SUDAN WATCH: Darfur refugees to go home in 3-4 months-official - "Janjaweed does not include Moussa Hilal. He is a tribal leader"

Thursday, August 26, 2004

Darfur refugees to go home in 3-4 months-official - "Janjaweed does not include Moussa Hilal. He is a tribal leader"

Mr Straw told Sky News the government in Khartoum had sought to stem the violence but that it was for the UN secretary general, Kofi Annan, to judge the extent to which it had complied with the resolution.

Mr Straw said he intended to speak to Mr Annan and other African leaders after he had completed his trip. He also said there were practical limits to what the international community could do to help the people of Darfur without the consent of the Sudanese government. Mr Straw added that there appeared to be some evidence of improving security within the refugee camps and the priority now was to improve security outside them.

But Britain advocates a cautious approach. "If we were to drive ahead like a bull at a gate and end up with a split in the Security Council, it would work in favour of the hardliners in the Sudanese government," a senior official said. "We have to feel our way."

Britain has offered the African Union (AU) extra funding to expand its force charged with protecting ceasefire monitors in the region and will back plans for a far larger presence than is currently there. Britain has already spent two million pounds helping the AU mission and will now give a further 750,000 pounds to fly in Nigerian troops and provide rations.

But Sudan rejected an offer to expand the AU troops' role to disarm rebels in Darfur, insisting it was capable of tackling both pro-government and rebel militias in the western region.
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By acclaimed writer Samantha Power

Excerpt re Janjaweed Leader Musal Hilal:

"As I talked with Musal Hilal in the El Fasher airport waiting room, he discussed th possibility that he and other janjaweed leaders could have their assets frozen and their ability to travel curtailed. “I have no assets in international banks, so that is not a problem,” he said as he watched Sudanese soldiers ready our plane for its flight back to Khartoum. “But the travel ban—that would be a humiliation. I am a tribal leader. My reputation comes above anything and everything.”

"Hilal is aware that if the international pressure on Khartoum intensifies the government might sell him out. This explains why he courts Western journalists, staging elaborate shows of African-Arab unity. But he also knows how risky it would be for the government to challenge him—even if it wanted to appease its international critics. Khartoum’s leaders rely on tribal militias as their main weapon of war. And, in Hilal’s case, the Sudanese government helped create him, and he knows too much.

“The government call to arms is carried out through the tribal leaders,” Hilal said. “Every government comes and finds us here. When they leave, we will still be here. When they come back, we will still be here. We will always be here.”


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