42 villagers are believed to have been killed and 2,800 buildings destroyed.

"Satellite images show the total destruction of villages during the April attacks in Central Darfur," said Daniel Bekele, Africa director at Human Rights Watch. "How can the Sudanese authorities claim there's nothing they can do when their own security forces were involved and the war crimes suspect Ali Kosheib is on the loose?" Human Rights Watch analysis of satellite imagery found that more than 2,800 buildings were probably burned down in Abu Jeradil and four neighboring villages, which is 88 percent of all buildings in the area. (Sudan: Satellite Images Confirm Villages Destroyed; ICC Suspect Involved In Attacks Remains At-Large, Nairobi, 19 June 2013)

There is a simple reason for the draw-down of UNAMID and it has nothing to do with improvement in "conditions on the ground," as Ladsous absurdly declared last year: it is an effort to reduce the size and thus expense of what has been the world's largest and most costly and least effective UN peacekeeping operation. The conclusion was clearly reached within UN DPKO that since UNAMID was failing, the solution was not to strengthen the force but to pull the financial plug. Darfuri lives have been judged not worth the expense of an effective peacekeeping mission.

This is a "moral obscenity," but one that neither John Kerry nor anyone else in the Obama administration--or in the EU or AU--wishes to talk about.

What are we to make of a force that is repeatedly defined by incidents such as these?

"Militia attack UN peacekeepers in Sudan" A convoy of the UN peacekeepers in Sudan was attacked in East Darfur with the police and villagers witnessing the fire exchange. At least three casualties were evacuated by a helicopter for treatment in the hospital of Ed Daein. The convoy was reportedly moving from state capital Ed Daein to Muhajeriya. Eyewitnesses told Radio Dabanga that a group of militiamen attacked a UNAMID convoy in the Umwargat area, 36km northeast of Ed Daein, on Tuesday morning [August 27].

Sources also claim that the two of the 10 vehicles belonging to the UNAMID convoy were seized during the attack. Speaking to Radio Dabanga by phone from North Darfur capital El Fasher on Tuesday evening, UNAMID media relations officer Rania Abdulrahman confirmed that "three peacekeepers have been injured in clashes with an unknown armed group in the village of Mumudiri, 36km northeast of Ed Daein." [The police commander for the region] then deployed forces to Umwargat, where they found a fuel tanker overturned, five Land Cruisers, two of which were stuck in the mud, and five troop carriers. He said his forces sent all of the vehicles to Ed Daein carrying the peacekeepers. (Radio Dabanga [Ed Daein], August 27, 2013)

This is only the most recent in a long string of attacks on UNAMID, attacks that have killed more than 50 troops since the mission took up its mandate in January 2008. Many of these attacks are clearly linked to Khartoum-allied militia forces (see "Killing UN Peacekeepers: A Ruthless Proclivity of Khartoum's SAF, Militia Proxies," 9 May 2013, http://www.sudanreeves.org/?p=3960 and "The Killing of Seven UN Peacekeeping Personnel in Darfur: An Update," 18 July 2013, http://www.sudanreeves.org/?p=4128).

[4] Even as UNAMID becomes an increasingly ineffective force on the ground, a range of ethnic and tribal clashes are creating more and more insecurity; conflict between Arab groups has reached an unprecedented scale. The conflict between the Beni Hussein and the northern Rizeigat that began in the Jebel Amer region (North Darfur) last summer has continued, and was a major engine in newly displacing some 300,000 Darfuris this year by mid-May. Large-scale displacement has continued, much of it into Chad where humanitarian resources are even more limited and there is no protection force (UN IRIN has recently provided an excellent series of reports). The Sudan Tribune (August 21, 2013) reported that 839 people were killed in recent clashes between the Beni Hussein and northern Rizeigat (http://www.sudantribune.com/spip.php?article47747).

Large-scale violence between the Salamat and the Ta-isha tribes has been the major force driving more than 50,000 people into eastern Chad, a great many from the Umm Dukhun area of West Darfur. Khartoum has decided to support the Ta'isha in this conflict, in part because one of the prime Janjaweed leaders, Ali Kushayb, belongs to the Ta'isha. Ali Kushayb has been indicted by the International Criminal Court for massive crimes against humanity in this region of Darfur early in the war.

In eastern Darfur the Rizeigat tribal group of the area has been fighting with the rival Maaliya, vastly expanding the geography of Arab tribal violence:

Fighting between rival Arab tribes rocked Sudan's Darfur region for a second day Sunday after 100 people died in unrest that has already killed hundreds this year, tribal sources said. Battles were taking place in the Adila area of southeastern Darfur, the sources said. "The fighting today spread to many areas," said a member of the Rezeigat tribe which has been fighting the rival Maaliya since Saturday. "I saw some wounded Rezeigat taken to the hospital in Ed Daein on Land Cruisers," he said, asking for anonymity. Ed Daein is the capital of East Darfur state. A Maaliya resident confirmed fighting south of Adila, and a doctor in Nyala city to the west told AFP that some wounded Maaliya had been taken there for treatment. They were not able to give casualty figures for Sunday's fighting but tribal sources said dozens had died on Saturday. "We clashed with Maaliya... and we destroyed a compound of theirs and killed 70 of them," another Rezeigat source said, declining to be named. "We lost 30 of our men." (More fighting in Darfur after 100 killed: Sudan tribes, France 24, August 11, 2013)

There is also fighting between the non-Arab Gimr tribe and the Arab Beni Halba (a useful compendium of this variously ramified tribal violence is offered by AllAfrica.com at http://article.wn.com/view/2013/06/25/Accusations_of_Genocide_As_Beni_Halba_Gimr_Clash_Again_in_So/#/related_news). UNAMID is powerless to mitigate the destructiveness of this growing violence. Moreover, the spillover effects have certainly affected humanitarian operations, and increasing insecurity will certainly further limit already severely attenuated relief efforts.

For a perspective on just how great humanitarian needs are in Sudan--not just Darfur--the Sudan Tribune recently provided a shocking summary account:

Nearly 4.5 million people across Sudan remain in need of humanitarian help despite the country being home to one of the biggest aid operations in the world, the UN said in a statement issued by its Khartoum headquarters to mark World Humanitarian Day on Monday. The United Nations resident and humanitarian coordinator in Sudan Ali Al-Za'tari said the agency and humanitarian aid organisations have spent more than $10.5 billion dollars in Sudan over the past decade to meet the needs of people mainly in conflict-affected areas. He said thousands had been forced to flee their homes as a result of war and internal fighting in Darfur, South and North Kordofan, Blue Nile and Abyei, while many more had lost their property and livelihoods as a result of ongoing conflicts. (Sudan Tribune, August 19, 2013; http://www.sudantribune.com/spip.php?article47703 )

Mark Cutts, head of office for the UN's Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, recently provided another summary account; many of the figures almost defy comprehension:

OCHA assists more than 4.5 million people in Sudan. War violence, and conflicts made more than 2 million people flee their homes in Darfur since 2003, OCHA estimates. At least 1.4 million are still living in displaced camps. In South Kordofan and Blue Nile over a million people have been displaced or severely affected by the war since September 2011.

Forty-seven aid workers have been killed in Darfur since 2003, 139 have been injured, and 71 have been abducted. Two Sudanese aid workers were killed in Nyala in South Darfur only one month ago. In UNAMID, since 2007, 51 peacekeepers have been killed. Thirteen of those were killed in the last year.

The Sudanese government estimates that 1.8 million children are out of school in the country. Many of them are in places like Darfur, South Kordofan and Blue Nile. The overall level of malnutrition throughout Sudan is 16%, a latest government survey indicates. This is higher than the 15% emergency threshold considered by the World Health Organization. Rates are even higher in other states of Sudan, such as the Red Sea state in the east of the country. The UN, working with the Ministry of Health and other ministries in government, estimates that there are about 750,000 children suffering from severe malnutrition in 2013.

More than five million people in Sudan do not have adequate access to basic health services. The number of trained health personnel in Darfur is 5 times lower than the benchmark given by the UN's World Health Organization. (Statement cited by Radio Dabanga [Khartoum], August 16, 2013)

And yet President al-Bashir and his fellow génocidaires are seeking to reduce the presence of international relief workers in Sudan. Having squandered countless billions of dollars on war, military purchases, the various security services, a vast patronage network, and grotesque self-enrichment, the Khartoum regime neither wishes nor has the financial resources to respond to these extraordinarily grim numbers. The agricultural sector has deteriorated badly under the NIF/NCP and this does much to account for the astounding fact that "the overall level of malnutrition throughout Sudan is 16%," a level for the entire country that is above the UN humanitarian emergency threshold. And even where the need is acutest in Darfur, UNAMID refuses to challenge Khartoum's humanitarian blockades. For example, access to those in eastern Jebel Marra--in truly desperate need of humanitarian aid--continues to be denied:

Due to the precarious security situation in Darfur's East Jebel Marra, about 70,000 displaced persons are "facing extreme difficulty," according to the Association of Displaced Persons and Refugees of Darfur. Speaking to Radio Dabanga on Tuesday, association spokesman Hussein Abu Sharati said that the displaced of Naivasha and Shaddad camps in East Jebel Marra are facing extremely difficult humanitarian and health situations. "They have not received humanitarian aid since 2012, because of fighting between the government forces and the Sudan Revolutionary Front," he said. "This is aggravated due humanitarian organisations leaving the region since 2012." (70,000 "facing extreme difficulty" in Darfur's East Jebel Marra: displaced, eastern Jebel Marra, August 20, 2013)

[5] As great as these problems are, and as culpable as the Khartoum regime has been in exacerbating conflict and engaging in a war of attrition against international humanitarian relief efforts, the greatest problem facing Darfur remains the displacement of non-Arab/African farmers from their lands--and the violent appropriation of those lands by Arab groups and militias determined to use them as pasturage in support of their nomadic/pastoral way of life. It is here that UNAMID's complete impotence is most conspicuous; just in the past few weeks Radio Dabanga has reported:

- An elderly displaced woman has reportedly suffered two torn eyeballs on Monday after being whipped and beaten, allegedly by pro-government militiamen, at Abu Suruj near Sirba in West Darfur. An activist told Radio Dabanga that "Fatima Assad (80) was tending her farm when a group of armed men whipped her and beat her with sticks and rifle butts" on Monday evening. The source said that Assad was attempting to prevent the herdsmen from allowing their livestock to graze on her farm. As previously reported, frequent reports reach Radio Dabanga of similar assaults by herdsmen on farmers throughout Darfur. The activist said that Assad was taken to hospital in state capital El Geneina for treatment, and appealed through Radio Dabanga for local authorities and UNAMID to protect the displaced and end these attacks. ("Herdsmen beat 80-year-old woman in West Darfur, Sirba Camp [West Darfur], August 19, 2013)

But UNAMID is powerless to protect these lands and those attempting to return--and has shown no inclination to make a serious effort to do so.

- A farmer was killed and another injured at El Ta'ah in Adila loacality, East Darfur on Wednesday, when they reportedly resisted gunmen from grazing livestock on their farm. A relative of the deceased told Radio Dabanga that Juma Joda Noor died and Tahim Ibrahim was injured when eight gunmen, mounted on horses, allegedly herded their livestock onto the farm. The farmers then tried to block them and were shot. Noor apparently died on the spot. (Herders kill East Darfur farmer, wound another in shooting, el Ta'ah, August 22, 2013)

- Multiple farmers from throughout Darfur have complained of "armed pro-government herdsmen" trespassing on their farms and beating and harassing them. Similar reports have reached Radio Dabanga from South, West, and Central Darfur states of herdsmen allowing their camels and livestock to graze on farms. Farmers who face up to them are reportedly "beaten, lashed, and threatened with death." Farmers from the Manawashi, Marshang, and Duma in South Darfur, Zalingei, Garsila, Mukjar and Bundisi in Central Darfur and Foro Baranga and El Geneina in West Darfur have told Radio Dabanga they face fierce attacks by the herdsmen. (Darfur, 31 July 2013)

- The farmers of Kabkabiya locality in North Darfur have expressed concern of the failure of this year's planting season due to several factors. One of the farmers explained to Radio Dabanga that he although there have been good rains, the current planting season threatens to be failure as armed herdsmen are grazing camels and cattle in the farms. "They do this by force of arms, beating farmers and threatening them with death if they confront them," the farmer said. (Kabkabiya, North Darfur, 7 August 2013)

- The poor security situation in Central Darfur state has resulted in a failed planting season for the displaced of the camps in the vicinity of state capital Zalingei, said the coordinator of the camps. He added to Radio Dabanga that the humanitarian situation in the camps is dire... . "The security situation has deprived them of the opportunity of exercising their daily lives, so the autumn of this year has not been encouraging." The coordinator expressed concern of a deepening humanitarian crisis should the agricultural season fail altogether. Throughout Darfur, banditry by marauding armed groups can make it difficult for the displaced to move outside the camps, according to daily reports reaching Radio Dabanga. This is especially true for those who leave the camps daily to plant and tend farmland. (Zalingei Camps, [formerly West] Darfur, July 30, 2013)

(See Appendix III [August 16, 2013 analysis] for further examples of denial of access to farmlands, http://www.sudanreeves.org/?p=4161).

If this critical issue is not addressed squarely and urgently, no peace negotiations will have a chance of success; the Doha Document for Peace in Darfur (DDPD) is an entirely dead letter with Darfuri civil society and the consequential rebel groups. Only with immediate, widely supported international attention to this highly destabilizing demographic shift in land ownership is there any hope of a true, just, and lasting peace in Darfur, with the opportunity for real development in Darfur. And yet by supporting this major, de-stabilizing demographic and economic shift, Khartoum hopes to keep the loyalty of some Arab groups and prevent others from joining the growing rebellion against the regime. It represents a brutal logic, of just the sort to be expected from these seasoned and ruthless survivalists.

The views expressed in the 'Comment and Analysis' section are solely the opinions of the writers. The veracity of any claims made are the responsibility of the author not Sudan Tribune.

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