SUDAN WATCH: What's going on in Janana, S Darfur? 60 villages attacked by Janjaweed while Khartoum "safeguards" Norwegians from being in Sudan for next 2 weeks?

Monday, April 03, 2006

What's going on in Janana, S Darfur? 60 villages attacked by Janjaweed while Khartoum "safeguards" Norwegians from being in Sudan for next 2 weeks?

What is going on in South Darfur between the SLA and Janjaweed in Janana? Whenever a strange story hits the news on Darfur, like today when the headlines are filled with reports of UN humanitarian chief Jan Egeland being refused access to Darfur, even though he has the necessary visa says the UN, I start looking for clues of a major Janjaweed attack in Darfur. Usually, a few days or even weeks later, news emerges of a huge attack that took place around the time of a strange story hitting the headlines.

Today's strange story is that Sudanese authorities have refused to extend the mandate of the Norwegian NGO Norwegian Refugee Council which heads the main refugee camp in Darfur, sheltering some 100,000 people, the organisation announced on Monday. NRC is one of Norway's largest NGOs, with 1,300 people working for refugees and displaced persons.

Also, Jan Egeland has been asked by the Sudanese government to delay his visit to Darfur because it coincided with a Muslim holiday says the BBC. Sudanese foreign ministry spokesman Jamal Ibrahim said that in the light of the Danish cartoons row, it would not be sensitive or safe for a Norwegian such as Mr Egeland to visit.

AFP report says the Sudanese government denied barring Jan Egeland from Darfur, but instead asked his visit be delayed because of "popular sentiment". "Egeland was not barred from visiting Darfur but was only asked to postpone the visit due to the growing popular sentiment against the UN for its plans of deploying foreign forces in Darfur," information ministry official Bekri Mulah told AFP by telephone.

Mr Egeland's Darfur trip was in doubt on Monday as government officials refused to allow him to visit the rebel-held town of Gereida reported Reuters today. AFP says Egeland was scheduled to travel to either Nyala or El Geneina in Darfur on Monday before proceeding to the capital for talks with officials there.

AP report explains a statement from the UNMIS said Egeland's flight into Sudan was not given authorization to land Sunday and that Sudanese officials had expressed opposition to his visit. It quoted Sudan's representative to the UN in New York as saying Egeland would not be welcome in Darfur or the capital, Khartoum. Egeland's spokeswoman, Stephanie Bunker, said Sudan told him it could not guarantee his security and said he should delay his visit for up to two weeks.

Here's the clue I was looking for: Jan Egeland told the BBC today the SLA helped provoke latest Janjaweed attacks in Janana. He said the Sudanese government, guerrilla forces and ethnic militia groups were all responsible for the current instability in Darfur. Angola Press picks up on the BBC report quoting Mr Egeland as saying thousands of people had fled after 60 villages were attacked by pro-government Janjaweed militias. Egeland told the BBC he thought the Sudanese government did not want him to see the latest wave of "ethnic cleansing" against black Africans in South Darfur.

The BBC's Jonah Fisher in Sudan says Mr Egeland is known for his willingness to speak his mind and has been a strong critic of the government's role in Darfur's violence.

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